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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

>>>> Comments, commentary and lively discussions, re: my writings or any topic germane to the medium and its apparatus, are vigorously encouraged.

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FYI - re: comments and paricipation

yesterday, Mary Dennis wrote (in part): "...I know this may seem like a quiet place to you but...I hope you continue to post."

It may have seemed that I was whining about the lack of comments (ok, you got me on that one) but let me explain.

My hope for The Landscapist is that it will take on some of the characteristics connonated in various parables - casting bread upon the water, loaves and fishes, sowing seeds - found in the Bible (I should note here that Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian is one of my favorite essays/books). I interpret those parables as stories about synergy - small actions that reverberates beyond their modest beginnings, or, something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

In my dreams and visions, I see The Landscapist something like this - acting in my role as a photography-disciple, I sow seeds about photography on the waters of the www, where, thanks to the fertilizing efforts (comments and participation) of the multitude (you guys), the seeds sprout into life with many branches, leaves and fruit. In the resultant harvest of the nearly embrassing abundance of nourishment and riches, many of the multitude find their way to their own personal photographic heaven.

There you have it. It's simple enough, it's a two-way street.

So, please send your tributes and donations to: The Right Reverend Hobson, Church Under the Bridge Building Fund, Au Sable Forks, NY. OR, if you prefer, operators are standing by at our toll-free number, 1.EGO.IST.ICAL. All major credit cards accepted. Thank you.

FEATURED COMMENT: Jim Jirka wrote (in part): "...when I send my donation to the Rev Hobson, will I get that holy lucky charm as a gift of your appreciation?

publisher's comment: "No comment"

FYI - re: Photo Submissions

photocapcod wrote (in part): "If you ask for submissions, you should be posting them. If you don't intend to post the other people's photographs, don't ask for them...."

Steve Durbin wrote (in part): "I like seeing other photographers here, but I think the curatorial function is important...."

Let me clarify. I do want photo submissions. I do intent to publish as many of them as I (the curator) judge to be either pertinent to topics at hand or feasible - feasible, as in, I can't possibly publish them all.

Please remember that this is a personal blog about photography, not a post-at-will photo forum. As today's post of Rarindra Prakarsa's photographs demonstrates, the blog is not all about my photography. It is indeed about the photography of others as well. However, like a magazine publisher/editor, I reserve the right to edit content.

Re: content - While I certainly draw attention to particular photographers and photographs, the photographs that I am most interested in are those that, whatever their referent/connoted (content/form) merits may be, draw attention to issues and ideas about the medium of photography (and by extension, Art) itself.

So, please continue to keep the cards and letters coming...BUT...if offense will be taken or ill-will engendered if photographs aren't published, perhaps it is better all the way around not to send submissions.

Rarindra Prakarsa

I am from Jakarta, Indonesia. A country with million place and object to photograph. A beautiful country indeed. Now, I am a semi-pro photographer, enjoying my job/hobby & selling my stock-photo. Photographing since 1995.

As many of you already know, I am NOT a fan of sentimental tripe photography-wise. I find the legions of drama-queen landscape/nature photographers, who spew out endless reams of images of a world made up of never-ending golden light vistas, to be a particulary unimaginative and contemptible lot of eco-pornographers. My issue with them is not with their style of photography per se, but rather with what I (and many others) believe to be the detrimental effect that their photography has on conservation and the evironmental cause - "...picture-book nature, scenic and sublime, praiseworthy but not battle-worthy. Tarted up into perfectly circumscribed simulations of the wild, these props of mainstream environmentalism serve as surrogates for real engagement with wilderness, the way porn models serve as surrogates for real women. They are placebos substituting for triage." - Lydia Millet, High Country News (the eco-pornographer link goes to the complete article).

But, back to Rarindra Prakarsa's photographs. When I first encountered these photographs in his portfolio on, I got all flustered and flummoxed. I'm not suppose to like this stuff - altered and romanticized landscapes littered with incessantly picture-book perfect children. Yikes!! How many cliches can you cram in a single photograph?

But, so help me, like the proverbial car wreck scene, I couldn't stop looking. And looking. And looking.

So, I emailed Rarindra and asked, ...what is your artistic intent with these photographs? The response - "Thank you for enjoying my pictures. You should visit my beautiful country someday." - really didn't answer the question other than to reinforce the initial impression created by his photographs that his country is beautiful.

He did give me permission to post them on The Landscapist, so here they are. I think they are pertinent because, take out the kiddies, they are classic landscape photographs albeit in a rather romanticized genre. With the kiddies they become something else...

I am beginning to see them as a sort of children's fable in the style of the illustrator Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and The Polar Express (especially his style as adapted for the movie). As in many of Van Allsburg's illustrations, in Rarindra's photographs much is left to the observer's imagination to fill in the "blanks". For me, there is a sense of mystery about them. I am drawn into a world that's a little off-kilter where something's going on that I can't quite grasp and, for some reason that I can't quite express yet, they seem to be something more than just sentimental idyllics.

For all I know, maybe Rarindra's intent with these photographs is nothing more than an attempt to create hyper-Kodak/Hallmark moments. Perhaps because of language issues, he didn't really respond to my question about intent.

Nevertheless, I am very eager to hear your thoughts on these photographs.


I haven't posted many photo submissions of late. That is not due the fact that there haven't been any. To the contrary, there have been a fair number of them. It is due, in part, to the fact that I am trying of late to post photographs which are pertinent to the topic at hand. It is also due, in part, to the fact that I published a few during the holidays that were virtually ignored, or, at least, not commented on (due, no doubt, to a drop in the number of visitors during the holidays).

Of course, it could also have been that you all just didn't like them or think that they fit The Landscapist motif. But, on the topic of "I didn't like it", I would like to note that The Landscapist does NOT subscribe to the adage, "If you don't have anything good to say, say nothing at all." Please feel free to blast away (hopefully in an agreeable manner).

I am giving thought to publishing a smorgagbord post of photo submissions. Any thoughts on that?

Dormant # 37 ~ Aaron Hobson

On the topic of increasing comments/participation, one should never underestimate the adage that "sex sells". My son recently discovered the wisdom of that time-tested-and-proven hook on his flickr group, Deathscapes. His photos normally garner about 30 views a day and around 5/6 comments total...but...put the word "sex" in the tags and whammo - 147 views/13 comments in 12 hours.

I don't know where he gets that kind of behavior from (must be his mother- my ex) because I, of course, would never stoop to posting a sexually suggestive photograph on The Landscapist.

FEATURED COMMENT: Mary Dennis wrote (re: making comments on The Landscapist): "...I'm uneasy with fact that I can't edit or delete my comments if I were to choose to....Those letter security things drive me crazy.... I like interesting and thoughtful conversation as much as anybody but the internet has never really tripped my trigger in that regard. I try but somehow something seems to be missing from the dynamic."

publisher's response: First and foremost, thanks very much for your continued participation and expression of appreciation for The Landscapist. That said, you bring up some good points about commenting on in particular and the internet in general.

You can delete a comment at any time - look for the little trash can on the bottom of your comment. The security thing is a pain for me as well but it does prevent spamming. Other blog services have different ways of dealing with spamming but it seems that they all require some form of manual input from the commenter.

Regarding the internet dynamic, I tend to agree. Face-to-face conversation is the best. Phone conversation would be next best on my list and Internet talk falls below either of those...BUT...we are "talking" across a great distance and we're not running up a big phone bill. I also like the fact, like in a group face-to-face, that others can jump into the conversation and add their 2 cents. There is something to be said for that.

FEATURED COMMENT: Jim Jirka wrote : "...I like the image a lot. To me it is not a question of sex, but I can understand the connotations. I like it more for the dramatic interplay of light and shadow which to me makes the image 'sexy'."

dis-ease # 3 and a comment about "soup"

Winter is trying to make an appearance, lame though it might be. There's nothing of consequence in the forecast.

You may have noticed that my last few posts have had Polaroid photographs attached. The reason for this is simple - in my fevered state to taste a new flavor I hauled out the Polaroid SLRs, purchased some film, and started to photograph. Much to my surprise, I discovered how much I had forgotten about, a) the good old days of analog photography, and b) the magic and addiction of Polaroid photography.

Now I am well aware of the dangers of advancing decrepitude. I try like hell not to use phrases like, "...back when I was a (insert a younger age)..." or " in the snow, uphill both ways..." and so on....but....back when I was a photo rookie, I processed and printed the very first roll of film I ever used. Film processing seemed rather mechanical and uninsipiring, after all, everything happened in complete darkness or in the can. You got the developer to temperature, watched the clock (timer) and agitated on schedule. Ho hum. Important for sure, but still, ho hum.

Then came the fun part - making a print and those moments of magic watching the image appear while the paper was in the soup. It really was like magic. First there was nothing on the paper, and then, ever so slowly, as if by magic, an image starts to appear - faint at first, but, as the paper sloshes around with more rocking of the developer tray, hot damn, a picture comes to life.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the digital domain that comes close to replicating that magic, nothing. If you haven't experienced it, you should. Go to whatever lengths you must, but do it. IMO, you really don't know the magic of photography until you do.

The only substitute photographic experience that I know of that, in a small way, replicates the magic of watching an image emerge in the soup is Polaroid photography. Press the shutter and out comes a print on which an image slowly emerges as it develops. Sure, you miss out on the joy inhaling noxious brain-deadening chemicals, but it's a bit of the old magic nevertheless.

This point was driven home recently when my 2 year old grandson, Hugo, who has his own 6mp digital camera (see some of his photos here), watched with a great deal of fascination as a Polaroid image slowly emerged on a print in his hands. He was very intrigued to, as he put it, "see what happens".

So, if you haven't done and can't do the wet darkroom thing, you really do owe it to yourself to pick up a Polaroid camera - used SLRs on ebay - and experience the magic of "seeing what happens". If you do, just beware of the Polaroid Addiction thing - once the Polaroid was fully developed, Hugo's next words were, "more, Papa".

Easy for him to say, since he's not shelling out a buck a pop.

FEATURED COMMENT: Mary Dennis wrote: " are so right about the magic of the wet darkroom. And not only because of the magic of watching an image emerge in the developer tray. When my two daughters where really little, about one and five years old, I built a little darkroom in the corner of our musty old basement and it became a cave, a quiet refuge for me when life got crazy. That was my magic place and it had a door that locked from the inside!! ..."

publisher's comment: Mary, you are so absolutely right about the cave/refuge aspect of the wet darkroom. Every darkroom that I ever had served exactly that kind of "refuge" function. Thanks very much for the vivid reminder. I'll be remodeling my home office/"studio" soon and somehow I need to incorporate the notion of "refuge".

dis-ease # 2 and a comment

This is what's passing for an early January winter morning here in the Adirondack north country. Photographed comfortably in a t-shirt and shoes without socks, although I did find it necessary to tuck the Polaroid print in my armpit - Cold Weather Polaroid Development Technique # 1.

Comment on a tempest in a teapot - Much is being made on a number of blogs about a very minor difference of photography opinion between Alec Soth and Robert Polidori.

The point of contention, such as it is, revolves around the absence of people in Polidori's Katrina book, After the Flood - Soth wants people, Polidori does not. Soth did not actually state that he wanted people in Polidori's Katrina photographs. Basically, what he seems to want is Katrina photographs with more emphasis on Katrina's people-oriented tragedy - "If we are going to have images from events like Katrina in our galleries, museums and libraries (as I think we must), I hope they aren’t limited to stiff, large-format photography."

It seems that (amongst other things) Polidori took umbrage at the phrase "stiff, large-format photography" and posted a response on Soth's blog and the rest will be fast-disappearing history in the blogosphere.

What I find interesting about the whole deal is 2-fold:

#1 fold) The affair is unbelievably tame when judged by some of the Great Battles of the Literary Titans of the past century. If the blogosphere wants a battle (see # 2 fold), and it seems that it does, I want to see blog-batants get it on in the fashion of Gore Vidal v. Wm. F. Buckley circa 1968 wherein verbal and nearly physical combat were joined. In one exchange Vidal called Buckley a "pro-crypto Nazi", to which a visibly livid Buckley replied: "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I'll sock you in the goddamn face and you'll stay plastered." Now that's a difference of opinion. Ahh, the good old days.

#2 fold) One thing I've learned from my time spent on online forums/blogs is that, protestations to the contrary, everybody loves a fight/flame war. Consider this - In typical blog fashion, a very popular blog about photography - The Online Photographer goes about its daily business and generates a very modest number of comments, especially so when judged against its daily traffic - 6,000 page views a day. I can't tell you what the over all average number of comments per post is but, on the latest 15 posts in January, there 136 comments for an average of under 10 comments per post.

Leverage that average against the 31 comments on what turned out to be a controversial topic, T.O.P. Photographer of the Year 2006 post. Note also that commenting was "closed" at 31 comments and who knows how many comments weren't allowed (comments on T.O.P. are allowed only after moderator review). The bruhaha spead out across the blogospere in a manner similar to that of the Soth/Polidori thing.

Also consider this - On an online nature photography forum where I was known as an enfant terrible (because of my passionately held and expressed views on photography), my photography posts garnered a relative handful of comments unless they were accompanied by a passionate statement of one kind or another. Then, all hell would break loose. Out came the flame-throwers and comments and views soared.

It seems that most people love a fight. So much so that, if I wanted to increase the number of comments here on The Landscapist, it would seem wise to start a war of words with someone or about something. Even though the web, and blogs in particular, are a 2-way highway, it's a pity that more people don't respond to thoughtful ideas. I guess, as Thoreau opined, it's just part of human nature that most people live lives of quiet desperation, unless, of course, there is rage or anger at the fore.

dis-ease # 1 - a Triptych

"If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed..." ~ David Hockney

The notion/idea/concept of "Art" has been discussed endlessly - some might even say "ad nauseam". Discussions often center around the question, what is Art? or its associate, is it Art?, is it a noun or is it a verb?, maybe both?, is it democratic (art) or is it elitist (Art)?, is it serious or is it frivolous?, should it serve egocentricity or universality?, should it soothe and entertain or should it confront and agitate?, what is good art or what is bad art?, etc., etc., etc.

I don't mean in any way to imply that questions should not be asked or that answers should not be offered. Over the past few years, during which I have been able to concentrate more and more on my personal photography, I have been pondering a wealth of art issues. My "answers" to most of the questions haven't really changed all that much from those of years past - for the most part, they have undergone a bit of fine tuning.

For the record, I have always felt that Art is much better than art...that Art that is "serious" is better than art that is "frivolous"...that Art that agitates is better than art that soothes...that Art that is born of ego but nevertheless connects to the universal is the best Art of all...that art, like religion, that panders to the masses is little more than an opiate that deadens the mind and spirit...that Art that is "difficult" is good and art that is "easy" is bad...and please. please don't tell me that "good" and "bad" are just a matter of "taste".

That said, the one aspect of Art that, more and more, I am subscribing to above all others is the aforementioned quote/opinion by David Hockney.

But, let me add a very important caveat - there is a popular sentiment that Art that is serious, Art that seeks to agitate, Art that goes beyond entertainment must be either "ugly" or "boring", That, in fact, not only is (must) the very object of the camera's gaze always ugly and boring (or trite), but that the resulting photograph will (must) inevitably be joyless (i.e., not entertaining) and pedantic.

To which I respond, "Nuts". I believe that "serious" Art (in this case, Photography, and in this specific case, dis-ease #1) can be both illustrative and illuminating.

I mean "illustrative", not just in the sense of being merely descriptive, but in the fullest sense of being visually entertaining and engaging. Photographs that evidence, on one level, the simple joy of seeing - as in dis-ease # 1.

I mean "illuminating" in the sense of - to be enlightened, as with knowledge - that can come only from being fully engaged in the world around one's self. By" fully engaged", I mean Photography that is not just about people, places and things (the referent) that appeal to the visual senses, but Photography that is also about ideas - thoughts (the connoted) that engage the intellect and the emotions - as in dis-ease # 1.

So I ask, What could be better than a life lived fully engaged?

about the photograph: What is it about man's seemingly basic need/desire for order? ~ Polaroid SLR 680 with 600 series film.