Friday, December 29, 2006

Welcome to my new blog!

When I wrote this on Saturday, snow was falling. This is the first real snow in Boston and it was the beautiful kind, soft and quiet. I am inclined in part to dedicate this post to Alec Soth, in honor of "snow week" as he declared last week on his most excellent blog. For today's topic, I thought I'd share some musings about photography and weather.

I am reminded of comments Frank Gohlke made during a lecture for the PRC. Inspired by a cogent question, he got quite excited about addressing the concept of weather as seen in his images. Weather is as illusive as most moments we seek to capture in photography; its remnants are what we capture. In Gohlke's work from the Midwest, threatening clouds and lightening strikes often hover in the distance. In his Mt. Saint Helens work, weather becomes a method of healing and a welcome constant in a ravaged landscape. Gohlke's interest perhaps stems in part from growing up in Tornado Alley. As I learned while living in Texas and Tennessee, when faced with such potential fury, the weather takes on an increased significance. I also recall Ben Fink's "Shadow Realms" work from Silvereye's online gallery. Although I am not sure ultimately how I feel about the whole series, the issues the work brings up are interesting. Raised by a stepmother who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, Fink often photographs before a storm, enhancing them later, explaining he finds "comfort in revisiting these potential sites for disaster." Viewing some of these images, I am reminded of landscapes by Thomas Cole, Frederick Edwin Church, and John Constable--all of whom incorporated elements of weather, sometimes verging on the hyperreal, into their paintings. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not also mention J. M. W. Turner in this discussion, who could arguably be called "the painter of weather."

My partner Bruce and I discussed this while riding in the car to get ingredients for moussaka yesterday. He pointed out that weather is intrinsically attached to our emotions; during certain kinds of weather, we often get emotional or are reminded of an emotional time. Photography and weather for him are very connected and he finds that images that capture some kind of weather, or more broadly atmosphere, are the most successful. The sun has come out again, and thus I end my post.

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