Artist evokes nostalgia with images of the past
Growing up on various Air Force bases, Jeff Narron had the opportunity to ride his bike all over the place and take snapshots with his Vivitar 110 camera. As a teenager, he upgraded to his father’s 1960s-era Konica 35 mm EE-Matic.
During his senior year at Dickinson High School, he took pictures for the yearbook, and by this time, he had a full-blown passion for photography.
But, following in his father’s footsteps, he chose a career in the Air Force and did his own fair share of traveling until he retired in 2004. Today, the self-taught photographer resides in San Leon with his wife and two children, and his main camera of choice — a Nikon D200.
Concentrating on digital broad spectrum processing techniques that result in visually striking images, a lot of his work is HDR, or High Dynamic Range. Each photo takes different amounts of time. Some take an hour or two and others are left on his computer for days, sometimes weeks. He prints on high quality paper, but prefers aluminum for its vibrant colors, archival value, scratch resistance and because its waterproof.
“A lot of people ask me how I get my images to look the way they do,” Narron said. “But there is no singular answer to that. I use a wide array of techniques and different computer programs, and there are different things I do to the image, so not every image is processed exactly the same. It’s all about texture and layering.”
Narron is inspired mostly by the world of old forgotten things surrounding us, giving them a second life as photographic art. His “Galveston in History” work includes sepia photos of the Flagship Hotel, with superimposed news headlines of the hotel’s opening and demolition, and the U.S. Custom House in the island’s downtown, among others. The work evokes nostalgia. Narron likes to shoot in and around Galveston, and his website is full of coastal scenes, such as the jetties, the Galveston Causeway, the historic lighthouse on Bolivar Peninsula and various signage. One photo in particular, “The Tremont Looking Up,” is serendipitous.
“We were in town that day with visitors and walked in on a whim,” he said. “I looked up and there it was — the sun’s rays glaring down from the skylight. Fortunately, I had my camera with me, so I caught those cool beams at the right moment.”
Although his nostalgic photos are moving, his color shots are vivid and exciting, and his “Grunge” selections are eerily haunting.
“When I take a photo, I try to find an angle or perspective that may not have been done before,” Narron said.
As for the right time to find the right shot: “I look for cloudy days,” he said. “On those days, I grab my camera and go out and shoot. Other times, I intentionally get lost in rural areas, making random right and left turns getting farther away from everything until I run across that forgotten world.”
Having taken thousands of photos over the course of his career, Narron does have a few favorites. One is of a Mercury Montclair automobile rusted in a field.
“The right kind of weather just happened and all the stars lined up,” he said. “It was foggy and misty and there were thousands of little snails everywhere. If you look real close you can see a few of them.”
Details of note
• HDR setup requires a tripod, remote trigger or cable release, camera with aperture priority and bracketing capability.
• After capturing 3 to 5 or more differently exposed photos, images are layered together through use of software to produce a single image. Narron uses Photomatix Pro by HDRsoft.
• Adjustments can be made in Photoshop.
• He uses Magna Chrome for aluminum printing.
• Narron’s commissions have included an NFL head coach, auto dealership and private collectors. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers, and he has participated in many juried shows and exhibitions, winning several awards.
• His work is on permanent display at Affaire d’Art in Galveston.
• Visit www.jeffnarronphotoart.com for information.