PICTURE ONLY GALLERY LINKS
The The Forks ~ there's no place like home gallery is here
The ART ~ conveys / transports / reflects gallery is here
The Decay & Disgust work/book is here
Haven't posted an entry since last Tuesday because I haven't had a working computer since last Wednesday. Fortunately, I had an extra Mac Pro sitting around and, after a calming 3 day / 2 night visit in Lake Placid (Thurs. - Sat.), a bit of troubleshooting, a couple of hard drive swaps, a system update, software re-installs, and all around general arm wrestling with the computer, I'm up and running again.
Well, maybe not running, but at least walking at a rather brisk pace. Still gotta face monitor calibration and updated print drivers and ICC profiles.
Added bonus excitement - upon our return home on Saturday, after 5 weeks of being missing in action, one of our cats, Edison-Ron, was impatiently waiting for us on our front porch, skinny as a rail, but appearing none the worse for wear (later confirmed by a visit to the vet). Man, if only cats could talk.
Over the past week or so, I have read 2 essays - Daniel Reuter’s History of the Visit and The Challenge of Photography (the order in which they appeared) - by Jörg M. Colberg as found on his website, Conscientious Photography Magazine. IMO, both are well worth your time to read and contemplate.
In Daniel Reuter’s History of the Visit (a project profile), Colberg wrote:
It is quite the irony that the seemingly most descriptive of all media can so successfully obfuscate a narrative, while, at the same time, making it so obvious ... Reuter’s photographs come across directly onto the nervous system. They transport feeling more than they transport information. They transport an atmosphere, a discontent, a confusion. They do their best to resist descriptive approaches to them. The viewer needs to feel them more than to look at them .... They are just like the feelings we all have, feelings that are so familiar, yet that feel so relevant and fresh every single day.
In The Challenge of Photography (general thoughts on the medium and its apparatus), Colberg introduced the concept of defamiliarization, the artistic technique of presenting to audiences common things in an unfamiliar or strange way, in order to enhance perception of the familiar:
The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult (in order) to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged .... A work is created “artistically” so that its perception is impeded and the greatest possible effect is produced through the slowness of the perception. ~ Viktor Shklovsky in his essay “Art as Device".
In other words, defamiliarization serves as a means to force individuals to slow down and recognize artistic language. And, is it not "artistic language" which, in the best of applications, helps a viewer of art discover the feeling(s) / meaning(s) to be had (in our case) in a picture?
I make pictures which tend "to resist descriptive approaches to them". I do so in order to encourage, one might even say "force", an interested and inquisitive viewer to take the time to "get into them". The frequent result is, for those who slow down and take the time, an emerging sense of the feeling(s) / meaning(s) I hope to convey with my work. This is especially so, upon repeated viewing of a given picture.
Case in point: I am making a POD book of pictures from our extended stay at Rist Camp*. One purpose for the book is to send a copy to the current owner's mother - the camp has been in the family for almost 100 years - who is now bedridden and under home care. Our hope is to bring her some pleasant and comforting memories of her time - a lifetime - spent at the camp. In addition and at the wife's suggestion / insistence, it is also our intent to send a framed print of my morning peaches picture.
The morning peaches picture is one of 3 Rist Camp pictures hanging on our bedroom wall above the headboard of our bed. At first viewing, the wife sorta liked it but was not enamored thereof. However, after repeated viewing (everyday) of the picture, she gradually came to experience a glimpse of the feeling(s) / meaning(s) to be had for her in the picture - she spent a fair amount of time at the kitchen sink / window and came to the realization it (the picture) spoke directly to her feeling(s) of being there.
The wife also became especially aware of the fact morning peaches could engender similar feeling(s) / meaning(s) for any woman (or, IMO, anyone) who had also spent significant time in that specific place. Therefore, IHO (and I agree), morning peaches, of all the pictures I made at Rist Camp, was the one which we think might most convey pleasant and comforting feeling(s) / meaning(s) to the owner's mother.
It's always possible the picture will annoy the living hell out of the owner's mother. She might associate the kitchen / kitchen sink with drudgery and misery. In that event, the picture will still convey feeling(s) / meaning(s) but not the one(s) the wife and I hope she experiences, but ....
.... as Colberg noted in The Challenge of Photography:
.... A photograph thus is not necessarily a document or fact, and it’s certainly not “the truth” (whatever that term might mean). It is a truth, one truth out of many others, a personal truth: The photographer’s. To assume that this truth then automatically translates into a larger truth is foolish. It might, or it might not.
And that, my dear friends, is the wonder and mystery of picture making - despite the fact the medium and its apparatus is the most accurately descriptive of all art mediums, it nevertheless opens a window on the world replete with views of feeling(s) / meaning(s) as diverse and personal as there are those who make pictures and as there are those who observe them.
*for those unfamiliar with Rist Camp, click HERE to see pictures.
Big game hunting season - in these here parts, big game = deer + bear - is in full swing and Saturday night was dinner at a friends house. I sat in the kitchen while the gun shooting guys spoke huntingese, the babies - there were 2 - did what babies do and the women avoided /ignored the huntingese like they would the plague.
FYI, I shoot only pictures.
Floating and drifting in a peyote-like cuban leaf and kentucky spirit dream state, the medicine man sat in his elevated tower being pulled ever deeper into his life braced labyrinth of mind and thoughts. The child. The woman. The man. Conjuring and embracing thoughts of what might be, what could be, what should be and, what is. In a heart and soul pounding rain, dreamed tears of sadness and joy enveloping like a soothing balm, he explored the sustenance giving rightness of many things. And then there was beer, rice and chicken pot pie.
I'll give Nik0n credit for offering forth a digital camera without video capability. Hip, hip, hooray. However, while it took some balls to do so, I would also opine that those same balls disappeared into Nikon's collective lower body cavity when it came to the rest of the camera's design.
Yes, it has a traditional manual shutter speed on the top deck, the shutter release accepts a standard cable release, and, low and behold, it accepts virtually every legacy Nikkor lens ever made (I have 5) but ....
... unfortunately, the Nikon marketing mavens screwed up the rest of the camera. In the words of a dpreview review of the camera, "All things being equal, if you can add a function, why not do so?" To which the marketing wizards quite obviously replied, "OK. We will." The camera is digital-era function spec-ed out to the max.
So, instead of producing a mechanically simple picture making machine*, what they ended up with is a mish-mashup which just might put it in a betwixt and between place where it doesn't really satisfy either the crowd which wants a "retro" approach to making pictures - shutter speed, aperture, focus, and slam bam thank you ma'am - or the crowd which could care less about picture making simplicity and which never saw a function / feature they didn't like - the more, the better is their motto.
I was drawn into looking into the camera because of its ability to accept my older Nikkor glass. Fortunately, 2 items sent me scurrying in the opposite direction - 1) a clutter fuck UI (user interface) that is neither here nor there and for which you get to shell out 2) $2800.00USD (body only).
What were Nikon thinking and when are they (and, for that matter, virtually every other camera maker) going to tell the marketing department mavens to shut the fuck up and let a still picture maker be an integral part of designing a digital camera?
And, will someone pay that dpreview(er) person a visit, making sure he/she brings along a lobotomy kit?
*by one definition (mine), that would be a camera which doesn't require a 150+ page manual
One of the laments, re: the impending death / fading / changing / evolution / graying (pick one, or substitute your own word) of "traditional photography" ("TP"), is that it is only / primarily the old (graying) coots who are concerned with "getting it right" when making pictures. The young twitfacetumblrs whippersnappers, on the other hand, are concerned primarily with getting it to market (AKA: social media sites and/or distributed to their "friends'" devices), full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes (AKA: IQ).
IMO, that assessment is so full of holes that it wouldn't stop a single rat as they flee a sinking ship.
In the first place, virtually all of the old picture making coots I know or know about who are concerned with "getting it right" are much more concerned with getting the content "right" as opposed to being obsessed about things technical. And technique matters only inasmuch as it helps to convey the picture maker's intent, vision and voice. In other words, for them the technique / technicals of picture making are not the sine qua non / holy grail of "getting it right".
The only picture makers I know or know about who think that, if the craft ain't "right" then a picture can't be "right", or, at the very least, it could be "righter" ( ... if only he/she had ...), are gearheads and pixel peepers. For clarity, by pixel peepers I mean those whose first inclination when viewing a print is to view it nose-to-substrate in an effort to first assess technical IQ before moving on to contemplating content and the picture maker's intent / vision and voice.
That is, if they ever move on to trying to discern intent, vision or voice, because, in large part, these are the same people for whom there is no other intent other "wow". If one doesn't hit into the cheap seats (preferably a grand slam), one has struck out.
In the second place, I would opine that there are more picture makers, coots and whippersnappers, who are concerned (not obsessed) with getting the craft "right" than there ever were. I base that opinion on the fact that there are more dedicated / serious picture makers out there than there ever were and all of those picture makers have one form of a digital darkroom or another - in a much higher ratio, darkroom to picture maker, than in the wet darkroom days.
In the wet darkroom days, most sent their film to a lab for processing and many, if not most, also had their prints made at a lab (in both cases, more so for color than for BW). In today's digital world, I don't know a single "lab" which "processes" digital files. As for print making, I have no doubt that many more dedicated / serious picture makers make their own prints at home than did those in the wet era.
Consequently, when it comes to the craft of "getting it right" - "processing" a picture file (digital negative) - I believe there are significantly more picture makers, dedicated to "getting it right" (in the sense of conveying intent, vision and voice), than there ever were. And, IMO, it is in the darkroom, wet or dry, where the real craft of picture making is conducted.
Other than the act of selection, which is neither a craft nor an art, the act of making a picture file in camera is, for the most part, a technical exercise. It is only in the darkroom where craft comes into play. For it is in the darkroom where a mechanically produced file is "translated" into a visual expression of the picture maker's intent, vision and voice.
If one does not "get it right" in the darkroom, then it is quite possible that no one outside of the darkroom will "get it" at all.
In any event and all of that written, I don't believe that "TP" is under any assault or faces any threat at all. More people are making pictures than ever before. That is to write, indulging in what the medium is all about - making pictures. If that's not "traditional", I don't know what the hell is. And, IMNSHO, I belief that the craft of "getting it right" is thriving like never before, no matter what the gearhead / pixel peepers have to say.
"TP" has never been about using the best gear, retina bleeding sharpness, the Zone System, or any other technique. The best the medium has always had to offer is found in the pictures of those who "get it right" content, intent, vision and voice wise, even if it "just" a slightly fuzzy and grainy picture of grandma processed and printed at the local drugstore.