Welcome to the Essential Light Photography Blog By Jim Sabiston

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just passing through...

Man alive, where did the time go!?! It seems the the Holiday Season hit like a frieght train and left us swirling and bouncing in its passing wake. So much to do packed into so little time. I figured I better get a post up before the whole month of January blew by. Looks like I will just make it.

Aside from the mad rush of the Holidays, we get mixed in the additional logistics of my son Paull's graduation from college, picking up his sister to bring her home, setting up the Holiday display at the BJ Spoke Gallery, etc., etc. As the end of January sneaks up on me, we've had the reception at the C2 Gallery in Patchogue, as I was awarded one of the eleven artist slots for the Annual Artist Invitational. It was one of the best show receptions I've had the pleasure of attending. Some serious talent was present and on display. Planning is well under way for the grand opening of the new, expanded Gallery in March. I will be one of three artists, all photographers, whose work will be presented. It should be an interesting presentation of the various possibilities within the photographic medium. Meanwhile, today we hung eighteen prints in the new gallery space in the Bay Shore/Brightwaters public Library. People were lining up to look over the work even as we were hanging it. The reception has already been a good one!

One of January's highlights for me was the rare opportunity to see original prints of Alfred Stiegletz's photography. Thirty-nine original prints of his work centering on the city of New York were on display at the South Street Seaport Museum. I will post a more detailed report later, but it was an inspiring and educational day. I have been studying Stiegletz's work for some time now, and to see the original work itself was a revelation. My favorite gift was from my ever encouraging wife, Nancy, who bought me a copy of 'The Key Set', the massive tome of Stiegletz's work. This will keep me busy for a long time to come, as the depth of the research is outstanding.

My research into Stiegletz's techniques have been having an influence on my work for many months now. He was one of the first and foremost proponents of photography as an art form and not a mere recording medium. This shows deeply in his work. I have been trying to sort out how to capture some of the feel of his work, as the technology is so much different today - as should be expected of course. This relates in large part to my earlier post regarding the 'impressionistic' quality inherent in images when the resolution is reduced. Of course, the process of acheiving an properly artistic image is far more complex than just reducing the resolution of the image. That is just one part of a many layered process to acheive what the photographer has in mind. I only recently acheived something of what I was trying for in this learning process.

The camera used was my trusty and heavily used Canon G9, set to RAW image capture. The moment, a snowy morning walking to work in New York City. The place, Herald Square. As usual, I was scanning for interesting light, form and contrast as I walked to work. I had taken a few shots, testing the light, when I noticed it, the line of small round bistro style tables so common on Broadway now. A row had been pushed aside to allow pedestrians a clear walking path and the light snow had settled on their smooth, round tops, making a natural broken line pulling your eye towards the backdrop of the Square, and farther along past the iron fencing and arched gate, Broadway fading in the distance. The final element needed were the pedestrians, so I waited a bit watching and prepared for the right moment.
(click on image to enlarge)
Here was the modern vision of Stiegletz's New York as seen in his early work, just at the turn end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. Taken at street level, capturing in the every day moments of the city and in doing so, capturing something of the life and spirit of the great city.