Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Long '08!

And what better way to say goodbye to '08 than with yet another Mid East slaughter fest! Of course, to call it "all out war" when there's a kill ratio of 1:100 is about as accurate as calling Cheney's fenced in turkey shoots "hunting."
photos: last 2 of '08

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Main reason I'm linking to this video is that there are quite a few laughs in the Comments section (well, a few anyway).

It's only money- Or not...

Feeling any safer this holiday season? Hope so, cause it cost us US citizens $10 trillion dollars...

Meanwhile, while the our government spent our money to further endanger and impoverish us, this guy outbid everyone to save us from same said government...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holy Land Vacation Dreamland!

Why bother involving oneself in our current day, real life, trials and tribulations when we can always retreat into our own safe, feel good fantasies of saving ourselves right here at home- and get a swell T shirt for our effort!
Why can't this be an all expense paid 1st prize in some international photo competition?
Photo: By John Raoux, AP

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Color Not Color

Back in the mid-seventies there actually were a few photographers (most of whose names I'm ashamed to admit I can't recall at the moment) who were striving to break the "B&W formula." Unfortunately, their efforts were pretty much blown out the water by the explosion of color unto the scene in '76.

Ralph Gibson abandoned his B&W wide angle ways and proceeded to make some uniquely "fragmented" images with his 50mm. John Gossage continues to define his own original B&W language and territory to this day, at times it's almost as if he's managed to incorporate the "new" color sensitivity- without the color. Look at the photo above, it's like many other color photographs one would see today in art galleries or contemporary photo books- except somebody clicked the desaturate button!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

B&W v Color (cont)

Since I've had the opportunity to shoot both B&W and color in my lifetime, I'll offer a few observations which may or may not be relevant (to the previous post).

There's good reason why a prevalent approach to shooting B&W has emerged since say, the late sixties/early seventies that has been successfully refined and honed (mostly by photojournalists working in 35mm with an eye towards "art") to minimize that particular medium's "weak points." B&W by its very nature, offers less visual information, one way to balance that equation is by using various wide angle lenses which not only give the viewer more information about everything surrounding the immediate subject (while keeping it all in focus), but also help draw the viewer in by creating the illusion of depth through minor lens distortion. Color's ability to more accurately mimic the world around us can sometimes preclude the need for such wide angled "visual aids."

Another way to work around this B&W "dilemma" is to switch to square format, where the compositional restrictions and balance of a one by one and a half rectangle is negated. Square format (eg- Arbus) offers a more immediate, more democratic and less formalized (snapshot) manner of presenting information and drawing you into the image. Going "soft" with either toy (eg- David Niles) or large format cameras (eg- Sally Mann) is yet another proven alternative that goes the other way and plays to the medium's "weakness." Come to think of it- that's quite a few options right there that I've seen converted into a myriad of personal shooting styles. Perhaps the person who originally initiated my response, and has in the past stated that he just doesn't care for B&W except in "extreme cases," would be a tad more accurate just reminding everyone of that. Sometimes, sometimes, there are reasons why certain things persist as long as they do. No, that doesn't mean one shouldn't strive to change, modify, and reinvent them- just that sometimes if you really feel that strongly about it, it helps to show the way.

And while I'm at it, have you ever noticed how a thin black border can do wonders to unite the tonal values in a B&W composition into one unified, handsome, working whole- and yet looks absolutely tacky on a color image, which is why you thankfully never see it. More to come...

Friday, December 26, 2008

B&W or Color? '75 or '76?

Well, one blogger wants to see less B&W photography that looks like it was shot in 1975 in the up and coming new year. Fair enough. Now imagine all the freed up gallery space in '09 if we were to suddenly see less color photography that looks like it was shot in... 1976.
Photo: Pat (circa '75)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dwyane Wade

I'm not much on sports these days, at least not like when I was a kid- and even then, it was larger than life personalities who accomplished things outside the arena that really attracted me (eg- The Greatest). Fortunately, there is a genuine, modern day, sports hero who excels as athlete, and fellow human.

Nice to see in these times of me, me, me...

Holiday R&R

Relatives driving you up the wall? Finally got a little holiday time to yourself and you're snow (ice, slush or rain) bound and can't get around to taking the new lens out for a test drive? Well, that's what your old friend(s) the internets here for- and what better place to while away a little holiday R&R than a festively superfluous site like ol' Oddee, enjoy...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Expiration Notice!!!

If you've been over to Manchester Photography recently you've then caught word that coconspirator Mark Page and I are launching a new website, or more accurately, a new online gallery called Expiration Notice catering to 35 yr olds and over (kids, that's what ya get for excluding your elders from your predesignated venues). We plan on exhibiting the work of two photographers every month, so submissions will be ongoing, no particular theme (see Mission Statement and Submission Requirements here).

Frankly, this undertaking may flat out tank, or it may turn into one very valuable resource for photographers (and other lovers of the medium) to engage in some excellent photography by unfamiliar names who have achieved high level bodies of work, and are currently lacking gallery representation. Obviously, we're hoping and betting on the latter. And please note that the work need not be current, good photography withstands the test of time- isn't that what it's all about? I often wonder what happened to the scores of incredible photographers whose work I saw in NYC galleries in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and have never heard of again.

So, if you're past the age that values the aesthetics of sagging trousers... Represent! Deadline details- first week of Jan '09!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Michael Subotzky- Beaufort West

I recently held Michael Subotzky's Beaufort West in my hands for a period of 5 minutes while rushing about in the preChristmas Madness, and there just aren't enough superlatives I could possibly hurl at this work. Really. Subotzky has captured all the dodgy drama and intensity of a modern day Deadwood and transformed it into imagery reminiscent of the Renaissance masters. This is a must have book with drop dead reproductions (unlike any you'll see online- or in most print publications of any kind). 'nuff said...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

History 101 (cont.)

In case you have any doubt as to how much our government continues to support and honor our (US) troops...

In case you continue to wonder, "Why do they hate us?"

This, of course, but a (very) small sampling of our long and "distinguished" (ie-disturbing) history and legacy throughout the world...
(photo: Philip Jones Griffiths)


I've never been a fan of Peter Gabriel- until now...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Detroit, MI- Art Capital of the World?

Whenever I see pictures of the waste and devastation that was once the great city of Detroit, I'm instantly reminded of an article that asserted that the key to neighborhood gentrification (at least in NYC) was the introduction of artists. In fact, the writer called artists "the shock troops of gentrification." Of course, that is, no doubt, an over simplification, greed (as in the hearts of real estate developers) being the major ingredient in the toxic aftermath that so often results. Artists, no doubt, are in turn victimized by their own success and neighborhood altering effects, almost as much as the "original" inhabitants.

But here we are in what, despite everything, could still be an age of hope, change and new ideas... And I was just wondering, has the city of Detroit ever made a concentrated, concerted effort to lure artists on a national basis with sweetheart deals on housing, work and exhibition space, etc. to help rejuvenate and enliven their dying city? Surely they wouldn't be the only contributing factor, but artists do have a proven track record of generating change and transforming their environment from the most meager of resources, and in record time. Wouldn't it be great if for once in this country's history we actually gave artists the rights, privileges and accommodations afforded corporations throughout this country- or artists in other countries.

If you can transform a desert into a megalopolis by throwing money at it, why not revive a city by throwing together the most creative, productive people anywhere to be found? The money always follows. I can't think of a better time, or reason to try...

Detroit, MI- Art Capital of the 21st. Century! Why not?
Photo: Sean Hemmerle

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bush Got Skills...

AWOL service record, bankrupt nation, a phony war that cost the lives of millions... A life long legacy of learning how to duck responsibility of every conceivable kind at every possible opportunity pays off one last time.

This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reza Deghati- Survivor, Photographer

Reza Deghati was a victim and survivor of both the Shah and the Iranian revolution. Since then he has continued to seek out, connect with and document peoples in similar circumstances throughout the world.

Thomas Tamm- American Patriot

Sworn to defend the Constitution- he did just that and has been suffering the consequences since, in the land of the free... (via HuffPo) Photo: Nigel Parry / CPI for Newsweek

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Flickr Geographic

Once edited, I post most of my photos on Flickr, though I can't say I have much to do with the Flickr "community." Perhaps I've even managed to anger a person or two with my non participation- most of my free time consumed by the break neck comings and goings here at R-F. Sorry...

That said, I did manage to steal a precious holiday moment or two imbibing in some analogue geotagging of said photos on the Flickr Map service. The fun part is that you can place your photo on the exact street or location almost anywhere in the world. Of course, if like me, you can't remember the exact location where you took your precious prize winners twenty some years ago, you may (like me) just dump them all on one corner of said town, borough or arrondissement- as I did my Mardi Gras photos on Bourbon St.

What can be truly maddening and perplexing however, is that Flickr, for some utterly inexplicable reason, has seen fit to remove many of the names of the most obvious and pertinent tourist hot spots and places of note from their regular map, and their hybrid map is one crowded mumbo jumbo of satellite imagery combined with street names, etc. The satellite imagery is cool, no doubt- but having to Google up yet another map just to locate the exact location you're looking for is definitely not. You'd think Flickr could have just placed a small square on the map where the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier is at Arlington National Cemetery- as in any other tourist map. And don't expect to find said cemetery, or other famous destinations by typing in their names- cities and streets only, please...

Finally, be advised that the Flickr map only highlights the blips on the map that correspond with the photos shown directly below said map- scroll through your photos, and the corresponding map blips will change respectively.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Insight, Hindsight & Foresight...

Wasn't yesterday a fun news day? First, there's a guy that could give candid photography a whole new... face. That would be under insight.

Then there's Joe (He's Back) the Plumber- and all you godforsaken foreigners out there can deduce for yourselves just how astute we Americans can be at deciphering the political process (the punch line's at the very end). File this one under... hindsight.

And certainly not least, everyone all over the world now knows that there's at least one honest politician in the world, a man unafraid to put it all up front and center, and tell ya, "I wanna make money on this!" Yeah, that's right- foresight.
(all via HuffPo)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed

1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse

Call it what you will- but this is just one example, of thousands. Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed is one of the (very) lucky ones whose name was known and who had the contacts in a country that has been raped, tortured, and for all practical definitions- kidnapped. Fortunately, he has survived to be set free... in 2009.

Workers Unite!!!

This is what needs to be done by workers in every town and city, in every state throughout the country! Wouldn't it be great to look back and remember that the movement that ignited throughout the land started with this small spark in Chicago and changed the landscape of how labor works and operates in America? Let's take Obama at his word and do this... ourselves!!!

The time is now- before they actually close down the plants and factories (those remaining few that haven't been outsourced), before they get away with everything, and leave everyone save themselves on the street!

PS- And I trust someone in the Windy City is documenting one kick ass photo essay/series of portraits out of this...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happiness is a Song (& a Pork Pie Hat)

I remember when Mick was asked how long he'd keep his little song and dance routine going, to which he replied, "Well, I'd look pretty daft doing this when I'm forty."

OK... so I've been thinking about this age thing lately. I'm neither young, nor emerging- more like middle aged and festering. And this year I finally got around to shaving off the uppermost region of my anatomy. I really thought I had this unwritten agreement with The Guy Upstairs. He didn't do all that great with the body, so I'd at least get to keep the hair- but even that small measure of dignity has been stripped away.

Once I'd fantasize about winning the MacArthur Grant, now I fantasize about some asshole discovering my negatives many moons after I mix my last ratio of D-76 1:1, and making his next month's rent off my entire lifetime's work... Of course, there's an infinitely better chance that my portable, fireproof, Kodak negative safe will get swallowed up in a giant crevice when the inevitable Big One hits SF.

Actually, the totality of all these miserable thoughts came about upon first hearing this song. And I really do love this little ditty, which I've been meaning to post for a good month now (and was probably known to everyone but me). It's just that my life was once filled with so many tunes I couldn't bare to live without each and every day (as my head was once filled with hair). A curiously joyful addiction which I somehow mourn more than miss. I'm just happy I still got an ear, and a pork pie hat (that I've been lusting for since my Ska days in the late '70s) to wear over both of 'em.

(If only Mick would've stuck with his game plan.)
photo: Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle in The French Connection

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Gulabi Gang

Here comes one bad band o' sisters in pink who've decided to do their part towards dispensing some small measure of home grown justice towards making ignorant, arrogant idiots think twice.

Read about the Gulabi Gang here, and if you can, help make the film a reality.

Update: Another bad band of sisters! (via PhotographyLot)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Too Old to (f)-stop...

I recently linked to the latest online photo community endeavor when the red flag suddenly emerged demanding I take my interest elsewhere. I was too old a fart to play in their game. Age discrimination had raised its ugly, full haired head. This photo community was strictly for the young, so it was amusing running into this post at Magnum the very next day.

Actually, I think it's great young photographers get together and form collectives and organizations to promote their work, advance their education and careers, etc- particularly in these hard times to come. I know I could have benefited back in the day. But other than social networking, how much are they gonna actually learn without, at least, a few, more experienced (ie- older) members to share the wealth (of much needed knowledge and experience). Imagine an entire generation of photographers making work like this!

I've always thought diversity to be a crucial key to growth and wisdom in most any "intellectual" forum. But perhaps the time has indeed come to put me out to feed the polar bear and ensure the well being of the next generation. After all, the time has long, long past when one could walk into a "prospective" NYC gallery with a portfolio of 35mm B&W prints...
(photo- Friend with First Car; my first "good" photograph, circa '73)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eight Years...

Eight years of that goddamn smirk. Eight years of inarticulate ignorance and arrogance made flesh. The lies, the bigger lies, the cover ups and excuses. Billions stolen, thousands killed. Two nations, shadows of what they once were, and a third left forgotten in his wake. And he danced.

A man without principles declares they were never compromised.
(photo: Watson/AFP/Getty)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jan Banning- Bureaucratics

Whenever I see a well done photographic typology, I immediately think baseball cards- after all, they're conceived and created as a highly similar and uniform series, each with its own distinct and individual personality. And they just beg to be collected...

I felt that nostalgic grade school giddiness of anxiously perusing and comparing ballplayer stats on the backs of baseball cards as I was comparing desks and other miscellaneous room items in these photos of Jan Banning's Bureaucratics. Their bright colors, unique eccentricities and near interchangeable characteristics almost made me want to trade and rate them according to any and all those categories.

Never collected bubble gum cards? No problem, you'll still love these all the same. They're fun, playful compositions that bring an historically droll occupation to life on a worldwide scale! And if that weren't enough- they're quite the singular collection of portraits... and a (must have) book!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fantasy v Reality

I guess I too am ambivalent when it comes to torture- like whenever I think of Bill Kristol (and Cheney, Bush, Rove, etc).

Throw out the driveling rantings of the aforementioned, chicken shit, chicken hawks, and you get to the more rational accountings of an experienced professional and patriot.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

They're In, They're In, They're In!!!

The wait is ovah! The twin eyed, lo-tech, plastic wonders are finally, finally in! After year upon year of having to watch all the digital guys have all the bloody fun with their brand new, ultra expensive, latest fab cameras comes something I can now afford, "show off," and have fun with!

The Blackbird Fly has flown unto our shores at ICP just in time to celebrate and document our glorious recession era epoch. Two f-stops, two shutter speeds, two "formats" (ff 35mm and square mask). Two wonderful!! Make mine blue...

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Couple of Air Force Officers Talkin' UFOs

This image of UFOs flying in formation over the restricted air space of the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC was taken in 1952- a published newspaper photo of an actual event with both visual and radar confirmation convincing enough to have the military scramble jet interceptors. Now, granted that's not nearly as tidy as the fanciful, childlike, wish fulfillment fantasy of having them all land neatly on the White House lawn... but before you proclaim your own logical, rational, common sense explanation- remember that your illuminated geese, reflections of Venus and Mars theory must account for the fact that the same exact scenario occurred-- two weekends in a row.
People sometimes ask what's stopping our government from admitting that UFOs are, in fact, "real." The answer being the most simple and obvious possible: our government is not about to freely admit that there is an outside force so clearly capable of toying with us (ie- them) whenever and wherever they should so please.

These retired US Air Force military officers (you know- your average, everyday UFO whackos) relate how they have personally witnessed and/or documented UFOs "shutting down" and "turning on" our Minuteman nuclear missiles. Bill Nye, sad substitute for the voice of all things scientific, attributes the shutdowns to common power failures- despite triple redundancy backups, and offers no explanation for the CIA confiscated film. As one officer so eloquently puts it- you're not going to explain this away with "vinegar and baking soda."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts... (Update)

Someone during the Viet Nam War once figured that it would be far, far cheaper and advantageous to build a sturdy, hospitable hut for every Vietnamese peasant family, than to build the equivalent number of bombs to wipe them off every single rice patty they inhabited- and in so doing, gain their respect, good will and admiration in addition to permanently curtailing their desire to wipe out the young unfortunates of a foreign empire that had come to kill each and everyone of them.

I recalled that "out of the box" thinking when our television was tuned to the news the other night with no one in particularly watching. Along came this guy, this average, salt of the earth, Midwest, pick up driving guy at a gas station who quite calmly and matter of factly suggested, "We have 300 million people in the US. Why don't we just give them 1 million dollars each?" Why not indeed? Well under even one measly billion- chump change! The economy revs up, the country picks up, the entire world reinvigorates, and after a few months, the dust settles and at the very least, no one big or small, black or white, male or female could ever bitch that they never got half a shot in life.

The absolute brilliance and simplicity of it all left me dumbfounded. Some guy with a pick up somewhere in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri...

Update: Ummm, errrr... aint no brilliance to it no how- see comments (guess it's better if you do actually watch and listen).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CHANGE??? (update)

What does The Almighty Noam have to say about Obama's economic transition team? Well, he defers to the Bloomberg News, which states:

Most of these people shouldn’t be giving advice about the economy. They should be given subpoenas.

And why, oh why, oh why is a torturing son-of-a-bitch deluxe like John Brennan being considered for CIA head?!? And perennial lying bastard Gates is asked to remain...

I aint feelin' the change here folks!

UPDATE: President-elect Obama responds to the qualms and concerns of our Reciprocity Failure staff and readers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smart Car v Leica

I remember when it wasn't that uncommon to see Fiats (which made VW Bugs look humongous) right here in the US of A when gas cost less than a single greenback per gallon back in the '60s. Those vintage wonders are now rarely seen even in Italy, but I love all those classic miniatures, including the Trabant and the original Mini Cooper (the latter quite the recent "in" accoutrement in Paris). I thought that after the gas lines of the mid seventies, new lines of small car wonders would blossom, but along came Reagan who immediately tore the solar panels off the White House roof, and we've been knee deep in gas guzzlers ever since.

Fortunately, the Smart car is making quite the go of it here in San Francisco, and I love the damn things- which, I understand, you can get for around half the cost of that new digital Leica DSLR.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda...

Cool new presentation to annual competition. Certainly not knocking this worthy and venerable institution- but was expecting the carpet to match the brand new, flashy drapes...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Priceless x 2...

I can (and have) watched these videos over and over again, their hypnotic mesmerism not to be misunderestimated. For the first bit of brilliance (via EyeTeeth), I was so completely absorbed by its wit, humor and clever visuals that I couldn't begin to make the connection despite the obvious clues...

For video #2, click here for the utterly Pythonesque
Palin/Turkey Kill Interview...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Rambling Review, and Thank You

Recently the Magnum blog ran an advice post for young, aspiring photographers. Most of that advice (from world famous photographers) quite good, and as more than one young aspirant pointed out- often quite contradictory (a tad like life itself). On occasion, I've made my qualms and fears known here concerning young photographers, particularly when it comes to modern day financial considerations. Supporting oneself, particularly in these uncertain times (talk about cliches) is hard enough regardless of occupation- and art is always the first to take the hit in times of crisis. Fortunately, unlike the world of say... film, photography (and writing even more so) is an avocation that can be more readily pursued and practiced on one's own time despite occupation. That doesn't mean that you'll have the same frills and opportunities afforded professionals, it simply means that you won't be completely cut off from doing what you love.

Either way, if you're that artistic genius that won't be denied- you won't. If, like me (and I suspect countless others), you're someone "of more modest gifts," you do it for that love, and rejoice on those occasions when you are recognized and appreciated. It won't be often, or writ large, and certainly won't come anytime when you most want and need and demand it. You'll learn to live with that too- or not. These days at least, this little thing called the internet can help take the sting out of working in the anonymity of yore, as well as help disseminate the ideas and aspirations of photographers and creatives everywhere.

I remember when I first started making the rounds socially in NYC, occasionally you'd run into these congenial blowhards who'd promise you anything and everything straight outta nowhere. Of course, they had no intention whatsoever of doing any of the things they said aloud. They simply liked to hear themselves talk, and obviously had a lot of practice doing it. I mention that prehistoric memory because sometimes (as in rarely), someone does hear your voice, someone does recognize your contribution. Most recently in my case, the duckrabbit blog (yet another quality site that until recently had alluded me) has been more than generous in extolling the virtues of Reciprocity Failure, the writing and work that appears here- not to mention my own photography. Many thanks, Benjamin (wish there was someway I could... reciprocate)- and to all who frequent these pages...

Finally, if you've made it this far in this ever wandering ramble, recognize that the world is at a crossroads, and it comes from decades of ignoring the very world around us, and what we have done to it. Many of us will go down in denial to the very end, hopefully, the majority will rise to do what has to be done- or it will get done, and be done, regardless.


"...Let the record show no hands went up."
-Rep. Brad Sherman (D- CA)
(Bankrupt the whole, bloody lot- and sell the remains to the workers. -S. Banos)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Judith Joy Ross- Living With War

Every successful portraitist has their own particular shtick that allows them to photograph their subject in the manner and style of their choosing. Some photographers (eg- Arbus) developed reputations for being quite aggressive, others for engaging in direct and pointed conversation (eg- Avedon), recently some even extol the virtues of veering away from having direct interaction with their subject.

And once they've dispensed with the personal niceties, there's the little matter of how they're going to actually compose and shoot that face, that body, that flesh and blood person before them into a meaningful portrait that will somehow, someway transcend their mere physical presence. Avedon portrays every nook and cranny, every crease and fold, devoid of any background distraction- their faces, clothes and bodies all alluding to their personal history and travails. Arbus portraits were as straightforward and simple as simple could be- her counter culture subjects always provided the necessary plot twists and distractions. Bruce Davidson uses his subject's immediate environment, Platon his clean but highly orchestrated lighting, and even the subjects of Mr. Sander's typological portraiture often included a uniform or tool of trade for contrast and content.

I mention all this because upon seeing Living With War by Judith Joy Ross, I'm left amazed and clueless as to how she achieves such somber, reflective and deeply intimate portraits. She photographs (for the most part) people who are the male and female equivalents of your very Average Joes, apparently in available light. Depth of field is shallow, subject details minimal with backgrounds well out of focus. And yet, her portraits manifest as some of the most revealing and intense ever captured on film, or any other medium- as if her subjects momentarily invite us in to share their inner conflicts, hopes and fears.

Avedon's performance art shooting style, in which he engages his subjects in conversation with entire studio entourage in tow, often results in his subjects' presentation of themselves as some heightened or hybrid portrayal of the character he elicits. And he may even score more "winners," his detail rich characters are always worth intense study like any finely detailed map, as opposed to say... some of the straight on compositions (which occasionally fall flat) in The Army Reserve section of Living With War. JJR's bare bones, no frills approach allows no filler to pick up the slack when "the magic" fails to appear. Fortunately, that magic never roams far, and takes us places a map can only suggest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why You (or I) Shouldn't Relax with Obama...

The guy's brilliant beyond belief, and is our best, last, and only hope... but it's issues such as the three elaborated here that prevent me from joining the absolute love fest (not to mention how he totally backtracked on the FISA bill).

This man has the capability and the opportunity to become one of our greatest presidents ever- I just hope he's both up to the task... and lives long enough to achieve it. This is the first time in recent memory where certain members of our citizenry from Maine to Mississippi have no qualms of making their intentions known- and in public!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The RADIONIC Time Camera

I always knew there had to be one of these somewhere, it just makes sense- why should cameras be limited to taking photographs of the... present? And as you can see, the results are quite impressive to say the least. Of course, some of you won't be satisfied until you can get one with an interchangeable digital back.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We got two brilliant photo essays (well, the latter may be stretching it just a tad) from the almighty boing: one on female body builders by Martin Shoeller, the other on Swedish dance bands of the seventies. Honestly- it's hard to say which is better...

And lastly there's this...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Blue Room- Eugene Richards

Talk about a premature book list- I just saw Eugene Richards' latest, The Blue Room. It's big, it's expensive, it's beautiful, and... it's in color! Don't let that crumpled B&W cover photo throw you, Mr. In Your Face Grainy B&W Guy Supreme has released his first color venture and it's one subtle beauty to behold! What of? Mostly it's of abandoned rooms and homes out West.

Holy Polidori- can the world possibly stomach even one more abandoned room photo essay? Yes, it can, particularly when it's the best of the bunch. What's different, and more importantly, what makes The Blue Room "better?" Like most essays of this genre there are plenty of still lifes and close ups of long forgotten and discarded personal affects- that's "the bad news." What really sets this essay apart is how Richards manages to reanimate these abandoned rooms. His photographs manage to somehow retain some of the life, and lives lived, that once occupied these living spaces. He does it not only by making the most of the outdoor light that still manages to permeate, but by also incorporating the surrounding outdoors into these solemn interior studies, thereby making them part and parcel of the particular landscape at large. Occasionally, he abandons the interiors altogether and opts for evocative, site specific, outdoor landscapes. The latter have a very sensual, seasonal feel to them that further enhance and accentuate that uncertain melancholy of lost time and space.

Another way that he manages to upgrade the genre is by occasionally incorporating animal imagery into some very surreal domestic scenes. He does this by including both live and dead animals, as well as some which just leave you wondering. And finally, he brings this project to life by his very use of color: sensual, foreboding, and one very viable stand in for the lives and people not shown. Competing boundaries of color both in closeup and at large, contrast, conflict and complement each other as they mark and define their remaining memories and territory. It's as if he was purposely saving color all these years for just said reason.

Richards, for once, has turned away from recording the dramas that unfold in our waking, everyday lives, only to evoke those left behind, and not quite dormant.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Blurb of it all ...

Finally got to look at a bunch of Blurb books the other night in decent light, and as forewarned, was less than enthused by the quality- which in a way is good since I could never afford all the books I would've wanted. The reproductions are iffy- had I first been exposed to the work of my most recent favorite photographer via his Blurb book, I wouldn't have looked twice. And doubletruck images in some of the paperbacks could not be opened anywhere near enough to appreciate the actual image without wrecking the binding. That said, Beth Dow certainly managed to put out a quality product with In The Garden- get what ya pay for, I guess. And, as previously pointed out, hey- it is what it is, not your ultimate dream book legacy, but more the "this is what I aspire to" promotional vehicle. Nevertheless, I was hoping to check out: NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) by Ryan Zoghlin, as well as American Histories By Joshua Dudley Greer- they just weren't there...

I'm sure if I still lived in NYC there would be a ton of other books to add to my ridiculously early Holiday Book Wish List which I've cut down to four must have staples: the aforementioned In The Garden, two phenomenal portraiture classics by Peter Feldstein (The Oxford Project) and Living With War by Judith Joy Ross, and then there's the one guilty pleasure- Phillip Toledano's Phone Sex.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Passing Gas...

Back in the pre-internet days, I had the privilege of twenty five years of gallery hopping every major and minor photo gallery in NYC from '73 to '98 before moving to the left coast. No brag, just fact; it makes me neither expert nor seer- just a guy who's been around some. Have no contacts, no contracts, no agenda to stardom. Just another shmuck with a blog and a love for the medium. I grew up with 35mm B&W exhibits, marveled at the large format color (r)evolution, and currently struggle just to keep up with digital terminology, let alone the actual technology. Been a fun ride, still is- and the following, merely the odd collection of previous quips and observations...

While today's photographers are wisely networking and forming alliances, organizations, and associations to help promote and foster their goals, aspirations and visions via the internet- I worry about today's youth of limited means who express an interest, or passion, for the medium. Initial costs for photographic equipment in this digital age can be prohibitive at best- inkjet papers alone cost more than their silver coated predecessors. Even with recent price decreases, I fear that this medium (whether for art or commerce) will increasingly belong to the fewest of the few who can continue to afford it, particularly in our devolving economy. Shooting digitally "for free" presupposes that you already lay claim to the multi-thousand dollar hardware/software investments that makes it all possible.

And like any other art form, photography is one that continues to be beset by countless ironies. The incredible immediacy and plasticity of digital technology has revolutionized the photographic industry, and yet, has done more to homogenize contemporary photography than anything in its recent history. Meanwhile, photo trend setters call for a sea change to the traditional, pragmatic language that has constituted photojournalism (but offer no viable alternative) while continuing to champion large format color as art, which is already some thirty years old in the tooth- not unlike kids dressed in thirty year old punk regalia talking down hippies. A year or so back, some of the "in the know" proclaimed the resurgence of a B&W revival, even though no such movement actually existed. Perhaps it was merely an extension of those heady Bush years whereby an administration dared believe that they operated in a separate reality of their own wishful making.

One of the great things about getting old, the only great thing about getting old, is that sometimes (sometimes) when you say that you really don't give a rat's ass about something- you really don't. No ifs, ands, or buts. That's not to be negative, it's just that if you're around long enough, you get to see things come and go, learn to recognize the rhythms, the patterns- and if you watch closely and astutely enough, sometimes even learn to recognize the greatness that occasionally rises.

Keeps things honest, and occasionally... interesting.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lost and (occasionally) Found

San Franciscans are constantly losing all kinds of things. The day doesn't pass that I don't see some kind of notice on the street for some missing animal, item or belonging that has been recently lost (and on some occasions- found).

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Official...

Truth be told, guess me and ol' W have more in common than even I imagined, being that I too go with "my gut." For years I suspected it, felt it, and dang near tasted it- but wasn't till the other day that I stumbled upon the fact that I've been an official member of the working poor, and for quite some time now. All it takes for you to join is a monthly contribution of at least 30% of your income towards rent- and I'm well above that!

But then, it's all relative, aint it?

PS- I don't know who's responsible for posting the cryptic little messages (as seen above) throughout San Francisco, but they are appreciated. Ranging from political to purely personal, their topical irony usually manages to bring a smile to my face with inspirational motifs such as the "God Bless Series," which includes- God bless our brave war profiteers. Amongst others...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Africa's a what?!

This is what we just survived- the choice between an African American candidate for the Presidency, and a candidate who couldn't comprehend that Africa is a continent (not a country).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

That One!!!

Finally! We can all breathe a little easier. The Messiah hasn't landed, but history has been made. And at the very least, the moron(s), thieves and murderers have their marching orders and some small measure of sanity will be back in the House. Our country, our economy, our worldwide rep have been trashed straight into the global garbage heap- our great Republican legacy!

Congratulations Barack- and long life! Now it's up to us...
(And I can't get this song outta my head for the life of me. Thanks, Al!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't Forget...

And Be Vigilant!!! If you're heading to the polls today, please be sure to take this number with you: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). This national, toll-free election protection hotline can help with any voting-related questions or problems you might encounter.

Instances of vote switching have already occurred this year, and all credible reports have it from Obama to McCain (surprise)- and if you don't think the last two election were stolen, watch this. Then meet the man asked (by a Republican candidate) to create a vote switching program. Vote switching occurred in the '04 election 12 to 1 in favor of the Republicans... And to find out how it may happen this year, listen here!