Steve Chandler and his Horseman 612 Super Wide camera transform scenes of nature into awesome printed visions of beauty. His collection, on display at the Nevada Museum of Art, consists of archival ink jet monochrome prints. Chandler uses his detail-attuned eye to capture scenes from the desert that appeal to him, vistas that highlight barren mountains, desert floors and sunsets. In almost all his photos, there’s a sense of heaven meeting earth. Sparse lines and billowy puffs of cloud coat the skies as the sandy terrain stretches to the horizon to meet them.
“Nature is the center of it,” says Chandler. “I love being in nature, creating in it and living in it.”
In “Sunrise, Black Mountain,” the sun peeks over a crest of mountains. The solar white glow contrasts, like day against night, with the ominous darkness of the hills."This is a strong piece and among the most popular of the black and white photographs,” Chandler says.Sun rays stream from the mountaintop and illuminate the dry land beneath. Coarse, pointed rocks on the desert ground range from pebble- to boulder-sized. They lay across the parched and cracked ground like a checkerboard in disarray. Due to the incredible depth of field, the stones become infinitely smaller the closer they get to the light that streams from the upper center of the photo, yet they still maintain their clarity.
The three biggest rocks slant in unison toward the rising sun. They are giants compared to the surrounding stones. The threesome is aligned like a stairway leading to the heavens. The low-in-the-sky light casts the stretched shadow of each rock onto the ground. The entire group of stones, small and large, angle themselves toward the mountains as an army of soldiers marching to victory.
The hills slope like an ocean’s wave. From the climax, the structure dips heavily downward in a nearly perfect line despite a few jagged steps. No clouds adorn the sky like they do in many of Chandler’s other photos.
Although the exhibit at NMA displays black and white pieces, Chandler’s talent also extends to color photographs. His art can be viewed online at www.chandlerphotos.com, and his pieces will be for sale at a photo sale on Nov. 29 at Sierra Arts Gallery.
The colored piece “Desert Circles” shows a wide spread of rusty colored earth stretching miles into the distance reaching the horizon of a waning sun. The golden desert is covered with an infinite number of well-worn fractures. A symmetrical circle of raised earth sits in the photograph’s foreground. The land turns a deep carrot orange where the mountains begin to rise. Clouds above darken the first hill.
Above the raised knuckles of the hills, a bluish purple opens to an ocean blue and together these colors envelop a stretched arrow of white cloud pointing to the vastness beyond. Faint red clouds line the center reaching to the photograph’s peak; they resemble puffs of warm breath in the cold air. The crimson clouds stretch in the opposite direction of their contrasting white arrow counterpart, as if in competition.
Chandler lives in the middle of the desert and looks out his window to wait the right time for capturing such scenes. It’s an intuitive process.
“I have a hunch inside, and it tells me now is the time,” he says.
He observes the weather conditions when making his photo decisions.
“I look at the sky. If there are no clouds, or there is pollution, I will not go out.”
Chandler likes to create large prints. He has enlarged some of his photographs to 84 inches in width with “beautiful results.”
“The process is an investment in time,” he explains. Chandler says that although “love” and “passion” are strong words, they are appropriate when describing what it takes to reach the end result.
“I am living my dream,” he says.
Chandler’s passion for nature equals his talent for capturing its beauty. If it’s not already an addiction, we’ll be lucky if it becomes one.