One of the things I was looking for when I drove to Crisfield, Maryland a couple of weeks ago was a sunset over water. When I arrived Crisfield after my detour to Tilghman Island, the skies were still overcast. But as the late afternoon progressed, I could see enough movement in the clouds to give me hope. As I sat on the Town Dock, the sun finally broke through in the distance beyond Jane’s Island.
Last week I took a quick trip to Crisfield, Maryland and Chincoteague, Virginia. Driving down on Tuesday and back on Thursday, I didn’t have a lot of time to explore but just enough to get a feel for the area. I will return for a longer stay.
During the drive down it was cloudy with a little drizzle here and there and for a short time, some fairly heavy rain. It was a very gray day as you can see from the “color” images below. But I didn’t mind.
Along the way I took a quick detour through St. Michaels and down to Tilghman Island. It wasn’t raining there but the skys were heavy.
The island is separated from the mainland by Knapp’s Narrows. A drawbridge connects the two sides. I caught a local waterman passing under the bridge.
Starting in the 1870s the New River Gorge was active coal producing region well into the middle of the 20th century. Supported by the railroad that ran along the river, more than 60 towns and mine complexes were perched on the cliffs on both sides of the New River. As the mines were played out, one by one of the mines closed and the people who lived in the towns moved on. Very little has survived as the mine structures and other buildings disintegrated and forests gradually reclaimed the land and most of the locations are not accessible.
One of the few coal mine remnants that are accessible in the New River Gorge is Nuttalburg. On my recent trip to southern West Virginia I found my way to the site to see what one of these actually looked like. Unfortunately, I neglected to grab a shot of the access road, which is not for the faint of heart! At one point the gravel two-track was so narrow that the bushes were rubbing the side of my car on both sides at the same time. And this is a two-way road! In any event I made it without mishap.
The site is maintained by the National Park Service and in recent years they have done some restoration and stabilization on the remaining structures. The mine ceased operation in 1958, which doesn’t seem like so long ago. But over the years since them, almost nothing is left of the town except for a few stone foundations and the massive chute that carried the coal from the mine headhouse to the tipple where the coal was loaded onto rail cars.
Here is what I found there.
Photographic Composition and Creative Vision
I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching a new workshop at the Berkeley Art Works in October.
The workshop is sponsored by the Berkeley Arts Council and will be held at the Berkeley Art Works, 116 North Queen Street in Martinsburg, WV. Pre-registration is required. Visit artworks.berkeleyartswv.org/workshops#pccv
Note: Second session is recommended but optional.
What is it that makes one picture of a particular subject ordinary while another image of the same subject is a work of art? This workshop will explore how composition, light and shadow, form and texture can work together to express something beyond merely recording a scene. The workshop will start with a discussion of the basic concepts of composition and then, through an analysis of some of my images, will demonstrate how those concepts are applied in practice from conceptualizing the image in the viewfinder to the final adjustments on the computer. Students who wish to move on to Part Two of the workshop will be given assignments to put the ideas and techniques into practice.
Saturday October 25, 1:30-4:30; 3 hrs)
Composition and Creative Vision Part Two
During the two week interval between part one and part two, Students will take their cameras out to practice the ideas and techniques discussed in Part One. They will bring in a selection of images for discussion and “gentle critique” during the second session.
Information for Students
Age: 16 yrs and up; Level of experience: beginner through intermediate.
Students are not required to have any specific equipment or computer capability but putting the concepts and techniques into practice requires a digital camera and a computer with at least basic image editing software. For those who need it, recommendations will be given for software to enable the various techniques.
Tuition: Parts 1 and 2 $90; Part 1 only $60 (Pre-Registration Required)
This workshop is offered by the Berkeley Arts Council and will be held at the Berkeley Art Works, 116 North Queen Street in Martinsburg, WV. Pre-registration is required. Visit artworks.berkeleyartswv.org/workshops#pccv
This book is based on my exhibit, “21st Century Hieroglyphics” at the Contemporary School for the Arts and Gallery in Hagerstown, Maryland in September, 2009. The images were captured in an old quarry in Quincy, Massachusetts. An area that at one time was filled with water has been filled in with earth, probably to prevent people from being injured or killed diving into the quarry water. The result is a grassy space surrounded by rock cliffs that have been liberally decorated with a wide variety of graffitti. I have made two trips to this place and it continues to be fascinating. Looking at these rough granite walls, you are assaulted by a visual cacophony of abstract designs, haunting beings, social commentary that ranges from poignant to sinister to celebratory to simply chaotic. As I walked around the area, I tried to imagine what an archeologist a thousand years from now would think upon the discovery of these strange messages painted on rock walls. Would they know about it that far in the future or would they look at this as evidence of some religious cult or political uprising.
A few weeks ago I took a trip down to southern West Virginia to deliver some new prints to Tamarack and also to explore the area around Beckley. This region is generally described as West Virginia’s Coal Heritage region.
The New River Gorge is designated as a National River and is administered by the National Park Service. The overlook at Grand View provides a spectacular view of the New River.
(Click on the image to see a larger version.)
Little remains of the myriad of coal mines and small towns that came up in the late nineteenth century to exploit the high quality “smokeless coal” that was found in the New River area. The rail line and the small yard at Qunnimont is still active.
For those interested in the history of West Virginia, the New River Gorge is one of the most important regions.
Sunny days in summer are great for capturing infrared images. The lush green foliage is rendered white and clouds and blue sky can provide dramatic contrasts.
This image was captured with a converted Olympus PL-1 and the Olympus 9-18mm wide angle zoom.