PICTURE ONLY GALLERY LINKS
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
That written, I read an article in today's NY Times which is a follow up to (or continuation of) a previous article, re: the "easiest" and "hardest"places to live in the good ol' USofA. The determination of easiest v hardest was based on an analysis - using an index of 6 factors including income, education and life expectancy - of every single county in the US. The propose of these surveys is to gather information, re: inequality (haves v haves-nots) in the US - how and where it's trending.
FYI, according to this survey, I live in an "easy" / doing better (than average) county.
Why, you might wonder, am I mentioning it here, on a photo blog? Well, the follow up article was headlined with this ...
In One America, Guns and Diet. In the Other, Cameras and 'Zoolander'.
... followed by this:
In the hardest places to live in the United States, people spend a lot of time thinking about diets and religion. In the easiest places to live, people spend a lot of time thinking about cameras.
This information was gathered by doing a study of web search words/phrases as used by those living in counties on either end of the easiest/hardest index. The differences are interesting, depressing / sad or scary / alarming (take your pick or, as in my case, choose all 3). To wit:
In the hardest places to live ... health problems, weight-loss diets, guns, video games and religion are all common search topics. The dark side of religion is of special interest: Antichrist has the second-highest correlation with the hardest places, and searches containing "hell"and "rapture" also make the top 10.
In the easiest places to live ... the Canon Elph and other digital cameras dominate the top of the correlation list. Apparently, people in places where life is good .... want to record their lives in images.
The article is well worth reading and its conclusion is a damning one for the USofA - For all the ways that the differences here may reflect cultural preferences, however, the main lesson of the analysis is a sobering one. The rise of inequality over the last four decades has created two very different Americas, and life is a lot harder in one of them .... [T]he different subjects that occupy people's thoughts aren't just a window into American life today. They're a window onto future inequality, too.
It seems very apparent to me that many of us are spending our time fiddling (and picturing) while our own particular brand of Rome burns.
For those paying attention, you may have noticed that, of late, my posted images are heavily weighted on the diptych side of the picture making aisle. There is no apparent reason, which I can consciously discern, behind this proclivity other than to write that I have long been attracted to both making and viewing such multiple-picture presentations. So, it would be logical to assume that the notion of making such presentations has bubbled back to the surface of my picture making activities. That written, I am not and will not stop making stand alone pictures.
However, I am actively exploring and pursuing the visual, emotional, and intellectual possibilities of multiple picture presentations; 1. diptychs, which are primarily comprised of visually related pictures or those which share a similar intellectual / emotional sense, if not closely related visually, and, 2. triptychs, which are comprised of 3 pictures which essentially created a continuous panoramic image, albeit that the picture components are segmented as opposed to blended into a continuous image.
At this time, it is the triptych possibilities with which I am most interested. That interest is driven by my desire to explore and amplify the characteristic of the medium and its apparatus which John Szarkowski identified as:
The central act of photography, the act of chosing and eliminating, forces a concentration on the picture edge - the line that separates in from out - and on the shapes that are created by it. ~ from The Photographer's Eye
Expounding on this notion. Szarkowski goes on to write (presented here as it appeared in his book):
To quote out of context is the essence of the photographer's craft. His central problem is a simple one: what shall he include, what shall he reject? The line of decsion between in and out is the picture's edge ...
The picture's edge defines content.
It isolates unexpected juxtapositions. By surrounding two facts, it creates a relationship.
The edge of the photograph dissects familiar forms, and shows their unfamiliar fragment.
It creates the shapes that surround objects.
The photographer edits the meaning and patterns of the world through an imaginary frame. This frame is the beginning of his picture's geometry. It is to the photograph as the cushion is to the billiard table.
All of that written, my desire to explore and amplify the central act of photography, aka: selection, and all of its attendant characteristics will be implemented by the emerging image making strategy of: 1. making a "standard" square picture accompanied by, 2. the making of 2 rectangular pictures (defined by the dimensions of the µ4/3 format) which bracket the square image's frame / perimeter left and right, the purpose of which is to illustrate that which was "rejected" and, concomitantly, "fragmented" by the picture maker (aka: me).
Additional emphasis to the central picture will be accomplished by an "adjustment" made to the bracketing pictures. The exact visual technique to be employed is yet to be determined. In fence ~ selection # 1, the specialized implemented methodology was a gradient (from outside to inside edge) and an applied Curve which slightly darkened and reduced the contrast of the pictures of the "rejected" segments of the central picture's contiguous schema of structural entitification.
Other than the simple act of making visually interesting imagery (which is most often the # 1 objective in my picture making activity), my intent in this series is to bring attention to what I have always considered to be one of my picture making strengths - my ability to see, select and frame the unexpected juxtapositions which are to be found in the patterns of the everyday world / life - one might even write, the raison d'etre of my picture making strivations.
For me, the endeavor should be more fun than a barrel full of academic-lunatic-fringe monkeys. You know, like making up artspeak words and phrases.
...If we limit our vision to the real world, we will forever be fighting on the minus side of things, working only to make our photographs equal to what we see out there, but no better. ~ Galen Rowell
Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary objects so you can transform it by photographing it. ~ Morley Baer
I side with Morley Baer simply because I don't want to dwell in a place where the real world isn't good enough and must be "improved" in order to satisfy a lust for tarted up "beauty".
Because I am a naturally inquisitive kinda guy, I am forever striving to learn something new (to me). One area of that ongoing endeavor is in the realm of human behavior. That is, trying to understand another person's behavior, especially that of those whose inclinations are quite different from my own.
In the picture making realm, one example of behavior quite different from my own would be that of Kirk Tuck at The Visual Science Lab. Kirk is, IMO, a bona fide member in extraordinarily good standing of the I-Never-Saw-A-Piece-Of-Gear-I-Didn't-Covet Club. My mind boggles at the sheer number of cameras, lenses, and other assorted gear he has acquired, tested, and used over the short period of time (1 year-ish) I have been aware of his existence.
ASIDE: I am most definitely not casting aspersions, re: Kirk Tuck's gear acquisition proclivity. Everybody has their own thing. I am just pointing out the difference between my picture making domain behavior and his. Close ASIDE
As anyone who has followed The Landscapist knows, gear and gear related discourse doesn't really interest me. Yes, I choose my gear carefully - to match my specific needs - but when that choice has been made, it's on to the real business at hand, i.e. - making pictures. And I most definitely reside in the picture making camp of, the simpler you keep it, gear-wise, the better your picture making will be. That is, your gear becomes "invisible" and rarely gets in the way of you and your chosen referent.
That written, and in the interest of complete disclosure, I must admit that my gear collection most likely dwarfs that of Kirk Tuck's. I still have all of my commercial studio cameras (35mm , panoramic , 120 medium format , 4×5  and 8×10  view cameras) and lenses for each format (probably around 20 altogether). But, of course, that gear was acquired in the cause of meeting a wide range of client needs; from annual report / editorial (mainly 35mm), people / fashion / beauty (mainly medium format), to 4×5/8×10 still life - product / food work.
However, when it comes to my personal picture making, it's 2 bodies of the same model camera - E-P5s - and just 2 (fast) lens - 20mm and 45mm - one of which (the 20mm) is employed in the making of 90-95% of my pictures. I don't know how to, gear-wise, make it any more simple than that.
All of the preceding written, what caught my attention recently was a Kirk Tuck blog entry, Sunday Morning. Local seeing., in which Kirk relates an personal epiphany:
.... Weston probably returned dozens and dozens of times to the famous park mostly because it was available to him. He was able to infuse the scenes with his vision and his point of view. He distilled his feelings about his vision over time and then overlaid them onto the subject matter at hand.
With this in mind I started to look around my own dining room and kitchen, noticing the play of shadow and light. Noticing the juxtaposition of shapes and objects. I realized that "where ever you go, there you are." ....
Now, truth be told, I don't really believe that Kirk was actually trying to steal one of my picture making schtiks. However, that written, I have been making pictures around my house for well over a decade - check out some selects from my kitchen life and my the light bodies of work to view some examples thereof. Or, browse through a few entries in my kitchen sink series. Had Kirk Tuck viewed any of this work before he experienced his epiphany? Only he can answer that question.
In any event, the answer to that question doesn't really matter. What I really wonder about is - did his gear preoccupation get in the way of his noticing what was always right in front of / under his nose?
3 pictures, in light rain, made 200 miles and almost exactly 24 hours apart. In each instance, it was the atmospheric condition (and each referent) which caused me to stop my car and make the picture. As I have mentioned previously, I really enjoy making pictures in the rain.
PS In the past, I have consumed many a donut from Donuts Delite (when it was just a donut store) and have stayed at The Hedges many times - mostly likely nearly 100 times (but who's counting).
civilized ku # 2777 ~ What's the point of standing upon the shoulders of giants if your only vision is downward?
Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees. You may see and be affected by other people's ways, you may even use them to find your own, but you will have eventually to free yourself of them. That is what Nietzsche meant when he said, "I have just read Schopenhauer, now I have to get rid of him." He knew how insidious other people's ways could be, particularly those which have the forcefulness of profound experience, if you let them get between you and your own vision. ~ Paul Strand
Can you name any picture makers whose work you like but have managed to not let interfere / influence your own picture making? Inspiration without imitation, so to write.
In my case, Joel Meyerowitz, Stephen Shore, Walker Evans, Paul Strand, and Eliot Porter come to mind, although there are other well-knowns I could include. There are also a number of lesser-knowns on my list as well.
What I admire most about their work, in addition to their pictures, is their consistency of vision. They all possess/ed a distinct personal manner in looking at and seeing the world. And, almost to a man / woman they tend to focus their picture making efforts in manner in which, as James Agee wrote; ... all consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is ..." which has inspired me to pursue my own distinct manner of looking and seeing.
How about you? Any picture makers, or words who / which have inspired your picture making?
Polaroid's Sx-70. It won't let you stop.Suddenly you see a picture everywhere you look ... Now you press the red electric button. Whirr ... whoosh ... and there it is. You watch your picture come to life, growing more vivid, more detailed, until minutes later you have a picture real as life. Soon you're taking rapid-fire shots - as fast as every 1.5 seconds! - as you search for new angles or make copies on the spot. The SX-70 becomes part of you, as it slips through life effortlessly. ~ Polaroid advertisement (1975)
I have 4 SX-70 cameras 3 of which I acquired during the Polaroid-SX-70-pictures-as-art era. At that time, SX-70 cameras, which had been discontinued, where selling for as much as $ 500-1,000US in NY and other art hotspots. I found mine - mint, working condition - in flea markets, where the sellers had no idea of their worth - they were just old cameras after all - for $20-30US.
While I wasn't "making art" per se, I used them for many commercial assignments (mainly editorial work) and a multitude (thousands) of spontaneous everyday snapshots of family, friends, and just knocking around stuff. It would not be unreasonable to write that I was well and truly addicted to the Whir and Whoosh of Polaroid picture making.
So it was with much sadness and disappointment that I witnessed the end of SX-70 film.
That written, the digital picture making domain does have some "whirl and whoosh" characteristics which promote the "it won't let you stop ... suddenly you see a picture everywhere you look" effect. Not the least of which is the fact that the digital picture making domain doesn't set you back a nearly a buck a shot as did the Polaroid picture making domain. And, without a doubt, as the picture appears on a back-of-the-camera LCD screen, it does promote a "search for new angles" (and other picture making considerations).
Case in point. I just returned from Rochester where I went for lunch with some former classmates. On the short overnight trip, I added 20 - plus variations - new pictures to my finished folder. In a real sense, I did see pictures (nearly) everywhere I looked and my cameras (paraphrasing) "became part of me, as they (and I) slipped effortlessly through life."
FYI the landmarks in the landmarks picture are: Mercury (aka: Hermes), The Wings of Progress, and the Main Street bridge, which at one time was lined with buildings on its north side (the side pictured).
I suspect it is for one’s self-interest that one looks at one’s surroundings and one’s self. This search is personally born and is indeed my reason and motive for making photographs. The camera is not merely a reflecting pool and the photographs are not exactly the mirror, mirror on the wall that speaks with a twisted tongue. Witness is borne and puzzles come together at the photographic moment which is very simple and complete. The mind-finger presses the release on the silly machine and it stops time and holds what its jaws can encompass and what the light will stain. ~ Lee Friedlander
Like Friedlander, my picture making is an act of indulgent self-interest. And it is about both me (self) and the other (world): relationships, connectedness, discoveries, imaginings and, hopefully, understandings.
As such, it is why, for me, the silly machine and all its parts and pieces are of little consequence. They are but the means to the often mystical / magic mind moments in time which the medium and its apparatus can appropriate and hold for both aesthetic pleasure giving and considered inspection / introspection. An Image Province of self and world, lost in time past, pulled back from the depths oblivion and obscurity.
In a sense; I picture, therefore, I am.