Thoughts, comments, images and reflections from the people who bring you BeansAboutIt [dot] com


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Thursday, March 04, 2004
1:12 PM      

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 of composition that go beyond selecting a place to stand.

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 that emphasizes 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 the 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 that advance your unique point of view. This idea actually feeds into another point advanced by David Hurn and Bill Jay: you need 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 Street NYC.

$4 unless you have, through the current buddhist economic climate, a great emptiness in your wallet. ...

*Source: US Dept of Labor, US Census


Twisting Science
“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 Scientists

“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 previous administration.”
- Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Nixon and Ford

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 me.”
- 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 happened.”
- Kristen 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...

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
2:39 PM      

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 his prints in the darkroom to create 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 to get consistent prints than it was for Ansel Adams.

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
2:21 PM      

They cut the bars so you can still use the ATM when they're closed


Shooting People
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. I have 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 seat, mugging 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 me his real name, 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 the kids that Bernhard Goetz had shot.

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 at him 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 his car 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 the left 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

Republicans 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.

[ link | e-me ]

Sunday, February 29, 2004
4:26 PM      


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

[ complete letter here - PDF format ]


The other day, I was listening to the story on how Greenspan has come out saying that we should cut the Social Security payout, and how it now seems that he has been helping the super rich pick the pockets of the middle class all along; the final blow after several covert actions. It wasn't long ago that Greenspan urged us all to “pre-pay” heavily into the Social Security system, and now all that money's gone. Also recently, one of Denise's professors suggested that we're entering a new “gilded age;” and there's a lot of talk about Bush & 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 and the 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 be “going postal” 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,” don't we?



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 like what I'd expect out of Nashville.

[ link | e-me ]
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