The time honored tradition for beginning painters was to copy work by the masters. A student gained experience on how to use their tools and at the same time learned how the greats created works of art that are inspiring and beautiful.
The above image was taken near the beginning of the photography program that I had started in college. It was taken with an 8X10 view camera with a 300mm lens that would be equivalent to a 50mm on a 35mm camera. At the time I was studying the work of Alfred Stieglitz ( 1864-1946 ). He was an early champion of photography as a work of Art. He was married to the artist Georgia O’Keeffe and was friends with many of the early greats of photography including Paul Strand, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams to just name a few. He also introduced many painters to America like Matisse, Picasso, and of course Georgia O’Keeffe. Stieglitz was also a great photographer who excelled in many different genres such as nature, landscape, cityscapes, portraits and nudes. He was the first photographers photographer. One of his projects was called “ Equivalents “ which were photographs of clouds. He described the work as:
I wanted to photograph clouds to find out what I had learned in forty years about photography. Through clouds to put down my philosophy of life – to show that (the success of) my photographs (was) not due to subject matter – not to special trees or faces, or interiors, to special privileges – clouds were there for everyone…
A quick Google search will show more of his work.
The above image was taken after setting my camera up and pointing it skyward and waiting. It was a long time ago but I know that I waited more than 4 hours. I had only one sheet of film so I had to make it count. It was hand processed in a tray and this is a scan of the image.
This image is one of the defining images of my photography career. It was the first time that I visualized what kind of image that I wanted and obtained the desired results. Many people these days say that they shoot more deliberately with a film camera or with a Leica rangefinder. Creating an image that is in my minds eye is just the way that I operate. With digital cameras my shooting style is the same as when shooting a View Camera. I’m trying to express my vision. Sometimes it works and others the end result is not what is what I’m after. But the journey can be as fulfilling as the end result.