Creative Peaks: Nuances of Natures

By on March 30, 2018

Photographer Ellen Bischoff unveils the world through her lens at The Rose


JACKSON HOLE, WY – W
ith stunning landscapes like the Tetons, it’s hard take a bad picture. And with great cell phone cameras, it seems like everyone is a photographer today. It can be a challenge to create images that are different, ones that stand out, but Ellen Bischoff tries to use her camera to capture things the average eye—and cell phone camera—doesn’t always see.

“I’ve seen a million beautiful pictures of the Tetons, so I have to think about what I can do to make my stuff more unique,” she said.

Bischoff often works with long exposures that reveal the greens, blues and purples of the Milky Way, invisible to the naked eye. Or one of her favorite images she’s taken of the Tetons is a picture of the snow-covered mountains at night with a long exposure that highlights the purple skies.

“I like to use the camera as another eyeball,” she said. “It’s a whole other lens to see the world.”

While a few of the images are in color, to show the details like the purple sky on a long exposure, most of the photographs are in black and white.

“I’m drawn to black and white images,” Bischoff said. “Black and white just simplifies everything and makes you look at the photos as an image rather than as a subject matter.”

Bischoff discovered photography one day in middle school in northern New Jersey when she borrowed her dad’s old camera and began experimenting. She photographed animals, her family and whatever she saw outside.

She grew up around creative energy.  Bischoff’s mother is a jeweler and her father is a cabinetmaker. They encouraged her photography hobby and also instilled in her a love of the outdoors, taking her on trips to national parks in the West.

While in college at St. Lawrence University in Upstate New York, where she studied art and art history with a focus on printmaking and photography, she created a National Geographic Your Shot account, where the public can post images and each day Nat Geo editors curate a daily dozen of the best. Within a few days, a picture she took of light shining through a chicken’s wing at a farm where she volunteered was selected among the best 12 for the day.

While it was the only time she received that honor, it was enough to make her believe that maybe she could do something with photography.

Bischoff first visited Jackson in 2015. She returned a year later after finishing school in New York. The artist finds her inspiration in the outdoors and there’s no shortage of opportunities in Jackson for her to create new work.

Her eye is often drawn to texture. Instead of a straight beach or horizon shot of the ocean, she crops in tight on the water to show the ripples, foam and swirling colors.

“With my camera, I see more than I do in everyday life,” she said. “We walk by these things in everyday life, but we don’t always really appreciate them until we stop and really look.”

Bischoff’s favorite images in her show are also the largest at 36 by 24 inches. One is a black and white image of the Matterhorn featuring a tiny hiker on a hill overlooking the iconic Swiss mountain. She loves such small details. Other large images capture a long-exposure of the mountain with the gondola; a long exposure of the Tetons; a detail shot of the ocean.

She’ll also show three prints in the show. Bischoff creates monotype prints using chemicals splattered on glass that create interesting shapes and marks over the image.

Bischoff said she hopes people find her work intriguing, that it compels them to look at landscapes they’ve seen before in a different way, when they view her work, and after when they are in the natural world that inspires her. PJH

Bischoff will show 22 photographs and three prints at her exhibition “Black & Blue,” which opens with a reception from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and hangs for a month at The Rose.

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