Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Desert Hourglass

This is an appropriate image for last post of the year - 'here comes 2014' - an hourglass.
(I've done a previous montage w/ an hourglass (click link below), but it's been a few years, time for another.)


I had a P'shop sketch of this one (below) for several years, the idea is nice, but the twist it uses (the juxtaposition between the rocky cliffs and the small rock in the sand) might be lost on many. (The cliffs at top are hundreds of yards wide - the sand at bottom, perhaps a few feet wide.)
I still liked it, the rock that slid down the sand embankment was not something I made, i just found it that way, it's kinda like the rocks on the 'devil's racetrack' in Death Valley.
No one's quite figured out what makes these rocks leave the paths they do, though every year or so i read another story online about how someone has finally figured it out.
Yeah, right - as soon as we think we have figured it all out, we get proven wrong. Whatta surprise.


Then that light went on in my head one day, and I imagined that the rock sliding could be the bottom part of an hourglass. Sand trickles through a small channel, and piles up in the bottom half, but what if the bottom half was this sliding stone? Aha.
So I found my various hourglass negs (once again, from assignment work done almost 20 years ago) and found an excellent sky to sandwich with the hourglass, it completed the top.
Once i had exposed 4 sheets of this, i discovered that the bottom half wasn't quite so easy, i didn't have a 'bottom half' of an hourglass that was full enough to fit on the sheet.
I exposed the sliding stone anyway, putting off this question for about..oohh.. 15 minutes.
I tried one  neg of the hourglass, which was too subtle, didn't work for me.

I could photoshop it to death. But, nah, for me that's cheating. I've seen too much photography that would sink like a stone 30 years ago, but now..? You can resurrect anything from 'needs some work' all the way to 'miserable'.

After some quick reflection ( can 'reflection' actually be quick? that's kind of an oxymoron, isn't it?) i chose to use a neg of the *top* of the hourglass, sandwiched with a sky on the same roll as the sky used in the top sandwich, sorta the same, sorta different.
OK, i developed a print of that. Nice but the middle is lacking....
I developed another print, with additional burning the middle.
Much better, i can say i got one done right.

but then, the cake needed a little icing.....
added a horizon of sorts, from Nevada somewhere....
very simple, didn't even do a test strip, just blew it in.

After I did these prints, i thought there might be 'color' possibilities here, but digital ones, not hand color - you just can't hand color glossy paper, no way, no how. At least I don't do it - you could use watercolors, that sink in immediately, but that doesn't work for me - I like to be able to blend colors, which you can do w/ oil colors. So I took a digital pass at that, and whaddya bleepin' know, it worked pretty well.

I am finding there are definitely some images (prints) that are best colored by hand... and some that work better w/ digital. That's 'how the cookie crumbles'... as the saying goes.

Here's the images larger:

So what is my fascination w/ time about?
Well... uh.. how can you not be in some way concerned about this? We all have it, we all 'spend' it, it passes by inexorably, and is gone. Of course we only have so much of it, sooner or later...we all gotta go.
I have done many images that work w/ this one, going back to my east coast days (30 years ago). And I also include birds, mostly flocks of them. Maybe gulls at the beach, but also a memory that goes back a loooong time, to when i was just a few years old, in NH, living on a farm. If you came out of the house at sunset, and looked at the barn ( a BIG old classic 2 story barn) you could be treated to a swarm/flock of swallows filling the air, a marvelous sight, it was dusk, the barn was a silhouette, the bird calls a symphony.
So that's why birds figure big in my visual vocabulary.
As for time? I've had a few really nice clocks in my life, most recently this one, i inherited from my dad.

I don't know where or how i got the one in the image above, it looks like a cheapo fold-open thing, but I loved it anyway.

Next post will be 'hand coloring', all the way - recently my Mac mini got very, very ill, and i was computer-less at home for 10 days. But it was not hard to dial back the clock (here we go, 'time' again) to a few years spent at a marvelous apt. in SF, before i got involved w/ computer work, and found plenty to do. Going to Ocean Beach, staying past sunset, shooting film, processing it, taking it all into the darkroom for montage, playing tapes of 'Hearts of Space' radio shows, feeling the building sway in the wind ( i was on the 4th floor, wood frame building) and open east and west facing windows to a breeze that i could fly a kite in if i was so inclined.
I pulled out a dozen prints from recent years, spent many many hours working w/ watercolors, then adding oil color, i really honed my skills, it was excellent. I also re-read a few Frederick Forsyth novels. Compared to him?... i am a writer of virtually no consequence, but I try and have a good time w/ it, hope i have enlightened you to some small degree about this 'photography' thing.