I love George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. And contemporary composer Michael Torke’s Bright Blue Music. And blue skies and blue water. When Robert Langdon of the Emerge Gallery in Saugerties issued a Call for Art for a show he was titling “Something Blue,” I did one of my “digital rummaging” exercises through my recent (two or three years) photographs for some works to submit.
It wasn’t as easy as I thought. Images for gallery shows have to be topnotch in their own right, and they have to have sales potential for the particular gallery you’re submitting to. Here I am submitting to a gallery in the Hudson Valley and most of my best “blue” pictures – again, think water and/or sky – are, well, taken in Rhode Island.
Fortunately, water and sky have a universal appeal that transcends their particular location. It’s not as if I were submitting pictures of buildings in Providence (I hardly have any). So I chose three, and these two were accepted.
One of my dear longtime mentors, California-based photographer Kerry Drager, always advises his students and followers that when they’re searching for a composition and find a nice horizontal, then turn the camera around and see if there’s also a good vertical to be had. (And vice versa.) The aptly named Blue Paradise (I love this place) is one of those experiments that didn’t quite work out. With tons of horizontal images in varying compositions already in my files, I wanted to try for a vertical, and the sky that evening seemed as if it would be perfect for this – nice layers of different colors. The problem was that I underestimated the strength of the top, white layer; it was overpowering. It had to go. The end result was what you see here – another horizontal, but one of my best of this scene. And I always like trying for an effect where the solid, unmoving rocks contrast with the silky texture of the water (longish exposure, facilitated by the diminishing daylight). Blue Paradise is hanging, matted and framed, in the Emerge Gallery’s “Something Blue” show.
Unconquered is one of those pictures that virtually took itself. When the wind gods favor me with the wild waves, I find a good composition and click the shutter again and again, because that’s the way you ensure you’ll get one good one out of the bunch. Ask Kerry, he does this on the West Coast. Here my unmoving, solid point was the lighthouse, which (thanks to the telephoto zoom) looks much closer than it is. In postprocessing I had to do some work with clarity and brightness to ensure that the light and the rocks would stand out. And then I wanted to give the picture a title that would draw attention to the lighthouse and not to the obvious drama in the waves. My friend and fellow Catskills photographer John O’Grady often likes to do that – title a photograph after a very small object in the image – and sometimes I find myself channeling John when I’m photographing. What to call a picture about a lighthouse sturdily surviving being battered and buffeted by the wild winds? As I was thinking about this, I had the radio tuned to our classical music radio station, WMHT, and the music being played was my favorite piece by the above-mentioned Michael Torke: Unconquered. I had my title.
“Something Blue” runs in the actual gallery until April 25, but the pictures will still be available to purchase online from Emerge’s Artsy site after that – my Unconquered and lots of other fabulous works by my fellow artists are in the “online only” show. Please, if you’re local, visit the gallery, otherwise welcome online!