Fine Landscape Photographer


Gary Albertson – Fine Art Landscape Photographer

In 2010, Gary Albertson's 30-plus year career as an award winning corporate graphic designer and acclaimed, internationally collected, fine art landscape photographer seemed at its end, the result of a rare inherited eye disease. Today, with just a fraction of peripheral eyesight remaining, his deep love of nature drives him to adapt against all odds as he continues to refine his photographic art.

“One of the gifts of blindness, especially to a photographer, is the requirement of moving much slower. Composing an image takes me much more time now. I stitch all of the pieces together in my head to finally 'see' shape and form. Oh, what a wonderful sacrifice to slow down. Just give me a hundred yards and two weeks.”

“I started my career in corporate graphic design in 1970. My love of photography began, looking over the shoulders of many large format commercial photographers. In 1980, I designed, produced and self published the award winning book, 'Fire Mountain: The Eruptions of Mt. St. Helens,' royalties from which, allowed me to leave graphic design and turn to a full-time career as a fine art landscape photographer.”

“In 1995, while doing photography on the South Sea island of Roratonga, my kidneys suddenly failed. I barely made it back to the states to undergo dialysis. A year later, I received my sister’s kidney, which gave my life a new purpose; to follow my deep love of nature through the lens. In that same year, I was diagnosed with Pigment Dispersion Glaucoma.”

“In 1999, I moved to the shores of the Metolius River in central Oregon, committing myself to capturing the magical beauty of its waters and surrounding valley.”

From the beginning, Gary’s main camera has been a TOYO 45AX and also randomly switching to a Pentax 67. Advancements in digital photography have compelled Gary to follow, finding its benefits and now his main camera, for 80% of his work, is a Nikon D750. Since 2010, as Gary has lost eyesight, he works with professionals on post-production. He is always hopeful, looking to the future for new ways to enhance his independent spirit.

“For years I have found joy in sharing my photographs and have been giving talks and speeches about adapting, BEING captured before capturing, the art of seeing, not just looking. It has been a Journey Into Blindness. My main purpose is to simply adapt to my limited sight and use it to refine my photographic art. I hope this unique perspective opens a new door or window to the everlasting power of Nature."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blind photographer, Pulitzer winner collaborate for a Casey Eye Institute exhibit.

Original article link

Blind photographer, Pulitzer winner collaborate for a Casey Eye Institute exhibit

Katy Muldoon | kmuldoon@oregonian.comBy Katy Muldoon | 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on April 24, 2013 at 2:40 PM, updated April 24, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Metolius2.jpgView full sizePhotographer Gary Albertson describes the Metolius River as "a sweet, old grandmother that whispers a new lesson every day."
CAMP SHERMAN -- At the edge of the river that always calls him, Gary Albertson pauses before unpacking his camera gear.
He tilts his face toward mid-April's laboring sun and seems to drink in details: the cloudless sky; the butterscotch-hued bark of Ponderosa pines; grass pushing up between pockets of snow; a kingfisher's rattling call; a butterfly's shadow; the rapids and eddies of that gin-clear Central Oregon gem, the Metolius River.

"I have a ravenous desire to share," says the 64-year-old landscape photographer, "because I'm seeing something big."
He means that in the physical sense and philosophically, and so, beginning today in an unlikely art gallery, he will share. His landscapes and photojournalist Jay Mather's images of Albertson at work will grace the lobby walls at OHSU Casey Eye Institutethrough May. They call the exhibit "A Photographic Journey Into Blindness."
Albertson was at OHSU Hospital for a kidney transplant in 1996, when doctors diagnosed his pigment dispersion glaucoma, a rare, incurable, hereditary eye disease. His sight began to fail in 2001 and by 2010, he was legally blind.

What: "A Photographic Journey Into Blindness," a photo exhibit featuring landscapes by Gary Albertson of Camp Sherman and pictures of Albertson at work by Jay Mather of Sisters.
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through May. During the opening reception, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, both photographers will share their stories and Albertson will demonstrate his photography method. It's open to the public.
Where: OHSU Casey Eye Institute lobby, 3375 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.

Yet, many days spring through fall, he fills a pack with a tripod, an old-school, large-format, 4-by-5 camera, film, a light meter and magnifying tools he's crafted to allow him to continue capturing Oregon's wild beauty.
He leaves his home in a Camp Sherman RV park, climbs aboard a custom, four-wheeled cycle painted lemon yellow and flying neon orange flags, making him more visible to drivers, and he pedals toward a trailhead.
Close your fists, place them in front of your eyes and you can an idea of how Albertson sees. All that remains is peripheral vision, and it's foggy. If he turns his head and looks your way, for instance, he can tell whether your hair is short or long, or whether your sunglasses are on your face or perched atop your head.

When he presses his eye to his camera's viewfinder, he watches the Metolius hop over boulders, rocket around bends and catch its breath in quiet pockets close to shore, but he can't make out the rainbow trout beneath the surface.
One day, at Sisters Gallery & Framing, which Albertson has owned since 2002 and where he shows much of his work, Mather heard him speak about modifications he's made, enabling him to capture images since his vision started failing.
"Talk about a story dropping into your lap," says Mather, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, retired from the Sacramento Bee and living in Sisters.
When he asked to document Albertson's work as a blind photographer, "he was all for it," says Mather, 67.
Like many artists, Albertson yearns for his images to be widely seen, "not because I'm great. I want them to clap for this," he says, pointing toward the river and forest. "If we don't participate in the truth of nature we'll die."
garyalbertson.JPGView full sizeGary Albertson, a blind photographer, makes photographs along the Metolius River's bank.
From late last summer through fall, the two men hiked and photographed along the banks of the Metolius, a National Wild and Scenic River that bubbles up from a spring at the base of Black Butte. Albertson led the way and Mather never saw him trip or stumble.
"He knows the river so well. It's in his head," Mather says. "I call Gary the Ansel Adams of the Metolius."
In Albertson, Mather found an exceedingly deliberate, contemplative and patient photographer who might spend 30 minutes making one picture. One of Albertson's sublime river scenes hangs in Mather's living room and when he points it out, he says, "You look at his pictures and you start to hear them."
Maybe that's because as Albertson's eyesight fades, his remaining senses sharpen and his once aloof personality softens.
Or maybe, he says, it's because he's listened to the landscape since the family camping trips of his youth, during which he'd often wander off, "mesmerized by the bigness of nature," he says.
Raised near Albany, he took up photography in his 20s. After his sister, Judy Zellers, saved his life, donating a perfect-match kidney when he needed it in 1996, he says, "I knew I needed a bigger piece of film because I was seeing more of the picture." He bought a large-format camera ideal for capturing moving water and he traipsed around Oregon taking pictures.
He took medications for the glaucoma and had a handful of surgeries but most of his vision couldn't be saved. As it receded, he says, fear and depression set in.
"I had lost my lover, my friend," Albertson says, touching his hand to his camera.
One day, struggling to see the F-stop mark as he attempted to shoot the Metolius from a bridge, he tilted his head to one side and discovered that if he aggressively tried to use his peripheral vision, he could see what he needed.
"I felt so elated," he says. "I'd found myself again."
So he shoots and plans to as long as he's able.
"When you go blind," he says, "there's a reward to it if you can grasp it. You've got to be curious and courageous.
"You have to have faith that what is beyond your sight is still there."

-- Katy Muldoon

Below are images of the article online.

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