at the Smith house

Yeah, yeah. I’m a year behind ‘the current moment’ (este momento, agora, hoje). I think the concept of being behind the moment is unbelievably sweaty. There’s an amount of urgency to some photo work, that is, news pictures, mainly. News is New. but I haven’t done news work in a long time, and maybe it’s time to let go of that neurosis?

This week (the current one, April 2022) was a good one. I spoke at Odd Salon Underdog, and realized at the end of the show, when they were announcing the next show, that I won’t make the last show. I’m on the road that week. I don’t mind, the show we put together was great.

If you don’t know about Odd Salon, it’s 6 speakers, ~10 minutes each, who tell stories from the odd corners of History, Science, Art, and adventure. I spoke about the photographer Atget; there were other talks about America’s First Suicide Hotline, the town of Rough and Ready, CA, Notker the Stammerer (a beloved monk who invented early music notation and wrote beautiful poetry), how Notre Dame (the one in South Bend) beat the KKK with potaties, and Mary Seacole (a nurse from Jamaica who travelled the world, including to the Crimean War). Friend Casey was the curator for the evening, and did such an amazing job weaving together all those stories.

Anyway. photos. more later.

Posted on 2022-04-16 20:35:31Z GMT

parking lots, roads, and clouds

I have a hundred things I should be doing, so naturally I’m finding some time to procrastinate instead, and throw up some photos from last June in Oklahoma. I have the schema designed for the parametric bags, so the data portion of the bag-o-matic is ready to go. There’s a ton of UI to build around it, just for the back end part, and I have to figure out how to pack all these irregular shapes onto 24” paper, because that’s the size of printer I could find. Prints on roll paper though, so at least I can go as long as needed in one dimension.

Anyway, photos. It was midsummer in oklahoma when I took these. The sky always puts on a show there. So much was weirdly unfinished, kind of on pause. I was definitely working the questions this trip. I think maybe I talked about those over in my newsletter, but as they’re proprietary to the workshop I learned them in, I won’t blab too much here. (Also don’t worry about the newsletter, it’s more or less dead. Blogs are the future!). Actually, it’s late, I’ma just push post and go to bed.

Posted on 2022-02-03 09:35:20Z GMT

it's tuesday, lemon

What a week, huh? I started it sunday, realizing that all my 2021 pictures were just sitting on my desktop, not copied to my backup storage or to the cloud. Then I realized that my network adapter stopped working when I upgraded my OS maybe a month ago. So, I got a new adapter, got things backed up, and while I was at it, found the missing pictures from 2008 (the whole year failed to copy to my backup drive when I was initially migrating to it way back in 2018, and I only noticed recently).

Whenever I plug in the old hard drives, there’s always a bit of faffing about, looking at old pictures. There are versions of things that have gotten corrupted, sometimes in interesting ways. Like you can tell some bits got flipped in one spot in the raw file, and then the file from there on is color shifted. it’s weird, and most of the time just a pain in the ass. Luckily, it only seems to happen to old nikon files, and I always have two copies, so all the ones that have gone to the storage appliance are good. For now. Bitrot will come for us all eventually.

Anyway, I also realized that with the OS upgrade my displays weren’t calibrated any more, and spent a good half an hour fixing that. So hopefully the colors and tones look good, and if they don’t, maybe calibrate your screen?

Looking at the old photos gave me an idea for a feature, though. Import and edit a folder and tell the story of what was happening as I remember it, kind of like a blog post after the fact (or 15 years after or whatever). Does that sound interesting? Or maybe just like, the most compelling single photo from the old stuff, without explanation. Maybe nobody but me cares about these old photos any more. That’s possible, too.

These photos (in this post) aren’t of anything, per se. Just four random ones off the top of the backlog that I didn’t want to let pass without posting. Will probably post something more interesting or narrative on the next post (or maybe it’ll be a bunch of parking lots in Oklahoma from last spring, I have that post almost prepped too).

Posted on 2022-01-26 08:42:39Z GMT

Oklahoma City, last May

This was back in the halcyon days, when there was no Delta in the US, and in fact it was months away in any case. Everybody I knew was getting jabbed and so we could safely hang out again. The first priority was to get out to Oklahoma and see my family. On that same trip, I got to see a bunch of my OKC friends; this is one of those nights. I’m working through the backlog, and since I’ve published a lot of landscape-y shots lately, I figured I could break it up with some portraits.

On impulse, I pulled down my copy of The Decisive Moment to page through and re-read the essay at the beginning. “Twenty-five years have passed since I started to look through my viewfinder. But I regard myself as an amateur, though I am no longer a dilettante.” The photos inside, still teaching me things. I’m 100% a ‘decisive moment’ photographer, which really means I was born about 50 years too late. I guess as long as I’m applying it within the context of now, and not trying to replicate Bresson’s or Winogrand’s photographs, then it should all come out fine, yeah?

Something I’ve been thinking about lately, that I got from a guy on youtube: the reward is the pictures. Most of this stuff, it’s going to be here on the blog for a while, and the very best, the ones that are part of a project, will make it into a print-on-demand book that then is printed tens of times, if that (there are, to my knowledge, three copies of my last book in existence). So, making the pictures better be enough.

I shot these, I’m pretty sure, with the Mitakon Speedmaster, a 50mm 0.95 lens. Definitely some softness and veiling flare to several of them. It’s also possible that I switched back to my Summilux when we got back to the house for the after party, just looking at these. Also possible, givent they allow smoking inside, that the veiling flare and loss of detail is just what the conditions allowed in that club that night. I need to play with that lens some more, is what I’m saying. I also have a version of it in 35mm X mount, for my fuji. I also really like that lens? They’re both interesting to use in daylight, wide open with ND filters.

Anyway: next post will probably be landscapes from oklahoma, from this same trip, since the last trip I didn’t get out at all.

Posted on 2022-01-18 08:49:23Z GMT

Leaving Palm Springs

Drive, then fly. Palm Springs is a weird little town. There are these huge mountains, snow on top, and it seems like every single architect that’s worked there in the past century or so has asked themselves, how can I block the view the most? How can I take the best thing about this place, all this great nature, and get in its way?

I’m not mad about it. Most places are either like that or empty. LA, on the other side of the mountains, is like that. I dunno, something about the scale of Palm Springs is off. These were all shot the day after the last post, getting to the airport and getting on a plane to Oklahoma. Which didn’t seem like the best idea even then.

I’ll save you the suspense, though: we made it through the whole trip without getting COVID, mostly because we didn’t do a lot and wore n95 masks when we had to be inside and/or around people. I didn’t get to see my family because they all had omicron, and same for my friends. Going to a bar to see who I run into, which is normally a favorite home activity of mine, was out of the question.

Even with all that caution, I feel like I’ve used up all the reserves of good luck I might’ve had stored. Going to just stay home for a while, let this wave pass. I’ve got plenty of photos on the backlog to post…

Posted on 2022-01-07 09:31:12Z GMT