JOHN SEXTON PHOTOGRAPHY NEWSLETTER
May 2012



 

- A NOTE FROM JOHN
- RARE ORIGINAL PRINT BY JOHN AVAILABLE AT DISCOUNTED PRICE
- LUMINOUS PRINT WORKSHOP WITH CHARLIE CRAMER - MARCH 2013 ANNOUNCED
- JOHN'S IMAGES INCLUDED IN MONTEREY MUSEUM EXHIBITION
- LAURA BAYLESS MOVING ON TO NEW ADVENTURES
- THEN AND NOW - AN INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE BY DAVID HIBBARD
- LEICA INTRODUCES DIGITAL BLACK AND WHITE ONLY CAMERA

 


Greetings,

This spring has proven to be much busier than Anne and I had initially anticipated. We hosted two fully subscribed workshops here at the house. We had a great time sharing our love of photography with workshop participants in our Expressive Black and White Print and Luminous Print workshops. Based on the feedback from both workshop groups everyone seemed to feel that they gained a great deal from the workshop experience, which is gratifying to us. See below for the announcement of next year's Luminous Print workshop, which we are again offering with our good friend Charlie Cramer.

We had a number of friends from out of town visit the Monterey Peninsula. We had a good time visiting, looking at photographs, and going out a couple of times making photographs ourselves. We had a great day sharing photographs and stories with a workshop group led by Keith Walklet and Mike Osborne.

Anne and I attended a two-day Wilderness First Aid course that was an interesting and intense experience. It was based at nearby Garland Park, and it was truly a "hands on" experience. Along with classroom instruction we were out on the trail each day. We never knew what we would encounter next. The scenarios we were presented with included lightning strikes, snakebites, fractures, heart attacks, heat stroke, and even a dismemberment from a mountain lion attack! Fortunately, we only came home each day covered in theatrical blood, rather than the real thing. We hope we never have to use the experience we gained, but thought it was a worthwhile investment to make sure we are prepared when we are out on our own, or with workshop groups.

A pleasant addition to our normal activities over the past few months has been the opportunity to contribute as technical advisor to an upcoming book on Ansel Adams, which will be published by Little, Brown and Company this fall. The book, Looking At Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man, is written by my longtime friend and former colleague Andrea Stillman. Andrea has an encyclopedic knowledge of Ansel's life and his photographs. I learned so much working with Andrea on this project. Those with an interest in Ansel and his photography will gain new insights on Ansel as a person, and find an enhanced appreciation for Ansel's images. I will share more details about the book in a future eNewsletter.

Just over a week ago we had the honor to have members of Apple's Human Interface Team spend the day with us to observe the process of traditional silver gelatin printmaking. We took everyone into the darkroom for a printing session. In each group there were several who had never experienced the alchemy of watching a print emerge in the developer under the dim glow of safelights. I made sure those individuals were right at my shoulder when the first print was made in each session. We capped the day off with a visit to Michael and Jeanne Adams' home, where everyone had the opportunity to see some of Ansel's work, and I took them on a tour of Ansel's darkroom. We had a wonderful late afternoon cocktail reception overlooking the Pacific, and ended the long day with a great dinner in Carmel. All of the team members seemed to enjoy the day, and we had a wonderful time ourselves.

This coming weekend Anne and I will be in Dallas at the Crow Collection of Asian Art to celebrate the opening of our longtime friend Dilip Raval's exhibition Sublime Landscapes: Photographs of Asia. The photographs in this exhibition were taken on repeated visits to Raval's homeland of India and during travel to Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, Indonesia, and China. The images evoke awe, respect, and deep personal wonder for the natural world. I was honored to contribute the introduction to the catalog for the exhibition. If you happen to be in Dallas between now and August 12, stop by the Crow Collection to see Dilip's beautiful color work. The exhibition opens to the public on Sunday, May 20. You can get more information about the exhibition at the Crow Collection web site.

Many of you have taken workshops here at our home and studio over the years and have had the opportunity to meet and communicate with our longtime administrative assistant, Laura Bayless. Laura has decided it is time to move on and pursue new interests. She has been a stable and trusted part of our small team for nearly eighteen years. Laura has contributed an essay and poem, which are included below. We will miss her dearly and wish her the very best. Carmel Valley is a small community, so we are sure we will be seeing her frequently.

Along with all the other activities mentioned above, we also had visits from our gallery representatives in Beijing, China and Moscow, Russia. Stay tuned to learn about future plans in these two amazing cities. I am honored to have my work included in an upcoming exhibition at the Monterey Museum of Art that opens this June. The exhibition is titled In Sharp Focus: The Legacy of Monterey Photography. On view June 16 through September 30, 2012, In Sharp Focus will examine the Group f/64 photographers and their influence on photographers in this area, as well as their continuing legacy to the Monterey Peninsula. You can read more about the exhibit below.

We are looking forward to an exciting summer ahead. We just don't want it to get here too quickly!

John

 



RARE ORIGINAL PRINT AVAILABLE AT A SPECIAL DISCOUNT PRICE ONLINE

My new Special Collector's Edition offering of Ceiling House, Colorado Plateau shown here is now available for order online. As you can read below, I have not printed, or taken orders, for this image in a number of years. Now this print is being offered for a limited time at the very special discount price of $800.

To learn more about this print, or to order, follow this link: http://ventanaeditions.stores.yahoo.net/redeliedboan.html

 

Ceiling House, Colorado Plateau by John 
Sexton

Ceiling House, Colorado Plateau
©1990 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

As some of you know, I have had a photographic obsession with the Southwest for more than thirty years, and with the remnants of the ancient Anasazi civilization for twenty-five years. One of my favorite Anasazi images is Ceiling House, which I made in the fall of 1990. I liked this image so much that I included it as one of the cover images on my book Places of Power, and it appears within the book as Plate 3. My long-time friend Ray McSavaney and I first learned of this location about two years earlier. Today one can find the GPS coordinates of most Anasazi sites (as well as most other photographic locations) by investing a small amount of time searching the web. Back then it took a little more effort and somehow was a bit more enjoyable and rewarding if you finally found something you had been looking for. Ray and I both deduced the rough location of this site on the Colorado Plateau based on the study of topographic maps, combined with bits and pieces of information we had gleaned from a number of sources, including friends we had made in the area.

Ray actually visited the site a few weeks prior to me. My detective work was slightly flawed. I anticipated the site to be a few hundred yards down canyon and, after a fairly difficult (at least for me!) climb to the wrong alcove, I could see the actual location of this spectacular ruin. I remember climbing over the last ledge and approaching this phenomenal alcove. I was breathing hard from the short climb, but my heart rate increased and my breath was taken away by the sheer beauty and mystery of this remarkable site. The structures themselves are actually smaller than they appear. The pattern in the amazing ceiling of this alcove is formed by mineral deposits that have leached out of the sandstone. The people who built these structures and lived there likely never saw the patterns that are in the photograph.

It was a bright sunny day, filled with huge thunderclouds that were scudding rapidly from west to east. I set up my 4x5 Linhof camera with my 75mm lens - the widest lens I owned at the time. To get the arrangement just as I desired, I found myself - as I often do - in an uncomfortable position. There was not much space to place the tripod legs on the sloping rock ledge and my feet were positioned at a strong angle. The discomfort minimized when I was under my focusing cloth studying the ground glass, as I was excited by the image I saw. I used a Wratten #11 green filter to accentuate the contrast between the mineral salts and the reddish sandstone of the alcove and structures. The negative was given Normal+1 development to increase the contrast. At the time I made the exposure I anticipated I would likely selenium intensify the ceiling area to enhance the contrast of the celestial-like patterns. After I printed the negative and lived with the print, I decided that the intensification was necessary, and I applied it to the negative. It made a subtle, but important, change in the tonality of the ceiling.

At that time I printed nearly all of my images on cold-tone papers. I was unable to get the desired separation of tone in the middle gray areas that are so prevalent in this image. After contemplating the possibilities, I remembered how effectively a warm-tone paper called Agfa Record Rapid had separated the middle values when I had used it in the past. I tried that paper and it was just perfect for this image, and became an integral part of my entire Anasazi series. In addition, the warm image tone of this particular paper seemed appropriate for rendering the sandstone in these luminous subjects.

Record Rapid paper was discontinued a number of years ago. A while back I tested some of my remaining supply of this paper and was disappointed to find it was fogged and could not be used. Recently, while we were rearranging our frozen paper and film supply, I discovered some Record Rapid in one of our freezers. Tests revealed it still worked fine. I decided to take most of the remaining Record Rapid and devote it to printing this image. This is a rare opportunity to obtain this print at a special discounted price. Prints will be shipped by June 30, 2012. Normally there is a long waiting period for my original prints.

I have not printed this image, or offered it for sale, for a number of years since I did not have the "perfect" paper for it. I am pleased to offer an 11x14" print of Ceiling House at the special discounted price of $800. This special offer will only be available while my supply of paper lasts, or until May 31st, whichever comes first. After that the price will increase to $1,500. If you are interested in ordering this print, I might suggest that you do so quickly to avoid disappointment.

This silver gelatin, selenium toned print is approximately 10-3/8 x 13-3/8", personally printed by me (as are all my prints), processed to current archival standards, signed, mounted, and matted to 16x20" on 100 percent rag museum board.

All prints are carefully prepared and packaged in specially designed protective shipping boxes, and shipped fully insured via UPS ground. If you have any questions about my prints, please feel free to contact my assistant Laura Bayless at 831-659-3130, or email: info@johnsexton.com. Our office hours are Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Pacific Time.

 



LUMINOUS PRINT WORKSHOP WITH CHARLIE CRAMER - MARCH 2013 ANNOUNCED

I am pleased to announce the fourth annual offering of the very popular The Luminous Print: A Synthesis of Traditional and Digital workshop, which I will be co-instructing with Charlie Cramer. The previous three offerings of this unique workshop have all filled completely (with waiting lists) so early enrollment is advised.The 2013 session will be offered from March 11 to March 16. Charlie and I conceived this workshop a few years ago. It was our desire to offer a workshop that would address traditional black and white photographic processes, as well as color and black and white digital techniques. The goal in any of these approaches in terms of printing is simple: to create the finest expressive and luminous prints possible. In this workshop we work in the field, and have darkroom and digital demonstrations, in an effort to present a synthesis of ideas and techniques that can be of value to both darkroom and digital enthusiasts.

 

Last Light by Charlie Cramer

 

Garrapata Beach, Last Light, California
©2005 Charles Cramer. All rights reserved.

 

This unique workshop will help participants improve their fluency in the magical language of photography. The workshop will emphasize not just how to do things, but more importantly why, and is open to photographers working in all formats, recording their images on film or digitally. Along with the indoor instruction and demonstration sessions, there will be portfolio reviews by both Charlie and me. There will also be the opportunity to put concepts into practice during directed field sessions on the spectacular Monterey Peninsula.

There will be demonstrations in both traditional black and white printmaking and recommended digital processing techniques. Charlie will discuss making digital negatives to combine the best of both approaches, as well as properly preparing digital files for reproduction and display on the web. We will also talk about the importance of proper handling and storage of film, digital, and print files. Anne will be assisting Charlie and I on this workshop.

The workshop is based at our home and studio in Carmel Valley. It begins at 7:00 pm on Monday evening and concludes late on Saturday night. The workshop tuition includes daily refreshment breaks and three meals during the workshop, along with workshop handouts from both Charlie and me. The workshop will be limited to a maximum of twelve participants and is certain to fill quickly, as has been the case with the previous three offerings. It will be an intense experience, and for this reason we are sorry to say that no guests are allowed during the workshop.

The workshop fee will be $1,275. If you are interested, please visit the web site to download a workshop brochure and application form. Read unsolicited comments from past workshop participants here.

For more information call Laura Bayless at 831/659-3130 Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Pacific Time

 


 

IN SHARP FOCUS: THE LEGACY OF MONTEREY PHOTOGRAPHY
EXHIBITION AT MONTEREY MUSEUM OF ART INCLUDES JOHN'S IMAGES

I am honored to have three of my images (including Ceiling House mentioned above) on display in the upcoming exhibition In Sharp Focus: The Legacy of Monterey Photography, presented by the Monterey Museum of Art. The exhibition runs from June 16 to September 30, 2012 at the Monterey Museum of Art - La Mirada. It is exciting to see the Museum's enhanced dedication to significant photography exhibitions, which have included Ansel Adams: Portraits of America in 2010 and Edward Weston: American Photographer last year.

In Sharp Focus will examine the work of the Group f/64 photographers–seven important northern California artists including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and Alma Lavenson–and their continuing photographic legacy on the Monterey Peninsula. Turning away from the soft-focus pictorial style of photography of the early 20th Century, these artists emphasized realism, precision, bold contrast, and great detail. Their approach was a modernist departure of its time, which revealed the natural world as never before and transformed American photography. In addition to these legendary works the exhibition will include photographs by the succeeding generations of photographers on the Monterey Peninsula, among them Wynn Bullock, Al Weber, Henry Gilpin, Martha Casanave, Bob Kolbrener, and even me!

If you find yourself heading to the Monterey Peninsula this summer, be sure to plan to attend the exhibition. Anne and I are looking forward to seeing it ourselves. There is a special preview reception planned for Friday evening, June 15 from 6 to 8 pm.  Please contact the Museum for cost and other details concerning the preview reception if your are planning to attend the event.

The Museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am-5 pm and Sunday 1-4 pm. The Monterey Museum of Art- La Mirada is located at 720 Via Mirada, Monterey, California 93940. www.montereyart.org 831-372-5477.

 


 

LAURA BAYLESS MOVING ON TO NEW ADVENTURES

When I came to work for John and Anne June 1, 1994 I could not have known I would stay eighteen years. With a hint of excitement and some measure of sadness, I am announcing my retirement as Administrative Assistant as of May 31, 2012. The ensuing years have brought many changes to the medium of photography, to my various tasks here at the office, and in my personal life. I have been fortunate to get to know many wonderful photographic friends and will miss hearing their voices on the phone and exchanging emails, as well as seeing their photographs during workshops.

I plan to keep busy by writing more poetry, volunteering at our local park, exploring the adventures of travel, hiking more often along the many scenic trails on the Monterey Peninsula, visiting family and friends, and enjoying whatever surprises life brings my way. With sincere appreciation for all I have learned and experienced from working with John and Anne, I say a heartfelt farewell. I hope my path will cross again with some of the special people I have met along the way. I wish John and Anne continued success and good fortune in the future.

Sincerely,

Laura

 

Rapt and Blissful Seeing

Early morning now,
a crescent moon lingers,
a torch in an ashen dawn.
I listen to the overture,
birdsong whistling from hillside thickets,
the footfall of a gray fox
half-remembered from night's passage,
discover a consolation
with which to begin one more day.

©2006 Laura Bayless. All rights reserved.
www.laurabayless.net

 


 

THEN AND NOW - AN INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE BY DAVID HIBBARD

Here is an insightful and witty look at how photography has changed over the years by our friend, and fine photographer, David Hibbard. We first met David during the 2010 Luminous Print workshop. Not only is David a dedicated and talented photographer, he's an excellent writer. When I first read this text I immediately knew I wanted to share it with my eNewsletter subscribers. David was kind enough to allow me to do so. I hope you enjoy his observations.

THEN AND NOW

THEN: Almost nobody was a photographer.

NOW: Everybody is a photographer.

THEN: If one bought a fine camera–say a Leica, Deardorff, or Hasselblad–and took good care of it, one could expect to use it for a lifetime.

NOW: Almost any digital camera that you can buy today will be obsolete in a few years. A friend of mine humorously refers to his top-of-the-line Nikon dSLRs as "disposable."

THEN: The gelatin-silver print was THE medium. If you were serious about photography, you printed on gelatin-silver paper.

NOW: Everything is permitted. I even know a photographer who has made prints on used tea bags.

THEN: The ability to make an exhibition quality print was a skill that took countless hours of patient work in the darkroom to acquire.

NOW: Click Print. (Well, it's not quite that easy...)

THEN: Ansel Adam's annual Yosemite workshop was about it as far as workshops were concerned. If you couldn't afford it, you read his almost incomprehensible Basic Photo series (as I did).

NOW: One could spend one's entire life attending photo workshops and do nothing else.

THEN: The fingers on both of your hands would almost suffice to count the photographers who "mattered." We knew who they were because Beaumont Newhall canonized them (to the unfortunate exclusion of some others) in his History of Photography. Everybody else worked in obscurity.

NOW: There are a great many more photographers in the top echelon, though in relative terms they still constitute a small group. Everybody else is "emerging." Emerging into what, I wonder.

THEN: I could keep up with myself. Because film and paper were expensive (for my budget), I selected my photographs carefully, took only a few, and then printed the best.

NOW: I am falling further and further behind. With my three cameras (all digital of course), it's all too easy to accumulate images like a Fifth Avenue parade accumulates confetti. There is no way that I will ever be able to print more than a tiny fraction of this prodigious output.

THEN: The pace of innovation in photography was humane. For example, it took Nikon approximately a decade to introduce the F2 after it introduced the venerable F.

NOW: The pace of innovation in photography is insane. Lots of great new products and software, yes ... but can anyone keep up with it all? Do I really need the Nikon D800e?

THEN: One made photographs. That was it.

NOW: We are encouraged to take our work "to the next level," to "push the boundaries of the medium" as if photography was an athletic contest. It isn't. Trust me on this.

THEN: I selected my photographs carefully, took only a few, and printed the best.

NOW: That is still the best advice I can offer.

©2012 David Hibbard. All rights reserved.

David Hibbard is a photographer and writer based in Menlo Park, California. The lyric beauty that draws him to the natural world is the inspiration for his photography. David's photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums in the San Francisco Bay Area and have been featured in Color magazine. He is currently writing a memoir about his life-long struggle with impaired vision and how that led him to art: first to painting and then to photography.

To learn more about David and to see some of his images visit his web site.

 


 

LEICA INTRODUCES DIGITAL BLACK AND WHITE ONLY CAMERA

Late last week Leica announced the Leica M Monochrom, the first widely produced dedicated black and white digital camera offered. Leica states that this $8,000 (with no lens) camera is 100% sharper than the current M9 (color capable) model. It is interesting that Leica feels there is a marketplace for this traditionally styled Leica rangefinder camera, exclusively dedicated to making black and white photographs.

You can read more about the camera at Leica's web site. In addition there are numerous other articles describing the capabilities of the camera at various sites on the web.

One interesting aspect is that owners of the camera can take advantage of having conventional silver halide prints made by a laboratory in the UK.

I suspect that the price will make this definitely a boutique product. Exactly thirty-eight years ago this month I bought my first 4x5 view camera. It was a brand new Nagaoka wooden field camera, which I still own and still operates fine (albeit with a fair amount of black photo tape on the bellows!). I paid $150 for that camera without a lens. Even today it's amazing how much black and film, paper, and processing chemicals can be purchased for $7,850 (the price difference between the new Leica M Monochrom and my well-worn 4x5 camera. To paraphrase Ted Orland from his wonderful Photographic Truths poster: "When Man creates a sharper camera, Nature will create a fuzzier subject"!

 

 


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John Sexton
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