Friday, November 27

Candid Woman

<- Click here

Tammy is camera shy. The lighting was a soft, dim, restaurant stew . Which meant cranking up the IS to 1600 and grabbing the shot with the lens zoomed to max. A problem with quarter frame sensors is that they generally make it hard to narrow the depth of field and consequently tossing the foreground and background distractions into soft focus is impossible.

So what to do with a wonderful image that's steeped in noise with a scatter of eye grabbing stuff littering the plane? Why Alien Skin's Bokeh of course. And PhotoShop's native lens flare filter to discipline the nasty light patterns. And, of course, a bunch of adjustment filters to wrestle the dynamic range away from a glaring tungsten cast toward a more intimate color temperature while holding onto the dark puddles of shadow.

Tammy's a photographer and graphic designer with a sensitive eye for detail. That's what I want to capture here. Not so much a photograph as a feeling about my friend. Wuddaya think.

Thursday, November 26

Maybe -Don't Buy The Apple Magic Mouse!

Okay.... you can read my rant below. The $%^%$ Magic Mouse I bought a month ago was maddening. Today is Black Friday (I'm writing this the day after I posed this original posting). You will note that Flo suggested I take the thing back before throwing it against the wall, stomping up and down upon its carcass, then setting fire to the remaining pieces.

Black Friday is NOT a good time to go to the Apple Store. It couldn't be returned without talking to a genius. I had to wait 90 minutes since both a salesman and a manager failed to find a computer which would recognize my mouse (not their fault really can imagine how many mice are in a store). As always, they were very courteous and supportive and put my name on the genius schedule.

After the wait (I browsed the bustling mall), the genius listened to my story, explained that neither he nor his friends had comparable problem with the Magic Mouse, and offered to replace it. Actually, that was the only offer. I accepted - with the understanding that if the replacement failed to work correctly it could be returned either for credit or for some other company's mouse. They also noted that the price had been reduced on the Magic Mouse, re. the Holiday sale, so they gave me a $9 rebate along with the replacement (sale price $60).

Okay, I'm home now... the thing's hooked up and I'm going to give this new thing a try. So far so good. BTW, I bought my first Magic Mouse on the first day it was in stock at the Mac store. I did not do that on purpose, actually the old Mighty Mouse had gone down and I went to the store to replace. it. However, maybe that first batch had a bug or two?

Soooo.... go ahead... read the rant below. And I shall post something next week as a comment on whether all is forgiven. K?


GRUMBLE! My mouse broke. So I bought the Apple Magic Mouse. Yeah... it's magic if what you want is to reach into the hat and come out with a snake instead of a rabbit. AAARGH!

(1) It is pretty
(2) It fits the hand well
(3) It is a piece of crap!

The "buttons" simply cannot be controlled. You right click, it left clicks. Whimsically. There's no order to it. I have reprogrammed this junky bluetooth thing a bunch of times. And of course the definition of madness is repeating the same action in hopes of different results. Well, it has driven me mad.

Moreover the programable options are stupidly limited compared to virtually every third party mouse on the market. How could this have happened? Worse yet, the speed ... when set at max ... tracks more slowly than a muskrat tethered to a fifty kilo dumbbell! If you can imagine a software design flaw... the Apple people have beaten you to it and incorporated it into this pretty (and expensive) paperweight.

I am going to have to buy a new mouse and flush away this fraudulently impersonator. Don't buy it. Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 19

Thing Over Seal Rocks

<- Click here

On the edge of San Francisco
There's a thing
Above the seal rocks it sits there
Looking out
Which is what it does while we look
Back at it.

Have you seen it? If not... so look. There it is.


The thing tugged at my camera's lens. Look how pristine the place is. How sterile and bare. Scoured continually by Pacific winds. But out on this point poking over a cliff into the sea, against the sky hanging above the sand, is this human scene. And the mysterious thing just pokes at my imagining. There's a story here, right?

And this thing, by the way, sucks in light. Which makes it a lighthouse that works exactly in reverse to the way other lighthouses work. Now that's cool, huh?

Saturday, November 14

Baby Picture Goes Here

<- Click here

I'm very good at creating candid images of children. Not so good with babies. But, since KatelynRose is the first grandniece... Well, hadda try, you know? She's actually a lot cuter than this. Thank heavens! What is it with babies that makes them so hard to capture candidly?

Sunday, November 8


<- Click here

We lugged all of that stuff from the college darkroom up on the second floor behind us. It was the middle of the night. See the big thing right in front of me? That's a Korean War aerial camera. My buddy Jim Furlong found it somewhere, got us some film and found a single engine, three seat plane with an overhead wing. We took the door on my side off so when the plane banked I could dangle right over the city held only by the seat belt. BTW, that monster camera didn't have a neck strap so I held onto it hard as the ground sped ay below.

We've got those odd expressions because we'd created a timer for the big ole 4X5 Speed Graphic camera. We just sat there waiting and waiting until PHWUMP! Flashbulbs popped all around us. Yep, flash bulbs! Funny, that one shot took all sorts of planning and set up (not to mention break down) and yet, who cared? We were young and time and muscle was what we had.

Jim Furlong was the most important photographer who ever lived. Because he infected me with a graphic obsession that's never gone away... that's why. I always wonder as my work comes together, what Jim will think. He created hurdles, and rewards.

Late last month Jim died. But I always wonder as a new image happens, "What will Jim think about that? You've got to have a standard, right?

Saturday, November 7


<-Click here

So the guy says to me, "Ted, who's the most important photographer who ever lived?"

I scrunches up my face, the way you do when you're digging way deep into your idea piles and I says back, "You mean who do I think did the most for the way I wonder about image making? The one guy who opened my feelings to the possibility of this stuff?"

"Well, yeah," He says, looking all out of patience and like that....

"Simple," I says.... "No contest. This guy."

Ever noticed how crackling memories are vividly colored, but... but.. the details kind of bleed into one another? Like when you recall a spring afternoon when the sun was hot as a friendship and when you yelled to your friend... "Jim! Freeze!" And your mind and your camera fixed an instant... the latter in black and white, the former in the sizzling palette that the sun had washed away.

I was eighteen when we met. I'd taken some box-camera high school pix and lessons from a camera-happy priest. But the darkroom overwhelmed me. Still I got the rush of seeing images "come-up" in Dektol. Jim already knew all that tech stuff. And he had a Kodak Retina 35mm fixed lens folding camera that he insisted I borrow. He was more than an enabler to a kid with a passion, he was a pusher. We spent three, four, sometimes six nights a week and a lot of the weekends in the college darkroom.

We brewed our own chemistries, burnt through tons of war-surplus paper and film, and tried every trick and stunt the camera mags yacked about. The college had a couple of 4X5 Speed Graphics and a ton of fixed bulb lighting equipment. We lugged the big cameras to sports, car wrecks, politics, and flash-bulbed-out candid pix of our friends. The editors we free-lanced for back then still insisted that we use the old 4X5 150ASA, f4.5 monsters.

But we were young and strong and didn't much care. It did teach us a lot about framing, tripods, lighting, and carefully controlling the instinct to shoot. Even with young muscles we rarely lugged more than eight cartridges or eight potential shots.

Ahhhh... but Jim had a Canon, range finder, interchangeable lens, 35 mm (bought during his AirForce stint... he was the older guy), and until I bought my first Miranda SLR, I used his f 2.8 Kodak. We rolled our own, over-packing each 35mm film cart with 40 shots of Tri-X that we casually push-processed to 1600 and even 3200 ASA.

It was a monochrome world since the critical chemistry demands and expense of processing our own color were unthinkable. Our fixer-turned-brown-fingernails off-put some girls, but the pictures we caught of them somehow seemed to make us more exotic than grungy.

We studied all the periodicals, pestered the library to order all of the classic art and photography books, debated visual art, and of course, whether photographers could ever be artists. Jim and I became drinking-buddy close, dark-room close, obsession-close. And along with Guy, Mark, Lenny, Harry, Jimmy, Santo, and Bebey ... we walked through the door where our feeling-about-ideas lived (or was that ideas-about-feelings?).

Jim graduated to go off to media school and a career in photography and cinematography. I considered that, decided, "Nope, too damned hard" and enrolled in economics graduate school. But Thanks to Jim's little folding Retina camera, the stink of darkroom fixer, and the wonder of feelings "coming-up" in the magical developer baths... photographic art has been my refuge. A place to go where the only deadlines and tensions were my own. Where either darkroom doors or computer monitors could erect force fields that held in pleasure and escape.

And all because of the most important photographer who ever lived, and who died last month. My dear friend Jim Furlong. He made me so lucky.

What a debt.

Monday, November 2

Jim & Lenny and Battles

<- Click here

In 1962 the guy on the left up there was 26. His name? Jim Furlong. The other guy was also one of my college roommates, Len Freiberg. Like Lenny, I was twenty years old and behind the 4X5 Speed Graphic triggering the shutter. Jim wanted to comment on the idea of subjectivity. You know, how opinions are all a matter of perspective, where you stand, how you view stuff. How people can see the same thing and one guy comes away thinking, "Hey, nice picture of a couple of men commuting on the subway." But someone else goes, "Holy dung! Those characters are dangling from the ceiling!"

Jim kept coming up with ideas like that, and talking us into risking our asses to make them work. He's the guy who taught me photography. We spent a bazillion hours together in a small darkroom at King's College where we were, I guess, the photography departments for the school paper, the literary magazine, and the yearbook. We also freelanced and sold pix to the local papers and some mags.

Lenny sent me this diptych last night. The originals had faded and frankly I was pretty sloppy back then, losing the battle against the dust storm that swirled in that darkroom. It was nice to have a second shot at them after forty eight years. I'm a lot more meticulous now and I've scraped away most of the lint, motes, and dribble that covered the images like a Spring snow.

Judging by the St. Patrick's Day Sale in that paper, it was early Spring when we did this thing.So there was probably as much white stuff on the ground outside as I left on these pix. Still, try as I might I couldn't restore one aspect of that cool evening. There was no real way to bring Jim back. He died recently. At least his body did. But that smile... that cheer... those ideas and feelings... They're just as real as my memories of two friends dangling from that ceiling and the way we laughed and still do... all three of us. Len and I here and I'm sure Jim somewhere else.

If it's a battle between death and Jim's warmth... Death runs a poor second.