I promised last month to talk more about the night work. The first time I got interested in it was pulling up to a ranch gate and seeing how the headlights lit it. I made an image, it wasn't iconic, but I was intrigued by the idea. I lived on a ranch for a year, which is a story in itself, but I had a several thousand acres to explore, and I began doing night work right in the front yard. I set up a camera in the dark night, opened the shutter, "painted" the yuccas with a light, left the shutter open and went to bed. I got up a few hours later, still dark, and retrieved the camera. I loved the image, and having several cameras, I began setting them up all over the ranch. I could make several images a night. This led to taking the idea to the park. I would set up cameras in several locations, focusing, painting the plant, and doing a time exposure. I put reflective tape around the tripod legs because it was easier to find them in the night. I wore a headlamp to see what I was doing, and in some of the images you can see a streak from it. This made the image somewhat of a self portrait. I changed F/stops, focus, lenses, film backs and even locations. Opening the shutters and going to sleep. If I would wake up and it was sunrise, all my efforts would be lost. This happened several times too. John Spong wrote an article about the work called "Light In The Darkness" August 2006 for Texas Monthly. I purchased my first digital camera , and as the film cameras were exposing I would shoot with it. Digital sensors are much more responsive to low light. I would point it at the sky and make a 30 second exposure and you would see a frame full of stars, but when I looked up they were barely visible. I think this is why there is a flood of milky way photos now. It's gotten relatively simple. That being said, there is nothing simple about digital photography. The only thing that is easier is that you do not have to process film for an image. There is so much control and literally anything you can dream up, you can make in a digitaI photograph. I love that. The night work was a wonderful few years for me. Like all my photographic explorations. I do it until I run out of ideas and move on. I've had the most extraordinary times in the park, sometimes going for days without seeing another human being. It was all mine.
**Painting the Rock**
I mentioned that I wore a headlamp. So I set the camera up, opened the shutter, and walked down to the rock. I stayed in one position so the light would reflect back and create a self portrait.
I was shocked and saddened to hear about the death of Bill Wittliff. I used to sell images from his Lonesome Dove series at the gallery, and instead of paying Bill with cash we would trade dollar for dollar my images. These would go into the Southwest Writers and Photography Collection. It was a good deal. He also lobbied to get my image of Cormac McCarthy in the National Portrait Gallery. He told me they already had one of Cormac, but he tried to convince them my image was better. We didn't always see eye to eye, but we always got through it, and we never held a grudge. When Marci and I would visit him, he would spend as much time as we wanted. The last time I saw him he showed me his newest series of beer can images, and like always we horse traded. Bill was a great many things to a great many people, but there was nobody like him. The art world will miss him. He took a piece of everyone's heart.