Rappahannock — and the world — through the extraordinary eye of Ray Boc

Sperryville photographer’s first-ever infrared exhibit to open at Griffin Tavern

If you don’t know Ray Boc personally you’ve no doubt been impressed with his unsurpassed photography, often published in these pages of the Rappahannock News.

Dare we say you ain’t seen nothing yet?

On Saturday, May 11th, from 1 to 4 p.m., a reception celebrating the Sperryville resident’s first-ever exhibit of infrared photography will take place at Flint Hill’s Griffin Tavern, where his eye-popping photographs will be on display through June.

“Photography is a passion that I have been exploring and developing since early childhood,” says Boc. “While I continue to work within my landscape, event, and theatre genre, this is a creative angle that has me excited and has resulted in a new direction in my creative process. I have evolved a personal technique in infrared photography enabling me to examine and reflect on my previous subjects, admittedly eclectic, to reveal new insights.

“My vision has expanded,” he explains it. “I now have the tools that can help me move forward to new explorations.”

The esteemed photographer says that with infrared photography he “can look beyond what I can actually see, into the world of the unseen. As I grow older the memories I cannot see are important to me. I want to preserve them. When I take an infrared photo, I develop an image in my mind of what I want to convey about a timeless, important and historical subject.

“What we see with our eyes is light reflected by the scene before us,” Boc describes. “Infrared is light — a form of energy and heat — beyond the visible spectrum that our eyes cannot see. The infrared camera sees only reflected infrared light, particularly coming off green vegetation and lightly colored subjects. These subjects will appear very bright in the image. Infrared light also penetrates atmospheric haze, resulting in a surreal clarity in images of landscapes.”

Boc, who became serious about photography in the 1970s, says with an infrared photo he works “with presets, specialized tools, add beige tones, sharpen details and amplify clarity to achieve the effect I want to make, revealing new insights into each scene.”

Absorbing scenes that Rappahannock residents will immediately recognize and delight in.

“The photo of the Lom-Bar-Dy restaurant evokes images of the people who cooked and ate there,” says the photographer. “Now just a shell, the actual building looks like junk, but the infrared process restores a sense of specialness, its importance to the community, a history, and the innate curiosity we have in a fallen down building or a structure worn down by time.”

The former Lom-Bar-Dy Restaurant in Amissville “evokes images of the people who cooked and ate there.” By Ray Boc

Then there’s Sperryville as never seen before.

“The image of Main Street Sperryville is paradoxically historical and yet very much alive. While the voluminous cloud adds mystery and majesty to the historic village, the use of shade and tone captures both the sense of history and contemporary energy,” he describes.

Main Street in Sperryille as never seen before, the shade and tone of infrared photography capturing both the sense of history and contemporary energy. By Ray Boc

Boc’s exhibit will also feature a stunning infrared photograph of the Temple of Hera, built in the Doric order around 460-450 BC, in Paestum, Italy, a major ancient Greek city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Magna Grecia (southern Italy).

“The temple’s grandeur is prominent in this infrared photo,” he says. “The ‘brightly white’ leaf trees focus one’s eye on the majestic temple, while simultaneously softening the photo in its entirety. The clarity in the image and allows us to experience history in a different way.”

And then there’s no ordinary tree.

Ray Boc snaps a selfie. By Ray Boc

“When I look at the olive tree, possibly 2000 years old, I can only begin to imagine how many people have walked by that tree. Rooted in the Italian soil, still growing and producing in Scolacium Archeological Park, it makes me feel how little we are in the passage of time. We can’t see with our eyes what infrared photography reveals. I took that photograph of the olive tree during a summer trip to Calabria and, ironically, when I look at that photo, I reexperience the heat of the day when the photo was taken.”

Boc grew up in Rome in central New York in a Polish family. After earning a degree in civil engineering at Syracuse University in 1964, he spent most of his 37 year engineering career with the US Army Corps of Engineers in New York City. Still, he was a photographer at heart.

He took private lessons and several courses at the New School and the International Center for Photography in New York, studying under Ben Fernandez, Philipe Halsmann, Ruth Orkin, W Eugene Smith, Jill Friedman and others. He was a founding member of a group of 10 artists and photographers who rented raw space in Soho and ran the 22 Wooster Gallery on Wooster Street for four years.

Upon retiring, he moved to Rappahannock County in 2002 and in 2004 married his childhood friend, Barbara Adolfi. Locally, he is a founding and current member of Old Rag Photography & Gallery, located in Sperryville since 2010.

“I, as well as Old Rag members Joyce Harman and Francie Schroeder, teach and provide photographic services,” says Boc, who these days has moved exclusively into digital photography.

His work is available through Old Rag Photography, at Glassworks Gallery in Sperryville, and at the Griffin Tavern.

About John McCaslin 449 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.

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