“Photography As ART” script shows how James creates his art using only light, camera, and optics, in addition to considerable logistical planning, technical experimentation, patience and dedication.
It was around 1997, James was on a professional assignment and taking a lunch break by Edgartown Harbor, when a woman approached him expressing an enthusiastic interest in his photography. She was to become his next Muse.
Image 53 shows Cleveland posing on top of a cliff holding a scarf in the breeze and over her naked body. Image 54 has her on the large boulders of a breakwater.
Her name was Cleveland. Young, attractive, very bright, and having an effervescent personality that reminded him of the Marylyn Monroe in the classic film “Some Like It Hot,” she was a natural for the camera.
Image 54 has her on the large boulders of a breakwater.
After taking test shots of his new Muse several times, at the beach, in the woods, and other locations to become visually acquainted, James decided to try something experimental and fun. Every time walking or mountain biking through the Vineyard State Forest at night he was struck by this amazing view. His eyes would follow the tall thin pines upwards to gaze upon the star filled celestial sky. Every time in the wonderment of looking at outer space he would say “beam me up” using that Star Trek catchphrase.
Image 55 shows the BEAM ME UP photograph in tilts, pans, and zooms.
This gave him the idea of creating BEAM ME UP. Women have expressed finding this photograph somewhat disturbing, but the intention was quite innocent and playful. The Muse, through multiple exposures, mutates into many forms, each covered in plastic to simulate protection from the elements of an atmosphere unsuitable for alien space travelers. In a way different, yet strangely alike, they are all looking skyward to be transported back to their mother ship.
Controlling the light is key to control in photography, and again a moonless night was most suitable for this multiple exposure on one 4X5 negative. The View Camera was in a fixed position. The process was to place the muse, go back to open the lens shutter, bring the flash to the right position, pop it, and go back to the camera and shut the shutter. Repeat this process again by placing the muse about ten times, keeping in mind where the Muse was positioned in the previous exposure.
Image 56 shows the PELICAN ALIEN photograph in tilts, pans, and zooms.
It was Cleveland suggested this pelican pose to make another play on this idea and process. You can see the background sky looks as if it is dusk, but it’s not, but a light build-up from thirteen exposures.
James views all his photographic art this way…
“Photography continues its amazing transformation. Its instrument, the camera, continues to improve as a recording device. Today’s digital age science has made the camera nearly infallible, and reinforced with powerful software anyone can create a perfect virtual reality.
Image 57 shows the left-right brain gif.
I’ve always considered creative photography to be among the most depended left-right brain balanced mediums. It still is today, but scientific algorithms not only remove the need for left brain cognitive processes, they delude their existence. I don’t find photographers today giving as much if any consideration, for instance, to hyperfocal distance or the best aperture or controlling depth of light for specific effects. Now it’s what can we make of it in software. This is change, it’s fine, but I’m not talking computer effects.
I’m talking photography. I’m glad a large part of my photo artwork was created on film, and delighted the pieces look more organic, always with glimmers of imperfection.
Although I will not alter my photographic art through software, I’ve embraced the new era by using a digital camera only to create, and I’ve not changed the approach in order to maintain the label of photographic art. Elton John mentioned in an interview that in this new digital age making music gets too complicated and takes too long. John Mellencamp made an album using only one microphone for the himself and the band, thus eliminating all the digital mixing, and called it the most authentic music he’s made. In other words, for both the multitude of options in digital music dampens their creativity. I say the same about all the digital aspect of photography, there are too many options. I make it and teach it simple.”
THE END of Scene Eight