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JOHN SEXTON PHOTOGRAPHY NEWSLETTER
November 2016



 


Greetings,

I am writing this note with my legs elevated and my cold therapy ice machine chilling my recently installed "bionic" total knee replacement. I had my surgery almost two weeks ago on November 8th, and I am pleased to report that all is going well. Having been through a partial knee replacement five years ago, I know the long path to a successful recovery will be filled with ongoing physical therapy and pedaling many miles on my stationary bicycle. At this point I am looking forward to gaining greater mobility in the next few weeks, and hopefully a continued improvement for the best possible outcome. Last week my physical therapist "graduated" me from my walker to a cane, and Anne and I are enjoying daily walks, of increasing length, in the meadow near our home, along with a busy regimen of mobility and balance exercises.

In October we had a great workshop with Charlie Cramer in Lee Vining along the fascinating shores of Mono Lake. We are announcing the 2017 offering of that workshop – as well as our complete workshop program for next year and early 2018 - in the newsletter below. If you are interested in attending a workshop, it is probably a good idea to apply soon, as the workshops tend to fill quickly.

Following the workshop Anne and I spent a few days camping and photographing on the eastern side of the Sierra. The fall colors were nearly all gone by that time, but we both enjoyed working with the luminous pattern of the bare aspen trees. During the days before we headed back home over Tioga Pass, we experienced snow at the higher elevations as well as heavy wind sending the remaining aspen leaves tumbling down the streets of Lee Vining. We had a great time - though the wind was more than a little challenging. We were sad the morning we left the Sierra to go home, but we both had a busy and hectic time awaiting us - with so much to organize and prepare for the "downtime" necessary following my knee replacement surgery.

Readers might not be aware that November 1st marked the 75th Anniversary of the making of Ansel's iconic image Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. I am positive that Ansel never imagined how that particular image would take on a life of its own, and still be so popular after three quarters of a century.

I am very pleased to announce a brand new limited edition print of one of my favorite images Trees in Snow, Winter Snow, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite Valley, California as part of my ongoing Darkroom Edition series - which I began thirty years ago. I have been contemplating printing this image as a limited edition for a number of years, and this seemed like the right time. This print is being offered at a greatly reduced price until the end of the year. Hopefully, some of you will want to put this limited edition print on your Holiday wish list!

In addition to original photographic prints, there is a great selection of photographic books, posters, and DVDs available at the Ventana Editions online store. If you have someone you just do not know exactly what to get, there is always the possibility of a Ventana Editions gift certificate.

Anne and I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday Season ahead.

Cheers to you all!

John


 

DARKROOM EDITION PRINT SERIES
30th ANNIVERSARY
LIMITED EDITION PRINT JUST RELEASED BY JOHN AVAILABLE ONLINE
AT SPECIAL DISCOUNTED INTRODUCTORY PRICE

I am thrilled to introduce Darkroom Edition 2016, a limited edition silver gelatin print as part of my ongoing Special Collector's Edition print series. I have been contemplating the idea of producing a limited edition print of my image Trees in Snow, Winter Sun, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite Valley, California for a number of years. I decided that now is the time to do so, and am pleased to introduce it as Darkroom Edition 2016.

The first limited edition print I released was my image Birch Trunks, New Hampshire. It was offered under the mantle of Darkroom Edition 1986 thirty years ago. The idea behind that limited edition print was to generate funds for the design and construction of our studio darkroom complex in Carmel Valley. Fortunately the edition was a great success, and we are still enjoying the luxury of working in such a fine darkroom, studio, and workshop facility. Much to my surprise I received a number of letters (this was long before emails and eNewsletters!) asking if I would be offering another Darkroom Edition. It had never crossed my mind. Over the years I have offered six previous Darkroom Edition limited edition prints - all of which have sold out. Since 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Darkroom Edition series, it seemed like a perfect time to rejuvenate the idea.

This 11x14" silver gelatin print is offered in a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered prints, plus ten Artist's Proofs. When the edition is sold out no further prints will be made for sale in any size. Though my open edition 11x14" prints have a retail price in galleries of $1,000, the special introductory price for this Darkroom Edition limited edition print is $800 – a 20% discount. After December 31, 2016 the retail for any remaining unsold prints will increase to $2,000, and will escalate as the edition sells.

To place a secure online order for this print, follow this link: http://ventanaeditions.stores.yahoo.net/trinsnwisuel.html

 

Trees In Snow, Winter by John Sexton

Trees in Snow, Winter Sun, El Capitan Meadow
Yosemite Valley, California
©1989 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

This image has held a special place in my heart since I made the negative and first printed it a number of years ago. I liked the image so much that I selected it as Plate One in my book Recollections: Three Decades of Photographs. I made this image during a winter trip to my favorite photographic location, Yosemite Valley. The day started out with a heavy overcast that soon lead to a steady snowfall. I made a few negatives as I explored the valley, and the snow kept falling and falling. In early afternoon the clouds suddenly broke and strong, crisp low-angle sunlight raked across El Capitan Meadow. The light moved quickly so I had to respond in kind. Using the 150 mm lens on my 4x5 Linhof Technika camera I made an exposure of 1/2 second at f/45. The high contrast between the intense sunlight on the bright snow and the deep shadows in the background forest necessitated N-1 reduced development, a technique to allow the negative to accommodate such a high contrast situation.

It is an understatement to say that this negative is difficult to print. Dodging takes place during the entire basic exposure with both hands. This is followed by extensive burning in, as well as localized print flashing, a technique to add detail in extremely bright areas. While the printing techniques are challenging, the excitement one gets when turning on the white lights in the darkroom and seeing a print that is "just right" makes it all worthwhile.

I hope you will find this print to be as appealing and as exciting as I do. Each time I see the print I can once again feel the chill in the air, in contrast to the radiant warmth of the winter sun striking my face, along with the "crunch" of fresh snow under my boots.

Prints will begin shipping on December 5, 2016. If you would like to receive your print in time for the Holidays, please be sure to let us know at the time of the order. It would be a good idea to follow up with an email as well. We will make every effort to ship prints out in time for Holiday gift giving to those who need them. All of the prints ordered will be shipped no later than March 31, 2017.

I wish I could say that I would be able to ship out all of the prints sooner, however it will be a few weeks before I am able to stand and work in the darkroom for extended periods of time in the darkroom, due to my resent knee replacement surgery. I have found from past experience that it is not just standing, but it is healing to the point where I am not consciously aware of my "bionic" knee, which allows me to focus all of my attention and concentration on the intricacy of printing this challenging negative. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Before my knee surgery I was able to make a number of prints for the limited edition thanks to an injection of Synvisc-One that I received, combined with pre-surgical physical therapy. This did not allow me to work for my normal long periods of time in the darkroom, but I was able to accomplish more than I thought would be possible prior to my surgery. I wish I could say that I was able to complete the edition prior to my knee replacement, but unfortunately such was not the case.

This silver gelatin, selenium toned, print is approximately 13-1/4 x 10-1/4", personally printed by me (as are all my prints), processed to current archival standards, signed, numbered, mounted, and overmatted to 16x20" on 100 percent rag museum board. As has been the case with all previous Darkroom Edition prints, a beautifully printed archival presentation sheet will accompany each print. 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 Anne at 831-659-3130 or email: info@johnsexton.com. Our office hours are Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Pacific time.

 


 

2017 AND EARLY 2018 JOHN SEXTON PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

I am pleased to announce my new workshop schedule for 2017 through early 2018. I continue to be amazed at the interest in the workshops that we offer. It is particularly rewarding to note the international interest in our traditional printmaking workshop, The Expressive Black and White Print, being offered in 2017 for the thirty-fourth consecutive year. By popular demand we are once again offering the Fine Tuning the Expressive Print workshop in April 2018. This workshop is open only to individuals who have previously taken one of my printing workshops.

 

John Sexton Photography Workshops

 

You can access the complete schedule, get detailed information about the workshops, and download an illustrated PDF of the new workshop brochure here: http://www.johnsexton.com/schedule.html

We have indicated that past offerings of the Fine Tuning the Expressive Print workshop could be the last such offering. However we continue to get workshop alumni specifically requesting the opportunity to take this workshop, so we are planning to offer it one more time again. Will it be the last offering? At this point we think so… but who knows what the future holds?

If you're interested in next October's Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra: Exploring Autumn Light workshop, be sure to apply early, as this workshop fills quickly. Charlie Cramer and I both personally review all applications and try and put together a workshop group that will create a stimulating environment for all who attend – both traditional and digital photographers are invited to apply for this synergistic field workshop experience.

I want to thank all of our workshop Corporate Partners and Associate Partners for their support of the program once again this year. It is amazing to realize it was more than forty years ago that I taught my first small workshop with my long-time friend John Charles Woods for a few fellow photography majors at Cypress College. We had a great time on that workshop, and I continue to learn so much from participants today. I always believe the instructor learns more than any individual student in a workshop experience. On our workshops we try and provide an environment that presents useful information, as well as inspiration, to encourage personal growth in your photography.

Again, to learn more about the workshops, or to apply, please visit my web site www.johnsexton.com where you can download the complete workshop brochure as well as the application form.

 


 

ONE OF JOHN'S ORIGINAL POLAROID PRINTS
INCLUDED IN UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL TRAVELING EXHIBITION AND BOOK

A few months ago I received an unexpected email from the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography stating that one of my original Polaroid Land Instant color prints had been chosen for inclusion in The Polaroid Project international traveling exhibition and catalog. I suspect some eNews subscribers did not know that I even did color photography. I have included the image below.

 

Lamp and Painted Wall by John Sexton

Lamp and Painted Wall
Santa Cruz, California
Polaroid Land Type 59 Polacolor Instant Print
©1979 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

Needless to say, I was thrilled by this news, and am honored to be included in the The Polaroid Project: Art and Technology exhibition and book. The exhibition is curated by William Ewing, Barbara Hitchcock, Gary Van Zante, Deborah G. Douglas, and Rebekka Reuter. Their concept was to produce a wide-ranging exhibition encompassing all aspects of Polaroid photography, including the technology that made it possible, and to simultaneously publish a serious study of Polaroid photography that will contribute to the understanding of Edwin Land's amazing invention of instant photography. Several hundred pieces are included illustrating the full range of Polaroid materials covering the art production from the 1940s to the present.

The exhibition will be on display in both the US and Europe at the following venues:

Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth TX
June 3-September 3, 2017

WestLicht Museum for Photography, Vienna
November 2017-March 2018

C/O Berlin, Berlin
March 16- May 27, 2018

MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Early 2019

The project is organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography along with the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as the WestLicht Museum for Photography in Vienna, Austria.

I have been fascinated with Polaroid Land Instant photography since 1973, when I attended my first Ansel Adams workshop, where we had the opportunity to use Polaroid Type 52 and Type 55 instant films. I found Polaroid to be a wonderful material to learn about the magic of light as an essential part of the photographic process. In 1977, at the age of twenty-four, I was invited to become a participating photographer in the Polaroid Collection. It was a tremendous honor to be included in a group that incorporated some of the best-known photographers working at that time.

The opportunity to work with Polaroid Land Instant films transformed the way I made photographs. The ability to see a print as the integral part of the creative photographic process gave me a greater appreciation of how essential light is to making a successful photographic image. I continue to strive for a luminous quality of light in my photographs. The intimate, jewel-like beauty of an original Polaroid print is something I still find unique and beyond my ability to describe in words. Only when viewing the print can the full meaning of the photograph be experienced. Over the years I had the opportunity to work with a number of different 4x5 and 8x10 inch films when I served as a consultant to Polaroid Corporation, and the distinct honor to make the first ever black and white 20x24 Polaroid print made outside of the laboratory.

I have included two of my 20x24 Polaroid Land Instant prints, in my new 2017-2018 John Sexton Photography Workshops brochure as the front and rear cover images.

If you would like more information about the upcoming exhibition and book, please visit the following link:
http://www.fep-photo.org/exhibition/polaroid/

 


 

MUSEUM OF MODERN ART EXHIBITION ARCHIVE
AVAILABLE ONLINE

Most eNews subscribers do not live in close proximity to New York City where the legendary Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is headquartered. Over the years I have been privileged to visit MoMA on a few different occasions. My first visit there was in the fall of 1979 when I accompanied Ansel and Virginia to the gala opening of his one-person exhibition Ansel Adams and the West. I have included a "happy snap" that I made of Ansel as we were walking out following the amazing gala reception at the museum. As we passed the title wall panel of the exhibition, I asked Ansel if he would be willing to pose in front of his iconic photograph of Clearing Winter Storm. He gladly agreed and I made the photograph below. I hope you can sense from my image that Ansel was pleased with the exhibition, and the entire evening.

 

Ansel Adams at MoMA by John Sexton

Ansel Adams at The Museum of Modern Art
New York,New York

©1979 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

Now, thanks to a new online effort by MoMA, sponsored by the Leon Levy Foundation, you can now explore the Ansel Adams and the West exhibition, along with an impressive array of the institution's exhibitions all the way from its founding in 1929 to the present day!

The exhibitions I have perused each seem to have slightly different types of content. Along with images, documents such as press releases, annotated image checklists, installation photographs, and even entire catalogs are now accessible to offer a well-rounded view of each exhibition. The archive will continue to expand as more material becomes available.

At this point, there are over 3,500 exhibitions included in the project, which is an incredibly rich resource of modern and contemporary art. I believe it is safe to say you could spend weeks exploring the wealth of material available as part of this evolving online resource.

Here is a link to the Ansel Adams and the West exhibition, which ran from September 5 through October 28, 1979, at which I made my "happy snap" of Ansel:
http://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/2292?locale=en

Here is a link to the more recent Ansel Adams at 100 exhibition, which was on display from July 11 to November 3, 2003:
http://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/137?locale=en

And finally, here is a link to forty-six different exhibitions that include Ansel's work to one degree or another. Enjoy!
http://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/history?constituent_id=60&locale=en&sort_date=closing_date

 

 


 

MAKING KODAK FILM BOOK
EXPANDED SECOND EDITION PUBLISHED

My long-time friend Bob Shanebrook has just published a greatly expanded second edition of his very popular book Making Kodak Film. The 94-page first edition of the book, which I mentioned in my October 2010 eNewsletter, enjoyed such great success that it encouraged Bob to write this newly released second edition. Our copy of his new book arrived just a short while ago and it is very impressive. I believe it will be of great interest to those who would like to know about the alchemistic art and science of making photographic film. The new hardcover 470-page book is 8-1/2 x 11 inches in size and weighs four and half pounds. It includes an additional 225 illustrations and over 600 footnoted references. Much of the information in the first edition had never been previously published and nearly all of the additional information in the updated book has certainly never been gathered together in such a comprehensive volume. The price of the book is $100 plus shipping. The price will increase to $125 after December 31, 2016. If you request, Bob will be happy to autograph the book.

 

Making Kodak Film by Shanebrook

 

Like the first edition, the new book is an amazing compilation based on Bob's personal knowledge and experience, along with input from over one hundred photographic film experts. Bob worked for Eastman Kodak Company for thirty-five years before retiring in 2003. I had the great privilege of working with Bob as a consultant on a number of projects while he was World-Wide Product-Line Manager for Kodak Professional Films. When I have needed information about film Bob has been my go to resource for more than thirty years.

More information on the book, and purchase details, can be found on the book's web page:
www.makingkodakfilm.com

If you would like to contact Bob directly feel free to email him at:
makingKODAKfilm@yahoo.com

 


 

BEING PREPARED IN THE LANDSCAPE
IMPORTANT ITEMS FOR YOUR CAMERA PACKS

I continue to be amazed at how quickly digital cameras evolve. It seems that each year brings new and improved hardware, software, and accessories to the medium of photography. I am still very happy with my decades old Linhof Technika and the excellent lenses that continue to perform beautifully, as well as my "vintage" Hasselblad V-series camera. I like the fact that I really "know" these cameras. If there are signs of wear on the cameras, that wear came from my use of the equipment. Maybe I am just an "old fart," but I think being intimately familiar with your tools allows you to utilize them more efficiently and intuitively. I hope that those of you who are using the "latest and greatest" gear make sure that, just as a musician would do, you practice, practice, practice with your new equipment, so it too can be an intuitive part of your creative experience making images.

Along with photographic hardware, there seems to be an ever-growing selection of photographic apps, as well as apps that can be useful for photographers – such as GPS navigation, astronomical, and mapping software. As much as everyone seems to try and remember to bring along extra battery packs and make sure their devices are charged, I thought it would be worth mentioning a few items I believe are particularly important to always have with you when exploring the landscape in search of images.

 

Photography Safety Items

 

As landscape photographers it is easy to lose track of our surroundings, and in some instances this can cause real problems. One of the things we have in each of our camera packs is a simple, lightweight Mylar "space blanket." Sometimes, when you take off in the late afternoon just to wander for a few minutes, the light gets wonderful, you find yourself up a canyon, and the radiant warmth of the sun at high elevations drops quickly and dramatically as the sun disappears. You should ALWAYS make sure that you have items with you that will help you survive in case of an unplanned overnight situation. When you leave your vehicle always bring a jacket. Having a "space blanket" with you can add to the warmth of any jacket, and is much better than nothing if you end up forgetting your jacket.

The GPS app that you rely on to follow your path step by step will be useless once the device is damaged or simply runs out of juice! That will also eliminate the mapping software you might be relying on. A physical paper or plastic map of the area, along with the knowledge of how to read a topographic map in combination with a good old fashioned compass, can make the possibility of navigation much more reliable. Yes, a paper map can blow away, and a compass can be broken, but they are much more durable and reliable than most electronic devices.

Speaking of electronic devices, you should always have a flashlight or better yet a headlamp with you - along with extra batteries. Rechargeable batteries are great for economy and better for the environment. However, for survival use, we prefer non-rechargeable lithium batteries, such as Eveready Ultimate Lithium AA and AAA batteries. I have used Petzl headlamps for years and find them to be reliable, lightweight and durable. Always, always, always make sure you have extra batteries even if the batteries you are using seems to last "forever." A good friend of ours spent unplanned overnights on two different occasions because of batteries that always seemed to last "forever." Neither night was comfortable, but both were survivable. If the weather conditions had been different - who knows what the outcome might have been.

Along with the above items Anne and I also have the following in all of our camera packs:
- Compact First Aid Kit - including pain medications
- Small elastic bandage
- Swiss Army Knife or Multi-tool
- Tweezers
- Rescue Whistle - much more effective than shouting
- Rescue Mirror - lightweight polycarbonate - also useful for checking camera levels when the tripod is fully extended.

In addition to what you carry with you, the most important thing to always bring along is common sense and an awareness of your surroundings. Plan in advance for possible problems. If you drop into a canyon that you have never visited before, it is always a good idea to mark that exit point. Remember, when you return the light will be totally different, if there is any light at all. The little bit of common sense and advance planning can help insure not only that you will have an enjoyable and safe photographic day, but more importantly that you will have additional good photographic days well into the future. Travel safe!

 


SOME THOUGHTS ON PHOTOGRAPHY... AND OTHER TOPICS

"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."

–Steven Wright

(It will likely take me a long time to get walk anywhere for the next few weeks! JS)

 


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John Sexton
Post Office Box 30
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Voice: 831-659-3130
Fax: 831-659-5509

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