John Watkins

Retired Physician in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

The morning light changes with each season and each tide. I have visited an island in Maine and the mountains of New Hampshire nearly every year since childhood and my visits bring a sense of place and renewal. Each day begins with a morning walk, visiting and photographing old favorites as well as newly discovered spots in different seasons.

I have tried to capture the timeless nature of the island and the continuing struggles where the land meets the sea. Many of the structures remaining today are as they were 150 years ago. In my explorations, I am reminded that we are continually building on the past. The granite from the quarries of the 19th century became the foundations for the cities and buildings of the 20th century. Even now, the shore is littered with the detritus of those struggles from before.

The forests and mountain trails have similarly evolved with new trail management techniques and patch cutting, selective lumbering practices to stimulate biodiversity and long-term forest preservation.

My initial images were in color as I learned the language and the process. In recent years I have been drawn to the platinum/palladium printing process. The long tonal range of the print extends the “octave” of the photographic process. This extended range seems well suited to the light of both the mountains and the sea. The required contact printing process utilizes a larger negative and a view camera. I have settled on a 7 x 17 banquet view camera, circa 1917-1920. I find that to visualize and compose an image on the ground glass is a contemplative and thoughtful process. My selections also include color gum trichromate images, representative of the first color photographic process and a carbon emulsion transfer print widely used before the introduction of silver chloride/bromide photographic papers.

It is my intention to elucidate the character and substance of the mountains, the islands and their people. The photographs taken and selected by their very nature reflect the changes which have occurred both on the mountains and the island and in the photographer, as well.

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