Sunday, July 05, 2020

Photography: "an invention of the Devil"

Here's another quote that I enjoyed from L. J. M. Daguerre: The Worlds First Photographer and Inventor of the Daguerreotype:

Here's the intro to that book if you're interested.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Monthly Challenge 6 of 12: Civil Unrest in Mpls/St. Paul

June felt a bit like a "get back to normal" month with regards to shooting. So it's strange that my June "challenge" was simply "start making photos again like normal." And I've already had some luck submitting this work to exhibitions.

In early March, we had a "stay at home" order issued by the governor, and as I noted in last month's "monthly challenge" post, it was just lifted at the end of May. I got out and made my first 4 a.m. photos in over 2 months (since mid-March). Here they are again, as first seen in May's post:





Here was the caption I posted on Instagram:

Memorial where George Floyd was killed 36 hours ago, photographed at 4:15 this morning.
.
I’m used to having the city to myself when I photograph at 4 a.m. Today, I encountered more people than I have in the previous few years combined. There were police officers across the street. There was a handful of national media getting ready to report (large, generic rental conversion vans with tech guys setting up, not the local branded vehicles). And two people walked up as I was getting ready to photograph. One stood in silence with her head down. The other kneeled down, and then ended up laying down in the wet street where Floyd was killed. I could hear him quietly praying about “change.” He sat up, pounded the pavement twice with his fist in frustration, and then they quietly walked away.
.
#GeorgeFloyd #ICantBreathe

Then we had the riots. That led to about a week of curfews being set. The first few nights, the curfews were harsher: 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. But then they loosened up a little: 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. I headed out one of those final days of curfew (right as it was lifted at 4 a.m.) to make photos of the growing memorial and some of the places near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct that had been burned (click images to enlarge):


The growing memorial around the corner from where Floyd was killed.


Not a great photo, but a fantastic message to have on the side of a
comic book store just 1 mile down the road from where George Floyd was killed.


Burned down AutoZone with the sign "If we do this 'your way' we're doomed to repeat this again."


Boarded-up burned-down Dennys (with stoplight).


"Inside" the burned down Wendy's just before 5 a.m.

The weekend in the middle of June was when I participated in a 48 hour "Chase the Light" project as hosted by the Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW). I made these 5 photos during the 4 a.m. hour on a Sunday morning, and the titles below them were what I submitted to PCNW (click images to enlarge):


Murals on the riot-protected boarded-up windows at Seward Co-op
at 4:03 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


Mural on the riot-protected boarded-up windows at Seward Co-op
at 4:05 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


The “Say Their Names Cemetery” located a block from where George Floyd
was killed at 4:33 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


Murals on the riot-protected boarded-up windows of Arbeiter Brewing and
Moon Palace Books at 4:50 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


Minnehaha Drive-Up Liquors (burned down) across from the Third Precinct
building at 4:55 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.

The "Abolish the Police" image got accepted into the "Chase the Light" project, as I noted in a recent post.

Then, another stop at the memorial:


Alley mural next to the George Floyd memorial with the text “give me
a place to stand and I shall move the earth” at 4:10 a.m.
(The police tape says “there is a line you do not cross.”)

Just last week, I was headed down Lake Street at 4 a.m. and made this photo:


Empty lot along East Lake Street, 4:45 a.m. (That mural is 3 pieces of plywood, so 8x12' total.)

So during last month, I started making more photos, took part in a 48-hour challenge and had a piece accepted to "Chase the Light", and won the "Director's Award" in an exhibition for the 2nd photo in this post. That's a decent photographic month for me. (And as a side note, I didn't post anything about winning the "Director's Award" on social media for 3-4 days because I was processing this white man [me] winning an award for photographing scenes surrounding a black man's death. It had a "this doesn't feel *quite* right" element to it. A check arrived 2 weeks ago as part of the award, and it's waiting to be donated to an appropriate cause.)

Well, summer months have a way of getting away from me. Last month I noted that I wanted to pull out some lighting gear for next month's challenge, so we'll see if I have time to do that this month.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Piece in "Chase the Light 2020"

Last weekend was the Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW)'s "Chase the Light" exhibition/fundraiser.



It was a fun idea that started the weekend before. The "Chase the Light" website said: "it kicked off with a weekend of photographic exploration June 13-14, 2020 where people from 29 states and 9 countries took off on photographic adventures." Anyone interested was supposed to make photos over those 48 hours (Saturday and Sunday), and then submit their best images by Monday afternoon. Quick turnaround! There were 330 photos submitted in total.

I headed out early on the morning of the 14th, and made these 5 photos during the 4 a.m. hour (with their titles underneath - click each image to enlarge):


Murals on the riot-protected boarded-up windows at Seward Co-op
at 4:03 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


Mural on the riot-protected boarded-up windows at Seward Co-op
at 4:05 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


The “Say Their Names Cemetery” located a block from where George Floyd
was killed at 4:33 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


Murals on the riot-protected boarded-up windows of Arbeiter Brewing and
Moon Palace Books at 4:50 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.


Minnehaha Drive-Up Liquors (burned down) across from the Third Precinct
building at 4:55 a.m. (from the "4 a.m Series"), Minneapolis, MN.

A piece of mine was accepted, and I found it this past weekend on their website:


A few other pieces were already selling.


This was the piece they selected.

Check out the work and purchase a piece for their fundraiser if you'd like - it runs through Friday night.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Reminders of a "Normal" Semester

I stopped back at Hamline University recently to grab a few files from this past semester. We had about 5-6 "normal" weeks of the semester before we took a long spring break and then came back remotely for the rest of the school year. I sat down to make sure I had copies of all my screen capture recordings:


In the middle of the desktop is a grouping of 14 videos (nearly 5 GB of them).

Those are just recorded presentations for my students. They were not the examples, PowerPoints, handouts, or their projects. So all-in-all, I downloaded nearly 11 GB of info from the last half of the semester: 2.3 GB from my Digi I class, 3.5 GB from my Digi II class, and nearly 5 GB of screen capture recordings that were a mix of both classes.

I noticed my notes from the first week of the semester were still on the whiteboard behind the projection screen - the "nerdy week" as I call it where we go over camera functions. I love that week. This was a reminder of how joyfully and normally (and naively) we started the spring semester of 2020:



Everything was so dried on from the months of sitting there that I had to use the "white board cleaner" spray seen in the lower left. Here it is afterwards with the little towel hung out to dry because it was so full of cleaner:



Good-bye spring semester 2020. Hope to never see you again.

Monday, June 15, 2020

"Inside Hamline" Publicity

I was recently mentioned in "Inside Hamline:" a listing of faculty accomplishments from those people teaching and working at Hamline University.


The bottom one is an image from an exhibition that I was just a part of.


My blurb.

And then a few days later, I even appeared in their email blast about Faculty and Staff Announcements:



Monday, June 08, 2020

"Director's Award" from the The In Art Gallery

I was recently notified that I had a piece accepted to The In Art Gallery's June exhibition entitled "The Premier Exhibition." Not only that, but my piece won The Director's Award which comes with a cash prize!


"The Premier Exhibition's" main page, with my piece at the top.



The funny thing is that I shot this photo on a Wednesday, and then I was notified 8 days later that it was accepted into this show and won the "Director's Award." That's a personal best for me! Such a quick turn-around.

It's not my most interesting 4 a.m. photo BY FAR, but it's incredibly timely. It's part of a greater discussion right now. So that must have made it more interesting to the juror. (I haven't heard any specifics as to what the juror/gallery thought of my piece, and I'll share them here if they let me know.) It's pretty common to have discussions like this about who's working with an all-around interesting idea, and who's working with an idea that works because it is timely. And this is a clear example of the latter.

Thanks to The In Art Gallery for the award!

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Coffee While Painting

These mugs seem to have a backstory...



Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Monthly Challenge 5 of 12: Bits and Pieces

May was 3 little pieces.

ONE: As mentioned at the end of April's "monthly challenge" post, I figured I'd spend some more time watching Lynda.com videos for May. I did that, but not very much. I officially completed the 13 hour "fundamentals" video that I wrote so much about last month:



And I started watching and bookmarking more. I'm part way into another Photoshop video, but this is starting to feel pretty dry - not this new course specifically, but just watching all these videos on Photoshop functions. I'm going to need to start mixing it up with something more engaging soon.


19% into another Photoshop course with a different instructor.

TWO: We had a "stay at home" order recently lifted, and I got out last week to make my first set of 4 a.m. photos in a few months. They're not great, but here are 2 photos from where George Floyd was killed:





Here was the caption I posted on Instagram:

Memorial where George Floyd was killed 36 hours ago, photographed at 4:15 this morning.
.
I’m used to having the city to myself when I photograph at 4 a.m. Today, I encountered more people than I have in the previous few years combined. There were police officers across the street. There was a handful of national media getting ready to report (large, generic rental conversion vans with tech guys setting up, not the local branded vehicles). And two people walked up as I was getting ready to photograph. One stood in silence with her head down. The other kneeled down, and then ended up laying down in the wet street where Floyd was killed. I could hear him quietly praying about “change.” He sat up, pounded the pavement twice with his fist in frustration, and then they quietly walked away.
.
#GeorgeFloyd #ICantBreathe

And here's a more recent one since the memorial has grown:



Side note: if you'd like to hear my perspective on what's been happening in Minneapolis and St. Paul over the last few days after Floyd's death, check out this link on my other blog. I was up most of the night for 2 days in a row, and just yesterday I realized I could have been watching some Lynda.com videos, but I wouldn't have absorbed any of it - my mind would have been elsewhere.

THREE: I also "attended" a Zoom-based lecture by Dr. Rebecca Senf entitled "Even Ansel Adams Had to Earn a Living". That was very insightful, and quite interesting. CCP just put the hour-long lecture online (cutting off some of the casual chit-chat before it had officially started), so here's what I was a part of:

For June, I'd like to bust into some lighting equipment that I recently acquired. We'll see if I can do some work with that, and I'll post about it in a month.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Online Lecture by Rebecca Senf: "Even Ansel Adams Had to Earn a Living"

Earlier today, I "attended" a lecture called "Even Ansel Adams Had to Earn a Living" which was about Adams's lesser-known commercial work. It was meant to be held as a traditional lecture held last month in the SW US, but it was moved online because of all of the social distancing we're doing. Here's a bit about the event:



Info after registering for the lecture:

About the book:
Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams
Rebecca A. Senf; with a foreword by Anne Breckenridge Barrett
An unprecedented and eye-opening examination of the early career of one of America’s most celebrated photographers
Purchase Book Here.

One of the most influential photographers of his generation, Ansel Adams (1902–1984) is famous for his dramatic photographs of the American West. Although many of Adams’s images are now iconic, his early work has remained largely unknown. In this first monograph dedicated to the beginnings of Adams’s career, Rebecca A. Senf argues that these early photographs are crucial to understanding Adams’s artistic development and offer new insights into many aspects of the artist’s mature oeuvre.

Drawing on copious archival research, Senf traces the first three decades of Adams’s photographic practice - beginning with an amateur album made during his childhood and culminating with his Guggenheim-supported National Parks photography of the 1940s. Highlighting the artist’s persistence in forging a career path and his remarkable ability to learn from experience as he sharpened his image-making skills, this beautifully illustrated volume also looks at the significance of the artist’s environmentalism, including his involvement with the Sierra Club.

About the author:
Dr. Rebecca A. Senf is Chief Curator at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Her B.A. in Art History is from the University of Arizona; her M.A. and Ph.D. were awarded by Boston University. In 2012, her book Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe was released by University of California Press; in 2017, her book To Be Thirteen, showcasing the work of Betsy Schneider, was published by Radius Press and Phoenix Art Museum. Senf is an Ansel Adams scholar, and recently published a book on Ansel Adams’s early years, called Making a Photographer, co-published by the CCP and Yale University Press.

When the time came, I jumped into the lecture:



There were immediately 200+ people there, and there were about 300 people there throughout the lecture.

Senf talked about Adams's early client-based work, and how that helped him to be able to understand his audience and to create work specifically for that client.


Senf speaking from the top of the screen, with her presentation below her.


Some work for the Sierra Club.

Senf talked about Adams realizing that he could use his style to "invest us as viewers" by showing us the power of the natural landscape. He worked to "create drama and invoke awe in the viewers." Senf made the argument that (because of his exposure and darkroom skills) his images showed how he FELT, not what he SAW.


"Moonrise over Hernandez New Mexico" - a much talked-about image
of his - comparing his final image and the more "raw" positive.

Adams was very upfront about the commercial work he did and how it supported his fine art career. He didn't shy away from talking about it. But he didn't connect them - he saw his commercial work and his fine art work as 2 very separate entities. One of Senf's points is that they were actually quite connected. I'd be curious to read more about that in her book.

According to Senf, early in his career, Adams was "coached" by his employer to make his images to promote Yosemite: he was only told to shoot winter scenes with deep, dramatic snow. He photographed people in front of large redwoods to make it more dramatic. This coaching seemed to directly affect how he would approach his own personal work.


Early work for Yosemite: deep snow and people dwarfed by large trees.

Adams struck a deal where the National Park would pay him just half of what they had agreed upon as long as he could retain the negatives. He seemed to understand they'd have a sellability, so he leveraged the commercial opportunity of the images. "There was less of an identity schism" back then between being a commercial vs fine art photographer Senf argued, so he just did what he could as a photographer (without being worried how the public would view his endeavors).

On that note, a postcard image is the cover of Senf's book. Adams would have printed these himself in large quantity:



Check out the book from Yale University Press here.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

DMA Senior Show 2020

Earlier this past week, the senior Digital Media Arts (DMA) students from Hamline University had an online senior show:



Here's a link with their senior projects.

After that "opening," many of us got together on Google Meet to chat. Here's a screenshot with 4 other DMA professors and 10 of my current or former students:


The discussion was mainly about summer plans and nostalgic video games.

Related to wrapping up the school year at Hamline: the "Intro to Animation" class had to go into "MacGyver" mode to finish up the semester without the computer labs at school. The instructor shared all the final projects from that class in this YouTube playlist. As with any "Intro" class, the work is all across the board, but my boys enjoyed watching these short animations with me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The End of the STRANGEST SEMESTER EVER

Yesterday was finals for both of my classes. I'm doing a lot of grading today, in the hopes that I'll wrap up by Thursday or Friday. All things considered, the semester went a lot better than I thought it would. Had you told me back in January that I'd spend the last half of the semester teaching remotely, I would have freaked out. But professors and students got through it! I sent an email to both of my classes last night thanking them for being part of this crazy semester with me, because none of us signed up for this. What a ride.

I have 3 more projects that I'm waiting on, and then all the work will be turned in. (Two from a student who has just disappeared, and one from a student who had some family issues - so all of this feels just like a normal semester!)

Here are 3 Facebook posts from this past semester. First, something I shared in a private online teaching group:



Second, here's part of a post from mid-April (about a month ago) that talks about how much work this has been:



And finally, here's something I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago:



Such a strange semester.

Not surprisingly, critiques were the thing I missed the most. In both of my classes, we did something where my students uploaded all their project files, and then they looked through everyone else's files and sent me feedback for each classmate regarding "what was done well" and "what needed some work." Then I anonymously shared all the feedback for each student on his/her grade sheet on the second page of the rubric. That was a great way to get peer feedback (and to get MORE than you'd usually get from just the half of class that usually speaks up in critique), but it was also a lot of work to make happen. And there's nothing like seeing these photos in person and giving face-to-face feedback.

Well, on to the next one. I'm already re-writing my syllabus for the fall to include a section about what to expect if we are forced into remote learning again. Right now, next fall and spring are still one big question mark.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Photographing the Dead

Here's a proposal in The Sacramento Bee from June 7, 1897:



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