Sunday, June 29

Soliloquy #1

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In a giggle of
Carolina tumbled
Against Jeb
A last time

I've been thinking about conceptual art a lot. This is an example of a concept I wanted to picture before I got on my bike and pedaled over to Lancaster Cemetery. I didn't know that I'd find Caroline and Jeb, but I knew that I'd find a great love and the lightness of giggles. And I did.

Does the image marry the lyric? Is it a song? A poem in two parts? It's certain though that both parts are essential to whatever meaning and feeling that the work has. They are necessary and sufficient conditions to explain Carolina as I conceived her, just as playful now as then, and ever will be... Because I'm convinced that...

it's the good that makes most people's memories...

... and most people memories.

Saturday, June 28

Self Important

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Didja' ever notice how, um... important almost anything can be made to look if it's simply matted and signed? Why izzat?

Thursday, June 26

Dixie #10: River Street • Savannah, Ga

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I had to come a great distance
To find these feelings.

And now they have come
A great distance to find you.

They are an old new message
In a new old bottle...

Addressed to the finder.

Sunday, June 22

Dixie #9: River Street • Savannah, Ga

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Hush for a moment along River Street. If you gaze intently as a cartoon-watching child you’ll feel it… an echo… of Bourbon St.

It’s a waft of bawdy Southern culture… the one that comes out at night along the waterfronts of Dixie’s cities – hawking the teasey patina and paint of fading flashy ladies waiting for the sailors.

Friday, June 20

Dixie #8: Hush... Don't Wake It

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In school, photographers have been taught to pre-visualize so that the result will conform to their, and the client's, expectations. And for most of the genres of photography (forensic, fashion, wedding, sports, etc.)... this is perfect advise. But for art photography, the principles are broader.

Of course I frequently set out with an idea or a feeling that I want to capture. But today, we get two bites at the apple. We can pre-visualize before we click the shutter. And/or we can pre-visualize as we bring our images up in Aperture, LightRoom, Bridge, or whatever application you use to sort pictures. In this second place we can pre-visualize before the post processing.

This is a new space for photography in most cases. Oh sure there were artists in the old days who did spectacular enhancements in the darkroom. These were the pioneers for the digital enhancements we can now achieve.

Which means that in art photography the whole needn’t be the sum of its parts. Putting parts together is adding thoughts and feelings to them through the new power we have to express our imaginations. We can arrange pieces of moments the same way that novelists can arrange facts. And the final result needn't mimic reality at all.

Thursday, June 12

Dixie #5: But... Izzit Art?

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Ever been to Tybee Island, Georgia? Been into the biggest restaurant on the beach? If you have, you've seen this (welll the male half of you have). Okay, so why's it here?

(1) It is one of the most colorful sites on Tybee. Somehow it sums up my feelings about my visit. It's a good humored good-ole-boy scruffy place. Um... colorful.

(2) In 1917 Marcel Duchamp went down into art history by submitting a porcelain urinal from a plumbing equipment manufacturer which he mounted on wood and signed R. Mutt. He then submitted it into an UN-juried art show. It was refused. Now notice the show was UN-juried and yet the organizers wouldn't allow him to exhibit what he called, "Fountain". It whipped up a furor over who decides what is art.

Look at the color of this image. Look at the texture. Look at the formality of the composition, the shape, the form... And of course look at the lighting. I get grief for my enhancements. Folks who insist that images must look, well, 'real' don't like the way I carve holes into my images through post processing techniques that allow the viewer fly through the image plane into their own narrative.

So here's a non-enhancement. But... but... it still provides a plane ride, right? Is it art? Was Duchamp's 'Fountain'?

Hope so, but it's your call...


No need for a virgin image today... up there... that's it.

Wednesday, June 11

Dixie #4: River St. • Savannah, GA

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My friend Craig Tanner's crib is Savannah, Ga. And he guides the fresh eyes of gifted photographers in his workshops around the old South's grand city. Eventually they come to River Street. Unfortunately my eyes are no longer fresh, dimmed by many visits over the last thirty years or so. But like Craig, I'm compelled to take them down to River Street at least once a year to grab images, ideas, and feelings from the characters and color of this crusty seaport.

So? Wuddaya think?

Let me go farther into this image in more detail as a result of some questions from viewers...

I try to conceptualize what I'm after... what I want an image to say. The triptych form is almost cheating... it lets me expand the canvas and to create more sophisticated texture. You know, cram a greater range of nuance into the thing through collage.

So the question I wrestled with yesterday was about "Fresh Eyes" on River Street. And then there is the whole double meaning thing of "Fresh". Plus I was anxious to gently have fun with the wonderful character studies generally seen in Savannah portraits. Lastly I wanted to subtly create a sense of place. But different from a lot of my past takes on River Street...

Particularly studies of the street itself as a character. Click here to see an example

Or if you like, click here to see a number of my prveious years' River Street and Savannah images (including street portraits).

If you've been to River Street in Savannah you know that it is a epicenter for tourists, prol-food restaurants, bars, ancient buildings which once created the enormous wealth of this city that have been repurposed for instantaneous commercial fun, and yeah... a number of shops where ticky is losing a wrestling match with tacky.

So... how to wrap all of that into one image for viewers who lack so much of that context? Huh? Huh? Huh? How to create an image that is fun all by itself, but can pull people who want to take the trip through it to explore the underlying thoughts and feelings?

Hmmm... since this was about "Fresh" eyes... Howzabout I take a gaggle of faceless tourists and mix em up with the saucy eyes of some ticky-shop denizens? What is the feeling of this River Street place? Can you pile together its parts to create something greater? Like a lot of my stuff, its conceived to give you a moment's reward, or more if you wanna hang around for the show.

Long way around... but that's what I was after... when I dropped that gang of menu-viewers between the two other characters of River Street. It's all in the 'fresh' eyes from either side that tie the entire thing into a narrative... Um... I hope..


And here my friends are the virgin images fresh from today's FlashCard.

Tuesday, June 10

Dixie #3: The Bridge

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Eventually life presents us with a bridge.


And here is the virgin image from the FlashCard...

Monday, June 9

Dixie #2: Sunset

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The friendly natives do their ancient dance to the sunset on Tower Beach, Hilton Head Island, SC.

And so day two ends in the Heart of Dixie. Um, it's NOT a dry heat. A technical note. I've borrowed a Canon lens from a friend... a 70-300 mm with image stabilization. I can't seem to hold it steady even in the intense light of sunset.So I decided to make lemonade here. I realized that I was having problems with the lens, so I intended to capture the children as abstracts of color, form and motion. I thought I'd try to distill out childhood joy at sunset. The results make me happy. As for the lens, I don't think I'll buy one like it.

OOOPS! When you discuss a sunset, guess you need to show the sunset, Eh?
Sooooo... Okay, here's what the natives celebrate every night on Tower Beach.


For those who follow this sort of thing, here're the dancer images from the FlashCard

Sunday, June 8

Back For A Week In dixie

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The deep South in Summer. Yesterday's humidity was 100% at 10:30 am. The mosquitoes swarmed thick as swamp vapors. This guy wanted to get a bass before it got hot.

I'm grabbing a part of this feeling for myself, and part of me from the feeling. They're not entirely separable things all caught up in an image of soon-to-be-evaporated-memory. Each time I return the image will release a foggy ether of something I shared... The image will be the memory... Or at least its color, shape, and form, sounds and smells.

And behind this image... Can you feel the way the rod sits in his hand? The way he steers with his knees? And the satisfaction he's got rocking there deep in this bayou, content in a placid silence where light, heat, water, and peace all swirl from the mists?


Here's the virgin image.

Sunday, June 1

Viejo Si. Pero, Muy?

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“Muy viejo,” the man held it out to me, this black piece of clay-coated pottery. He plucked some of the earth away. “Mire, él es antiguo,” he insisted, hefting the thing mostly encased in an earthen ball. He wanted me to hold it.

BACKSTORY: Early June in 1966. We’d ridden out of Bogotá at 5 AM and by 9 the Land Rover brought us up into the Andes where, just above the tree line, we mounted ponies. By noon we passed through a place too small to be called a village… along a trail that was just a deep hoof-etched crack into the rich dark earth.

And there this man walked along beside us, showing me a piece of thing, hidden mostly within a ball of dried mud. “Ciento cincuenta pesos,” He wanted, about fifteen dollars.

“Offer him diez pesos,” a friend laughed from behind. I did, he took it, and I slid the thing into a saddle bag. Late that night as we drove back to the city, beneath the mud I found a black cup which might hold 16 ounces of liquid.

See, see the scar above the face where it probably cracked in cooling? There’s a chip out of the head where it meets that break. And there’s another chip on the base at the bottom-right just beyond where you can see in this image. Some mud still clings in there.

The crafting is primitive. Look there at the top where the handle meets the cup at how the surface is uneven. For a half century it’s held pens atop my desks. The thing’s a time capsule. I look at it and remember that day’s adventure and the things which happened within minutes of meeting the man.

None of that’s the point here. And it’s taken me a long while to get to it, eh?

What I recently began to wonder about was whether our images were art or something else. Suppose fifty or sixty years from now someone comes upon one of them. Will they pluck from it a capsule of ideas or feelings that we’d packed carefully inside? Will they find a message or will they find at most some piece of our culture? Some jagged chunk of this part of the century which echoes some of the things which we collected through our lives about what and where we are?

Will they find art or artifact in our work? A pencil holder that will get trashed with our stuff when it’s finally collected by whoever survives us, or something that contributes to a deeper reflection? Are we sending off answers to any questions?

I’m putting the pencils back now into that cup.