what I do

private right of way | 12/2017

I’ve been taking pictures for a little over forty years now — and yes, I take pictures. Snapshots. I don’t make photographs. I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what I like and don’t like. What I want to do and don’t want to do. What I will do and won’t do. Mostly I’ve come to grips with what I need to do.

I’ve played with different kinds of equipment over the years. I experimented with 4×5 which I didn’t like. I did quite a bit with a 120 TLR which I did like and used for several years. Eventually 35mm became my main instrument. I took up digital some years back when I could no longer do my own darkroom work, first with a simple point and shoot, and later with a DSLR which I used up until about three years ago. I got tired of lugging it around and my pictures were beginning to feel stale so I gave it away. It ended up back in my hands again about a year ago, but it sits on the shelf with my old film cameras now, collecting layers of desert dust. These days I play strictly on my phone.

I don’t particularly like cameras. I get extremely impatient with equipment. But I do like taking pictures. It’s more than a like — it’s one of those things I need to do. My phone fits the bill perfectly for me. The fluidity, the spontaneity of so simple an instrument is freeing beyond measure. The image quality is more than adequate for my needs. I seldom print, and never big  — an 8×12 or 9×12 image on 11×14 paper is as big as I’m ever likely to print, and the quality of my phone shots is just fine for that size.

I’m more interested in, and exploring the possibilities of, putting my pictures into small books. I’ve tried making a couple as gifts for family and I like where that may lead. They’re more like printed hardcover portfolios, and I think that’s an ideal way to present those shots that I deem worthy of preserving. I’ve never cared much for framed prints on a wall. To me pulling a book off the shelf and spending some time with the pictures is a far more enriching experience.

In short, I can do anything I want to do at this point in my picture taking life with my phone. And best of all it fits in my pocket.

color abstract 1

color abstract no. 1

Here’s the first of a series of color abstracts done on my droid with a camera app that emulates a Lomo or lo-fi look. The Holga camera and the classic Diana camera are well known and popular instruments in the lomography world. This particular app mimics the look of the Diana 120 roll film camera.

I’ve long been attracted to the look and feel of these simplest of cameras. Much beautiful work is done with them once you learn to work with their limitations. Pure Lomography is done on film of course, but shooting film isn’t a viable option for me these days. It’s too costly to send films out for developing and scanning, and living in the desert like I do makes developing and printing my own nearly impossible. I stick with my phone.

These are all pretty much the way the camera sees them — minimal adjustments to brightness and contrast, slight desaturation to mute the colors a bit. No cropping, no blur or other manipulation or texturing. All are as found.

It’ll be an ongoing series — stop on by now and then to see how it’s coming along.

going beyond the obvious

Originally posted about three years ago. I’m reviving it here. It’s still a challenge I’m working on, though I’ve expanded my subject matter to include life in the desert and human impacts as well as the natural world around me.

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​Photographing the desert well can be a real challenge. The beauty of it, the starkness, the openness is there for all to see, and countless photos have been made of it. Many are quite good.
The obvious photos aren’t that difficult to do — the brilliant sunsets, the more subtle but equally beautiful sunrises, the 30-mile vistas, the Joshua trees and rock formations here in the area I’m in — these are all pretty easy to get pleasing photos of. But to capture the real soul of the desert, the harshness, the feeling of sparseness, the pace of life in an extreme environment — these aren’t so easy to express visually. You need to take some time to connect with the pulse of the desert, to adopt it’s pace and rhythm. Only then will it begin to reveal it’s power and spirit.

The challenge for me will be to go beyond the obvious, to get beneath the surface, and begin to portray the vital and powerful spirit of the desert through my photographs. Time will tell if it’s a challenge I can meet.

ignore the box

​Thought I’d pull this short post from the archives, dust it off, and give it a new life here. It fits in well with what I’ve been pondering and working on lately. It doesn’t say a lot but feel free to add your own thoughts.

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To be aware of the history and the accepted standards of your chosen medium but not be bound by them… to be willing to experiment with new tools and techniques and ideas… to not only think outside the box, but to ignore the box altogether… to keep an open mind to different philosophies and ways of working…to me these are the cornerstones of a rich, rewarding, creative life as an artist.