Lakeside Sketches & The Sound of Light
August 25 - September 25, 2005
This body of work is a series that was started in the summer of 2002 in Southampton my home base, a small lake resort town where the locals and summer cottagers spend long lazy days enjoying the lake and the relaxed pace of life. I had always wanted to photograph the lake, but I was never able to quite capture the way the lake “felt” to me. There is an enigmatic quality to the light that is strong yet at the same time soft and sensual framed by dramatic cloud formations.
I really wanted to capture two things in this series; the light and people interacting with the lake. Shooting, developing and printing film in the traditional way never quite captured the feeling I experienced about the lake and for me this project was more about what I felt than what I saw. To realize my goal I turned to photography’s past and started looking through my history of photography books. The images that came closest to what I was trying to achieve with this series were from the Pictorialist movement in the late 1800’s.
The Pictorialists believed that making a photograph shouldn’t be merely the faithful and detailed recording of an external object in a certain time and place but a rendering of the appearance of reality with the artists’ subjective response driving the emotional energy behind the motivation for making a photograph. The pictorialists and their ideas excited me. The images were often dark, moody, soft and dreamlike. I knew that this was how I saw and felt the lake. In the past, my photography had been inspired like many budding photographers of my generation, by giants like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and others from the F.64 group. Their images were powerful in their extreme detail and majestic in their range of tonalities but the dreamlike quality I wanted was missing. I remember the first photograph that evoked a strong emotional response within me, it was the photography of the great Czech photographer Josef Sudek. His studies of his lonely garden and rain sadly dripping down his kitchen windows were poetic and poignant. But I was still years away from shooting this way.
The next stylistic influence for me was from the great street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein and Robert Frank. Two contemporary photographers who have inspired me are Keith Carter and Ray Carofano, both of whom I was lucky enough to meet and learn from. A workshop in Santa Fe with Carter helped me to really look for the extraordinary in the ordinary and bring a sense of a narrative to the image. From Carofano I learned a lot about realizing the finished image on photographic paper. I wanted my images to have a sense of suspended time, meaning that they look like they could have been taken in present time or sometime in the past almost like a memory and like most memories there is an element of visual and emotional imprints at work. To achieve this look required a lot of work in the darkroom. The negative is truly just the blueprint hinting at a potential. There are two realities in a photograph the most obvious is the physical reality of the object being recorded by film and the second reality is the emotional reality and a gifted artist can give weight to either one of them. The emotional aspect and impact of what an image can evoke is what currently interests and excites me about photography.
- Michael Cannon
The finished images were shot on a 6X7 Mamiya rangefinder camera and are printed to 16X20 on gelatin silver Ilford fiber based paper and split-toned. The film used was Iford HP5 and Kodak T-Max 400. In the darkroom the Ilford film was developed in Kodak Extol developer and the T-max film in T-Max developer. I generally overdevelop the film by 10 to 15 % to compensate for the loss of contrast during the diffusion stage of printing. The diffusion is a mix of normal light and diffused light. The enlarger I use is an Omega 5 DXL with an Aristo variable contrast cold light head. Toning is split with sepia and then a fairly strong dilution of selenium.