A soaring geometric array of light and shadows may be the best way of describing Abstractions 1, a photograph by Linda Mann of Albrightsville that was selected for exhibit at the 2010 Phillip's Mill Photographic Exhibition in New Hope, Bucks County.
This is the fourth photograph of Mann's to be accepted at this premier northeastern photographic art exhibit. Last year two of her black and white winter landscape photographs, "Driven Snow" and "Woods On A Snowy Evening" were selected for the exhibit and awarded the Phillips Mill Inn Award for Landscape Photography-with "Woods On A Snowy Evening" also selected for the 2009 State of the Art - Pennsylvania Show at the State Museum in Harrisburg.
Mann went outside her element with Abstractions 1. While her portfolio is strong with black and white landscapes taken with a wide format film camera, Abstractions 1 is a geometric photographed in color with a Canon 5D digital single lens reflex camera.
"It's not my typical style," she explained. "First off, it's in color and I don't often work in color."
Mann made the image at Arizona's Saguaro National Park. "After taking photographs of the cactus, the plants, and the landscape, I was walking on the outside deck of the Visitor's Center, and I noticed these great shadows on the ground."
"There were straight lines and shadows and curving lines and I thought, 'Wow!' Then I looked up and saw roof with its curved open rafters. The way the sun was catching them, it was creating shadows on the walls and on the beams, and you could see the blue sky through the yellow wood."
"I stopped and thought that would make a great photograph. I set up my tripod and took about 20 to 30 photographs. It was funny because the other visitors and staff seemed to be walking by and whispering, 'what is that crazy old lady doing?'"
Mann is a southern belle, born in Tennessee, raised in Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Alabama where she had started as an art major, then learning of the difficulty of earning a living as an artist, changed her major to social work and psychotherapy-fields that she soon learned were just as difficult as art to earn a living practicing.
Art came to Mann early in life. She began art classes in elementary school. As an art major in college, she found that she was "very slow." "It took me forever to complete a drawing or a painting. Then I took a photography class and it was so much faster. I felt, wow, I can do something."
Those were the days before digital photography, when a fine arts photographer had be a master in the darkroom. But even working in the darkroom, "I could do a project in the course of days rather than weeks."
Ten years ago, Mann completed classes in photography, and realized how much she loved the art, especially the darkroom. "I put the photographic paper in the developer and agitated it and like magic the photograph began to appear."
"I found it extremely exciting and I loved it," she said. I had to prepare a portfolio of ten images for display. One of the photographer professors saw my portfolio and said, "Wow. This is the best portfolio I've seen from a beginning student." Mann knew that she had to stick with photography.
Her early experiments included landscape, still life, and portrait photography. "I didn't like the portraits, the studio lighting, nor the commercial stuff" she said. "I liked being outdoors."
Recently, Mann closed her darkroom and switched to digital photography.
"Digital processing is cleaner than working in a darkroom," she explained. "We are on a well and septic system."
"I used to have a darkroom and chemicals fro printing. Since digital photography took over, paper and chemical choices have become limited. It is difficult to dispose of the spent chemicals."
Mann has compiled her Southwestern photos in a self-published book, "Navaho Country," and a second book of her winter photographs. She is completing a ten-year retrospective that she is dedicating to her father. "My father is in 80s," she said. "He gave me my first camera. He wanted to see my photos. The book will be a gift for dad."