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.