#37. A Bargeme pilgrimage in the footstepts of Michael Kenna

By pascaljappy | News

Sep 09

Solitary tree in Bargeme

As described in Camping in Red and Green, I spent last week-end hiking in Provence, to a beautiful little village called Bargeme that Michael Kenna has been photograpphing for some years and where a retrospective exhibition is being held. Michael Kenna happens to be one of my favourite photographers of all times. I can’t think of many other artists who isolate iconic subjects in ethereal lights as incredibly well, to reveal the essence of a place or a moment so beautifully. His portfolios are like a Tarot or a Herbrand Base of visual symbolism. So the week-end hike took on the feel of a spiritual pilgrimage.

As we walked along the foothills of the Alps, I tried to snap a few scenes that could serve as printing practise. I wanted to try an emulate the look of some of the B&W master, recreate an impression of their tonal distributions just as painters of all generations have copied previous masters to perfect their own craft. Three of my personal favourites are Ansel Adams (no surprise here, I guess ;)), Bruce Barnbaum and Michael Kenna. So below are a few pictures trying to recreate the ambiences found in their pictures.

Bargeme foothills in the storm
This is a view from Bargeme overlooking the surrounding hills in a brewing storm, reproduced as I image Master Kenna would have. I don’t find this as successful as the tree above, but it’s the best I could do. I will return to this image later.

Below is a pair of trees found in the scrubby forests that cover the valleys. The first interpretation is meant to resemble Bruce Barnbaum’s forest images. The second is my attempt at an Ansel Adams look, but the light was very grey and flat and the final picture was either too dull or too contrasty, as it is here.

Bargeme Forest interpreted by Bruce Barnbaum

Bargeme Forest inter^reted by Ansel Adams

Finally, another Ansel Adams pretend print, this time of a slab of stone.

Rock formation in Bargeme trying to imitate Ansel Adams

I guess I could have done the same in seconds using powerful plugin software such as Sliver Efex – tehre may actually be existing presets for this – but the effort involved in the manual process probably teaches me a lot more. I hope πŸ˜‰

Just for fun, here’s a colour picture of a detail of the same stone formation. This one begs the question When is too much?. I went overboard here, but photography is not meant to be realistic after all! The colours are true, I simply manipulated the luminance layer to make them stronger. Arte Wolfe anyone? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

Moss on rocks in Bargeme, pictured in bold colour.

The Michael Kenna exhibition itself was well worth the 15 mile, 7 hour return walk.I was surprised at how small the prints are, but so absolutely lovely. Christmas is coming soon, nudge nudge … Below are two pictures of the gallery. I hope no one will take offense with me taking pictures inside. Michael Kenna’s photographs are on his website and the exhibition website and the picture below are only to give a sense of scale and of general feeling.

Three prints from the Michael Kenna exhbition, Bargeme

The staircase in the exhibition

As parting images, a couple from the drive back home, to show you the weather conditions over the week-end. Photography certainly takes dedication πŸ˜‰

The storm on the way back

The storm finally unleashes a downpoor
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