Rockaway photographers to showcase work at Fort Tilden

Photo courtesy of John Grillo

Photographers John Grillo and Michael Deutsch have known each other for 25 years, grew up in Rockaway and both began their careers in film photography. A new exhibit, however, is aiming to showcase their differing perspectives.

Double Vision: Two Photographers, Two Perspectives,” will open at Fort Tilden’s Studio 6 on Sept. 19. It is presented by the Rockaway Artists Alliance, a nonprofit started in 1994 whose mission is to engage Rockaway youth in arts and cultural activities.

Both photographers use the High Dynamic Range (HDR) process to capture landscapes around Queens and different parts of the world. The process, according to Grillo, allows for a photograph with increased “depth and luminosity.”

Grillo and Deutsch take several photographs of their subject on a tripod. The artists then combine a photograph that is underexposed, overexposed and the correct exposure to complete the process.

“The goal was to take pictures together yet to come up with different solutions of how to treat the lighting, the scenery, sometimes standing in the same exact spot and coming up with completely different pictures,” Grillo said.

Grillo and Deutsch have been supporters of the Rockaway Artists Alliance for many years and this is Grillo’s 17th year as a board member. To commemorate the organization’s 20th anniversary, the photographers wanted to showcase what they have been working on for the past year.

At first glance, the photographs’ sharp colors look like they have been heavily edited but Grillo promises that he does not use Photoshop for any of his projects.

“Some people look at our pictures and say, ‘Well they’re Photoshopped’ but actually I never use Photoshop. I don’t know how to use Photoshop,” Grillo said.

Photo courtesy of Michael Deutsch
Photo courtesy of Michael Deutsch

Photographers started using a process similar to HDR 100 years ago, Grillo said. When film and glass plates were primarily used to take photographs, artists would take several photos and “sandwich them together” to add flourishes to their subject. If someone took a photo of the Grand Canyon but there were no clouds in the sky, an artist could snap a separate photograph and add it to the original.

Grillo and Deutsch are currently in the process of putting together the exhibit, where 50 of their photographs from around Queens and New York City will hang. Grillo is excited to highlight their work and to show people the capabilities of digital technology. The artists drew inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s film “Rashomon,” where a crime witnessed by four people is described in four contradicting ways.

“We’re hanging the show and I think it’s outstanding to tell you the truth. I think the pictures are something people will enjoy. Most of them are Queens and they’re from around the city,” Grillo said. “I think this show talks to that even though we both photograph sort of similarly and we’re both from Queens and we’re both similar, we still saw different things and different ways to photograph the same exact scene.”

The exhibit will be open on weekends from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. The opening reception will be held on Sept. 20.

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