August 2009

Greetings Friends,

I hope you are having a good summer. Things have been busy here with a variety of projects.  It seems like there's never enough time in the day to get everything on my "to do list" completed, but I guess that's better than the alternative of having nothing to do!

Ray McSavaney, Anne, and I had a great workshop group on our Southwest Landscape workshop this spring. As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, we were gratified by the terrific response to this workshop. Anne and I are in the midst of working out details for one or two completely new field workshops for 2010. Stay tuned for more information.

Speaking of workshops, we recently had a few cancellations in some upcoming workshops. If you're interested in attending the Expressive Black and White Print workshop either November 3-8, 2009 or March 9-14, 2010, please contact Laura Bayless at 831-659-3130 or, or you can download the application form and complete workshop catalog at my web site.

In this newsletterI've included references to some great exhibitions currently on view in California. For those in the area, or those that might be visiting, I highly recommend seeing these exhibitions. Anne and I have seen three of them personally, and have heard great things about the other two.

For those who like to plan well in advance, I'm pleased to announce that my retrospective exhibition John Sexton: Thirty-Five Years of Photographs will be on display at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California next year from July 3 through August 27, 2010. On Saturday, July 10, there will be a lecture at 2:30 pm and an opening reception from 4:00-6:00 pm. I know it's far in the future, but I'm excited to share the information.  It's going to be great to have the opportunity to have a show "in my own backyard." I hope I will have the chance to see a number of newsletter subscribers at the lecture and/or opening reception. I will provide more details as the dates draw closer.

In addition, we've been communicating with some other venues about displays of this retrospective exhibition, and will of course keep you posted.

I hope you find some topics of interest in the newsletter that follows. Anne and I send you our very best wishes.



From time to time, I make special print offerings available at reduced prices. My new Special Collector's Edition offering of Aspens, Dusk, Conway Summit shown below is now available for order online. This print is being offered for a limited time at the very special price of $600. To learn more about this print, or to order, follow this link:


Rice Fields, Dusk

Aspens, Dusk
Conway Summit, California
©1978 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

This image was made during one of the many annual Owens Valley Photography Workshops based each October in Bishop, California. On each of these workshops - taught by Bruce Barnbaum, Ray McSavaney, and myself - we made an all-day field trip to the ghost town of Bodie, near Mono Lake. After photographing most of the day there, we would stop at Conway Summit, a spectacular viewpoint along Highway 395 overlooking many hundreds of aspen trees.

I had been assisting a number of workshop participants during the late afternoon and after the sun had set. Most people were packing up their cameras when, for me, a luminous glow began to appear in the aspen grove quite sometime after sunset. I set up my 4x5" camera and made this image. I can vividly remember the crunch of the leaves that had already fallen from the trees. As the light level dropped the illusion of illumination on the white aspen trunks seemed to intensify. Working with my 210mm lens (the only lens I owned for my 4x5" view camera at the time!) I made this two-minute exposure at f/22 on Kodak Tri-X Professional film.

In 1984 - twenty-five years ago - Kodak used this image as the centerpiece for their advertising campaign, introducing their flagship black and white paper, Kodak Elite Fine Art. Aspens, Dusk, Conway Summit was reproduced as a two-page spread in virtually every photography magazine around the world. Thousands of posters and brochures featuring this image were printed for photographic retailers in the USA and abroad. In addition I traveled to Photokina in Germany, and had an exhibition there printed exclusively on the brand new Kodak Elite Fine Art paper. During Photokina, I was part of a press conference announcing the new Kodak paper to the photographic world. Having this image so widely reproduced around the globe was a great boost to my fledgling photographic career. You can see two of these "vintage" Kodak advertisements featuring Aspens, Dusk here.

While making the prints for this Special Collector's Edition offering, I can still clearly remember exposing the negative and the excitement I had the first time I printed this image in my darkroom. I hope the online reproduction can convey some of the soft, quiet luminosity that these stately aspen trunks reveal in the original print. If you happen to own my first book Quiet Light, you can find this image reproduced as Plate 21.

This print is approximately 10-3/8x13", 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.

The special discounted price is $600, a $300 savings from the retail price of $900. My prints in this size retail in galleries for $900, so the savings of $300 is significant - nearly 33%.

Prints will be shipped within three weeks from the date of order.

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 the print, please feel free to contact my assistant Laura Bayless at 831-659-3130, or email: Her office hours are Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Pacific Time.




John Sexton and Anne Larsen with Walter Cronkite

John Sexton and Anne Larsen with Walter Cronkite November 2000
John and Anne presented Mr. Cronkite
with a copy of John’s book “Places of Power.”
Walter Cronkite wrote the foreword for John’s book.

I'm sure virtually all of you are aware of the fact that legendary broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite passed away at age 92 on July 17th. I was deeply saddened when I heard the breaking news in the car while driving. I flipped between CBS, CNN, and the other networks, and was amazed at the amount of coverage given to Mr. Cronkite's passing. It even seemed to "upstage" Michael Jackson's recent death for a few days.

As some of you may recall, Walter Cronkite was kind enough to write the foreword for my book Places of Power: The Aesthetics of Technology. It was a great privilege to have Mr. Cronkite contribute to the book. I treasure the kind words he penned about my photographs and Places of Power.

I did not know Mr. Cronkite before I approached him about writing the foreword. I had read the text of a speech he gave to an environmental organization, and immediately knew he was the person I wanted to write the foreword for Places of Power. Working with Mr. Cronkite and his staff was an amazing experience. He and his dedicated team were a "class act."

Anne and I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Cronkite in his CBS office on November 7, 2000. This happened to be the day of the Presidential election. During our meeting I had the pleasure to present him with copies of the book (I've included a "snappy pic" taken during our visit). We talked a lot about photography and specifically about Ansel. At the conclusion of our meeting Mr. Cronkite said that it would be an interesting night, and he was sure we would not know the results of the election in the morning. His words were truly prophetic, as the final results of the election were not known for months!

I've posted Mr. Cronkite's foreword, A Journey Through Time, from Places of Power on my web site here, as I thought some readers who do not have Places of Power might like to read his text. Places of Power is currently out of print, and used book dealers are selling it at prices above and beyond the retail price. If by chance you're interested in purchasing an autographed copy, we have some in inventory for the special price of $80 through August 31. They can be purchased at the Ventana Editions online store here.





If you live in California, or are planning to visit in the near future, there are some very interesting exhibitions you may want to visit – a couple of which I’ve mentioned in previous email newsletters.

The exhibition People, Of and By Ansel Adams is on display at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel through August 30. I mentioned this exhibition in the last two newsletters, which you can find here. There’s more detailed information about the exhibition here, as well information about the Center for Photographic Art. Anne and I have been to see the show a few times, and continue to find it interesting. It’s a rare opportunity to see so many of Ansel’s portraits. Most of the images are from the private collection of Michael and Jeanne Adams, Ansel’s son and daughter-in-law.

In the last newsletter we discussed the Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - which is on display through September 7. Anne and I were fortunate to be able to attend the opening reception.  It’s a most interesting collection looking at the paintings and photographs of two great American artists.  If you saw the exhibition at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, or another venue, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art presentation includes a significant amount of additional work.

While we were at SF MoMA we were thrilled to see the huge Robert Frank exhibition Looking In: Robert Franks' "The Americans" which is on display through August 23. It’s a big undertaking to see both exhibitions in one day, but having them at the same venue is very exciting.  I can assure you that, after viewing both exhibitions, you’ll be on visual overload – which isn’t a bad thing!

At the Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego you can see the exhibition Ansel Adams: A Life’s Work through October 4. A Life's Work features an overview of Adam's work from his early years in Sierra Nevada and Yosemite Valley, to his work in the Japanese Internment Camp at Manzanar, as well as his well-known masterpieces. For additional information visit the MoPA web site.

Last, and certainly not least, with only a few days left until the show closes on August 16, there’s a significant exhibition of Brett Weston's work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. For more information about this exhibition, visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art's web site. We’ve heard great things about the exhibition Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow. This is the largest retrospective of Brett's work in over thirty years, and includes more than 130 photographs. We have not yet seen it, but are planning to do so in a few days. From what we have heard from others this is a show you don’t want to miss.




I recently received some great news from Eric Joseph at Freestyle Photographic Supplies. Freestyle and Fotoimpex in Germany have been working together for quite a while to "resurrect" Agfa's last variable contrast fiber base paper, Multicontrast Classic. I used this paper for a number of years - when it was still manufactured - when I wanted a warmer image tone than that provided by Kodak Polymax Fine Art paper. I, along with many other black and white printmakers, found the paper to be of excellent quality.

The new paper - formulated by some of the same former Agfa technicians that worked on the original product - is now on its way to the USA. It is called ADOX Premium MCC 110 Variable-Contrast Fiber Base Paper. There is a limited supply in the first shipment so, if you're interested in trying some of this paper - which I feel will be a very valuable tool - you should order quickly.

You can check out the prices and place an order at Freestyle's web site here.

Anne and I, along with other photographers in a number of countries, had an opportunity to test this paper a while back. It was amazing how similar in quality the paper was to the old Multicontrast Classic. One change from the original... Agfa Multicontrast Classic was coated on a "natural white," as opposed to a bright white base. That base was made especially for Agfa and is not available at this time. The new Adox paper has the same emulsion as the previous paper, but is now on a brighter white base. I have no problems with the brighter white base - though I really did like natural white base as a contrast to the bright whites of Polymax. Most photographers who evaluated the prototype test batch preferred the whiter base.

The paper seems to respond well to bleaching. Agfa type emulsions have often been more susceptible to staining with bleaching, but just be careful and keep an eye out for bleaching artifacts. It's good to see another quality silver halide fiber base paper available for those who still love the traditional (or as I understand it's now referred to as "classical") darkroom! This is a particularly refreshing announcement in light of the recent news of some traditional photographic products being discontinued, most notably Kodak's recent announcement that Kodachrome film is going away. Happy printing!




My long-time friend John Reuter, who operates the 20x24 Studio in New York City, has a great video "Scrapbook" on Polaroid founder and inventor Dr. Edwin Land. As many readers are likely aware, Dr. Land and Ansel Adams had a working relationship and friendship that spanned many years. Ansel loved the Polaroid Land instant photographic films and did a large body of work with those materials. One of my favorite books of Ansel's is the small volume Singular Images. All of the photographs in that book were made with Polaroid Land instant print materials, or prints from Polaroid negatives.

The video, Edwin Land: A Scrapbook, gives an interesting perspective on this brilliant unique American. I think you will find it of interest. The video can be viewed here.

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John Sexton
Post Office Box 2338
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Voice: 831-659-3130
Fax: 831-659-5509


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Copyright © 2009

John Sexton. All rights reserved.

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