Mark Tucker : Journal

“I Am”, next morning

Posted in Buddhism, New York, Spirituality by marktucker on August 20, 2013

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.


More Hitchens

Posted in Spirituality by marktucker on July 1, 2013

Maybe the best one. This one right at the end of his life.

Adams, Tennessee

Posted in Spirituality, The South by marktucker on April 27, 2013



Tara Brach, Frank Ostaseski: Caregiver

Posted in Buddhism, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on April 21, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 7.44.49 PM

Maurice Sendak Illustrated Interview

Posted in Artists, Spirituality by marktucker on December 30, 2012

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.

Click on illustration to be taken to interview.

Click on illustration to be taken to interview.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche (Tara Brach)

Posted in Buddhism, Spirituality by marktucker on December 26, 2012

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.

Mistake (Not?)

Posted in Spirituality, WetPlate by marktucker on December 7, 2012

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.

24"x28" wet plate collodion, on black metal.

24″x28″ wet plate collodion, on black metal.

Kristy Robinson, Skye, and Holly

Posted in Mothers and Children, Spirituality, The South, WetPlate by marktucker on November 24, 2012

We photographed another in our series of mothers and children today. Just starting the edit, but here are a few images to start.

Kristy, Holly, and Skye (and June). 4×5 collodion diptych.

Kristy Bartlett Robinson. Radiant.

Skye Robinson, in the field at their home, with Johnny and Abby.

We called this picture “Skye’s Breakup”.

Skye, with guitar, under the fallen tree.

June, voicing her approval over my ability to capture her essence. (Photo: Kristy Robinson)

Working with test print. Finals for project will be 30″x40″, framed. Multi layers, hopefully. Multi materials.

Stephen Jenkinson, author

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on November 17, 2012

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.

Portrait of Stephen Jenkinson.

Click to play Video.

My grandparents on my mother’s side. Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. My grandfather, Harley, was a rural postal carrier and farmer and deacon at his church. My grandmother, Rena, was a gardener, manager of the home, and raised four girls. If you’ve ever done work with Stephen Jenkinson, you’ll understand why I’m including this image.

© Estate of Edward Weston. (You must go study with Stephen to get the connection…)

“Samsara” at Belcourt

Posted in Photographs, Spirituality by marktucker on November 4, 2012

“Samsara” at Belcourt. Shot in 70mm film, all over the world. Amazing imagery and music. Don’t miss it. Just walk in, sit down, and let it wash over you. Times here.

Re-reading Gordon Peerman’s book

Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, Spirituality by marktucker on October 30, 2012

I pulled Gordon Peerman’s book, “Blessed Relief”, back down from the bookshelf today. Will recommit to going to his Wednesday meditations at Second Presbyterian as well. I have much work to do; a long way to go.

Page 33

And then I came across this, later today, deeper into the book:

Fall is in the air

Posted in Family, Meditation, Spirituality by marktucker on October 25, 2012

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.

Stitched image of my front room, with the gorgeous light in the morning, and the front door thrown open. (Click to enlarge).

Tara Brach podcast: “Causing No Harm”

Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, Spirituality by marktucker on October 13, 2012

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’s Buttermilk Road Sunday Supper #1

Posted in Personal, Spirituality, The South by marktucker on July 9, 2012

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.

Click to enlarge. Will open in a new Window.

Quinn Jacobson: Wet-Plate Collodion

Posted in Photographs, Spirituality by marktucker on February 21, 2012

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.

My second frame. Window light, with 1840's Darlot lens. Four second exposure. Stereo Tailboard camera. Talent: Kyleigh Morgan.

Third exposure, using black-light flashlight. Darkened room, forty second exposure. Talent: Kyleigh Morgan.

Quinn's main studio table, where the pouring and the varnishing and the cookie-eating happened. Note the enlarged wet plates near the ceiling of the studio.

Main shooting room, with the cameras, dark box, and nice window light. From left: Quinn, Jessyel, Mark, Vivian.

The main table where the chemical mixing and the pouring happened.

Quinn with Jessyel, before they reamed out a traditional 4x5 film holder, and converted it into a quarter-plate holder.

These are the raw black aluminum plates. The collodion is poured onto these plates by hand, resulting in a "sheet of film". The proper term for these are Alumitypes. They can be quarter=plate, half=plate, or whole=plate. Whole plate is almost eight by ten inches.

Mark Olwick, donning his black rubber protective gloves, making his first pour.

Quinn's gigantic wooden camera, a table full of luscious rare brass lenses, and the covered 8x10, in the shooting room.

Pardon the reflections -- this is my favorite Quinn Jacobson image. This was a portrait of a young Nordic man, but the wet-plate tonality changed the coloration to darker skin. I love about seven different things about this image. (Photographed on the wall, behind glass. Sorry).

Quinn, Mark, and Vivian under the rubylith safelight, in the darkroom, where we developed and fixed the plates.

Quinn being photographed by Mark. Quinn slides his head into the neck brace. Exposure time is about four seconds, even with bright diffused light coming in the garage door..

Stacks of various sizes of glass collodion plates (Ambrotypes). Ready for shipping. the largest size that you see here is approximately 16x20 inches! That was the original glass plate that went into the camera!

Mark Olwick, with the tailboard camera, shooting a plate of Quinn.

The drying rack, after the plates have washed. From here, they'll be varnished over an open flame with a Spirit Burner.

This is the "portable" dark box, for shooting on location. The plates must be wet when exposed, so you only have about ten minutes from coating the plate to the exposure of the frame. The clock is ticking! Some people load this box into the back of their station wagon or SUV or Van.

End of the workshop: Quinn and Jeanne on Sunday night, ready to head home and relax.

Rare Footage: Loch Ness Monster and John Minnicks Graflex camera

Posted in Spirituality, The South, Video by marktucker on April 19, 2011

YogaCarnival: Bellydancers and Yoga strength

Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on January 30, 2011

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.

Yoga Carnival. Click to enlarge.

Podcast recommend: Tara Brach

Posted in Buddhism, Interesting People, Meditation, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on January 9, 2011

Highly recommended. Free subscribe. I just download it and let it play in the background, while I’m retouching. Let it wash over you. Go to iTunes Store, and do a search for her name.

“The Contributor” benefit last night.

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Random Image, Spirituality, The South by marktucker on January 9, 2011

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.

Click to enlarge.

Window light.

Posted in Meditation, Random Image, Spirituality by marktucker on January 7, 2011

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.

second try at it.

Homemade studio

Posted in Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on December 27, 2010

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)…

Christmas brunch with good friends.

Posted in Interesting People, Meditation, Personal, Spirituality, The South by marktucker on December 25, 2010

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.

December 25th, 2010. Snowing outside; warm inside.

Winter coming on; cover the bushes.

Posted in Photographs, Random Image, Spirituality, The South by marktucker on November 9, 2010

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.

Portrait of Sam, from Smiling Elephant

Posted in Interesting People, Meditation, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, Spirituality by marktucker on October 30, 2010

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.

Sam handed me this today, as I left the restaurant.

Link: Video poem; Dorfman/Davis.

Posted in Interesting People, Meditation, Personal, Spirituality, Video by marktucker on August 17, 2010

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.

“Four plates; three pairs shoes; two pots” – NYT article

Posted in Meditation, Personal, Random Image, Spirituality by marktucker on August 16, 2010

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.

Every shoe I own.

Kirtan yoga event

Posted in Personal, Spirituality, Video by marktucker on August 14, 2010

Attended my first Kirtan yoga event tonight, assembled by Amy Barnes, at Yoga Source. Beautiful ceremony, great music, and like-minded people. Left there fulfilled and smiling.

Today: Attempted Meditation

Posted in Meditation, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on August 11, 2010

First attempt at short-term meditation today. Shelby Park.

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.

Rumi poem and Meditation link.

Posted in Meditation, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on July 6, 2010

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.


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