Rings From Another Planet
I’ve always had a warm place in my heart for NASA/Space Exploration. My grandfather took me to tour the Johnson Space Center when I was a little kid. That warm and fuzzy feeling came back over me as I read about the history of space imagery, and how far we’ve come (and how far we’ll jump ahead with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.) This inspired me to create a set of images of something very near and dear to my heart. First, I must share another bit of history…
When my grandfather, Thomas Wilson Laney, retired in the 1970s, he decided to dabble in jewelry design. I didn’t learn of this until I took a class myself, and my grandmother dug these rings out to share. I was blown away by the structural design and uniqueness in these rings. She said they needed to be polished up — and one day I will honor that request — but for now, the natural oxidation is just too beautiful to wipe away.
Which brings me to this photography project. I found this amazing rock at a friend’s house down south of Austin. I knew I had to create some sort of a moonscape with it, but I wasn’t sure what. Over time, it became clear what I needed to do; a “before and after” scenario, such as the jump from pre-Hubble to Hubble, or Hubble to James Webb. I searched and searched for a subject matter that would fit the scale and also make sense to be in such an environment. Naturally, I gravitated toward using my Paw Paw’s rings. I seriously can’t imagine a more perfect set of objects to live in this world.
So, I dug out an old 28mm 4x5 film lens and got to work. The distorted edges help convey an older telescope. For the “new” image, I used a current-day 24mm Canon lens. I wanted a sense of magic for these moments in time, so I used the fun old trick of painting with light. I had a blast.