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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

>>>> Comments, commentary and lively discussions, re: my writings or any topic germane to the medium and its apparatus, are vigorously encouraged.

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BODIES OF WORK ~ PICTURE GALLERIES

  • my new GALLERIES WEBSITE
    ADK PLACES TO SIT / LIFE WITHOUT THE APA / RAIN / THE FORKS / EARLY WORK / TANGLES

BODIES OF WORK ~ BOOK LINKS

In Situ ~ la, la, how the life goes onLife without the APADoorsKitchen SinkRain2014 • Year in ReviewPlace To SitART ~ conveys / transports / reflectsDecay & DisgustSingle WomenPicture WindowsTangles ~ fields of visual energy (10 picture preview) • The Light + BW mini-galleryKitchen Life (gallery) • The Forks ~ there's no place like home (gallery)


Monday
Mar282016

single woman # 33 ~ things are getting strange

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single woman ~ Wilmington, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

You know things are out of whack in the good ol' US of A when:

1) an old Jew and a Cuban can't win an election in Florida,

and,

2) when a candidate for a party nomination for the presidential election states that he will make America great again.

iMo, he will only be able to do so by outlawing shredded cheese cuz everything else he is proposing is unabashedly ludicrous.
Friday
Mar252016

civilized ku # 3069-70 ~ what's wrong with 'muddy'?

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drooping flowers ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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375 cold beers ~ Keeseville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Back in the good ol' days of analog color picture making - film+messy chemicals+dust+drying cabinets+print dryers - picture makers were rather limited - without employing time-consuming and technically challenging printing techniques - in their print making, tonal range wise. There was no such thing as contrast-graded color papers. There were a variety of color papers available from different manufacturers (and color films) which had their own distinct visual characteristics but that was about it, choice wise, in exercising control, re: tonal range.

In today's much less messy color picture making world, the tonal range of a picture can be just about anything the picture maker wants it to be. However, the technical perfectionists have elevated their concern about the dynamic range of sensors to the level of a fetish. Not that there is anything wrong with wide dynamic range sensor, especially so in very high contrast picturing situations, but, iMo, that fetish has lead to the idea that, to be good, a color print must always have a maximized tonal range - think 5-250 (out of 0-255).

That idea is most likely a holdover from Sir Ansel's B&W Zone System in which a print must have tonal information in all 10 zones to be considered good. Less than that and a print is judged to be 'muddy' and who wants 'muddy' pictures?

The problem with that idea is that it tends to negate the the fact that, in the real world, not everyday or picturing situation is a full-range, tonal wise, sunny day. There are cloudy days (of varying degrees of cloudiness), there are scenes which are in complete shadow, there are rainy days, there are snowy days, there is soft artificial light, etc.

In the Zone System way of doing things a handheld spot light meter was an essential tool. One must measure the real-world tonal range and, if it was less than perfect (0-10), say, 0-4, then one must process the film and choose a contrast grade paper to restore the imperfect world to a perfect 0-10 one, picture wise.

All of that written and back to analog color and its inherent tonal control limitations, if one were to make pictures on a cloudy day, it pretty much ended up printing out like a cloudy day, aka: in some people's minds as 'muddy'. In my mind, it just looked like a cloudy day should look like in a color print and, iMO, so much the better for it.

The word which comes to my mind, relative to 'attenuated' (so called) tonal range is, "subtlety". And subtlety, tonal range wise (and color wise), in the digital picture making era seems to be a lost or dying art.

iMo, more's the pity, cuz everyday is not a sunny day.
Thursday
Mar242016

still life # 30 ~ being actively receptive

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

Part of it has to do with the discipline of being actively receptive. At the core of this receptivity is a process that might be called soft eyes. It is a physical sensation. You are not looking for something. You are open, receptive. At some point you are in front of something that you cannot ignore. - Henry Wessel

Wednesday
Mar232016

(someone else's) kitchen life # 88-89 / what is a photograph? # 19 ~ forgetting that you are a picture maker

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stuff on a kitchen table ~ Merchantville, NJ • click to embiggen
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locked door with KEEP OUT sign ~ not place specific other than in my Head • click to embiggen

Many books have been written - and continue to be written - about How To Read A Photograph. Virtually all of those books have been authored by a picture maker or someone in the business of teaching picture making. A fact which lurks at the heart of the difficulty many have with 'reading' a photograph.

Continuing on with yesterdays entry, simple questions / even simpler answers, wherein I mentioned 3 questions as posited by Mike Johnston on TOP, my simple answer to the simple question of how does one look at a photograph? was simply, (for me) with eyes and mind wide open.

How does one keep the eyes and mind wide open when viewing a photograph? Again, a simple answer - forget the fact that one is a picture maker and everything about the tools of the craft.

Really. Banish all thoughts of things related to making pictures. I would even recommend banishing all thoughts about every photograph you have ever viewed as well as the history and traditions of the medium itself. In other words, you'd better free your mind instead ...

iMo, the only driving impulse one should adopt when viewing photographs (or any other form of art) is that of curiosity, aka: the desire to see and learn (why does the picture maker want me to see this picture?). Expect to be surprised and challenged by what a picture maker has put in front of you because a good picture should not only delight the eye but also engage the mind. Expectations about what you have been told is a good picture and thoughts, craft and academic wise, will only get in the way of if not completely block what could be a potentially new and unique picture viewing experience.

Interestingly enough, what I have described here is how most non-picture makers relate to photographs. First and foremost, they look at a picture to see what it depicts (the referent). In most cases, if they are not interested in the referent, then they are not interested in the picture no matter what its 'artistic' merits might be. If the referent captures their attention then it is possible that they might engage the picture to discover why, beyond the visually obvious, they like the picture. In fact, the picture might even engage their mental faculties in an effect to 'read' the meaning that might be found in the picture.

I would go so far as to postulate that a small subset (relatively) of the non-picture making picture viewers who go to photo galleries to look at photographs expect to have their mental faculties engaged when viewing photographs. They are seeking the complete package, picture viewing wise. That is to write that they are looking for not only illustration but also some form of illumination to spice things up.

iMo, the best pictures are all about life and seeing the world around us in new or unexpected ways. In other words, I am not interested in the mechanistic how of what a picture maker sees but rather what a picture maker has chosen for me to see and hopefully gain a bit of insight to my relationship to life and the world around me.

Or, as the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World might say (if he were looking at pictures rather than drinking beer), "Stay curious, my friends" because as a poster somewhere on the interweb states ... The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.
Tuesday
Mar222016

kitchen life # 87 ~ smile questions / even simpler answers

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day old ravioli in pan ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I fully understand that an online magazine / blog needs to accomplish one thing - capture, maintain and hopefully grow an audience. To do so, the author / editor of a site must keep a timely flow of fresh information / entertainment which appeals directly to the audience. This is especially so if the site is a revenue generating endeavor for the site owner. In order to attract and hold an audience, some site owners resort to what should be labeled as cheap tricks while others make an honest and near herculean effort to keep thing genuinely interesting.

That written, and without any intention of denigrating the effort of those honest site authors / editors, there are times when it seems they are struggling for pertinent and involving content. At those times - which are fortunately infrequent - the content quality slips a bit. iMo, one such case is currently in progress on TOP (one of the most scrupulously honest photo sites on the interweb).

Over the past week, there have a series of questions (in separate entries) which, iMo, require little more than a one sentence answer. To wit: How does one look at a photograph?, What should a color photo look like?, and, What do you want a color photo to do?

Without trying to be read as glib / flippant, my one sentence answers would be: With my eyes and mind wide open, however the maker wants it to look like, and, engage the viewer.

The question which has generated the most response is # 2 wherein 111 picture makers wrote about how they wanted their pictures to look like. Of course, they used more than one sentence to convey their preferences. All of the verbiage about what should a color photo look like could have been reduced to my one sentence answer. Very little, if anything at all, was gained by knowing what each picture maker's specific individual look-like preferences were.

Question # 2 also asked viewers to, in essence, critique - relative to their color characteristics - a specific set of pictures. And, surprise surprise, color wise (and dynamic range wise), some viewers liked them, some did not. Once again, very little, if anything at all, was gained by knowing the like / not like opinions of the commenters.

All of that written, it must be stated that Mike Johnston (TOP owner / editor / author) wrote that, indeed, he was "curious as to how close these 14 pictures come to your own ideal, and, if they don't come close, how they differ from what you like or expect to see." His interest was in the comments was to help educate himself, re: his dilemma of " What I don't know, exactly, is what a color photo should look like... circa 2016." In either case, he has done a yeoman's work of generating a conversation which has engaged his audience.

However, the idea that there is an answer to the question, "what exactly should a color photo look like ... circa 2016" is a rather specious notion because, quite simply put, a color photo circa 2016 can (and should) look like any way the maker wants it to look like. Quite literally any way inasmuch as, circa 2016, a picture maker has at hand - via PS or any other photo software - virtually unlimited options for how a photo can look.

And, the only one who needs to like what the pictures look like is the picture maker him/herself. Unless, of course, one is making pictures, for whatever reason, to suit the taste of a specific audience or client. In that case, the picture(s) must look exactly like the audience / client wants it to look like.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow's entry will delve into the question of how does one look at a photograph?
Friday
Mar182016

diptych # 209 / civilized ku # 3067 ~ getting out of town

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paper mill ~ Glens Falls, NY • click to embiggen
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Adirondack Thunder hockey game ~ Glens Falls, NY • click to embiggen

Off to south Jersey in a couple hours for a birthday party. Should have plenty of car time - 12-14 hours worth - to contemplate on what the Instagram thing is all about. Fill you in on Monday.
Thursday
Mar172016

diptych # 208 ~ chased by the light

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early / mid-morning Spring light ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

A handful of the medium's heavy-hitters / superstars are gravitating to Instagram as their preferred medium of choice, displaying their pictures wise. No less than Stephen Shore has stated that his Instagram feed is his main photographic outlet.

According to a NY Times LENS blog article, Shore is highly invested in Instagram and he shoots regularly, using Instagram like a sketchbook, posting one picture daily, always something made within the past week.

Shore's involvement with Instagram is such that he, along a few others, founded a new publishing venture - a quarterly periodical, Documentum - wherein they turn digital into analog. The first edition - limited to 1000 copies (I have ordered mine) - was accompanied by an exhibition at an Atlanta art gallery where prints made of Instagram pictures "sold like hotcakes".

For the record, Documentum is "a guest-curated periodical archiving and examining cultural phenomena" so it might be safe to assume that it won't always be devoted to publishing Instagram pictures. However, if you wish to see the current crop of Instagram pictures as selected by the folks at Documentum, they can be viewed at documentum.tv.

Re: what's it all mean? - I'll have some thoughts on that question within the next couple days.
Wednesday
Mar162016

kitchen life # 86 and some objects up close~ hidden in plain sight

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red cabbage ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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some objects up close ~ • click to embiggen

A new body of work, tentatively called Objects, is, like a number of previously 'discovered' bodies of work, emerging from my picture library because I was searching for some pictures to submit for consideration / acceptance to a juried exhibition. In this case, the exhibition theme is Up Close and Personal.

Inasmuch as the hallmarks of my picture making are: 1) discursive, and, 2) promiscuous, with only a few exceptions I do not make pictures which ascribe to only a specific theme. Rather, over time, I have recognized that I have quite a number of pictures which could be organized into distinctly separate bodies of work.

However, once I have recognized a specific theme, I will continue to keep my eye attuned to making pictures which contribute to that particular thematic body of work. Nevertheless, I find it nearly impossible to choose just one body of work and concentrate my picturing to that single theme. I just can't do it because I see pictures everywhere without regard to specific referents.

That written, I am very pleased that I receive notices from a couple different sources of thematic exhibitions to which I can submit pictures. While I have had reasonable success in having pictures accepted into various exhibits, for me the real payoff is being pushed into looking at my picture library with thematic organization in mind.

I would highly recommend getting on email lists for exhibition opportunities even if you have no intent on submitting pictures for consideration. If nothing else, you might discover 'hidden' bodies of work which are, in fact, 'hidden' in plain sight.

FYI, you can read about the # 1 less than shining moment of my commercial picturing career in my Featured Comment on TOP.
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