For many years I’ve had a fascination with the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically, Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.
One early memory comes from a American Wilderness TIME-LIFE series book given to me one Christmas about the Cascades. I was a young teenager in the midwest only able to dream of far away places at the time and spent hours scouring that book cover to cover, imagining discovering distant lands.
As young adult I made several trips to Seattle and beyond to B.C., Yukon and Alaska, but the Olympic Peninsula remained uncharted territory. Until 2011 when my wife gave me the long-awaited opportunity to visit for my birthday.
There are things we envision in our minds that – when presented with the reality to compare them to – fall short. Then there are a few things in life we envision that – when confronted with their reality – vastly exceed our expectations. Such was the case with Olympic. Living in Colorado it’s not that easy to impress with visual splendor – we have it around us all the time and love and appreciate it. But Olympic is a whole ‘other thing.
After what now is my second visit, in 2017, I feel I’ve only just begun exploring this most unique, wild, vast and diverse place, hungry to return again and again as opportunity permits.
Having recently moved back into a traditional dark room, one emerging goal is to traditionally silver print a series of images about Olympic.
A word about black and white, and traditional photographic techniques:
My whole life I’ve not fit neatly into categories, meaning – being labeled one thing or the other. I’ve instead enjoyed the freedom to float between creative pursuits as the Spirit leads without adherence to other’s imposed should’s and should nots. I remember once a client in Santa Fe saying in regard to consistency, “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” With that said, in the past I’ve considered myself primarily a color photographer because I love color. There will be color images in this series as well, produced with something other than traditional dark room technique. But over recent years I’ve come to appreciate more the art of a well conceived and executed black and white photographic print for a variety of reasons. One of which is, the photograph as an artistic interpretation of a real world scene and not some sort of forensic representation mandating precision – such as precisely accurate color, for example.
Without color some elements in a photograph become more prominent. In the second image atop this page for example, the lack of green in the photograph allows intricate detailed textures throughout the scene to emerge, producing the overwhelming sense of density of life – which is one of the many sensations pondered after coming upon this scene in the rainforest.
Another aspect of working in black and white is the darkroom component; the actual tactile sensation of authoring; creating something with ones hands again. This process invoke and rewards additional senses of touch, smell, as well as sight during the process of producing a finished print.
Yet another is the idea of creating something unique in a darkroom print. No matter how hard one tries, each print produced of the same negative is a unique creation. Analog processes defy perfection resulting in something there can only be one of in the world. This lack of mass commoditization is opposed to much of the way our world has moved – and at least in this photographer’s mind – helps reestablish the notion of value in a photographic image.
This is a highly subjective topic (digital and analog) and I absolutely do not wish to proclaim one better than another. So why even mention it? Because I believe creative intent – the philosophy behind why and how we choose to create is important, and I appreciate when another artists provide even the smallest glimpse into their thought process.