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BODIES OF WORK BOOK / GALLERY LINKS

The Kitchen Sink selects/book gallery is here.

The Rain selects/book gallery is here.

The 2014 ~ Year in Review 2014 selects/book gallery is here.

The Place To Sit selects/book gallery is here.

The Life without the APA pictures are here

The The Forks ~ there's no place like home gallery is here

The ART ~ conveys / transports / reflects book / gallery is here

The Decay & Disgust work/book is here

The Single Women selects/book gallery is here

The Picture Windows selects/book gallery is here

The Kitchen Life selects gallery is here

A 10 picture look at Tangles, Thickets, and Twigs ~ fields of visual energy is here

The The Light selects/book gallery is here. A BW mini-gallery is here


kitchen sink # 24 ~ genre purity

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in the kitchen sink ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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flora / scanner photography • click to embiggen
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still life for Duquesne Light ad ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen

First, a definition:

genre - a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like.

Second, an anecdote: There are many in the picture making world who abide by strict definitions of various picture making genres - landscape, portrait, street, still life, flora, fauna, wildlife, avain and the like - and they do not abide with any infringement or derivation from those definitions. As an example, on a couple of nature photography forums / sites on which I formerly posted pictures, each category / genre had strict guidelines for what could be posted on each genre category.

I primarily posted pictures on the Landscape forum where the pictures had to be of the nature world without any signs of humankind - no trails, paths, wakes in water, entrails in sky or structures of any kind or similar infringements on the purity of the landscape genre. Any landscape pictures with evidence of any of non-qualifing non-natural elements had to be posted in the Man and Nature forum. And so it went in other genre galleries. No birds in the Wildlife forum, only in Avian forum. Etc., etc., etc.

Each forum had an administrator / moderator (or two) who was charged with keeping things pure. I managed to cause quite a kerfuffle on the Flora forum when I began to post pictures of flowers which I made on a scanner (see above flower picture), aka: scanner photography. The proverbial shit it the fan in a big way. The flora nazis came out in force and comments ranged from the simple "that's not photography" to "the pictures are an insult to true flora photographers who go out into the field with all their gear (scrims, diffusers, reflectors, wind breaks, strobes, etc.) and their expertise."

On the back-channel discourse - moderator forum (not visible to public - the flora moderators, who had devolved into the photography equivalent of the soup nazi, became so incensed that the flora forum would include scanner pictures that they left the site to form their own "pure" flora site.

In any event, on the subject of the still life genre, photography division, the traditional (some might say "pure") definition of that genre has been pictures which depict an arrangement, preferably arranged by the picture maker, of inanimate objects. In my commercial picture making career, still life was a large part of my picturing making activity (see above Duquesne Light picture) to include products and food. And, yes indeed, I arranged all of the inanimate objects and my skill in doing so was highly regarded and highly compensated.

So, when I received a notice for submissions to the Art of Still Life juried exhibition, I submitted a traditional still life picture. That picture was one part found - the bowl with edible items - and one part made - I placed the bowl on a selected tray and determined the light used in making the picture. As mentioned previously, it was juried into the exhibition.

However, due to the number of submissions and eventual selections of pictures which were outside of the traditional definition of the still life genre - dresser top tableau, discarded roadside objects, and the like - a qualifier phrase, Marvelous Things, was added to the exhibition title. I was surprised by this development but was in no way dismayed.

In preparation for this entry, I looked around the web for still life pictures and, lo and behold, I discovered many examples of pictures labeled as still life that were considerably beyond the tradition definition thereof (see one example HERE).

Much of my current still life work is of found (see above kitchen sink picture) visually pleasing arrangements of inanimate objects as opposed to made arrangements. Nevertheless, virtually all of those pictures evidence the look of traditional made arrangement still life pictures. In some, I have moved an object into a more harmonious placement within the arrangement but, despite that intervention, the arrangements are truly found. Consequently, I have no issue with calling the pictures still life pictures in the traditional / pure definition of the genre.

All of that written, I am not a still life nazi, purity wise. And, I truly don't understand the fuss about purity of genre that so many hold so close to their picture making bosom.

Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 10:10AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments2 Comments

kitchen life # 66 (kitchen sink) ~ President's Day tribute with ginger, bacon, and grapes

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Presidents of the United States ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Unlike my other kitchen life / kitchen sink pictures, all of which are found still life arrangements, this picture is a constructed still life arrangement made for the purpose of celebrating President's Day here in the US of A. On the subject of still life pictures, a recent entry on Eric Fredine's blog, Constructive Discussion, Eric wrote:

I’ve never been drawn to still life. But the exhibition Marvelous Things: The Art of Still Life curated by Aline Smithson (author/publisher of LensScratch) expanded my concept of still life. I realized still life encompassed a broad range of objects and could be a found scene.

I found both the idea of still life as defined by the Marvelous Things exhibition and its influence on Eric's thinking to be thought provoking inasmuch as I have always had, as a life long practitioner of the making still life pictures (commercial and fine art), a different idea regarding what the pictorial boundaries of the genre are.

However, today being a holiday on which my house has been occupied* (for 4 days) by 12 visiting relatives from NJ and NYC, I will postpone delving into that subject until tomorrow.

*For some reason or another, my thoughts on this President's Day are drawn to President George Washington and his dealings with the invading Hessian horde.

civilized ku # 2869 ~ nothing if not wordy

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ultraviolet mini golf ~ Burlington, VT • click to embiggen

On my recent blog entry, kitchen life # 63 ~ don't know how much more of this I can take, Paul Bradforth* left a comment in which he wrote:

...the above is a bit rich, given that a good deal of the writing on your blog seems to be courtesy of Susan Sontag or some other high-falutin curator or other worthy.

The "above" which Paul thought was "rich" was my prattling on, re: those from the academic lunatic fringe who turn the viewing / making of every picture into "an academic critical analysis, intellectual labyrinth, psycho-analytical exercise." Paul also mentioned that I am "nothing if not wordy", which, true be told, isn't that far off the Mark inasmuch as my talk radio nom de plume parler was Blovius. A self-adopted and self-deprecative name derived from the word bloviate - to speak or write verbosely and windily.

I mention Paul's comment, not because I have any problem whatsoever with it, but because I am once again loading up the canon cannon with the words of a high-falutin' master artspeak slinger (Jeff Wall) in order to make a point (or two) ....

A. I'm aware that the subjects I choose do have meaning, but over the years I've found that understanding these meanings is less important for me ... People are going to take it where they want. All I can do is make my picture, and meanings will flow out of it. But I can't control them.

B. ... the everyday is a space in which meanings accumulate, but it's the pictorial realization that carries the meanings into the realm of the pleasurable.

item A. (point 1) I have always believed that there are 2 kinds of art. That is, fine art which stimulates the eye as well as the mind, and, decorative art which also stimulates the eye but functions to relaxes the mind. Each form of art serves a valuable function. Which one a viewer prefers is a strictly personal choice.

My operative assumption, and I believe it to be a reasonable one, is that the primary difference between fine and decorative art is the complexity and diversity of meaning(s) to be intuited / found / implied in fine art is well beyond that of decorative art. And, or so the conventional wisdom goes (especially so in the academic lunatic fringe where Meaning is King), if one is dedicated to the creation of fine art, one must also be aware of the idea of meaning(s) in art.

However, like Wall, I too have come to the conclusion that all a good artist can do is to create their art. That art may have meaning(s) for the creator and be a driving force in making of his/her art - a passion for making art - but that meaning(s) may or may not 'translate' into the eyes and minds of the beholders of his/her art. IMO, that lost-in-translation is not a bad thing inasmuch as art which strives to make its, most often singular, meaning(s) obvious and unavoidable is more akin to propaganda than it is to fine art.**

Therefore, I believe that the greater the diversity of meaning(s) to had in a picture, the richer it can be and consequently that it falls into the realm of fine art.

item B. (point 2) Therefore, if artist concentrates on the making of his art and not so much, if at all, on the meaning(s) which can be crammed / forced into it, I think it to be quite probable that the resultant "pictorial realization", both on its surface and in its ability to instigate a wide range of meaning(s) - meaning(s) specific to the individual viewing the art - will carry any meaning(s) to be had in a given picture "into the realm of the pleasurable".

(point 1 + point 2) Or, if I weren't given to such bloviation (sorry Paul, I just can't help myself), I could have simply written - just make the damn pictures and let the meaning chips fall where they may.

*Paul left no link but I did find this which may or may not be the same Paul Bradforth.

**which is not to write that some propaganda driven art has not reached, over the passage of time, the status of fine art (goggle "propaganda art" for examples).

Posted on Friday, February 13, 2015 at 09:25AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments2 Comments

kitchen sink ~ the book / gallery

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covers and spine• click to embiggen
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quote page and statement page• click to embiggen
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spread 1• click to embiggen
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spread 2• click to embiggen
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spread 3• click to embiggen
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spread 4• click to embiggen
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spread 5• click to embiggen
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spread 6• click to embiggen
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spread 7• click to embiggen
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spread 8• click to embiggen
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spread 9• click to embiggen

The time has come to make a kitchen sink book. Inasmuch as I only picture the kitchen sink when a serendipitous still life arrangement pricks my eye and sensibilities - as opposed to constructing a still life arrangement - it took a while for me to have enough pictures of the kitchen sink to make a book and a companion folio.

While there most certainly is a similarity between this book and the kitchen life book, IMO, kitchen sink is a distinctly different body of work. It has a very specific thematic referent as opposed to the general life still life arrangements as found and pictured around my kitchen.

As always, comments and opinions are both welcome and appreciated.
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 05:54PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

civilized ku # 2868 ~ finding an audience

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tangle ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen

In a recent essay / entry, On Trends, on Conscientious Photography Magazine, Jörg M. Colberg wrote:

Trends come and go, so in principle there is nothing much to be worried about. Photography, much like any other area organized around human activities, has been experiencing trends for a long time, older ones now firmly established as important historical episodes (think “Pictorialism”). And really, given that photography can be art (not is art per se, as I’ve argued before, instead it can be art), its practitioners might decide not to worry about trends – simply because the idea behind art is not to be trendy, but to be truthful to higher ideals that almost by construction exclude the idea of trendiness.

He also spent a great deal of ink writing about the pitfalls of not catering to trends, primarily the difficulty of finding an audience - gallery representation, book publishers, critics, social media followers, and the like - for one's work if it does not confirm to what's happening now. In other words, how does one find an audience if one's work isn't seen. While Colberg lists some possibilities one might under take in attempting to solve this dilemma, he also makes it very clear that those approaches have absolutely no guarantee of success.

So, what's a picture maker who follows his own prescription for making pictures to do?

Well, his suggestion is that if pictures are to be art, "What truly matters is for an artist to remain true to her or himself, and thus by extension to the work" which in and of itself is hardly a new idea inasmuch as, for just one of a host of examples, Brooks Jensen wrote in other words:

Real photography begins when we let go of what we have been told is a good photograph and start photographing what we see.

Colberg and Jensen are hardly alone in giving such advice but the hard truth of the matter is that most picture makers want to reach an audience and garner the occasional accolade even if it's from just family and friends. Consequently, most picture makers, 'serious' and otherwise, tend to drift toward the vicinity of what they have been told is a good picture. IMO, that holds true from the ranks of the neophyte amateur to the hollowed halls of the those educated in the trends of the academic lunatic fringe.

To be perfectly honest, I have always (to this day) had modicum - at times more and at times less - of ruminating about and being seduced by picture making trends. While I have never actually gone off in pursuit of mimicing or immersing myself in picture making trend, the temptation to do has almost always been the result of the desire to reach an audience. Specifically, an audience comprised of gallery directors.

That written, I have nevertheless stuck to my guns, re: picturing what I see how I see it. And even though I sometimes lose sight of the fact that, by sticking to my guns, I have had a fair number of exhibits (solo and group) of my work, And, I need to keep reminding myself of that fact despite my success in having my work seen. Nevertheless, that nagging thought of reaching an ever-bigger audience and even more accolades just doesn't seem to ever disappear.

Although, on the bright side, I have just about managed to stomp into dust the idea of following a picture making trend trend for any reason whatsoever.

Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 05:54PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

civilized ku # 2867 / diptych # 123-24 ~ off topic but with pictures - hop in the Cordoba, baby. We're going bowling*

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ice rink / grilled cinnamon roll/bun ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
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post 4 pt. game dinner / locker room with sometime line mate, McKensie (zie?/sey?) ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
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ice rink / locker room ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
An all-hockey weekend started Friday evening past with an early evening game - the first of 4 in the Roadrunner Rumble Hockey Tournament - and didn't end until late afternoon on Sunday. Saturday was a nearly 10-hour hang around the rink (actually 2 different rinks) interrupted by a brief escape for a late afternoon restaurant dinner. As is often the case, Hugo camped at our house so the rides to the rink would be much shorter than from his house (50+ miles from his team's home rink) which allowed him to get more rest and spend far less pre-game time in a car.

Logistics aside, the weekend was a great success. His team, the Plattsburgh Roadrunners, went undefeated and garnered the championship trophy. However, it wasn't an easy task. The tourney was stacked with some of the best regional teams from Vermont and downstate New York. Against the best of which the Roadrunners had a 0-4-1 record earlier in the season.

After getting through the round-robin part of the tourney (wherein Hugo amassed 7 points - 4 goals / 3 assists - he was beating goaltenders like rented mules* and their coaches didn't know whether to cry or wind their watches*) - they made to the semi-finals on Saturday night against a very good team from St. Albans, Vermont (to whom they had lost 2x and tied once).

After regulation and overtime, the game was tied 1-1 and it went to a shootout. Hugo sealed the victory with the game-winning shootout goal - Hugo was smilin' like a butcher's dog* - and they advanced to the Championship game - get in the fast lane, Grandma, the bingo game's ready to roll*.

In the championship game on Sunday, the Roadrunners ran into a very excellent downstate team which had beaten them 2x including a 1-0 loss in a recent Vermont tournament championship game. While Hugo's team played pretty well, they nevertheless were 2 goals down going into the 3rd period.

Shortly thereafter, Hugo jump-started the team's comeback with a beautiful assist from behind the goal to a team mate in front making it 3-2 and all I wanted to do was scratch my back with a hacksaw*. Hugo then scored 2 goals to wrap up the victory - and ladies and gentlemen, Elvis had just left the building*.

When all was said and done, Hugo ended up with a tournament-leading (by a wide margin) 10 points + a game winning shootout goal. And as Mike Lange* often remarks, you'd have to be here to believe it*.

BTW, the top picture in this entry is of the guy at the rink snack bar who insisted I take his picture after he had prepped a grilled cinnamon roll for me - a food thing of which he (and most others) had never heard. All you do is slice a cinnamon roll like a bun, slather butter on both cut surfaces and grill it until the buttered sides are slightly crispy and the topping is warm and slightly melted - mmmmm good. FYI, the guy offered to serve it to me with a cholesterol control pill.

Anyone care to venture a guess why Hugo wears # 88?

*Mike Lange-isms - Lange is the longtime NHL Hall of Fame announcer, tv and now radio, for the Pittsburgh Penguins. You can hear most of his Lange-isms HERE.

Posted on Monday, February 9, 2015 at 10:18AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

kitchen life # 64-65 ~ reinterpretation of objects

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Bonhomme and morning window light ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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kitchen sink ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
In her Juror's Statement for the Marvelous Things: The Art of Still Life exhibition Aline Smithson wrote:

I love still lifes. In this era of mounting distractions, the still life genre allows for slowed down time and consideration. I love the meditative process of creating something special out of a group of objects that are often considered mundane and lackluster. I love recognizing the still lifes that surround our daily lives, whether it be a tableau on a dresser top, a single flower elevated through light and composition, or a pile of discarded objects along side a road. Many of the photographs that I selected for the exhibition look at still lifes with a unique point of view—made fresh by the reinterpretation of objects, seeing ordinary things anew, considering new subject matter to be used in a still life, or simply by bringing a level of excellence to their image making.

With that judging criteria in Aline Smithson's mind, I was honored but not incredibly surprised, although most certainly pleasantly so, that she chose one of my pictures for the exhibition. Not surprised inasmuch as her thoughts, re: the making of still life pictures (and pictures in general) are very similar to mine.

Posted on Friday, February 6, 2015 at 01:44PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

civilized ku # 2866 ~ they give us those nice bright colors

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fresh snow ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
My attention was recently drawn to the picturing idea of blue snow - the blue snow as seen in the shadow areas of sunny day winter pictures. The instigator of my eventual rumination, re: blue snow, was a picture article in our Sunday newspaper regarding the chance that winter offers "to marvel at a palette of colors...".

The author of the pictures and article is a staff picture maker (if such a thing exists anymore) or, at the very least, a picture maker whose byline appears quite often on pictures in the newspaper. With his pictures, he was encouraging people to get out and "... look for those purples and blues that make the snow rich in color...".

To be certain, his pictures area quite "rich" with vibrant blue snow. And, I am quite certain that he came by that color honestly, which is to write, without any Photoshop tomfoolery. I am also quite certain that most of the viewers of his picture will like them, in no small measure because they are quite vibrant / rich, color wise (not a criticism, just an observation). However, I am equally certain that, if those viewers are moved to go out and "look for those purples and blues that make the snow rich in color", they are apt to be quite disappointed.

As any astute picture maker knows, both film and digital sensors (more so than film) are able to "see" light in the Ultra Violet wavelength spectrum. So do butterflies, reindeer, some species of birds, and even sockeye salmon, to name just a few. Consequently, unless those seekers of purple and blue snow have some sort of mutant vision, all they are going to see is white snow. The exception being snow which is lighted by direct warm late day sunlight.

In the good ol' days of film, many a picture maker employed a UV filter to reduce the influence of UV light when making a picture. I assume the same could be done in the digital picture making domain. The digital picture making domain also has the capability of adjusting White Balance when making a picture - the cloudy day setting significantly reduces the blue color to be had on cloudy days and in shadows. However, that setting may also move the color balance in the direction of too much warmth in other areas of the picture.

In my case, I make white balance adjustments when processing a RAW file and subsequently fine tune the picture in Photoshop. I leave a fair amount of blue in the picture at the RAW processing stage and, by the means of making a selection of the blue snow shadows and the use of the Hue and Saturation tool, I move my pictures toward what the human eye perceives rather than what the camera "sees".

This adjustment / correction procedure does not mean that I eliminate all of the blue color to be seen by the camera in the shadows. However, it is reduced significantly, because, in some cases and under some conditions, my human vision is able to see a small hint of blue in the shadows. Although, that usually takes a fair amount of concentration directed specially at looking for the blue color.

In any event, my intention in reducing or in some cases totally eliminating "blue" snow is to reproduce a more faithful / true representation of the real.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 09:30AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments2 Comments