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“Not everybody trusts paintings, but people believe photographs.” ―  Ansel Adams

When we see a photograph, our usual and automatic reaction is that the picture tells the truth, it is a story of reality -- that it is worth 1000 words. The purpose of early photography was to “accurately” document and create representations of people, architecture and places, in a way that offered people the chance to see far off places and learn about them.  

However, given that photography has always been underpinned by technology, photographs have always been open to manipulation.  For example, this famous photo of Lincoln.

In 2015, there was an outcry about the World Press photo competition as a large number of images had to be disqualified because of manipulation or excessive digital post processing. In one case, a major prize was revoked amid allegations of staging and misleading captioning. In a follow up survey of photojournalists, one of the most disturbing findings was that more than half of the news photographers who replied said they sometimes staged photos — with 12 percent saying they did so at least half the time.  All of the major wire services and newspapers in the United States forbid staging news photos.  For a longer discussion about this, check out the New York Time’s article, “Staging, Manipulation and Truth in Photography.”

Advertising manipulates photographs to entice us. For example, just because that middle age Hollywood star with few wrinkles is promoting an anti-wrinkle cream, doesn’t mean you are going to look like her in a week after using the cream.  Cars, beer, fashion, food…you name it, they all use highly stylized (and yes manipulated) images to entice the viewer.

Manipulating images can also be art.  Some manipulations, in the camera, in the darkroom or on the computer, give photographic artists a chance to create images that do not exist in reality.  These creations take us beyond reality and tap into imagination.  Jerry Uelsmann is an American photographer and an early proponent of photomontage.  His work in the darkroom foreshadowed the use of Adobe Photoshop to make surrealistic images in the late 20th century. His darkroom prints combine images to put hands in a lake, a boat in a sky over the lake and mountain, human hands holding a bird next in a tree stump. Hundreds of astounding images have poured out of Uelsmann’s fertile photographic imagination since he began his career in the late 1960s – all created in the darkroom, layering negatives and images. This one is from his book, Photosynthesis

Next time you see that image, look carefully.  Photographic manipulation is not inherently bad.  It depends on its use and how the viewer expects or accepts it. 

“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution” –  Ansel Adams

The Reality of Infrared Images 
omewhere between manipulation and reality lies infrared photography. Often, when people first see an Infrared image, they know something is different, but they don’t quite know what it is that makes the difference.  I suppose in some ways infrared images are a manipulation of what you see.  However, what the infrared image really is, is like any other photograph – it captures light, which is the key ingredient for any photograph.  It just happens that we cannot see infrared light. To do that, I use a specially converted camera that captures infrared light and its reflections on objects resulting in different textures and dynamic tones.  Its’ mystical, dream-like qualities add to the exploration of the forgotten yet timeless past. Its’ effects range from dreamy to surreal to haunting and stark contrasts. 

It’s my view that Infrared photography offers viewers the opportunity to look at the world we take for granted through a light we cannot see.  In this respect, Infrared photography reveals the unseen and defeats assumptions about the “reality” in a photograph, thus requiring the viewer to respond differently to the image. The image is composed in a manner that turns the familiar into something different -- the things we often take for granted have the potential to become a dream and a place where the mind may venture.

Behind the Scenes of Infrared: To give you a little more insight, the photos below show you what an Infrared image looks like in the camera.  I then apply a special little profile to it that expands the white balance/temperature setting allowing me more latitude to fine tune the tonal adjustments.  Then I make the tonal adjustments and convert the image to black and white. 


You can learn more about Infrared photography on the blog or in this article from Adobe.

Binhammer Photographs Website

Roadside Stories
Ye Ole Virginnie

What is: the abandoned Ye Old Virginnie, This property included a restaurant, gas station and motor court built in the 1930s on Highway 1, the main highway running from Maine to Florida.  
What was: Hardy Zehmer was a farmer born into a well-landed farming family.  He also was an educated businessman, briefly working for E. I. du Pont de Nemours as the foreman of a munitions plant during World War I. After the war, Zehmer returned to his native McKenney, VA, where he established a restaurant, service station, motel, and guest cabins. His businesses were so profitable that even during the depression, as neighboring farmers were losing their land, he had enough income to buy the nearby Ferguson farm. He also had a less than-sterling reputation among the locals being remembered a colorful character, known for his drinking -- even before that fateful December evening in 1952.
At the restaurant on this site, the week before Christmas 1952, Welford Lucy, a “lumberman and a farmer” got together with Zehmer for some drinking and banter leading to Zehmer writing an agreement on a restaurant bill to sell the Ferguson farm to Mr. Lucy for $50,000. Zehmer later insisted it was all a joke and that he was “high as a Georgia pine” and just trying to get Lucy to admit he didn’t have the $50,000.
Lucy v. Zehmer is a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that has become a staple in most contract law courses in American law schools. Upholding the contract, the court ruled that regardless of Zehmer’s intent, his outward behavior could reasonably be construed to suggest that he had been serious. The court thus invoked what is known as the “objective theory of contract formation.”


On the issue of whether Mr Lucy had the funds to pay for the land, in retrospect it appears he was more than a lumberman and farmer and his pockets were deep enough to hire one of the State’s most respected lawyers at the time (who was also hired by the State to make the last defense of segregation).  He and his brothers made money buying undervalued forested properties and then sold the timber off the land at a profit, sometimes acting as middlemen for the lumber industry.  A month after the sale was finalized, the Lucy Brothers executed a timber deed to a company that borrowed $85,000, suggesting the Lucy’s profitably handsomely. They sold another portion of the land to another lumber company and also rented out the farmland.  By 1962, the Lucy’s had earned at least $142,000.  Their descendants suggest that the family earned 4 times what they paid for it.  See the Duke Law Journal for more.

As we head into the summer, hoping we all get to emerge to something a little more normal and that you can enjoy seeing others and doing more.
I've been out on the road a bit with some day trips, working with new material for both Roadside America and Scarred Places.
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5807 Harbour Hill Place, Midlothian VA, 23112
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Binhammer Photographs · 5807 Harbour Hill Pl · Midlothian, VA 23112-2120 · USA

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