Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Photoblogging Hierarchy

Recently, someone contacted me with a rather simple, and rather good idea for starting a new blog. He had also contacted several other photographers and bloggers to participate in his project. I told him I'd be honored to take part, but that I wouldn't at all be surprised if general response and participation were less than enthusiastic, being that he was a relative newbie and that the online photo "establishment" can be rather clique-ish (as in high school). I just hoped that wouldn't be the case.

About a week later he replied that response had, in fact, been considerably less than forthcoming- perhaps for the reasons I had stated, and that he was now considering working with unknown, "amateur" photographers in a somewhat revised format.

Although his original idea was not something radically unique (it has certainly been done on many an occasion), there was no such site (far as I know) that was devoted exclusively to it on a regular, consistent basis. Unfortunately, egos being as they are, people were not going to give an unknown that chance- someone who could not immediately guarantee furthering and advancing their work.

Funny how we treat our own.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hear It And Weep...

Photo: Julian Cardona

I've posted on this before (on the prior incarnation of this blog), and there is now an absolute plethora of information available. That said- we are still no closer to ending this orchestrated mass killing which continues to this day. It is the sad and tragic story that is Ciudad Juarez, a story of extreme violence, corruption, and everyday murder fueled by rampant drugs and a global economy hell bent on squeezing out every last penny human life can possibly offer.

Visit it during the day for a few hours (as I did) and other than the usual poverty of a developing country, you may leave unaware that anything more's amiss. Walk its streets as a citizen, and the light of day will not protect you from the evil that both surrounds and terrorizes its very heart.

Monday, July 27, 2009

But I Don't See Race...

And uh, neither did Michael Jackson...

Nothing personal, folks- strictly "business." Click on book cover featuring photo of white girl to illustrate novel about... a black girl. (via boingboing)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vive Le Tour & Viva El Contador!!!

Photos: Jasper Juinen- Getty Images

Three weeks of torture, pain and discipline ends today with a triumphant Alberto Contador riding into the steets of Paris- a champion who was unjustly prohibited from competing last year in Le Tour despite being its previous year's winner, simply because he had the misfortune of joining a team which was then banned from participating for behavior prior to his joining! This year he took it all, despite competition even from within his own team, competition in the form of 7X champion Lance Armstrong. And despite what you may think of the latter (bully, cheat or ultimate champion) Armstrong's hawk like presence does add Drama with that capital D. Watching both ascend, along with second place winner Andy Schleck, trying to outpsyche and outpace each other up the vertical path to hell called Mont Ventoux was a cramp inducing spectacle of pain and persistence personified.

And they'll all be back for more next year...

Shopping Your Wares To Prospective Galleries?

Good Luck with that!

In the past two years, at least 24 galleries have closed in Manhattan, mostly in Chelsea, according to New York City-based Artnet magazine, which covers the fine art world. "That's really dramatic," said Artnet editor Walter Robinson.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Delocator

Just watched a rather intriguing documentary Black Coffee on PBS- from old world discovery to present day free trade. Having grown up in a Latino household, I got all my coffee needs met at home. It wasn't till I moved out that I realized how uniformly bad "regular" American coffee was. And while I confess I've occasionally succumbed to a Starbuck's Frappucino under super heated weather conditions (and those days are rare indeed in San Francisco), I otherwise refuse the services of The Evil Empire. Fortunately, the Delocator will help find you a decent alternative, if you already didn't know (& my little Krups Il Primo cappuccino maker performs just fine).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Floaters, Handicaps & Stupidity...

Well, it's not exactly dodging bullets for that world renowned Pulitzer Prize winning photo essay, but at least the Pork Pie looks kinda good...

I distinctly remember the time and place when it happened ten years ago. I tried to read a list and my eyes couldn't focus. What the!?! Age had finally come calling- prolonged late night TV and intense staring and straining through a grain magnifier had finally taken their toll. I needed reading glasses. Five years later, I woke up one morning to blurred spots of fuzziness and "flashing lights" in the corner of my left eye later that evening- that kinda threw me. Found out I had developed floaters. These are not the traditional spots in front of your eyes that everyone experiences, they're small masses of cells that separate from the back of your eyeball and start floating about casting "shadows" on the front. If you squint in bright light against a light background, they appear as if small jellyfish lazily hanging about, otherwise, they're just small out of focus grey spots. Fortunately, they only obscure about 10-15% of the sight in my left eye and the situation has stabilized, but since I photograph with my left eye, it has sometimes made critical focusing difficult.

With considerable patience and practice however, I have trained myself to photograph with my right eye- something I had previously thought absolutely impossible (notice how nose in photo is seemingly enlarged and bent towards left). It took some time to get my overall sense of balance and composition using my other eye, but now I actually forget which one I used.

And speaking of vision- I just got my first pair of prescription polarized sunglasses, and...Wow! Feel like I have the eyes of an eighteen year old (outside anyway)- it's like switching from 35mm to large format, everything's as if cut with a razor in 3D!

(Photos: Lisa Wood)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let It Not Be Said...

That I don't stand up for all oppressed minorities...

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Still Enough To Go Around...



Frank Rich claims this may, in fact, be the final swan song of the racist mindset that epitomized the world I was born into. Me, I'm not that optimistic. There's still many a complete Neanderthal babbling about (not to mention their sympathizers)- and their "apologies" somehow fail to reassure me...

Monday, July 20, 2009

San Francisco...

San Francisco is arguably the most beautiful city in the US of A. And as previously alluded to, certainly not without its own problems- homelessness being one, and rising crime another. The former has long been a huge problem, and the latter can only increase with the current economic crisis...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two For The Road...

Got beaten to the punch twice this past week- and on consecutive days! The almighty Duckrabbit posted on Mark Page's new book (which never fails to bring a smile to my face). Obviously, much thought and reflection have gone into the concept, execution and naming of this uniquely handsome and singular production. Click on photo to order...


And what will remain an unnamed blog highlighted Sophie Gerrard's E-Wasteland, an extraordinary essay about e-waste "recycling" in India. Her other work's well worth a look too... (via BoingBoing)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Favoite Museum Guard

How many published, award winning photojournalists and Guggenheim recipients do you know of that work as... museum guards? Well, I currently know of only one (thanks to Lens blog). Jason Eskanazi- a helluva extraordinary photographer, human being- and...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HOPE?

I usually refrain from such "easy prey" images, but sometimes the ironies before your very eyes are just too damn strong to ignore. Obviously, you can't pin homelessness on Obama- but what specific action has he initiated to inspire HOPE particularly in relation to this problem? Realistically, I didn't expect much more than a "Black Clinton," but so far he has actually continued many Bush policies. He previously voted to excuse, forgive and actually strengthen domestic spying, has continued indeterminate detainee detention, staffed his Cabinet with corporate finance insiders, retained Bush era prosecutors, and shown no interest whatsoever in providing accountability concerning the blatant, unrepentant criminal actions of the previous administration.

For now, HOPE remains very much looking aloft safely behind those security bars, deftly ignoring the reality curled up directly beside it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Send Lots of Your Money To Planet Mag...

You can call this a case of being a sore loser all you want- but I've lost often enough over the years to know better than to submit to any competition expecting to win. I'm usually reluctant to enter such things, but occasionally, being human and all, hope (and desperation) does get the better of me.

Regardless, Planet magazine does have quite the set. Their 2nd Annual Global Travel Photo Contest is ridiculously high on the list of money grubbing photo competitions- at least as high on the list as their first annual contest, which also charged FIFTEEN Dollars PER Photo! That's right- each and every image you submit will cost you 15 greenbacks!

Now, no one forced me to enter, true that. All I'm saying is that you'd think for that price they'd at least honor their own obligations which stated entrants would be automatically notified upon receipt of submission- I never was (despite two inquiries). That's one... two... three separate opportunities to respond with a simple yes or no reply. But they sure as hell notified me right quick when to send more $$$!

Fool me once...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Hurt Locker

I've read how The Hurt Locker is neither pro nor anti-war. Something I find hard to believe after watching one of the most harrowing, nerve wracking war movies ever made. The film has the viewer share the relentlessly vulnerable experience of being a constant target. The tension and suspense is not in how big a hero you're going to be (no one cares), or how many bad guys you're going to kill (they're faceless, interchangeable and unlimited); it's quite simply- are you going to stay alive one more day? And it slowly, inexorably eats away at you each and every second whether in the field, at base awaiting the next operation, or back home marking the days toward next deployment to relive hell all over again. How does any soldier survive the experience without PTSD, or the viewer leave this movie wanting to exchange their life (no matter how miserable) for this veritable living nightmare?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Vacation Over...Earthquake Soon

Vacation's over; for two pitifully short weeks I actually got to make believe I had some small amount of control over my life. Now it's back to the 50 other weeks of debt and reality. It's not the most comforting thing ending vacation watching a History Channel special on just how much more devastating the inevitable, and sooner, rather than later, earthquake in San Francisco will be compared to its 1906 predecessor. Of course, if it happens while I'm here, I got the 20, the Widelux and the Tri-X ready to roll... That is, if the wife and I are not crushed under several tons of debris, burned beyond recognition, or impaled, dismembered or decapitated by falling glass... Until then, the bills for my lavish lifestyle will keep me occupied.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cyclist- 6/27/09

Separating The Men From The Boys...

Well, Le Tour de France really starts today as they hit the Pyrenees. Will Alberto Contador finally announce himself as his young legs propel him up the mountains he's meant to dominate? Will the 37 yr old legs of Lance Armstrong remain as formidable as before? This battle for leadership, within one team no less, is tension and excitement enough... Or will someone else create their own drama and leave the favorites behind?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Photographic OCD?

Well, it certainly looks like yet another "documentary photographer" has been caught with his hands in the "art" photography grab bag. That is, someone who has purposely gone so out of his way to deny he does any digital manipulation, certainly appears to have both hands deep into it- so much so, the NY Times has removed his featured essay from their site. Some people are obviously better able to spot such things than myself, I guess the question is- since this wasn't particularly a flash news item, shouldn't these images (all images in this day and age) have been vetted more meticulously by a photo editor who can, in fact, identify such manipulation for such a prestigious organization? Perhaps, this should even be a separate position- Image Authenticity Editor?

At this point, it sure seems as if Edgar Martins has got quite the case of photographic OCD. (via HuffPo)

Forty Years and Several Generations...

I was thirteen at the time, and it's taken me forty years to realize the iconic photo above was taken by the infamous Burk Uzzle...

What Place!?!

This is way, waaay too early in the game to draw any conclusions, other than to say that Le Boss still has the thrill factor. This will soon be relegated to ancient history as the days and weeks inexorably wear on in this race of unholy attrition. But the old feuds are back and- new ones to be determined?

Monday, July 6, 2009

A few things from NYC...

I'll be outta town for a coupla days, and then very much stuck home for god knows how long... (the sign on the 3rd one down reads New Is Beautiful, the 4th one down is a tribute to Thomas Roma- and I swear I didn't sneak in the last one from my 70's archive).









Free Bubbles!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New York Confidential

Not unlike the legendary Michael Jackson face that logged an ever increasing array of alterations by the year, the populace of Manhattan also seems to increase in size with each and every visit, slowly morphing into some Western equivalent of Shanghai on the Hudson. On a recent weekend there was, what for all practical purposes appeared to be, a cue just to cross the Brooklyn Bridge! Forever gone are the quiet little nooks and crannies one could seek out on weekend afternoons that made the place livable.

New Yorkers, of course, are born into a constant state of competition. We learn to talk fast, walk fast, and eat while doing both. And everyone on that high speed treadmill is either a potential contact or outright competition. A fortunate few find their mark, others learn to "voluntarily" step off- the remainder are simply thrown aside. I fear there will be more of the latter with such increasing numbers. Neighborhoods once dangerous, are now safe- and unaffordable! New York has always been a city of extremes, it's just a shame that it takes colossal tragedy for its denizens to momentarily stop doing for themselves, and start doing for each other.

The weather: I'm told it has been raining in New York since April. At first the usual April showers, followed by increasing rains in May, then daily downpours in June which are continuing unto July. Pa Banos says he's seen nothing like it in the fifty years plus he's spent there. And the elderly guy crossing the street as I was coming out of the Strand pretty much agreed, "Rain, rain, rain- why does it have to rain every goddamn day!" (7/4- sunny, warm & dry)

This and That: Took a few photos and anxious to see the results. Managed to catch a few photo exhibits- my favorite being Carlos Jimenez Cahua's other worldly Peruvian essay at Anastasia Photo Gallery which has the rather unique policy of attempting to further connect the photographic images and the events they depict by coupling each exhibition with a related philanthropic organization. Cool!

Walked the 1/3 completed NY High Line- would have liked it a lot more if they had just left it alone a lot more- instead of making it so "people friendly." And while NYC does actually seem a bit more bike friendly with some freshly minted bike lanes- I hardly felt the urge to risk life and limb in that potporrri of traffic and mayhem.

Both Williamsburg and DUMBO are tragically overhip, overcrowded, and overdone. Long Island City, as Ber Murphy's Sleeping Giant has chronicled, will also soon be there with all the construction going on. Right now however, it still has a nice balance, not to mention the LIC Bar- a great place to stop by for some suds after a long, humid day lugging camera in hand!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Le Tour!!!

Despite what you may think of him, having Lance Armstrong back in Le Tour de France is a kick. His raptor like concentration, determination and fuck-all attitude make for one eerily scary and winning combination (against the mountains called cancer, or the Alps). I never thought I could get into a sport that is such the proverbial chess match. But it's also so high on the pain, isolation and pure guts thresholds, it could easily give boxing a run for its money. These white boys suffer! Let Le Tour begin...
Photo: AP

Documentaries- Great and Small

In the mid nineties, I watched a "documentary" about a strike that hit every possible high note imaginable for that genre. Based along the conventions of Barbara Kopple’s award winning Harlan County, USA of 1976, I thought I had witnessed a rare masterpiece of documentary film making- until I came upon the list of actors in the closing credits. Yes, the joke was all on us- Dadetown's director Russ Hexter had done his job exceedingly well in separating us from our money in the most cunningly deceitful production imaginable.

Unlike the director above however, the French students who faked their photojournalism essay did not profit financially from their venture. They did not take peoples' money under false pretense. While Dadetown did stir up some dialogue about the structure, conventions and expectations of documentary film making, it could never live down its financially tainted deceit. You can't have it both ways. The French students' goal from the get-go was to stand photojournalism on its head and have it reexamine itself. And they did so more convincingly than Susan Sontag ever did scolding and reminding us that photographs do little but tell us nothing and lie. Nothing wrong with the occasional attempt to keep things honest though- not unlike the venerable Yes Men.