ARTIST’S ESSAYS    -    © ROBERT PRESTON 2011




White Dune  -   Death Valley, CA


In the desolate but haunting landscape of Death Valley, this morning was unusually

dark and brooding with hardly any photographic possibilities. The three-mile hike into the dunes was at the point of abandonment when suddenly there was a feeling of warmth on my back. One small opening in the fast-moving clouds granted a gift of sunshine. It rolled dune over dune with the swiftness of a sidewinder as I swiveled my camera ninety-degrees to the left. Suddenly its magical presence landed and lingered on this dune which, in reality, was not whiter than any of the others. Like a visitation from an ethereal spirit, the light had come and gone in less than ten seconds. We should all be so graced by a few moments of serendipity.



First Light  - Venice, Italy


Taken at dawn on the Grand Canal in Venice, here is a unique image which truly expresses the soul of the city. Devoid of all touristy glitter and postcard stereotypes, it captures a timeless moment as the damp haze of early morning reveals the majesty of San Giorgio Maggiore. From a distance, San Giorgio seems a fantasy creation, as indistinct as the mists which often envelop it. And in this chance moment, the tips of the gondolas draw the eye from left to right across the canal into the mysterious mood of air and light. For lovers of this ageless, romantic city, this image is the quintessential Venice. 



Lake Reflections  -  Lake Carra, Ireland


Having endured more than a week of steady rain, nature rewarded me with opening

skies, and this became the first image of my trip. Taken on Lake Carra in the west of Ireland, this is a landscape of ordinary ingredients  -   water, rocks and clouds. But through the particular camera angle and a moment of unusual stillness in the water,

the ordinary is transformed into a more dramatic moment. As the horizon line dissolves imperceptibly into the water, the rocks appear to be floating in air above a mirror separating reality from imagination. A moment for “true reflection”.



Fountains Abbey  -  North Yorkshire, England


Taken in the ruins of an historic Cistercian monastery in the north of England, this photograph exalts the magnificent architecture of this 11th century structure. Beyond its obvious splendor, however, the viewer is taken on a deeper spiritual journey as the patterns of light in the foreground draw the eye through the cavernous arches, window by window, to a loftier destination beyond. An image for soul-searching, contemplation and comfort.



Room With A View  -  Panzano, Italy


If you’ve ever seen the film “Room with a View” with its opening Puccini aria, your heart will take flight with the gentle beauty of this image. Photographed from within a villa in the heart of Tuscany, it is a limitless invitation to the viewer’s visual imagination. It speaks of optimism, romance, reminiscence, melancholy  -  or whatever you wish it to be. As your gaze is transported to the distant and nebulous Tuscan hills, this becomes an image for all seasons and for listening to the arias of your own soul.


 

Antelope Canyon  -  Page, Arizona


This is a much photographed location in Arizona, usually seen in color because of its remarkable sandstone hues. However, free of color “distraction” in this interpretation, the full range of the gray scale is realized, and the unique shapes and textures become a marvel of rhythm and harmony. While the rocks form an imposing cathedral of stone, the luminous core is a magnet for the eye.



Horse in Morning Fog  -   Cushing, Maine


A few miles south of Andrew Wyeth’s home in Cushing, Maine stands the Olson House, so named for the family which occupied it and whose crippled daughter was the subject of one of Wyeth’s most famous paintings, “Christina’s World”. It is an almost forbidding structure of dark gray wood, black shutters and vine-laden doorways whose strong character is enhanced by the early mist of the Maine morning. Unexpectedly, like a true apparition, a ghostlike riderless horse emerged from the fog and stood silently looking at me from the same spot where Wyeth had placed Christina in his painting. Having accepted me as another visitor, she quietly began to graze. The only thing I could hear was my own breathing. A moment of rare silence and serenity.




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