Phototaxis noun; Biology
   “movement of an organism toward or away from a source of light”

Last spring I received an email from a photographer working out of Bigfork, MT. I'd not heard of Lauren Grabelle, had never seen her work. A mutual friend for whom I'd done some contract printing recommended me to Lauren; she wrote asking for my prices and available papers. I replied, including in that reply a link to my photographic services page on this site. I received the typical response: "Thanks, I'll keep you in mind"; perhaps she'd decided my prices were too high. (This is somewhat by design; as much as I love making fine-art prints, I currently do about as much print work for other photographers as I want to. I do take on new clients during slow periods, however.)

Phototaxis 2013 flier

As it turns out, Lauren did keep me in mind, or at least, she kept my email address on file. In July I received another email from Lauren, this time publicizing a photographic exhibit she called Phototaxis. The message included a PDF, as shown (reduced in size) here. I immediately loved the concept: a juried, outdoor “slide show”, open to all, to be projected on the side of a barn against the backdrop of western Montana's Mission Mountains. I wanted to be included! This has, however, been a very busy summer for me, of traveling, camping, and photographing in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, and locally here in western Montana. Not only had I several client print jobs to deliver in July, but I also had printing and framing to complete for the one outdoor show I do each year, set this year for 10 August. That date happened to be the deadline for submitting work for the Phototaxis exhibit (although the deadline was later extended).

By putting in a few late nights I got the client printing jobs finished and shipped. I'd wrapped up the bulk of the work for the outdoor show, with only a few small details left to complete. This gave me the couple of hours needed to create the jpegs, from image files I'd processed previously, for Phototaxis. I sent nine photos. I also had Lauren's flier added to a local gallery's monthly newsletter, hoping to spread the word to the arts community here in the Mission Valley.

A Beautiful Evening for Phototaxis

Rainy weather had been forecast by our “Fair. Accurate. To the Point.” and “Storm Tracker” TV weather kids (small-market broadcast TV—gotta love it). Montana's a big state, drying out under the relentless advance of a warming climate. It may have rained for a minute or two somewhere in the state. The rain did not materialize here. A nicer evening could not have been ordered; warm and calm with a few clouds and no bugs. Perfect.

My wife and I arrived to find several cars parked in the field in front of the barn. The field filled as the evening progressed. Tables of food and drink had been laid out. A violin and piano (and their players, of course!) provided excellent music. The crowd slowly grew; it included several of the photographers who had work to be shown, but the general public (friends of friends and more friends) made up most of the audience. We enjoyed talking with old and new friends while waiting for dark.

Phototaxis: the barn and projection screen

The barn and the giant projection screen used for the Phototaxis exhibit. This picture was made about 9:00, 30 minutes before the show began. Old theater seats had been arranged in front of the screen. The MacBook Pro and digital projector can be seen on the table at far left.

A large projection screen, an ancient Daylight glass-bead, had been installed on the side of the barn. This, and the projector, were vertically oriented, favoring vertical (portrait) and square images. The Phototaxis logo, a little difficult to see in the bright early-evening light, filled the screen. This became more prominent as daylight faded, becoming more than adequately dark by 9:15. Time for the show to begin!

Before starting, Lauren made a few announcements. The work of 29 photographers would be displayed. They were from Montana, of course, but also CA, NM, NY, MA and even Spain. To me this sounded like a very good response for the inaugural event. When the show began, the name and location of the photographer overlaid his or her first slide. This title then faded to show the full image, followed by the rest of the pictures from that artist.

I used an old point-and-shoot camera, hand-held and set for a high ISO, to capture a few pictures from the event. Please forgive the noise and lack of sharpness.

Phototaxis: the barn and projection screen

Another view of the barn and projection screen, a few minutes later, and a bit darker, than when the previous photo was made.

Phototaxis: a small section of the audience

A small section of the rapt Phototaxis audience under the stars, a few minutes after the start of the slide show.

Phototaxis: a photograph by Jay Cross projected on the barn

Twenty-nine photographers had work in the Phototaxis exhibit. This is one of my images, one of seven selected from the nine I submitted, projected on the barn. The copyright watermark was NOT included in the projected image. I show no others' work here as I don't have permission to do so.

Lauren and her crew did a great job putting this togehter. I hope there's a Second Annual Phototaxis next year.

August, 2013

The Monthly Disclaimer:I'm sorry about the big © in the middle of the last picture. I hate doing this, and dislike the mess it makes of the image. But I constantly find my pictures all over the Web, often using my bandwidth to display them. There's very little that can be done to stop this violation of my copyright, but I've found when I insert the watermark, the images are virtually never stolen.