Categories
Comics History

Read Days of Sand

Read Days of Sand by Aimée de Jongh

United States, 1937. In the middle of the Great Depression, 22-year-old photographer John Clark is brought in by the Farm Security Administration to document the calamitous conditions of the Dust Bowl in the central and southern states, in order to bring the farmers’ plight to the public eye. When he starts working through his shooting script, however, he finds his subjects to be unreceptive. What good are a couple of photos against relentless and deadly dust storms? The more he shoots, the more John discovers the awful extent of their struggles, coming to question his own role and responsibilities in this tragedy sweeping through the center of the country.

Absolutely stunning artwork, thoroughly researched. I wish the story had been a little richer to go with it — I would have liked a little more time spent with Betty and Cliff, more interactions, to build such a bond. The focus of the story — the ethics and value of documentary photography — felt a bit shallow. I’d have been more interested in further exploring the photographer’s relationship with his family and how he feels seeing these families. It’s a challenge to convey historical details without falling to stereotype or inserting modern interpretations based on hindsight, and I thought the interactions with the agency suffered there, though I understand the need for efficiency in storytelling.

Categories
Activism Nature Writing

Missing people: context and honesty in nature writing

Replied to https://antonia.substack.com/p/i-just-want-us-to-be-good-to-each by Antonia Malchik (On the Commons)

Maybe mothers can’t write about nature in a way that excludes other humans because they don’t have days that exclude other humans, Dungy said. And beyond that, far more than that, it’s a problem rather than an asset that so many people are able to write book after book about the wonders of nature and their love for it without including hints of what is going on in human society at the time. That they don’t have the imagination to think that you can write about struggles against prejudice and injustice and rivers.

“I have grown intolerant of that. I can’t be fully interested and engaged in writing that seems to erase me. Because all of those concerns about civil rights struggles and women’s rights struggles and those kinds of things—if those don’t move forward, if they don’t get paid attention to, if they don’t get talked about, that negatively affects my ability to move forward in the world.” — Camille Dungy, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden

This is part of what I’m enjoying in Braiding Sweetgrass: her life is not separate from nature that she can ever set either aside, that her connection with nature and community are intertwined, that the way she relates to nature is dependent on her personal history and her family’s history and her people’s history. There’s no pretending nature is this pristine untouched place “untainted” by people (untouched nature is largely a myth anyway) because she recognizes how humans have played a part in the ecosystem — she even studies the indigenous practices for harvesting sweetgrass and sees indications that gathering sustainably actually keeps the population growing healthily — that human stewardship is part of the balanced ecosystem.

Categories
Art and Design Nature Places

Read River of No Return

Read River of No Return: Photographs by Laura McPhee by Laura McPhee

A magnificent collection of images depicting landscapes and life in one of the last remote places in the American west

The idea of the American wilderness has long captivated artists fascinated by the ways in which its unspoiled natural beauty embodies the nation’s identity. This beautifully produced volume celebrates the unsurpassed splendor of a fabled region, while also presenting the environmental complexities of managing a vast landscape in which the needs of ranchers, biologists, miners, tourists, and locals seek a finely delineated balance.

Photographer Laura McPhee follows in the tradition of 19th-century artistic approaches toward the sublime, relying on a large-format view camera to capture images of exquisite color, clarity, and definition. In images spanning all seasons, McPhee depicts the magnificence and history of the Sawtooth Valley in central Idaho. Her subject matter includes the region’s spectacular mountain ranges, rivers, and ranchlands; its immense spaces and natural resources; the effects of mining and devastating wildfires; and the human stories of those who live and work there. Featured texts set McPhee’s photographs in the context of the work of American predecessors including Frederick Sommer and J.B. Jackson, and discuss her working methods and experiences photographing the evolving landscape.

A beautiful collection of photographs embodying a place and its history. The printing of the photos is good quality so you can appreciate the artist’s work — I love the muted colors. This collection conveys the complexity of the West, a culture and place hanging on. The present bridges the past — a man pans for gold in the tailings from 1800s mining, a decrepit 1920s log cabin becomes part of the scenery for a new subdivision. The photographer coolly shows the impacts of the way resources are used and animals are treated. A hard life, rewarded with stark beauty.

Page of book with photo of a dust trail from a truck crossing a landscape

Light shines through open windows framed by peachy pink curtains against blue walls

Burned landscape in almost pastel pale pink and purple hues

Categories
Art and Design Places

Read Overview Timelapse

Read Overview Timelapse: How We Change the Earth

Change is Earth’s most important and influential constant. From geological changes that take place over millennia, to the growth of civilization, to intense (and increasingly common) weather events exacerbated by a warming climate, the planet is constantly in flux. With areas viewed over various periods of time–days, months, and years–these changes become even more apparent, as does the scale and scope of human impact on Earth.

Overview Timelapse is a compelling photographic survey of the state of change on Earth today. With human activity driving this transformation faster than ever, visible signs can now be seen across the planet. Through its 250 mesmerizing images such as sprawling cities and the patterns created by decades of deforestation, this book offers a fresh perspective of change on Earth from a larger-than-life scale.

Great selection of aerial photography, with a wide variety of topics and scales. Super interesting to see the comparisons of locations at different times, though some were clearer to see than others. Lots of full page, high quality images so you can see a ton of detail. Consumption was very cool, showing the eruption of life at a couple large festivals in remote locations. The section on materials was clever, showing mines and processing and use of materials around the world. The final section, humans, was the weakest as some of the differences didn’t photograph well, though there were still interesting photos. I also appreciated the image sets, showing for example an aerial of the Camp Fire burning, then a before and after of a neighborhood in Paradise that burned. I didn’t read the essays but the image captions gave useful info.

Categories
Art and Design

Editing photos in Affinity Photo

Watched Affinity Photo tutorial – Kodachrome Vintage from YouTube

The vintage analogue look is massively in vogue right now, and it’s simple to re-create the look and feel of a classic emulsion such as Kodachrome by using the handy toolset that can be found in Affinity Photo.

Admired the colors on a shot by Maique and he told me it was a Kodachrome filter 👀

 

  • Gradient map – with complementary colors
  • Curves – I rarely use the color channels and just adjust contrast, but maybe should play around with it
  • Selective color – reminds me of what you can do with the color tools in the raw editor
Categories
Art and Design

Read Soviet Seasons

Read Soviet Seasons

In Soviet Seasons, Arseniy Kotov reveals unfamiliar aspects of the post-Soviet terrain in sublime photographs. From snow-blanketed Siberia in winter to the mountains of the Caucasus in summer, these images show how a once powerful, utopian landscape has been affected by the weight of nature itself.

Loved the photography, learned a lot from the detailed descriptions of each photo. I liked the organization into seasons — winter and fall were my favorites. Fantastic collection.

More photos at his website.

Categories
Art and Design

Aerial eye candy

Liked Aerial Views by Berhard Lang (bernhardlang.de)

😍 Lots to explore here!

Categories
Art and Design

Read Zone Eleven

Read Mike Mandel: Zone Eleven

“Zone Eleven” alludes to Ansel Adams’ Zone System, a method for controlling exposure of the negative in order to obtain a full range of tonality in the photographic print—from the deepest black of Zone 0 to the brightest highlight in Zone 10. “Zone Eleven” is a metaphor coined by artist Mike Mandel in his challenge to create a book of Adams’ photographs outside of the bounds of his personal work. Many of these photographs were found in the archives of Adams’ commercial and editorial assignments, and from his experimentation with the new Polaroid material of the times.

For this book, Mandel has unearthed images that are unexpected for Adams, and created a new context of facing-page relationships and sequence. Zone Eleven is the product of Mandel’s research into over 50,000 Adams images located within four different archives, from which he presents a body of Adams’ work that was largely unknown until now.

Mike Mandel is well known for his collaboration with Larry Sultan from the 1970s to the 1990s. They published Evidence in 1977, a collection of 59 photographs chosen from more than two million images that the artists viewed at the archives of government agencies and tech-oriented corporations. Conceptually, Zone Eleven is a companion book to Evidence. As Evidence reframes the institutional documentary photograph with new context and meaning, Zone Eleven responds to the audience expectation of “the iconic Ansel Adams nature photograph.” But Mandel selects images that do not fit that expectation. Zone Eleven is a book of Ansel Adams images that surprisingly speak to issues of social relations, the built environment and alienation.

I’m not sure what to think of this collection.

It opens with a portrait of two tree trunks: an eleven. It proceeds without commentary, leaving you to draw your own conclusions and connections. The photos span decades and subjects, removing them from any context to create visual and thematic pairings and sequences. I found myself confused and cross-referencing the back matter to figure out what I was looking at, probably missing the point.

Except, what stumped me is why these photos? By choosing photos outside Adams’ oevre, Mandel asks us to reevaluate him as a photographer, yet the signature style and themes we know him for are absent from these photos. This collection could populate an artistic urban Instagram account. They are of course fine photos, but what does it mean that Adams took them when they could have been taken by “anyone”? It feels almost like a trick that I am meant to impart some greater weight to them because of who took them. Or am I meant to see him as more human by realizing he also took plenty of pedestrian photos like the rest of us? This is more meta thought than I really want out of viewing a photography collection, I think I’m not cut out for post-modernist art 😂

I appreciated the brief Manzanar series most. It starts with an overview of the camp as landscape, more familiar framing from Adams. A set of portraits emphasizes the humanity of the interned Japanese people. A young nurse’s expression seems to dare the viewer. Two of the same young man show him being playful, then serious, for the camera.

See also: Library of Congress – Ansel Adam’s photos of Manzanar

Categories
Art and Design Places

Read Uncommon Places

Read Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places

“Uncommon Places: The Complete Works” presented a definitive collection of the landmark series, and in the span of a decade has become a contemporary classic.

Beautiful photos of ugly places. The color and lighting are lovely. He lends a loving eye to the peeling storefront, the kitschy motel decor, the empty intersections crisscrossed with wires. It doesn’t feel like he is mocking the people or places he photographs, but accepts them for what they are. Some of the images are hard to separate from retroness, especially ones featuring a lot of old cars, but some of the places are as familiar today as they were fifty years ago. I’m always confused and enticed by the story of abandoned places and buildings. So much of the West still feels empty and worn down.

I’m not sold on the name Uncommon Places except as counterpoint: to me these places feel very commonplace, anyplace, everyplace. Americana in all its consumerist, sprawling, dingy glory and decay.

At least some of the collection is viewable on his website.

Categories
Art and Design Cool Nature

Abstract bubbles beneath ice

Liked iceformation by Ryota Kajita / 梶田亮太 - PhotographerRyota Kajita / 梶田亮太 – Photographer (ryotakajita.com)

His photography series of “Ice Formation” is featured in the magazine “Photo Technique” (November/December 2012), “LENSCRATCH.com”(May 2015), “WIRED.com“ (August 2015), “城市画報 -CITY ZINE-“ (January/Februray 2016), National Geographic Magazine (March 2020) and is represented by Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach, California and Fotofilmic in Vancouver, Canada.

bubbles beneath ice covered in spiky frostI love the spiky ice atop the frozen surface, the rounded bubbles at center contrasted against the dark depths. A warm fur cloak cocooning a precious cluster of eggs.

white bubbles in a splat of black surrounded by thinning iceI like that the thinning window of ice is at once dendritic, parasitic, the expansion of decay and darkness. And within that hazy-edged darkness, brilliant sharp crystalline bursts of white.