ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Free High-Resolution Photos

Free High-Resolution Photos

Free High-Resolution Photos

I create a lot of images. I photograph. I doodle. I collage.

But I also create a lot of blog posts for a lot of blogs, and sometimes I don’t have the time, access, resources, or skills to create the right image(s) for a post. Fortunately there are more and more ace sources for free high-resolution photos online these days. In fact, there are so many I’ve begun to lose track. So I’m going to follow the lead of Dustin Senos who’s compiling a list of his favorite sites for downloading free high-resolution photos called, “Stock photos that don’t suck“.

I’ll include some of his go-to sources below, but first I want to lead off with one of my favorites (and second on Dustin’s list), a simple but well stocked stock photo site called Unsplash. This isn’t the best site for finding ultra specific free high-resolution photos of a Canada Goose or a fresh-roasted poblano chile. But if you’re looking for evocative nature, travel, environment, residential, monumental stock photos that will arrest readers/viewers, you’ll like what you find at Unsplash. They offer the same Creative Commons licensing terms that most of these sites use, so I’ll share that to help you see what a motherload these sites can be.

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. (Unsplash)

Amazing! And super helpful for bloggers, designers and artists who have an insatiable appetite for free high-resolution photos.

Another personal favorite that serves quite well for the ultra specific scenarios I describe above is Pixabay. It offers a user-friendly search engine, lots of options, and simple, easy-to-use interface.

Here is Dustin Senos‘s list, “Stock photos that don’t suck“. (Nota bene: This is current as of Nov. 6, 2014, but I’ve edited slightly.)

More Free High-Resolution Photos

It’s been 2+ years since I published this post and it’s still the go-to resource for me — and a daily flood of bloggers and other creatives — hunting for free high-resolution photos. So I’m updating the page with another excellent post/list to help you find the perfect images for your project:

Washington Square by Andre Kertesz

Washington Square by Andre Kertesz

Washington Square by Andre Kertesz

André Kertész

Washington Square
New York, January 9, 1954
Gelatin-silver print
vintage print
12.7 x 9.2 cm
via Fotomuseum Winterthur

There are days for thoughtful ruminations and days for doodles, days for vignettes and verses, but today is a day for inspiration. And few words. This enrapturing black and white photograph of a few walkers in a snowy Washington Square park by André Kertész (Andre Kertesz)
 speaks volumes. Quietly. About meandering. Flaneurs. Winter. Voyeurism. Crisp, clean, contrast. And yearning. Wondering. Deep observation. Possibly even deep listening… Do you hear the singing underneath?

I’ll leave you with an observation borrowed from John Bailey’s February 22, 2010 post, “From My Window”: The Late Work of André Kertész and Josef Sudek.

Kertész, in Paris and New York City, and [Josef] Sudek in Prague, spent many of their most productive years in the best tradition of the street photographer cum flaneur. Yet in substantive ways both remained loners. (The ASC)

Photo of the Week?

Rosslyn Boathouse: photo of the week?

Rosslyn Boathouse: photo of the week?

This is your last chance to fuel my ego! Until next time…

This ominous photo of Rosslyn boathouse is in the running for‘s Photo of the Week and your vote could be the tipping point.

The photo was a spontaneous iPhone-born Instagram post that I shared right after Hurricane Isaac passed through Essex, New York. (Remember Hurricane Isaac? It’s gotten difficult to keep them all separate, and to think that only a few years ago we figured hurricane troubles were about the last problem we needed to worry about in the Adirondacks.) If you’re interested in the rest of the back story for this image, check out “Photo of the Week: Hurricane Isaac”.

Voting ends today, so if you’re feeling generous, supportive or just a little wild, please consider voting and/or sharing this post with your friends. I’d love to see this photo featured. Thanks for your help. Vote HERE.

And, if you’re feeling inspired (and I hope that you are because a Monday without inspiration is deadly!) feel free to share your own personal Photo of the Day in the comments below. I’d love to see what cool pics you’re hiding on your mobile phone.

Georgina Goodwin: Kenyan Journalist

Georgina Goodwin, Kenyan photographer

Georgina Goodwin, Kenyan photographer

My bride and I met effervescent Nairobi, Kenya based photographer/journalist/adventurer Georgina Goodwin when we eloped in 2005. Sheer luck. She was the photographer we serendipitously hired to photograph our traditional Masai rites in the Mara bush. We were instant fans and friends, and our lives have been intertwined ever since.

Ms. Goodwin is singularly beguiling, and not just for those hazel eyes and winning smile. Her bold images are trumped only by the stories they tell.

My work on THE WORLD OF WOMEN looks at… the way women manage and balance the system despite oftentimes difficult and compromising situations. Being the only young white female Kenyan photojournalist in the world this makes my view of the stories I photograph unique, a bridge of understanding between worlds… I must do my best to honor them their stories. ~ Georgina Goodwin

Ms. Goodwin’s bravery and compassion inspire, awe and worry us again and again. Discover her photographs and connect with the woman behind the lens here:

Today is your final opportunity to help Ms. Goodwin win the One Life Photography Competition which would accelerate her already meteoric rise.

This project is presented by Artists Wanted and PDN Magazine. Since 2007, Artists Wanted has distributed over $1.5 million in grants and awards to creatives like you, while PDN has been a leading photography publication for over 30 years.” (

If Georgina Goodwin wins the One Life Photography Competition she will receive a gallery exhibition in New York City; a showcase at PDN PhotoPlus Expo 2012; a $25,000 grant; a feature in PDN Magazine; and a photo essay in the One Life Catalog. And it will validate her fearless adventure. I sincerely hope that you’ll help propel her to winning the One Life Photography Competition. Thanks!

Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: Constructed Landscapes

Tailings #30, Sudbury, Ontario, 1996, by Edward Burtynsky (Image copyright Edward Burtynsky)
Tailings #30, Sudbury, Ontario, 1996, by Edward Burtynsky

I’ve just returned from the Shelburne Museum where I spent a couple of air conditioned hours soaking up Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: Constructed Landscapes. Are you nearby? See it. Are you far away? It’s worth the trip! Seriously, this exhibition is that good.

I’d love to pass along some of the stunning photographs, but an enthusiastic security guard cum docent spent about five minutes explaining to me that strict copyright rules prevented me from snapping any photographs. Fair enough. But if you follow the link above to the exhibition you can see some great images including the one I’ve included here and “Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California” which I included in my last Ansel Adams post.

So, until you meander over to the Shelburne Museum’s Webb Gallery, you’ll have to rely upon my words. Or perhaps not rely upon, since the verbal journey you’re about to experience is impressionistic and highly subjective. Consider my stream of conscious reflection less review, even less blog post than a composite Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky twitter stream

Data Stream: Ansel Adams & Edward Burtynsky

You with me? When the guard welcomed me into the exhibition and then launched into his routine about why photography was prohibited, I asked if I could tweet my way through the photographs. He wasn’t so sure about this Twitter business, but he agreed. Victory! Or not. I quickly discovered that the Webb Gallery is a “zero bar” Verizon black hole. Strong signal outside, but zilch inside. So, I resolved to jot my Ansel Adams / Edward Burtynsky impressions on my Blackberry to post later. Here’s the soppy mess with a few links, etc. added in for good measure.

English: A photo portrait of photographer Anse...

Ansel Adams (Credit: Wikipedia)

Spectacular photo: “Dunes, Hazy Sun, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico” of wild grass, yucca and a dead shrub drowning in cascading sand. (Tiny version of this the The Art Institute of Chicago’s website.) What’s grabbing me here? Nostalgia? Yes. I’ve been there. Envy? Sure. I’ve shot hundreds, maybe thousands of images at White Sands National Monument, influenced like millions of others before me by the photographs of Ansel Adams. Humility is good. But there’s something more. The tonal range is impressive. The totally pedestrian subject and framing adds to the mysterious appeal.

And another, “Forest, Early Morning, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington” presents three layers of visual story telling:

  1. In the foreground, black silhouetted coniferous trees march left to right across the entire bottom of the image. Small, uniform shrubs at left grow larger and more detailed as they near the bottom right. This is a diminutive vignette, never taller than about 20% of the image.
  2. The middle band, occupying nearly half the height of the image captures two jagged mountain peaks like portraits. Shear angled stone faces, some portions veiled in snow.
  3. Above the mountains contrast-rich clouds drift nebulous and taunting, part steam engine blast, part crumbling doily.

The three layers of the image coalesce, but just barely as if the photographer is conflicted about his subject. Or triplicitous.

I am drawn into Ansel Adams’ “Tenaya Creek, Spring Rain“, the movement (and sound) of icy water riffling over stones and around boulders in the shallow creek bed. The textures — of the pebble beach, of the cedar trees’ bark, of the diversity of leaves — beg me to touch the print, to run my the pads of my fingers over the various surfaces. I restrain myself. Glass will restrain those who can’t resist. I yearn for half an hour, even fifteen minutes in this place. With my fly rod. With my Labrador Retriever, Griffin. With no mobile phone, no twitter, no appointments missed or pending, no urgencies at all.

Other favorites include Ansel Adams’ “Aspens, Northern New Mexico“, “White Branches, Mono Lake, California”, “BridalVeil Fall” and “Trees and Cliffs“, the latter cropped compellingly if slightly unconventionally. It seems to be off kilter, and a branch reaching into the top of the image suggests a tree falling out of celestial nothingness. Two trees (perhaps sequoias?) roughly divide the image and the asymmetrical massing of the stone mountains behind contribute to an effect furthered by the wispy clouds which radiate away from the center of the image. An eruption. An uprising. A rocket.

I remember studying Ansel Adams’ zone system. I remember frustration. Then amazement. “Dunes, Oceano, California” coerces me to linger while I trace the contours of the dunes, blur the wavy surface of the sand like a zebra in motion Laughing. Then lying down to rest. With the sun dropping nearer to the horizon.

Ping Pong: Ansel Adams & Edward Burtynsky

A sort of emotional schizophrenia ping-ponging back and forth between Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: black and white, color; small prints, large prints; pristine, untouched nature, nature transformed by industry.

A dramatic Edward Burtynsky photograph, “Shipbreaking #24, Bangladesh, 2000″, showcases a cross section of a dismantled ship. A slice of steel vessel still bearing the name Kingfisher painted on the hull. The caustic pallet of hazy, pale blue and orange is unsettling, disturbing. I find myself wondering about the chemicals saturating the mudflats upon which ship carcasses are strewn in various stages of butchery. I worry about the health, the safety of the half dozen laborers who stand near the hulking Kingfisher. Smoke or exhaust lingers in the air. What is burning?

Burtynsky’s “Densified Oil Drum#4” intrigues me as much for the title as the stack of compressed steel drums. They remind me of clothes and rags packed into cubes, so untrained is my eye to seeing cylindrical steel drums so totally distorted, compressed, densified. So many colors of paint, crumpled, chipped paint homogenized by the patina of orange rust which — together with the geometry of the cubes stacked with some sense of order — unifies so many parts into a whole. Not an accident of industrial waste. Not a practical side effect of recycling. But a post industrial igloo, perhaps better suited to a globally warming world. And “Nickel Tailing #5” offers an even more colorful, even more dramatic, even more alarming refrain to Burtynsky’s anthem. It’s disheartening and defeatist from where I stand. Alone. In a cold gallery. Torrid July weather awaiting me outside.

Scenery is for Profit, Nature is for Reverence

As I wrap up, I reread one of many quotations printed on a wall:

“Scenery for Adams is a dirty word, an invention of the tourist business, an oversized curio. Nature is something else. Scenery is for profit, Nature is for reverence, and the fewer tracks of man there are in it, the better.” (Wallace Stegner’s foreword to “Ansel Adams Images, 1923-1974”)

This is a familiar notion. And an unmistakeably potent underlying theme in Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: Constructed Landscapes. But it’s not the only theme. I’ll wait for you to help me unwind some of the others. Now I’m going to dive into the two delicious books I purchased before departing the Shelburne MuseumAnsel Adams: 400 Photographs and Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky.


The Word Made Flesh

The Word Made Flesh – book trailer from Tattoolit on Vimeo.

The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide is a full-color photo-and-text anthology edited by Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor, forthcoming October 12, 2010 from Harper Perennial.

The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide is a guide to the emerging subculture of literary tattoos — a collection of 100 full-color photographs of human skin indelibly adorned with quotations and images from Pynchon to Dickinson to Shakespeare to Plath. Packed with beloved lines of verse, literary portraits, and illustrations — and statements from the bearers on their tattoos’ history and the personal significance of the chosen literary work — The Word Made Flesh is part photo collection, part literary anthology written on skin.

Special features include a reprint of a short story by Donald Barthelme (along with the tattoo it inspired on the author’s daughter), an interview with Brian Evenson about seeing his own work tattooed on someone else, Shelley Jackson’s SKIN Project and Rick Moody’s Shelley Jackson tattoo, Jonathan Lethem’s homage to Philip K. Dick, Tao Lin’s Tao Lin tattoo, and much much more.

I’m not much of a tattoo fan, but this trailer (and the concept for the book) is totally intriguing. If it’s piqued your interest too, stop by tattoolit.comto see more tattoo photos, read about the book, and find out how to attend the launch party at the powerHouse Arena in New York on October 20th. You can also follow this dynamic duo on twitter (@TattooLit) and Facebook. What are you waiting for, a message from God?!?!

Update: Feeling curious-er and curious-er? Check out these additional The Word Made Flesh sightings:

Each photograph appears with a statement from its owner, describing the tattoo’s history and significance. Commonalities emerge: inspiration, whimsy, a certain gloom… The literary tattoo… still bears some connotation of punishment. But… it is also a way of using literature as a public symbol of character. (New Yorker)


Jenny Hendrix reviews The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide, edited by Justin Taylor and Eva Talmadge:

The literary tattoo is at least as old as Hester Prynne’s scarlet “A,” and like any tattoo still bears some connotation of punishment. But as with Hester’s, it is also a way of using literature as a public symbol of character. It also invites serious considerations of font and typesetting, even to the point of recreating a specific edition of a book. …

As with any form of self-publishing, the literary tattoo takes pluck. [Bold mine!] Montaigne wrote, in a phrase I imagine no one has tattooed themselves with, “Only fools have made up their minds and are certain.” But it seems to me to be a wonderful group of fools that, like the memorizers in “Fahrenheit 451,” carry the written word with them everywhere.


Thus Spoke Seth Godin

In the still buzzing world of “Seth Godin versus print publishing” much has been said in favor and against Godin’s announcement that he will no longer publish books traditionally. I’ve been fascinated with the debate. I’m an unabashed neophyte in the world of agents, editors, publishers and book retail, and I profess to know little as a still-hopeful in the world of publishing. But I’m a fan of Godin’s ideas, energy and quasi oracular vision, and I’ve been fascinated with digital storytelling in its diverse and perennially morphing potential for a decade.

Back in the shadow of Y2K I lead a workshop in Paris for teachers called Storytelling in the Digital Age that explored the merits of (and methods for) embracing new narrative media in the classroom. That workshop evolved into a semester-long elective for high school students at the American School of Paris, exploring the roots and evolution of storytelling while developing a methodology for digital narrative craft. Remember, those were heady days when Dana Atchley was at the peak of his all too short life.

It’s stunning how much has changed since then. Staggering. And not a little scary (ie: “One Dark Side of Publishing Changes“) either… But it’s also thrilling and exhilarating! And inevitable. Though not everyone agrees on this last point. In evidence, consider this poignant request from the sage, book loving Gail Hyatt:

It’s true that things are changing drastically in the world of words and ideas. Nobody knows this better than you. You’re a big reason. The possibilities are being realized faster than we can absorb them. However, in my opinion, the end of traditional publishing has not yet come. Not at all. It has a most crucial and vital part to play in feeding our souls and our minds and challenging us to change our lives. I see this fleshed out in my own home. Mike’s chair is the perfect example. Propped in the seat is his laptop, waiting to be awakened for the day. The iPad is perched on the side table next to THE DIP and the highlighter, and the is Kindle peaking up from his briefcase on the floor waiting to be compared to the newest Kindle which will arrive sometime today. I want to encourage to rethink this “quitting.” You say one has to know when to quit and when to stick. Don’t quit that which is obviously sticking. You and your works have a place in our lives that will never be unstuck and we’re very grateful for that. I think your best work is yet to come … and that’s saying A LOT! Maybe not right now. Maybe it needs to ferment for several years. Who knows? All I hope is that, when it does come, you don’t quit and you give it to us in every form possible—especially traditional publishing. Please reconsider. (The Treasure Hunt, by Gail Hyatt)

And while Gail Hyatt is begging Seth Godin not to quit, many others are excoriating and chastising him for his decision. Fortunately, there are also some level heads approaching Godin’s announcement with a more metered, more academic interest. For instance, Mitch Joel shares the feedback from his literary agent, James Levine, regarding four critical considerations for other writers considering emulating Seth Godin:

  • Fan base. Must be fanatic, very large, and inclined to read the author’s works in digital format. This won’t work right out the gate for authors whose main following is in print.
  • Marketing savvy and support. Aside from being very smart about marketing, the author needs to have the staff in place to execute, execute, execute, daily, daily, daily. Many authors will underestimate how expensive and time consuming this is.
  • Long term money goals. The author needs to be able/willing to forego the short-term guarantee from a publisher [known as “the advance”] and bet on long term sales direct from consumers (the per unit revenue to the author is much bigger when the author acts as the publisher).
  • Platforms. It’s important to realize that this approach will make the most sense for authors who make most of their money by speaking/consulting to business audiences. In this sense, books are a form of advertising for the more lucrative services provided by these authors. (“You Are Not Seth Godin“)

Joel adds two further essentials: a top flight editor and a team of performance driven sales reps. Starting to sound like going the Seth Godin way involves launching your own publishing company? To some degree, yes! Joel goes on to remind us that Godin’s ability to make this brave decision nevertheless relies on more than these parts. Godin tirelessly invested “decades of doing tons of things… that all had him in direct connection with the people who will buy his books from him, talk about it to their peers and evangelize his always-brilliant thinking.” In short,Godin has a world class platform. Do you?

What Seth, The Wall Street Journal, the book publishing industry and the literary agents aren’t telling you is that you can – in fact – be just like Seth Godin. These Digital Marketing channels are here for you (and they’re free – if you don’t count the time you need to put into them). In text, images, audio and video you too can publish how you think to the world… instantly. You too can share with others, build relationships and get your ideas to spread. You do not have to rely solely on mass media to help spread the word. And, you’ll know in short order, if your idea has traction… and you’ll be able to track how that idea spreads and connects.

In the end, you are not Seth Godin, but you can be. (“You Are Not Seth Godin“)

In Seth Godin’s words, “The business race is on to have the relationship with the reader.” According to Mark Coker (CEO of Smashwords) “the distribution advantage of having new titles in bricks-and-mortar bookstores will have to be weighed against the potential financial advantage of retaining ownership of a new book and distributing it as an e-book or on a print-on-demand basis.” Makes sense, right?

But others argue that this misses the point. Joel J. Miller argues that Godin has misunderstood “what traditional publishing is about. We sell books to people who love them, to people who crave them, who love bookstores, who love reading…” True. And you sell books to lots of other people who don’t love them but need them, rely upon them, etc. And you may be missing an opportunity to sell books to lots of people who simply haven’t considered buying them because they don’t love them, don’t need them, don’t rely upon them, etc. Right? Wrong, says Miller.

Godin’s basic misapprehension is that people don’t like books. There are billions of dollars exchanged every year that say differently. If you’re a reader, your own habits probably say differently. Mine do.

The second misapprehension is that books are a clunky way to deliver and spread ideas… For people who love them, there are few things more elegant or efficient than books…

A third misapprehension is not Godin’s fault. It’s our own. Godin’s personal business model is perhaps set up for him to succeed with this independent adventure. Good for him. Most authors, however, are not set up to go it alone. Likewise, most publishers are not set up to translate many of Godin’s ideas into their models. As authors and publishers, we should spend more time trying to please our customers than trying to justify ourselves to, or square our practices with, Seth Godin. (“What Godin gets wrong“)

I think this last issue is probably true. At least until the new digital publishing industry matures and begins to offer plug and play solutions to many of the challenges an indie author would encounter. And true too that most traditional publishers aren’t equipped to learn/adopt much from Godin.

But the first two “misapprehensions” strike me as somewhat naive. Sure, some people like and will continue to buy books, and many of those book buyers do indeed consider print books to be elegant and efficient. I am one of those book buyers. I love books. I will always love books. But that’s not the point.

I also love wine, and I am particularly fond of the ritual of opening a good bottle of wine. Cutting the foil is like breaking the wax seal on a letter or document, bold and permanent and assertive yet beautiful and not a little poignant. Once the foil or leading is trimmed away tidily, there’s no greater satisfaction that removing the cork from an aged but well maintained bottled of wine, each twist of the corkscrew adding to the anticipation…

It’s easy to romance wine corks. It’s easy to romance books. And with luck and sufficient numbers of passionate book and wine consumers, we’ll be able to enjoy both for a long time into the future. But screw caps, with all of their oenological, environmental and economic logic are making rapid inroads, and the likelihood of screwcaps gradually eclipsing corks is increasing with every vendange. The point isn’t that some of us prefer corks, but that the industry is changing because there’s greater oenological, environmental and economic value in screwing than corking! Does that mean that corking is dead? Probably not. But it’s likely to become exceptional, less widely available, and more expensive. Miller seems to miss this inevitability.

Literature is like running. It’s not for everyone, but for people who love it stopping after four blocks fails to satisfy. There are miles to go. It’s immersive. It’s also time consuming, but real readers are like real runners; you settle into a good pace and time evaporates. People whose primary reading is Facebook and street signs might not get that. Fine. Selling books to them is a waste of time and effort. Thank God that’s not the task before publishers. (“What Godin gets wrong“)

Whether or not literature and running are similar is a dabble for another day, but it’s clear to me that Miller’s off target. The shifting of the publishing industry from print to digital isn’t about those who love books, love running or love corks in their wine bottles. And if his oversimplified notion that the digital alternative to elegantly bound tomes is blog posts and Facebook, then it’s no wonder he’s confused and concerned. We’re at the dawn of digital publishing. The user-friendly innovations that will propel digital content into the next century aren’t even dreamed up yet. NookKindleVook, etc. are mere prototypes for the next generation of content conveyances. But they are already considerably more evolved and useful as digital publishing platforms than blogs and Facebook!

Clinging to an industry which has largely grown obsolete is lamentable, but failing to recognize the inevitability of the shift and failing to recognize the enormous potential represented by the shift is indeed naive. Let’s be frank and honest; the publishing industry not only resisted change, it kept its head in the sand for far too long. This change isn’t happening overnight. It isn’t an unanticipated fluke. It’s been a gradual evolution, the slowly building wave that only recently has started to crest!

The music industry offered possibly the best case study and the most abundant lessons. If the Big Six had studied the music industry over the last decade and adapted the most successful lessons, they’d be surfing the wave now instead of paddling like mad! But the music industry is only one example. Reflect back on the transition from traditional film photography to digital photography. Remember the detractors, the naysayers, the purists, the film lovers, the darkroom junkies, the overconfident executives who scoffed at the need to reinvent cameras, developing and photography. And note too that evolution from film to digital photography is responsible for the virtual ubiquity of cameras today. Every gadget imaginable includes a camera, and the proliferation of photo sharing, archiving and publishing gadgets demonstrate that this evolution had the effect of democratizing photography. It also opened up massive markets that had been overlooked or unfathomable prior to inexpensive digital cameras.

I suspect this example is particularly relevant to the transition in the publishing industry today. Some people love books and bookstores. Agreed. But look at how many do not. Look at how many never even consider books. And recognize that like digital photography which has proliferated beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, the transition to digital publishing will similarly transform the production and spread of information. And though we’re not all Seth Godins, not by a long shot, this brave new world of digital publishing will make it possible for you, me, anyone with ambition, intelligence and hard work to develop a platform and build an audience who appreciate, justify and contribute to our literary creations.

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Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky

Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, Calif., 1944.
Photograph by Ansel Adams (Credit: Shelburne Museum)

The Shelburne Museum goes modern! Again. No, not more motorcycles… The museum’s fist modern and contemporary photography exhibition, Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: Constructed Landscapes, opened on June 19 and runs until October 24. I haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but I’m hoping to within the next couple of weeks. Here’s the skinny:

Constructed Landscapes… features over 60 photographs by Ansel Adams (1902-1984), one of the most influential and popular landscape photographers in history and Edward Burtynsky (b. 1955), a contemporary photographer whose images of “manufactured landscapes” such as mines, railway cuts and dams have brought him considerable acclaim in the past decade. The exhibit explores concepts of the natural world, wilderness and how carefully crafted images can lead the viewer to specific conclusions and ultimately shape public perception about land use, natural resources and beauty. Burtynsky and Adams are in stark juxtaposition in Constructed Landscapes. Ansel Adams’ classic and pristine black and white images of undisturbed nature contrast with Burtynsky’s stunning color prints of landscapes altered by man, including quarries in Vermont.

Almost twenty years ago I studied photography in Washington, DC with a protege of Ansel Adams. I’m not sure how much I learned, but I loved the course, and it certainly was impressive to hear that our teacher had apprenticed with and developed for the master. For a couple of years I was fascinated with B&W photography, and gobbled up opportunities to idle afternoons away in a darkroom. Do younger readers even understand that experience? I’m a huge fan of digital photography, but I do miss the magical mood, lighting, sounds and smells of a dark room. Perhaps I’ll feel the twinge of nostalgia while enjoying the exhibition at the Shelburne Museum…


Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: Constructed Landscapes

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BP Oil Spill: Is Action the Antidote to Despair?

BP Oil Spill, bu Kris Krug

Click on the image for Kris Krug‘s digital story (

Eleven weeks into the oil disaster that is devastating the Gulf Coast, hope can be hard to find. For photographer Kris Krug, capturing the horrifying impact of our dependence on oil is “my chance to take a little bit of my power back.” To those who feel emotionally overwhelmed by the disaster, Krug advises: “Do something. Action is the antidote to that despair you’re feeling.”(

Photographically, psychologically and philosophically engaging,  Kris Krug’s digital story about the aftermath of the BP oil spill fiasco offers a glimmer of hope. He acknowledges the weight that he’s felt in the months since BP’s well began pumping millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But he also encourages us to act, to overcome the despair by engaging intelectuallay or artistically even if we can’t participate physically in ameliorating the disaster.

Fish Flanerie at Its Most Alluring

Fishing lures, seen in a window by South Kensington Station, April 3, 2010.
(I would be a very dead fish, because these little guys were so attractive.)

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