Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Day at the Fair

Last Saturday, with tickets to the Prairie Home Companion Show (a Christmas present), which also gave free entrance to the Champlain Valley Fair--Vermont's largest, I took about 250 shots. The interesting dilemma in sorting them on Sunday was something I hadn't run across before.

It's easy to decide between the bad shots and the good ones. But, once into the good ones, and after making the obvious decisions about the ones to work up for the stock agencies, ones to set aside for working up for gallery prints, and ones to file for the possible future stock request, there are some left over.

I like the vastly different sizes of the horses in the image, but the background is cluttered and not aesthetically pleasing. Here's another.
I've just put piece of it here to show the 3D aspect of the ribbons of the fireworks trail. The thing is too blurry for stock and the full image is broken up by shadows of the scaffolding for the stage.

Which leads me to mention why I didn't get my ideal images of fireworks. We weren't allowed to bring tripods in to the stage show. Grrr. And the fireworks happened right after the show (10K or so folks in the audience) and there was no time to get my tripod back.

Anyway, back to the images: I mean they are not good for stock; I'd never print them for display; but I like them. So, I've no idea what to do with them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sebald and Mueller = Inspiration

Some things are for the soul as well as the eyes. Put onto the books of W. G. Sebald by a friend, I am currently reading Austerlitz. This is not a "page-turner" book. It meanders richly through European memory and European places--in reality and in thought. Dappled with black and white images, for the most part uncaptioned, that make you feel, occasionally that you are privy to some off-planet view of things, this is a book for reflective folks who have much that can be triggered in their brains. Sebald offers triggers. It will likely take a long time to read this book.

The same person who recommended Sebald, also suggested I take a look at the photographs of Dana Mueller and I have done that. It's more than worth a visit if you consider yourself a landscape photographer. Also worth a visit is the ArtSpace interview with her. She is much exhibited and recognized for her work, and I for one am thoroughly embarrassed that she was unknown to me.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Snap

Something snapped when I was tuning my friend Ellen's piano (see previous posts for other mentions of Ellen).

She was glued to her computer while I was tuning, and when I took a break, I went over to see what she was doing. And I saw images--gorgeous images. I was sucked in.

She had just discovered photography and was off the deep end with it.

I drove home in a daze. And all I had was my Nokia (previous post).

The rest of the story:

I went further into hock (What's another $1K when you've already HAD to run up the CC for car transmission replacement, gas tank replacement, vet bills, dead laptop, etc. etc. all within an 8-month period.) All for necessity and not one penny for the soul. It was then, in late September of 2007 that I said "screw it". And bought my Pentax K100D. Joined BetterPhoto. Got Adobe CS2--remember that crappy first photo of my cat?

When I was about to throw the image away, something about his eyes stopped me. Here he is transformed. The image also now has a title--Essence of Cat--and sells well as a matted print in my local gallery, STAART.

next installments utterly condensed!

You will note the great hiatus in dates here. I simply had too much work to do to and too much to learn to maintain the grandiose historical outline I had started out with.

history continued and much abbreviated . . .

2nd Warning: Don't read this unless you read the first (Background) one and are a glutton for mistreatment.

In the ensuing decades I worked for a publisher of college textbooks in Boston math and science as a production editor. Marched against the Vietnam War, worked on Shirley Chisholm's presidental campaign, was precinct captain in my area of Cambridge, MA for George McGovern. AND, had a few very valuable lessons in photography. This was the time of my first camera -- A Mamiya Sekor which I used for years, until I bought a used Pentax K1000. I was strictly a black and white shooter, and today, I still think like that for the most part.

Additionally and extremely important to my entire professional growth, I began collecting, studying, and using type -- lead type. And all the equipment necessary to do letterpress printing and established Fairfax Press.

To make a long story short -- I eventually ended up moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan and entering the Graduate Graphic Design Program at Western Michigan University. Studied with Jon Henderson who later became the head of the Hallmark Research Library. When he left, he was replaced by a person of, to be kind, about 1/3 his mental stature. I left t the department, spent a year in printmaking and then switched back to English, receiving an Honors M.A. and going on to Ph.D. work at the University of Western Ontario.

After leaving -- with the infamous A.B.D., I returned to Kalamazoo and set up my own graphic design studio, producing work for Selmer Music Company, U.S. Robotics, French Paper Company, and Western Michigan University.

In 1988 I had to return to Vermont to take care of my aging parents. This was the end of my visual life as these were the days before the ubiquitous computer and I could not take my clients with me. I had to work for others. All work for the next 10 years was for leading edge technology startups and therefore my normal work week was about 70 hours. No time for anything else except rest and recuperation to prepare for the next day.

From my third job in this era I got laid off (along with otheres) without severance and being owed back pay. It was then I tried to start a web design business. And that was a laugh. It was 1995 and everyone EVERYONE I talked to told me they thought the Internet was a "load of hype" and was never going to amount to anything. I knew they were wrong, but I didn't get any business except for a wonderful guy in California, Jed Donnelly, whose Computer and Communications pages, begun in 1993, are still active today. And, whose pages are still using my very dated banners! Reading Jed's bio is like reading a history of the Internet.

The other client turned out to be a fairly large one. He owned and ran a teleconferencing site called "Summons Teleconferencing" I redesigned his site and wrote a ton of perl programs for getting at visitor stats--in those days you had to roll your own. Within a couple of years he sold out to Genesys for a mil or so--nice for him, but my tenuous attempt at a web business was gone.

That was the end of my web design career. So for nearly 10 years I tuned and repaired pianos. (Don't ask.) And then, something snapped.