By any other name…

If there were a theme this month it would be to look beyond the metaphor. I think it is an acquired skill to look beyond the apparent complexity of a thing and see it for what it truly is beneath. Instead, we tend to ascribe other complex meanings and personifications to inanimate objects. Take, for example, a rose. The symbolism, the inferred meaning of love and beauty is significant, yet the truth of the object is that it is just a flower. With thorns.

So how many situations in your daily life are like this? Tons of implied or inferred meaning but bottom line, it’s just a colored cloth tied to a pole. Or an asterism. Or a German sports car (still just a car). Or a rock in your shoe. I know given the theme that this paragraph can be taken as pretty metaphor-heavy. But sometimes, it really is just a rock in your shoe.

How many times do we look at a scene and fail to comprehend what’s happening because we are distracted by the apparent complexity? In pondering this whole idea, I asked myself, “Can this metaphor-free metaphor could be applied to photography?” I would like to think so.

This rose was in a vase in the kitchen. I am sure that when you look at it, your imagination may fill in the gaps as to the meaning behind a rose or the last time you held one. And that’s completely ok. In fact, sometimes photographers rely on you doing just that to connect with their images. It doesn’t change the fact that it is just a flower.

So I’m going to start by not being afraid to dare mighty things (you should really go look that quote up), and I am not going to be intimidated or distracted by the implied significance of a subject. Knock on that door. Ask that person. Just walk up to whatever it is and trip the shutter.

And I’d encourage you to try to do the same.

June 2013

June 2013

To set as your desktop wallpaper, Internet Explorer users can click on the link so that it opens to full size. Right-click on the image and select “Set as background”.

Google Chrome users will need to download the Chrome Toolbox to enable the same functionality.

Also, this image is for sale on Fine Art America.

Change of season

Fall is upon us and with the changing of the season, I’ve decided to grow a beard again. I’ve noticed there is a lot more gray in it this time than last. I think I’m OK with it, I’m trying to not explore the analogy between the fall foliage and my facial foliage.

Anyway, a couple mornings ago I was getting ready to go to work and my wife suggested that I go outside to get a look at the sunrise. So I threw on some shoes, grabbed my camera and headed out to see what all the commotion was about.

It was actually a pretty fantastic sunrise, lots of clouds, rain in places, fog, with a giant eerie rainbow (fogbow?) that reminded me a lot of Steven King’s Under the Dome.

So as I’m taking all this in, I spot this lone crow atop a telephone pole and I think “hey – that’s cool, really Octoberish.” The first shot, the crow was twisted around facing to the right, so I waited, “come on, come on, look the other way…” and finally he turned around so I could get the shot.

1440X900

1920X1200

To set as your desktop wallpaper, Internet Explorer users can click on the link so that it opens to full size. Right-click on the image and select “Set as background”.

Google Chrome users will need to download the Chrome Toolbox to enable the same functionality.

Kodachrome, or why I like being a photographer

Kodachrome may be gone, but the spirit embodied by the legendary transparency film lives on.

For years, Kodachrome represented the standard in professional slide photography. Being notoriously hard to shoot and tricky to process, competency in this medium was earned and respected.

I never considered myself to be a good enough photographer to shoot Kodachrome, spending my time on Kodacolor, Ektachrome, tri-x, plus-x and other more pedestrian mass-market filmstock. The Kodacolor was, at times, interchangeable with Fujicolor, but when I wanted to treat myself to something special, I’d pick up a roll of Ilford black and white film. That’s about as fancy as I ever got.

A decade ago when my job changed and I was no longer carrying an SLR as part of my work, I felt a little removed from the world of film photography. I began to forget what it was all about. Having since made the switch to digital, I feel even further removed from the medium. To me, film had become an oddity, an anachronism, a forgotten or lost technology. That is, until a couple of months ago, when our 15-year-old daughter discovered our 18-year-old Nikon SLR stuffed away in a closet. Her fascination with film began.

She has since taken a shine to a mid-80’s Minolta SLR (the Nikon was not “vintage enough”), a Brownie box, a folding Agfa Billy, and an old Kodak rangefinder camera. Her discovery of film and my rediscovery of the medium has been an interesting event for me. Still somewhat of an anachronism, 35mm and 120 roll film are again part of my daily thoughts.  

On the way home from work one recent day, Paul Simon’s Kodachrome spooled up on the mp3 player. While I’ve never loaded a roll of Kodachrome in a camera, I recognize the unique place in the collective American Consciousness the brand, and the song, occupies.

In the song, Paul Simon proclaims that Kodachrome gives us the nice bright colors and the greens of summer that makes you think all the world’s a sunny day (Oh Yeah). He’s got a Nikon camera and he loves to take a photograph, so Mama don’t take his Kodachrome away.

When I think of Kodachrome, I see in my mind the white square with the red lettering framing the transparency, but at the same time I see baseball games. Barbecues. River rafting. African Safaris. Smiles. The word “Kodachrome” equates to photography more than any other brand. But to me, it’s more about the subjects in front of the camera than the film or the people behind the camera or the camera itself.

In today’s cold-war of megapixels, you can visit any photography website and see the fanboys ranting about what camera takes better pictures. People focus so intently on the latest and greatest. Superlatives rule. But if you take a side in that argument, you’ve already missed the point.

When I read the story of the last rolls of Kodachrome being processed, I felt like I missed out on something. I felt like I was not a part of this passing era of Kodachrome. My mistake in not shooting Kodachrome was in thinking that the film made the image. That’s completely backwards. It’s the photographer who makes the image. I’ve been telling people this for some time when talking about digital cameras, but never thought to apply it to film. My loss for not realizing it sooner.

Take a minute and think of the world Simon so vividly paints in his song. Yes, the song brings specific brands (Nikon and Kodachrome) to front and center, but it’s more about the moments you capture than it is the tools. If you’re not shooting something, life is passing you by a fraction of a second at a time.

So grab your camera and go shoot. Go capture the nice bright colors and the greens of summer. It can make you think all the world’s a sunny day.

Oh Yeah.