31 May 2008
The juvenile Blue Jays are being weened this week. I can tell this because of all the racket, and the odd behavior. First, the adult Blue Jay can mimic an average of 2,000 calls and sounds from other birds. The juvenile can only make two sounds: A plaintive "Squawk" it repeats constantly, or shrieking. Now the juvenile shrieks, and shrieks a lot during this week, because the adults gradually ignore them so that they can feed themselves, and become independent. Mostly what I have been seeing, (and hearing, Arrrgh!) is the juveniles following around the parents flapping their wings and begging. Early on, the juvenile gets a little too anxious, and the adult has to whip its ass. This is not a pleasant thing to see or hear. Just a note: This shrieking comes in handy later in life. Whenever the Jays are nesting, they are a communally protective bunch. Whenever there is a Hawk or other predator nearby hunting for a meal, the Jays raise the alarm in large numbers. It can be deafening. I have seen the Hawk have its meal anyway, but the Jays surely save some of their young. There is much shreiking going on here. As far as the weening goes, hurry up and get it over with.
(This post was partially inspired by the lovely bird illustrations over, here.)
30 May 2008
This is a local feller with a few very nice portraits, but the fashion is repetitive and tedious. The nudes, a little teenagery. The opening fashion picture is awesome. Be sure to check out his little postcard widget. I almost assaulted everyone with them. Looking at them makes me think he must have had a loss recently.
I went down the street to get a Big Gulp this evening, and as I got to the 7-11, a stream of bikes came flowing by. The were over one hundred to be sure, (they claim over 250 on the Myspace page), on every imaginable type of bike, and wearing every imaginable type of street clothing. There were a lot of tattoos, a lot of long, hot blue jeans, and everything else you could imagine. It was nice to be reminded that this place is not entirely stuck in the stone age. As I got my drink, a very tattooed man wheeled in to get something cold. The cashier asked what was going on. He shook his head and said, "Critical Mass, dude."
29 May 2008
28 May 2008
Talk about madness... How would you like to rope and brand this guy? This is a steer, not a bull. His testicles have been not-quite surgically removed to improve his disposition.
To be honest, they don't raise these guys for beef very much these days. They're just too difficult to deal with. Sometimes the horns are harvested, but mostly they're just the ultimate Texas totem, more than even the armadillo.
This is my cowboy hat. Now, before you go and say a bunch of cruel things about my hat, I feel that it is only fair to inform you that I am a natural-born Texan and will not suffer any abuse about my hat. This is a real cowboy hat, not one of those squirrely plastic or leather things with a bunch of costume jewelry around the band. This is the kind of hat that real Texans (and cowboys everywhere) wear. It is straw with an open weave in the crown to allow air to move through and cool your head. The reason you wear these hats is not to make all the city folk stare at you when you go into town, although they do and it's kind'a fun. You wear them because they work. Notice the big shadow on my shoulders. That's the hat. It keeps the sun off and keeps you from collapsing with sun stroke. When you wear this hat, no one is going to mistake you for one of those baggy pants buttheads who can't figure out how to put on a baseball cap. But then, "My heroes have always been cowboys."
Grief pictures shouldn't be made unless something good can come from it. That almost never happens. In this case, I was assigned to shoot everything, including invading this poor woman's home when her daughter was only dead two days. It's funny though, they always welcome you, and want to talk. I sat with one woman, (I had witnessed the recovery of her son ) , for an hour once, and she showed me his pictures, and told me all about what he was like. They sent me over there only a day after his death. She was still in shock. I have always hated it, but it was never my choice. In this case, the intern was ALWAYS sent to do what the veterans never wanted to do, and I was the intern for five months in South Florida, where there is no shortage of grief.
I don’t know why I had to go there, but I had to go there. I had to see Mt. Carmel, the site of the Branch Davidian compound where 80 or more people died in a botched raid by the ATF and FBI. We were traveling down to Austin to visit my mother and our route took us through Waco. Mt. Carmel isn’t actually in Waco; it’s a few miles to the east of town. There are no signs which might direct tourists to the place. You have to know where you’re going. I’m sure the town of Waco would be more than happy to forget that Mt. Carmel ever existed, and to escape the linkage of their town’s name with tragedy. It won’t happen anytime soon.
26 May 2008
She has returned to Haiti to resume documenting Haiti's impoverished, sick and outcast. She's also there to see that the money she has raised goes where it's supposed to.
Alice Smeets is a young photojournalism student from Belgium. She is smart, passionate, and full of idealism like I was at that age, But Alice seems ahead of most 20 year olds. She is a world traveler, a problem solver, and she has found her voice. It's not every 20 year old who winds up becoming fast friends with, and a student of Philip Jones Griffiths- That she knew who he was is testament enough. Hopefully she can continue to be funded, and not knuckle under to the corporate beast. Continue also to do service work, as long as it doesn't distort her pictures. And lastly to shoot more film, and stop relying on Photoshop to create a black and white image. It's just not the same. You can read Alice's Travel/Photo blog: alicesmeets.com, and btw, she is a Lightstalker.
Without context, this just looks like a mother and son whose life probably sucks. I have several pictures of this family at different stages of a very bad week. What's wrong with this picture, and what does it have to do with anything? Scroll down for your prize.
25 May 2008
In the darker hours of the night, and sometimes when I'm bowling, I have seriously considered doing this- But it'd have to be a ground level version. Since I turned 40, I no longer believe that I can fly.
24 May 2008
(NOT safe for tender ears. You Have Been Warned!)
Lupo is making a comeback after being forgotten at the turn of the century. Great independent animation, with lots of swear words. (So much the better.) Watch it here: Lupo The Butcher
23 May 2008
This is one my favorite vintage postcards, but I have never figured out what the hell is going on in it. It doesn't seem to make sense to put the catalog # and the caption in the frame of the negative, But, what do I know? Any ideas from you illustrator types?
22 May 2008
I want everybody to know that I'm doing this because I'm a geek. My brain is part EntrepreNERD. Being self-employed for many years requires you to sit around and think of things that other folks find really boring, like how to find unusual things, or novel ways to sell them. That half of my mind is always churning. At any rate, I just went ahead and did a little shopping, just to shut-up the little voices. Just a couple of things that I was surprised by: It's a buyer's market. Speculation and flooding has occurred, especially on Ebay, where 600 film is bountiful, but still selling near retail. That's good news for photographers. A few are actually dealers that are augmenting their normal sales, and making normal profits. So why do hundreds of people buy at retail and make just a couple of bucks? I don't know. It's probably a psychological thing where the idea of polaroid extinction overpowers the discipline to wait until supply starts to dwindle, and prices and demand creep up. Never sell low during a glut if you know for certain that the demand will far exceed supply eventually. The big boys know this- and I guarantee you they are stocking-up, and packing the giant refrigerators to the brim. That's why Polaroid, Amazon, Walgreens and Shamrock are about 10-50 cents above everyone else. They'll get that with no trouble, and just sit and wait. The best business folks I ever knew were patient, if nothing else.
Cameras: Avg. price/$ (Ebay/US)
600 Film: Price Per Print/$
Ebay: Avg. PPP/$
So get thee to Walmart! But be warned: there are seasoned speculators waiting to pounce most days of the week, at least that's what they tell me here. I can't imagine that it's any different anywhere else, since a pack of 600 film is going to be $12.14 no matter which Walmart you go to. Good Luck!
P.S. How about in other regions, anything different retail-wise? And my European friends and others: Are you taking advantage of our weak-ass dollar? I'm dying to know what's going on, and how you are doing it.
Number 2 on the list of prehistoric image manipulations, is this here elephant-sized Orson Welles from 1970. (My second was the National Geographic folks getting a perfect moonrise to line up over a pyramid. Wow!) Mr.Skrebneski obviously enhanced Orson's girth. It's really obvious to visual arts folks, but apparently a lot of people just figured he was REALLY fat. Mr. Skrebneski's little trick probably made him a lot of money. Anyone know of any Photoshop/digital age examples?
Okay, I was half-asleep, had an empty tank, and I had to get a few drops or I wouldn't make it the 6 blocks to get coffee and a bite to eat. Now, what would you think if you trundled down to the gas station at dawn, (stumbling and feeble, I admit), and discovered 2 dudes and a giant Rottweiler, (sp?), lounging, (at 5:30 am), on the apron next to the pumps? Well, I did my business, and then gently wandered over their way. "Don't get too close son" was the order, and killer gave me a nasty look. Instead of being some great twisted story, it turns out that some monkey at the MinI dealership, (with 7-11), had posted a coupon on their website redeemable for free gas. (You know about Americans and free crap?). They were very nice dudes, and let me do my thing. So did Killer. THERE IS NO PICTURE HERE. Even with some exotic back-story, it still would be nothing more than a cute visual, absolutely nothing more. I'm going back to bed.
21 May 2008
As always, over yonder at Neurophlosophy, Mo finds the best stuff to feed my fascination with the Psycho-Sciences, Neuroscience, and any unusual studies and cases of the same. Particularly fascinating is the history of all of it, and how we have generally found answers in those cases. I have long been captivated by these stories, and this brings me back to learning about the mind and it's complexity at a very young age. When I think of these stories, The Wild Child is most enthralling. Sure, the fact that Phineas Gage "survived", (relative) , having a huge blasting bit driven through his skull is fascinating stuff, along with how it may directly relate to the unprecedented survival, and so-called "functioning" of military personnel who have suffered TBI's. (Traumatic Brain Injury). But then I discovered L'enfant Sauvage in the 70's at a small theater near my home, and I was hooked. To my good fortune, this place screened documentaries, foreign, and independent films on an off-night of the week. I saw Truffaut's L'enfant Sauvage, Harold and Maude,(Ashby), a series of Chaplin films and many more. That little place opened a lot of doors for my mind.
Hanna-Barbera, came to dominate the cartoon/animation industry beginning in the 50's, continuing into the mid-90's, with cult and classic cartoon series such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Yogi Bear Show, Huckleberry Hound, and Johnny Quest. Later on, they added to their success with, (COUGH!), Scooby Doo, and, (CLEARS-THROAT!), Smurfs. Well, Hanna-Barbera was to make sorry-assed mistake by thinking they could be the indoor Disney of themes parks at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta. I wandered around that place during construction, and the spirits guided me to the Genie's house. What can I say? I was lucky, and I couldn't have set it up that way if I had tried. I got my picture printed in a bunch of newspapers, and by a couple of years later, the Hanna-Barbera Show at the Omni was kaput. I am not ashamed to admit that I think The Jetsons, and Johnny Quest were, and are high-art. If you dig Smurfs or Scooby Doo, don't tell me, because I WILL hold it against you. That is all.
20 May 2008
Daniel sent me this after we had met in Phoenix in 2001. It was Sept. 13th or 14th, I think. He and his wife Amy had driven over from LA so Daniel could do a presentation for Kodak at the paper. I wasn't exactly playing with a full deck, and things got worse as all flights by my carrier had been grounded. Even though I was un-hinged, Daniel and Amy were patient and gracious. Not only that, but Daniel is a gifted photographer, teacher, and documentarian. Look here, and here. Please also visit Daniel at The Smogranch.
19 May 2008
The Rat (nezumi)
1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008
Turns out I'm a Rat. A Metal-Rat, to be precise. I never paid much attention to the Asian zodiac, but something just caught my attention in passing. Turns out that my entire life can be explained in four sentences: "According to tradition, Rats often carry heavy karma and at some point in life may face an identity crisis or some kind of feeling of guilt. Rats are said to often have to work very long and hard for everything they may earn or have in life. However, a Rat born during the day is said to have things a bit easier than those who are born at night. Traditionally, Rats born during the night may face extreme hardships and suffering throughout life." (Now that's a bit dramatic, don't you think?)
Furthermore: " It is important to remember that rat people desperately want and need to be understood and others would be wise not to push or corner them, since those born in the Year of the Rat jealously guard their privacy."
Whew, I sure am glad we finally got that cleared up, It's like going to the palm reader over the phone. There's always just enough truth to make it plausible. I'm free! I'm set free!
Now here we have a REAL thunderstorm, not one of those sissifed "Afternoon Thundershowers" you get in South Florida in the summer. This is the real thing. Violent, loud, picturesque, and Perfect. There is no need to tamper with this image, even the lowly camera-phone couldn't dilute the beauty of it. P.S.: This layout does harm things, so, Clicky-Clicky!
Blackberry, low/available light. I like the texture and what I guess is color distortion caused by a small utility lamp nearby. Sodium vapor? I am amazed by this thing, and I am afraid I am turning in to THIS. (I'm saving the social justice diatribe for another time.)
18 May 2008
I became a slave instantly. There was no time to think about pictures anymore, I just made them automatically, met my deadline and then moved on. I became a machine, shooting pictures in the most efficient way possible, all the short-cuts and bad habits became automatic. Basically, while I made a few nice pictures, and a lot of high-value, efficient pictures- I had become creatively numb. It was a huge price to pay, and It's one of the huge reasons I quit. I have discovered that I have to re-visit some of this stuff before trudging on. Bear with me folks,( all 4 of you), it won't take long.
Probably my favorite of all the animal engravings. We actually wrapped it around a shirt in pretty large proportions, and it looked impressive black on white, as it was intended. Alas, my hillbilly brothers and sisters couldn't handle something that progressive. (sigh)
17 May 2008
I was just a kid when this nice Amish feller gave me my first and only lesson on Graven Images. He politely explained how photographs of mortals posing, or gazing into the camera violated this rule. After he was satisfied that I had been properly instructed, he happily allowed me to chronicle his backside.
16 May 2008
Okay, I admit it. As a very young kid, I thought the early stuff was pretty cool, especially Robin's Tremolo-Yodeling on songs like I Started a Joke. Fondness quickly turned to hatred when Disco rolled around, and Barry only sang in that horrible falsetto. No, I did not go see Saturday Night Fever. Or Grease. Yes, I did have shirts with big collars, and no, I did not wear loud 100% Rayon smoking jackets and a big star around my neck. Yes, my first car was 68 Mercury with lots of rust and a 400 under the hood. (And no, I don't recall Robin being a Ginger, though my black and white TV might account for that.)
Hillbilly Heaven, Arizona, 1991. From John Samora
Long ago, when we were young and idealistic, my fellow photographers, editors and designers found ways to keep in touch, share work, and have a good laugh. Some came from distant places where one got a job or an internship, some we exchanged right at school. I guess the tradition began long before we got there, but I'm certain it ended there when there were no more prints to be made. I started collecting photo/illustration/art cards in my early 20's, and I have kept them all, along with the homemade cards made and sent by friends. I have told myself all these years: " I'm gonna do something with those someday." Now, if I can just find that one of the dead-bear-floating-in-the-lake Daniel sent me.
Now mind you we all have lamented the demise of the written letter, (long before the internet and email came along) , and my visual arts friends and I have whined about not keeping-up with our two fisted version of the letter, (visual and written). Synchronicity being what it is, the good folks over at benhästen, led me to Craig Oldham, whose brilliant idea is The hand.written.letter.project. Now, it's very late at night, and I'm known for being expansive and full of wild ideas at times. With that said, I think that Craig's project is a great lesson, and I think the possibilities are endless if someone were to apply his basic model to a visual/written document. The other twists and some of the fun and games from the old days would be the gravy.
Now I know I'm preaching to the choir of extensive musical taste here, but I'm proud of my new little independent record store with the irritable little man behind the counter and looky what I found in the bargain bin:
14 May 2008
Rendering of the brain injury suffered by Phineas Gage in 1848, and a rendering of a Trepanned skull.
I have always been fascinated by everything to do with the mind and the brain, sometimes to the point of obsession. I read everything I can get my hands on having to do with Psychology, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and all the related chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Thankfully, Mo, over at the very fine Neurophilosophy Blog, (and a Masters-soon-to-be-doctoral candidate in Neuroscience at UCL), never fails to please. Today's post is about the discovery of Pre-Columbian, (Inca), Peruvian skulls which show signs of precise trepanation and Neurosurgery for brain injury or other types of illness. Trepanation by ancient cultures has long been considered witchcraft, or some other means of excising demons. (Though some primitive cultures may have done so, and may still.) The post is here, and be sure to read Mo's Illustrated History of Trepanation. It's fascinating stuff.
13 May 2008
Living in the same town with Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney's 20,000+ acre dream can be difficult. Orlando in the 50's was just a little backwater citrus grove. In the 60's, Uncle Walty sent teams of lawyers and other types to buy up as much swamp as the could. By the time anyone caught on, Walt had him nearly 26,000 acres of wetlands and swamp. They reclaimed it inch by inch, pond by pond. Poor Walt died before it was finished. This is a very strange place to live, and unfortunately, I just landed here.
I am comforted though, by the amount of nature and wildlife that still exists here. I saw an Osprey high atop a utility pole in her nest today, as well as about a dozen Grebe hatchlings roaring around mother when I went down to take a quick picture. There are still a lot of trees here, along with nearly 8,000 lakes over ten acres, and thousands of smaller lakes and ponds. I reckon I can make do for a while, if I hang out down by the lake. Of course there are always my Washing-Bears.
12 May 2008
Photographs by Suzanne Opton
Again: Lens Culture.The slideshow and the story, Here.
Now noch mal leben: portraits of the dying didn't bother me at all. This series made me a little sick to my stomach. Death is natural, and there is no reason to fear it. War, and the destruction of a young mind and body is not. Choices are made, and we possess the free will to alter our behavior. Pardon me, but this project, and the subsequent billboard project is a fucking stroke of genius. Visit Suzanne, here.