year-end self portrait
When I think of 2007 in years to come, my passion for photography and becoming part of the PBase community will come first to mind. After that will be the six-day solitary vigil I mounted in Washington, DC to urge Congress to stand firm against Bush and Cheney's not-so-secret desire to bomb Iran. Next will be the order my friend Pat helped me bring out of chaos here in this house in which Ed and I have lived for 36 years. Every Monday for months now we've had an archeological dig going through closets and drawers that had not been touched in decades. For me this process has laid to rest a lot of old "baggage." My cross-country train journey and the restorative time I spent with family and friends in southern California is definitely a highlight of 2007. And how could I forget all the glorious outdoor festivals I've attended here in Detroit, not to mention Ann Arbor's Edgefest where I heard four astounding days and nights of live experimental music in October.
Yes, there have been sadnesses too. The deaths of my dear friend Mary White and the courageous truth-telling journalist, Molly Ivins, leave our world the poorer. The ongoing war on and occupation of Iraq is a sore that will never heal. Quantanamo Bay. Torture. Renditions. Illegal surveillance of American citizens. Anti-immigrant actions and attitudes. The Wall being built between the U.S. and Mexico. Gutting environmental protections. So many of my country's leaders' policies and practices damage rather than benefit our nation and the world.
But for me personally, this has been a good year. I'm fortunate to have in Eddie a life partner who loves and respects me, a man who is one of our world's truly good persons. And photography, with the added benefits of my new-in-October Canon EOS 40D camera, continues to stretch, delight, surprise, challenge and engage me in ways that touch the core of my being. And you, my PBase sisters and brothers, help me see that the world community can indeed live in peace and harmony. I end 2007 with a heart full of hope and gratitude.
new gallery--Ice skating in downtown Detroit
I've just put up a new gallery called "Ice skating in downtown Detroit. CLICK HERE
to see it.
These are photos I took on Thursday using my new used Canon 100-300mm telephoto lens. A friend sold it to me for a really great price because she had bought a new one with image stabilization. I've always wondered if I could manage to hold onto one of these long lens--as many of you know, my hands are less than able--but it seemed to work out fine as long as I kept it propped on the ledge surrounding the rink. However I can tell it will take me awhile to get the hang of focusing properly. Getting comfortable with a new lens is like making a new friend--it takes time.
Just when I thought I needed a break from working on my Dualities series, I got a fresh burst of inspiration. Four new Dualities in one day! CLICK HERE
to see them.
My inspiration was aided by the return of my external hard drive with four months of images still intact on its database. If you recall, a number of weeks ago I feared I had lost all those images. I'd been using the external hard drive as my only back-up, and when it crashed I didn't know if those thousands of images could be saved. I sent it to Rico, the Wolverine support techie in California, and a week later he called with the great news that my data was fine. It turned out that when I'd dropped the device on the floor a couple of times, the housing had been damaged. He was able to replace the housing, and sent it back to me good as new. Yesterday it was delivered by UPS and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. What this meant to me creatively was that I had thousands of new images to work with as Dualities. And you can see the result by checking out the final four images in my Dualities gallery.
Thank you, Rico.
a sad day
I was going to put up a new gallery of photos I took today (Thursday) at downtown Detroit's outdoor ice skating rink, but how can I post joyful images when there is such sorrow in Pakistan. I still can't believe that Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated. She was so alive, a person who was doing exactly what she believed in. I'm sure Ms. Bhutto realized she was putting herself at risk when she returned to Pakistan in October, but she did it anyway. And now she and at least twenty others are dead.
For us here at PBase, actions like this just make it more and more clear how desperately the world needs to learn from us how to live in peace. Let us not be discouraged by events like those in Pakistan. Instead, let us commit ourselves to shine our light ever more brightly into the darkest corners of our world. May our cameras show the truth as we see it, and may our hearts be open to all.
Hope for a better world
That's what my friend Ai Li wrote about the Wishing Star you see hanging from my iBook in this photo of a photo taken by another of my friends, Guenter Eh. How could I not have hope for the world when I see what this one small corner of it can do. Here on PBase we make friends from across the globe, friends who share the common language of photography and the language of the heart. I don't know about you, but I am as conscious of what time it is in Singapore, Tehran, Frankfurt, Lyon, Hong Kong, London, Cairo, Adelaide, Jerusalem, Madrid and Moscow as I am of what time it is here in Detroit. When I wake in the night, in my mind's eye I can see Ai Li hard at work in Singapore or Guenter waking up in Frankfurt. There are no more barriers between us. Choices made by our country's leaders affect the fate of people we know and love. There are no more strangers; we are all connected. And here at least, we manage to get along whatever our politics, religion, race, language, age. Of course we don't always do it as well as we'd like. Sometimes people get hurt. But that is the nature of relationships. For we are in relationship. We care what our PBase sisters and brothers think. That's why they can hurt us. If we didn't care, nothing they did would matter. Hopefully, when things go bad, we try to work it out. That's what gives me hope, that we do better than our countries' leaders at reaching out to one another, at forgiving when necessary, at not turning to violence when we disagree. Yes, Ai Li, I have hope for a better world...thanks to you and all the wonderful friends I have made here on PBase. Now we just need to show the world how it is done!
At the risk of sounding like Scrooge, I'm not really into Christmas. I guess if I were religious and/or had grandchildren I might feel differently, but the truth is, I do best treating it as just another day. Which is what I did, and it was lovely. I started the day doing my favorite thing and that is creating dualities on the computer. This one--Duality #22--was particularly fun to put together! In the early afternoon Ed and I watched a terrific documentary video on the modern dance choreographer, Paul Taylor. At different times during the day I had wonderful phone visits with my older sister on the East Coast, my younger sister on the West Coast, and my dear friend Dorothy in San Francisco. At 5:30 p.m. Ed and I went over to our neighbor's for a festive dinner. Al even had homemade spinach lasagna as the main course because she knows I'm vegetarian. A sweet addition was music by their son who has taught himself to read music and play the piano. We were home early and went for a walk/scoot down to the lake where we saw the full moon hanging like a silver disk in the sky. And now Ed's watching TV in the kitchen and I'm upstairs at my laptop. As I write, I hear Ed start to play the piano, so I go downstairs and sing with him. The perfect ending to a perfect day.
If Christmas is your holiday, I hope it was spent with the people you love, doing whatever gives you the greatest joy.
In grateful remembrance of the Canadian jazz piano legend, Oscar Peterson, who died on Sunday, December 23.
I created this duality a few hours before hearing of Oscar Peterson's passing, but I believe that something deep in me was already responding to this monumental loss to the world of music. For a jazz lover like me, Oscar epitomized the essence of this music that stirs the heart and touches the soul. There will be many grand and glorious jazz pianists to come but there will never be another Oscar Peterson. Like Ella Fitzgerald, he is in a class by himself. How grateful I am to have been living during his time. I never heard Oscar Peterson play in person but his albums and CDs were gift enough. Thank god, they will never die.
Today I'd like to share a portion of a comment left by my dear friend, Dorothy Walters. If you recall, Dorothy came from her home in San Francisco to visit Ed and me in October (CLICK HERE
to see her). Not only is Dorothy a published poet (CLICK HERE
to buy her book "Marrow of Flame"), but for many years she taught Women's Literature classes at Wichita State University in Kansas. Actually Dorothy started the Women's Studies program there back in the 1970s. Dorothy and I met at a poetry reading in San Francisco in November 1998 and have been close friends ever since. All this to say that when Dorothy speaks, especially about literature, I listen. Here is what she had to say about my Duality series:
"Your 'dualities' series made me think of what in poetry is called 'metamorphic variants.' This term applies when symbol is carried through in many different forms throughout a poem. Thus, in Whitman's Leaves of Grass, there are many, many images suggesting 'grass,' one being 'the uncut hair of graves.' This kind of fluidity is also apparent in your paired photos. And--you could, in fact, continue, one thing shifting into another, for a long time, had you room enough and desire. But the dualities themselves are fascinating. As I said, they are like delving into the very womb of creation to discover the basic forms out of which all else is constructed."
This is probably the most unusual lamp I've ever seen and, rather surprisingly, it was in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Shop. I guess the duality I created with it is pretty unusual too! On Saturday I had matched it with a photo of the sun shining through tree branches. I posted that image with two other new dualities just before midnight on Saturday night. They stayed up for twenty minutes. I had second thoughts about all three and removed them. That's when I posted my Holiday Greetings photo.
This Duality series depends so strongly on my intuition that the middle of the night is becoming my most creative time of day. Waking and sleeping, images float through my mind with no agenda attached to them, just the free interweaving of ideas. Often these ideas will then appear in dreams. I'm sure Carl Jung would have loved to analyze me as I work on this series! Regarding the evolution of this particular image (Duality #19), in the night macaroni and cheese came to my mind as a possible match. Good thing I had some in the fridge that I could photograph. By the way, I seriously doubt if that idea would have occurred to me in the day!
Sunday was a good day for dualities--I completed four new ones. Added to that is one that I'd started on Saturday (Duality #16) but still needed to take a photograph of a church steeple in order to complete. I took the photo and finished that duality on Sunday, meaning there are now 5 new images on my Dualities gallery ( CLICK HERE
to see them). That brings my Dualities gallery up to 20 images. Considering I started with 4 just one week ago, I'd say I've been on a roll. It's a good thing we don't do the Christmas thing or I really would have been behind the 8-ball (as my Southern mom used to say). Except for my usual lap swims, workouts at the gym, and volunteer day at school, creating dualities has been about all I've done this week. And I couldn't be happier!
By the way, I want to encourage other PBasers to try this diptych thing if you feel at all inclined. It's lots of fun! Don't worry about people saying you're "copying" Patricia or Sebas or Colin. Diptychs and triptychs are an ancient art form, one that is approached differently by each artist who uses it. A good example is Offer Goldfarb's Tryptych and Dyptych gallery ( (CLICK HERE
to see it). Talk about creative!!! So give it a try yourself. And if you do, please send me a link. I'd love to see what you come up with. That's the joy of being part of a photo sharing web community like PBase--we learn from one another.
Holiday greetings from our home to yours (Thursday's Totally Informal Transglobal Challenge for December 20, 2007 )
Happy Eid al-Adha.
Happy New Year.
I send my deepest gratitude for your kindness and companionship during this year. May 2008 bring you joy, peace and photo opportunities that will ignite your creative passions!
This is one of three new images in my Dualities gallery. CLICK HERE
to see them.
My friend Dorothy and I were having one of our wonderful phone visits on Friday afternoon. Dorothy is a poet whom I would describe as a mystic. She and I have been discussing the creative process since we first met at a poetry reading in San Francisco in November 1998. She is intrigued by my Dualities project so that was one of the subjects we discussed on Friday. I was trying to describe how the process has unfolded since I began this series a week ago. My description went like this:
It's like my intuition rushes ahead leaving my mind behind in the dust. My mind sits there forlorn until my intuition looks back and feels sorry for it. Instead of leaving it sitting alone in the dust, my intuition crawls back on all fours, grasps my mind by the scruff of its scrawny neck, throws it up on its back, and carries it forward at a slow enough pace so my mind doesn't fall off. This is a laborious process but one that ensures the act of creation does not go flying off like a kite with no string. The mind, limited as it is in comparison with intuition, is an essential partner in the act of creation. It is what tries to make sense of things. For photographers who deal with technical considerations, the mind must be fully engaged in the creative process. The key is not to give it too much power for if one does, the intuition can get quite huffy and refuse to play at all. If that happens, the product may be lovely but it will be predictable. Better to slow down so the mind can keep up with the intuition. Then it is possible that true originality will emerge. And isn't that what we hope? That our work will be utterly unique? May it be so.
This is one of three new images in my Dualities gallery. CLICK HERE
to see them.
OK, my friends, it's time to travel a bit deeper into the subject of dualities. I'm asking to you to stretch, to bend, to throw away old assumptions and look at this image with new eyes. That's what I had to do while creating it. My literal mind kept saying, "But, but, but..." My inner artist told it to shut up and look. Just look. It was then that I saw why these two images belonged together. And I have my PBase brother Offer Goldfarb (http://www.pbase.com/offerg/profile
) to thank for moving me past the literal. In Offer's words:
"There is another alternative to make diptychs: diptych where the link is not transparent, the viewer (and the artist) must work harder for meanings and maybe the diptych will forever keep its secrate, like the works of rembrandt, for examples, or the meanings of life itself, and what is left is only the experience itself, rich with meaning and excitings that dont necessary can be translated into verbal ideas, knowing that always the ideas reduce the experience..."
I have just added two new images to my Dualities Gallery. CLICK HERE
to see the entire series.
The responses I've received both publicly and privately to this Dualities series are telling me that it is doing what I'd hoped, and that is encouraging viewers see things in new ways. Each viewer not only has unique emotional responses to an image but often comes up with their own ideas about what that image means. To my mind, that is what art is all about. Let me share with you two responses I've received thus far:
Ai Li (http://www.pbase.com/limaili/profile
) says, "A photograph often offers the photographer a gift she doesn't expect, what the eye longing for meaning sees unconsciously, and includes. Good photographs not only compel our interest, they're sometimes disturbing, inevitably reminding us of what we've overlooked. They manifest themselves in the mind of the viewer and the meanings associated to them can be entirely different and detached from the original intentions of the photographer, to the point where the viewer turns into an interpreter and offers a completely different reading of the photograph. This process frees the inexhaustible and evocative power of the photography."
My creative process is much enhanced when you share your thoughts and feelings with me. Thank you for doing so.
This image is the most recent addition to my Dualities Gallery. CLICK HERE
to see the entire series.
I continue to be engrossed in the process of creating these diptychs, and am finding your comments most enlightening. Very often you are seeing things I was unaware of, at least not consciously. I know I'm paraphrasing something I've read, but if I could have said in words what these images meant, I would not have had to create them visually. I may think I am putting two photos together simply because they contain similar shapes and/or colors and are rather incongruous partners, but I know there's much more to it than that. When I find a "match" it's like a light bulb goes on in my head. I may not have any conscious idea why these two photos seem to relate, but my gut tells me they do. Once I make an image and put it out there, it's out of my hands. Then it's up to you, the viewer, to figure out what it means. And when you take the time to share your thoughts by posting a comment, we all learn. So I thank each of you for helping me see what I have made and why. You are an integral part of the creative process.
There's something about working on this series that brings to mind my experiences with nonviolent dialogue.
I've now mounted two solitary vigils for peace in front of the White House and the U.S. House and Senate Offices Buildings in Washington, DC. One was for nineteen days, and the other for six. In one case I carried a sign that clearly expressed my opinions about a current war, and in the other, about a possible war. I am a pacifist so it's not too hard to guess what my signs might have said. When you put yourself out there by yourself like that, you have to be ready to deal with all kinds of responses. I've been called a moron and worse. I've also been called a saint, so you can't take these things to heart. But one thing I learned and that was to listen. Not just keep quiet, but really listen. Even when people were hostile. Especially then. Not that I'd stand for abuse, but I would listen to rants as long as they didn't get personal. And in every case, if I listened hard enough I could always find a place where we could meet, something upon which we could agree. That is the starting place for dialogue, your likenesses rather than your differences.
This dualities project is like that. If I look closely enough and keep an open mind I can often find commonalities in photos of the most disparate subjects and situations. When I find even the smallest thing in common, it can lead my eye to seeing even more similarities. That's where we meet, but what happens next can't be predicted. For each of us will go our own directions with it depending on our life experiences.
It may seem strange to read so much into a simple series of photographs, but that's the way of art. It has tremendous power to change attitudes and perceptions. May my work change things for the better.
I've just added this and another new image to my Dualities gallery. CLICK HERE
to see them.
Sunday's beautiful blizzard and CBC's 12-hour broadcast of the annual Euroradio Christmas Special from 11 European countries and Canada served as the perfect accompaniment to my 9-hour marathon session at the computer. In those nine hours I created two new Duality diptychs. I'm now ready to give this series of work its own gallery, a gallery to which I will be adding new images as they emerge. To see my new Dualities gallery, CLICK HERE
I would love to write something profound about how it feels to create this new series of work, but my words sound trite. All I can say is that this is why I make art, to feel the way I do right now.
Here I go again! Now this series is all I think about. I spent hours on Saturday looking through old photos and then creating this image. You always know you're following your passion when you don't mind being picky about details and have no concept of time. That's how it's been for me with the two dualities I've created thus far. Yes, it takes time but I love every single minute. So where will I go next??? I haven't any idea and that's just the way I like it.
I'd say the greatest challenge I face in this lifetime is reconciling dualities. This has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. I suspect that a lot of my art has focused on dualities without my being aware of it. Back when I taught watercolor painting to adults, I created a teaching guide that I called "Art Is a Secret We Keep from Ourselves." If I were to examine all my photographs through this lens, I'm sure I'd see countless examples of dualities of which I was unaware.
But today I am ready to tackle this issue head-on, and this image is the beginning. From now on I'm going to try to be more conscious of dualities as I see them. Hopefully this is the first of a new series of work, a series that cannot be rushed but must evolve organically.
When I created this image early this morning I had not yet seen Sebas Veldhuisen's marvelous gallery of diptychs called "Valencia." Enny sent me his link privately after seeing my Duality #1 image. I am grateful to her for pointing me in Sebas' direction; his work is wonderful. CLICK HERE
to see it. And there is another gallery I'd like to recommend if you find diptychs interesting: Colin Clarke's "Film Doublets." CLICK HERE
to see them. There are as many different ways to use the diptych format as there are photographers on PBase!
Yesterday marked another first for me: my first submission to the Thursday Totally Informal Transglobal Challenge. CLICK HERE
to see it.
You know the old saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Well, I must be exceptionally ready because so many photographic teachers are entering my life right now that I can hardly keep them straight. Minor White. Henri Cartier-Bresson. Walker Evans. And now Elliot Erwitt. A friend just sent me "Elliot Erwitt's Handbook" after having read a review of it. She remembered that I'd told her months ago about my series of hand portraits (CLICK HERE
to see them). She thought Erwitt's book on the same subject would interest me. Was she ever right! He is a genius of candid and street photography. As you can see in this photo, Ed found it interesting too. You might enjoy checking out Elliot Erwitt's web site. CLICK HERE
to go there. I just learned of a wonderful article on Erwitt by The Guardian's John O'Mahony. CLICK HERE
to read it as .pdf file.
I can't wait to see who will be the next photographic icon to knock on my door...
"Last night the rain spoke to me" by Mary Oliver
spoke to me
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That's what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rainó
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
Mary Oliver, "What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems"
Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002
As we approach the longest night here in the northern hemisphere, I find myself longing to draw tight the veils of meaning around every image. No longer do I want to be open and transparent. No, I desire mystery, just as the earth covers itself in the mystery of darkness. I want to leave everything open to interpretation, with each interpretation reflecting the uniqueness of each viewer. I want my images to ask questions not give answers.
This image is an example. I took a straightforward shot and then cropped it into what I hope are unreadable shapes and forms. The only Photoshopping I did was to heighten the color saturation and contrast. And I had set the white balance at tungsten instead the natural light it would normally have required. That's where the blue tone came from.
But isn't that the way with true mysteries? They usually start as recognizable realities that morph into something else. And then we forget that we ever knew their beginnings.
Our tree's up!
Ed and I belong to the minimalist school when it comes to Christmas. Oh, in our early years I insisted on celebrating as my tradition-crazy family had celebrated, but that chapter has long since passed, rather like Ebenezer Scrooge's Christmas Past. Now we put up three trees similar to the one you see here. This year I added a string of white lights around the inside of the front window, just to brighten things up on these long winter nights. And we sing Christmas carols at the piano, my favorites being Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." We don't do gifts but do send cards. For years we've had ours printed with one of my paintings--or more recently a photo--on the front. Our neighbors, who do holidays in a big way, frequently invite us over for Christmas dinner. Al is even thoughtful enough to make a special vegetarian main dish for me, while the others eat turkey. To be honest, I'm always glad when January comes. I appreciate its quiet, contemplative nature, a time of year that encourages less action and more introspection. Maybe not for skiers, but for me.
A child's eye view of the library
One of my most vivid childhood memories was the day I got my first library card. I was 7 years old. The public library was one mile from my home and I was allowed to walk there by myself. Mind, this was back in the 1940s when no one worried about children being abducted. I remember spending a lot of time in that library. Practically from the start all I wanted to read were books about girls, both fiction and nonfiction. And I wouldn't read any book that didn't have at least one picture. Words by themselves looked awfully dry to me. "Little Women" and "The Bobbsey Twins" were my early favorites. I never did get into the Nancy Drew mysteries, probably because she was my older sister's favorite. It's like Carolyn owned Nancy Drew and I owned the Bobbsey Twins. Because I was a second child, I identified most closely with Flossie and Freddie, the younger of the two sets of twins. Besides they had curly blonde hair and mine was curly and what was called "strawberry blond." When I outgrew the Bobbsey Twins, all I wanted to read were biographies of women. That's when my lifelong desire to go to India was born. One of the biographies was of an Indian woman, and her life fascinated me. I still want to go there.
The other library in my early life was the Anne Arundel County Library Bookmobile. From 1947-62, my family rented a cottage on the Rhode River, an inlet off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Our cottage was one of seven owned by Ma Schultz, and all the families liked to read. So every other Monday afternoon during the summer months, the bookmobile would make its way down our crushed oyster shell driveway and park in front of the Boyle's cottage. Each of us kids was given ten minutes to find the eight books we were allowed to take out for two weeks. I went through every single book they had on the lives of girls and women. I can still see myself on the screened porch, reading for hours every day while stretched out on that old rope-and-wood chaise lounge with its flowery vinyl cushions that always stuck to my sweaty bare legs.
So what are your library memories?
A mirror of my Self
After such an emotional week, I needed some time out. That's what abstracts do for me--give me breathing space. I was going to tell you what I'd photographed here, but decided against it. Maybe you need time out too. I will share a quote by Minor White, though.
"When I looked at things for what they are I was fool enough to persist in my folly and found that each photograph was a mirror of my Self." - Minor White, "Mirrors, messages, manifestations" by Minor White. Millerton, New York: Aperture, 1969.
on the mend
As you can see in this photo, my brother-in-law John is definitely on the mend. And if he's feeling better that means his beloved wife Lorraine is too. He'll be going home today (Saturday). It's hard to imagine that someone who had coronary bypass surgery on all six arteries a mere five days ago could be ready to leave the hospital so soon, but apparently he is. On Friday they had him up and walking--even climbing stairs--off and on all day.
So often we bemoan the state of our world in 2007. And with good reason. We still have a lot to learn about living together as one human family, not to mention how to treat the Earth with the care and respect she needs and deserves. But when it comes to advances in medicine, we are light years ahead of where we were even a decade ago. These advances show up dramatically in areas like cardiology. Imagine the people you know who would be alive today if they had been able to undergo surgeries like the one John and a number of our very own PBasers have undergone successfully. So many of us have lost loved ones to heart attacks. In my family alone I lost my maternal grandfather, one uncle and two first cousins, one of whom died as a young man back in the 1970s. John was saying today that they recommend men get regular stress tests after the age of 50. With women the age goes up to 60. For conditions like his blocked arteries, that is the test of choice. EKGs can miss it altogether.
How grateful I am to be alive during this time of radical change. And because of these changes, my dear brother-in-law John is alive today.
To change the subject completely, on Friday evening I added five more images to my list of submissions to the 2007 Black and White Spider Awards competition. CLICK HERE
to see them.
one of my submissions to the Black & White Spider Awards competition
Well, today (Friday) is the deadline for a special price in submitting multiple entries to the 2007 Black and White Spider Awards
. I have just put up a PBase gallery with my ten submissions to this competition. CLICK HERE
to see it.
As many of you know I've been trying to choose my submissions for a couple of months now. And I have many of you to thank for taking the time to give me your suggestions. In the end, I followed expressive photographer Phil Douglis' advice and chose photos that best said what I wanted to say. I see each as telling a story, one that will be heard differently by each viewer according to his or her life experiences. That is what I now realize is my goal as a photographer: to be a visual storyteller.
My final decisions were also influenced by the strange timing of an unexpected technical problem. On Wednesday night the external hard drive on which I had stored most of my photos from the past four months, crashed. I've been instructed by Rico of the Wolverine company to send it to him in California, and he'll do his best to save my files, but until then, some of my favorites were impossible to retrieve. I now know to back up my photos in TWO places!
The interesting thing about all of this has been my reaction, or lack thereof. At first I felt pretty spooked, but as soon as I saw that the photos in what I consider my most significant series thus far--Facing Up to My Face at 65
--were safe and sound on my computer, I settled down. I also think my brother-in-law's bypass surgery has helped me put things in perspective. I mean, what is really important? My photos? Hardly.
As I worked with the images I still had available, I became quite satisfied with my choices. There's nothing fancy about them but they say what I want to say...and that's enough for me.
This was what greeted us as we reached the bank of elevators after visiting Ed's brother in the hospital on Wednesday evening. Beauty is such a healer. I was feeling pretty raw after the visit and seeing this jolt of color was just what I needed. His brother is recovering well from Monday's bypass surgery but it was still hard to see him in pain.
We human creatures are so strange. We go along day to day as if things will always be the same, as if the people we love will always be there beside us. Then every so often we come face-to-face with reality, reality being that every moment is a gift to be prized, every person in our lives is a treasure to be valued above everything else. As photographers we are all about appreciating the ephemeral nature of life. We know that each moment, each sight, each experience is unique and unrepeatable. If we don't catch that shot right now, we never will. Nothing is ever the same again. Life is made up of such moments. Moments like an outrageously vibrant sun setting behind a hospital rooftop...
(Best viewed in original size)
Now I'm asking myself what else is hiding in my files??? Yes, I've been intending for months to add images to my tattoo gallery
but other things keep getting in the way. Remember that gallery? The photos of tattoos that I took last August at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival? I'm sure this is the most spectacular of the lot, but I still have close to 250 tattoo photos to go through. It's a good thing it's winter; maybe now I'll stay home and take care of business.
I well remember D. How could I forget her? Seems to me I had to take at least a dozen frames to get all of her tattoos. She told me she'd been being "inked," as it's called, for seven years. For the past four she's had a standing appointment every other Saturday with her tattoo artist, Chet Duvenci. D respects him so much that she gives Chet carte blanche to ink any images on her body that he wants. Most of them are original. "Chet knows what I like and he's the artist." You might assume that D lives in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco or some other urban art center, but she doesn't. D lives in Kansas City. Art is everywhere!
I found this photo on Tuesday in my final search for possible photos to submit to the 2007 Black & White Spider Awards
. December 7 is the last day to qualify for their multiple entry special price, so I'm in the process of making my final decisions. Believe me, D's tattoo is a definite YES!!!
surgical waiting room
My husband's brother had coronary bypass surgery on Monday. He came out of it fine but it was a long day, especially for his wife. The surgery took five hours but she was at the hospital for twelve, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Fortunately she was not alone. Members of her family and his made sure of that. When Ed and I arrived at 4:30 p.m., this table told the story of the day. So did people's hands. We can control our faces, our voices and our words, but so often our hands give us away.
exposing my heart
Lately I've been spending time with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Minor White. Both of these giants in the history of photography not only made significant contributions through their images, but also through their teachings and writings. I've been reading a recently published (2005) collection of Henri Cartier-Bresson's writings called "The Mind's Eye." In it is his long out-of-print work, "The Decisive Moment." My reading about Minor White has been online and through PBase messages from Phil Douglis who took a week-long workshop with him in 1974. Every word is resonating deeply with my lived experience of this amazing artistic medium. Both men saw photography as so much more than recording sights and events; they saw its spiritual dimension as well. For them photography required a way of seeing that touched every aspect of their lives. It defined who they were and how they existed in the world. Evidence of this can be found in one of Minor White's most famous quotes: "Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence." He also said: "Often while traveling with a camera we arrive just as the sun slips over the horizon of a moment, too late to expose film, only time enough to expose our hearts."
When I read such words I know what is being said because I have lived it myself. I'm not saying I am anywhere near Minor White or Henri Cartier-Bresson in terms of my work, but I am saying that we are on the same path. I'd like to end with a quote from a message I received yesterday from Phil Douglis (Expressive Photography Cyberbook
"You don't have to be bound between hard covers, hang in museums or galleries, or be a Minor White, Henri Cartier Bresson or Alfred Stieglitz to be part of photography's history. To be sure, people like that are universally known, respected, and remembered for their contributions. But every photographer who has had something significant to say, and who has said it in ways that move the medium forward, inch by inch, is what really makes photographic history. It is a cumulative process. At least that's how Minor White explained it to us -- he told us the same thing that I am telling you. We can all play a role in the history of this medium if we keep growing, experimenting, and learning. Never ever stop learning."
Do you ever hold a photo idea in your mind for weeks before taking it? So it was with this shot. It was almost as if it had to gestate before I could give birth to it. Maybe it was that we had to be watching the right show before I could capture the mood I wanted. If that's true, this DVD was perfect. On Friday Ed rented the original 1963 black & white TV series of "The Fugitive." On Saturday night we watched the first show. It may have been made for TV but to my eye it was a fabulous example of Film Noir. Just the mood I wanted for my photo. So here you have my Film--OK, Digital--Noir interpretation of a Film Noir TV show. As you can see, our TV set fits the retro "theme" of our entire house. No plasma screen here, just an old TV that has served us well since the 1980s.
I've just added this and three other images to my "Edward Hopper visits my home" gallery. CLICK HERE
to see them.
the last of the leaves
Anyone who lives in a part of the world where four seasons and trees coexist in harmony knows how it feels to rake the last of the leaves on a cold November day. A mixture of relief and nostalgia. Relief because, if you have lots of deciduous trees to tend to, raking their fallen leaves is a job that goes on and on for weeks. After all, no tree loses all its leaves at once. No, it is a long drawn out affair, one that requires patience and persistence. Somewhat like the journey towards maturity, it is filled with stops and starts, repeated attempts to get it right, thinking you're done one day only to wake up the next and find you have to start all over again. Nostalgia because each of those brittle brown leaves was, not long ago, sending forth rays of color so bright you could hardly bear to look at it. And, of course, raking the last of the leaves means winter is waiting impatiently in the wings. Yes, bare branches against a silver sky may give black & white photographers shivers of delight, but for most of us, winter means the lights have to be turned on between 4 and 5 in the afternoon, and getting ready to go outside can take longer than the trip itself.
So here is a photo of my husband Ed raking the last of the leaves on a cold November day, and next week they're predicting snow. Hello winter; goodbye fall.