civilized ku # 3688-90 ~ a great place to visit

Truman and Jim - Suffolk horses ~ (embiggenable ) • iPhone

On part of the deck / under the roof ~ Camp Santanoni (embiggenable ) • iPhone

(Embiggenable ) • iPhone

Yesterday we went on a 5 mile-in / 5 mile-out wagon ride to an Adirondack Great Camp, Camp Santanoni, located in an Adirondack wilderness-designated area. The reason for the wagon ride, instead of our usual walk-in, was that one of our company is not able to make such a walk.

Camp Santanoni is a National Historic Landmark now owned by New York State-which acquired it and its thousands of surrounding acres from the owners-and is now managed by a local Architectural and Cultural Historic Preservation organization.

The "camp" itself is comprised of 5 separate "cottages" all on one continuous deck under one continuous roof covering 13,000 sq. ft.. The property also had-all of the building are still there-a full working farm-raising cattle, goats, pigs, poulty, produce and a creamery. The camp had a staff of over 80 workers. Hence the title of a "great" camp.

Camp Santanoni differed from other great camps of the era inasmuch as it was designed and built in a Japanese aesthetic style. That was the result of the fact that owner / builder was the son of the 2nd US Ambassador to Japan-appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s-who, as a young child, accompanied his father to live in Japan.

Simply stated, it is a "great' place to visit.

Civilized ku # 3684 / ku # 1428 ~ a nattering nAbob of negativism

at Rist Camp - in the Adirondack Park ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

at Rist Camp - in the Adirondack Park ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

There is a blogger out there whose raison d'etre seems to be that of promoting a very dark and foreboding notion, re: the current state of the photography medium and its apparatus.

In the admittedly short time I have been checking in on said blog, said blogger has announced that, amongst a number of things, straight photography is dead, photos are no longer printed and hung on gallery walls, art no longer imitates life / life imitates art and, most recently, that said blogger is "pretty much sick of it" ("it", aka: photography).

That "sickness" has been brought on by a "plague of images". Images which, ih/ho, are "vulgar, banal and stupid." None of the images have "enriched my life", nor are any of them "rare and beautiful" nor do they have "a value which that transcended their aesthetic worth."

Said blogger's deduction from the aforementioned? The most dumb-ass statement yet:

"Now, nothing can have that value any more"

Seriously? Nothing? Maybe this blogger is going through a depression episode and has not taken his meds. Or, maybe said blogger is that type of person who is just disposed to not stay on the sunny side of life.

Or, perhaps said blogger has such a narrow bandwidth for things which prick his/her eye and sensibilities that the good picture pickings are very slim. To be absolutely certain, that proclivity is very valid for his/her outlook, photography wise. However ....

...stop already with the broad, declarative statements without including the caveat / phrase, "for me"*.

All of that written, let me make a relatively broad statement of my own .... iMco, and to my eye and sensitivities, there are a goodly number of pictures out there which are very capable of enriching one's life, which are beautiful (using a very broad definition of that word) and which have a value beyond their visual aesthetics.

To deny that is to engage in a form lazy-ass "blindness". Yes, it may take a bit more "digging" to find the jewels but for those who do engage in the act of digging, there are plenty of pictures of value to be found.

* said blogger does use the word "I" a lot in the lead up to his/her overly broad statements so I guess I should cut him/her a bit of a break on that score. But not too much, cuz I couldn't have as much ranting fun otherwise.

CIVILIZED KU # 3683 ~ burn them at the stake!

picture of and in a corner at Rist Camp ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

Here I go again. I just can't seem to help myself. Re: idiots to the left, idiots to the right, idiots all around (for this conversation, in the physical world, not the political one). I've even heard it said that idiots never die, they just lay in bed and multiply.

Case in point # 1: An individual on a photo site wrote an entry which stated unequivocably:

"As a pure camera, any version of an iPhone is laughable by current standards ... [I]t is a snapshot camera perfect for quick memories of kids or pets doing something cute ... [W]hat it really isn't is a camera suitable for photographs where the goal is printing, archiving or editing."

All things considered-especially the site on which the entry appeared (all hail the full frame or larger sensor)-perhaps the author might be better described as an arrogant idiot inasmuch as, iho, good photographs can be made only with the "best" gear. Or, with gear and technical tools that allow for the utmost control over the making thereof-in camera and post processing.

I could (and have) launch into a long and passionate response to this nonsense but, to keep it short and sweet, let me just write that this moron would most likely have been a member in good standing of the then photo establishment that labeled Robert Frank's pictures in his book, The Americans as "meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons, and general sloppiness." crap.

iMco, the reaction to Frank's pictures, as well as that of the aforementioned idiot's to iPhone photography, is instigated by one simple reason: those pictures-made with new and novel tools and techniques-are perceived as a threat to the critics thereof, both to their embrace of the current (then and now) photographic conventions and perhaps more importantly to their own smug feeling of superiority over the un-washed and un-enlightened picture making masses.

You know what I mean ... "How dare those impertinent bastards make good pictures without all of the blood, sweat and tears I put into the making of my picture and prints! Burn them at the stake!

Stay tuned for Case in Point #2.

Civilized ku # 3682 / ku # 1427 ~ this magic moment

sunlight ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

(Embiggenable) • iPhone

Back in 1969 Jay and the Americans released their version of This Magic Moment, a Top Ten / Golden Record recording. It stuck in my head long enough to think of it when I was reading a blog post suggesting the need for artist statements.

I have written my fair share of artist statements. For most of them, the words have flowed from my penny pencil like water from a ruptured damn. However, there have been a few for which the words were harder to find than a black cat in a coal bin. Perhaps, if I had taken a graduate course in artspeak writing and or narsissistic introspection, those hard ones might have been easier to pen.

In any event, I have been thinking about a new artist statement inasmuch as I have recently realized that, within my picture library, I have a goodly number of good pictures-made in the manner of the sunlight picture in this entry-which I should edit and organize into a new body of work. A heretofore unrecognized body of work that might be titled, window light.

Now, truth be written, I could-and maybe should-write a one-size-fits-all artist statement under the title of Discursive Promiscuity. That statement would state quite simply that I make pictures (fine art intention wise) of every and any thing when something pricks my eye and sensibilities. Most often instigated by what I perceive to be a visually interesting relationships of color, light, shapes, lines and the like which, when isolated within my frame and presented on the 2D field of a print, will make a visually interesting image.

It was while thinking about making such an artist statement, that the aforementioned song popped up in my head. I then looked up the lyrics and realized that, by scrambling a few lines about and adding a few words of my own, I could have a very viable one-size-fits-all artist statement ....

and then it happened
it took me by surprise
this magic moment
so different and so new
was unlike any other
I think you'll feel it too

So there you have it. I'll probably set it to the same music as the original song, record it and, instead of having a written artist statement at my next exhibition, I'll have a musical one. Could be the next big thing.

Civilized ku # 3681/ Ku # 1426 ~ something to think about

people with dogs tramping about at Buttermilk Falls ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

early evening sunlight ~ Harris Lake / Newcomb, NY - in the Adirondack PARK (embiggenable) • µ4/3 @ 400mm f8

iMo, a photograph can accomplish 2 things. It can illustrate a referent and, in the best of cases, it can illuminate, not only the referent but also the totality of what is depicted within the frame imposed upon it by the picture maker. In fact, to illustrate and to illuminate are intimately connected in the same act. That is, to illustrate-in our case to photograqph-is to create an illustration-in our case a photograph-as an example of something (in the broadest sense) which most often is employed to elucidate, aka: illuminate, or prove something about that which is illustrated.

So, it seems very clear to me that people who engage in the act of making photographs are, in fact, illustrators who are creating illustrations of something in order to illuminate the visual characteristics / qualities of that something, most often to make a statement or prove something about that something.

Simple enough, no?

FYI / IN MEMORIUM One of the most influential photographers of the last century-albeit that that influence was based primarily on a single book-is dead. That photographer would Robert Frank and the book would be his book, The Americans. There is a good article in today's NY Times but that article is behind a paywall.

civilized ku # 3690 ~ Stupid photography statement of the day

(embiggenable) • iPhone

Photos are no longer printed and viewed hanging in a gallery or pasted into a book but rather are virtually disseminated, shared, moved, and manipulated.

Why do people make such stupid broad statements? I mean, seriously, I print a lot of my pictures and hang them on the walls of my home. On occasion some end up in exhibitions on gallery walls such as my recent solo exhibition, The Adirondack Snapshot Project, at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.

In addition, while I don't "paste" pictures in a book, I make a lot of POD books - up to 10 a year. In my recent solo exhibition, I displayed a 5 volume set of 8x8 soft cover POD photo books-36 pages, 1 picture per page-which sold quite well.

That written, I am not the exception to the rule. FYI, in my neck of the woods there are at least 7 art center organizations + more galleries than I can count which all have regular photo exhibitions. Additionally, all of the bookstores in the region, that I am aware of, have many Adirondack photo books on display.

And, you can take it to the bank that every photo gallery on the planet is inudated with submissions from pictures makers hoping for a chance to display their prints on the walls of a gallery....it's what "serious" picture makers do and, iMo, will continue to do untill the end of time.

Civilized ku # 3689 ~ don’t let anyone tell you what to do!

(Embiggenable) • iPhone

I've been wrestling with the making of a blog post over the past 4-5 days. A couple days ago I started one and was never able to finish it. The reason for that is connected to my 4-5 day wrestling match....

.... over the past week, or a bit more, there have a number of blog entry / commentaries on other photography oriented sites. All of the entries in question have been, iMo, nattering on, re: what, in their varying opinions, a photograph and the very medium itself is supposed to be about...

...is it suppose to be witness or a representation? Is it "straight" or something else (usually worse)? Are all photographs a politcal act / statement? Is it a photographer's duty to save the internet by only posting pictures which are made with "love and compassion"?...

... and so it goes, on and on, ad nauseam

What all of these blog posts have in common, despite their divergence of opinions, is, of course, they are all just that - opinions. That's allowed but, as is often the case in the nature of expressing opinions, the opinionizers either state or imply that, if it's not done their way, then it's all crap.

DISCLOSURE I have, on one or the other of my past blogs, spent a fair amount of ink on my opinions, re: the medium and its apparatus. In doing so, I have on occasion cast aspersions on the thoughts and practice, which differ from mine, of others. BUT, I always made it clear that my ideas were applicable to my eye and sensibilities.

Vitually all of my opinionizing was undertaken in my quest to understand what the hell I was about, re: my picture making. That quest was undertaken under the thought umbrella of what is a photograph. Broadly written, that's the same umbrella under which the aformentioned opinions / opinionizers are operating.

All of that written, let me get to the point of this entry...after all my years of nattering on, re: what is a photograph / photography?, I came to a very simple conclusion....

...a photograph, in a printed form, is a physical / tangible and totally inhert 2D object. In and of itself, it is a thing. Specifically, a substrate of one kind or another upon which an image is affixed.

It makes no sound. It can not "speak". In has no instrinsic "meaning". It is, quite simply (and I believe, quite obviously) a thing-a picture (to use a common discriptor)-which can be perceived through the human capacity of sight.

If a picture is to have "meaning" beyond the sensation of being a pleasing / interesting thing at which to look, that "meaning" is almost entirely dependent upon the personal mental / intellectual / emotional / artistic sensibilities that an individual observer brings to his/her act of viewing the photograph. In other words, what a picture means is exactly what a viewer makes of it.

Consider as an example, Weston's Pepper No. 30 (if you don't know it, google it)....

Some might view it and think, It's just a pepper. What the big deal? And, why didn't the guy take the pcuture in color?....Others, with a more artistic sensibility, might be seduced by it's exquisitely rich and soft b&w tonality and pleasing shape. And, to revel in its sensuality is its raison d'etre....while still others with a more metaphysical bent might "see" the entire picture making exercise and its resultant image as a mystic revealment about the inner life of things and the universe itself....

....or, whatever. Who gives a damn about how anyone-other than one's self-looks at and comes to conculsions about a given picture? There is no "right" or "wrong" way to look at a picture. Or, as I would suggest, about any piece / form of art.

Case in point ... it's like Brian (the Jesus figure in Monty Python's movie, The Life of Brian) spoke to those who would be his followers:

"....You've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody. You've got to think for yourselves...You've all got to work it out for yourselves."

When the would be followers demanded that Brian "Tell us more!", Brain responded:

"No! That's the point. Don't let anyone tell you what to do!"

civilized ku # 3687 ~ the escape from the "real"

Highland Park Diner ~ Rochester, NY (embiggenable) • µ4/3

There is a Leica loving picture maker out there who believes that photography has gone to hell in a handbasket. That belief stems from the fact that so many digital era picture makers have eschewed the making of "straight" pictures - that is, pictures which represent the real world exactly as the camera's eye-guided by the picture maker's vision-saw and pictured it, without any of that digital monkey business.

Now it is certainly true that photo-sharing sites-Instagram and the like-are saturated with non-straight pictures ranging from Color / Saturation / Contrast manipulated "interpretations" of the real world to outright fanciful dreamscapes straight from the image maker's imagination. The aforementioned Leica Lover seems to think that this is a new thing, picture making wise. However, considering manipulated images-which I would not necessarily call photographs-to be a new thing ignores the fact that that practice extends back to almost the very beginning of the medium and its apparatus.

The Pictorialism movement were the first group practioners of manipulating the light-sensitive materials to come out of the camera and that practice has never stopped. In the pre-digitial analog era, one magnificant example of that practice was Jerry Uelsmann. Uelsmann's moto could have easily been, "I don't need no stinkin' Photoshop.

So, even though I might agree with Leica Lover that the distinguishing characteristic of the medium of photography and its apparatus that separates it from other visual arts is its intrinsic and inexorable (albeit seemingly infinitely flexible) relationship with the "real", I believe that it is both very mistaken and misleading to think that the practice of manipulating the product that comes out of a camera as new practice. Nor, despite its seeming prevalence, to be deningrating or destroying the practice of Straight picture making.

What I am most interested in, re: the escape from the "real" so prevalent in picture making today, is what that says about the picture makers themselves and the culture in which they live. Maybe I'll have a few thoughts on that subject .....