• #TBT Kallitype Photography

    Kallitype Photograph of Chairs

    Digital Photography, Copyright
    © 1984 SuZan Alexander

    I am not much on selfies, etc. so I thought I would share an image from my college days for Throw Back Thursday. This is an image from my college days (circa 1980’s… pre-digital photography), it is from a course on an alternative photography process known as Kallitype. (You can read more about the Kallitype process HERE.)

    Looking at the photos from this course some thirty years later, I see compositional changes, etc. I would like to do differently, like the plant that is creeping in on the edge of the frame. Back in the analog days, cloning this out was a very different process compared to these digital days. But, I love these old photography processes that are now referred to as alternative processes. I like them so much that I have started exploring the updated versions so I can start incorporating them into my personal work. There is a tactile component, and something about it challenges my creativity. I would really like to incorporate that feeling of creativity into a body of work using new tools and new knowledge. My journey of research is leading me to begin learning how to make the best digital negative possible because that seems like the best place to start exploring how to incorporate this passion for alternative photograph into my “new” digital photography skill-set.

    As for this particular photograph of three chairs, if you are asking why I made this image, here is the story. I was at a Mexican food restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. I remember being drawn to these chairs at the perimeter of the room. So, mid-meal, I finally got out my camera and fired off a few discrete shots. It was only when I started developing them in the darkroom that I realize what I was seeing in this group. Each one of these chairs has something missing, broken, or “wrong”. Can you see them?

  • Ernst Haas

    Today is the birthday of Ernst Haas. Haas was a photojournalist who is also considered one of the pioneers of color photography. In fact, in 1953, LIFE magazine published his photo essay which was the first color photo feature for the magazine. But the groundbreaking accomplishments do not end there. It seems a 1962 retrospective of his work was the first color photography exhibition held at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). So, for all those folks who have told me that photography is not art, please read that last sentence again. I am pretty sure that serves as evidence that photography IS considered art, at least by the good folks at MoMA. Just sayin’

    If you are interested in exploring and enjoying the art of Mr. Haas, The Ernst Haas Estate has a website with his work. I have included the link HERE.

    For my fellow photographers, I included this quote as something to think about. No judging. There is room for everyone at the photography table. But, it made me consider what type of photographer am I? What type photographer do I want to be? And, does my life reflect the photographer I want to be? (Yes. I am going through a deep-dive phase of exploring the process of creating art.) Do you know which type photographer you are?


  • Lonesome Dove Traveling Photo Exhibit

    The Lonesome Dove Traveling Exhibit is currently at the Bosque Museum… but only until March 3, 2018, so hurry if you want to see the photos Bill Wittliff made while filming the movie Lonesome Dove.  Mr. Wittliff was tapped to write the screen adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s novel of the same name. The novel follows two former Texas Rangers (played by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones) and their adventures on a cattle drive to Montana Territory. That is a vast oversimplification of the story, but it was/is so popular, I am sure you have read the novel, seen the mini-series, or both. I had recently read the novel prior to the airing of the 1989 TV mini-series, so this exhibit takes me back to the anticipation and planning my life around each episode to see how the pages from the novel would come to life on my television screen.

    The Bosque Museum is located at 301 South Avenue Q, Clifton, Texas. HERE is a link to their website which includes driving directions. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m -5:00 p.m.

  • Celebrating the Photographer Ansel Adams

    Today is the birthday of American photographer, Ansel Adams. I know we’ve all seen his images, heard about his commitment to conservation… and photographers certainly know about the Zone System he championed. So today, on his birthday, let’s celebrate his art, as well as the contributions he made to the art of photography.

    I’ve always been intrigued by Adams’s technical abilities with photographs. When I was in college, I even “pitched” the idea of receiving college credit to attend his workshop one summer. My instructor agreed to the college credit IF I wrote a proposal and a paper after the workshop. Her agreement encouraged me to work on a plan to make it happen. My next step was parental approval so I devised a proposal to travel to California via train, and my parents agreed. Hot diggity dawg! I was going to apply to study with Ansel Adams, albeit a short amount of time, but it was time with Ansel Adams. I was sure he would teach me the secret of great photography. Unfortunately, Mr. Adams passed before I got my plan off the ground so I was never his student – in person.

    After a long absence from photography, I now find myself embracing digital photography which in many ways is like re-learning photography. Don’t get me wrong. Digital photography has a lot of benefits, but, if I’m truthful, there is a part of me that misses film photography too. I have a collection of Ansel Adams books and I am still learning from him. His methods still hold teachable moment even though the medium has changed. I would like to think he would have enjoyed all the new developments in this medium we call photography.

    Happy birthday! This Zone System is for you Mr. Adams.

    If you want to join the party, HERE is a video interview with Ansel Adams. Enjoy!

  • Photographer Edward Curtis

    "Kikisoblu (Princess Angeline) of the Duwamish" — the eldest daughter of Chief Seattle. 1896 portrait photograph by Edward S. Curtis.

    Princess Angeline

    Today is Edward Curtis’s birthday. Edward Curtis was a photographer, who, in my mind, crossed lines into the territory of what I consider a historian, and perhaps even a photojournalist. Officially, however, he is referred to as an “American photographer and ethnologist”. I have written a blog about him before (HERE).

    His (circa) 1895 photograph of Princess Angeline (above) is considered his first portrait of a Native American. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. What intrigues me about his story is his dedication and determination. He literally gave up everything to pursue this passion of documenting Native Americans in a time when it was illegal for Native Americans to practice their customs. Clearly, he saw an urgency in documenting as many tribes, as well as their customs, languages, and rituals, before their way of life vanished. I realize there is controversy surrounding authenticity, etc., but I feel there are some stunning images that resulted from his work. For example, I could sit quietly with Princess Angeline for quite a while. Then, there is the Vanishing Race where only one of the warriors is looking back. That small moment becomes a metaphor for the past and a vanishing way of life. There are so many images that give me pause and make me ponder the stories.

    So today, on Mr. Curtis’s birthday, have a look-see at some of the images he created which are housed at the Library of Congress.

  • Russell Lee Photography Exhibit

    I have written about my admiration of Russell Lee photography before HERE. The Pie Town exhibit I wrote about was the first time I experienced Lee’s work in person. So, I was happy to learn about an exhibit of his work at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas. The exhibit contains photographs from the Dolph Briscoe Center in Austin, Texas and is on display in the temporary gallery of the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum from January 27, 2018 – March 10, 2018. I have included the press release about the exhibit below.

    Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum Press Release for Russell Lee Exhibit

    The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is proud to host a new temporary exhibit featuring the photographs of renowned documentary photographer, Russell Lee. These photographs, on display through March 10th, showcase Lee’s stunning black and white images, focusing on topics such as politics, travel, industry and, most touchingly, the human condition.

    Russell Lee came to photography after training as an engineer and a painter and left a legacy of more than 100,000 documentary images from the 1930s to the 1970s. Although best known for his large body of work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) from 1936 to 1943, Lee also produced many significant series of images on his own and on other assignments, most of it while living in Austin, Texas, his chosen home.

    This exhibit offers a rare glimpse into the images he produced in 1935 and 1936 when he first took up a camera and goes on to highlight the vast body of important work that Lee produced from 1947 through 1977. Although less familiar than his work for the FSA, Lee’s early work and his postwar photography highlight his interest in documenting the human condition and reflect his great talent and humanity.

    This collection of digital prints is drawn from the archives of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The Briscoe Center’s Lee collection includes 3,639 photographic prints, 708 slides, 27,047 photographic negatives, and five color transparencies.

    Russell Lee Photographs can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and is part of the regular schedule of changing exhibits at the museum. The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in downtown Temple. For more information about the exhibit or the museum, please visit www.templerrhm.org or call 254-298-5194.

    Russell Lee Photographs was organized by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, and presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Humanities Texas advances heritage, culture, and education and is based in Austin, Texas.