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 # 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's what "serious" picture makers do and, iMo, will continue to do untill the end of time.

Civilized ku # 3682-85 ~ let there be light

all pictures ~ Rist Camp / Newcomb, NY - in the Adirondack PARK (embiggenable) • iPhone

One of things about Rist Camp is the ever changing, hour-to-hour / day-to-day, light coming through the windows. Or, for that matter, the light show over the mountains and lake. And, the place itself is so seductively comfortable that it's tempting to never leave the hilltop.

But leave it I will. There's golf, hiking, our canoes (1 tandem, 2 solos), a nice beach, a couple good restaurants and a world class museum to intice me to get off the porch. And, of course, I want to get out specifically to make some ku pictures.

By "specifically" I mean to get out with only the intention to make pictures. Something I don't do very often. My normal MO is to make pictures of whatever pricks my eye and sensibilities when I am out and about for other purposes. And, in fact, I find that going out for the purpose of making pictures to be a bit intimidating.

I believe that to be the case inasmuch as I feel that I am trying too hard-forcing myself, if you will-to find pictures rather than, as is most often the case, letting pictures come to me unbidden.

In any event, why let a little mental hang up stop me? Tomorrow, I'll be out and about looking for pictures. Wish me luck.

civilized ku # 3640-42 ~ a kinda there and back again thing

(embiggenable) • iPhone

(embiggenable) • µ4/3

(embiggenable) • iPhone

After posting a few of my 8x10 view camera pictures, the picture making part of my brain began to think about film-based picture making. Film-based describes my picture making-professional and personal-from 1966>2004. Not only did I make pictures using film-color negative for personal work, transparency for commercial work-but I also processed and printed most of that film. I especially enjoyed printing my personal color work (there was almost no BW personal work). *

Consequently, after printing hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds more) of color prints, I developed a, some might say "extreme", fondness for the look of C prints. C prints made from color negatives-most of my "serious" personal work was created using 8x10 color negative film-displayed a smoothness of tone and color that was unmatched by transparency film.

To this day, I can walk into a gallery and know, upon viewing just one print, whether or not a picture was made with color negative film (even though the print is a not a C print). That is possible because that beloved smoothness of tone and color is captured-and readily apparent to my eye-in the digital conversion-scanning and printing.

In any event, I am seriously considering returning to the use of film for some of my picture making. That film will most likely be 4x5 color negative film because I have one the most compact and lightest 4x5 field cameras-made of wood-ever made. That camera is a Nagaoka view camera, one that was bequeathed to me in a will. A camera made of cherrywood and chrome-plated brass.

I never used the camera very much inasmuch as 8x10 view cameras were my "thing" for my "serious" personal work. Nevertheless, it was always on display in my studio and eventually in my home simply because it is thing of hand-crafted beauty.

Assuming that I succumb to the allure-perhaps nostalgia-of film-based picture making, several tasks will fall to hand ... finding a good source for the film, the processing and hi-res scanning. That should be easy enough but then comes the hard part ... where in my house to load film holders in a totally dark and dust free (extremely important place. Building a film loading (and unloading) closet in my basement might be the only solution.

Stay tuned. In the next entry I'll write about the other film/print characteristic of film-based picture making that I really like.

*the lone exception being snapshot picture making. That film processing and printing ("standard" 4x6 prints) were left to Kodak via a camera store.

Nagaoka 4x5 view camera with 90mm Schneider Super-Angulon lens

Nagaoka 4x5 view camera with 90mm Schneider Super-Angulon lens

civilized ku # 5328-30 (kitchen sink / ku-ish) ~ it's all relative

Spring snowstorm ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone (no effects applied) / the house’s rear porch, pillars, windows/doors are a mural painted on plywood

in the kitchen sink ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

in the kitchen sink ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

Been rather too busy to post-prepping for my upcoming Adirondack Snapshot Project solo exhibition. However, I have followed a recent post on TOP, re: cell phone picture making.

As I followed the comments, I become both amused and annoyed. Amused by the ignorance, re: cell phone picture making capabilities, and by the predjudice toward "real" cameras as the only device for "serious" picture making. Annoyed, as my amusement, re: the presceeding, gradually turned into annoyance. That written, I am pretty good at reading between the lines and what I read there is, iMo, very telling, re: the 2 main types of picture makers.

CAVEAT re: the 2 main types of picture makers. What follows could be considered as a gross simplification. Nevertheless ..... iMo, there are 2 types of picture makers (excluding pro photogs), "serious" amateur photographers and artists. The difference between the 2 types-independent of the kind of pictures they make-is found in their respective additudes toward their picture making equipment.END OF CAVEAT To wit ....

A. "Serious" amateur picture makers have a serious relationship with their gear. They search out and acquire / use-a never ending quest-the "best" of everything, picture making wise-sensors, cameras, lenses, processing software, color printing profiles, printer, et al. For the most part, they believe the "best" pictures can only be made with the "best" equipment inasmuch as the "best" pictures must exhibit both technical and technique virtuosity.

CAVEAT # 2 Lest anyone think I am casting aspersions on "serious" amateur picture makers, in my defense let me write that I am a firm believer in Julian's grandmother's adage that, "For every pot there's a lid." And, picture making has many pots.END OF CAVEAT

B. Artists-Medium of Photography and Its Apparatus* Division-tend to pick a camera (selected from any and all formats / types), a lens (yes, most artists use but a single lens) and a single preferred manner of printing their work. Then they forget all about it and go out and make pictures.

FYI, the 1 thing that the 2 types has in common is that they both choose the equipment that best suits their picture making intensions.

So, reading between the lines, my point is this .... "serious" amateur picture makers consider cell phone picture making to be an inferior system for the making of "serious" pictures, suitable only for making snapshots and visual record keeping. On the other hand, artists are open to any and all picture making systems in the pursuit of their picture making because, for them, it's all about the end result. That is, it's not about the gear, it's all about expressing their unique vision.

CAVEAT # 3 Have no doubt about it, I am not a fan of those pictures made by "serious" amateurs picture makers. That works tends to follow along the line of what Brooks Jensen labeled as making pictures like what one has been told are good pictures. He also opined that "real" photography begins when one stops making pictures like what one has been told are good pictures and begins making pictures of what ones sees.

* in this context, "apparatus" means, a complex structure within an organization or system.

civilizedku # 5176 ~ vantage point / learning to see

tomatoes in strainer ~ in the Adirondack PARK (embiggenable) • iPhone

Excerpted from Szarkowski's quote, re: Vantage Point (as presented in yesterday's entry) ...

From his photographs, he learned that the appearance of the world was richer and less simple than his mind would have guessed.

As should be obvious to "serious" picture makers, there are many impressions / lessons to be gleaned from his/her pictures and, just as important, from pictures made by other picture makers. However, if one wishes to move beyond discerning the mere technical / technique properties to be noticed in a picture, one must develop and cultivate the capability to look beyond those properties and beyond whatever the picture depicts in order to see the print as an object in and of itself.

Garry Winogrand stated,"Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed." And, of course, the print is the evidence of how a "thing looks photographed".

The "thing" itself is experienced by the picture maker in a 3D world. In turn, the 3D "thing" itself is reduced to a 2D representation of that "thing" on the flat surface of a print. That 2D representation can then viewed as a collection of shapes, forms, lines, colors and tones-indepent of the depicted referent-which work/play together, within the frame imposed by the picture maker, to create what I refer to as a field of visual energy*.

iMo, it is the field of visual energy to be seen / experienced in a picture which stirs / stimulates the mind and soul / intellect and emotion of a viewer and it does so in a sensuous subconcsious / thoughtless manner ...

... Susan Sontage wrote that interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. That interpretation-an overabundance of importance placed upon the content or meaning of an artwork-interferes with (or even negates) a viewer's ability to be keenly alert to the sensuous aspects of a given work.

All of that written, in my experience I have found that most "serious" picture makers' first impression upon viewing a picture (their own and those made by others) are focused upon: 1.) the referent, and 2.) the technical qualities of the picture's presentation. For the most part, they have never learned how to see the sensorial beauty that lies beyond the depicted obvious.

More's the pity inasmuch as, if a picture maker is oblivous to the unthought known hidden beneath the surface of a picture, he/she will never be able to let go of the intellect employed in the making of their own pictures and learn how to "feel it" when making / viewing pictures. Consequently, they will make pictures using the "rules" of composition in mind rather than finding a vantage point from which they can "arrange"-more by "feel" than thought-the visual elements of their 3D referent into a 2D sensual field of visual energy.

To close, 2 ideas expressed by Garry Winogrand:

A photograph is not what was photographed, it’s something else. and The photograph should be more interesting or more beautiful than what was photographed.
*that field of visual energy can induce in a viewer a sense of serenity or, conversely, discordance.

civilized ku # 5163-64 / kitchen sink # 45 ~ analytical vs poetic

pile of leavings ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

things in sink ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

streaks of light ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone

I am constantly amazed at how many picturing opportunities - resulting from serendipitous occurences over time - there are in my house. Makes me realize that I should create yet another "hidden"-in-my-picture-archive body of work comprised of pictures made within the confines of my house. A body of work which I suspect would most likely be my largest body of work and could aptly be titled Ode to André Kertész.

Moving on to another topic .... with the exception of my life without the APA work, I have almost always been an advocate for and the making of straight photography. I believe that the medium's unique-to-the-visual-arts intrinsic identity as a cohort of the real is photography's defining characteristic. I also believe that making pictures - which are visually interesting - of the everyday commonplace world is the most difficult to achieve use of a camera.

In addition to the preceding paragraph, it should be quite obvious to write that the camera is fully capable of capturing pictures which are very accurate representations of the real. That written, I believe that, in the digital picture making realm, the pursuit of "perfect" pictures - specifically, ultra high resolution and defiition - has had a deleterious effect on the notion of photography as an art. To wit ....

... in effect, this visual "perfection" has bent the medium and its apparatus more toward super documentation / analytical rather than to the poetic. Consider this writing by Lorenzo Papadia (regarding his Fade Point work):

I believe in the strong evanescence quality of things, beyond the appearance, where everything ceases to be «true.» In the digital age we are all obsessed by the high fidelity of the image, the so-called «quality». I believe photography should be lacking in the perfection of its materiality. I think instant photography today may turn away from this «surplus visibility», providing us a more poetic view as it envelopes the concept in a veil of mystery and secrecy...

While I have made thousands of Polaroid pictures (literally) and while I really like Papadia's Polaroids, iMo, Polaroid photography steps a little bit too far outside the line of straight photography. It is, again iMo, a bit too "poetic" and too enveloped "in a veil of mystery and secrecy". Those notions aside, the Polaroid is a fully capable means for the making of great pictures.

Re: my "straight" digital picture making - I have, from day one, deliberately avoided the pursuit of "perfect" pictures. My choice of cameras has always been dictated by the deliberate avoidance of ultra-perfection state-of-the-art sensors. In the making of my first prints made from digital files, I deliberately added soft vignetted corners to the pictures (and still do to this day) in order to introduce "traditional" photographic imperfections. And, I love the look of my 24"x24" prints made from my "mere" 16mp files.

My preference for the aforementioned "imperfect" manner in which I make pictures is dictated by a single consideration .... even though current state-of-the-art camera sensors "see" in ultra high definiton, the human eye does not. Consequently, I want my pictures to look and feel more like what the human eye sees rather than what a sensor sees.