Tradition In Transition
Local photographers embrace the digital revolution.
Thursday, November 12, 1998
As the birthplace of the so-called "West Coast School" of photography, large format, black-and-white landscapes constitute what is traditionally associated with the work of photographers here on the Monterey Peninsula. Through the artistry and advocacy of such photographic luminaries as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, the unmanipulated, or so-called "straight" print became the ultimate expression and standard by which photography was deemed a true art form.
While it may seem like sacrilege to some, many local photographers are breaking with this tradition to explore new modes and methods of photographic expression. At the core of the revolution is computer/digital technology, which gives photographers tremendous artistic control over the photographic process and allows them to expand upon the limits of two-dimensional, photographic representations of the physical world.
Two local companies working at the cutting edge of digitally enhanced photography are Joann Dost Golf Editions, which specializes in landscape and golf course photography using a special digital printing process; and a company based in Seaside called RIM Tech, which uses a specialized camera apparatus and scanning software to create 360-degree "virtual" panorama images viewable on CDs or on the Web.
For photographer Joann Dost and her business and creative partner Bob Reade, who employ a digital printing process called Iris-Glice, digital technology is merely an enhancement of traditional printing methods with the advantage of yielding prints that contain a richness of detail, luminosity and color saturation previously unobtainable from regular color printing materials and techniques.
Dost and Reade argue that despite the seemingly radical shift away from traditional printing processes, Iris-Glice prints provide the kind of fidelity to the original negative or transparency that photographers like Adams and Weston would undoubtedly have embraced.
"This is no different than what [Ansel Adams] would do in the darkroom," says Dost. "Master photographers would embrace [digital technology] as they embraced all the key tools of their day."
Dost and Reade began working with the Iris-Gicle process about 18 months ago. Dost is a former touring golf professional who studied photography at several Ansel Adams workshops and now lives in Pebble Beach.
"We looked for another process because information in the low zones was lost," says Dost. "In the digital realm more [information on the film] is usable because you''re not so limited with the photographic process. We''re able to maintain fidelity to the original transparency."
Working with a fine-grain, medium-format transparency film, Dost normally shoots her landscape and golf course images early in the morning or late in the afternoon to maximize color and detail.
"You need drama and separation in the lighting," says Dost, who will manipulate the film''s speed rating and development time to yield the maximum detail from her film. "When the light is overhead, it mutes out colors."
Once the film is processed, the selected image is scanned by a high resolution scanner at up to 11,000 dpi (dots per inch). A 400 megabyte computer file is then created and from which prints up to 34-by-45 inches can be made on just about any type of material, including metal, glass, leather or fabric.
Despite the use of computers, the Iris-Glice process is not as simplistic or automated as it might seem. It still requires the discerning eye of the artist to produce prints with good color saturation, color balance, and proper density.
"You cannot take the scan and simply print it," says Reade. "You have to look at the original transparency and match the color balance. The computer file is digitally calibrated to the actual color saturations of the transparency. The Iris-Gicle gives better color saturation [than a regular color print], and it''s the only way we''ve found to get the truest reproduction. It''s better than a photograph, and the key is the paper and inks," adds Reade. "We look at this as the next step in photography."
Working with fine-art watercolor paper and "proprietary" inks, Dost and Reade produce "photographs" that have all the vividness of silver-based prints, yet which possess the textural and painterly qualities of paintings. The Iris-Gicle process yields stunning images of wonderful luminosity and an otherworldy color and "realism," with foreground objects seeming to hover just above the surface plane of the image.
Despite the presumably automated nature of the Iris-Gicle process, there is some trial and error involved.
"You have to load the paper carefully, and it has to be taped down, checked and treated like you''re in the darkroom," says Reade, who adds that each print can take up to 45 minutes to make. "It is no more difficult to reproduce than working in a darkroom, but we do get a lot of rejects, more than we anticipated, but the final result is worth it."
According to Reade, the water-based inks in the Iris-Gicle prints are extremely fragile, but actually last longer than Cibachrome prints, the standard for color print longevity. Iris-Gicle prints can last 40 years without fading compared to about 30 years for Cibachrome.
Where Dost and Reade build upon essentially traditional photographic processes to create their images, Patrick Van Beuge and Christopher Light employ state-of-the-art digital and multi-media technologies to create astounding panorama images that the viewer can actually "walk" through to tour cities, homes, museums and scenic landscapes.
"It really gives the sensation of being there and it''s the perfect marriage of computers and technology," adds Van Beuge. "You''ll never get the sensation of actually being in a location, but it gets as close as any two-dimensional image. The panning ability gives depth."
One of RIM Tech''s more amazing demonstrations of its new technology allows viewers to enjoy a full 360-degree view of Carmel Beach and proceed to "walk" up the entire length of Ocean Avenue. By clicking on specific locations within the panorama, it is possible to browse shop windows, enter courtyards, or peruse art on the walls of local art galleries.
Despite the tremendous aesthetic possibilities of their process, Van Beuge and Light are emphasizing the commercial and technical aspects of their "virtual" panoramas.
"This is an emerging technology we thought would apply well to real estate, travel and tourism, or any organization trying to make a sales presentation showcase," explains Light.
Light and Van Beuge have photographed extensively on the Monterey Peninsula, having taken over 400 separate images. They have also photographed in Cancun and Korea, and recorded the entire Las Vegas strip on 52 panoramas.
What Light and Van Beuge have accomplished, and hope to expand upon, is to allow people to "visit" just about any locale from the comfort of their desk chair and computer screen. It is a true, "interactive" experience and revolutionary in the way photographic images are viewed and experienced.
Van Beuge and Light work with a specially designed, fixed-focus Nikon 35mm camera with an 18mm lens that is mounted beneath a parabolic mirror. A single, donut-shaped panorama image, approximately 114 degrees from top to bottom, is recorded on a single frame of film, which is the scanned and processed by four Macintosh computers, using Apple Quicktime Virtual Reality (QTVR) software to produce a single, flat panorama image that can be stored on CD or the Internet and viewed by anyone with a basic computer and Quicktime software.
Because of the unique design of the camera and mirror used to capture the panorama image, Light and Van Beuge can only shoot with available light, and must be careful to duck down below the mirror to avoid having themselves in the photograph.
Van Beuge and Light use Adobe Photoshop to balance lighting, color and to touch-up images, and will sometimes works with another panorama technique using a regular camera and wide-angle lens to produce a series of separate vertical images that are "stitched" together using Apple Quicktime software.
"Separate images give better resolution, but depending on the application Website, most people would see no real difference," says Light. "We''re the only company we know of that specializes in large projects, and part of our promotion is trying to turn our site into a premier travel reference site. Our goal is to map the world make available free on Internet to everybody." cw
Dost''s work can be seen in Carmel at Golf Arts and Imports on Dolores Street, or at the Wells Fargo Private Client Banking Center at the Crossroads. RIM Tech can be reached at 899-1839. RIM Tech''s Web site can be accessed at www.qtvrworld.com
Ansel Adams Gallery "Chip Hooper: Photographs." Black-and-white photographs that "capture and liberate the dynamic and subtle interplay of light and form in our natural world" by local photographer. RSVP for reception. The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17 Mile Dr., Pebble Beach. 375-7215. Through: 12/15.
Carmel Coffee Roasting Co. "For the Love of Dogs." A humorous study of dogs in paintings by Joanne Licsko. 3720 The Banyard, Carmel. 622-7070. Through: 11/30.
Center for Photographic Art "Juried Exhibition." Works by 39 photographers as chosen by juror Mark Petr. San Carlos Street and 8th Avenue (in the Sunset Center), Carmel. 625-5181. Through: 12/4.
Gallery Artemisia "Art of Big Sur." Meet watercolor artists Karuna Licht on 11/14, 10am-6pm, and Erlinda Montano Hiscock on 11/15. Village Shops, Hwy. 1, Big Sur. 667-2027.
Monterey College of Law An exhibit of photography and printmaking by Lesley Anne Spowart. 404 W. Franklin St, Monterey. 373-3301. Through: 12/30.
MPC Art Gallery "By Special Invitation." A variety of artwork, from photography to found-object sculptures, by Monterey County high school students. 980 Fremont St, Monterey. 646-3060. Reception: 11/17, 4:30pm. Through: 12/11.
Nancy Dodds Gallery "Internet Art." The premiere of art by Stephen McMillan, Gail Packer and Anita Toney on the gallery''s new Web site, www.beanbag1.com/NDG.html., Carmel. 624-0346.
Weston Gallery "Devotion." New works by local artist Jeffrey Becom. Lincoln and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-4453. Reception: 11/28, 4:30pm. Through: 12/23.
Zantman A collection of oil landscapes and charming animals by Richard Murray. Mission Street and 6th avenue, Carmel. 624-8314.
Carl Cherry Center "Shadows." Metaphysical and introspective paintings and drawings by Anita Benson exploring shadows and configurations in nature. 4th Avenue and Guadalupe Street, Carmel. 5pm. Through: 12/11.
Carmel Art Association Works by Eleen Auvil, Micah Curtis, Alicia Meheen and Peggy Olsen. Dolores Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 12/2.
Carmel Valley Manor "Mixed Media." Works by residents of Carmel Valley Manor. 8545 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley. 626-4711.
Monterey Museum of Art "Juried All-Media Show." Works in many media by 95 artists from around the Monterey Bay. "Art From the Collectors'' Guild," paintings from private collections. "The Broken Road," art and poetry by Big Sur children created during the ''97-''98 winter. 559 Pacific St., Monterey. 372-5477. Through: 11/29.
Mudzimu Gallery Sculptures by Gedion Nyanhongo, from Zimbabwe. 6th Avenue, between Lincoln and Dolores streets, Carmel. 626-2946. Through: 12/20.
Pacific Grove Art Center "Out of Residence," sculptural works by students of MPC instructor Gary Quinonez; sculptures by Doyle Foreman; "Mount Toro Suite," paintings by Johnny Apodaca. 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208. Through: 11/27.
Searle Art Supplies Paintings on wood, and monotypes by Robyn Smith. 639 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. 373-0126. Through: 12/2.
Spill Gallery Colorful, fun paintings by new Carmel artist Spill and her husband Jerome Fressinier. The Barnyard, Carmel. 626-4161.
Sun Quest Native Arts "To Life!" Sculptures, paintings and wearable bead art "celebrating the strength, beauty and sensuality of women" by Aweepano Viva David. Highway 1, Big Sur. 667-0224. Through: 11/15.
Thunderbird Bookstore "Annual Calligraphy Show." Seascribes, the Monterey Bay Calligraphy Guild, exhibits works by members. Barnyard Shopping Center, Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. 624-1803. Through: 11/15.
Unitarian Church Photography by Helene Constant, remnants of the Art and Soul Festival. Aguajito Road, Monterey. 624-7404. Through 11/22.
Valley Art Gallery "Jack''s Tribute to Art." Stasia Bevier presents a collection of watercolors by her late husband Jack Bevier. 218 Main St., Salinas. 422-4162. Through: 11/29.
Venture Art Gallery "Stone and Wood." Sculptures by Charley Abildgaard. 260 Alvarado Mall (in the DoubleTree Hotel), Monterey. 372-6279. Through: 11/30.
Vest Pocket Art Gallery "Hand-Crafted Creations." Crafts by Bobbie Marion and Barbara Radley. Forest Hill Manor, 551 Gibson Ave., Pacific Grove. 657-5200. Through: 11/30.
Woman''s Wellspring "Watercolor Monotypes." An exploration of "the visually meditative themes of dancers and webs" by Anne Downs. 575 Calle Principal, Monterey. 649-2320. Through: 11/30.
Evening of Durang Comedies Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Comedy. Students in the MPC drama department present five short Christopher Durang comedies for one low price, in an evening that''ll keep you laughing (darkly). Durang has had plays both on- and off-Broadway, and is perhaps best known for Sister Mary Ignacius Explains It All To You, in which he blasts the Catholic church, and Beyond Therapy, his diatribe against pop psychology and the "me-first" generation. Tonight''s offerings include Diversions, The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of Where Babies Come From, Dentity Crisis, Phyllis and Xenobia and the best-known of the bunch, The Actor''s Nightmare. No holds barred in this production. SRO Theater at Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont St., Monterey. 646-4213. $7/general; $7/children; $7/seniors. Through: 11/22.
Blithe Spirit Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7pm. Comedy. Noel Coward''s macabre comedy about a hapless British gentleman haunted by the spirit of his dead wife Elvira, who died in a mysterious car crash. Elvira is a mischievous spirit, who delights in taunting her husband''s new wife and their friends, knowing that only her husband can see her. The dialogue is fast-paced and literate, Coward at his delightfully witty best. Carey Crockett, Susan Forrest and Jennifer Lister are featured as the not-always-romantic trio. Unicorn Theater, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. 649-0259. $15/general; $8/children; $12/seniors. Through: 11/22.
Puff the Magic Dragon Saturday, 2pm and 4pm; Sunday, 3pm. Children. Molly Hughes of Seattle''s Mother Goose Theater penned this musical based on the story of the little boy who befriends a lonely dragon--the friendship lasts until the boy grows up and no longer needs his fantasy playmate. Directed by Jody Gilmore, actors Sonny Jenkins, Ben White and John Van Hise IV bring the story to life in a production geared to the interests and attention span of young children. Unicorn Theater, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. 649-0259. $5/general; $5/children; $5/seniors. Through: 11/22.
Singin'' in the Rain Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Musical Comedy. Based on the popular 1952 Gene Kelly movie, this Broadway play pokes gentle fun at the foibles of Hollywood in its heyday. Greg Gjurich plays clean-cut screen idol Don Lockwood, who feigns undying love for his leading lady Lina Lamont (played by Greg''s real life wife, Mary Gjurich), so long as the cameras are rolling. Director Jon Selover has enlisted the help of Matrix Communications, a local multi-media consultancy, to produce four film sequences that are projected during the performance, creating the illusion of old Hollywood films on stage. Robert Basgall, a host of "The KCBA Kid''s Club," plays Lockwood''s clownish sidekick Cosmo Brown, and Jennifer Fagundes plays Kathy Selden, the Hollywood rose who wins Lockwood''s heart. The Western Stage Performing Arts Center, Hartnell College, 156 Homestead Ave., Salinas. 375-2111/755-6816. $20/general; $10/children; $18/seniors. Through: 11/22.
The Circle Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 5pm. Comedy. Nick Hovick directs the Staff Players in this 1920s-era Somerset Maugham drawing room comedy. Indoor Forest Theater, Santa Rita and Mountain View, Carmel. 624-1531. $12/general; $9/children; $9/seniors. Through: 11/29.
The Idiot Witness Friday and Saturday, 8pm. Melodrama. The Idiot Witness, another in the First Theater''s wide repertory of 19th-century melodramas, centers around the mysterious identity of the Solitary of the Heath. Why does he keep a secret prisoner? Why does he want to get rid of his "adopted" son? Boo, hiss and cheer the maidens and villains in California''s oldest continually running theater. California''s First Theater, Scott and Pacific streets, Monterey. 375-4916. $10/general; $5/children; $8/seniors. Through: 11/28.
The Barber of Seville Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Opera. Sid Cato directs the Monterey Opera Association in Rossini''s comic opera, which they will sing in English. Barber of Seville tells of the travails of a hapless young lovesick count who enlists the help of the unscrupulous barber Figaro to spirit away his beloved Rosina from her lecherous guardian. This is a very, very funny opera, filled with pranks and musical genius, accessible even to the most die-hard anti-opera grumbler. The show features local and professional performers, including former Peninsula resident Marcus Nance, who now lives in Toronto and sings for the Chicago, Santa Fe and Gilmmerglass operas. Stephen Tosh is musical director. Golden Bough Playhouse, Monte Verde between 8th and 9th streets, Carmel. 372-2721. $25/general; $25/children; $25/seniors. Through: 11/15.