fine art photography

Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake

Yesterday Wilson and I traveled up to Grand Teton National Park for some interesting photography. Along the way we encountered mysterious rising steam off the Snake River in Idaho’s Swan Valley, before heading up over the Teton Pass. Once we dropped into the Jackson Hole area, the clouds completely filled the valley. At first we thought it might be a wasted trip, but we pressed on and went further north to Jackson Lake. Once at the lake, the cloud cover began breaking and resulted with an impressive layer suspended between the lake surface and the mountain peaks. Afterwards, we returned to the town of Jackson and had lunch at Cafe Genvieve, an eclectic little eatery just of the square. It’s been a busy week of photographing the region with my Missouri colleague!

 

Western Landscape in B&W

This past weekend marked the Fall Equinox, when the earth comes into close equilibrium between daylight and nighttime darkness. I thought it fitting to seek my personal balance by hiking once again up canyons of the City Creek Trails not far from my home. As usual, I backpacked my camera gear with the intent of shooting some Western landscapes. The weather was a bit unsettled and provided visual drama, which translated nicely into black and white imagery. Here’s a couple of views from that outing.

Rail fence along North Fork road. © 2013 Terry Ownby

Rail fence along North Fork road. © 2013 Terry Ownby

Looking east on North Fork road. © 2013 Terry Ownby.
Looking east on North Fork road. © 2013 Terry Ownby.

Cowboys, Stars, and Prairie Ghosts

Last week was our spring break, so a much needed road trip to the Tallgrass Prairie in Kansas was taken. Wilson, my colleague and shooting partner, joined me for a few days in the Flint Hills, where we made Cottonwood Falls our base of operation. Specifically, we stayed at an eclectic little stone motel called the Millstream Resort Motel, overlooking the Cottonwood River.

Our timing for the trip was great, as we had clear skies and no snow storms until after we returned! I had recently read Jim Hoy’s (director of the Center for Great Plains Studies) book, Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales from the Tallgrass Prairie, so many of the small towns he mentioned became our venues for imaging making. Plus, after talking with a local gravedigger, we found other exciting places to visit, such as living ghost towns, abandoned farmsteads, octogenarian speedsters, and an idle gristmill from the 19th century.

In keeping with Hunter Neal’s classic rendition of the Kansas Food Pyramid (see drawing diagram below), I had to continue my quest of sampling biscuits and gravy at the local cafes. We also were introduced to a new culinary delight known as bierocks, at Dave’s Place on the edge of Strong City.

We managed to photograph star trails two nights at the Chase County State Lake, which is just south of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Clear, crisp nights with a half-moon made for some interesting shots. Wilson did manage to have frost develop on his lens while the temps dropped and we enjoyed a variety of ales. Moose Drool Brown Ale by Big Sky Brewing and Single-Wide IPA by Boulevard proved to be favorites!

As I continue my creative research in the Flint Hills, this trip allowed me to pursue my multimedia interests with digital still photography. Here, I’m exploring the visual dimensions coupled with ambient or natural audio. New photographic toys under investigation were my new Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35 (35mm modern-day scioptic lens), Tascam DR-07MKII digital audio recorder, and a new lightweight carbon-fiber tripod by Induro (CT-214).

Here’s some images from the trip…enjoy!

Windmill near Chase County State Lake, Cottonwood, Kansas. © Terry Ownby.

Windmill near Chase County State Lake, Cottonwood, Kansas. © Terry Ownby.

Forgotten swings at the Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse near Spring Hill Ranch in the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve, sway in during strong prairie winds on our recent visit. © Terry Ownby.

Forgotten swings at the Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse near Spring Hill Ranch in the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve, sway in during strong prairie winds on our recent visit.To see animation, click on image. © Terry Ownby.

Breakfast at Emma Chase Cafe in Cottonwood Falls, KS. © Terry Ownby

Breakfast at Emma Chase Cafe in Cottonwood Falls, KS. © Terry Ownby

The only church in Bazaar, Kansas, heart of cattle grazing country in the Flint Hills. © Terry Ownby

The only church in Bazaar, Kansas, heart of cattle grazing country in the Flint Hills. © Terry Ownby

Star trails at the Chase County Fishing Lake, just west from Cottonwood Fall, Kansas. © Terry Ownby

Star trails at the Chase County Fishing Lake, just west from Cottonwood Fall, Kansas. © Terry Ownby

Doctor William B. Jones build this farmstead in 1878. © Terry Ownby

Doctor William B. Jones build this farmstead in 1878. © Terry Ownby

Sycamore trees along Cedar Creek, near Cedar Point, Kansas. © Terry Ownby

Sycamore trees along Cedar Creek, near Cedar Point, Kansas. © Terry Ownby

Strong City Rodeo champions from the past. Blonde-haired Marge Roberts was a trick rider at the rodeo known for her standing upright "Dive" on a speeding horse, during the 1950s. © Terry Ownby

Strong City Rodeo champions from the past. Blonde-haired Marge Roberts was a trick rider at the rodeo known for her standing upright “Dive” on a speeding horse, during the 1950s. © Terry Ownby

Abandoned grist mill along side the Cottonwood River in a living ghost town called Cedar Point, Kansas. © Terry Ownby

Abandoned grist mill along side the Cottonwood River in a living ghost town called Cedar Point, Kansas. © Terry Ownby

Hunter Neal's version of the food pyramid, after his photo expedition to the Kansas prairie. © Hunter Neal

Hunter Neal’s version of the food pyramid, after his photo expedition to the Kansas prairie. © Hunter Neal

Fire Dance Under a Full Moon

Phil's Fire Dance

Fire Dance Under a Full Moon. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Light Orbs and Energy Plasma at Maple Leaf Lake. © 2012 Terry Ownby

Light Orbs and Energy Plasma at Maple Leaf Lake. © 2012 Terry Ownby

Light Orbs at Sunset. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Light Orbs at Sunset. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Nearly the end of another fall semester at the university, and the “three amigos”, aka “the three compadres” (Wilson, Tom, and myself), along with two other very good friends (Robert and Phil), headed off to a nearby lake on a recent Friday afternoon to enjoy a bit of global warming effects in early winter, some brewskis and sodas, and some evening performance art by Wilson and Phil.

Through the use of time-based digital still capture, we take light-energy performance art to an interesting level by incorporating the reflective quality of a still lake and the illumination of a full moon. Various forms of energy emitting devices are deployed during the performance, rendering images not typically encountered during a conventional photographic session of simply pressing the shutter release. Instead, through time-based digital still capture, levels of invisible or limited visible light energy are recorded, which often times reveal a rather surreal environment as we “break on through to the other side”—The Doors.

Prairie Spirit Orb

The weekend following Halloween found me trekking across the Flint Hills prairie. Staying out late on Saturday night at the Konza prairie proved rewarding, as my colleagues and I were treated to some tricks down in the hollow that sheltered the Hokanson farmstead, built over 130 years ago. Although Andrew Hokanson was Swedish, this author’s ancestry was Celtic from the British Isles. In Celtic mythology the Halloween or Samhain season was the ending of the harvest season and the turning into the dark season, which was when the sídhe doorways (fairy portals) were open to the Otherworld. It appears we had an Otherworldly performance for our cameras that night! Enjoy this magically captured performance art!

Spirit activity at the Hokanson Farmstead in the Konza prairie. © Terry Ownby 2012.

A Night of Light Painting at Pape Lake

On a cool Friday evening in October, I joined three other photographic compatriots for some fun light painting at Pape Lake. Since the summer drought had taken its toll on Concordia’s fresh water supply, we had about 25-feet of new, flat shoreline to conduct our colored light experiments upon. While Phil wandered off to conduct his own night photography investigations on the other side of the lake, Wilson, Robert, and myself set up to photograph spinning orbs and fanning glo-sticks. It was a fun night out and was even better when we stopped at Biffle’s BBQ! Here are a few of my first attempts.

Glowing Orb at Pape Lake. © 2012 Terry Ownby

Aura at Pape Lake. © 2012 Terry Ownby

Odd lights at Pape Lake. © 2012 Terry Ownby

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,

Brooklyn in B&W

While on our recent trip to New York over spring break, I had an opportunity to spend a morning in Brooklyn. Specifically, I was in the DUMBO area (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). During the late 19th century, this area was a manufacturing district and housed numerous warehouses and factories. The whole area reminded of the work by documentary photographer and sociologist, Lewis W. Hine. I could easily imagine him photographing children laboring within these massive structures a hundred years ago. I think it was that feeling of his documentary work that helped me pre-visual my images as black and white. After wondering some of the narrow cobble-stone streets between towering warehouses, I ventured down to the waterfront along the East River, to the Brooklyn Bridge Park. This park lies between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. Here I happened upon Jane’s Carousel, which I had previously learned about on CBS Sunday Morning. Housed in an all-glass pavilion is a 90-year old carousel that has been painstakingly restored to its original look, after being rescued from Youngstown, Ohio. While photographing the carousel, a lady standing next to me told me her story of riding that carousel as a child and she was visiting it with her sister so their children could ride it as well. Neat story. Enjoy my B&Ws!

The Manhattan Bridge with Empire State Building in background.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Support stanchion on the Brooklyn Bridge.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Manhattan Bridge viewed from Brooklyn's DUMBO district.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Jane's Carousel beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Detail shot of Jane's Carousel with Brooklyn Bridge viewed through glass pavilion.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Close-up view of carousel horse figure after restoration.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Carousel in motion with Manhattan Bridge in background.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Storefront for Grimaldi's pizzeria in Brooklyn.
© 2012 Terry Ownby

Lightning in the Land of Oz!

Friday morning Wilson and I headed west out of KC in a horrible thunderstorm, but by the time we reached Topeka the skies were beginning to clear. Our road trip destination was near Salina, Kansas. There were multiple photographic venues on our agenda: the Lindsborg Swedish Midsummer Festival, Mushroom Rock State Park, and Rock City (near Minneapolis, KS). When we reached Salina, the temps were well into the high 90s with equivalent humidity levels! We first headed north to Rock City Park, which is privately owned, and were astounded by the size of these “concretion” boulders strewn about the landscape. Shot several daytime images there, then headed into Minneapolis for a fine Mexican lunch.

Rock City Park, © 2011 Terry Ownby

Next, we headed west again and made our way out to Mushroom Rock State Park…humidity levels were even more dire! Disappointment here as there were only 2 1/2 “mushrooms” in the 5-acre park. But never to give up, I noticed an abandoned prairie farmstead up on a lonely hill. With no one around, we made our way up to it and found a treasure drove of photo opportunities waiting. I concentrated my shooting inside an old barn. Great textures!

© 2011 Terry Ownby

© 2011 Terry Ownby

After dinner in Salina, we decided Rock City would be our nighttime destiny for shooting star trails amongst the concretions. We arrived at 8:30 pm, about a half-hour before sunset, in order set up our gear and make composition decisions. There were these incredibly nasty little gnats  that ignored all our bug spray! Miserable. Clouds kept building and about 10pm the lightning started up to our south. We kept watching and shooting and eventually the storm moved in close and to our east. Instead of star trail photographs, we ended up with some great mysterious looking lightening shots with the sedimentary concretions in the foreground. I kept my camera’s WB set for daylight and the blue that appears on the rocks was from my LED flashlight. The eery green cast came from the nearby mercury vapor parking lot lamps. Of course, the colors in the sky were provided by nature, herself! Enjoy!

© 2011 Terry Ownby

© 2011 Terry Ownby

© 2011 Terry Ownby

Analog and Digital Technologies

Just a short update to my last posting on the Technology Series. After input and dialogue from my friend, Wilson Hurst (who’s finishing his MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts), I revised the overall look and feel of the analog portrait. I’m much happier with this stylistic approach, especially when juxtaposed against the stark white sterility of the digital technology counterpart. Visually, the diptych characterizes Neal Postman‘s notion of Technopoly and America’s surrender of culture to technology. Thus, presented below is the first diptych of the series.

© 2011 Terry Ownby