Friday, July 31

North Atlantic 1972

Jack, Maine, August, 1972

Irresistible versus immovable.

They were boxed in the attic closet. Thousands of slides along with color and B&W negatives. First time I'd brought them into the light in maybe twenty years. I need the room so I've got to toss the stuff that's tumbled into the black hole of obsolescence. So many dozen Kodak carousels. Each holding 140 slides. I pulled out an E-Z view illuminated slide sorter. You know, a slanted plastic sheet that holds about a 36 shot roll of slides in front of a light? 

So I went to B&Hs website and found the Wolverine, F2D Super Plas Film to Digital Converter... $99 delivered. The wolverine will convert slides mounted or unmounted, B&W or color negatives, and 16mm or Super 8 film to JPGs on either a flash card or through USB onto my hard drive.Problem is the Wolverine F2D takes the film one frame at a time - manually. 

The monitor on the F2D is about the size of the a camera's LCD, and it's very contrasty. However it has the ability to vary the exposure of a copy by ±2 stops, with s similar ability to vary the exposure of each of the RGB channels by the same about. Since color film seems to fade into either magenta, or blue... these controls allow me to restore (or enhance) some of the original color dynamics during the copying process. A scan takes three seconds. 

Back then I shot either a Nikon FTn or a Nikormat FTn through one or another of seven lenses capped with the dozens of filters I owned.  Unfortunately I have no idea which of the possible combinations went into the recipe that cooked up any image... Like this one.

My friend Jack Ricard was right up against the cliff face that stopped the massive waves. Judging by the slides around this image, this was a stormy morning with the winds coming ashore behind the slabs of water. 

Looking at this instant I've recalled the way the ground shuddered as the wave's fist slammed into those rocks. Jack, some forty years ago was roiled by both the explosion of froth and the gale. 

I've not talked with Jack in over thirty years. Jobs and moves have done what the North Atlantic couldn't  - swept us apart. But here's this memory from a box sealed by obsolescence. A window back to a morning when we were young friends. Now we're neither. 

Some memories though are irresistible and immovable. 

Friday, July 17


Girl Scout, Mityana, Uganda 8/14
A white man
Pointed a
Long lens at

Which made the
Girl scout.... chary.

A friend asked me how to create original moody backgrounds for portraits. This was the product of a tutorial  exercise I did for her using a candid image of a lovely, but suspicious girl scout I met in Mityana, Uganda and captured through my Canon 7D through its EFS 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens, hand held. The post was done as  usual in PS 4 with custom background and textures. I mention my skin color since we were the only folks sporting that hue for perhaps fifty miles around us. It is very possible that this girl may have seen no more than a handful of us in our white flesh, outside of Hollywood videos that were everywhere.

Friday, July 10


George Washington sculpture found at Valley Forge, Pa. 

I read today about an unintended consequence of a recent Supreme Court decision which extended constitutional protection to gay marriage. It seems that insurance companies are refusing liability coverage to churches. Some time ago, a  bakery refused to participate in a gay wedding and was sued for damages and pain and suffering. The court awarded the plaintiffs tens of thousands of dollars,  bankrupting the small company owned by Christians. There are apparently a couple of suits pending against churches which have denied facilities and services to other gay couples. Defense costs alone will cost the churches many thousands of dollars, even if they are successful. If on the other hand they lose, well, they are being sued for hundreds of thousands since the aggrieved parties are charging personal damages as a result of their psychological distress. Frightened by these liabilities, insurance companies are backing away from any participation in those situations. 

Other conundrums over rights are popping like kernels in hot oil. Cities which have extended rights to undocumented immigrants, look to have accepted a liability for the actions of those they seek to protect. That clash of rights is most dramatically represented by a tragedy in San Fransisco where a recently released alien with a considerable felony record killed  a young tourist. The woman's family will undoubtedly bring a large civil suit against the city. 

In many communities, police who are increasingly fearful of prosecution for making instantaneous decisions in life threatening situations, are increasingly avoiding those situations. And murder rates are exploding. So the rights of the police are clashing with those who expect a right of security in their streets and homes

Some states have quietly provided sexual reassignment surgery to children as young as fifteen, without informing their parents. The state's have extended rights to children that  conflict with traditional rights of parents. Meanwhile, there are women who are worried about finding themselves  in the confines of ladies  rooms confronting large male-born-persons who have declared a different gender.

In many places older couples will leave their homes this summer since they are unable to pay the increase in school taxes necessitated by an influx of largely undocumented immigrants who have been granted a right to tax supported education. Simultaneously the senior citizen's children have lost income as a result of off-shoring of jobs in many cases, or a decrease in working hours in other cases as a result of the Affordable Health Care Act's redefining part-time work as 29 as opposed to 39 hours a week, forcing employers to reassign a quarter of their work hours. 

Scarce collegiate seats are now assigned to reinforce the rights of subsidized reparations to a range of protected groups, displacing many in the non-protected population to access both by limiting the seats available to them while inflating the unsubsidized tuition costs they must bear. 

It has become policy to tax labor and subsidize machines. So mandated minimum wage increases, along with various leave, and compensation laws - which are a sales tax to employers on labor -  are increasingly leading to the automation of jobs, which of course impose a 100% tax upon those displaced, while holding down wages across the board.  

While work is taxed, unemployment is subsidized in extended welfare and social security disability rights. Of course those with productivity high enough to retain the higher paid minimum wage jobs are gainers. So those who claim a right to a living wage then, are clashing with those who claim a right to employment

Okay, I can go on and on... Rights are slamming against each other at the fastest pace in my long lifetime. Some will go away, because, rights are what we can defend. Or have defended... Usually by burley men with guns

And the largest percentages of native born Americans in the nation's history tell pollsters that they would abandon their citizenships if they could. With micro cultures clashing over claims to rights, this was a sedated 4th of July

Tuesday, July 7

Belfast Gunsmog

Belfast, Northern Ireland • Royal Avenue • April 2013
Royal Avenue • Belfast • Northern Ireland • April 2013
It's said that the Europa is the most bombed hotel in history. Belfast was  once Ireland's money machine. Which is why the Brits held onto it and its neighboring counties when the Irish Republic seceded in 1946.
Since the 1950s though– – like blooms in winter – shipbuilding, textiles, tobacco traders, and  the region's heavy manufacturing shriveled. Even without The Troubles world economics would have sucked them  away... Ahhh but The Troubles.
From the early 1800s through the Good Friday Agreement of  April 10, 1998, violence between the occupiers and the occupied gashed the Ulster counties leaving Royal Avenue blood-spocked and gnarled by bullets and bombs.
The Irish and British fight over this Northern hunk of the island terrified investors who fed the economics that vacuumed at the region's industries.
Peering up above Royal Avenue in center-city Belfast the sky was smokey with what? A memory of gun-smoke steeped smog... And squinting into the yellow haze I muttered, "_Gunsmog!_" the stuff stained the Northern Irish heavens.
Then I panned down to the rebuilt Greek columns on the Hotel Europa, and coughed.

Monday, July 6

A Snapshot

Are all images fictional? Okay, maybe not snapshots. Perhaps they are the only virginal captures of reality? Or at least past reality? Maybe the phone-grab clicked off with as little pre-processing thought aren't the imagining of an artist? After all, all art is fiction, right? 

Wikipedia defines fiction: "Fiction is content, primarily a narrative, that is made from imagination, in addition to, or rather than, from history or fact." defines it: "The act of feigning, inventing, or imagining." says that fiction is:  "Something invented by the imagination or feigned."

Say you move around a subject to avoid some background annoyance, a telephone pole, annoying single, wires... Or you move to include Uncle Joe, intriguing signage, or maybe the Acropolis behind Mom. It's called point of view, right? POV. Have you feigned, invented, or imagined some "improvement" which is to say imposing your ideas or feelings on reality. Now, how about DOF... depth of field. You crank open a lens to compress away a background into a bokeh-glimmering setting. Then what about cranking out the zoom to crop away things inconsistent with your idea or feeling of the moment? Screw on a polarizing filter to create a dynamic range invisible to the human eye? Then twist down the camera speed to capture a blur in say a waterfall that's not captured by the human retina? 

Now, what about lighting? If you stab through the gloom with a flash, or by goosing the ISO to peer into gloom where a person cannot possibly see. Now NONE OF THESSE TECHNIQUES involve post processing. I can add to the list, can't you? I mean just the choice of lens, camera body, or tripod support imposes the artist's imagination upon the image. 

And what about pre-processing? Makeup (which are pigments of the imagination)?  Costume? Set design? Or travel to a specific location at a specific time of day/season, etc.? Forget the post processing upon Caitlyn Jenner's iconic Vanity Fair cover, howzabout any of Annie Leibovitz's "portraits"? Again, ignoring the post processing on her work, her budgets for; set, wardrobe, hair, cosmetology, and cast (human and animal) are all focused upon pre-processing... processing before the various things I discussed up above that happen consequent with the shutter getting snapped. 

Now, let me get to the image up there... That 1950 Pontiac parked menacingly in the night in front of ... In front of... What? What's it mean? A snapshot it ain't, right? Or well, is it? How does it differ from the snapshot that's preprocessed, processed consequent to the shutter click, and then post processed through some software either in the camera, or by a software that 'enhances' the dynamic range or cropping at the click of a button? 

Up there I've posted a concept that's layered together from pieces of my imagination. Which leads me to wonder ... And you thought I"d never get to the point right?... Are all images inherently manipulative? Look, it is not the degree of manipulation which makes an image fiction. Just as you can't be a little bit pregnant, you can't be a little bit fictional. 

So, welcome to the most honestly named photo blog on the internet :-) Right?