Four Intimate Landscape Photographs in Juried Show

I am fortunate to have four of my intimate black and white landscapes chosen in a juried exhibition art at the Meeting House Gallery in New Marlborough, Massachusetts from June 23 - July 22. 

Each of Backer’s black and white digital photos captures a scene of the natural world, cut into vivid shapes where rigid lines of rock, sand and wood collide and intersect....One photo titled Driftwood at Bandon Beach, taken in Oregon, features a large piece of driftwood set against a sheer rock face. Without color to provide definition for the eye, the driftwood appears almost alien, the husk of some otherworldly creature washed ashore on a beach of some distant planet.
— Berkshire Record, June 22-28, 2018

My 12 Best Pictures of 2017

I find that It is good exercise to review the photos I took in the year past and to choose the ones I like the best. This process gives me the perspective of time to see what worked, what did not, and how I "see" and make images may have changed from the year before — hopefully for the better. Here are the 12 photos I selected from 2017.

Telouet – Kasbah of the Glaouis

The Kasbah of the Glaouis is not old, yet it is one of the most important sights of yesterday’s Morocco. The story began during the hard winter of 1893, when Sultan Moulay Hassan was stranded here. He, and his army of 3,000 was well taken care of by the two brothers Glaoui, Madani and T’Hami. In return of their services, they were given political power of Morocco south of High Atlas Mountains. In the years that followed the Glaoui brothers strengthened their position, and when the French came some 20 years later, they started a cooperation with them as well. By the end of the French colonial period, the Glaouis were almost as strong in power as the sultan himself.
— looklex.com

 After Morocco's independence in 1956, the Glaoui family was evicted and the kasbah was left to ruin. These photographs are of the opulent interior rooms, slowly decaying.

The Domino (Sugar) Effect

The Domino Sugar Refinery on the East River in Queens, New York, ceased operations several years ago and now awaits an uncertain future. I took this photo last summer on a fast-moving water taxi, so I didn't have much time to think about how to shoot it. I was attracted to the colorful tanks in the center, the angled shafts between the buildings, and the overall look of an industrial ruin.

A Nice Review

A juried photography exhibit in the New Marlborough, MA Meeting House Gallery, which ended in June, included two of my recent prints. One was taken in Lima on a trip to Peru, the other in Manhattan.

The TriCorner News, a local newspaper that covers towns in northwest Connecticut, southwest Massachusetts, and nearby New York, reviewed the show and said:

Lee Backer entered two wonderfully different shots. In “Amarillo,” a study in diagonals, light and shadow, a boy and girl sit on a low concrete or adobe wall, their backs to us. In front of them is a reddish wall partially in heavy shadow, behind them a sunlit downward sloping path. In “Alice Tully Hall,” the vertical panels of the refurbished Lincoln Center theater reflect the activity of the busy Broadway neighborhood. It is prismatic, bright, colorful.

Machu Picchu, Inspired by Bruce Barnbaum

"Good artists copy, great artists steal." - Pablo Picasso

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A few years ago I took a workshop with Bruce Barnbaum. During the workshop Bruce showed a lot of his prints and talked about the art of seeing and creating. My photo, Machu Picchu, Clouds and Birds, was inspired by a print Bruce showed from his first Machu Picchu trip. It has stuck in my mind ever since, and I occasionally go to his website to view it. What captivated me about his photo were the mountains peeking through the clouds and how he used the wall to anchor the scene.

The thought occurred to me that I am stealing Bruce's idea, that the image is his vision, not mine. In a way, it's true. I probably would not have thought of taking this particular photo had I not seen his. But the two photos are different. I chose to shoot the wall straight on, while Bruce's wall is angled slightly. I remember trying to capture the birds flying up in the clouds and around the ruins. Using a handheld camera, I was able to take several shots in the hope of capturing a bird swooping around the ruins. I believe Bruce was shooting with his 4x5 view camera, so it would not have been practical for him to include flying birds. And, of course, clouds are never the same.

Machu Picchu at 6:00 AM

I spent two days in Machu Picchu this past May, and I have to say it surpassed all expectations. It is bigger and more spectacular than I imagined. By the time I entered the citadel on the first day it was already late morning. There were clouds, but it was mostly sunny—not my favorite lighting. Nevertheless, there were plenty of photographic opportunities. The photo above is one I especially liked from that first day.

On day 2 I woke up at 5 am so I could be at the park when it opened at 6. What a difference! When I arrived at the gate, along with a hundred or so other people, it had just stopped raining. Clouds and fog surrounded the lost city. Occasionally the mountains would peek through for a moment and then disappear.  When the gates opened, people headed off in all directions. It was easy to get away and be alone to experience Machu Picchu in silence and let its spiritual presence and the fog surround me. This is what I came for, and I was not disappointed. Many of the photos I like were taken before 8 am. Here are some pictures from that day. You can see the full Machu Picchu gallery on my website.