Friday, August 31, 2007

Competition and Coolness

Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be found in competition -- in having put forth the best within you
Henry J. Kaiser


Well I did it. I took a chance for my first gallery competition outside of the school gallery that I showed in. I entered a triptych of color images entitled "Childhoods End" to a gallery where I live that is holding it's annual show. It's 105 degrees here today, unseasonably hot, so I wasn't sure if the sweat pouring off me as I entered the gallery was from the heat or nerves, probably a bit of both. As an experienced set of photographer friends told me, it's not what they think, but what you think that ultimately matters. These friends have had photos in major shows and rejected by others. In detail, a photo that won first place in one show was lambasted in another. So it is a subjective as well as objective process. But I loved the images and some friends who are objective critics thought they were good, so we'll see. What matters is I'm starting to take the chances and joining the competition.

It's going to be hot all weekend with potential record setting heat. I took this the other night of the full moon. It reminds me that coolness is around the corner....

Some Zen cooling, Lisa Lynne, Levi Chen et al, "Celtic Zen":

Thursday, August 30, 2007

For Amanda

The greatest achievements were at first and for a time dreams. The oak sleeps in the acorn.
- James Allen


This is for my niece who started college this week. Here's hoping she has a great four years and follows her dreams....

Boston,"Amanda":

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ask

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

Over a week ago I carried out an exercise , "ask and it is given". The results have been amazing. It isn't so much in a material way at this time, but in how I'm looking and dealing with life. I'm going to continue the exercise.

Tonight is the end of my work week. I'm tired, but in a good way. Now comes the last two days of finalizing work to submit to an art show and spending time with friends.

In tribute for the gifts of compassion and creativity that have come my way the last 2 weeks, a Kwan Yin photo and Kitaro's salute to the Hindu Goddess of arts and creativity,: "Dance of Sarasvati":

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Woes and Hopes


An eye can threaten like a
loaded and leveled gun,
or it can insult like hissing
or kicking; or, in its
altered moods, by beams
of kindness, it can make
the heart dance for joy.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many blog posts have been written over the past couple of weeks about "The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings" by KayLynn Deveney . It has had a mention in the September issue of O also. But it compels me to think about a project I'd like to do, but have no idea on how to achieve it. I would like to travel back to Michigan, go around the state for a few months and see through the eye of my camera what is going on and to record it. Michael Moore began this in his documentary, "Roger and Me", but this time it's beyond that. I think it's because I keep hearing the story from people that it is nothing like it has been. That is they do not have hope this time that the auto industry will recover. They tell me the mood the state is somber and people are leaving rapidly. One older person told me that it reminds him of the events of the depression and the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. I think I may have unconsciously started recording this last year when I was in Michigan as I drove around taking pictures of barns, of the last dirt roads, and creek bridges etc. in the county where I grew up. Many of the auto workers combined farming with working for the factories. So both things were a familiar sight. The sight of those things is vanishing, hopefully some of us will capture it before it is gone.

I was also watching Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" last night. It was set in Cleveland and carried echoes of Michigan's woes. But it also carried the elements of hope and spunk. It is this that I hope carries my home state to it's recovery eventually, even though I know it will be awhile.

Because of it's similarities to Michigan, Billy Joel's, "Allentown":

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lessons


"To accomplish things there must first be an idea that the thing is possible. Then the watchword must be try, and keep on trying with enthusiasm and a thorough belief in your ability to succeed. If you are convinced that a certain thing can be done, never mind what the world says to the contrary; experiment, never give up."
-Thomas Edison

Last night I read an incredible blog entry by Andrew entitled, "A Few Basic Lessons of Fine Arts Photography". It's a wonderful piece of writing. Not to mention the humbleness with which it is presented. There is not much more I can add tonight to what he has already given. I'm thankful I found it. It's a reminder to follow your own path and write your own story in photography....

Natasha Bedingfield, "Unwritten":



Sunday, August 26, 2007

And I....


I'm working on photos for a show that I'm entering, but when I took a look at the SF photos from yesterday, I had to stop for a few moments. Looking at this I'm going, "and I want to leave California because....?" One of the less well know things to people who don't live around here is how beautiful the weather is in SF towards September and October. So here's my photo salute to the Golden Gate and I know I shouldn't, but I'm giving into schmaltz:

Tony Bennett and Judy Garland:

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Going Through Changes








"When the music changes, so does the dance"
African Proverb


Today was a good day for me. Friends and I went to SF to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and then to do photography at Fort Point. It was an incredible day. The first meal of the day was at the market. I needed to eat a bit earlier so I joined the line at Rose's Cafe at the edge of the market for Brioche French Toast, topped with fresh strawberries and the most incredible whipped creme I have ever had. It almost melted on the fork before it reached my mouth. The morning had the usual foggy, cloudy start but towards 1-2 pm the sun peeked out and it turned into a warm, relaxing frolicsome type of day. We ended it with eating organic hot dogs and drinking various vintage sodas. I couldn't resist a picture of one of the bottles as the sun was hitting it.

It was a different day for my family. I came home to the news they had made it to Arizona. I was happy for them, but could hear the weariness and even frightened tone in their voices. It isn't easy to make change from a place you have been most of your life to a totally new one. I just hope I can make it easier in small ways....the next few months will tell. It will definitely be a spiral of adapting to the new place for all of them.

3 Doors Down, "Changes":

Friday, August 24, 2007

Isn't It Ironic


Fashion photography is something I love. What I don't love is the pressure placed on women to adhere to a standard of size O. Yesterday I received my September issue of Harpers Bazaar. Within it Rita Wilson, wrote an amusing essay entitled "Size 8 in a Size O World". I chuckled and thought "Yes someone gets it". Ten years ago a size 6-8 was considered a small size in fashion. Further in the issue Courtney Love holds forth on the woes of being a size 8 and not having a chance at getting best dressed at that size. Hello! When did being size 8 make you a porcine princess? All I can say is poor sad woman. Isn't it ironic though.

I believe we come in a variety sizes and the most important thing is to be at a healthy weight for you. Not to mention having a healthy relationship with food. If I read one more article touting the miracles of using just colonics and spirulina....You get the idea.

I'm off to enjoy and I emphasize enjoy a breakfast of scrambled eggs topped with a tomato coulis and some bakery bread, all gotten from the local farmers market. Enjoy your spirulina...

Alanis Morrisette, "Isn't It Ironic":

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vintage



I love vintage photographs, objects, fashion and the search for them. A wonderful blog that combines these elements is "Montmartre's Sketchbook", beautiful finds, elegant photos. It's a lush inspiration that keeps me coming back.

A morning cup of tea and vintage song to get the day started, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathway, "Where is the Love":

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dancing Lessons


"Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God" Kurt Vonnegut


When travel and food come together you know it's often going to be a great adventure. When I moved out to California four years ago I decided to drive out with a friend. I stumbled upon Route 66 through some individuals in Illinois who encouraged us to make a slight detour and travel it as much as we could. I did and we had a ball eating our way through many Americana restaurants. I wasn't doing photography formally yet and I would have loved to capture the encounters we had. There just wasn't enough time to experience it as fully as we would have liked. I now have a dream, to spend a month or so driving Route 66. While I'm waiting to carry out that dream, I love to watch programs that are doing something similar. Alton Brown's "Feasting on Asphalt 2, The River Run" is a brilliant program. The places they eat, the people they profile and the little collages of photographs and sayings interspersed throughout make me itch to call up a few girlfriends and hit the road.

This photo was taken on a road trip. Love the abstraction and the reminder to look closer, you'll never know what will inspire you.

Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home":


Monday, August 20, 2007

Fire


Friends cooked supper (absolutely delicious) for me tonight in return for helping set up a photo scanner. Thanks Darlene and Mark. I'm working with a Photoshop Plug-In Virtual Photographer that is free and helping transform some of my color photographs into a film look. I played with this squash photo and it transformed it from blah to much more fine arts look.

Finally I'm working on the exercise and synchronicity is happening. I'll share more later this. It's enough to make me feel as if there's a cosmic fire going on out there.

As I've been in a rock it mood, more Bruce Springsteen and "Fire":




Sunday, August 19, 2007

This Is Love


My two nieces who I photographed recently. The younger one will be much closer to California as the move to Arizona begins Tuesday. My older niece will be joining them for awhile next year to do an internship at a hospital there. I know the move is going be tough for my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and mother, but it will be brilliant to have them closer for the time being.

George Harrison, "This Is Love":

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Just Thinking


I've been thinking about what's next, what must I do to make the changes to bring me to the next phase of the life I want. I found this exercise and I'm going to commit to trying it for a week:

"In Ask and It is Given there is this great exercise.
You take a piece of paper
On one side of the paper you write
My to do list:
and write down everything you will do that day.
Not a crazy long list. Just what you will really do.
On the other side of the list you write
What the Universe will do:
and you write down all the stuff you want the universe to take care of for you."

This jibes with some of my world view so I'm going to try it. I'll report on my progress towards the end of next week. This photo was a capture of a chef outside her restaurant, she seemed to be just thinking and enjoying this moment in her world.

Queen remains one of my favorite groups, so a bit more from them, "The Show Must Go On":

Friday, August 17, 2007

Best Friend



Guess who decided to model for me? Bella received a slightly different modeling fee though. She is a joy and a clown. She just thinks she should taste everything that comes her way.

She is a best friend. Queen's "You're My Best Friend":

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Leaping


“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

There are many opinions as to what this quote means and who to attribute it to, but Einstein is the popular choice. Two things happened today which brought me to it. One is that I found there is many problems where I'm now working and it doesn't seem it will change soon after a lengthy discussion with higher ups about the issues. The second I went on a gallery walk with friends and found myself amongst people whose language I was speaking. In other words, if I think I can keep working in my current profession and be happy, I must be insane, because it keeps not working out over the last 4 years. It worked once upon a time, but I'm no longer that once upon a time person. My happiest and most passionate moments are around my art. Tonight I saw many people with personality traits I possess. It was like releasing the breath I didn't know I had been holding. I'm beginning to look at nut and bolts of making the leap. I meet three very inspirational people tonight who made the leap and they shared some of how they did it...

I've been working with frames a good deal the past few days and this continues the trend. I'm working on this photo for a show that I'm going to take a leap of faith on and enter.

Bruce Springsteen, "Leap of Faith":

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chances



Sometimes one needs to be visible, find your strength and take chances. Then comes the change...

Bob Seger and Martina McBride, "Chances Are":

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Magical



Have you ever had a day when synchronicity happened and you ran into reminder after reminder of younger summers? It was when you were still touching childhood, but in the magical throes of first love...

Today was that day. Joni Mitchell, "Help Me"...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Small Things


Often it is the small things in life that we remember or crave. When I strolled into the kitchen this morning the early sunlight was hitting this bouquet of flowers that I had gotten from the farmer's market yesterday. My breath caught at the sheer beauty of the deep rich light playing against the petals, glass and leaves. Luck was there and I captured some of it. The other small thing is pancakes. One of the rituals of my Sunday mornings was my father's pancake making. Smells of bacon, eggs and pancakes cooking in cast iron frying pans always coaxed us out of bed and to the table. To this day my siblings and I use a cast iron pan to cook our pancakes. I found this egg beater at a flea market and it joined the Sunday ritual (my dad always used one).

So here's to the small things in life and a recipe that I use for the pancakes:

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Stir, starting at the center and gradually mixing in the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat a heavy skillet or griddle and grease it lightly. Transfer the batter to a measuring cup or pitcher with a pouring lip, or use a ladle, and pour the batter into the skillet to make 6- to 7-inch pancakes, cooking only as many at one time as you have room for.

Cook the pancakes until bubbles cover their surface, about 1 minute, then turn them with a wide spatula and cook for 1 minute more.

Makes 12 to 16 pancakes.

I'll be having pancakes this morning topped by fresh organic peaches and drizzled with local honey.

Some mellow Stephen Bishop, "On and On"




Saturday, August 11, 2007

Up Late


One of the things I've always been a night owl and whenever I'm off from work, I tend to revert to staying up late and doing things. I've been continuing to refine my Photoshop skills in preparation to submit some work for two local gallery shows coming up. I realized that I had been at it for quite a while after hearing my roommate come in. I took my dog out for a quick walk and then came back. She ran to her empty food bowl, managed to flip it over. Then she began shoving it with her nose to my feet. Finally she sat down behind it, just enough to say, "feed me". We both laughed so hard that tears were running down our faces as this is a trick she's never done in the 11 months I've had her.

It's been a good week, having completed yet another birthday, seeing friends and doing travel. I always reflect around my birthday about where I'm at in life. It's been a year of enormous change with more yet to come, but enormous satisfaction. The feeling of contentment and belief in the path I'm walking on artistically is incredibly satisfying.

To celebrate, India. Arie "Video":

Friday, August 10, 2007

Good Eats



Yesterdays farmer's market trip showed full harvest is going on. Of course I'm in California, so everything is earlier here then what I was used to in the Midwest/East Coast. It was a proverbial cornucopia . I ended up with fresh olive oil, goat cheese with chives/garlic, organic eggs, heirloom tomatoes, basil honey, baguettes, figs, grapes, squash, apples, torpedo onions and greens. I was drooling by the time I arrived home as the smells from the bag tantalized my nose the whole time I was driving.

Here's a recipe which includes some of my finds:

Heirloom Tomato Salad with
Grilled Red Torpedo Onions and Pesto Vinaigrette

Salad:
2 red Torpedo onions, peeled, cut into half moons and thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound various heirloom tomatoes (approximately 4 to 6 tomatoes)
kosher salt or course sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup pesto vinaigrette
basil leaves for garnish


Pesto Vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, peeled
kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
2 cups fresh basil leaves, stems removed
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
cracked black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat a grill.

2. Toss the onions in a bowl with the oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut them in various shapes and sizes (wedges, round slices, half-moons, etc.) and reserve.

4. Place onions on the grill over medium heat and grill until the onions are tender and caramelized, about 10 minutes.

5. To make vinaigrette, in the bowl of a food processor, purée garlic and salt until a paste is formed. Add pine nuts and basil and process until a fine paste formed. With motor running, add vinegar and then slowly add oil in a thin stream until the mixture is emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning.

6. Arrange the tomatoes on the plates. Season with salt and pepper. Place several slices of grilled onions on top of the tomatoes and drizzle with pesto vinaigrette. Arrange several basil leaves on and around tomatoes and sprinkle with additional cracked black pepper.

Included was an addition of the baguette topped with the goat cheese mixture. The meal was concluded with caramelized figs and whipped creme.

Joan Baez and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down was a part of my childhood summers and I found the analog version so here it is:



Thursday, August 9, 2007

More Inspiration

Looking for inspiration, I continue to peruse other's blogs. There are several listed in my links as I find I revisit them regularly. Like my photos and interests these blogs are broad in their scope and ideas. One I have been regularly visiting is Elena Ray's "The Transitional Image". Her photography and mixed media work is phenomenal. I love that she shares how she arrives at the process, her inspirations and struggles. This helps me open even more doors on my journey.

Today is a day to work on photos and art. I had my first printer, a HP 8750 arrive. I was able to obtain it very reasonably. It's a great starting out printer, especially with black and white photos. I printed several of my nephew's senior pictures and was pleased with the results. I still have much to learn about printing, but it's wonderful to have a full working digital photo darkroom so to speak.

Last night I navigated through the land of blogging and revamped this site finally. Now I'm off to the farmer's market shortly to refill the refrig which lies empty after my being gone. I'll be taking some photos and reveling in the sights, smells and tastes.

The Sweet Inspiration, "Sweet Inspiration":







Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Arcosanti


I went to Arizona to help with finding a house for my sister, brother-in-law and mother, but my other sister insisted we take a day to see some sights. She is hoping that I will consider moving there. One of the places we went to briefly was Arcosanti an ecology meets architecture project 65 miles north of Phoenix. I was enthralled enough that I will be staying there to do some photography and more exploration when I return to Arizona in September.

It was wonderful to see my family, but it also leaves me in a dilemna, Arizona or New Jersey? Part of me loves that I would be so close to NYC and Philly and that my closest friends are there. The other part of me realizes that my mother is aging and has not been in the most robust health and being in Arizona would allow me regular access to her. It was originally a reason for the move back to the East Coast because I would be able to visit Michigan easier. I am seeing there are wonderful opportunities for photography in Arizona, but I'm not sure they're the opportunities for me...

This will continue to be a process of the next few months, I'll just be holding on tight and remembering to say, "Yes!"

ELO, "Hold On Tight":

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Style


I received a surprise early birthday gift from a friend "Audrey Style" who knows I love Audrey Hepburn and old black and white Hollywood style portraits. George Hurrell and Horst are some of my favorite photographers from this era. As I had some time before I leave tonight for Arizona, I put together a homage from a mannequin head that I had taken a while back.

A tribute to a wonderful lady through the voice of Barbra Streisand:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Melancholy


I'm adapting to doing 32 hours of work in 3 days. I'm even getting where I can do a few things with my photography in those three days. So my work week is done and I'm leaving for Arizona for a few days tomorrow. It's been a melancholy week for some of my patients and family. I'm doing well, but it does have me reflecting tonight on some of what happened. This might have inspired my choice of photograph to work on. This is from Bodie, a ghost town around the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. The cemetery helped to tell the story of the 10,000 individuals who once occupied the town. I found this one especially heart wrenching.

Just a bit of a reflection for them and the week, Leon Russell, "Melancholy Baby",


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