Uelsmania

The blog has been quiet for several months, not because I had nothing to say, but because so many things collided during the summer months, and writing happened in other media. The season seems to have been centered on photography and walking, including a pair of week-long Maine Media Center workshops that have nudged me in the direction of publication projects. Our 50th college reunion consumed a lot of psychic energy and turned out to be very interesting. There have also been trips (California, Nova Scotia), the usual array of summer visitors, and the consumption of many books, and of course many memorable meals. I’ve added infrared to the array of tools I’ve been working with, and I’m imagining a series of self-published Blurb books exploring various facets of my photographic archives. My Flickr photostream aggregates a lot of the visual byproducts of these activities, but doesn’t provide much in the way of context or backstory.

Yesterday I took a couple of iPhone photos that provoke some ruminations. I was crossing the bridge at Mosquito Harbor, near the end of a 10-mile walk, and stopped to look at a dramatic cloud pattern. I took out the iPhone and did a quick landscape shot:

Mosquito Harbor
That image captures some of the drama, in a landscape mode that’s quite familiar to me: distant horizon, something significant in the foreground. I lowered the iPhone to set its exposure in the foreground (to try to get more of the detail in the reflection), but inadvertently hit the button and captured the near foreground of cobbles, the margin between stone and rising tide, and the reflected sky:
Uelsmania
Note that this exposure was entirely accidental, composing itself in spite of what I thought I was doing. It wasn’t until I was looking at the results of the day’s shooting on the computer that I recognized the power of the inadvertent image. My immediate thought was that it was reminiscent of the marvelous work of Jerry Uelsmann, whom I’ve been following for 40+ years (see this profile), in which one order of reality glides into another. I got Uelsmann Untitled: a retrospective from the shelf and read Carol McCusker’s essay:

Interesting things happen on the margins of landmasses… his imagery, in which nothing is assured or known and layers of contradictory realities coexist… (pg. 8)

Uelsmann has always worked in black and white, and entirely with analog media (sandwiching negatives, performing a dance of movement among multiple enlargers, masking, dodging, burning…). I converted my color image to black and white:


UelsmaniaBW
and I can’t decide which version I prefer.

We’ve just bought an Epson P800 printer and are about to embark on fancy printing of some of our respective back catalogs of photographs. It’s not clear where this will lead, beyond the creation of portfolios of favorite images, but it does seem clear that we’re both putting more of our attention and energies into photography.

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