civilized ku # 3514 ~ exisiting light

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George Eastman stated:

Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.

On the other hand, Brooks Jensen wrote:

There is no such thing as "good" or "bad" light. There is just light.

While there are a number of ways to understand / interpret these two statements, it does seem that they represent opposing points of view, re: light. Whereas Eastman's notion is nearly fetishistic, Jensen's is rather dismissive, as in, what's all the fuss about? In either case, we should be able to agree on the fact that we all need light to make pictures.

In my case, I do have a specific type of light that I like-I embraced it, I admired it and I loved it-and, truth be told, light that I have "chased" - the light encountered during the time of day that is called entre chien et loup or, alternately, the gloamimg. That is, a time of day during which the sun has set but it is not yet full-on dark.

However, those "chasing the light" days are far behind me now. While I still make entre chien et loup pictures, I do so when that light "finds" me rather than "chasing" it all about the landscape .... and that M.O., re: light for picture making, is S.O.P. for my picture making....

.... which kinds places me in the there is just light picture making camp. That is, while at times the light itself pricks my eye and sensibilities, in which case I make pictures of the light itself (see today's pictures). But most times, I just work with whatever light I encounter.

In the case of strong directional light which creates tonal shapes and patterns, aka: chiaroscuro, I use those shapes and patterns as elements of my composition. Flat or soft light allows me to concentrate on just the arrangement of the visual elements of my composition, independent of the light as a composition element.

In either case, I don't see the light as "good" or "bad". I just see it asit is, aka: just light.

civilized ku # 3512-13 ~ things are not necessarily what they seem to be

on the kitchen counter ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

in the kitchen sink ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

Some might think that my propensity for making pictures of stuff in my kitchen sink and/or on the kitchen counter-near the sink-might be nothing more than being lazy, picture making wise. As in, why leave the house to make pictures when it is so much more convenient to just hang around the kitchen sink?

In my defense, between the ever-changing light coming in the kitchen window above the sink and the never ending happenstance arrangements of things there about, there is often much to prick my eye and sensibilities. And, in fact, the pictures made in that location are essentially "about" the same thing as most of my pictures are ... relationships of light, shadow, lines, shapes, textures, colors and the like as "organized" within my frame(ing). The referents depicted, in and of themselves, are "merely" a means to an end.

Over the years a goodly number of those who have viewed this work "get it". For some, at first viewing. For others, it was something of an acquired taste arrived at over time and repeated viewing of other like pictures. In either case, those who "get it" experienced something, when viewing the pictures, that pricked their eye and/or sensibilities.

It seems to me that those who took time to "get it" had to get by what was depicted in the pictures inasmuch as they rarely had any affinity for dirty dishes, counter clutter and the like. However, what they experienced was that, despite that lack of affinity, in most cases they couldn't take their eyes off the picture. The pictures had an attraction they couldn't quite understand. Very often, those viewers never really consciously "got it" inasmuch as the comment I heard most often was, "I like it, but I don't know why."

That comment is my favorite comment to hear from viewers of my pictures. Even more than the comments from those who "get it" immediately. That's because, when a viewer likes a picture but doesn't know why, I feel that I have reached him/her in a manner-most likey on a subconscious level-he/she didn't anticipate. And, perhaps, the experience just might encourage them to learn more about themself and/or art.

civilized ku # 3504 / FYI diptych ~ counterfeiters

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In yesterday's entry, I wrote about an anonymous picture maker and his/her over-the-top, hyper-saturated pictures of the place where I live. Also mentioned was how the pictures had little recognizable resemblance to the actual place and, despite that fact, how many online comments he/she received mentioned how much the commenters "loved that place".

This morning, as I was reading an article, How Susan Sontag Taught Me To Think, in the NYTimes Magazine, I was reminded of an idea put forth by Susan Sontag-which I had read many years ago in her book, On Photography-which has some bearing on my "questions" in yesterday's entry:

re: “the image-world,” the counterfeit reality that threatens to destroy our apprehension of the actual world.

Academics and philosophers have ventured far down a rabbit hole on a, iMo, path of arcane and obtuse writings on the subject of the image-world, none of which I would recommend. On the other hand, I would recommend the reading of Sontag's On Photography, a book of relatively easy-to-read and digest essays from which one can extract some interesting ideas about the medium of photography and its relationship to and impact upon human behavior and societal culture and art.

That written, one my rightly assume / infer that I am a resident in good standing in the "image-world". I made my living making pictures and continue to make pictures-numbering 10,000 and counting over the past 20 years-which express my vision, aka: how I see the world, 83 of which are on display in my house. In addition, the number of made-by-others pictures-online, in photo books and galleries-I view annually numbers in thousands.

That written, as much as I am immersed in the image-world, I have never, let me repeat-NEVER, considered my pictures, or any made by others, to be anything other than a representation, true to the real or imagined, of the actual world. ASIDE: my preference has always been for reasonably accurate representations of the real world. END

To be precise, my comments about the image-world are based upon my perceptions of printed pictures as objects. That is, I view my preferred type of pictures-mine and those ade by others-as real things which may represent / mimic the real world in a literal / factual sense but they are always "just" an image, aka: a representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.

Are my fact-based / straight photographs "counterfeit"? I don't think so inasmuch as they are "honest", straight forward, non-effected depictions of the real world. On the other hand, saturation-to-the-max, induced extreme contrast and don't-exist-in-nature colors-landscape picture wise-could be considered to be "dishonest" mis-representations, aka: lies / countefeit. CAVEAT: it not has been decreed that, in the making of art, lies and distortion are not legitimate to tools to use to express one's art intentions.END

Do my preferred pictures "destroy my apprehension for the actual world? Absolutely not. In fact, they enhance my apprehension thereof inasmuch as they are constant reminders to look at the real / actual world with open eyes and an open mind in order to see and comprehend that in which I am immersed.

All of that written and my dislike of counterfeit pictures aside, is there anything inherently wrong about making counterfeit pictures? iMo, I don't think so as long as they made and viewed as artistic "entertainment" .... unless, as the aforementioned anonymous picture maker did today, recommend that, based on his "counterfeit" pictures, people get in their cars and drive up to my neck of the woods because the fall colors are spectacular...

... when, in fact, the only "place" in which the fall colors are "spectacular" are in his/her manufactured image-world.

(embiggenable) • iPhone 11 Pro Max - “normal” lens / wide lens

As of yesterday, an iPhone 11 Pro Max, along with a paired Apple Watch, is in my hands and on my wrist. Haven't used either enough to have any opinions on the wisdom or folly of my acquisition of either. Although, the Apple Watch is doing an admirable job of monitoring my very erratic pulse rate which is the primary reason I acquired it. That, and the fact that I feel like Dick Tracy when I answer and conduct phone calls with a thing on my wrist. Makes me think I gotta get a Dick Tracy hat.

civilized ku # 3500-02 ~ so much tech, so little ....

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I screwed up yesterday when saving my pictures for the web. Resaved them today. You may want to look at them again inasmuch as they have changed significantly.

PS. In today's entry picture (above), I like the way the red apples appear to be floating in space, independent of the apple tree. Don't know if this optic illusion comes across online ....

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candle light ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

I am having second thoughts on the acquisition of the new iPhone 11 Pro Max.

As previously mentioned, the upgrade that interested the most was the addition of the Night Mode feature. Well, as best as I can tell, that feature seems to operate in the same manner as an app, Spectre, that I use for dark situation picture making. That is, it makes multiple exposures in rapid sucession and then blends them together to create a single file, noise / artifact free, detailed, and hogh dynamic range.

The key to makig this possible, in addition to the AI magic, is the camera module image stabilization in the iPhone which, as long as one holds the device reasonably steady, allows the multiple exposures to be blended together in registration with one another. See the above pictures as examples of the results from this process, albeit using the Spectre app, not the new iPhone.

Both pictures were handheld at 1-2 seconds. The candle light picture did reqiure the subject to hold still during the exposure, so it's not an idea tool for capturing people unaware. Nevertheless, the results are impressive.

In any event, it's off to the cell phone store to check on the new iPhone. But, to make matters more complicated, there is also a new iPad which is full-on PS CC capable and the Apple Watch 5 has the ability to monitor and give me notifications, with its EKG feature, of any AFib episodes I might experience.

ku # 1435-38 / civilized ku # 3499 ~ my tacks ain't so sharp

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Hard to ignore the extended conversation, re: sharpness, over on T.O.P. So, here's my 2-cents plus change....

In the long-gone, for me, days of analog picture making, I expended considerable time and effort making (and printing) my personal/ so called fine art pictures with an 8x10 view camera + color negative film. I did so for a couple reasons, not the least of which was that it was very in vogue amongst the New Color Photography cadre. That aside, the primary reason I did so was because I really appreciated, what I would label, the smooth, "liquid" and essentially grain-less color and tonal quality which came from using large format color negative film. And, yes, the resultant prints looked very sharp.

However, sharpness wise, the level of sharpness was considerably less than what is possible, even "normal", with digital capture and printing. Back in the day, if I were to want the sine non qua of sharpness, I would have had to use, and occasionally did, 120 (medium format) Kodachrome roll film. Now that was a truly sharp film.

Fast forward backwards (is that possible?) to my early testing of the waters, digital domain wise. I was surprised at the level of sharpness that seemed to be inherent with the digital process, even with a modest 4-6mp sensor. Certainly, sharpness at level beyond what was the norm, color negative wise. However, what I also noticed, digital v. analog, was that the smooth, liquid look/quality that I treasured was not so much in evidence.

Consequently, I set to work in Photoshop in pursuit of emulating a smooth liquid color and tonal look. Long story short-after quite a bit of experimentation with Gaussian Blur, I found that, amongst a few other adjustments (to include subtle contrast reduction), a sukoshi, aka "skosh", of Gaussian Blur moved things in the desired direction.

To this day, even with my iPhone files, I follow the same Gaussian Blur processing routine. In doing so, I find that my prints have a very similar look to those C prints I made from color negative film back in the day. Unforunately, that is a look that is almost impossible to replicate with online viewing. Blame down-sampling and who-the-hell-knows what monitor calibration (or lack thereof) is being used to view the work online.

Re: the pictures in this entry. If anyone thinks they should be sharper, they just ain't paying attention to what I am "saying" with these pictures.

ku # 1434 / civilized ku # 3697-98 ~ happenstance and the learning curve

early evening ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

just after sunset ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

cat puke and lip liner pencil shavings ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

Back home from our 5 week hiatus (from "regular" life) at Rist Camp. In the last 2 days of our stay, I was gifted, by nature and a puking cat (our cat), 2 picture making opportunities.

First was a rather dramatic early-evening-until-sunset light show as seen and pictured in the 2 pictures in this entry. The visual event was instigated by the fact that a stormy weather front was moving out of the area and giving way to rather clear sky conditions to the west, which means that the actual sunset is out of sight, hidden by trees, which also means that the view is side-lit as opposed to seeing a view of the sunset.

FYI, it is worth noting that I reduced the color saturation, as rendered by the iPhone, of these 2 pictures. Believe me or not, the result is very close to the actual scene.

I came upon the second picture making opportunity when I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth just before retiring for the night. Turning around for a towel, I was presented, in the toilet, with a rather visually appealing arrangement of, as I later learned, blades of grass our cat had puked up and a few lip liner pencil shavings. I could not resist the opportunity.

Credit where credit is due .... kudos to the wife who threw the blades of grass into the toilet, where the shavings already were, and suspended her normal impulse to flush the toilet because, if I my suspicion is correct, she knew-learning from my years of making pictures of the contents of the kitchen garbage can and the kitchen sink-that I would be drawn to the making of a picture of the resultant arrangement.

Ku # 1433 / civilized ku # 3694-96 ~ off topic (ala T.O.P wise)

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Hudson River ~ North Creek, NY (embiggenable) • iPhone

It was a rainy morning at Rist Camp so I took the Abarth on a fast 25 mile twisty bits trip in the rain to the grocery store in North Creek on the Hudson River. Fun, fun, fun.

The Abarth is the text book definition of a "pocket rocket".

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Civilized ku # 3693 / ku # 1431-32 ~ all the world’s a sunny day (not)

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I live in a forest preserve, most commonly called the Adirondack Park. It is larger than the state of Vermont and bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Great Smokies National Parks combined.

Within the Blue Line-the original boundaries of the park were drawn in blue ink-there are approximately 130,000 residents residing in 102 villages and hamlets (15 residents per sq. mile). 50% of the park is privately owned. The rest is state owned and is protected as "Forever Wild" by Article XIV in the NYS Constitution.

When I moved to the Adirondacks-20 years ago-I was quite excited by the possibilities, picture making wise, afforded to me that came with full-time residency. That written, I arrived with the determination to avoid slipping into the cliched practice of making variation-on-the-"standard" and ubiquitous Adirondack landscape picture. That is, Hudson River School Painting like romanticized pictures dominated by dramatic vistas and light.

In fact, avoiding that practice required no real effort on my part inasmuch as that which pricks my eye and sensibilities, aka: my Vision, is very different from such referents.

If one were to look only at pictures of the Adirondacks featured on calenders, posters, note cards, picture books and tourism marketing, one might be lead to believe that the Park topography is comprised of people-less high peaks and large lakes. When, in fact, the high peak region of the Park makes up only about 5-10% of the area of the Park. One might also think that every morning and evening is a saturation-to-the-max color spectacular. And, don't even get me started on the Velvia-esque saturation-to-the-max fall folliage picture extravagancias

As has been said, looks can be deceiving....

....especially the people-less part. With 7-10 million visitors a year, people are not in short supply and the high peaks region is high on those visitor's must-see list. That is why I have never hiked any of the 46 high peaks-3,500>5,300 ft. elevation-during the spring, summer or fall. I have only hiked them in the winter, preferably in 5F or below temperatures.

All of that written, picture making wise, I prefer to make pictures of leaves on an erratic and leave the sensationalism to others.

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