Streaming South at Slow Exposures

SlowBannerFinalWe had the pleasure of exhibiting most of the Streaming South project at the Slow Exposures photo festival in Zebulon GA this weekend as part of the "Pop-up" Gallery tour. We were selected by Richard McCabe, photography curator at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. Slow Exposures is know for its laid back atmosphere, filled with meaningful photography and lots of time for discussion, cook outs, and networking. I thought we chose the best venue, a small brick building that was the original telephone operator's switch house. Basically, one room with a window unit, sink, and toilet. We brought our own "scaffold" hanging system to preserve the walls and filled the place with photos fresh from the exhibit at the Wilson Art Center. Zebulon is roughly a 6 hour drive from Jacksonville, and we had everything up within a few hours. A nice visit with jurors Richard McCabe, Jerry Atnip, and John Bennette

Our Pop-up Tour exhibit

Our experience was extraordinary. Plenty of visitors dropped by and we made lots of new friends. The photography at the main exhibit was excellent as were all the commentaries and discussions. Zebulon and the adjoining small towns all turn out with some fantastic volunteers and lots of Southern hospitality. If you haven't made it to Slow Exposures put it on your calendar and try it out, you won't be disappointed.

Lenscratch.com featuring Streaming South

For any photographer, it's a great honor being featured on Aline Smithson's blog, Lenscratch.com. I had the pleasure of having Aline as a reviewer at the Photolucida Portfolio Reviews in Portland earlier this year. She is a very generous and thorough reviewer and offered many comments and suggestions on my project, especially on the writing. Aline is truly a great resource and inspiration for contemporary photography, both as a fine art photographer and an industry expert. Take every opportunity to have Aline review your work, it will be worth every minute. Thank you Aline for all that you do and for your support of the photographic community. lenscratch.com

Face Forward - a slight departure

Face Forward Evite In March I received an invitation to participate in a group show, Face Forward, sponsored by the Jacksonville International Airport Arts Commission. The rules were simple, produce a self-portrait on a provided wooden panel, 24" x 24" x 2", any medium. Self-portrait? I don't do those. Asking around, I found that there were 30 artists asked to participate, most were heavy hitters...painters, sculptors, you know, "real" artists! I really wanted to do something more than photograph myself and paste it on a board. I thought this would be a perfect time to try something on the CNC router table sitting in the corner of my studio.

Unfortunately my schedule had been completely unreasonable since the Streaming South exhibit, with outside work, printing, and commercial commissions. So the time to experiment and "play" would be limited. With the deadline rapidly approaching I committed by writing up my submission proposal and dove in. My initial design called for a "decomposition" of the 3D contour map of my head revealing an actual photographic self-portrait within.

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Here's a summary of the tools/software used to produce the piece:

  1. 3D scan using the Structure Sensor on iPad Air
  2. Skanect to generate mesh from scan data points
  3. Meshmixer to repair ear and simplify mesh
  4. Netfab Basic 6.3 to divide model into main pieces and carve out cube in middle of head
  5. Meshmixer to take each part and generate slices
  6. VCarve Pro to layout pieces and generate toolpaths for each slice using the Donek dragknife gadget
  7. Mach3 to generate P-codes for CNC

Believe me when I say this is not for the faint of heart, be prepared to do some digging and hacking into this workflow. It is not well defined into a nice easy to follow package. Once you have a working knowledge of the software, you must get your CNC working. Luckily I was cutting corrugated cardboard with a dragknife (utility blade) so I wasn't producing a huge mess of dust. I got through this project with 12 hour days for about 2.5 weeks. The final assembly and gluing the parts together was the most fun, but I could see where I needed to improve technique for future models.

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On 9/10 I finally delivered my finished piece and on 9/24 the exhibit had a one night showing at the CoRK East Gallery followed by the installation at the Haskell Gallery in the Jacksonville International Airport.

In retrospect I felt I really went out on a limb on this one. It had a very high chance of failure and resulted in some extremely frustrating moments when nothing was working. I believe the process of producing art is difficult, and when it becomes easy and safe and predictable, we lose the magic of the breakthrough and/or discovery. We are built to be curious and to venture into the unknown. I'm glad I did.

"When you do something that is guarenteed to succeed, you are basically closing the possibility for discovery." - Milton Glaser

Replicated Self

Replicated Self

Mixed Media – Corrugated cardboard, pigment print

Self-portraits are typically well-defined for each medium. The ubiquitous “selfie” is made popular by the availability of cell phone cameras and elevates the self-portrait to an essential component of identity. “Replicated Self” is an experiment using a 3D selfie rendered to 3D forms. Using readily available tools and software, the captured 3D data provides a departure point for my first basic inquiry – deriving a “contour map” of my head and reconstructing the map in 3D using a CNC router table cutting corrugated cardboard. From here I begin a decomposition revealing my current state of discovery and curiosity about the process.

 

Critical Mass Top 200 Finalist

critical massWe were thrilled to receive a Finalist Award at Critical Mass this year for Streaming South. This very competitive and prestigious competition is held annually, and I will have to confess that I've been entering for the past three years with no luck. It's always nice to be recognized by the industry for your work, and the submissions are always phenomenal. It is amazing to see the work that is being produced all over the world. A few comments from the jurors:

Beautiful scenes, nicely composed, if somewhat romantic views.

Appreciate the modest scale and cohesive group.

Some very lovely work that does truly reflect the artist's interest in, and admiration of, the work of the 19th century landscape painters both the Hudson River School and the Luminists. For me some of the photographs are too similar, however, the best of them are refreshingly beautiful. Good work.

Clear that extreme care and editing went into these images and the selection. A special care for these color landscape with a motivation akin Robert Adams’ B&W images.

Douglas, Your artist statement is so wonderful, it works well to give your images context. One gets easily pulled into the frame and the meditative feeling is great to feel. For me, the last image 'Water Spirit' is lovely.

Nice project that could have been an exercise in 'same-ness,' but realized as a beautiful essay here.

The cloud image is a surprise, yet it fits your theme.

A lovely, poetic body of work, Douglas. I like the personal element in your narrative. Very delicately done. Thank you for sharing this with us!

These are very pretty. I do love the contemplative quality.

Streaming South at the Wilson Center for the Arts

Streaming South postcard I'm excited to be exhibiting Streaming South at the Florida State College of Jacksonville - Wilson Center for the Arts. The exhibit opens August 17 - September 16, and a reception is planned for August 27, 5-7:30 pm. The exhibit contains 32 - 30x20 prints and includes a special behind-the-scenes area containing work prints and other fun stuff. The year long project evolved from humble beginnings and became a labor of love with many rewards. The project is ongoing with this short rest and regrouping. Sharing the results with the public and talking to others helps to reframe my approach and make adjustments. It is vitally important for me to produce material responsive to my audience. The project's primary purpose is environmental advocacy by awareness of "special places." I don't expect everyone to run out and jump in a kayak, but I'd like for each of us to consider spending time in those places that are special to us. It is through those connections that we become passionate and caring, qualities necessary for actionable responsibility.

Photolucida Portfolio Reviews

On March 16 I received an email from the Outreach Director at Photolucida telling me that a space has opened up for the Portfolio Reviews and I am next on the wait list. All I knew is that I wasn't ready for this but this opportunity doesn't come often. So I immediately said yes, I'll be there and sent my check. Now that I'm done I can truly say that this was a good decision, although there were moments of extreme agony wondering why I every even considered subjecting myself to such an ordeal. For those of you unfamiliar with the reviews, this is the Granddaddy of all reviews, the big one, and it happens only once every two years. It is four days of reviews, I had 20. The experience was priceless, from the standpoint of the feedback you receive, the people you meet, and the inspiration you receive from special speakers and other photographers. The fine art photographic industry is here looking at work. I was humbled to be among many experienced photographers who were showing some incredible work. My conversations were with publishers, gallery owners, museum curators, industry consultants and collectors. I spent 4 days in this room

The system of elevating your career in fine art photography is curious, and the portfolio review circuit is one of the many channels providing opportunities for artists to inject themselves into the system. These sessions are offered at several major photo festivals during the year, lasting usually 1-2 days. You have prearranged meetings with reviewers who spend 20 minutes with you answering questions and offering comments on your work. It's a brilliant system for meeting that key individual who would be virtually impossible to access otherwise. Can you imagine trying to come to New York and booking meetings with a museum curator, publisher, and gallery owner to meet you and see your work? Good luck! I've participated in many reviews prior to this so I knew what to expect, but the enormity of the entire experience really blew me away.

The highlight of the event was called the Portfolio Walk at the Portland Museum of Art where we had our portfolios out for the public to see. I was astounded by the response of the Portland arts community and their level of interest in photography. It was a special night.

Photo Walk - Portland Art Museum

There are so many lessons learned from attending Photolucida. All I can say is that it changed the trajectory of my career, I feel that this initiation was critical, and now I am on my way.

What are you going to do with it?

IMG_2080 The latest addition to our creative toolset is a CNC router. I've been thinking about this technology for a long time. Back in my AutoCAD dealership days, I wrote some programs to create the NC codes (G codes) from drawing files to produce sprockets and drive a punch tool. I'm fascinated by the ability to control precision machinery, much in the same way I have a keen interest in computer programming. In fact, this is just another type of programming, with a different output device. More information about CNC routers can be found here. After some research and a recommendation from a trusted friend, I placed an order for a kit from CNCrouterparts and my brother and I started assembly on January 5th. The entire machine was delivered by UPS in 14 boxes. Assembly was fairly straightforward and we made steady progress. No special tools were needed, just some careful interpretation of drawings and reading of the online "tips". Part of the reward is knowing that you assembled something yourself. Rarely do we have to put anything together anymore except for the occasional bookcase from Ikea. We were thrilled when we were able to get the machine to move. Then we wrote our first program to welcome the machine to the world.

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When I made my post to Facebook announcing the arrival of our new tool I received a lot of inquiries on what I was going to do with it. Honestly I don't have any specific plans other than a gut feeling that this may change the direction of my art. I didn't need to know anything other than that. Sometimes you just go with an instinct, especially if the stakes are high. First step is to acquire some basic skills. There is a steep learning curve, but then the possibilities open. I think we are given these moments of inspirational opportunity, and we need to learn how to take them. I'll see how successful this move becomes. Worst case I'll have a big piece of equipment for sale on Craig's List. Best case...well maybe my life will change. I'll take those odds.

Initially I'll be exploring what I can do with various materials. Wood, acrylic, Sentra (expanded PVC board), Dibond (aluminum bonded acrylic), and corrugated cardboard are all materials that can be easily handled by this machine. The bed is 4 x 8 ft, so I can handle some big pieces. I don't know exactly what I will be printing but I'll try some simple textures and outlines all derived from photographs. I'm going to be looking at this as another type of printer. In order to create a piece, you start with a "vector" representation of the object. Everything is 3D and objects derived from photographs need thickness. Then you define the toolpaths and tools to make the specific cuts. This is the "programming" step. After that another program creates the actual codes that are fed to the machine. Stay tuned for progress reports.

What are you going to do with what you have?

CNC Adventure 1 - It's Breathing from Doug Eng on Vimeo.

01/09/2015 - My brother and I finally got the CNC router table to come alive. Still lots to figure out but we're over the hump. Looking forward to making something!

 

CNC Adventure 2 - Hello World from Doug Eng on Vimeo.

01/10/2015 - Our first program...in "Sharpie" mode, we programmed our first toolpath using VCarvePro. Yay! Actual runtime is 2.5 minutes so you're getting a fast forward version.

PhotoNOLA

Swamp house A quick road trip to New Orleans to experience PhotoNOLA with a chance to hear Emmett Gowin's keynote and take a workshop with Camille Seaman. New Orleans is always a fun place to visit, with lots of good food and an urban vibe that is hard to top. I also saw some great exhibits at the New Orleans Museum of Art. PhotoNOLA is a great festival that should be on every photographer's list. The organizers do a wonderful job of attracting excellent exhibits, lectures, and the workshops are all very reasonably priced. If you want to do the portfolio reviews, apply early. The 50 slots were full within 10 minutes of the availability announcement. All reviewees participate in a Photowalk providing additional exposure to attendees of the festival...a great idea. Next year I hope to be luckier and land a portfolio review spot.

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The workshop by Camille Seaman was well attended. Camille was very gracious in sharing her insights into the fine art photography market and outdoor photography techniques. We took a "bayou" cruise from Westwego which was touristy and way too late in the day. We did afternoon image critiques which is not exactly what I was expecting, but everyone had a good time.

Facebook B&W Challenge

I spend my fair share of time on Facebook and try to keep my activity minimal, with a few posts of new work and events. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch, but I find myself wasting a lot of time just getting trough all the posts, most of which are totally useless. My high school friend photo-journalist Bruce Lipsky invited me to participate in the Facebook Black and White Challenge, which was making its way around. This challenge asks for 5 B&W images posted on separate days, with an invitation to 5 other photographers to continue the chain. I decided to oblige. I went through my archives to pull 5 different images from various projects. Most of my work is color so it wasn't too difficult to isolate 5 images. I do enjoy working in B&W because of the simplicity and directness of the result. In many ways it is more abstract than color because one dimension of realism has been removed. This allows the artist to insert their own dimension. I find that the fundamental concepts of composition, form, contrast, and metaphor are greatly enhanced. Here are the 5 images I chose to post.

Structured Harmony

"Structured Harmony" - Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco CA 2011 - B&W Challenge #1. This photograph should be easily recognizable as one of the most photographed bridges in the world. I wanted to create a different view emphasizing the cable structure and it's relation to music, without the distraction of color, which is very distinctive for this bridge.

 

Open Hearts and Hands

"Open Hearts and Hands" - Art Walk August 2011 at Main Street Park, Jacksonville FL. B&W challenge #2. Hearts and hands are symbols of love and friendship. This was a last minute shot of some children behind artist David Montgomery's projection screen after I instructed them to do something. I love to be surprised!

 

Luminous Morning

"Luminous Morning" - Jax Beach Pier, Jacksonville Beach FL, Dec 2011. B&W Challenge #3. Sometimes there is a special luminosity in B&W photos that surpasses anything in color. Glowing radiance or muted softness is best expressed in monochrome. I seldom venture out to the beach and on this rare visit I was rewarded with clouds and light.

 

Driftwood Tangles

"Driftwood Tangles" - Big Talbot Island, Jacksonville FL 2009. B&W Challenge #4. The "Boneyard" at Big Talbot is a favorite spot whenever I'm in the mood for studying the raw textures and forms of the fallen oaks that line the shore. It's hard to capture a successful image as everything begins to look the same. These studies are ideally suited for B&W because they are largely devoid of color. One can focus on dimensionality and gesture in the branches and try to make some sense out of the rubble. This scene reminded me of the complexities in nature and of our own lives and how eventually everything is reduced to drifting bones of wood along the beach.

 

Dock Alphabet

"Dock Alphabet" - near Gulf Shores AL, 2011. B&W Challenge #5. Evidence of Hurricane Katrina's devastation in 2005 remain to this day. On a 2011 New Orleans road trip with Bill Yates, we found this to be a common scene. The arrangement looked like Kanji characters but I found no translation. It sorta speaks for itself.

Seeing new in familiar places

One of my favorite walks in Central Park is along "The Mall," home of a large grove of American Elms. In late fall the the rhythm and flow of the branches are revealed. I love finding views that accentuate the organic nature of the tree along with the complexity of the structure. It was interesting that these shots were taken while walking north. When I turned around to walk south I failed to "see" anything. I did the walk 3 times, finding something new on each round. "The truth of trees can be found in the winter when the clarity of sunlight most reveals each tree as a unique form. Trees, rooted in earth, reaching for the sun and stars, each in its own way. And each with its own symmetry, its own pattern." - Hal Borland

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How commissions can take you in new directions

Morning Marsh View - Ft. George Island, FL - 108 x 30 Face-mount Acrylic Some artists avoid commissions. They feel that catering to an external requirement somehow interferes with their "art" or message. I totally respect this position, and sometimes I feel that this serves the artist well. I tend to do well with some direction. Maybe this is part of my engineering background, as I am more comfortable with structure and results-oriented tasks. Recently I was asked to provide a large piece similar to the style of artist "x" with a particular color in the foreground to match a wallpaper sample. I was happy to take on the request. The required image was out of focus and abstract. I knew what techniques I had to use, and where I could make the image. When a fellow artist saw the wallpaper sample on my desk, he asked, "What's this?" I explained my project, and he laughed out loud, "I can't believe you are prostituting yourself!" I was very curious about his response, and did some thinking about my reasons to do the work. I saw it as a challenge and a way to expand my skill set. I also saw it as a paying project and something I would be proud to say I created and was capable of doing. Nothing in the assignment violated my values or compromised my artistic direction. So I carried on and basically ignored the comment. The client was thrilled with the result and complementary on how accommodating I was to work with. I think some artists forget that many of us create art to satisfy purposes external to ourselves. Whether this discounts my stature as an "artist" or  degrades the work, I don't know, but I'm happy that everything worked out for everyone.

IPA Award Recipient - 2014

I am pleased to receive three Honorable Mention Awards from the International Photography Awards, an affiliate of the Lucie Foundation, for my new series, Streaming South. The categories are: Editorial:Environmental, Fine Art: Landscape, and Nature: Landscape, all in the Professional Division. It's always nice to receive validation on a new series and I hope to start adding more images to the collection now that the heat of the summer is over. Streaming South IPA Award Entry

Lufrano Gallery Opening

Lufrano opening Our opening at the Lufrano Gallery last night was a big success. I am grateful for all my family, friends, and supporters who attended. Every artist works towards a project completion point, when your art is shared with the public. This usually culminates in a showing at a gallery or public space and an opening is an event where everyone gathers to talk about your art.

I gave a brief presentation and spent most of my time meeting and greeting guests and friends. I actually love openings because it finalizes a project and I am so excited to show others my work. We are all validated by the reaction of others and this is an effective way to do that.

The exhibit will be up until December 4th. I hope all of you who are in the area can see the exhibit, as the project has grown in personal importance to me as I continue to work on it. I am also very happy with the print quality and the incredible venue. I've posted some photos of the exhibition on the project site here.

On Fertile Ground at the Lufrano Gallery

Lufrano Installation Today we installed 40 prints for the upcoming exhibition at the Lufrano Gallery at the UNF Intercultural Center for Peace. It's a wonderful facility and I am honored to be showing there. I was approached by Paul Ladnier early in 2013 to do a show there. At first we were going to do a gallery version of Message in a Bottle: Wall of Light, but earlier this year I asked to switch to On Fertile Ground. I know this is not normal to change a gallery show but I'm glad everyone was cool with it. My decision to change came after film maker Clifton Brewer offered to make a sample video on a topic of my choice. I chose to resurrect the farm project which had its debut in 2011.

On Fertile Ground Postcard-1

The University of North Florida is a first-class institution with a world class fine arts department. A reception is scheduled on August 29th for the exhibition. Postcards were mailed out and posters made. I'm excited to be there.

For more information on the exhibit see the project website at: http://on-fertile-ground.com

 

Rothko to Richter

rothko to richter book coverToday I received a copy of the book Rothko to Richter published by Yale University Press. The book is a catalog of an exhibition of abstract expressionist paintings from the collection of Preston and Joan Haskell. I got involved in the photography of the paintings earlier this year. We went on location at both the Haskell residence and offices to location shoot 27 paintings, some of which were quite large. The book is beautiful and I enjoyed reading the essays on Abstract Expressionism by Kelly Baum, the curator of the Haskell Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum. After two full days of shooting in some very tricky situations, I learned a lot about photographing large paintings for publication. I provided photography for 41 of the 43 illustrations in the book.

The exhibition is currently at the Princeton University Art Museum until October 5, and is at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens starting in February 2015.

 

 

New directions

  streamingsouth.com

It's a nebulous title for a post but I'm on to something new. A few months ago I bought a kayak. Enough said. In fact there is so much to say I started a new blog called Streaming South. Why another blog? I wanted a new platform to talk exclusively about my photography on the boat. I thought that this new conversation may distract from what I have going on here. Sounds like a strange reason, but head on over to see some new images and cool places to go.

Deep Creek on a kayak

Annual California excursion

Old Bridge, New Bridge - Oakland Bay Bridge Our annual trip to California came early this year. Usually we arrive in August. I don't have a good track record with the CA weather. While I hear that summers are typically cloudy and foggy, I've had no such luck. Bright sun and clear skies followed us all week as we covered San Francisco, Oakland, Monterrey, and Big Sur. I surrendered when we were at Point Lobos and Big Sur and decided to just enjoy myself without expecting to get any worthwhile images, which is exactly what happened. That's life, sometimes the weather cooperates and sometimes it doesn't.

Jackson and Grant - Chinatown, San Francisco

We managed to stop at some coastal towns for some good food and browsing. I enjoyed visiting the Photography West Gallery in Carmel and viewed work by Christopher Burkett. I'm always amazed at the high level of work being produced by some artists. Our other great discovery was a small hole in the wall restaurant called Dumpling Empire right near the San Francisco Airport. It's a 5 minute drive from the Best Western. Dumplings almost as good as my mom's.

Kelp - Pt. Lobos State Park

This year I feel that my interests are geared more towards local/regional subjects. Maybe that's why the karma wasn't right this year on the West Coast. I'm glad to be back home in familiar territory.

Spring at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Main Entrance - Brooklyn Botanic Garden On my list was to catch the Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at peak. I watched the Bloom Meter on the BBG website to see if there was any chance of catching something during our planned trip in early May. With the weather being all screwy lately, I thought there may be a chance. The stars aligned and the weather and trees cooperated for an outstanding display on a foggy May morning. I arrived at 8:30 and was the only one there for a while. Usually this place is packed with people. It was all magical.

Cherry Esplanade - Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Overall I was overwhelmed with what I saw. After about 3 hours I was exhausted. It is rare that I arrive at a place and conditions are so perfect for photography. I don't think I made any extraordinary images that day, but the experience was memorable. This day will be in my mind for a long time.

Cherry Walk - Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Touch - Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Spring in Prospect Park

Early Blooms - Prospect Park, Brooklyn Spring is in the air up here in Brooklyn where we are seeing some life in those dormant trees filling Prospect Park. I dodged the raindrops today and was thankful for some cloudy conditions. There was this cherry tree having an early explosion of blooms. Most of the other trees were just beginning to bud. I could feel the life ready to burst out of those lifeless branches.

Daffodils - Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Emerging Spring - Prospect Park, Brooklyn