CAMBRIDGE — There’s a rather marvelous photograph of Ansel Adams at work. Taken by Cedric Wright, in 1942, it shows Adams standing with his tripod and camera on a specially made platform atop a Ford station wagon. The wagon is a classic “woodie.” Visible in the background is Yosemite’s Half Dome.
It’s a reminder that even Adams, the most famous photographic presenter of nature at its most pristine, was an emissary from the manmade world. Or as the curator John Szarkowski once wrote, “Adams was happiest in the high mountains, where he lived, for a while, on tinned hash, bourbon whiskey, and visions.” Only one of those three items naturally occurs in the great outdoors.
The five photographers in “Field of Vision” understand — and explore — this inevitable back-and-forth between nature and humankind. Curated by Jessica Burko, the show is a Photographic Resource Center pop-up exhibition. It runs at CambridgeSide, the East Cambridge shopping mall, through June 26. The show is small, including just a dozen photographs, which makes it all the easier for passing shoppers to just pop in.
The back-and-forth is most apparent in the three photographs by Bruce Myren and two from Steven Keirstead. The focus of attention in Myren’s “Black Lives Matter, Robert Frost Trail” is the small BLM sign attached to a tree. Yet that’s no more an indicator of human presence than the trail seen to the left or that the trail is named after Frost. The other photos show a small house in the woods and branches brought together to make a fort. The Keirstead photos are of abandoned quarries in Maine. Notably handsome, they show how nature can seem to have absorbed such harsh human intervention and make the result almost appear like a natural part of the landscape.
Deborah Kaplan’s three photographs come from her series “Syllabary for a Natural World.” Digitally modifying tightly framed pictures of woodlands, she produces images that look as much like calligraphy or abstractions as something photographic.
Like Keirstead’s photographs, Suzanne Révy’s are triptychs. There are three in the show. The tripartite arrangement emphasizes not just horizontality but also temporal progression. Révy drew on an excellent, if unexpected inspiration, Saul Leiter’s “Early Color.” Leiter’s color images of New York street life are very distant in subject from Révy’s pictures of woods near her home in suburban Boston. But there’s a comparable sense of subdued wonder.
Anne Randolph has just one photograph in the show, but it looms large — very large — measuring 60 inches by 45 inches. Additionally, the poly duck fabric on which the image is printed wraps around the stretchers, making it literally three dimensional. “5/2/18 6:54 0519 (golden dragon)” is part of an ongoing series, “Pondwater,” of the surface of Spy Pond, in Arlington. Randolph photographs the pond with her iPhone, then prints the image very large. The resultant loss in precision lends the images a painterly quality that verges on abstraction. She photographs the pond from her kayak. Think of it as her version of Adams’s woodie.
FIELD OF VISION
At CambridgeSide, 100 CambridgeSide Place, second level, Cambridge. Through June 26. 617-462-9353, www.prcboston.org/field-of-vision
Mark Feeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.