counter customizable free hit




ku # 1337-43 ~ 1/5 sec. in my life

40 MPH/ Curve ~ Black Brook, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
roadside tangle #1 ~ Black Brook, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
roadside tangle #2 ~ Black Brook, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
roadside tangle #3 ~ Black Brook, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
roadside tangle #4 ~ Black Brook, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
leaves on ground ~ Black Brook, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
decaying stump ~ Black Brook, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Over this weekend past I uncharacteristically went out and about with the sole intention of making pictures - as opposed to my normal M.O. of going out and about on some errand or another with my cameras and picturing whatever, if anything, that pricks my eye and sensibilities.

Also uncharacteristically I went out and about with the intention to make pictures of a specific nature (pun alert). My intent was to make pictures of fall detritus which is at peak season inasmuch as there will be nothing but bare trees in very short order. So off I went with a specific destination and intent in mind. Approximately 90 minutes and 40 pictures later - subsequently edited to 28 finals - I called it mission accomplished and headed home.

FYI, while picture making I followed Edward Weston's dictum that “Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic.” Although in my particular case, I didn't venture more 10 yards from the car.

While editing / processing the picture, it came to me that, while I was out in field for approximately 90 minutes, the actual time spent making pictures was about 1/5 of a second. I arrived at that figure by adding together all of the various shutter speed settings used in making the 28 finals. The reason, as best I can determine, for that somewhat arcane idea / exercise most likely was instigated by something I had read in the last week or so ....

.... When asked by someone at a dinner party to define photography, Teju Cole (photography critic / NY Times Magazine) said:

Photography is inescapably a memorial art. It selects, out of the flow of time, a moment to be preserved, with the moments before and after falling away like sheer cliffs.

Consequently, I am organizing my final pictures into a new body of work with the title 1/5 of a second of my life memorialized.

FYI, over the next week I will be posting 5-6 pictures a day from my fall detritus picture making outing.
Posted on Monday, October 26, 2015 at 05:59PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment

diptych # 174-75 ~ end of the line

highway retainer wall ~ Keene, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Lake Champlain ~ Peru, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I am approaching the end of the line, fall color picture wise. There are way more leaves on the ground than in the trees at this point so autumnal color is very much on the wane. However, the on-the-ground detritus of autumnal color is a thing that really pricks my eye and sensibilities. So, I'll be out and about looking for and picturing evidence of post autumnal color detritus and decay.

civilized ku # 2992-93 / ku # 1336 ~ cold beer / hot cider

pig ~ Wadhams, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
bonfire ~ Wadhams, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
approaching cloud bank ~ Wadhams, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

This weekend past The Cinemascapist, the wife and I attended the Juniper Hill Farm Fall Frolic in Wadhams (in the Adirondack PARK). Although, the event could have been more accurately called the Juniper Hill Farm Winter Preview Frolic inasmuch as it was COLD, COLD, COLD. And, truth be written, there wasn't much frolicking going on. Most were huddled around a large bonfire in an effort to ward off the frigid cold which was exacerbated by a strong cold wind.

That written, the food was great and most certainly a good time was had by all. I resisted the temptation to pour the delicious hot cider down my pants for warmth. And needless to write, drinking cold - very cold - beer didn't seem like a good thing to do (so I didn't).

The wife and I left just before dark. The Cinemascapist stayed on long into the night - the party moved to an unheated barn which was at least a shelter from the wind - and slept that night in his car.

diptych # 173 / ku # 1334-35 ~ A good photograph is never "about light"

Autumn trees with water ~ near Clintonville, NY / near Au Sable Forks, NY- in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Autumn red in field ~ Jay, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
grasses in the wind ~ Keeseville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

In the interest of complete disclosure, I must admit that I do make pictures of Autumn color in sunlight.

That admission aside, no matter what light one chooses to make pictures - sunlight, overcast light, in the gloaming, et al - of the Autumnal leaves display, I truly believe that the very good pictures which can be had with a variety of light conditions is proof positive of 2 of Brooks Jensen's notions - gleaned from his Things I've Learned About Photography - that ....

A good photograph is never "about light". Good photographs are about feelings.


There is no such thing as "good" or "bad" photographic light. There is just light.

Neither of these 2 statements should be construed as meaning that the kind / characteristic of light one uses in order to make a picture which conveys / illustrates an intended idea and fosters an intended feeling doesn't matter. Of course it does. However that is a whole different ball game than "chasing the light", the singular pursuit of a specific type of "good" light which becomes little more than a picture making fetish.

However, that written, and for my eye and sensibilities, my picture making is not dependent upon a specific quality of light because I like to picture what is as it is when I see it.
Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 02:23PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

ku # 1333 / triptych # 25 / 4-frame ku # 1334-36 ~ picture making luck

approaching snow squall ~ Wadhams, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
distant snow squall / 3 views ~ Jay, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
sequential views ~ Au Sable River / near Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

This weekend past, we were treated to (depending on your POV) the winter to come in the form of quite a number of short inconsequential snow squalls. And on a personal note, I engaged in a first wright of winter passage inasmuch as I donned my long underwear for an outdoor event (and glad I did - see above approaching snow squall picture).

IMO, picture making wise, the change of seasons can offer splendid picture making opportunities. Very often there are very fleeting windows of inter-mingled seasonal weather which truly prick my eye and sensibilities. These picture making opportunities are also a vivid example of the adage f8 and be there inasmuch as, picture making wise, you snooze, you loose.

Or, to paraphrase Louis Pasteur, "In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind picture maker." Which is one reason why I always go about with 3 cameras each with a different focal length prime lenses.

ku # 1332 / diptych # 172 ~ representational by nature

old rail bed ~ heading toward Keeseville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Autumnal nitty gritty ~ Keene, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Yesterday's entry was essentially built around a quote from the writings of James Agee. Today's entry is of the same genesis with a kicker from Bernice Abbott.

I have always appreciated and taken to heart in my picture making the idea expressed by James Agee in this quote:

.... in the immediate world, everything is to be discerned, for him who can discern it, and centrally and simply, without either dissection into science, or digestion into art, but with the whole of consciousness, seeking to perceive it as it stands: so that the aspect of a street in sunlight can roar in the heart of itself as a symphony, perhaps as no symphony can: and all of consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is.

Interesting enough, this Agee sentiment is very often found on the web (primarily on photo sites) with the section "for him who can discern it, and centrally and simply, without either dissection into science, or digestion into art" redacted. I would assume that most picture makers consider themselves to be making art so, therefore, they seem to think that Agee is disparaging art in that segment of his quote.

If so, I completely disagree.

In his writings on picture making, Agee has essentially argued for his preference for straight picture making. That is, the making of pictures without artistic pretense, effects, and affectations. Pictures which do not exhibit elements of revisive acts of the imagination but rather those which are straight forward picturing acts which accurately represent a referent as it stands. An act that Agree believed could be most realized by the use of a camera. Or, as Bernice Abbott wrote:

If a medium is representational by nature of the realistic image formed by a lens, I see no reason why we should stand on our heads to distort that function. On the contrary, we should take hold of that very quality, make use of it, and explore it to the fullest. - Berenice Abbott

That written, and getting back to the Agee quote, I suspect that many are confused / troubled by the phrase "...the cruel radiance of what is." How does one reconcile cruel - willfully causing pain or suffering - to the that of radiance - a quality of brightness and happiness / a warm, soft light that shines from something? How is it possible for "brightness and happiness" to be "cruel"? Or, was Agee using the word radiance to signify the idea of radiant - sending out light; shining or glowing brightly?

Without trying to parse this phrase to the point of incomprehensible gibberish, I would suggest that Agee was was using the word cruel to refer to the difficult and demanding task of confronting the real world as it stands. That is, the difficulty of doing so without resorting to comforting and revisive rationalizations and imaginings which disengage one from the actuality of what is.

Radiance, good or bad (it is possible for someone to radiate hatred for example), is cruel inasmuch as it gives no quarter. It is in its essence, exactly what it is, nothing more, nothing less*. The fact of the matter, IMO, is simple. The radiance emanating from what is is cruel in the sense that it demands, for him who can discern it, that it be dealt with head on, forthwith and clear headed.

An aside: Given Agee's writing skill, which was considerable, I also believe his use of the word "radiance" was quite apt (and intentionally so) inasmuch as he was writing in this instance about the medium of photography. I think no coincidence that radiance - the emission of light - is linked to that of the medium which depends entirely upon light. End of aside

In any event, for the most part I like experiencing virtually all things in and of the world head on. That is, experiencing them for what they are (albeit my perception of what they are), not for what I wish them to be. That is why I picture referents - in as much as the medium and its apparatus allow - as they stand.

*human perception and interpretation of what one thinks it is is another (unavoidable) matter all together.

diptych # 171 ~ the central instrument of our time

signs of Autumn / shafts of light ~ Keene, NY / Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

As I was watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he did a segment with the inventor of / founder of GoPro, the maker of GoPro, wear-them-on-your-body, video cameras and it got me to thinking on the image-centric world in which we live.

One of my first thoughts was of a James Agee's statement from his intro to the seminal book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a collaborative effort comprised of Agee's writings and Walker Evans' pictures:

The camera it seems to me, next to unassisted and weaponless consciousness, the central instrument of our time.

Having written that statement in the 1941 picture making world, one can only imagine what Agee might think of the camera in today's obsessive / crazed picture/video making world. I'll take a stab at it and conjecture that he might write something like:

Images it seems to me, above and beyond unassisted human looking and seeing, to be the central reality of our time.

Albeit a virtual reality and that's where my imagination took over ....

.... I can imagine a movie, set in the future, about the human race where everyone of sufficient means (the haves*) is implanted with a GoPro-like image/video capturing device (a third eye on the forehead?) which is conveniently and effortlessly linked to a mega-Cloud of recorded human experiences, a sort of hyper Facebook / Instagram in the ethereal aether.

Fledgling humans not only begin recording their life events but are also fed - via a dizzying array of devices - an ever increasing dose of the life events of others which, of course, are interspersed with copious amounts of adverts. Once a sustainable level of virtual reality addiction is achieved, individuals are then left to their own devices (double entendre alert) in order to satisfy their diversionary needs and desires.

Over time, addicted individuals become much more interested and captivated by viewing the virtual reality world rather than experiencing the real world for themselves. Although, the rules of the game are such that they must make some time each day to feed images/recordings of their life into the Cloud in order to keep a steady supply of fresh chum in the water.

Plot wise, enter a group of subversive revolutionaries / radicals who are not only living their live lives but are also working to rescue as many of the virtual reality addicted bioroid-like humans as possible. The work of the reality-based radicals is hampered by the fact that they are hunted (with the purpose of cleansing them from the planet) by the advertising consortium which rules and controls the virtual reality Cloud (and hence, the bulk of humanity which inhabits it).

The movie contains a lot of action adventure and loud noises as such a pursuit dictates. However, there is some quiet behind the scenes drama in which the advertising overlords are trying desperately to redact the images/videos of the conflict between them and radicals. Images/videos which have, ironically, been hacked into the Cloud by the radicals for the propose of educating / informing the addicted to the conspiracy in which they find themselves intertwined. Unfortunately, the virtual reality addicted are unable to distinguish virtual reality from actual reality and therefore consider those images/videos as just another form of virtual reality diversionary entertainment.

At the end of the movie, the plot line is left unresolved in order that the movie can spinoff a number of sequels and a long running television series. All of which are loaded with adverts.

*the have-nots are left to wallow in the boring world of real life.

ku # 1331 / panoramic ~ a concretized universal

roadside autumn color ~ Clintonville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Au Sable riverside autumn color ~ near Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

A student at Reed Collage said to Robert Adams, "I like art with intellectual complexity." Adams answered:

So do I, in some respects. But it's easy to confuse philosophy with art. They are not the same. It's an easy distinction to forget in school ... where you're encouraged to live an active life of the mind.

In today's academic lunatic fringe driven picture making world, it could be written, with a high degree of accuracy, that picture making MFAs end up confusing psycho-therapeutic self indulgence with art and that they are indoctrinated with the idea that complex meaning in a picture is paramount, virtually to the exclusion of a picture's visual merit - a clear cut real-world example of Sontag's idea that interpretation (aka: finding meaning) is the revenge of the intellectual upon art.

That written, Adams went on to state that:

A great picture is a concretized universal. The strength of that is that it can and has to be cross-referenced out to life in the street. Philosophy carries within itself no such test.

In addition to really liking the concept of a picture as a "concretized universal", I also embrace, picture making wise, the idea that a great picture must be able to be "cross-referenced out to life in the street".

Or, in other words, that great pictures must evidence "truth" or at least a truth inasmuch as doing so reenforces that unique characteristic of the medium of photography which separates it from the other visual arts. That is, its intrinsic and inevitable relationship to and as a cohort of the real.

FYI, the riverside picture is a 2 frame blend.
Posted on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 11:55AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment