Art of the Natural World


Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.  This world of the imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense.  It is our function as artists to make the spectator see our way, not his way.

Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman

Some of you may not be aware that three of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. are in Maine.  Bates is in Lewiston, Bowdoin is in Brunswick and Colby is in Waterville.  All are known not only for academics but for having outstanding art collections and exhibitions.

 IMG_2378 (1)On a quiet day, we ventured over to Lewiston to take a look at the Bates Museum of Art.  Wouldn’t you know it was closed for a new installation but hearing that we had come over from Rockport the director allowed us in.

IMG_2393 (1)Staff was putting the finishing touches on Anthropocenic.  Now that is a mouthful and what it means is art about the natural world in the human era.  The accompanying brochure describes the show as an exhibition of 17 artists and collaboratives from Maine, the US and abroad who make art about nature, the natural world and out effect on and interrelation with it in the 21st century.

IMG_2386 (1)As always with art, it is interesting to see how artists interpret a theme.  I was intrigued by the collaborations of Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber.  First, they built a model of their subject and then photographed it.  There are many humorous details in their work.

Isabella Kirkland’s stunning prints are produced from her much larger paintings done in the tradition of still life and incorporating natural elements.

IMG_2385 (1)Throughout the main floor was abundant stimulation with materials cleverly used to make a statement.

IMG_2382 (1)Venturing down to the second floor, we were surprised to see a familiar name.  The hubby and I took a street photography workshop in Paris from Peter Turnley last month and he made no mention of an exhibit at Bates.

IMG_2383 (1)Peter’s photos capture the essence of humanity no matter where they are taken.  The more I see of his work the easier it is to understand why he is tops in his field.

Thanks to the director of the Bates Museum for letting us have a preview of a beautiful and interesting exhibit.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Tips for Street Photography

Street photography is a challenge, one more difficult than I anticipated.  It’s about acting in an instant to capture a moment that tells a story.  That means more than zooming in and snapping a photo from a distance as I have been so prone to do.

DSC01158 (1)This is a good example.  Though I did capture the moment, there is no story and the result is little more than an attractive couple taking a selfie.  

DSC00680As I explored Paris streets, Peter Turnley’s reminder that life gives us pictures kept ringing in my head.  More often than not the pictures involve people, and it is important that the photo be authentic, not posed.  

DSC00789If people notice you pointing a camera, especially one with a big lens, in their direction, they may shy away.  Asking permission, establishing a rapport before snapping away is a good idea.  That can be a bit tricky, so it requires some doing to become confident making the ask to a perfect stranger.  Once you are comfortable, however, the other  person relaxes and, in some cases, rather likes the idea of being your subject.  DSC00727Showing the result of your photo gets a very positive response, and don’t be surprised if you are asked to share it.  In that case, Turnley suggests that having a card with your name and email address is a handy way of dealing with the request.  That puts the ball for remembering to follow through in the other person’s court.

DSC01364Turnley emphasized having photos include a sense of place.  As I reviewed my pictures, I began to see what that meant.  Here, for example, it’s obvious the performer has drawn a crowd, but there is nothing that tells more.

DSC01371The second photo is more successful as the buildings and street lights hint at place.  I had to do a bit of body bending to get it all in which happens to be another challenge of street photography.  Standing erect and shooting straight on just doesn’t always work.

DSC01355Turnley suggests making pictures horizontal as more of the story can be presented in that format.  He strongly advises  framing the picture so that what you get requires minimal cropping.  Talk about a challenge!

DSC00605Whether to have your pictures in color or black and white is a personal choice.  The difference, according to Turnley,  is that color is rooted in present reality whereas black and white removes a bit of that.

DSC00780My takeaway from a week of attempting street photography is that it takes a lot of practice and a keen observant eye.  It also requires you to step outside your comfort zone and rely more on your own ability rather than on the camera’s capability.  Remember, the camera is only a tool.  What you do with it is what matters.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


With Camera In Hand, Ready!

DSC01289Where to begin describing what was an intense and fun filled experience?  Thanks to an opportunity provided by Maine Media Workshop I traveled to Paris for a few days to focus on street photography with Peter Turnley.  Now, that name may not be familiar to you, but chances are you’ve seen his work on the cover of Newsweek where it has appeared 43 times or on a Sixty Minutes segment featuring him and his twin brother, also a photojournalist.  Peter is recognized as one of the world’s best, and he is also a renowned street photographer splitting time between Paris and New York when he is not traveling to one place or another.

DSC01284So, what does it mean to take a workshop with Peter?  Knowing his credentials, I thought learning from him might be a bit intimidating.  Not so.  Peter is not only interesting but interested in the people he teaches.  He is warm and approachable, qualities which show in his work.  Most importantly, he provides positive critiques that give clues how to improve.

DSC00412 (1)What I focused on this week was seeing.

DSC00388That meant walking with my head up paying attention to all that was around me.

DSC00355 (1)I had my camera ready to fire away in an instant so as not to miss the moment.

DSC00537I  attempted to find a story in what I saw through the camera’s lens.

DSC00402Most importantly, I tried to own the idea that I am a photographer which is a pretty tall order.

DSC00858With those thoughts in mind, I hit the street remembering that, in Peter’s words, a camera is only a tool.  What matters is what is done with it.  

I will share with you my results and the tips that may help us all become better photographers.  Stay tuned!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind