Road Tripping in the Arco Desert, Moon Craters and Atomic Venues

Last month I had the opportunity to slip away from the university for a day and went on a photo road trip with fellow photographer, John Lowry. Our adventure began well before sunrise as we headed out to the Snake River Plain and headed northwest into the Arco Desert. First stop in the bone-chilling weather was Atomic City, a quasi-ghost town not far from the INL (Idaho National Laboratory). This entire region is an interesting mix of ancient basaltic lava flows, atomic wastelands, and current nuclear testing facilities.

My planned experiments for the day centered on the vast landscape to be photographed through my super wide-angle Rokinon 14mm/f2.8 lens. The objective was to use a 1.2 ND filter attached to the backside of the lens, which would reduce my exposures by 4 f-stops. Ultimately, the plan called for windy conditions that would allow for cloud movement during the slow exposures. Alas, the wind didn’t cooperate and the clouds stood still. Bummer. But regardless of Mother Nature’s lack of support in this endeavor, we did have a great time and created a variety of images. Enjoy!

New Topographics in West Kansas

For some time I’ve noted what appeared to be very banal photos of landscapes, especially the urban or suburban. What I had been viewing was a genre as “New Topographics”, which has its roots in the 1975 landscape exhibit curated by William Jenkins at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House. Specifically, that show was titled “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape“. It featured work by artists such as Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Frank Gohlke, and Stephen Shore.

When I attended the 2008 annual conference for the SPE, I was re-introduced to Robert Adams’ seemingly straightforward B&W work during one of the many lectures. Afterwards, on reviewing my personal archive, I realized over many years I too had been shooting in a similar vein. Thus, during my recent sojourn to west Kansas, I paid homage to this genre once again and created the short “topographic” study illustrated below.

Gas Station #1, Oakley, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Gas Station #2, Oakley, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Quonset Hut, Russell Springs, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby,

Municipal Shed, Russell Springs, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby,

Independence in Black and White

Earlier this summer I went on a photo shooting trip to Independence, Missouri with Dr. Tom Mitchell’s editorial photo class. Every time I visit the town square, I feel as though I’m in time warp back to the 1950s. And, it always feels like Black and White! Here’s a few B&Ws from that outing that visually express the nostalgia I feel for that locale.

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby