Monday, June 29, 2009

Stop the Pigeon!

That was the theme song from one of my favorite cartoons as a kid... Dick Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. They were always trying to stop the carrier pigeon from delivering his message. (Funny how Dick Dastardly looked and sounded a LOT like Snidely Whiplash!)

Well, it seems that the Pigeons were on to something. The elite "art" community has been desperately trying to keep this hush hush for fear that their cover will have been blown.

Now if they would only hire pigeons as art critics. Or, better yet, have pigeons teach art, then there would be no need for critics.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Guest blog: Michele and Lindsay's Excellent Adventure...

Well, the girls (my wife and daughter) are on a cross-country trip to look at some art colleges back East, and do goofy Americana tourist stuff along the way. Lindsay is keeping a journal with photos of her trip. I've decided to post some of her work here while they are away.

Hey Dad,

We're in Texas, and I found a man already! Just Kidding! After the many hours of our travels, we have arrived in Amarillo. We got through AZ ok. Then we got the flat tire at about 11:50 near Grants, New Mexico. We didn't have to wait long for the AAA man to come. I have pictures as promised. We arrived in Texas 8:00 and got to the hotel at 9:00. I have pictures of the lobby. They have COOKIES! In Texas there are millions of cows. There was this place called Quality Beef. It smelled awful! We are going out to eat now, god knows where. I saw a Hooters across the highway, but I don't think they want us to return. I applied for a job there. I was unsuccessful. Anyway, we have to run. Look at the attached photos.

Lots of love,

So, what does a photographer do when his family is away? Well for one thing I am developing film like a madman. Two 11x14", ten 8x10" and twelve 4x5" so far in two days. The 11x14" negatives are beautiful objects just as they are... I can't wait to print them.

I am also cooking all the things I'm not allowed to eat when the girls are here (not because I can't eat them, because they don't like them). In fact, I am the guest blogger at my cousin's wife's food blog Saturday, June 27. Look for it at Stacey's Snacks tomorrow.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Do you remember your first time? A fish story usually follows!

Lakeside Bridge, Pompton Lakes, NJ, 1982

First time with a large format camera, I mean!

Over on there's a thread asking members to post their first image made with a large format camera. Luckily, I have all my negatives in order and was able to find my first one, number 82-001.

I was a senior in college and was taking advanced photography. My father had told me that he had an old Speed Graphic he "acquired" from the Air Force many years earlier. I asked if I could play around with it. I bought some film and developer and trays, did a little reading on how to develop sheet film, and tried to get a feel for the camera. Up until this point I had only used 35mm.

Once I felt comfortable with the camera I made the big trip across the street to the shores of the Mighty Pompton River (aka Pompton Lake). This was one of our old hang out spots for doing the things that boys have been known to do... drink beer, blow up model boats with M80s, and fish. This place also afforded a great view of Lakeside Bridge, where my Dad and I fished.

Fishing was a big part of my youth. In high school we would fish on the bridge early in the morning before school. My dad would pick me up from school and we would head to the Wanaque Reservoir (after a quick stop at Luigi's Pizza for supper) and fish till dark. Largemouths and pickerel while it was still light – catfish and white perch as it got dark. Then we'd head home, clean our catch and freeze it. Then I'd do my homework and we'd go down to the bridge around 11:00 PM. There would be quite a few people fishing on the bridge at that time of day. Some locals... Lester, Freddie, Russell, and many people from other towns, like Paterson and Passaic, would make the trek. The catfish and carp were HUGE in Pompton Lake... must have been all the pollution from upstream in New York State, or the runoff from the DuPont munitions plant north of town. One night, my father hooked into a 70-lb carp on the bridge. He liked to live dangerously (when he fished anyway) using "ultra-light" gear (rated for small fish up to 4-lbs.). Well, that was quite a night. He had this fish, which was almost 5 feet long, hooked for hours. He was masterful that night. Carp have a very soft lip and are easy to lose because their lip rips and the hook comes off. The newspaper showed up and took photos. No one had a net with a long enough handle to reach down the 12 feet to the water. So the word went out and one of the neighbors brought back the biggest net they could find.

My father climbed over the railing and down to one of the pilings, which was only 5 feet from the water. He was able to get the net into the water while one of his friends held the pole up on the bridge. Only problem was, the fish wouldn't fit in the net. Maybe one-third of it would fit. You couldn't get it in the net head first so he figured he'd have to try tail first and grab the head by the gills. After a couple of attempts he guided the tail into the net. Then, with one mighty flap of the tail, the fish jerked sideways, ripping the hook through its soft lip and he was gone. By now it was almost 3:00 AM. My father climbed back over the railing and said to the fish, "You win... tonight!" Every one started packing it in and the exciting night came to a close. Now, because the papers had photos, does this count as a fish story?

Back to photography... I made this exposure on Tri-X and developed in FG-7 in my parent's basement. There are light leaks and scratches from the wooden clothespins I used to hang the film to dry on my Mom's laundry line, but I will always cherish this negative, even with all it's flaws... it was my first time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

InFocus - a new photo group at Phoenix Art Museum

At a recent Imageworks meeting, Randy Efros, last assistant to Brett Weston, and John Kitts, owner of 422 Gallery in Phoenix, gave a presentation on a new and exciting venue for photography in Phoenix – InFocus.

In a nutshell, it is a group within the umbrella of the Phoenix Art Museum, dedicated exclusively to photography. Their mission is to promote photography in Phoenix and to bring monthly photographic events to its members. These events may be held in Phoenix, but may also involve exhibits and discussions elsewhere, such as the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, and other venues.

One of the events scheduled so far is a fund raiser at 422 Gallery on Saturday, August 1, which will include a silent print auction. As more details and events are added I will forward them along.

Phoenix Art Museum membership is a prerequisite for InFocus membership. Yearly membership for a single (even if you’re over 40) is $50 and a “Member” (includes two adults in one household) is $75. Patron and Corporate levels are $200 and $400, respectively. I have linked the membership application card that Randy and John handed out. Please feel free to forward it along to others who may be interested in this new group. The more interest we can generate in InFocus, the more we, as photographers, and Phoenix, as a photographic destination, will benefit.

For more information, please call Randy Efros at 602-973-2321 or John Kitts of 422 Gallery at 602-670-1342.