Grand Sky

I’ve been over in Tucson AZ seeing friends, enjoying a holiday and playing with a new camera. I got an Olympus Pen EP1, so that I can keep a small camera with me all the time which should be good enough to take a professional picture. We’ll see! It performed extremely well under the hot desert sun. The pictures here are, in some respects, examples of where it isn’t comparable to the E3, however let the camera talk finish there.
These are both night photographs from the rim of the Grand Canyon on a moonless night. What a fantastic sight, it’s really unbelievable just how many stars there are. I’m used to seeing stars in North Devon where light pollution is minimal, but here at the GC, 7,500 feet higher, you feel you can touch them. I remember feeling disappointed that I wasn’t going to see a full moon whilst in the USA, but no moon, in some respects, is better.
The light on the canyon wall in the photo below comes from dimly lit Bright Angel lodge, a mile away. I was also amazed at how much a little light can make in such a dark place. Even my small, LED torch (flashlight), could make a huge difference. One would have thought a place as wild and pristine as the Grand Canyon could restrict their lights to the floor and the inside of buildings rather than lighting places miles away. I guess light waves are much like sound waves; you shout to someone across a room 30ft away, but when you shout on the rim of the Grand Canyon those waves travel 12 miles and reflect of the North Rim wall and travel 12 miles back again as an echo less than a second later.
I’m reliably corrected by Paul Madgett, thanks Paul: “sound travels at around 1100ft/sec at sea-level (though a little slower at higher altitudes) – ie roughly 5 seconds for a mile – thus any echo from a shout across the full 12-mile width of the Canyon would take about 2 minutes – if you were hearing an echo in less than a second, this must have been from nearby canyon walls on your side of the Canyon. Light, on the other hand, at about 300,000km/sec would take less than 1/10000 sec to “echo”.

How things change….

I have four new works in the current North Devon Arts, New Year New Work show at Broomhill Art Hotel and five more in a two day group show at Holsworthy Memorial Hall over the weekend of 21st & 22nd Feb for the inaugural Ruby Country Art Expo.

Both of these shows demanded new work, the NDA?s had to have been made during the last year and the Expo?s the last two years. It?s always good to make new work and it gives me the impetus to look at all of my ?work-in-progress? and decide which ones I?m still drawn to and will look good, once completed, in the respective shows.

One of the images I chose to bring on from thumbnail to artwork was Hermit Hole, Grand Canyon, March 2008 (thumbnail on the left/above). This was originated from time based in Tucson in the winter of early 2008. This was the first trip I had hiked below the rim of the Grand Canyon and it was fantastic. A lot of compacted snow and ice at the trail heads but further down it got brighter and warmer. This image, made of 47 separate digital frames, was found on the Hermit Trail, hence its name. It was the edge of what would have been a huge waterfall after a good thunderstorm, but when I was there it was totally dry, but there were the odd pools of water left further down.

Here you see how the image has radically changed through the intentional reconstruction of the many photographic frames to make it as realistic and truthful as possible but without loosing its sense of mystery and place. There is a continual battle as I construct an image between the placing of each ?jigsaw puzzle piece? on my computer screen in Photoshop, making sure each piece is in the right place and at the right angle; with my memory of how the place looked and felt, bearing in mind that I am transforming a three dimensional space, a 180 degree, fish-eye view, of a place onto a two dimensional canvas.

A similar, but not so dramatic difference was noticed with an image for the Ruby show: Striped Wall, Combe Martin. I have taken to making a thumbnail of an image using Photoshop?s ?photomerge? to give me an idea if it ?works? or whether I want to pursue it any further. Photomerge is great for merging up to 5 or 6 frames together (so long as they have been taken on a similar plain and have similar tonal values); but to combine more than this successfully I have to make my frames thumbnail sized.

Another use for this thumbnail is as an image to send to a gallery etc for inclusion in a show or for a press release. Once the image has been accepted I have to put the real work in making the constructed image full size, in this case a file of 750mb to make a fine quality print of up to 1.5metres.