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Visions From The Mind’s Eye – Jerry Uelsmann


Since the 1950’s Jerry Uelsmann has created his surreal photographs entirely in the traditional black-and-white darkroom combining multiple negatives seamlessly into new visual realities, ones that didn’t exist before the camera eye at one moment in time but were found in the mind’s eye over a lifetime.
Many view his images as a continuance of the surreal photography pioneered by avante-garde photographers in the 1930’s. While influenced by this movement, he feels his work has a kinship with a larger visionary sensibility that has risen and fallen cyclically throughout the history of art or which could perhaps better be characterized as the history of consciousness.
Absurd only to the conscious mind, more inquisitive than critical, his work is neither automatic or entirely random, but rather driven by felt connections as opposed to ones that are intellectually prefigured. Though punctuated with moments of humor and horror, the dominant tendency in his body of work is towards encountering and collecting moments of sublimity.
Freely mixing archetypal images drawn from the natural world and architectural images (with a particular emphasis on museums and libraries both repositories of information, surrogate minds if you will) his work suggests a continual exchange between our insides and outsides. Transference, projection, repression, fixation, conflict; the contents and processes of the soul are laid out on the surfaces of his images for all to see. Occasionally Uelsmann recycles the same images creating multiple compositions from them, revealing additional connections and suggesting the continual internal stirring necessary for psychological metamorphosis.
For me, as much today as when I was a child, long before Photoshop, Jerry Uelsmann was a shining example of possibilities. He used a relatively young medium with a developing tradition in a different way. He created his own visual language to build a very personal visual world one image at a time – and then shared it with us. His is a different kind of work. He does the soul’s work through poetry rather than the mind’s work through non-fiction.
Read my extended conversation with Jerry Uelsmann here.
Find out more about my influences here.








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A Life’s Work – Richard Misrach




Richard Misrach has dedicated himself to a single project for a lifetime – the Desert Cantos. Begun in 1979, the Desert Cantos is a series of series that takes its name from its location, the Americandesert southwest, and the structural term for a subsection of a long song or poem. Each canto varies in subject matter, the amount of time it spans, and the number of works included. Numbered as each canto is completed, the first fourteen cantos, in order, are: The Terrain, The Event, The Flood, The Fires, The War (Bravo 20), The Pit, Desert Seas, The Event II, Project W-47 (The Secret), The Test Site, The Playboys, Clouds, The Inhabitants, and The Visitors. Stranded Rowboat, Salton Sea is from the third canto, The Flood. Stylistically ranging in sensibility between minimalism, realism, romanticism, impressionis, and expressionism, Misrach’s work is sometimes challenging aesthetically and always subtly steeped in the social issues that surround land use, ultimately becoming an extended meditation on how man (particularly the American psyche) and nature (specifically the American southwest) define one another.
Misrach thinks of all his desert pictures as part of a single great work, divided by smaller themes and stylistic treatments. When collected together, they become a monumental study constructed by wide-ranging explorations of many aspects of a complex subject with a long history and ultimately a rumination on self and identity. The American west is the landscape that defined the American psyche as we know it. Through his work we come to understand that both may be stranger than we think.
Richard Misrach’s work reminds me of how each work an artist produces is connected to all other works, in one way or another, and that creative development and presentation of that work can highlight those connections, not just for the public but for the artist as well. Even more importantly, he demonstrates the depth and breadth that can be achieved through dedication to a single subject for an extended period of time.
Read my extended conversation with Richard Misrach here.
Find out more about my influences here.






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Environmental Metaphors – Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison


Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison collaborate to produce an apolcalyptic vision of our future that contains a wake up call for us all – for our own health we must tend to the health of our environment.
The primary model, Robert poses as an isolated anonymous everyman struggling to survive a future ecotastrophe, hoping for restoration and redemption through bizarre ritualistic behavior. Not strictly self-portraiture, the self-referential quality of these images invites us to imagine ourselves in similar situations.
Their multi-media approach, includes painting, sculpture and performance art. The final product, sometimes digital, appears to be made with historic photographic processes, making the future look alternately dreamlike and old, which combined with the construction of absurd cobbled-together machines implies a partial loss of technology, adding one more loss to the mix.
Poetically, these images evoke powerful emotional reactions that swing pendulum-like between hope and despair, joy and grief, idealism and nihilism. Rife with ambiguity, contradiction, and paradox, the specific and complete meaning of these images eludes us. Their unfinished quality begs us to continue our inquiries, speculations, and projections about them, as well as to look towards the new works for more clues to help us solve this mystery – or at least deepen it. Perhaps these are the feverish hallucinations of the paranoid or perhaps they are divinely inspired prophecies of our future.
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s evocative imagery suggest to me that we need personal emotional appeals as much as objective factual appeals to produce change. After all, a change of heart always precedes a change of action.
Find out more about my influences here.







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Looking Into Darkness – Joel-Peter Witkin



I find Joel-Peter Witkin’s photography supremely challenging. It would be easy to write his work off as sensational (His images are so shocking they make headlines.), perverse (His models are, if alive, unusual body types including dwarves and hermaphrodites, if dead, cadavers, amputations, skeletons, and carrion, while his props often include sado-masochistic paraphernalia and torture devices.), and contrived (He reproduces historic masterworks in his own dark way.). But that would be too easy.
Witkin’s work challenges me to look at things I turn away from and my own denial. There’s an unusual beauty in his work. This beauty is drawn from much more than exceptional print quality, which though chaotically distressed and painted is nonetheless crafted masterfully. In his best work Witkin transcends the fleeting beauty found on the surfaces of things and penetrates deeper to find a more enduring beauty that lies below the surface – in the most unexpected places and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. I think it takes wisdom to see beauty (especially unconventional beauty) and that beauty imparts wisdom.
Witkin doesn’t consider the things he’s photographing taboo or ugly. He claims to simply acknowledge their existence and to have found beauty within them. Thus he doesn’t think his work aestheticizes negativity, perversion, or violence.  For this to be absolutely true he would need the unerring powers of a saint. Sometimes he misses the mark, either from aiming at the wrong target, a misdirection born out of a calculation designed to impress rather than a passion designed to transform, or from not penetrating deeply enough, perhaps he is not as unflinching as he would lead us to believe. But, he is always courageous and dares to explore in depth what few ever dare to glimpse.
The true task of looking at Witkin’s work is found in differentiating which of Witkin’s images transcends cleverness – not all of them do – to achieve true insight – those that do offer a most unusual substance. The true reward of looking at Witkin’s work is … The shock his best work produces is not the kind of shock that quickly passes leaving me looking for the next big rush. The shock his best work produces haunts me long after I’ve seen his work, sometimes never passing. Appreciating Witkin’s images leaves me more aware, perhaps more alive, potentially wiser, and never unchanged.
Witkin challenges me to flinch less, or if I flinch, to find the courage to continue looking and moving forward. He reminds me that the apprehension of beauty and the wisdom derived from it is made stronger by acknowledging and perhaps coming to a better understanding of the darker aspects of existence.
Find out more about my influences here.



The following images contain nudity. The choice to continue looking is yours.
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Vision & Photography – BBC Explorations – Part 2


“Our eyes play tricks on us. And all around us there exist in the natural world some of the most extraordinary optical illusions. One creature resembles its background so closely its been given the same name, the stick insect. Scientists have learnt a lot from natures optical illusions. Soldiers regularly use camouflage to blend into their background and now human ingenuity has taken camouflage to its logical next step. Soon well be able to make a man completely invisible. Electrically conducting cloth covered in light sensitive sensors sees what’s behind the soldier and projects it onto the front of a suit. Will the invisible man of science fiction soon become science fact?”

Quick Tip – Color Lookup Adjustment Layer Photoshop CS6 – Julianne Kost


In this Quick Tip, Julieanne demonstrates the new Color Lookup Adjustment layer and walks you through how to download a template to quickly apply these new “looks” to your images.
The files she references can be found here. http://adobe.ly/Ng3afA
Find out more on Julianne’s blog.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Vision & Photography – BBC Explorations – Part I


“Explorations charts the advances in science and technology that have revealed hidden worlds and astonishing images. Well see how remarkable innovations in medicine, photography and astronomy have enhanced and altered our understanding. This is the story of how Mankind is driven to acquire these seemingly impossible visions; it is a journey through the images that have revolutionised how we understand our world.”

Eliot Porter



“Celebrate the life and work of Santa Fe photographer Eliot Porter. For more than a half of a century Porter pursued the natural world with his view through a camera. He had numerous publications, most notably with the Sierra Club. “In wilderness is the preservation of the world,” Porter wrote. He combined his photographs with selections of Henry David Thoreau’s writings. The Place No One Knew features Porter’s photographs of Glen Canyon before it vanished under the waters of the Colorado River Project. Featured in this look back at Porter’s work is the photographer’s son Jonathan, who reads selections from his father’s writings. Poet V.B. Price reads the Thoreau selections, and is joined by artists, photographers and friends of Eliot Porter to speak of Eliot and the impact of his work.”
View more photographer’s videos here.

Environmental Activism/Advocacy Through The Arts – Eliot Porter





No other photographer is more influential to me than Eliot Porter – save my father. I knew Eliot through my mother’s long collaboration with him designing and overseeing the production of over twelve of his books during my formative years. His influences on me are too numerous and wide-ranging to list them all here. A few stand out from the rest.
Eliot was a pioneer who elevated the use of, appreciation of, and collectability of color within the medium of photography, aligning his distinctive style with the subtle and complex palette of nature.
Eliot was probably the most widely published fine art photographer of his day. He was at the forefront of a handful of photographers that defined a style that would later characterize an entire genre of photographic environmental advocacy. It was during the production of Eliot’s book Intimate Landscapes where I was first introduced to digital imaging. When I saw the Scitex machines used in the 1970s I instantly wanted to use them for artistic rather than commercial purposes, but thought it might be a lifetime before I could afford what my mother called a “million dollar coloring book” until I got my own copy of the first version of Adobe Photoshop, which was a dream come true. The posters my mother designed to promote the book and exhibit ultimately became some of the Metropolitan Museum’s most successful, far exceeding the reach of the originals. I learned that an artist’s effectiveness could be dramatically extended beyond rare original works of art through publications made available to large audiences.
James Gleick’s (the author who popularized complexity sciences and fractal geometry in his best-selling book Chaos) choice to join forces with Eliot on their book Nature’s Chaos confirmed my opinion that Eliot had intuitively sensed a deeper order in nature than was conventionally seen and portrayed this in his images. Eliot’s background and continuing interest in the sciences informed his art.
Eliot described his book The Place No One Knew, a portrait of Glen Canyon before it was flooded by a dam, as a eulogy because it was released after the flood waters began rising and affected public opinion too late to stop the destruction of the canyon’s destruction. Hearing about both the successes and failures of advocacy through the arts, I decided that while I wanted to make my own contributions in this area, that there were plenty of other artists contributing in similar ways, and that new ways were also needed. He knew this when he threw down the gauntlet one day and said to me, “You know, it’s going to be your generation that decides whether we will hand down a habitable environment to future generations.”
Even more influential to me than his photographs was the man. In his 70’s and 80’s, Eliot was physically fit (walking 5 miles a day), adventurous (travelling to remote locations like Iceland and Antarctica), mentally sharp as a tack (loving intelligent respectful debates with anyone of any age or background and often playing the devil’s advocate just to see where the conversation and the other person would go), and actively socially conscientious (continuing his long-standing participation in organizations like the Sierra Club. He was a shining example in so many ways.
Find out more about my influences here.

New NIK’s HDR Efex Pro 2 – Save 15%


NIK recently announced a new version of their exceptional software for HDR imaging – NIK’s HDR Efex Pro 2. It’s the HDR solution with the best visual interface, one that helps you compare your options at a single glance.
Use the code JPCNIK to get a 15% discount on all NIK software
NAPP’s RC Concepcion (Check out his HDR book here.) demonstrates the latest version in this video.

New features include …
Improved Tone Mapping Engine – Develop superior results with better color rendering and improved natural styles
Interface, Interaction, and Workflow – Benefit from improvements to the merging interface, tone mapping and enhancement controls, visual presets, and more
Depth Control – Enjoy added depth and realism in images with the new and proprietary Depth control, which helps counteract the flattened look commonly associated with HDR images
Full GPU Processing and Multi-Core Optimization – Gain even faster performance with GPU processing that takes full advantage of the processors found on modern display adapters
Ghost Reduction – Improved ghost reduction algorithm ensures that artifacts created by moving objects are removed with a single click
Chromatic Aberration Reduction – Reduce color fringes around objects
Graduated Neutral Density Control – Access the full 32-bit depth of the merged image, providing a natural effect especially on images with a strong horizon line
Full White Balance Control – Take full advantage of the white balance in an image with a new Tint slider, which along with the Temperature slider, can be applied both globally as well as selectively using U Point technology
History Browser – Easily review adjustments and different HDR looks via the History Browser which records every enhancement used in an editing session
Extended Language Support – International users benefit by the addition of Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) to a list of languages that includes English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Japanese
Find out about even more features here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.