Sunday, December 4, 2016

Onward upward

This one is sort of an opposing throw back to the first montage print i made work:

I have called it 'The edge of the world' for obvious reasons.
It's very simple - just 2 negs, dodged to blend well. Took me about 25+ sheets of paper to get it right.

'Onward upward' is the opposite - the stairs at Alcatraz lead into... the forest of Muir woods, huge redwoods, an escape indeed, if there ever was one. I have titled it 'Onwards, Upwards'.

After 30+ years, i hear an echo in here somewhere. It is most welcome, i am glad i see/hear.. a thread, a method to my madness.

The 'whatever catches my eye' file is really fat this month.

Craig Childs, a great writer:

"I believe the earth will survive us. It has survived far worse than us. Its 3.5-billion-year life history is a gauntlet of apocalypses. In every ancient crater and dinosaur fossil bed, you see a story of global endings.

Whether we survive ourselves is more the question.

And what of most other living things? Will they survive us?

I'm not willing - or even able - to wait the 6 to 10 million years it would take to return to current levels of biodiversity. That's how long global mass extinctions have taken to recover in the past. Key indicators point to us being in such an extinction right now. So, you have to ask, what comes next?

The most likely scenario, or at least the most hoped for, is that the planet remains generally supportive, and climates are stable enough we get to keep our pretty cities and bucolic countryside."

((This bloggers comment? - oh, no - i think it will get much worse, and take much longer to get better than we can imagine. Joni mitchell sang "we are stardust we are golden..."
No, we are poisonous cruel and thoughtless, we will get our comeuppance, our due, sometime soon ))

"I sit still listening to the many heartbeats of the forest. Summer has, fall has turned, and the world of animals moves ahead."


Narwhals, Tusked Whales of the Arctic, See With Sound. Really Well.



Wondering how climate change and the prospect of an ice-free Arctic might affect narwhal behavior in the future, scientists tracked these whales over the ice in helicopters. Knowing that whales use echolocation — sending out clicks of sound that bounce off objects in the environment around them — they placed microphones underwater and listened.

They found that with clicks of sound, like a flashlight switching on and off, the narwhals scanned their underwater world to receive narrow snapshots and reconstructed them into a larger acoustic picture — one with more resolution than any other animal on the planet, with the possible exception of beluga whales.


You think Photoshop is some great software? You ain't seen nothin' yet, read this article, until you get to the part about how after all the information is loaded and the 'start' button is pushed, it takes several days to generate an image.

here's a depiction of the robot/drone that gathers:

and the product:

If you think humans are the only creatures that have smarts, feelings, empathy, perception beyond themselves, you are oh so wrong.

How a Donkey Became My Running Partner
We’d agreed to take this donkey because we figured he’d be fun and trouble-free. I didn’t know he’d set my life on an entirely new course.
Running With Sherman

'Running With Sherman' is a weekly column exploring connections between humans and animals. 
Next week: Training a Donkey

Looks like this could be a very interesting story...


A wild bottlenose dolphin, tangled in a fishing line, swims up to a diver in Hawaii and waits while the diver cuts the line free.

When a dolphin needed help off the coast of Hawaii, he was determined to let a scuba instructor know.

But yet slaughter of dolphins continues in Taiji, Japan:

Yes, the water is red - blood red. Humans aren't the smartest animals by any means. 
We are however the meanest, greediest, we lack morality that animals have.
Have you read stories about dogs that will not leave their sick/dying friend's side?
Or dogs that find their way to their owners grave??

Hope i have given you a few things to ponder :-)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bodie window, Nevada red rock cliff

I don't know where the inspiration for this one came from, but i know what i like about it, why it works. It's the juxtaposition of the solid rock wall hundreds of feet high (shot in Red Rock Canyon just east of Las Vegas, NV) against the window (a symbol of openness even though the window ain't open, shot in the ghost town SP of Bodie - every photog. who goes there shoots this window, it never fails.) 
Composition is very important to me - i lined up the middle of the window panes with the top of the rocks, so there were 2 rows of panes above which have some good clouds superimposed and two below that blend into the rock cliff. I did 3 different prints, the difference being in how much the clouds were exposed. 
Let alladin's lamp light the way, let the good times roll.
Darkroom technique-wise? it's really pretty simple - rocks at bottom, dodged out to center, window burned in thru the most incredibly simple darkroom tool of all time, a circular hole in a sheet of black construction paper, it's at the bottom left below.

Sky exposed at top, dodged out in center, and held back in the lower middle.
It works quite well as Black and white:

Hand-coloring poses a challenge - and an opportunity - what kind of a spin can i give this?
Be happy if and when inspiration strikes. It's like lightening - fierce, sometimes scary, but ultimately if you survive (or remember your dreams?) pretty good stuff.

I'm not sure how i came upon the color scheme i did, just glad i did, i like the one pane in the second row/center that has a bit of haphazard curtain that stands out. The hand coloring has become 2 steps lately, the first is water colors, the second is oils. One last step is to scan, and tweak the color a bit more in Photoshop. To tell you the truth, i am not sure which of the two color images here are which.


In the "whatever catches my eye file" this month:

When i was growing up in a small town in Maine in the '50's, my parents always made us go to church & sunday school, plant, water and harvest the garden out back, rake the fall leaves etc etc etc. When that was done, if i were to ask my mom 'what is there to do?' she would point to the back door, as in 'you figure it out'. And we did, all the kids on the street were constantly getting together, football, baseball, sledding in winter, exploring the stretch of wooded land between the blocks, the cave carved in the land, the treehouse my dad built rather impromptu, it would be condemned and destroyed these days - no supervision whatsoever! And we all survived, with a few small injuries on the way. And we learned. Stuff no one can teach you.

Review: These Short Stories Ask, How Does Technology Affect Us?

Books of The Times


“Should you plug into this machine for life,” he asked, “preprogramming your life’s experiences"?
This question reveals a terrible anxiety — that technology may rob us of authentic experience, that it may annihilate our very sense of self — and is central to “Children of the New World,” the seductive debut collection of short stories from Alexander Weinstein.

About an american who comes home after a long time, and finds his homeland is/has been ... rather changed since he left. A Very good read, highly recommended.

The Walls in Our Heads

No 'wall' will ever work - forget about it.

How the Internet Is Loosening Our Grip on the Truth

Whether navigating Facebook, Google or The New York Times’s smartphone app, you are given ultimate control — if you see something you don’t like, you can easily tap away to something more pleasing. 

Some really gorgeous photos!

On U.S. Geological Survey expeditions through the American West in the 1870s, William Henry Jackson took the first photographs of the Yellowstone region’s thermal springs, craters and geysers. Those images helped persuade Congress to protect Yellowstone as a national park — America’s first — in 1872.
He used the photochromic process to colorize his prints.
Merriam Webster:
Definition of photochromic:
• capable of changing color on exposure to radiant energy (as light)
• of or relating to or utilizing the change of color shown by a photo chromic substance

I've read the above link, and a few others - i still have no idea how this works. Let's just be happy it does, or did, as the case may be.

Two last links:

This one is really depressing and a bit scary, why haven't we heard about it more??

Monday, October 3, 2016

Nevada fortune wheel

Another sandwich - two negs aligned together in the neg carrier. Just one exposure.
Coming up with these is really difficult, i don't know where this came from, i went thru all my 'psd sketches' folders, couldn't find a thing. Oh, well / c'est la vie.
The thing about sandwiches that seems to work for me? Something distant contrasting against something close up. Plenty of tension and contrast going on, it makes the image interesting / arresting.
The landscape is Nevada which is mostly the most barren desolate high desert you could ever encounter.
The fortune wheel is an old-timey amusement, before TV or anything digital.

This one screamed 'handcolor me!'... so i did, just watercolors, no subsequent oils. Then i did some icing on the cake w/ Photoshop, levels, & Hue/Sat layer.


In the whatever catches my eye file this month?

"......for most of its history, cinema was medium-specific — it was shot, processed and distributed on film. The movies we watch today, by contrast, are rarely made through mechanical and photochemical processes, but with computer code, with strings of zeros and ones: bits. Each medium has its advantages, although for many lovers of film the crucial difference is its vivid, alive look."

'Ah'll be back' to quote Ah-nold, the terminator

Saturday, September 3, 2016

'The Pass' - lots of improvisation

Yes, improvisation, 'darkroom printing, without a net' so to speak is a really nice thing. And Photoshop has a way subverting that. Here's the P'shop sketch that got it started:

I like the white space/hi-lite in the notch of the rocks, it draws the viewer in. There's nothing there... but what is 'beyond' nothing?

(Above, the 1 frame/negative.)

(And the stark stormy Joshua Tree)

That's an interesting question in and of itself - what is beyond nothing, white space, an opening?

This one was all improvisation, first i exposed the rocky landscape at the bottom, then burned in 3 variations of the Joshua Tree at the top. 

I am OK w/ the white space between the rocks in the first three... but for #4 it was time for something 'different' - which was another Joshua Tree, and a last and final one, much smaller, in the notch in the rocks.

Here's the neg:

And the print:

Which is 'better'? Viewers choice.

In the 'whatever catches my eye' file, all worth your time:

After many years of making darkroom photomontage ( since the late 80's), and not being able to get arrested for it except for a few appearances in competitive group shows, and some assignment illustrations in various magazines ....I am designing & publishing books I make at Blurb with 'Bookify' - two of them are on Amazon, one is at Blurb.

'California Beach Trip':
On Amazon:

'Desert Trip'
On Amazon:

'Seeking the Vibe'
On Blurb:

Previews of all at:

Saturday, July 30, 2016


Here's the dreamer:

I found this face carved in soft sandstone on Ocean Beach, San Francisco, some years ago. I will hope he is dreaming, and not dead.

The landscape - the horizon, the two trees, is at Sunset Crater in Arizona.

 The ragged rocks above it - tufa at Mono Lake in Ca.


The lighthouse superimposed at the top is at Pt. Bonita in the Marin headlands, just north of SF.
What does it all mean? Perhaps dreams foster thoughts ( = the trees, which grow) ...which then beget difficulties of whatever kind ( the ragged tufa rocks)... but there is light at the end of this tunnel, the lighthouse shines on. Perhaps this is about the power of thought, mind over matter?

Technically, it's not hard. First exposure, the sunset crater trees and shadow, with a good bit of the shadow dodged back to accommodate the face. Then, i burned in the face, then added the tufa, and the lighthouse.
The same simple tools accomplish everything.

this one deserved some hand coloring:

Many years ago, i wrote a statement of sorts.
(Alotta things in the world change in a heartbeat these days.
I don't mind being slooooow. It comes with age ( 64 YO) I am OK with it.)

I collect negatives by taking myself, and simple camera, to places I love - the California coast, and desert - and start walking. 
I spend a lot of time with my proof sheets, and in a small room, under a dim red bulb. I'm obviously interested in things metaphysical - beyond that, it's up to the viewer to decide what's going on. 
If I haven't figured them out yet, (and I haven't, not really), why should I presume to explain them to anyone else? Many of the pictures just seem to 'happen', because the individual negatives are 'looking for each other'. I'm just a chaperone, and a really loose one at that. But those were always the best kind of parties, right?

"I'm just a chaperone, and a really loose one at that..."
After all these years, this rings truer than ever.

I don't remember where the idea for this one came from, i think i linked the face with the huge shadow in the landscape first. I regularly sift thru PSD sketches, add subtract to them, print them out quickly letter size, leave a pile of them on my floor, and look thru them once in a while, maybe take a fistful in my bag, and look thru them during my bus commute to work. A 20 minute bus ride is a nice time to let the mind wander as the landscape rolls by. Rumination is a good way to describe it.

Which brings me to the 'whatever catches my eye' file:

The End of Reflection - Future Tense

By TEDDY WAYNE JUNE 11, 2016 - for the New York Times

“Finding moments to engage in contemplative thinking has always been a challenge, since we’re distractible,” said Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows.” “But now that we’re carrying these powerful media devices around with us all day long, those opportunities become even less frequent, for the simple reason that we have this ability to distract ourselves constantly.”


'Think Less, Think Better'

'Gray Matter' New York Times - By MOSHE BAR JUNE 17, 2016


(It ain't dead yet folks, get used to it!)

Not a week goes by that i don't read about some new discovery in the ocean:

It's the oddballs & wierdos that make the real progress. See a movie called 'the imitation game' about the gay british guy who invented a rudimentary computer to crack Nazi code.

"When he wasn't blackmailing lords and being sued for libel, William Playfair invented the pie chart, the bar graph, and the line graph."  By Cara Giaimo June 28, 2016


Review: Hieronymus Bosch, for Whom the Devil Was Always in the Details
Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil * Directed by Pieter van Huystee * Documentary * 1h 26m

I'm definitely going to get this one, if it ever shows up on Netflix!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

How 'bout a sandwich or two?

Not the kind you get at a deli, but a negative sandwich, two frames in the neg carrier, in pretty much perfect alignment. They are hard to come up with, to say the least.

Here are two such sandwiches, all negs done in Nevada some 8 years ago. 
Very rough ragged and forbidding mountains:

And two agave plants, very tough survivors, very tender and juicy leaves inside -  
their exterior, the thorns, is a deception.

I especially like the one with the close-up on the plant, above - it has lots of tension between near and far.
I thought these were good candidates for hand coloring, so i partied down with that.
( I do a blog about just hand coloring if you're interested:

In the 'whatever catches my eye' file this month:

Marvelous wet plate collodion images:

"Nixon prefers older technologies so that he can slow down and respond to the subject in front of him. While shooting in the field, Nixon’s car becomes the darkroom, because in the collodion process, glass-plate negatives have to be prepared, exposed, and developed on-site while the materials are moist. If the plates dry, they are no longer light sensitive. Although Nixon is a master technician, he sets aside academic ideas of what constitutes a perfect print, preferring to show his hand as an artist."

Remember Polaroid? I sure do.

It's called the Beach Blog, so we can talk 'sand' can't we?

"Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And we are starting to run out. Believe it or not, we use more of this natural resource than any other except water and air." 

I'll be back next month w/  a dreamer - no, not the kind Pres. Obama is talkin' about...

Oh, BTW... i have 2 books published on Amazon:

'California Beach Trip':

And 'Desert Trip'

Check them out, please. You just might like them enough to buy a copy.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The 'whatever catches my eye' file got really fat in the last month...

So that's going to be the bulk of this post.

But to make sure I keep photography the #1 priority, here are the three indispensable tools i have for doing darkroom photomontage, i made them over 30 years ago:

Click on the image, hold/drag/and drop this one onto your desktop, print it out.
(It will open up to be larger than what you see here) You'll be glad you did :-)

On another note, I do a lot of hand coloring on my montage prints, here's a recent example of a B+W:


Been on a bit of a hand coloring binge lately, doing some watercolors first, then some oils.
Even taking a few into photoshop and seeing what i can do digitally vs. by hand/cotton balls, q-tips.
Here's what i've done with watercolors (for the details in the flames) then scan and add color to the top - blue gradient, yellow/orange gradient. + Hue/Sat to all.
Here's the progression:

Watercolors to flames at bottom

A digitally colored version

The final hand colored version
...totally smokes anything digital.

If you'd like to learn more, I do a blog about it all:

In fact, I invite you to all my other blogs:

Here's that 'whatever catches my eye' file.

There's a lot of total junk on the web.
Then again, there's some really meaty stuff, best of all, it's free.
here's where my 'surfboard' has taken me lately:

Books - MARCH 9, 2015 ISSUE
New Yorker magazine

"Rapt - Grieving with your goshawk." BY KATHRYN SCHULZ

"Writing last winter about the challenges of training raptors, the goshawk in particular, Schulz introduces us to a creature she describes as “a mixture of a Labrador retriever, an F-16, and Houdini,” and the piece itself spreads its wings, soars, and pounces.  A piece about death certificates deepens, with a grave robber’s stealth, into a meditation on classification and causation—on the meaning of “because.” Even when she writes about death, her pages swarm with life.

A larger theme runs through Schulz’s work. It’s about the unruly interplay between the natural world and our efforts to understand it—whether with a yardstick, a theory, or a tale. In her mind, cultural history shares an intimate berth with the history of the natural sciences. A sometimes quarrelsome couple, they fight each other for the bedsheets, but they can’t quite ever be separated. They keep up an ongoing point-counterpoint of observation and interpretation. 

If Schulz’s pieces are conversational, this is often the conversation they’re having. Let’s join it."

—Henry Finder, Editorial Director

 I concur, 110%. That's why i posted this.


Annals of Seismology 
JULY 20, 2015 ISSUE - 'New Yorker' Magazine

'The Really Big One'
An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. 
The question is (not 'if' ...but) when.

"The best New Yorker pieces work on different scales, big and little. They have sections that build into stories, but they also live and breathe in their sentences. Take the piece for which Kathryn Schulz just won a Pulitzer Prize, about the seismic significance of a certain subduction zone in the Pacific Northwest. 
Although she’s justly praised as a “conversational” writer, the prospect of a devastating earthquake was evoked with such immediacy that it scared the bejeezus out of people. But line by line—at the level not of gross anatomy but of cellular intricacy—she took readers’ breath away, too.
Here’s how she wrote about Washington’s “ghost forest,” a stand of cedars killed by an earthquake three centuries ago: “They are reduced to their trunks and worn to a smooth silver-gray, as if they had always carried their own tombstones inside them.” As for the nonchalance that led people in the subduction zone not to build quake-resistant homes, and what will happen when the shaking begins: “That nonchalance will shatter instantly. So will everything made of glass.” Meanwhile, “refrigerators will walk out of kitchens, unplugging themselves and toppling over.” The piece is a cascade of such small, sharp, glittering shards. When they lodge in your skin, or your head, it’s for good.
You see the same craft on the larger scale."
A sad story, for sure:

Were Frank to come back from the dead? 
I am sure he would kick them all in the ass. Many times.

Famous artist Georgia O'Keeffe:

I think i read somewhere that she said after she died, she wanted the wind to blow all her work away, scatter it wherever, destroy it, as if she had never been alive at all.
I've known a few people who inherited $ome rather $ignificant thing$ - what they really inherited was *mi$fortune*.

I inherited a small ($400/mo.) income from a trust my dad set up. I share the income w/ my sister and step-mother. Not nearly enough to argue over, it is pretty much carved in stone anyway. 
Enough to help us all a bit, and remind us that he loved us all. 
The most important things i 'inherited' from him?

A great education at a most prestigious and respected New England boarding school, a curiousity about the world - we watched flocks of migrating geese in Maine, climbed mountains, tended a garden from seed to harvest that fed us all, watched birds and learned their names, and stars and constellations too. We went to many places in the NE, mostly historical places, forts and landmarks, and learned their significance.

My Mom was the one who took us three kids to museums and art galleries. I was taking in Winslow Homer and all the Wyeth's before i was ten YO.
My mom grew up poor in Boston, was determined to give her kids 'culture' ...and she succeeded.
What a great 'inheritance'.
Oh, no monetary value whatsoever. But much value nonetheless.

So i ask you to ponder what 'inheritance' really means... really.
It's not about dollars - it's probably more about 'sense'.



"All photographs are historical photographs. Conventionally, photographs qualify as historical only as artifacts; their content is irrelevant. Their age—the temporal distance from us—is what matters. Historical photographs need to originate in a distant past and travel through time, surviving its vicissitudes. They arrive in the present carrying their baggage of images of places gone or altered. Only then do we consider what they contain to be history."


So you think you are smart?

"As the oceanographer Sylvia Earle, who, like me, no longer eats fish, says: “The ocean has given us so much for so long; it’s time for us to return the favor.”

I went to Jack London's place in Nor. Cal., one very nice place he built himself, it includes a Koi pond. As i approached, the fish all gathered 'round, they could see a human figure, and that's what they associate with food.


(she's Yahoo's CEO, talking about her husband's recent untimely death)

"I have a huge reservoir of sadness that is with me always — right here where I can touch it," she said. "I never knew I could cry so often — or so much. But I am also aware that I am walking without pain. For the first time, I am grateful for each breath in and out — grateful for the gift of life itself. I used to celebrate my birthday every five years and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always. I used to go to sleep worrying about all the things I messed up that day — and trust me, that list was often quite long. Now I try really hard to focus on each day’s moments of joy."

Finally, she told the audience, appreciate your own capacity for resilience when you're sad or disappointed. Expand that resilience beyond yourself to the companies and communities you create.

"When the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself."

As for my home state (California)?

'Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children'

Someone even wrote a book about it all!

I am now prohibited from smoking in my apt. What a stupid, unenforceable crock of shit.
Hasn't government learned anything since prohibition?? I guess not.
is marijuana legal? The feds say no... otherwise, it's as good as a done deal = yes.
'Prohibition' in any form is a stupid, unenforceable idea.


“A gap year is about taking a time out after being in school for so long to do something different, usually in another country,” said David Stitt, a founder of Gap 360, a gap-year trip planning company based in Britain."

A "Gap 360 - a gap-year trip planning company"???

This is exactly wrong - a gap year should be... *a gap = you figure it out = try anything = try everything*. Leave no stone unturned. You don't/shouldn't need a company to guide you!

I had several of those (gap years), they were among the most formative part of my life.

I did, in no particular order:

• Worked at Children's Hospital, in downtown Wash DC to fulfill 'conscientious objector' requirements to the military draft in 1969. I went from being stoned alotta the time at American University, to making it in to a morning shift, 7:30 AM in the admissions dept. All the while sharing an apt w/ a bunch of deadheads, who rocked out until 4 AM. 
• dug holes for plants, 
• painted houses, inside and out,
• worked at a newspaper printing place, 
• messenger for a law firm... 

...and a few others others i have forgotten.

It was an education in the *REAL WORLD* - what makes it tick, what it takes to make a buck or two. And what employers expect of you. What it takes to survive and pay the rent and buy food, in this world.


"At HubSpot, the software company where I worked for almost two years, when you got fired, it was called “graduation.” We all would get a cheery email from the boss saying, “Team, just letting you know that X has graduated and we’re all excited to see how she uses his/her superpowers in her next big adventure.”

(what a bunch of 'blowing smoke up yer ass' bullshit! 'big adventure'? *You've been fired*!!)

Somehow, this one led me to some wild and crazy thoughts and web wanderings on the topic on language:

(Is this a wee bit like 1's and 0's in a computer?)


Humans have this capacity to communicate, to pass on knowledge, called 'language' - a collection of symbols, and/or sounds, that we collectively as a society/culture/tribe agree on.
We think most presumptively we are alone with this skill - a narrow and arrogant opinion.
?Because we publish books, magazines, etc, do twitter, instagram, blogs, internet blather??

Many other creatures talk to each other, in tongues we do not understand, and probably won't for a long time, hard as we try.
Whales are recognized as having a sophisticated kind of 'singing' - but 'singing' is just our human way of describing their way of sonic communication - to us, it sounds like song. To them? is talking.

I live on the 4th floor of a large apt complex, my north facing windows look out over three lanes that turn into four lanes, headed to a freeway. Pretty gritty and uninspiring to many, but there is a streetlight outside my window, eye level, which is a more than a occasional perch for crows.
Crows are *really smart suckers*, do some reading/research.
They know how to make and use tools of various sorts, they cry *caw, caw, caw*!!!
They also make  sounds that are a series of 'clicks'

But then again there are so many computer languages based on 1's and 0's ( on and off clicks?):

"The modern age is ruled by computers. The penetration is to such an extent that the age is called The Digital Age.
Computer Science as a branch not only attracts the most brilliant minds in the world today but is also the most popular ladder towards a prosperous and delightful career. As a freelancer too, Programmers and Coders are very much in demand all across the world. This is because knowing the basics of how a computer operates is something everybody does not know.
Mobiles, Smartphones, Laptops, Tablet and Desktops are all versions of the device we know as computer. The software and websites which run on these devices require expert knowledge of programming languages. These are languages which the computer understands as a machine. 
They are a combination of binary signals in the form of on and off series.

and it all becomes:

Forgive me if this is all a bit fractured, but there are many interesting thoughts/ideas here - hope you appreciate that. No way to tie this all up into a neat tidy bundle.

If you need an 'escape hatch', this is it:

Bob Seger - Katmandu

Next month, i'll definitely get back to photography, darkroom and digital.