photojournalism

Atomic Road Trip

The first week of October I drove to southern New Mexico to research and photograph tourists’ activities related to the birth of the atomic era. Specifically, twice a year in April and October, White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) opens the Trinity Site to the public for a one-day visit. Trinity Site is ground zero for the Manhattan Project’s first atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945. Less than a month later atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Trinity Site is located near the Jornada del Muerto desert (Journey of the Dead Man) and in the Tularosa Basin, just northwest of Alamogordo.

Having lived part of my childhood in the mountains east of Alamogordo, I felt it important to visit WSRM to try to better understand where my father worked during the late 1950s. After visiting the WSRM Museum and Missile Park, I did gain some insights into his life and work. For example, I did not realize WSRM was originally established near the end of WWII, in part, for reverse engineering the Nazi V-2 rocket with Germany’s top rocket scientist, Dr. Wehner von Braun. My father’s work overlapped with von Bruan’s for the next decade as my father worked on the Mercury and Gemini manned space programs.

Needless to say, it was an interesting and tiring 5-day road trip, which included three out of four nights camping (two nights were in Mesa Verda National Park).

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Archaeology and Photography

This past week I was able to spend several days at the Idaho State University Anthropology Department’s archeology field school over in west-central Idaho. Archeology site director, Dr. Andy Speer and his students were very accommodating in letting me poke around shooting stills and videos, along with capturing sound bites. Hopefully a nice documentary will come out of all this and will help future summer archeology field schools.

The field school/archeology dig site was in the Sweet Ola Valley on a private 1700 acre ranch located in the Boise National Forest. What an incredible view! The area is rich in history and more documentaries are there if I just had the time to keep digging!

The first night there, I couldn’t work on my astro-landscape work due to thunderstorms that kept rolling up the valley. Night two was crystal clear but I was too exhausted to stay up! The following night started off favorable, but then clouds kept scudding right though my field of view, but I at least captured one interesting image.

Here’s a few still photos from the documentary project. Enjoy!

NOLA’s French Quarter

Earlier this month I attended the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) annual conference in New Orleans…my favorite Southern city! Unfortunately, the weather was a bit uncooperative and rained nearly my entire stay. On Saturday morning I had a two-hour gap between conference sessions and the rain stopped, so I went strolling down Canal Street and eventually into the French Quarter on both Royal and Bourbon Streets. Festivities were cranking up early in the morning, as there were Saint Patrick’s Day and Saint Joseph’s Day parades throughout the neighborhood. Below are a few shots made with my travel camera, a Fujifilm x20 digital rangefinder, complete with the 1960s black and silver retro finish. Last year I had several people in NYC stop me wanting to know if was actually a film camera!

Journey to Ancient Cyprus

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the 3rd International Conference of Photography and Theory, which was held in the ancient city of Nicosia (Lefkosia according to the Greeks), Cyprus. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite shots from the trip, including a very post-modern Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Enjoy!

© 2014 Terry Ownby, All Rights Reserved.

Istanbul, Turkey

Recently I had the opportunity to present a paper on my photographic research at an international academic conference in Istanbul, Turkey. With limited amounts of free time during my short stay in this exotic and historic city, I made sure to avail myself of photographic opportunities at this ancient seaport. Formerly known as Constantinople, modern Istanbul still remains a mix of contemporary and ancient cultures. Once a major intersection of the world’s three major religious faiths (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), Istanbul today is home to about 14 million inhabitants that mostly practice Islam. Istanbul is a cacophony of honking car horns, strange tongues, and roasting chestnuts at every street corner.

Frontal view of the Blue Mosque (also known as the Sultan Ahmet Camii), located in the Sultanahmet Square, opposite from the Haghia Sophia. This mosque was built between 1609 to 1616 CE. © 2012 Terry Ownby

Frontal view of the Haghia Sophia, also known as the Church of St. Sophia. Presently called the Kariye Museum (Kariye is the Turkish version of the Greek word “khora”, which meant “rural area” or “country”. Located in the Sultanahmet Square, adjacent to the old city market area of istanbul, Turkey. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Olives, cheese, and sausage being sold at a small shop in the famous Spice Bazaar near the sea port of Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey. This is located next to the New Mosque. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Dried fruit and nuts being sold at a small shop in one of the back alley’s of the Spice Bazaar. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Typical street vendor in Istanbul selling roasted chestnuts (kestane). At other times, his cart is used to sell the popular snack of steamed or roasted corn-on-the-cob (misir). In background is another vendor selling the ubiqutous simit (bagel) coated in roasted sesame seeds. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

At the crowed seaport of Eminonu, passenger ferry boats arrive to disembark their human cargo, only to repeat the process across the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Straights. On the distant hillside are the rooftops of the Topkapi Palace. Light rail trains can be seen in the background. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Panoramic view of the lower half of the famous Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) in the Old City section of Istanbul, Turkey. The reference to “blue” comes from the use of the blue Iznik tilework throughout the mosque’s interior. This mosque, or camii, was built between 1609 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmet I. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Vineyard book finally published!

Over the course of the past year, I have given my readers updates regarding the progress of my book project about a vineyard. Specifically, it’s about Baltimore Bend Vineyard, near Waverly, Missouri and the seasonal changes and activities over the course of a year. It’s been a fun journey!

Technology has certainly come along way since I started photographing three decades ago. But more importantly, this technology now allows the photographer or writer the ability to publish their books without the hassles and expense of finding a publisher willing to advance your work. On-demand publishing brings to anyone interested in publishing their work the ability to do so without printing thousands of copies. This new technology and business model allows one to print only one copy of their book, or hundreds. The author is total control, which I find very nice.

Below are the front and back covers of my second monograph: Journey Through The Vineyard: A Photographic Year At Baltimore Bend.

© 2010 Terry Ownby

Rewards of being a professor

Sometimes we go through life wondering if what we’re doing is worthwhile, or if what we do makes a difference. The enormity of the universe can sometimes simply be overwhelming when we consider how small we are in comparison. But, occasionally moments arrive which bring clarity to what we do and we realize we have been a part of something good. Such was the case this past weekend.

Several years ago while I was teaching photography at the Art Institute of Colorado, I had the pleasure of having an exceptional student arrive in one of my studio classes. He had just recently served in the Marines and he didn’t fit the stereotypic role of college students. He was driven to excel and that he did very well! As he neared graduation, he talked with me several times about his desire to study photojournalism and attending grad school. I wrote a few letters of recommendation and eventually he was accepted into the PJ grad program at Boston University. That made me very happy!

Nearly three years ago, after he completed all his course work, he set off to pursue his graduate thesis project, which was a lengthy cultural photo essay, in China. He’s had many adventures living, working, and photographing in mainland China, specifically in a city called Jiujiang. In order to immerse himself in the local culture, he accepted a teaching position at Jiujiang University and has produced an excellent book. So when he sent out an email stating he was coming home (in the St. Louis area) for a short vacation, I was excited when he agreed to take time from his hectic schedule to have lunch with me! To be able to sit down and share a meal with my young friend and listen to his stories and his excitement as a photographer was one of those sublime moments in my life. It made me realize why I got into teaching photography and that indeed, being a professor is absolutely worthwhile!

You can see his work at his website, by clicking here. His book, Jiujiang: 九江 Nine Rivers, can be reviewed and purchased by clicking here.

In this photo, Chad Owsley on left, and Terry Ownby. © 2010

Vineyard in Winter: Update

Just a quick update. The vineyard book project that I’m shooting at Baltimore Bend Vineyards is still moving along. Since the project visually investigates life in the vineyard over the course of a year, winter is no exception for photographing. Fortunately just a few days ago we had a nice snowfall, so I ventured north for some shooting. Since the university is on winter break, my students working with me on this project were off on vacation. My colleague and friend, Wilson Hurst, came along and we decided to try our hand at shooting star trails that evening. This was my first attempt and I have a ways to go before I’m comfortable with type of shooting. But it was fun!

Here’s a quote from my working project journal: “The vineyard was snow covered under a nearly full-moon, with crisp, cold night air at about 18° F, accompanied by beautiful white and black snow geese on the wing overhead. Enchanting evening to be out photographing the vineyard.”

© 2009 Terry Ownby

© 2009 Terry Ownby

© 2009 Terry Ownby

Life in the Vineyard: A Book Project

Vineyards. For me, being in the vineyard is like a fish in water, it’s completely natural. In a previous life I was a Frenchman and I really think my work back then (1930/40s) was in the vineyard and winery. Now, fast-forward to the late 1990s; I owned a 60-acre farm in southern Wisconsin and on a gently sloped ridge to the southeast I planted my vineyard. The wine grapes I grew were French hybrids designed to withstand the prolonged cold temperatures of the northern-tier states. Foch, Millot, and Seyval Blanc were the red and white varietals for wine; I did have some table grapes in there also, such as Edelweiss and Concord.

Working in the vineyard was hard work, but mentally, it was a time of meditation and mental relaxation. Often times I think it was the only thing that kept me sane while I photographed food for my livelihood. Everything about vineyard life I enjoyed, from the fresh smell of plowed earth to pruning and tying the vines on the trellis wires. Speaking of trellis systems, the one I used was called a GDC—Geneva Double Curtain.

Ever since I had that vineyard in Wisconsin, I’ve had this driving desire to publish a book that would combine my passion for photography with that of vineyards and wineries. This past summer I met the owners of Baltimore Bend Vineyard, near Waverly, Missouri. After a couple of conversations and knocking around some ideas, I’m photographing and writing a book about their vineyard and winery. I’m following the yearly circle of life in their beautiful vineyard, not far from the Missouri River. When it’s finished, I plan to publish a book of about 80 pages mostly of photographs, but also of text telling their story. What’s also been great about this book project is that three of my students (Matt, Rosie, and Phil) from the university are working with me, learning about the complexity of book publishing.

Every time I go into the Baltimore Bend Vineyard, it’s like a sense of déjà vu, taking me to a time when I was a grape farmer in France, or Wisconsin, or wherever reality may be!

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© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Terry Ownby

Baltimore Bend Vineyard

© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Terry Ownby


Fort Scott, Kansas…Another Road Trip!

Ft. Scott Army Post, Officer's Quarters The old army fort in eastern Kansas was called Fort Scott and was originally constructed in 1842. There were no walls built around this pioneer army post since three sides consisted of natural, steep bluffs, with the southern side opened to the expanse of the tall grass prairie. This old army post was the last destination for Wilson and I on our short road trip last week through SW Missouri and SE Kansas. Eleven years after its founding, the Army abandoned the fort in 1853 and its buildings became the center of a new frontier town, bearing the old fort’s namesake: Fort Scott, Kansas. This would later become the hometown for renowned African American photographer, Gordon Parks.

This is a great small town photo destination. The main street area, which joins the old fort structure, has great 1800s architecture, which has been nicely restored. Lots of interesting antique stores and boutique shops occupy the storefronts. Also, as with any of my road trips, I found a really cool diner from 1946 that is still in operation, complete with its nifty neon signage…Nu Grille Cafe. My photo compadre enjoyed a really big cheeseburger and I sampled the Frito chili pie, for about five bucks. Cheap but good! After chowing down supper at the greasy spoon, we headed back to UCM, which is maybe a couple of hours drive…I really lose track of time on the road, but it was dark! But lack of light never stops Wilson from creating images! As you can see posted below, he pushes the envelop of image making with any amount of electromagnetic radiation he can find. In this case, minimal ambient light from the dusky sunset and the truck dashlights!

Nu Grille Cafe, Fort Scott, KansasDetail of late 1800s building in downtown Ft. Scott, KS

© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Wilson Hurst