I was recently asked to shoot "Speed Week" at the Bonneville Salt flats. Bonneville is legendary... a dry salt lake bed located in Utah, where machines are put to the test, the goal... to be the fastest machine to scoot across the earths surface. What could be more fun?
The images were shot for a magazine called Men's File, a UK mag geared towards vintage motorcycle, hot rod, fashion, and gearhead culture. I've been a big fan of vintage motorcycles for some time (and have, at one time or another, owned a couple of the bikes that were competing), so this assignment could not have been more appealing. I'll post more images as I get through them, but here is a small sample.
I think the hardest part of the project was to photograph these machines (cars and motorcycles), moving at such incredible speeds, only to drive home forced to obey traditional speed limits. And, it will be no easy task removing all of the salt from the interior of my car (and camera).
The one thing that excites me most, is the prospect of entering my bike in the competition next year. I'm hooked.
I wanted to post the invite for the exhibition at Modified Arts, I'll be showing some new images along with Bill Timmerman. There will be an opening reception on Friday (the 21st of August), and a second on the 4th of September (for the Phoenix First Fridays gallery and studio tours). I think the first "opening reception" is more enjoyable, it's a little less chaotic... a bit less crowded, and the people who attend seem to be more interested in looking at the work and less interested in trashing Roosevelt neighborhood.
Anyway, if anyone would like to stop by... we'd love to see you.
This week I head out to Los Angeles to exhibit a body of work at Fresh Artfairs (an event that kicks off Photo LA). I'll be showing images from the beachcombers series, which is a collection of toned silver prints taken on various beaches and waterways around the world. To prepare, I've been in the darkroom and building frames for the last couple of weeks. The framed pieces are hanging in the studio, and I occasionally change out an image in hopes of making it a stronger body of work. In a moment of weakness I asked my girlfriend which print if any she would change out, when she chose one of my favorites I glared at her with a look of contempt... "are you kidding me", a few days later changed it. At the end of August, a large group of the series will be on display in Phoenix, but for this show I will have to edit down to about eighteen framed pieces.
These photos are out-takes from a recent project that was shot for the copper mining industry in Arizona. The star of these images is Styker (a 6 month old catahoula puppy). Styker is a cattle dog "in training" on a ranch near Superior, and on this particular afternoon he was coaxed... reluctantly, into his first photo shoot. When full grown this breed is said to be the largest and most aggressive cattle dog, able to handle wild cattle effectively in the roughest of terrain.
Stryker took the lead as we hiked into the location and when our human talent went to make-up, Stryker readied himself by rolling in cow shit and snacking on decaying fish and lizards on the shoreline. When it was time to begin, our little dappled friend bounded in and out view... in the frame for a brief moment and then completely out of sight. He seemed to take a keen interest in photography and would climb excitedly over me to more closely investigate the camera. His encounters left me covered in muddy footprints and a very distinct turd like odor.
All and all Stryker gave a stellar performance... and I would be honored to work with him again.
An amber glow illuminates the corner of my work space. The light emitted by this "safelight" barely registers as I first enter the darkroom. I move through the cramped space intuitively until my eyes adjust to the dim surroundings. A handcrafted dodging wand sits to the left of my easel just below the enlargers timer, to the right are a few loose filters and a grain magnifier. With chemistry in the trays and a negative carrier placed into the enlarger, it's time to begin.
I've always felt that the darkroom was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the photographic process. Once the door shuts and you're alone in the darkness, the smell of chemistry in the air and a world of possibility in every negative. It's what you do in in this room that sets the mood of the image you've captured in the camera, it give the image life, depth, and emotion. More light and the print is darker... less and it's lighter, contrast can be controlled by changing the color of the light or by a combination of exposure and time in the developer... not that mystifying really, but the results can be remarkable.
I'm not a technical printmaker, I prefer a more organic approach. I watch as the paper rocks gently in the tray, pulling it at just the right moment and carefully placing it into a water bath and finally the fixer. The prints are washed, toned, and washed once again. As they undergo their final wash, I can't help but to fish them out of the water to take another look. The sepia toner stains my fingernails, a testament to the time spent in the dark and a reminder I will carry with me for the next couple of days.