Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Or the next best approximation thereof... No, I don't think 2012 will be the last- that would be way too easy. This is gonna drag out a lot longer, and if ya ask me (not that anyone is), get a (whole) lot messier. In the meantime, I got me a beautiful new calendar to enjoy. Here's to a better year, regardless...  BTW- The Greatest New Year's Photo- of all time...

Friday, December 30, 2011


This is something that could put a serious dent in everyone's plans for several years to come... Bigtime!

On a much more immediate and somewhat more local level- there's always the real possibility of a brand new war (it's just not the same with only one- and an old forgotten one at that) to start the new year off on the good foot... like say, with Iran.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Gallery In Town

Photo: Wang Yuanling

Carte Blanche is a new street level photo gallery conveniently located on Valencia St. in San Francisco. The gallery is spacious, well lighted and welcoming- owner Gwen LaFage even looks up, smiles and says "Hello" upon entering (yes, 25+ yrs of NYC gallery hopping has left me permanently scarred). And I wouldn't give a damn about any of that if there wasn't anything good to look at on the walls, and that there is- as can more than clearly be seen here! One can also purchase books, and more importantly get some very nice prints of the work at hand, mounted and ready to frame at very reasonable prices- nicely sized prints at just over or below $100.

I really hope the calibre of work continues at the level of this current show- a new, and much needed photo pit stop in The Bay Area...

Photo: Shinya Arimoto

Photo: Lukasz Biederman

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Other 5%

95% of all UFO sightings can be "conventionally" explained- no problem there. Hear what some generals, pilots and government officials are finally willing to say (on the record) about the other 5%...

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011's Greatest Fail

  This one really sounded good on paper. The epic marriage of the epoch- peanut butter goodness and yummy dark chocolate, instead of the yucky milk stuff. Mmmmm... Alas, the perfect fail-- Beeyecchh!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two Guys Who Don't Write Their Own Material...

One is this guy who the very first time he played golf achieved 11 holes-in-one, and a total score of 38- by far the greatest score in history!!! But that's nothing- compared to the "fact" that he never had to defecate!

And then there's... Ron Paul. The good doctor disavows all the racist rantings (which he takes great pains to note he neither wrote nor edited) in the newsletter that bore his name. End of story! Moving right along now...

Which is pretty much part and parcel of Libertarianism as a whole. Let the chips fall where they may, what's done is done, whatever happens, happens. As long as we get to decide what laws allow us to make and maintain our fortunes- be happy we'll let you do whatever you want with the crumbs that are scattered your way.

The Plausible Deniability Party.  Update...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Conservative Soundbites v Common Sense

George Will, who for some reason seriously fancies himself the Conservative reincarnation of Thomas Jefferson, is reduced to a few prepackaged quips before literally succumbing to silence by the blistering onslaught of common sense inflicted by Barney Frank. Meanwhile, all the other Conservative pundit can do in response is try and change the subject ASAP...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Discretionary Evolution

I've been a really good boy resisting all the digital tools and toys out there this past decade. Truth is, I just haven't found them all that appealing- too small, too big, too plasticky, too expensive, and too damn fugly! Still, I suppose it's just a matter of time- much as I love film, I neither have the space for a darkroom, nor the money to rent one regularly. And I can think of better ways to spend my time than scanning and editing B+W negs. So this announcement has me anxious! I got the chance to see and handle a Fuji X100 (talk about an enthusiastic review!) while in NYC. It looks like a million w/lens shade (yes, I'm that shallow), very much satisfying my tactile/aesthetic needs- metal, retro, quiet, fast, and nicely sized and balanced. Extremely versatile, great image quality! Naturally, an even more advanced and comprehensive system this spring is of even greater interest, and that said, all I require are a couple of WA's or a compact zoom equivalent.

I've been biding my time since my needs are specific, my means very limited. It's something I enthusiastically look forward to, and absolutely dread (what if the B+W digital results just fall flat of the B+W aesthetics I relate to?). And, of course, the day I do buy it, a week later they'll come out with this- what I really want... Maybe.

And will the song of this Siren ever stop calling?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Have We Learned?

Not a thing, not one thing, not one goddamn thing.  After all, it's the same sorry lesson we were supposed to have learned from Viet Nam, where we wasted so much time, money, and oh yes- lives. And we continue to prove just how utterly clueless we have become (and now relish being) as we threaten to take on Iran, after the 800 BILLION DOLLAR DEBACLE known as Iraq (while in the very process of losing yet another war in Afghanistan).

We've methodically killed hundreds of thousands, maimed countless thousands more, thrown away hundreds of billions, wrecked economies worldwide, poisoned and defiled environments for generations to come- and yet we clamor for more...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Read My Lips...

This cordial and enlightening exchange on the subject of taxes occurred several days after the original post- in case you missed...

rgfb drefv said...
The 1% pays half of the taxes in the USA. That's far more than they should. You 99% morons are dumbest, lazy Nazi's in Western Culture, and do nothing but take and destroy and complain, despite the fact that you’re lucky to be alive in a free society. Fortunately, you sniveling brats are less that 0.99%
You want to make a better world? Then stop harassing freedom-loving, hard-working people, band together in a commune somewhere and take responsibility for your own survival.

Stan B. said...
"We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." -billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley
As Martin A. Sullivan of recently calculated, a New York janitor making slightly more than $33,000 a year pays an effective tax rate of nearly 25%. And the effective tax rate for a resident of the Park Avenue building named after Helmsley, earning an average of $1.2 million annually? A cool 14.7%.
And, of course, many corporations (talk about Lazy Nazis), who are now considered "persons" under law- thanks to Right Wing Supreme Court Justices (talk about Lazy Nazis), also don't pay any taxes whatsoever...

BTW- if you can't get your point across to people who can actually think without the childish, red neck, veins a popping, name calling intensity of your average, brain dead FOX "News" pundit- then by all means, go back to your precious little circle jerk of "ditto heads" (talk about THE VERY LAZIEST OF NAZIS).

Friday, December 16, 2011

It Only Takes 1

Not exactly a fan- but god, I so do love this song...
(And god bless Claudia Lanier)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Magic In Panoramic

Photo: Jens Olof Lasthein

I love good panoramics- they're some of the most eloquent and elegant forms of expression to be found in all photography. Most people think "panoramic" when they have an elongated landscape in mind, and that, of course, is one of its strengths. But to truly appreciate panoramics, you must truly immerse yourself in the format, just as you would a rangefinder, a Holga, a view camera. You gotta devote yourself to it, use it day in, day out, regardless- for those situations it most naturally lends itself to, as well as those you wouldn't ordinarily consider in everyday shooting... and then some. Otherwise you remain the casual imbiber, like myself, with only the rare keeper to speak of. There's a lot more real estate to deal with, so it demands a different mindset- switching midstream on assignment from a 2:3 or 3:4 ratio to panoramic and back is not always the most fluid of transitions.

Photo: Jens Olof Lasthein

I own a "true panoramic" camera, that is, a camera with a rotating lens- a 35mm Widelux, to be precise. It is fairly compact, designed and built like a WW1 tank, and just as fidgety and eccentric. It has three shutter speeds which can be frustrating, a viewfinder that shows about 65% of the entire image (I kid you not), and distortion that can be uhhh... mind bending. That distortion can absolutely kill many a shot (it can be that severe), other times (particularly in open spaces) it's barely noticeable, and at other times still, it can actually add to or enhance a shot. In some ways, it's similar to shooting a Holga- you never really know what you're gonna end up with; unlike the Holga however, you can get razor sharp results.

Photo: Jens Olof Lasthein

That unpredictability (and more limited exposure control) has prevented me from truly mastering the panoramic (not that I've truly mastered anything, for that matter). For every unique shot that I might steal with my panny, I might very well be giving up even more possibilities with my regular and more versatile SLR- so I tend to use it only on "special occasions."

Fortunately, that hasn't stopped more talented and adventurous souls than I from going forth and creating some absolute miracles- and on a regular basis! Utterly depressing as his work can be, I thought no one could best or even equal Boris Mikhaiolov when it came to everyday panoramic mastery, until someone by the name of Jens Olof Lasthein just happened to come along. What the latter creates via a panoramic within the "ordinary," everyday rhythm of life is nothing short of breathtaking. And he does it with such consistency, routinely ignoring the camera's inherent weaknesses, and instinctively playing to its strengths so that it all appears so utterly... effortless. Though in all fairness, maybe it's more the fact that Lasthein's images, as opposed to Mikhailov's do, in fact, offer some degree of hope- and in drop dead gorgeous color.

Photo: Boris Mikhaiolov

Photo: Boris Mikhaiolov

Other present day panoramic masters and practitioners include: Joseph Koudelka, McDuff Everton, Bruce Haley, Michael Ackerman and Michael Spano...

But wait! There's more... almost forgot the incredible series of 9/11 crowd portraits by the world's greatest museum guard- the one and only Jason Eskenazi. These are truly some of the most memorable, dynamic and sensitive images from that historic period of time when the shock was still raw, and our future still within our grasp.

Photo: Jason Eskenazi

Photo: Jason Eskenazi

Photo: Jason Eskenazi

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Must Lose Trend For 2012

It's bad enough seeing so many people walking about with their pop up, DSLR flashes all exposed and upright just begging to be entangled and dismembered, but one trend I got really sick of this year are those fugly, lotus petal lens hoods on those ginormous tele zooms that people leave on their lenses backwards. If ya aint gonna use 'em, don't buy 'em! Maybe it's just some photo fashion statement like wearing your baseball cap backwards; or maybe they realize how damn fugly they really are after the fact, and then try to hide them. All I know is- it's gotta stop!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grinding Gears

I hope this West Coast port shut down serves to further unite labor- not alienate it. Personally, I wish Occupy would concentrate on getting the goddamn 1% to pay their bloody fair share of taxes, something that easily garners wide public support and approval when stated clearly and succinctly- unfortunately, this is not Russia, where people know when they're being pissed on. That would be a major victory that would pave the way for yet more action. 

The port shut down is quite the gamble- and Occupy is the only game in town, the only people conscious enough to bring attention to a system that is not only broken, but well beyond repair.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Need A Personal Life Coach?

If, like myself, you always found yourself coming up a little short in the "class" department- this here is the font and origin of the very word, the very concept, the very reality made flesh...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Loving Christians" And Their Religion Of Hate And Intolerance

If you find Christians (the people who worship the savior who commanded them to LOVE their enemy) that want to negate, humiliate or destroy everything they don't understand or believe in rather... amusing,  this site will definitely indulge your curiosity. Verily.

He's talking about the 1%, right?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HOPE + CHANGE You Can Take To The Crapper

This is about as outrageous as it possibly gets... He's starting to make pretty speeches again, and say all the right things (while his Justice Dept. goes after pot smokers); but arrest, try and convict even one of the financial terrorists who swindled millions upon millions of dollars, homes and livelihoods from hard working citizens and rammed the 99% of this country headfirst into the toilet- surely you jest... (Make sure to see Part 2)


Monday, December 5, 2011

Vivian- What Have They Done?

I just got my copy of Vivian Maier- Street Photographer. I'm sure Mr. Maloof had the best of intentions here, and no one can ever belittle the importance and significance of discovering and exposing her work to the photographic community at large. This was supposed to be the long awaited tribute in print to Vivian Maier- photography's purposely unknown genius of her time. Instead, Powerhouse has done her a great disservice.

Quite simply, the book is a travesty- her work looks better online than in the reproductions in this book! That's not the way it's supposed to work. One naturally expects the quality of the images to be unleashed and spring to life with the more subtle expanse of tonal values that good print reproduction allows. And yet, these reproductions are unduly harsh, dark, devoid of shadow detail and devoid of life- and despite their contrast, still manage to fall flat! The sepia tone (not reproduced above) does not help. The cold/neutral grays online make her photographs feel current and alive; the book's warm tones act to further antiquate them into near lethal levels of nostalgic overkill.

This book brings to mind Josef Koudelka's original edition of Gypsies, whose horrendously blown out reproductions almost destroyed the power of his images- but even there you could tell the work still shined. Here, it really suffers; there is simply no joy to be had from it.  Had this been my first exposure to Ms. Maier's work, it would have had little more effect than that of an interesting, momentary diversion at a second hand book shop. 

No doubt in ten, twenty years time when her work and legacy is reexamined and reassessed, she will finally be granted the proper quality monograph she so richly deserves (as with Koudelka and others). As for now, one can only hope the upcoming documentary delivers some modicum of justice.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Artist

The Artist is quite the singular film, you certainly can't take the storyline all that seriously, and yet, you can't help but be captivated, or at the very least, become visually enamored of it. And its appeal, visual or otherwise, is not easily dismissed; shot gorgeously in gorgeous black and white- the film reminds us just how effectively silent films could connect with their audience. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Jean Dujardin is so handsomely photogenic (and looks and acts every bit the silent movie star born), and that Bérénice Bejo is herself so bewitchingly alluring and stunning in her own right. There's not much meat to be had in this flick, yet somehow it manages to create a unique soul of its very own.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

So It Goes...

Been pretty lucky this year photographically, got around 50 keepers (quite a bit for me) and am ending the year actually selling a photo- something that's not occurred in some ten years (not that I still try). Got picked up from my Flickr pool (first time) by a small indie publisher, and am actually getting paid. Of course, the money no way equaled the amount of time I spent rescanning and reediting a hi-res version of the damn thing with it's unforgiving sky and lighting; but to actually get published in print again- almost kinda makes you feel like... a photographer!