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Pete Turner, Whose Color Photography Could Alter Reality, Dies at 83 – The New York Times

Pete Turner, Whose Color Photography Could Alter Reality, Dies at 83 - The New York Times


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/arts/pete-turner-dead-color-photographer.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries
 
Pete Turner, Whose Color Photography Could Alter Reality, Dies at 83
With saturated colors, often on global assignments, Mr. Turner created spectacular images, some for the covers of record albums.
By RICHARD SANDOMIRSEPT. 22, 2017

Reine Turner
When the photographer Pete Turner was on assignment in Amboseli National Park in Kenya in 1964, a lone giraffe galloped across the empty plain before him, and he captured it in all its solitude, its neck rising above the horizon.
Mr. Turner’s resulting transparency was overexposed, but he saved it by rephotographing it and using filters to transform it into a spectacular and eerie new image.

 
Pete Turner
The giraffe now appeared to be part of a surreal painting, running across a purplish veld beneath a red sky.
Altering reality was nothing new for Mr. Turner. Starting in the pre-Photoshop era, he routinely manipulated colors to bring saturated hues to his work in magazines and advertisements and on album covers.
“The color palette I work with is really intense,” he said in a video produced by the George Eastman House, the photographic museum in Rochester that exhibited his work in 2006 and 2007. “I like to push it to the limit.”
 
 
Pete Turner: Empowered By Color
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Jerry Uelsmann, a photographer and college classmate who specializes in black-and-white work, said in an email that when he saw Mr. Turner’s intense color images, he once told him, “I felt like I wanted to lick them.”
Mr. Turner, whose career spanned 60 years, died of cancer on Sept. 18 at his home in Wainscott, N.Y., on Long Island. He was 83.
Mr. Turner’s dance of colors can be seen in the red and yellow trash can that he posed on a beach against a cerulean sky.
A Times Square street scene recast in dreamlike blue with a traffic light reflected in a wet manhole cover.

 
Pete Turner
A hot yellow antique car in a lot in Texas shot in a wide angle against a brilliantly lit background. A herd of ostriches silhouetted against a glowing golden sunrise. And a cheetah slowly walking through bamboo — yellow and black blending with green in an almost liquid way.

 
Pete Turner
In 1973, Mr. Turner, while on assignment for Esquire, was the only photographer on the Icelandic island of Heimeay shooting the eruption of the Helgafell volcano. With 7,000 people evacuated, he spent a night in an abandoned house, kept awake by lava bombs beating on the roof, he told “Photography Year 1974,” published by Time-Life Books.

 
Pete Turner
At sunup he moved to the backyard to photograph the volcanic explosion. “New Dawn,” one of Mr. Turner’s phantasmagorical pictures, portrays lava in shades of yellow, orange and red, spraying in a fluid arc as if an unseen hand were directing it leftward over the volcano. By underexposing his shots, he made the colors become more saturated.
“It was like being in the center of a science fiction movie,” he said on his website.
Donald Peter Turner was born in Albany on May 30, 1934. His father, Donald, was the leader of a 23-piece touring band that was based for a while in Montreal. His mother, the former Ruth Murray, was a homemaker. Fascinated by photography from a young age, he was developing color pictures by age 14.
“I love black and white photography, but somehow I got seduced by color,” he told Photo District News in 2000. “I remember going to the art supply store as a kid and looking at watercolor paint boxes and thinking, ‘These are beautiful.’ ”
After graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Mr. Uelsmann was among his classmates, Mr. Turner was drafted into the Army. He served primarily at a combat photographic center in Astoria, Queens, where he ran the photo lab and experimented with a new type of color printing. He was occasionally sent by the Army on assignments, like photographing rockets in Florida; he also found subjects to photograph in Manhattan on weekends.
After his discharge, he joined the Freelance Photographers Guild and went on a monthslong assignment for the Airstream trailer company, following a caravan of 43 vehicles traveling from South Africa to Egypt. The sojourn whetted his appetite for more work in Africa and gave him a vivid portfolio that helped him secure assignments from Esquire, Look, Sports Illustrated and Holiday magazines, as well as from advertisers and Hollywood films — he was on set for “Cleopatra” (1963) and “The Night of the Iguana” (1964).

 
Pete Turner
He also became aligned with the record producer Creed Taylor at various labels, most notably CTI. The relationship began when Mr. Turner was still in the Army. While rummaging through record store bins in Manhattan, he discovered that the albums that got his attention — particularly their covers — had been produced by Mr. Taylor.
Mr. Turner called Mr. Taylor, and soon they were working together. Sometimes Mr. Turner photographed artists like Count Basie, Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane; at other times Mr. Taylor used pictures from Mr. Turner’s archive. The giraffe photo became the cover of “Wave,” a 1967 album by the Brazilian songwriter and musician Antonio Carlos Jobim, and the shot of the ostriches at sunrise was used for “Sunflower,” a 1972 album by the vibraphonist Milt Jackson.
For the cover of “Trust in Me,” a 1968 album on A&M by the group Soul Flutes, Mr. Turner could not find anything appropriate in his portfolio.
“I said to Creed, ‘What about shooting a beautiful pair of lips? Not the kind you see in Vogue,’ ” he told the website JazzWax in 2008. “ ‘Let’s get a black model with great lips, and we’ll paint them so we’ll have a really different look.’ Creed said, ‘I love it.’ ”

 
Pete Turner
A collection of more than 80 of Mr. Turner’s album covers, “The Color of Jazz,” was published in 2006. The cover photo, of glazed peaches with an eyeball inside one of them, had been the cover of “Canned Funk” (1975), an album by the saxophonist and flutist Joe Farrell.
Reviewing that book for The New York Times, Steve Coates wrote that while Mr. Turner’s cover photos were “gorgeous and haunting,” some jazz fans might prefer more traditional portraits of the artists. Mr. Coates noted that Mr. Turner’s “nervous, smoky silhouette of Jobim, shot by subterfuge for the gatefold of ‘Stone Flower’ (1971), is likely to be part of jazz culture long after the anonymously kinetic blur of the motorcyclist on Joe Farrell’s ‘Penny Arcade’ (1973) has vanished beyond the horizon.”
Mr. Turner is survived by his wife, the former Reine Angeli; a son, Alex, who confirmed the death, and two grandchildren.
Colors took Mr. Turner into another dimension, whether they were natural or added through filters, using double-exposures, slide duplication and other techniques. In Mozambique, for example, he turned a cannonball and a whitewashed fort into an otherworldly blue landscape. In France, the trees and shrubbery in a French garden appear to be suffused in a weak orange fog.

 
Pete Turner
“I’ve always been drawn to the colors of nature, and nature is a wonderful teacher,” he told Popular Photography in 2008. “Look at the color coding of a bee — yellow and black stripes — or of a cardinal with different shades of red.
“It is rare that nature is in color harmony,” he continued. “Go out there and look. Although a lot of my pictures are not taken from nature, I use nature as a color source.”





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