Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Moving

Well, after three years here at Blogger it's time to move on. I've got a new site up www.larrydhayden.com. The journal portion of the site is up and running and over the next few weeks I'll be posting images into the galleries. Please change your bookmarks to reflect the new site and thanks.

P.S. You can also click up on the title as well.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

We Are Not Terrorists

According to Janet Nepolitano, I could be considered a terrorist simply because I might be taking photographs that don’t make any sense. Ask my wife, I often take photographs that don’t make any sense. What she actually said was “...somebody continually taking photographs of a piece of critical infrastructure that doesn’t make any sense…” I guess the fear mongering continues with the new administration.

I can’t even tell you how disappointed I am in this continued fear based approach to fight terrorism in a way that makes little sense. And before you let me know that it’s OK, even prudent to do so, please consider that about 200M Americans carry cell phones. A very large percentage of those people have a camera in that cell phone with a large enough resolution to provide any kind of detail needed. And let’s not forget the presence of images on the web that would provide the same information. And how about the ability to get precise coordinates of a building, bridge or “piece of critical infrastructure” from Google Earth.

The considerable waste of time associated with checking out photographers being reported by “concerned citizens” would seem to be a woefully wasted use of security resources. Is it really something that is going to prevent a terrorist attack or is it just a means to make everyone feel safer by appearing to do something, anything, to be ”vigilant?” I’ll go with the latter.

Let’s try an example. There are 222,532 results on flickr for “Brooklyn Bridge.” Out of that 200K+ images I would imagine a pretty good idea of it’s structure can be had. If I, as photographer, would park my LF camera on a tripod somewhere on it’s structure how long would it take a “concerned citizen” to question my motives, decide that what I was photographing didn’t make sense and call the appropriate authorities. Since I’m inept at using a LF camera I think there might actually be time for a cop to show up, question me, my intent and promptly remove me from the scene. Another threat stopped in the war on terror.

But if it really is someone intent on harming us and our loved ones, I can imagine the scenario going like this. The bad guy pulls out his cell phone, looks over the side and makes an image. Maybe he even pulls out a DLSR that automatically does everything and does the same thing. Twenty or so people see this, assuming that anyone is paying attention at all, and maybe one makes a call. Some period of time later the proper authority shows up. A conversation ensues, a description is given and the hunt is on for a person of unknown heritage that has taken an image of the bridge. Of course it’s unlikely that this person is ever found because this isn’t Hollywood and the image is sent to the other bad guys to determine the best way to bring harm to your loved ones and mine. A terrorist threat not stopped. At least not in this way.

Simply ridiculous. And simply a wasteful use of precious security resources and an absolute and utterly wasted effort by all involved.

But the concern is even more of an issue as we continually lose more and more of our freedoms as this ”war” continues. Over in Great Britain there is a concentrated effort to arrest anyone who would dare take a photograph. Under the The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 the British Parliament gave wide sweeping powers to the police to arrest persons exhibiting suspicious behavior with the power to confiscate property. There are widespread reports of police abuse, persons being detained under this act for photographing in a suspicious manner, film being confiscated, demands to delete images, etc., all in the name of making the British citizens safer. How long do you think it will be before a similar law is passed in the United States?

Now I’m all for due diligence, proper vigilance and the need to be wary in these trying days. But the scope of these times allow our government to legislate on fear and that’s even more scary than the terrorist themselves. Mark Twain said, “ Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it. “ I think this is as true today, possibly even more so, as when he said it in his day.

NPPA Letter to Homeland Security

Now I'm off to a place not remotely considered "critical infrastructure."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sheesh

Over at PDN there is an article about an “artist,” and I use that word in the loosest terms, in which a downloaded image has been modified by taking the people out of the image.

She’s takes an image, made by someone else, modifies it and somehow gets to publish a book. Go figure. I wonder if it will sell? I really wonder who she knows and how she was able to get this published? It’s mind boggling to say the least and it begs the question of who makes these kinds of decisions and who buys this stuff? And I am most curious about how she can actually make a living.

A link to the article by clicking the title. Sheesh!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Julius Shulman

I love reading about people, especially photographers, and what they mean to people. Julius Shulman passed away a few weeks ago and there have been a lot of blogs posts, news reports and videos over the last few weeks. Here are links to a few of them.

Tim Mantoani - Remembering Julius "One Shot" Shulman

SMOGRANCH

LA Times

NPR: The Picture Show

LA Times Video on Case Study House #22

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pursuit

Thank you to all of you that have taken the time to comment here on the blog or send private emails. They are greatly appreciated.

Time has a way of passing all too quickly. What seems important today is decidedly not so tomorrow. And what seems inconsequential at the present time has a way of indelibly making it’s presence known somewhere down the road and becoming very meaningful at a most unexpected time.

Photography for me has always been important but it has usually taken a less than meaningful space in my life. It’s always present but somehow it never really gets to the level I want it to be. It certainly has it’s moments but a sustainable, meaningful existence has proven to be slightly out of grasp. But occasionally I get the time, and an image, that lets me think that I might just be onto something. This is one of them.

My favorite blogger, Dan Milnor, would call this an “Urban Abstract Moment.” And in this case it would be true. It is urban. And abstract. And a moment. I like it and I hope that it just might not quite qualify under his definition. It does include people and the two umbrellas make the image for me personally.

I’ve been trying to get away from where a lot of my stuff has been going lately. Even before I read his post I knew my images were a lot like what he refers to in this post. I needed more people, more interaction, more fluidity. But this is a huge and difficult step for me. It’s scary, difficult and my recent attempts have been abject failures. I expect that to be the case over the coming months.

But I have to do it. It’s where the passion lies for me in photography and where I’ll enjoy it the most. It’s also what will allow it to come to the forefront more often and become a sustained, meaningful pursuit for me personally. And while I’ve mostly put up stuff on this blog that I’m happy with, and in some cases, downright proud of, I will most likely put up some of the abject failures as well. Maybe I’ll get some constructive criticism… maybe not. Regardless, I tend to photograph for myself anyway even if I constantly struggle with where it’s going. But if I’m not consistently making images then I’m not doing what I just absolutely love to do. And if I’m not doing that then what’s the point.

P.S. I know this is similar to another image but I ultimately liked this one much better once it was scanned and printed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

February 19, 1928 ~ June 22, 2009

The last few days have been some of the most difficult days of my life.

On June 22nd, we lost a lovely, beautiful, loving and simply amazing woman. Larene Pace, mother to Diane, grandmother to Jordan and mother-in-law to me, passed away and left this world with a void not to be replaced.

I’ve written this post in my head for days now, and as always, what comes out on paper is something less than I would want it to be. But to say that Larene had an impact on my life would be a disservice to the memory of a wonderful and beautiful person. In listening to the stories of the people that knew her well, and those who only knew her briefly, it’s immediately apparent that her presence made everyone better and that everyone was better off for meeting her.

I’ve never been more profoundly sad than I am today. I can’t imagine what we’ll do without her and what our lives will be as we move into the future. It’s the little things I think about, the moments taken for granted that hit me without warning when the vacant spot becomes a gaping hole.

I thought the words would flow for me as I sat down to write this post. But the truth is, that nothing I can say will remotely begin to convey what I feel, what we’ve lost and what Larene meant to all of us. As much as I want too I just can’t seem to get the words to come. The sadness is overwhelming, the emptiness never ending and the grief devastating. The world is a sadder place today without Larene here but we are all better off for having her in our lives and I’m grateful for my time with her.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cuba: Campo Adentro

Since I was a little kid I’ve always had an interest and curiosity about other countries, cultures and people. As with many kids, at least I would imagine, I had a deep affection for National Geographic and the stories it contained. As I grew older the photographs really started to intrigue me and I started wondering how they were made and about the people actually making them.

And Cuba has always been a source of intrigue for me. Growing up in the 70’s it was a place that was seen as a threat to the US, specifically a nuclear threat. Well, at least that’s my recollection. Anyway, it’s a place I always thought of and wanted to go to at some point.

And I did actually make it to Cuba while I was in the Navy. But it was strictly off limits for us to venture outside the base. In essence, while I’ve been on the island I’ve never seen Cuba.

David Allen Harvey has a wonderful book on Cuba that I own and I love it. But I recently received a new book on Cuba by Susan S. Bank and I really love this book.

I first saw images from it in the latest edition of Lenswork. Besides the images, the thing that caught my interest was when she started this body of work. She started this work in 2002, well into her sixties, and it’s a wonderful example of producing great work regardless of your stage of life. As I approach my fifties I’m thinking of this a lot.

The book is top notch in the production department. It’s self published and Mrs. Bank spared no expense on the quality. She’s obviously proud of the work and the book shows this.

The images, at least to me anyway, are edited nicely and it’s quite obvious that she is close and connected to the community she has documented in Cuba. She has taken the time to get to know these people and to really share that knowledge with viewers of her images.

I highly recommend this book. And by the way, it was produced with one camera and one lens all on black and white film. Just a lovely book and I’m glad to have it in my collection.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Travel

In the last few years my business travel has increased in intensity to a point where it is less than fun. Unfortunately, it’s a necessity that can’t be avoided if I want to do my job properly.

As I’ve mentioned before I take the camera on almost every trip. Sometimes it makes it out of the bag and sometimes it doesn’t. In looking at the hotel images I’ve written about previously, I’ve recently noticed a bit of a theme, especially in the color stuff. Whereas the B&W stuff is about the shapes and forms the color work shows a bit of the loneliness the road is really about. This image in particular shows the “glamour” of traveling. It’s the view outside of some nondescript hotel in Seattle.

I post this image because I’m in the process of getting my images into a more coherent group of images, get a new website and develop direction. With the help of Dan Milnor I think I have a start.

If you haven’t been to Dan’s blog please check it out. His photography, especially his B&W stuff, is something I aspire too. His writing on the blog is thought provoking from a photography industry viewpoint, at times hysterical and always entertaining. It’s a daily read for me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming Home

These two wonderful women are the loves of my life and without them I have no clue where I would be. But I have a sense it would be in a significantly less of a good place than I am today.

I try to make more images around the house but I’m usually met with the rolling of eyes and the inevitable “What are you doing?” But occasionally I get an image I like. Most of them will never see the light of day or beyond the walls of our home anyway. But this one makes me smile because Jordan comes home this week and Diane and I are both very happy campers.

She’s in finals week and will soon finish her first year of college. It’ll be good to have her home and it’ll be fun to see what images I will be able to sneak in over the summer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Southwest Desert

Not being a California native, it took me some time to get used to the vast open landscape. But the desert, despite it’s desolation, was instantly a place in which I felt comfortable and connected.

When I first moved to California over a decade ago, it was to escape the comforts of my native south. I say native south, because I really didn’t reside in any one place for a long enough period of time to ever call myself a native of a particular state. But what I knew, where I grew up, and in large part what formed my world viewpoint was developed throughout the southern states.

The terrain was something I was intimately connected with but I can remember a particular flight, somewhere out west although I can’t remember specifically where, and seeing the snow covered mountains. This wasn't the first time, but it was certainly in a way I had never seen them before from the window seat of some cattle car of an aircraft. I can vividly remember thinking about walking above the clouds on the ridges where no one could touch me or see me. I could be alone in the vastness that I saw from the air if I could just get to those peaks and valleys.

But life, being what it is, has to be lived. And that’s where the desert comes into play for me. There are two places that have had a profound calming affect on me in my lifetime. And they both were exposed to me at particularly difficult times and close to one another in time span. The North Georgia mountains and the Southwestern Desert, two completely different places provide me with a calm ground, places that transport me from wherever uncomfortable place I might be into a place where what matters most becomes visible. They are safe havens, spiritual places providing the grounding that I need.

Diane and I spent a few days out in Borrego this past February and it was a great trip. Just the two of us in the Airstream, alone out in the vastness of the desert. It snowed and prevented us from going to our original destination, but as we always try to do, we made the best of it and headed to another place. When we got into Borrego Springs the rain was going sideways, it was cold and windy and I needed to get set up. I did so in the current weather conditions and once finished headed inside. No sooner had I headed inside then the sun came out, the rain and wind stopped and it became glorious.

Luckily for me the weather returned. I made this image as we drove and the clouds gathered. It’s certainly not a great image, but as some of my favorite images do, it brings to bear wonderful memories and reminds me of what’s important.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hotels

I spend way too many nights in hotels. I don’t even want to contemplate how many nights this year will be spent in a bed other than my own on these business trips. But, since I have to do it, I’ve taken it upon myself to document them. I’ve written about it before so I won’t go into it here, but I do think I might have something here if I keep trying. Here’s one of the images from Shanghai and the Grand Mercure on the morning after my arrival.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Leica Factory Video

I'm stuck in the airport killing time and came across this video. If you've ever wondered how a Leica was made this video will give you a glimpse into the manual labor needed to put these machines together. I know there are some camera geeks out there that will get a kick out of it but you'll have to read the English subtitles because it's broadcast in German. Click on the title above to go to the video.

Fresh M.I.L.K.

The winners were announced in the Fresh M.I.L.K. competition this week and unfortunately I wasn’t among them. After viewing the winning entries it’s clear that my submissions weren’t close to what they were looking for. While I thought, upon deciding what images to submit, that they reflected the theme, it’s obvious that my images were too singular in subject matter and didn’t have enough of the interaction required to address the judges intentions.

But it did provide a desire to enter my work into more competitions provided they meet some criteria that doesn’t blatantly rip off the entrants. Having reread the T&C’s I don’t think I would have entered but would have still liked to win.

This year I am building up a body of work to start submitting for the 2010 juried competitions. It’s the foundation for where I think I want to start taking my work. Closing in on 50, I want to put more effort into my work and less into my occupation. We’ll see how that goes but it’s the plan as I see it today.

The first step of that plan is to get with a photographer I respect and start looking through the initial edit of images I have. I’m also taking a workshop in San Francisco later this year that I really excited about. More on this stuff later.

This is an image from Shanghai. I didn’t get around to processing the film until this past weekend because I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile. I was much more excited about the Japan images. But I did get a few images from China I like and I’ll post them over the next few days. As is typical these days, I’m in another airport flying to another town so bear with me a bit.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Patterns


I’ve recently printed about 60 images that I really like and that I’ve taken over the last few years. After I received the images I noticed, but had not realized when choosing, that all of the images were from the Leica. I’m not sure if I’m surprised by this or not.

I’ve spent a good portion of my photographic life shooting 35mm and only in recent years have I moved to medium format and only in the past 6 months moved to large format. The Leica was purchased in order to carry a camera with me as I traveled and to replace the digital camera I had which was just too big to carry comfortably. It’s the one I usually have with me and it’s been on 90% of the trips over the last two years.

But on this past trip to Japan I decided to take the Yashica Mat with me after the poor results with the Hasselblad while in Kentucky. I knew I wouldn’t get much time to get out and comfortably make images but wanted to have something with me just in case.

As usual the images, due to the lack of committed time, appear to leave a lot to be desired. As I reviewed the 60 images I printed out, edited them a bit and selected what I thought were strong images I noticed that the images that I liked the most were taken when I had some time to actually get out and make images. In most instances I had time by myself and spent time observing and making images. These few rolls from Japan recently will suffer from the fact that I didn’t get any time to just wander around.

These are two more from Japan and I really liked the patterns in the two buildings. The color one is from one of only 2 rolls of color I used while there in March and they were both taken on a Saturday while I had time to myself and just walked and observed. I like these two images and in the context of the images I’m selecting work well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Headed Back To Japan

Last night Diane and I headed down to San Diego to hear John Prine and Josh Ritter. It was a wonderful concert in a pretty exceptional venue. It was held at the historic Spreckels Theater in the heart of downtown San Diego. It opened in in 1912, was renovated in 2004 and really just a beautiful place. Well worth the drive.

I’m sitting at SFO, headed to Japan and preparing for a long journey and a long few weeks ahead. In the next several weeks I’m in Japan, Canada, England and possibly Germany and China. It’s going to be crazy busy and I’ll be in dire need of time off when all is said and done. So the concert was a little bit of foundation for the trips ahead. Music has a way of doing that for me. And it’s made me think a bit about my own photography.

Looking at my iPod I see some 120 songs by John Prine. Out of that number I have about 88 in a playlist and about 20 of those are considered 5 stars. Mr. Prine has been producing music for a long time now. His writing is creative, unique and gets to issues in a way that is thought provoking. Over that period of time I wonder how many of those songs he considers his best?

Over the last 30 plus years I’ve had an on and off again love affair with the camera and photography. It’s provided me with a ticket to the world. A way to share what I see with some of the people closest to me. Today, it’s my creative outlet in an otherwise crazy world, at least my little slice of the craziness. And looking back over that span of time I don’t have much that I would really call wonderful, or good, or anything else. Maybe I’m too hard on myself. I’ve been accused of that and to some extent it’s most likely very true. And it raises the question on why I do this, why accept the pressure to produce something meaningful. It really boils down to the fact that I just really enjoy it.

I may never produce anything that anyone would consider great. But I enjoy the images and I think that’s what matters the most. Photography is constantly on my mind. I want to read about it, see it and actively work to produce an image. I really enjoy the process and it’s why I have a camera with me on this trip even though meetings and work related stuff will, in all likelihood, prevent me from making anything worthwhile.

So here’s one from the hotel window during my last trip to Japan. It’s taken through the rain splattered window overlooking the Shin Yokohama train station. Those shapes really interested me and I made several images of the structure over the few days I was there. It’ll mean something someday. Well maybe.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great Park II

I’ve finally gotten all my processing completed from the last few weeks of traveling and other outings with the camera. This is one of the images I like pretty well and it’s nice to see something come out like I intended it too.

Unlike my previously documented fiasco’s, I was actually paying attention while I made this image. It was made on the Chamonix over at the Great Park in Irvine. This is an old hanger that will eventually be made into a flight museum. I had stopped over there one day to see what the big ballon looked like and just fell in love with the old space.

I knew the light would look good early so I made a trek one morning not too long ago. It would also give me a chance to use movements to get everything in line and sharp, or not, if so decided. It’s a repeat of an image I posted a few weeks ago that was made on Type 55. But that image used movements to throw the bottom out of focus and it just didn’t work that well for me. Plus this one was taken a little bit after the sun peaked over the horizon and so the contrast looks a bit better to me as well.

It was processed in Diafine because that’s what I’m using at the moment. It doesn’t give me the control over exposure that I could get with something like HC110, but it allows me to practice easily and I do like that. The next step will be to control the negs a bit more and see how much that really affects the images considering I scan everything.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kentucky Trip

I spent the weekend in Kentucky with my family to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my parents. It was a very quick trip with just one full day in the state and almost two full days of travel.

I took the Hasselblad and the Leica and thought I’d get some good family images along with a group portrait of everyone who attended the party. Unfortunately the wild gremlins decided to show up at a most inopportune time.

I should know better than to develop key rolls at the same time just in case there is a mix up in the procedure. But in an effort to get the film developed and scanned before I leave for Japan this week, I went ahead and developed the two rolls that had the group images on them. Big mistake.

In order to get me in the photo - something that was seriously driven home to me by my wife, daughter and mother - someone else needed to trip the shutter. I’m not sure what happened there but the shutter was never tripped by the designate. Strike one.

To make matters worse, and like the last post where I sometimes don’t pay attention when I should, I drained the Diafine A and then mistakingly put in fix instead of Diafine B. There is an image on the neg but it’s thin. I might be able to get an acceptable scan from the negative but it’s a bit of a reality check. I need to really get my head into the game when I’m out with the camera.

This is an image of Lily. You might remember her from a couple of years ago. She’s as adorable as ever and certainly knows how to make her uncle feel good about himself. I was told by her dad that the evening we arrived she ran and got into her favorite dress when the call came that we were almost there. It does wonders for the ego. She looks a little disconcerted here but she’s trying to keep her kite in the air while posing for me. At the same time her brother is trying to ram his kite into hers. It makes for a rather frustrating experience for her. But I like the image and I hope that someday she will too.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Japan - No Words, At Least Not Much

Here in the US we don't get to see many IranAir flights. Just thought this was worth capturing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Japan Redux


These are two more images from Japan.

After spending the day lost, I finally made it back to the hotel and needed some food and some rest. I made my way to a market that was close by, bought some water, ate some chocolate and just plopped my butt down for a bit in a little park. I just didn’t want to take the easy route and head back to the hotel.

So I headed out with another roll of film, a little more energy and decided to see what I could see. Turns out there is always something to see if you just put your mind to it.

I headed out over a bridge that was an overlook for a local train and decided to try and make some images of the train as it passed by. As I’m doing this I noticed the shutter speeds are much faster than I has imagined for the film I thought I had in the camera. I didn’t give it much thought and just figured I had gone through a roll quicker than I expected.

So I head off to find something to eat, preferably sushi, and find a nice place, step inside and am pleasantly surprised to find a sushi place with an english menu and a sushi chef that speaks english. It’s harder to find than you would imagine.

I get some great sushi, some good saki and feel rejuvenated. I’m watching the chef make platters to go and thinking this would make a good image. At this point I’m more than halfway through the roll (or so I thought) when I realize I have Delta 100 in the camera but am exposing it for Diafine like it’s Tri-X. Bummer! Turns out I’m on exposure 35. Big bummer! And I’m thinking I made some good images here and they are going to be SO over exposed. Turns out that Delta 100 in Diafine at 1250 is somewhat forgiving. The images of the chef are complete crap but some of the other images turned out OK. These are a couple of them.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Japan


I spent a few days in Japan at the beginning of March as well as a day in China. International trips are always hectic for me and it’s rare that I get a chance for some personal time that doesn’t include work. With as much travel as I do for business - about 150,000 miles last year alone - the last thing I usually want to do is spend more time away from home.

This trip was a bit different in that I got a weekend in Tokyo; something I haven’t been able to do in 8 years or so. I spent some time with a friend of mine on Friday hitting a variety of camera shops that I wouldn’t have known about without his guiding ability. It absolutely poured the entire day and the camera never came out, although it should have. But I was enjoying the discussion with my friend, taking in parts of Tokyo I had never seen, and in general, just enjoying the down time.

And on Friday night I was able to have dinner with some old friends I haven’t seen since our company was acquired several years ago. I had the camera but never got it out. The food and conversation were just too good.

On Saturday I had time to myself and I braved the trains and went exploring. I got lost. I could have stuck to cabs (a very expensive proposition) and gotten to wherever I wanted to go. But I thought I’d hit Yokohama and then head to Kyoto on the train. I made it to Yokohama, ended up on a wrong train back to my hotel before heading out to Kyoto and so I spent a couple hours exploring before I decided to find my way back.

These are some of the images.

Having recently read about the issues in Kyoto maybe it’s a good thing I missed it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Inauguration Day


This is a little late and not as timely as I had intended.

I’m getting caught up on the backlog of film I’ve had since early January. Over the last two weeks I’ve developed about 12 rolls of 35mm, 6 rolls of 120 and 16 sheets of 4x5. Now I am getting them scanned, spotted and adjusted in PS.

I’ve been developing in Diafine since the beginning of the year. It’s really helped to standardize, get my process down and know what I’ll get. On 4x5 I’ve been using Ilford FP4 because 100 sheets of the stuff was included in the price of the Chamonix when I bought it. I’m exposing it at ISO 200 and processing in Diafine 3+3. It makes scanning the images pretty easy and I like it so far. The negs would be difficult to print in the wet darkroom but I don’t think I’ll be doing that any time soon so I’m not worried.

With the Leica I’m using Plus-X at 400 and Tri-X at 1250. I’m really pleased with that combination in Diafine. I used some Delta 100 in Japan at ISO 80 and I like those as well. So that’s my line up for the foreseeable future.

In 120 I’m using HP5 at 800 and FP4 at 400. I have 3 rolls of Delta 100 at 64 for the dr5 process which I want to try once again for some images. I’m not sure how far I will take that but I plan to see what I get and also try the Efke 25 for the Chamonix.

These are images I made as I traveled on January 20th. It was an historic day and I wish I had planned a bit better and stuck around LA for the festivities instead. I won’t put any of the others up. It’s my guess they will need to stand a bit of time to mean anything to anyone else, if they ever will at all.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Annenberg Space For Photography

Took the day off and headed to The Annenberg Space For Photography up in Los Angeles. If you are in the area it’s worth the trip and it’s free to enter as well. In addition, they will validate your parking for 3 hours which will allow you time to visit, eat or have a coffee. For $3.50 it’s a great deal.

The space is small but there was quite a lot packed in. During the afternoons there is a digital exhibition on a large screen that really makes the images look wonderful. It’s a slideshow on steroids. There is also a room with a large plasma screen with video of the photographers speaking about their photography. Throughout the space there are images on display from the various photographers being showcased.

The inaugural exhibit is a group of LA photographers including several from the LA Times. In addition Douglas Kirkland and Greg Gorman are included in the exhibit. Kirkland showed some new work as well as some of the Marilyn images he’s famous for. Gorman showed the same old tired work that he’s been showing for the last 10 years. As my wife said, “...seen it all before...”

My favorite images were from LA Times photographer Carolyn Cole. (Read an interesting article here. Her work was simply amazing and to hear her speak on the video was telling.)

There are also images there from Julius Shulman famous for his images of Southern California architecture. Really cool work to see. He said in his video he shot one B&W image and one transparency of the places he would make images of. And by the way, he’s not a shooter, he’s a photographer. He doesn’t carry a gun. Listen to an interview on NPR here.

Click on the title to go to the Annenberg Space site and check it out. And look for the photographers that are speaking for the Iris Nights lecture series.

This is an image from a side trip over to the Great Park in Irvine. It’s on Polaroid Type 55 and taken with the Chamonix. I’ve got some sheets yet to develop but should get them done soon.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Washington Post

I’ve just spent a bit of time this morning, time I really didn’t have, looking through articles on the publication of a seven-year-old girls circumcision. To say that I’m sickened and outraged would not provide a level of understanding to my feeling at this particular moment.

Tewfic El-Sawy, over at The Travel Photographer, first brought this to my attention in his wonderful blog. I’ve not been over there in some time and was catching up this morning when I saw the posts. He has some links to other writers that are equally outraged. What I didn’t see were any US based commentary (other than Tewfic’s) that spoke of the hypocritical editorial decision to publish these images.

I travel quite a bit in my job and am fortunate to see other view points other than what we get force fed here in the US. That, and the fact that I was exposed to a variety of cultures as a kid, provide me with a willingness to see other viewpoints. I also spent time in the Navy traveling the world and going to places I would have otherwise never been exposed too. All of that provides me with a deep appreciation of world viewpoints.

And what I’ve found over the travels and years is that we aren’t very different when it comes right down to it. We all want to be treated with respect, we almost always respond in kind when a smile is given and we just want to get along in life without a lot of hassle.

But what I increasingly see is a complete disregard for anyone from another part of the world that doesn’t have a voice to defend themselves. In this case, Andrea Bruce might have been exposing an abhorrent practice that provides that voice. But when she took images of the the seven-year-old girls face, submitted them for publishing and then took an award for the photographs, she became part of the hypocritical nature of this country in particular.

I won’t go into the arguments that others have made. If you want to see what the issue is read here, here and here. But I will say to those that are reading this and think “What’s the big deal?” I’ll ask you to do as Tewfic did and think about your own daughter ,or son, or family member, and tell me what the big deal is. But of course that wouldn’t happen in the US because we would all be in an uproar about protecting the kids. But a seven-year-old Kurdish girl doesn’t deserve the same respect. And that, given the state of the world affairs, is the crux of the problem. When we stop caring what happens to the individual we stop caring about what happens to the whole.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Does Photography Do For You?

Over the last several weeks I’ve forced myself out more often with the camera. I’ve got several rolls of 120 to develop, multiple rolls of 35mm (from my extensive travels of late) and about 10 sheets of 4x5 that needs processing. All of this has led me to thinking what photography does for me.

The biggest thing it has done lately is really reduce the stress and allow me to forget any other stuff while I’m out making images. That is especially true with large format, and to a somewhat lesser degree with the medium format gear. While out, I’m getting better at looking and seeing, and in the end, making images.

This is an image from the San Juan Capistrano Mission. It’s a favorite place to go and see if I can see an image and practice with the Chamonix. This isn’t a particularly good image but it’s a start, at least for me. I set up in front of the door and if I had one person stop I had ten. It was an exercise in maintaining some amount of focus as I tried to set up. It also was an exercise in learning how to use the camera properly in order to use it improperly for the type of images I want to make.

Friday, March 20, 2009

USA Network's Character Project

Here is another image from the travels over the last several months. There are a lot of images to come and to be added to this body of work.

When you get a chance to check out the new project over at USA Network. It’s a group of photographers going out into America and checking out the character of the nation. It’s not a TV show - which I’m entirely thankful for - but it will be a traveling exhibition and there will be a book.

There is one photographer in particular who’s video is especially good in my opinion. Check out Anna Mia Davidson’s work on farmers up in Washington that have committed to organic farming. The video does a better job in explaining what she is doing, and why, than the other photographers that I viewed. Looks like and overall interesting project from some good image makers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Large Format Rejection

Here are some examples of the learning curve associated with moving into large format. I found this site not far from my house one evening just as the light was going down. I got up early the next morning to shoot again and decided to take the QL film I had and see what I could do with color. I also wanted to see how easy it would be to get it developed at my favorite lab.

When I got the film back there was an obvious light leak as well as dead space that I had a difficult time figuring out. With large format I’m still getting the process down and when mistakes like this happen it can be difficult to troubleshoot. And as much as I dislike electronics, my background in troubleshooting makes this a bit easier for me to break down to find the cause. It’s one of the rare times when I am methodical.

Anyway, I was shooting some Type 55 on Saturday (images to come) and I was having the same issue. I wasted two sheets of this valuable stuff before I saw that I wasn’t getting the packet properly seated once I made the image. Sure enough... light leak. One problem solved but I should have done it before I went out that morning.

The other issue is lost likely a result of not puling out the packet far enough. Both images that show this have the exact same of unexposed film so I think that is the cause. I’ll make sure I pull the packet out all the way in the future. So now you know the other reason I had to crop this image.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Headed To Shanghai

I’m presently sitting in seat 13G on an American Airlines flight to Tokyo headed ultimately to Shanghai. That’s 5451 miles to Tokyo from LA and another 1119 miles from Tokyo to Shanghai. That’s a lot of miles no matter how you look at it.

In my bag is one Leica, two lenses, 8 rolls of Provia 100 and 16 rolls of black and white film. That’s 864 images to be made and the goal is to shoot all 864 frames this week. That’s about 123 images a day; approximately 3 rolls of film over the 7 days. Of course I don’t have an actual 7 days since I just crossed the international date line (I can see it on the flight map). It’s an exercise of making myself shoot, see and find out if I can make an image that resonates with me.

I like the word resonate. It means something to me I can’t quite identify but I know when I feel it and when one of my images resonates (at least for me)... for that matter when any image resonates.

Here is an image that doesn’t resonate. It’s a poor attempt with the Chamonix and it required a crop. I studied under Jack Corn, a renowned documentary photographer in the 50’s and 60’s, who taught me to frame in the camera. I’ve never really shaken that, especially when I shoot 35mm.

But LF allows for some of that and it’s going to make me come out of a comfort zone and basically learn to shoot in a very different manner. I’ll still try to compose in camera - why lose the real estate - but will be more open to other arrangements.

This image is an example of that. I really enjoy panoramic images. This image was something I just saw in a panorama when I was setting up. I couldn’t get close enough because of a fence to cut out the cloudless sky, nor did I have a lens that would have brought anything closer. So here it is. My second posted LF image which really isn’t. Taken on Portra 160VC with a Fuji QL holder which is another post altogether and another reason I had to crop.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trying, Trying, Trying

I learned something about my photography this morning during a little jaunt out to Joshua Tree. I’m reasonably proficient with the Leica. I’m getting to a point where the Hasselblad and I are getting along. But I wholeheartedly suck with the Chamonix.

It’s actually not surprising considering I’ve probably put 15 hours or so in actual time with the Chamonix. The Leica, on the other hand, sees far more usage and I’ve been shooting 35mm since I was in 7th grade. The Hasselblad is a little more work and it makes me think that I should have stuck with the Mamiya RZ 67. But it needed to go, and all I can say is good riddance, because getting rid of it actually brought me to this point in my photography.

The Chamonix is just a different beast all together. I have to slow down - not my strong point - and I have to work from a fixed point. And I think that’s the hardest thing for me. Trying to see my image has always been difficult for me. I’ve never been very good at pre-visualization. It just doesn’t work for me and my style of photography.

I knew this going into LF after taking a class with Michael E. Gordon prior to investing in the camera. But I’ve not been able to sufficiently shoot enough to see and find the shot. I’ve got some darkroom work to complete after my trip to China and Japan and we’ll see if anything stands out.

I did develop a couple of images from last weekend but I’m not happy with them. Too many mistakes and not enough real vision. I did figure out one of my issues with the Fuji QL holder though. I wasn’t getting the film packet seated after exposing. One problem worked through and solved.

Her is another image from a recent trip up to Seattle. I think it will eventually work out that I have enough stuff I like from hotels to put a small body of work together I’m proud of.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quotes

On my way to the office on most days I pass an elementary school with the best quotes on a sign just off the school’s parking lot. This morning’s quote - a new one is posted each Monday - was particularly good. It was, “The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”

I think it is especially good for the current environment and what, not just the US, but the world is facing today. My personal belief is that now is the time to start doing things differently at home, in our jobs, in our communities and certainly in our schools. We are ready to bail out everyone but, it seems, the schools, the students, the teachers. And when I read these quotes I often think of the person, or persons, that find them and put them up for the community to see. It’s a teacher, or someone very intimately involved with the school and it’s student, that finds these quotes and give us all a lesson. Maybe our government should find this person and hire them.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Instantaneous

I’ve spent the last few months thinking about the immediate nature in today’s society. As it relates to my photography, and therefore this blog, I wonder how much instantaneous gratification is really needed. There have been other posts recently on this topic, and they have said it much eloquently than I will be able to accomplish, but I’m going to address is a bit anyway. (Mark Tucker’s comes to mind at the moment.)

I spent the weekend developing my backlog of film. I did it two 35mm rolls at a time, over a period of several days, and finished up with a couple rolls of 120. I’ll be posting over the next few weeks but the process got me to thinking even more about how everything needs to be done “right now.”

Most of this film is several months old and I really had to think about where I was when I shot the images. They have mostly been from business trips, and there are far too many images of the dogs included, but they waited to be developed as we dismantled the office I spoke about in the last post. And despite the fact that I thought most of it would be crap, there are a few images in the mix that I do like. I doubt I would have anything any better had I been shooting digital but I know I would have had more images to sift through and be disgusted with.

So here is the only color roll developed in the last few weeks. It was shot on Kodak E200 on a trip to San Francisco for the day. There were two I like from this roll and that was it. The rest of it didn’t work out too well mostly because I am always in too much of a rush on trips like this. More to come.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

First Post of 2009

The new year is here, it’s February and I still haven’t posted anything here on the blog. There is a ton of film to be processed, the office is in disarray, the garage completely full of stuff from the work finally completed in the house, which is causing the film backlog to grow larger and work is just a complete time sink. (Although I’m happy to say I still have a job unlike some unlucky people I know.)

So here is a link, courtesy of the The Travel Photographer, from a photographer located in India. Nice images — a hassy shooter — of issues in India we here in the States are unlikely to know much about. It’s worth the time to check out and read through.