Saturday, January 14, 2012

Photographer: Robert Misrach

Whilst pulling together the final images for Assignment 3 I was conscious of the fact that I had accumulated a series of photographs of the early morning sky.  These did not sit well alongside the images I was developing for the book or for the final assignment set, however, they interested me and were an important representation of the experience of early morning light in the Englischer Garten.  Part of what inspired me to turn my camera upwards is a uniquely beautiful volume of photographs by Robert Misrach, entitled "The Sky Book".

This is a very special book, both for the photography, but for the place it has in my heart.  My father died 4 years ago, too early at the age of 67, from a post operative infection during a procedure that cured him of cancer, but also of life.  He fought the infection for 6 months, during which time he seemed to recede from the intellectually robust argumentative retired particle physicist that I remember, into a shadow.  During this time he kept this book close, there was something in Misrach's photos of infinity that provided comfort and perhaps a place in the grand scheme of things. After he died my mother gave me the book and I have treasured it ever since.  It is a little battered, clearly a book that has been read and not simply looked at.

As I worked towards the final group of images for the assignment, I found myself drawn to this volume over again.  Misrach images the sky in all its glory, but in the caption for the photographs refers to the location for the photo, the only clue in the colour studies that a ground was present.  These are pure studies of colour and sky.  The only time that solid matter enters the images is through the presence of planets or stars in long exposure star-trail images.  I suspect it was these photographs that drew my father, he was a long time amateur astronomer and his ashes can be found in the garden beneath the spot his telescope once stood.  For me, though it is the sky images that draw, the subtle colour gradations of twilight and the fierce orange glow of sunset.  Individually the photographs might be considered banal, another snap of a sunset, oh wow!  Together they resonate and build upon each other into a astonishing array of natural colour.  In fact at times it is hard to accept that they are photographs, they abstract into paintings of pure light and colour.

In my Transient Light study, I have almost always tried to bring the camera down, to look at how the light from the sky is interacting with the ground mist and water.  I frequently crop to eliminate the tops of trees and thus the sky, pushing the viewer into the photograph.  In a sense I am attempting the opposite of what Misrach is doing.  He eliminates trace of the ground to contemplate the origin of light; I have eliminated the sky to bring focus to the destination of the light.

However, I did not keep my camera pointed downwards, the sky pulled me to look up.  My own efforts at imaging the sky seem rather futile in comparison, but, I start somewhere.  Following is a montage of 20 photographs of the sky captured during my time in the park.  Unlike Misrach I have mostly anchored the photographs in the silhouette of the trees in the park.  

Although there is far less variety of image, and cloud is a key element of my photographs, I was surprised when pulling this set together at the variety of colour and form in the sky.  Planes make a significant presence, perhaps tying the images back to the city and humanity that frame the park.

I plan to continue my study of this small section of park, expanding the original idea of studying the mist into a broader study that brings in additional elements to the work, currently:
  • Sky - further this study of the dawn sky
  • Water - reflections and patterns
  • Mist - Transient Light as it currently stands
  • Trees - expand the inclusion of the trees
  • City - extend to include the buildings fringing the park
  • Park - broader landscape images
  • People - imagery that captures people
I will keep the attention on the dawn, all photos will be in that short span either side of the physical sun rise in the park.

No comments:

Post a Comment