Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Inspirations #23: Edward Weston - Cypress

When one is visiting the California coast one cannot ignore the cypress trees that make this rugged land their home. The cypress was one of Edward Weston's favorite subjects. I believe he felt a connection with these tenacious conifers, often gnarled in this part of the world from eons of wind. He photographed them equally well as both part of the larger landscape and intimately.

This image of cypress roots has an abstract quality to it, reminding me of flames and even a mountainside or cooled lava flow.

Cypress Root, Pt. Lobos, CA, 1929 by Edward Weston

My father was a printer, and when I was young he would take me to the paper company when he ordered paper. I was fascinated by the entire process, including how paper was made on a commercial scale. I remember receiving a poster of this process from his salesman at the warehouse on the life cycle of a tree (for paper-making purposes, of course). There was an illustration of a redwood with a time line depicting the life of this giant which included the birth of Christ. This fascinated me how something could live that long. And the key to deciphering this was the rings. Rings... also the source of grain.

The image below was taken in the Allan Memorial Grove at Pt. Lobos, most probably in the same area Weston photographed his roots in 1929.

Cypress Grain, Pt. Lobos, CA, 1986 by Richard M. Coda

This image, in addition to being inspired by Weston, was also the result of an image I made on Ellis Island two years earlier of a piece of very weathered plywood. I would love to continue a series on this theme of grain... the life story of trees.

Grain, Ellis Island, NY, 1984 by Richard M. Coda

Monday, December 28, 2009

Inspirations #22: Ansel Adams "Redwoods"

Redwoods are hard... oh, and hard to photograph, too.

It is very hard to find a place where you can get far away enough to encompass the sheer size of a redwood. Ansel Adams was able to find such a place in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northwestern California.

Redwoods, Bull Flat Creek, CA, 1960 by Ansel Adams

I was not as fortunate to have the time and resources to travel all over California, so instead, during a 1987 trip to Carmel, I finally had the right lighting conditions to photograph this stand of Eucalyptus trees at the junction of Palo Colorado Rd. and Hwy 1 in Big Sur. These trees are beautiful and fragrant, but no match for coast Redwoods.

Highway 1 and Palo Colorado Rd., Big Sur, CA, 1987, by Richard M. Coda

Many people drive past this stand of trees every year, but few, if any, stop to appreciate their simple beauty. I consider myself lucky to have been one of the few.

My first attempt to photograph a redwood resulted (IMHO) in a mediocre image. Others have told me they like this image but I just think that it doesn't "feel" like an image of the greatest [size] of all Flora.

Redwood, Big Basin State Park, CA, 1987 by Richard M. Coda

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas Observation

Jesus for Sale, 2009 by Richard M. Coda

I took my daughter out to the "Town Dump" in Cave Creek today so she could photograph some "western" stuff to use in one of her paintings. The Town Dump is a touristy, kitschy, western themed curio shop. Lots of rusted sculptures, old sewing machines, Mexican wooden doors, cow skulls... you name it. Visually very interesting. They have these little niches where they have items displayed... some are "themed" some are totally not related to each other. In one of these niches I found this. For some reason this image disturbed me quite a bit... almost like saying Jesus was for sale... for $28. And, a classic painting like this ending up pasted on some old wood almost made me cry. Another affront to Christianity, I guess. Kind of reminds me of my Salton Alien image. I think I'll have to go back and see if I can photograph it with the big cameras.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Guest Blog: Christmas... Lindsay Style

My daughter, Lindsay, is an artist at heart, and a traditional one at that. She loves the Masters and prides herself on technique. She paints and she draws using a variety of mediums. We took her to National Portfolio Days a few weeks ago, and at 15, she received comments like, "If you were a senior showing me this portfolio today, I'd offer you a scholarship right now... wouldn't think twice about it" (NHIA). "A lot of people are going to be after you in a couple of years." (AIBLU) Yes, she is an artist... but put a camera in her hands and she's a completely different person.

We went out to look at some of the larger displays of Christmas lights tonight. Lindsay is a very unorthodox photographer, especially when it comes to night photography and Christmas lights... she uses the camera as if it were a paint brush, creating strokes and abstract compositions, even though she does not like abstract art (yet).

She even got me doing it...

And, here are a few action shots...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Please don't call the ACLU on me!

Photo by Lindsay Eve Coda, 2008

From my family to yours, we wish you a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Old Color

Just going through some more old chromes where I got lucky and made a good exposure.

Ellis Island, NY, 1984 by Richard M. Coda

Pinnacles National Monument, CA, 1980s by Richard M. Coda

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, 1990 by Richard M. Coda
This is a honeymoon photo on 8x10 transparency film.

Zion National Park, UT, 2000 by Richard M. Coda

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh, what a glorious morning...

Wednesday morning, the girls just left for their last day of school before the Christmas break. As I was firing up the computer to begin my day I looked to the East out my office windows and saw this... Still in my robe I ran to get my Nikon D300 and outside to take this. There are houses on the ridge and I didn't want to include them, but left the top of the power lines in. The colors were incredible, as they are frequently this time of year. Looks almost like an orange tidal wave or a star that's way too close to Earth!

I have to try and get up earlier and get out there with the big cameras!

Guest post: The Famous Larry Golsh

My friend, the Famous Larry Golsh, showed some new prints the other night. He showed two series of three images that were particularly nice.

The first was a trio of images of Ocotillos taken in Ocotillo, CA in the Anza-Borrega Desert. For those of you who have never been, the Anza-Borrego Desert is in southeastern California, just west of the Salton Sea. It is the largest state park in California. It can get wicked hot there as it is not too far from Death Valley and Palm Springs. Parts of it can look like the opening of "The Sound of Music" in Spring, but parts of it look like the moon at times. Ocotillos are native desert plants that can best be described as rose bushes without the roses. Tiny leaves and LOTS of thorns... truly alien looking to the new visitor... and can grow to 30 feet tall.

The next series were images of Paris that Larry took during his stay there this summer. These are crops from 4x5 negatives, which work quite well in the panoramic format. The image of the train tracks is part of a series Larry is working on about the parts of Paris that tourist don't usually see... kind of like the images of Phoenix that I take... things the local passes by and doesn't think twice about.

Nice work, Larry!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inspirations #21: Minor White, Part 1

Minor White (1908-1976) was a contemporary of Ansel Adams. He was also a poet and much of his life centered around the spiritual and mystical. He took Alfred Steiglitz's "Equivalents" to the next level, creating imagery that in effect became a mirror of the photographer himself. Aside from his prolific photographic career he also served as the editor of the influential Aperture magazine and as curator of the George Eastman House in Rochester.

When I was younger I attempted to wrap my brain around his theories, but the realities of life always got in the way. Subconsciously, however, I think Minor White's writings and images left a deep impression on me. I have always thought that images should be able to stand on their own, without text, cute titles or captions, although Minor White employed these, and unlike today where "emerging" artists dictate to the viewer what they are trying to say to the viewer, and that images are, indeed, a reflection (mirror) of the person creating them. I'll let the psychologists try to figure me out, though... I don't have the time or desire.

Moon & Wall Encrustations, Pultneyville, NY, 1964, Minor White

Opus 40, Saugerties, NY, 1988, Richard M. Coda

Urban Removal, Portland, OR, 1939, Minor White

Untitled, Brockville, Ontario, Canada, 1986, Richard M. Coda

I have been inspired by Minor White many times. This is the first part of a series on his inspirations. Look for more in future posts.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Real Genius...

What is real genius? Some people think it's a number. I think it can be someone who has a keen insight on what it is to be human. Charles Schulz was such a man. Tonight "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is on for the first time this Christmas season. I have never missed this classic cartoon. Me and Charlie go way back... we are almost the same age. Another genius... Vince Guaraldi. Some of the best jazz ever written... and for a childrens' cartoon, no less.

Me and Charlie, 1962, somewhere in England, by Richard J. Coda Jr.

I will remember those dreadful curtains to the day I die. They followed us home to the U.S. and I can remember them well into junior high. As a sophomore in college, my Chemistry exams mysteriously fell on the nights the three Charlie Brown specials were on. The professor was noticeably absent at all of the exams. I figured he was home watching Charlie Brown. Imagine his surprise when I ratted him out in the school newspaper!

All kidding aside, this cartoon could be a textbook. It shows man at his best and his worst; at his cruelest and his kindest; at his most guilty and his most innocent; at his most arrogant and his most humble; at his most selfish and his most selfless; at his happiest and his saddest.

I remember Christmases as a child. We had snow; we had real trees; we had the Norelco Santa; we had simple gifts; we had a completely different view of what "Christmas is really all about." To tell you the truth, I actually feel like Charlie Brown does... today, "it's all wrong".

Maybe it's because my daughter is now a young woman and I long for those Christmases when she was little. Maybe it's the attack on Christmas. I don't know.

I hope that someday I can get that magical feeling back again. I know, tonight, for a half an hour while I watch with my daughter, I will feel the magic for a little while.


Every generation has those moments in their lives that they remember where they were when a significant event occurred. For my father's generation, it was Pearl Harbor and John F. Kennedy's assassination. For me, ironically, it also involved the assassination of a man named John and an attack on the United States. September 11 and the murder of John Lennon.

My September 11 memories are on this blog here. But with the John Lennon murder I was much younger and naive. I was a sophomore in college. It was Monday night... that meant Monday Night Football at one of the local pubs with my roommates. I had a little too much that night and I remember little. I do remember waking up the next morning and telling my roommate that I had this horrible dream that someone had killed John Lennon. He gave me the paper and said it was no dream. I guess I did remember the news flash during the game. It was a very sad day. One of the voices of MY generation had been snuffed out.

What would the world be like today if all these lives had not been extinguished? One can only Imagine...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Inspirations #20: Airplanes

My father was in the Air Force for 17 years in the U.S. and Great Britain, where I was born. This is ironic because he was deathly afraid of flying. His last flight was when we returned to the U.S. for good in 1963. As a result of his phobia, I never got on a plane again until 20 years later. He wouldn't even drop-off/pick-up any of us (kids) at the airport. Even so, I have always been fascinated by airplanes.

Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, Airbus... they all look the same today. But back in the day, aircraft were as distinctive as automobiles. Lines, curves, shiny, oh my!

Tri-Motor, 1935, Brett Weston

Super Constellation, Randy Efros

The images below were taken on the tail end of a Rod Klukas/Randy Efros workshop in Tucson in 2008. After the workshop was over several of us went over to the Pima Air Space Museum. If you are ever in the area, take a day and visit this amazing museum. Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen and water... it can get really hot there.

Air Force One, Tucson, AZ, 2008, Richard M. Coda

Super Constellation, Tucson, AZ, 2008, Richard M. Coda

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pictures from an Exhibition 2...

My gallery talk at the Phoenix Country Day School exhibit was today. I enjoyed talking with the students, faculty and parents that attended. I have been invited back to do a Photoshop talk next semester with the Advanced Photo students.

Talking with Michael Swingler (Physics) about 8x10" vs. "megapixels"

The lovely Mrs. Michele Coda (left) and friend, Shelly Sherman.

Showing 11x14" contact prints.

Discussing acceptable "manipulation". Michael Pesselato (Art), center-left in blue shirt.

Showing 16x20" enlargements from 8x10" negatives, and discussing
photographing things nearby that are overlooked by most.

Showing an 8x10" negative and discussing my Arca-Swiss 8x10" camera.
Immediately to my left, Dr. Becky Allison (English/Literature) in blue,
and Jenny Treadway (Technology) in peach

My friend, the Famous Larry Golsh and his lovely wife, Sharon, also attended and took the snapshots. Thanks Larry!

Also, thanks to John Kitts, for quick work on matting many prints and getting them all framed on very short order.