"Roma Pizzeria" Selected as Finalist

My photograph, Roma Pizzeria, has been selected from over 800 entries as a finalist in Sohn Fine Art Gallery's 4th Annual Juried Exhibition. The exhibition at the gallery, in Lenox, MA, runs March 20 – May 3. The group show of 20 photographs is a wonderful cross-section of contemporary photography. The exhibition is a benefit for Berkshire Creative, an organization dedicated to sustaining and growing the creative economy in ways that impact life in the Berkshires. 

Installation at Sohn Fine Art Gallery © Lee Backer 2015

Installation at Sohn Fine Art Gallery © Lee Backer 2015

Ready for Spring

This winter has been brutal in the northeast. I can't remember the last time the weather has remained frigid for so long. I thought there would be a couple of days here and there when I could go out and  photograph around twilight. But that hasn't happpened so far. So i have resorted to reviewing past images. This one I took in Great Smoky Mountain National Park last April. 

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2014 in Review, Part 3

This image was shot from the High Line, a relatively new addition to New York City's parks, in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. The High Line was an elevated freight railway that had been abandoned for over 30 years before it was transformed into a park. The elevated viewpoint provides some unusual photographic opportunities. 

I thought of using this image, in color, for The Edge of Night series, but I decided it looked more dramatic and noir in B&W. When I first arrived at this spot, people were strolling along the walkway, seemingly uninterested in the sliver of space between these two industrial buildings. After I had the tripod set up, I carefully framed the image, took a shot, and repeated these steps a few more times. As I was immersed in my work, I became aware of several groups of people stopping to capture the scene on their phones before walking on. I wonder how many of them would have stopped to appreciate it had I not been there.

2014 in Review, Part 2

Toxic and Desirable

I took this photo of the Gowanus Canal last summer just before sunset. I was scouting the area to find locations to photograph later, at twilight, for The Edge of Night project. The warm glow from the sun makes even this place, whose toxic contaminants began accumulating in the nineteenth century, look attractive. The Gowanus Canal was designated a Superfund site in 2010.

Manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries, and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal. As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics.

I enjoy photographing the area around the canal because of its gritty industrial past, which is still apparent in the present. But change and gentrification are inevitable, even here. Although the start of the EPA's planned cleanup is still a couple of years away, developers have already started building condos that will overlook the canal, and trendy restaurants are cropping up. There is even a Whole Foods Market, which opened on land next to the canal, I want to continue visiting this area of Brooklyn to try to capture a sense of its past before it completely disappears and to witness its transformation into yet another hip new neighborhood to live in.. 

2014 in Review, Part 1

At the beginning of each year, I like to review my photos from the past year and pick out some favorites. Here is a shot I took last spring at the Audubon Swamp Garden in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Presenting My Work January 15 at NY PhotoGroup Salon

I am delighted to have been asked to give a presentation of my work to the New York PhotoGroup Salon, a group that meets monthly at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Please join me there if you can. Here are the details:

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The NY PhotoGroup Salon 
hosted by SVA MPS Digital Photography Department

Thursday January 15th, 2015 at 6:30 pm at

School of Visual Arts 
136 W 21 St, Room 418-F
New York, NY 10011

(between 6th and 7th Avenues,
on the south side of the street) 
PLEASE NOTE: There is no cover charge,
but seating is limited.



Featuring the work of   

Bina Altera
Lee Backer
Andreas Rentsch
Saul Robbins

The PhotoGroup Salon Committee

Jay Maisel
Bill Westheimer
Jack Reznicki
David Hodgson
Beth Ackerman
Klaus-Peter Statz

Happy New Year!

I have neglected my blog for too long, so I resolve to update it regularly. Here's a photo I took on the first day of the new year.

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.