This week I am honored to have my image “Niagara” chosen as the winner in the “Natural Forces” category in Photo+, Photo District News’ (PDN’s) sixth annual EXPOSURE Photograhy Awards. Billed as a “global celebration of photography,” it truly was as winners of other categories hailed from: INDIA, LONDON, BANGLADESH, SAMOA, SOUTH KOREA, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, BRAZIL,
JAPAN, ITALY, BAVARIA, HUNGARY, NORWAY, FRANCE, PUERTO RICO, RUSSIA and PORTUGAL.
To see the other honored images visit: EXPOSURE Awards
As always, I greatly appreciate the recognition.
(Cropped portion of people and bird from- Niagara, 2006)
The discussion as to what makes a Fine Art photograph is one for the ages. I have long respected the genre and have worked diligently to hone my craft. Although there are various definitions of what makes a photograph fine art, I subscribe to a more tradional theory that such an image is created with an aesthetic intention, that the value lies primarily in its beauty, rather than for journalistic, editorial or commercial purposes. I also believe that the image should tell a story, be unique, iconic, powerful…or all of the above. As beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, so goes a fine art photograph which usually entails vetting by those respected in the field. Knowing this, I fearlessly spent my early years placing my work in front of some of the most well respected photographers, gallerists, curators and collectors in the business. With the help of their support, the work was widely published in fine art magazines, exhibited in galleries across the U.S. and over time, a significant resume was built.
I believe that one of my signature images, Niagara, clearly exemplifies these equalities (shot from atop a hotel two miles away to capture this angle)… It has countinously been singled out by many of those alluded to above, in that the composition juxtaposing the grandeur of the falls with the minutia of the toursists indicates just how small we humans are in comparison to the forces of Mother Nature.
After getting past the composition (and then lighting, both of which cannot be adequately discussed in a blog post, if at all), I personally take significant pride in capturing the exacting details of a scene, whether it be the people in this image or the fine feathers in one of my close-up animal portraits.
Then, finally, and consistent with the teachings of the great Ansel Adams himself, capturing the image is only one half of the process. The printing (again, not something that can be covered here), is crucial to the creation of a fine art photographic print. Being true to the process, I hand print each of my images (up to 17″ x 22″) on a professional Epson 3800 printer using Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl paper and I personally oversee the larger prints to make sure they are color correct (again, another significant concern for another day) and that they print without a single unexpected blemish.
Finally, I pride myself on the key details of my images being “tack” sharp, as exemplified by the enlarged cropped portion of the image above. Although some of the older images can go only so far, as a perfectionist, I have gone through an entire roll of paper (athough thankfully not often) in order to ultimately create a single large print for a collector, and to my exacting standards. When a gallerist who regularly sells the work of masters such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston calls my prints “magic,” I know that I am doing something right.
Hence, there are many sources by which one can obtain a Fine Art print. I simply offer one that is created in my mind’s eye…and always from my heart. It is universally accepted that the first rule of collecting fine art photographyy is to actually enjoy the work. Hence, I strive to create images that make the viewer not only think…but feel, and I have been honored to have satisfied a wide array of selective collectors, and look forward to doing so for many others in the future.
Dark Descent, Niagara Falls, 2006
Milton Falls, OH 2013
Wild River, Rocky Mountains, CO 2010
As many of you who follow my blog know, my posts are generated from various forms of inspiration. Recently, I connected online with an individual who sells Fine Art Photography created by some of the true legends of the genre. Jeff Appel, who was kind enough to take the time to look at my work, has a web site at http://www.photographypastandpresent.com/ and FB page at https://www.facebook.com/jeffemilyappel. He has a working relationship with many of the masters of the art form, individuals whom I have long admired. From John Sexton, Roger Ballen, Roman Loranc to Cole Thompson and Camille Seaman. Jeff has impeccable photographic taste and seems to be the go-to guy for prints from many of the classic Fine Art Photographers. Several of his recent postings of classic black and white images, feature water scenes, often exhibiting motion.
Some of these classic images have moved me to re-post some of my own visions of the beauty of water. These are some of my favorite to create, the juxtiposition of the soft white moving water, often against hard dark rocks represent a time honored tradition of Fine Art Photography, one that I don’t take lightly.
Created by using a tripod, in muted light, the timing of the shutter release is critical to avoid blowing out the whites of the water, a talent that is honed over time and something I pride myself on capturing.
So, if you haven’t found what you ar looking for within the portfolios at http://www.barrystevengreff.com, check out Jeff’s site to view work from some of the legends as well as other great artists he works with, the images are truly ….moving.
Fantasy Island, Ode to M.C. Escher, 2006-2010
Albert Einstein is attributed with the clever quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Although it has come into question as to whether or not he actually said it, it is still both catchy and thought-provoking.
After an absolutely awful year of health, which is still challenging me through the new year, it leads me to think it would be insane not to try something new going forward. That being said, my work has always been known for its rendition of Mother Earth’s natural beauty with very little, if any, help from post production “magic.” Notwithstanding, over the years, I have (secretly) dabbled in the creation of scenes which have been born in my mind’s eye and then generated from several composite images I have captured over time.
Hence, for the first time seen beyond my eyes, one of my more complicated compilations, Fantasy Island. Created from over a dozen images taken over several years, this is truly one that the viewer can see new things at every different turn. Produced in the mystical style of M.C. Escher, following the composition around, brings you back to the beginning…or does it? It’s enough to drive you insane.
Twin Towers, Never Forget
Unable to Post my usual 9/11 tribute yesterday, better late than never, I do so today. Three of my own fond memories of the Towers include this (never before published) pre-digital image I took from a New Jersey hotel room; having an elegant business dinner at the Windows on the World and a wonderful tourist visit with my buddy JC and Goddaughter Ari.
To say that the buildings, their occupants and the first responders will never be forgotten…is an understatement for the ages.
WTC Memorial, NYC 2013
Here in their place, as I have posted before, the WTC Memorial and new One World Trade Center tower rising to the Heavens, to always remind us of our loss….and our determined spirit to rebuild.
Rising to the Heavens, One World Trade Center 2013
Multnomah Falls, OR 2009
In my humble opinion, the Pacific Northwest in one of the most beautiful places our country has to offer. From spectacular granite cliffs, to sand dunes to majestic waterfalls cascading through dense, green foliage. Back in another lifetime, I went there when I could, to re-charge my batteries through the peaceful energy Mother Nature provided in her most spectacular locales.
The 620 foot Multnomah Falls is the most well-known of a series of 77 waterfalls that dot the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. There are only three higher falls in the nation and Multnomah is arguably the most beautiful of those. A trail from the famous Multnomah Falls Lodge (built in 1925) climbs up the side towards the Simon Benson Bridge and then winds further towards the top. Due to 25 years of spine issues, although I have been known (on a good day) to head down a relatively level trail, this uphill battle was not one that I took on.
Instead, I tried unsuccessfully to capture the entire falls, including the zig zagging upper part, in my frame. The bright light at the top of the image is from the setting sun which also prevented me from properly exposing the entire falls. Finally, using a wide angle lens and a tripod, I cropped out the majestic lower falls and slowed down how the eyes see the water movement, which I could only do after the sun had slipped almost entirely behind the mountain. The smooth cascade and deep green surroundings transforms this visual capture of an iconic place from the usual scenic shot into a Fine Art image.
As my analogies have gone for some time, for those of you who actually read what I say, this also exemplifies the downward fall I have been experiencing with my health. After a very long battle, hopefully my future posts will begin to elicit some hope in that department. We shall see. …Either way, I have captured some serious magic in my time, in my images and in my mind.