Things I Love, February 2017

Photograph: Ok, I don’t have the actual plate in hand since it was still in the drying rack when I last saw it so this iPhone snap will have to suffice, but I love this portrait of my daughter, my first ever wet plate collodion/tintype piece ever (and even the first time I’ve used a large format camera!).

Ok, I’m going to try something new here — a monthly post where I get to talk about things that I loved from the month. Some things will be photography-related, some things not. These things might not have actually been published/released/occurred this month, but this is when I came across them.

We’ll see how this all develops, but I can use more positivity in my life (as I suspect is true for many!).

  1. Favorite books I read (non-photography). A great month for reading. The best were: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dilliard. A contemporary Walden written about Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, a love letter to the natural world. The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Challenging and powerful book. Moonglow by Michael Chabon. This “autobiographical novel” could not be more in my wheelhouse — Michael Chabon, WWII, and the space program — but at its core it is a personal story loosely based on the life of Chabon’s grandparents.
  2. Favorite photography book I read: Western Landscapes, Lee Friedlander. This giant tome, beautifully printed, collects Friedlander’s wonderful square format landscape work. The crisp compositions also provide another way of dealing with those big and clear Western skies in a way different than Weston, Adams, etc. by photographing so many shots through trees and brush.
  3. Favorite exhibition: It has to be Brenton Hamilton’s 20 year retrospective at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor. You won’t see anywhere else such a range of wonderful images masterfully created using so many 19th Century processes. The exhibit goes until May 6th.
  4. Favorite Science Tidbit: How about this (composite) photograph of the Earth and Moon from 200 million taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, about 120,000 miles away? This is excellent for appreciating their relative sizes and distance between them.
  5. Favorite Science Discovery: The discovery of seven (!) roughly Earth-sized worlds orbiting a single star. For those who grew up before we knew for sure that there were any planets outside our solar system, the idea that there might be more planets in the Universe than stars is mind-blowing.
  6. Favorite photography quote: “The world is open wide to the photographer who can see. And one can never be bored if one can see.” From the description of Black Mountain College’s 1951 summer session, from this great article about the history of their influential photography program.
  7. Song: A Little Uncanny from Conor Oberst. I’m pretty new to Oberst, and my 10-year old loves this song, too — we ended up discussing all the references in the lyrics while we are driving to and fro.