Opening Reception July 20, 6-8pm
Images by Colin Zelt, 2007 Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship Recipient.
Most people live in a city, and it is their immediate neighborhood that forms a big part of their lives, whether or not they are aware of it. A year ago I set out to try to capture what constitutes a neighborhood using a new perspective. During much of 2006, I took my camera with me during evening walks with my dog (Rocky) in my neighborhood in Houston. I used a small tripod to match his eye level, a right-angle viewfinder, and a very wide-angle lens to capture whole scenes much as we perceive them. The small tripod and my dog gave me a "cover" and drew less attention while taking the long exposures, up to 30 seconds.
Other than the low vantage point and very wide perspective, these images are devoid of gimmicks and are essentially "straight", with the computer used mainly to provide an appropriate white balance (color correction). All of the lighting is natural, that is, street lights, house lights, and the moon. I´ve intentionally avoided people in these images so that the focus is on the neighborhood as a place where people live, as opposed to the people in it. Although taken in Houston, these are not photos of Houston, in the sense that they could be taken in just about any established, transitioning urban neighborhood in the country. I see these images as a blend of the approaches of two very different master photographers: the carefully composed nighttime scenes of Paris by Brassai, combined with the color and everyday subject matter of William Eggleston.
Conceptual objective: Through unusual perspective and the nighttime setting, I am trying to provide a new appreciation of the urban neighborhood. It is the established, everyday things that give our neighborhoods character and a sense of being "lived in". Photography at night is not a new concept, but nighttime images convey a very different feeling compared to their daytime counterpart: a heightened sense of mystery or anxiety is created by not knowing what is in the shadows of the places where we live.