Hudson River Music Hall
Take Juckett Park for example. You drive by it in seconds and a walk-around would take only a few minutes. Yet in a remarkable series of images McKernon slows us down long enough to appreciate the uniqueness of the place. There's interesting city block architecture, soaring church edifices and hidden geometry in a park bench.
Beyond downtown he finds magic in train tracks, a cemetery and the gridding of a bridge. One memorable scene is of sunrise over the Five Combines of the Feeder Canal. Biographical info reveals that McKernon is a native of Hudson Falls who left for a long successful career as an interior designer. Upon returning to his hometown he reconnected with both photography and the landscape of his youth. You can see more of his work on his facebook page or by visiting the ArtSpace gallery at the Hudson River Music Hall on Maple Street in Hudson Falls. They're open on performance nights and every Wednesday at 7:00 pm when they have open mic. Call 832-3484 for more information.
Kendall McKernon photoWe're a visual species, we love our images. Ask someone to describe a place and they'll tell you what it looks like, not what it smells like (unless it's an industrial hog farm). Our eyes take in non-stop stimuli every waking minute and we even dream in pictures. But much of what we see is so familiar it hardly registers, the scenes go by in a whoosh. In this maelstrom, photography isolates, focuses and preserves. It slows the action movie of life down and freezes a small bit of it. This momentary stillness gives our consciousness time to catch its breath, to absorb and appreciate.
Photography has been evolving since the 1800's. Initially portraits were its most popular use. Still are today although now they're called "selfies". Things have changed with digital replacing film in recent times. I still have a film camera, a Canon AE-1 Program with a telephoto lens. It takes better pictures than the little point and shoot I use for this blog. It is also heavy, awkward to carry and often left at home or in my pack. The film and processing are expensive and you have to wait for your photos to "come back". I used to go on a hike and take a few shots. Then I would write notes in a journal and put the photos in an album - the two separated, never to be reunited. You can see where I'm going with this. Along came computers and the internet, digital cameras and Googles blogger. Photos and text in bed together and quite cozy. I can be a bit of a curmudgeon about technology, especially when "This 'blipping' thing doesn't work!" My long suffering wife allows me my frustration tantrum then sweetly suggests "Maybe we can click and drag it here." And, of course, for her everything falls smoothly into place.
The camera has become a versatile tool. Portraits, figure studies, candids and even pornography
(XXX has its fans) are highly popular ("Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man..." - Sophocles from Antigone). But there is also photojournalism, travel and landscapes, still lifes, botanical and flowers, architectural and micro- and astrophotography. There used to be a saying, "A photo never lies." Maybe, but there's a whole lot of fibbing going on. All photography involves manipulating what comes thru the lens. And that's fine as long as it's done honestly and openly. Take the Astronomy Picture of the Day. You will never see anything like those with your naked eye. A typical shot of a beautiful barred spiral galaxy about gadzillion light years away requires the Hubble Space Telescope gathering its feeble light for many hours. The artistic and technically adept don't so much distort reality as enhance it.
Credit: Hubble Heritage Team, ESA, NASA
That blue marble beyond the moon's surface looks familiar
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State U./ Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Neil Rappaport (1942-1998) was a photography professor at Bennington College who lived just over the state line in West Pawlet, Vermont. From the '60's and into the '90's he documented slate quarries and his neighbors who worked in them. He often worked in black and white which seems well-suited to the subject matter. The last time I was at the Slate Valley Museum a series of his photos were on exhibit. You can also view them here.
Dr. Gorden Ellmers is a Fort Edward veterinarian who has become well-known for his vibrant bird photography. He often goes out early in the morning scouting the Feeder Canal, the Hudson River or the Grasslands to get super sharp images of owls and hawks, herons and eagles. He has occasional exhibits, gives programs and has photos online.
Gordon Ellmers photo
Jim Appleyard photos
Jackie Donnelly photoIn southern Washington County Ian Creitz is doing interesting work including a series on abandoned industrial sites and the Agricultural Stewardship Association is growing our next generation of shutterbugs with its Farm Photography for Kids workshops. Cliff Oliver, Corrina Aldrich, Ellie Markovitch and Dona Ann McAdams lend their talents to the program. Several years ago my daughter Holly was helping out with the workshop when they went over to McAdams farm in Sandgate Vermont. McAdam's husband, Brad Kessler, is the author of Goat Song. Those very same goats gave the kids great subject matter for their cameras. McAdams is well known for using her camera to document performance art, street scenes and thoroughbred horse racing.
Finally, a genre I enjoy are books of historical photos. The 1860's seem to be the start of a consistent pictorial record. These volumes show us where we've come from and perhaps offer some guidance in where we want to go. In the Images of America series by Arcadia I've found five titles covering Washington County. They range from Huletts Landing and Lake George down thru Kingsbury and Hudson Falls and on over toward Cambridge and the Battenkill. Also of note are albums published by Towns and local historical societies. I've seen ones on Fort Ann, Hebron, Salem, Argyle, Cambridge, Kingsbury and Whitehall. Look for them in local libraries, book stores and from the Washington County Historical Society.
* Note to photographers: I recognize that your photos are your creation and controlling their use is important. The rules governing usage of internet images isn't always "black and white". If I've crossed any lines in posting images let me know so I can make adjustments. The purpose of this piece is to honor your work and how it enriches our lives.