Summer has arrived.
Spent most of Father's Day in and around Saranac Lake with the wife, the son and his the wife and the grandson. Started with a short hike to a secluded water-front local hangout followed by music-featuring the daughter's paramour-at the Waterhole (local bar hangout) and then a nice dinner at the Fiddlehead Bistro. Nice day.
Re: the new snapshot work - as my infatuation with the iPhone camera module continues, I am trying to consciously identify-as I am making a picture-whether a picture is a snapshot opportunity or a "serious" picture opportunity. FYI, a snapshot opportunity = use the iPhone. A "serious" picture opportunity = use a "real" camera. This categorization challenge is confounded by the fact that an iPhone's file IQ is (in most cases) capable of producing a quality "serious" picture and a "real" camera's file can always be presented as a snapshot.
Prior to making a picture I can ask myself, "Why am I making this picture." If the answer is that I wish to "merely" document what I am seeing (the referent), it's a snapshot. If the answer is that I see something which goes beyond the literal idea-something that pricks my eye and sensibilities-of a referent, then it's a "serious" picture making event. However, here's the thing ...
I don't like to think when I am making a picture.
Picture making for me, in most cases, is an spontaneous / intuitive / reactive activity. Spontaneous because I rarely go out and about in search of a predetermined picture making opportunity. Intuitive because, seemingly due to part of my preternatural constitution, I recognize a "serious" picture making opportunity when I see one. Reactive because when I see a "serious" picture making opportunity-something which pricks my eye and sensibilities-I just do it.
Given those 3 picture making M.O.s, I don't want thinking to get in the way of / interfere with my immediate and thoughtless reaction to that which pricks my eye and senibilities.
Serenity Garden is a roadside embankment which has been landscaped by a group of community members. The park-like garden slopes down to a natural marsh.
In a very real sense, the garden and its placement along side of a natural environment is a wonderful symbol-don't think the community members thought of it as such-of the Adirondack Forest Preserve (aka, Park)... a place where man and the natural environment co-exist in a sustainable / symbiotic relationship.
FYI, for those who are not aware of it, the Adirondack Park-50% (and growing) of it is protected by the Forever Wild amendment to the NYS Constition-is larger than the state of Vermont and it's where I live. I LIVE IN A PARK!
If I were a "serious" picture maker newbie in today's digital camera world, I might be inclined to take up ballroom dancing rather than be sucked down the which-camera-is-best rabbit hole.
iMo and experience, unless a picture maker is pursuing a specialized picture making genre which requires specialized equipment-most often lenses, not sensors-there is no "best" camera. That is, other than the camera that feels best in one's hand.
My opinion is based upon the fact that I believe that the point of picture making is the pictures. And, as a general rule of thumb (based upon my experience), that pictures made by the equipment / tech-spec obsessed are rarely worth the paper they are printed on. Those pictures may rate a 10 on the tech-spec scale but, on the visual / emotion / intellect scale, they are well below average.
All of that written, in the good / better / best picture world, it's all about the eye and sensibilities of the equipment operator and very little to do about the machines they use.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.