first sunday in july

A lot of the time, moving through the world, I just think, like, oh, that’s interesting, take a single frame, and move on. It’s one of my worst/best habits, because really I end up with like, pictures of fences and random signs and things that aren’t part of any story. Also, a single frame is almost never the photo. Or at least the first one isn’t.

I may have talked about this before, but there’s this thing called ‘working the subject’ where you take one picture, move around, take several more, different compositions, points of focus, and really nail down what attracted you to take the picture in the first place. If you think of photography as asking questions, this is the first one: why did I want to take a picture of that?

But/and, I also find it natural and normal to work this way; take a moment, compose a single photo, get it, and move on. I don’t think either way of working is less valid, but I do know the overall quality of my work goes up when I work a subject a little. That’s the way I see it, anyway. There’s a braggadocio school that says you should only need one shot, but we can dispense with the macho bullshit, just between you and me, right? Like, maybe someone is good enough to get it in one. Or maybe they stopped at one and just have no idea where a little exploration would have taken them.

Really, for me, it’s a bad habit I learned early on, when I only had one roll of film at a time, or one a week to shoot. Film was expensive, processing was also expensive, at least until I discovered the magic of the 11-reel developing can in college. That and bulk rolling black and white film changed everything. Not worrying about running out was incredibly freeing. But sometimes I still fall back into that scarcity mindset.

It’s not film or even hard drive space that’s scarce these days, but my time. Do I have time to pause and take 20 photos of an unpainted picket fence? Probably; at 4.5 frames a second (max speed for the Leica), that’s less than 5 seconds. Really working, though, it’s closer to two minutes. It might not be 20 photos, but 10 wouldn’t be out of the question. When I intellectualize it, think about it and put it into words, it doesn’t sound like much at all.

Of course, I don’t work with words when I make pictures, and there’s the rub. I’m just feeling my way through all this. The scarcity mindset is a trauma response of sorts; doesn’t just go away. I’m not a psych, so I don’t know what to do with that, other than keep shooting and try to remember that there’s plenty of time and space for what I need to do.

Posted on 2023-11-27T10:04:21Z GMT

amsterdam, the last part

I usually try to break these up, but it’s turkey day, and I don’t have anything else really queued up at the moment. I ran through these and cut out all the really boring ones, just for you, dear reader. Amsterdam is a weird little town, at least in the hot center where we were staying. I may have explained this before, but I was there because Sophie’s work brought her out, and I found a deal on a multi-city ticket; with the free hotel it ended up not costing very much at all. Working east coast hours meant I had the mornings to sleep in and the dinner hour hardly starts when I would sign off. Really quite pleasant.

But back to the town, and its weirdness: the tourists were kind of the worst? I’m pretty sure I talked about how bad the sidewalks were in the mornings. But also: every dutch person I met had an air of practicality, of business. Well, except the poor waitstaff at ever restaurant, who were just Tired.

There’s something to that, the weird dichotomy of excess and practicality. I don’t know. Lots of bikes, too.

A bridge made of 3d printed stainless steel. Red light district.

Posted on 2023-11-24T07:41:22Z GMT

amsterdam, part the second

This is almost just a dump of the photos. Almost. My friend Ash recently reported a story from the border, where they’re just dumping people (asylum seekers, but people first) on the side of the road, exposed to the elements. Freezing cold, no supplies from their captors. Local volunteers are bringing meals and water. Just a really terrible situation.

And anyway, Ash also writes for the NPPA; inasmuch as someone can have a column in an e-newsletter, they have a column. And in it, they asked for pictures of better, happier things. Amsterdam in the midsummer isn’t exactly a warm hug, but it is nicer than all of that.

Anyway. Like I alluded to in the last post, I’m trying to catch up now that it’s the end of the year. There are so many photos I never posted, not just of this year but of the last decade. Some kind of problem. But anyway, for now, the focus is on what I shot this year. Still got everything that happened in Italy and Portugal, and everything since. Are they events? just random photos? I don’t know.

I really need to make a tighter edit of these, but this is where I got to in the several months since the trip. I think if I had a thesis, some core of meaning, I could put together a really tight 10 images. Amsterdam in Bikes, maybe.

It’s thanksgiving, by about two hours. Pies are baked. I should be in bed. I think that’s all the words I have in me for now. I’ll probably get better at it as I get back in the habit of doing this.

Today’s poem: The Laughing Heart, Charles Bukowski. I may or may not make that a regular bottom-of-the-post feature, I only know like five poems. but that one is a good one.

Posted on 2023-11-23T10:58:19Z GMT

how to blog when the world is burning

just push publish. I once again have a large backlog to get through. bunch of trips, bunch of things have happened. Anyway. Probably more Amsterdam soon. in the meantime, while everything is bad, take the joy where you can.

Posted on 2023-11-22T09:28:07Z GMT

amsterdam, pt 1

I’ve been sitting on this edit since sardinia, trying to get it into a shape that works as a single post, but really, I was in Amsterdam for a week, a lot happened, and also I’m a little bit letting myself try to make a perfect post rather than just post already, nobody cares if every post isn’t perfect. It’s just a blog. So it’s gonna be four-ish posts, unless someone complains, in which case I’ll post every photo individually, out of spite.

Also, and this is true, I usually have a couple tabs open in my browser with this here blog up, just to remind me while I’m flipping through tabs that it would be good to pay some attention to this space, usually in the form of a new post. But for the last few weeks, at least since I got back from Italy/Portugal (that’s gonna be a lot of posts), I haven’t had the page open at all. So my ADHD ass hasn’t had the reminder to keep it real here.

Anyway, Amsterdam: hell of a town. I worked all day monday and tuesday, and then hopped on a direct flight. I arrived some time in the… morning? I think? and took the train into the center of town. I love when names of things are obviously a linguistic use-path; the central train station and transit hub is known simply as “Centraal.” Beautiful train station I immediately failed to exit, because I didn’t see the ticket machines at the airport and just got on the train. I was already jet-lagged. I managed to buy a ticket on my phone and get out, and the hotel I was crashing at was just across a canal, next to another canal. I know, I just described half the city (the other half being at the intersection of two or more canals).

The whole reason for this trip was Sophie was there for work, so the hotel was paid for and rather nice; it was chosen for its proximity to the office she was commuting to, but that also put it right on the edge of the Red Light district, which was… certainly something. I mean, just very gross before about 10am, when the street cleaners would come through. The thing is, it’s not just the girls in the windows, it’s a huge concentration of tourist bars and shops and the like. Like the French Quarter in New Orleans, or sixth street in Austin, maybe. I mean, there’s also the coffeeshops which don’t sell coffee (they’re for weed and mushrooms), but weed and ‘shrooms are practically part of a balanced diet next to the amount of binge drinking that had to be happening.

But anyway, back to my reasons for the trip. I really just wanted to get a feel for the city, hit one or two big museums, and that was about it. It doesn’t take much to get me on a plane. I walked around a bunch and took pictures. Tried and failed to find cuban cigars. I worked from the room and also the lobby of the hotel, where they had an excellent espresso machine. That and melatonin and my jet lag was gone in record time.

In Ted Lasso, the episode where they go play a match in Amsterdam, the character Roy Kent complains that the whole city feels a little fake, like it’s a set for a movie or something. And I kind of understand that feeling; something about the sameness of the buildings, and the improbable angles they tilt at just gives the whole place a sheen of unreality. It didn’t help that I was staying in the most touristy spot in like all of Europe, either. I’m sure there’s some historical reason the buildings are all the same brick, just like there’s a reason all the houses in Santa Fe have to be the same color (one of five, I think).

There might’ve been a point to all that, but I’m not sure. The giant fish head mosaic would probably agree.

Posted on 2023-10-11T06:49:33Z GMT