Review: PSA-MAC at WSP: A Show I Didn't Think I'd Liked But Ended Up Loving.
"Blending in Nature" - A Show by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Photographers Society of America at the Washington School of Photography in March
I drove over to Rockville to The Washington School of Photography (which for some reason is in Maryland) in order to review a show that turned out to have closed the day before - my mistake. I was disconsolate and when the very nice person told me that the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of PSA was installing a show at that moment and would I like to see it, I almost said no and left. But I didn't and I'm glad.
I am generally pretty disinterested in nature photography - actually, tending towards the uninterested. Nature generally just sits there and let's people sit around and wait until the conditions are right and then, when they take the picture, it's another duck or heron or flower or beach. And that's what I expected to see, perfectly done images of the same old stuff.
The Photographic Society of America has the reputation for traditional and beautifully executed work in their exhibitions so I thought, as long as I'd driven over, I'll take a look.
Well, what a shock.
The show was about 95% in place and I didn't want to get in their way but I wandered around looking at the 25 or so prints that were up and, to be honest, was just in awe.
Yes, there were the very occasional minor cavils about artistic choice in processing or a minor error in printing but, for the most part, each picture was perfectly done - a mirror into the artist's reality, unhampered by any errors in execution.
If you've ever had a meal where the tastes were so perfect that the memory of that meal remains as a signal moment, well, that was my response to this show.
Even as I drove away I was thinking about going back.
The downside of this show is that, for me as a reviewer, it sets a high standard that other shows will find very hard to come close to; it breaks the curve.
Because of the space and time crunch to get this review out, only three of the images were available for me to show. Believe me when I say that the rest of the show is as good as these.
Right inside the door of the gallery is this image above by Tam Le, "Loving Blue Heron." Tam Le's "love of photography lead him to an early retirement in late 2010, and devote his time in photography as freelance photographer. By the end of 2013 Tam had earned over 1100 recognitions in international competition"
I've seen, if not hundreds, then certainly many tens of pictures of Blue Herons before. What struck me about this particular picture, in addition to the perfection of the composition and color and the delicacy of line was that the maker has captured that single instant that in one more fraction of time would be gone. Thus it has a uncommon tension within the calmness of the scene. This is romantic beyond real and the story is complete in the frame.
(Originally I inserted a smaller picture here but I went back and substituted a larger one just to try to do this shot justice.)
The other picture I'm able to show is "Snowy Owl" by Ha Tran. There is no hand-waving artist's conception of what her work is supposed to mean.
This is just plain beauty and wonder and color and line all caught perfectly. The absolute crowning touch of this image is is is not just a bird-in-flight photo; it is a bird caught at that one instant as it launches, still touching the branch and yet also in the air. That same feeling of a split second caught and preserved.
The last picture, seen below, is by My Phuong Nguyen. My Phuong Nguyen "began studying to be a fine art photographer when she bought her first camera in 2002. She devotes her time to her passion for photography and is constantly striving to capture many more of her award-winning images." She has several images in this show and, while this was my favorite, the others show the same gorgeous composition, sense of color and fineness of detail.
While this image might seem a tiny bit over-saturated or contrasty in this web image, when this image is printed on a soft textured paper, the result is just jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
I am headed back today to see this show again, not to check my impressions, but just to see the all the pictures in place on the wall and take the time to look more intently at each one (and of course the free wine and cheese at the reception).
This show has turned my mind around in regards nature shots. If they can be this good, I'll go to every show I can find.
Ha Tran - http://www.photobugs.net/hatran/
My Phuong Nguyen - http://myphuong.smugmug.com/
A word about the venue - Lovely light building, well lit and capacious gallery, parking in the rear, all in all a delight to visit. The walls are lined with interesting work of all genres by WSP staff and graduates.
The Washington School of Photography was founded in 1976, to bring professional photographic education to the Washington, DC/Baltimore metro area. Starting in just two rooms, the workshops and classes quickly grew. WSP's state-of-the-art facility features a black-and-white darkroom; a dedicated digital teaching area; and a professional shooting studio.
12276 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville MD 20852 , 301-654-1998
A Show by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Photographers Society of America at the Washington School of Photography through March, 2014
Keywords: ., Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Photographers Society of America, blue heron, ha tran, heron, nature photography, photography, photography, review, tam le, washington school of photography
I loved the show also.
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