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civilized ku # 2867 / diptych # 123-24 ~ off topic but with pictures - hop in the Cordoba, baby. We're going bowling*

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ice rink / grilled cinnamon roll/bun ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
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post 4 pt. game dinner / locker room with sometime line mate, McKensie (zie?/sey?) ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
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ice rink / locker room ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
An all-hockey weekend started Friday evening past with an early evening game - the first of 4 in the Roadrunner Rumble Hockey Tournament - and didn't end until late afternoon on Sunday. Saturday was a nearly 10-hour hang around the rink (actually 2 different rinks) interrupted by a brief escape for a late afternoon restaurant dinner. As is often the case, Hugo camped at our house so the rides to the rink would be much shorter than from his house (50+ miles from his team's home rink) which allowed him to get more rest and spend far less pre-game time in a car.

Logistics aside, the weekend was a great success. His team, the Plattsburgh Roadrunners, went undefeated and garnered the championship trophy. However, it wasn't an easy task. The tourney was stacked with some of the best regional teams from Vermont and downstate New York. Against the best of which the Roadrunners had a 0-4-1 record earlier in the season.

After getting through the round-robin part of the tourney (wherein Hugo amassed 7 points - 4 goals / 3 assists - he was beating goaltenders like rented mules* and their coaches didn't know whether to cry or wind their watches*) - they made to the semi-finals on Saturday night against a very good team from St. Albans, Vermont (to whom they had lost 2x and tied once).

After regulation and overtime, the game was tied 1-1 and it went to a shootout. Hugo sealed the victory with the game-winning shootout goal - Hugo was smilin' like a butcher's dog* - and they advanced to the Championship game - get in the fast lane, Grandma, the bingo game's ready to roll*.

In the championship game on Sunday, the Roadrunners ran into a very excellent downstate team which had beaten them 2x including a 1-0 loss in a recent Vermont tournament championship game. While Hugo's team played pretty well, they nevertheless were 2 goals down going into the 3rd period.

Shortly thereafter, Hugo jump-started the team's comeback with a beautiful assist from behind the goal to a team mate in front making it 3-2 and all I wanted to do was scratch my back with a hacksaw*. Hugo then scored 2 goals to wrap up the victory - and ladies and gentlemen, Elvis had just left the building*.

When all was said and done, Hugo ended up with a tournament-leading (by a wide margin) 10 points + a game winning shootout goal. And as Mike Lange* often remarks, you'd have to be here to believe it*.

BTW, the top picture in this entry is of the guy at the rink snack bar who insisted I take his picture after he had prepped a grilled cinnamon roll for me - a food thing of which he (and most others) had never heard. All you do is slice a cinnamon roll like a bun, slather butter on both cut surfaces and grill it until the buttered sides are slightly crispy and the topping is warm and slightly melted - mmmmm good. FYI, the guy offered to serve it to me with a cholesterol control pill.

Anyone care to venture a guess why Hugo wears # 88?

*Mike Lange-isms - Lange is the longtime NHL Hall of Fame announcer, tv and now radio, for the Pittsburgh Penguins. You can hear most of his Lange-isms HERE.

Posted on Monday, February 9, 2015 at 10:18AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

kitchen life # 64-65 ~ reinterpretation of objects

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Bonhomme and morning window light ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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kitchen sink ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
In her Juror's Statement for the Marvelous Things: The Art of Still Life exhibition Aline Smithson wrote:

I love still lifes. In this era of mounting distractions, the still life genre allows for slowed down time and consideration. I love the meditative process of creating something special out of a group of objects that are often considered mundane and lackluster. I love recognizing the still lifes that surround our daily lives, whether it be a tableau on a dresser top, a single flower elevated through light and composition, or a pile of discarded objects along side a road. Many of the photographs that I selected for the exhibition look at still lifes with a unique point of view—made fresh by the reinterpretation of objects, seeing ordinary things anew, considering new subject matter to be used in a still life, or simply by bringing a level of excellence to their image making.

With that judging criteria in Aline Smithson's mind, I was honored but not incredibly surprised, although most certainly pleasantly so, that she chose one of my pictures for the exhibition. Not surprised inasmuch as her thoughts, re: the making of still life pictures (and pictures in general) are very similar to mine.

Posted on Friday, February 6, 2015 at 01:44PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

civilized ku # 2866 ~ they give us those nice bright colors

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fresh snow ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
My attention was recently drawn to the picturing idea of blue snow - the blue snow as seen in the shadow areas of sunny day winter pictures. The instigator of my eventual rumination, re: blue snow, was a picture article in our Sunday newspaper regarding the chance that winter offers "to marvel at a palette of colors...".

The author of the pictures and article is a staff picture maker (if such a thing exists anymore) or, at the very least, a picture maker whose byline appears quite often on pictures in the newspaper. With his pictures, he was encouraging people to get out and "... look for those purples and blues that make the snow rich in color...".

To be certain, his pictures area quite "rich" with vibrant blue snow. And, I am quite certain that he came by that color honestly, which is to write, without any Photoshop tomfoolery. I am also quite certain that most of the viewers of his picture will like them, in no small measure because they are quite vibrant / rich, color wise (not a criticism, just an observation). However, I am equally certain that, if those viewers are moved to go out and "look for those purples and blues that make the snow rich in color", they are apt to be quite disappointed.

As any astute picture maker knows, both film and digital sensors (more so than film) are able to "see" light in the Ultra Violet wavelength spectrum. So do butterflies, reindeer, some species of birds, and even sockeye salmon, to name just a few. Consequently, unless those seekers of purple and blue snow have some sort of mutant vision, all they are going to see is white snow. The exception being snow which is lighted by direct warm late day sunlight.

In the good ol' days of film, many a picture maker employed a UV filter to reduce the influence of UV light when making a picture. I assume the same could be done in the digital picture making domain. The digital picture making domain also has the capability of adjusting White Balance when making a picture - the cloudy day setting significantly reduces the blue color to be had on cloudy days and in shadows. However, that setting may also move the color balance in the direction of too much warmth in other areas of the picture.

In my case, I make white balance adjustments when processing a RAW file and subsequently fine tune the picture in Photoshop. I leave a fair amount of blue in the picture at the RAW processing stage and, by the means of making a selection of the blue snow shadows and the use of the Hue and Saturation tool, I move my pictures toward what the human eye perceives rather than what the camera "sees".

This adjustment / correction procedure does not mean that I eliminate all of the blue color to be seen by the camera in the shadows. However, it is reduced significantly, because, in some cases and under some conditions, my human vision is able to see a small hint of blue in the shadows. Although, that usually takes a fair amount of concentration directed specially at looking for the blue color.

In any event, my intention in reducing or in some cases totally eliminating "blue" snow is to reproduce a more faithful / true representation of the real.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 09:30AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments2 Comments

kitchen life # 63 ~ don't know how much more of this I can take

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trash can ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
In a recent essay, Responsibilty and Truth in Photography, Jörg M. Colberg - founder and editor of Conscientious Photography Magazine - wrote:

You can take a photograph in such a way that even though it is a complete artifact (all photographs are), it will look like an objective depiction of whatever was in front of the camera’s lens .... This is territory that many people find hard to navigate. If a camera is a little machine that faithfully records what is in front of it and that displays just that, then obviously it’s the photographer who screws up if there is a problem. Now, a camera is not at all just some little machine that does that. It never faithfully records what was in front of it, and the many steps that lie between the pressing of the shutter’s button and the display of the resulting image (in whatever form) make the connection between reality and picture very, very difficult.

While Colberg tends to be of the same mind as I am, re: (his words) "photography theory sounds really good, at least on paper (assuming, of course, it’s not the usual academic drivel, with terms taken from semi-nonsensical French philosophy thrown in for good measure)", he nevertheless can't help but to delve into the whole "never faithfully records", and, "the many steps that lie between the pressing of the shutter’s button and the display of the resulting image" thing , both of which, according to academic theory, results in making "the connection between reality and picture very, very difficult."

Sure, sure. A picture of something is not the thing itself. Sure, sure. A picture maker can employ many steps in the making of a picture. However, IMO, drawing from those facts the conclusion that a picture can not faithfully, in fact never, record what was in front of the camera is pure flapdoodle and green paint.

Sure, sure. Many different interpretations can be had from the viewing of a photograph, as many as there are viewers, but, despite the number of differing interpretations / understandings / meanings to be had (many of which may have little relationship to the picture maker's intentions), that in no way means that the picture from which they are made is a not faithful recording / depiction / representation of what was in front of the camera.

A factual / accurate depiction of a chosen referent and the interpretations / understandings /meanings deduced from it are two entirely different, although related, domains. One involves seeing, the other involves feeling and thinking.

That written, there are always viewers to whom a picture is just a picture and there are those who must turn a picture into an academic critical analysis, intellectual labyrinth, psycho-analytical exercise. Those who prefer the latter seem to be those with an surfeit of art education who seem to need to convince themselves that they got their money's worth, student loan / education wise. They never give it a rest.

Although, even one of the all-time greats (art theory writing and speaking wise), Jeff Wall seems to have given it rest:

I think the process of deconstructing photography as a rhetoric has reached a point of exhaustion.

Amen to that.

Posted on Monday, February 2, 2015 at 05:08PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | Comments2 Comments

civilized ku # 2865 ~ seen and noted but not understood

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purple house with dots ~ Burlington, VT • click to embiggen
Try as I might, I just can't make the connection between the two concepts. I mean, my father and mother weren't into consumption in any significant way but that didn't stop them from having my foreskin cut.

And, while placentophagy (consuming the placenta) is associated with cutting and childbirth, no one I am aware of is eating foreskin after childbirth. Does the consumption of the placenta create a blood-lust desire for parents to have their male offspring's foreskin cut? Will ending the practice of placentophagy cut the practice of cutting foreskin? If so, what will be the effect on Judaism?

And, to further my confusion, how do the polka dots fit in?

Although, perhaps this somewhat desperate plea for attention is a sign of a nascent cultural movement in the offing. If so, should I try to market the picture to CCNF Association for their promotional use on t-shirts, hats, buttons, billboards and the like?

Or, by posting this picture, am I doing my part to spread the word on this timely notion, and, just as importantly, am I nipping in the bud* the potential use of messy and disturbing medical imagery which might be employed to promote this cause?

So many things to consider. Any ideas?

*stop for a moment and think about that idiom.

Posted on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 09:17AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments2 Comments

civilized ku # 2864 ~ dead or dying

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red pepper ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Edward Weston had his pepper and I have mine. Unlike Weston and is my ongoing wont, I prefer to picture my produce in some state of decay.

However, like Weston, I believe ....

"... that the camera should be used for the recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether polished steel or palpitating flesh. To see the Thing Itself is essential ... The quintessence revealed direct without the fog of impressionism ... This then: to photograph a rock, have it look like a rock, but be more than a rock. Significant presentation – not interpretation."

In writing / speaking about his Pepper No. 30 picture, Weston stated that he had "just created the essence of a green pepper. More than a green pepper, for it is unadorned, unsullied by a superficial phase or transitory mood." And, it is perhaps on that notation that he and I differ (ignoring his BW to my color).

Although, without trying to parse his meaning of "superficial phase or transitory mood", I could assume that he and I don't differ at all inasmuch as one of the reasons I picture produce and other food stuffs in some state of decay is because I am very much intrigue by those referents' transitory phase, not mood.

As I read / understand his words (here I go, parsing), re: "superficial phase or transitory mood", I believe Weston is most likely referring to making a picture with a picture making "fad" which is concurrent to the era of the picture's making. After all, Weston did gain early fame by making pictures in the soft-focus, romanticized manner of the Pictorialists. A "fad" or "phase" from which he subsequently escaped.

Weston's notion of "significant presentation – not interpretation" seems to fit quite nicely with Eric Fredine's comment on the recent entry, diptych # 121 / civilized ku # 2846, wherein the topic at hand was concerned with print making (aka: presentation:

What matters to me is the moment of exposure - what's photographed and how it's photographed. Many people struggle mightily with this point of view arguing that it's their 'interpretation' of the image defines their art. But no amount of 'interpretation' will save a poorly conceived image (insert obligatory AA quote* here) and often just comes across as affectation. Those people are often falling prey to the insecurities that gripped many pictorialists at the turn of the century.

*For those not in the Know, the Ansel Adams quote Eric refers to is - "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."

Posted on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 10:31AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych # 122 (kitchen life/sink) ~ (gasp, gasp) none

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kitchen sink ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
On last Friday's entry, civilized ku # 2863, John Linn wrote: I looked at this for a long time and found it very interesting. I wonder how many masks you used?

my response: In a word, none.

Years ago when I was in training in the US Army, I was taught how to do things, Army wise, by the book (the book of Army Regulations). The Army had a regulation governing just about everything one might do in the Army. However, the Army powers that be realized that, in the thick of combat, getting something done might possibly mean trashing the regs and doing what one had to do get the job at hand done. Such a non-reg procedure was called a Field Expediency Method. In other words, f--k the book and just get it done.

Which reminds me of an experience with my son, The Cinemascapist. While I was away on a golf trip, I left him in charge of an ongoing job for a medical equipment manufacturer. The assignment was to construct very large scale hi-def collage images for trade show use. At the time, he was somewhat of novice, re: Photoshop and related collage making software.

Nevertheless, upon my return, he had produced a collaged image that was spot on. When I asked how he did it, I was stunned at his methodology. He had used tools and techniques which would have never in a million years occurred to me to use. In effect, since he had never even read "the book" on how to do such things, he just went ahead and created and used his own version of the Field Expediency Method. It was not necessarily the most efficient way of getting the job done but getting it done with very excellent results.

All of that written and relevant to John Linn's question, I have created my very own F.E.M., re: making corrections / adjustments to images in Photoshop, which have eliminated the need for masks. Hence, the answer, "none", to his question.

At one time I was a fervent user of masks. But, after years of clogging up my hards drives with large files which were saved to include masks and layers, I discovered that I rarely, if ever, went back to an image to make corrections / adjustments which would be possible with all of those saved masks and layers. Consequently, I stopped using masks and adjustment layers and figured out a way to do what I wanted to do without them.

Basically, what that means is that I use (gasp, gasp) destructive editing techniques instead of non-destructive techniques associated with masks and adjustment layers. The reason I can get away with this is due to the fact that, after a decade-and-a-half of mucking about in Photoshop together with many decades of printing color during the good ol' analog days, I pretty much know what I want as I proceed along the edition / processing / adjustment path. So, I through caution to the wind and walk on the high wire without a net, image processing wise.

BTW, it's also worth mentioning that, as digital files have progressed to 16 bit / 32 bit levels of digital information, for those of us who are not obsessed with pixel-level perfection, there is plenty of room to move.

FYI, my principle Photoshop tools are: curves (at times in RBG, other times in LAB color space), hue and saturation controls, plain old layers (at times using the Screen or Multiple settings), feathered selection tools, erasers, unsharp mask (sparingly and often localized), and reduce noise control (rarely). That's about it. I don't have and therefore don't use any sharpening, noise reduction, or any other external (outside of Photoshop) software.

When all of my adjustments / corrections are complete (using all or several of the aforementioned tools / techniques) I merge all of my layers, by means of the Merge Visible method, into a flattened file ready for storage and printing.

Posted on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 10:23AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | Comments3 Comments

diptych # 121 / civilized ku # 2864 ~ a revelation during a 14 hour day

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breaking ice ~ Lake Champlain, NY • click to embiggen
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plant / PhotoPlace Gallery ~ Middlebury, VT • click to embiggen
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alley ~ downtown / Burlington, VT • click to embiggen
Left home at 6:00AM Saturday last , returned home same day at 8:05PM. During that time we - the wife, Hugo, and I - had an ice breaking ferry ride (at sun-up) to Vermont, a mid-morning hockey game in Barre, an early afternoon visit (minus Hugo) to PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, lunch in Burlington, and an early evening hockey game in Highgate. All of which amounted to a tour of Central / Northwestern Vermont and a very enjoyable day with the wife.

The hockey part of the trip was a success yielding 2 tight-game victories. The first game score was 1-0 with Hugo scoring the only goal of the game. The second game score was 2-0 with Hugo scoring the first goal of the game giving him 2 game-winning goals on the day. Sunday's game at home produced another victory - 4-1 - with Hugo scoring the second goal of the game, giving him yet another game winning goal. He's on a roll.

My travels with the wife and Hugo aside, it was the visit to PhotoPlace Gallery to view the exhibition with my picture in it - MARVELOUS THINGS The Art of Still Life - which yielded a very unexpected revelation of sorts .....

First and foremost, it is well worth mentioning that PhotoPlace Gallery is both a very nice gallery and a wonderful ongoing endeavor intended (from their website) "to support contemporary fine art photography as a means of creative expression and cultural insight". In doing so they "try to place artists at the center of their activities". Ways in which they help artists be at the center of their activities include: keeping admission fees as low as possible and, here's the big one, offering free matting and framing of excepted work which makes getting one's work on the wall a very inexpensive affair. An exhibitor can even eliminate the cost of shipping their work to the gallery by having them print the work on Hahnemuhle archival rag paper (matte) with ChromaLife inks at the cost of only $25US.

All of that written, on to my unexpected / taken by surprise revelation .... as always, it was nice to view the work, which I was familiar with from viewing it online, in print form. However, I was rather stunned to end up with the feeling that the prints (nor the referents) all looked rather homogeneous. That is to write, technically excellent: very sharp, albeit not over sharpened; very clean wide gamut color; and, attributable to the fact that all of the work was under glass, no sense whatsoever of print surface feel and texture. All of which, to my eye and sensibilities, added up an impression of emotionless sterility, print wise.

Now, to be certain, the work itself, referents wise, was not homogenous. Rather, it was the presentation which left me sort of cold which, to be perfectly honest, was a very unexpected result.

Over the years - nay, decades - having been to more one-artist exhibitions, Photography Division, than I can count, I certainly have come to expect that the work on view at one-artist exhibitions will, a) have a consistent theme, referent wise and, b) have a uniform look and feel, re: technical and aesthetic print quality. That's the intrinsic nature of the beast - one artist, one vision, one body of work.

While the MARVELOUS THINGS exhibition left no doubt that the work was that of many different picture makers (40 to be exact), to my eye and sensibilities, it was as if the pictures were all prepped and printed by the same soulless machine. There was very little idiosyncratic diversity, print making wise, in evidence in most of the work, which I found to be somewhat unsettling.

Which leads me to think / speculate that with all of the exactitude to found and had in the digital picture making domain - sensors with resolution and sharpness heretofore only to be had in picture maker's dreams, unlimited global and local control for picture processing in Photoshop (or whatever), the elimination of any structural component (grain), digital printers with multiple inks capable of reproducing an ultra-wide color gamut, et al - all of which most "serious" picture makers utilize, it is inevitable that a certain homogenous technical excellence prevails in the print domain.

All of that written, I am left in a state of pining for the good ol' days of a wide variety of film stocks, all of which exhibited different color / tone / sharpness / grain characteristics. Individual characteristics which picture maker's adopted as part and parcel of the print presentation of their individual / personal vision. In the B&W domain there were seemingly an unlimited choice of films and papers. Even color printing materials offered variations in how color was represented - think cibachrome, dye transfer, and various dye-coupler color papers from different manufacturers. There was a cornucopia of choices to be had and each one created its own signature.

Despite my near nostalgic longing for things past, I fully realize that there is no going back to what once was. It is what it now is and it's what we have to work with.

Posted on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 10:17PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment