Four Generations of Photographers — Portrait Paintings by Harry Gordon West

Four Generations

I am a fourth generation photographer. My great grandfather, Daniel Marion West, opened a photography studio in the early twentieth century in Maries County, Missouri. My grandfather, Harry Gordon West learned about photography in my great grandfather’s studio. My grandfather was a fine portrait painter and his award-winning photographs traveled in national salon exhibitions throughout the U.S, Canada, and Europe. My father, Kenneth Gordon West Sr., grew up learning about photography and art from his father and later pursued a career in the graphics arts. He became a nationally recognized leader and pioneer in the graphic arts industry.

In the master apprentice tradition, I learned about the principles of photography from both my grandfather and father. By applying these principles and using today’s digital technology, I capture the dynamic range of light and color present in the landscapes of Iowa and Kansas.

My landscape photography has been exhibited at the National Center for Nature Photography, America’s first and only center devoted exclusively to nature photography. My exhibition prints are displayed in corporate and institutional settings as well as in private homes.

Light and Photography

"And what, sir, is the subject matter of that painting?" - "The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.“ Claude Monet.

Landscape photographers understand the importance of light. But mastering light is a challenge because film and digital cameras are only able to capture a limited range of the brightness often found in natural landscape scenes.

To meet this challenge, photographers have utilized various methods. In the mid 19th century photographers altered the tonal relationships in their collotype negatives using a pencil. Gustave Le Gray was the first to use combination printing: combining two differently exposed negatives to capture the dynamic range of light contained in the sky and subject. This was the precursor to today’s photographic technique known as HDR or high dynamic range photography.

I utilize various technical processes including HDR and its variations to capture the wide dynamic range of light found in the landscape scenes that I photograph.