Monday, January 30, 2012

Arthur Tress- San Francisco 1964

Arthur Tress, street photographer? Yeah, well- who knew? One of the original photographic surrealists of the early '70s (along with: Ralph Gibson, Jerry Uelsmann, Duane Michals, and Les Krims), seems he originally got his chops shooting on the street just like Joel "Large Format" Meyerowitz. And it seems Gary Winogrand isn't the only photographer to have a monograph devoted solely to that particular year. So much for the name dropping...

Photo: Arthur Tress- San Francisco 1964

I suppose one could say that many a successful example of street photography contains a good hint of surrealism, as do many in Arthur Tress- San Francisco 1964, but one of the included square format photographs (above) seems less to do with street photography, and much more indicative of the full fledged surrealism that would soon become his hallmark. That said, this is quite the admirable book, perfect size, handsome reproductions, and Mr. Tress is quite the commendable street shooter- pretty amazing to see how the then evolving language of street photography had already been delineated and refined to such a polished extent even prior to its golden era.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How Do You Like Your Eggs?

Vivian on Lenswork

Lenswork #97 is sold out, but at least got to see Vivian Maier's photographs on the online version (thanks, Eric). The reproductions there (unlike the recent book) are open, clean and characteristic of Lenswork's impeccable reproductions (although still prefer them in cold tones, as per her site).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homage To A Holiday

Photo: Ben Rosenzweig

Three years of my life... four? The better part of my PM existence between '80 and '82...  If you ever saw one of the more infamous scenes from M, it pretty much gives you an idea of what the atmosphere was like there, and by atmosphere- I mean... atmosphere. You would literally walk into a visible cloud chamber of nicotine and automatically give up any and all rights to the future of having lungs as soon as you ambled on inside. Shit ass Bud bottles were... $1.00!!! Someone just wrote to remind me that drinks were...  $1.25.

It was THE neighborhood bar of neighborhood bars, long before Brooklyn was repatriated by like numbers of wannabe artists, musicians and poseurs of every imaginable shape and calibration. More importantly, it was one glorious shithole of dreams personified for those of us living in the big city of Talking Heads, Ramones, and Bush Tetras... and surviving on a steady diet of pizza, beer, and those aforementioned, bigger than life, New York City dreams!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

KKK Good, Reality Bad...

During my fifty six years of living in the U.S. of A, I have repeatedly witnessed how our clean cut, respectable Republican sons of bitches methodically erode and undermine the rights our citizenry have selflessly sacrificed, fought and died for. They've effectively dumbed us down by eviscerating and abandoning a once world class public education system and then eliminating tuition free higher education. They've wantonly shipped out the manufacturing jobs that formed the backbone of our once prosperous middle class (with the eager support of their Democratic brethren from the other side of the very same coin), and you know they're just itching to destroy the last vestige of our so called safety net by driving a stake into the still beating heart of Social Security. Make no doubt, these heartless bastards will not stop until the white majority is a silent, compliant work force of scared shitless drones, ever thankful for being that one small whisper above the enslaved brown skinned masses this nation was built on.

Having wrecked the proverbial American Dream with endless war while promoting mindless consumerism under ever decreasing wages, they happily continue to play us one against the other, and should any of us stop to ponder and complain- they sanctimoniously exhort... Class Warfare! Unsatisfied with poisoning our present and sabotaging our future, their bountiful, limitless greed now seeks to delude and divorce us of our very past, so that we no longer acknowledge their sins and just revel in their fanciful, shameless machinations...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beautifully Lit Homeless Photos

Yeah, don't quite know what to make of 'em myself. But this is of course, one of the age old paradoxes/dilemmas inherent to photography- it's innate ability to purposely or even unintentionally modify reality and convert something abhorrent, distasteful or "unfortunate" into that which is visually palatable, even "beautiful." Some of the best conflict photographers of all time do it... all the time! The most dynamically composed photos of every imaginable earthly suffering, bathed in the light of divine inspiration (think Salgado). Sometimes it's the only way that anyone will ever get you to look at these people and the plight they are forced to endure, other times you'll find yourself noticing and reacting to everything in the photograph but the people. Few photographers can successfully traverse that fine line between art and exploitation, responsible journalism and tabloid sensationalism.

B&W is the usual legal tender; ironically, it can either be used to make things look down and dirty, or as in this case, it can abstract things to the point of near beauty. And I certainly don't mean to portray these photos as anything other than what the title implies. I usually, purposely refuse to take "cheap shots" of people who are down and out, precisely because they are so exploitative. Fortunately, other photographers much better than I, are more than capable of documenting those in need in a manner that can, in fact, be socially responsible and/or beneficial (which always involves the necessary time and dedication).

These photos were taken on the run, usually to or from work. It was both the irony and contradictions these photographs present that compelled me to take them. I kid you not, the lighting involved was far grander than what these lo res jpegs portray, and the very conflicted feelings they induce in me, are both palpable- and necessary.   More here, and here...

Monday, January 23, 2012

On Making It Real

May be wrong to judge this on rumor, but these Olympus digital reruns are getting kinda creepy, they look like digital equivalents of Hollywood set pieces, or worse yet- lite beer. Meanwhile, Fuji is making some truly innovative cameras- what the original OM-1 once was.

I'm sure they'll sell like the proverbial hotcakes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

When There's Nothing Left To Give...

Hurts me to the core to see him today. He rose to the pinnacle of world attention by giving his absolute all, the man famous for "going to the well" when lesser men had long given up, turned tail and ceded surrender- whether in his personal life, or his professional... one often melded into the other. Still, so many of these photographs brought a welcomed smile to my face, I was fortunate indeed to have grown up in his era of youthful vitality, rebellion and accomplishment in the very short time he allotted himself. Happy Belated Birthday, Champ...

Make sure to read the humorous recounting by photographer Harry Benson...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Free Bradley Manning March, SF- #3

Note: Black cop was recording entire march from start to finish- big, way bigger, absolute biggest white cop I ever did see was "guarding" him throughout! Latter was glaring directly at me until photog in rear came upon scene. Nightmare lighting saved by Tri-X, D-76 1:1 and Photoshop Elements 6.

Nope, not the Pope.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Camera To Consider?

Some interesting, compact and tempting cameras like the Canon G1X (if it weren't so fugly) are finally starting to come around now, but ask someone to design their ultimate camera, and they're oft times likely to get carried away with a Phase One sensor stuffed in a Canon s100 body with an 18-500mm equivalent zoom. All well and good, but this here's one that can be made in the here and now- and would most definitely sell... And you could make two versions of it that could easily fit in a medium sized shoulder bag with room to spare and fill most needs except for the super telephoto, super motor drive crowd.

Much as I love the Fujifilm X100 and X-Pro- why hasn't anyone tried something damn similar (in size, sensor, VF, etc) except... it would have a fixed zoom lens, let's make it even simpler- a fixed varifocal lens optimized for the wide angle spectrum with 20, 28 and 35 equivalent click stops; and another body with a 50, 85, 110 equivalent lens optimized for those focal lengths. Two metal cameras with knobs and dials, optimum build and IQ- digital updates of Fuji's old fixed zoom 645s! Both could go for around 2 grand each (the WA may cost a tad more due to optical design); I'd only need one for my needs- and I'd be able to retire with it. And how 'bout a limited edition run w/B&W only sensors?!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two Compilations

The City Becoming and Decaying is a book by eighteen photographers of The Ostkreuz Agency. Somewhat uneven in presentation, style and viewpoint (as are most compilations), it explores how cities worldwide grow, implode and change. Some of the work leaves me cold, not because the cities themselves can be seen as bleak or desolate, but because I find the particular photographic style unengaging- although there is much here to be commended. Indeed, some of the work from the "bleakest" of cities is the most engaging.

XL Photography 4- as in extra large, and not cheap- the reproductions top notch, most bordering on the exquisite. It showcases a wide variety of photographers, styles and subject matter- and not all of them current. Not sure if there's an actual theme going on here, and although you probably won't like everything, there are enough remarkable images to be found to keep you coming back again and again. A handsome, worthwhile addition to anyone's photographic library.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Perception, Understanding, Condemnation...

Some will read that startling statistic and hold it aloft as proof positive confirming their every prejudice and misconception. A much smaller minority will want to know how can that possibly be at this time in this country? The latter may then instigate a journey of inquiry which may just lead to some measure of... understanding. Unfortunately, in this country, if you claim that you understand why a certain group of people commit criminal or immoral actions*, it is automatically perceived that you, in fact, condone those actions... 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Congratulations- Andy Adams

I'm not on Facebook, Twitter, etc- nothing ideological, just basically don't have the time with work, a blog (those quaint institutions not worth the paper they're not printed on), and trying to take a snap or two on occasion. My wife's on it though, and since we share a computer, I happened to mozy on over with a hem and a haw to take a gander at Andy Adam's new and supposedly improved goings on. I was never a big fan of flakphoto- although I often appreciated the work, I also found it somewhat repetitive (and in the interest of full disclosure, the fact that he would never consider posting one of my submissions even if I was one of the last five remaining photographers on earth, could never color my opinion in any manner whatsoever).

Congratulations! And continued success...

Clicking from a photo blog to "The Andy Adams Network" is like going from impulse power to warp speed! I really don't have a clear idea of half the shit he's doing there (and there's so many theres there, online, via Facebook, and beyond)- but hat's off to the guy for his commitment, energy and dedication. Like I said, I couldn't keep track of half of it- but his love of the medium, his desire to do right by it, and more importantly... to do right by the people who are interacting with the photographic multiverse he's created clearly shines through. This is the closest anyone's come to establishing a robust and comprehensive, online photographic arts community- a photographic resource for anyone interested in contemporary photography and everything involved in it, with it, around it. Undoubtedly the model for what an all out interactive photo site can and should be...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dana Loesch Pees Herself

Dana Loesch: Golden showers turn her on!

I'm betting ol' Dana has racked up more than a few gazillion cool points in her life with certain acts involving urination. I mean, no doubt, this is one Class A, classy Republican broad- and I'm gonna go out on a limb and bet she's a top notch Christian chick too! You know, a true blue believer of the Jesus Christ who beseeched his followers to, "Love your enemy- and piss to your heart's content on their miserable bloated bodies."

And speaking of babes into piss (Christian or not), let's not forget Ms. Geller...

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Citizen Kane Of Bad Movies

Just in case you've made it this far in life without witnessing one of cinema's greatest achievements... If you're ever bored, as in very, very bored beyond all belief or conviction- just slap on The Room and have a laugh, and a few more. It starts out slow and doesn't get better, but it does get funnier- particularly because the director (and lead actor) can't act, let alone direct, and his heavily accented English makes Aahhnuld sound like Olivier. A little patience and you too will be screaming, "You are tearing me apart, Lisa!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What If "Guide" Had Been An Indie?

 Without Szarkowski, would Eggleston be known as a drunken footnote? 

There was a veritable shit load, excuse me, plethora of "Best Of" book lists end of last year. And the one obvious factor amongst them all was how freaking diverse the selections were- and that was in no small part due to the fact that there are so many small, independently made and distributed photo books out there. And no one could possibly argue that that's not a good thing...

Unless, of course, the one wee problem is that not everyone has access to all these independent, international, limited edition books. We can perhaps see selections of said work online, but we all know that ain't nowhere near the same. And the vast majority of us certainly can't peruse 'em at the local, neighborhood bookstore. The question then becomes- are indies fine tuning fine art photography into haute cuisine for those with access? And what happens should that certain someone come along and publish the modern day equivalent of a William Eggleston's Guide as a limited edition indie, either because of financing or greater creative control? Is it then destined to become, and remain, a cult classic- or will word of mouth with the aid of the internets assure its revolutionary and meteoric rise to equivalent sea change status? 

Perhaps this bottom up approach will actually help further democratize the medium, as well monied, art market institutions no longer field the voice of authority that dominate and propel. Or perhaps this will not follow a contemporary political profile, and instead serve to further isolate audiences, and artists alike. In an age with leaderless movements, will we still need the visionary, well heeled, uber connected art czar to announce the dawn of a new day?

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's Good For The Serpent...

Remember back in the day when it was first announced that talking to plants was good for them? Well, what say if the plants talked back? Really, talked back. Yeah, the Stanford trained anthropologist Jeremy Narby thought much the same, until the plants not only started talking to him- but teaching him...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Camera Porn X2

Not quite as cute and sexy as I hoped- kinda clunky and sleek. The Fujifilm X-Pro 1 will go for approx $1,800 w/normal lens, a wide and short tele around $800 each- which means a 20mm equivalent would be well over a grand. It's cropped sensor supposedly surpasses full frame equivalents!

Meanwhile, it didn't take a helluva lot to make this smaller, lighter Nikon D800 look considerably better than its butt fugly D700 predecessor! Bottomline, can't afford either- my everyday FG & "special occasion" F100 will continue to see me through. A guy could do worse...

Friday, January 6, 2012

We Love You!

Two of the same name- and don't ask me to choose between 'em. Both pull the plug, non stop, all out!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Post 1,501 & Beyond...

Well, I'd like to say I will no longer be blogging because of the time I'll need to spend on my dream project which has finally been green lighted, or because of the master workshops I've been asked to lead and partake in, or because of my publishing and museum retrospectives... Alas, not a one would be true- so I'll continue to soldier along, long as I don't descend into the tottering, doddering, babbling fool I normally assume in my daily, waking life.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Post 1,500 in the bygone Age Of Silver (Updated)

Photo: Vivian Maier

This post is not about the book Age Of Silver, a very good looking, greatest hits tribute I mention only because it's published by powerHouse- the same publisher of Vivian Maier, Street Photographer. Age Of Silver is gloriously printed with rich cold tones that bespeak the glory of well reproduced black and white photography. In contrast, Vivian Maier's book looks as if printed with mud. Silver costs $45, Maier- $40.

I've held both books in hand, and all I can say is that $5.00 US cannot possibly explain the difference in quality between the two. One is about as good as B&W reproduction can possibly get, the other good enough to return for a refund (my option). Obviously, had powerHouse really wanted to create a worthy homage to a noteworthy photographer (with an already built in audience no less) they could have chosen to do so. Many a person interested in her work would have gladly paid $60.00 for a quality monograph doing justice to her work- I would have certainly saved my change for the chance! Instead, powerHouse inexplicably(?) chose to go the cheap knock off route... Inexcusable!

UPDATE: powerHouse was actually gracious enough to reply to my inquiry, and informed me that they decided to go sepia on Vivian Maier, Street Photographer in order to present a different look from the other work they publish- that sounds logical. I was then assured that both books were printed to equal quality standards. That being true (particularly after seeing both) I can only assume that there was a quality control issue somewhere down the line, or that the files themselves were not the best- pure speculation and conjecture on my part. But even photographers who can live with the production values of the Maier book are quick to state that the quality is uneven throughout.

Anyway, props to powerHouse for responding in this day and age.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012- Year In Review

Well, I gotta be honest here folks, it's not for lack of trying- but I haven't taken a decent shot all year. The good news is that at least I have one new friend from Africa who, if I just let him have his way, wants to make me a rich man, a very rich man- and from the dental bill I'm about to incur from eating a piece of popcorn watching godawful Melancholia recently, he reached out just in time.

Meanwhile, I pledge to redouble my efforts to introduce legislation banning Uggs throughout the world- particularly since I failed so miserably in having similar legislation passed concerning Birkenstocks. This time failure is not an option!

Once passed, we cannot rest, other challenges just as dark, just as threatening, await us. They lurk in the shadows today- but tomorrow? Yes- I speak of none other than the dreaded toe shoe things!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Has It Come To This?

Did quite the double take on this, did not know what to make of it at first- still not quite sure. But there's something very unsettling about it, particularly coming from the NY Times. Is this the best "the paper of record" can do on its electronic front page? The person is treated as a freak of nature, a curiosity, a relic that shouldn't be alive. It certainly isn't journalism, not anything close. It makes us aware of her existence, true that- but very little else. It could just as much serve as a set up for back room, racist, misogynist jokes. Very disturbing...

Makes Scott Sothern look like a Humanist extraordinaire- say what you will, at least he had more of a human connection!