Blue Melange

Blue Melange

20×24 prints are $2,000
30×40 prints are $4,000

In the fall of 2009, Ruth and I went on another photo trip across the USA. Eventually we found ourselves in Maine at Arcadia National Park. We spent the entire day at the park, searching for a worthwhile image. While the park is quite beautiful, I wasn’t seeing anything that was coming together to make a strong photograph.

We eventually worked our way down to the far southeast edge of Mt. Desert Island where the land meets the sea. Working my way down the craggy, rocky edge I explored the pools of water that were exposed at low tide. I found this scene that I studied for a few minutes before deciding that it did have a lot of potential.

Making my way back up the cliff, Ruth and I brought down the 8x10” camera gear and I set up the shot, using a Schneider 305mm G-Clarion lens which was highly corrected for close up photography. Because the image was to be reproduced on the film at about 35% life size, I had to add a bellows extension factor when computing the exposure before I made the one exposure that you see reproduced here.

The film languished in my darkroom for 10 years before I ventured to see what kind of print I could make of it. The image requires very precise contrast and tone reproduction through contrast masking and extremely accurate color balance in the enlarger. There are important opposite colors in the image, with the wide range of blue and cyan colors in the water and the yellows, browns and bronze tones of the seaweed plants. There is no way I could properly print this image without the 0. 1CC color control that I have with my Durst HL 2501 enlarger.

The image is quite striking, especially in the larger sizes. While the photograph is accurate in its reproduction of the details of the original scene, there’s also a strikingly abstract quality to the exhibition quality prints. This comes from two contrasting qualities: the extremely delicate pastel colors of the seaweed under the water versus the ruggedness of the seaweed above the water, their edges dramatized by the water’s meniscus brightening the reflections of the sky.

This is an image that continually satisfies me as I look into it and marvel at its beauty and complexity. Subtle and bold, hot and cold, it’s an image I never get tired of and always see more in it each time I come back and gaze into its depths.

Format: Large (horizontal)
Location: Maine
Reference key: bml