Fresh off appearances at the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival and Gallery r, a Rochester Institute of Technology professor’s book featuring panoramic displays of festival fun in and around Rochester has found a new home on the RIT campus.
A Season of Festivals, by Frank Cost, professor and program chair in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, inside the RIT Photo Store in Monroe Hall. Cost will present portions of his book as well as previous projects in panoramic photography while giving a “how-to” demonstration on producing panoramic images. The event is open to the public.
“We are proud to be the new home of Frank Cost’s stunning 100-plus feet of panoramic images that document the vibrant festival season in the city of Rochester,” says Vicki Struble, manager of the RIT Photo Store.
In his book, Cost shares his photographic journey in a chronological series of panoramic images of the 2012 Rochester festival season—from the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival in early May to the Greentopia Festival at High Falls in September.
“I have tried for years to capture my experience of the festivals in photographs, but the standard photographic frame—no matter how wide the lens—seems inadequate for the job,” Cost writes in his artistic statement. “I am always aware that many things are happening simultaneously outside of the frame that may or may not be relevant to what is happening inside.”
In 2006, Cost tried to solve the issue by shooting sequences of pictures that revealed the broader context of each individual frame. One sequence of images, recalls Cost, became an experimental book titled Twelve Seconds at the Lilac Festival—an attempt to represent the experience of a walk through the crowd during the popular festival at Rochester’s Highland Park.
Soon after completing this book, Cost began to think about using panoramic photography to expand beyond the restrictions of a single frame. In 2010, he experimented with panoramic imagery of densely populated indoor and outdoor events using a small camera equipped with an automatic panoramic feature, but the results were not promising. It wasn’t until 2011 when he began to work with a slower manual method of shooting separate frames and then using Photoshop to stitch them together to form a single tableau that he achieved consistent success.
“Panoramic images produced in this way elevate the complexities of the real world over the intellectual control of the photographer and regain the dimension of surprise that has always been the primal delight of photography,” says Cost.
The inspiration for his book came after 10 photographers from the Magnum Agency visited Rochester near the end of the winter in 2012 to photograph the city and surrounding community as part of an experimental project called “Postcards from America.” The photos painted a somewhat dark portrait of a city and culture in decline.
“My panoramic pictures of the 2012 Rochester festival season are intended to broaden and enrich the visual life in Rochester during the same year that marked the Magnum visit,” says Cost.