By Kelly Price
Arrive, to look. An artist’s statement can’t get much simpler than this. And these three little words accurately express the philosophy of Leslie D. Bartlett, the accomplished landscape photographer who now creates painting-like photographs of the beautiful natural stone formations that can be found deep in the historic quarries near Cape Ann in Massachusetts.
The formations are all that remains of the region’s once-thriving granite industry. In the early 1800s, Cape Ann inhabitants started cutting the peninsula’s 450-million-year-old granite into blocks at stone for the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, parts of the Statue of Liberty, and thousands of streets worldwide.
Now, using the natural light reflecting off the Atlantic Ocean, Bartlett captures the richly textured stone motifs that have been forged by extreme weather, salt air, and the colors bleeding out from the oxidizing granite.
He then prints these images onto Water-Resistant Satin Cloth from LexJet using ImagePrint RIP software with his Epson Stylus Pro inkjet printers. The prints look so dimensional and detailed that many viewers feel as if they can almost reach out and touch the textured surface of the rock. The lightweight, wrinkle-resistant fabric makes it easy and economical for Bartlett to transport the prints from one site to another and hang them in different-sized gallery spaces.
Multiple Exhibitions: After he showed a few of his rockscapes at the Park Ave. Armory in New York, Bartlett was invited to present a four-month solo exhibition at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA. Entitled Chapters on a Quarry Wall, the exhibit shown above contained 40 large images, including the series of five vertical panoramic prints (24-in. wide and 77-in. high) shown below. These prints show how the colors on the surface of a rock face changed in spring, summer, fall and winter.
The Chapters on a Quarry Wall images were so extraordinary that Bartlett was invited to show some of them at the Soho/Photo gallery in New York in May, 2009. Now, he is preparing to present an updated, more extensive exhibition at the Vermont State Capitol this summer.
When the Chapters on a Quarry Wall images were shown at the Cape Ann Museum, Bartlett knew that many visitors to the Cape Ann Museum would like them, simply because they had lived near or grown up near the quarries where many of the images were shot. But he wasn’t sure if the images would evoke the same type of quiet contemplation when they were shown in New York. The Soho/Photo gallery in TriBeCa was established by a group of photojournalists from the NY Times and focuses more on extraordinary photography than local landmarks and history.
When visitors to the New York gallery reacted the same as people who saw the images in the Cape Ann museum, Bartlett realized that he had unearthed a real niche for himself as an artist. Although his photographs aren’t actually paintings, he has since had them critiqued as if they were. This willingness to seek advice from artists has helped him bridge the gulf that sometimes separates those who use paint to create art from those who use cameras.
Bernard Chaet, the artist and well-known art professor at Yale University, wrote about Bartlett’s rockscapes in the show at the Cape Ann Historical Museum. Chaet commented “In the rocks of Cape Ann, he gives us a long extended trip of time and space. He must know that the viewer cannot scan his images; We must see his images slowly. His photographs hold amazing secrets.”
Rebecca Reynolds, curator of the John and Margaret Manship Sculpture collection, noted that “Bartlett’s stonescapes are a sensitive tribute to the basic elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Demonstrating how careful documentation can become poetry, Bartlett records the world as he finds it, but with a frame of vision that intends to act upon the viewer and shift one’s perception.”
The power of each image comes partly from Bartlett’s willingness to watch and wait for that perfect gleam of light – often immediate light. He visits sites repeatedly to observe how the exposed surfaces of the stone warm and cool as the light shifts and the seasons change.
He meticulously edits each captured image to replicate the light, color, and details exactly as he saw them. He uses the Nik Sharpener Pro plug-in to Photoshop to adjust how the large prints will appear from a viewing distance of 20 to 25 feet—the same distance from which he photographed the rockscapes.
To render the exquisite shadow and highlight detail when he prints the images, Bartlett uses ImagePrint RIP software with the correct printing profiles for the LexJet Water Resistant Satin Cloth. The images are then output one of the two pro-model inkjet printers he purchased from LexJet: a 44-in. Epson Stylus Pro 9800 and 17-in. Epson Stylus Pro 3800.
When Bartlett first began specializing in natural stone photography six years ago, he printed exclusively on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper and framed the images behind glass. But framing quickly became impractical after he started shooting vertical panoramas and horizontal prints as large as 40 in. x 13 ft. He prints big because he wants viewers to experience the rockscapes in way that’s very real. The glass used in framing distracted from the dimensionality and distorted the look of his meticulously sharpened prints.
Printing on LexJet’s Water-Resistant Satin Cloth now proves to be the perfect solution. The inkjet-receptive material produces the rich detail his images demand and is ultra-easy to transport and install. Plus, there are no insurance and liability issues related to shipping the prints from one locale to another.
Bartlett is so pleased with the versatility of LexJet’s Water-Resistant Satin Cloth that he is using it to convert his rockscape artwork into a new line of byobu folding screens, and privacy screens for indoor and outdoor use. To learn more how to print superb photographic and art prints, you can contact Leslie Bartlett for a personalized printing consultation.
To learn more about the exceptional versatility of LexJet’s Water-Resistant Satin Cloth, call me or one of my associates at LexJet at 888-873-7553. We can recommend a variety of ways to turn your images into products that can help you expand your photography business.