Inspired by Anselm Kiefer

I first became aware of Anselm Kiefer when I saw one of his landscapes in the Met. It stopped me short. The painting was a large (has he ever done small art?) textured field with tire tracks leading across it.  There may well have been an additional feature, which is common in his landscapes, but I don’t remember that. The painting, and others by Kiefer, has made me more aware of the texture of the landscape where I live.

The Textured Landscape

It began snowing as I drove towards my first student pick-up. I was early, so I stopped to take a couple of pictures of this corner.  It was before sunrise, so the shot turned out fairly dull and blue. I lightened it and drained some of the blue out. The shot now looks pretty close to what I thought I was seeing. In becoming more aware of the texture of the land, I have become more appreciative of dirty snow.

The Creek in Spring

Having participated in a few online photo communities (National Geographic, Viewbug, JPG Magazine), I have become disillusioned with both the stereotypical photos (many highly photoshopped or studio produced shots of sultry women, cute children, or spectacular landscapes), and the low level of interaction with other photographers. That said, I love taking pictures that awe people, so I too have worshipped at the altar of National Geographic as I squinted through the viewfinder of my 6D. No doubt some of the pictures I post on this site will seem to aspire to be those kinds of photos.

In my heart of hearts, though, I would like to work towards my own personal style or vision, which is why I started a photoblog. I have recently been inspired by the photos taken by Mika Sperling, especially the Mennonite pictures from Russia, which I think are her strongest.  Also by a couple of Facebook pictures posted by a student of mine, Will, whose pictures, apologetically posted, seem to be quite unaffected  by any photo culture, and are almost random pictures of almost nothing.

Such a project is necessarily an exploration of sorts. It will include some pictures from the past, especially at first.  I hope to mostly include pictures from my own culture and life where I live (south of Morden, Manitoba, on the Canadian prairies, next to the Pembina escarpment)  and work (as a teacher.)  As an exploration, I hope to include some thoughts as well, hoping to avoid too much self-important navel-gazing.  Criticism by viewers is most welcome.  So I’m off, then.

The above shot is an old one, taken about this time of year just down the road towards Morden.  Recently, while going through old photos, I did some minor re-working of shots I liked — some contrast adjustments and cropping. Snow textures and defines the landscape in new and interesting ways, a visual magic that I am very much drawn to, not to mention that it makes the long, cold winter much more interesting.