I love the work of other photographers and the internet has opened a whole world of talent and technique to all of us. Looking at what others are doing excites me and fires my imagination. I am constantly getting the “I want to do that” feeling! I write about the work of others out of excitement and appreciation and to get you to feel as I do.
Dan Jurak is a Canadian photographer working in Alberta and he excites me. He’s doing some exciting stuff. Anyone can stand in front of an amazing scene and come up with a good picture. But is a “good” picture good enough? For me, there are too many good pictures and not enough imaginative, creative, interesting images.
The end result of our art, if art it be, is the print and the camera and computer and printer are merely the paint and brushes we employ to put our vision on the paper. To simply snap a beautiful scene, to take it, is a low use of our craft indeed.
However, back to Dan. He is doing several things that bear examination. He is not just taking pictures. Reading his blog you quickly realize that he is in love with his Alberta and the wealth of beauty around him. He talks about the land and the sky and the moving clouds above him.
But what he sees is often not what is before him: he goes for an impression and then sets out to render that in his images. He does not take a picture; he seeks to express an impression, a feeling, of what is before him. I don’t know if he would see it that way but it is how I experience his work.
For instance, he takes long exposures of subjects in daylight when the image could be captured in a fraction of a second. The clouds become flowing rivers of vapor. He shoots in black and white and gives his subjects a grungy edge. As a result there is a feeling of isolation and even desolation with the sky flowing overhead.
I come away feeling the immensity of the Canadian prairies, the loss of times past and the echoes of other years. Maybe I’m getting too flowery here but how would you describe these images?
And wait, there is more. He has been working in the infrared spectrum, that part of light with wave lengths too long for our eyes, and his work here is interesting as well. It is not enough that he gets unique tonal qualities but his camera angles and use of very wide lenses adds unexpected perspectives. Again his images are arresting.
One has created a good image when the viewer wants to linger over it, examine the fine details in it, to simply gaze at it. Dan’s infrared images draw you in and hold you. The color palette is different so a new set of details pop out at you. You see things differently and, sometimes, for the first time.
This image is brilliant: Low camera angle, very wide lens, and infra red color space. It is not enough to snap a picture. You have to plan out your work, your equipment, your perspective. You create an image. You don’t just “snap” it or “capture” it. You work at it just as Dan did here.
There are not enough walls in the whole of Vancouver for the images I would like to hang, but, on the limited wall space I have, I would like to have a “Jurak”. I would want it on canvas or heavy watercolor paper, I would want it large, and I would want it where I could see it. It would make me think and it would bring me pleasure.
But, lest you think he cannot work in color, have a look at this image. To me this conjures up the cold, the wind and the rural atmosphere of Alberta. It captures the very feeling of the Canadian prairies in winter; Canadian winter. I have added the water color paper to show you how I would want this on my wall. Yes, Dan can work in color!
For me, the print is everything. I want the image in my hands so I can hold it, feel the paper, walk around it, view it in bright rooms, view it in dark rooms, truly experience it. And I like them large. This is how I would like this image: watercolor paper, cold pressed, so there is lots of texture. It would be fantastic!
And so there you have it: my thoughts on the work of Dan Jurak. All of the images here are Dan’s. That means he has the copyright and you should respect that. No commercial use of these images at all. There are lots more on his website along with his blog which gives context to the images. Click on the graphic below and visit his site. Like with all good things, brandy, scotch, beer, your sweetheart, spend time there. There is much to understand but you will be richly rewarded for your effort.