history, humor, photography

Gourds, Peppers, and Progress

Unpacking groceries prompts me to salute a milestone in photographic history.  Really.  Nagging gourds and sexy peppers have a lot to say about kinds of progress and accepting responsibility for choices, in photography and beyond.
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§1: 2019-09-23

“Buy me!” says the wonderfully colored gourd.  I refuse:

“No, I’ve already bought what I need for this year’s fall decorations.  There’s no room for another gourd.”

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“But I’m new and special.  Look at the feathering between my greens.”

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“OK.”

I put the gourd in the cart, check out, and drive home.  As I unpack the groceries, I happen to set the new gourd down in a way that is vaguely reminiscent of a reclining nude.  Then I recall a milestone in photographic history.

§2: 1927 — 1930

Edward Weston’s meticulous closeup photos of scores of common objects (notably bell peppers) are marvels of imagination and ingenuity.  They also prompt one critic to remark that Weston’s peppers look like nudes while his nudes look like peppers.

Pepper-1930-30P

Weston works in grayscale (aka “black and white”).  The color of a pepper would only be a distraction anyway.  While people have various skin colors, nobody’s skin is red or green.

§3: 2019-09-27

“Buy us!” say 3 colorful gourds.  I refuse:

“No, I’ve already bought an extra gourd that I will use to salute Edward Weston.”

“Last year, U bought a total of 10.  We’ll just bring it up to 8.”

“Last year’s gourds were smaller and came in bags of 5.”

“Weston bought more than 30 peppers.”

“But he could eat them when he was done shooting.”

“Puhleeze!”

“OK.”

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I’m a pushover.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

§4: Now and Forever

Remember when cameras used analog film, color darkroom work was sorcery, and color prints faded under museum lighting?  Artistic photographers had to work in grayscale.  Viewers did not pine for color in the masters’ photos.

Sadly, some photographers mistook a temporary necessity for a permanent virtue.  Wanna create a colorful image?  Buy some tubes of paint.  Stick with grayscale for artistic photography.

The sweeping general assertion of grayscale’s intrinsic superiority was a gross insult to Eliot Porter (and to all who hiked the trails he blazed in color photography).

Some photos do look better in grayscale than in color.  Maybe something with interesting contours and textures happens to have distracting colors.  Grayscale is great for Weston’s peppers.

Sometimes progress replaces an old thing with a new one that is all-around better, as in the transition from analog film to digital pixels.  The transition from obligatory grayscale to color (in varying degress of saturation) is a subtler kind of progress that adds choices.  Lots of choices.

Photo editing software supports having some color classes or parts of an image be more saturated than others.  Done casually and obtrusively, it can be gimmicky.  Done carefully and subtly, it can work with other edits to greatly improve a photo.  One of the contemporary photographers I admire steps thru instructive examples:

What I Am Working On: Building Blocks

What I Am Working On: Fiddling

If U choose to desaturate a photo (either partially or all the way to grayscale), I may disagree with that choice.  I will still respect it, but only as a specific choice.  What I won’t respect is a blanket assertion that photos “should” be in grayscale.  Or in color.  Or have shallow depth of focus.  Or have everything in focus. Or whatever.

Here is one blanket pronouncement that I do respect, in photography and beyond:

Don’t hide behind sweeping generalities.
Own your choices.

 

history, politics

Independence Day, 2019

It’s a pardonable oversimplification: celebrating “the” day the Continental Congress held some truths to be self-evident.  Yes, they were all privileged white males.  Yes, some lived off the toil of slaves.  But their concept of public service was not based on pandering to bigotry and whoring for campaign contributions.
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Knowingly or not, the signers of the Declaration of Independence started something big, still far from finished, and now critically endangered.  They started the long hard slog to build a nation with liberty and justice for all.

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© Scott David Patterson | 123RF Stock Photo

Happy July 4th!

haiku, history

Motion in Haiku: Another Surprise

Like still photos, many haiku capture a moment in time.  My first foray into capturing motion in haiku yielded 2 surprises.  Here comes another, in time for the centennial on 2018-11-11 of the armistice that ended the fighting in World War I.
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Let’s start by summarizing the older surprises that I posted in response to a CDHK episode.  Credits for the images below are at the end of this post for readability.

The first surprise was that that so much motion could fit in a haiku:

Redemptive Trickle
|A shell exploded!
|Water slowly filled the hole
|and held the whole sky.

Of course, my haiku that is like a movie was inspired by this classic World War I haiku that is like a still photo:

© Maurice Betz
|A shell hole
|In its water
|Held the whole sky.

The second surprise was that I did not have a stable preference between these haiku.  Like someone viewing the classic ambiguous image that can be seen as a duck facing one way or as a rabbit facing the other, I flip-flopped between the still photo by Betz and the movie by me.  So did at least 2 readers of my old post.

Here is the new third surprise.  After writing yet another shell hole haiku, I finally have a stable preference.  My preferred haiku is like a movie that starts after the explosion:

Healing Trickle
|Water slowly filled
|the shell blast’s muddy crater.
|It held the whole sky.

Image Sources

Unable to find appropriate and affordable period images, I used contemporary images: a generic explosion and a puddle that looks much like the water-filled shell hole.  The puddle photo has been cropped to be more nearly square.

history, language, photography

Solstice Salutation

The [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.  Typing just the [Enter] key into the Search box is a way to browse WordPress blogs.

When I say Merry Xmas (pronounced like “MEH-ree KRIS-muhs”), it might be heard as an unwelcome hint that the hearer is (or should be) a Christian.  I suppose I should say something like Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings instead, but the generic salutations for this time of year sound bland and vague to ears as old as mine.  Can anybody suggest something with more pizzazz but w/o religious implications?

I decorate for the winter solstice (with multicultural Xmas lights and wreaths) and hope it is OK to wish U a

chickadee-wreath_el-greco

Merry Xmas!

enlightenment, haiku, history, photography

Oh Come, All Fibo-ku

The [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.  Typing just the [Enter] key into the Search box is a way to browse WordPress blogs.

My response to

Carpe Diem Weekend-Meditation #10
Fibo-ku winter time

could be called a “fibo-bun” because it is like a haibun but has syllable counts from the Fibonacci sequence in the haiku part.

Several cultures have responded to the long nights of winter with festivals or structures celebrating light at roughly the time of the solstice.  While not quite old enough to have personal memories of Stone Age passage tombs aligned with the sunrise (on a few of the several days that amounted to the solstice with Stone Age time-keeping), I do remember multicolored Hanukkah candles and the cheerful chiaroscuro of multicolored Xmas lights draped over trees and large shrubs.

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Nowadays I see mostly different kinds of Xmas lights.  Some people set out ugly jumbles of inflated Santas and other symbols of the gifting frenzy; others outline their houses with harshly uniform white lights.  But some still carry forward the old Xmas lighting tradition (with LED-s now).  And the glorious vocal music of Hanukkah and Xmas still transcends the literal meanings of the verses (2 of which inspired my titles here).

Darkness worse than long nights and garish decorations hangs heavy in today’s air.  Maybe this darkness will also recede.  My lights are up.

Yet in the Darkness Shineth
|Red,
|green,
|blue, and
|yellow lights:
|multicultural
|winter solstice celebration
|defies dark tribal hatred to sing of love and light.

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