photographs. news. thoughts.
A year ago I traveled with Shelley Lovelace to Guatemala for a week or two. Although I'd lived there during my senior year of high school and have returned several times since, I'd never explored the country freely, without an itinerary. We bought the tickets only two days in advance, made no reservations, used mostly public transportation, and traveled light - each only carrying a small backpack with some extra clothes (plus a toothbrush :) …and cameras. I carried a Pentax 6x7, Shelley had her grandfather's Fujica, and we shared a Fuji x100. We ended up shooting something like 75 rolls of film, 25GB of digital images, and hundreds of iPhone images, most of which have never seen the light of day (or a scanner). At long last, here are a few of mine:
Some images from a pleasant trip to Nantucket back in July. I had originally planned to rent a plane and island hop from Long Island (via Matha's Vineyard) but the forecast called for a fair amount of sea mist over the sound, and as I'm not IFR-certified I decided to play it safe and took a Delta flight. Someday I'll go back and fly that approach for RWY 6...
Last month I was commissioned by Sierra Magazine to travel to Texas and photograph Goldman Prize winner Hilton Kelley for a story about his environmental justice advocacy in his refinery-strewn home town of Port Arthur. The entire trip took less than 24 hours door to door, but in the short time I had with him, Hilton inspired me with his philosophy and dedication - an impression that has given me a lot of thought in the time since. Here a few of the shots that ran in this month's issue:
Last summer I promised myself to photograph the final space shuttle launch. Not only was it to be a historic event, and the last of its kind, but I can probably generalize here and say that every kid born under the influence of gravity will do whatever it takes to watch stuff shoot into the sky - the bigger, louder, and higher the better. And a shuttle launch is just that - big, loud, and high. Even from 6.5 miles away (the closest public viewing location) it is an awe-inspiring demonstration of power. From that distance, the sound didn't reach us until just before the rocket disappeared into the cloud, but as the roar of the engines came flooding over us the magnitude of what I was witnessing began to sink in - after 30 years of service, the Shuttle Transport System was now to become a relic of the past.
Early on I made the decision to shoot the launch on 4x5 film, knowing full well this thing would happen fast. As it turned out I had plenty of time (hah!) to get 10 hurried shots (8 sheets and two polaroids) before the shuttle disappeared through the clouds in something like 30 seconds:
So today I've been feeling a little dark and monochromatic (as opposed to melodramatic). These are from a trip to Antelope Island a week or two ago with my friends, Ann & C.J. Whittaker.
....and one last one to lighten the mood:
Phew! Just got back last night from a commercial shoot in France & Switzerland (as well as spending a couple weeks of personal time in Norway, Paris, Andermatt, & Como), which was just the first of three stages on as many continents. I fly out again Monday morning for stage 2 in Oregon, then stage 3 in Australia after that, which makes this really more of a 4-day layover...
Anyway, a lot needs to get done today and things in the office are a bit crazy, but I have a few minutes while the hard-drives are humming away; so I thought I'd start a short journal of my day and see where it goes. Menial stuff for sure but hopefully I can make some of it worth your while:
- 10:45p arrived in SLC
- 11p completely crash after traveling for nearly 24 hours
- 4am wide awake from jet-lag (GMT+2 -> GMT -6)
- 4:30 sync MacBookPro documents back to MacPro
- 5 check facebook, or 'FNN' (Friend News Network) as I like to think of it / read up a little on the APE blog & some news / get caught up on emails
- 6 start backing-up 2TB G-Raid2 road drive. Only 451GB to go...
- 6:10 shower
- 6:30 research materials for constructing a location/computer case for my 17" MBP. Inspiration is a mix of the portable monitor kits I saw the film-crews wheel around while on location for The Home Depot jobs, and a video posted by Chase Jarvis a few years back. I have a traveling iMac kit, but it's too big & heavy for remote and/or mountain locations, and requires external power. This one will be a lot sleeker & mobile
- 7:15 notice there's some very nice cirrus clouds outside, which I like to have for my library of background cloud plates. Load up the car with the H3Dii kit and race down the road to Brighton High where I can get a clean horizon
- 7:25 shoot a few dozen plates of clouds at three focal lengths
- 7:45 back in the office / download images / catalogue in Lightroom 3
- 8 backup progress: 300GB to go. I use a program called Intego-X5 to synchronize my primary A drives with backups B & C. Simple, cheap, and easy to use
- 8:30 unpack / eat breakfast
- 9 stop by the post office to pick up the month's mail. Received 2 Awards of Excellence from Communication Arts for image series appearing in the 2010 Photo Annual! A super lightweight mountaineering harness (the 'Couloir') from Black Diamond also arrived. Just the thing for quick trips up to Lone Peak or the Tetons, or ski-rappels next winter
- 9:15 work on finishing up the expense reports for Europe trip. After spending nearly a month traveling by planes, trains, rental cars, and aerial trams & shooting in 5 countries, I've got hundreds of receipts / transactions to account for. Expenses are tallied in Numbers, and then summarized in BlinkBid which handles my billing and basic business financials
- 10 phone call with producer to go over production details for the Oregon shoot. Location permits secured
- 11 booked travel for Australia shoot. 35 days ought to be enough. Booked it a bit wide since the shoot dates are still being pinned down, and to have some personal shooting/skiing time afterwards in New Zealand. I do almost all my bookings on Kayak.com which has great dynamic filters and a relatively simple interface
- 12p 2TB backup done. Run to the bank to swap out hard-drives. All of my images are backed-up in triplicate, with the 2nd & 3rd copies rotating shifts in my safe-deposit box every two weeks or after jobs, just in case my office gets robbed, struck by lightning, or worse. Everything is also backed up in triplicate while on location for jobs, only on smaller 250GB FireLite drives. As at the office, the third drive always stays in a separate room, or with me, in case my hotel room gets sacked while I'm out
- 12:15 phone discussion with ad agency about changes to next week's shooting schedule & go over the Australia dates
- 12:20 call with my producer regarding changes
- 12:25 call to assistant in Oregon regarding changes
- 12:30p drive downtown
- 1 lunch at the Taqueria Lolita on 9th & 3rd with my friend Paul
- 2 picked up a few things at Pictureline: a Pelican 1550 case for the location kit & a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens. Although I shoot on a lot of different formats, both film & digital, the Canon L-series primes are hard to beat for speed, sharpness, and reliability in extreme conditions. Both me and my 1DsMk3 were completely and repeatedly drenched by ocean waves during a portion of the shoot in France, but the weatherproofed lenses & body thankfully kept the saltwater out (which is why the H3Dii played the role of backup and hid in the watertight pelican case with the 4x5)
- 2:50 call to my parents, let them know I'm still alive
- 3 picked up a few things at REI: new TSA locks for 4x5 case to replace ones damaged in Europe and a better travel pillow (I hope)
- 3:45 another call with my producer
- 3:50 post office again to pick up today's mail, return home
- 4-7 working in the office on the new location/computer case. Contents will include a 17" MacBook Pro, 3x FireWire 250GB hard drives, a 6x8" Wacom Tablet, cords & adaptors, extra battery, and ambient light shields for easy viewing outside. Will post some photos when it's done
- 7:15 respond to stock image request
- 7:30 emails with ad agency & Marianne about licensing additional images from the shoot
- 7:45 keyword & upload a few new images from Switzerland to my stock site
- 8:30 off to see Inception for the second time with some friends. Hopefully I can stay awake with a mix of serious jet-lag and Hans Zimmer's musical ambiance (which I love, love love!)
- 11p crash again, and hopefully don't wake up till 6 or so...
The only artwork above my office desk is a small print from one of my greatest inpirations, Bradford Washburn, whose accomplishments spanned the fields of photography, mountaineering, cartography, and science (making him an instant hero in my book :). However, he is perhaps best known for his richly-toned black & white aerial images from the great mountain ranges of the world - including Alaska and the Alps - which he shot from open airplane doors at high altitude on 8x10 large format equipment. Simply amazing. Anyway, in the spirit of aerial photography, earlier this week Marie and I flew into the Teton Range with my friend Tom. Since I grew up in nearby Idaho Falls, and have spent a great deal of time climbing and exploring these peaks, seeing it all from altitude and bathed in beautiful evening light made the experience heavenly. Here's some of what we saw:
Went up the canyon to Alta on Saturday for a small test shoot with my Subaru 'prop' (just one of its many talents when it comes to the IRS). It was going to be the first of a series, but I think the concept is headed back to the drawing board for now since I'm not in love yet... Shot day for night with 4x5 film and composited in post with some digital elements (see the raw film scan below). No retouching footage this time around, my machine was taxed to the max this morning :)
After a year in the making, my new stock photography website is up and running, allowing creatives to search for images from my personal collections of travel, landscape, portrait, and adventure stock imagery, and create lightboxes of potential images for their layouts and campaigns. Please take a look!
My father is an ophthalmologist, so naturally my childhood was spent watching cataract surgery videos with dad (accounting for probably half of the movies I had ever seen before I turned 20). I guess the basic idea was that there's something to be learned by watching a huge, unblinking eyeball on the screen get poked around by various instruments. I actually thought they were pretty fascinating to watch, which nearly got me suckered into a medical career later on. My mom, on the other hand, had no interest whatsoever. She liked seeing eyeballs in the scale and context God intended. Some will no doubt feel similarly about watching these retouching clips from a few recent personal images, although luckily they've been sped up x10 (an advantage I rarely enjoyed with dad). Mostly just color-tuning for now, but I'll try to post a few more with significant compositing when I come to it.
And, for those who can't see the films inline, here are the links:
http://www.matthewturley.com/galleries/movies/100213/100213_retouch_b.mov http://www.matthewturley.com/galleries/movies/100213/100213_retouch.mov http://www.matthewturley.com/galleries/movies/100212/100212_retouch.mov http://www.matthewturley.com/galleries/movies/100212/100212_retouch_b.mov
Norway doesn't have a lot of flat terrain, so people have to travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles to visit the rare exception and have a picnic, even if that spot is as small and exposed as Preikestolen, located in Lysefjorden (near Stavanger). With sheer 2,000' drops to the fjord on three sides you definitely want to keep an eye on the kids.
Went for a ski down to the fjord on New Years Eve with my Nordic muse outside her home on the island of Jeløy. It was a refreshing change in pace from the sort of skiing I've become accustomed to here in Utah, where performance, adrenaline, and technology reign supreme over wooden skis, wool sweaters, and simple pleasures.
To be sure, Norway today has one of the most sophisticated ski teams in the world, rumored to spend more on just their nordic wax R&D than the entire US Olympic ski team combined. However, strong vestiges remain from an era when skiing was simply the most efficient way to get around during the dark half of the year (see exhibit A).
These photographers called themselves the Nikonians in reference to their collective choice of camera brand. Although my Graflex 4x5 became a brief conversation piece, their considerable brand loyalty was undeterred. Thoroughly courteous, they always offered to step out of my shots - at least until I reassured them that they weren't interfering. 'Are you sure?' Yes, I'm sure.
Location: Death Valley
Cabins in Norway are the real deal. They dot the landscape like tiny shrines to Thoreauvian minimalism - usually without running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, or even road access - and usually seem as relaxed and natural in the landscape as a herd of deer. Nothing like the faux-timber monstrosities that awkwardly overpower our landscapes in the west.
Things to remember for when I build my dream cabin someday...
Photos from one of several 2000km road trips through Scandinavia this summer: