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Knotting a Persian Rug
For a few years I have resisted using any of the effects filters in Photoshop - actually I have just been using Photoshop Elements so far - but I have been working on ground where it might make sense at some point. I like to work with abstracting in my images. Hard to say what that means in any specific or differentiating way as it's hard to think of a great image that does not abstract. I do know that I am not looking to max out the resolving capabilities of lens or image receptive medium; this is just not important to me. I am also interested in the common ground between paintings and photographs.

One of my favorite images - "Knotting a Persian Rug" - often gets the compliment that it reminds people of a Flemish primitive painting, specifically of a Vermeer. This is an incredible compliment to get, and I realized this more after I really dove into Vermeer courtesy of a great website that seems to have everything anyone one could ever want to know about him, including superb high resolution reproductions of his paintings. Here is a link to the "The Essential Vermeer".

Tired Maid
Getting wrapped up in Vermeer led me to make a picture which consciously appreciated his setting and lighting and subject. This image - "Tired Maid" - was captured in my room in the Pensione Sorelle Bandini, where I have stayed on my visits to Florence each of the last three years. I really like this setup and I hope to do a series of portraits in this spot when, and if, I get back to Florence and the Bandini this Spring.

I made a 12x18 inch varnished print of "Tired Maid" for my show at the Vagabond Gallery last summer (August, 2005), mounted in a black floater. In December, I made a smaller, 8x12 inch varnished print, and put this one in a subdued gold frame with a Florentine profile. I just found out on Friday that it was accepted in the Falmouth Artists Guild annual juried photography show.

I am glad of that, and eager to see the show when I get back to Cape Cod (am in Budapest now), but I am also waiting and hoping for the Falmouth Artists Guild to open their main, summer juried show to photography. I have been urging this idea for a number of years as I think it would be very exciting for me creatively and hopefully for the larger community to have photographs hung side by side with paintings. I have seen interactions between photographers and painters grow at the Guild in the last few years, and the number of shows excluding photography has happily shrunk.

The Cape Cod Art Association just took this step in 2005, opening up all of their juried shows to photographers, and photography to their juried membership categories. The Association has created a very active photography program, with courses, workshops, and a photography club.

I taught courses at both the Guild and the Art Association last summer, as well as at the Cataumet Arts Center. I enjoyed everybody, and the work, and became persuaded of the excitement of class photo shoots, securing my favorite image of the summer on an outing to Nobska Light. Its title is "Beach Chat in the Late Afternoon".

I used Photoshop (i.e. Elements) on this image to remove one of the photo shoot participants from the middle ground of the beach. I don't think anyone can object to this, especially if they understand that my purpose with this image is to convey something of the excitement and romance and beauty of this spot on a late summer day, something other artists, such as painters do as well, routinely adding and removing elements to support the composition and their desired impact.

I think the key is that my purpose, clearly conveyed, is to do art, not to document or report. If this image were appearing in a newspaper, as news, or as documentation of what the scene was like at Nobska on a certain day in August, 2005, then I and the newspaper would be under an obligation to communicate that this photographic image had been changed, and a person removed. But, in an art gallery, or on a web site of "fine art", I don't feel that I am under any obligation to state that, although I am aware that people may have a lingering expectation for a photograph to be of something that was "really there". Actually everything you see here was "really there" but some more was there that you don't see. And that is in fact true of any photograph, isn't it??

I worked through this question of modifying images a few years ago when I first encountered the tools that made this possible. The result of that "thinking through" was the essay What is a Photograph ?

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