A Black and White Landscape from Western Kansas

Monument Rocks #2

Monument Rocks #2

Monument Rocks, Gove County, Kansas. This is what black and white photography is all about. Taking the seemingly bland and lifeless and transforming it into an abstraction of tone and texture. This was taken in full afternoon summer sun. The shadow in the lower parts is from the adjacent rock formations.

This negative is what sold me on the new Kodak Tmax 400 film. Contrast range on the subject was extreme yet the main subject is very flat. Developed in Pyrocat HD with extreme minimal agitation. The negative came out very dense requiring split grade printing.

An 11×14 print of Monument Rocks #2 will be on display at the Emporia Artist Walk along with my Kansas Flint Hill landscapes.

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Emporia Artist Walk & Flint Hills Landscapes

I will be located in the Pyramid Pizza building, 11 East 6th, downtown Emporia. The Emporia Artist Walk is Saturday, 18 April from 10 am to 4 pm.

With me at Pyramid Pizza will be Rachel Ferrara, a finely talented up-and-coming young photographer. Rachel is Fine Arts student at Emporia State University majoring in photography. I made this video of her senior project show last January.

I finished mounting the big Flint Hills prints. Quite the project to get that big triptych mounted. The final matted size is 40×20 inches. My Emporia  Artist Walk display will feature Black & White Flint Hills landscapes from Chase County, Greenwood County, Wabaunsee County, and Geary County.

Hope to see you at the Artist Walk.

On Road CR-2, Greenwood County

On Road CR-2, Greenwood County

Near Texaco Hill, Chase County

Near Texaco Hill, Chase County

Another Flint Hills Photography Fan

Discovered Terry Ownby’s photography blog today. Glad I did. Terry is a photography professor at University of Central Missouri. His latest post is about photographing in the Kansas Flint Hills and worth reading. In another recent entry, he discusses the use of the triptych from the classical point of view and its current use. Lot’s of good stuff on Terry’s blog.

Emporia Artist Walk

Moving into the final countdown for the Emporia Artist Walk. The event takes place on Saturday, 18 April from 10 am to 4 pm, in downtown Emporia.

I’ve been printing more Flint Hills diptychs today. I’ve got to say, those 11×14 prints really make me feel like I’m back in the Hills. Wish I could print them on 20×24. Maybe someday!

Hope you make it to the Artist Walk.

A Different Look at the Flint Hills

On Road CR-2 Greenwood County

Near Texaco Hill, Greenwood County

Tully Hill Road, Geary County

Tully Hill Road, Geary County

Hard to believe that I haven’t updated this Blog since October. It’s been a busy year for everything except photography it seems. But, I haven’t been completely lazy.

My latest project on the Flint Hills makes use of multiple prints to form a panoramic display. Using two prints is called diptych (pronounced dip-tick). Using three prints is called a triptych (with similar pronunciation). (People with ArtSpeak  inherently know these pronunciations and meanings, but I was a farm boy and had to look them up.) Using this approach for panoramic landscape departs from the classic construction of a -tych. In the classic construction, each print may be entirely different yet the sum tells a story. I guess one could stretch that classic definition and say that the panorama tells a story about the landscape more adequately than single photographs.

For this technique, I use individual 4×5 negatives and make individual prints. After processing and drying, the prints are trimmed to match, then dry mounted on mat board.

Its really exciting to use multiple 11×14 prints. That brings the image up to a size that’s more in keeping with the feel of the Flint Hills. Using 8×10 prints for an 8×20 diptych or 10x 24 triptych is also nice. The 8×20 format is a standard banquet-camera size, the next step up from the 7×17 format that I use.

I’m participating in the Emporia Art Walk this year on Saturday April 18th. My goal is to have several of these panoramas on display and for sale. Hope to see you there.

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.