Thinking in Pictures
In “On Being a Photographer,” Bill Jay and David Hurn agree that photography
is largely about where to stand and when to squeeze the shutter. I'm mostly in
agreement with the idea, but I think that description is too reductive. Perspective
and timing have a lot to do with making a photo that works or not, but composition
can make a world of difference that's not simply a mater of where you stand.
A Zoom lens provides a virtual mechanism for “standing” closer or farther
away without moving; but selecting what to frame and where elements of the
image sit inside the frame, actively controlling depth of field, and consciously
choosing what's in focus are all aspects
go beyond selecting a place
Also, there's a small matter of your conceptual point of view that informs
where you stand, and what you decide to take. For example, a single scene
can be shot in a way
drama, focuses our attention on color, suggests sensuality, or offers some other distinctive spin. If a photographer
has a particularly strong sense of irony or humor, that will come across. In other words, context
plays a big role in what and how you shoot.
When it comes to the print, again,
there are choices that can significantly alter the outcome, and that's without
doing photo manipulation or montage. There's an important aspect of
knowing the story you want the picture to tell, and understanding how to guide
viewer to the focal point of the image at the moment the picture is captured. If we're talking about a collection
of images, the larger context of the collection comes into play. Editing
the images down to the ones that best fit the story you're trying to tell,
and carefully thinking about the sequence of the images can have a profound
impact on the overall effect of the collection.
If the end purpose of the image is at least lurking in the back of the mind
when you expose that film or CCD, you're more likely to make exposures
your unique point of view. This idea actually feeds into another point advanced
by David Hurn and Bill Jay:
to have a passion and a lasting curiosity to explore the subject matter of
your photos, otherwise, you probably won't take enough images of the subject
to get a compelling collection.
Finally, we grow, change, and draw new conclusions. Photos that might have
had a particular significance when you took them can find a new meaning later on.
Images that you thought belonged to your series on urban decay suddenly turn
out to be more relevant to your series exploring symbolism. If you're working
in digital, think twice about deleting images you can't use right now. You
might discover they mean a lot more to you somewhere down the road.
Subject: Zinc-TRS in March: 8 Writers
Date: March 4, 2004 11:40:12 AM EST
In 1980, the typical CEO made 30 times the average employee's salary. Now that
same CEO makes 331 times the average worker. Someone doing your job in 1974
would have gotten 20% more money for it than you are in 2004 –
that means you have to work an extra two months a year to make the same wage*.
In the face of systemic erosion, the Zinc Talk Reading Series has maintained
the same high standard of cultural equity since its inception nearly ten
years ago. Those who come Sunday nights might be a little tired halfway through
their double shift on Monday, but they never regret it. That's because, in
the economy of the spirit, thrift is ruinous.
Please helps us march onward into springtime with these four events at Zinc
Talk Reading Series:
March 7: Andrea Baker & Kevin Varrone
March 14: Brenda Coultas & Kim Lyons
March 21: Mark Salerno & Macgregor Card
March 28: Jim Behrle & Jen Benka
All Zinc-TRS events are on Sunday at 6:59pm at Zinc Bar 90 West Houston
$4 unless you have, through the current buddhist economic climate, a great
emptiness in your wallet. ...
*Source: US Dept of Labor, US Census
“Across a broad range of issues, the administration has undermined
the quality of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government’s
outstanding scientific personnel... Whether the issue is lead
paint, clean air or climate change, this behavior has serious consequences
for all Americans.”
- Dr. Kurt Gottfried, emeritus
professor of physics at Cornell University and Chairman of the Union of Concerned
“Science, to quote President Bush's father, the former president, relies on
freedom of inquiry and objectivity... But this administration
has obstructed that freedom and distorted that objectivity in ways that were
unheard of in any
- Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency
under Nixon and
The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released a scathing report on Scientific
Integrity in Policymaking that investigates numerous allegations involving censorship and political interference
with independent scientific inquiry at the Environmental Protection Agency,
the Food and Drug Administration, and the Departments of Health and Human Services,
Agriculture, Interior and Defense. [more...]
A Cynical Misstep?
An A.P. report today indicates that some of the first Bush campaign ads might
just backfire. People are pissed that the campaign is using images from September 11,
2001 to symbolize the war on terrorism, and they're referring to the ads as insulting,
disgraceful, and audacious. One group is calling for the ads to be pulled. Campaign spokespeople are on the defensive.
“It makes me sick... Would you ever go to someone's grave site and use that
as an instrument of politics? That truly is what Ground Zero represents to
Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother Bill Kelly Jr., in the attacks and
leads a victims families group called Peaceful Tomorrows
[Until Bush cooperates with the federal commission that is investigating
the nation's preparedness before the attacks and its response] “by testifying
in public under oath ... he should not be using 9/11 as political propaganda...
Three thousand people were murdered on President Bush's watch... He has not cooperated
with the investigation to find out why that
Breitweiser, of Middletown Township, N.J., whose husband, Ronald Breitweiser,
39, died in the World Trade Center.
Let's see what kind of coverage this gets on the nightly news...
Brooklyn Heights yesterday. I only wore a sweater.
I generally tweak my images at least a little bit in Photoshop, even if it's
only levels and sharpening. On more complex images, I'll mask and adjust different
parts of the image in different ways. I know that Ansel Adams made sure to
get the best negative he possibly could, but then spent a lot of time working
prints in the darkroom
the masterpieces he's known for. Photoshop and an ink-jet printer are different
tools from the ones Adams used, but the process is remarkably similar. Getting
the best possible print requires a high-quality source image and a good bit
of work. With any luck, it'll be a bit easier
They cut the bars so you can still use the ATM
when they're closed
These images were all taken the same day in various locations around the Village.
I didn't ask Max if I could take his picture; it would have ruined the shot.
Max's cell phone had started to ring, and a feminine voice said “You have a
call.” He pressed a button on his wireless headset, and started talking. When
he heard the shutter fall, he looked somewhat incredulously at me and said “did
you just take my picture?” I
said yes, and he asked why. I said
“it's a nice image,” and showed him the monitor. He smiled, and
we ended up in a fifteen minute conversation about photography. Interesting
note about the Bluetooth headset: it's a pain to hang-up (you basically have
to reset the connection between the headset and the phone), so he insisted
that the caller hang up so that the call would release.
Mimi seemed very comfortable in her skin. When I told her that I liked her
weaponry, she said she wore the shirt to scare people. I chucked, and said
I wasn't scared. She said “It's only for people that scare easily.” I asked
her if I could take her picture. She agreed, and I took three frames, just
to be sure I'd get one that worked well. By the third frame, she'd shoved her
hands into her pockets, and said she was feeling a little self-conscious. I
showed her the pics, and she instantly relaxed.
The woman with the glasses and the big smile stopped in the crosswalk, turned
toward me, and said “take
my picture.” Her friend was a little more reluctant; she was behind her
friend in the first snap, and only turned to face the camera for the second.
no idea who she is, so there's no way to get a print to her. It seems that
seeing her face on the view screen was enough.
“Take my picture!”
“Jerry” says he's from Brooklyn, and that
if I knew who he was, I'd really want his picture. I smiled, but didn't take
the bait; and continued walking. He wheeled up after me
and said “c'mon, take my picture,” so I did. As I started to squeeze off shots,
he adjusted his look for each frame – tilting his head different ways, gazing
and smiling into the lens. Finally he started to raise himself out of the
somewhat grotesquely for
the camera. I stopped shooting at that point.
When I asked him his name, he said “Jerry” with a tone and a bit of a wink
that insinuated that he hadn't told
and that he wasn't going to. There was a faint whiff of
liquor on his breath. It seemed he had some kind of notoriety that he perhaps
cherished just a bit. The wheelchair made me wonder if he hadn't been one of
that Bernhard Goetz
He really liked the pics. Gazing at the monitor, he kept saying “I made your
day.” As I turned to leave, he asked me for two dollars – as if the pictures
were at least worth that much. I gave him a buck, and moved on.
The guy with the chair on his head had apparently had his picture taken several
times during his walk down the street. After I took my snap, I looked at him
and smiled. He said something about Paparazzi to his friend, and seemed at
least resigned to having been photographed.
Ice-T is behind the wheel
You'll see a little white circle in the picture above. I'd been
doing some of my abstract crumbling building pics – I'd just taken a shot of
that paint chip that reminded me of Africa – when somebody with a picture
phone walked up to me and said “Hey, go take a picture of Ice-T.” I looked
quizzically, and he said Ice-T was driving the car waiting for the stop light.
I crossed the street for a good look, and yes, it was him. I squeezed off a
couple of shots.
The glare on his windshields was too much, though. You can't
make him out in either of the photos. A couple of blocks later, I spotted
parked on the curb across the street. Just as I
passed one of the shops, Ice-T and his lady friend popped out of the door to
of me. I hadn't anticipated him being in any of the shops nearby. My reflexes
weren't fast enough to get a shot.
“Reggie the Registration Rig” is Coming to Your Town
will step up their push to register 3 million voters this year with the help
of an election-year prop - an 18-wheeler full of computers, plasma TVs
and multimedia equipment designed to communicate the GOP message. ...
It will travel around the country over the next eight months to help register
voters at campuses, NASCAR races, parades, ethnic festivals and other events.
- A.P. report
In other [unreported] news, Republican efforts to purge legitimate registered
Democrats from the voter rolls (a tactic that was extremely effective in
Florida in 2000) will quietly continue in a number of states.
In a fitting bit of irony, an ad for Gay/Lesbian wedding gifts appeared on
the page beneath this article.
HAPPY LEAP DAY
Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water will change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold
Time out of mind...
“I am sure the 163,000 factory workers who have lost their jobs in Michigan
will find it heartening to know that a world of opportunity awaits them in
high growth manufacturing careers like spatula operator, napkin restocking,
and lunch tray removal.”
- Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) in a letter to Bush economic adviser
Gregory Mankiw questioning the administration's suggestion that fast foot jobs
should be listed as manufacturing
letter here - PDF format ]
The other day, I was listening to the story on how Greenspan has come out
cut the Social Security payout, and how it now seems
that he has been
pick the pockets of the middle class all along; the final blow after several
covert actions. It
long ago that Greenspan urged us all to “pre-pay” heavily into the Social Security
money's gone. Also recently, one
Denise's professors suggested that we're entering a new “gilded
age;” and there's
& Co. inciting class warfare in a number of arenas.
Finally, I spotted a blurb about how the ban on
assault weapons is about to expire, and it now occurs to me that maybe Congress
super-rich were prescient enough to realize that if the middle class ever
got fed-up enough and had free access to some kick-ass weapons, folks would
all over Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, and the many other gated enclaves of
this country. Ah, but then we know how that turned out in “Gangs of New York,”
I checked out Jake Stigers and the Velvet Roots at the Bitter End Thursday
night, and got some nice pics. I'll post some of those later. That same night,
I got introduced to Pale Blue Dot, a band from Nashville that doesn't sound
what I'd expect out of Nashville.