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Saturday, April 10, 2004
1:24 PM      

I shot over 300 exposures yesterday. (The image above is from a few days ago, though.) I don't think of my initial shots as pictures, just captures – a kind of inverse eye-blink. There's a lot of wishful thinking involved. The image above is my favorite frame from the series I took of this object, but it's technically marred, and won't print at a decent size with the kind of quality I'm looking for. In other words, a lot of my shots don't make the cut.

One challenge is to get shots quickly, and with technical precision. Sometimes, I only get one or the other. I read this about Garry Winogrand, a photographer whose work I very much respect:

“Winogrand is famous for having exposed three rolls of Tri-X on the streets of New York City every day for his entire adult life. That's 100 pictures a day, 36,500 a year, a million every 30 years. Winogrand died in 1984 leaving more than 2500 rolls of film exposed but undeveloped, 6500 rolls developed but not proofed, and 3000 rolls proofed but not examined (a total of a third of a million unedited exposures).”

John Szarkowski had a lot to say about Winogrand's work in the book “Figments From the Real World” Among them:

“The technical decline of the last work was perhaps accelerated by Winogrand's acquisition, in 1982, of a motor-driven film advance for his Leicas, which enabled him to make more exposures with less thought. On the same day he acquired an eight-by-ten-inch view camera, an instrument that proposes a diametrically different approach to photography. The new camera was perhaps an acknowledgment that his old line of thought was nearing the breaking point. He did not use the eight-by-ten, but he talked about using it...”

The medium (in this case the camera) affects and shapes the “message.”


I took a brief trip to Philadelphia with my Dad on Wednesday. He asked if I'd bring my camera, though I think he practically assumed I would. There's more to say about the trip, but not enough time to write about it right now.

The caption reads “George Woods, ‘The Man With the Goods’
Communicator/ Concert promoter/ Civil Rights Leader/ Disc jockey...
The Anti-Graffiti Network”

Stopped at a traffic light, this guy spotted me taking pictures


Back in Brooklyn, Jason (I think that's his name) noticed that I was shooting street scenes and began putting on an act for the camera. I took several shots of him before we talked. He started riding around again, and I took a portrait. When I showed it to him, he said “I look hot.”


Watch it all Spin
A headline from a couple of days ago reads “Gov't Eludes 9/11 Accountability, Blame.” That, and winning at all costs, seems to be the nature (and perhaps the main intent) of the current administration. Want to see the editorial spin of a newspaper most clearly? Watch how they handle hot stories like Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission. Yesterday's New York Post: “The Lady is a Champ.” Yesterday's Daily News: “How Could She Not Know?” I think most people read newspapers and watch television as if they are neutral sources of actual information. They're not. Informing the public is way down on the list of priorities, if it's on the list at all.

It seems we've entered an era where agendas are at least a bit less hidden. In some ways, that's a good thing, because at least you know where folks are coming from. At the very least, they're easier to handle.


[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
3:23 PM      



Adjusting Color and Exposure in Photoshop
I've only skimmed these tutorials, but they look pretty thorough. If you're interested in doing proper corrections, especially for printing, I think you'll find some useful information there.


“November can't come too soon”

Sadly, this Administration has failed to live up to basic standards of open and candid debate. On issue after issue, they tell the American people one thing and do another. They repeatedly invent "facts" to support their preconceived agenda - facts which Administration officials knew or should have known were not true. This pattern has prevailed since President Bush's earliest days in office. As a result, this President has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon. He has broken the basic bond of trust with the American people. ...

By going to war in Iraq on false pretenses and neglecting the real war on terrorism, President Bush gave al Qaeda two years— two whole years—to regroup and recover in the border regions of Afghanistan. As the terrorist bombings in Madrid and other reports now indicate, al Qaeda has used that time to plant terrorist cells in countries throughout the world, and establish ties with terrorist groups in many different lands.

The result is a massive and very dangerous crisis in our foreign policy. We have lost the respect of other nations in the world. Where do we go to get our respect back? How do we re-establish the working relationships we need with other countries to win the war on terrorism and advance the ideals we share? How can we possibly expect President Bush to do that? He's the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam, and this country needs a new President. ...

During the 2000 campaign, America met a Republican candidate for President who promised to conduct our foreign affairs as a "humble nation," not an "arrogant nation." He was conservative, but he promised to be a "compassionate conservative." He promised to overcome the "soft bigotry of low expectations" in our schools. He promised to meet the urgent need of senior citizens for prescription drug coverage under Medicare. He promised to change the tone in Washington. ...

What happened to those promises? In the White House, George Bush has been arrogant, not humble in foreign affairs; conservative, not compassionate in domestic policy. As we now know, all the reassuring language of the 2000 election campaign was a Trojan Horse cynically constructed to smuggle the extreme right wing into the White House. ...

Initially, President Bush acknowledged that the recession began on his watch. In January 2002, he said, "The economy started to show signs of slowing down in March of 2001." ...

But in late 2002, the Administration began trying to backdate the Bush recession to the Clinton years. And for good reason. They want nothing from their past to cast a shadow on their happy talk about today's economy. Here's what President Bush said in his State of the Union Address three months ago: "This economy is strong, and growing stronger. Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise." ...

In the same month, the President's Secretary of Labor told CNN that the stock market was the "final arbiter" of economic growth. The stock market. Not jobs. Not wages. The stock market. That's not the Secretary of Commerce talking. It's the Secretary of Labor. ...

The report last Friday that 300,000 new jobs were created last month is a very positive sign. But let's not forget - the unemployment rate actually went up, not down, last month—because even more people came back into the labor force and started to look for work again—and couldn't find a job.

Even the few new jobs come with an asterisk. They pay an average of 8,000 dollars less than the jobs lost in the Bush economy. In 48 of the 50 states, jobs being created pay 21 percent less than had been paid by industries losing jobs. ...

And today, the President now says he's for job training for our workers as they seek new and better jobs in today's economy. But what you won't hear from the President is the fact that his budgets for the past three years have proposed cuts to job training totaling more than 800 million dollars. ...

On June 11th of last year, one day after the [Medicare] bill was unveiled in the Senate, Richard Foster, the chief actuary of the Medicare program and the official responsible for the Administration's estimate calculated that the bill would cost 551 billion dollars. He was told by Tom Scully, the head of Medicare, that he would be fired if he gave that estimate to Congress. He said that the order not to provide the information to Congress came directly from the White House.

Foster kept revising those politically explosive actuarial estimates as the bill moved ahead, so that the Administration would always have a current estimate of the bill's cost and the various compromises being considered by the House and Senate in reaching the final offering. As he testified, the costs he came up with were always in the range of 500 to 600 billion dollars. ...

Did the President know that he was deceiving Congress and the country when he claimed the cost of the bill was 400 billion dollars? The denials from the White House have been carefully worded. The President claimed he did not receive a complete budget estimate on the bill until five weeks after he signed it into law. On January 30, the White House press secretary said Mr. Bush had been informed of the final cost estimates "just in the last two weeks."

But the issue is not complete or final cost estimates. The final estimates were not even finished by Foster before the bill was passed. But a series of estimates going all the way back to the beginning of the debate and clearly showing that the bill would cost far more than 400 billion dollars were available and known at the highest levels of the Administration throughout the process. Did the President never, in all those months, ask his aides what his bill would cost? Was he never told what his Administration's own cost estimate was? ...

[Re: the “No Child Left Behind Act”] Over the course of several months of hearings, markups, debates, and negotiations, we agreed on a series of proven, bipartisan reforms: higher standards for all students, well-trained teachers, smaller class sizes, supplemental services after school, periodic tests to see that all students are making progress, and accountability for results. After long and hard negotiations, we also agreed on the specific level of resources necessary to carry out those reforms.

The country has seen that promise flagrantly broken. In 2002, less than a month after signing the bill into law with great fanfare, President Bush quietly proposed to cut funds for the No Child Left Behind Act by 90 million dollars.

His next education budget, in 2003, cut funding for the reforms by far more - 1.2 billion dollars. Believing his political ticket already had been adequately punched on education, President Bush tried to drop over half a million children from after-school programs. ...

...We see this same kind of misleading deception in higher education, too. Listen to the President's words during the 2000 campaign, "Pell Grant aid significantly affects the ability of a child to attend college or stay in college. . . . I am going to ask Congress to bolster first year aid . . . to 5,100 dollars per recipient of the Pell Grant."

There are 1.3 million first year Pell Grant recipients. This year, for the third year in a row, President Bush underfunds that promise by a thousand dollars per student. But it's an election year, so he's proposed a special thousand dollar Enhanced Pell Grant. But there's a catch - there's only enough for 33,000 students. President Bush is leaving behind all but 33,000 of those 1.3 million college students. ...

The NEA represents 2.3 million hard-working teachers who have one of the most difficult and important jobs in America. But when the NEA disagreed with the Bush Administration over the No Child Left Behind Act, the Secretary of Education called it a "terrorist organization." Terrorists. And this after President Bush said in February 2001 in Omaha, Nebraska, "We always have to praise the teachers." ...

At 11 A.M. yesterday, Ted Kennedy addressed the Brookings Leadership Forum with “A Critique of Administration Policy on Health Care, Education, and the Economy.” His comparison of Bush to Nixon generated news buzz. In typical fashion, the coverage concentrated on the sizzle, instead of the steak. You should read the complete transcript for the full measure of what was said.


self-portrait in a Chelsea elevator



Sarah Silver's got a really nice site, starting with the beautiful photos. The design and architecture of the all-HTML site is really solid, too.


Petty's Latest Heartbreak
If you haven't heard Tom Petty's “The Last DJ,” it may be because the station you listen to has banned the record. Petty has some strong comments in Rolling Stone, and the National Assn. of Broadcasters' Dennis Wharton has some of his own, though they ring a bit hollow.


Well, you can't turn him into a company man
You can't turn him into a whore
And the boys upstairs
Just don't understand anymore

The top brass don't like him
Talking so much
And he won't play
What they say to play
And he don't want to change
What don't need to change

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
Who says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
There goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Some folks say they're gonna
hang him so high
'Cause you just can't do what he did
There's some things you just can't
Put into the mind of those kids

As we celebrate mediocrity
All the boys upstairs want to see
How much you'll pay for
What you used to get for free

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
Who says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
There goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Well, he got him a station
Down in Mexico
Sometimes it'll kinda come in
And I'll bust a move and
Remember how it was back then

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
Who says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
There goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ


[ link | e-me ]

Monday, April 05, 2004
11:16 AM      

We saw Sarah Jones' one-person show “Bridge & Tunnel” at the 45 Bleecker St Theatre last night. I say one-person in particular, because Sarah embodies 14 different characters – both male and female – during her hour and a half performance. The characterizations are pitch-perfect, and the writing (Sarah's own) is superb. Every character has a distinct voice and physicality, and the transitions between characters all require a costume change.

She uses the setting of a poetry reading to say a lot of things about race, culture, and the times we're living in. She draws no firm conclusions, but heightens our awareness of the dimensions of what we're experiencing with wit and compassion.

Bridge & Tunnel is Sarah's fourth piece, and we can expect to see a lot more from her in the future.


“The decision to work with us remains the option of the photographer”
(or, how the NYT and other publishers are out to screw photographers)

I've been seeing a number of articles pointing out how the publishing industry has been making moves to cut the amount they pay photographers while grabbing more and more rights related to the images. This process seems to have dramatically accelerated since 9/11/01, when a number of big businesses found it easy to claim that business had gone soft and that cuts were necessary.

The freelance contract that the Times issued in March is more bad news, and the American Society of Media Photographers has come out urging shooters not to sign the contract. The following is from a detailed analysis published by ASMP:

This contract is clearly unfair to photographers. While it falls just short of seizing all rights, it puts photographers in competition with the Times in the marketing of the same images... Ultimately, Work for Hire contracts like this one will inevitably drive better and more experienced photographers out of business... This contract is bad for everyone, and in the long run, it is a lose-lose-lose proposition.

As a professional photographer, you have to make a decision. You have to make a living, but you also have to make business decisions in light of their long-term consequences to your ability to make that living. It is ASMP's opinion that signing this contract and contracts like this is detrimental to your personal interests and will also adversely affect the industry. ...

The Times aren't the only folks doing it, but they will certainly influence the rest of the industry. If they pull it off, many others will follow suit. Their attitude is take it or leave it, and apparently some freelancers are signing the contract. [more on this at PDNOnline]

In a separate white paper on photographers' day rates, ASMP's Richard Weisgrau shows that day rates in 1978 were the equivalent of $734 based on the 1998 Consumer Price Index. It's dropped to $500 today.

An article called “Photographers Fight Back”, apparently from 2001, points out that “As independent contractors, freelancers can't act collectively or unionize since federal labor law forbids it.” It also makes clear that the latest moves by NYT are part of a long-running struggle, and that freelancers are creating coalitions and sharing information.

Finally Seth Resnick, president of the trade organization Editorial Photographers, has some additional math on day rates and the cost of doing business. His conclusion: “My current cost of doing business is now $452.00 per day based on a 5-day week and 50 weeks per year. At a $400.00 day rate, I would lose $52.00 per day working for many magazines.”


Seth Resnick's site is the only photographer's personal site that I can remember visiting that requires registration before you can view his images. We expect that from companies like Corbis and Getty Images, but it's surprising when an independent does the same. Resnick argues that “...We must take steps to ensure that our images never fall into the public domain. No image from the site may be used beyond viewing in your browser. My goal for having a web site is indeed to show my work, but it is more important to lease my work. Every use of every image must be logged to maintain records of exclusivity rights...” It's an interesting point, considering how many hits to this blog are coming from the Google and Yahoo image search engines.

Registration isn't a perfect solution; it inhibits traffic, and I'm sure that many of my fellow photographers don't have the web skills or the resources to implement a registration page of their own. Besides, it doesn't prevent people from stealing your images once they've registered. As I go deeper into the game of licensing my work and selling prints, I'm sure I will find myself considering copyright and use issues more closely.

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