Thursday, July 31, 2008

Alternative Viewing



Some good photography currently to be found in some alternative gallery spaces if you're in San Francisco. The Photo Alliance has its 18 Months themed group show at City Hall which features some pretty damn good work. Some of my favorites include a couple of photographers I've never heard of before. Susan Lynn Smith's work has a beautiful sense of light and a wry sense of humor, Noah Beil has some beautifully composed landscapes, and Mimi Plumb has her intriguing minimalist horseback landscapes that I have seen previously on the web.

Elsewhere, in downtown San Francisco, don't miss the half dozen or so tree photographs by Alan George in a building lobby at 22 4St. They're large, gorgeous and as good as anything you'll see hanging in any major photo gallery in any major city, anywhere...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Perchance to dream!

How to Perform a Citizen's Arrest of a Bush Administration Official...

The Orangeburg Massacre

The Orangeburg Massacre- ever hear of it? Neither had I. No, it didn't happen in apartheid South Africa, more like racist South Carolina circa 1968. It involved the unjustified shooting and deaths of students on campus, not unlike Kent State some two years later. Except these students were black, and their unwarranted deaths were not celebrated in the national media. Finally, two films will address this forgotten, and largely unknown event on TV this fall...
Photo by: Richard Perry

Monday, July 28, 2008

Local Trees and Photographs



I took a couple of pictures of trees recently (here and below) and was kind of happy with them- until I saw Alan George's amazing photos of trees also taken in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's not unlike comparing a couple of infield singles to a couple of grand slam home runs off the facade of the original Yankee Stadium. Yeah, it's humbling, but we are comparing apples and oranges- his format, tools and more importantly his vision and intent, are more adept at drawing out the grandeur from within his subject matter. My trees seem uncertain of their very existence; his trees are defiant, sensuous, downright miraculous- like Chareton Heston in The Ten Commandments proclaiming, "Behold!" Still, they are not exotic scenics at grand locales- it's the very fact that most people would pass his photos' subjects without so much as a double take in real life that makes them so special.

And it's often seeing how someone else uniquely and successfully envisions and interprets similar subject matter that has helped keep me passionate about this medium for over thirty years... even if you're only hitting singles.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dr. Edgar Mitchell- They're Here!

Yet another lunatic, psycho crackpot screaming little green men!!! Honestly, where do they get these whackos? As if this guy, this Dr. Edgar Mitchell, is supposed to have some kinda props just because he's an Apollo astronaut, or because he has contacts in military intelligence. Puh-lease, who writes this shit up? I mean, why would our government ever lie to us in the first place... about anything!?!

Chances are official confirmation will, in fact, take place within our lifetime. And I'd like to think that I'm a big enough person, a mature enough adult that when it does happen I won't go running around rubbing it in everyone's face who looked down on me like I was the bloomin', ignorant idiot. I'm not talking about those who are skeptical, skepticism is good- I'm talking about the arrogant sons of bitches (religious and scientific alike) who condescendingly dismiss the thought automatically, like those who scoffed at the very idea that there could be a whole world of organisms too small to be seen by our all too human eyes.

So it is my fervent hope that I won't reciprocate such petty minded, prideful, condescension to those who so willingly volunteered such a fundamentally flawed lapse of judgment.

I'm working on it...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PhotoKaboom!

Jim Beecher at Photokaboom has created quite the comprehensive site when it comes to knowledgeable photographic resource and informative blog. Recent posts/links that have caught my eye include: Print like Ansel Adams, The Silver Standard, reprise and the ever appropriately entitled- Why Your Images Are Worthless.

And for the ignorant and poor amongst you (of which I plead guilty to both) his Elements Menu (now permanently listed on my sidebar stage right) provides needed and helpful info on getting the most from Photoshop Elements...

Digital Darkroom Forum

Digital Darkroom Forum from Photo.net is now permanently ensconced on our sidebar for those so technically inclined...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Discouragingly Good


I've posted on this phenomena before, photographers who make it look so easy, those rare and chosen few who are so goddamn good, that they are, in effect- thoroughly, totally humbling. The best of the best, they are beyond inspiring. They are "the discouragingly good." Those rare priceless shots that you take on your best day imaginable, they take on a regular, daily basis- no matter the assignment, no matter the light. And if that aint enough, they can do it in color, or B&W. Total, complete humiliation.

So you stand in the gallery space, mouth agape, reeling in the complete awe of the experience, scrutinize every detail in the book reproductions, gaze into the glare of the monitor in prolonged contemplation. And ask yourself, why, why even bother? Why do I even risk being seen raising camera to eye?

George Georgiou (who I found via Colin Pantall) is but the latest photographer that has struck this nerve in my retina. Jealous? You bet! God bless, long life and... thank you!

Genocidal Maniac, Radovan Karadzic, Captured!

One more murderous rat bastard down. And a few much closer to home come to mind...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Travel

Make no doubt, I love to travel. Put me on something that moves, and if it gets me someplace I've never been, I'm one happy guy- even if it's someplace in New Jersey. Truth is, seems I get more good photographs from places not especially known for there beauty or grandeur. I get more keepers from quirky little, domestic side roads, than the most glamorous must see spots in all Europe- though there's no question where I'd rather eat!

Seeing new places just sets my mind reeling, all five senses and then some, all alert and firing. I'm looking through a child's eyes again in a heightened state of awareness that is both exhilarating and analytical, in other words- the perfect photographic state of mind.

Anyway, here are some other reasons people love to travel... And what I wouldn't do to have this guy's job- especially when "staycation" lies so prevalent on my horizon...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Martian Green!

None other than the late Arthur C. Clarke swore that he saw the Martian equivalent of Banyan trees in this B&W photograph of Mars. That premise has been thrown into doubt however with the current theory that these are the results of complex gaseous, chemical processes both below and above the Martian surface. The latter of course sounds more feasible, and without higher resolution photographs, it will be hard to conclude either way with 100% certainty.

But how does one explain the photographs (click above and below) taken by the European Space Agency Mars Express Spacecraft? These fairly high def photos feature what certainly look likes Martian vegetation to an Earth based human eye. The FAQ on the official site assures us that the green coloring is due to faulty color interpretation on the first photos sent back- colors which have since been adjusted to their "correct" blue and gray. For some reason however, seems the corrected versions have not replaced their faulty green predecessors...

Photosynthetic Portraiture

Speaking of all things green and photographic- check out these all too terrestrial photosynthetic wonders on grass! (via Boingboing)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hallelujah!

Welcome Back To Pottersville... Reports of it's death were greatly exaggerated by none other than yours truly. Like the mighty Phoenix, it has arisen anew to give light to the folly of our ways! Rejoice!!!

The Real-Life ‘24’ of Summer 2008 by Frank Rich

“They were killing me. I had to tell them something.”

Indeed, and all for a country where torture rules, lies are currency, and the truth a mere memory...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Welcome to Pottersville- RIP

I once had a good friend who towards the end of our friendship was regularly threatening suicide. At first, of course, I tried to counsel and console as best I could, and I guess not very successfully since it only became more regular, more consistant, and infinitely more annoying to the point that I finally told him to hurry up and do it since I was so sick and goddamn tired of having to listen to it, time and time again.

I only mention this since my favorite political blog, Welcome to Pottersville, is no longer with us as of a couple of weeks ago. It's author had the occasional habit of threatening to quit and close up shop because he felt he just wasn't appreciated enough. And he was right. But in this case you put up with it simply because he was, in fact, a brilliant writer (as he would oft remind one) when it came to all things political. He didn't have to be crude, or obscene- although what he wrote about usually was. He was simply incensed at what this country has allowed itself to become- as all Americans should be, and wrote about it with a candor, insight and fury that left the opposition an exposed and bloodied mess.

Sometimes I'd choose to skip reading a day or two, I just didn't need to get any more riled up than I already was; but more often than not, it was a cathartic (and edifying) experience one seldom, if ever, regretted- the blog equivalent of listening to Mike Malloy.

Well, he finally made good his threat, and in true fashion, not only quit but deleted himself completely off the (blog) grid. Jurassic Pork will be missed, and he definitely won't be resting in peace- Good luck with that novel!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Nikon D700

Although I shoot and prefer film, I have no "moral" qualms about digital- a good photograph will always be a good photograph, regardless. But I've never been tempted by a digital SLR until now, simply because I'd also have to invest in digital sized wide angles (not to mention: strobe, printer, etc). But here comes the Nikon D700- and I sure wouldn't mind taking it for a prolonged, full frame joyride. I always knew that if I held out long enough, one day I'd be able to use my Nikon wide angles on a full frame digital equivalent of the F100- I also damn well knew that I'd never be able to afford said body.

So I'll read and possibly even salivate over the many reviews and reports to come; and continue to fantasize- what if. Of course, Nikon could always choose to reward my twenty five plus year loyalty by tossing me a freebie, think of the publicity benefits... Last of film Luddite holdouts revels in Nikon full frame digital euphoria! Maybe.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Guantanamo: Beyond the Law..

Guantanamo: Beyond the Law is an in-depth investigation by the McClatchy Washington bureau (successors to the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau— the lone mainstream-media organization credited for its skeptical, forthright, consistent questioning and reporting in the run-up to the Iraq war) into the atrocity that Guantanamo has been to this very day.

As suggested, a Truth Commission would certainly be nice- accountability, jail time and justice served would be much better!

"These were not random acts," the New York Times editorialized. "It is clear from the inspector general's report that this was organized behavior by both civilian and military interrogators following the specific orders of top officials. The report shows what happens when an American president, his secretary of defense, his Justice Department and other top officials corrupt American law to rationalize and authorize the abuse, humiliation and torture of prisoners."

One of the agents testified that this was not "a case of a rogue interrogator acting on her own." He said he witnessed a "pep rally" meeting conducted by a top Defense Department official "in which the interrogators were encouraged to get as close to the torture statute line as possible."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Le Tour de France!

Le Tour de France, one of sports most grueling, competitive events, commenced this weekend. I ride my bike almost daily since I moved to San Francisco- took me a good three months to "get my legs" to go up the damn hills here. Previous to that I would fake that my bike broke down mysteriously at the base of every hill as I'd curse and push it all the way up- until the fateful day I finally realized I was actually pedaling uphill! I had always viewed boxing as the ultimate test of training, self discipline and endurance- until I got on a bike in this hilly town. One round in boxing can be like battling death itself, but so is riding up a mountain, whether it's the Pyrenees or the goddamn Alps for Chrissakes, for days... and weeks!

BTW- Three independent labs that tested urine from Floyd Landis (above), the same sample that tested positive by the French lab which has admitted to botching protocol and contaminating samples, testified at the arbitration hearing that they found it as non-positive- doesn't that mean that (contrary to popular opinion) maybe, just maybe, there's a chance that this man might have been unjustly stripped of his Tour de France win (and livelihood) in 2006?

Now this is where it gets really weird- Alberto Contador, the winner of the 2007 Tour de France, is banned from defending his title this year because... the team that he signed with immediately after last year's Tour win was later banned from this year's Tour (as of this Feb) for a violation they originally committed in 2006! And you thought riding up a mountain was crazy!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Brian Steidle- Unsung American Hero

Just finished watching the aptly named documentary, The Devil Came on Horseback in which Brian Steidle was witness to the genocide that is still Darfur. Not a photographer by profession, he fell victim to the heartfelt theory that his photographic documentation would actually stop the unabated killing in that miserably isolated part of the world. Unwilling to settle for the lip service he initially received and "get on with (his own) life," he remains dedicated to publicizing, educating and somehow, someway helping put an end to that unfettered slaughter of innocents.

More info, photos, etc... please write a letter (a simple gesture for life on this holiday weekend)!

The Save Darfur Coalition

Friday, July 4, 2008

Gary Webb- American Patriot

Think that our current don't rock the boat, follow the leader corporate media is a direct legacy of the W regime? Think again.

Gary Webb was a journalist for the San Jose Mercury News who in 1996 came out with a series of articles entitled Dark Alliance (later to be a book) detailing the Contra-CIA-Cocaine connection- the latter's ultimate destination, the streets of LA. For his remarkable effort in researching and bringing to light this illegal, clandestine operation originally blessed by President Reagan himself, Webb was at first belittled, and then effectively silenced in the prestiges pages of The Washington Post, The LA Times, The NY Times, etc, etc and was eventually forced to resign from The San Jose Mercury News. Jerry Seapost, the executive editor who helped bury him, was awarded with an ethics award (yes, you read right) from no less than The Society of Professional Journalists even though in 1998 the CIA was forced to admit its active participation in the Contra-Cocaine Connection. Webb, instead of being vindicated, congratulated and celebrated, was effectively banned from making a living in his chosen profession. He died of a self inflicted gun shot wound in 2004.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

FOX = WWF

Remember back in the day how the Nazis were so fond of distorting the facial features of Jews into vile cartoon caricatures? Add yet another tactic to the "venerable" journalistic tradition of The Fox News Network. At least the World Wrestling Federation had the integrity to change their name to World Wrestling Entertainment. Don't expect any such appeal to credibility from the FOX.
-via HuffPo

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

BlackBird Fly!

With all the Digital 9000's coming out these days, and their thousand dollar price tags all promising to take pictures exactly like each other only better, it's good to see a camera that I can lust for- not to mention afford! The BBF is sleek and sexy (kinda)- and guaranteed not to make anything that comes near the likes of those multi-pixeled 21st century wonder clones. It's a truly unique (35mm TLR) camera that looks to be a world of fun with dozens of useful, practical applications. And... it won't be outdated by the time it comes out!!!