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kitchen life # 81-82 ~ good read / great pictures

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asparagus, rubber bands, noodles ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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a second look ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I am currently working my way through a very interesting book, Photography Today. The book is (publisher's description):

The major new survey of contemporary photography considers the work of 80–100 photographers through eleven thematic chapters on subjects such as street photography, portraiture, landscape photography and documentary. It traces the development of photography as an art form in each of these genres individually and also looks at the ties and links between them. What is revealed is a complex story with numerous tangents. Mark Durden's narrative, combined with rich illustrative content and an easily accessible design, guides a clear path through this story, showcasing the work of great individual photographers while also being able to place this into the larger narrative of the medium's development.

The book has 464 pages with 500 illustrations, aka: photographs. The author, Mark Durden, has chosen 163 living (and dead) photographers from more than 25 countries who are influencing practice around the world. 500-1,000 words accompanied by 1-9 photographs are given to each picture maker. And, despite the fact that the book was written and curated by an academic - Durden is Professor of Photography at the University of South Wales, UK - the book is, for the most part, eminently readable. No artspeak dictionary needed.

In an essay / review about the book, Jörg M. Colberg wrote:

Writing a book about contemporary photography is a bit of a thankless task since the moment it’s published, there already is something else that is not included in the book. But completeness cannot be the goal of such books. Inevitably, something will be missing, for whatever reason. There will probably also be categories, resulting in debates whether artist XYZ should not have in fact been placed elsewhere, or whether some category might be missing.

The task thus is to present photography in such a way that any reader will be able to move forward after having engaged with the book. S/he might disagree with some of the choices, but s/he will know why, and – crucially – s/he will have a much easier time engaging with the medium on her or his own. Photography Today succeeds brilliantly doing just that.

I have a virtual small-town library of books on photography - monographs, theory and practice, photo strategies and the like (not 1 how-to books amongst them) - and this book is one of the best on the theory, practice, photo strategies side of things. In our dining room, I have the book set up on a homemade book stand, open to my current place in the book, as a constant visual reminder to keep at it - the book is engaging and can suck one into extended contemplation, re: the medium and its apparatus*, making it a book which, for me, can only be read / handled in relatively small doses.

In any event, this book is highly recommended for anyone who has a more than a casual relationship with picture making / the medium and its apparatus. I picked my copy up during my recent visit to Montreal. The book can be had in the $40-50.00USD range. A veritable bargain when judged against the $59.00USD cost of the lens shade for my recently acquired 12mm Zuiko lens.

*the word "apparatus" in this context should understood to mean "photo strategies", not gear / equipment.
Posted on Friday, February 5, 2016 at 09:59AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | CommentsPost a Comment

in situ ~ the book

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Yesterday evening, I made it just under the wire, re: In Situ ~ la, la, how the life goes on, in order to get the limited-time 50% + 20% discount. Those discounts took the cost of the book from $125.00USD down to $56.00USD. Good deal, and, it is worth noting for those who are in a POD book making frame of mind, Shutterfly, my POD book source of choice, regularly follows one expired limited-time discount with another discount offer within 24hrs. I can't remember the last time I paid the full ticket price for a book.

FYI, as mentioned in yesterday's entry, most of my picture making is done with my 20mm f1.7 Lumix lens. Re: the pictures in the In Situ ~ la, la, how the life goes on book, all but a very few pictures were made with that lens. The ones that were not were made with Olympus 4/3 cameras/lens combination before I got into the Olympus µ4/3 world.

The non µ4/3 pictures were made with my 4/3 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 lens on 4/3 cameras. The lens was zoomed out closer to 22mm rather than 11mm. That made the angle of view very similar to the 20mm µ4/3 lens I now use, resulting in a unified look, field of view wise, for all of the pictures.

While I can't speak about other camera makers, Olympus has maintained a nearly identical color palette in all of their "serious" cameras over all the years - a decade or so - I have been using them. Once again, that characteristic has made it possible to mix pictures from various times and cameras without an obvious difference in the color palette. iMo, that's a very valuable characteristic which creates an visual integrity across a body of work.
Posted on Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 10:50AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

kitchen sink # 32 ~ 12mm picture # 1

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utensils ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

A photograph draws its beauty from the truth with which it is marked. For this very reason I refuse all the tricks of the trade and professional virtuosity which could make me betray my canon. As soon as I find a subject which interests me, I leave it to the lens to record truthfully. - Andre Kertesz

Although the reason for my acquisition of the Zuiko 12mm f2 lens was for use on my upcoming trip to Ireland and Scotland - where I intend to use it primarily for interior pictures, pubs, churches and the like - I have no doubt I will use for other picture making. Other picture making like the picture which accompanies this entry.

That written, even though I have 6 µ4/3 prime lenses, the lens I use for most (80%?) of my picture making is the 20mm f1.7 Lumix. I can't see that changing with acquisition of the 12mm Zuiko. The 20mm lens is how I see.
Posted on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 04:02PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

kitchen life # 80 / ku # 1374 ~ I'm a winner

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winter? ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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crumpled oatmeal packets ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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"test" picture made with new 12mm lens ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

In a word, this winter sucks.

I like winter, especially winter with a lot of snow. However, as the picture - ground cover / February, 2 - in this entry evidences, we have had very little snow. For some, this good news. For others - say, like, those who make a significant part of their income plowing snow or ski mountains - it's the best news possible. For me, it just flat out sucks.

The conditions are not great for Xcountry / Nordic skiing. There is little motivation to build a fire and sit by the fireplace with a warm drink (and the wife) while the weather outside is frightful or, iMo, delightful.

In any event, in anticipation of our upcoming 2-week trip to Ireland and Scotland, 1 week in each country, I have acquired a new lens - a 12mm f2 / Olympus Zuiko. While I have 4/3 lens (not a µ4/3 lens) - a Zuiko 11-22mm f2.8/3.5 - which I use with an adapter on my µ4/3 cameras, that lens is rather bulky when compared to the 12mm Zuiko lens. So, the purpose of the acquisition, other than pure gear lust, is primarily to be able to get all my gear - 3 µ4/3 bodies and 5 prime lenses - into a single relatively compact camera bag for the trip.

Truth be told, I have had my eye and wanter on this lens for quite some time. However, the miser in me was put off by its $799.00USD price tag. Occasionally the lens was on sale for $599.00USD, but even that price seemed kinda steep. So, with the upcoming trip on the near horizon, I checked on eBay and, lo and behold, there was 1 used 12mm Zuiko lens listed. The really good thing was that the lens was used for demo in a camera store.

Long story and the 4-day bid process made short, I "won" the lens for $420.00USD. It arrived this AM and upon inspection it can not be distinguished from new. Needless to write, I am, as they say, a happy camper.

FYI, the kitchen life picture in this entry was made with my 20mm f1.7 Lumix lens, not the new-to-me 12mm Zuiko which arrived an hour after the picture was made.
Posted on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 11:12AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

civilized ku # 3039-41 / kitchen life # 79 / in situ - life goes on ~ little of this, a little of that

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alley with tire tracks and green dumpster ~ Downtown Montreal, QC., CA • click to embiggen
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stuff on Japanese tray ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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a fine particulate snowfall ~ vieux port / Old Montreal / Montreal, QC., CA. • click to embiggen

I am hard at work making a book - Shutterfly has a up to 50% off sale with an extra 20% discount - for my street photography / people work. I have whittled the work down to 36 pictures (from well over 100). There may be some additional paring down but I am essentially where I want to be, number of pictures wise.

I also believe that I am where I want to be, title wise. As mentioned in yesterdays's entry, I wasn't exactly sure that the pictures fit into a convenient genre descriptor so I wasn't comfortable incorporating the word "street" or "people" photography in a title - by no means were all of the pictures made "on the street" and, while people are featured in every picture, the pictures are more than just about people.

So, my title has evolved to be IN SUTI ~ life goes on.

All of those issues solved, I'll move on to the next one ...

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one of these things is not sorta like the other

... traditionally, most, but certainly not all, picturing in the decisive moment / street photography genre is made in B/W. While it's not exactly a comprehensive survey, nevertheless, a Google search using the phrase street photography and then clicking on Images for street photography will demonstrate my point.

However, on the image page you will find a sub-category link for color work which demonstrates that the B/W tradition is no longer sacrosanct. It's worth noting that the BW barrier in Fine Art photography was blown all to hell and back with Eggleston's 1976 MOMA exhibition.

It is also worth noting that prior to that paradigm shifting event, there were a few picture makers (very, very few) who worked in the street photography genre with the use of color film. Most notable was Saul Leiter whose 1950-60s NYC street photography work has only recently been accepted into the pantheon of all-time great street photography practitioners.

In any event, I have given some thought to converting my work to monochrome. Not very likely ... probably ... but I have thought about it.
Posted on Friday, January 29, 2016 at 10:13AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

even more people / decisive moments ~ here, there and everywhere

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While many bodies of work, street photography wise, are made in one location - the streets of NYC for an example - my body of work has been made in many locations. The pictures in today's entry were made in NYC, Montreal(3), Tuscany(2), New Jersey(3) and various locations in New York State / the Adirondacks(5) - once again, discursive promiscuity in action. Hence, there is no visually unifying backdrop to the pictures.

In addition, of the 30 posted pictures (in this entry and the entry immediately below), 1/2 are made indoors as opposed to on the street / outdoors. Consequently, the resulting question in my mind is whether or not these pictures really fit into the street photography genre. The only unifying visual referent is people. However, I don't believe these pictures really fit into the people / portrait genre either.

So, what genre are they? Some might not care one way or the other but my concern is that I will need a title for the body of work and the POD book.

At this point, the working title I have in mind is - HUMAN ACTIVITY ~ in situ. Whether that descriptor will hold up, only time will tell.
Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 09:08AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

people / decisive moments ~ one amongst many

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Henri Cartier Bresson gave us the decisive moment, a concept / photo strategy which has been often misinterpreted to mean that there is one and only one decisive moment in a scene and that moment is primary predicated on capturing the motion / movement in a scene at the "perfect" moment.

However, if one were to read Bresson's ideas about the medium and its apparatus in greater depth, one would come upon a more complete definition of his decisive moment concept / photo strategy:

If a photograph is to communicate its subject in all its intensity, the relationship of forms must be rigorously established. Photography implies the recognition of a rhythm in the world of real things. What the eye does is to find and focus on the particular subject within the mass of reality; what the camera does is simply to register upon film the decision made by the eye.

and

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.

and

... (the photographer) composes a picture in very nearly the same amount of time it takes to click the shutter, at the speed of a reflex action ... if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless ... [T]o me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.

I am in complete agreement with Bresson regarding the above excerpts (amongst many other of his thoughts), which, in a nut shell, express the idea that "it" must all come together in order to work as a good picture. However, I have a thought regarding "the significance of an event" which either; a) contradicts the notion of the "perfect moment" motion / movement wise, or b) expands the idea of the "perfect moment".

To wit .... assuming that a picture maker has recognized the "precise organization of forms" in a scene, in any given picturing situation which features people, there are, iMo, any number of "perfect moments" to picture, motion / movement wise. Many picture makers knowing this, to include Bresson, make a series of pictures of a given situation and, after the picturing fact, choose - from a contact sheet or a computer monitor - one moment from amongst many pictured moments and elevate it to the status of a decisive moment.

That is to write, while a picture maker has recognized a situation / event as potentially having the visual and human interaction characteristics of a decisive moment picture, he/she knows that in fluid situation there will be many decisive moment possibilities. And, it will be up to him/her to decide at a later time which moment of those pictured moments will be elevated to / have bestowed upon it the title of the decisive moment.

In other words, in a very real sense, a moment is not decisive until the picture maker says it is. And, given the opportunity by someone other than the picture maker to view the multiple pictures extracted from a situation, that person might have an entirely different opinion on which moment is the decisive moment. Of course, and correctly so, the picture maker is the final arbiter of which moment most realizes his/her vision.

All of that written, I have been very surprised to once again "discover" a "hidden" body of work lurking un-mined in my picture library. The surprise is not that I have been making pictures of people but rather that I have many more people pictures than I do in other of my picturing categories. To date, I have mined over 150 people pictures and there are more to be found.

Hence my interest in the concept / photo strategy of the decisive moment genre.
Posted on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 10:33AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

FYI ~ see it, you'll like it

Last evening the wife and I, along with The Cinemascapist and family, attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour event in Lake Placid. The event was a screening of 9 films selected from the many film entries at last year's Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Notable amongst the selected films was the film ECLIPSE which chronicled the quest by photographer Reuben Krabbe to make a rather mission-impossible, once-in-a-lifetime possibility picture - that of a skier silhouetted against a solar eclipse. The film and the resulting picture - yes, he nailed it - is visually stunning and the story is rather compelling.

You can view the entire film in full-screen HD - ECLIPSE - highly recommended (the film is about 30 minutes long).

And, the BMFFWT might be coming to a location near you. You can check the schedule / locations here - Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour locations
Posted on Monday, January 25, 2016 at 10:57AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment
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