Michael Farrell on "In the Bohemian Alps" and photography
Photographer Michael Farrell talks about our upcoming exhibition: "In the Bohemian Alps" and his photography methods.
The exhibition opens Sept. 6 at the Great Plains Art Museum with an opening reception at First Friday (5-7pm) and artist talk at 6 pm. Thanks to Mariah Lundgren and Grant Reiner of Platte Basin Timelapse for their filming and technical expertise in making this video.
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[00:00:00.520]Well, what I can tell you about the
[00:00:01.810]Bohemian Alps is that, when I moved to
[00:00:04.266]Nebraska, years and years and years ago,
[00:00:07.030]I started noticing there were
[00:00:08.500]a lot of people in this state who had
[00:00:09.910]last names that had no vowels in them.
[00:00:13.031]so I thought, what's that all about?
[00:00:14.488]I discovered that Nebraska was
[00:00:16.796]home to an extensive migration from,
[00:00:20.605]what at that time was Czechoslovakia.
[00:00:22.840]So a lot of people who were leaving that part
[00:00:25.450]of the world in the 1880's, early 1900's,
[00:00:28.530]came to Nebraska and many of them settled in
[00:00:30.286]an area north of Lincoln that is characterized
[00:00:33.790]by rolling hills, a lot of drainage's
[00:00:37.035]and so this area became densely populated
[00:00:40.184]by people of Cezch and Bohemian ancestry.
[00:00:43.678]So it started to take on this
[00:00:46.016]kind of nickname the Bohemian Alps.
[00:00:48.820]Partly because there were so many
[00:00:50.150]bohemian people up there and partly because
[00:00:51.640]they settled in an area that reminded them of
[00:00:54.080]where they came from even though its certainly
[00:00:56.490]not mountainous and its not alp like at all.
[00:00:58.546]Its an area that is sort of different
[00:01:02.920]than a lot of Nebraska in that its-
[00:01:05.120]if you drive around up there,
[00:01:07.100]you won't see very many center pivots.
[00:01:08.810]And almost all the rest of the crop land
[00:01:10.570]in Nebraska is full of center pivots,
[00:01:12.100]so its still dry land farming,
[00:01:14.374]there are a lot of cattle operations,
[00:01:16.550]a lot of grazing up there, so its an area
[00:01:19.020]that's got kind of a unique quality
[00:01:20.500]in terms of settlement, in terms of the
[00:01:22.000]the lay of the land, the geography of it and
[00:01:24.900]so its kind of a distinct area and
[00:01:26.768]not very many people know that much about it.
[00:01:29.150]If your of Czech descent, you probably had
[00:01:31.820]family that came from there or from nearby
[00:01:33.648]but if you're not then you probably
[00:01:35.240]don't know much about it.
[00:01:36.580]What I do is, I leave home, I drive up the highway
[00:01:39.340]to around Valparaiso, which is sort of
[00:01:42.180]smack in the middle of the area, and then
[00:01:43.928]I would branch out depending on what my road maps
[00:01:46.332]would tell me about, if I had been there before,
[00:01:48.870]is this an area I haven't seen before?
[00:01:50.284]I was looking for farmsteads, I was looking for
[00:01:54.070]interesting landscapes, I was looking for streams,
[00:01:56.410]there's a lot of streams out there because
[00:01:57.890]its so hilly, its well drained.
[00:01:59.402]I was looking for old bridges, I was looking for
[00:02:03.130]things that said this is Czech ancestry .
[00:02:05.767]More a matter of just wandering around until
[00:02:08.941]I saw things that interested me.
[00:02:12.690]I have cameras that I use for this project
[00:02:15.460]that are very different than what
[00:02:16.870]people are used to using today.
[00:02:18.320]These are old fashioned, what's called a view cam.
[00:02:55.471]Now I need to decide what is my composition?
[00:02:58.270]What am I actually going to see with this camera?
[00:03:00.400]In order to that I have to make a
[00:03:03.869]dark room that I can see inside of.
[00:03:07.000]So that's why you see them in
[00:03:09.152]the movies putting a dark cloth on
[00:03:12.960]so this puts my ground glass in the shade.
[00:03:17.650]I'll see you in a minuet.
[00:03:41.960]and this light meter, lets me measure
[00:03:44.064]where the bright parts of this picture are.
[00:03:46.600]In this case its going to be the clouds,
[00:03:48.670]the white clouds up in the sky,
[00:03:50.970]and the dark parts which are going to be
[00:03:52.560]the shadows in the foliage behind the tree.
[00:04:12.110]The film goes in here, a sheet of film,
[00:04:13.534]five inches by seven inches goes
[00:04:15.670]in this film holder on one side,
[00:04:18.230]the dark slide closes up and
[00:04:20.540]then the other side same thing.
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