Like many artists, Kurt Bownell has to balance the commercial with the personal.
The Victor resident is a commercial photographer with a Rochester studio and a client list that includes such corporations as Wegmans, Constellation Brands, Democrat and Chronicle, Unity Health and several universities. The clients commission Brownell for everything from beauty shots of growers, produce and culinary arts to corporate executives in their workplace environments.
His day job keeps him so busy that his personal photographic love – outdoor landscapes – often happens on the fly, such as when he snapped shots of the rolling hills of Cohocton on a pit stop as his family returned from a vacation.
Perhaps that’s why Brownell’s new exhibit at Keuka College, “Up Close and Far Away-Landscapes,” is such a treat for him. The exhibit runs through Jan. 4, with an artist reception Thursday, Nov. 29 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. at Lightner Gallery inside Lightner Library. The exhibit is open to the public; library hours vary and can be found online at: http://lightner.keuka.edu.
“This is what I like to do when I’m not being told what to photograph,” he said. “This is what I gravitate toward naturally. I can go without any agenda and shoot what I feel, what I like, what I find.”
Many of his images, which he refers to as “interpretive landscapes,” are “stitched” composites of 10-20 different shots, melded together to create one final, full panorama for the viewer.
By John Locke, director of instructional design and multidisciplinary studies
Is Keuka Park the new Roswell?
Judging from photographs taken by students in CMP 265: Computer Visual Design, one might come to that conclusion.
Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) were photographed hovering over Point Neamo, outside residence halls, and various other locales on campus. However, panic has not set in. In fact, students, faculty and staff have been going about their daily routines and paying no attention to the strange objects flying overhead.
That’s because these are photographic “hoaxes” that students created using Photoshop. Call it a high-tech spinoff of the 1938 radio drama based on H.G. Well’s “War of the Worlds,” sans the hysteria but with much more educational value.
“I try to get my students out of the textbook and into a project as soon as possible, so that they can apply what they’ve learned so far,” said Instructor John Locke. “We are all aware that Photoshop can be used for nefarious purposes, so I figure we might as well get it out of our systems early on in the class.”
“I think the UFO project was really fun… we got to put a twist on college life at Keuka and spruce up the campus,” said Maddie Reynolds, a senior educational studies major.
Her photo depicts an odd-shaped spacecraft hovering outside her residence hall while a student points in astonishment at an extraterrestrial who is throwing a soccer ball out of a second-floor window.
As their homework assignment, students photographed the scenes where their UFO “sightings” would be staged, and then they took pictures of everyday, common items to use as their “UFOs.” Back in the classroom, they worked in Photoshop to create a composite of their assorted images.
“It was a great introductory project for us to apply basic skills we have been learning in Photoshop,” said John Miller, a senior organizational communication major.
Miller’s photo shows his friends speeding along in a boat with a flying saucer hot on its stern.
“I showed the photo I edited to my friends that were in it. In disbelief they kept saying, ‘What is that?’ until I explained that I had created the UFO myself,” said Miller.
Locke said “more strangeness can be expected” from his students.
“They have been morphing each other’s facial features onto their own portraits to create an army of CMP 265 Mutants,” he explained. “Every time another mutant is ‘born’ and presented, the class breaks out in laughter. Combining facial features is not a skill they will probably ever use in a practical sense, but in the process, they are becoming pretty competent photo retouch artists.”
Last year around Halloween, students created a collection of horror movie posters that hung in the hallway near the Geiser Refectory. Locke plans to resurrect that project this season, and hopes to display another crop of petrifying posters produced in Photoshop.
She may be concentrating in bio-medical courses, but it’s her photography that caught the eye of judges in the 32nd Annual College & High School Photography contest.
Junior Samantha Swearingen recently learned that her black-and-white image of corn stalks was selected as a finalist in a competition that drew 17,700 entries from students across the U.S. and Canada. The contest, sponsored by camera maker Nikon USA, is a tradition for Photographer’s Forum magazine and winning images will appear in the May/Summer 2012 issue. All photographs ranked in first through fourth place in both the high school and college categories will also appear in the hardcover book, Best of College &High School Photography 2012, which will be published in June.
The Horseheads resident captured her image on a 35mm camera as part of an assignment for the film photography class she took last fall from Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art.
“The photo itself is kind of a freak thing,” Swearingen said, explaining that she was driving home from campus one weekend, trying to come up with ideas for the “texture” assignment for the class. “It was in the afternoon, not a very sunny day. I saw corn stalks leaning against the side of a building, so I just decided to pull over and take a picture.”
As fate would have it, Newcomb mentioned the photo contest and handed out informational flyers at the next class.
“It was pretty close to the deadline, but I figured I might as well try to submit something. So I went back through the [images] I’d done at that point and submitted three photos,” she said. “When I found out I was a finalist, it wasn’t the picture I expected out of the three, but I thought ‘Wow, I’ll take it.’” (more…)