Sunday, July 7, 2013

Donald Kinney at the Mill Valley Public Library

 One of the best photographers in the Bay Area, if not California (!) will be showing a selection of his work at the Mill Valley Public Library. The reception is Tuesday and everybody who can attend, should attend.

Donald writes the photo blog "A Photo A Day" which is a daily hymn to the beauties of Northern California. His work is lyrical and insightful but with typical modest, he downplays just how beautiful it all is. He is able to capture the elusive ripples of water at his beloved Lagunitas Creek, the blanket of fog as it flows over the Northern California hills. His writing is as beautiful as his images.

When he was 16, Donald was able to meet the late, great Ansel Adams. He saw the photographer working in the Carmel area, followed him to where he was having breakfast but Donald was too shy to approach the man. However, he left a message on his windshield and Adams replied some days later. "A few days later
a postcard arrived in the mail--it read;  “Can’t decipher your signature, but sure, I’d love to see your photos--just give me a call when you want to come over”.

Let him tell you in his own words. "Somehow I got enough courage to call him, and about  an hour later I was sitting in his front room with him giving me pointers on how I could improve each image. Of course, my photography at that point was pathetic,  but it inspired me to read his books...A few months later I felt I had to show him my new attempts, so I re-invited myself to his home and after he
had looked through my new work he complimented me on how much I had improved.  The moment was probably the finest in all of my short sixteen years."

Like many of us, Donald was not independently wealthy and so, being able to follow his heart took many years. But he retired about ten years ago and ever since then, is up at 4 a.m., following the light, the sun, the fog, the panorama of nature that surrounds us in the Bay Area.

I think I began following his blog though his images of Lagunitas Creek. His ability to capture the color, the shape of ripples on water, the patterns, the subtle changes of light and weather were mesmerizing.

I believe that Donald subconsciously picks up the Japanese reverence for nature but another friend of mine, painter Dale Erickson sees the influence of 19th century landscape painters Kensett and Heade.

The show is packed into a small narrow hallway and in order to maximize this opportunity, Donald has framed the pieces into diptychs and triptychs. This does not work for me as I prefer fewer larger images. But it's understandable that he wants to give those who attend the exhibit a chance to see as many images as possible.

This piece won a prize a prize at the Marin County Fair, complete with a  $100 gift certificate given by "Digital Rain/Digital Image Magic" a local business here in San Rafael. Donald told me that some might think that the image was Photoshopped but it wasn't. He was in the right place at the right time - made possible by his dedication to getting out there and photographing every day

Donald: "I realize that many of you live at great distances, unable to attend the opening on Tuesday, so if you can't be here in the flesh I'll invite you to be here in Spirit. A bunch of friends; some whacky dudes and gals, and even some relatives I haven't seen for 10 years have said they will be stopping by. I still have people I need to invite, but consider yourself invited. RSVP not required. I'm going to bring wine for all of you alcoholics. "

all images @ Donald Kinney. Used with permission.

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