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

A Slice of Western Kansas

A Slice of Western Kansas

My trip to Ft. Collins, Colorado was a double success for it allowed me some photo opportunities in Western Kansas. I got to spend a few hours at the Monument Rocks/Chalk Cliffs in Gove County. I liken that area to a miniature Bryce Canyon. Took some 7×17 shots and I hope I did the place some justice.

From Gove County, I headed South and got on Good Ol’ Highway 50 which took me to this setting just a couple miles West of Kinsley. As a small child, we passed by this elevator frequently on our way to Dodge City. Luckily, it has been preserved by placing it on the Historic Register. Other wise, it would have been torn down long ago. These small Gano Grain Company elevators were once an iconic symbol of the region. Photographer and author Wright Morris made a quite iconic photo of one in the 1940s. I have another shot, done with the 8×10 and from a different perspective, waiting development.

This particular photo was made on Polaroid Type 52 sheet film, another superb product that has been recently discontinued. Such a shame. I feel lucky to be able to show what Polaroid film was capable of. So much more than just the quick snapshot. Ansel Adams knew this well too.

The Texas Church Project

Some guys I know in Texas have a wonderful project going; photographing small country churches in Texas. A regional TV station just released a U-Tube video about them today. They have a very nice website too.

Although their official name is the Texas Church Project, I call them the Notorious Texas Church Gang. I hope they don’t mind. Quite an eclectic group, they range pretty far in age and backgrounds, but they are all quite good artistic photographers and have a common appreciation of the beauty that can be found in the country churches. They use a wide variety of cameras, medium, large, and ultra-large formats. Their prints are made from a variety of techniques including alt processes alike platinum/paladium. I admire them greatly.

Stop in and see the Texas Church Project gang. Don’t think you will be disapointed.

Featured Print

Yates Center Co-Op

Yates Center Co-Op

Yates Center Co-Op

Yates Center Co-Op has been my most successful print to date. It was the first photograph of mine that was published. Happily, it was published in the February 2005 issue of the prestigious B&W Magazine. Right after I joined Flikr last year, it was chosen for and featured in the Film is Not Dead, it Just Smells Funny blog.

I have life-long love of these old grain elevators. Each one is so unique. They are nearly extinct. So much so that a few have been designated as historic sights. This one is still in business and in daily use in Yates Center, Kansas.

The print is a genuine 8×10 contact print made from an in-camera 8×10 negative. I still have several prints made on Kodak’s legendary Azo paper, which is also now extinct. It was taken in February 2004 using my 8×10 Deardorff field camera with 12 inch Kodak Commercial Ektar lens.

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

FLASHBULBS!!!

M3 Flashbulbs

Who remembers FLASHBULBS? I can’t remember the last time I saw them used; probably 30 years ago. But I can still remember the spots in my eyes when they went off!

For the past few months, I’ve been collecting some old Polaroid Land cameras for conversion to large format. Today, a Polaroid 250 camera arrived and amongst the little trinkets with the camera was a whole box of these M3 flashbulbs.

So what will I do with flashbulbs? Take pictures of my kids, just like flashbulbs were meant to do. None of my kids, even though they are grown now, have ever had flashbulb spots in their eyes. Now I’m sure they can go through life just fine without that experience, but I’m going to give it to then anyway! And it will be a good bit of retro fun for me to use them one last time.

Here’s a picture of a Polaroid 250 camera. I intend on just using the pack film back from it for one of my roll film Land camera conversions. The back has a very nice stainless steel frame. Made in the USA too. What a shame we don’t make stuff like this anymore. This was really a nice camera in its time and could still be quite useful.

If you have any interest in the Polaroid Land cameras, the Land List website is about as good as it gets.

Underway on Blog Power

This is my first Blog entry ever.

At the May LPA meeting, Dan Coburn gave an excellent presentation on self-promotion, things that have worked for him. Dan and several other LPA members said “start a blog!” So now I have.

Things have been mighty slow this year on the photographic front. First, the weather has been crummy. Second, my real job has been taking its toll for the last two months. Third, on good days, I’m working. Hopefully, all these negative things are going to break real soon and I can get back to making pictures.

On the good side, I have two new lenses for the 7×17, so its all set to go. Right before Polaroid announced cessation of film-making, I stocked up and have five boxes of Type 55 to expend this year. And, as Rob Young has written, there’s the Great Polaroid Caper of ’08 to look forward to.

The other grandiose plan I have for this year is to convert some old and disused Polaroid Land roll film cameras to the 4×5 format. There will be more info on this as it comes along. I hope they turn out as well as this one.

(By the way, the title of this post is paraphrased from a famous message.)