Funny how things come together sometimes. After casting about for a while, rejecting various topic possibilities, I finally settled on one I’d had in mind for some time, although I hadn’t prepared images or written anything. After typing the title and while I was uploading images, I noticed Doug had just posted on influence. In part, this post is about what I can do here in Montana that is as much as possible like those fabulous images of California dunes (Oceano, Death Valley) by the Westons and many others (see examples here and here). I’m not exactly striving to copy, but I am deliberately letting that influence wash over me and through me. I love the forms of those high contrast black and white images, both the three-dimensional dune forms and the two-dimensional shapes in the plane. I look at those images often.
But there is another goal with my series, although I had not quite formulated it sharply until Birgit’s recent post. In addition to the dune-like undulating fields in the foreground, most of these images have the Bridger mountains in the background. But the mountains are serving not so much as subject as to bring out the light-filled air of early morning.
Perhaps I am saved from mere recapitulation by living in a dune-free environment. I also think that having the combination of two goals (not to mention others) forces some degree of originality on me. (There are doubtless photographers out there with the same main goals I’ve stated; I’ll be on the lookout for them.) Meanwhile, do you think that it’s possible to reconcile these two ideas, to depict at the same time sculptural, almost abstract form and intangible light and air? Much of the power of the dune images comes from their simplicity, their focus on a single idea. And if it is possible in principle, how successful are the images here?