Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary

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New Slide Show of Recent Black-and-White Work

A new slide show of my recent black-and-white work is now available at my gallery site Joanne Mason Photography: Slide Show. The slide show features high-resolution full-screen (click the fullscreen icon in upper right corner) images. (While you’re there, enjoy the rest of Joanne Mason Photography! And leave a comment in the guestbook!)

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Architecturals in Black and White

Getty Center-B-1. Fuji X100. 23mm. ISO 200. 1/90 sec at f/16. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Continuing my exercise of exploring the capabilities and range of black-and-white by reprocessing a number of previously edited color images, here are some architecturals. These are all shot at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The Getty Center has some very distinctive architectural elements which suit it perfectly to its hillside perch above Los Angeles.

Getty Center-B-2. Fuji X100. 23mm. ISO 200. 1/90 sec at f/16. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

The exceptional clarity, sharpness, and resolution of the Fuji X100 makes it well suited to this kind of photograph.

Getty Center-B-3. Fuji X100. 23mm. ISO 200. 1/600 sec at f/5.6. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

The Getty Center architecture does an interesting dance with light and shadow. I think the black-and-white brings this out more successfully than do color images. Similarly, the black-and-white highlights the strong geometric character of the Getty buildings.

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Getty Center Garden in Spring

My most favorite picture of spring …

Getty Center Garden, Los Angeles. iPhone photo. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

This is an iPhone photo of the tree sculptures in the central gardens at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The Getty gardens were designed by American landscape artist and sculptor Robern Irwin. Everything about these “trees” – their shape, reaching for the sky, the flowers cascading from the upper “branches” – is a delightful spring greeting. I love the Getty gardens.

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Scene, At Getty

Scene, At Getty. Nikon D200. Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. 48mm (Equiv 72mm). ISO 200. 1/125 sec at f/16. Infrared. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

There’s a spot in the Getty just west of the top of the stairs at the main entrance. The shadows that play around this spot are fascinating, all the more so now that it’s spring and we have flowering vines hanging from it. I’ve shot this before and probably will again. This is an infrared image.

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Review: In Focus: Los Angeles, 1945–1980 (The Getty Center)

Los Angeles International Airport (1964) Garry Winogrand. Gelatin silver print 13 1/2 x 9 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © 1984 The Estate of Garry Winogrand © 1984 The Estate of Garry Winogrand

On my previous visit to the Getty, In Focus: Los Angeles, 1945-1980,  was just about to open. So I was eagerly anticipating the exhibit on this trip. Ultimately, I was disappointed.

There are several wonderful images included, for example Garry Winogrand’s “Los Angeles International Airport”; and (my favorite) William Garnett’s “Plaster and Roofing, Lakewood, California”. But the exhibit as a whole left me feeling shortchanged.

There are only 25 photographs, in one small room, in the exhibit. Philosophically, the design of the exhibit can’t be questioned. The images are  grouped around “the themes of experimental photography, vernacular architecture, car culture, and fantasy and the film industry.” But I find it hard to believe that the Getty does not own or could not find a broader selection of photographs representing each of these areas during a most dynamic period in Los Angeles’ history, 1945-1980.

Plaster and Roofing, Lakewood, California (1950). William A. Garnett. Gelatin silver print 19.5 x 24.3 cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. © Estate of William A. Garnett © Estate of William A. Garnett

While these four themes do represent the multidimensional dynamics of Los Angeles – and though admittedly Los Angeles is a fascinating city – a broader assumption of the exhibit’s organizers begs argument.

It is immediately apparent that no city has ever been produced by such an extraordinary mixture of geography, climate, economics, demography, mechanics and culture; nor is it likely that an even remotely similar mixture will ever occur again.
Reyner Banham, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, 1971

But that’s quite a stretch! is that not true for most – or all – of the world’s great cities, and even a few of the not-so-great? Why do cities develop where/when/how they do? Is it not usually the “mixture of geography, climate, economics, demography, mechanics and culture”?

As disappointing as I found In Focus: Los Angeles at the Getty Center, the exhibit if part of a much grander city-wide scheme that is both bold and exciting. Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980 – Website here – features coordinated showings of Los Angeles art, design, and culture of 1945-1980 at more than sixty galleries, museums, and other centers  from San Diego to Santa Barbara.  A small but information-packed catalog of all the exhibits is available at the Getty.

Pacific Standard Time runs through April. In Focus: Los Angeles 1945-1980 exhibit at the Getty Center runs through May 6, 2012. The Getty Center, Los Angeles.

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Vine and Travertine

Vine and Travertine. Nikon D200. Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. 28mm (Equiv 42mm). ISO 400. 1/750 sec at f/9.5. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Shot at the Getty Center (which is constructed of all Travertine marble) in Los Angeles. This is an infrared image.

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