Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Project 66 #7: Gehry Faux-slot Canyon

As a photographer I have long aspired to photograph the slot canyons of the American Southwest. These narrow canyons are geological lacerations slashed into the scorched skin of the earth by the relentless assault of wind and water over eons. The resultant twisting ribbons through the sandstone and limestone strata can be over 100 feet deep and in places only a few feet wide.  In some places the walls have been worn smooth while in others wavy ridges produce a fluidity that seems to defy their solidity. They do not open widely to the sky these corkscrewing cracks.  Sunlight only briefly penetrates the narrow crevices as the sun sweeps overhead, creating moving shafts of light that illuminate the walls’ rich palettes of reds, oranges, golds, lavenders and black in a rhythmic light show complimenting the sinuous undulations of the sculpted canyon walls. The shapes, turns, textures, tones and colors of the rugose canyons make them greatly prized photography destinations.

While a field trip to the slot canyons remains a “To Do” entry on my photography bucket list I recently had a photographic experience that, surprisingly, put me in mind of a walk through one, and a grand one at that. That surrogate experiences might exist is perhaps not surprising, but the source of this one surprised me.  It was neither a natural landscape feature nor was it located in an arid, desolate environment.  My ‘slot canyon’ experience happened in Seattle while exploring architect Frank Gehry’s phenomenon known as the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP; formerly the EMP Museum).

Gehry’s characteristic futuristic design is a fusion of four individually colored metal-clad units, each with distinct undulating facades.  According to MoPOP’S website: 

"A fusion of textures and myriad colors, MoPOP's exterior conveys all the energy and fluidity of music.  Three-thousand panels, made up of 21 thousand individually cut and shaped stainless steel and painted aluminum shingles, encase the outside of the building.  Their individual finishes respond to different light conditions and appear to change when viewed from different angles, reminding audiences that music and culture is constantly evolving."

Standing in a copper-colored "faux-slot" created by an entryway at the confluence of two of the structural units while the sun popped in and out from behind passing clouds I was reminded less of the fluidity of music and culture and more of the fluidity, undulations and color changes typical of nature's slot canyons. 

Whether by the architect’s design or by a healthy dose of imagination on my part, these copper-clad walls provided a surrogate experience sufficient to tide me over pending my much-anticipated exploration of the real deal.

'In some places the walls have been worn smooth...'

'while in others wavy ridges produce a fluidity that seems to
defy their solidity.'

'They do not open widely to the sky these
corkscrewing cracks.'

'Sunlight only briefly penetrates the narrow
crevices as the sun sweeps overhead,...'

'creating moving shafts of light that illuminate
the walls' rich palettes of reds, oranges, golds,
lavenders and black...'

'in a rhythmic light show complimenting the
sinuous undulations of the sculpted canyon

Monday, November 7, 2016

11th Annual Black and White Spider Awards Winners Announcement



LOS ANGELES 10/05/2016 - Amateur photographer Tim Mulcahy of the United States was presented with the 11th Annual Black and White Spider Awards Third Place Honor of Distinction Award in the category of Architecture at a prestigious Nomination & Winners PhotoShow webcast Saturday, November 5, 2016.

The live online gala was attended by over 10,500 photography fans around the globe who logged on to watch the climax of the industry's most important event for black and white photography.

11th Annual Jury members included captains of the industry from National Geographic, Washington DC; The Armory Show, New York; TBWA, Paris; Victoria Film Festival, Canada; Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels; Studio Hansa, London; Fratelli Alinari, Florence; Australian Centre for Photography; Young & Rubicam, Lima; and Anthem Worldwide/Marque Branding, Sydney who honored Spider Fellows with 627 coveted title awards in 31 categories.

"It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 7,556 entries we received this year," said Basil O'Brien, the awards Creative Director. "Tim Mulcahy's "Surveillance," an exceptional image entered in the Architecture category, represents black and white photography at its finest, and we're pleased to present him with the title of Third Place Honor of Distinction." Jury member Paola Anselmi, interdisciplinary curator and arts writer in Australia added, "As always it was a real treat to be part of the program. Congratulations to all involved and to all the remarkable photographers who gift us new insights into the world and ourselves." "A truly amazing set of entries, so many deserving winners," added Marcel Wijnen, Creative Director at Anthem Worldwide.

Tim Mulcahy was also awarded Honorable Mention recognition in the Architecture category for his image "Curvaceous".  

BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in black and white photography. www.thespiderawards.com

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Project 66 #6: The Path of the Salmon

In the autumn of each year millions of salmon, driven by unquenchable instinct and guided by a mysteriously accurate homing mechanism, return to the stream of their own birth in order to spawn.  Thousands and thousands home in on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, many seeking spawning sites miles inland in the headwaters of the Sol Duc River running through the heart of Olympic National Park.  The Accessibility of the Sol Duc River provides a unique opportunity for park visitors to experience some of the strenuous challenges encountered by the fish during their epic annual migration.

The Path of the Salmon

At the beginning of the ambitious trek the rocky earth pitches gently upward and the going is relatively easy.  The water is swift but deep.  Rocks and rocky ledges provide respite for tired muscles readying themselves for the more vigorous path upstream.

Upstream is now progressively uphill.  The water is skinny and rushes past rocks jutting above the surface, looking like the peaks of the Olympic Range breaking through the low cloud cover overhead.  The going is progressively strenuous with fewer and fewer resting places available to recharge tired and aching muscles.  Yet the urge to reach the final destination burns even stronger than the lactic acid accumulating in every muscle bundle.

The next major hurdles – the Sol Duc Cascades - come all too soon.  Progress upstream now requires battling a series of abrupt elevation changes over rocky ledges and around boulders surrounded by the swiftest water yet.  Precarious refuge can be found among the rocks but the successful climb requires continuous forward progress.  Heart rate and other physiological measures of strenuous exertion are on the rise.

The conquest of the cascades leaves little time for rest or celebration.  Continued progress upstream is long and strenuous.  The rocks are more and more frequent and the water more and more rapid.  The drive to arrive at the ultimate destination is still strong but now the physical toll becomes a growing deterrent of significant consequence.

Further ahead the once flat river channel is now a steep gorge.  Rocky, fern-covered walls tower above the raging river below.  The going is harder and harder as the climb to the final destination continues, becoming more vertical at every turn.  

With energy nearly spent and the drive to continue waning, the sound of the pounding falls just ahead re-ignites enthusiasm – as well as optimism that the journey will end soon and successfully.  Just a little further!  It’s doable!

Finally!  The end is in sight - the powerful, the impassable Sol Duc Falls.  One cannot go any further.  For the first time since the beginning of this strenuous trek it is possible to stop to refresh the body - as well as the soul.  The rapid pulse of exertion is replaced by the increased heart beat of exhilaration. A sense of accomplishment sets in.

So ends the description of my strenuous ascent to the Falls along the rocks and trails of the Sol Duc River.  I can't imagine what the salmon must endure getting here fighting their way through the turbulent water.

Salmon seek this spot to spawn, to renew their species.  I sought this spot to renew my spirit.  As I stood on the bridge overlooking the falls - trying to catch my breath - I was one with the salmon.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Project 66: Series #5 - Sentinels

Tim Mulcahy Photography
October 6, 2016

by Tim Mulcahy

grave sentinels stand
noble or humble alike
perpetual vigil

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Project 66: Series #4 - Artistic License

Artistic License

Project 66 Series #4
Tim Mulcahy Photography
September 6, 2016

Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC

By its very nature photography typically requires an existing “subject” - a landscape, a person, a flower, a building or a whatever - as the starting point for image creation.  This reliance on an existing subject poses a serious challenge in the creation of unique, creative images that transcend the innate objectivity of the photographic process, thereby distinguishing them from the glut of "pictures" out there in the ever-expanding photoverse.  To succeed, the creative photographer should use the object or objects before the lens as the substrates for, rather than the subjects of, the creative process.  They are the raw material and not themselves the final artifact.  The ultimate objective of each photographer should be the use of this raw material in the creation of compelling photographs bearing their unique visual signature.

In my case, photography’s default objectivity poses an additional challenge.  The raw material for my own work often includes the creative works of others, particularly architecture and sculpture.  Believing that in such cases images that are too objective or too faithful in their reproduction represent a form of visual plagiarism, I am sensitive to a need to creatively differentiate the images I create from the original subjects. I aspire to create unique, visually-interesting compositions that put a premium on visual elements that I value, for example the relationships between geometric shapes and the light and shadows that accent them.  For me creative vision is a self-imposed, honorary royalty payment to the original artists, a mandatory artistic licensing-fee that only when paid justifies the use of their art in the creation of my own.

Project 66 Series #4 provides a classic case in point.  For each of the six images included in the series I have attempted to put my creative signature on works of art – the architecture of the Hirshhorn Museum of Art in Washington, DC and select items in its collection.

I hope I have succeeded in paying just royalties.

The Inner Circle

Number 9. Number 9. Number 9.

The Templar's Gate

Awaiting the Arousal of the Sleeping Muse

Reflections of Thomas Struth's "Pergamon Museum I" on the exhibit case
displaying Constantin Brancusi's "Sleeping Muse".

Ribbon of Light and Shadow

Interpretation of Sergio Camargo's "Column".