Parentheticals are fantastic for inserting working-titles for series of which this photo is only loosely related! But there is something to be said for the ceiling of my room after midnight, and the blackness of my closet in the corner.
Forewent a similar shot to last week for some impromptu night shots of my front living room; by some combination of coincidence a subtle Devil’s Trap appeared in the hallway, a little re-arranging and this shot came about. There were a few single-shot incarnations with shadows in odd places, but I settled on this pairing, which I think will actually function well with the previous Ghosts (prototype) shot I was playing with a little while back.
The third part to “Inheriting Kima’s Mantle” has settled into a level of completion such that I’m pretty happy with it. It’s been added to the gallery for Crossroads and well, here it be:
The rest of the series is in the aforementioned Crossroads gallery page.
Inheriting Kima’s Mantle is a reflection on the legacy passed down through our family of dogs – a legacy painfully interrupted in the fall of 2008, when we lost both Lady and Faye in the same autumn. Sammy spent only a couple months with Lady, and Max has never known any companion save Sammy, so the inheritance of knowledge that began with Kima years ago was nearly lost. We have always walked our dogs in the same place – the conservation area near my house – in particular, the field near this crossroads featured in these photos. In effect, my dogs have not only inherited Kima’s knowledge, passed down from dog to dog – her teachings, her behaviour, her relationship to the family – but also the mantle of her territory. They walk the same paths, the same fields, chase the same deer, beat down the same long grass, in their own way, but they share in that inheritance that began with Kima.
The landscape becomes a witness and record of this history, this inheritance, and our dogs, Sammy and Max, must take up the mantle of their predecessors, and our family.
No titles just yet; probably threw everything to the extreme for this one, but I think it sinks into some stuff I’m thinking through involving some still life ideas … not too subtle with the shadow, entirely to find out some of the logistics involved. See what happens.
Those who know me know I’m in this continual debate about the value of “pretty pictures” vs critical/conceptual rigor and all the gray area in between. I am particularly fascinated when I find photographers that do indeed bridge these two ideas, especially when it involves a great deal of what I’ve been calling the “hand of the camera” (without getting into too much of a discussion of semiotics at this point … aspects of depth of field, the optics of the lens, film grain – the ‘evidence’ in an image of the existence and qualities of the camera and medium).
Particularly, I say, because these aspects of the camera are often “what makes a picture look pretty”, and for me, at least, if those same aspects are present yet the photo retains a great deal of conceptual substance, well, damn.
I think the first instance I encountered of this in recent history was Phillip Graybill, particularly the work he did for Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV . Graybill has also done work for Sigur Ros, and it has a very similar earthy, heavy atmosphere to the Ghosts work, with a little more of a documentary slant.
Along similar lines I was looking at Anna Gaskell (in this case, in Phaidon’s Vitamin PH ) who has a very surreal, someone Lovecraft-esque night series in a forest … maybe a bit brothers Grimm even. Anyway, again, a very staged photo with these candid elements, grainy feeling and small depth of field that is both ‘pretty’ and had a great deal of critical substance as well.
I must apologize at this point as I’m unable to find an official site nor representing gallery for Anna Gaskell, so I have ripped this off a google search.
At some point in the future I’ll talk about her work a little more, as it also speaks to the part of me that enjoys telling a story with non-linear fragments, and this series in particular does that very, very well.
(on that note, Anthony Goicolea often does the same thing, particularly with the Kidnap series)
The point of this, and onto the ‘counter production’ part (and the excessively self-centered egocentric part of the post), is that most of my work the last few years has run quite counter to these aspects of photography. I might well be the photographic equivilent of the painter who puts immense effort into erasing the hand of the artist, the trace of the brushstroke – all my large prints are rendered with maximum depth of field (everything is in focus), large enough so all the detail can be read, and with a lot of attention to issues around sharpness. Hell, most of my prints are put together from 10-20 images just so they can print that large with a level of detail I find acceptable. (… not to say my prints are perfect. But they are a bit obsessive.)
My stuff is also decisively not snapshot photography, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
Anyway, as a personal practice in this little debate, as well as a make-work project to get me doing stuff on a more regular basis, I decided to try to make myself produce a print (single photo, whatever) each week based on a set of fixed criteria that runs somewhat counter to how I usually produce. In particular, I want these to be single shots, and I want, to some degree, the “hand of the camera” to play a role in the visual impact of the image.
As a second criteria, all the shots should play into some conceptual unity of sorts – I’m hoping as some kind of conceptual extension of the other work I’m working on right now, with the intent that perhaps these weekly shots will eventually feed into the grander projects.
Immediately, the plan, sorta roughed out:
– low depth of field (2.8ish)
– low light conditions / long shutter speeds
– colour/light used in a way that does not necessarily favour detail
– an element of movement/change in the image
I think I’ll mostly be working with my surroundings, probably not include people a whole lot.
First set are going to be shots inside the house, using a neutral density filter for long shutter speeds, and probably somehow involve the dogs. Sorta extends from a series of photos I’m working on involving ghosts and hauntings and whatnot … rendering the house/home as if there are things there that are amiss.
Will probably need to rough out a schedule to keep me on track, but either way, will be posting the results here 🙂