Monday, September 15, 2014

One of my friends said, "What is lacking here in interesting scenery is compensated for by incredible clouds."  It's true. There is a fairly consistent pattern of cloud formation that often leads to rain in the afternoon and evening.  (It's 6:30 PM and raining now in fact.)  I was getting the mail at about 5 o'clock and was dazzled by the western sky.  I am beginning to enjoy having my little Canon S100 digital for immediate gratification, and grabbed it quickly to record a bit of the drama. A little futzing around in Photoshop dumped the color, and hyped things up a bit.  Still, it ain't REAL photography! ;-)

Well into adulthood, I admit to having had a fear of  'the south' that was linked to the awful behavior of mobs and individuals during the '60s in response to desegregation and the civil rights movement.  Bombing 'black' churches, lynching, burning down houses of African Americans who chose to speak out and up, fierce police dogs attacking peaceful protestors, yahoo bigots screaming racist slurs and a host of other despicable practices made the region anathema.  And, of course, the slave cabins and images from Kingsley Plantation continue to reinforce the notion that this is not a region to visit let alone live in if you are a white, liberal, Yankee.

But, having now been a full time resident of north Florida for more than a year, I feel there has been significant change, and my discomfort has abated.  I know there was no dearth of racist intolerance and bigotry in many other regions as well, but the consequences of red-lining, block busting, unfair hiring and firing and a host of other sins didn't make the headlines the way what happened in the segregated south did.  A bad rap?  I don't think so, but now is not then...thankfully!

So, it is wonderful and refreshing to read the story linked below, and view the images of a North Carolina itinerant photographer made of different stuff.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yeah, I kittens or sunsets!  Well, Scooter is 14 and by no means a kitten.  He's a retired cat who can be so laid back that a squirrel will walk past him and not even notice he's there, nor will Scooter twitch a whisker in his direction (true!).  He doesn't have many teeth left, but could still defend himself with claws if he had to.  Perhaps cognizent of his seniority, he is far warier than he used to be and often prefers to be on the screened in porch (or 'lanai', to use the local term) looking out rather than actually being outside...less stress I think.  He periodically adopts perching places that range from a pile of clean laundry, to an empty basket for magazines, or a favorite padded chair seat, and now, to this little table by the front door.  His one principal interest is napping, and he's extremely good at it.  After these pictures were taken, he walked away, jumped up on his favorite chair, and went to sleep.  The perfect retiree!   "I am kitty!  Hear me snore!"

N.B.  As I am now posting the occasional digital image, I'll identify film from pixels for most posts.  These are scans of film exposures made on a tripod with the P67, 135mm lens on Delta 100.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This will be an odd post, and there won't be a photograph or two included.  Rather, I am posing an open question and looking for serious answers.

I am at a total loss as to the way certain contemporary photography disregards most of the criteria I consider essential to a good picture.  In my email today was a new issue of an online photography magazine that baffles me. What I see there over and over again is haphazard lighting, indifferent color...usually somewhat washed out, random composition that seems to deliberately disdain coherent organization, centers of interest that aren't interesting, subjects that wouldn't hold my attention for a moment in reality, a voyeuristic view of people who have no apparent reason for being photographed, and a host of other sins of omission, and commission.  These photographs get published on line and in books, and garner praise by virtue of their being chosen, but without an explanation of why.  (I find it hard to believe anyone would buy any of these pictures for their walls, and I'd love to know how many copies of such books get sold.)

The alternative isn't kittens and sunsets, saturated and over sharpened color landscapes with pristine, dead calm water and snow capped mountains.  I realize that stuff is often kitsch, and is as guilty of  egregious sins as the work I am referring to in the paragraph above.  I make no brief that plodding along with endless variations of Yosemite in winter and the like would be preferred alternatives.
Nor do I  think umpteen Kennabe long exposure style photographs should be thought of as 'better'  art, whatever that is.  I am not writing in praise of stagnation. I also do not contend that my own photographs should garner any particular attention.  But, at least they're honest attempts to meet  standards that have been well established over time. And that's the heart of the question I'm posing...why have those standards been abandoned, and why does deliberate ugliness command the approval of the arbiters of 'fine art' photography???   

So, if you have a comment that will enlighten me, please make it.  If it makes no ad hominem attacks, and uses presentable language, I'll post it.  I apologize in advance for the 'captcha' nonsense that imposes, but I can't seem to disable it.  Comments are delayed until I can check them, but I won't ignore any that meet the two criteria I mentioned.  Thank you in advance! publishes a wide range of photobooks that run the gamut from wonderful to execrable, so look there for examples of the best and worst.