Artist Statement

Ansel Adams said, "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer."

 To explore this a bit, every photograph captures a small piece of space and time. But I aspire to do this by "freezing" reality in a way not seen by the casual observer. This might be with perspective, time of day and lighting, exposure, darkroom and printing techniques, or digital combinations of images. I shoot what I shoot trying to give the viewer an otherwise unseen perspective on common subjects.

So, I often work at the boundary of photography and painting. My intent is to produce a photographic print that appears to have been created with paintbrush and color palette or with black, white and shades of gray. For example, each of my projects, Graffiti Mash-Up, 2014, and Seascapes, 2008-2011, depicts subjects that can’t be viewed in exactly the same way in the natural world.

Graffiti is comprised of overlaid composite images where the viewer sees two pieces of artwork at once, one through the other. Here I am indebted to the original artists, many who are street artists in Buenos Aires, Argentina; others are better-known such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Federico Botero, among other art dignitaries both past and present. This series would not exist without their seminal contributions.

Seascapes are images taken with the camera shutter open for minutes at a time rather than for mere fractions of a second. The result is to smooth out ocean waves to pacific planarity and to render the sky as if it were a watercolor painting. The San Diego Union Tribune (August 20, 2009) said of one of the Seascapes, “The view is wide, the colors almost ghostly. He uses transparency film and time-lapse photography . . . Clouds and sea appear as soft as cotton.”

Portraits of Famous Scientists is a tongue-in-cheek presentation of time exposure photographs created using an LED hanging from my darkroom's black ceiling.  The camera is placed facing straight up just below the swinging LED.  As taught by Jules Antoine Lissajous in the 19th century, the mixing of two or more frequencies creates a wave pattern known today as a Lissajous figure.  These figures can be created as the LED traces its Lissajous path above the camera.  With a bit of imagination (or good Googling) you will envision how this might be done with a "complex pendulum" using one LED but multiple points of attachment for the pendulum at the ceiling.  The initial images are B&W photos; color is added subsequently.


Selected Gallery Shows

Nighttime Seascapes, Joseph Bellows Gallery, Rancho Santa Fe, California; June 19-July 31, 2010

Sea and Sky, Photographs by Bill Rastetter, Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, California; August 20-September 17, 2011

Urban Landscapes, The Madison Gallery, La Jolla, California; December 11-31, 2015

Bill Rastetter: Street Art Reinterpreted, The Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside, California; February 6-May 29, 2016

Equatorial Sea:  Water and Light.  A Study of Color, University of California, San Diego, California; January 24-April 25, 2017

Summer Selections (2017) at Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, California includes pieces from several artists including “Tetiaroa December 14, 2015” by WHR in 42x56 inch format

Edibles:  Food Sketches.  Photographs on Watercolor Paper, Ida and Cecil Green Faculty Club, University of California San Diego; April 30-early September 2018



Bill’s mom gave him a Kodak box camera when he was 11 -- that was the start. Soon, he graduated to dad’s Kodak Medalist (used for aerial reconnaissance during WWII) and with that learned the more technical aspects of B&W shooting. Bill built a darkroom in a closet at the back of the family garage when he was 14 or so. He used a medium-format view camera on loan from a local priest and friend of his dad’s. The large format (4-inch x 5-inch) view camera that he uses today is no more technologically advanced than the priest’s view camera was in the early 1960s. Some things don’t change. By age 16, he was working part-time for the USIA (U.S. Information Agency) as a darkroom photographer turning out dozens and dozens of 8x10-inch glossy publicity photos of Jack and Jackie. He still has signed B&W glossies from each of the Kennedys.

Rastetter earned the S.B. degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an M.A. and Ph.D. both in chemistry from Harvard University. When not photographing, he helps fund and grow biotechnology companies. He has played significant roles in the founding and/or operations of IDEC Pharmaceuticals, Biogen Idec, Illumina, Receptos, Fate Therapeutics, Neurocrine Biosciences, Regulus Therapeutics, and Dare Bioscience. He also serves on the Advisory Council for SVB Leerink, a healthcare-focused investment bank, and on the board of directors of the spinout company from Google and Illumina, Grail.  Grail, now an independent, private company is developing a blood test to screen for cancer before patients become symptomatic, a point in time where cures might be achieved that later might be elusive.

Bill is married to Marisa, the love of his life. She took his portrait that appears above.