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‘Ghost’ world

Fine art photographer Craig Varjabedian captures the mystique of New Mexico’s famed Ghost Ranch in a new exhibition.

Terry M. Clark September 20th, 2011

Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby
4:30 p.m. Friday-Jan. 8, 2012
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 N.E. 63rd

“It’s a seductive and powerful landscape, with a beguiling charm that didn’t want to let me go,” said Santa Fe photographer Craig Varjabedian of the legendary Ghost Ranch landscapes in New Mexico.

Oklahomans can share that experience when his exhibition of 69 large, black-and-white images of Georgia O’Keeffe’s one-time home opens Friday at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Varjabedian is widely acclaimed for his images capturing the American West, taken over a photographic career of more than 35 years.

The exhibition shares a name with and features photos from his recent book, “Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby.”

Why black and white when the landscape is renowned for its vibrant colors?

“The place is much more subtle than just the colors. I’m looking for things that are authentic. The world, as I look at it, is black and white,” he said.

He had been visiting Ghost Ranch for about 10 years before he could take more than “just pretty pictures.”

“It took me a long time to figure out how to photograph that place. I became aware of the light,” he said, “and that’s why black and white is so critical to what I wanted to do: It’s the light.”

Varjabedian printed most of the 24-inch-wide silver pints in his own darkroom, but had negatives scanned and digitally reproduced for about a dozen 30-by-40 “anchor” photos for the exhibition.

“I work really hard in the darkroom to get the feeling I had at the moment I clicked the shutter,” he said. “I hope the show allows people to join me in my experience, and also, that they might open doors to their own experiences.”

On display through Jan. 8, 2012, the exhibition opens Friday with a 4:30 p.m. reception, followed by a book signing at 6:30 p.m.

Varjabedian will return Oct. 14-16 for a three-day, “Light and Land Photography” workshop that will include shooting at the museum, the Clydesdale horses at Express Ranches, and historic Fort Reno.

“This is another way to reach out and get people to make their own images,” he said.

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