Before moving from Virginia to Wyoming’s Wind River country in 1997, and the move to Colorado in 2008, I spent almost forty years documenting the vanishing people and landscapes of the Appalachians. Mine is a poetic and classic view of rural America, and I portray the land in a traditional and representational genre. Each of my museum-quality images is a projection of my artistry and my vision of the world. The spring of 2005 represented a major turning point in my life. I printed my last silver sulfide image. Far from being a sad moment for me, I have headed off in another direction using the latest in digital technology. Now at age 83, I am off on a new and exciting adventure. I now think Pixels rather than Silver Particles. But my view of the world around me has not changed. I am still inspired by the gentle, the noble and dignified, and the beautiful unfolding of life as I see it.
This image was made several days ago while camping near the San Juan's to the south. I had photographed this landscape several weeks earlier, but the color was just starting to show. This time it was just over the top, but still quite striking.
I just managed to complete my image before a storm front moved in over the mountains to the south, and it dumped several inches of fresh snow on the San Juan's that night.
This is a classic example of an S-curve which leads the viewer's eye into the image.
To view a larger images, left click on the photograph with your mouse.
We were camping up near this area last week and I made several short trips into the lower San Juan's. There is fresh snow on the mountains which fell during the previous night.
These are the real mountains and there are at least two in the background which are over fourteen thousand feet. They call these "fourteeners" out here, and there are people who try to climb them all. One fellow fell to his death this past summer and I am told that it has become a regular occurrence. Falls and rock slides cause most of the deaths. Don't let anyone tell you that these are easy climbs.
This looked like an interesting image waiting to be captured, so it joined my collection of Colorado landscapes.
Escalante Canyon is located thirty miles north of Montrose, CO and it makes for a great day trip.
In our opinion, this canyon is about as close as you can get to Canyonlands NP on a small-scale basis. The red-rock cliffs can tower several hundred feet above you, and the red sandstone is just as bright here as anywhere else across the Colorado Plateau.
The purpose of my day trip was to photograph cottonwood trees in full color and the adventure produced great results. The image that was posted yesterday on the following entry is wall-to-wall color. But it is tough to beat the yellow cottonwood standing next to a towering red cliff.
Left click on the mouse to enlarge the above image.
A couple of weeks ago I took a trip up to Escalante Canyon. The cottonwoods were in full color and the lighting was perfect. It was a bright cloudy day with back lighting. You must left click on the image to even come close to experiencing what I captured here.
Behind this thicket of small trees was a bright red vertical cliff of sandstone which added to the tone of the image you see here.
This was a wonderful fall, and I managed to capture it at many levels, from nine thousand feet to about four thousand here at the bottom of the canyon. One could spend about a month moving from one elevation level to another to capture these images. As the aspens ran their course, the cottonwoods began their round.
-Left click on image to enjoy a larger view of the cottonwood forest.
This image was made at about the eight thousand foot level of the Cimarron Range in SW Colorado.
I spotted the concept immediately and went to work. I used the cattails and other foilage in the foreground for starters and then concentrated on the reflections and the bright yellow aspens in the background. It all framed up nicely, and then I waited for a few minutes for the ripples on the pond to settle down a bit, and once all the elements were in place, I made my exposure.
Oh yes, I almost always use a polarizing filter to cut down on unwanted reflections. Notice, I said unwanted, not wanted. The reflections in the pond were just perfect; yet controlled. I also waited for some of the fast-moving clouds to pass over the area to allow direct sunlight to fall directly on the aspens.
If you would like to view a larger image, left click on the photograph.
Twin-creek Butte would be considered Mixed Media because it is both a silver print and a painting.
Hand coloring with transparent oils goes way back to the early days of photography. I used this technique shortly after moving to Wyoming in 1997, but I only applied oil to several images. It lends itself to western images in particular, because of the varied earth colors found in so many western landscapes.
This winter scene was one of my favorites before I retired from printmaking in 2005.
--I took a drive the other day through the nearby hills and did some exploring in a new area. I thought there was little else out there but juniper, creosote bush and the usual desert plants.
I took a questionable looking two track and ended up in this green valley below the vermilion cliffs in the background. What a great place for a short hike and a couple of nice images. Needless to say, I will be going back shortly for some more exploring before winter sets in.
Our dog Jake had a ball exploring the thickets and sniffing out the area. No people or vehicles to worry about.
To view a larger image, click on the photograph above
Last fall I told my wife that I was going to toss thirty bucks down the tube in the good name of photography. B&W was having a portfolio contest and just for the heck of it, I decided to submit several of my Appalachian images of the mountain people, plus several other interesting character studies.
About two months ago, I received an e-mail from the editors informing me that I was a winner and several of my images would be published in the forthcoming issue.
In the meantime, I made a quick calculation to see just how much money the magazine was making off the photographers. Thirty thousand dollars is a good round number based on the number of submissions. These folks do very well. If you have noticed lately, quite a few photography and multi media magazines have leaned in this direction. Heck, everyone wants to get published so there is a captive audience. But the only money makers are the promoters.
I was also curious to know just how many inquiries I might get since this was touted in the prospectus as a major plus. The answer to that is zero. Not surprising. I also did something else which was a last-minute decision, and that was to include one comic image which would most likely result in a negative reaction on the part of the "judges".
June arrived and I shelled out twelve bucks for a copy, and lo and behold, there were three of my images. Two were from the primary submissions and the third and full-page featured image was of my comic image of an old Blue Ridge out house. The out house was my way of giving the judges the old proverbial finger, and for whatever reason, they fell for my joke and obviously thought it was great. The print job in the magazine was terrible but that is likely because of the way the magazine copies were mass produced.
I have not entered a photography competition in decades and this will be the last. I have entered many multi-media competitions where I pitted my work against painters, sculptors, mixed media and so on, and I have a winning track record. In general, the judges in such shows were first rate.
Notice that I did not include the privy in this blog, but if anyone would like to view the old weatheredJonnie, just let me know via e-mail and I will share it with you. firstname.lastname@example.org
My legacy is my toned black and white silver prints.
However, I often had a second camera with me which was loaded with 120 Ektachrome roll film. During the seventies and eighties, many of these images found their way into Annual Reports and other commercial publications. For over thirty years these images have remained in dark storage for later use.
In 2009 I converted many of my favorite color images to digital and completed my final book: From the Blue Ridge to the Shenandoah Valley and Beyond. This publication spans a period of nearly fifty years and includes numerous essays about the images and how they were made. More about this later. Presently, I am searching for a good publisher.
Jack with two original silver sulfide originals circa 1980
People who have purchased or admired Jack's work have often commented about his unique presentation style. - If you will look closely (click on image to enlarge) you will notice that Jack uses two or three outside bevel-cut mats that are mounted to a full cut back mat, but what is totally different about his mounting is that the original, including the mounting board, is also cut at a bevel and laminated to the bottom mat which makes up the back of the presentation. - Jack refers to this as his three dimensional mounting technique and the reason he started doing this early on was because he did not want his early mats to come in contact with the print. Even though he later switched over to four-ply rag backing, he continued to use this early matting technique.
I spotted these trees during the summer months of 1978 and returned the following winter to make this image with the addition of a fresh snowfall.
Without the snow to bring out the abstract design of the trees and trail, the image is simply a jumble of trees and bushes.
When giving lectures to art groups back in the seventies and eighties, I would often use this image preceded by a second image made during the summer months from the same spot to illustrate how pre-visualization worked. I was always surprised at how many people failed to spot the basic concept until I flashed this image on the screen.
Winter lane was made in central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
It was early evening when I made this image from mile post one along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western Virginia.
This was what some would call a "grab shot." I just happened to be driving along the ridge for the pure joy of being atop the mountain. As usual, my camera pack was in the back seat so the rest of the story is history. The view over Rockfish Valley to the east was well worth the stop.
You are looking down at Hightown from Monterey Mountain. Villages are small and quaint in this NW corner of Virginia and when winter sets in it can be windy and very cold. This was such a day, and I had to hold the tripod down to keep the whole thing from blowing over.
What you see here is a mirror image and I had a number of people ask me about this original at art exhibitions because they recognized the scene. "Something is wrong" they would say. "This photograph doesn't look right." And I would tell them that I reversed the negative because I preferred the mirror image to the original view. To make the story sound more realistic, I would say that this is what you see in your rear view mirror as you drove away from the scene. And this is true. I have flipped many negatives to improve the lead-in and overall composition.
This is also a prime example of why I use snow as a means of covering up distractions. The image becomes an abstract in design. All of the bad stuff that you do not want to show up on the original image is buried under a foot of clean snow. And I make it a point to be on site before the snow is disturbed.
-To view a larger image left click on the original.
Highland Lane was made in the extreme northwest corner of Virginia following a snow storm.
Note the split rail fences on either side of the lane.
During the first few decades of the last century, the forests were thick with giant chestnut trees but a blight ravaged the forests and by the late nineteen thirties entire stands of this majestic tree had been wiped out. To this day, the only reminder of the American Chestnuts are a few old stumps and partially covered log shells which are randomly scattered along the wooded ridges of the Appalachians.
On one of my earlier posts, I used a knot hole from an old Chestnut log to frame a blood root--a harbinger of spring along the Appalachians. It was posted on July 3, 2009. It is a lovely example of a piece of aged American Chestnut.
Because of the straight grain and durability of the wood, this tree was commonly used by the early settlers for building log homes and outbuildings. The split rail fences you see here could easily be close to a hundred years old. The tree shown to the left is one of the many sugar maples which are quite common throughout Highland County.