Friday, May 31, 2013

Talent Translates...

My wife makes dioramas, and like I, when amidst the work of a master artist (in this case Mariko Kusumoto), is truly humbled by the totality of their art. And although usually not my cup of tea, even I can catch those vibes transferred to work such as this. One can really feel the love and finesse that went into every detail of their creation.  (And check out the Muybridge necklace!).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Some Day ...

I recently followed a link to a "Flickr alternative," the photographs were handsomely displayed, each flawlessly reproduced, brilliantly colorful and as sharp as one could ever possibly hope for... after a dozen or so, I was ready to barf. That's one of the things that turn me off about digital- a lot of the images are just too technically perfect, too precise, great when the images are outstanding, grandiose and overbearing when they are simply... routine. Being able to see every pore in a mediocre portrait neither betters the picture, nor enhances the experience- and I'm not even talking HDR. If anything proves, "Beware what you wish for," it's the very quality now available with digital. Unknowingly, I was as much attracted to the subtle flaws and limitations of film, as the quality I always struggled to attain from that fragile, stamp sized 35mm rectangle.

Make no doubt, there are times I do envy the flexibility, and quality, digital now offers. And someday I'll probably take the plunge- if only so I don't have to deal with the butt breaking inconvenience of digitizing silver negs into an exhibition quality file (no, you're not getting me in no darkroom ever again unless someone is crazy enough to pay me). Still, I remain in no rush mode.

Someday, my digital camera will probably come to be- and I'll know it when I see it. They're getting closer ever day. Love that Fujifilm x100, it has the tactile, classic good looks and handling I desire, but it doesn't go wide enough for me; and even though its bigger brother has a real wide angle zoom, I really prefer smaller primes. Few, if any, mirrorless cameras have real WA primes yet; I could settle for a 28mm equivalent lens- but only on a 3:4 ratio sensor, as opposed to 2:3. Yeah, I'm talking my needs- not yours. And though anything's possible, I really don't see one of those bulbous DSLR's in my future- unless, of course, someone has the design smarts to strip one down into an elegant, compact, FF package (that's a wait).

The other thing that still gives me pause about digital- the way it looks in B&W, what I primarily shoot. It's most definitely grainless (good, right?), but it also has an "artificial," sanitized look that seems to  lack "depth" and often leaves me cold. I guess that's what a Tri-X "filter" is for- how genuine and original is that? Anyway, the day will probably come, and I can most definitely wait...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Very scary when an absolute son of a bitch like Putin comes out in favor of transparency, in favor of exposing a life threatening practice that the US (ie- Obama) silently condones, and that has the power to so negatively affect the health and lives of not just its own citizens- but of people worldwide.

And not a blink from major media...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sometimes Ya Win, Sometimes Ya...

Mt. Rushmore- S. Banos

As a photographer, whenever you arrive somewhere of special significance, somewhere you've always dreamed of seeing- you, of course, want to get a picture to remember it by. Not just a picture- hell, you can get any number of perfectly good picture postcards anywhere, but one you can actually stick in the ol' portfolio. Something halfway unique, something that puts your particular stamp on it. Sometimes you win, and sometimes, well... ya just don't. Of course, having enough time (a luxury most of us don't get) increases your chances. That said, I've been to Paris a few times and have yet to get a decent shot that includes Le Tour Eiffel- sometimes it's just a matter of turning around for something else, or trying your luck elsewhere.

Mt. Rushmore is one of those places one dreams of seeing ever since you're a kid- something wonderfully surreal about it even before you're old enough to know the meaning of the word. Hitchcock shot a movie there as if just to prove it. So naturally, when I finally got to see it in person in '07, I was hot to take the picture to remember it by. First instinct was to go right into the viewing area along with the rest of my fellow tourists and take some Winogrand/Parr mutation with them in the foreground in some weird juxtaposition with the overbearingly large Presidential stares looming in the background. And again, given enough time, I probably could have done just that, but the fish just weren't biting, and alas, I didn't have all day. Next, I discovered there were trails leading closer to the giant busts where guides were leading tours which definitely offered some possibilities- but again, to no avail. It was time to go, and once again I was a beaten man. Time to hit the road again, but first the lieu... and a photo!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Two Sides To Every Story

They say there are two sides to every story, and nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to the "Official" law enforcement version vs those on the other side- particularly when the other side involves people of color. Now I'm not stating that either side is always right, but it comes as little surprise that the version propagated by the suits is the one that usually gets the most, if not automatic, credence- despite the somewhat "checkered" tradition of subterfuge, deceit and outright... lawlessness (the very evils they supposedly work to sublimate).

Read the official version of Joanne Chesimard and you get the picture of a wanton, rabid, killer extraordinaire. Listen to the version given by Assata Shakur herself and the picture is decidedly different. Some might say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, that where there's smoke there's fire- but as I have more than once found out in life, that "common sense" approach doesn't always apply. Sometimes (sometimes), things really are- black and white...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Obama: Exposed And Corrupted

Watching something like this makes me want to lash out and become as lawless, ruthless and criminally irresponsible as possible. In other words it inspires me to become every bit as criminally flagrant and opportunistic as the big banks, and every bit as negligent and thoroughly corrupt and hypocritical as the DOJ under the auspices of President Obama.

This administration, which swore to greater transparency, this administration that was voted into power under the guise of  justice, has effectively made the very word not only a joke (the prior administration saw to that) but a concept that can no longer be aspired to, or realized- certainly not for the remainder of his term. He has run that concept into the very ground, well beyond the reach and redemption of his most eloquent of speeches. He has taken America's greatest opportunity to lead, and perverted it into a sad, self serving mockery. And for that he cannot be excused.

Watch The Untouchables on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

My Foe Flickr!

At least that seems to be the general impression from 99.99% of the comments on their site alone. I can't get all that excited about it either way, and not knocking those that are- guess I just don't have as much vested in it as do others. That said, can't say I much like the changes myself; don't see the absolute necessity to make it look like every other place (and I am partial to the more white walled gallery like presentation)- guess it's something to do with making it more mobile friendly. Dunno...

The very least they could do, very much need to do, is change the format for the Sets page so that it doesn't display random crops of your lead photos- and that needs to happen now...

Anyway, as of 00:30 Pacific Time (5/24/13), Flickr (for the first time I can recall) is very much dead in the water and has apparently either collapsed from the colossal weight of its own new fangled undertaking, or has become the victim of one of its more virulent, tech savvy hater/hackers.

Interesting to see what the morning brings...  Update: Rise and Shine, and back up!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Andrew Borowiec- Update

Photo: Andrew Borowiec

I've posted on Andrew Borowiec before, and for good reason- he doesn't disappoint. Forever churning out quiet, contemplative Americana that's chock full of detail large and small, so that one never tires of admiring the grand view, or checking out the tell tale minutiae. Largely devoid of its occupants, these landscapes nonetheless manage to reveal plenty about life in the heartland, both yesterday and today...

Enjoy the narrated slide show, the interview here,  and the video below-

Photographer - Andrew Borowiec from Cleveland Arts Prize on Vimeo.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chris Arnade- Beneath The Surface

Charlie- Hunts Point, The Bronx;  Photo: Chris Arnade

The first time I looked at Chris Arnade's work, my photo snobbery dismissed it offhand: photos can't stand on their own two feet, too much like snapshots, not "artistic" enough. And then perusing The NY Times article, I also felt perhaps exploitative to boot- well to do white guy banker/wanker getting off photographing the usual down and out stereotypes of brown and black people... please!

Recently, I came upon his work again, and actually made the time to look into what he does, how he does it, and how long he's been doing it- and one can only be impressed by the commitment and dedication he has expended on his "hobby," a hobby that has become an active conduit into other people's lives and an instrument for understanding a side of life most will happily deny, condemn and ignore all in a second's passing.

Scott Sothern also empathized and commiserated with addicts and prostitutes, but the ol' rascal also went along for the ride (quite literally). Arnade's modus operandi more closely approaches Tony Foushe's, who actually collaborated with one of his subjects in the making of the book Live Through This. To be fair, Arnade's work must be seen in its more comprehensive story telling and humanist context, where the subject's background, life story and plight take center stage. And that is Arnade's saving grace, a body of work that cannot be denied when seen and appreciated in context, photographically and otherwise.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lunar Fail

Now I've seen my share of ugly cameras (eg- ye olde Petri SLR, Leica R8, almost every DSLR, etc), but since first learning of this, all I can think is that there has to be more than meets the eye here- because this product certainly puts a whole world of hurt on anyone fool enough to look. And yet look we must, for something so absolutely hideous, so contrary to the laws of nature and aesthetics has seldom ever been put together by the hand of man. And as butt freakin' fugly as it is, one can't possibly help but enjoy, and laugh so wonderfully free of any ethical, pc, humanist guilt whatsoever; free to callously ridicule this cancerous, man made freak of greed and laziness!

This must be, has to be, can no way otherwise but be, some kinda Swedish super scam that will conveniently allow them to fold and make a bundle under the likes of their godless, socialist economy. Otherwise, why would a well respected, legacy camera company take someone else's aging camera (soon to be replaced by an even better version), doll it up in the worst drag ensembles imaginable, and then try to make a killing on it? Here we are in the 21st. century, and we have an entire company engaged in nothing less than magical thinking, as if those extra added luxury globs of leather, wood and... plastic are actually going to convert into exotic, luxury megapixels, and mega dollars. We're not that stupid, dentists are not that stupid- even the smoldering mutant remains of Hasselblad can't possibly be that stupid! So... just how do they fold and collect in what promises to be a very short, long term run?

The reviews are pretty much Unanimous!

Avert your eyes!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

THE Classic Camera

Every time the topic of beautiful classic film cameras comes up, the usual suspects are mentioned (eg- Leica M's, the Nikon F, chrome Hasselblads, etc) and one very obvious contender rarely gets mentioned, except as some kind of freakish asterisk- even though it is one of the most beautiful, unique and ingenious devices, let alone cameras, ever created. I am, of course, speaking of that miniature marvel unto itself- The Minox "Spy" Camera

Early on it caught my prepubescent eye and has really never really let go. It's an extraordinarily clever design, composed of clean lines, classic curves and metallic good looks that are a pleasure to behold to this day. Dashingly elegant, sexy and cute, friend of spy, photographer and collector alike; they were miniature technological harbingers of a future that promised anything was possible. 

Looking at one today, they resemble nothing less than shrunken time capsules- a semi precious object one would hope and expect to find somewhere within the confines of an actual, long lost... time capsule!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Noah Beil- Gone Quickly

This is the kind of picture I would probably never notice in real life- much to my eternal detriment, since it's the kind I could look at forever... 

  Photo: Noah Beil

Noah Beil (whose work I've been a fan of for quite some time) recently sent me his latest book, which he lovingly created from scratch. It's called Gone Quickly and you can see a synopsis of just how much love and work is involved in the video below. BTW, the reproductions are exquisite (photos t'aint bad neither)...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hate To Say It...

But this commercial really does enter and get into the joys and possibilities that photography has always had to offer (regardless of technology) more than any other photography related ad I've ever seen...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Teach Gets Schooled

As a teacher, this is the kind of student you pray to have in your class- and this lazy ass seat warmer doesn't know it, can't see it, wants nothing to do with it. So what the hell is she doing in front of a class... except carrying out our nationwide "education" policy to pass standardized tests.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

400 ppm

I won't be around when it hits 1,000 come the end of the century- wonder how many Republicans will be around then living in their gated hill top communities watching the peasantry float by in the valleys below and, of course, blaming them for their woes...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Island Of The Damned

I just chanced clicking upon this photo out of several interesting portfolios on Dillon Marsh's website. It's a stark and rather stolid affair, not a particularly great image by any means- so I wasn't prepared for the wave of emotion that the caption nevertheless brought forth, a myriad of vividly woeful plights of abandonment, starvation and suicide... and perhaps, just maybe, the solitary tale of life long love from an equally rejected  rescuer.

Lives forever lost on a godforsaken lump of land, their stories never to be told...

The human propensity to punish ourselves, both individually and en masse, is forever boundless.
Photo: Dillon Marsh

Sunday, May 5, 2013

History Negates Itself

Recently there's been a rash of ludicrous and embarrassing racial faux pas that were originated by people of color- ridiculing people of color. There's really no excusing this, but alas, there is a reason- the proverbial dumbing down of America, a sad but all too true reality that ranges from the highest  pantheons of power (remember a recent president?) to the most impoverished of inner cities. Too many people in this country (black, white and brown) are woefully ignorant of even the most recent history- forget basic science, general geography, and good ol' common sense... In fact, one of the excuses most often heard is that it was never "intentional." As if no harm, no foul strictly because- it wasn't purposely "intentional." I was aiming for the apple- you gonna blame me!? Serious?

First, there was the Accidental Racist fiasco by LL Cool J, "If you forget the gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains." Really, LL? A few hundred years of beatings, killings and slavery all made good because a few folk had the bad taste to wear too much bling? That's an even trade off? Then there was the Lil Wayne debacle- talk about going well the hell outta your way to demean your own! And finally (if only), there's Tyler The Creator. For all the above- your blatant ignorance does not translate into our misinterpretation; if you do not know the baggage, weight and history of the tools you use, and the work you create- do not dare blame those that do!

Hopefully, the time will come when you gather the resolve to enlighten yourselves and act with some measure of responsibility, respect and dignity- and still challenge and break the boundaries of the powers that be (not work in their favor). Mandela, Malcolm, MLK- they weren't about the bling, they weren't about how much money they could make in their lifetime. They were about sacrifice, dedication, doing for those that couldn't- even Ali voluntarily gave it all up at the very height of his power... because it was the right thing to do. The concept of such self sacrifice would never dare enter your mind.

I know you are the product of a racist, third rate education system that had no real interest in your success. I realize the incredible odds you've overcome to get where you are. Obviously, you are people of certain talent, no one is denying that- but that doesn't give you license to spread ignorance and misogyny, all the while demeaning your own for the sake of profit, excuse me- "art."

If you can't hear what Dr. Boyce is saying, if your child sized ego can't differentiate constructive criticism from just plain "hatin'," it really shows just how long a road you have yet to travel...

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Can't say enough about this flick, which I'd never heard of till the day I saw it. Felt as much as if reading the great American novel from a great Southern writer (alas, at least what I imagine that experience to be) as I did being in a movie theater. Anyway, the acting is superb and the plot, equal parts dreamlike and down home gritty- part of why the movie works so well. Shakespeare and Southern folklore, white trash vs. mythology; Juliet is toxic and Romeo can't fix either of  'em- let alone save himself.

All that and more as a current day Huck Finn greets in the 21st century...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We Destroy Around Us Everything...

Yes, we can do this, it can still be done; we can save what remains of our home (planet) even this late in the game. But we won't- at least, not in time. We rather destroy whatever's left for the next iPhone, the next mega plasma HDTV screen, the next bright and mesmerizingly shiny new object that will occupy the next five minutes of our attention span. Plant a tree??? There's a sale on high capacity magazines! Lohan, Kardashians, I'm a Belieber...