Friday, January 17, 2014

Inspirations #31: Frederick Sommer

Frederick Sommer once stated, "Climatic conditions in the West give things time to decay and come apart slowly. They beautifully exchange characteristics from one to another."

I have always admired the photographic work of Frederick Sommer. Early in my photographic career I tended towards landscapes. Over time I became disenfranchised with landscapes, too often, just pretty pictures. After seeing the work of Edward Weston for the first time, my eyes were opened up to the possibilities presented by photographing “that which has been overlooked, forgotten, or looked at, but not seen.” Mr. Sommer also had this revelation after seeing Weston’s work, albeit 50 years before I had seen it.

Some of his most noted photographs are of weathered carcasses of desert animals near his home in Prescott, AZ. However, these images were sometimes not popular with the general public.

Jack Rabbit, 1939, Frederick Sommer

Coyotes, 1945, Frederick Sommer

After moving to the Arizona myself in 2005 I became aware of the brutal life cycle of the desert. On many of my walks I would spot something that had been run over by a vehicle… snakes, birds, lizards, rabbits. I was amazed that after repeatedly being crushed by heavy motor vehicles that the remains almost become part of the road. When the carcass was easily removed from the road surface I would collect them and bring them home, keeping them in the garage, much to my wife’s dismay. After collecting several specimens over several years, and recently putting our home up for sale, my wife gave me an ultimatum, “Get rid of those things, or photograph them, and then get rid of them!” And so, I did.

 Baby Bird, 2013 © Richard M. Coda

 Lizard, 2013 © Richard M. Coda 
 Rabbit, 2013 © Richard M. Coda 
 Rattlesnake, 2013 © Richard M. Coda 
 Baby Rattlesnake, 2013 © Richard M. Coda 
 Snake, 2013 © Richard M. Coda

These images will be part of an ongoing project called “Crushed”… animate and inanimate objects that have been crushed by motor vehicles. These objects would include the ubiquitous aluminum can, in all its various permutations, signs, bottles, you name it… if it can be crushed by a car, I will photograph it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Inspirations #30: Grandma's Curtains

Well, it's been a long time since my last post... been real busy with work. Not much time for photography... you know the drill. Anyway...

I had the opportunity to use my large format cameras only 4 times in the past 15 months. Once on a field trip with Rod Klukas to Sedona. Once to drop my daughter off at college in Pittsburgh, and twice during the Spring when my wife had some church gatherings to attend. On one of these gatherings I used the time to photograph the Tempe Mill – a place I had been wanting to photograph for a few years now.

I only had an hour and had to park a few blocks away. I carried my 4x5 small bag (I also have a large bag which I left in the car), tripod, vest and film the three blocks and set the camera up. After setting the first shot up I realized that I had left my light meter in the large bag... which was still in the car. Rather than tear everything down, go back and get the meter, I decided to see if there were any light meter apps available for the iPhone. I was lucky and there were two. I downloaded them and, after 15 minutes of trying to figure out how they worked, came up with an exposure. The exposure "seemed" to be accurate so I went with my instincts and made the exposures.

One of these exposures caused me to have a flashback to 1983 and my grandmother's house. I had gone to visit my grandparents, who were in their late 70s and early 80s at the time, and to take their portraits with my 4x5" camera. I also took a photo of their curtains, which had a soft, glowing quality (or "glowacious" as Randy Efros relayed to me how Brett Weston used to say) to them. Anyway, after seeing the negative from the Mill after development I immediately went to find the negative from Grandma's house some 20 years ago. The results are strikingly similar even though one is made of concrete and over one hundred feet tall, and the other is made of linen and a only few feet tall.

Tempe Mill, Phoenix, AZ, May, 2013 © Richard M. Coda

Grandma's Curtains, Maplewood, NJ, 1983 © Richard M. Coda

Friday, November 29, 2013

Blurb Book Sale - Ends Dec. 2, 2013

Blurb is having a sale until Dec. 2...

Get 30% OFF the hardcover edition of my book, Primordial:2010 - Photographs of the Arizona Monsoon
Use code: CYBER1


Get 25% OFF the softcover edition
Use code: CYBER2

Of course, signed/numbered limited edition hardcover books with foil stamp AND an 11x14" signed/numbered/matted print of the cover image are available here:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Portraits of my Father

Easter Sunday, 1960, 8 St. Mary's Road, Cromer, Norfolk, England

There was a book published last year by Lodima Press on Brett Weston's 1977 portfolio titled "Portraits of my Father". This portfolio and book contained 10 photographs of Brett's father, Edward Weston, one of the icons of 20th Century photography (as is Brett).

It has been one year since my father passed and I have started thinking again of going through all the old negatives and prints that have been handed down to me. Originally I wanted to do a portfolio/book of images that my father had "taken", especially those from England, where he was stationed in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, and where I was born.

As I started going through all of this material I found photographs "of" my father. I love "period" imagery (and films). I was trying to tell my daughter the other night that "period" used to mean anything before the early to mid 20th Century. Today it means the 1960s or 1970s. Anyway, these images I found had a certain charm to them. Drugstore negatives and prints from a 120/220 film camera. Some dimple cut. All of Kodak film and paper (Kodak is about to disappear as we know it very soon). All have creases and cracks. There's even some that my father made on 4x5" film. Once I saw these images I decided to change my idea to encompass both the images of him and those by him.

These four images are the first that I have scanned towards this project, tentatively titled "Through my Father's Eyes: Photographs of and by Richard J. Coda Jr." I still have to research many of these for accurate dates and locations.

Location and Date Unknown

Location and Date Unknown

July 31, 1960, Cromer Beach, Norfolk, England
A father for 42 days

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Weekend with Marilyn...

TruckMasters (Marilyn Monroe), Phoenix AZ, 2009 © Richard M. Coda

OK, there's a new movie out immortalizing Marilyn Monroe. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe is immortalized right here in Phoenix, AZ?

For those of you who don't get out much, there is a huge mural painted on the side of the TruckMasters building at 20th St. and Indian School Rd. in Phoenix. It was painted by Timothy Medina in 2002. The mural is more than 30 feet long and is almost super-realist in style.

I photographed it early one Sunday morning in 2009 in black & white with my 8x10" camera. I deliberately chose Sunday so there would be no vehicles parked in front of it. Although I do tire quickly of Marilyn Monroe, I never tire looking at this beautiful contact print.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: Out with the new and in with the old?

Happy New Year!

Cascade Mountain, Alberta, Canada, 1990 © Richard M. Coda

I'm thinking 2012 will be a breakthrough year for me, photographically. The past three years have been tough on everyone, and especially artists. Many of my photography friends have experienced reduced output and enthusiasm, myself included. The causes are multiple: disappearance of materials, reduced income, dissatisfaction with leadership, etc.

2012 brings with it an opportunity for hope and change (not that dopey hope and change from 2008). Business seems to have rebounded and things are going to change in my life this year. Our daughter, Lindsay, will be going away to college in August. As parents, Michele and I have devoted our lives to our daughter, sacrificing so she could "have better than we had". There are still four years of financial sacrifice ahead, but the amount of time that will be gained is amazing. In 2012 I hope to attempt to use some of that time to "get back into photography". I can't tell you how many times I have heard a photographer utter those words. For some reason photography is one of those avocations that is shuffled aside to take care of life.

Another "back to the future" hope is to do more landscapes this year. I have mentioned several times on this blog about my yearning to do landscapes again as I have gotten older. The desert landscape is too sparse for me personally, but I hope to have the time to do some landscapes with trees and water in them. In addition, I have 30 years worth of negatives, many of which have never seen the light of day, and many of them these types of landscapes that I yearn.

One project that I would like to do this year is my "Honeymoon Suite" portfolio. This is a portfolio of 8x10" images made from 4x5" negatives I made while on my honeymoon in 1990 in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. I have only printed a few of the images way back in 1991, but have enough that I am going to select 10 and print a limited edition portfolio. The image above, Cascade Mountain, is one I have selected. I printed this for the first time a few days ago. It still needs some tweaks but I am excited to work on this project.

Other projects I hope to start this year include several botanical series from items I have been collecting for the past couple of years; two portfolios on Phoenix (one black & white and one color) along with a book from my extensive work in the city from the past three years; and a small portfolio from my work on Ellis Island in 1984.

As this is my 30th year in photography I also plan on having a 30% discount on all sales this entire year, and a special selection of vintage prints from the 1980s at fire sale prices. I will also be marketing a series of "Special Edition" prints from selected negatives for $30 plus S/H. Ansel Adams made the "special edition" print popular by offering some of his most popular images available for a very reasonable price. Today these prints are made by his last assistant, Alan Ross. My special editions will be pigmented ink prints available in only one size (7" on the long side) on 8.5x11" paper, open edition, and signed electronically. These are basically mini-posters meant to introduce my work to a broader market of beginning collectors. The purchase price of these prints can be applied toward a "Collector's Edition" photographic (darkroom) print at any point if the purchaser wishes to upgrade to a real print.

So stay tuned in 2012 for all of these announcements.

I wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Codas – Rich, Michele and Lindsay!

Click on the image for an animated version.

Vdara Hotel, Las Vegas, NV © 2010 Richard M. Coda