143 thoughts on “tom hyde – rainbow, tumbleweed”

  1. Well, at least Jim didn’t like them, so that’s a start; Young Tom. They seem to capture a sense of place; or perhaps your vision of that place. Great colour / color. I’d like to know more about your technique Tom: your mix of still and motion. No link to a website Tom; I would like to see more. I like them both.

    I can see this work being used as illustration for an editorial. Also poster and fine Art.



  2. http://hydeimages.com/blog/

    yep – i like them both.. mainly because it is unusual to see landscapes which have an energy of movement about them.. i particularly like the tumble weed.. at first it looks like some kind of zoom-pulling in camera effect, although i think it is just slow shutter following the tumble weed going past..
    love the shack in the background.. feeds my idea of the amercan

    the words are okay for me.. lending explanation.. although i do not like the typeface..
    now.. that’s fussy.

    good one tom.. like them

  3. pet•ri•fi•ca•tion (-f-kshn)


    1. A process of fossilization in which organic matter is replaced with non organic matter.

    2. The state of being stunned or paralyzed with fear.

    Interesting these two definitions, both take a living, possibly learning existence and immobilises it; possibly forever. Don’t be a dinosaur, roll with it ;-)

    These are my favourite types of promotions on Burn, maybe not my favourite photographs, but always my favourite messages.

  4. young tom–

    i love the tumbleweed shot – it sucks me right into its vortex.
    (was it made here in WA?)
    and i really love your moody, somewhat apocalyptic style.
    do you really chase them? the tumbleweeds?
    now THAT’S a photo i’d pay to see. ;)

    hope you’re well, dear,


  5. DAH,

    You keep pulling it off on this place…

    I’m mostly looking at the pictures… Not reading texts or comments too much… Burn works well like that as well..

  6. Odd panoramic pinhole vibe.
    If the weed vortex ripple effect blur thing was not there i could probably go for this. Maybe.
    even with the tilted tilt, and the blurred blur, and the colored color. It makes for kinda pretty shapes and patterns. And the light IS nice. But….

    black sky rainbow shattered forest apocalypse Im not sure about. Maybe in front of a REALLY big print I might. Small and lonely here on the web I cant get in.

  7. Love em!

    i don’t get much time for reading & writing on-line…

    but i do stop by when i can, look at images, see what’s going on.

    i’m enjoying what’s happening here on Burn, it’s great to see how ‘road trip’ has evolved.
    just wish i could clone myself and sit here all day and join in…

    young tom,

    had to drop a quick line on these two, so much EMOTION.

    Love the way that rainbow strikes the ground…

    thanks young tom and thanks dah

  8. love the pics (and NO, not because they’re kinetic or blurry). especially, LOVE the rolling tumbleweed and the lone, shorn building, for a number a reasons. when i first looked at the pic, my reaction was “what the fuck, a PS rotation/gaussian/spin blur” and then i realized that it wasn’t PS but the movement…Tom (i imagine) is running (a pan) shooting the tumbleweed and, god damn, he got it to hit target with this ghostly god-building-barn in the background…more over, the foreground (lower right) has a wicket dark shadow as if, through black magic, the building in the background has somehow cast a shadow of itself into the foreground…and all those dancing black figures around it…and that the spin and hurl of the sky matches the spin and wheel of the tumble weed…and the movement of the color from vermillion to navy blue to ochre to burnt sienna, all fractured through the light…i mean, it’s a wicked wicket photograph :))))….though i dont love the 2nd (rainbow) as much as tumbleweed pic, it still wonderful (the rainbow igniting the land) and matches pretty seemlessly with the top pics: the fever of land and nature….dig both for sure…

    Now, a bit about the poems and the presentation here….

    as a writer and as a photographer who writes with his pictures, i totally see the idea of words with pictures, my only suggestion for tom would be NOT to literalize. that is: both poems (i really really like the rainbow poem) are too ‘literal’ of the pics….as a writer, i never like this: i like language that augments pictures rather than descripes pictures, that act as collision or tension or a different river: the two-headed river, both running parallel and entwined. i love the idea of a book with poems and pics, but here, together, they seem too much to be linked to the pictures: make sense? In other words, for example, use these 2 poems, but do not attach them to the 2 pics, the tension becomes entirely different…make sense?…also, i always hated writing/poems next to photographs: i like them separate: Photo page, poem page, photo page, poem page, etc…so each stands alone and we (or at least eye) get the echo of both when im looking/reading the other…here, they both compete and explain each other…make sense??….and lastly, I WANT TO SEE PICTURES BIG!!!!…:)))

    for me, i want pictures that i cant bite, touch, swim in…here, too small… i’ll take one of the poems as the Text, and give me a BIGGER picture to dream upon….make sense??….

    i want to see that first picture LARGE…not small…

    and i’d love to see more of the writing tom….send them to me, when you have time :))))


  9. i love this stuff. this is awesome. its personal… i cannot wait to see more. this is so great! tom will there be more of this? is this part of a series? i really do enjoy this work. its very good. funny how i live in the same sort of setting and i see things so differently here… i LOVE it!

  10. I agree with Stelios. Beautiful…ethereal…art made from what you see. The blog is great. Thanks for sharing what you see, Tom, and for the unique way in which your eyes ingest a subject and roll it over consciousness; your interpretation of what you see and experience is very unique, and I love it. I feel like the work is very personal…engaging.

  11. Tom,

    Nice to see some of your work up on Burn. Certainly captures the mood of time and place… winter to early spring in Washington. I can smell it, I can feel it. If as some suggest this is the kernel of a longer series done in consistent fashion, that would be impressive. But maybe just these two are enough to suggest what is possible, and then the restless spirit moves on (like the tumbling tumbleweeds) to other fields?? I never saw tumbleweed west of the Cascades, so I assume this shot is in central or eastern Washington, while the rainbow shot screams western Washington. I was always fond of tumbleweed myself… while living in Japan I played banjo and guitar in a country-western band called the “Fumbling Stumbleweeds” and you can probably guess what our signature tune might have been. Over the last four decades I’ve noticed less and less tumbleweed as the Columbia Basin has become ever more settled, fenced in, paved, gentrified, and agri-business managed… nice to see some is still there.

    At first I wasn’t crazy about all that white space around the pictures… I am no fan of white mattes or wide white borders… but I realize many people like to mount their pictures this way, and after looking at yours for about ten minutes my initial reaction was somewhat mollified. To David Bowen I can only ask, if you don’t like this typeface, what would be better?

    Tom, I hope to see you soon!


  12. My first thought after the exciting razzle dazzle moment of color and motion was that I wanted to see these in real size..huge, wrap around the room so i could step into their spaces ..then I realized that I wanted to see what you saw, to be there myself..which is probably the exact reason that photography appealed to me when I was young..certain photographers / photos have the ability to create a response in the viewer to LIVE!

  13. panos skoulidas

    loves it
    sexy ( weed )
    nothing “pretentious” about it Jim!!????????!!

    ( damn… i think i started writing like Wendy today…:)))))))))))))

  14. panos skoulidas

    Jim Powers
    March 18, 2009 at 10:04 am
    At least heavily photoshopped.


  15. jim.
    you have so many boxes to put things into.. what about photoshoped work where it’s difficult to see if it is actually composite or not?
    is it a ‘photo’ if you are unable to recognise the photoshop process?

    tooooo many rules in your mind..

  16. What always concerns me is using words with common meaning without explaining that you’ve changed the meaning. Hold up a perfect composite and tell most folks that it’s a photo and they are going to think it was taken in one shot in a camera and evaluate it that way. Heavily photoshopped or composited images are not photographs.

  17. Panos


    So, for exmaple,: I can’t tell if he played around, liked the result, or had something to say from the beginning and worked to express it. Why is the sky ink blue on one side of the rainbow, and not on the other side? Forgot to burn it? meant it?

    …. Off for a few days ($$). Not, not in aboy bordello! ;-)

  18. panos skoulidas

    Even if you dont use photoshop ( you are using some kind of editing program right? )..
    it could be iphoto or iHoto or iLotto… or Microsoft kitchen 7.0…
    or something right?
    Even if you dont have an automatic dslr you have a film one right?
    Even if you dent the virtual ( darkroom which today is photoshop ) you use a “dark room” right?
    You manipulate chemicals , right?
    you dodge and burn right?
    you use your little fingers to play with the light , right?
    What is your problem with a “modern” way to manipulate … too INTIMIDATING..RIGHT???????
    well my friend stop being a lier…
    JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO OLD TO USE photoshop and you are missing your old ways,
    doesnt mean its thaT different my friend…
    When you use your old manual camera… you close or open the aperture..
    you overexpose & underexpose regularly…
    PHOTOGRAPHY ( in greek ) means writing with the light…play…manipulate so to give us your “vision”..
    I know you said numerous times that YOU in particular have no VISION…
    BUT LET tom and me and others to have a vision… Allow us please…
    You can leave your camera on a tripod and shoot… We do not like that…
    YOU are intimidated by that new “PENCIL” OR “PEN” that is called photoshop or aperture pr Lightroom…
    just because YOU CANT DRIVE A CAR… driving is “wrong”..
    just because your “liver” is yellow… drinking is “wrong”..
    just because “viagra” doesnt do the trick then sex is “wrong”????????
    You have been revealed Jim… You are the definition of you cant teach an old dog new tricks..
    You are that OLD DOG Jim…
    you want to play with all those “HARD WORKERS” over here but you are the LAZIEST old guy i have ever met…
    And you were also OLD even when you were 20 years old…
    Nothing wrong with a teenager that suffers from dementia and uncured LAZINESS…
    THATS why your work is blunt and boring….
    Because you are all about LAZINESS… ZOOM OUT AND CRAWL AWAY…jim…
    Im tired “bailing you out” over here man…
    its disrespect for the hard workers…
    keep being lazy, but STOP PROMOTING IT…ENOUGH…

  19. panos skoulidas

    did you like the picture, OR NOT man…
    thats all it counts… yes or no????????/
    Would you like the photo “more”… if it was no photoshop?
    get a grip…god damn it!

  20. panos, I’ve been using Photoshop since version 1.0. I have no problem with Photoshop. I have a problem, though, with calling images “created” in photoshop “photos.”

  21. I see these as a book of postcard-sized images with your original poems on each. The theme would be “place” and that would be where you live. The presentation works for me, including the font and large white borders around the image/words. You are a poet in word & image, Tom, and here you’re blending the two. I encourage you to keep at it.


  22. Microsoft kitchen sounds like a nightmare…

    I find the above pictures quite alright.

    and I am a 100% film shooter.

    but then again what do I know? I am not a photographer.

  23. Beautiful beautiful photographs. I only wish I could see them bigger, much much bigger. Personally the poetry doesn’t do much for me – the photos are such poetry themselves. They make me wish I was in them (esp right now in gloomy Seattle), bring out the child in me.

    Photoshopped? Isn’t just about every photo one sees these days photoshopped in one way or another, whether taken with film or digital? That’s like looking at the work of Walker Evans or Cartier Bresson or Salgado or Eugene Smith and ad naseum and saying “Looks like it’s been ‘darkroomed’ to me. That won’t do….” What a piece of work….

  24. panos skoulidas

    yes….. CHARLES……….
    Imagine “Experts” like myself and Jim sitting down,
    talking like that…
    ohhhhh..fuck salgado….”too darkroomed” for me…
    ohhhhhh… Hey Bresson.. dont you think you used a little extra rodinol this time motherfucker…
    or calling DAH… hey cheater… how did you get that black ??? You “pushed” your fucking Tri-X again?????????????????///

  25. JOE…

    i have not received a selectively colored image here…but, if i did , i certainly would “go so far” as to publish…or at least would not exclude because of the technique…when you visit my home you will see that i truly appreciate all types of photography for all kinds of reasons…

    wishing we meet in late June in London…will have details for you soonest…

    cheers, david

  26. This is beautiful, Tom. Beautiful. You have 2 rainbows in there.
    First one kills. Second one nails the coffin.

  27. Always been a fan of your work as you know Tom. Love the first image. Great movement and mood. We never did sort out that print exchange did we!!

    As for the Photoshop (JIM) My guess is that Tom has just underexposed these shots and then pulled out the highlights and mids during toning. If this is the case I wouldn’t really deem this “photoshopping,” people have been doing that shit since the early darkroom days… Could be wrong though, could be wrong…

  28. hmmm… i’m getting reallllly good at eating my shoe these days David :-(

    BTW, i’m really looking forward to the London meet-up, i have already starting keeping that period of time clear for some flexibility of travel.

  29. Jim Powers,
    “I have a problem, though, with calling images “created” in photoshop “photos.””
    Adjusting saturation, tone curve, and adding some vignetting is a sin in your book? all images on your site have that except vignettes.

    How wide your lens opens, Jim?

    Where is bob?

  30. London. June. Most excellent. I’m 40 in June so let’s have a few jars people.

    DAH, I’ll have a little gem of a project to show you then. I’ll be ready for your critique. Is the Magnum AGM in London this year?

    Now that spring has finally sprung here and it’s all so lovely and smelly with those most elegant of trees, the cherry blossoms, and the lengthening evenings, I plan to get out and mingle much more.

    Just started gathering some connections for a multimedia project on parkour in London. I’ve been tinkering on the subject quietly for a couple of years now. Perhaps I’ll have some material to submit here over the coming weeks.

    Finally, London gets a look in. Wondering about an outdoor projection somewhere. Shall we plan a gathering? I’ll make some noises.


  31. bob…. somehow your IP address is blacklisted as spam….

    actually funny really, bob BLACKlisted :-)))))

    no seriously… if you are at your school, only your IT department can take measures to correct this… they should know what to do… because i cannot do anything from our side, it is an internet-wide thing, you won’t be able to comment on many places because of this.

    cheers, and good luck big bro!!!


  32. JOE…

    you are not “eating your shoe” at all…i had no intention of suggesting that to you….i was just simply saying that i am open to all kinds of photography….

    good that i will see you this summer….well, in London there is no summer, but good that i will see you!!
    looking forward to it….

    cheers, david

  33. panos skoulidas

    Bob sent couple emails… i will post for him later…
    They changed their computers to their school… ( no java allowed or something… blah )
    and he so wants to comment… so i will be happy to “host” his comments through emails until we/he/they can figure out how to bring him back to “normal”…
    So Bob, im here.. whenever you are ready, hit me back with comments through emails…and i will post for u!…
    we missed u already malaka!

  34. panos skoulidas

    … and since NOTHING IS FOR FREE…
    another panos shameless plug here:))))))))))))))


    …please buy the above immediately…try the softcover version,
    try the hardcover, dust jacket, imagewrap… nowrap…anywrap…
    come on hurry… need to pay bills… recession here….
    Europe , euro owners , help the brotha out…:)

  35. hope to hear from bob soon. hopefully his machine gets fixed. as for the images still…. i cannot stop looking. they are so personal. i love it. and i think that they are photographs. we all use photoshop… i don’t think software should be at the heart of the conversation…. i am here to celebrate the images… weather photoshopped or not… that is not important to me….

  36. panos skoulidas

    Mike B…
    its the simplest form i could think of…
    Its an “experiment” of course….
    My idea is to use this as a starter.. so to meet the “real” publishers out there…
    On the other side all my euro friends and family are way richer than me so i wouldnt
    say no to couple extra euros…
    ( come on europe help sister america once… We helped you out & cleaned up after
    you , both world WARS…come on , time to give back…)

    but Mike.. the fun part is the comments… I took the funniest comments from a
    variety of bloggers here in burn… so if you read close under every photo…
    you will recognize lots of people… from bobb to patricia… from joe to ben,
    from young tom to DAH…and so on….
    I had fun making it…Again nothing final..( thats why i called it COLLECTOR’s item… laughing…)
    Anyway… it was meant to be funny…

  37. Hello Everyone:

    Well, Panos has a new role: HE’S MY VOICE…Unfortunately, for 2 days, I have not been able to leave comments. I believe this has to do with the new computers installed in the school where I am an instructor. I think the problem has to do with Java Script…and I can’t download a fix, because of school constraints. Anyway…this will severly limit my opportunity to write, until i figure out a solution (i dont have time to write when home, because home is for family, photos and writing…so, at least for now, looks like i’ll be limited)…anyway, I left a bunch of comments this morning, so, i’ll try and re-type them here…THANKS BROTHER P for transmitting :))

    first: YOUNG TOM: :))

    first let me say that I am HAPPY that again Burn (dave harvey) is pushing the readership. I’ll be trying to push him even more soon!. About your 2 photographs (a variation on the diptychi):

    I LOVE the first photograph very much. It ABSOLUTELY reminds me of Malick’s Days of Heaven. If readers are not familiar with this gorgeous film: RENT IT!. Tom, your picture contains all the same soulful, urgent light and physical beauty as in the movie. but it also reminded me of the extraordinary novel, Blood Meridian. The picture contains all the poetry one needs to recogzine and reconcile land: of which we are made. Land, and light and wind and ache-filled hard bodies: this earth. At first i was like: ‘what the fuck is this, some Photoshop Spin/gaussian blur/thing, and then as i looked closer i realized that the photograph was NOT photoshopped but instead contained agility, movement: you’re chasing, panning over the ground and you slide past these weed devils: chasing ghosts, dreams and the land giving itself up. In the photograph (yes, it’s a fucking photograph already!), I love that the tumbling tumbleweed replicates the shape of the sky, the clouds: and THAT CANNOT BE PHOTOSHOPPED. A photograph is just that: CONSTRUCTED SEEING: patience and urgency. I love that the photo is not only formally beautiful (the light, the colors, the formal arrangement of the picture) but that the visual elements carry a lot of metaphoric weight. Notice how the foreground shadow mimics the ghostly house/barn in the distance, as if the barn is throwing its shadow forward, as if the tumbleweed has brought the life of the barn forward, as well as all those shadows dancing in the foreground. It’s a great shot and has lots of energy.. I say this NOT because it’s blurry, but because it has the same visceral qualities of light and texture that I respond to in any photograph or painting. the relationship (whirl wack) between the earth (tumbleweed) and sky (clouds), the shadows between the foreground and background, the physical sensations (we’re there, riding the tractor): all of these are qualities, photographic qualities that have NOTHING to do with film/digital, darkroom/Photoshop: they are the meat and bones of what create good images. As for the Rainbow/missle image, it too is a cool photograph: one of those serendipitous moments that define photography. although it doesnt ‘hit’ me with the same emotional power as the top photograph, it still is a great moment and it also still speaks to me of the power of land and our relationship to it: very cool shot.

    As for the writing, as you know as a poet, I celebrate the use of words to accompany photographs. I think words, often, are used as ‘addition’ or as descriptive elements in photobooks, something I have ALWAYS hated. I prefer when written language is an adjunct, a collision, a separate river that doesn’t explain or explicate the photographs/story but serve as a separate, though connected, story. I love how richards uses words, the way Sebalt uses photographs for his novels. I often hate those all-too-common (for me) photo books/anthologies that collect photographs with poems because all too often then ‘explain’ each other rather than oppose or collide or augment. Tom, i dig your writing, and i particularly like the second poem (the one with the rainbow) but they do not work for me together, either as side patches next to the photographs or as related to the pics. I mean, each poem feels as if written for the pics (which might be totally coincidental). Even if you shift the poems, they would be more resonant to me. also, i prefer single pages of photos follow by text (like this). that way both are alone and can shadow one another, can echo one another. here they seem too ‘close” both physically and narratively. I like separation and opposition. why not just give us 1 poem (or both) as text, so we can reflect without putting them together…but most importantly;

    I WANT THE PHOTOGRAPHS LARGE. I cant see them well enough here. I want to taste them, examine them, swallow them, knuckle them….i want that light and land big in my face…here, the pics compete with the script/font as well…i want pictures, pictures…let the poem swim in my head, in my chest as sound, as echo…but here, they become pictorial elements that take away: give me the poems below, as text, ok…but let me have BIGGER PHOTOGRAPHS!!!!!!….

    i hope all this makes sense Tom…really, the pics are terrific and the 1st one just fucking kills me, it kills me and i wish to god it were LARGER….

    hang tough daddy…let the land live large :))) terrific job amigo!

  38. I have no idea where the discussion is now with regard to tom’s pictures as i am using beloved brother P as my pipeline (yes, ok, I HAVE OFFICIALLY MOVED TO CHINA ;))))))))))) )…and im typing this, so what i write may or may not have any meaning or relationship to what has gone one before, but i’ll add some thoughts…

    the ENTIRE DISCUSSION OF THESE IMAGES BEING P-SHOPPED is total bollocks and a complete cannard. I just am so tired of this absurd absurd reductive argument. A photograph IS anything that uses the property and construct of time and light to illuminate a story/person/moment/place/time. ALL PHOTOGRAPHS (sorry jim) are CONSTRUCTED. Again, has anyone read/looked at Sam Abell’s new book ‘The life of a Photograph’? I am guessing here that Jim LOVES Abell, as do I. Abell is a brilliant magician, one of the best photographers of the last 30 years, period, full stop. He writes about this idea that ALL photography is a construction. In fact, he as only 1 photograph that he considers taken (of a car that was hit by a train). The problem with Photoshop or darkroom technique is a simple one:

    does it intrude/bother the viewer. and guess what? Eacher viewer has a different reaction. I recently showed a student photographer some of my work and they said ‘what the hell, why are you doing that?”, meaning nearly destoying my images by overdeveloping the negs, which contribute to the excessive grain. He didnt dig it, like it, understand. totally cool: in this instance, the technique fucked his experience. I’ve seen darkroom shit that annoys me and photoshop stuff that annoys me. THE LEGIMITACY OF A PHOTOGRAPH is NOT contingent on the way the work is processed or manufactured. Good god, jesus. by this measure ALL OF MANN’S work is off and all newspaper journalism is off too, because it’s processed. the argument that these pics seemed manufactured (thus a lie) and therby devalue the work is total nonsense. I HAVE NO PROBLEM with Jim or anyone else saying “dont like it, too much PS, too fake” whatever. That’s cool. I find most of the clean, crisp, digital photographs inept too, but that’s me. Neither Jim nor I have claim (none of us) to the legitimacy or the definition of what IS a photograph, because of our person mindness, whether they be closed or open.

    all we have is whether or not we feel a photograph is of interest or works for us, period. Jim, i find, time and time again, your obnoxious attempt to define what constitutes a photographs as not only silly but dictatorial. Why not simply say:

    i hate it for reasons x, y and z instead of trying to define for us what is or is not a photograph. The irony is that as soon as we define something, we realize this most often contradicts our own defintion…zeno would know that ;))…

    I dont, as a photogarpher and a viewer, that the presentation of Tom’s photographs was the most effective way to showcase either the pics or the words, but I sure as shit would NEVER say: they aint photographs….

    ok, im outta here for 3 days…have a writing deadline (for burn) and a marriage anniversary to plan ;))))


  39. Hey brother Panos; my collectors edition of Venice Beach is on order.

    O.k. everyone: remember Larry Clark and Tulsa? Remember how it became an underground classic and how you Soooo wanted a copy but to no avail? Well don’t make the same mistake again! Buy this book – you too Jim – think of it as an investment for your golden years.

    Brothers and Sisters at Burn; roll back the tide of recession! Buy this book!!!!



  40. I think photographs start to get interesting when you can smell them. Is there somewhere to see these bigger? That tumbleweed picture could be a smelly old boy but it’s too small to tell.

  41. Tom,

    I think the Photoshop discussion is pretty irrelevant, but for somewhat different reasons than Bob’s (and incidently, Ben R., if you’re making the book, I have $5 that says yes, Bob will be back long before the 3 days are over). I honestly don’t know how these images were processed, so maybe they were put through Photoshop or at least Lightroom (I can’t imagine any serious photographer these days printing digital images straight out of the camera. And how else would you resize them for uploading on the Web?) but I don’t necessarily see the heavy hand of radical image manipulation here… having lived in places very similar to where these photos were shot, I have seen light just like this on many occasions. Did he really do much manipulation? I live here, and I’ve used Photoshop since version 2 in the early 90s, and honestly I can’t tell. I mean beyond a little contrast adjustment, which almost anyone would do. Tom??

    What I really want to ask you about is the choice of presentation… looks to my eye a bit like a layout for a ‘dummy’ or ‘blurb’ book… hence the wide white backgrounds and the positioning of the text. True? And if this is an idea for a book, what is the size and aspect ratio of the book you are imagining? Are we going to see these photos chopped by a gutter? Tell me it isn’t so….


  42. kathleen fonseca

    I like the images. i liked the second poem which functioned as a kind of caption, poetically spoken. Informative and worded beautifully. The first poem replaced me in the photo with visions of Young Tom stomping across the plain chasing the tumbleweeds. Guess i´m just being petulant but i wanted to imagine me in that field instead of Tom. And no, i can´t really accomodate both of us because of its intensely personal close-up focus of the movement. A very intimate photograph. Nice. The small format, white borders, like teentsy personal pola´s, all fine with me.

    As far as photoshop..man, i agree with Jim. i think certain PS trends tend to date the look of a photograph and i prefer timeless. I had this thought with Subhrajit´s photo too which didn´t look altogether natural to me. Something about the contrast between sea and sky that didn´t ring true to me but the overall effect was quite pleasing, the same with these two examples from Young Tom. They´re nice, they´re evocative, they intrigue. Like a woman in a particularly fetching trendy couture style. She grabs the spotlight right then, that minute..five minutes later? i can´t say. Some photographic ¨looks¨ become timeless. And this issue did not start with PS, it goes back to the very beginnings of photography. The efforts of the earliest photographers to emulate painting then the inevitable protest against that and a trend toward ultra realistic and in between surrealism, Bauhaus photomontages, etc. etc. This is just the latest wrinkle. ¨Classic¨ is nice but innovation brings change. There´s movements to extremes than a trend to the middle but the shocking extreme is where minds and eyes open. But not every woman can pull off a wild couture dress and even fewer regular women can pull off the mainstream knock-offs either. Most of us are better off wearing the classics really, REALLY well than couture badly. No conclusions, just sayin´. At the end of the day, i personally am with Jim on this. Keep your composites, keep your HDR´s, keep your filters. I don´t have the unique avant garde creative mind to pull them off.

    Of the two, Young Tom, your ¨chasing tumbleweeds¨photo is a killer that i would put on my wall any day of the week. well done, PS and all!


  43. ben,
    i didnt ask you to find it pretty..
    i just asked you to buy it…
    dont get confused…( and im sure that will not be the last “ugly” thing you are buying in this life…and definitely not the first )
    :-)… plus there is a comment from you included.. so there you have it… a little “plug” for you too…
    ( extra love 4U today )

    MIKE R…
    what can i say about the respect i have for u…? ( f*****g book aside/irrelevant..)
    I will never forget the laughs regarding the “devastating attractive personality of yours”( regarding the ladies )…..

    I JUST posted with Bob’s name…
    Actually i like it more this way…more authoriative

  45. …oh… whatever happened to that little Benjamin-worm from yesterday?
    Did i stepped on him that hard??
    sorry! didnt mean to hurt him…

  46. I do agree that over photoshopped images can often be pretty bad… but its not like high contrast and vignetting are exclusive to Photoshop. Photogs (or printers at least) have always messed with this since since way back. I still contest that Tom didn’t do as much to this image as many may think. Its more about the original exposure. Its yonks since I was in the darkroom, but I reckon I could get pretty close with the right neg… well back in the day maybe…

    Jim your comment “Heavily Photoshopped images are not photographs” is difficult for me to swallow. Composites are a different matter and I agree with you there. But just because an image has been toned doesn’t disqualify it as a photograph. Again, this has been around as long as photography itself. This all reminds me of the scene in War Photographer, when Nachtwey’s printer is working on those effing massive exhib. prints and Jimbo keeps sending him back and back tweaking tiny details. Always made me chuckle that… But damn it, it has to be right! Right!?

    Harry. Like it! I reckon its a smelly old boy too. Are you from my side of the pond?

  47. jim jimeny,

    when i think of heavily photoshopped to the point of destruction i think of over-the-top hdr.. sickly sweet and big on the ‘wow’.. cheap looking and tacky without any subtlty..
    that doesn’t really appeal to me at all, however as james says above – i really don’t see a great deal of post processing beyond whats possible in the darkroom here.

    as with others here – for me bigger is definitely better and perhaps then the photos will be revealed for exactly what they are – great photos.. so good you would think there was a little ‘swirl’ and blur going on post production.

    (please.. young man.. there was no ‘twirl’ was there?.. downloadable set of rainbow filters?:o)

    pea’s n chips.

  48. YOUNG TOM – i really like the first image. would also like to know your process.

    PANOS – i am buying a book tomorrow.

  49. kathleen fonseca


    i looked at your website, and have looked at it before. Can i detect post-processing? yes. But it has great integrity. Your processing is limited to curves, contrast, maybe color adjustment. The eye buys it. I look at your photos and think, yep, this is what he saw. I can relax and know i´m not being taken for a ride. Same with Garage Sale. Same with Love Hotel, Pieces of Us and others too numerous to mention. Now, there are other photos that my eye doesn´t really buy but i like them anyway. It´s not even that i give the photographer the benefit of the doubt, i just jump the credibility gap and accept the beauty as is. The photos here represent the latter category. i don´t think this is what Young Tom saw with his eyes but it is what he feels in his heart. And they are successful because i feel them in my heart too so i jump the credibility gap and accept them. I don´t have to see them large so that i can stand two inches in front of them and check out the authenticity of that swirl. If i had them large on my wall, i´d stand back and appreciate their magic, same way i appreciate them in a small format here. But my true preference is for photos like yours, more natural. You prefer your drama to come from the content. You do not have the need to amp up the romance.


    I think i´m on a bit of a shit list here because of my blunt comments. I just want you all to know that you have all made me feel very welcome and free to express myself and it´s been a very valuable experience blogging here. i always tried to say from the bottom of my heart the wonderful things i saw in your photos and if there was something that kept me from loving your work i said that too. But aside from one photo, i have been pretty much enchanted with everything i have seen here. i think i expressed that as completely as i knew how.

    I have no doubt that if i submitted photos to DAH and if for one second one was good enough to be published that you would tell me the good, the bad and the ugly about my work also. And i would hope, jeez´, that you wouldn´t feel the need to tip-toe around my feelings and mask the bad news under a wrap of flowery praise. I would feel horribly patronized if you did. And if i thought that WOULD happen i would not submit any photos to Burn because i dread hypocracy more than difficult truth. I have learned a great deal in my short time here from all of you and to each and every one i am grateful. But i have also been neglecting my photography big time and that´s kind of counter-productive. So, i am departing Burn for now to invest my energies where they should be so that i can submit photos to Burn and can come back wiser and more accomplished. In fact, i can´t wait to get out there on the street and use some of the style tips i have picked up here, particularly from Panos. It´s going to make a big difference in my shooting i believe, so Panos, i owe you a debt of gratitude.

    Take care for now, Gracie..i´ll miss you when i´m scanning negs late at night. To all, I´ll miss your playfulness and serious dedication to your craft. And i´ll seriously miss DAH´s wisdom..

    be good all..keep shooting..i´ll be back next time with a Lightstalker´s gallery and some photo submissions that i can be proud of. See you then..


  50. most everyone i have truly loved have left BURN for bigger things hopefully to come back recharged and surprising!

    i will miss you kat… hell, night shift will be double the work now for me… isnt that the biggest deal?

    but for now, my blonde curls shall rest and my legs are too weak to run after my mascara that has ran after bob black.

  51. Tom just came in from the cold and a long day of swinging the hammer under rainbows to a nice surprise. That was literal, not poetic. And I consider these more creative cutlines than poetry. I’m actually quite literal. But I do try to stretch. Now settling in before the burn to warm my toes.

    BTW, what’s wrong with the swirl filter anyway? ;-))) No, absolutely I did not. It was a running pan, that’s my shadow on the right. Both of these are from Washington State, one from the wet west side where I see rainbows like this all the time (often double, sometimes triple) in the spring and fall, and the other photo is from the dry high plains east where the thunderstorms race across the prairie. Back soonest.

  52. Tom

    Love the sky in the clear cut shot, like,… you coulda taken that one this afternoon!

    Cheers from across the water in Bow-Edison


  53. The majority of discussion seems to center on the technical, which is unfortunate in a way. So I guess I’ll just set that to rest, or back in motion.

    The first photo was shot at ISO 50, stopped way down and 1/20. I did in fact chase tumbleweeds across the high plains in Eastern Washington State, a place that would be desert if not for the Columbia River, irrigation and Roosevelt, where the tumbleweeds still roll up out of the barren coulees to bounce across tilled fields and the extirpated bones of salmon runs long gone. The photo is not heavily photoshopped and having once made commercial custom bw and color prints, I can say that any of this could have been easily done in the darkroom by a new intern. The shot was underexposed (by at least 2 stops) for the thunderstorm sky in the background and the sun was sliding under the clouds from behind me. I did use a polarizing filter on the lens. I did increase contrast of the raw file, burn in the sky a bit more, and desaturate the photo a little. No filters (blur or otherwise) were used post process. This is a running pan of a tumbleweed and I chased this bugger for hundreds of yards, sometimes sideways, before I got the background I wanted. Then I collapsed in the grass and watched the lightening play across the sky. In fact, I chased this thunderstorm for 40 miles on backcountry gravel roads in my pickup, getting thoroughly lost, running with the wind, sliding on the gravel, blasting Neil Young’s Harvest on the player, discovering some truly wonderful places, and having a great time.

    I hope the cutline, sorry caption, no journal entry, reflects this good day. And that’s all I was doing with this, experimenting, having some fun, lightening up, and essentially creating what amounts to a journal entry. I wasn’t thinking of a book, I was just trying to recreate here what this looks like pasted in a personal album with a handwritten entry.

    As for the second image of the rainbow, the technical is much the same. Underexposed, no filters, and absolutely, positively no composite. But whatever. Really. If the first photo is about freedom and joy, then the second I suppose has more to say. It was taken out the window of my pickup rolling down the road to my oasis. I did stop and take a “perfect” picture or two and they sucked. THIS is what I saw, really saw, on my way home, glancing at the window, suddenly struck by the horror of the juxtaposition. An ugly clearcut of burning slash under the most beautiful light you could imagine, indistinct, surreal, and awful. Yes, we get rainbows and weather and unbelievable lighting like this here all the time, especially in the spring and fall. And we have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and some of the most desperate, dark, blasted, sodden, raped land I’ve ever seen too. So if I was to sum up Western Washington state, I guess this would be it. Extremes. Culturally as well.

    Damn, these are the best tamales I have ever had … from our persecuted friends. Stuffing face. Back soonest.

  54. Ah Jim, I like you. I really do. I was you. Jim, at a slow shutter speed objects in the “foreground” move “faster” than objects in the background. Look out the window driving. Get it?

  55. Hmmm, it’s very hard to come back from cynical. I was always skeptical, it was my job, but then I got cynical. Not a good thing. Holds you back like nothing else. Sometimes I still slip back in. I dream of dead children and burning bodies and friends drowning. I put things in perfect boxes, cages, neat little compartments, walls, those comfortable walls to hold things in and keep other things out. Order. Perfection. A mirage of reality to retain sanity. I push away or disparage what makes me uncomfortable or what I do not understand. But then, I unclench, and I go chase tumbleweeds for a day. I highly recommend it.

  56. Young Tom – my admiration for you! I’d love to meet you next time I am in Seattle. You have the wisdom I could learn from :).

  57. I tried to tell ’em, Tom… I guess I was at an advantage as I have spent time with your work in the past… and I too underexpose like hell. Hope all is well.

  58. Tom.

    I apologize for ever suspecting this might be a book layout!

    You made me hungry, talking about those great tamales…

    While we’re talking about the Columbia Basin, I have to add to what you’ve already said… that if someone drove back and forth across central and eastern Washington on the main through roads like I-90, they would never have a clue as to the unique riches that lie there… one must get onto the back roads and gravel tracks, drive into the coulees, back among the potholes, weave in and out of the scablands… to find places like Trinidad, Moses Coulee, the Leonora Caves, Alta Lake, the Dry Falls, the Potholes, Lower Crab Creek, Soap Lake, the Palouse River canyon, Washtucna, the Bridgeport marshes where the Okanagan runs into the Columbia, the Hanford Reach, and on and on… one of America’s most fascinating and least known landscapes. But the city kids would probably find it boring…

  59. The fire burns hot..
    once again…
    I want to see these images BIG..
    want to feel the landscape..
    They almost make me dizzy,
    and I like it…
    I see them BIG, on a wall..
    maybe even printed on aluminum panels..
    I like landscapes,
    that go further than Ansel Adams…
    what would he think?
    doesn’t matter though..
    Love the contrast of landscape
    Seems like lots of talk about photoshop…
    I do agree with Jim and that many photographers need to clarify digital imagery vs photograph
    But that seems to be a blurry line these days..
    I personally respond to photos, digital imagery, paintings, sculpture the same way~
    how do they make me feel, what do they make me think….
    I don’t care how they were created,
    its the end result for me…
    And I like the tension in these landscapes….

  60. Jim…
    I’m not suppose to get involved…
    but regardless photography… i wanna say one thing…
    I met Young Tom… about a month ago…
    Tom is one of the most honest ( honest-est)
    people i know…Integrity, simplicity, wisdom…
    There is no way in this world i can see a guy like Tom..
    spending 3 hours in photoshop… blurring the foreground, freezing the bzckground..
    using cheap swirl filters or freaky “lensbabies”…
    The guy is Honest with capital H…period….
    I know the guy…His brain does not work like “that”…at all…!

    Haik, i totally second your admiration towards Tom…
    Not that u need me to tell u… but remember , i told u when we visited Seattle…?
    Tom is A REAL MAN…end of story!

  61. panos skoulidas

    F**k panos…damn it..
    panos skoulidas , is the real name…
    ( bob messed me up)

  62. Hey JAMES :)))) Thanks man. Yeah, your not “supposed” to shoot digital like you do chromes at the top of the highlights and beyond. Rather, you want those little bars in the middle to give you the best options. Hate that. I’m always bunching way over, jamming the edges cause we all know the best photos are around the edges ;-))) Ironically, often “perfectly exposed” digital raw files take much more photoshopping since they are merely very poor negatives.

    James, Bangkok was cool wasn’t it. Worked my ass off. You’ve been busy since bro, loving it :)) Funny, I now remember what Nachtwey said at our workshop, a photographer Jim can love. He said he loved photos that took risks because most often he cannot. I think Jim Powers would like some of my “straighter” pj work as much as it has come to bore me. That workshop was where I really started to let go and experiment, thanks to DAH and Nachtwey. Still working on it. One of these days I may even have a website ;-))

    Hey HAIK, I saw your ride in Seattle. Can I drive? :))))

    BOB, your comments are greatly, greatly appreciated, especially given that you were BLACKlisted and posting by proxy. I hope there is some humor in that for you. Thanks Panos for posting! Bob, I understand what you are saying about the text but with that too, I was experimenting, taking some risks. And to be honest, I’m frustrated by the constraints of the web. It would be nice if you could click on these photos for a larger image (at one time you could here). I’m no poet, and as I mentioned, I thought of these more as creative cutlines or journal entries. But your point is very well taken about being too literal, and too “on the photo” itself. I wonder what would happen if I sent you some photos “way out there” and you wrote something to complement (with an “e”). But of course, you would have to love them, and everything is subjective without guilt, or should be. I wonder could you be that brief? ;-)))

    SIDNEY! Hoping to see you soon as well. Let me know if you need a lift, love to. Thanks for your thoughts. I think I covered your queries. Looking forward to a discussion in person. Finally! (my fault, hoping to rectify soon).

    David B, thank you for your comments as always.

    Hey Kathleen, your thoughts are always welcome.

    DAH, thank you for posting and Anton for all your hard work. Hmmm, by the way Anton, saw some photos of you after I left New York. You dog you :))]

    Crashing … long day …

  63. Young Tom, I’m still waiting for a link to your site . The suspense is killing me.

    Very cool stuff. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. I especially love the rainbow shot. It’s like the rainbow is a laser bolt setting the earth on fire. Very cool, both very loose but beautifully composed at the same time.

    Hey Panos, Leave my lensbaby alone man. It’s tough to use, but when you get it right it sees more like your eye than any regular lens.

    Once again thanks to David Alan, for for bringing us along.

    cheers all
    Gordon L

  64. And by the way, when I took the clearcut photo I was thinking of Matt the Slasher down under in Tasmania who does the same from time to time. Another Bangkok alum. Good man, miss him here.

  65. young tom

    I wish to see more pictures of this series, because i don’t know what is the reason of this very nice photographs. I mean why two not one, why two not fifteen.
    Right now I am big fan of prints and photo books. I am sure this photos will look awesome as a part of a book.

  66. Jim, look at any automotive campaign with motion in the image and you will see the foreground blurred and the background less blurred, thousands of hours and thousands of pounds are spent trying to replicate this effect using booms, comps, post production skills. It is a function of physics, veolcity and relative distance from camera. If you want to look at other examples look at the runaway train gallery on my website, these were all shot from a moving train no photoshopping just optimizing the raw file.

  67. kathleen f..
    did you mean my website that you looked at, or david mc, or david ah ?

    some of my photos online have been very heavily potshpt and do not look like it.. portraits particularly.. that’s the point for me – to make it subtle .. so it could be done in the darkroom.. or at least two colour enlargers set up for one print project.. everything i photoshop heavily could be darkroom produced..

    virtually all the documentary work has not been touched at all – just the scanning from neg at the lab.. no crop.. no adjustments..
    that is part of the photography game for me – i enjoy trying to get everything through the camera..
    as with tom i think :o)

    will happily share which have been potshpt if your interested.


  68. YOUNG TOM…

    the image i have in my mind of you chasing the tumbleweed is not better than the picture you actually took, but it is definitely indelible..

    cynicism is THE enemy……the tumbleweed is a pretty good symbol of something that looks dead and is blowing aimlessly in the wind, but is actually a seed for a new plant…all depends on how you look at it…

    cheers, david

  69. Well-handled young tom.

    The shots, not really my cup of tea, I don’t dig the style so much. I dig the process though, and can respect these photos purity.

  70. Young Tom, thanks for the shooting information: it sounds like a blast! To use a musical analogy, these are Soul photographs. With handwritten text: Tom photographs.

    Thanks for sharing.


  71. ian says: “It is a function of physics, veolcity and relative distance from camera.”

    Sorry, I still don’t buy it. Could these be photos captured in a single exposure in the camera and not radically manipulated in photoshop? Perhaps. But that’s the legacy of Photoshop. I’ll always doubt they were.

  72. Jim,
    sure they can Jim.
    It’s not only a legacy of photoshop that you are cynical, it is a legacy of photography itself. Photographs have been manipulated from the beginning of the medium, My great grandfather had a very successful studio in Exeter england (he was even commissioned to photograph the queen mother) He had a whole team of artisans working on prints, from darkroom operators to colourists.

    I your raison d’etre is to simply record so be it, photography is also about art and interpretation using the tools you have to hand.

    I believe young tom when he tells us he has not added blur in post and the images above have predominantly been achieved in camera. I have proof in some of my own images, you can achieve extraordinary things with motion blur.


  73. ian, I understand what you could do with a darkroom and retouchers. I think I’ve spent at least half my life in a darkroom. But there is no comparison between what you could achieve in a darkroom and with manual retouching tools, and what you can do with Photoshop. Photoshop allows you to reconstruct a photo seamlessly. Undetectably if you are good enough.

    I’m about as straight a shooter and printer as they get, and I’ve had people ask me if I’ve created some photos with Photoshop. It’s pervasive.

  74. Jim. I take it you like ansel adams right? If so, go check out his darkroom notebooks. Look at how complex the recipes are for making those ‘PURE’ images.
    Do you use wet rooms yourself? Test print after test print? Selective grading? lollypop sticks and cardboard masks? double dish development?
    Cos if you do all the above and yet have a problem with the digital equivalents then you may have a bit of a problem explaining that so that you dont seem a bit ‘stuck’.
    You say you love natchwey. There is some great footage in his doco ‘war photographer’ of him in the wet room with his printer. Watch it. See how much ‘manipulation’ goes into getting the prints ready for gallery. But thats ‘pure’ manipulation right? Its ‘real’ photography. Doing it in potatoshop is somehow ‘cheating’ i guess. WRONG!
    Anyway im rambling a bit so..

  75. David, yes :)) Since a guy actually did stop his pickup to watch me chase the tumbleweed across the field, I suspect that if you find the right small cafe in the right small town in the Upper Crab Creek area of the Columbia plateau, there may be a Sunday morning story floating around of the crazy guy chasing tumbleweeds. :)) Funny, since I was in the area to plant the seeds for a “straight” story. Those are still growing.

  76. Hi Jim,

    I can’t win against an engrained attitude towards photoshop.

    I know you are a straight shooter, why not try a bit of breaking the rules and see what you come up with it might be liberating.

    For years I endeavoured to get straight clinical shots, to get exposure right framing right, colour balance right, contrast ratios right and you know what after a while of achieving that goal, photography for me became a little stale, I then started to challenge those restraints and have found a new love of photography and a freedom to express what I feel. It is inspirational.
    This is the reason I have joined Burn, because it is a constant source of inspiration and challenge and is showing me I should believe in myself and what I want to say rather than just achieving a great straight job for the client.

    I have a couple of great documentary jobs in the pipeline and they will certainly have a loser and experimental feel to them.

    We could rattle on about this for days


  77. Tom,

    Great explanations of your images and how they were captured. Though, they really did not require explanation. Very sorry some demanded–still demand!–a “better” explanation. If the simple facts of simple physics is so lost on a person there really is no explaining that will satisfy. It’s like conspiracy theorists. They are not interested in answers, only more questions. You answer one question then they say, “Yeah, but what about…” Answer that and, “Yeah, but what about…” It never ends. At some point ignoring is the only option. Ah well.

    Regardless… I’d love to have been chasing that tumbleweed next to you! Sounds like a blast–exhausting, but a blast! Someday, maybe.

    Cheers brother.


  78. Hi Kat. I was waiting for someone to say “greeting card” :)))
    Well, thanks.

    Mike and Gordon. I don’t have a website. Every time I put something up, I tear it down. I mean, I would have to settle down and define myself wouldn’t I? Develop coherence. More boxes ;-)) Perhaps I should create websites for all my personalities, sort of a Jekyll and Hyde thing. Just not ready to settle down, still having too much fun, and angst too, experimenting. There is an infrequent blog, mostly stream of consciousness from Greece a little while back. At least, a few straight photos Jim might like. Click on my name.

    Marcin, I have just started doing a number of these panels. It is new, an experiment. Some serious, some funny, simply personal journal entries really. I believe I submitted six or seven to Burn, including one very tongue in cheek silly one about white rabbits. Hope it made Harvey laugh. Just fun. The rest were in black and white. I’m encouraged and I’ll continue. These keep me going until more subject-specific projects start coming together. It’s been a bloody long winter here.

    Charles and Katia. Thanks Seattle friends :)) Looking forward to seeing you soon.

    I think I will really go round the bend on my next submissions. Hmmm, “impossible” photos of twisted forms, surely PS filtered, but not, where my integrity will be put on the block and my head in the guillotine. I can see Jim throwing things, sputtering. :)) What fun.

  79. young tom
    march 18, 9:51 pm

    your pictures were hmmm… daunting or haunting… kinda sorta both. all this talk of photoshop i read through quickly but your recount of how you did the picture i read about 5 times, your recount of cynicism i read about 10 times. i had to laugh. the arrangements, the little boxes, perfect order, perfect pictures. each day or at least once a week, i try to find me own tumbleweed.

    you were there. you saw what you saw and you made your camera your eye and now we can see what you saw. photoshop or not, these pictures make me wonder… how you did it on photoshop or how you got there to take the picture first of all…

    my take: at the end of the day, it is about one thing: LOVE PEACE PHOTOGRAPHY

    (space cowboy, civilian, kat – i miss them sooooo much. i guess i also should go back to work)

  80. Ian, me too. Right on.

    Michel K. – We will meet one of these days. Congrats on National Parks magazine btw. A very tough nut. I once had a photo in there years ago, an oil spill in Olympic National Park (one of two I’ve been to there). Someone asked me for a negative the other day, out of the blue, for that and damned if I can find it! Another beautiful photo of an awful mess. That experience led me to work on protections for that coastline and creation of a National Marine Sanctuary. Seems another lifetime ago, like those trips I made to Great Falls with my father to watch the kayakers, and all those white water canoe trips on the Shenandoah. I wonder if the Carter gauges are still used. All things circle around it seems. See you in D.C., or in Eastern WA, but hope to meet you someday.

    John Gladdy, damn I love your work. Have for some time. Thanks for looking and commenting.

  81. Gracie, who are you? Like a dream. I have to get to work too. Building permit revision, with drawings. Uggh. Keep on keeping on cause a rolling tumbleweed gathers no moss.

  82. (Young) Tom,
    in fact, I meant this as a compliment …. your 2 pictures are not to be confused with some anonymous stuff on a postcard that you buy in a store and send off……but more like something that you receive from someone/somewhere and certainly give it a special place :)

  83. young tom,

    i am first of all a poet like you. i want to make pictures my pieces… my frustration. i do not know how to take pictures … yet.

    i am glad you went through the technical part of your pictures. most here wont. or will maybe as an offsite email. but i like these… very much.

  84. Kat, I know :)) We always seem to get just a little sideways without really meaning to don’t we? All good.

    Thanks Gracie. Goodnight Gracie. :))

  85. Tom wrote:
    “…if you find the right small cafe in the right small town in the Upper Crab Creek area of the Columbia plateau…”
    That is not quite the “needle in a haystack” challenge it would have been 30 years ago when there were little redneck cafes all over the Columbia Plateau in tiny little towns (fewer than a dozen houses, and a wide spot in the road). Criscrossing the area in the late 90s I found far fewer of the old cafes than I remembered, it seemed like a culture was on the wane. I’d be glad to know it still lives on.

    As a geographic footnote, it’s interesting to me that Tom calls it the ‘Columbia Plateau’ and I tend to call it the ‘Columbia Basin’… same place, but he has a more Western Washington perspective, from which it certainly looks like a plateau, and even though I live in Western Washington now, right down near sea level, I still see the area through the lens of my youth when I lived in Northern Idaho at 3,000 ft. and above, from which we looked ‘down’ on the Basin. Both terms are in common use. (Hey Civilian Mass Audience, am I living up to my ‘Athenaeus’ persona?).

  86. Young Tom—

    LOVE these!! Late to the party and haven’t looked over the discussion, but these rock, my friend. They have all the brilliance and color of good landscape photography with the extra “wow” factor of movement. I am always drawn to still photographs that “move”. And here I’m not just talking about “motion blur”, though you execute that very well here; I mean it in the broader sense of a feeling of kinetic energy in the composition and moment.

    These are strange and beautiful photos; on the one hand they have a classic rural Americana feeling, but on the other hand, they have a modern sensibility and an “edge” you don’t see in this kind of work very often.

    I want to see more. More, more…


  87. Hey Tom,

    I thought you did have a website?.. Or at least you used too? I used to visit, I remember your stuff from the ferry and the floods. Just like you I am so pleased you have stepped away from your straight PJ work. You really have a style, which I notice as “you’ straight away, and more impressively you tapped into it sooo quickly!

    Obviously our exchange got set back when I left the country and right now things are pretty tight as I pay for that trip and set-up all over again. But i’m still up for it if you are, esp. seeing this new contender!! Be good my friend. I hope we can catch up in person soon.

  88. IAN (Aitken):

    Totally off topic here (sorry folks) but had been meaning to drop you a line as this is all a little weird… We share the same names: Ian (my fathers name) is my first middle name (I have two). Aitken is the second as it is my Mothers maiden name. James Ian Aitken Chance. Then I went to your site and saw that you are also from England, But not only that… Your phone code is for the Norwich area! I grew up on the Norfolk/Suffolk border near Diss!

    Now that’s a lot of coincidences!! I feel Like I have to look you up next time i’m back as you must have an important message for me or something!! ;)) Weird…

    Enjoyed your work. Esp, the portraits. I’m wondering if some of the train shot were shot on the London > Norwich mainline, perhaps near dear old Diss!??

  89. Hey Tom,

    That familiar raincloud came over Bow-Edison the other day. Or.. one just like it unleashed a torrent outside the Longhorn.
    Tried to chime in yesterday from Bow but my connection wasn’t having it.



  90. Hey Tim Ripley,

    I live in Fairhaven…spitting distance. Do you ever come up here? We could meet for a coffee at Village Books or some other appropriate venue sometime for a chat… email whenever you like.


  91. SIDNEY, it’s still an amazing Basin but not as many roadside cafes, true, though lots of good taverns still. And then, there is the skeet range and shooting club, with beer on tap, and the Hutterite colony just down the road. No beer there but many beards. The Columbia itself with all its dams and irrigation is now a massive machine, an organic machine (title of a book on the Columbia by the way) and all the people of the basin are part of it, feeding it and living off it, whether they realize it or not. The concrete is still curing inside the Hoover dam, the plume of plutonium is seeping and creeping though the aquifer toward the river, Native Americans still dipnet fish off rickety platforms where they have for thousands of years, now in the shadow of powerhouses. She Who Watches still surveys the Gorge and the water flows on. Of course you know this but I’m not sure many people outside the Northwest grasp its power and breadth. It’s indescribable. I have explored only small sections of the Columbia, from its source in Canada to the massive waves on the bar in the surfboat, and the immensity and power of it all never ceases to instill a sense of wonder, awe and mystery. And I guess that is as good a reason as any to be a photographer, the only reason for me really, even as one of tumbleweeds ;-))

    Einstein said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

    Which speaks to the danger of cynicism well, as well. I am just flowing lost in all the ideas and stories of the Columbia, such an amazing tapestry of lives woven through a river like few others. A massive Greek tragedy in many ways.

    CHRIS, thanks, you’re on brother :))

    JAMES, ah well, I put things up and rip them down because they are never good enough, or at least very soon are not, which is actually a good thing. I’ll settle into something more cohesive one of these days and put up something more permanent. Have you settled back into the states? Cool. Most likely heading east late summer/early fall for Virginia and OBX. Maybe I’ll make a cross country road trip out of it and stop by your neck of the woods … Ohio? Would be good to hang out, and make that exchange! :)))

    TIM, hey there, good to know there’s other NW representation here.

    HAIK, good, good, me too. It’s a cab then!

  92. TOM:
    Yes, yes, getting settled, but in Denver… So don’t make a wasted trip to Ohio this Summer! (what’s OBX?) Its a struggle setting up here as there are a shit load of photographers, but I love the area so i’m sure it will pay off in the long run! Closer to WA too! ;) I have a good friend who has moved back to Bainbridge Island. Once things have settled It would be nice to get up and visit you guys.

  93. James, absolutely! Denver is not so far. Have an old friend in Durango I plan to visit and four corners is always a favorite. And Bainbridge is even closer :)) Always welcome here James!

    OBX = Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s been more than 20 years since I’ve been there but I spent many summers of my young days on the coasts of North and South Carolina. Miss it much, although almost afraid to see them now.

  94. Einstein said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

    oh man..
    one day i want to start a sentence with, “he to whom..”, which ends with “rapt in awe”…

  95. everdearest david b,

    HE TO WHOM such selflessness is firsthanded
    shall find himself generously blessed
    with such great stature and unending respect
    from his own disciples
    who will forever be RAPT IN AWE…

    (i will never forget your generous offer,
    i shall if i may keep in touch…)

  96. PANOS

    Would you like the photo “more”… if it was no photoshop?

    (back in town). Can’t care less, Panos. He could have used pencils, and not a camera, or a media mix. The means are never a problem with me, it is just that I wondered about the appearnce of things in the photos rather than being struck by the poetry of it all. I could be dishonest and go straight to simple praise, but then that wouldn’t be me, would it be. I just write down exactlt what strikes me, and here, it was about how things appeared on the photograph.

    I think it would be great to see Tom’s pictures in a gallery setting, with a size equivalent to the awe of nature he has mentionned, I mean 20feetx15ft. Computer screens can do a disfavor to such type of imagery (and I am starting to think to a good lot of photography as well).

  97. Herve, btw, the difference in densities on either side of the rainbow is how it actually appears. I can’t explain refractory atmospheric dynamics but you could google it. I believe you’ve seen the previous posts on processing. The essence with these is that they were greatly underexposed, and incredible late afternoon lighting with storm clouds didn’t hurt either. I’m always trying to get back to chrome it seems (or tri-x pushed) and high contrast, and these certainly look like cibrachromes to me. Certainly, tastes have moved on but it is always fun to push buttons, is it not? :)))

    I too look forward to seeing these large.

  98. Gracie writes: “i want to make pictures my pieces… my frustration. i do not know how to take pictures … yet.”

    Then Gracie, my friend, you may just be ahead of the rest of us. “Knowing how” can get in the way of the best poetry. Just flow.

    peace, tom

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