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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 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

diptych # 110 ~ Art on a wall

pictures on walls ~ Warhol Museum • Pittsburgh, PA / dining room • Harrington Park, NJ • click to embiggen
On his website, Conscientious Photography Magazine, in a review of the book Tranquility, Jörg M. Colberg wrote:

The problem with photography is that regardless of whether you, the photographer, believe that what you point your camera at to make a picture is actually in it, large parts of your audience will do just that. Photography’s descriptiveness is its strength and its curse. People will see a photograph of a person as that person, or as a photograph of that person, even if what you’re interested in is something a lot more universal than that. In much the same fashion, a photograph of some place becomes that place, resulting in some people actually watching over whether certain places, let’s say Appalachia, is depicted in the proper way.

If photography wants to be a true art form it will have to engage in a world that at least acknowledges the fact that the visual description of whatever was in front of a camera lens .... does not in fact describe the actual topic. In other words, you can engage with Tranquility as photography, or as art that happens to use photography ... That said, if we accept that photography is – or maybe more realistically: can be – art, then we have to treat it as art – and not as merely photography. To somewhat loosely paraphrase David Campany, photography describes what is (or rather what was the moment the picture was taken), art (-photography) alludes to what could be or maybe should be.

To paraphrase Sigmund Freud (or so it is claimed), Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar which implies that at other times a cigar is something more than just a cigar. In essence, and with much fewer words, that just about sums up what Colberg was writing about. And, for the most part, I would agree with his idea that "if we accept that photography is ... art, then we have to treat it as art – and not as merely photography.

I also believe that Colberg is writing about an idea I have written about many times on this blog - that the best pictures are those which are both illustrative (depicting a reality-based referent) and illuminative (implying something - Colberg's topic - beyond that which the pictured referent describes). IMO, when a picture evinces both qualities, what you end up with is art that happens to use photography. That is to write, Fine Art as opposed to Decorative Art.

However, that written, when it comes to grasping the implied in a picture, the door to interpretation / understanding is wide open inasmuch as many, if not most, viewers of a picture take it at face value with little thought given to what else it might be about. And therein lies the dilemma.

Consider this from Ansel Adams:

We don't make a photograph just with a camera, we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved.

Adams, of course, was referring to the making of a picture. However, I would apply the same notion to viewing a picture - when viewing a photograph, we bring to the act of viewing all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved.

Or, as has it been suggested (on this blog and elsewhere), the making and the viewing of a picture is a two-way street - traveled on by the maker and the viewer. Unfortunately, no matter how broad and rich / involved the boulevard that the maker may have traveled down, if a viewer has only traveled down a narrow, vapid and one-way alley, there is most likely apt to be a considerable disparity between the grasped and the intended / implied meaning (topic) to be found in a picture ...

.... a cigar will forever be just a cigar and a picture will be just a picture.

Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 09:27AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

diptych (selection) # 17-18 ~ reality

under a bridge # 1 ~ Strip District / Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
under a bridge # 2 ~ Strip District / Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
Paraphrasing Richard Avedon:

The pictures have a reality for me that the people pictured referents don’t. It is through the photographs that I know them. ~ Richard Avedon

Posted on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 06:28PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych # 109 / civilized ku # 2847 ~ you can get anything you want ....

fried rice ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
Pittsburgh sports ~ Strip District / Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
Home to meat, produce, seafood vendors, sidewalk food vendors, bakeries, restaurants, bars, clubs, sports memorabilia vendors (indoors and out) and more, Pittsburgh's Strip District is draws crowds day and night and in all kinds of weather..

Posted on Friday, November 28, 2014 at 11:00AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

civilized ku # 2846 / diptych # 108 ~ protect the camera

girder ~ Strip District / Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
under bridges ~ Strip District / Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
The Pittsburgh metropolitan area - Pittsburgh is known as the City of Bridges - more than 4,000 bridges (reputably more bridges than in Venice, Italy), a great opportunity for a picture making project. I wish I had more time to pursue it.

Unfortunately for the people who travel on them, at least 20 percent of the bridges are structurally deficient, including one of the city's main arteries. That bridge has a large structure built under it to catch any of the falling concrete so it won't hit the traffic underneath it.

So, were I to pursue a Pittsburgh-based bridge picture making project, it would seem that having a hardhat / protective gear would be as important as having a camera.

Posted on Thursday, November 27, 2014 at 03:09PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

civilized ku # 2844-45 ~ coasting

buildings ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
backyard ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
Haven't really gotten into and urbanism picture making frame of mind at this point inasmuch as I'm just picking low hanging fruit, picture making wise. Heading out today to see if I can get in the groove.

Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 10:20AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych # 107 ~ suburbanism / urbanism

fake / real ~ Harrington Park, NJ / Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
Thunderbird Cafe ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
Since Saturday last, the wife and I have been moving about the planet. specifically the NE of the good ol' US of A. After a day in north Jersey and a day in south Jersey, we are currently squatting in Pittsburgh PA where we will be for the remainder of the week.

The trip is mix of a little bit of business and a lot of pleasure - Thanksgiving with family and friends, hockey games with family and friends (in person and broadcast), and all around just hanging out. There will be plenty of time for picture making with an emphasis on urban referents, something I don't normally have a lot of opportunity to picture.

Looking forward to it and I'll be posting entries of some results thereof.

Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 01:19PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

diptych (selection) # 14-16 ~ much to do about nothing (?)

exit ~ Blue Mountain Lake, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
sweepings ~ Chaffey's Lock, Ontario, CA • click to embiggen
Autumn leaves ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Featured Comment: On yesterday's entry John Linn wrote: ".... So when you "see" the referent, which framing captures your vision? In other words, what is the "equivalent" focal length of your vision? Or do you have "zoom" vision? .... And why shoot two focal length framings from the same position when cropping the wider frame would result in the same result?

my response: Re: the "equivalent" focal length of my vision - I have never thought of my vision in terms of a focal length but, on short notice, I would have to write that it is in the "normal" focal length (50mm on 35mm/FF camera) range.

However, I would also write that my vision is very center weighted - hence my picture vignette - inasmuch as I seem to be drawn visually to that which is in the center of my field of view. Of course, what captures my attention within that center-weighted field of view is recognition of a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values no matter what the specific referent might be.

Re: why not crop? - First and foremost, I do not crop. Period. End of sentence. That's a all she wrote. For my picture making, it is, and always has been, getting it right in-camera.

This operational predilection / propensity stems from my commercial picture making days. Every picture making assignment I had came with very specific final dimensions which were dictated by page / ad / end-usage proportions. The challenge was to make a picture with a pleasing visual arrangement which "fit" within those fixed proportions. Over time, I became very good at doing so in a wide variety of picture making assignments - from carefully and painstakingly arranging objects in a studio still life to real-life annual report / reportage / editorial.

In a very real sense, it was this experience - a "training" of sorts - which instilled in me the idea of getting it right in-camera and the corresponding feeling / belief that cropping was for picture making wimps - hence the black border on my pictures which, traditionally, came from printing with a filed out negative carrier which exposed the clear film edges of film .... proof positive that you were a real man, picture making wise, who got it right in-camera.

All of which brings me back to the first "Re:". When my particular "focal length" vision recognizes a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values, the challenge becomes getting it right in-camera. That is to write, conveying, on the 2D surface of a print, the sense of the rhythm of surface, line, and values which pricked my eye and sensibility. And, of course, that is wherein a picture maker employs his/her act of selection, aka: deciding what to include and what to exclude by the imposition of the frame.

Re: why shoot two focal length framings? - getting it right in-camera does not mean that there is one and only one way to get it right. There are many ways to skin a picture making cat. In fact, as many ways as there are picture makers. And, if the picture maker is true to the characteristic of the medium and its apparatus, the one which differentiates it from the other visual arts - its inherent and intrinsic characteristic as a cohort to the real - each and every variation on a specific referent will be as true as any other.

Whether or not that trueness is conveyed to the viewer with a sense of rhythm of surface, lines, and values is an entirely separate issue. And, in many cases, the answer to that issue is up to each and every viewer to decide.

Hence, two separate and distinctly different focal length pictures, each with its own sense of rhythm. Or not. That's up to the viewer to decide and, while doing so, paying attention the idea of the act of selection as the central picturing making act.

Disclaimer This entire exercise is in the tradition of art about art, or in this specific case, photography about photography. Some, in fact many, will consider this to be much to do about nothing (flapdoodle and green paint) or an exercise in autoeroticism, picture making wise. In part, I totally agree with that assessment.

On the other hand, as is evidenced by John Linn's willingness to express his curiosity and wonder what the hell is going on, this exercise does raise some interesting questions for discussion. But, then again, it's still all about the pictures.

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:12AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych (selection) # 8-13 ~ fabricating camera angles

bridge and bramble ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
late Autumn color ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Vermont view ~ Lewis, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
steeple ~ Pittsford, NY • click to embiggen
shed / vine ~ Whalenberg, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
motorcycle / house ~ Glens Falls, NY • click to embiggen

There is a lot of talk about camera angles; but the only valid angles in existence are the angles of the geometry of composition and not the ones fabricated by the photographer who falls flat on his stomach or performs other antics to procure his effects. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

I am continuing along the merry road of my diptych (selection)* project, which is essentially a multiple choice exercise in the "... recognition, in real life, of a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values" (Henri Cartier-Bresson) - as is all of my picture making. That written, as I make my multiple choice selections, I am also holding true to my continuing picture making habit of not fabricating angles by means of physical gymnastics.

That is to write, 92.5-94.9% of all of my picture making has been performed by lifting a camera to my eye while standing fully upright.

The primary reason for that habit is really quite simple - I picture what I see and, for the most part, I see, picture making wise, standing upright. The other 5.1-7.5% of the time, picture making wise, I make pictures at eye level, albeit that that level might be while sitting or horizontally reclining.

In any event, it is safe and accurate to write that, when a referent pricks my eye and sensibilities, I picture it in the exact same body posture I was in when I first noticed it.

*FYI For those who haven't read it, the work-in-progress Artist Statement is HERE

Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 09:09AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | Comments1 Comment