Buzzing through the train tunnel today, on the way to the Shuttle to the east side, and it’s rush hour, and gazillions of people, and this guy is stopped to help out a very old Vietnamese woman, who was begging. I wanted to show the buzz of people, only got off one frame; 8 second exposure handheld, so it’s blurred. But if you get a chance to see “I Am”, on Netflix or whatever, you’ll get it about this picture.
Maybe the best one. This one right at the end of his life.
Just sit down and find some quiet, and let this interview with Maurice Sendak in the NYTimes just wash over you. Illustrations by Christoph Niemann. I think Terry Gross was even a bit flustered and taken aback by his honesty and transparency.
I was sending this podcast link to a friend, and noticed that someone actually videotaped this program. So you can see his face and hear his voice. About an hour long, and worth it, if you find an hour over the holidays. I like his gentle manner and also his humor.
Today, I was varnishing in the basement and came upon this large metal plate lying against the wall. I barely remember shooting it, weeks ago. It must have been a warm up plate. Something happened with the Silver Bath, and at the time I considered it a mistake, but today, it hit me in a nice way. Maybe an omen of my life in the past few years? Anyway, I copied it today and stuck it on the site. Sometimes, maybe some time has to pass before you can see something. Garry Winogrand used to talk about that. He’d wait for months, to process the film, in order to let his emotions fall away from the image itself.
We photographed another in our series of mothers and children today. Just starting the edit, but here are a few images to start.
Attended a film last night, titled “Griefwalker”, about author Stephen Jenkinson. And then today, an all-day workshop with him. I made this portrait after the workshop, on the grounds of Scarritt Bennett. You can stream the entire film here, for free.
(Thank you Michelle, Kristy, Kelly).
Update: Here is Kristy’s blog post about the workshop that we attended on Saturday.
Fall is in the air – at this time of the season, my living room is transformed from a Wet Plate Photo Studio, back into a living room and reading room and nesting room. Back to the fireplace; it just calls your name. Hot coffee, good books all around me, a warm fire, morning sunlight thru the front window, incense burning, warm quilts, Pandora on the stereo, and vintage lenses to take apart and reassemble. And tonight kicks off a major event in my life. Extreme gratitude today.
Made the full trip back from North Carolina tonight. If you are into Buddhism practice, or Tara Brach, this is an especially powerful one. I listened to it twice, on the drive back. The only link I could find that’s linkable is a video talk; actually I prefer just listening to the audio version from iTunes; the video is actually sorta creepy to me. You can subscribe to her podcasts for free. This one is dated September 28, 2011, titled “Causing No Harm”.
Noah Levine’s podcasts are pretty good, as well. Sometimes the audio quality is lacking. But I like that there’s a Nashville connection, to Dave Smith, here at Against The Stream Nashville.
Lisa Donovan kicked off the first of a series of suppers last night, at the home of Todd Burkett, in East Nashville. Multiple courses, and multiple wines. Horses, labs, and people filled Todd’s home. You can read about it on Lisa’s blog here. Jaime Miller also was there as incredible support for Lisa. Really nice night. I liked Coco, the horse.
On February 18th and 19th, four of us completed a wet-plate collodion workshop with Quinn Jacobson in Denver. Jeanne Jacobson was there too, helping with production, and cleaning of the glass plates. (She’s the master glass plate cleaner). Also there were students Mark Olwick from Seattle, Jessyel Gonzalez from Boulder, and Vivian Keulards from outside of Denver. Kyleigh Morgan came down from Boulder to assist also.
Day One was mostly introductions, and some intense talk about life and photo motivations and goals, and then after lunch, we dove deep into collodion chemistry lessons and safety precautions. By Day Two, we hit the ground running, pouring our own quarter plates, and actually making photographs. Each of us probably shot four or five images by day’s end, followed up by the varnishing of the plates. The collodion can be applied to either black aluminum, clear glass, black glass, or black plexiglass.
Quinn’s teaching style is second to none. He’s encouraging and energetic, knowledgeable about the chemistry, but also has a big heart and a strong passion for people and portrait-making. (Right down my alley!) Below are two images that I made on Sunday, followed by some color production-photos that show the studio and the mechanics of the workshop. To anyone contemplating the steep curve into collodion, I highly recommend Quinn as a teacher and a guide. He’s generous, open, and eager for people to learn the process.
Here is a video feature on Quinn, and wet-plate, by a local Denver TV station. There is a part two link, at the bottom of this page.
Dropped by Gillian’s Yoga Carnival last night, in the old Whiteway Cleaners complex. It was a warm night; they had fires built in the courtyard, and it was a packed house. Henna applications, bellydancers, music, and an amazing display of strength, discipline, and commitment by Gillian, Jessica, and their friends.
My new neighbor Julie Lee asked me to come down to The Contributor benefit last night, at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. I was honored that she asked me to help out. Here are some images from the event. I had to leave early for another thing, but I shot as much as I could. There was a very nice spirit in the room last night. There was an art show downstairs, with framed photographs for sale, shot by the homeless on disposable cameras, and then following, a music performance upstairs in the sanctuary.
I have this candle that’s not really a candle. It’s really just an incense holder. The wax is soft, and you just can jam them down in there. It’s taken on this ritualistic voodoo quality now, with all the leftover wood sticks of burned incense. It’s sitting on a piece of scrap sheetrock, that I’ve so elegantly converted into a tabletop to hold a lamp.
Last night, I went to two art openings, and I think I got up today, inspired to work with a still life.
Not sure this is really the final image, I think I’m going back up there and reshoot it. Reshot it. ASA 6400, (my new love ASA), with the 45 tilt, stitched, wide open. ASA 100, with the 45 tilt, stitched, wide open.
And then, below, a portrait of a friend of a friend’s child, today. Pretty, soft window light, with the Mamiya contraption.
I’ve got the 4×5 itch again. There’s this incredible room in my new home — it’s never been clear what it is/was. Too small for a bedroom; maybe it was a study. Second floor. The light is absolutely stunning; faces west. This past weekend, I converted it as close as I could to a funky Paris daylight studio. Painted the walls dark dark grey, for no bounce; got rid of the ceiling fan. Mounted 2×4’s to hold any backdrop that seemed appropriate. Now, to find a Gowlandflex and some 4×5 Polaroid (and some great faces)…
A chance encounter last week at the new Turnip Truck, downtown, lead to a warm, cozy Christmas morning brunch. Spinach salad with fresh persimmons and fresh avocado, straight from Ventura, frittatas, fresh juice, cherry dessert, and tea. Will Griffin, Arunima, and Michelle Myers. Great conversation and reconnection. Couldn’t have been a better morning.
Driving home today, I came upon this yard in my neighborhood. It completely took me back to my grandmother’s yard in rural Kentucky, when I was a kid. With winter coming on, she’d go into the basement and bring out an entire stack of lightweight blankets and sheets to cover the late-blooming flowers and tender bushes. Today, the light was just amazing, coming thru these plastic bags that someone had rigged up.
On Wednesday, we stopped in to see Sam, from Smiling Elephant restaurant, on 8th Avenue South. Sam is the brother of Patti Myint, who runs International Market and PM and is the Queen of Belmont. Behind the Smiling Elephant is an auto repair garage, and Sam worked on cars for years, and one day, he began to build out the front building, after hours, into a Thai restaurant.
Several months ago, I made my first visit to his new restaurant. When I walked up to the cashier counter to pay my Tab, there was a Buddha sitting on the counter, and I asked him about it. It turns out, it was not a Buddha, but a famous meditation teacher in Thailand. He told me the story of this man’s life. I told him I’d begun to practice meditation. He began to talk to me about my breath, and about his various techniques of his own meditation. People were beginning to line up behind me, eager to pay and get on their way, but Sam was not phased by this — he continued to talk to me patiently, and tell me his own story.
The next time I went in the restaurant — this time for take out — I was sitting on the little bench by the cashier counter, waiting for my food, and Sam came over to me and said, unprompted, “You know, the main thing in life is to give our bodies healthy food, and to provide for our families.” We began to talk again, about health, and meditation, and life goals. He’d look right into my eyes, his big bushy eyebrows moving above his sparkling eyes. We barely knew each other, but we talked as if we’d been friends for years.
Now, we swap books, and literature on meditation, when I go into the restaurant. I see him now and give him a big hug — I’m not sure how he feels about that, but he goes along with it. So he seemed perfect for my new little portrait series — a man who’s unique and interesting, and is contributing positive energy to those around him. His restaurant is booming, with lines out the front door every day at lunch, and soon, my bet is that he’ll have to renovate the auto garage out back, in order to accomodate all the customers, and his continued success. He’s a special man.
Saw this “video poem” by Andrea Dorfman and Tanya Davis linked on Swiss Miss. I love her voice, and the hand-drawn graphics, and the music.
Loved this article last week in the Times, about a couple that rearranged and simplified their life. Today, I walked past this line of shoes, in my bedroom, and felt guilty. But I could make a practical case for (almost) every pair. But for the record, I do own only four plates, so maybe there’s hope for me.
So I’ve been trying to work some sense of Spirituality into my life lately, (as long as it doesn’t involve the “J” word). Can you have a “G” without having a “J”…? Anyway, some dear friends have been nudging me to try meditation, so today, during my ride, I sat at Shelby Park on one of the “meditation benches”, which, prior to today, were always just regarded as park benches. I sat there, and focused on this one rock, across the pond, and tried to stay present for (maybe) five minutes, without those crazy little movies cranking up from the past. You know the movies, right? Just something you’re wondering about, or angsting about, or preoccupied with? The goal is just to sit there quietly, for five or ten or even fifteen minutes, and watch your breath, and try to stay present, in the moment, being aware of your body.
I will say it was pretty interesting. And much harder than it sounds. I just sat there, and began to notice the sounds I was hearing: crickets in the distance; children playing; ducks quacking; the breeze through the trees; the sun on my face; a car blowing by; etc. I sat there, aware of my body, (and aware of this recent chest cold, which I hope does not accelerate). I think I lasted maybe fifteen minutes. It was a nice start. My friend advised me to do it outside, in nature; not inside the apartment. I did that, got up, rode home, a little lighter and happier. I hope it continues.
I’m going to risk here a bit, and venture outside the boundaries of photography, and post a couple of links. Don’t worry, hopefully by end of week, we’ll be back to photography. But everyone needs balance in their life, (especially photographers).
Here is a link to some nice meditation music from Snatam Kaur, especially the “Ra Ma Da Sa”.
And secondly, an interesting poem from Rumi.