Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The NY Times Review

Just in case you're not aware of this... this is something both unexpected and unprecedented- a comprehensive photo event meant to assess, review and evaluate your work by none other than the The Old Gray Lady (aka- The NY Times itself)! And it's absolutely 100% Free!!! Don't know why, or why now- but this is one service that is way overdue in the photographic community, and near overwhelming in scope when you consider just how many people will apply, and what they're actually offering for the lucky 160 who will ultimately qualify.

The Times is definitely to be commended here- and I hope others take note, and follow suit. For those who take the plunge...  
Best of Luck!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kill Anything That Moves

Visitors take in a re-created scene at the massacre museum at Vietnam's My Lai village. Researcher Nick Turse says atrocities of all kinds were more common in the Vietnam War than most Americans believe.
Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images

Think My Lai was the only senseless mass slaughter of (elderly) men, women and children in Vietnam? An unfortunate military aberration, a freak confluence of the stars? Think again.

And should you come to think such atrocities a sad remnant of some far gone past- then you're just not thinking...at all.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Virus That Is Mankind

I suppose I should be just as ever the more outraged by the amount of human suffering openly visible on the streets of any major city on any given day. I suppose it is, in fact, the every day commonality of it all, and our everyday indifference- particularly since it is we ourselves who have purposely designed and created our very own living hell on earth, which we perpetuate throughout every succeeding generation.

Nevertheless, this disturbed me to my core. To see this majestic, and most graceful of animals suffer such an agonizingly slow and painful death in the poisonous toxic remains that we have so casually made of our earthly home- a scene that was repeated countless times in the Gulf of Mexico (courtesy of BP), and annually in Japan by the thousands.

Our very planet is dying all around us and all we can think of are our god given rights to own iPhones and semiautomatics. The human experiment was a brave and noble experiment, and it would be truly heartbreaking to witness our own demise- but better us (and infinitely more noble) than the entire planet, and better sooner, while it may still have a chance...

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Year Is Young for Fun And GUNS!

via TYWKIWDBI

Well, we here in the US of A have gone almost a whole month in this brand new year with only two school shooting incidents and six people shot thus far- not one killed! But not to worry folks, we'll be back to our usual record making pace and numbers soon enough- just the post holiday doldrums is all. The year is young, and as you can see from the stats below, we Americans are not gonna let anything get in the way between us and our kids guns! Neither bathroom breaks, nor (least of all) the fact that some of us got a little carried away a few years back on a particularly bad day.

 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2012/12/causes-of-violent-death.jpg
(via truthdig)                       

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fotofilmic Competition!

Got this competition notice from Aline Smithon's remarkable Lenscratch blog- caught my eye because it's open solely to photographers who shoot... film. The entry fee, not particularly high by going standards (obviously if I can afford it), are then used to print the converted digital files of the winning entries for exhibit- nice touch!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You Be The Judge...

 The Canteen Photo Submissions are now online for public viewing!

Quite a large and varied group of interesting submissions. Look and see for yourself- which would you choose as your twenty five finalists, and... Final Five?

And speaking of being the judge- getta load of this!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Django Unchained

I'm hardly the Quentin Tarantino fan, in fact, the very sight of him makes me kinda nauseous. But as a confirmed believer in the "every dog has his day" philosophy of life and living (ie- based on the favorable reviews), I gradually came to the conclusion that I had to grit my teeth, cross my fingers, and check Django out for myself.

And this is one masterful piece of movie making before finally descending into the routine spaghetti western it ultimately purports to be in its last half hour. Tarantino has taken that most exaggerated of genres, infused it with liberal doses of genuine humor, and still manages to create palpable tension with its visceral depictions of the brutality that was slavery. Not an easy feat to pull off by any means. While not a historical dissertation on antebellum plantation America, neither does it gloss over the overriding evil that pervaded "that most peculiar institution." It does not exist in the background as some theoretical evil or historical backdrop, it is highlighted front stage and center in all its hideous, pernicious degradation of human mind and body.

What makes the film so entertaining and unique is that you never quite know which way the storyline will go, how a particular scene will play out- be it for drama, shock, or unexpected humor (a crowd scene with KKK precursors is one of the funniest offbeat comedic scenarios ever filmed- and I detest most modern comedies). Every scene is a chess match of human emotions. This is in large part due to the character of Django's partner and mentor, one very uniquely drawn and versatile Dr. King Schultz- cunning, ingenious and comically deceptive. This unlikely duo of bounty hunters enchant us into a dreamlike escapade filled with various unforeseen encounters that lure and captivate our imagination, only to  awaken us in one sweaty fright.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lance, Chapter... The Fall

Gotta admit, I did love ol' Lance. Didn't have a sports' idol since I was kid till he came along. Conqueror of the Alps, victor of the hardest feat in all sports- repeatedly, decisively, like take it to the bank, superhuman style. He'd train and suffer and drive himself harder than anyone in the game, and when the money was on the table- Bang, he'd come through! Over, and over, and over again...

At first I thought it that all so rarefied combination of super human physicality, talent and heart. This was the man that had run the Big C straight outta his body for Chrissakes, practically by sheer force of will alone (along with a cocktail regimen of death defying... drugs)! He stared The Grim Reaper flush in the eye with that steeled hawkeye glare, and emerged intact, talent undiminished. What he set out to do, he did- and neither man nor nature could intervene. It's what we of mortal means dream of in any field of endeavor, in any enterprise or human undertaking large or small.

And then the rumors began. Petty little people with their petty little ways- jealous and envious of his success and determination. Better they tend to their own sorry lives. Lance wanted no part of these leeches and liars, and neither did I. 

The malignant rumors persisted however. No matter- Lance kept focused, jealousies and innuendo would have to wait. He would remain steadfast, and so would I. Life had taught me that contrary to logic, where there's smoke, there wasn't always fire. I had witnessed how fickle human beings can turn on those they love, encourage and admire. The most common of human failings.

I don't know when I started to doubt, or if there was any one single occurrence that precipitated it. I suppose having the doctor most renowned for doping on his team didn't help. Or the fact that seemingly loyal friends, team members and coworkers were being tossed aside in a constant procession like so many discarded, roadside cups of water. It was an overwhelming confluence of factors that slowly started to point the way from superhuman... to more than all too human. 

Somehow my loyal love and devotion transformed into a perverse curiosity and admiration. This man truly had no peers, neither in talent nor guile. He was perpetrating one of the biggest international con games worth hundreds of millions right in open public. And all but the losers were drinking the kool aid. Exalted in his blatant non chalance, he reveled in his success, all the while looking the public straight in the eye- challenging them like any mountain underfoot his ever advancing front wheel. Arrogant, self assured, ever the winner! To this day, to this very practiced apology, I remain- very much amazed...  (and soon @ a theater near you...)

Friday, January 18, 2013

$1,025 USD!!!

Ran into this the other day looking to log on from another computer:

Reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com is ranked 3,758,367 in the world (among the 30 million domains). This site is estimated worth $1,025USD. This site has a good Pagerank(5/10). It has 134 backlinks. It's good for seo website. Reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com has 10% seo score.
 
And make no doubt, sure as you're sitting there- I'm gonna be ranked 3,758,366 by this time next year!

PS- And BTW... I'm not one to name names (but unlike some other photobloggers- yeah, you know the ones)- I haven't tested positive on any of my performance enhancing drug tests.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cancellations- Art On The Easy!


Photo: Thomas Barrow

At Dusk, the two book set by Boris Mihailov is easily one of my all time favorites. The books consist of panoramics, one in which the prints are heavily sepia toned, the others certifiably blue. The extreme color casts have a pronounced effect, both aesthetically and psychologically. Personally, I could do without them, and appreciate them all the more if printed to standard, cold tone, B&W exhibition quality standards. Mihailov stated that the colored prints more closely reflected remembrances in his own life that the subject matter mirrored in his present. The fact is, it doesn't matter if the quality never rises above work print, the added color effectively masks the any darkroom shortcomings and imperfections (making printing a blessed and absolute ease) and becomes an intrinsic part of the overall aesthetic. Regardless, the quality of Mihailov's compositions will simply not be denied. Great when you can get away with it- he can, and he does.

Thomas Barrow's Cancellations consists of sepia toned prints with a huge X (etched into the negatives themselves); often times it works, usually when the photograph is already good enough to stand on its own without the additional artifice. Sometimes the X effectively serves to join together disparate elements throughout the photograph into a more cohesive composition (I find a black border works wonders for that). Then there are times when it just looks like what it is (with or without a giant X)- a work print of a reject image with blown out highlights and deep shadows devoid of detail that would not make an interesting image even if printed well.

At Dusk's photographs work no matter the printing method; Cancellations looks like Barrows had a few winners (like the one above), a few almosts, and asked himself what he could do to spice things up a notch to present them as a finished package. He needed a hook; I'd call it a gimmick. He claims it's all about bringing attention to the fact that a photograph can also be an art object in and of itself, like any other art form, instead of just a representational artifact. Uh-huh...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reflections On Rejection


Photo: Stan B.

Meg Shiffler, the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries Director, was most gracious and kind to engage my wounded pride recently when my entries were rejected for an upcoming PhotoAlliance group show.

Before presenting the enclosed correspondence let me just say that rejection has been a long standing dance partner and drinking buddy. Many moons ago when I abandoned any thought of a professional photography career, I figured that I would nevertheless continue to pursue photography, and get published and exhibited once every couple of years or so in some minor publication or group exhibit. I mean, that's a fairly realistic goal, right? Right? Reality didn't think so.

I don't enter many competitions, I stay away from the more commercial ones (especially those that promise first class RT tickets to your own 5 star hotel suite atop your very own gallery in NYC). Your chances of winning those are the same as winning the lottery, and many will claim some kind of (if not exclusive use and) ownership of your work (always read the small print). Forget winning, you end up losing the contest, your entrance fee and... ownership of your own work!

Some competitions are going to be less open to a particular style, presentation or look (research the judges, and past winners). I know I'm a dinosaur, so when someone like me, who clings to the belief that a photo or two still deserves to be seen on occasion, gets rejected from a local show (ie- smaller gene pool), with a very sympatico theme that can fit my particular style- it's a tad different than being rejected at twenty five. It's more like... we didn't let you in the club when you had both barrels blazing, what makes ya think we're gonna let your sagging ass in now- on any level, for any reason? Help! I've fallen and I can't get up...

So, you yung 'uns, lissen up, and... Better luck than me!


MS-
Always interesting to see what artists think about this process. I know it’s crazy hard. I apply for freelance curatorial jobs and wonder what kind of hot shit curator they hired instead of me!  However, the jury process is always more than it appears. I’ll let you in on a couple things from our end . (Note I reviewed all the images submitted, but was too sick to participate in this particular jury process.) I’ve been a guest juror for other spaces, as well as a juror for the spaces that I oversee, literally hundreds of times. There are many opinions that have to be managed. You don’t know if someone on the jury was fighting for your work, and lost the argument. I’ve loved work by an artist, but my fellow jurors have felt otherwise. That means that there is a curator out there that has seen your work and will log it in the old memory bank for the future. I’ve asked artists I’ve seen at portfolio reviews or in jury processes to be in exhibitions later. Also, building an exhibition through the jury process isn’t always about choosing the “best” work. It’s also about making an exhibition. There was a show that I juried once where 50 % of the works submitted were images shot in India. The show could only handle so many pics of India, so we had to narrow a selection of those works, and include works on other themes that rounded out the show. I suppose we could have created a show about India, but we decided to go in a different direction. When you see the final results, you need to refrain from thinking, “My work is better than that, ” because the work that was selected was chosen for many reasons  - the theme, the skill level, the dialogue it will have with the other works in the show, the cohesiveness of the works submitted (are they from one series of work or are they individual images?), the relevancy to the call, and any quirky personal reason a juror has. In rare instances images have all of what I just listed. More than likely the selected works hit some of the list and adds something to the overall show that is created.

Soooo, for what it’s worth, that’s a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I know rejection is hard, but don’t dis the jurors because they may be your advocates in the future. 

SB-
Thanks, Meg- very kind of you to be so generous to take the time and effort to respond (and I really do mean that)- and realize that much, if not all, of what you say is quite true... although you did leave out the part that artists known to judges also have a curious way of being included more often in the final judging. I'm not at all saying that's what happened here- just that it is also a part that should be mentioned if we are considering the whole gamut of what can happen during at least some competitions.

First of, I just want to clarify that I do not overstate or overvalue my own work. I've been going to photography galleries since the early seventies- when 35mm Tri-X was both the norm, and the cutting edge rage. Obviously, since those are the tools I use to this day- I'm not exactly in the current vanguard, say since... '76 with the advent of color. But I do know what's out there, great and small- and I realize it's a very small niche where my work has the slightest chance. So when there's a "local" show, showing "local" artists, that fits a particular theme for which your work is particularly suited- yeah, what's chosen  better be well above and beyond anything you can imagine... or you're bound to be a tad flustered when rejected.

I was in one of their shows back in 2007, the quality quite high, some of it quite excellent to superb. Which is why I doubt the quality this time around will be significantly different- perhaps, as you suggest, my particular work didn't fit into the overall character of their finalists. But as you also no doubt know, many group shows tend to exhibit the various range of spectrum within a given theme (as the one in '07). And since I haven't entered any of their exhibits in the intervening years, I don't think it's a question of my trying to hog their exhibition space.

To this day, there's nothing that I "enjoy" more than going to an exhibit where I am truly humbled and even embarrassed to be seen with a camera. Most exhibits fall into three basic categories: those that are clearly above your league, those somewhat above or on a parallel level (perhaps using more current "vernacular"), and those that are the au currant flavor of the day. Clearly, my exhibition possibilities are limited, so on the few occasions I do venture forth, I guess at my age it comes off more a slap in the face, than a "learning experience."

That said, there is also much to be said concerning the judging process itself in most competitions, how it can be improved, and actually become- a true learning experience--- and this is the way to do it.*

MS-
I think you make some valid points. Sometimes judges do sometimes sway a bit to artists or works that are familiar. They have a broader depth of understanding when the work flashes before them during the jury process.  When reviewing work by over 160 artists, familiarity can play in an artists favor, however I've never been on a jury that bypassed integrity to make that choice. Back to my previous email - one way to become more familiar to curators in the community is to come to portfolio reviews and enter juried shows. There are four people who know your work better now! 

There's no way that I can change the personal and emotional aspects of the jury process for submitting artists. It may seem like a small thing, but I personally contact every artist who is both selected and not selected (which is not a standard institutional practice). With 160 plus artists, this takes a good amount of time, but I want the artists to know that I/we truly appreciate the effort (and emotional vulnerability) it takes to enter into a process like this. I also want artists to know that even though it stings a bit, this is only one opportunity, and that there will be others. There was extraordinary work that was entered - truly remarkable - that didn't make it in for one reason or another and I would love to consider it again. 

You have a lot of years and experience under your belt, however you can always ask a jury why your work wasn't chosen and you just might learn something. Again, I wasn't on this jury, but I see that they mostly chose works that are part of a cohesive series/essay, rather than individual works. I find that it is always stronger to submit works in a series. (Sorry, you can choose to view this rejection as a "slap in the face" but I entered into this dialogue for two reasons - to force a learning experience, and to give a voice to any jury that an artist tells to fuck off, which is a slap in the face.) You cared enough to enter, curators know your work better, and you and your work are appreciated.

*Funny– The only time I’ve ever participated in a jury that was open to the public we were screamed at by an artist, two other artists stormed out in tears, and the rest left demoralized by listening to the jury critique their art (in a very professional, but honest manner) without the ability to converse. I’m not sure it’s a good thing, but I think they’re brave to open the process. 

SB-
Well, I just want to thank Meg Shiffler again for taking the time to share some very valuable insights with this angry young grumpy old geezer. I've certainly learned that one's never too old to get, or feel, rejected (sorry, couldn't help it). And not that anyone asked, but there is one piece of advice that I can give- don't go into any competition expecting to win. It's not anywhere near the same thing as believing in oneself, and one's work. I allowed myself to think that I was going to get into that show; my work was good enough, the theme right down my alley- this one had to go down, karma owed me (big time)! I set myself up. 

And sometimes, sometimes it just takes someone to remind you what you already know...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

God Bless America!



He should join this guy! Oops, too late- best have an armed guard when you're so well armed!!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

What Should Have Gone Out On Pioneer

Forget this...



MAN by Steve Cutts is what should have gone out of our solar system as a way more accurate introduction and assessment of mankind.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back...


This is hardly the place to come for software editing news or reviews (I have Elements 9 which came free with my computer), but I recently saw that Elements 11 incorporates the Refine Edge feature of full fledged Photoshop CS6- and that is nice! After all, accurate (relatively trouble free) selection is half the game right there. Was actually ready to update...

But then read they went and done changed the goddamn interface- and that includes making the image surface area... smaller! One major step forward, two dumbass steps back.

See what 12 does in '13...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Refugee Hotel


First on my 2013 must get list... Love the feel and layout of this book by Gabriele Stabile and Juliet Linderman, relatively small and hand friendly, whereas the photographs, particularly at first, are dark and ominous- reflecting the aftermath of the long and dangerous paths these immigrants have had to negotiate to arrive in the strange and foreign place they are now to call home. The middle of Refugee Hotel contains the first hand accounts of those ordeals, the last third depicts them as they settle in and adjust to their new environments and lives. A brief but insightful journey into the shadows and overlooked lives of those who have been running the world over not for sport or fitness, but for their very lives.  (@ Carte Blanche 1/18)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Leave The Fuckin' Sharks Alone Already!!!

And Steven Spielberg- you who did more than anyone on earth to demonize this animal as a supernatural killer from beyond should lend your voice and a few of your loose millions to help publicize and stop this wanton slaughter. The rest of us should, at the very least, express our supreme displeasure at this hideously cruel practice. We must shame and enlighten China to desist from this barbaric, slow death that they inflict on the animal kingdom- and we're not even talking... dogs! I've started a Petition (please sign and FB), in the hopes of getting the big guy's attention- China is not the only entity that needs to be shamed and enlightened into doing what's right...

Over 100,000,000 sharks are killed every year, that's 190 sharks per minute.
It is estimated that in 10 years sharks will be extinct...


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Please...

I know we're all tapped out this time of year (and I sure ain't bragging when I state that I probably make less than anybody reading this), but if you can find it in your heart to give a few bucks...  (via Prison Photography)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Back To Reality...

Got back two more 16x20's from the lab yesterday- and came crashing back down to reality. One is way too dark and contrasty (the scan perfectly exposed with proper highlights and midtones), the other is also darker than the scan but perhaps not that bad in print (a slightly lighter scan played nicely on screen). Interestingly, they mistakenly reprinted the first scan I gave them (which they kept)- and again, it was spot on!


Goldilocks Scan.
Way Darkened Inkjet Print
Now I've read enough about the trials and tribulations of people trying to get their prints to match their scans, I just wish that would have happened my first go around. That first print proved that inkjets were, in fact, a viable, quality alternative to silver gelatin. Still, I had my suspicions as to the absolute ease of how that print came about- nothing in my life ever came about that freakin' easy! These two additional prints (even though they may raise as many questions as they answer) were to further test the ease and reliability of that quality.


Darkened Print.
Goldilocks Scan.
Now, it's more or less back to being the crap shoot I initially imagined- though still not as bad as the analogue days, when each and every print could be slightly different in each and every crucial area of concern. I guess a calibrated monitor wouldn't hurt, although I can already hear myself screaming- "It shouldn't be this dark. It shouldn't be this anything- I Have A Calibrated Monitor, Godamnit!"

Nevertheless, lesson learned- order small 8x10 test prints before going bust into big boy territory. And if I was ever to have the capital to make a large order- consult with the printer him or herself.  My initial over the top, "beginner's luck" enthusiasm has now been officially tempered by reality, and that's a good thing. And though I won't be spending any more money I don't have on prints anytime soon, now I have a considerably better accounting of the quality that can be achieved, and the extended effort necessary to successfully guarantee that that quality is reproduced on a continued and reliable basis.

Update: After some cursory correspondence it seems that sometimes the printers at this particular establishment make "judgement"  calls as to "corrections" they think should be imposed! I'm uhhhh... speechless- I thought the whole point of post editing was to get it down to your own exact specification, your own style of seeing and presentation, so that if it doesn't, in fact, come out right and the printer stayed faithful to what was presented- it's no one's fault but the person who made the scan in the first place!

Fortunately, seems they are willing to make this right- to be continued...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sanity vs Death In The New Year

I HOPE the new year brings in some new gun control measures, other than the usual cosmetics. The previous "ban" on assault rifles had a loophole so big that all they had to do was change the shape of the rifle stock- the rest of the rifle was every bit the freakin' same! And you could and still can get practically any gun you want, with however much ammo you desire at any gun fair- and for a few bucks under the table, they'll hook ya up with the full auto conversion kit. Nice! By the way- no waiting periods or background checks at those gun shows... Real nice!!! Don't have the few extra bucks after buying your dream arsenal du jour? No worries-- full auto with... a mere rubber band!

You need a license and registration (not to mention a minimum test of proficiency and insurance- now there's an idea) to operate and own a motorized means of transportation- but to own an outright instrument of death and destruction... You're fuckin' with my god given rights as an AMERICAN!

Meanwhile the NRA continues its full steam ahead, one note only explanations and reassurances... MORE GUNS!

Lots more! Armed security in: schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, restaurants, churches and I personally hope they go for having them in all public restrooms (I've seem some really suspicious characters in them things). It didn't work at Columbine- and how many more do ya think would have been saved at Aurora if they had armed guards and/or an armed audience shooting in the dark at a black clad, armed assailant shooting in the midst of a crowd! Don't wanna think about the "You shot my girlfriend" revenge killings..

Yet, these four million delusional fanatics, through their propaganda and bought politicians, actually swear it would have saved lives! Sanity vs Death...



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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Complete Set...


Sold the back up F100 (gave up considerable bells and whistles, as well as size) for an 'ol rock solid F3 (KEH- $200)- there's just something about a ratcheted advance lever (and 100% view finder accuracy)! This completes my macho Nikon film Triad- an F3, F100, FM3a (and my FG emergency spare). Now that I know that a 35mm film/digital hybrid existence is, in fact, feasible (not just theory), I can fully relax and luxuriate in my complete and utter obsolescence throughout the coming new year(s)... Hallelujah!