Category Archives: Prints

Stories about prints, exhibits, and installations

Chatham County Photography Exhibit

Join me and the photographers who participated in my recent Chatham County photography workshop for the opening night reception of our exhibit at the NC Arts Incubator Gallery in Siler City. The exhibit features 60 prints created during the two month workshop by 23 photographers of all skill levels. The reception starts at 6pm on Friday the 17th and is part of the Third Friday Artwalk in Siler City. If you are new to the Artwalk in Siler City check out this episode of North Carolina Weekend from earlier this year.

The workshop and exhibit were sponsored by the Chatham Conservation Partnership as a way to raise awareness and appreciation for conservation efforts and the value of nature in Chatham County. The exhibit celebrates the diverse ways of seeing and appreciating the natural wonders and rural character of Chatham County. In creating this workshop, I wanted to give the participants not only an opportunity to learn new photography skills, but also give them the opportunity to use those skills to help their community. They invested so much time and effort into this project and have generously donated the use of their images to the Chatham Conservation Partnership. The exhibit will be on display in Siler City until September 14th, then it will travel to various locations around Chatham County. After the last exhibit we plan to donate the prints to a Triangle Land Conservancy fund raising auction.

This workshop and exhibit would not have been possible without the dedicated tireless efforts of Gretchen Smith, a volunteer with the Chatham Conservation Partnership. It is a joy to work with someone who gives of herself so freely and is so effective. She not only helped me plan and execute the workshop but she also found co-sponsors to provide funding so we could offer the workshop free of charge, found all the venues for the exhibits, and arranged field trips with experts for the participants to learn more about the area. A few days ago I helped Gretchen and her volunteers install the exhibit. I really enjoy this part of the process, when ideas have finally become real physical objects.

Gretchen Smith

Gretchen Smith and volunteers installing the CCP 2012 Photography Exhibit at the NC Arts Incubator in Siler City, North Carolina

Another thing I enjoyed about this workshop is it gave me an excuse to spend some time making images in Chatham County. A selection of the images I made during this workshop can be seen in the Recent Images Gallery. They include images of the Haw and Rocky Rivers, a storm over Jordan Lake, and the subject for my contribution to the exhibit, images of the Devil’s Stomping Ground Scenic Byway.

Southern Environmental Law Center Installation

Yesterday, I installed eight huge canvas prints in the offices of the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These are all images from my new book, Wild North Carolina. I am honored that these images were selected for permanent display by such an important organization. So many of the images I have created over the last few years would not have been possible without their successful conservation efforts.

These are the largest prints I have ever made. Each print is a 5 foot tall by 3 foot wide gallery wrapped canvas. The three prints behind the reception desk form a 10 foot wide panorama of a beech forest from Umstead State Park.

These three prints were made out of a stitched composite of three vertically composed photographs. This technique gives me the resolution I need to make huge prints but that is not the reason I use this technique. I stitch multiple photographs together to break the relationship between angle of view and perspective. To capture this entire scene in one photograph would require a wide angle lens, but a wide angle lens also has the effect of visually pushing distant objects farther away. In the forest that means distant trees become tiny, thin, and unsubstantial. A telephoto lens has the opposite effect on perspective; it makes distant objects appear closer, giving the distant trees more mass and presence. Capturing a scene like this with multiple telephoto images allows me to combine the distance compression of a telephoto lens with the wide angle of view of a much shorter focal length.

The hallway has an even larger 14 foot wide panorama made out of four vertical prints. This one shows a tidal cypress and tupelo swamp along the Chowan River.

I often try to make the individual photographs of a composite image interesting and distinct compositions on their own. I started doing this long ago because I thought it made more interesting panoramas, but now I really appreciate how well this can work when displayed this way. Each print is very different yet they work together to give yet another compositional idea.

Here is another view of the hallway prints looking down the hall in the other direction.

In the distance you can see the final image, a composite of three horizontal photographs made in the grove of old-growth tulip poplar in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in the southern mountains of North Carolina.

Before I hung this print a group of people sat down around it and started botanizing, just like you would do if you were there. The print is so large it is almost like being there and all the plants, even the tiniest wildflowers, are recognizable.

I want to thank JW Photo Labs in Raleigh for doing such a wonderful job with these prints. They do great work and can handle canvas prints even larger than these. Although I don’t think I will be able to print any larger just because I will not be able to fit them in my car!

There were lots of ooohs and aaahs as I was hanging these prints but my favorite comment came just as I was finishing with the hallway and was starting to feel proud of myself. Ann, the office manager, walked up and said, “This definitely looks better than the blank walls.” I laughed hard and said, “That’s quite an endorsement, can I quote you on that!”