A Photographic View of American Technology | Jet Lowe | Talks at Google

[MUSIC PLAYING] ED BACHER: Good afternoon Thanks for coming, and I’m just going to give a very brief introduction to this talk We want to welcome Jet Lowe, who has been a photographer for– he’s retired now, but has been a photographer for the Historic American Building– JET LOWE: Survey ED BACHER: –Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record for many years I discovered his work browsing around online at the Library of Congress and spent lots of time and started corresponding with him a few years ago and said, hey, if you’re ever out in California, come on over to Google and show us your stuff So without further ado, I want to introduce Jet Lowe [APPLAUSE] JET LOWE: Hello It’s a great pleasure to be here to give a talk to Google I feel in some ways that the program I work for is part of an antecedent to the kind of things that Google does in making information about things free to everyone, because the program I worked for was called the Historic American Engineering Record and our mandate was to document the technology of the built environment Historic technology, as I like to say, from wind mills to steel mills to even the shuttle discoverer And this program has all the documentation that I did over a 35 year period of time becomes public domain and becomes a primary resource for people across the country researching the American architecture and engineering And that program originated in the Library of Congress, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson in the interest of making information as accessible to the public as much as possible So what I would like to do is go back a little bit and talk about my background as a photographer and even the origins of photography itself, because a lot of people think of photography as started– as a large format five by seven– five inches by seven inch plate that I shot– the information that film can record on a piece of film– and they still shoot film at the Historic American Engineering Record If you record that information at the– if you scan it, you have information that you can– the optical resolution– it creates around a two-gigabyte file for one image So there’s a lot of information stored on a piece of film and that’s why we plan on continuing using film as our base of documentation because it’s a lot less expensive to maintain than if it were digital only to begin with, with all the redundancy that you need to– as you all probably know– to protect data So if you’ve got a film origin and you scan that, then you use the digital scan to access the information, you only need to go to the film just maybe a couple of times in a lifetime, but the data on the film can last 300 or 400 years without any further ado I like to talk about the origins of photography I mean, photography and the optical ways of looking at things goes back pretty much to the Renaissance when ideas of the classics– the Greeks about perspective and optics– were being reawakened as that information that were actually saved by the Arabs and then it was re-translated into Latin in the 13th, 14th, 15th century And the artist scientists became very interested in single-point perspective because it was thought of as almost a virtual reality way, that if you could make events look more realistic to the way our eyes perceive things, then you could make a much more convincing image What I’m showing here is a very famous experiment that’s been described as sort of the patron

saint of modern engineering, a guy named Filippo Brunelleschi, and it’s a perspective experiment But what makes optical perspective in photography work is that you’re looking at things through a single lens and that puts everything into perspective What he did is he did a very realistic single point of view painting on a mirrored surface, which you can see here, and then he would look at it through this peephole at the vanishing point of the perspective and then compare that by dropping the mirror and looking at the object that he was trying to render So this is the baptistry that he was trying to depict in a realistic form of perspective This is an image made by a gentleman who studied these experiments very closely And then this is where the point of view was made of the baptistery in Florence And here’s the significant thing that he was trying to do– if you can render images– three-dimensional images– realistically and proportionately on a flat piece of surface– on a two-dimensional surface– you can make plans for things in your mind’s eye that are much more efficient and much more realistic You can work out your ideas So it was a form of thinking that we worked on artistically and scientifically for 400 or 500 years, and they’re still doing to this day when we do laser scanning and that kind of thing Basically, when you’re doing that, you’re pinpointing the location of all these millions of spots in a cloud when you’re scanning a building or structure I managed to get over to Florence, Italy I’ve been studying these experiments and the history of perspective, and it interested me quite a bit as it related to photography because basically viewing things optically took place several hundred years before they figured out how to actually fix these images And this is the baptistry as seen about at midnight in Florence in 2011 It’s so crowded there in the springtime that photographing it in the daytime is really actually quite difficult Now if you turn around from this point of view, you’ll see the facade of the cathedral, the Santa Maria del Fiore, and you can see the enormous scale of this structure And what Brunelleschi was very famous for doing is he built this enormous dome without using any internal scaffolding He used false work around the edge and used a very complex kind of weave of bricks and stone to hold this thing together as it went up And here’s another view You can see the– just notice the people on the bottom here and it gives you a sense of the size of this structure This is around 1450 So it’s one of the most significant buildings in Europe in a way in terms of structural engineering and the machines and devices that he invented to get things up and hoist the material up to the dome to continue with the construction So basically what I’ve been doing as a documentary photographer for these years is, all of these different structures that I’ve photographed, whether they’re in Europe or in the United States, I like to think of them as kind of portals into history or memory When you lose a structure, when you scrape a building, that kind of memory of that structure is gone forever And here is a young man who had the same notion as me He was kind of paying his obeisance to the dome That’s called the Giotto tower Giotto was an artist who preceded Brunelleschi by about 40 or 50 years and in whose art you first start seeing the beginnings of a perspectival system of rendering images

Not long after– about 100 years after this– you start getting camera obscuras, where artists start using the projection created by a lens onto a surface to create drawings And by the 16th and 17th centuries, you’ll even notice optical phenomenon in paintings such as like the art of Vermeer, where they recorded these optical phenomena that you would not see with your own eyes necessarily but are created by a certain slight area of the image being out of focus So we have photography for a number of centuries before the chemists figure out how to fix the image They notice that light hitting silver halide causes it to darken, but they couldn’t quite figure out how to stop that action When they do that, that’s when you get the birth of photography as we know it I want to make some mention about how these perspectives and how these optical devices gets to be systematized and then artists start learning how to make many other kinds of projections And this is very soon after the Brunelleschi experiments, but you will see often that this kind of system of thinking is often used in computer works when they’re trying to render even like facial recognition– looking for certain points on the face and the eyes to measure distances and things– and it all goes back to this particular period of time This single point of view enabled architects and designers to figure out the proportional relationships of buildings as they would fit together in a plan And this is showing how all these diagonals are converging on a single point of view As an architectural photographer, with a view camera, you learn how to actually move that vanishing point around, and that’s one of the things that gives a unique look to a large format images Again, with perspective, with design, this enables you to do handbooks– show how parts are related to each other And that’s the one thing that I found the most difficult thing to do photographically, because photography sort of deals with surface and appearance that it’s very difficult to accomplish that, but when you mix photographs with measured drawings, such as done by the Historic American Engineering Record, then you get a real mixture One of the things that’s going on these days that I find slightly distressing is that historic preservationists are getting very adept at using these laser scanners to record very precise measurements and shapes of things and they can even put a skin on these drawing with photographs, but in a way, there’s no interpretation of them because of that Maybe they will evolve some kind of interpretation, but I think– as a black and white photographer, I think one of the things I enjoyed so much over the years was sort of try and look at these things and see what the soul of them was So one of my first what I regarded as kind of a successful image, but you can see, here I am using that vanishing point perspective And this type of view is very elemental to most architectural photography in that almost all architectural photographers start with an elevation Of any building they’re photographing, they’re going to photograph the principal elevation In a way, they’re searching for the views that the architect is intending to orient you as you walk through the building You can see in this campus that we’re on, there’s a lot of very intentional design in how the architects want you to flow through the buildings and experience the other spaces I started my photography rather unusually I mean, I had not really– I was not like an adolescent photographer or anything, but I was a freshman in college and we

had these independent study periods which have become very common in a lot of colleges I mean, they almost all have January terms The school I went to had two independent study periods a year of one month long And in my freshman year of college, I got the opportunity to go to Haiti I mostly wanted to go there to practice my French And a professor said, take my Pentax camera with you And so I did I rolled up 20 rolls of black and white film and 10 or 15 rolls of Kodachrome and found myself photographing the architecture as much as anything I did get some nice people photographs but those certainly weren’t my strongest images, but as I went over these images– and I came across these negatives in one of my shoe boxes just last summer and scanned just to see what I had there, and I was surprised at how architectural they were But let me identify this This is in Cap-Haitien, the northern part of Haiti This is a wonderful dome church I forget what the exact name of it but it’s in the– it’s the Cathedral de Milao, built in 1805– just almost sort of at the end of the Haitian revolution And it’s sort of interesting these connections– these disparate connections between places– but the French did not sort of willingly give up Haiti as a colony It was their wealthiest colony by far But basically, malaria beat the French soldiers, and at the time, Jefferson was very interested in achieving sort of at least to guard the Mississippi Valley and they went to France to negotiate for just New Orleans They were interested in that just to kind of protect to keep the British from being able to go up the Mississippi River And in the negotiations, they said, well, how would you like just sort of the rest of the French territory? And so basically half the country was purchased, and we can thank the Haitians for that in many ways Going further into Cap-Haitien, this is a wonderful palace that was heavily damaged This was built by King Christophe It was called Sans-Souci It’s just south of Cap-Haitien These shots were done in 1966, by the way This was under the Papa Doc regime I had a month to travel around And I guess the thing that really seduced me to photography in some ways is that I found myself ending up in places I just ordinarily wouldn’t end up in And I like to sort of promote photography to people as a way to slow down your visitation to a place rather than speeding it up I’m sure you’ve been to the national parks where people jump out of the car, photograph half dome, jump back in the car, go to the next site, but photography can also be sort of a more meditative and a slowing down process as a way to explore areas as well And that’s the way I like to think of it and maybe that’s why I’ve always liked large format photography And even though I am currently shooting a lot digitally, I try to use it in a more meditative way Going up the hill from Sans-Souci is the largest fortress in North America, the Citadel de la Ferriere, and it was built by King Christophe out of fear that the French might return and try and take away, but really, the malaria did them in and they were probably exhausted from all of Napoleon’s doings in Moscow and everywhere else at that time And here’s further up This structure has been much stabilized since I photographed it in ’66 I think they’ve kind of lined up the cannons

and probably pointed up the mortar a little bit but it was quite a wonderful sight And here’s a little piece of mortar just sitting there waiting for the French to come back, but they never did The photographers that I sort of look up to and think back on the most are like the French masters who conducted major surveys This is the French photographer Baldus, and there were the great American William Henry Jackson and numerous other great photographers that did surveys of the West that are credited with the founding of the National Park Service with the work that they did And back when I was doing research at the Library of Congress back in the ’60s– the prints and photographs division is a great place to visit if you love photography because you used to have to submit copyrights to them They started amassing a major photographic collection in the early 20th century So they’ve got the Arnold Genthe of the San Francisco earthquake and these great photographs there, and those images are what have always inspired me in terms of image quality and just the substance of the photographs that they take This is a bridge that I photographed in Cleveland, Ohio, the Abbey Avenue Bridge I pointed out to you that since– I don’t think I was familiar with that Baldus photograph when I did it, but when you’re photographing bridges, bridges are really great sort of documents of engineering thinking at any given time You can even see it around here when you look at the highway overpasses that have been built since the earthquake that you had in the early ’90s that are much more beefed up and things like that And like this bridge, you can see– and you’ll notice these lace channels and these small details and rivets and pin connections I mean, the engineers were jumping hoops with the materials and the things that the steel manufacturers could produce at that particular time As the steel mills were able to put out bigger pieces, you could make a similar bridge with fewer pieces and faster And so these are ways that people that study bridges will look at them If you see a pin-connected metal truss bridge, that’s probably going to be built before 1900, for example One of my other major influences is Ansel Adams, who definitely works in the tradition of the great 19th century photographers In this photograph I made in Butte, Montana in the early ’80s of the– I would sit out there in January It sort of marks one of the coldest assignments I ever had But ARCO, which owned most of the mine sites, was tearing down these head frames and they wanted me to get out there to document these head frames The temperature was about eight degrees below, which is probably not that cold for Butte, but it was about the most cold that a camera shutter would perform without sort of removing all the lubricants You have to take the lubricants out of the camera shutter if you’re going to work colder than that But so it was my homage to Ansel storm clearing over Butte, Montana And this is a bridge in New Portland, Maine that sort of illustrates hybridization between the covered bridge technology where you’re covering the tower structures to protect them from the weather and the winters there The reason covered bridges are covered is because they make the trusses last about 100% longer And just to illustrate, this is looking from the other side, looking west And here’s a detail of the anchorage I mean, that’s the most important part of a suspension

bridge is that’s what’s holding it up, where it’s going into the ground It’s probably some big kind of literal anchor that’s buried in the ground that’s holding it And just for comparison, this is what the anchorage to the George Washington Bridge crossing the Hudson River in New York City looks like And here, you can really see how the suspension bridge is made because it’s done over a year or so time where each cable is made from a single span of wire going back and forth hundreds and hundreds of times until they assemble this array of cables and ropes and put it into one big cable Climbing up through the superstructure of the George Washington Bridge– probably my favorite bridge that I’ve ever gotten to document– this was before 9/11 I don’t know whether they would have permitted me to photograph it since then But we were trying at that time to document major civil and mechanical engineering landmarks for our collection and they were very amenable A lot of these folks that work for the port authority were headquartered in the World Trade building at that time, so I imagine we lost a number of folks when that happened And here’s an aerial of the George Washington Bridge Apparently Ammann was very influenced by erector sets, a friend of mine has told me, and it has this kind of erector set look to it But the other thing that’s going on here is that it’s a bit over-built because it was designed to be clad with stone to give it that kind of New York-y kind of solid look, but the critics just liked it so much showing the structure itself that they stuck with that And here is a good profile looking downstream I’d finished shooting the bridge that week I was on the way home across the bridge and the Hudson was just this mirror calm and the light was just this gorgeous light, so we got down to this little state park where we could get this view with a deceptively placid look of New York City I love that contrast of it And here is the ancestor to the George Washington Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, which we’re all familiar with The trademark of the bridge is those diagonal stays There was a big concern about how the counteracting sway and avoiding the cyclical sinusoidal movements of the bridge decks As the 20th century proceeded, the engineers got a little more daring with thinning the road deck and over-relying on the weight of the bridge deck to keep that from happening, until Galloping Gertie disaster took place and then they sort of went, eh, we went a little too far in that direction But you know, mistakes do have to happen And this was taken around ’83 during the centennial of the Brooklyn Bridge opening, which was almost 100 years after its opening You can still see the World Trade Center framed through it there And to build a suspension bridge, you’ve got to make wire and cable, so I’m putting in this– this is where the Roebling factory in Trenton, New Jersey with a little miniature series of buildings trying to express what they’re doing there They’re making wire rope And this is actually in the same area This is a rope-making machine– quite an elaborate machine with this clockwork mechanism that was adjusted so that you could do different winds and lays of wire around a single cable depending on how much flexibility you wanted to design into the rope This cable became very important in the development and the building of the Panama Canal

in terms of its construction Certainly one of the more magnificent structures I got to photograph during my career And it’s a very interesting structure because the canals and the railroads were sort of made– in a way, the railroads eclipsed canals as a way of moving stuff around, but the thing that makes the Panama Canal work as a mechanism is actually a lot of railroad technology to open these gates such as this– this enormous gate here, which is what, about 10 stories tall, they had to think of different systems to control it with They were not directly connected to the control tower there, which I’m going to show you here AUDIENCE: Was that prior picture taken on top of a gate? JET LOWE: What? AUDIENCE: Were you out on top of gate? JET LOWE: Yeah Yes There was a few– you’ll see back– you know, there were some walkways I don’t know that it’s shown, but there were some walkways and there were some gates that you could cross over to But anyway, this was the control room The Smithsonian was just fascinated with these control tables, which are kind of pretty remarkable things because they kind of– as I’ll show you in a second, they kind of create a simul view– a virtual view– of what’s going on in the canal by these indicators here And you can see here they’re indicating that these gates are closed This sign here I think might say that it’s locked and that people are walking across it as a way to warn the operator that no, you better not open that one there And you can see here that that canal gate is open So while these photographs were being made during this annual overhaul that they do– they just kind of do it like they repair roads around here They close down one lane and so all the ships have to wait their turns to go east or west while they repair one set of chambers and then they go onto the other side and repair the other side of chambers That was really kind of a unique opportunity to get there to photograph during this particular process, and they took me all around on the inside Underneath these control tables, for this thing to work, the biggest fear of a canal designer and an engineer, if you don’t open the gates in the right order, you have the danger of draining the lake in the middle of the peninsula If the lake were to start flowing out, there’s no way you could close those gates if you don’t do it in the right order It would take a year or so to build up enough water in the lake to make the canal run So they developed this interlocking table that sort of uses a lot of early logic– if, and, and– so that the operator can only go into certain sequence It’s called interlocks and it’s kind of based on switching technology that the railroad devised in the 19th century And so these are the little electric motors underneath the canal gates that mimic what’s happening with the real gates, and they’re little electric motors connected to the actual canal gates that send the signal back to this So it’s like a prototypical fly-by wire system if you know what that is as far as airplane controls go So rather than directly controlling the elevators of an airplane, you have an electrical system, or you have electric steering in your Prius, for example, rather than a mechanical direct connection And so then you have all these interconnections that prevent you from opening it or closing it in the wrong sequence What this enabled– I throw this image in This train exists here in Nome, Alaska It was hauling gold out of the sands out of Nome

But because the Panama Canal was not completed, it had to be brought all the way around from New York City around South America and up to Nome Alaska during the 1890s gold rush And I just find that a kind of pretty remarkable story It was part of the elevated line in New York City, and when they retired it, they shipped it all the way around to Nome for the gold rush While we’re up in Alaska, as part of exploitation of materials and industrialization that was taking place in the 19th century, this bridge was built called the Million Dollar Bridge– the only bridge in the world that I know of that’s actually built between two glaciers And when it was built in 1912, they did not know whether the glaciers were going to expand and tear it away or not, but it had to be built in the depth of the winter while the river was completely frozen up so that if it were completed abutment to abutment, before a breakup, it would probably hold But they had to get it– if it were not completed, it would just get washed downstream with the breakup of the ice What you see also here is the result of the earthquake of 1963, the Alaskan earthquake, which I think is still the largest recorded earthquake that’s occurred That’s since been repaired But I think that’s the Miles Glacier to the south, and then if you’re on top of the truss and look to the north, this is the other glacier Cordova Alaska is sort of over there beyond the trees, and people will drive up to a road that’s just across the stream from the glaciers and honk at it to make it calve And it sounds like a little thunderstorm off in the distance as the glaciers are falling off the end It’s this deep rumble Back to another great bridge, this is Bellows Falls, Vermont This is a bridge that we lost in the late ’70s I was just finishing up this project and a young man walked up to me and said, how would you like me to walk up to the top of that bridge there and get a picture of me? And I said, well, sure But engineering objects kind of inspire those kind of things, and I think really great engineering, like such as the Golden Gate Bridge, can have the capability of actually enhancing putting focus on a natural environment And the details on the bridge plates often gives you information about the politics of what’s going on– who got the funding going So my interest in bridges has been– since retirement in 2013, I’ve continued to take pictures, and I’m always sort of on the lookout for the great landmarks And this was one of the great landmarks of the 19th century, was the Garabit Viaduct in southern France Really a quite wonderful, elegant structure You’ll see it in most any Art History 101 course And then also worth a trip across the pond is a very recently built bridge This is almost a British– it’s in southern France not far from the Garabit It’s called the Millau Viaduct and is by Richard Norman Foster, the British architect But the firm that built this is basically a descendent of the Eiffel firm And these are the towers This bridge is tall enough that you could fit the Eiffel Tower underneath it So it’s quite an impressive structure One of the things that we’ve learned in our technology in the 19th and 20th century is handling heat Maybe you all have gone north to northern California and crossed the Carquinez Strait bridge and looked at those abandoned ships that are gathered up off to the right, called the Ghost Fleet by some folks I got to get out there as one of the more stranger environments I’ve gotten to get into And we were photographing oil tankers, and this is the engine room of an oil tanker,

showing the steam turbines and the reduction gears Now this is kind of a hot rod oil tanker because it had to be able to keep up with the fleet, because at the time, they didn’t have enough technology to make the reduction gears But for the oil tankers that needed to keep up with the fleet, they had those And this is the boiler room of the same You know, pretty– that’s a hot place to work But this technology, sort of often– you know, after photographing this stuff for the time, it makes it seem like, you know, it’s not that big of a leap to the shuttle discoverer This is the bridge to the shuttle discoverer I got down to Cape Canaveral just before– when they were sort of fitting it up for going to the Udvar-Hazy Museum in Washington, DC This is a stitched image from two negatives, showing the full control panel The windshield is completely blacked out to protect it from the work that they were doing to get it ready to go to the museum If you were to turn it around from the same spot, you would look here and see the control panel to the Canadian arm, and in dealing with things in the cargo bay and also being able to ingress and egress out of the shuttle when you’re out of space And this is a view into the– you could fit a good-sized yellow school bus in this cargo bay So the shuttle discoverer is a pretty large machine NASA thought of it as the most complicated machine on the planet, which could very well be with the systems that it takes to make that thing reusable and controllable as it was To be able to operate the machine out in space while in orbit, you need to rehearse what you’re going to be doing, and they would time to the minute what the extravehicular operators would be doing And they would do it in this– what’s called a neutral buoyancy chamber in Huntsville, Alabama And that’s what you’re seeing here This is an underwater shot through one of those portholes of the Canadian arm And here’s Leslie Wickman, an astronaut– she was an extravehicular specialist astronaut that specialized in operating outside of the shuttle At this particular time, I don’t think– when I did this shot, I don’t think they had gotten up and done the repairs on the web telescope yet, but I think they were getting ready for that at that particular time And so she’s just kind of completing her rehearsal When they go in there, they have to be weighted down They have other scuba divers to help them out, but they do time it down to the minute what exactly they’ll be doing And here’s the gloves To make an astronaut suit, it’s about a million dollars for each suit that an astronaut weighs It’s the cost of those things I mean, you can imagine what the suit has to do You know, operate in a vacuum, keep you warm on the cool side and cool you down on the hot side and all that kind of stuff And then have these gloves so that you can actually manipulate tools and things like that This is one of them more bizarre kind of almost kludgy things that NASA did I mean, scientists and engineers are very pragmatic creatures, as I’m sure you all very well know, but this transport system of the shuttle– that 747 that they use is apparently just completely empty on the inside I mean, I think there are like just a few sort of special seats behind where the bridge is to run the thing, and then I’m sure the shuttle just has everything out of it that they can get out of it This is the underside of the shuttle, which is kind of neat that you can really sense what an aged ship it was at the time going into the museum And that it had gone more than a million miles

around the planet And you can even see the space dirt on the shuttle tiles And just as an example of how difficult it was to prepare the shuttle for re-entry and re-use, each one of those tiles, they have to kind of re-inject some kind of substance into them to protect them against absorbing too much moisture while they’re on land And each tile takes a different quantity and they’re all completely numbered It’s like this very homemade kind of machine and that’s why it’s so expensive Just to start on a whole different pilgrimage from going into outer space, since I’ve been retired, I’ve always been interested in architecture of all sorts, and one of my favorite places that we visited in France was an area called the Puy-en-Velay, which is kind of a pilgrimage spot And it’s this French town in the Massif Central of France that basically occupies a volcanic caldera So these little churches and stuff on tops of remnants of volcanoes and things, so it’s a major Christian pilgrimage space, and here, this stairway is where a penitence might crawl up to the church on their knees in medieval times– I don’t think in the 20th century anymore– maybe to go visit the Black Madonna And the original– there’s a whole bunch of interesting stuff about these Black Madonnas, but apparently one of the originals was captured during the Crusades from Constantinople or something like that at that time During the French Revolution, a lot of these icons were destroyed, and so this is probably one that was a reproduction that was made in the 19th century by the– I just found it an extraordinarily droll– sort of a wonderful thing Icon for what it is And so in my talk here with this portal view, this is still– you’re up at the top of the hill outside of this church, and this would be one of the places where you might begin a new journey This was one of the beginning spots if you were going to do the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, and no telling what would happen and no telling where we’ll go from there And that’s where I’ll end my talk If there’s any questions, I’ll be happy to entertain them [APPLAUSE] ED BACHER: Thank you, Jet If you have any questions, there’s a mic in the middle of the room there I’ll start off with a Dory question Ryan in Sunnyvale asks, what do you think has been lost from the conversion of film to digital photography and what advice would you give to digital photographers these days? JET LOWE: Well, on that particular issue, I think of digital and film as like two different beasts And I’m sort of fairly ecumenical on that, although I would still think that whether you’re digital or not, I’d highly recommend shooting film and trying to deal with it because a lot of the kind of language that you see in Photoshop derives from film– usage of film The things like the Dodge and Burn tool, and even the Unsharp tool in Photoshop is a result of graphic designers using two images to create a greater amount of edge around an image to create the sharpness, and that’s probably what the computer program is doing, too But so I just really think of them as completely different kinds of things The thing that I like about film is that you can capture things in one moment Like there’s a thing–

to do some of the things in digital that you would do in film, you have to take multiple images, for example, to get the contrast range, whereas with film, you can overexpose and underdevelop and compress that range together to get a different effect than you can with digital But they really are– I am told that actually film– I wouldn’t say as so much it’s making a comeback, but the companies are selling more film with increasing time Film is more of a tactile medium and maybe it has also to do with– there was debate back in the ’30s whether it’s light particles or is it waves And I think of film as particles and I think of digital as waves ED BACHER: Question AUDIENCE: Thanks for the talk and the pictures So if someone is going to use digital– which, sorry to say that, but are there any digital cameras that you would recommend or that you yourself use? JET LOWE: Oh gosh I mean, you know, the point and shoot cameras– even though the iPhone and the Android phones, they do magnificent images And there’s whole groups of fine art photographers that are sort of using those as their medium because of the particular kind of image quality that they use And so I think that’s– you know, whatever works, in a way, is what I would– AUDIENCE: What are some things you think about when composing a photo? Some things you think about when you’re composing a photo? JET LOWE: When I give workshops, I tell people to think a lot about what’s going on around the edges, because whenever you’re taking the picture, you’re cutting things out And so you’re always making a decision, do I want this or do I not want that? So if you think a lot around the edges, that makes a big difference Now if you’re photographing architecture, I really like to encourage people to try and sort of get as high as possible so that the camera back is as parallel to parallel vertical lines as possible The architectural photography is sort of like a subdiscipline of photography, and so in a way, it’s got stricter rules, and in many ways, it’s harder to kind of make a stylistic differentiation between one’s work and another’s work because it’s maybe like fugue writing or something like that AUDIENCE: Let me piggyback on that one just a little bit, and maybe this is sacrilege talking to you, but for scale and context, I find some architectural photography includes human subjects, like you had the one on the Bellows Falls Bridge there Any advice on including human subjects in? JET LOWE: Personally, I like to have people in my photographs Another way I depart from a lot of architectural photographers is I like having automobiles in my photographs, because over time, those automobiles will really date the image Because when you see a photograph taken in the ’60s, for example, just by looking at the automobiles, you know when it was taken But sometimes people and automobiles can detract from maybe the design or whatever you’re trying to capture so there’s no really fixed rules on that or not, but generally, I like to have people in my photographs for the scale and the human use of the structure AUDIENCE: Thanks ED BACHER: Any other questions? I have one You showed us a difficult place to photograph, at least from your comfort, in Butte Do you have a favorite place that you photographed or a favorite item that you photographed? JET LOWE: Well I didn’t show it in this sequence, but I think one of the more wondrous places I got to get to was the leper colony on Moloka’I Island in Kalaupapa

And because I work for the Historic American Engineering Record, what we were documenting was the water supply system to the leper colony, and so it involved hiking up these steep ginger root streams to get to these sedimentation ponds and stuff like that to kind of clarify the water But it’s a small peninsula that sticks out on sort of the north side of the island, I guess created by a lava flow, so it’s really isolated from the rest of the island by this 2,000-foot sea cliff, and it’s a pretty dramatic place Some people say, when you’re out in Hawaii, you really can feel like you’re on a planet, and so I guess Hawaii is one of my favorite places on the Earth ED BACHER: Cool Well thank you very much Great to have you [APPLAUSE]