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screwing around in a hotel ~ getting up to pee and a great Japanese meal

In Albany for the weekend and haven't made any "serious" pictures but I have been screwing around nevertheless.

Top 2 pictures are Polamatic Polaroids - very early morning light (had to get up to pee - one of the "advantages", picture making wise, of getting older) and Chicken and Shrimp Teriyaki, haute cuisine style.

Bottom 2 are Wood Camera (app) pictures - using the nearly infinitely variable lens tilt adjustment - and should be self-explanatory.

still life - oddly exalted (kitchen life # 69) ~ the value of screwing around picture making wise

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radishes / condensation ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

My screwing around, picture making wise, on Monday past consisted mainly of producing a homage to William Eggleston and his iconic tricycle picture. Since then, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. To wit, my bicycle picture has engendered some un-expected / un-intended consequences.

Consequence # 1 is that I have ended up really liking the picture despite the tongue-in-cheek picturing attitude with which I approached its making. There is just something about the looming presence of the bicycle which draws me into the picture in ways I cannot fully describe. That presence gives it an exaggerated importance in spite of its relatively pedestrian nature which, of course, is exactly how Eggleston's tricycle appears to present itself.

I like the picture well enough that I will be printing and hanging it on one of my walls. It will be interesting to see if that looming presence comes across to John/Jane Q. Public who are not familiar with Eggleston and his pictures.

Consequence # 2 has to do with my ongoing "what's next" search in which I am leaning strongly toward making still-life / constructed pictures. So, a few days ago when I noticed the radishes in a plastic container with condensation, I knew I wanted it to be a still life referent. I just didn't know how or in what visual context I would use it inasmuch as I wasn't yet under the "looming presence" spell.

Now I am. So, I placed it on the kitchen counter and pictured it from a low angle. Lo and behold, the resultant picture did exhibit a looming presence which, like Eggleston's tricycle, tends to "oddly exalt" (phrase taken form the previously linked piece about Eggleston's picture) the rather mundane / pedestrian referent.

Not that looking up at something from a close-in low angle tends to create a looming-presence visual effect is a surprise to me. After all, it is a tried and true picture making technique which I have used to my advantage many times in my commercial picture making career. However, that technique has rarely been employed in my personal picture making wherein I tend (deliberately) to picture life from the perspective of my own eyes when standing upright.

All that written, consequence # 3 is screwing around a bit more with this low angle picture making approach in an effort to determine whether it is a viable technique on which to hang my hat, ongoing body of work wise.

Such are the risks and rewards of just screwing around, picture making wise, from time to time. Just try it. You just might like it.

one that got away

Quite a while ago, 20-25 years ago to be more precise, I was given an assignment for Pittsburgh Magazine*. My picture making task was to make a picture which represented a gang member. The picture was to be used as the cover of the magazine in which the feature story / article was about gangs in Pittsburgh.

Instead of making a picture which represented a gang member I decided to make a picture of an actual gang member. In a fine example of ask and ye shall receive, my teenage son (pre-Cinemascapist), made a couple inquiries and, voilà, a picture making date was set.

The resultant picture was delivered to the magazine's Art Director who was quite ecstatic about it. He proceeded to layout the cover and, after getting approval from the editor (et al), it was sent off to the printer and I was eagerly anticipating yet another Golden Quill Award. However ....

.... as the cover was going on press, a call from on high - the organization which owned / published the magazine - to the editor which, in a nutshell, decreed "kill it". The picture was deemed too controversial to be published and they (the on-high people) were worried about public relations and even political repercussions. The editor and art director tried to save it but to no avail.

As you can imagine, I was bummed in a major way. Not only was I denied the satisfaction of seeing the picture published, but I was also disappointed in seeing visions of another Golden Quill Award vanishing over the horizon - FYI, I was by far the leading Golden Quill Awardee, Photography Division, at that time with Golden Quills in advertising, corporate communications and editorial categories.

*at that time, a really good magazine with excellent editorial content. Now, a "hip" life-style magazine.
Posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 09:45AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

door # 23 / single women # 29 / picture window # 68 ~ recent additions

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Budweiser Blvd ~ Keeseville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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single woman ~ Utica, NY • click to embiggen
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office window ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen

Posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 10:24AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Eggleston-ish Trek / Polamatic # 3 ~ do I hear $578,500.00?

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imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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manipulated polamatic ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Just in case anyone has not figured it out, I'm spending some picture making time just screwing around, just for the pure enjoyment of it all.

My bicycle - not tricycle - Eggleston-esque picture sorta came outa nowhere this AM when I looked out of the back door at the driveway and saw Hugo's old patina-ed bicycle laying in the rain. Eggleston's Tricycle* (his picture plus a good read about it) came immediately to mind and I was off and running, singing and picturing in the rain .....

.... moved bike to front sidewalk, propped it up with a monopod (later removed in Photoshop), balanced the camera on an inverted cereal bowl, used the articulated LCD screen so I wouldn't have to lie on the wet ground, and snapped some pictures.

I would highly recommend just screwing around to one and all. I am enjoying the hell out of it and, in my case, it's provoking some thoughts on the answer to my "what's next" question to self. I am most definitely in still life / constructed picture frame of mind.

*recently sold for $578,500.00US. I'd let mine go for half that.
Posted on Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 01:04PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

Polamatic # 2 / kitchen sink #28 ~ what a difference a country makes

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manipulated Polamatic ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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fries stuck on plate ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Yesterday, I read an article on the NY Times website, Sally Mann's Exposure, which is well worth the read. In a nutshell, the article, written by Mann, is about the furor which resulted from her book, Immediate Family (published in 1992), and the toll that furor has had on her and her family.

The furor included some vitriolic criticism from critics, politicians, and general all-around non-art nut jobs. Here in the good ol' US of A that's par for the course when it comes any art which courts controversy (the controversy here is Mann's naked children). As is often stated, when it comes nation founding we were unlike the lucky Australians who got the criminals. Instead, we got the Putitans.

In any event, what came immediately to my mind as I read the article was my trip to Tuscany a couple years back. While there, the wife and I spent a day in Florence driven in part by the desire to see some Italian art. First on the list was Michelangelo's David at the Academia Gallery (it's permanent home). The Academia also houses a fine collection of predominately religious Renaissance art.

So, you can only imagine my extreme, albeit also very delighted, surprise to find on exhibit in the David gallery, a companion display some of the Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs as well as others by him of the human / female form. The exhibit was mounted to draw attention to an over-the-centuries connection / visual conversation between Michelangelo's statue and Mapplethorpe's photographs. Which, in essence, is the beauty of the human form no matter from which perspective one views it - "Form is understood as a value in itself," said Franca Falletti, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia, and should be considered regardless of any subject matter and "the baggage of personal experience."

IMO, it took a hefty set of balls to mount this exhibit in Roman Catholic Italy (96% of Italians are Catholic), much less in a museum primarily dedicated to, but by no means exclusively, religious art. Nevertheless, I don't remember any wide-spread controversy gripping the Italian public. No protesters were marching up and down the strada outside of the museum, at least not when I was there. It seemed to me that the exhibit was met primarily with a ho-hum it's-just-another-nude reaction.

Now imagine if you will, if a museum in Cincinnati, Ohio - the birthplace of American sculptor Charles Henry Niehaus - were to mount an exhibit of his nude sculpture, such as The Driller, and accompany it with a this-thing-is-like-that-thing Mapplethorpe photograph exhibit. Just imagine. The museum exhibition director, and quite possibly the museum director, would have to be suicidal, employment and arrest wise (not to mention death threats), if they were to do so.

Now, to be certain, everyone should be allowed to express their views on art. But why is it, especially in the good ol' US of A, many views on the subject turn into ad hominem attacks upon the artist, him/her-self?

Personally, I blame it on the Purtians, many of whom were given to burning "heretics" at the stake and other physically punitive actions, and their puritanical legacy. CAVEAT: the aforementioned should NOT be construed to mean that I believe all, or even most, Christians are implacable prudes.
Posted on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 02:24PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | CommentsPost a Comment

polamatic # 1 ~ me and my shadow

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manipulated Polamatic ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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glass table top ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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Hipstamatic + Grungy ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Another day, more monkeying around. Today's discovery is the camera app Polamatic which does a pretty decent job of replicating the look of Polaroid film. The app has quite a few processing options to get just the look you want.

I made a few pictures with the camera app and sent them to my desktop machine where I figured out a way to manipulate the images - ideal if you use a tablet+stylus - to give them a look that is close to the manipulated film version of doing so. Because the manipulation is done by hand - stylus or mouse - the mechanics of the manipulation is very similar to doing it the old fashion analog way. That is especially true if you use a stylus/tablet combo.

My process for the manipulation technique is not quite refined as I would like it to be of yet. I'll keep hammering away until I think I get it right on.

FYI, after snapping the shutter release on the Polamatic camera, the app takes a second or two to process the picture. When the picture is ready, it slides on the iPhone screen from the top, accompanied by the ejection / whirling sound of the original Polaroid camera. Very cute.
Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 01:24PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

kitchen sink # 27 / polaroid ~ more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys

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kitchen sink sunlight ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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hipstamatic + grungy • click to embiggen
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polaroid illustration for Pittsburgh Magazine • click to embiggen

Back in the good ol'days of analog picture making, I was a dedicated practitioner of manipulated SX-70 polaroids. Most of those illustrations were made for consumer publications such as Pittsburgh Magazine. A handful were made for commercial / advertising clients and a bunch were made just for monkeying around. In either case, making those illustrations was more fun than playing the Barrel Full of Monkeys* game.

Unfortunately (IMO), those fun picture making days are long gone inasmuch as Polaroid SX-70 film is now nothing more than a distant memory. CAVEAT: I have yet to try the new Impossible SX-70 film. The film was terrible at first but there have been steady improvements so it might just be possible that happy days are here again, albeit rather expensive.

In any event, I have been monkeying around with a couple iPhone apps which can be used for making "creatively" modified digital pictures. Of course, there is no hand work involved in the making of these images such as there was in the making of the Polaroid illustrations. Consequently, the process seems rather "canned" and that basically removes the individual uniqueness of the old analog process. While I have not explored the possibilities of the dizzying array of picture modifying apps, they all do seem to revolve around canned effects.

That written, I must confess that my monkeying around in the barrel of apps has reignited my infatuation with modified images. I can not adequately explain that infatuation (then or now) other than to write that I just like the way some of these images look. That explanation flies in the face of my long held belief that the laying on of effects on a picture does not a great picture make. Which kind of makes it a guilty pleasure of sorts ... something you know you shouldn't do but go ahead and do it anyways just because it's fun.

While I wrestle with that dilemma or perhaps come up with a valid rationalization for the making of those pictures (all the while hoping that the gods of contradictory reasoning don't smite me where I stand), you can check out the results of my monkeying around on Instagram under the name of adklandscapist. Which is another thing - social media - I swore I would never do.

FYI, I am making these images with the Hipstamatic camera app - Jane lens + KodotX Grizzled "film" - and modifying the results with the Grungy "un-enhancement" app.

* never played Barrel Full of Monkeys. My favorite who-the-hell-thought-this-up game, which I still have (the original version) and play, is Pigmania.
Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 12:53PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment