civilized ku # 5319 ~ what's in a name?

designated driver ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone - processed on desktop

For some reason, which I can't really explain other than that I think of myself as a unique individual, I have always shunned the moniker photographer. For my professional career, I labeled myself as a commercial photographer but when I undertook the making of photographs, aka: pictures (my preferred word), in the making of "art", I didn't like to be labeled as a photographer. And, to be honest, I also did not like the idea of making "art".

My preference in my current picture making activities is to be labeled as a picture maker who makes pictures (not photographs).

Part of my reasoning for wanting to be known as a picture maker is that the label photographer conjures up, iMo, to many stereotypes, especially, but not limited to, the one that implies the concept of gearhead. Ditto for the word photographs because I make pictures, not photographs.

I also eschew the notion that I am making art, especially so that I am making fine art. I make pictures and whether or not they are art/fine art is not for me to decide. I leave that exclusively to the viewers of my pictures to decide.

So I guess what I am trying to convey with my various nomenclatures is a total lack of pretense regarding my picture making activities. However, I must admit, that is not to write that I hope I am making art/fine art-defined as, creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.

But, as I mentioned, whether or not I have accomplished that is not for me to judge.

kitchen life # 43 / civilized ku # 5318 ~ encountering the light

(embiggenable) • iPhone - processed on my desktop

(embiggenable) • iPhone - processed on my desktop

(embiggenable) • iPhone - processed on my iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone - processed on my iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone - processed on my iPhone

Spent the last few days chasing the light around the inside of my house. Although, to be honest and as I have previously written, the light was chasing me. I just happened to be in the right place at an opportune time.

kitchen life # 42 ~ here's hoping

(embiggenable) • iPhone

At times I can be a bit dense inasmuch as something, in this case a picture making thing, can be right in front of me and I don't get it until some time has passed.

Case in point, after recently making a couple comparo pictures-same referent with iPhone and µ4/3-it has dawned on me that the HDR function-now the default setting on the iPhone Xs Max-is somewhat of a computational photography miracle. Well ... Ok, not an actual miracle but a damn handy picture making tool.

I confess that, up until quite recently, I have taken for granted the extended range pictures, from shadow to highlight (with some highlight /shadow detail recoverable if needed), that the iPhone spits out with impressive regularity. And it does so without a hint of HDR visual weirdness.

Prior to my use of the iPhone modual as my prime picture making device, I was a RAW shooter without exception. Now, it's hard for me to believe how incredibly satisfied I am with the results I obtain with JPEG files.

CAVEAT: as I previously written, the iPhone is not a perfect picture making device for all of my needs. On those occasions when it is not, I rely on my µ4/3 cameras and will continue to do so. However, that written, if computational photography moves into "traditional" cameras, I won't hesitate for a second to buy into it and drop iPhone picture making like a hot potato. 'Cause, when all is said and done, I prefer the feel of a "real' camera in my hands rather than a phone no matter how competent it might be.

polaroids ~ pushing around the emulsion

(embiggenable) • Polaroid Spectra camera

editorial / advertising assignments ~ (embiggenable) • Polaroid SX-70 camera

just for fun ~ (embiggenable) • Polaroid SX-70 camera

Based on my prior use of Polaroid film-Time Zero and professional 4x5 / 8x10 films-I'm surprised they went out of business.

I still have 3 SX-70 cameras, 2 SLR 680 cameras and 1 Spectra Onyx camera. All in perfect working (and looking) condition. Keep meaning to try some of that Impossible Polaroid film to see how well it can be manipulated. Maybe sooner than later.

single women # 38 / civilized ku # 5315-17 (triptych) ~ moving around the landscape

Ain’t airports fun ~ Washington,DC (embiggenable) • iPhone

Plattsburgh / Washington. DC / Pittsburgh ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

A busy week. Took my grandson, Hugo, to Pittsburgh, PA. for a day long visit to a prep school.

The visit included a practice skate with the school's top prep hockey team. Hugo put on enough of a show that the coach offered him a spot in the top team prep hockey program. Consequently, I may be traveling to Pittsburgh more frequently.

On the picture making front, I managed to make an addition to my single women body of work which you can view on my site front page via the WORK link above.

civilized ku #5314 / ku # 4023 ~ like a duck to water

(embiggenable) • µ4/3

(embiggenable) • µ4/3 (left), iPhone (right)

I have always had a fascination with visual complexity. In fact, it is quite accurate to write that that fascination lead directly to my career as a professional commercial photographer.

Stepping into the Way Back Machine to 1966, while I was living in Japan (in the military), I acquired my first camera. This acquisition was notable inasmuch as, while I was living Rochester, NY-home of the Big Yellow Box aka: KODAK-I never (with one exception) made a photograph. My artistic activities were devoted to creating drawings and illustrations for which I was well known.

That written, with that first camera I took to picture making like the proverbial duck to water.

Within a few months, I had won 3 1st place military photo competitions-3 different categories-at each of 3 different levels - base, Far East and Pacific tiers. A few months after that, I became a military photographer. Eventually, I became the personal photographer to a Commanding General.

In a very real sense, I had become a professional photographer inasmuch as I was earning my military pay by making pictures. That,dispite the fact that I had zero photo education or training ... as I wrote, like a duck to water.

Upon my discharge, I returned to Rochester-loaded up with 2 Nikons and 5 NIkkor lenses-and enrolled in a 4 year photography program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I dropped out after 2 months due the fact that the school would not give me any credits for my prior photographic experience which resulted in my being placed inclasses with rank begginers and the attendant courses of study. It didn't seem worth the money.

I then got a job as an assitant to a commercial photographer where I worked for 3 years. I left that job and opened my first commercial studio.

And the rest was, as they say, history.

civilized ku # 5311-13 ~ site-specific wall art

2 urinals ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone (framed print • µ4/3)

soft morning light ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

fading tulips ~ (embiggenable)• iPhone

Does anyone out there ever incorporate humor into your picture making? You know, just for the fun of it. Or, do you only make "serious" pictures?

Re; the urinal picture in our 1st floor powder room*. I placed it there as a somewhat disharmonious act intended to give visitors to our home either a chuckle or a groan. In either case, those who know me will know that the image and the placement are an expressionof my sometimes quirky sense of humor.

That written, an unintended consequence, for me, of the placement of the picture has resulted in a weirdly disorienting feeling when looking at it while urinating. It sends an instantaneous-almost pavlovian-request to my brain to look down to make certain I am hitting the target. Truly weird.

*I have recently caught a bit of flack, anachronism wise, from multiple sources regarding the use of the phrase "powder room." Apparently the "proper" nomenclature for a bathroom with just a sink and toilet is "half bath." Using the "powder room" nomenclature is cause for the utterence of snarky retorts such as, "Is that the closet-size room where you powder your wig?" (or, in some cases, "your nose"?.)

civilized ku # 5310 ~ noticing things

tulips ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

I received an email from a follower who requested the meaning / definition of the phrase civilized ku....

....Approximately 15 years ago, I began using the naming conventions of ku and civilized ku to differentiate between my "pure" natural world pictures and those which include evidence of humankind. However, in both labels, the operative word is "ku".

As I understand it, the Japanese (I lived in Japan for 2 years) word "ku" has several dependent-upon-use meanings, such as - sky, empty, space. I appropriated the word for use in my picture naming convention for several reasons:

1. "EMPTY". When I make pictures I do so with an "empty" mind. That is, I rarely seek out something to picture. Rather, in most picture making cases, a referent pricks my eye and sensibilities-in a sense, a referent has found me. It feels rather like a referent is seeking me and I am able to see/hear it because no other thoughts get in the way.

In addition, when a referent pricks my eye and sensibilities, my mind is always empty of technical / technique picture making thoughts - it's a simple act of; see the referent, camera (95% of the time, same camera, same lens) to eye, frame the referent (guided by what feels "right") and make the picture.

FYI, I view pictures, mine and those made by others, with an equally empty mind.
2. Long after adopting my ku naming convention, I came across an excerpt from an academic paper, Engaging with Ku˜: from abstraction to meaning through the practice of noticing, by Yoko Akama which stated:

This paper presents a design project that explored the practice of “noticing”. Noticing is a way in and through which we are able to understand and create our relationship to space and place. The practice of noticing can facilitate awareness, reflection, learning and transformation. Noticing is a practice that enables us to engage with the concept of Ku˜, meaning “space”, in Japanese. In this project context, Ku˜ is interpreted as a space of potentiality rather than emptiness or nothingness. Engaging with Ku˜ through the practice of noticing can enable a transition from abstraction to meaning. Ku˜ can also be an expression of the ambiguous potential of design investigations (ed: I will substitute "picturing making" for "design" throughout the rest of this excerpt) : including knowing and the unknown, the limitations and the challenges. To practice picture making in this way is to step outside of the confines of certainty and embark on an exploratory path of discovery. Just as picture making is a way of engaging with space – to enunciate the unknown, to create meaning from the abstract – so too is noticing as a temporal practice of discovery and place making. Through the act of noticing the ambiguous openness of space is transformed into the connectedness of place.

If I had encountered Yoko Akama's excerpt prior to adopting ku as my naming convention, I might have adopted the word noticing in its place inasmuch as, re: reason #1 above, my empty mind-"to step outside of the confines of certainty (ed: picture making wise) and embark on an exploratory path of discovery-allows me to "notice" things which incite me to make pictures. That is, things (aka: referents) I might not have noticed if my picture making mind was focused (pun?) on other things.

All of that written, an artist-statement-like explanation regarding my picture making intentions might simply read as:

With an empty state of mind, ku, I am able to experience the act of noticing the ambiguous openness of space and transforming it into a connectedness of place.