John Kleinhans


November 3 – December 16, 2001

The photographs in this exhibition are drawn from recent work around my home in Woodstock, New York; as well as Monhegan Island, Maine, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

I have been privileged to have traveled to far places and have photographed in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the American West. I’ve seen some of the highest mountains and deepest canyons, but it is the landscape where I have spent my life in the northeastern US that moves me most deeply. The Hudson Valley region, with its wooded hills (Westerners are amused to find the word “mountains” applied to the Catskills), fields, farms, and small towns everywhere shows its long habitation and cultivation. Likewise the coast of New England although very rugged, is on a human scale. The little rock of Monhegan reveals the same sort of remnants of many lives lived that we find on our hikes around Woodstock. The overgrown paths, bits of stonewall, and long abandoned orchards are like flickers of memory.

Technical / This show is my first extended effort in digital printmaking. Working with my computer, scanner, and printer has been challenging, occasionally frustrating, and always exciting. The magic I experienced when my first black-and-white prints emerged in the tray of developer 36 years ago, I am experiencing once again. I watch the print head go back and forth, faithfully obeying my most minute commands and feel I’m watching a miracle.

There are pitfalls in working digitally. Whereas in the darkroom one may always be trying to increase one’s control of variables like lightness, contrast, and color, with the computer one must, on the contrary, learn restraint, since the control available goes so far beyond one’s needs. At first there is the temptation to play with every trick in the Photoshop toolbox and risk producing garish monstrosities. The thing I value most about photography is its faithfulness to the visual reality I saw when I first exposed the film in camera. Retaining this fidelity is the greatest challenge in the digital realm. But once this self control is mastered it is such a joy to be able to make that highlight just as white as it should be, to get the black really black, to get that magenta cast out of the sky, to handle that scratch on the negative perfectly. Finally, when you work with your image on the screen you can get to know it better than you ever had before – you can explore every detail. Since my images are made first of all to please myself, this leisurely exploration of the picture provides new enjoyment. The photographs begin as 4×5” color negatives, which I shoot in camera and then develop. They are scanned on an Epson 1680, cleaned, and fine tuned in Photoshop 6, and printed with an Epson 1270 on Lumijet Classic Velour paper (watercolor).


John Kleinhans was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1942. In college he began as a music major but turned his attention to psychology and was particularly interested in the psychology of visual perception. He spent twelve years as a psychology professor at Rutgers, Manhattanville College, and the University of Connecticut. During his years in academia he became more and more involved in photography, and ultimately devoted himself to it after his show of French Landscapes at the Alliance Francaise in New York City and his move to Woodstock, NY. In Woodstock John has been closely involved with the Woodstock School of Art where he has been a vice president since the early 1980s. He has also served as a chairman and trustee of the Woodstock Artists Association and an instructor at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Additionally he works as a designer at Woodstock Percussion Inc.  Kleinhans set up his first darkroom in 1965, began making color prints in the 1970s, platinum prints in the 1990s and is now busy exploring digital photography. He has worked in portrait, architectural, art, aerial, and news photography but always returns to landscape. He has published two books of his landscape photographs – An Image of Monhegan (Precipice Publications, 1997, 2nd edition 2000) and Woodstock Landscapes (Precipice Publications with Golden Notebook Press, 2000).