Sunday, September 27, 2009

Create Destroy Create

For a variety of reasons, the luxury of having time in the studio has been a bit sparse lately. At times, I have to fight the urge to force results to make up for lost time, a futile and counterproductive enterprise. I need to remind myself to allow the evolution of a work, as it has a life of its own, a time to be born, that is, if I am fortunate enough.

More often than not, the creative process also entails a good deal of destruction, with the careful laying of paint followed by an equally careful process of removal, followed by reassessment.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to complete another work. Who is to say?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Late Summer Wonder

A little late summer wonder, and, a little digital fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Jag on the Brain

My dad, who alternately brought home some of the coolest designed cars on the planet, along with some of worst aesthetic offenders known to man, showed up one day in the early 1960's with this hot, hot example, a 1958 Jaguar Mark 1, with the 3.4 liter engine. I had never seen him so excited. Well, the whole family was excited. I think even the dog liked the car.
The Mark 1 series ran from 1955 through 1959. I saw one in mint condition on the road last month and could hardly believe my eyes, to behold such automotive splendor. Few cars show such class, such exquisite and original styling. The lines are unmistakable.
Our other car was a 1954 Buick, a total brick, a solid performer. In fact, I think it could drive through a brick wall, and keep on going, unscathed. Previous to the Jaguar we had a couple of ancient Pontiacs, circa late 1940's vintage. These cars were affectionately called "The Bumba." The original Bumba looked like an insect gone radioactive in a Japanese horror movie. That car could take a bullet. After the floor fell out, it sadly needed to be replaced.
Another automotive glory from my childhood? A 1965 Ford Mustang, greenish gold color with a dimpled black vinyl top. A true classic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Summer's Almost Gone

While looking out my kitchen window, I noticed this little bumblebee struggling upside down in a puddle of water. I turned it over with a leaf and then watched as it walked a little ways to face the sun and dry out.

It must be near the end of its life cycle as I think they only live some two to three months. This one seemed a bit battle worn, as it posed patiently for its portrait. The macro mode really allows us to see what would never be seen normally. These insects display a complex level of detail.

This little worker has done an amazing job on behalf of its young, its community and the environment. It is a little sad to watch it all come to a close.

Its work, however, will ensure the future. Can we say that about ourselves?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Repose at Will

Shown above, the painting of the day, "Couch Repose." For me, a welcome change of pace from the previous entry, however interesting. I am just in the mood to look at one plus nudes, relaxing in the living room.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Overnight Lodger

I arrived home the other day and found this little visitor camped out by the door. I hadn't seen a praying mantis in some time, and perhaps had only seen a few in my lifetime. My understanding is that they are fairly common, but do an amazing job of blending in with their surroundings, staying quite still with a sculptural pose resembling a clump of sticks or leaves, and then striking their prey with lightning speed.

It was late afternoon when I saw him, or her, a time when activity winds down for the night. I grabbed my camera, that is, the Nikon P5100, and was allowed increasingly intimate opportunity to document the visit, under constant scrutiny by these highly visual creatures. At some point I must have been judged to not be a serious threat, because in the end, I had the camera quite close to its face. Only at times were the front pincers separated, a sign of some alarm. At no time did the wings spread, a red alert.

I wished that I had the Nikon D80, a single lens reflex camera I use at work. This would have allowed precision in the macro shots. It is quite hard to auto focus on a wispy creature, some two inches in length. It was necessary to auto focus on an object and then continually hold the focus and estimate the distance to the mantis, a hit or miss strategy for crisp focus on the subject. Another issue to be faced was the fact that the closer you are to the object you wish to focus on, the smaller the depth of field becomes, yielding an increasingly narrower focal range.

Through macro photography, I gained respect and admiration for this little predator of calm repose. That is one aggressive little grip at it's command.

It was time for the closeup. Okay, we got it!
The mantis roamed a bit through the night, first to one side of the door, and then the other. I saw it nearby in the morning, but the photo opportunity was over. It was in no mood to cooperate as before, and I left it alone. Check out time was 11:00 AM, and it was gone. I only figured that it camouflaged itself in the bushes, laying low for the next meal.
I felt fortunate to have been granted a view into this small world, steeped in some myth and mystery.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tools and the Trade

I have been fortunate enough to use a great series of cameras over the years. To follow is as comprehensive a list as I can put together, and, in fairly accurate chronological order. Of course, I have on occasion worked with other cameras, such as Polaroids, however, I consider this list to consist of the highlights of cameras that I have worked with.

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye
Start date, circa 1959
Fantastic little box camera. Bakelite at it’s best. Hold it like a Hasselblad (great feeling even for a four year old) and stare down into the view finder. My first taste of art direction! I can still hear the tinny little sound of the shutter release and spring. Then, the sound as you wound to the next frame. That was great fun. Need I say it? This and all to follow until I mention otherwise were all film cameras!

Kodak Instamatic 100
Start date, circa 1965
Felt like I was in heaven. Was picture taking ever this much fun, or cool?! I don’t know how I got my hands on this baby, but I still have it. I loved the horizontal format and the look of the prints. They scream, mid 1960’s. This was the camera to bring to the World’s Fair (yes, they had those things where you could roam around in freedom and safety, learning about other cultures and enjoying life.)

Unknown Minolta SLR
Start date, circa 1968
Brief, but wonderful stint using my sister’s old SLR from art school. Magnificent camera, but, unfortunately, malfunctioned and was never repaired. This middle-schooler lacked the wherewithal to bring the camera back to life.

Nikon F2
Start date, circa 1971
This is where we drop all the booster rockets and enter the heavens. Magnificent camera, an aristocrat. Professional level, fully manual. This was a loaner from my then brother-in-law on his return from duty in Vietnam as a photographer of the aftermath of battle (I hear you). I was brought up to speed. I learned to load the film, take light readings, and set the aperture and shutter speed. I gained experience in proper exposure and image composition. I began to develop and mount all my own color slide film and create slide shows. After shooting countless rolls of film I learned to cull down and tell stories with only the strongest images, preempting the yawning and “look at the time” syndrome. The Nikon F2 brought fulfillment.

Unknown Canon
Start date, circa 1973
Not an SLR, but a little workhorse that I used for quite a few years. Lost track of it. Would love to find it in my attic some day.

Nikon FE2
Start date, circa 1983
Beautiful semi professional SLR. Just getting to know it when it was sadly stolen out of my house one dark December. May have ended up under a tree somewhere on Christmas morn, or, helped satisfied a drug habit.

Unknown Ricoh point and shoot
Start date, circa 1984
Not much to tell here other than that this camera filled the gap between the previous glories, and those to come. As a point and shoot, I have no complaints. Worked well and was easy on batteries.

Nikon FM2
Start date, circa 1987
A return to form and greatness. Fully manual at the dawn of the automatic age. Felt good in my hands and produced professional results. A wonder in its simplicity.
Sony Mavica
Start date, circa 1991
Marks the dawn of the digital age for this designer. All Sony, all the time. All proprietary technology. No film. All images recorded on mini disks, and suitable for transmission over analog telephone lines. Ahead of its time, and very expensive. I shudder to think what it would cost in today’s dollars. Used in service of a client.

Nikon F3
Start date, circa 1994
For me, the best of the film cameras. Pure joy. When this camera was stolen, it shook my ability to trust (long story that I won’t elaborate on.) Used exclusively for product photography. A fantastic camera.

Leica Reprovit
Start date, circa 1994
Copy stand marvel in black (film only.) Also a joy. The Leica body and lens were a jewel in my eyes. Everything worked flawlessly. Every tolerance was right on the money. I hope to work with Leicas again some day.

Unknown rented digital SLR monster-cam.
Start date, circa 1995
Rented for test purposes, this camera produced stunning results. Price tag? Around 28K. That’s why we rented it.

Kodak DC-40
Start date, circa 1995
A new era of fun begins. Feels like a toy, but, if you are not terribly concerned with image quality, gets the job done. Best at quick record shots.

Fujifilm DS-300
Start date, circa 1997
After the Kodak DC-40, this feels like a real camera in your hands again. Cleanly designed hardware. The image quality is improving. This camera is probably around 2 mega pixels, impressive for that time. If you purchased a separate mountable screen, you could actually view the image that you were about to capture, a first. Still, this camera was somewhat temperamental. At times,there were hours and days of downtime while we did trouble shooting to get it back in service.

Nikon Coolpix 3100
Start date, circa 2004
At 3.2 mega pixels, closer yet to capturing a good image for web or print. The digital fun has now kicked in. Still works great. I wish that the battery door had not fallen off. Black photo tape holds it all together. At a passing glance, can’t tell there is a problem. Looks cooler than ever.

Nikon D80
Start date, circa 2007
We have arrived. All the fun and possibilities are at our command. The depth of the image is fabulous. Only drawback? Need to use the camera almost daily to stay familiar with it. But, it is worth it.

Nikon P5100
Start date, circa 2008
I keep this one close to me because for image capture it is the best thing going. It used to be “F 8 and be there.” Now, it is, “just be there.” Not an SLR, but, you can’t put an SLR in your pocket, or hang it lightly around your neck. Oh, the wonder!

Do I miss film and slides as media? I sure do, but that will have to wait for a later post!