A radiating sun, hovering just off center over Rupert, Idaho casting its rays toward an oversized hay bale settled idly in a field… Most taking in this sight would dismiss the rather ordinary scene without registering a thought. But this is precisely the sort of setting photographer Gordan Hardcastle couldn’t resist.
Donning a dark trench and wide brimmed hat he leapt, marched, and strode atop the bale; each movement in cadence with the clicking shutter of his camera. The result, after some time in his workroom, was a single eccentric photograph portraying each action in odd yet harmonious conjunction. A mundane vista transformed to a captivating panorama by the imagination of Mr. Hardcastle.
“I ran into a neighbor a few days after who said my boy had been out playing on the hay again,” chuckled Hardcastle. “No… That was me.”
Those that know him would hardly be surprised by this revelation. Not one to delve half-heartedly into a project, Hardcastle is an entirely “hands on” kind of guy. When presented with modern digital cameras and the complex capabilities they offer, he set out to learn the system through meticulous trial and error.
To gauge the precise settings necessary for capturing depth of field (how close or far an object appears in a photo) and motion, Hardcastle would step outside to snap a shot of a soaring bird. Instead of glancing at the results on his camera screen, he would head back into his workroom, download the photo to scrutinize it on the larger display of his computer and determine steps to improve clarity. Then it was back outside to snap another shot and repeat the process until he was satisfied with his knowledge of the camera’s workings.
“So many people think they should be able to just point the camera at something and have the picture turn out,” Hardcastle stated. “That’s not how it works.”
Perhaps one reason for Hardcastle’s success in the photography world (winning various awards and having works displayed in several prestigious locals), is the very unique combination of intellect he possesses. In the classic battle of left brain/right brain (logical v. creative) most would be quick to categorize a refined photographer as dominantly creative. Though the assumption may prove true quite often, Hardcastle shatters the mold.
As he sits in his small studio describing the use of light and color in art, a small clock on the walls ticks away the seconds. In place of traditional numbers, this clock displays mathematical equations; 6×2 informs an inquirer of the time being 12:00 and in lieu of striking 2:00, the big hand comes to rest upon √4. Further across the wall, hung just below vibrantly colored fish reproductions is a framed box displaying an orderly and extensive insect collection from days spent engrossed by entomology.
Throughout his workspace are other testaments to passions both past and present. When coaxed, a line of wind chimes lace the room with distinct melodies; their graceful notes bringing to mind Hardcastle’s days as a composer of music. The intense drive he harbors was not vacant during that portion of his life as he admits, “I pushed myself to have a new composition every week.” Such lofty expectations ended with his eventual turning away from the trade.
Its replacement, however, was no less demanding. Computer programming soon filled his life before the vocation was commonly known. After inventing the field software used by Amalgamated Sugar Company, Hardcastle secured a job position still held today as no one but he understands the program’s inner workings.
The large photo printer beside his desk was also the recipient of Hardcastle’s inventive capabilities. Unsatisfied with color saturation settings, Hardcastle altered its ink lines to feed from bottles set to the side. What looks like an assortment of medical IV’s now allows Hardcastle to adjust color levels while bypassing the constant purchase of small ink cartridges.
Images now emerging from the printer are precisely tinted to Hardcastle’s satisfaction. One such print fresh from the devise portrayed two crisp, white gulls soaring against a stunning sapphire background.
“Those are Franklin’s Gulls,” Hardcastles noted of the birds. “Named after Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, they migrate 5,000 miles a year and never pick fights. They’re just interested in bugs.”
This is merely an example of the detailed information Hardcastle can impart regarding many of the thousands of varying subjects his camera captures each month.
“People check in here but they never check out,” laughed his wife, Krisan, referring to the length of time Hardcastle can entertain guests with information and photographs.
This is understandable though. His eyes search the world in large panorama and scrupulous detail alike. He will sit for hours at a favorite spot overlooking the City of Rocks waiting for the perfect light to descend upon the broad landscape. But when traveling in the back of a covered wagon, will make note of the tiny grasshoppers which frolic along the dusty trail.
Although Hardcastle’s interests and hobbies have a history of shifting frequently, he feels certain the passion for photography will remain unwavering. While many photographers strive to develop a career from their talent, Hardcastle spends time behind the camera for his own satisfaction.
“I might be kind of an odd duck, but I just like to get out,” he asserted.
And get out, he does. Photography provides him the excuse to camp frequently with his family, embark on drives in pursuit of lightning with his wife or dance atop hay bales resting in a field behind his home.
His works are also on display at several locations around Southern Idaho, including the City of Rocks visitor center.
An illuminating print from Hardcastle will be on exhibit at the Music Center in Twin Falls until May 5th for the Magic Valley has Art competition.