Saturday, December 10, 2011

Handcoloring, again...

Several years ago, i did a post about hand-coloring B&W prints:
and a follow-up page on my site:
There's loads of info on these pages about basic techniques & materials, I don't need to repeat them here/again.

But first, the 'whatever catches my eye' file:

Bottle Tree Ranch is a folk art 'forest' in the Mojave Desert
Elmer Long's two-plus acres are crowded with hundreds of metal sculptures adorned with colored bottles and just about anything else one could imagine.
By Mike Anton, Los Angeles Times
December 4, 2011
(Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times ),0,4510530.story

Selling Books by Their Gilded Covers
Published: December 3, 2011
By Julie Bosman
"...If e-books are about ease and expedience, the publishers reason, then print books need to be about physical beauty and the pleasures of owning, not just reading...."

Snipping the bud: Prep work is a payday in the marijuana business
An international, countercultural labor force prepares pot on its path to market. Trimmers can make $200 a day plus lodging, sometimes 'with a crazy guy in the middle of the woods with an AK-47.'
By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2011,0,2941044.story?page=1&track=rss

The Pot Republic - Frontline/ PBS

Shoot Stunning Night Photos Like a Pro

by Jakob Shiller - for 'Wired' mag., 11/30/2011


Sand has superhero qualities, as far as geological deposits go. Behaving at times like a solid, at times a liquid and at times a gas, it is a master shape-shifter. Formed by wind and water, sand allows large-scale geography to play out in miniature: settling into ripples, channels, canyons, valleys and deltas.

Learning To Spot the Photoshop
By KJ Antonia | Posted Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, at 10:30 AM ET at

Field Notes - Making Sure No Guest Is Forgotten
Published: October 21, 2011
After five hours of preparation, Terry Gruber was putting the finishing touches on the creation of a single, 12-by-20-inch black-and-white group portrait known in its heyday as a banquet photo. Most popular in the late 1880s, when Mr. Gruber’s banquet camera was made, until the late 1960s when it began fading from vogue, the large group photo all but vanished in a Nikon nanosecond.

Photo - Earl Wilson/NYTimes

James Durston: Photography has ruined travel
Next time you pack for your vacation, leave the technology behind
15 November, 2011

"......So here’s a challenge: get lost. Seriously. Next time you’re in a new town, ditch the phone. Disable your GPS. Close your eyes, point, then open them and walk. If you need to find somewhere, ask someone."

One of the best rolls I ever shot was made when taking this advice. I woke up in some small town in SE Arizona, and did my usual road trip routine - 'wake, bake, coffee, and hit the road'!
I was heading for Chiricahua, it was a off the beaten track backroads route... and I drove thru this town that looked like it was a-dying on the vine, so to speak. Here's what I shot, I got a number of montage images out of this simple row of vacant storefronts, all perfectly lit by morning sun.

Being at the right place, at the right time?.... that's magical.

It Started Digital Wheels Turning
Punch cards for the never-completed Babbage Analytical Engine, and Charles Babbage, the "father of computing," who kept refining his design.
Published: November 7, 2011 - NY Times
By John Markoff

Someone who took it to the next level: Alan Turing, during WW2:

Camera Lost at Sea Returned with the Help of Social Networking

Now, on to some photography, and the hand-coloring thing!

I recently traded a few emails w/ an old photographer friend, from back east, where i used to live in a previous incarnation, until 20 years ago.
One of his questions to me was 'how are you integrating digital into your work flow (=montage work)?' - Good question.
Up until recently, the answer would have been 'not at all'.
On the splash page of my website, i say:
"FYI/FWIW - A majority of the images on this site are made in a traditional / chemical B&W darkroom.
That includes everything in the 'Coast & Desert' Portfolios, & 'Assignments' above.. and obviously all the 'Darkroom 2001....2010' pages below.
And I'll continue to do so...until there just isn't anything traditional to work with."

Whereas that is still true, i have started to take darkroom prints into digital, and 'put some icing on the cake' so to speak. I'm sure I'm not alone in doing this, i know of a few people who do things similarly, and that's just the few people I know.'s two images that had darkroom origins, had really good hand-coloring possibilities, and were dragged into P'shop... and what happened then - "Coffee Shop" and "Ottta Gas".
I also did traditional hand-coloring on both, let's take a look at how it all worked out.

"Coffee shop" was inspired by a neg I took in Blythe CA., not too far from Joshua Tree. It's one of those desert towns that seems to close down at sunset. The coffee shop sign was still brightly lit at 7 PM... I took a few frames, moved on... had some dinner.
The table w/ coffee cups was taken in Marin Headlands, many years ago, as a display of US military stuff. I did this one in the darkroom, and knew that it was a candidate for hand-coloring. I decided to try the 'hand' coloring digitally (with the hand being on a mouse).
I can do some things w/ this, digitally, that i can't do in traditional/chemical darkroom - i can fix the bottom of the 'c' in coffee shop, for one. And once you get into fiddling w/ an image in P'shop... well, I've heard many photogs say, in so many words, the same thing: 'the best thing about P'shop is that you can do anything; and the worst thing about it is? can do anything (and get lost in the possibilities!)'.

I think being focused in advance on what you want to accomplish is very important, and I had a good idea of what i wanted to do w/ this one: the glow of the coffee shop signs needed to be reflected by everything on the table, lots of yellow/orange colors.
So here's a look at the digitally colored:

..and the handcolored.

Yes, there's a link at the end of the post to a page on my site w/ larger images, and a small P'shop file so you can see how it was done.
"Outta Gas"
Not sure where i took the photo of the defunct gas station, it was that kinda road trip... i know the sky/horizon was taken in AZ. Here's the darkroom print:

I didn't do a digital hand-color on this one, but i did scan the traditionally hand-colored, and worked on that in Photoshop.
(The photoshop tweaks are too subtle for the image size here - click the link below to see larger images)
Suffice it to say that none of the photoshop tweaks are sea changes - they are really 'tweaks'....

As usual, larger images, a few more comments, on a page at my site:

Oh, BTW...have yourself a merry 'christ-moose'!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Darkroom - 'Transformation Tree'

Here's the photoshop sketch of the darkroom print for this post:

But first, as always, the 'whatever catches my eye' file...

Short video, HUGE wave!!!!
A Store of Images, From a Time When ‘Cut and Paste’ Meant Just That.
(London Bookstore sells clip art in an online world)
By Noam Cohen - Published: October 30, 2011, NY Times.
"... The books that dominate the shelves — large paperbacks with prosaic titles like “Animals” or “Plants” or “Hands” — are more like catalogs of random images that have one thing in common: their age.
Dating largely from the 19th century and culled from old magazines, advertisements and books, these pictures are not covered by copyright laws. Artists around the world can use the images any way they want — cut and copied, altered or combined. No one “owns” them anymore.
Artists describe these books of “clip art” as a spur to creativity — a way to conjure up the curved outline of a lion or the way a hand grasps a hammer. But they are also ready-made images, often of high quality, that can be easily reused or repurposed.......
These clip art books, with dozens of examples of plants, pipes or old-fashioned mustaches, show that people were happily doing image searches long before they had the benefit of a search engine. And people were manipulating those images long before they could click and drag them.


Friday, November 4, 2011 9:10am PDT
Flock of Starlings aerial ballet
By: Pete Thomas -
Do you know what a 'murmuration' is, and have you ever witnessed such a dazzling display of avian behavior? The accompanying video shows an enormous flock of starlings - a murmuration - swirling through the sky in a magnificent ballet that almost seems choreographed.


Menacing storm clouds
Photographs of dark thunderstorm clouds from around the world.
Loving the Chambered Nautilus to Death
Published: October 24, 2011 - New York Times - By William Broad
It is a living fossil whose ancestors go back a half billion years — to the early days of complex life on the planet, when the land was barren and the seas were warm.Naturalists have long marveled at its shell. The logarithmic spiral echoes the curved arms of hurricanes and distant galaxies......


Giant amoebas discovered 6 miles deep
October 24, 2011 3:00 PM

"The identification of these gigantic cells in one of the deepest marine environments on the planet opens up a whole new habitat for further study of biodiversity, biotechnological potential and extreme environment adaptation," said Doug Bartlett, the Scripps marine microbiologist who organized the expedition."


Op-Ed Contributor Running Out of Bandwidth
Published: October 21, 2011
Demand for faster speeds and more applications is growing at a tremendous rate. But without prompt government action, the lifeblood of this innovative sector of the economy is at risk of being choked off.

Close encounters in the Galapagos
By A. Pawlowski, CNN
updated 6:17 PM EST, Fri October 21, 2011
Big-Game Hunt Adds to Evidence of Early North American Settlement
Published: October 20, 2011
For many years, it was thought that the Clovis people were the first humans to populate North America, about 13,000 years ago.
But recently, evidence has suggested that other settlers arrived earlier, and a new study lends support to that hypothesis.

Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera

Jonas Pfeil, a student at the Technical University of Berlin, noticed that there was no easy way to take a complete spherical, panoramic photograph. Even if you had enough cameras and the right software, you would still have the problem of a tripod or camera mount blocking one angle. The solution? A rubber ball camera -- just toss it in the air.


Lytro ready to release 1st light-field camera
Unlike existing cameras, the Lytro captures all the rays of light in a given scene, as opposed to flat images, creating a range of new possibilities. Photographers can change the focus of an image as often as they like, for example, and by next year they will be able to present their images in three dimensions.

One sentence in this article really caught my eye:

"Regular cameras are too hard to use," Ng said. "They had all these modes and buttons and settings. We stripped that all away."

Yeah, i 'second that emotion', but i don't think the Lytro is the answer, at least, not for me - how 'bout a digital camera without all the bells and whistles, just controls like traditional cameras ( shutter speed, depth of field/aperture ) and.... a lense that is SHARP! And, yes, at a decent consumer level price!


Fear and Loathing.... at Rolling Stone
Excerpts from the essential writings of Hunter S. Thompson:

‘Cassette tape’ kicked out of ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ edition

Playtime is over for cassette tapes.
Wordsmiths over at the Oxford English Dictionary say “cassette tape” has been removed from the pages of its Concise edition to make room for words such as retweet and cyberbullying, USA Today reported earlier this month. (Note: The word will remain in the unabridged version.)
Yes, it’s a sad time for cassette tape enthusiasts and those of us who still have a dusty shoe box filled with mix tapes, their labels decorated with colorful doodles and lame titles such as “Amy’s RAGE tape” and “Madonna Madness.”
But while it might be depressing to think tapes are so passé that they can’t even make it into the dictionary, Oxford’s decision makes sense. Auto makers recently stopped equipping their cars with cassette decks. And who has a working cassette player in their home anymore? My Sony boom box died years ago.

--------- oh please!!! As soon as you hear anything is 'over the hill'? it will have a resurgence, bet on it. I have one (cassette) that smokes just about anything: 'South-side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes' - "Love is a sacrifice". I bought it at a 'roadside shack' in 'not-so-surburban Va.' in... uh... 1982?? or 1983??It stands the test of time - just as awesome now, as it was then.
Album Connoisseurs Eschew the Shuffle, Embrace Flaws; That 'Sweet Plasticy Smell'.
Chevrolet Turns 100
A Century of Chevy, From Cheap Date to America’s Sweetheart
Published: October 21, 2011
"Its Impalas dropped us off at school. Its pickup trucks hauled our produce on the farm. Its Corvette sustained our sports car fantasies through the boredom of high school algebra class. Earlier than almost any other automotive brand, Chevy created a palette of vehicles that ranged from the small and thrifty to the sleek and sporty to the large and smartly trimmed."
("Full disclosure" here??....Yep!, my dad owned and ran a Chevy dealership in a small town in Maine, '55 - '78.)
Onward, to some photomontage!

Transformation Tree

This image is ridiculously simple - a gnarly and warped tree trunk, in Chiracahua (Arizona),
which waited for many years for an answer, for a complimenting sky, equally spinning and swirling.
Is 'mother earth' breathing?... exhaling?.... I dunno. What do you think? I have called it 'transformation tree', which works, for the time being.
The print is very simple dodging/blend - sky dodged out to zero by about the middle, tree dodged similarly, but from the bottom up.
Once again, it's about having the right negatives, and taking the time to figure out which ones work together, to come up with a '1+1=3' kinda thing.
This one is a good lead-in to some discussion about hand-coloring. Some of my prints scream 'color me!'... some don't, but I color them anyway.
This is one image that does not benefit from handcoloring, at all. It works because the texture in the tree bark and in the clouds is so similar. It works well as simple B&W... if i add color?

No way, this works against what is going on, it splits the image into 2 sections, brown tree bark, blue sky. You've heard the old saying "less is more"?.... yep, that's the ticket, here. You might think that this rather similar image, "Driftwood face", would strike me the same way.

It didn't - my idea? - that some color in those eyes ( what a penetrating stare, hunh?) could 'bleed' into the sky. I did a photoshop sketch, and this one has possibilities:
There is one challenging/difficult thing about that idea - the eyes are pretty much dead black - can I inject enough color into them, to make this idea work? It's easier to do digitally than by hand/on the print... I'm gonna give a throw anyway. For larger views of some the images above, a page on my site:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Pass

Here's the photoshop sketch of this post's print:

But first, as always, the 'whatever catches my eye' file:

The science of the Mojave, and scorpions that glow in the dark

Cal State's Desert Studies Center, a 1,200-acre field station near Soda Springs, is one of the world's few desert research facilities. It gives students a close-up view of life at 100-plus degrees.,0,1108402.story

Photographers find light in the dead of night

Lovin’ Letterpress | Week 1

Talking to Koko the gorilla
By The Week's Editorial Staff | The Week – 11 hrs ago,ca

"This 40-year-old lowland gorilla, says Alex Hannaford, understands English and longs for a baby........."


Amazing desert animals
Deserts are often viewed as desolate and devoid of life. But author James Parry proves otherwise in his new book "The Desert" (Carlton Books). Parry showcases fascinating creatures and plant life that thrive in the heat. View more photos from "The Desert" in this slideshow.

How I Did It: Hartley Peavey of Peavey Electronics
How Hartley Peavey took his electronics company from a one-man shop to a $270 million global brand
Growing up in Mississippi in the 1950s, Hartley Peavey dreamed of becoming a rock star. Though he lacked the chops to become the next Chuck Berry, his name has been etched into the pantheon of rock 'n' roll history. That's because Peavey amplifiers, sound equipment, and guitars boast a devoted following among rock stars and wannabes alike. More recently, airports, government buildings, and other facilities are turning to Peavey gear as well. Peavey started 46 years ago as a one-man shop. Now it is a global brand with about 1,000 employees and a reported $270 million in annual revenue.
By Kasey Wehrum | Inc – Tue, Sep 27, 2011 12:00 AM EDT


Magic Mushrooms Can Make Lasting Personality Changes, Study Says
Elizabeth Lopatto, ©2011 Bloomberg News
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Psilocybin, or "magic mushrooms," can make people more open in their feelings and aesthetic sensibilities, conferring on them a lasting personality change, according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers.


How Far Will Dolphins Go to Relate to Humans?

OFF THE BAHAMAS — In a remote patch of turquoise sea, Denise L. Herzing splashes into the water with a pod of 15 Atlantic spotted dolphins. For the next 45 minutes, she engages the curious creatures in a game of keep-away, using a piece of Sargassum seaweed like a dog’s chew toy.
How far will dolphins go to engage?
“The key is going to be coming up with a system in which the dolphins want to communicate,” said Stan Kuczaj, director of the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi. “If they don’t care, it won’t work.”

Portraits of sea creatures
What’s the best way to create up-close images of sea life? Photographer Mark Laita built an aquarium in his Los Angeles studio and shot more than 80 species borrowed from aquariums across the country for his new book “Sea” (Abrams). View more of Laita’s fascinating photographs in this slideshow.

I can't beleive his song has not been covered, in the last 40 years, in some way shape or form.

Yardbirds - You're a better man than I

This is the second print done inspired by a print a friend sent me of an in-camera (unintended) double exposure. Sometimes mistakes can be awesome, much better than anything you can make while trying to be logical/organized/etc.
I was rather inspired by not just the image itself... but the concept of a double exposure, as applied to my montage work.
I have always blended together 2 or more images top to bottom, side to side, or any combination thereof, with a relatively short area of 'blending'... but I haven't tried anything that was this long/deep... a blend.

Sooo.... there's some rocks in 'Valley of Fire', Nevada - i loved the way the huge rocks kinda 'gave way' to a few straggling clouds, & the 'pass' (thru) between them.
In this country, there's always a few Joshua Trees, everywhere... that's what filled up the rest of the space. This was taken outside Las vegas, NV a few years ago.

Don't know why or how this came about... it just did. Many times, i don't ask for an explanation, i just 'do it' ( Thank you, Nike, for a seminal thought). In recent years, I have been using Photoshop as a 'sketch' tool. I take a lot of low res digital pix of contact sheets, or various frames, and just start slamming some things together. I don't expect to come up w/ anything immediately, what I've found is that you just start somewhere, get the ball rolling, start by 'playing', sort of.
I learned this many years ago, when I worked as an art director, which was a great experience for a budding (future!) photographer - you got hire interesting photogs, and watch them work/ figure out problems. Several times I watched as they worked on tabletop shots, w/ many objects grouped together. They started by just messing around, playing - "hey, that doesn't look half bad let's do a polaroid'... they'd look at it and say ' nah,... let's try this'. Another polaroid... 'well, not bad, but how about this?...'.
And somewhere along the line, the 'play' would yield something that really started to happen = "now we're gettin' somewhere, can we move this item abit like that? and that item about like this?...'
And all of a sudden, the 'play' got a lot tighter, more focused... and we got some work done.
So that's how i work w/ all the dig pix of contacts, just mess around, 'play'... until that "aha!" moment happens.

You will find a much better visual explanation of which negs got exposed how, here:

There's also 3 more prints, all a bit different.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Out of gas"

Here's the photoshop sketch that led to this entry's darkroom print:

...but first, the whatever catches my eye file....
here we go!

Eight eerie, abandoned amusement parks
".....there’s something inherently spooky about abandoned amusement parks, there’s also something beautiful and poetic about them, particularly in the curious way Mother Nature goes about reclaiming landscapes punctuated by idle roller coasters and collapsing funhouses. In some cases, neglected amusement parks have proven to be more photogenic in death than they were in life."

Google Details Electricity Usage of Its Data Centers
By James Galanz
Published: September 8, 2011
Google released what was once among its most closely guarded secrets on Thursday: how much electricity its enormous computing facilities consume.
On Maine's coast, art runs wild

Robin Soslow, Special to The Chronicle
Sunday, September 4, 2011
I am originally from Maine, this one caught my eye.
Sometimes they call us 'mainers'... sometimes they call us 'maniacs'.
Not sure what the difference is... :-)

NASA’s Cassini orbiter snaps unbelievable picture of Saturn

For a larger view:

For even more,
Images from the Cassini space probe made into a beautiful video:

Don Henley: Record Companies 'Not Going to Roll Over' on Copyright Issue
'My hope is that artists understand what's at stake and what their rights are,' he says...
By David Browne
September 7, 2011 4:50 PM ET
The 9/11 Decade
Ironworkers of the Sky
By Randy Kennedy
Published: September 1, 2011 - NY Times
"You need to have a very unique trait inside, to go running out on the iron," says Kevin Sabbagh, 24, a fifth-generation ironworker known as Woogie.
"I look forward to sweating. And I look forward to finishing this building. I plan on staying all the way to the top"

Errol Morris Looks for the Truth in Photography
Published: September 1, 2011
One of the first things we learn in “Believing Is Seeing” is that its author, the filmmaker Errol Morris, has limited sight in one eye and lacks normal stereoscopic vision — “My fault,” he writes, for refusing to wear an eye patch after being treated for strabismus in childhood. It’s hard to think of another writer who so neatly embodies the theme of his own book. “Believing Is Seeing” is about the limitations of vision, and about the inevitable idiosyncrasies and distortions involved in the act of looking — in particular, looking at photographs.

Offbeat Traveler: Darwin Falls in Death Valley National Park
Death Valley ( sounds like an unlikely place for waterfalls, but near Panamint Springs at the western edge of the national park, Darwin Falls flows year-round.,0,5235750.photogallery

Crash witnesses make off with spilled marijuana
Vivian Ho, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, September 1, 2011

(09-01) 13:17 PDT SAN JOSE -- A pickup truck hauling large bags of marijuana overturned and spilled its load in south San Jose, but passers-by took care of much of the cleanup, police said today.

He..He he.... what did you expect in California!!!???


Earliest Signs of Advanced Tools Found
Published: August 31, 2011
One hallmark of Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans, was his stone tools, an advanced technology reflecting a good deal of forethought and dexterity. Up to now, however, scientists have been unable to pin a firm date on the earliest known evidence of his stone tool-making.

The Glamorous Past and Desolate Present of 'America's Dead Sea'
By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

"The Salton Sea was once a tourist destination, a "Palm Springs with water." Now the largest lake in California is an environmental disaster....

Green - a blog about energy and the environment - The New York Times

"Just as traders use various stock indices to monitor the global economy, microanalyzing each blip, a team of nearly 50 scientists from many disciplines is designing an analogous tool to track the health of the world’s oceans and the implications for human well-being."

August 15, 2011, 2:36 pm
An Index for ocean health - by Dylan Walsh


NASA Rover Arrives at Huge Mars Crater After 3-Year Trek
YEEEEAHHH!!! all right!!!!!!!

Shouts & Murmurs
God’s Blog
by Paul Simms - August 8, 2011
This one is a hoot, good for a few hearty laughs, check it out!

It starts...
"UPDATE: Pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with in just six days. Going to take tomorrow off. Feel free to check out what I’ve done so far. Suggestions and criticism (constructive, please!) more than welcome. God out."


Affordable art is the new reality
New technologies have given emerging artists a shot at building an audience -- and consumers a chance to buy quality art for a reasonable price.,0,6328319.story


Calligraphers still going against type
In a fast-paced world dominated by computers, these masters of handwriting continue to make art from letters. For them, the pen is still mightier than the keyboard.
By Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times
August 9, 2011,0,2269586.story

Calligraphy was the thing that really got me started on art - i learned it at one of those brick-walled ivy covered NE boarding schools, when i was 10 yo.
Then i started taking in Celtic illuminated manuscripts...and then....
islamic/persian illuminated manuscripts, and... so on, and so on, and so on.
I lived in Wash DC for 20+ years. I first arrived in 1969 to 'study' at American Univ. Yeah, right, did anyone in college in 1969 actually 'study'?... i sure didn't. I walked a mile to all the great art museums in DC, probably stoned and then some.
Took it ALL in.
I have to thank my mom, long gone, for taking all her kids to every good art exhibit you could drive to in Maine. Which included a lot of Winslow Homer originals, that kind of thing.
No wonder I went into some kind artistic work.
No regrets.

On to some photomontage!

I got a print recently, made by a very good friend of mine, made w/ a panoramic camera.

©Jan Faul /

It was a double exposure, made by mistake. Sometimes mistakes can be awesome, much better than anything you can make while trying to be logical/organized/etc.
I was rather inspired by not just the image itself... but the concept of a double exposure... as applied to my montage work.
I have always blended together 2 or more images top to bottom, side to side, or any combination thereof, so that they blend into each other, most of each image remains distinctly itself.... but haven't tried anything that was this long/deep... a blend - like about 80% of the image, one negative overlapping the other the whole 80%.

But i came up w/ 2 images that were like that... took 'em into the darkroom, here's the first one:

On this one, the only part of the 'gas station' neg. that didn't overlap the landscape/sky was the ground at the bottom. There's a lot of tension here, which I liked, it makes you wonder 'what am I seeing here?'

I exposed the gas station first, the sky second.
First pass just didn't work, too heavy handed, too dark.

Since I had the sky neg already there in the enlarger when i saw the heavy handed/way too dark of the bottom, i exposed a few more sheets (much lighter/better),....and then returned to the bottom/the gas station....& added a much lighter 'bottom' exposure.

AAAaaah! That's it....

It's not the same as my PSD sketch. So what? it's called a 'sketch' for a reason - it's provisional, open to improvisation/further improvement.
This one is kinda spooky, you're not quite sure what you are seeing, or if you are seeing it at all.
Compared to the 'sketch'? this is much spookier, harder to decipher.

As usual, for more, & larger images, a page at my site:

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Here's the Photoshop sketch of the darkroom print for this post:

But first, the 'whatever catches my eye' file......

Gray Matter - When Data Disappears
By KARI KRAUS - NY Times - Published: August 6, 2011
"...for all its many promises, digital storage is perishable, perhaps even more so than paper. Disks corrode, bits “rot” and hardware becomes obsolete."


Yosemite: The nature of danger
"Nature has a power and thus an unpredictable danger all its own; that is its very attraction.",0,7603422.story

I have done a lot of wandering in places out west where it is easy to get lost, easy to encounter circumstances that are less than 'safe'(whatever that is). When I first moved here in '92 I did things that now seem downright stupid.
Now?... my rule of thumb is: if the worst that can happen, happens, can you survive that?/are you ready for the consequences?
If your answer is 'No!' then that's the answer to 'going there, trying that', whatever it might be.
As an example, try Joshua Tree Nat'l Park, an awesome place, but with all those similar piles of eroded rocks, a very easy place to get lost just a mile or less from the parking lot. I am VERY careful - no picture is worth getting in any serious trouble for, ya know?
Photographers Capture Mysterious, Beautiful Patterns in Sand - July 25, 2011 - 7:00 am - By Danielle Venton
A nice gallery indeed. I have done many, many images using all the marvelous things sand can do!

Grains of Sand Reveal Possible Fifth State of Matter if the states of matter we already have to deal w/ aren't enuf!
How the drugs of the 60s changed art
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN - July 15, 2011 10:33 p.m. EDT

"The words "psychedelic" and "art" likely conjure images of acid rock posters, fluorescent mushrooms and tie-dyed ... stuff."
But New York Times art critic Ken Johnson wants to expand your mind. "Psychedelic culture had a really central impact on art beginning in the '60s and really changed the direction of art." I agree.. and i was there.. and i actually remember a good part of it!

On to the darkroom!

I have quite a number of shots of 'holes thru rocks' (with some sky beyond) taken both at the ocean/beach or the desert, and have been struggling to do something with them for years.

They are a great visual opportunity, I shoot them for hi-lites, and let the dark areas die into black, so I can burn back into some of the fading black, and blow in something 'surprising'... but so far I have had limited success figuring out what that was.

Finally, a blast of inspiration came my way (at least on this one) - the hand w/ the candle, and some petroglyphs from Joshua Tree. I think it's the quality of light that makes this hang together - the candle illuminates this 'cave' of sorts. Below, the photoshop sketch:

The rocks at the top were sandwiched w/ the hand & candle, as one exposure, the 'glyphs @ bottom, the second exposure.
Print #1 was a total winner!!

.... and i still had two more partially exposed sheets to work with. When that happens, i feel free to really wing it on whatever sheets are left. My attempt to use some different 'glyphs on #2 really sucked, i missed by a mile and then some.... but #3?
Hey, i was happy to see i can learn from mistakes, and quickly, too! This one worked well... but i was left with some doubt - everything is tweaked w/ photoshop these days - these glyphs are little dark and low contrast - should i give these glyphs a bit of a 'boost'?

Why not, I could just as easily give them a boost by handcoloring... so WTF, a levels layer in P'shop, 'painted in' carefully to boost just the glyphs ain't much different.

Once again, an old adage becomes true - I collect negatives that i think have a purpose, though i don't know what that is when i trip the shutter. Many times it takes years before i find a place for a negative.
The hole thru the rock was shot in 2008, the first glyph was shot in 1996, and the second one in... 2008.
The hand and candle?... i don't remember, i think it was '93 or '94, at night in my apt. after I'd shot something else for an assignment illustration, & had a few frames left on a roll.
Took a while to get around to using that one, hunh?
If that's what it takes?... then that's what it takes. I am patient.

And music has taught me some lessons, at least that done by the most talented:

"Learn to be still" - Eagles:

There's times when it pays to shut yer mouth, turn off the internal chatter in your head, and be 'open'.
That's what I do, let my raw thoughts (negatives) speak to me.

Was it Rumi who wrote "only an empty vessel can be refilled"?

Yeah, that's it. I think...

This one definitely is Rumi:

“Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”

So if you are asking 'what does this image mean, if images can 'mean' anything?'...
Hhmmm... my best guess is:

First of all the title points in the right direction - 'Illumination'.

If your viewpoint is inside a cave of sorts, and the only daylight that gets in is scant illumination, you may not see much. If you bring some additional light (man-made, hand-held)... you may 'see' much more.
So there's two kinds of 'illumination' - what happens every day when the sun comes up...
and what happens when we add our own 'illumination'........
Chew on that one for a bit....

As usual, for larger images, etc... a page on my site:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reservation required

The image du jour? This one:

But first, as usual, the 'whatever catches my eye' file, FAT! this time 'round! What a crazy and interesting world!

Photos: Elusive Snow Leopards Thrive in Surprising Spot
Thanks to the vigilant eye of camera traps stationed high in Afghanistan's remote northeast mountains, researchers have uncovered exciting news: A population of endangered snow leopards, one of the most elusive big cats on the planet, is thriving in the region.


Is ocean garbage killing whales?
I think we humans are killing just about anything else, at a way too rapid rate...

Amazing Arizona landscapes
By Floyd Yarmuth, CNN
July 9, 2011 5:54 a.m. EDT

Reintroduced condors flying farther afield
Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, July 4, 2011

The Guide to Weed
Great stories about how marijuana is grown, bought, sold, smuggled, and smoked.

Health July-August 2009 Magazine Feature Story
June 25, 2009
Perfect Quiet
Searching for refuge — and, perhaps, health — in a sickeningly loud world.
By Craig Childs

Luzon: Expedition discovers 300 species on island
David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Saturday, June 25, 2011
More images at:


June 24, 2011 12:50 PM

Digital photography trumping film for good?
"Film harkens back to a time when photography was an art and photographers were master craftsmen."

June 22, 2011, 9:15 pm
Finding the Score Within

Hendrix’s electric guitar is visceral. It is somatic in Whitman’s sense — the song of itself — and emphatically American. Hendrix’s guitar is immediately recognizable in the way speaking voices of loved ones are immediately familiar. It taught me that a sound, in and of itself, can embody a feeling and that there is a meaning that can only be expressed with that sound, that voice, that guitar playing in that unique way. It also taught me, by extension, to look for my own voice, my identity, in sounds. Yes, rather than putting on a uniform, or trying to fit in with people around me. To not only embrace my idiosyncrasies, but to amplify them.

------------------ Uh...yes, Jimi Hendrix speaks to most everyone, and ANYone.....
only 3 or 4 years he recorded his own music.... his influence resounds, waaaay beyond the few short years he lived. You can't pick up an electric guitar, without feeling, and playing, his influence.
Dig this: All along the watchtower

One great comment:

So today i prayed to God..and said:
"If you give us Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley back will give you justin bieber and the jonas brothers."
Well God replied and said, "No, i like good music too."
Dig this:
Third stone from the sun:
Wanna talk about 'cutting the world a new asshole'? this track definitely did that.
But one thing should be noted: Jimi couldn't have done this without Mitch Mitchell's drumming, no two ways about it.
He was quoted as saying 'he's my Elvin Jones' - enuf said.
If you don't know Elvin Jones??? It's about time you did:

Elvin Jones- Big Solo - Waaaay awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4:21pm PDT
Annual 'Sardine Run' off South Africa an unforgettable thrill for divers
By: Pete Thomas,

The Pacific Ocean's 'corridors of life'
David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
(06-22) 15:57 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Two broad and unmarked ocean highways where countless sea creatures migrate, feed, mate and reproduce, have been discovered across the Pacific by scientists tuning in to thousands of radio signals.

Southern California Moments
A daily look at scenes from the Southland captured by Times readers.

Offbeat Traveler: Sand-sculpting contests
This summer, relive those days when you were a kid at the beach building sand castles. Besides sun and vacation time, this season offers sand-sculpting festivals and contests geared to novices and pros. You wouldn't believe what people make out of sand.

To see the masters compete, head to the Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival in Massachusetts. If you're more interested in the fun, check out the Long Beach Sand Sculpture Contest, where you can build sand castles, eat BBQ and listen to live music.

Wherever you go this summer, be prepared to marvel at some amazing creations.,0,5255670.photogallery

Op-Ed - LA Times
Kindle vs. books: The dead trees society
Kindles are convenient, but they just aren't as good as books.
By Sara Barbour
June 17, 2011,0,5490224.story

Harry Partch: The Dreamer that remains (1972)
The most amazing 'music' I've heard in quite some time.

"How to Land Your Kid in Therapy"
The Atlantic Magazine -The Ideas issue - 2011 July August 2011

Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods. A therapist and mother reports.
By Lori Gottleib
This makes me appreciate my parents (long since departed) a WHOLE lot more.
They weren't always easy on me, and sent me to a boarding school at age 10.
I think that now might be called 'tough love' - it worked fine for me.

June 16, 2011 10:41 PM
Get used to mega-fires in the U.S. West
By Chip Ward
'The old gospel got it mostly right when God told Noah, “No more water, the fire next time.”.......

Opinionator - exclusive Online commentary from the NY Times
June 12, 2011, 5:35 pm
Philosophy As an Art of Dying
By Costica Bradatan

It happens rarely, but when it does it causes a commotion of great proportions; it attracts the attention of all, becomes a popular topic for discussion and debate in marketplaces and taverns. It drives people to take sides, quarrel and fight, which for things philosophical is quite remarkable. It happened to Socrates, Hypatia, Thomas More, Giordano Bruno, Jan Patočka, and a few others. Due to an irrevocable death sentence, imminent mob execution or torture to death, these philosophers found themselves in the most paradoxical of situations: lovers of logic and rational argumentation, silenced by brute force; professional makers of discourses, banned from using the word; masters of debate and contradiction, able to argue no more. What was left of these philosophers then? Just their silence, their sheer physical presence. The only means of expression left to them, their own bodies — and dying bodies at that...

Deer dropped by eagle knocks out power in Montana
"It's a first-time thing," Northwestern spokeswoman Michelle Sullivan said. "A deer dangling on the line, that's never happened before."

What was most amusing was the comments many people made...a couple of the best?

'And the moral of the story is ...."Don't bite off more than you can chew" '

'I guess the eagle wanted to barbecue his lunch, hunh?'

'Now only if an eagle would pick up a piglett. We all know the saying....'

On to some photography/photomontage...!!

Sometimes when you're drifting off to sleep, do all kinds of oddly connected thoughts and images drift thru your brain? If they don't, I'm sorry for ya. It happens to me often, that's how this one came about.
During the week between Xmas and new year's (2010-2011), I was hoping for some decent weather, and wanted to go check out SF's Ocean Beach & the renovated Cliff House.
(Don't skip the intro, that's the best part. The rest of it is just a promo for the new Cliff House. Snore.)

In the ten years I lived in SF ('92- '02), I went there ALL the time, it was 20 minutes and only 1$ bus fare away. But I haven't been there much since I moved to Marin County.. it was about time to check out an old haunt. So one night while drifting off, before intending to visit the next day, I played back in my mind many of the shots I had taken there, and when I got to this table, set up for some kind of party on the viewing deck behind Cliff House, I hit "Pause"!

I think lot of the reason I shoot the the things I do is that they have a certain sort of 'pregnancy'.. that is to say there is a certain emptiness, incompleteness.. that is begging for more.
This table sure fits the bill, doesn't it?

Hhmmm... this is one for the very simple, just 2 negatives 'side to side' blend, with the other side being 'completely different'. An empty table is awaiting some guests ... but their view won't be on the menu.

Barker Dam Lake in Joshua Tree (above) is about as removed from fine dining as a place can be, but it's a feast for the eyes, and the camera. So that became the right side of the image. The fun part is positioning and dodging and burning a bit differently for each print, and hoping for serendipity as they melt into each other.
Took me all 4 sheets I started with to 'hit it', but eventually, i got it.
Here's the photoshop sketch:

And one of the final prints:

(I ended up going to Ocean Beach on Wednesday 12/29, the first clear day of the week, and it was brutally windy, i had trouble just standing up... and the new Cliff House wasn't nearly as photogenically funky as the old one. Had you noticed that sometimes progress sucks?)

For all of the 4 prints:
(The ones that succeed, and the ones that aren't quite 'there'...)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Be happy now

"Wherever you go, there you are."
"Be happy now, with whatever you have, or have been given".

Both the above, good words to live by. Give it a try.

It's July 4, when Americans celebrate their independence.
OK, you say: 'how independent are we if congress is ruled by special interests'?... or perhaps one of many other complaints about our democratic system. Someone well known was quoted as saying something like "Democracy is a messy, fractured way of getting things done, a far less than perfect way of governing... until you compare it w/ any other way of governing." (Then it looks pretty damned good, doesn't it?)
Yep, ain't it the truth! Would you rather be in the USA... or Libya? Or Pakistan??
(yeah, i thought so, you aren't moving there anytime soon.)

Buddhist thought says that 'desires' are the root of of our human problems. Yes, indeed.
I don't subscribe to ANY religion, but if i could be caught adhering to any, it would be buddhism.
....and I think our (western) constant desires for... more, more, MORE!"... are whacked.
Who really needs a 'McMansion' in the 'burbs?
Or a triple cheeseburger w/ a ridiculous amount of fat and salt?

While i was writing this, i checked my yahoo email, and here was one of the articles on yahoo news:

"From a $500 towel to a $2,600 bottle of water, items that aren't worth the money."

Enuf said.
Time to get our heads fixed, find a new direction. I'll suggest one: "less is more".
Here's a page w/ a few images, and of course, some accompanying text/comments, about keeping your head screwed on right, appreciating what you have, enjoying whatever you encounter.
Alotta the best things in life are free... happiness is one of them.
Hope you enjoy... and turn off yer computer sometime soon..... and dig the real world.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Darkroom Montage - 'Strength in Numbers'

First...from the 'whatever catches my eye' file...

Ancient world dictionary finished — after 90 years
By SHARON COHEN, AP National Writer Sharon Cohen, Ap National Writer – Sat Jun 4, 9:56 am ET
CHICAGO – It was a monumental project with modest beginnings: a small group of scholars and some index cards. The plan was to explore a long-dead language that would reveal an ancient world of chariots and concubines, royal decrees and diaries — and omens that came from the heavens and sheep livers.

So Much More Than Plasma and Poison
By Natalie Angier
Published: June 6, 2011
Among nature’s grand inventory of multicellular creatures, jellyfish seem like the ultimate other, as alien from us as mobile beings can be while still remaining within the kingdom Animalia. Where is the head, the heart, the back, the front, the matched sets of parts and organs? Where is the bilateral symmetry?

5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet
By John C Abell

June 3, 2011


The Arctic Light
Wed, Jun 1, 2011 3:00 AM EDT - 3:21 | 190,320 views
Follow TSO Photography on TSOPhotography for more photos, videos, and updates.This video was filmed between 29th April and 10th May 2011 in the Arctic, on the archipelago Lofoten in Norway.
A very nice video... check it out:
A Stream of Postcards, Shot by Phone
By Jenna Wortham
Published: June 3, 2011

Digital camera sales may be weak, but thanks to cellphones, picture-taking has never been more of an everyday thing. Now a wave of mobile applications is letting people tweak their cellphone snapshots and share them with friends and strangers.


How much longer can photographic film hold on?

Well your blogger here sure hopes the answer is... at least until i die.

Saturday, May 28, 2011 11:05am PDT
Surfers brave the "biggest day ever" at world's craziest wave: Tasmania's Shipstern Bluff
By: Chris Mauro,

watch the video!!!!!


On Virginia’s Crooked Road, Mountain Music Lights the Way
Published: May 20, 2011
IT starts with a well-worn fiddle, held in equally well-worn hands above a tapping black cowboy boot. Then in comes the banjo, plucked with steel finger picks, followed by the autoharp, the mandolin, the percussive beat of an upright bass. Another banjo grabs the melody, and suddenly the room is bursting with knee-slapping, country-porch music....

Record Snowpacks Could Threaten Western States
Published: May 21, 2011
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — For all the attention on epic flooding in the Mississippi Valley, a quiet threat has been growing here in the West where winter snows have piled up on mountain ranges throughout the region.
Thanks to a blizzard-filled winter and an unusually cold and wet spring, more than 90 measuring sites from Montana to New Mexico and California to Colorado have record snowpack totals on the ground for late May, according to a federal report released last week.
Those giant and spectacularly beautiful snowpacks will now melt under the hotter, sunnier skies of June — mildly if weather conditions are just right, wildly and perhaps catastrophically if they are not...............


The Trouble With E-Mail
May 29, 2011, 5:30 pm
The idea that e-mail is chiefly a conduit for anger and lies seems almost quaint. After too may careers ruined and personal lives upended by online indiscretions, it should now be crystal clear that there are some things one must never, ever commit to e-mail.
And that’s why some bankers developed “LDL.” “LDL” — which means “let’s discuss live” — is an acronym that surfaced during the S.E.C.’s investigation of Goldman Sachs for its role in the nation’s financial shame spiral...

On, to some photography.......

At left, my photoshop sketch, at right the final darkroom print

I've mentioned before that my montage images come from a variety of inspirations - sometimes it's about a concept, sometimes it's simply something visually surreal, sometimes somewhere in between the two. And sometimes it's just plain 'winging it'.
This one is definitely 'concept'. It had been kicking around as a drawing on tracing paper.. & then a P'shop sketch... for quite a while, and I finally decided to do something with it. Like..uh... print it.

I shot the palm trees that are propped up in front of a wall somewhere in southern Ca., the desert. There's a number of attempts at development there that never came to fruition. I think the wall was 'sposed to enclose a nice subdivision... but just 'cause you think it can be built, doesn't mean anyone will show up. And no one did, and these poor palm trees were left to suffer...

The forest of very healthy lush palm trees (behind the wall) was virtually a farm - the trees in very nice rows.

M.C. Escher would love it!
What? you don't know who MC Escher was?
I thought this was just my blog, but if i have to educate you, OK, here goes...

Oddly enough, both images were shot on the same trip, in the mid-90's..took a while to put the two together, but once it landed in my brain, it stuck - the forest was on the other side of the wall, trying to help it's prodigal brothers/sisters.
Yeah... definitely, 'strength in numbers'! Or maybe i should call it 'prodigal palm trees'...?
The dodging / burning on this one is really pretty simple - the two palms @ bottom are dodged out part way up the palm trees, the palm trees at the top blended from top to bottom, ending just above the top of the wall.

I also added some nice clouds above the palms, at the top, which are actually flipped vertically to wrap around the palm tree tops.

Technically?... simple. Putting it all together, and knowing what to do? Not so simple - many miles of driving... many rolls of film, full of frames that were made thinking "There's something about this i like, I'll shoot it now, and figure it out later". And then a few more years until a light goes on inside yer head - "Aha! That's it! that's why i took that frame."

As usual, more/larger images.. at a page on my site: