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The What Do You See Contest ?

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We played a fun game during my recent exhibit.
People wrote down their associations after looking at inkblots.
One lucky player won a free ebook!
We’re doing this online now.
Write down your associations for each of these images in this post’s comments; include the numbers.
You could be the next lucky winner will receive a free ebook!
View more Studies here.
View related finished works here.
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My New eBook & Catalog – Revelation

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Find the ebook here.

Find the catalog here.

Revelation gathers images inspired by encounters with the arts of “primitive” or “primal” cultures. This ebook collects photographs from both polar regions – Greenland and Antarctica.
Excerpt from the accompanying essay …
“My work is not a simple document of my encounters with the varied spirit(s) of nature; it is a collaboration with it. An important aspect of this work is bringing into focus not just what is seen with the naked eye but what is experienced by the whole being – body, mind, and emotion. The process of creating these images is like dreaming while I’m awake. Some of these visions were discovered in dreams, some in waking reveries, some in conscious visualizations, and some were discovered directly through the process of making images. Whether the images arise in the moment or long after the moment has passed, the essential experience is extended, like a seed that once planted germinates, blooms, and bears fruit. Regardless of where I’m creating – on site, in transit, or in studio –  the places that have touched me deeply are always with me.”
View / Read more here.
View more images here.

Taking The Time You Need To Develop Depth

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Secret Flower
Spirit of the Squash Blossom
Censered
Enchambered
Jonahs Apprehension

This is a selection of the images that started my series Revelation over twenty years ago. I had been planning on making related images in the arctic and antarctic for more than ten years. The series Revelation was on my mind when I first went to Antarctica in 2005; I started shooting deliberately for it on a return voyage in 2007; material slowly accumulated in subsequent voyages in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015; and then in 2016 it all came together. Part of the reason this work waited so long is that there was other work to do, including the completion of other related bodies of work including Inhalation and Exhalation. Doing that work influenced this work.

The images I recently released (arctic and antarctic Revelations) have a different quality as a result of waiting. they would have been different if I finished them earlier. In part, this comes from sleeping on it; the subconscious does a lot of work. In part, this is is the result of a significant amount of conscious thought; studying craft and composition were only the beginnings, digging into my thoughts and feelings about the subject and the approach were the real keys; related reading and viewing supported it. In part, this is the result of my inner state now; contrary to what some have suggested, I’ve found this isn’t something to overcome no matter what the current conditions but rather something to be nurtured and cultivated. While one needs to guard agains procrastination, one also needs to guard against rushing through content and not developing the necessary depth to fully engage it, fostering an intimate relationship with it. Doing the work develops depth.  And, the work doesn’t just happen behind the lens or in front of the computer.

So when should you make work? This is a question that is best approached with awareness and deep contemplation. Though there are repeatable patterns and common tendencies, there is no one definitive answer to this question for all artists and all situations. I’ve found some work gets produced very quickly, sometimes a whole series is made in one shoot, and some work gets produced very slowly, over decades. Ultimately, I think you have to go with your gut. That doesn’t rule out the possibility and potential benefits of a great deal of research and forethought before you do. The two working in concert together often yield the most powerful combination. However, the single most important ingredient is, not mere spontaneity, which can be short lived, but an effervescence of spirit, and it’s particularly important to pay attention to this quality if it can be sustained over longer periods of time. One needs to be alive to the work to make it a living thing.

In the era of social networks, there is a tremendous pressure to release work quickly and to keep releasing work on a regular basis.  This can create a pace that is unsustainable for most creatives, at least when it comes to releasing work with real depth. Good fully developed work takes time … because developing a relationship with your work and your self takes time, much like creating deeper relationships with people take time. Savor it.

At the same time, the unfinished work we make along the way has it’s own value, a very different value, and it can be fascinating to watch how we get to our final destinations. It’s important to know the difference and make the distinction between fully developed images and unfinished images, between work and play, both when we are producing our own images and enjoying others.

View new images in my series Revelation here.

View more images in the series Revelation here.
View the 360 degree interactive exhibit here.
View related Studies here.

Is It A New Or Updated Edition?

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Digital technology offers interesting new possibilities for print editions.

The appearance of the print may change.

It has long been an accepted practice that artists will change the rendition of their images over time.

Ansel Adams famously remarked,  “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.” You can view the changes in Ansel Adams’ classic Moonrise Over Hernandez here. Some collectors search for the optimum print made in an artist’s lifetime, while others collect multiple prints to create a meaningful comparison.

The composition may change.

Similarly, it’s been accepted that a composition may vary if cropping is adjusted during printing, though typically this is a matter of fine tuning rather than dramatic change. Today, with composites, the composition may change by replacing components, often dramatically changing the composition.

I’ve released composited images and later changed the composition substantially.

In the following to image, Voyage Of Grace, the feather at the top of the waterfall was at the bottom of the waterfall in the first print sold. I chose not to start the edition again because it was not a substantially different statement. The one collector who has that print has a unique item with exceptional value. (I do offer print replacements for a fee, which the collector has not chosen to exercise.)

Voyage of Grace

Find out more about this and related images here.

Updated Or New Edition ?

For me, the question of whether to replace one edition with another or to issue a new edition is an interesting one. It’s one that my father – a traditional analog photographer – and most photographers of his generation do not have to address. New possibilities bring new challenges.

There are times when related but distinctly different images warrant a new edition.

The following two images are made from separate single exposures of the same subject made at approximately the same time, but their compositions and intent are quite different; one is straight and representational, the other is composited and surreal.

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The straight image

View the straight series here.

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The composite

View the composited series here.

The two editions both complement and contrast with one another in ways that build value in each edition. In general, when you can align the interests of the artistic statement with the interests of the market, you’ve got a winning combination.

Find out more about my print editions here.

Sign up for my newsletter Collectors Alert here.

Download my free PDF on Editions here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Dreamlike New Images From Antarctica

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During our 2016 DPD Antarctica Workshop we had beautiful weather – foggy mornings, sunny days, and calm waters. I’d been looking for clear reflections like these for years; it is the windiest continent. All of the eight voyages I’ve made to Antarctica have been defined by weather, which has never been the same twice.

View more images here.

Find out about my exhibit New Work 2016 here.
Preview my ebook Antarctica here.
Get a free ebook Antarctica Two Visions here.
Find out about our 2018 DPD Antarctica workshop here!

iPhone Experiment – Antarctica & Greenland Now & Then

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Two of my recent studies (experiments made and processed entirely on an iPhone) combine historical photographs with contemporary exposures.

Exposures for Antarctica Now & Then were made at Whaler’s Bay, Antarctica on the active volcano Deception Island.

View more here.

Exposures for Greenland Now & Then were made in the East Greenland village of Ittoqqortoormiit.

View more here.

I’ve been wondering if there was any connection between these explorations and the work that was foremost on my mind during these voyages.

At first glance we seem to make many unrelated images, but often it’s just a matter of finding the connections. Sometimes we find the connections between what we were thinking and feeling while we are having the experience; sometimes we find the connections long after; sometimes we never find them. At the very least, doing one thing provides a rejuvenating break from the other. There’s usually more going on than we are consciously aware of.

What connections have I found? I was looking into the spirit of the land in these locations and these two experiences provided stark contrasts to that sensibility. People concerned with the spirit of a place wouldn’t kill whales in the way they were slaughtered in Antarctica; thankfully this activity has stopped. That bygone members of Greenland’s indigenous population had a stronger sense of the spirt of the place and practices for interacting with it than the quickly westernizing current members do was made evident in the art they left behind. Was my experience limited by my cultural inheritance and current circumstances? Could I, a westerner living today, also participate in more sacred ways of relating to the earth? I think so.

The finished images I produced on these trips, for my series Revelation, are evidence of this.

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Find out about my exhibit New Work 2016 here.

Sublime Symmetries Drawn Out Of Ice

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I’ve spent the better part of my life exploring symmetry, especially bilateral symmetry. (You’ll find a chapter on Symmetry in my book Adobe Photoshop Master Class.)
When I make symmetrical images I pay careful attention to three things: one, the dividing line that defines the symmetry, the seam whether visible or not and any repetitive patterns surrounding it; two; rotation along the dividing line; three; what’s included in the areas that surround the dividing line, especially when contours are present.
I’ve explored creating out of phase symmetries, where two or more images of the same moving subjects shot at different times are used.
In this selection of symmetries, I explore creating varied but related symmetries from different angles of the same subject (icebergs) – 1-2, 3-6, 7-9.

View more here.

View the finished works of art here.
See more in my exhibit New Work 2016.
View inkblot studies here.

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What In The World Is Klecksography ?

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Klecksography is the art of making images with inkblots. Spots of ink are dropped onto a piece of paper, which is then folded while still wet to create mirrored patterns. Symmetry most powerfully stimulates, apophenia, the human tendency to see meaningful patterns in random data.
The history of using inkblots as tools for stimulating imagination can be traced back as far as the late 1400’s. Both Leonardo da Vinci and Boticelli used them.
Interest in this practice grew wider in the late 1800’s when physician and poet Justinus Kerner collected his studies in a book Klesksographien, which was published posthumously. Kerner, also a mystic poet, felt that such drawings not only brought him in closer contact with deeper aspects of his nature but also drew him closer to the spirit of nature.
Around the same time, a similar game was described in the book Gobolinks or Shadow-Pictures For Young And Old (Stuart and Paine), which explained how to make inkblot monsters and use them as prompts for imaginative writing.
Some years later, psychologist Hermann Rorschach made the most enduring contribution to this practice. As a child he enjoyed klecksography so much that his friends nicknamed him “Klecks” (inkblot). While studying Freud’s work on dream symbolism (under the tutelage of Eugen Bleuler, who also taught Carl Jung), Rorschach’s interest in klecksography was rekindled. He published his book Psychodiagnotik (1921) and invented his now famous Rorschach Test, seeing it as a potent tool to stimulate visual free association, which would in turn uncover unconscious tendencies and desires, much like Freud used verbal free association. (From hundreds, Rorschach selected ten inkblots, designed to be as ambiguous and “conflicted” as possible.) Since then, many other psychologists have refined the Rorschach Test and used it as a tool for studying the subconscious. In the 1960’s it was the most widely used projective test.
I’ve found exploring inkblot symmetries extremely rewarding. The perceptual transformation that occurs when making them and the visual skills this practice kindles has influenced my art in many ways.
Here’s a sampling of my most recent digital inkblot studies.
What do you see in them?
View more of my inkblots here.
View some of my finished works of art that were influenced by klecksography here.
See more in my exhibit New Work 2016.
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