Friday, January 01, 2010

Rural Skies

On the Great Plains, near the Great Lakes, the skies dominate the landscape. The Wisconsin rural skies are a presence as strong as the land.

Photographs of the land are as much of the sky. I have always admitted that my photography is really about light. It is equally about the sky. I feel as if the sky is a character in my photos, a character like the light, something that is a part of each image.

Living out in the rural areas of the eastern Great Plains, we look at the sky daily. It tells us the weather that will be coming soon. I know retired farmers here that can look at the sky and tell you what the weather will be like for the next two days, with more accuracy than the TV forecaster. They've spent their entire lives watching the skies.

And we watch who lives in the skies. Who passes through, who passes over. Who returns, and who dwells.

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Blogger Elisabeth said...

The skies themselves are like great open plains. Have you read Gerald Murnane's book, The Plains Jim Murdoch is a fan as am I.

GM's an Australian writer who rarely travels beyond Victoria but he writes about the great plains of Idaho, among other imaginary places, places he has never seen except in his imagination.

Your words here remind me of Gerald's writing. Unfortunately, he's a man who refuses to use new technology, computers and the like, otherwise I'd introduce him to your blog. He'd love it, I'm sure.

Your photos are exquisite. I love that they are in black and white. They offer so much more to the imagination.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks for the comment and the recommendation. I haven't heard of Mr. Murnane's work before, and I'll be sure to seek it out. Imaginary landscapes, as it were, are always interesting to read.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art, these are wonderful photos/captured slices in time. I lived in Ohio for a number of years & this is what it's all've really captured it noumenon....Love them....the geese are the best imo.

I find sky to be an important figure in photography but it has a bad rap among pros...weird,eh?


8:12 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, JR. It's one of my better geese photos. They were right overhead, and I got the image just in time. It's all about timing, and being prepared.

It's interesting to me that the sky has, as you put it, a bad rap among pros. I'm not totally sure what you mean. My guess, though, is that a lot of photographers are so focused on the human, the human-made, and the near-field close-up, that large-scale landscape photography has become less popular than it once was, at least among fine art photographers. One wonders if this wasn't a bit of a backlash against the Ansel Adams generation. It's interesting to think about, because for me at least nothing is more freeing and opening than the large-scale landscape. We can all take exquisite close-ups of mushrooms and people's faces, but I think there's a limit to what the close-up can do.

The analogy to poetry's near-field vision lately, and lack of epic scale, is apt.

8:33 PM  

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