the hidden world of the nearby
“John Wawrzonek is a virtuoso.”
—The Boston Globe
Archival Fine Art Poster Prints on Epson Premium Luster Paper
click on images for gallery
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 elevated roadways. 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 image, 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, come into leaf. Click HERE for further comments and to go to the gallery where there are full screen versions of the images.
A wonderful irony.
The Bose building where I worked for many years was near the opposite side of the Turnpike. It was built on a large hill called (officially) “The Mountain.” To build the Turnpike, I am told, that the top of The Mountain was removed to provide fill for the Pike’s valleys. So I have always thought that, as you can see in the images below, that to make the photographs below I was standing on fill that had whose removal had made way for Bose Corporation’s headquarters. I had worked in the building from the time of its construction in 1970 until I left Bose in 1990 to pursue photography full time.
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
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.
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.
The three matrices that will carry the dyes.
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.