Thursday, March 19, 2020

Exhibition Photos from "The Poetry of the Ordinary"

I have a photograph currently on display at the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont. Here are a few photos from this Facebook gallery of images from the exhibition "The Poetry of the Ordinary:"

My piece.

Here's the entire gallery of images from Facebook, and here's my post about the exhibition catalog from last month.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Shoewear for Photographers

This would be super handy. Practical too.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Monthly Challenge 2 of 12: a "4 a.m." Portfolio Book

For my February challenge, I created my first portfolio book. I've created my own self-published photo books a few times in the past, but they were never created with the intention of being a "portfolio." I received a coupon code to make a photo book through Saal-Digital (and they asked that I share my experience). So I got to work and downloaded their book-making software.

[click each image to enlarge]

Inside their software. Pretty simple and relatively intuitive.

Previewing the book as it's nearly complete.

Note that once you pick a book style and start adding photos and pages, it continually updates the price in the lower right: $142.59 right now (which was great because I had a $150 coupon code). My book ended up being 40 pages with a total of 51 images. About my only issue with the software was that it didn't have (or I couldn't find) a "fit frame to object" -like option when inserting images. I was constantly re-working their frames until they were about the proportions of my photographs. (I got an email from someone at Saal asking how I was doing and if I had any questions, and I asked about that, but got no response.)

The software - along with the saved project - is small. Once I completed my order, it then sent the design and the files along, and that took just a few minutes as it uploaded the full size image files from my computer:

It was shipped, and actually came a few days before expected. It was just over a week before I got my book. Here are some photos of my new "4 a.m." portfolio book:

[click each image to enlarge]

The cover is under 1/4" plexiglass, so here's a close-up of that detail.

Another image to show the thickness of the plexiglass cover.

The first spread: a full bleed on the left (that's just the edges
of the cover peaking around) and some small borders on the right.

Some full bleed Minneapolis bridges.

Some of my 4 a.m. "mini mural project" from a few years ago. Click here for more on that.

Three 4 a.m. images from my mini-photo residency this past spring.

Two more recent images to close out the book.

Notice from those photos above that it's nearly a true "lay flat" design - there's no forcing pages open or losing detail in the gutter. And the pages are very thick and glossy. The book is quite a presence as one flips through it. The print quality is what I had hoped (and I had high hopes) - no complaints there. As mentioned above, the book contains 40 pages and 51 of my "4 a.m." pieces from the last 6 years, arranged (loosely) in chronological order.

Nice work, Saal-Digital! Thanks for helping me with my February "monthly challenge."

Sunday, February 23, 2020

"Poetry of the Ordinary" Exhibition Catalog

I have a piece in an upcoming juried exhibition at the PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont. The exhibition catalog was printed recently, and I just got my copy. The catalog is available for purchase online (and/or preview), and here are some screenshots of it:

The cover.

The title page.

The juror's statement.

About the juror.

The spread I'm featured on.

My piece.

I recently received my physical copy. It's a great little 7" x 7" book. Here are 2 photos of the actual book (as opposed to the screenshots above):

Click here to enlarge

Click here to enlarge

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

"... possessed by the idea that he can fix the images of the camera."

I loved the opening to the Introduction of L. J. M. Daguerre: The Worlds First Photographer and Inventor of the Daguerreotype:

Monday, February 17, 2020

Don't Be This Guy...

... just... don't...

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Another STM Shot

Apparently there was a second decent photo that came out of the billboard photo shoot at my sons's school. This past weekend, another one of my photos was on the cover of the parish bulletin:

That's 3 of my oldest son's classmates, and 2 other kids I had just met.

The image also appeared on the Church's Facebook page, and also on the school website:

Click here for more on the initial shoot.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

In The News: Three Photography Links

Here are 3 recent photography-related links... just things I found interesting:

• ONE: Highest Resolution Photo of the Sun:

About a week ago, Miami astronomers released the highest resolution images of the sun that anyone has ever created. It shows "a surface that’s divided up into discrete, Texas-size cells, like cracked sections in the desert soil. You can see plasma oozing off the surface, rising high into the solar atmosphere before sinking back into darker lanes."

The surface of the sun in motion.

Here's a bit about the technology behind it:

To observe the sun, you can’t just build a telescope the old-fashioned way. DKIST boasts one of the world’s most complex solar-adaptive optics systems. It uses deformable mirrors to offset distortions caused by Earth’s atmosphere. The shape of the mirror adjusts 2,000 times per second. Staring at the sun also makes the telescope hot enough to melt metal. To cool it down, the DKIST team has to use a swimming pool of ice and 7.5 miles of pipe-distributed coolant.

• TWO: Capa's "The Falling Soldier" Sold:

Late last year, Sotheby's Paris sold the famous photograph "The Falling Soldier" shot by Robert Capa, hailed "the most emblematic image of photojournalism." It sold for €75,000, or just under $100,000.

Taken in 1936, it captures the last moments of a Spanish Republican fighter, in a shocking and fascinating composition. Capa made this photograph while reporting in Spain. It became famous a year later, when it was published by Life magazine in large format. Since then, many have speculated (and many have "proved") that it was a set-up image.

One of Capa's famous quotes that I like to share with students is:

     "If your pictures aren't good enough, then you're not close enough."

• THREE: New York Times' "The Year in Pictures" for 2019:

I always like to share this because it's an important curation of photographs. Check out the The Year in Pictures 2019 by the NY Times:

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

An Update After 13 Semesters

My boss emailed me last night saying I needed to update my ID card:

That old, scratched, stained card was the same one I started with in August 2013. The people at the Security Desk thought that was a pretty good run.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Monthly Challenge 1 of 12: a Book About the Invention of Photography

When my boys were on their Christmas break from school, we stopped by our local library. I perused the art/photography section for a bit as my boys looked for books for themselves. I happened to stumble across something interesting.

I spent January (off and on) reading Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry.

I’d read a chapter or 2 some evenings as my 3rd grader and I unwound for bed:

My wife posted this on Instagram with the caption "Bedtime reading x2."

And I did a bulk of reading (roughly the last 2/3s of the book) on a week-long vacation to Mexico last week:

Reading by the pool.

My wife caught this photo of my son and I reading before heading out to a nice lunch.

Reading in the lobby of our hotel (after enjoying a pina colada and Diet Coke).

Working on my syllabus and doing some reading in the hotel lobby, overlooking the Pacific and Ixtapa Island.

The two authors (Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport) had the credentials to tackle this topic. Watson is the curator of the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock Abbey (where Henry Fox Talbot worked through his experiments to help create his first photographic image), and is a lecturer for DeMontfort University in Leicester. And Dr. Rappaport is a New York Times bestselling author and historian specializing in the years 1837 - 1918, which is a fitting time period if one would like to discuss the genesis of photography.

They kept this from being simply a dry history book as they continually jumped the Channel to go from Talbot to Daguerre - England to France - as they at first independently worked through their own photographic processes. It was an easy and informative read with a lot about these mens' personal lives as well.

Henry Fox Talbot was an educated scholarly man. He kept rigid journals (well labeled, of course) of his experiments and interests of all sorts. He kept and documented his correspondences with friends and family. Although he seemed quite introverted, he was a member of Parliament for a stint, as that's what "people of his stature" were expected to do.

Louis Daguerre, on the other hand, was a moody artist. He worked in fits of (stereotypical artistic) passion, rarely taking notes of what he was doing. He was an outgoing, charismatic, flashy self-promoter. As I read Capturing the Light, I could see him in a top hat running a 3-ring circus. He seemed to have a large personality.

Seeing how these very 2 different men came together (unwillingly at times) to create some of the first photographic images the world had seen was quite entertaining and very insightful.

And I didn't know that Niepce was so close to this charge of inventing photography when he suddenly passed away. He and Daguerre had only recently started working hand-in-hand before Niepce's death, and Niepce had made great strides. (Daguerre did the right thing and vowed to uphold Niepce's name and gave Niepce's family a cut of his government pension from his "status" as the father of photography.)

Here's one of the entries that was shared in Capturing the Light from one of Talbot's notebooks:

Nitrate of Silver

Wash a sheet of paper with it. Place a leaf and fennel or other complicated form upon it. Press it down with a pane of glass - when blackened with the sunshine place it in something that will alter it's property of blackening - qu. Prussiate of potash? Sulp. Acid. Mur Soda. Carb. Soda.

Instead of the leaf try several bits of coloured glass - thus a silhouette might be taken, especially in a dark room.

The book continues about this entry, mentioning Talbot's exemplary record-keeping: "... we in fact know the exact date when the idea of photography first dawned on him. It was some time during the afternoon of Saturday 5 October 1833 at the Villa Melzi on the shores of Lake Como. That short, simple notebook entry of only seventy-seven words contains the germ of an idea that would be the basis of numerous experiments taken up by Talbot throughout 1834 which led him to the development of his own distinctive process of photogenic drawing."

Two chapters later when Watson and Rappaport described Talbot making his first photographic image - as he painted a salt solution onto paper and sensitized it repeatedly with a solution of silver nitrate and made his famous image of the latticed window - I *swear* I got goosebumps and then re-read those pages over again.

I know that I'll be referencing things I learned in this book in my classes, and I'll be sharing stories from this book. I also know that I'll be posting quotes and interesting quips from this book here on my blog for the next many months. And it's also inspired future reading: I have Talbot's The Pencil of Nature heading my way as I write this, Talbot's record of his correspondences are all online and I'd love to dig through those, I'm looking for for Speculating Daguerre which has become a collector's item, and I have a digital version of Opticks by Isaac Newton ready to read (well, that one will be a dry read, so I honestly only expect to skim it).

There was one small thing that I had a little problem with: Talbot seemed to often be painted as getting short-changed or slightly cheated especially later on throughout the timeline. It was hard to know how much of that notion was totally true, or if it was because one of the authors is the curator at the Talbot Museum and would have built a natural affinity towards Talbot. It sometimes felt that Watson was being too soft or overly-gentle towards Talbot's situation. But that might not be the case - maybe it was completely warranted and I'm just looking into it too far.

Anyway, it was a fantastically fun, educational, and historical read. And I'm glad I stumbled across it at my local library.

That's my entry for January's "monthly challenge" - click here to read my 2020 monthly challenge thoughts.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Monthly Challenge for 2020

I like the idea of a daily or weekly or monthly "photo challenge" as I've toyed with that idea for the last few years, but everyday life seems to get in the way of those things for me. I decided to finally try something in 2020, but to make it simple and manageable.

I'm planning to try something new each month in 2020. It could be a new process, a mini photo series, brushing up on some technology, taking a small class, etc. (Sort of like the kindergarten billboard shoot that I did at the end of 2019.) It's not much, but it might help keep me learning and trying new things throughout the year.

I'll be back shortly with my January report.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Photoshoot for St. Thomas More School

At the end of last year, I did a quick photoshoot for my sons' school here in St. Paul. I didn't pick the kids, but that's my youngest 2nd to the right with some of his classmates:

Click here for a larger version.

A few days ago, that image appeared a 1/2 mile from school on a billboard on Grand Ave here in St. Paul:

A friend sent me a pic right away saying she saw my son on her drive home from work.

And today, I also spotted that image in the Villager, a newspaper for the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul:

Click here for a larger version.

I've never had a photo on a billboard before. It was fun working on something I'm not used to (or comfortable) doing.

But working with kindergartners also reminded me that I made the right career move by being a college professor. I'm happy to work with young adults any day. God bless kindergarten teachers!

Monday, January 06, 2020

Color Theory Joke

After a few generations, wouldn't they all just be a shade of brown?   :)

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