Category Archives: Photography

George Floyd and the Soul of The Mission

I’m a big fan of Dan Ryan’s. He sees the streets and he loves the people he finds there. And in him they obviously recognize something they can trust.

As a result he’s able to capture a frankness, an honesty, a whimsy that I think the rest of us miss entirely. Maybe we can’t see it, or maybe we’re afraid to.

Dan recently took his camera to the George Floyd Matters rally in San Francisco’s Mission District and came away with a visual record of a tough community that has seen plenty, and has now seen enough. But not so much they’ll forsake their values.

Give it a look.

George Floyd Matters rally

Oh HELL … Maybe: Perspective Matters, Huh?

First Cat White posted this at me on FB. (I’m known to have issues with heights above, say, two feet, and my friends love tormenting me.)

heights 1

My response was the now-ritualized “Oh HELL no.”

Her friend Chuck was skeptical and went sleuthing, which revealed this:

heights 2

That’s still more height than my back brain will tolerate, but this angle tells a different story.

My compliments to the shooter who figured this one out…

Which Type of Photographer Am I, Anyway?

winterSmith RiNoFor a long time there I stopped calling myself a photographer, opting instead for some iteration of “digital photoartist.” The issue was that my work was so heavily reliant on processing that even thought it may have started as a photo, it really wasn’t one by the end. Pixels were added, subtracted, multiplied, divided, contorted and riven by various and sundry dark arts, etc.

This sort of thing bothers the purists. If there’s a continuum with journalism at one extreme and art on the other, I’m hanging ten off the art end, and occasionally I’ve been given to understand this isn’t according to Hoyle. At times it almost feels like my character is in question.

So I tried to appease the critics by distinguishing up front which was what. I even went so far as to split my work up onto two web sites – one for my more traditional photography and another for the digital fuckery.

But then a friend passed along this PetaPixel article on the six photographer types. I got to #4 and stopped cold. Wait, you mean official, establishment experts accept what I do as … photography, full stop?

The author, Michael Rubin of Neomodern, presents a taxonomy that accounts for basically everything you can do with a camera. Kinda.

That first one – the Hunter/Gatherer – a lot of folks are that, including street shooters like my friends Dan Ryan and macro-god Denny Wilkins, who’s mainly a strolling nature wizard. The folks with limitless patience who set up in a blind for three days to get a shot of a lion yawning? Sportsmen. Ansel Adams landscapists? Explorers. And so on.

I actually seem to be a bit of a hybrid, though. I’m always an Illustrator. “Pixels are manipulated,” as it says in the article. With prejudice. But, I work from original photos. Everything starts with me and the Nikon. A lot of times I start out as a Hunter/Gatherer, but more and more (especially now that I have a lightbox) I’m a Director. My recent Fleurs du Mort series, for instance, was 100% staged in a controlled studio-ish environment, etc.

So I’m either a 1-4 hybrid or a 2-4. And all my work has been reintegrated into one portfolio site.

What are you?

 

Teach Me Baroque Art History

I have seven letters after my name, but I often feel as though I’m in desperate need of education.

I can’t look at the news without thinking how much I’d benefit from a good history degree, for instance. More and more when I listen to music I wish I understood the mathematics of tone. And speaking of math, I envy the geniuses who understand our existence in terms of formulas I can’t begin to unravel and I’d give anything to better grasp the code of the universe.

Every moment, it seems, life reminds me how little I know. I study what I can, but no life is long enough to learn everything I wish I understood.

Photography torments me most of all. I know a few things and have learned an immense amount from some of my talented friends, but mostly I’m self-taught. And I’ve always suspected I’d benefit from your basic intro-level course. Photography 101. Composition. Light and shadow. A professional set of eyes looking over my shoulder and pointing out the nuances I’ve missed. That sort of thing.

So I have this little list in my head of courses I want to take someday. And today I added another: History of Baroque Art. Maybe something like this from UDub.

The why is … Okay, occasionally I find something I like, so I investigate. My recent kick has been music of the Baroque, which was inspired by Pachelbel and Vivaldi and my general lack of interest in all the music I normally listen to. One thing led to another and of course I found myself reading about Baroque art.

I’ve seen and admired many of these painters before, but I never had the context of the movement in my head as an organizing principle. But as I explore, things begin making a bit of sense and, most importantly, I feel a kinship.

The work that distinguishes the Baroque period is stylistically complex, even contradictory. In general, however, the desire to evoke emotional states by appealing to the senses, often in dramatic ways, underlies its manifestations. Some of the qualities most frequently associated with the Baroque are grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, vitality, movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinctions between the various arts.

No, this isn’t me exactly, but the drama, the intense shadows and deep colors that typify the masters of the era, it all reminds me of me when I’m interrogating an image.

And the paintings themselves – I don’t have words.

The Calling of Saint Matthew (1599–1600), by Caravaggio

The Calling of Saint Matthew (1599–1600), by Caravaggio

The Garden of Love, by Peter Paul Rubens

The Garden of Love, by Peter Paul Rubens

The Nightwatch, by Rembrandt

The Nightwatch, by Rembrandt

What would I find hidden in my photography if I had space and time to study these artists in detail? My bucket list doesn’t look like most, I suspect.

Here’s my latest. All I can say is that as I composed it and developed it the Baroque masters were on my mind…

Wedding-Song

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