the hidden world of the nearby

The reason for our existence is a mystery and much of what we do is tragic.
But that is not, I believe, the reason we were created.
Our stunningly complex minds can both create and enjoy beauty
and to foster this gift is the purpose of my work as it has been for 44 years.
Here you will see a sampling of this work so far...

click for further information

I have found my best images in unexpected places or discovered them in my imagination.

My criteria for a great image is litterally a feeling that is best described as “butterflies,”
and the effect is almost instantaneous. However, other images can go undiscovered for years.

click on an image or name to go to a list of galleries

Spring Flowers
JW 5710
MM 0025 M02

Part I

Landscapes 1974 ~ 2005

When I began photographing with a view camera in 1974 my goal was to find unique images and to print them as well as possible. I explored national parks in the west and northeast but both were already well documented or had subjects or vistas impossible to render in a reasonably sized print.

It wasn’t until 1980 that I first noticed spring on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) 20 to 30 miles west of Boston. When the Pike was built valleys were often filled yielding an elevated roadway. This gave me something very unusual, a vantage point at the height of the tree canopy and yet close enough to photograph. The experience changed the way I thought about making images. Now it was texture first and composition second. Although it is not possible in every imnage, it has affected my work ever since.

The three images below are from the early 1980s in Weston. They illustrate the progression of color from mid to late April to mid May as various species of tree, especially maples, came into leaf. Click HERE for further comments and to go to the gallery where there are full screen versions of the images.

With my view camera

My studio on my back crossing the Pike in Millbury

The location of the overlook on the Pike in Weston

Looking up from ground level on the Pike

JW with 4x5 12-02 F3 f

Below, from the Weston overlook, the kind of image that first drew my attention. At their best these images are reministant of fall colors, but with a pointillist rendition. The image below is of the same trees, but later in the spring.

For more examples, click on either of the images below.

Early Buds on Maple Trees I

Interstate Highway 90, Weston, Massachusetts. May 1982 cat. 4841

Peak Color

Interstate Highway 90, Weston, Massachusetts. May 1982
cat. JW 4839

Emergent Spring I

Interstate Highway 90, Millbury, Massachusetts
May 1985, cat. JW 0378

Part II

Printing 1978 ~ 1993

Achieving high color saturation but with full control is easy with Photoshop and a really good printer. It was impossible up to the mid-1990s except with a process called dye transfer printing.

It is complex because of the many steps and is further complicated by the need to keep the three colors of each of eleven film images elements in register.

The image first has to be “seperated” into its three color layers, the subtractive primaries: cyan, magenta and yellow. This is accomplisthed by contact printing the original transparency onto a special black and white separation film with red, green and blue light respectively. The process is then repeated with a very high contrast film to correctly capture the highlights in the tranparency. Additionally two color correction masks are made to use during the separation process. For more information click on DYE TRANSFER PRINTING.

The transparency is mounted in a contact printing frame.

Focusing the enlarger.

Washing undeveloped geletin from a matrix.

The three matrices that will carry the dyes.

Part III

The Hidden World of the Nearby

In 1987 I was given an assignment to photograph a small stream in Littleton, Massachuseets called Beaver Brook for an article by John Hanson Mitchell. John lived in a carpenter gothic house he built himself in an area though which Beaver Brook flowed known as “Scratch Flats.” He had written a history called Ceremonial Time of Scratch Flats covering the period since the last ice age 15,000 year ago..

While photographing the brook one July afternoon in 1987, my associate and assistant, Michael Conrad, spotted a small stream passing under I-495. It was late in the day and I came back several mornings to photograph the brook from the highway. One morning a fog blocked out some interferring power lines (now they can be removed easily in Photoshop without the need of fog). The image is reproduced below. It has sold out its edition. A version without the fog is in the gallery RIVERS & STREAMS.

Dreamed Brook

Interstate 495, Littleton, Massachusetts, July 1987, JW 0181

The quotation above is from John Hanson Mitchell’s Ceremonial Time. “...that undiscovered country of the nearby, the secret world...” brought to mind “the hidden world of the nearby,” and then a short verse:

out of the corner of my eye
in the hidden world of the nearby,
untended gardens thrive
or pass from time unnoticed

As I continued to photograph and especially my experience at Walden Pond, and now my experience writing about the destruction of our planet I began to think that this touched upon something very important, and perhaps even endemic to our species. This may be stretching it, but I don’t think so. eight years of photographing with a view camera, the view camera capturing ever bit of texture and color possible with the technology available. Clicking on an image will take you to its gallery.

Among these images, although they were unexpected in once sense, they were nevertheless in national parts. However, those on interstate highways and others on the most ordinary of roadsides still amaze me. On of my favorites was at a busy intersection on my commute when I worked at Bose. You can see it by clicking here: MY ROADS.

Clicking below will take you to the index for the relevant galleries.

To Gallery Indicies





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