Incubation II

Incubation II, 2013 – Atacama Desert, Argentina

 With Incubation II, I got everything I wanted – and more.

I’ve been working on a line of thought for some time, planning to make a series to fully develop it. Make multiple exposures of the same subject from different angles and combine them seamlessly. It’s like Cubism without the artifacts. Show what’s hidden by one angle of view by combining many angles of view. Show many sides of the same object simultaneously. Show the background that an object hides. Make a visual experience that more powerfully presents the experience of moving around, in, and through a space.

Not knowing what I wanted to do ahead of time would have changed the way I made exposures. I would have selected angles that offered the best relationship between object and environment, often prioritizing one over the other if any compromises were necessary, instead of selecting the optimal angle for both in two or more exposures. I wouldn’t have made as many exposures nor would I have know which alternate exposures to make – and why. Despite my best plans, I never could have planned for this magnificent moment of light, where its shape, split by a crack, echoes the shapes of the two cracked halves of the rock below it.

On my first visit to Argentina’s Atacama Desert I was able to gather several exposures that once combined served as proof of concept. They results, not just for one image but for multiple images, were successful enough to show that this idea and approach had lasting value.

My initial concept didn’t work entirely as planned. I tried a solution that looked similar to double exposure and while I was (and still am) interested in the way this made the objects look like they were vibrating (a new idea), it was too busy and unclear for the effect I was looking for here. On impulse, while I was processing the images, I tried nesting the stones within themselves and it was immediately clear that this was a powerful new solution. The technique served more than a visual device. The psychological dimensions of the work were heightened. The work was challenging me to expand my vision.

Finishing the first few images brought both clarity and productivity while photographing the location for the second time. I was able to make many related images, aware of what was different and what was similar. I was even able to rephotograph several subjects. Now, in addition to single images displaying multiple angles of the same subject, multiple images in the series do the same. It’s surprising how different things look from different angles of view – sometimes they’re unrecognizable.

The questions arose “How many images will this solution hold for?” and “What other related solutions will I find?” One thing led to another. Along the way, duplication, reflection, and distortion were also used. So new questions were posed, “Is this one series or many?” and “Will one series title hold them all?” (The working title for the series is Incubation.)

I’m not sure all of these images belong in the same series. While they’re all from the same location and they look similar stylistically and are related thematically, they also explore different ideas. Some are diverging significantly enough to make the case for placing them in several interconnected series. What’s the answer? Right now, it’s a mystery. I simply have to do more work to find out more about it.

I’ve found that the best plans are clear enough to stimulate productivity and flexible enough to evolve.

See related Contact Sheets from 2012 and 2013 here.

Questions

What are the benefits of working without a plan?

What are the benefits of working with a plan?

How do you create a plan so that it is generative rather than restrictive?

What mindset do you need to approach plans with to maximize productivity and insight?

When should you abandon one plan in favor of another?

Read more The Stories Behind The Photographs here.

New Series – Incubation

January 16, 2014 | 1 Comment |

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 Incubation II, 2013

20121204__SAARGpumice-_0437-Edit Incubation I, 2013

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Incubation IX, 2013

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Incubation XIII, 2013

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Incubation III, 2013

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Incubation V, 2013

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Incubation IV, 2013

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Incubation VIII, 2013

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Incubation XI, 2013

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Incubation XII, 2013

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Incubation VI, 2013

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Incubation VII, 2013

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Incubation XIV, 2013

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Incubation X

My newest series of images Incubation uses a dynamic approach to representing both spaces and objects within those spaces, blending images of the same subject taken from multiple angles – panoramics, duplications, nestings, symmetries, tesselations, etc – that take on complex perceptual responses and psychological overtones.

Currently, all of the images are drawn from the same location made during two separate adventures (2012 and 2013) to the Atacama Desert in Argentina.

View more featured image collections here.

Search my online gallery for specific images here.

Sign up for my free enews Collectors Alert for announcements of new images, discounts, and more.

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I recently returned from my second exploration of the Atacama Desert in Argentina. In a contact sheet of new images, rather than seeing locations (Pumice Stone Fields, Dead Man’s Salt Flat, Red Labyrinth, Tolar Grande, Salinas Grandes), I see ideas I’m developing and patterns of thought. My first impression is that I probably won’t release most of these images, and perhaps only one or two as is, but the bottom row clearly indicates where I want to go with this material. Theses images are all fine images, but have I truly made them my own? Not yet. How would I do this? First, create a context (series or body of work) for them. Second, enhance them further, in some cases using special effects and compositing.

View my Atacama Desert 2012 Contact Sheet here.

See finished images here.

Stay tuned for a preview of my finished images from the Atacama Desert.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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In preparation for my return to Argentina’s Atacama Desert this coming December, I’ve been paring down my selects from my first trip last year. Within this set of images is a smaller set of images that suggests a way of seeing – animated sculptural forms making light and space visible and felt. (These words are not complete but they begin to describe what’s going on.) This is what I’m going to focus on and hope to discover more about when I return. With practice we can learn to come up with many ideas, but in the end I think it’s important to look/listen to the work you actually make and answer the calls within it, moving into them to pursue more depth and their connections to other things/ideas/emotions.

View more Contact Sheets here.

Find out more about my Atacama digital photography workshop here.

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Constellation VIII, Uyuni, Bolivia, 2013

It had been a very long drive. Looking for other exotic locations along the way, we (I was traveling with colleagues Seth Resnick and Eric Meola) had taken the long way around, traveling for five days at high altitude, up to 5,000 meters, through Bolivia’s Altiplano to Salar de Uyuni the largest salt desert in the world. On arrival we began looking for water, which was seasonal and unpredictable. Unsuccessful at first, at first we found only mud beneath a cracked crust, later we found a few wet stains, still later a larger area slick enough to glisten in the sun, much later a larger slick against a mountain that offered limited reflections, and finally, late on the second day we found a large expanse of water. But there was wind and in many areas the water was too deep to access. We waited at our nearby hotel, made completely of salt; the walls and floors and tables and desks and chairs were all made of salt. Returning for the day’s final light, we found the wind had moved the water and then died down leaving a glassy sheet of perfect reflections as far as the eye could see, ringed by clouds. Walking on/in it was disorienting. You felt like you were walking on/in the sky. And then the color began to change and bloom. It was divine. We spent hours photographing, until the light faded and the winds picked up again. We returned the next day, our final day, to find similar almost ideal conditions and later the new introduction of lightning storms and rainbows behind us. We felt exceptionally fortunate.

If there was no rain, there would be no water to hold reflections; we would have been limited to making photographs of cracked salt patterns, a few piles of salt, and the distant mountains. If there were no clouds, there would be little to reflect. Even though this type of weather was typical at this time of year, and this time of year only, there were no guarantees. We had not only timed it just right and planned for enough time to succeed in, we also got lucky.

Stack the odds in your favor and do your research to know when optimal conditions are most likely to occur. There are situations where you can take actions to increase the probability of ideal conditions occurring and there are situations when you can’t – and knowing which situation you’re in is important. In situations where you can’t be more proactive, it’s wise to plan for a little extra time, in case you have to wait for ideal conditions to arise. It’s never easy to know when it’s best to move on and when it’s best to wait it out. Prior experience helps but it will only get you so far. Keep your eye on the weather and seek out local knowledge whenever possible.

Questions

How can you best prepare to make the most of optimal conditions?

What are optimal conditions for the task at hand?

When are you most likely to experience optimal conditions?

Is there anything you can do to increase the likelihood of optimal conditions occurring?

Is there anything you can do to improve current conditions?

When is it better to move forward rather than wait?

When is it better to take a new approach rather than return?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here. 

Find out about my Atacama Desert Argentina digital photography workshop.

I had a marvelous time in Uyuni, Bolivia with Seth Resnick and Eric Meola after our recent Atacama desert adventure in Argentina.  (Find out about our Dec 6-14, 2013 Atacama workshop here.)

These three new images are the first of many. They’re quite similar to several continuing bodies of work – Reflection, Exhalation, and Refraction  – and they are also distinctly different. (Preview the Blurb books for each series here.) They are also related to another series currently in development that I’ll share soon. Which series are they a part of? Are they a part of many series?Are they a separate series?

Two previously released images are from the same location, but they don’t have the light effects. Are they a part of the same series?

Why don’t I just title the images with a place and date? Because these images are statements about internal truths rather than external facts.

(You can read more about How I Title My Images here.)

(Read my advice on How To Title Your Images here.)

It would be easy to say, “Use any title you want. You’re the artist!” While it’s harder to do, I think that titles work best when they honor the content of the work and communicate that effectively to others.

It takes time to work these things out. There will be more new images. And, my understanding of this work will grow. How long this process may continue is unknown. But I need to title these images – soon.

It’s Untitled for now. But, not for long.

What would you title these images?


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