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Entries in civilized ku, manmade landscape (1434)

diptych # 187-89 (trees) / kitchen sink # 31 ~ some thoughts on B&W

kitchen sink / dirty water ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
birch ~ somewhere in Connecticut / near Swastika, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
birch ~ Battery Park - Manhattan, NYC / Au Sable River near Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
trees ~ Lake Champlain shoreline/ Peru, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

As I have been making tree diptychs, which, BTW, are NOT my intended end product, it occurred to me after snooping around on the interweb that, when a tree is the primary visual referent in a picture, a B&W conversion is an interesting option.

I come to that conclusion because the overwhelming majority of trees, trunk wise, have no real color and what color they do have is primarily monochromatic. In addition, tree trunks usually exhibit a high degree of texture. Consequently, the combination of the monochromatic and textural characteristics of tree trunks is a fine referent for a B&W approach to picturing them. But, here's the caveat ....

.... not any old conversion from color to B&W will do.

Inasmuch as I have had a fair amount of experience, back in the good ol' days of B&W film, with using Wratten filters - green red, yellow, blue - to accentuate / de-accentuate the B&W tonal values of colors found in a scene, I am having a fair amount of success using the Image > Adjustments > Black and White color specific sliders tool in Photoshop. And Holy Digital Darkroom, Batman, the color based sliders are essentially infinitely adjustable Wratten filters.

And like so many advantages found in the digital darkroom, I can create a number of different conversion picture files using different color sliders and then blend the results into one final conversion file. That allows me to adjust the tonal values of multiple colors, something that was not possible in the analog film / wet darkroom days.

The net result of this type of B&W conversion can far exceed anything that was possible in the the good ol' days. I suspect Sir Ansel might have thought he had died and gone to heaven - he's most certainly dead but I have no idea were he might be other than in a box in the cold, cold ground - with the amount of control (Zone System on steroids) that he could have had in the B&W digital darkroom.

diptych # 186 ~ congratulations to my inner photographic child

juror's selection / "Alternative Cameras" exhibition • click to embiggen

The wait is over and the results are in (from last evening's mail):


Thank you for submitting your work for PhotoPlace Gallery’s juried "Alternative Cameras" exhibition. Juror Susan Burnstine has chosen 35 photographs for the gallery exhibition, and an additional 40 photographs for display in the Online Gallery on the PhotoPlace Gallery website. It’s a wonderful collection of fine work.

We are very pleased to tell you that your work was selected for display in the Online Gallery.

Juror’s Statement:

Often perfection is a direct result of embracing imperfection. The term “happy accident” has become synonymous with wildly flawed alternative approaches including toy, pinhole and homemade photography, as they frequently rely on elements of chance and luck. But there have been some who have tamed these unpredictable, faulty beasts to yield purely poetic results by letting go of technical control and connecting with their inner photographic child. .

It was great joy to spend time with these wonderfully imperfect images and I applaud everyone who submitted. Having to narrow down a selection for the physical and online exhibits was an immense but gratifying task. In the end, the selected images seamlessly merged consistent aptitude with an element of unpredictable chance, thus creating lyrical results. I congratulate all the selected artists and sincerely thank everyone who submitted such fantastically flawed work. ~ Susan Burnstine

The juror's selections can be viewed HERE

an aside: I must admit that, after viewing the juried selections for the Alternative Cameras: Plastic to Pinhole exhibition, I feel a bit like a stranger in a strange land. Sort of like, what the hell am I doing here in this company of picture making strangers? Because, other than my long-past picture making affair with "flawed alternative approaches" and "letting go of technical control and connecting with [my] inner photographic child" - my decades long use of my SX-70 cameras and film - I have had only a passing interest in making "fantastically flawed work".

As mentioned previously, I have played around with a smattering of pinhole picture making but only as a matter of having a little picture making "fun" with no long term commitment to the process. Nevertheless. I have had, and still do, a continuing interest in viewing "crappy camera" pictures as they fall into my field of vision - meaning that I don't seek them out but instead encounter them on the basis of chance.

All of that written, I have yet to come to grips with my attraction to such pictures other than to note that I like the way "crappy" pictures look. As the exhibition juror wrote, the pictures are visually "poetic", "lyrical" and "dream-like", visual qualities which, in fact (contrary to my chosen genre of picture making - "straight" picture making), do prick my eye and sensibilities.

Perhaps, in an effort to come to grips with the genre, I have to think of alternative camera pictures not as photographs but, rather, as images made with the photographic process. Images which indeed create a "idiosyncratic and deeply personal visual landscape" but which stands in direct contrast to the medium's intrinsic and inseparable relationship to and as a cohort of the real.

I don't think it's a stretch to write that I need that bit of a dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin rationalization - i.e. images, not photographs - to comes to terms with my like of the "crappy" pictures made with "crappy" cameras. That way I won't feel like I have betrayed and abandoned my long held picture making beliefs and M.O.

diptych # 185 / civilized ku # 3007 ~ trees and rain

pool cover / rain ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
trees ~ Manhattan, NYC / Upper Jay, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 09:41AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | Comments1 Comment

civilized ku # 3006 / diptych # 184 ~ more trees

bathroom cabinet ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
trees ~ Manhattan, NY / Mt. Jo - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I am working out my trees editing by creating diptychs which place a picture of urban tree with a picture of a natural environment tree.

Comments are always appreciated.

civilized ku # 3005 / diptych # 183 ~ same as it ever was

window / 20 Main ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
No. 4 / rusting hulk ~ near Keeseville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Recently, while reading a person-not-a-dective-but-functioning-as-one novel which was written / published in 1964, I came across this early anti-acamdeic lunatic fringe commentary encountered by the book's protagonist as he was killing some time reading an art publication. Hence, Today's Artspeak Gobbledygook ....

The art magazine told me that when abstract expressionism reflected utter disenchantment with the dream it still reverted to rhetorical simplifications even in its impiety, and that it is not a unified stylistic entity because of its advocacy of alien ideas on the basis of a homiletic approach to experience.

The protagonist's reaction / response to the written word was a sarcastic, "Funny I'd never realized that."

Apparently, my distain for the workings of the academic lunatic fringe, Photography Division, is a time-honored tradition reaching much farther back than I realized.

Posted on Monday, November 16, 2015 at 12:25PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych # 182 ~ trees, trees and more trees

trees ~ Old Montreal in Quebec, Canada / Arezzo Region in Tuscany, Italy • click to embiggen
the mother lode / trees screen grab ~ • click to embiggen

Had an overnight stay in Lake Placid. Leaving LP shortly to get to Plattsburgh for a doctor appointment (scheduled checkup) so by necessity this entry is short and sweet.

diptych # 181 ~ complexity / simplicity and a big surprise

fence + vine / glass of pinot grigio ~ Keeseville, NY / Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

FYI, the picture of the pinot grigio is not a pinhole picture. It is a straight picture with a very narrow DOF. With that made clear, moving on to the big surprise ...

It is worth noting that I never seek out photo exhibit / contest submission opportunities. Those events come to me either through email notifications or, on occasion, just while cruising the interweb. My recent submissions to the Alternative Cameras: Pinholes to Plastic exhibit selection process is one that came to me in an email notice.

And, the subsequent submissions were very atypical of my participation in such events inasmuch as I have never submitted pictures to an event unless I have already-made pictures which are appropriate for the exhibit theme. Whereas for this exhibition opportunity I undertook the making of new pictures specifically for this event.

FYI, the gallery for that exhibition opportunity is the PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, VT., a gallery in which I have had work on exhibit in a past juried show. It is one of the only juried show galleries to which I submit pictures and even then on only rare occasions. I do so because the gallery owner / director has created an interesting format for exhibit events which does NOT require a significant expense to participate if your picture(s) are accepted for an exhibit.

To wit, printing, matting and framing a picture for an exhibit can be a costly expense but PhotoPlace Gallery provides FREE matting and framing (for duration of the exhibit) for your selected picture(s). And, they can even print your picture(s) for the exhibit to professional-quality standards (2 paper choices) for a modest $25.00USD (you can supply your own prints). Both of those cost saving features are a great deal. Especially so in those cases where the exhibitor is responsible for all of the costs of matting, framing and shipping to the gallery.

That endorsement written, the big surprise, relative to the theme of the next call for entries - In Celbration of Trees - is that while a handful of my tree pictures (already-made) came to mind as potential submissions, I was surprised - or, more accurately, stunned - that, as I went to my archive to cull out some tree pictures, I ended up with 88 pictures (edited down from 115) in which a tree or trees were the central referent. That is, trees which pricked my eye and sensibilities to the point I was compelled to make a picture of them.

aside: Why that came as a surprise to me is somewhat of a surprise in and of itself inasmuch as the fact of the matter is that I live in the largest forest preserve east of the Mississippi, aka: the Adirondack PARK. The rational question is, why wouldn't I have a lot of pictures of trees? Seriously. end of aside

That being as it is, I am now left with a monumental editing task. That is, selecting 5 tree pictures (up to 5 pictures for the $30.00USD submission fee) or so (more pictures - no limit - can be submitted at $7.00USD per) to submit to the juried exhibition process. It ain't gonna be easy.

And one of the first tasks to be decided is whether to include only pictures of trees which are in their natural environment or to also include tree pictures made in an urban or similar environment. The edited collection is divided almost equally in half, natural vs. urban settings, and each environmental setting creates its own unique visual paradigm / signature.

The juror for the exhibition, Tom Zetterstrom, has his own body of tree picture work in which all of the trees are in their natural environment. Don't know if I should use that bias (not meant as a negative) in my editing / decision process. My initial thought is to just pick my best tree pictures and let the environmental component fall where it may.

This "discovery" of a new body of work also leads me to the making of new POD book. In that endeavor, the pictures will be divided into separate environment categories. The chief question I am pondering, re: the POD book making, is whether to make a single book of 60 (or possibly more) pictures, divided into 2 separate environment sections, or whether to make 2 separate books - that is, a book for each tree environment.

Wish me luck. I'll need it. Fortunately, the submission deadline is December 7th which can be a good thing - more time to live with the pictures and make selections - or a bad thing - more to time equivocate and agonize over making selections (in ... out ... out ... in ... in ... out ... out ... in ................................. ad infinitum ...)
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 10:34AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych # 179-80 ~ truck graveyard

rusting truck / wheels ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
rusting truck / wheel ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 10:17AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment