I find the waterfront endlessly fascinating. Ocean, stream, lake or puddle there is always something of interest at the interaction of water and earth. At the ocean the intertidal zone is twice daily revealed and covered by the tides’ ebb and flow. Up shore, the bedrock is exposed and weathered. The water’s action peels back the skin of soil to expose and polish the bedrock. It is within this interplay of water, earth, sky and occasionally ice that I do a lot of my looking and then photography.
Time is a principal ingredient in every photograph. Working backwards in time, first we have the duration of the exposure. With the view camera this is often a full second or more. At this slow rate, surf for example, is flat ethereal and misty. To record any wave features at all the exposure must be above a thirtieth of a second. And to stop the action of a breaking wave it must be a hundredth of a second or shorter. It is human nature to mark time from the perspective of a lifetime. But in the geological timeframe a lifetime is barely the blink of an eye. Many geological effects are so ubiquitous they go unnoticed while others occur so slowly we tend not to see them.
A body of work is defined by its limits. This collection is of pure landscape. My working definition of pure landscape is simply a scene with no discernible human activity. So there are no human-made objects in any form.
I find this border is critical. If there is even hint of humanity in a photograph the scene becomes about man’s relation to nature. Human made objects are easily comprehensible. We know their meaning and function and judge the scene by the object and its relationship to the surroundings. The scene becomes about human endeavor.
With pure landscape, the interplay of natural objects is the only subject. But even the purest landscape photograph involves at least two people. The photographer presents an image to a viewer.
Natural objects will be interpreted in a manner that makes sense to us. Sometimes a rather literal rendering of the scene is called for.
Often a subject triggers the imagination. Looking at a rock and seeing a face, simply put – “hey look at that, it looks like … “ you fill in the blank. This is a metaphoric interpretation. It accommodates our human nature and is a pleasurable indulgence.
That it is possible to concoct images, which are so literal, sharp and articulate – yet are meaningless, save the imagination, is a core riddle of this series. It engages the dichotomy between logic and emotion. Modern scientific understanding has only been with us for a few generations while superstition and intuition remain guiding influences. My photographs embrace these polarities of perception and understanding.
After many years of engagement the mystery persists and the pursuit continues.