#54 Travel Pictures

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Some of Suzanne’s snapshots on her trip. The first row is how she sent them to me, the second row was my messing around with a little post production.

  1. The first one is like a face. Since the color didn’t really add too much, i wondered whether making it monochromatic wold diminish distractions and enhance the face-ness. Not sure.

  2. The powerlines felt unfocused to me, and the thing that was compelling was the weird array of lines in all directions, the birds on some and the lights on others… so i cropped tighter to accentuate this detail, cut out distractions, brought up the saturation and blacks a little to make the lights pop more.

  3. The weird color swatches on the wall just needed a little color balancing, a tiny bit of brightening. It’s oddly surreal.

  4. Suzanne’s selfie during our podcast recording is wonderfully composed, the frame feels full of interest and dynamic energy — the only issue was the white balance, and this shot is very hard: the room is lit mostly from daylight out a window, with a little bit of in-room fixtures, and then the computer is completely different color temperature — blue. So one white-balance fix won’t really solve it. I tried b&w but it lost the immediacy, so i just tweaked the white balance for the outside light and took all the saturation down a little so it was less problematic. It’s not done, but it would take more work to adjust the colors differently across the frame.


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#53 The Fifty, and Visual Osmosis

Chicago, 1952 by Harry Callahan

Chicago, 1952 by Harry Callahan


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#52 Creative Expression in Your Pictures

1839-2019: 180 Years of Photography

“The most transitory of things, a shadow, the proverbial emblem of all that is fleeting and momentary, may be fettered by the spells of our ‘natural magic’ and may be fixed for ever in the position which it seemed only destined for a single instant to occupy.”

William Henry Fox Talbot, 1839 –Inventor of Photography

Carmel, 1984—A photo that didn’t strike me when taken, but discovered decades later and it continues to grow on me. Tastes change, in both directions, over time.

Carmel, 1984—A photo that didn’t strike me when taken, but discovered decades later and it continues to grow on me. Tastes change, in both directions, over time.


Otto Titzling is a fictional character who is apocryphally described as the inventor of the brassiere in the 1971 book Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling, published by Macdonald in London, and by Prentice-Hall in the USA.

The name, a pun on "a two-tit sling," was invented by humorist Wallace Reyburn in the 1970s. Since then, the name has appeared in the game Trivial Pursuit (the makers of the game fell for the hoax, and listed "Otto Titzling" as the "correct answer" to the question of who invented the brassiere), the 1988 movie Beaches (featuring a song named "Otto Titsling" sung by Bette Midler)

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The Art of Fixing a Shadow — the history of creative expression in photography

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Women Before 10am, photographs by Veronique Vial

Inure: (v) accustom (someone) to something, especially something unpleasant.




(see Suzanne’s print from episode #48)



PATTERNS catch the eye, finding things that repeat interestingly. I always play around when I see various forms of organic repetition, usually with some wabi-sabi in there. But ultimately, they are boring - the don’t have any story or mystery or energy. They’re just kinda interesting.

This next set is similar, but different in important ways: they harness that sort of visual repetition (above), but then mess with it: use it, break it. The repetition isn’t the subject, the breaking of it is the subject.


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#51 Beginners… How to Start Growing Your Skills

Thus begins our release of podcast episodes each Sunday morning!

Amusement Park, London, by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1962). One of the fifty.

Amusement Park, London, by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1962). One of the fifty.

Museum, Naples, by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1962). Another one of the 50…

Museum, Naples, by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1962). Another one of the 50…

After recording this episode, I sat down and created the list of 50 photos that Suzanne challenged me to assemble. SEE THE FIFTY


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#50 Photomosaics and Collage II

This is Gabrielle Israelievitch; she’s an artist who has done a lot of work in photo collage, influenced as i was by the work of Jerry Uelsmann.

Yellow Taxi

Time (*this image unusually breaks Gabrielle’s constraint of only cutting with straight lines.)

Time (*this image unusually breaks Gabrielle’s constraint of only cutting with straight lines.)

Transformation

Identity

Identity

EPISODE #31

In case you want more with Gabrielle.


Uelsmann at home, his contact sheets spread out on worksurfaces to facilitate serendipitous seeing things.

“Small Woods Where I Met Myself” (1967) Jerry Uelsmann; I was 4 when this went on the wall in our house, and was the stuff of my nightmares for years.


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#49 When You Need a Pro…

These amazing photographs by professional photographers all have impressive production value — they are executed and crafted with unimaginable skill. But underneath the production values, the images are beautifully composed.

See how gorgeous these are? You can't do this with your iPhone. Few can. There's a reason these people are professionals.  Photo by Chris Burkard  (https://www.chrisburkard.com/)  Off-the-rails adventure photographs

See how gorgeous these are? You can't do this with your iPhone. Few can. There's a reason these people are professionals.

Photo by Chris Burkard (https://www.chrisburkard.com/) Off-the-rails adventure photographs

Photo by Alloria Winter  (http://www.alloriawinter.com/index2.php)  Lush fantastical scenes of women.

Photo by Alloria Winter (http://www.alloriawinter.com/index2.php) Lush fantastical scenes of women.

This first part is free: composition. You don’t need anything but your phone, and you can get good. Then you’ll be able to expand. These professionals all have command over composition first, and then apply that to a wide array of more complicated productions.

There are a lot of photos you see that you simply cannot create yourself and it might be frustrating. Not with an iPhone. Not without a few things: 1. access to private or particularly hard to see places; 2. gear and tools that are usually expensive and designed to handle many situations, including lights and baffles and power and lenses and GBs; 3. extremely good technical skills using tools like Adobe Photoshop, where anything is possible photo-realistically. When I see photos that are produced through these things, I can appreciate them, but i have a different reaction to when i see something amazing, that anyone might have taken if they just happened to see things that way.

When an event IS important and you want both documentation, and artful, there are experts who love doing this, and they’re worth what you pay them.


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#48 Decorating with Photographs

Suzanne Fritz-Hanson, “Santa Barbara, 2018”

Suzanne Fritz-Hanson, “Santa Barbara, 2018”

Robert Motherwell, Red Sea

Robert Motherwell, Red Sea


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#47 Wabi Sabi and Photographic Imperfection

Wabi-sabi is natural, a way of life, a beauty of something that either moves towards or from nothingness. It is the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, incomplete, modest, humble and unconventional. The word wabi refers to a spiritual path, the subjective, the philosophical and spatial. Sabi refers to material objects, the objective, aesthetic ideal and temporal.

Wabi-sabi is the beauty of the rustic, primitive, earthy, variegated, crude, natural, imperfect, and even ugly. This makes it different from modernism which is the beauty of the slick, minimalist, mechanical, perfect, polished, smooth and gorgeous. — MARIA ANTVORT

*From The Beauty of Wabi-Sabi

Alcatraz, 2017

Alcatraz, 2017

Wabi-Sabi, Kintusgi, Ikebana, Haiku

Wabi-Sabi bowl

Wabi-Sabi bowl

Ikebana flower arrangement

Ikebana flower arrangement

Kintsugi bowl

Kintsugi bowl

Ikebana

Ikebana


Pretty is Different Than Beautiful

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Smoke Chair, by Maarten Baas

Smoke Chair, by Maarten Baas



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#46 Look at the Light

Sunset, Christmas Eve 2018

January 2019, Sunrise, Sea Ranch


EVEN LIGHTING

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This is an illustration from educational materials about page layout design. In this case, the grey rectangles are photos, and the designer is looking at the relative weights of the photos. Some layouts are more attractive than others, but it really depends on what photo is in the rectangle.

Even lighting over a surface is like the layout in the top left — everything has the same relative weight. It’s not bad, it has its uses. But for many photos it misses an opportunity to say something strongly. The layout next to this, top center, makes a bold statement with that top photo, and something less heavy, less strong is hanging from it. Again, look at this as a metaphor for the array of light and the shapes in your frame. The light illuminates unevenly in natural scenes, revealing some things and hiding others. Consider uneven lighting across the scene.


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#45 Shooting Nudes: The NSFW Episode

Kenna pointing out aspects of his printing of Ruth Bernhard’s “Nude in Box” (Weston Gallery, August 2017)

Kenna pointing out aspects of his printing of Ruth Bernhard’s “Nude in Box” (Weston Gallery, August 2017)

Photographer (and Printing master) Michael Kenna

Photographer (and Printing master) Michael Kenna


RUBIN

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EDWARD WESTON

Edward Weston, Nude (1934)

Edward Weston, Nude (1934)

(1925)

(1925)

Edward Weston, Nude (1927)

Edward Weston, Nude (1927)

(1936)

(1936)


RUTH BERNHARD

Ruth Bernhard (1967)

Ruth Bernhard (1967)

Ruth Bernhard (1967)

Ruth Bernhard (1967)


LUCIEN CLERGE

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HELMUT NEWTON

Helmut Newton “Naked and Dressed/Paris” (1981)

Helmut Newton “Naked and Dressed/Paris” (1981)


ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE

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JUDY DATER

Judy Dater “Self Portrait at Badlands” (1981)

Judy Dater “Self Portrait at Badlands” (1981)

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Judy Dater “Self Portrait” (1981)

Judy Dater “Self Portrait” (1981)

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HARRY CALLAHAN

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#44 Minimum Gear

From the Smugmug Photowalk, San Francisco

From the Smugmug Photowalk, San Francisco


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#43 Landscape Lessons

John Sexton

John Sexton


Rubin (Outside Modesto, 2016) - Here’s a landscape with no horizon. It wouldn’t ever look interesting on Instagram (and honestly needs to be reasonably large to be savored), but if there hadn’t been clouds it would have suffered greatly.

Rubin (Farm, 2017) And an utterly quiet landscape, with horizon.

Rubin (Moon, Russian Hill, 2016) Here’s an urban landscape. The moon in the sky is extremely subtle, but without it the picture is lost.

Rubin (Sunset, Tulum, 2017). A pretty sunset in this case is improved with the foreground subjects (my kids).

Rubin (Sunset, Tulum, 2017). A pretty sunset in this case is improved with the foreground subjects (my kids).

Ansel Adams

John Sexton

John Wemberly

Michael Kenna

Walter Misrach


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#41 The Instagram Dilemma

The photo that I shot last week — I uploaded, then deleted, it twice on Instagram, pretty sure it was just too sexy for the feed. Eventually I posted it. (and two days later Instagram removed it because it violated community standards. So there you have it.)

The photo that I shot last week — I uploaded, then deleted, it twice on Instagram, pretty sure it was just too sexy for the feed. Eventually I posted it. (and two days later Instagram removed it because it violated community standards. So there you have it.)


Even after all that ranting, both of us have Instagram accounts…

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#40 Some Technical Questions

There’s nothing quite like seeing an image you’ve taken get printed like artworks.

There’s nothing quite like seeing an image you’ve taken get printed like artworks.


MEGAPIXELS TO INCHES OF PICTURE

8-12 mega pixels can print nicely up to 8.5x11”

12-16 mega pixels can print nicely up to 13x19”

*If you know your exact pixel resolution, divide it by 300 (pixels per inch in a quality print) to get image size in inches.


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#39 Your Composition “Asana”

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This kind of exercise is designed to practice composing objects in a frame. As you move around a set of objects, the various compositions depend entirely on the objects themselves (For instance, in image 1, I wanted to see the corner of the Viewmaster and the end of the slide rule. I liked the wheels of the train along the side, and i hoped to get the top of the Viewmaster in frame, but when i tried i didn’t like the sliderule in the foreground.

Composition is often wiggling around, adjusting position, to fit the things in the frame in interesting ways, sometimes massaging them into place with small motions.

This exercise pushes you to think about what you want to show as more important, and what literally looks interesting or dynamic. By moving the camera position, often in very subtle ways, the focus and meaning of the image shifts, you can start to feel how your eye hone in on different points in the image and how it holds your attention in that first instant.

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#38 Now, With Even More Zen!

Thorn, Santa Cruz (2016)

Thorn, Santa Cruz (2016)


ZEN PHOTOGRAPHY RESOURCES and LINKS

  • Photo-Yoga.com (relax, center, and stretch your photographic skills. Namaste.)

    • relax. Photography is about getting out into the world and enjoying life as it happens. center. Photography is about finding out about who you are and focusing on the world around you. stretch. PhotoYoga is about stretching yourself and your photographic skills to capture your creativity within the frame.

ZEN IN THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY, first published in 1969, captures the joy of photographing and the meaningfulness of the pursuit of photography for the photographer and culture at large. It is not a book about how to take a good photograph. In the broadest sense, ZEN IN THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY is a poetic ode on photographing with an open heart/awareness that is saying thank you to life itself. As such, the text expresses and explores in simple words the connection between and the relationship of the photographer to the subject in the lens in the Decisive Moment when the shutter is released.

  • Zen Photography book/blog, by Eric Kim — From his preface:

If you’ve ever felt frustration, anger, or anxiety when it comes to your photography, this book is for you. Personally, I’ve felt a lot of envy, jealousy, and negative emotions in photography. Photography became less about expressing my inner-spirit, and more about impressing others.

Through my personal photographic journey, I’ve learned how to “Zen out” in my photography. For me, photography has become less about making photos, and more about finding inner-calm, peace, and tranquility.

This book is an attempt for me to share some of my personal Zen philosophies when it comes to photography and life, and to provide some useful tips or insights, which I hope can help you in your personal journey.


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#37 How to Give Photographs as Gifts: The Holiday Show

A photographic print is a handmade, homemade, creative project. You can make them for yourself. Or you can make them for other people. Sit and think about each person on your list—is there a photo you’ve taken, either OF them, or WITH them, or of something they have an emotional attachment to, or is there some moment in your life that feels appropriate to share with them, a way to keep yourself in their sphere?

Crafting an archival print is more than hitting “print” on a computer. Photographic artists can help create prints from your images. It transforms a moment into something different, iconic perhaps, and produces an artifact from this experience.

Crafting an archival print is more than hitting “print” on a computer. Photographic artists can help create prints from your images. It transforms a moment into something different, iconic perhaps, and produces an artifact from this experience.

Mix and Match Pictures and Frames… it’s actually sorta hard to make it work. FOR MORE INFO:  WEB

Mix and Match Pictures and Frames… it’s actually sorta hard to make it work. FOR MORE INFO: WEB

When the frames are consistent, you can get away with lots of variation in the image sizes and everything feels cohesive.  FOR MORE INFO:  WEB

When the frames are consistent, you can get away with lots of variation in the image sizes and everything feels cohesive.

FOR MORE INFO: WEB


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#36 The Presumption of Truth

If we accept that photography is art, and all photography is a sort of fiction, then perhaps it’s wrong to presume that photos ever represent anything like “objectivity” and are problematic for news and reportage. Determining if a photographer (or organization) embraces journalistic integrity becomes of greater consequence…

At SFMOMA, the Magritte show

At SFMOMA, the Magritte show

This is the POST SCRIPT episode on Episode #20 on Truth.


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#35 Zen Your Photography (Becoming Present with Vision)

Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind." It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would. (from Wikipedia)

A camera is a device that teaches us to see without a camera.
— Dorothea Lange
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When you look around, your eye does one of two things. It sometimes can follow a moving point around the visual field (smooth pursuit movements”) but most the time it zips from point to point. The zips, called “saccades” are the fastest human muscle movement. We don’t perceive the saccades, and even when we land on a spot with our eyes (generally for a few milliseconds), we zip off again to another spot, and through this weird scanning we take in a scene. This spot is falling on our fovea, a tiny part of our retina with a high density of image receptors — everything outside of this little area is pretty blurry. We can sense motion and other bits of data out there, but for the most part, we “see” only what lands on the fovea. The content not specifically picked up in this saccade is filled in by our brains — with what we think should be there, what fits with the rest of the data we have, perhaps what we expect to see there.

Eye tracking software is big business today, where it’s important to everyone from interface designers to advertisers very invested in where you look and for how long. Tune into your own curiosity and what catches your eye.

Eye tracking software is big business today, where it’s important to everyone from interface designers to advertisers very invested in where you look and for how long. Tune into your own curiosity and what catches your eye.


Crows, Santa Fe (2018)

Crows, Santa Fe (2018)

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(1964) An inventor and an artist, Dr. Harold Edgerton, a professor at MIT, pioneered the strobe flash, stop-action photography and a method of taking super-fast images called Rapatronic.

(1964) An inventor and an artist, Dr. Harold Edgerton, a professor at MIT, pioneered the strobe flash, stop-action photography and a method of taking super-fast images called Rapatronic.


“Kara Walker exploded onto the art scene in 1994 at the age of 24 with work that shocked many, and at the same time, made her one of the leading artistic voices on the subject of race and racism.”   https://westburyarts.org/celebrating-black-history-kara-walker/

“Kara Walker exploded onto the art scene in 1994 at the age of 24 with work that shocked many, and at the same time, made her one of the leading artistic voices on the subject of race and racism.”

https://westburyarts.org/celebrating-black-history-kara-walker/


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#34 Composition, Again (this time with Stettner)

Louis Stettner (1922-2016) was an American photographer of the 20th century whose work included streetscapes, portraits and architectural images of New York and Paris. His work has been highly regarded because of its humanity and capturing the life and reality of the people and streets. (from Wikipedia)

The Louis Stettner exhibit at SFMOMA is wonderful and if you’re in SF and like photography, it’s worth a visit. While there’s a lot of his work that i don’t find particularly interesting, a number really resonate for me, and there’s lots to see.

On a Dutch Ferry, Holland, 1958

Woman with White Glove, 1958

Boulevard de Clichy, 1951

A few notes on the walls of SFMOMA about Stettner:

BRASSAI ON STETTNER: No matter how passionately Louis may become involved with what is most immediate and commonplace around us, he does not allow himself to be seduced by the picturesque. Stettner’s stimulant, his pre-established theme, is our natural environment, which he reveals with the utmost accuracy and the simplicity of great art.

OBLIQUE GAZE: Stettner defined himself as a “realist”. … He did not, however, always follow formal principles associated with the style of “realism”: frontal presentation of the subject, its placement at the center of the image, or its perfect legibility. As seen here, Stettner often preferred off-center framing and complex compositions.

ATMOSPHERIC QUALITY: Stettner enjoyed working in the rain, snow and fog, as evidenced by the pictures in the gallery. He was among the best photographers of the thickness of the air that separates the camera from its subject. The atmospheric quality of this space in between serves as a filter overlaying reality, making Stettner’s gaze visible.


Lake, New York State, 1952 by Stettner.

This Stettner, in particular, always inspired me in the way the subjects were arranged in the frame. In my mind it is in the same category as this photograph, by Rudolph Burkhardt, c.1940 “War Posters, France”

Rudolph Burkhardt, c.1940 “War Posters, France”

Rudolph Burkhardt, c.1940 “War Posters, France”

Seaglass Hunters, Davenport, CA 2015

Seaglass Hunters, Davenport, CA 2015

These two photos catch an arrangement of subjects — and so when I found myself watching a group of seaglass hunters in Davenport, CA a few years ago, I found the anonymous subjects with this same sort of array, which i liked.


PARALLAX

Over Thanksgiving I took some pictures at San Francisco de Asis, the famous church in Taos New Mexico. I took about five photos trying to get it the way i wanted it. I knew the crosses were distinctive and i wanted all four in the frame; the three on the church are fixed, but the fourth is on an arch about 50 feet from the church, and so body position and very subtle shifts in camera will leverage the parallax and appear to move the first cross around. Where to place it? In #1 i like the position, but i don’t like how the horizontal bar of the cross aligns near the church border; in #2 that problem is fixed by moving a tiny bit. But #3 was my favorite, with the 4th cross pushed farther to the left to balance the composition a little better.

#1

#1

#2

#2

#3

#3


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Sebastião Salgado - Serra Pelada Gold Mine, Brazil, 1986

Sebastião Salgado - Serra Pelada Gold Mine, Brazil, 1986

Sebastião Salgado - Kuwait, 2006

Sebastião Salgado - Kuwait, 2006


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