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Thread: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

  1. #1

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    William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    I was reading the Jay Maisel book "Light, Gesture and Color," and came across mention of William Garnett, who I hadn't heard of (or forgot about if I had). When I looked him up on the web I found some of his images intriguing. I then found some favorable reviews for the book titled simply "Aerial Photographs," so I ordered a copy. Here is a brief review:

    The images are all black and whites from an airplane, many shot straight down, others at a lesser angle to the earth's surface. Most are fairly high contrast, graphic images, often somewhat abstract. Some of them depict landforms that are difficult to identify without reading the associated captions. The closest thing I can identify the photographs with, based on my limited knowledge, is perhaps images by Aaron Siskind or Carl Chiarenza.

    I have no idea what sort of camera(s) Mr. Garnett used, and the book gives no technical information of that sort. I doubt he used large format cameras, Regardless, I would recommend this book for anyone who loves good B&W imagery.

  2. #2

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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    Thanks for reminding us of Mr. Garnett. You can find a good interview and a fine portfolio of his work in the book 'Landscape: Theory', published by Ralph Gibson's Lustrum Press. (Out-of-print now, of course, but available on the used market and a valuable resource for landscape shooters of all types.)
    He began shooting aerial landscapes after WWII and has/had quite a reputation... his work is beautiful. In the book I mentioned, he spoke of using a 4x5 Speed Graphic while flying his Cessna 170... and the daunting technical problems he had to solve. I think most of his later work was done with a 35mm Pentax but I'll have to find the book to be sure.

  3. #3

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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    Quote Originally Posted by h2oman View Post
    I was reading the Jay Maisel book "Light, Gesture and Color," and came across mention of William Garnett, who I hadn't heard of (or forgot about if I had). When I looked him up on the web I found some of his images intriguing. I then found some favorable reviews for the book titled simply "Aerial Photographs," so I ordered a copy. Here is a brief review:

    The images are all black and whites from an airplane, many shot straight down, others at a lesser angle to the earth's surface. Most are fairly high contrast, graphic images, often somewhat abstract. Some of them depict landforms that are difficult to identify without reading the associated captions. The closest thing I can identify the photographs with, based on my limited knowledge, is perhaps images by Aaron Siskind or Carl Chiarenza.

    I have no idea what sort of camera(s) Mr. Garnett used, and the book gives no technical information of that sort. I doubt he used large format cameras, Regardless, I would recommend this book for anyone who loves good B&W imagery.
    Thanks for posting. Check this earlier forum post and the Scott Nichols Gallery exhibit. On Scott's site (page not found) scroll down to William Garnett and you will find images of his work.

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...illiam+garnett

  4. #4

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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    Garnett is one of my early heroes. He could pilot a plane as he photographed with a 4x5 over his shoulder - having figured out the precise angle and point of vantage, the precise time of day to be at that vantage point, and then the precise engine rpm's to mitigate vibration. There is certain work of his...I think of his desert abstracts like "Nude Dunes," or his flock of birds flying low over shimmering water - timing and vision just so perfect! I place him on an equal plane (no pun intended!) to another one of my true heroes (who I was fortunate enough to meet): Bradford Washburn.

  5. #5

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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    I met Mr. Garnett at one of my AA Yosemite workshops in the late '60s, when he was invited by Ansel to help out with that workshop ... an amazing person. He showed a series of projected color slides taken from his Cessna that were jaw-dropping. He mentioned using his Pentax with thread-mounted lenses that were provided by Pentax to be precisely focused at infinity with his camera body. He described how he would shoot through the open window, controlling the plane with his knees on the column and somehow pull up its nose to the point of stall at the moment of exposure.

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    I have a large book of his color images. While he is better known for his black and white shots and b&w printing skill, he was highly competent in color too, and in those images shows the same kind of predilection for sophisticated abstraction. I don't think he actually printed color; the published pages were made from transparencies, mostly 35mm Kodachrome, as I recall.

  7. #7

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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I have a large book of his color images. While he is better known for his black and white shots and b&w printing skill, he was highly competent in color too, and in those images shows the same kind of predilection for sophisticated abstraction. I don't think he actually printed color; the published pages were made from transparencies, mostly 35mm Kodachrome, as I recall.
    Drew, he started making his own Cibachrome prints in the early 1980's. For the color book, he duped the 35mm capture onto 4x5 Ektachrome for reproduction.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    Thanks for that info, Merg. I've never seen any actual color prints of his, just the book. Of course, his b&w prints were exhibited quite a few places in that era and were very well done. Other than Bradford Washburn, I can't think of anyone else in his league as an aerial photographer.

  9. #9
    Eric Biggerstaff
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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    Garnett is one of my favorites for sure! I cannot photograph a sand dune without thinking about his work, stunning!
    Eric Biggerstaff

    www.ericbiggerstaff.com

  10. #10

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    Re: William Garnett Aerial Photographs

    I've enjoyed reading all your responses, giving me further insight into this wonderful photographer. Here is a direct link to what Merg mentioned:

    http://www.scottnicholsgallery.com/a...lliam-garnett/

    I failed to mention in my "review" that the printing of the book seems excellent, in my opinion, and the images are pretty large. My only beef is there are one or two images printed across the gutter between facing pages, which I can't stand. I'd rather see it small, on one page.

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