John Wawrzonek images from The Hidden World of the Nearby
I have written a dozen or so artist's statements, none of which I found satisfactory. I had been working on this website since about 4:30 am one morning when I had a realization. I had the thought that I had been trying to articulate a pre-formed vision, and that was not true. What I realized instead is that something was latent in me and that was a love of color and texture in nature. I was not aware of this until I saw some dye transfer prints. Dye transfer was a printing process invented in the 1930s and was capable of color and control of saturation unlike any other photographic printing process of the time. It's color intensity is still unmatched today.
In 1974 I moved from engineering to marketing at Bose and was exposed to the work of fine studio photographers and large format photography. I borrowed a 4" x 5" press camera and photographed some flowers, had them professionally printed and was stunned by the quality. The only "vision" I had at that point was of a large colorful print that took advantage of this kind of printing and, I suspect, my love of color and texture. In retrospect that included the idea that the print would not reveal itself as a photograph by the common short-comings of photography at the time: lack of sharpness and brilliance of color.
I also knew I wanted large prints and that in combination with 4" x 5" film and exceptional printing would reproduce the textures of nature. The rest, in a sense, is history. I did not take lessons (I usually recall my father's words: "You can't tell him anything,") but I also knew that I wanted to find my own way in my own way. I started on mountain tops, drove the full length of Utah, wandered through the woods and used (wasted) a great deal of film. There were a few good images but it took seven years for something to click.
Then in 1981I saw something very much like the image below, a maple swamp just coming into bud. The view was of a valley I now call the Weston Overlook, and it was about two feet from the breakdown lane on the Massachusetts Turnpike. The roadway, elevated over the floor of the of the forest put me at the level of the tree canopy yet close to it, something almost impossible to find. The orange buds on the silver branches was an extraordinary image with a suggestion of pointillism.
Photographing with a view camera on a busy interstate highway seemed ludicrous at the time, but after driving around I realized there was no alternative. Fortunately there was a place to get my car off the highway a few hundred feet away. I walked along the narrow ridge until I came to the center of the overlook. I had to fully extend the front leg of my tripod to accommodate the rapid drop off.
In the following days and weeks I had many discussions with the Turnpike police and finally signed a release form at the offices of the Turnpike authority. I never had to show it. Assuring the police I had permission was enough.
I remember vividly one encounter with a trooper. With my camera positioned over this valley and he standing virtually next to me: "What are you doing?" "Taking a picture?" "Of what?"
I photographed from this location for at least 10 years. Now the trees in front are so high, I have a difficult time finding the same spot. And 9/11 has eliminated the freedom I had to wake early and to go anywhere on the Pike where I thought something interesting might be happening.
The details of this place and some additional images are under the heading "Weston Overlook" in the bar to the left.