Happy Birthday to me. At 8:52am I turn 65. I am a senior citizen. I can get Medicare. I am retirement age. All of those facts could depress the bejeezus out of me, were I not so happy.

I have nothing but gratitude to the Graces for my life and good fortune. Not material fortune, mind you; my credit score bites. My family, friends, students, and photography bring me vast joy.

My husband and I have the honor of caring for our two doggos, Mango and Blue. They are siblings but oh, so different. Mango, the female, is alpha, and reacts more aggressively to everything. Blue is a slow poke, physically as malleable as putty, double jointed, and has a jealous streak. They are Jack Russell mixes and are rescues.

They have become my furry muses when neither my camera nor I can bear to brave the bitter winter winds.

I photograph them and invent stories about them. I will share one of a series I am working on. They possess a magical ability to enter works of art and return, telling wondrous tales. Here is the most recent image, called Blue and Mr Rothko Get on Famously and Discuss Friedrich Nietzsche and Things.

I will work on these images with the intention of writing and publishing a small book. I have gone so far as to purchase the ISBN and rights to an eBook. Such is the plan.

BlueupsidedownMoving2 copy

For those of you who may think I hate digital photos, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. I even like taking pictures with my iPad Air. Any and all ways of making pictures are swell.

Gag me with a Spoon

What are the criteria we accept for discerning photography now?

The work I see in many galleries, both bricks and mortar and the more recognized online ones, leans heavily toward generic images: landscape, documentary, and portrait. Ninety nine percent of the work is digital color. It is easy on the eyes, bland, and bankrupt. Cloud and sunsets, numb portraits, well-lit domestic scenarios of upper middle class spaces, vacant landscapes. Mute and Large. They are like travel pix, plain mug shots, stock photos. They challenge nothing, stimulate nothing more than the eye at best.

What is the purpose of these images?

I am going to grab four random free stock photos and show you some examples of what I am talking about.





These are nice pictures. They are available for download for .99 cents. They look like what win Emerging Artist Competitions. Gag me with a spoon. Now.


I watched a very good documentary called Corwin last night, about a very influential writer, essayist, director, and producer of radio shows in the late 30’s and 40’s. I had never heard of Norman Corwin before but his broadcasts were considered by many to be uncommonly good, because he wrote the scripts unaltered and unedited by network owners/execs.

In the late 50’s and early 60’s, the networks moved to television for news and commentary. TV moguls learned to create and push their own agendas with respect to information dissemination. And, Norman Corwin was nudged out. He saw his medium changed beyond recognition.

I can feel his pain. And shock. I look at the recent photographic work that fills the sites of so many galleries, online as well as bricks and mortar.  There is a certain look to a good deal of them. Here are some of the categories:

Ninety nine percent of these are digital color.

1. Subjects staring into the camera, motionless, emotionless, with a simple pale background. They say nothing, unexpressive, muted figures. They are relatively attractive. Usually the figures are young and thin; maybe they could be reject models from an ad agency.

2. Another look is the domestic scene, in color, nicely lit, lots of light, vacuous and generic. Usually the environment is upper middle class, comfortable, and suburban.

3. Then, there is the landscape. Color pleasing, horizontal, frontal, and somewhat rural with fragments of human bits as commentary. There are hundreds of these.

Here is a sample of number 1.

This replaces the masters. This satisfies the buyers. This pushes no boundaries. Ay, Ay, Ay.

After nearly 200 years of a rich and fascinating history, Photography is challenged at its core.

 What has been the direct capture of light onto a surface is now referred to as “analog,” that signifying, a light ray recorded or used in its original form.

In digital technology, the analog ray is sampled at some interval, and then turned into numbers that are stored in the digital device. 

Many see these two distinct forms of making images as mutually exclusive. One should, some think, replace one with the other, the old with the new.  “Move on,” they say, “look to the future. Dump analog, make images more easily without the mess, fuss, and icky cleanup.”

 I am not one of those individuals.

Photography, and the teaching of it, needs to be inclusive. My argument would be the same for any medium. Because of invention of the Wacom tablet, the pencil did not go into hiding. Because of the eBook, the book did not disappear. Because of calculators, one still must know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

Reliance on computer data, storage, and dissemination of fact, is sketchy. How can one trust what is sampled? Over time, computer usage will create stiff knees and large behinds. My students, new to photo, engaged with the computer screen for hours on end, have no clue. Photographers who once had to make physical images can leave them on their smart cards and post to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or whatever, with no challenge to the image as art, with no object ever produced.

In educational institutions, there is the need to justify the continued teaching of direct photography, the original magic of the capture of light and made into image. Forget history, forget science, forget understanding the beginnings of our medium.

Has there ever been a time when you knew something would go sour? I remember thinking NAFTA was a disaster for our country but most fellow liberals thought I was totally misguided.  The rush to dump direct photography is misguided and will be no less than calamitous.

planning new stuff

Enough of grumpface me. The worst of the holiday season has passed and I feel better already. This morning I was thinking about a new photo project, one I would like to start in Perú, when I go in June.  I would like to shoot it digitally, just because I want to do it in color. I never have liked the look of prints from color film or transparencies but digital color is great.

What I would like is to shoot from unusual angles with my Gorillapod and then fire remotely. I have a nice Nikon plus a couple of prime lenses and I want to use them.

Short story, I just called B&H and Pete, a guy anyone should work with, helped me get the right stuff for radio controlled remote firing and it cost less than $50.00. One Happy Camper.

I love to think about new projects, how I can do them, and then experiment for a while before I go and make stuff for keeps.

Hi Ho Hi Ho

If Work has such merit, why do Sundays produce for so many such inexplicable dread? Sunday is ruined by the mere fact that it precedes Monday. Sunday afternoon gets bad and it’s all abysmal aversion from there on out. Do I hate my job? No. Do I hate waking up on Mondays and going to my job? Yes. That is a marked disconnect.

Retired people, or the eternally unemployed, don’t even know what day of the week it is. They wake up and have to think about it for a while, maybe even check the calendar, the computer, or their watch. Not the working class. For us, Monday, heralded by the cacophony of an alarm, is an unwelcome portal, an odious entryway from which one would, if one could, recoil. It is not so bad when one gets to Work; it might even become a pleasant day. It is the anticipation of it that is entirely repugnant.

Tuesday is better, Hump Day brings some relief and, as Thursday has become the new Friday, the rest is bearable. I have never understood why Monday is so detestable, except for the possible bitter awareness that one is a Cog in the Persistent Wheel of Very Questionable Production.

Hi Ho Hi Ho. Loathsome.

Eve Day

I am compelled to address the Humbug Factor that has grown in me. On examination I don’t think I buy Jesus as God. My husband and I talked about this in the car on the way to my Dad’s house the other day and we both agreed it’s pushing it to expect us to believe what appears just plain loco. I am part Jewish, I have discovered, so the Catholic brainwashing I endured has retreated into the cultural-learned-behavior region of my consciousness. (Blood is blood, after all.) There are other reasons, though.

One: I just can’t go for the Immaculate Conception (what? even a pregnant teen is smarter than to use that or the toilet seat as an excuse).  Two: there’s the Son of God made Man. Would the God I DO believe in, the Prime Mover, the Source of all Energy and Life, really do that to his kid? And, three: I think that all the lights, presents, and Santa constitute an ancient, really twisted, albeit extremely attractive, Ponzi scheme.

I do not intend to insult anyone who does believe in Xmas (that X is NOT a cross, btw; it is an X, a sign to me that there are others out there with me who might be hesitant to alienate the righteous and oft-reactive majority). In here, you don’t have to feel shunned just because you don’t buy the party line. As I wrote a friend in my hyperbolic fashion, my neighbors are lucky I don’t etch a pentacle into the vinyl siding and light that fucker up.

Anyway, I believe that we should all try to be as nice as our pets. That is the goal, not just for this season, but for every day. Under these guidelines, the worst you will do is eat a shoe.

With that, I will go the couch, give Mango and Blue a couple of treaties for being so wonderful, and wish you all a nice week.

December 23, 2013

Welcome to this reconditioned space, like a freshly painted living room, for my thoughts about photography, random images that have no place on my website, fun things I find, and whatever I want to share with you.

It is also a space for me to write. I love to write. Stories come to my head and I let them free before committing them to text; they are like hummingbirds flying to the shiny red feeder on my porch, here and then gone.

Aging is on my mind these days. I will turn 65 in one week. My Dad turned 98 two days ago. He looked at me, as he was about to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. Straining forward, he exclaimed in awe, “Ninety eight! How can that be?”  I could not answer him. I feel that way and I am 33 years his junior. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see myself as I think I look. Other times, I see something quite different. Photographs of me are horrific. FaceTime on my iPad is great to use with close family but I feel so self-conscious with others. The screen does not do me justice and I am not ready for my close up, not ready at all.

Every time I see myself it stuns me. That is a considerable amount of stunning going on throughout the day; like being shell-shocked, each time my reflection blasts my view of myself to pieces. I am not particularly vain, but if Obamacare could kindly take care of non essentials, I think I would like a LifeLift, my lips done, some liposuction and a personal trainer, preferable a cranky woman in her 30’s. In the meantime, I will content myself with getting my hair colored, my handy nono hair remover, an occasional facial, and comfy flannel nightgowns.

Until later.