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.
Last Friday morning we spent time walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Afterwards, we made our way around the Brooklyn Bridge Park, where I shot this panorama. The Brooklyn Bridge is to the left, while to the right is the Manhattan Bridge. Once we finished photographing along the waterfront, we went over a couple of blocks and had an incredible New York style pizza at Grimaldi’s, which is famous for their pizzas.
For a number of years, a colleague from the Art Department has encouraged me to join him with some of our photography students on his annual trip to New York City during our spring break. This year I finally had time to take him up on his offer. We started recruiting students during the fall semester and when our trip began, we had 14 students (9 were photography majors). It was a five day/four night trip and we were based in mid-town Manhattan, just a couple of blocks south of Central Park.
Using the subway system allowed us to easily navigate from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn. Times Square was visited a few times in the evening for great photo ops. We also did the typical tourist activities, such as going up the Empire State Building, standing in the center of the Grand Central Terminal, visiting the 911 Memorial, and dining in Chinatown and Little Italy. Since I’m a food photographer (and foodie!), sampling international fare was on my list of quests. I managed to sample Irish, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and Turkish cuisine that would be impossible to find locally. The Spanish tapas and seafood paella in Greenwich Village at the Spain Restaurant and Bar were by far my favorite indulgence!
From a photographic standpoint, we saw lots of great images, both historical and contemporary at venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the NYC Public Library, and the International Center for Photography. Names such as Frith, Baldus, and Atget were some of the more historical work viewed, while Weegee and Grey Villet helped transition to more contemporary imagery, which included Cindy Sherman, Greg Girard, and Francesca Woodman.
Below are a few of my favorites from the trip, enjoy!
So over the past few years, my colleagues and I have taken groups of students on short two or three-day photo road trips over into Kansas and the Flint Hills region. Usually we do this over Spring Break and it’s cold, windy, and generally unpleasant. This time though, we decided on an autumn trip, which gave us much better weather and the opportunity to shoot star trails at a very unique location.
After an uneventful drive to Emporia on Friday evening, we gathered the whole gang for diner at Montana Mike’s Steakhouse. Our next morning would take us to the Tall Grass National Prairie Preserve before sunrise…a challenge for most college students…but ours were up to the task! We were rewarded with great light and interesting cloud formations. Once the sunrise light had faded to mundane morning light, we split into three parties and hiked separate trails until our rendezvous around noon back at the farmhouse. Lunch was enjoyed at yet another gas station (this seems to be a recurring theme in our trips!) that also doubled as the Flint Hills Restaurant in Strong City.
By late afternoon on Saturday, we arrived in central Kansas and checked into our rooms in Salina. Now the excitement was about to begin! We descended en masse upon a lonely Subway shop with only one employee working and then packed our suppers into our camera bags and headed north to Rock City, near Minneapolis, Kansas. This was Wilson’s and mine second trip to this otherworldly spot of sedimentary rock “concretions”. The stars (and the Milky Way) were stunning. Other heavenly bodies also appeared: shooting stars (or are they falling stars?), man-made satellites (two), high-altitude jets, and finally a nearly full moon.
Sunday morning we all had a leisurely breakfast at IHOP and then we headed east to Junction City to climb the ridge to shoot panoramas of the Atomic Canon and Fort Riley army base. Here the students and faculty parted ways and we (the faculty) sought other adventures at the Oz Museum and abandoned 19th century one-room structures near Wamego, including the nearby Beecher Bible & Rifle Church! The afternoon was rounded out with a nice find of 19th century photographs (including a carte-de-visite by famous Wisconsin photographer H. H. Bennett) from an antique shop in Alma. Below are photos from our road trip…enjoy!
Today I created a test shot for a new photographic series I’ve been wanting to produce. The photographs will address technology from an ideological perspective. Specifically, Neil Postman’s Technopoly plays a significant role in this framework. As one of the 20th century’s more interesting cultural and media critics, Postman warned against technology’s ability to eclipse humankind through what he called the “tyranny of machines”.
This series of images depicting various forms of technology will be paired as diptychs contrasting analog and digital technologies from across various scientific disciplines. As such, I hope to investigate social and institutional ideological stances and influences that creep into our sense of personal self-identity without our awareness. In other words, we assume this aspect of life to be normal.
The image below is my first test-shot in the series and it depicts a 50-year old Paragon Engineer’s Transit, manufactured by the Keuffel & Esser Company. K&E, as it was known, was founded in 1867 in New York and last produced this particular model of transits in 1969.
© 2011 Terry Ownby
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
Lately on Friday afternoons after my grading is finished (most of the time), I’ve been trying to head out on short photo safaris with my colleague Wilson Hurst and the occasional student. Last week the lighting and weather conditions were great, so we took off to the northeast from campus, about a half-hour drive, to a beautiful reservoir just outside of Concordia—Edwin A. Pape Lake.
The low angle of the sun was creating interesting light patterns throughout the well-manicured wooded park and I found some interesting fungi to do some macro work. I pulled out my trusty Nikkor 55mm f2.8 MICRO lens and proceeded to lie on the ground for the extreme close-ups.
Sometimes photographers wonder what’s the difference between lenses that have Micro or Macro stamped on their lens barrels. At the university’s photography equipment check-out gage, we have a number of Canon and Nikon lenses, with the former stating MACRO and the latter stating MICRO. Turns out, both verbiage is correct, provided of course the lens is capable of photographing an object at a 1:1 ratio. In other words: life-size. If the lens isn’t capable of this type of rendering, then you are simply doing close-up shots and not life-size. So what’s the difference between the terms? It’s just marketing ploys between camera manufacturers.
The great thing about these types of lenses is that it allows the photographer to explore intimate, miniature worlds that commingle with our perceived “normal” world of human beings.
© 2010 Terry Ownby
© 2010 Terry Ownby
© 2010 Terry Ownby
Images from my Incongruity series keep reaping acclaim and exhibitions! A shot from last summer’s road trip to New Orleans garnered an exhibit venue down in Johnson City, Texas. The photograph, Mammy’s Cupboard was shot down in Natchez, MS, and will go on display later this month at the A. Smith Gallery. The national competition, called “Domicile”, was a juried show. I also found out the image will be used on their promo cards, which are to hit the postal mail soon.
© 2009 Terry Ownby
Road trips have always been a big part of my life. By the time I was five years old (in the late 1950s) I had traveled the famous Route 66 numerous times with my parents (between Missouri, New Mexico, and on out to California). I’ve loved being on the road ever since. So, after more than a month of nothing but writing papers in response to my doctoral content prelim exams and completing an on-line research course, I decided to give myself a solo vacation to New Orleans to visit one of my sons and his family (read grandkids here!).
Pretty much I can’t stand driving on the interstate highways as they’re so blah, generic, or “pedestrian.” Instead, I’ll take backroads whenever the opportunity arises, which it did on this trip. I used the interstate system to get me into Mississippi, just south of Memphis, and then off the beaten path I went! Once I made my way over to Vicksburg, I drove U.S. Highway 61 along Ol’ Man River until I reached NOLA. There’s so much history along that corridor of the Mississippi River Valley, one could spend days photographing and sight-seeing the antebellum plantations and Civil War battlefields.
Photographically speaking, I captured some interesting shots, I think. After having a lunch of gumbo on my first day in New Orleans at my favorite local joint, Liuzza’s, I made my way over to City Park. The Live Oaks there are incredible with their branches touching the ground and suckering off new trees. Other photo ops included another muffler man (the King) and Mammy’s Cupboard (near Natchez, MS) for my Incongruity series; cool looking Cyprus trees in the Jean Laffite Bayou; a new balcony series from the French Quarter; and incredible views of the 275-year old Live Oak “alley” at Oak Alley Plantation.
Oak Alley Plantation, © 2009 Terry Ownby
Mammy’s Cupboard, © 2009 Terry Ownby
I have been professionally photographing more than three decades and during the past two years since moving to west-central Missouri I have never seen or experienced photographer harassment as I have here. When I first moved here, I started going on short, local photo trips with some of my university colleagues and noticed while we were out, usually someone from the local community would stop us (typically my friend) and begin to aggressively question what we were doing. We could be photographing something entirely mundane, such as the side of an old weathered building, yet people around here seem compelled to take it upon themselves to function as some kind of “photo police”, as though the act of photographing public spaces is a crime. I truly don’t understand this mentality! Sadly, this is not only happening in the USA. Here’s a link to Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection, and watch this video of this craziness in the UK!
Today while I was riding my bike to the university to teach a morning studio class, I stopped on the neighboring street to create the image below. Just a simple close-up shot of a flowering American Tulip Tree. How benign can this subject matter be? Regardless, I’m minding my own business trying to get my little point & shoot (Nikon Coolpix S210) focused when I noticed one of the locals sitting in his sedan in the middle of the street staring at me. I consider myself to be a very open, accepting person of others’ chosen lifestyles so I don’t want to sound bigoted, but this guy fit the stereotypical rendition of a “redneck”, of which there are plenty around here.
At any rate, I finished my shooting and was getting ready to get back on my bike and he yells at me wanting to know if I was just photographing the “flower”. I’ve seen this episode play out too often with my photo buddies, so I was in no mood to go down this road. I put on a stern face, mustered up my old Army master sergeant voice and challenged him by asking him “was there a problem”? He smartly rolled up his window and sped off!
What is going on here? Why is that people think they have some kind of obligation to interfere with photographers working in public spaces? Certainly there’s no national secrets to safe guard near the campus of UCM! My personal theory is they must confuse everyone with a camera as being “paparazzi” and maybe they think they’re going to save the next Princess Diana!
© 2008 Terry Ownby, Flower from an American Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).