Walmart – Empty

•May 13, 2018 • Comments Off on Walmart – Empty

Revisiting this image after conversion to black and white seeing it in the context of the New Topographics movement

Walmart – Christmas Day

Skyscrapers and Cloud

•May 11, 2018 • Comments Off on Skyscrapers and Cloud

Here’s another variation on the “New Topographics” theme, from rural to urban.

Pittsburgh, 2009

Defining “New Topographics”

•May 10, 2018 • 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was exploring something called “The New Topgraphics” (NT) movement. I joined and am following the Facebook group based on that movement. Having viewed many images in this group, I am still working to understand what are the defining characteristics of this type of photography? Does any shot of a building or other man-made object fit into the framework? Or are we looking for more? What are the criteria that we should consider when evaluating our work?

North Dakota, 2010

Closed Sears Store

•April 18, 2018 • Comments Off on Closed Sears Store

Closed Sears Store at Martinsburg (WV) Mall, November 2013

The Sears Store in Martinsburg closed in 2013. Since then Martinsburg Mall has been mostly demolished and replaced with various “pad” stores.

Zion National Park

•April 12, 2018 • Comments Off on Zion National Park
Zion Nationl Park


During our visit to the “Mighty Five” National Parks in Utah last year, I found the most difficult park to photograph was Zion. This is because the main part of the park is a narrow canyon with steep rock walls. Unless you are physically capable of climbing/hiking up to high vantage points above the canyon, it is not possible to move far away from any one point to get a good perspective and most of the time there were little or no reference points for scale.

What attracted my interest in Zion and throughout that region was the amazing effects of erosion, almost exclusively the effect of moving water. The deep canyon that forms Zion NP was formed by the Virgin River, a tributary of the Colorado River. It is amazing how such a small stream can cut such a swath through solid rock. The river and rainwater runoff combined with freeze-thaw cycles in cracks in the rocks carved a beautiful hidden valley. The challenges I discovered in photographing in this area did not in any way reduce my joy in seeing these places for the first time. I tried to imagine what the canyon would have been like when first discovered by humans. Must have bee amazing. Today, of course, Zion is one of the most visited parks. Getting there early is a must, even in the off-peak periods in the spring and fall.

Continuing the efforts described in a previous post, my initial goal is to find one image from each of the national parks. I offer this image as my view of Zion.

The image was taken early in the morning (well … not that early but early for me … ). The sky was crystal clear and the sunlight was bright and contrasty. The effect was to provide high relief on the details of the cliff.

I felt that finishing in black and white was the best way. The rock was generally yellow-ish, the sky was a uniform blue, and the trees were pretty much all green. But I did not feel the colors added anything to the scene. What attracts me is the shape and the effect of the light on the shadows and textures.

I Venture Into the “New Topographics Movement”

•April 10, 2018 • Comments Off on I Venture Into the “New Topographics Movement”

When people ask me “what kind” of photography I like to do, I have always had trouble defining it in specific terms. Often it’s more about what I don’t do: photos of people or traditional landscapes.

I say I photograph architecture, which includes modern structures as well as old and abandoned structures. I mostly concentrate on the built environment. I will also photograph various “found” artifacts. Could be anything. If I photograph a tree, I usually treat it as an architectural subject. As for landscapes, most of the time I include man-made objects.

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a friend about my photographic art and he said that the scenes tell him that human beings passed through here. Put another way, I could explain that I document human activity, but without directly photographing that activity. I have pretty much stayed with that ever since.

When I recently discovered the “New Topographics Movement” group on Facebook, I joined it more out of curiosity than anything else. I was aware of the term, which referred to the 1975 exhibit of photographs (“The Man-Altered Landscape”) that were variously described as “mundane” or “boring”. The one thing I found in the images was that they mostly captured the built environment in some way. I used Google to search on the term and read a number of articles that got me beyond evaluating the images purely in visual terms. When I first read about the “Man-Altered Landscape”, I was attracted to the concept and I always sought to photograph the architectural vernacular where ever I went to photograph. I thought that much of what I was trying to do in photography fit into that framework.

Once accepted into the Facebook group, I explored the images that had been posted to the group. The images included all kinds of structures in all kinds of environments, from isolated rural roads to heavily urbanized cityscapes. I came to understand the imagery as presenting a juxtaposition of the built environment over the natural environment; an over-simplification perhaps, but an explanation that I felt I could understand.

Thus begins my new project: to mine my hard drive for images that fit into this aesthetic, including some images I may have overlooked.

This image, at least conceptually, fits into the “New Topographics” framework. The exhibit was famous for showing things like tract housing from the 1960s in the west. This image shows what evolved from the coal mining camps in southern West Virginia.

Along Rt. 52, McDowell County, WV

Along Rt. 52, McDowell County, WV

More images to come.


Finding My Voice

•April 7, 2018 • 1 Comment
"Into the Abyss" (Grand Canyon, April, 2017)

“Into the Abyss” (Grand Canyon, April, 2017)

I’ve been doing photography off and on, more or (mostly less) seriously, for about 60 years. You would think that by now I would have “found my voice.”

I actually think I have found it in some respects, but a year on after returning home with several thousand image files from a fabulous trip to visit seven national parks in Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, I am still struggling to find images that I find meaningful enough to work up make a serious print.

Although the colors from that area are often spectacular, I am finding that finishing in black and white seems to make more sense to me. This image is one of my first efforts.


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