Archive for the ‘ Fine Art Prints ’ Category

Making Hay

August Hay 2003  photograph by Alex Hawley

August Hay 2003 photograph by Alex Hawley

Its Hay season here in farm country. From mid-August through September, the tall prairie grass is cut, raked, then baled to provide livestock feed through the winter. In this area, it’s the sweet, tall, highly nutritious Bluestem grass of the Kansas Flint Hills that’s being harvested.

Compressing the cut grass into a large tightly wound shape serves to preserve the grass’ nutritional value. The outer layer decays a couple inches but serves to insulate the rest of the bale. Thus, the grass holds up far longer than it would if cut and left loose.

It’s only been in my adult lifetime that the large round bales came in to use. Previously, hay was bales into small square bales of about thirty-five pounds each. A lot of physical labor was used to move the bales from bailing machine to feed. Now, weighing a thousand pounds per bale, they are impossible for humans to handle so machinery is a must. In one way it’s a shame that our youth don’t have such a body developing activity anymore. But as one who has thrown a bale or two, I don’t miss the old bales a bit.

The large round baling machine itself is a Kansas invention. Mr. Lyle Yost, founder of Hesston Corp. in Hesston, Kansas was the inventor and brought them to the market in the early 1970s. Now they are the standard of the world.

“August Hay 2003” was taken early in my Large Format experience using 4×5 Kodak Tri-X film. The print was made on Forte Polywamtone fiber base paper.

A Slice of New York City

"The Apartments" Polaroid Type 809 print by David A. Goldfarb

My APUG friend, David A. Goldfarb, sent me this wonderful 8×10 Polaroid print. David is an accomplished photographer, University Professor, and prolific writer. I think David is one of the most knowledgeable persons on photography that I have known. He’s always trying something new, both visually and technically.

Sharing a love of working with Polaroid film, and celebrating its demise, we engaged in a Polaroid print exchange. I had sent him my 4×5 Type 52 print, “A Slice of Western Kansas” and now I have “The Apartments”, a slice of NYC, in return. David explains the photograph’s meaning in a note enclosed with the print. with the print.

“This print is one in a series of nine of four highrise apartment buildings known simply as “The Apartments” on traffic reports for drivers headed in and out of Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge. It was also the view from my window in Washington Heights, where we lived for about a year until the day this series was made. These are my last 8×10″ Polaroids.”

“Ted Harris offered this box of Polaroid Type 809 to anyone who offered a proposal to make good educational use of the film and I said that I would make images to be exchanged in the APUG Polaroid exchange and Traveling Portfolio, so that as many people as possible would have a chance to see or own an 8×10″ Polaroid print. I hope this fulfills his intention. After the Traveling Portfolio makes its full circuit, I plan to send the print to Ted’s widow, Amy Rafferty, as yet another reminder of Ted’s generous spirit.”

Ted Harris was a prominent US photographer who passed away, most untimely, earlier this year. I too had sent Ted a proposal for using the box of 809; David had a much better idea than I. I’m glad he got it and commend how he has used it.

Kansas goes to NYC; NYC goes to Kansas, all via Polaroid photography. Most gracious thanks David.

Snokomo Creek School – Flint Hills

Snokomo Creek School by Alex Hawley

Another door to learning in the Kansas Flint Hills. This one is at the Snokomo Creek School in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, near Paxico. Snokomo is easy to get to and getting there is half the joy. On I-70, take the Snokomo Rd exit, follow the road South for about 3-1/2 miles. The school will be on your left adjacent to the road. Snokomo can give you what photographers call a “U-turn Moment”.

North Wall, Snokomo Creek School by Alex Hawley
North Wall, Snokomo Creek School by Alex Hawley

“North Wall” was taken on my second outing to the Snokomo area. My friend and fellow LPA member, Rob Young, was along for this trip. His rendition of the school is done on gum bichromate. Please see Rob’s blog for complete details.

Fine Art prints of “Snokomo School” may be purchased through my APUG Portfolio. Please contact me if you desire to purchase one. This version is an 8×10 contact print printed on Azo fiber base silver chloride paper.

“North Wall, Snokomo School” may be purchased from me directly. The version shown is printed on Slavich fiber base silver gelatin paper

Lower Fox Creek School – Flint Hills

"Keystones" photo by Alex Hawley

"Keystones" photo by Alex Hawley

No doubt, the Lower Fox Creek School is one of the most photographed places in the Kansas Flint Hills. Its very easy to get to. Just go three miles north of US 50 on K-177, near Strong City. Sitting prominently atop a hill next to the highway, it can’t be missed. The National Park service has a nice virtual tour and good directions on how to get there.

I’ve photographed there several times. “Keystones” was taken in 2004 on the 8×10 view camera and is printed as an 8×10 contact print (meaning no enlargement). For me, there’s some special meaning for school house doors. Perhaps its because I see them as doors to the future no matter how humble and plain they may be.

In fact, it was an earlier version of the Lower Fox Creek School that was a key factor in spurring me to use large format cameras. So, in part, this humble school building was a key factor in my future as a photographer.

There are many of these old school houses throughout the Flint Hills. One can’t help but find one or more whenever exploring the region. Many have been preserved to some extent or another, and several still serve useful functions in their respective communities. I’m glad they are still there.

Fine Art prints of “Keystones” may be purchased through my APUG Portfolio. These are 8×10 contact prints made on Kodak Azo silver chloride contact printing paper. Please contact me if you desire to purchase one.

All photographs copyright Alex Hawley.

New Black & White Still Life

Skull #1 by Alex Hawley

Skull #1 by Alex Hawley

This may be the obligatory Polaroid Type 55 cow skull photo. Seems everyone does one but that’s not why I did it.

Both elements shown came from the backyard; the wood (which is a walkway I built years ago) from my yard, the skull is from the neighbor’s. The skull is an authentic Kansas Flint Hills cattle skull.

Those of us that used Polaroid Type 55 film have been crying our eyes out ever since Polaroid’s demise earlier this year. I bought five boxes and swore I was going to put it to good use. A final fling I suppose.

Gearhead info: 8×10 Deardorff field camera with 4×5 reducing back. Schneider 305 mm G-Claron lens, Polaroid 545 film holder, and Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film. This scan was made from an 8×10 enlarged print on Kentmere Kentona fiber paper.

Featured Print

Feed Sign, Sharpe, Kansas

Feed Sign, Sharpe, Kansas

Feed Sign, Sharpe, Kansas has been one of my favorite prints. It was both fun and rewarding to make, and I think its fun to look at.

I had photographed it few weeks earlier from this instance but wasn’t quite satisfied with the print. When I went back, a small tree had grown up just to the right, casting shadows from its leaves across the sign. “Why not?” I thought.

The subject scene was extremely flat in contrast. The sign is a simple white plastic decal applied to the faded galvanized metal sheath covering. I developed the film for an N+1 time to pull as much contrast out of it as I could. It prints successfully at about a grade 3-1/2 paper contrast. All and all, an excellent exercise in B&W contrast control. It looks most lovely printed on Forte Polywarmtone paper, which is, sadly, no longer available.

This print is for sale through my Analog Photography User’s Group (APUG) Portfolio. If you are interested in buying a print, please click the Portfolio link or contact me directly.

All photographs copyright Alex Hawley

Weston’s Shells

Our merry band of intrepid photographers from the Lawrence Photo Alliance traveled to Kansas City today for a tour of the photography exhibit at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. One of the highlights of the tour for me was to see, first-hand, Edward Weston’s legendary still life “Shells“.

My remark to anyone in the vicinity was “Time to make the obligatory study of an authentic Weston”. After all, Weston is the primal Fine Art photographer, the gold standard to which all others are compared. This print, “Shells” is one of the legendary still lifes from the 1920s.

So what makes it so great? Well, for one thing, its perfect. Perfect in composition, Weston’s trademark. Its simple, which it should be. The tones and lighting are Weston’s choice for his interpretation of the form. These could be varied, but what we see is what Weston decided on. It works. I’m glad I had the opportunity to study it.

My own attempts at still life photographer have been meager, but I try. I’ve found it to be the most challenging form of subject that I’ve tried. Maybe Weston did to. Perhaps his most famous work, “Pepper #30” was reported to be his thirtieth attempt at the photograph. In this example shown below, I did ten takes before I got what I liked. And its still no Weston. (Still Life #10 taken with Polaroid Type 55 film, natural lighting).

Many Thanks to Dan Coburn for organizing and arranging the outing.

Still Life #10″ by Alex Hawley