Well, this morning, with a huge assist from Ron, one of my new "roommates", we managed to move all my stuff into the new studio space I'll be sharing with him and Kelly. (Well, honestly, I basically helped HIM move the stuff.) Since they both do "respectable" photography (weddings, senior portraits, etc) I won't link them here, because I don't want them to have any unexpected fallout from being associated with an "artistic" photographer who would post something like this photo on his blog. I have a shoot tomorrow which will be partly in the old space and partly in the new, and I may keep a key to the old place to possibly sneak in and shoot while it's still empty. It's going to be interesting, transitioning back to sharing space, and adjusting to the opportunities and challenges of new space. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
The promised nightmare of Y2K never really materialized, but it's been like that around here lately. Fucked up internets, misleading monitors, e-mail problems, dead laptop, dead hard drives, printers mysteriously dying, fax machine craps out at last and the new one is already acting weird. Fix one thing, two others break. I'm about ready to give up sometimes... the aggravation is intense enough that I can taste it sometimes.
I'm not 100% sure what this picture of Natasha really looks like, although it's gotten a few nice comments over on the Flickr, so I guess I got close to getting it right. This one's pretty much straight outta Canon.
(BTW, would you believe it's been 20 years since NWA's Straight Outta Compton dropped? Also, I know one girl who's going to laugh her ass off that I mentioned it.)
Speaking of which, for a couple years I've been hoping that the new Photoshop will recognize the Canon "camera styles" when working with RAW files, and at last, it's going to... as long as it's not the "monochrome" style -- the only one I care about. I tell you, society is always workin' to keep the b&w man down.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
"I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim, too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.
"I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.
"I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you've not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I'd starve to death before I'd sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your song books are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow." -- Woody Guthrie
For as long as I can remember, there's been a huge copy of this poster on the wall at the Canal Street Tavern, except in green instead of blue... seems like only smaller ones are available now, but the idea's just as big.
Here's Erin Jade...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"The Smartest Woman in the Room" Naomi Klein gave a great interview dissecting the $700 Billion "Rescue" package and how it's little more than another massive giveaway to the wealthy, engineered by their man on the inside, former Goldman Sachs CEO turned treasury secretary Hank Paulson.
"The money has been given to the people who needed it least, and it’s going to be used to justify austerity measures imposed against those who need it most," Klein concluded. "It’s going to be used to justify cuts to food stamps. It’s going to be used to justify cuts to Social Security, to health care, let alone being used to justify why more ambitious plans for a national health care program, for green energy are not affordable. So people have to be ready for this. You know, the next shock is yet to come.""Great Americans" like Rudy Guiliani and Amex have magically become bankers overnight, just so they can line up at the trough for bailout money. Yet we're going to give the Big 3 automakers keep begging for another couple weeks just to torture all those union workers a while longer to see if they might have jobs after Christmas.
The shot above is from my last shoot with Angie, about a year ago. A little "global warming" statement of some sort or another. Looks like we'll be working together again soon.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Checked out a potential new studio space tonight with a couple of other photographers I met through Craigslist... it's in the same "complex" where my current studio is, and the same building as the space I was in previously. It's pretty cavernous, about twice the square footage of my current space, and what looks like 20-foot ceilings with huge west-facing windows. It even has a garage door so it would be possible to pull a car into the space, if I did car shoots. There are other ancillary benefits, too, and I'm very tempted. I guess the one hesitation I have is that I've gotten quite used to having my own space -- available whenever I want, to do whatever I want, without having to factor in schedules and such, or the needs of roommates.
Going to sleep on it, and maybe make a phone call in the morning, but I'm thinking a change of scenery would do me good. And maybe making myself play well with others would be a good thing, too.
The photo is the bendy Alkemie Jane, who may deign to pay me a visit before long... maybe in the new space?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Well, it sounds official... Mark Begich won.
"Who the hell is Mark Begich?" I hear some of you say.
He's the Democratic candidate for Senate who beat Republican Ted Stevens' re-election bid.
Stevens was convicted of various counts of corruption and will be serving jail time soon, unless at 85, he pulls a Ken Lay and croaks before actually being sentenced.
So, this guy, convicted of taking bribes, the KING of the "Pork Barrel Projects" (Bridge to Nowhere, etc) that John McCain decried repeatedly, THIS guy lost his senate seat to the former Mayor of Anchorage. Not by a landslide, but by a squeaker as the final absentee and provisional and early ballots were counted. The fact that he lost in some way redeems Alaska for the blight of Sarah Palin, but that it was so close still makes me wonder about the so-called "conservative values" Republicans claim to hold dear: honesty, integrity, law and order, cutting government waste, trimming the fat from the budget, and so forth.
Of course, Stevens will collect his pension while in jail... $122,000 a year for life. Maybe I should have run for Congress instead of shooting nude photos.
Republicans think Democrats hate their values. We don't. (Well, at least not always.) It's the hypocrisy that drives us nuts.
The photo is of Erin Jade Euphoria... it's about time this blog had a little euphoria, eh?
In troubled times, you take whatever good news may come your way.
Just found out that this shot of PXE won a little group contest over on Flickr. This shot has been quite a favorite over there, and while the contest is not a huge deal, it's a good excuse to post it again here. :)
Also learned that the book from the Erotic Review 2008 Photographer of the Year Prize has been printed and is available for international orders, and at some point (April?) will be available to order from Amazon. If you click through the "postcards" on their site, you can see small versions of most (all?) the photos in the book. (Mine are #2-6 on page 15.) Honestly, I feel the quality of some of the images presented is less than spectacular, so if you're a photographer DOING spectacular work, put your entry in for next year's book and help raise the bar. Also, one shot I entered that was NOT picked was actually requested by one of the judges to run in a UK magazine, so you never know what will come of things. You can read more about the contest here.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Looks like the hard drive in my laptop has given up the ghost... it's a very old machine, so it's time was due, and today it just refused to start up. I'd not used it for much actual computing... mostly as a DVD player, so I doubt it's worth repairing, because even with a working hard drive, it wasn't much use for anything. Maybe this is the final nudge for me to get a real laptop, especially before all the non-glossy screen Macs sell out. What is with Apple and these cheeseball glossy screens? Is that really what the market wants?
On Edit... tried restarting the old laptop, and lo and behold, it started up. Wonder if it might have just been overheated or something? Well, it's still useless for much more than watching DVDs, so it will still serve a purpose. :)
On another front, have an external hard drive that crashed a while ago, and I've been shopping around a little for data recovery services, but the gamut is so huge (from under $300 to more than $3000) I don't know which way to go on it. Any of you loyal readers out there have a good (or bad) experience to share about a drive recovery service?
Saturday, November 15, 2008
One of the earliest albums I remember geeking out on was "Marquee Moon" by Television, a NYC band, a little like early Talking Heads, but with a more jazzy noir take on the world, and a unique guitar sound propelled by two hotshot guitarists, Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Roughly 30 years after Television first rocked my world, Richard Lloyd came to Dayton to play the humble Canal Street Tavern. Television's drummer Billy Ficca was there, along with Keith Hartel on bass and attempted back-up vocals. After bickering with the sound man, Lloyd started off with an old song he'd written for Chris Stamey, then "Friction" from the first Television album, then most of the evening was a mix of his solo stuff and a lot of Hendrix covers from a forthcoming album he's doing.
Honestly, Lloyd seemed off his game quite a bit. He looked like he just rolled out of bed, had trouble remembering lyrics, couldn't quite keep up with himself on guitar sometimes, and just acted like he really didn't feel like being there, but it was the best gig they could find between two real shows. I'd say he was drunk, but I didn't see him drink anything the whole time on stage.
It's funny, most of the bands I once considered to be crucial are being relegated to nostalgia acts almost. Another sign of my advancing years. I guess. I pretty much had this reaction when I saw Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan last year...
On the monitor front, I'm feeling a little bit better about it in that I threw the fancy Spyder calibration gizmo out the window and went back to a more visual calibration. There are things I KNOW are grey, so just getting there is half the battle. I'm still concerned as I find more shots where areas I thought were falling off into shadow actually aren't, so still some steps to go. Any advice on this, please speak up. I'm considering giving up on this Samsung and getting an Apple display after all before all the ones with the matte screen are gone.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Well, spent some time trying to pick out photos tonight, but got sidetracked by the damn monitor I was gushing about yesterday or the day before. I'm seeing a LOT of artifacts in gradients, even in high-res "original" images, so I'm stymied. I've spent far too long attempting to calibrate the thing (the little controls on the monitor itself are a joke) and some things look blueish, others look too warm, and I'm sure if I come back in the morning, it'll all look different. Even tried my Spyder "Display Calibration for Serious Photographers, and I don't feel like I know anything more than when I started.
I enjoy shooting, but I'm REALLY starting to tire of the back-end part of the process.
The photo is IXI, with her contribution to the back-end part of the process.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
So far, so good with the new monitor, although I was up until 4:30am "troubleshooting" a problem that was absolutely driving me crazy. Woke up this morning and realized what was wrong and managed to fix it, but lost another night of potential editing.
Anyway, looked at this picture of Mandy on the new monitor (click to see it big) and it's nice how the colors really POP more than on the old one, so as the old ads used to say "if these colors don't look right to you, it might be time for a new monitor."
I'm SO sleepy, but I'm supposed to be at a meeting at 7pm... and would like to get back and do some editing and selecting before it's too late!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The near-great Herb Score passed away today. While he was well before my time, one of my favorite books growing up had an entry about him. Briefly, Score was one of the most dominating pitchers in the game his first couple seasons with the Indians, with 245 and 263 strikeouts, until he caught a line drive right below his eye. While he regained his vision, it was said that injury changed him and he never equalled his earlier success, especially once other injuries forced him to change his motion. After retiring from the game, he eventually became a respected broadcaster for the Tribe, but it had to hurt knowing that he had everything it took to be one of the all time greats, only to have it slip away.
Here's the text from the book:
There are those who covet death.
And there are those who death covets.
On August 17, 1920, Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians and Beaver Dam, Kentucky, was struck in the head and killed by a pitched ball thrown by Ray Mays of the New York Yankees and Liberty, Kentucky, thus becoming the only man ever to be killed during the playing of a major league baseball game.
On August 3, 1940, Willard Hershberger, the wiry, injury-prone second-string catcher of the Cincinnati Reds, distraught over what he considered his negative contribution to a lengthy Reds' losing streak, took his own life by means of hanging, in room 306B of the Miles Standish Hotel in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, thus becoming the only major league baseball player ever to commit suicide during the course of the regular season.
And on May 6, 1957, Herb Score, an overpoweringly fast left-handed pitcher for the Cleveland Indians from Rosedale, New York, had his extremely promising career prematurely and permanently terminated when a line drive from the bat of Gil McDougald, the aging New York Yankee shortstop from San Francisco, California, hit him squrely and forcefully under the left eye, knocking him unconscious and temporarily blinding him.
There are all kinds of death, just as there are all kinds of life.
Some are quick and some are slow.
Some are happy and some are sad.
Some are easy. Some are not.
So I guess the lesson is to get it while you can...
First blog post on the new monitor... I decided to get rid of my rather old Apple CRT monitor because the phosphors seemed to be pretty burned out and not giving me accurate contrast. Plus, between laptops and cheap "flat panel" monitors, it seems like that is the "target" for most of my images anymore, so I should be working them to look good on one of these über-sharp, bright and ultra-contrasty jobs, instead of my comfortable old monitor where things still look rich and warm and just the right amount of softness.
So, not only will I have to get used to this for my online images, but I'll have to find out just how what I see on this screen equates to my camera, and to my printers, and even publishers. Calibration is, and has been, the biggest bitch for electronic publishing and digital photography. An advantage of film is that most people used one of a handful of film stocks, which were the same pretty much anywhere you went, and which would be processed in essentially the same way every time, and negatives were printed in pretty standardized fashion, so the results were predictable and within the photographer's control. You'd shoot an image, process the film, make a print, put it on the wall, and everyone who viewed it saw the exact same thing.
Nowadays, I shoot an image like the one of Kat above, and it looks good on the back of the camera, but it may look different once I get it into photoshop, so I fix it to look good on my "calibrated" monitor, and I post it, only for everyone to look at it on a thousand different types/brands/ages of monitors with countless variations in the settings, so frankly, it's hard for me to predict what ANYONE is seeing when they look at this image. I considered getting one of the high-end Apple Cinema Displays but instead I chose a nice, but basic, Samsung T220, since that's probably closer to the "common denominator" of what people are using to view this blog and my online portfolios. If it looks good on this, an image should look even better on a higher-class monitor, right? Or maybe not.
When I edited this image a few days ago on the old CRT, her hand on the left side was almost completely lost in the shadow, as well as virtually all of her face. Today when I look at it on the new LCD monitor, those areas are still in shadow, but now they're somewhat visible. Which do you see? Which would the judges for an art show see? Which is truer to my vision? Should I go back and "correct" the image to what I'd originally thought I was getting?
The "implications" of this change are pretty daunting in some ways, as I need to decide how to answer these questions for the hundreds (thousands?) of photos I have out there, if it's worth revisiting, or if I just move ahead.
Any photographers reading who'd care to share their insight, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Monday, November 10, 2008
One thing that separates my generation from most of my models is that I remember when MTV played music videos, and ONLY music videos, just for hours on end. My uncle's house in Columbus was one of the original houses to get cable and MTV, at least in Ohio, and I remember going up there one time and just being stuck to the set, watching them randomly cycle through the few dozen videos they had available at the time. Granted, by today's standards, most of them are pretty hokey or at least rough around the edges, but in the day, it was just great fun. There were shows on broadcast TV that would show a few videos on weekends, but MTV was oddly revolutionary for such a simple concept.
Even though MTV turned into a "reality TV" crapfest, music videos are still going strong, thanks to iTunes, MySpace, YouTube, cellphones, and various other online outlets. Recently, MTV announced they're getting serious about videos again with the launch of MTVmusic.com, an on-demand source for their video archives. That number pales compared to YouTube, but these are the legit videos in clear resolution with clean audio. You won't find obscurities like Hilly Michaels on the MTVmusic site yet, but I'm guessing they'll be adding to the library on an ongoing basis, so who knows?
It's funny, I used to daydream about how a business could make music and videos available to the public "on demand." This was WAY before the internet, and at least before broadband made something like iTunes possible. I even remember this idea where stores could have metal "masters" of various hit songs on metal rings, and customers could select 8 songs, and the rings could be placed in a holder concentrically, and it would press a customized vinyl record just for you, instead of buying 8 separate 45s. And when I first heard of digital recording technology (Ry Cooder's Bop 'til you Drop the first rock record that was digitally recorded) it immediately seemed to me that one could encode songs/albums onto computer chips that could be purchased and put into some sort of playback device. Oh well, good ideas are nothing without the resources to develop them.
Above is Kat from a recently-edited-but-not-so-recent shoot. Below is a vaguely Rauschenberg-ish video by the Pixies that I always thought was very cool, if deceptively simple.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
With the election behind us, I'm hoping to tear myself away from politics for a while and concentrate once again on the photography (and maybe even my day job, and getting my house squared away, and getting in shape, and so forth and so forth). Looks like I won't have much computer time between now and next week, but I wanted to leave you with something photographic for a couple days.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Just got this word from my friend Jayne about a special benefit concert this weekend:
Katie Reider is the reason a bunch of us will gather in Cincinnati this Saturday... a benefit show in her honor and memory with the proceeds going to her 2 young boys and life partner. This is sure to be a special night... as sure as Katie was a very special woman. It's a night of original music, however each act will do a Katie song.
Here's the lineup for the night:
8:00 - 8:25 Holly Spears
8:35 - 9:10 Chakras
9:20 - 9:55 Whitney Barricklow
10:10 - 10:45 Frozen Feet
11:00-11:45 Jayne Sachs Band
12:00-12:45 Jen Foster
1:00-1:45 The Blue Umbrellas
The location is Dirty Jacks (5912 Vine Street in Cincy), and we'll start at 11:00. There is a $10 cover, with proceeds going to Katie's family.
I may be traveling, but if possible, I'm going to make it out to the show. Hope to see you there.
This is one of my favorite shots of Jayne from a portrait session a while ago.
Posted by Gary M Photo at 11:10 PM
Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job
WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."
The Onion, November 5, 2008 | ISSUE 44•45
Posted by Gary M Photo at 3:42 PM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
So, I put together my little shot of Danaid in the Obama shirt giving the peace sign in yesterday's entry. I posted it a few places, and turns out it's been picked up on Reddit via one of my groups on Flickr. While up to now, my most viewed images on Flickr had something like 900 views over the course of a couple weeks, as of about 3:15pm Tuesday, this shot had over 17,700 views in the span of about 13 hours! (Update as of 11:30 Tuesday: 31,000+)
Sounds great, right? Well, here's where my usual luck comes in.
When I picked and did a quick edit of the shot, I made two versions, one with a watermark, and one without. But I accidently uploaded the unwatermarked shot to Flickr and a couple other places, so what may be one of my most popular images to date has no identification on it. I did manage to fix that, so subsequent viewers will get the marked version, but dammit!
Story of my life.
In my memory, each presidential election campaign has been uglier than the one before. On top of the usual partisanship, this year unprecedented amounts of racism and sexism were injected into the mix, although Obama seemed to stay above it all. Add in that this year, roughly 8 MILLION perfectly legitimate voters will be turned away from the polls, thanks to the so-called "Help America Vote Act" which led to purges of huge percentages of voters in swing states like Indiana, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. These people won't even know they can't vote until it's too late to do anything about it. A bold stand by Ohio's secretary of state prevented virtually all newly registered voters from being purged at the insistence of the Ohio GOP, which was something of a victory for democracy, as well as Democrats.
Oprah's vote got flipped right before her eyes, so that means it can happen to anyone. Be careful when you vote. Choose paper instead of electronic if possible. If you are somehow challenged or offered a provisional ballot, insist on your right to cast a REAL ballot -- more often than not, the squeaky wheel will get the grease. If need be, call in support at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or call 1-877-874-6226. Fight for your right.
It's gotta be a huge margin, too big to be stolen. Do your part to make it happen.
Please vote. And vote wisely. Reject fear, and vote for hope.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Well, mercifully, it's down to two days until election day, but no telling if we'll have a clear winner election night. For instance, someone just told me they'd heard that early votes in Montgomery County (where I live) would NOT be counted on election day as a BOE worker had told me, but rather after the fact, the way they usually deal with absentee voters. I can't find confirmation online however, so I will reserve hope that this is NOT the case. I can't find anything online with details, but I DO know that given the large lead Obama purportedly has in early voting, and that Montgomery County is one of the bluest in the state, if those votes are NOT tallied on election night, it will be as if they don't exist and could make the state numbers appear to be a lot closer than they really are. And if the newly lawsuit-happy Republicans decide to try to "call" the state for McCain before a substantial number of early votes are counted, we could have the Florida 2000 nightmare repeated in Ohio.
The video features a segment of Paul Simon's old song "American Tune" -- I've heard a cover of it a few times recently, and that part did strike me as worthy of a campaign commercial. I guess someone's on my wavelength.
Something I predicted to a few friends, but failed to post here, has come to pass. Early this summer, when gasoline was around $4.00 a gallon, I predicted that it would be down to $2.50 by election day. My reasoning for this was that the oil companies, hoping for "Bush's third term" would force prices down so that it would be removed as a campaign issue, and/or so Bush/McCain could somehow take credit for bringing the prices back in line. Then, after the election, especially if Obama wins, prices would jump back up. I was right about the first part (I saw it for $1.99 driving home last night), but maybe not for the reason I predicted. Of course, who can tell?
The shot is Missy, expressing my feelings upon hearing the (possible) news about the early vote count...
On Edit: just called the BOE, and the woman who answered the phone said that they "will endeavor" to include the early votes in tomorrow evening's counting, but due to physical limitations of the staff and equipment, they may not be counted until 6am Wednesday, or maybe 6pm Wednesday... but would be included in the certified results. Well, at least I know I didn't leave a dimpled chad...
Hang on folks, this may get real ugly.