Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dumpster Diving

Moab Photo symposium was great fun.  I had a chance to study a bit with (among others) Guy Tal.  Guy is a quiet man with a rather dry sense of humor.  About reprocessing older and sometimes forgotten images languishing on our hard drives, he said that he loves to dumpster dive.

I’ve been meaning to do just that for some time, and now that he’s glamorized the process for me, I’ve got a few oldies to share.

But first I’ll say that this exercise has taught me that I’ve improved.  I casually mined images from 2010 and found that each one of them could have been better based on the way I work now.  Some were not salvageable, and many required a significant crop as a starting point.  I hope that means that I’ve learned to simplify and emphasize what’s important.
Here are some examples.  I’ll make myself vulnerable and show you before images as well.  Be gentle if you’re able.

This shepherd with his churro sheep modeled for us during an Arizona Highways Photo Workshops trip to Monument Valley with LeRoy DeJolie.  I’m a bit of a nut about Navajo weavings, so I loved the opportunity to photograph the sheep; the beginning of the supply chain.  The new version is long on dead space and I love its drama.

This modification is really just a crop and some color management.  To me it conveys the feel of Antigua Guatemala in a better, if less literal, sense.  The thrill of rainy-season travel there is reflective puddles in the cobblestones.

My helicopter pilot friend Maria Langer has since moved to Central Washington.  Here we were flying over Lake Powell with Gary Ladd, the photographic expert on the region.  Just after we landed, I told Gary that this was my favorite shot of the afternoon.  Somehow I didn’t love it when I was downloading, but I like it again now, six years later.

Watson Lake.  I keep going back both for the grand landscapes and for the details like this.  This is another good example of how color can distract from the story.  At the Symposium, Bruce Hucko said (I’m paraphrasing) that black and white opens up a new emotive way of sensing and connects us to our photographic roots.

Finally, this little gem didn’t change much, but I love it all over again.  It too, comes from Antigua Guatemala.  Somebody had a little window box of plants that called my name.  Colleen Miniuk-Sperry talks about her “three second rule,” which requires that she photograph anything that makes her stop and look for at least three seconds.  This was one of those.

Photographers, I encourage you to undertake this little project.  As for the rest of you, thanks for coming along on my little nostalgia trip.

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