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11.February.2011 Time for my annual reflection
After many months of rain, this little hummingbird set up shop just outside my window. Im' a bird enthusiast but by no means a birder and I believe this to be an Allen's. I think I got it right but there are many similaries to the Rufous. I've heard they decorate and camouflage their nests and in this one it appears to be paint chips from the neighbor's house. It's a 1955 vintage so I'm hoping they dont have lead-based paints.
It's sort of a Jackson Pollack meets Hans Hoffmann style thus I like this little bird's aesthetic sensibilties.
Allen's Hummingbird , 2011
01.January.2010 Where did this next past year go?
Wow! Another year past. Another kid. Definite resolution to get the camera fired up again.
01.September.2008 Where did this past year go?
This past year I have begun incorporating more people into my landscapes and using my landscape mind to address the context of the people in it. It is a new avenue for me and one I hope to explore.
27.April.2007 The Power of Serendipity
Earlier this month, I found myself with an opportunity to visit Washington, DC. And to make a long story short, I had always wanted to travel there and see the cherry blossoms. As luck would have it, I was there from April 1st to the 4th. Little had I known that this was the absolute peak of majesty for these blooms and many years there are few blooms, if any.
The forecast was for 75 degrees and you can see for yourself from the gallery that I was there at the epicenter. It would take years to get the planets to align like this again, which brings me to the point. The harder you work the luckier you get. Whether Gary Player quoted Benjamin Franklin who in turn quoted Jefferson is not really known, but this is true, I was prepared before I even showed up at six in the morning both days.
I had the right equipment, the right location, the right attitude, and of course the right openness to take advantage of anything that happened in front of my lens. It was pure bliss.
20.February.2007 The Intimacy of Small Things
Enough is enough already. I've said that to myself so many times as I still check the skies for yet another indication of a valuable sunrise or sunset. I have always struggled with the 'grandness' of the large landscape. There is just so much there, I always remark; and after many years, I have been turning my attention to a more intimate scale. "Pink" is one of my favorite images from this new portfolio. The portfolio consists of pairs of images that represent my interpretation of the masculine and feminine in nature. Complementary yet contradictory -- shape, texture, and color all play a role in my reaction to what is presented before me.
“Pink” is the first image I have printed. I just love the texture and color and detail. It was a single flower on a small magnolia tree that appeared to have just been shipped and planted from a nursery. The tree was struggling a bit with the move and had dropped many leavers already and this delicate flower was hidden underneath a sparse branch.
I plan to publish this new portfolio this coming springtime. I can’t wait!
01.January.2006 Reflections and Planning
It is a tradition in my household on New Year's Eve to reflect on the past year and, for me, an opportunity to review what went well and what did not. New Year 's Day is then the chance to think about what I'll do new and different this year. Growing up in Pennsylvania in the Pennsylvania Dutch region is remarkably different then here in southern California and those centuries of traditions are hard to change. Pork and sauerkraut was always eaten for good luck on New Year's day and it was no different this year. I never understood why, except for what Russ Yocum had told me was because the pig cannot walk backwards and the meal is a reminder to look forwards in the New Year's and not dwell on past mistakes and misfortunes.
I have a great many things planned photographically and am especially excited about a new portfolio I am working on. After tens of thousands of pier images - of which a few you can see here - I still go to the shoreline for an occasional shot on a spectacular morning or evening. This low tide is one of them. I am also refining my style in terms of color, tones and contrast to become more painterly, simply composed, and subtle.
Manhattan Beach Low Tide
02.December.2006 Manhattan Beach Fire
It's not often that our town has much excitement by way of large fires, but early in the morning on November 28th a large commercial building caught fire. Unfortunately the building included five local businesses that these days are hard to come by in the era of large franchise retailers and big box stores. Old Venice and El Sombrero are long-time favorites of the locals. Additionally, a one hour photo, a framing store and a clothing retail business also were destroyed by the fire. It is very fortunate that no one was injured save a firefighter with a minor injury, but the 1950s-era building is destroyed thanks to a common attic that allowed the fire to spread quickly and decisively.
Of course there were helicopters and news crews and looky-loos and - well - a landscape photographer with only a 35mm lens. I did not take flames and thrown babies to awaiting arms but took what I thought were nostalgic photos of a grand effort by our local FD to save a cultural icon. But alas, it's gone, and hopes of rebuilding will ultimately go by way of retailers who can afford the new sky-rocketing rents and we'll perhaps see another Starbucks, Baby Gap, and WIlliams-Sonoma grace our downtown skyline.
Take a look at the images. I have used a new tool -- Lightroom -- from Adobe to generate the web gallery. It is a straight forward template that makes my life easier to post galleries.
While in Hawaii for a frenetic get in - get out wedding, I managed a few hours of exploring and ran across this scene. This is the oldest Hawaiian church on Maui, built in 1855 out of coral and the only one which is directly situated on the ocean. Roll back a few weeks to an art fair I was visiting and I noticed that the number of photographers selling images framed and unframed at this local fair had doubled since last year. Of course there was one who had discovered the Photoshop 'artistic' filter set and generously applied them to most scenes. While I differentiate myself by not using the watercolor or the posterize filter, I do use Photoshop to a great extent as do most fine art photographers and printers. While the debate can become quite animated as to the "reality" of an image, it is not my position to argue one way or the other. I was simply taken aback at how little this image required. Some very minor sharpening and voila.
The highest contrast position in the image is obviously the door and the opening in stark white and black -- an interesting metaphor to most religious dogma. I also notice the leading line of the height of the palm trees towards this opening as well. But what catches my eye the most is how the light falls on the various parts of the scene creating shadows and highlights in just the right places -- particularly the foreground grasses and steeple section. Neither of which required any assistance on my part. If only all images where this easy.
I have just returned from Alaska and I can say that my utmost respect for landscape and nature photographers has increased tenfold. In southeast Alaska, it takes immense patience to wait for a day that is not overcast nor raining. And then, the wildlife must be overly cooperative to be where you expect or perform as you envision. Needless to say, the week was filled with neither. However, Jay Maisel either said or quoted someone that color is the enemy of pattern -- or something to that effect. So I began to photograph what was presented to me and with a black and white perspective.
This cover photo of the humpback whale is a case in point. The tail mirrors the linear nature of the trees in the background. And when you are on the seas this is the omnipresent view. The cascading water represents the vertical nature of the often present rain.
It captures my experience for sure.
5.May.2006 Manhattan Beach Pier Portfolio
The 32 images of the Manhattan Beach Pier Portfolios represent the conclusion of a three year project from over 10,000 images and several hundred visits. What had started as an occasional sunset had become an obsession to capture the pier as it is often seen but rarely photographed.
Built in 1920 as a solid replacement of the previous wooden structures, the pier with its roundhouse is the icon of our city. This portfolio is my personal view of the variety both sublime and dramatic of our pier. Most of the images were taken in or near the winter solstice, the shortest day of our year. This is when the sun rises on the most south-eastern edge of the city almost coming up over Palos Verdes and sets very quickly several degrees south of the pier. It rises very slowly and gently and most importantly gives many minutes of photographic opportunity in that “golden hour”.
The winter also offers more dramatic skies and clouds to add interest and variety to the landscape as well as offering many northern Pacific swells to generate larger than average wave heights.
I did not intend the portfolio to be documentary but rather an opportunity to present a variety of beautiful, painterly images. Some of these photos remind me of my visits through the Musee D’Orsay in their impressionistic qualities but also there is a vibrancy of color and shape seen in many of the expressionist and minimalist pieces.
Getting from 10,000 to 32 took some time. I wanted to show a variety of photos and more importantly a variety of color. Crimson, indigo, and magenta balance the pastel pinks, cyans and softer yellows. You can read a description of each of the images by clicking here.
Contrary to some landscape schools, a few of these photos show a human presence a la Henri Cartier-Bresson and the ‘decisive moment’. Sandpipers and plovers and the omni-present gulls are represented as well. But most important, the architectural view of the pier itself with its concrete pilings, eight-sided round house and 922-foot iron lighted deckwork dominate these compositions.
I created two complementary volumes of 16 images each that together form this portfolio yet each stands on its own merits as a singular unique representation of the pier. As a photographer and artist this portfolio represents a monograph of my work. Nothing less than the highest quality printing on the highest quality papers would enable you to experience these views as I have seen them.
Only 50 sets of this two-volume portfolio will be produced. Each volume contains 16 mounted and matted prints. The mountings and mat are 100% cotton rag, acid free and the prints are on 308 gr/m2 fine art papers. Each volume is contained in a beautiful, handmade 16x20 clam shell case designed and manufactured by the same company which created slipcases and custom binding for photographers John Sexton and Ansel Adams.
The Portfolio case is covered with brown velvet suede and lined with sand-colored linen. Offering this monograph in this fashion allows the collector of fine art to both enjoy the monograph in and of itself as well as offering the practicality of framing select pieces individually.
My influences and inspirations are many but my vision is that often found of the painter - to create images that are transcendent, beautiful and luminous. The best compliment I can receive is when my images are referred to as ‘painterly’.
Randy David Mosteller
All images on this web site are copyright Randy Mosteller. All rights are reserved.