environmental portraits (people) ~ present and past

Responding to a call for submissions for an exhibition, Environmental Portraits, I submitted the above pictures. The pictures were culled from my picture library comprised of digital pictures made over the last 18+ years.

The call for submissions stated:

An environmental portrait is an image made in a place where the subject lives, works, rests, or plays. This setting adds tremendously to the story of who the subject is—their trade, their passion, their fears, or simply how and where their time is spent.

We seek images in which an environment interacts with the subject to create a storied whole — images in which our interest is piqued and we are introduced to the unique world of the subject, enhancing our understanding of another being.
It wasn't until a few days after the submission deadline had passed - as I was prepping the pictures for this blog entry - that I realized that my selection of pictures did not need to be limited to my existing picture library. In fact, if I had not experienced a brain fart, I would have remembered that I have a pretty extensive body of environmental portrait works which were created on assignment for magazines, advertising agencies and corporate clients. The examples of those pictures, as seen below, were created with the environment as an integral element to enhance a story, re: who the depicted person was.

Even though people pictures have not been in conspicuous evidence on my blogs - although, on the increase with my the new snapshot work - environmental portraits were one of my commercial specialties. I enjoyed the work. Got to meet some interesting people.

baker ~ from A Day in the Life of Pittsburgh assignment

chef ~ from a restaurant-in a former church- review assignment

opera singer ~ from a Notables Spill the Beans  about their favorite restaurant

Composer / Conductor ~ for magazine profile article

bar patrons ~ for magazine article about iconic Pittsburgh neighborhood bars

civilized ku # 5105-06 ~ I like to be pricked

discarded flowers in situ ~ embiggenable • iPhone

discarded flowers ~ embiggenable • iPhone

As written many times on this blog, my tendency is to picture those things/referents which prick my eye and sensibilities. In doing so my intention is to illustrate the things/referents in a manner which creates visual energy and therefore, iMo, visual interest.

In no small measure, visual energy is created by a POV which aligns tones, forms, lines and colors in a "pleasing" arrangement across the 2D plane of a print. However, the frame (forget my black borders, the frame is simply the edges of a picture) imposed during the picture making is equally important inasmuch as the visual engery must work in conjunction with the boundaries imposed by the frame. Think of it, in musical terms, as a 2-part harmony.

In the case of the 2 pictures in this entry one picture, discarded flowers, has visual energy which is almost exclusively created by the referent itself. Although, how that visual energy flows within the frame was a deliberate choice imposed by my POV.

The other picture, discarded flowers in situ, gets its visual energy in a very different manner from that in the other picture. To my eye and sensibility, there is visual energy all over the place - of course, the random disarray and colors of the the discarded flowers is present but their visual effect is magnified by their contrast with the grid-like rather rigid geometric pattern of the floor together with the wastebasket and the-some might think-visual irritant of the cupboard corner. In addition, those geometric patterns also stand in stark relief against the brightly colored discarded flowers by the nature of their neutral color palette. And don't ignore the division of the picture, dark side to light side, as added visual energy.

Then there is the frame of the in situ picture. As a viewer's eye, once it leaves the discarded flowers, is drawn to following the line(s) of the geometric pattern, it quickly slams into the frame and is redirected back into the center of the picture. This visual trait differs from that of the other picture inasmuch as there is little to draw the eye away from the discarded flowers.

All of that written, here's the thing ... I am not suggesting that one of these pictures is better than the other. Each picture has plenty of visual energy which pricks (and holds) my eye and sensibilities.

That written, my preference is for the in situ variant because I find it to be harder for my emotions and intellect to digest. When viewing pictures, whether made by me or by others, I like to be attracted by a prick rather than a soothing stroke.

the new snapshot # 219 / civilized ku # 5204 ~ smooth sailing

Heaven's Door ~ embiggenable • iPhone

Lake Champlain marina / looking at Vermont ~ embiggenable • iPhone

On my way to a charity/fundraiser event on Lake Chamlain I picked up a bottle of Bob Dylan's new just released Tennessee Straight Bourbon. After a couple days of sampling the distilled spirit I can write that Dylan and his distillers got it right.

Dylan didn't just put his name on the product. He was knee deep in its distilling and production - everything from the charring of the barrels to determining the tasting notes* and, I assume the design of the bottles inasmuch as one of Dylan's metal sculptures-a gate-is featured thereon.

There are 2 additional Dylan releases - a straight rye whiskey and a double barrel whiskey. I will be trying them.

*one reviewer's take ... On the nose, this is a classic, no-fuss bourbon, though with more oak-derived notes — think caramel, vanilla and wood char — than you’d expect from a seven-year-old. I also smelled sandalwood, leather and linseed oil. And there’s a creamy cola note that suggests a good bit of rye in the mash bill. (Mr. Dylan and his team say they use just 70 percent corn, leaving a lot of room for other grains to show their influence.) The palate opens with a soft cocoa and buttercream note, then sharpens toward black pepper and cigar tobacco. The finish is slightly bitter, with the sweet spiciness of an Atomic Fireball. My favorite of the bunch.

civilized ku # 5203 / diptych # 227 ~ get serious

Clare & Carl's* ~ Plattsburgh, NY (embiggenable) • iPhone

after / before ~ embiggenable • iPhone

* Yes, the building leans dramatically. Notice the sign pole and utility pole for vertical reference.

I'm getting kinda sick & tired of reading about how disappointed a picture maker is with pictures made using his/her phone.

My first gripe with such ramblings is, unless the picture maker / commentor is using a state-of-the-art device (admittedly, an ever moving target), he/she needs to stop enumerating a devices' shortcoming(s). I can list the shortcomings of my first digital camera but, really, what's the point?

The other great unmentioned-in most cases-is, does the picture maker know how to best use the device? Things as simple as cleaning the lens protector, to always using the HDR setting (if available - the now standard setting on an iPhone), and, the use of on-device picture processing apps to-in may cases-greatly improve the end result.

Re: picture processing - dependent upon my picture use intention, I might choose to process a picture on my phone. Or, for more "serious" intentions, I download a picture from my iCloud and give it the complete Photoshop treatment. In doing so, I have found that there is a great deal of "meat" on an iPhone's picture bone-one can shoot RAW files-which allows for considerable processing manipulation without any noticeable degradation of the image. See the above before / after diptych.

All of that written, phone camera modules are not a "perfect" picture making device. That written, I have found the iPhone camera module (7 Plus) to be a very capable picture making device for most of my picture making needs. I regularly make 19x19inch prints which compare favorably to 19x19inch prints made from a "real" camera when viewed from a normal-non-pixel peeping-viewing distance.

FYI, I am about to do a 7 Plus / 8 Plus camera module comparison. I have been told / read that there is a considerable improvement in file quality. If so, the 8 Plus is in my future.

civilized ku # 5194-97 ~ there and back again

Adirondack Mts., across Lake Champlain, from my Vermont hospital window ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

embiggenable • µ4/3

embiggenable • µ4/3

embiggenable • µ4/3

OK. It's been a while since I posted an entry. But, then again, I am a new man since my last entry - successful (so far) scarring of the interior walls of my heart (ablation) and, unexpectedly, my very own pacemaker - after the ablation my heart rate was 40bpm or a beat or 2 one way or the other. So it was deemed advisable to install a pacemaker to obtain and maintain a heart rate of 68-70bpm.

So, here I sit on light duty status for the next 3 weeks waiting for the pacemaker to phyically settle into my body and for the acommpanying incision to heal. FYI, the pacemaker insertion was performed while I was awake ("relaxed" but awake) ... I was able, during the procedure, to ask the surgeon, "Are you cutting me with the thingy that cauterizes the wound at the same time it cuts?" His answer was direct and to the point, "Yes. That's exactly what I am doing."

In any event, on our way home, we took the ferry across Lake Champlain on a very pleasant summer-like day. Which made for a very nice transition from a hospital bed to home.