Photographs by Tom Sobolik
photo by Christopher Harting

Tom Sobolik has been a professional photographer all his adult life. Trained as a journalist and photojournalist he began his career as a newspaper and Associated Press phtotgrapher in the 1970's. He then freelanced for many years for magazines and other publications throughout the world as a Black Star photographer. Following is an updated artist's statement from his first gallery show in 2009.

Take Me to the River

It's been awhile since the financial crisis walloped the economy of the city at the mouth of the Hudson River. It's been over 100 years since the Hudson River School of painters brought fame to the American landscape and it's been a little over 400 years since Henry Hudson’s first exploration of his namesake river. With those three things in mind I say “take me to the river”.

My photographs are an invitation to explore the river that was first artistically explored by the 19th century Hudson River School. Thomas Cole, Asher Durand and Fredrick Church saw the American wilderness as God’s paradise on earth unspoiled by civilization. Their utopian view was abandoned after years of war, development, industrialization and pollution. Even so the river and surrounding landscape have retained an aura of endurance and eternity. My photographs aim to depict those qualities. I find great satisfaction and strength in the local landscape. It's good to pause and appreciate the natural wonders around us.

I think the landscape around New York City has become under appreciated. The pollution that plagued the Hudson River for most of the 20th century left it with a bad reputation that remains today.

A lot of people don’t realize that much of the pollution has been stopped and the river has been substantially cleaned up.  Once a virtual open sewer, a public beach at Croton Point was reopened to swimming several years ago. I hope my photographs will help people take a fresh look at the rehabilitated river. And I hope that they will inspire people from other places to look around and appreciate their local landscape.

My photographs are made with digital techniques virtually unheard of only a few years ago.  Each finished photo is actually a composite of multiple images “stitched” together in a computer. A series of overlapping images shot in sequence are seamlessly joined to make panoramas and other composites. The result are extremely detailed images.  Additionally, digital adjustments to both the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights result in wide tonal ranges not possible in color prints from traditional film.

With that said altering the content of the photographs is kept to a bare minimum. I follow documentary and photojournalistic principals. I don’t do retouching that would change or eliminate elements of the scene as they appeared when the photographs were taken.