Exploring Global Villages: Inspiring Images And Image-Makers
October is a busy month. It’s when Mary celebrates her birthday and the aspens start changing color in the high country. It’s also “Anything Can Happen Day” in my office, which is why this month’s column topic is The Social Network. I’m not talking about David Fincher’s movie but the role Twitter, Facebook, and maybe Quepasa play in our daily digital lives. I’m a lightweight Facebook (www.facebook.com/joe.farace) user but it’s a place where Shutterbug readers can be my “friend” and pick up a few photo tips along with some not-too-personal information about what’s going on atop Daisy Hill. On the other hand, I’m often on Twitter (www.twitter.com/joefarace) during a normal workday offering photo tips and links to my how-to blog (www.joefaraceblogs.com). Any of these social media outlets are a great way to keep in touch with me between issues.
Dan Barba’s clever-looking and cleverly named (“Stolen Beauties”) website contains four galleries, although one—Black & White—is listed as “coming” at the time of this writing. The others include Scenics & Nature, Animals & Critters, and Still Life & Artistic. Barba is a large format shooter who considers his specialty to be still life, and that’s clearly on display in his Still Life & Artistic gallery which features images that are impeccably and precisely composed. Ofttimes his subject matter may be somewhat mundane but Barba’s talent elevates these objects to high art.
Clicking on a tiny thumbnail in the gallery shows the image slightly larger but not quite large enough to fully appreciate the fastidious craftsmanship that obviously went into its creation. Below the image, which is displayed in a digital frame, are options to purchase a print at affordable prices. Barba may think of himself as a still life photographer but the images in his other galleries are stunning. Scenics & Nature features spectacular landscape images that are, again, precisely composed and handled with a deftness that makes it look effortless, but as we photographers know, nothing could be further from the truth. Images such as “Dark Canyon” simply defy easy description and are not to be missed. What I find most interesting about his Animals & Critters gallery is that many of the images are really portraits of the animals; if you think that getting a 2-year-old toddler to hold still is easy, imagine what it takes to make a portrait of a lion! Yet, Barba manages to pull it off with the same preciseness as his still life work—no easy task.
The Shutterbug reader’s website this month belongs to nature and wildlife photographer George Robbins, who is pursuing surely one of the most challenging genres. His simple, neat site contains four groups of images ranging from flowers to the countryside, each of which contains multiple galleries for you to enjoy. I started with Countryside because I loved his thumbnail image of a snow-covered wagon. You can see “Cabins in New Snow” displayed in the first gallery in thumbnail form and after double-clicking you get a size large enough to enjoy and explore the subtlety of his work. Small thumbnails at the right of the larger image allow you to select from these highly saturated, jump-off-the-screen photographs. And if you’ve ever wanted to know where that pot of gold was, his stunning image “Rainbow Over Barn” shows you.
All of the images on the site, including the off-the-charts “Autumn Pasture,” are available at surprisingly affordable prices and you can even purchase mouse pads and coasters featuring the images. The six Wildlife galleries abound with images of animals in their natural environments. In fact, Frontier Airlines has Robbins’s photograph of a bighorn ram on the tail of one of its planes (http://bit.ly/4EfwSI). Flowers features close-up images, within their natural elements, as well as being visited by birds and bugs. The Scenic group has six galleries, each answering the question of why I picked Montana as the first state of the month for this column. It’s a place of extraordinary beauty that’s revealed when looking at the prodigious technical skill and sensitive aesthetic judgment that informs all of Robbins’s photographs. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite. Explore and enjoy.
Barry Steven Greff’s photography is showcased in an elegantly designed website from FolioLink (www.foliolink.com). The site appears one way on my desktop computer and another, better I think, incarnation on my iPad, where captions and other information appear as well. Images are arranged in four portfolios and Atmosphere displays images representing the majesty of nature, especially his monochrome image of Niagara Falls photographed like you’ve never seen it before. It’s a quiet allegory of the power of nature vs. the insignificance of humankind. It’s one of his few images that have people and here they are infinitesimal in size compared to the roar—you can almost hear it while looking at the photograph—of the falls.
Most of these images are in powerful black and white but when Greff uses color, it’s to make a point. The Classics portfolio may contain some of his classics but never fails to dazzle with understated yet inherently graceful attempts at depicting nature. Unlike the previous portfolios, Spirit & Light contains a few urban images made in New York City and, while wildly incongruous next to his nature images, are appealing in a completely different way. His image made through a car window could have easily been a still image from the film Taxi Driver, with all the connotations that come along with it. In Of the Wild Greff has created portraits of all kinds of animals from eagles to peacocks to gorillas. This represents an entirely different body of work, separate from his landscapes, that nevertheless shows how a talented photographer confronted by a different genre rises to the occasion. He’s created insightful works of great authority and style.
The Blog-of-the-Month is Bill Vriesema’s Selective Focus. It’s a photoblog in the classic sense, featuring lots of big photographs along with some narrative. The site uses a WordPress template from Photocrati (www.photocrati.com) that is clean, easy to read, and places the emphasis exactly where it belongs—on the photographs. He even has a Galleries section featuring eight collections of images. As a longtime fan of lighthouse photographs, I jumped into Michigan Lighthouses first and was rewarded with a terrific collection of images displayed really BIG, so you can appreciate them. What’s great about these photographs, aside from Vriesema’s overall sense of color and design, is the drama of these images. There are lots of white caps and breaking waves; not at all like the placid lighthouse photographs I’ve seen—and loved—in the past.
Closer to home (my home anyway) is Arizona Scenes that offers up landscape as well as flora and fauna photos captured using that same punchy color Vriesema employs elsewhere. Changing gears, he moves to the quiet and solitude of his Woods and Water collection, featuring close-ups of nature as well as some woodland landscape images that feature the unmistakable Vriesema touch. There’s more here, so be sure to visit all the rest of his collections. In About, Vriesema says, “Photography gives me a way to share myself.” He does just that by offering “Categories” of posts, including lessons and my favorite, “Visual Metaphors” which contains a sensitive selection of images along with his thoughts on them that are well worth reading.