What’s the exercise value of photography? Not much if my experience this summer is any indication. I had no idea I was so out of shape. I’ve been doing quite a bit of hiking this summer, which is more exercise in itself than I usually get in the winter, but I am also residing and painting our two and a half story house by myself. And I’ve been sore all summer. I thought I’d get in good enough shape by August to at least not be beat at the end of the day working on the house, and while there’s been some improvement, I’m still dog-tired at times. Sore muscles? Don’t even ask. I hope to finish up with the siding project sometime this fall and I should be in pretty good shape by then (I hope). Which will leave me all winter to regain my photographer’s physique. Or maybe I’ll embark on a serious exercise program this winter. Yeah, right.
I cut my photographic teeth in a lot of respects by looking at Depression era black and white photographs by the Farm Security Administration. To me, black and white images define both photography and the world at that time. Perhaps that is why I found this collection of color images covering the same subjects from the same period incredibly compelling:
It’s a common myth that photographers might as well put their cameras away mid-day as the lighting is too flat to take interesting photographs. The so-called “magic hour” just after sunrise and just before sunset is thought to be by far the best time of day to photograph, while straight-up noon is the absolute worst. I’ve (almost) always been able to find something interesting to photograph any time of day though. But then I don’t do that much landscape photography and figured for those who do, the advice might make sense. That is I thought so until I saw Claude Monet’s painting Vernon in the Sun at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha today.
Monet’s Vernon in the Sun that looks like it was done smack in the middle of the day, under a withering sun, with no obvious shadows. But yet his rendering of the washed out mid-day lighting imparts tremendous atmosphere and feeling. Now Claude Monet was the master student of light, often studying and producing multiple paintings of the same scene in various lights. So, maybe he was better at seeing and recreating the beauty in mid-day scenes than us mere mortals, especially those of us using photography as our medium of choice. But it does suggest that a truly creative photographer should be able to find landscapes with expressive lighting even under the harsh noon sun.
Tomorrow I’m off to the Omaha Summer Arts Festival which is going on this weekend. I’m a little nervous about this show because it is famous for nasty weather (e.g. 100mph winds two years ago). No storms during the other two shows I’ve done in the Midwest this spring though so maybe I’ll get lucky in Omaha too. I do expect it to be hot and humid, just like it was in Kansas City. I’m grateful to the patrons that came out in that heat–I wouldn’t have been out there if I wasn’t manning a booth! The rest of my shows this summer are closer to my home in Montana, which generally means better weather–few storms and at least less humidity if not less heat. Of course we had a tornado right here in Montana yesterday so who knows what to expect.
I’ve never been to Omaha so am looking forward to spending some time exploring what it has to offer in the free time I have before the show. The Joslyn Art Museum has two interesting special exhibits, one on Impressionist and the other on Post-Impressionist paintings. Should be interesting.