civilized ku # 3526-29 / ku # 1441 ~ living on the edge

all pictures ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

During yesterday's early afternoon wander around my neighborhood a number of scenes pricked my eye and sensibilities. I returned from my ramble with about 20 pictures with which I am quite pleased, 5 of which are presented in this entry (more to follow).

The picture making ramble felt a bit weird inasmuch as it was my first, in very long time, leave-the-house and go out in pursuit of a specific picture making "task", i.e., making pictures of autumnal leftovers / remains. Embarking on a such a pursuit is somewhat contrary to my "normal" M.O. of just making pictures of what I see as opposed to trying to see a specific thing.

The difference between the 2 picture making M.O.s is, for me, like the difference between deliberation and spontaneity. When I am in the deliberative picture making mode, it sometimes feels like I am "forcing the issue". Whereas, when I am in the spontaniety mode, I make pictures of stuff that "surprises" me when I see it.

That written, I can't really write whether I have more or less picture making success either way. But, I can write that deliberation feels more like I am on assignment (work?) whereas spontaneity feels more like I am making art (play?). That written, I don't why I feel that distinction because, in either case, my creativity, imagination and aesthetic awareness to what I see works just fine.

In any event, that weird feeling aside, the other weird thing about yesterday's picture making was that, in my professional picture making life-a significant slice of that life was story-telling assignments (annual reports, magazine feature stories, et al)-on which I went out on assignments loaded for bear, gear wise. One never knew what picture making challenge one might encounter and, since one had to come back with the goods, one better be prepared for any contingency.

Yesterday however, when I went out on my self-assigned assignment, I was, relatively writing, buck naked, gear wise. It was just me and my little ol' iPhone .... actually, truth be told, on the backseat of my car were 2 µ4/3 camera bodies and 5 lenses. They were on the back seat in an effort for them to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind, but they were there, "just in case."

As it turned out, the µ4/3 stuff stayed out-of-sight / out-of-mind and the iPhone 11 PRO MAX carried the picture making load. For most picture making situations, I used the "normal" (slightly wide angle) lens. In a couple situations I did use the "tele" and the super-wide lenses.

Suffice it to write, once again, the iPhone met and exceeded my picture making needs.

civlized ku # 3521-25 ~ remains

all pictures ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

Here in the higher elevations in the northern Adirondacks, the leaf peeper tourists have come and gone. At this point, there are more leaves on the ground than there are on the trees. A welcome quiet has settled over the place inasmuch as the sound of a zillion crickets-chirping-like shutter clicks has disappeared.

That written, there is more than enough fallen leaves visual energy around to prick my eye and sensibilities. That and small pockets of remaining color which stand out all the more against the faded landscape. So ....

.... I'm headed out the door to see what I can see.

civilized ku # 3516-20 ~ up a lazy river

all pictures (embiggenable) • iPhone

The # 1 "activity" while at Rist Camp, during our annual 5 week stay, is sitting on the front porch. In my case, that means sitting on my Adirondack chair which is placed in the right-front corner of the porch.

Our stay at camp is timed to start the last week in August through the last week in September. That time span allows us to experience the change of season from late summer to early fall. Part of that change, of course, involves witnessing the emerging autumnal color as well as the sometimes dramatic change in the weather.

It could go without writing but I'll write it anyway, I make lots of pictures of the seasonal and weather transitions, at times while sitting on my butt in my Adirondack chair and at other times standing somewhere on the porch. ASIDE: as a backward look throung my Rist Camp entries will atest, I do, in fact, leave the porch and move about the area making pictures. END

This year I undertook the making of a mini body of work of the view from my Adirondack chair to include the corner support of the porch. A few pictures from that series are presented in this entry.

While I like the results, it has ocurred to me that I could do better ... in one of my first entries made while at Rist Camp, I wrote that I would be attempting to make ku (natural world) pictures that "avoid the "standard" ain't-nature-grand-and-glorious picture cliches. My porch corner were a half80%-hearted attempt at that goal.

Why 80%-hearted? That's because, on hindsight, I realize that fell into my "standard" iPhone picture making M.O. of holding the device in the vertical apsect and making a square picture. I believe that, if I had been picturing with a 100%-hearted objective-focused attitude, I would have held the iPhone in a horizontal aspect and made 16:9 aspect ratio pictures. Pictures that would have had a more "traditional"-like natural world / landscape style look and feel and, obviously, included more of the natural world / landscape.

I blame my lazy-ass, rote picture making on the fact that, while my butt was in my Adirondack chair, my picture making head was in the full-on Rist Camp not-a-care-in-the-world, very relaxed, go-with-the-flow state of mind. A state of mind which could aptly described by some lyric's from Hoagy Carmichael's song Lazy Bones:

Lazy bones, loafin' through the day
How you 'spect to make a dime picture that way?
You'll never make a dime picture that way. Never heard a word I say

Oh well, there's always next year, god willing and the creek don't rise (as a friend used to say).

civilized ku # 3514-15 ~ exisiting light

(embiggenable) • iPhone - PORTRAIT setting / 2x lens

(embiggenable) • iPhone

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

(embiggenable) •iPhone

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 ....

(embiggenable) • iPhone

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 ....

(embiggenable) • iPhone

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

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • iPhone

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.