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

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

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

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

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

diptych # 129 / what is photograph? # 17-18 ~ beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and their kitchen)

what is # 17 • click to embiggen
what is # 18 • click to embiggen
water drop selfie / dried food ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

As the picture making beat goes on in my kitchen, I am still left pondering what's next? as well as what is a photograph? (both the body of work and the question itself). And, in the what's next? category, my desire to concentrate on constructed / made pictures may be being resolved in my kitchen.

Witness the individual pictures in today's diptych image. While they both qualify as still life pictures, one is, in fact, a found still life, the other is a construct/made still life. In either case, I must admit that I really like making still life pictures. That written, my real preference is for making construct/made still life pictures such as the dried food picture in the diptych.

Unlike the water drop selfie picture, which was just staring up at me fully formed from the kitchen sink, every element in the dried food picture was hand selected and deliberately placed / arranged within the confines of the picture's frame. There is absolutely nothing "found" about it. And, it was essentially 2 weeks in the making inasmuch as food tidbits were added - now and again as they became available - and allowed to age / dry.

Despite the exacting control exercised in the making of dried food, IMO, the water drop selfie is an equally strong / interesting still life picture. It simply doesn't suffer in any way from the fact that little, except the act of seeing, was involved in its making. To my eye and sensibilities, the arrangement of the objects, shapes, and colors within my carefully chosen / placed frame are quite exquisite. In fact, the way I see it, they are made more so by their serendipitous and unthinking placement which was quite independent of any picture making ambitions.

So, in terms of what's next?, making still life pictures, both found and construct/made, will be an area of picture making concentration. Not to the exclusion of adding to my other bodies of work, but with a deliberate effort to work within the still life genre. The only question which remains relative to this picture making pursuit is whether or not the pictures will all be made in my kitchen.

diptych # 128 ~ Halloween pumpkin 5 months later

Halloween pumpkin - day before recent snow / day after snow ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

On Tuesday's entry, civilized ku # 2876, Fred (no link provided) asked a couple questions, re: my comment ...

... I can always identify the photographer(s) in the crowd because they're the ones sticking their noses 3 inches from the surface of a print. Or, if not observed doing that, their conversation with me seems to always begin with, "What camera are you using?" or some other irrelevant observation / comment. To date, I have managed to avoided responding with, "It's not about the camera, moron, it's about the pictures.

The answer to his first question - "Why not take the photographers question in the best spirit possible"? - is, regardless of the spirit in which I take the question, I alway answer the question with the nomenclature of my camera / gear. If gear-related questioning persists, I answer accordingly but, before it gets totally out of hand, I will direct the conversation to the pictures themselves. This usually gets the conversation on the right course.

The answer to his second question - "Now that you are no longer interested in showing your work to photographers, does that mean you are also no longer interested in viewing the work of other photographers?" - is simple. I like looking at pictures made by others - photographers one and all - and do so on a daily basis via the web. During virtually every trip to NYC, I spend a day photo gallery hopping (usually in Chelsea because of the concentration of galleries). And, of course I continue to add to my collection of monograph picture books. So it's not that I don't like photographers, it's just that the one's I enjoy spending time with the most are those who also like to look at and talk about pictures, not talking about cameras / gear.

I understand fully why newbie picture makers who harbor intentions of making pictures beyond family / friends / travel snapshots would be interested in knowing about the cameras / gear used by picture makers who's pictures and vision they admire or aspire to emulate. And, with very few exceptions, those pictures are indeed made with equipment and techniques which suit the picture maker's ability to implement their vision.

However, IMO, the first thing a "serious" picture maker needs to find is their vision. In doing so, the tools necessary to express that vision will most likely become self-evident. Consequently, it is my belief that a much better question to ask a picture maker at an exhibition of his/her work would be, "Why did you make these pictures?", not "how?"

Learning about the why - in a sense, getting inside a picture maker's head, not his/her camera bag - would be much more advantageous in the cause of finding one's own vision. In other words, learning how a successful picture maker thinks is much more important than learning about his/her gear.

But, of course, that's just how I think.
Posted on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 02:05PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment

civilized ku # 2880 ~ one's own worst (not best) critic

Easter Sunday light ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Due to some client project immediacy my last entry, now deleted and replaced by this one, went live by mistake long before it was complete. So, after reworking the picture, and adding the following text, here is what it was intended to be ....

About 2 moths ago Eric Fredine announced that he was "slowing the pace", re: posting pictures on his blog. That decision seemed to stem from the fact that he did not want to publish anything less than "first-rate" pictures of his making, a standard which, as ideals go, ain't a bad thing.

Of course, IMO, many of Eric's self-acclaimed second-raters could hardly be described as .... well .... second rate. But hey, self-imposed standards are there for a reason and hopefully they work for, not against, the self-imposer.

However, IMO, rating / critiquing one's own pictures is a risky business. I write that simply because there is a tendency to view our own pictures as would a photographer and, as far as I'm concerned, that is most definitely NOT a good thing. I am most decidedly in the same camp as Bruce Davidson when he stated :

I am not interested in showing my work to photographers any more, but to people outside the photo-clique.

Why is that so for me? Because my experience of showing my pictures - in books comprised of a specific body of work - to "average Dick and Janes" has been that those viewers tend to immediately get to the meat of the matter. That is, what the pictures are about / trying to communicate. They never let the things that photographers seem to care so much about - pick any or all technical and art sauce matters you care to choose - get in the way of experiencing the emotional / intellectual content of a picture when first viewing a picture.

The same holds true, re; average Dick and Hanes, at my various gallery exhibitions and I can always identify the photographer(s) in the crowd because they're the ones sticking their noses 3 inches from the surface of a print. Or, if not observed doing that, their conversation with me seems to always begin with, "What camera are you using?" or some other irrelevant observation / comment. To date, I have managed to avoided responding with, "It's not about the camera, moron, it's about the pictures."

When it comes to deciding which of the pictures in a given body of work is "first-rate" or "second-rate", I have pretty much given up on trying to pre-determine which picture, if any, will emerge from the body of work as a stand-alone / greatest-hit crowd favorite. That's because, in most cases, there are nearly as many favorites as there are viewers. And very often, if a favorite does emerge from the pack, it is not even close to the one I might think it should be.

Does this mean that I am crowd sourcing to determine which of my pictures is first-rate? No, not all. The crowd has their choice and, like them, I have mine.

All of that written, I must write that I really don't critique my pictures per se. Instead, I edit them. That is, in the process of making a book of a given body of work, I choose what I feel are the strongest (some slightly more so than others) pictures which illustrate and illuminate my intended / stated theme. Which, I guess, is a form of critiquing but that critique is more of group thing than an individual picture thing.

And guess what? Not every picture in a body of work can be first-rate. There will always be a few so called second-raters in the bunch. Although, the difference between the two is, hopefully, often razor thin and identifiable only by the maker of those pictures. And if he/she keeps that dirty little secret to themselves, very few, if any, will be the wiser.

I still, and always will, believe that a body of work is the strongest manner in which to express an idea, picture wise. In a manner of speaking, a single picture (first-rate, second-rate, it doesn't matter) is just a single word. A body of work is a complete sentence or even a paragraph. If one concentrates on the total picture (pun) / paragraph, the average Dick and Janes will choose their own favorite word or phrases ..... again from Bruce Davidson

Most of my pictures are compassionate, gentle and personal. They tend to let the viewer see for himself. They tend not to preach. And they tend not to pose as art.

Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 11:53AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment

what is a photograph? # 10-16 ~ on with the show

# 10 • click to embiggen
# 11 • click to embiggen
# 12 • click to embiggen
# 13 • click to embiggen
# 14 • click to embiggen
# 15 • click to embiggen
# 16 • click to embiggen

As mentioned in the last entry, that voice in my head is urging me to make constructed / staged pictures. Also mentioned was to do so by continuing with an existing body of constructed / staged work such as my what is a photograph? series. So, here are a few in additions to that series.

That written, I haven't decided whether to work on an existing theme or to start something new. I just figured that by adding a few new pictures to this series, which is relatively easy to do, I could ease my head back into a made c/s picture frame of mind. To this point, the exercise has worked inasmuch as I have started to think, made c/s picture wise.

Part of that thinking has led me to wrestle with the idea of whether or not the what is a photograph? series is a work in progress, execution wise, or whether it is essentially good to go as is. A significant driver of that contemplation has to do with how, as mentioned, easy it is to make more of these images - I currently have 30 images. Of course, the ease with which I can make these images is the result of lot of time, effort and visual experimentation I invested at the start of this series so, once formatted, the ongoing effort is considerably easier, even though it does feel a bit like "cheating".

Thinging wise, one approach in the making of these images is that I decided that, unlike my earlier images wherein I limited myself to urban and non-urban landscape scenes as the primary pictures in these images (dictated by the fact that the construction site barrier was an urban landscape itself), I came to the conclusion that if I am to pose the what is a photograph? question in a more inclusive sense, I needed to include as many genres of picture making (at least of my picture making) as possible in the images. Hence, the appearance of still life and people pictures.

ASIDE: With these images, I am only posing a question - not suggesting an answer - and providing fodder for the inquisitive mind to ponder. END OF ASIDE

My made c/s thinking has also led me to a few vague-ish ideas for made c/s image making. Interesting enough, as an image making concept comes into my head, it is immediately accompanied by a few phrases, ala artist statement wise. Like the idea of picturing a normally considered "ugly" thing in a golden light environment in order to address the concept of referent + illumination = perception, or something like that.

And so it goes. It's on with the show whole hoping I don't break a leg.
Posted on Friday, April 3, 2015 at 05:28PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment