No. 52. Highlights of 2019

Most years I forego the ritual of looking back to choose “the best of the year” or “my favorites of the year” or whatever people do. I guess I avoid the exercise because I’m not usually given to nostalgia. It’s probably a mistake because looking back through the previous year’s postings provides an opportunity for self-critical reflection. For better or worse here are my selections from the past year. I’ve attempted to pull out highlights from my posted photographs from the past year. Most are based on our extensive travels, which included 11 Caribbean Islands in addition to Puerto Rico and Cuba, and of course our travels to China and parts of Japan. One of the pictures I chose, from the Elbe River, was captured early in 2018. I included it because I only developed and posted it toward the end of 2019 while taking a break from processing photos from Asia.
Some of the photos chosen here (disappointingly few) are local. My intention in the coming year is to capture more images closer to home. My most popular photos are from local scenes. Although I’m now living in an area where I spent my youth, I’m constantly exploring and learning about it. My intention is to begin the New Year with a hike to French Creek State Park on the first day of 2020.

Jay M. Ressler

Jay Ressler Composite Photography and Encaustic Art He is an outstanding location photographer, with an eye that can capture the soul of a Havana back street as beautifully as the sip of a hungry hummingbird, often with compelling black and white images. But Jay Ressler is best known for artistic expression that lives in layers between opposites. “I like to explore boundaries,” he explains. “Boundaries between consciousness and the unconscious, between reality and imagination, between certainty and skepticism.” He does this by compositing his own photography in multiple layers to produce stunningly original, interleaved images. Using Photoshop, other image manipulation software and a variety of digital effects, he paints one photographic layer on top of another. He takes advantage of textures he's captured along with an array of processes for manipulating light, contrast, and color to tell the story. “Distorting and reinterpreting the literal 'machine moments' captured by the camera is as old as the art of photography,” he insists. Jay occasionally extends his multi-layered approach to encaustic mixed media creations. Based on ancient techniques, the process begins with cooking his own recipes of beeswax and damar resin and applying this medium between the layers of photographic images, along with various pigmented compounds and materials to add color, texture and expression. Either way, the results are riveting. The viewer is drawn into an unfolding, dreamlike scene that might be heart-warming, haunting, gritty, poignant or magical. Sometimes, within the various layers, all of the above. The award-winning photographer/artist has many dimensions himself. He studied advanced digital photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and advanced encaustic techniques with leading instructors in the field. He worked as an underground coal miner, steelworker, machinist, labor and civil rights activist, copywriter and commercial printer. He has a BS in Psychology from Albright College.

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