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Friday, 07 May 2010


Wonderful, wonderful land. Acutely seen as many are, what a refreshing break from the street/people photos. Everything we are stems from the land.


I wonder how these pictures (which I have not yet seen) would fit in with William Least Heat Moon's book PrairieErth? And how much change there may have been since he wrote it?

Damn you, Mike! Thanks to you, I've already spent more on books this year than my Social Security check will allow, and now THESE!
I'm glad that the Kenna book is WAY out of my price range.

These both look, and sound, like wonderful works, Geoff. I'm particularly interested in seeing Hokkaido. Thank you for the heads-up.

Wow what a great shot by Don Kirby. Instant impact. Wish I took it.

Is that what it takes today to make a book profitable or even break even? A high end book with a handmade print?

Sounds good to me though I can't afford those.

Don Bryant

Well, yes, these are fine photographs, but isn't the attraction of this type of monochrome photographer to bold graphic shapes as much a "velvia straitjacket" as the use of colours that are too vivid? They do love it when it snows, these guys, don't they? And those overfiltered skies with burned in clouds! The cliches of monochrome, also, can be cloying over time.


Tom Passin,
Don Kirby's work in Grasslands concentrates on the prairie landscape itself, with little evidence of human influence. A better analogue to Prairyerth (1999) might be West of Last Chance, which combines Peter Brown's large format color photographs of prairie farms and small towns with Kent Haruf's prose.

I've taken five trips through the prairie states in the last decade, including two extended visits to South Dakota. The progressive depopulation of the region is really striking. Some urban/exurban areas like Rapid City are growing, but the small farm communities are disappearing like snow on a griddle. Lots of empty schools and ghost towns.

Um, does anybody know what film Don Kirby uses? I wonder if he uses a yellow/orange filter or some-such. Stunning pictures. My grassland pictures absolutely suck.

By the way on Michael Kenna's website in the interview page there is a great video on him working in Hokkaido.

I'm not sure what large format film Kirby uses, but his darkroom printing technique involves some pretty extreme manipulations. One of his interviews describes him substantially over-developing negatives to increase contrast in the grasses, and heavily burning in the skies. A few of the photographs in Wheatcountry have very obvious dodging/burning halos that I find a bit annoying. The images in Grasslands are more subtle.

I bought Hokkaido when it was first recommended a couple of years ago here on TOP, and I know I didn't pay $250! I think it was more like $60. Beautiful reproductions.

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