The Desert Landscape

Workshop by Jay Dusard

We photograph forms in space by virtue of reflected light that we capture with our instruments. Light is our medium; it is what determines form. In this workshop we will discuss, experience, and work with the many characteristics of light: angle, direction, continuity, fragmentation, time of day, aerial perspective, and the effect of clouds.

Our field sessions will take us to beautiful areas surrounding Palm Springs including The Painted Canyon and fascinating views surrounding the Salton Sea and possibly other targets of opportunity. Expect some early departures and late returns. Everyone should bring, and work with, a tripod in the field. This encourages a slower, more contemplative, approach to the “design” of a photograph and makes it easier for me to work with you in the field.

Critique is fundamental to this workshop. While we can discuss the images made in the workshop, I sincerely feel that more is to be gained by reviewing pre-existing work. Everyone should bring, in some form, a portfolio of their photographs. All approaches and styles, certainly not just landscapes, are welcome here. Film shooters may even want to bring some problem negatives for evaluation.

Years ago I watched Ansel Adams cause clouds to materialize by simply reaching for a tripod. I can’t do that; I hope some of you participants can.

Photographers working with digital cameras should bring their laptops and be conversant with their hardware and software in order to facilitate downloading and projecting their work for critiques in class. Digital projectors with standard VGA cables will be provided. If you require DVI connectors and / or adapters, please bring one to class.

The A & I lab in Hollywood will process and proof films from this workshop at no charge.

Monday, March 30 – Wednesday April 1 9:00am – 4:00pm (plus Thursday 9:00am – 11:00am)

Jay Dusard was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1937, and raised on a southern Illinois farm. He studied architecture at the University of Florida, graduating in 1961. Fresh out of the peacetime army, and single, in 1963, Jay went to work cowboying on a family ranch on the Arizona-Sonora (Mexico) border. “Horseback every day in gorgeous, sculptural country. Seven bucks a day, and nowhere to spend it. Best deal I ever made.”

In 1965, in Tucson, Jay started photographing, studying the Ansel Adams Basic Photo Series books and attending an informal evening class taught by Hazel Larsen Archer of Black Mountain College fame. He was a participant in Ansel’s 1966 Yosemite workshop. Later, in Flagstaff, while working in publishing and architecture, and regularly aiming an 8×10 camera at the northern Arizona landscape, Jay met Frederick Sommer, who paved the way for him to teach photography for seven years at Prescott College.

While stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, in 1962, Jay bought his first horse and started riding with rancher friends who ran cattle on the military reservation. He’s owned horses ever since and has always befriended and helped ranchers wherever he has lived. He was awarded a 1981 Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography to do view camera portraits of working cowboys, buckaroos, and vaqueros from Canada to Mexico. This resulted in the publication of his acclaimed first book, The North American Cowboy: A Portrait.

Open Country, primarily a book of landscape photographs, was published in 1994. Jay has collaborated with writers on other books: La Frontera: The United States Border with Mexico (with Alan Weisman, 1986), Beyond the Rangeland Conflict: Toward a West that Works (with Dan Dagget, 1995), Cowboy Island: Farewell to a Ranching Legacy (with Gretel Ehrlich, 2000), and Horses (with Thomas McGuane, 2005), a portfolio of digital prints was published in 2005.

The abstractions of Aaron Siskind that Jay first saw at college inspired him to ultimately take up photography. Other important influences have been Jerry Uelsmann and Arnold Newman. “Without the interest, mentorship, example, and generosity of Frederick Sommer, I would not be a photographer today.”

Considered for years one of the great black-and-white darkroom printers, Jay now rarely prints in traditional gelatin silver. Still working with large- and medium-format film cameras, he now collaborates closely with Carlos Mandelaveitia of TruRes (Scottsdale) in the making of monumental-size archival inkjet prints.

Jay and his wife, Kathie, live near Douglas, Arizona, where, between photographic travels, he keeps too many horses, punches cows, and plays jazz cornet