Saturday, February 23

Early Sunday Morning

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Of course in this image I'm influenced by Edward Hopper. Has anyone who has seen his paintings not influenced by him? He's like that tune you can't stop whistling. His color palettes and drawing techniques are so American. It's amazing to me that Hopper came along so early in the last century and yet still influences designers of the hottest cutting edge films.

Hopper’s most cherished paintings are seventy to ninety years old now and his oils have darkened, lending a brooding mood to what were probably much lighter statements. I thought about cranking down the vibrancy of Early Sunday Morning over Lancaster but wondered whether I’d be influenced by Hopper or by what’s come to be considered Hopper as his messages to us pass through time.

Look at this darker take on Early Sunday Morning. I’ve incorporated what Hopper’s critics now call his poem to urban American drabness. They say that this darkened palette captures suspended moments of great pessimistic clarity even as a new day dawns. Maybe, or maybe he bought a box of oils that lacked archival permanence.

Suppose I’m right. Suppose that Hopper painted in the vivacious hues of the image I’ve led with up above. So what are we to think of his ideas today? Or are they his ideas? If it is your intention to build a grand three story building and long after your death a quake levels it to a cute one story structure… Can we judge your intent from what’s left?

And doesn’t the same thing happen when the image stays exactly the same as you intended and culture changes over the years? When different eyes and minds interpret your image, are the ideas and feelings that are communicated yours?

Yeah, I’m influenced by Edward Hopper’s paintings. But, I wonder how much I’m influenced by what forty-something Edward Hopper set out to communicate seventy five years ago? And I wonder if future generations visit my work, or yours, how much that we intend our images to carry to them will have faded in the overlay of their beliefs?

Which leads me to a question: At the moment you release a work into the wild, do you retain any control over its meaning? Is any other meaning as valid as yours? I think that what comes through a time tunnel is what the people on the other side want to come through. And it is quite possible that relatively little, if any of your intentions will withstand the scrubbing of time.

Monday, February 18

Goodnight To Daily Posting

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Been thinking about it a lot lately. I've got so many images in my archives just now to work on. And so many great books piling up on my desk. Recently a couple of new publishers have begun sending me pre releases to review, and they look so good. But I feel a pull to working on a daily image instead... or I've felt that pull weaken in the last couple of weeks. So, I realized that a decision needs to be made about how to cut up a pie of time into the most satisfying slices.

Tonight marks about fifteen months over which I've almost daily posted a new image. And while the therapy in this has been useful, and the friendships I've developed priceless... I think that I'm going to cut back some.

So for no particular reason I think that tonight, February 18th, 2008 will mark the end of the daily ImageFiction rants, musings, boastings, and postings. Perhaps like Michael and Marti, I shall leave the daily world and switch to a weekly world... or so.

Come back on Mondays won't you please? And keep sending me email with your own URLs so I can visit, learn, and comment.

Until next Monday, enjoy this old hulk quivering against the cold in a night shared with a darkened church spire. Seems somehow fitting for an announcement of hibernation, eh?

Saturday, February 16

November 24, 2006: The LCCC Battleground 8

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So here's a new wrinkle in this battle to squash the project to save Lancaster City. It seems that the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority controls this entire project. The LCCCA has seven members. Three are appointed by the County Commissioners, three by The City Of Lancaster. One is appointed every few years by either the city or the county. The rogue commissioners appointed their three but this is the city's turn to appoint four. Hence they hold a majority of one until... until...

(You can start this story by clicking here and reading it forward).

I took this image on November 24 of 2006. The City of Lancaster was scheduled to have its majority on the LCCCA until September of 2007, when the County Commissioners could seize control of the majority and vote this entire project to a stop. Which meant that furious construction would have to take place in the nine months following this picture. Making the story even more tense... Those County Commissioners I've been describing for days now were set to face the voters in November of 2007, about a month after they grabbed final control of the LCCCA and this project.

This hole would have to fill up fast. Which meant even more costs as the supporters of the Convention Center and Hotel together with their tiny majority of one on the LCCCA struggled to erect the project before the commissioners could stop them in court, or stop them by appointing a one member majority of the LCCCA board.

2007 loomed as a nail biter.

Friday, February 15

December 3, 2006: The LCCC Battleground 7

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The "cost-overruns" were mounting into the millions by year's end of 2006 (You can start this story by clicking here and reading it forward).
A new Lancaster City administration was about to take office into an expanding mess. The rogue county commissioners and their allies that small gaggle of fanatical opponents to the city's planned convention center had pushed the project into the high cost/high interest mess of the decade's middle. Their relentless court actions and delays had forced the entire project to the edge of doom.

Meantime contractors worked to support the facade of the historic Watt & Shand department store which had inspired the entire project. Clever architects had planned to carefully shave this facade free from the decaying interior which was scheduled for demolishment. And as that old structure got razed this facade would be carefully supported by an exterior skeleton of braces until a new hotel could be built behind it.

All of that was planned by the hundreds of thousands of citizens who supported the project, still those two commissioners and their tiny band of obsessed fanatics began another round of court suits. BUT... BUT... as 2006 came to an end, 2007 promised an election year in which all three county commissioners would have to face the voters. Yet not until November. Worse yet, even if they were swept from office they had until the very end of the year to do their worst. 2007 looked to be ugly, especially since those commissioners had a very large weapon to fire.

Thursday, February 14

DAY THREE: Computo Reviso

Sigh... Spent lots of last night reading a book on .Mac and getting fuzzy headed. Why was I reading it? Well aside from getting a rush from being fuzzy headed, the new machine and my current .Mac settings appeared incompatible. So I now know lots of things about .Mac that I will never need again, but that part of my repair and reload is finished but more remain. I hope that by the weekend this will all end and that this new MacBookPro will be vastly more efficient for me than the old one. However... once again I have not had enough brain power left to focus upon my image making.

Sorry... Hope that by Saturday... hope hope hope... I shall yet again feel and be graphically creative.

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Did you ever wander around in a florist shop at the very end of Valentine's Day? Just before closing when the setting sun bathed the remaining corpses?

Wednesday, February 13

DAY TWO: ComputoReviso

As explained yesterday, Apple replaced my defective 14 month old MacBookPro with a brand new, top of the line, machine. It arrived yesterday and during my non-working hours I am teaching it to dance, sing, and think. In most ways one can sense it is very similar to my old machine (which must be sent back to Apple in 29 days or else one of my credit cards takes a humongous hit) so while it's exciting to have brand new machine (fresh off the assembly line in Shanghai) there isn't quite the same rush you get when you unbox a toy that's stuffed full-up with new geegaws, flashies, and thunder thingees.

This is NOT a complaint. The thing is faster (2.16 to 2.4), it's got a bigger hard drive(120G to 160G), and twice the RAM (1Gig to 2 Gig). The old machine's memory maxed out at 2gig, this one will accept up to 4, and given my graphic needs, this should also reduce rendering time. While the improvements are marginal, they're nice. Oh yeah, it also comes with Mac's new OS: Leopard. What's most important is that I shall be able to trust that the disk drive won't go defective losing everything on it and necessitating yet another trip to Macintosh and the time it takes to rebuild everything.

Of course that's what I am doing now, rebuilding the new laptop from the old. Which consumed last night and will probably consume tonight. It also means that I'll probably need to buy a book on Leopard since no manuals come with op systems today. And that means yet an additional learning curve.

Hope to be back uploading images tomorrow, but I'm a tad worried that life is intruding on my photography. Darn. Stop back for the latest news.... K?

Tuesday, February 12

New Computer Came!

If you will recall my rant back on January 25th over my MacBook Pro's capricious tendencies to break? You might recall my whining about Apple's reluctance to replace the machine even after two disk drive replacements by them in 90 days (click on the keyword "Apple" below)? Well again this month the thing began crashing and this time Mac agreed to replace it with the new, top of the line 17" MacBook Pro. Yippee. They didn't have to do that. I offered to pay for the difference between the value of my defective one year old machine and the new model. They insisted, and of course I reluctantly accepted a faster processor and a larger disk drive plus double the ram all running on Mac's new OS, Leopard. I'm easy.

So, while the process took a while, I'm pleased to say that my twenty some years of using MacIntosh machines exclusively will continue into the future. And now I'm pricing a new MacPro to replace this massive G4 I'm typing on now. Thats a couple of months of though (and hopefully some of my photography sales will subsidize that purchase).

But tonight and tomorrow I'm going to be working on the new machine that's just arrived today from Shanghai. So, I suspect I shall not post again until Thursday. It's too much fun to play with the new laptop and... and.... WHEEEEEEEEE!

Monday, February 11

October 24, 2006: The LCCC Battleground 6

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October's high Fall in Lancaster. The trees are usually either at or just past full color throughout the late parts of the month and brisk days turn to quite cool as we head into November. By this time in 2006, the first fights were fought over the construction of this Convention Center which I've discussed for six day now. And they were delaying the activities which had already been slow to start as a result of earlier court fights.

Original budgets for this project were drawn up in the early part of the decade and contracts were let as interest rates plummeted. Construction and commodity prices as a result of the low interest rate boom had not yet exploded. It was a sweet time to plan a big project like this. But by 2006, after years of wrestling critics led by those rogue commissioners had pushed the project through delays into a time when both prices and interest rates were soaring.

So their actions, while not yet successful in any court order to stop the process, were successful in pushing it into viciously more expensive waters. And still... here on October 24... the machines worked by day, and their operators wondered by night if those commissioners would have locks on all the gates by daybreak. And in County Commission offices a determined obsession seemed to have enveloped those two commissioners and their small cadre of supporters to either stop or strangle the project at all costs...

Cost passed increasingly along to taxpayers.

Sunday, February 10

July 15, 2006: The LCCC's Battleground 5

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For that past four days I showed you views from the roof of that parking garage that slashes horizontally across the top of this picture.

But this time I wanted the fourth wall to fall away, so I stood in front of the Lancaster News Paper's printing building and looked back, first to the left and then to the right. You can see that developments created the gap in a hockey player's smile on the other side of South King Street. Up to the left is the front of the Watt&Shand department store whose facade the designers hoped to preserve to wrap around the front of the new hotel, while in front of me the convention center was planned to rise within the gap. See down there to the right, some buildings were getting stripped away to leave those buildings on the corner. More to tell about them tomorrow.

I can tell from analytics tracking that visitors are coming from all around the world to watch this cultural and economic struggle in Lancaster. And from your private e-mail I know a lot of you are now wondering how this battle's come out. You're wondering if everything in that image up there was brought to a halt, leaving that hockey smile broken into the city's center.

And you should wonder because as I took this picture the contractors were expecting that some judge would issue an injunction to the two county commissioners who were spending tax dollars as if they were their own. No... no... people like that never spend their own money. In fact lots of the actors in this drama expected those commissioners would get an injunction they could use to stop all of this.

"Jump forward Ted," a writer begged me. "Come on... stop the tease. How's this story end? Are we watching a tragedy or a triumph? And for whom?"

Saturday, February 9

July 16, 2006: • The LCCC's Battleground 4

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Here's an image of bravery. A band of people from High Construction, The Lancaster Newspapers, Fulton Financial Corporation,and The Lancaster County Historic Preservation Trust had won the support of every key economic and cultural institution in Lancaster County, including the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, The Economic Development Corporation, the County's Convention and Visitor's Bureau, and the Mayor, Council and legislators from the City of Lancaster to raze nondescript rotting structures between N. Vine Street on the left of this picture and along S. King Street at the top of this image to make way for the construction I've shown you in the past few days. They'd also won the approval of two of three outgoing County Commissioners to establish the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority... The LCCCA I've mentioned over the past days.

Days before this photo was taken the majority of the old buildings were demolished to clear this area. On the top right of this image you can see yet more large buildings (the dark brick ones) which were scheduled to be pealed away. The remaining structures to the left were scheduled for preservation that would incorporate them into the new convention center.

BUT... two of the three incoming county commissioners, who were elected on pledges of support for this project abruptly abandoned those promises to join with powerful interests of opposition made up of hotel owners, city haters, change opponents, government haters, and a gaggle of anti-everything zealots.

In spite of the astonishing support for this project... those rogue commissioners began to assemble an army of attorneys to restrain and kill this construction. If they were successful the original supporters could lose tens of millions of dollars and economic recovery in Lancaster City would be crippled or probably ended. At the moment I took this peaceful picture, a full on battle had exploded and the other side controlled the entirety of the Lancaster County treasury. The future of an important historical city was plunged into an invisible civil war. Its enemies had captured County Government.

At about that time I asked the executive director of a key agency for his prediction regarding the potential completion of this convention center and its companion hotel. "Ted," he frowned. "A scale of ten? On a good day, I peg its chances of not getting cancelled at 5. No," he thought for a moment. "Make that 4."

Friday, February 8

May 30 • 2007:• The LCCC's Battleground 3

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There's an odd thing about construction... it appears to happen in spurts. At first the structures on this site were razed in just a few days and everything looked very different. Then the niggling details took over and even after months so little appears different, at least at first glance. But as you study the little things, you sense that tens of thousands of them have occurred. And as all of that was going on, the two commissioners, one a Democrat, the other a Republican continued their battle pouring tens and hundreds of thousands into the pockets of lawyers trying to stop this thing.
Yet oddly, resistance to their resistance seemed to be building. It was faint at first but by May of last year as I travelled around Lancaster County I began to hear supporters emerging. People who sensed that this could mean the rebirth of their county seat. That it could mean a dependable source of revenue for a city staggering under state and federal mandates. But still, one wondered as Spring broke, if backlash could possibly offset those two of three commissioners and their gang of supporters.

Things still felt grim.

Thursday, February 7

March 10, 2007: The LCCC's Battleground 2

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I began this series yesterday in the future, August 11, 2007. That was a scene setter. And what happened before? Today let's step back six months and peer into the hole that might never fill. Or at least that's what rational people thought on March 10th as they cleared the space and dug into the colonial dirt of downtown Lancaster.
As the heavy metal machinery gathered in the pit, heavy hitter lawyers were gathering at the direction of two of three county commissioners who were turreting the guns of the Lancaster County treasury to bear in order to stop these machines.

Wednesday, February 6

August 11, 2007: The LCCC's Battleground 1

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This is a battle zone... or it was when I took this picture. Over the next days I shall post some more pictures of this site ... some made earlier... some... later. This is the Lancaster County Convention Center arising in the very epicenter of the City of Lancaster. The actions of a coalition of county hotel owners, anti government activists, anti development activists, economic illiterates, anti Lancaster City activists, and some few superstitious zealots came together with the political aspirations of two of three county commissioners to stop this project. They claimed to speak for the majority of the half million people in lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They mounted every delaying tactic and court maneuver imaginable. Even as this image was taken, there was serious doubt about just who they did represent and whether this hole would ever be filled.

Incidentally, this series of panoramas are each designed to be very large prints of perhaps six to eight feet on their longest edge.

Tuesday, February 5

Man Goes To Work

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Before sunrise the street sellers in Florence, laden with inventory, go off to beat the cops. These vendors lack licenses, frequently without documentation of any sort, carry everything they offer. They're prepared to flee at the first sign of the Carbineri.

Monday, February 4

Framing

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What are the rules for framing? Here's one approach.

Sunday, February 3

Amateur Standing

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So I'm wondering: is there a fine line between photographic art and unsalable imagery? Art is what the art establishment says it is. I'm not upset by that, just realistic. For example, would Andy Warhol's "Brillo Boxes" have sold in the 17th, or 18th centuries? What art is... is not determined by artists, right? So if you want to sell art, you have to look up the definition du jour and do that. Or you need to skitter together some of the people who are in charge of the definition today and get them to go, like, "Whoa! Yeah Baby, you give good art.! Let me sell it for you, okay?"

Take for example Andreas Serriano's "Piss Christ" - a very large super sharp color photograph of a crucifix floating in a glass jug of urine. The original is said to be magnificently lit, and the amber fluid creates mysterious glimmerings and..... And it not only would not have sold in the 1600s, Serriano would have hung. Which brings me back to my question, is there a fine line between photographic art and unsalable imagery? And do you have to be on the Serriano side of that line today to attract an audience that will part with money? And is parting with money the final arbiter of whether a work is ultimately both art and good? Or is there still a role for Amateur Standing?

If there is, I'm there: with images like this I created from a rainy morning at the Salty Dog's docks along Hilton Head's inlet.

***
Here's what the original looked like to my camera...
GEEK STUFF: Canon EOS 20D, 6/3/07,7:24 AM: Lens 17-85mm, Focal Length: 30mm, Exp 1@f/25, ISO 400, Metering Mode: Auto, Exposure bias -1.67, Camera RAW

Saturday, February 2

Time Design

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As every artist has discovered, there is an urge to overdo. To wretched excess. We have a tendency, even an obsession to make something happen because we are able to, and that frequently is sufficient reason all by itself. Eventually we learn that what we think and feel has to constrain what our craft allows us. So because we can blur, draw, color, shape, flow... wuddever... well, we shouldn't do it if it doesn't contribute to what we want to communicate to our audience.

Which brings me to things Florentine. Here's a small selection of The Duomo... the cathedral of Florence which occupies about four city blocks. Growing up I never really took to Florentine art. I found it over designed. Over crafted. Too busy. I've got to admit that this feeling didn't go away as I looked at the massive Duomo which took centuries to complete. And each generation of new artists added gee-gaws, and whrilygigs to the great piece. Frankly, and this will probably make every serious student of art gasp, I think the thing is too much bordering upon garish. Even in small snippets like this it appears to me more like the guy whose body's been totally tattooed - by a melange of different needle stickers.

Is it art? Sure? But art's appreciation remains a matter of taste. If I'd been the dictator I'd have told these folks to stop a little more than a century into the project. But.. wuhdoIknow?

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Here's the original image that came out of my camera by the way. Maybe I'm guilty of over design myself? Odd because I threw out so much, and cropped the thing both through my lens and here in my studio. Ah well, you tell me...

Friday, February 1

An Aging Loving Couple

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What's a concerto?

Here's one. It's a duet of solo instruments contrasted against its orchestral setting. See it?

Photographers have the ability to liberate these moments into a timeless place. Except for this picture taken in the streets of Florence, Italy last October this concerto will never happen this way again. But we can simultaneously preserve it and flash it throughout the world, over and over until somehow technology tires of this transmission mechanism. Or it might then even move to some other, not now even imagined, transmission mechanism. We however are the content creators. Content can become independent of media. So this concerto can leap from computers, to discs, to broadcast, to whatever. And this moment now is part of a potentially never ending concerto featuring an aging loving couple and a unique setting to meld with your imaginaton.

And not only will the moment never happen again, but savor it since your reflection on this concerto is also a unique moment which will never happen again.

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GEEK STUFF: Canon EOS 20D, 10/10/07,1:06 PM: Lens 17-85mm, Focal Length: 53mm, Exp 1/25@f/5.6, ISO 200, Metering Mode: Partial, Exposure bias -0.67, Camera RAW

Here's what my digital sketch book captured right off of the flash card. The idea is in there, right?