top of page

A significant part of being an effective teacher of photography is the continuing development as a visual artist. It takes time to be that artist, time spent in the field/studio capturing new work, time in the lab processing and editing, time traveling for research and continuing to refine the stories you want your images to tell.  Photography students create more interesting work when their faculty are fully committed photographic artists. As a visual artist, working to teach and inspire other visual artists, the development of new bodies of work will further my ability to help students make their own work.

Why the View Camera?
The beauty of this camera is in the process of creation itself. It is a slow, methodical process that requires dedication and attention to detail. The camera stretches your imagination and inspires you to create photographs unlike any you had made before. The time spent creating the image is the personal reward of this camera.

Series 1 - The Tools

All images are copyrighted. © Craig Mohr 2021

ABOUT the PROJECT

The dictionary defines Still Life as ‘the category of subject matter in which inanimate objects are represented, as in painting or photography”.

The French refer to still life as “nature morte” or dead nature. That sounds a bit too harsh.

Still life to me is the creative freedom to control all aspects of my image from composition, lighting, framing to the choice subject.  

Description

My sabbatical project will produce a 15-image portfolio of large format photographs in the style of Group f/64. Group f/64 was founded in 1932 by eleven photographers creating black and white images of fine detail portraying reality as opposed to an impressionist style. This style became known as straight photography. My emphasis will be on the still-life works of Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston, two of the founding members. I selected these photographers in particular because they created two of the most influential images in my early development as a photographer. Cunningham’s ‘The Unmade Bed’ (1957) and Weston’s Pepper, No. 30 (1930).

 

Abstract

In 1932 eleven photographers announced themselves as Group f/64. Their style of photography is often referred to as “Straight Photography”, their images portrayed reality as opposed to Pictorialism which was popular at that time. In Pictorialism, a photograph like a painting, drawing or engraving, was a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewer's imagination. The final result of their work were finely detailed silver-based black and white prints.

 

Group f/64 was revolutionary in its day as one of the first modern art movements defined by women and men working as equals.

 

This series brings together the 25 years I worked as a commercial photographer and my 21 years as a photography educator.

The Process:

A large part of my sabbatical will be traveling to research the works of Imogene Cunningham and Edward Weston. The research is the foundation for setting the tone and subject matter of the images I will create.

 

  • The images are shot on 4x5 B&W sheet film, scanned and printed on Canson Baryta Rag Photographique archival inkjet paper.

  • The research includes:the permanent photography collection at the Getty Center, The Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, which houses the Cunningham and Weston Archives, and the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, Ca. (formerly the Friends of Photography started by Ansel Adams).

  • Visits Wildcat Hill, Edward Weston’s home in Carmel, Ca. to meet with Kim Weston, Edward Weston’s grandson.

  • Attend exhibitions at the Weston Gallery and the Photography West Gallery, Carmel, CA.

 

The Outcome:

  • 15 archival 11x14 matted B&W prints.

  • A gallery exhibition and artist’s talk in the SMC Photo Gallery in Drescher Hall.

  • A large format shooting workshop for SMC students and faculty.

  • A gift of the complete print series to the SMC Permanent Collection/Foundation.

  • The publishing of a technical report detailing the process of the project including: the subject selections, the lighting style, camera technique, film selection and processing, film scanning, digital processing and the final printing technique.

 

The dictionary defines Still Life as ‘the category of subject matter in which inanimate

objects are represented, as in painting or photography”.

 

The French refer to still life as “nature morte” or dead nature. That sounds a bit too harsh.

Still life to me is the creative freedom to control all aspects of my image from composition,

lighting, framing to the choice subject.  

The Research

In 1675, Isaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

The phrase is understood to mean that if Newton had been able to discover more about the universe than others, then it was because he was working in the light of discoveries made by fellow scientists, either in his own time or earlier.

 

We grow as photographers because we are standing on the shoulders of giants. My giants are Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Paul Outerbridge, Josef Sudek, Andre Kertesz, Laszlo Moholoy-Nagy, Irving Penn, and Charles Sheeler.

 

People frequently wonder aloud about Weston’s Pepper No. 30. They say, “I don’t see what the big deal is, I had one in my salad last week.” A two-inch print in a book does not do this or any image justice.

 

It is not until you have the original before you that you can experience the artists’ intent and artistry. It is breath taking. Weston’s images have a great deal of nuance that is only realized when you are in the presence of the original. That is when you can fully appreciate Pepper No. 30.

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that.”

— Good Will Hunting, 1997

Inspiration - the Giants Whose Shoulders I Stand On

Paul Outerbridge                 Josef Sudek

Andre Kertesz

   Charles Sheeler            Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Imogen Cunningham                                                                   Edward Weston

Series 2 - The Planets
Series 2Dripbook 10-25_edited.jpg
Series 2Dripbook 10-25-2_edited.jpg

All images are copyrighted. © Craig Mohr 2021

ADOBE LIGHTROOM - The Digital Darkroom

 

Ever since digital cameras first became popular in the early 1990s, photographers have sought ways to adjust and improve the images to replicate the darkroom tricks and techniques that film photographers have enjoyed for decades.

 

Photoshop is an amazing piece of software; however, Adobe has made what was already a very complex program even more difficult to master. Many Photographers felt Photoshop’s expanded features were surplus to their requirements; so, it was clear that a new app was needed that catered more specifically to the needs of photographers. This is why Adobe developed Lightroom.

 

In 1999, a new project, codenamed Shadowland (a reference to a k.d. lang album), was created.

 

The program designers created the Develop module with an extensive set of tools that mirror the techniques of the traditional darkroom.  The result is a very powerful Digital Darkroom.

Contact

The Camera

I selected a modern camera, the Horseman L45, as the shooting platform. This camera is a high function system that simplifies operations giving unprecedented creative freedom. The film format is 4x5.

The Film

I am shooting Ilford HP5. HP5 is one of the oldest film stocks and has a classic tonal range and contrast. It has subtle tones producing excellent detail in the shadows.

Sabbatical Series-14_edited.jpg
Sabbatical Series-8_edited.jpg
Sabbatical Series-13_edited.jpg
Sabbatical Series-7_edited.jpg
Sabbatical Series-10_edited.jpg
Sabbatical Series-9_edited.jpg
4xHorizontal_101_edited.jpg
Stones_101_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_05_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_06_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_03_edited.jpg
Stones_102_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_04_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_07_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_08_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_02_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_10_edited.jpg
11-17-21 Images_01_edited.jpg
bottom of page