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diptych # 169-170 ~ a fortuitous change in plans

getting petrol ~ Keeseville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
in the gloaming ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Went out to make some late day pictures only to realize that I needed petrol in order to drive around and seeing what I could see. For reasons too complicated to relate here, the nearest petrol station was about 12 miles away from my intended picture making destination. Consequently, the 24 mile there and back again diminished, in fact eliminated, the possibility of late day picturing and left me with the gloaming, light wise.

Fortunately for me, I really like making pictures in the gloaming. It's a "mysterious" time of day which appeals to my eye and sensibilities so I didn't consider this chafe of plans to be a negative one.

FYI, the picture of the signs was a very fortunate opportunity that will likely be used as the cover of my new book - new body of work - entitled Signifier & Signified ~ information overload.
Posted on Monday, October 12, 2015 at 12:39PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

kitchen sink # 30 ~ a return to the scene of the crime

left over pasta with coffee grounds ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

While most of my kitchen sink pictures are found arrangements - I walk up to the sink and there it is - this one is a bit of a hybrid inasmuch as it was recreation of a found arrangemt.

Serval days ago, I walked up to the sink and there in front of me was the strainer with pasta and coffee grounds just poised to be tossed in the garbage by the wife. There was no time to make a picture so I "rescued", accompanied by a few moans and groans from the wife, the strainer and contents and set it aside for next day picturing.

Next morning there was a dirty sauté pan in the sink along with a few cooking utensils. I set the strainer in the sauté pan and waited for the light to be "nice". Late morning I got the shot.

After processing the picture, I wasn't quite happy with it. There was small area on the front rim of the strainer which was struck by direct sunlight which caused the pasta in the that area to be burned out and no amount of finagling could bring it back. I came to this conclusion too late in the day, light wise, to reshoot.

So, I once again set the strainer aside, cleaned all the dirty stuff in the sink - the sauté pan was needed for prepping dinner - and planned to reshoot in the next AM. Which is exactly what I did. However ....

... the previous day's arrangement was long gone. The only thing to do was to rebuild the arrangement using the previous day's picture. I gathered and arranged all the elements, waited for the same light and made the picture, creating 3 bracketed exposures.

Those brackets allowed me to get the highlight detail I was looking for by blending the highlight area from the darker bracket into my correctly exposed frame. A bit of local contrast adjustments later and, voilà, all was right with the picture making world.
Posted on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 12:57PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

ku # 1324 (with a hint of civilized ku) / diptych # 168 ~ rocket surgeon 

autumn color + graffiti ~ near Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
autumn color ~ near Au Sable Forks / near Inlet, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

My preferred take on autumn color is isolated spots of color within a more subdued color palette, referent wise. Or, lacking that arrangement, overall subdued color obtained by picturing in "subdued" light. In either case, it's a different manner of looking and seeing autumn color from that of the color screamists in the picture making crowd.

Re: my eye and sensibilities - screamist or subtleist, neither manner of looking and seeing is "right" or "wrong". Although, differing schools of picture making may decree otherwise. But of course, there are differing opinions on which school of picture making is "right" or "wrong". All of which makes the picture making world go 'round.

And now for something completely different ....

The phrase, "It doesn't take a brain surgeon ..." is most often used to imply that whatever follows that phrase is easy to understand or undertake. "Brain surgeon" (or its oft used alternative, "rocket scientist") implies a higher level of intelligence which isn't required for the task at hand.

That written, I will, from this day forward, no long use the "brain surgeon" nomenclature to denote higher intelligence. No, not after this (makes me proud to be an American) from neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Republican Party candidate for President of the United States ....

Arguing that the Second Amendment is more sacred than spilled blood, Ben Carson said that as a doctor, he had removed many bullets from the bodies of gunshot victims. But he said the right to bear arms was paramount ....

“I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."

No. No. No. From this day forward, I intend to use the phrase "rocket surgeon" as in, "It doesn't take a rocket surgeon ..." I can't bring myself to use the concept of "rocket scientist" to imply higher intelligence 'cause too many rockets are blowing up, or so it seems.
Posted on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 08:34AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment

ku # 1323 / diptych # 167 ~ autumn color in the gloaming

trees in ravine ~ near Inlet, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
trees in ravine ~ near Inlet, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Yesterday, during my return drive home from Rochester, I managed to find some autumn color.

This autumn the color has been spotty - some areas not much, other areas more color but rather subdued. That situation is the result of protracted warm weather - highs in the 80s - well into the third week of September. At which point many leaves were on the ground before turning color and what remained turned slowly and somewhat subdued. This condition is not a problem for me and my picture making inasmuch as I do not make very many pictures of riots of intense autumn color.

In any event, yesterday evening well after the sun had set and with a slightly overcast sky, I ventured into a ravine and discovered the color I was hoping to find.
Posted on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 04:14PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

triptych #23 ~ a sort of mystery

grottos / Rich Lake ~ Newcomb, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

In Rochester again visiting with the West Coast Son who came in for the funeral services of his grandfather on my ex's side of the family. I also have been visiting with my ex and a couple of my ex brothers-in-law - memories galore.

Been making a few pictures along the way but haven't had time to process and post. So today's triptych is from a recent canoe paddle on a wilderness lake where the wife and I came across this very unusual shoreline rock formation. A formation which looks like miniature - openings are 3-4 feet tall - sea caves.

Over the years I have paddled a lot of Adirondack waters and have never seen anything like this formation. And adding a bit of mystery to the formation is the fact that it is located on the shoreline of somewhat narrow (100 yards-ish) and rather tranquil inlet / bay off of the main lake. Which, in my head, leads to the question of how it was formed.

I assume that rock, even relatively soft rock, requires a long period of time of being subjected to reasonably strong water forces / erosion to create such a formation and it is hard for me to imagine such a force in this location. Even though the inlet eventually does lead to a short narrow river with a few short rapids - more like riffles than rapids - with very minor elevation drop, it seems to me that the requisite water force / erosion needed to create such a formation would be rather rare and most certainly short-lived.

In any event, I think it's time to find a geologist who is familiar with Adirondack geology.
Posted on Monday, October 5, 2015 at 09:38AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | Comments1 Comment

triptych # 24 (kitchen life / civilized ku / ku) ~ what is beauty (in photography)

the gruel radiance of what is ~ various locations • click to embiggen

My apologies to Robert Adams for co-opting the title of his book, Beauty in Photography (link is to a review of the book), which is a collection of Adams' essays on picture making. A book which, IMO, should be a mandatory read for anyone with a camera who aspires to making pictures which are more than snapshots.

Over the years, I have read and re-read the book, in whole or part, a number of times. As my picture making worked has matured, along with my understanding of it (and the why of it), the essays in the book most often reveal, not unlike good pictures, new understandings with the re-visiting of them.

As the title of the book implies, Adams has wrestled with the notion of beauty and as my picturing making moved from primarily commercial work to that of personal / fine art work, I too struggled with the word and the notion of beauty. However, one thing I knew from the start was that I had no interest in making pictures which conformed to the bourgeoisie idea of beauty or, as I labeled them, pretty pictures. Adams' take on the idea was/is spot on with mine:

Beauty seemed to me then an obsolete word .... what had the term to do with the realities of the this century?

Now to be certain, I came across Adams' words long after I decided that I was drawn to and wanted to make pictures of the "realities" of my 7/10 of a century which pricked my eye and sensibilities or, as James Agee stated, "the cruel radiance of what is". Or, as I wrote over 8 years ago at the start of this blog, photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful.

Adams wrote that photography, more than any other art, is tied to (the) use of specifics or, as I have written (many times over the years) that the single characteristic of the medium of photography which distinguishes from the other visual arts is its inexorable and intrinsic attribute as a cohort of the real. So, that being the case, the driving force (preternatural?) of my desire to make pictures has been to plumb the depths of any and all of specifics of the world without regard to their adherence to commonly perceived status of conventional beauty.

All of that written, as I have continued on my picture making path and despite my initial aversion to the word beauty, I have learned, as Adams wrote:

... the word beauty is in practice unavoidable. Its very centrality accounts, in fact, for my decision to make photographs.

civilized ku # 2983-85 ~ a tale of 3 city areas in pictures (and words)

Bloody Mary ~ Saratoga Springs, NY • click to embiggen
Tin & Lint Co. ~ Saratoga Springs, NY • click to embiggen
Henry Street Taproom ~ Saratoga Springs, NY • click to embiggen

As mentioned in a recent entry, the wife and I spent a 3 day weekend in Saratoga Springs. It was not the first time we have stayed in the city with a population of 27K residents. But, that written, we have only stayed in Saratoga Springs when the wife has had, as in the most recent case, a conference to attend.

Saratoga Springs is a very affluent city - 93% white / median income for a family was $91,392, mean income for a family was $114,560. The economy is largely tourism based but it is also home to Skidmore College, Saratoga Spa State Park (to include the Saratoga Performing Arts Center - summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet), and the Saratoga Race Course - the track is the oldest (since 1863) continuously-operating thoroughbred race course in the United States. A course which during its 6-week summer event attracts the top horses, jockeys, and trainers in America.

Much of the affluence comes from those who live in Saratoga Springs but work in Albany, NY (the NYS Capital) however there many large industrial employers in the area - Saratoga Spring Water Co. (a division of Anheuser-Busch InBev), Quad/Graphics, offset printers of Time, Newsweek, People, Sports Illustrated and many other magazines, Ball Corporation, makers of the Mason Jar as well as aluminum cans for companies such as Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Stewart's Shops (more than 300 stores throughout New York and Vermont) is headquartered in Saratoga Springs.

All of that background info written, here's my point .... I would never ever want to live in Saratoga Springs.

The reasons for that are many but the one unavoidable thing about Saratoga Springs which should appeal to me, but actually annoys me, is the Broadway Historic District which is basically the whole of the city's main street. Architecturally, it is quintessentially vintage small town Main Street America. That is to write, right up my alley (or street).

However, and unfortunately in my world view, all of that vintage architecture is occupied by national and international luxury-brand retailers and local upscale boutiques and has become an upscale shopping destination for the Albany metropolitan area. For me, it gives the street all the character of a Disneyland-esque Americana-themed shopping mall. Ugh. I can't live with that (and the class of people whom that attracts) for more than 20-30 minutes at a time.

All that written, one of the things I do like about Saratoga Springs is that section of central downtown - an approximately 4 block x 4 block of dining and drinking establishments - which does evidence a 3-tiered socioeconomic neighborhood which is much to my liking. A district which in the sheer number of restaurants, pubs and bars crammed into a small area is un-rivaled in my experience (except Fells Point in Baltimore - 120 pubs).

IMO, the beauty of that district is the socioeconomic mix to be found there.

The section along the Broadway Historic District is dominated by upscale (but not over the top) dining establishments with all of the attendant trendy (not meant to be a negative descriptor) menu selections - see picture of the rather overwrought Bloody Mary as an example of "trendy". A drink which I had in a Max London's Restaurant, in which the wife and I had very tasty Sunday brunch and in which, only days before, a patron ordered 4 pours of Van Winkle bourbon at $150.00 a pour. Enough written about upscale.

Walking around any one of the corners on the 4 block upscale of main street to the immediate side street blocks reveals a entirely different example of funky neighborhood eating / drinking establishments - see picture of Tin & Lint Co. (which has its own, albeit since debunked, claim to fame as the birthplace of the song American Pie*) - which are quite a bit lower on the socioeconomic scale of things. Witness the neon signs for distinctly working class beer as opposed to the microbrew beers such as Rushing Duck War Elephant beer found in Broadway District establishments. I suspect that one could drink all evening in one these places for the price of 2 beers around the corner on Broadway.

Walking to the end of the funky establishment blocks, you encounter another distinctly different area, albeit leaning more towards the Broadway area than the locals' area - which is home to numerous 20-somethings bars and pubs, some with dining. Many are like the Henry Street Taproom - see picture of patrons - which is a pub based on Scotch and microbrew beers. The clientele in this area is mostly young mid to upper middle class patrons mixed with college kids and you'd be hard pressed to find a Bud Light beer in this area.

The wife and I flowed freely around and in these 3 distinctly varied areas and enjoyed it thoroughly. However, I suspect that, in the case of full-time Saratoga Springs residents, their drinking / dining activities are limited to, as befitting their socioeconomic self image, only one of these areas.

*I wrote this song just to show that Dylan wasn't the only one that could write songs with weird lyrics and I wasn't even using cocaine ~ Don McLean
Posted on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 09:43AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments2 Comments

civilized ku # 2982 ~ koi pond

koi pond ~ Plattsbubrgh, NY • click to embiggen

Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 01:48PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment