Category Archives: Inspired Eye

March 9th, 2019 …. Observations … Things Are Not Always As They Appear … Dissecting Some Photos

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ok ok, I’m letting youse all have access to my inner self. Lately and many times before, I find myself observing myself observing. Let me clarify from the git-go…. I have a shrink. Why is this important? I don’t really know or even care about it. What I do care about is my photos and the driving inspiration for them. I’m walking around with Garry the Olympus Pen-F 20mm. Let me tell ya, not easy to top this outfit for the streets. I see these two in the window and they have a kinda snickering look about them. Some girls walk by, nadaa…a few guys walk by nada…. then as if the fairy from Mother Light sends her magic to the scene. Now, this may seem crazy but my instincts tell me, if nothing is on the right side of the frame, it’s a dead frame. Then, oh yeah, then a woman walks into the frame. She’s the complete opposite of the ladies in the window.

Now the next few seconds are extremely important to the life of the photo is made. The graphic elements (yes Olivier) are of course crucial and then the emotional aspects are also important. I’ll attempt to explain. The woman is moving from the right to the left side of the frame. The window gals are on the left side. This creates a very left weighted photo. Then as if MAGIC is happening, the guy in the reflection comes from the right and anchors that section…… but wait, oh yeah,,,, we need to breathe, See, if the walking woman reaches the black window divider, it’s all crapola. I  need the visual tension from her face to the black divider. That’s about the dynamics of the frame and the mechanics of the photo

Now, the emotional part. Our window ladies seem to be having a ball. So that creates a stance for the photo. Perhaps this will not be an easy juxtaposition. Sure, we could have anyone in the frame but the emotional impact needs to be very strong and obvious. Some things maintain their strength but just being. Oxymoron, Juxtaposition are 2 that happen to come to this photo. Ya know, maybe CONTRAST is very obvious too. So all these things and more are banging around my head and heart. This all happens in a fraction of a second… she’s walking, the window ladies are behaving themselves, or reflecting guy is happy and ….CLICK!

 

 

Mom, the Ricoh GRII and I are on our way to the VA Hospital. We are coming to the steps of the parking lot at the Frankford Transportation Terminal. As we walk down the steps, I see a woman hunched over and her leg on the angle. The light is really nice and creates a somber mood. I stick Mom the Ricoh GRII thru the fence to get the photo. As I do that, I take a deep breath and then realize that the fence is coming from inside her.  Most Mental Health issues, including PTSD, are felt by the person alone. There’s a feeling of not being able to escape the situation that is internalized. Then those feelings seem to manifest into the reality that takes over the mind. It feels like there’s no escape. The main issue is, the person going thru these episodes, gets to a point of no return and then doesn’t even care anymore. I’m looking with Mom and then, I see the frame and the fence and the woman….CLICK!

 

There’s a beauty in life as well as death. Suzanne asked me why I am attracted to posters and things of that nature. The beauty of photography is its ability to compress and abstract7 3-dimensional objects, people etc to a 2-dimensional state. We as photographers all know that but yet it’s not widely understood. What I am fascinated by the way photos to compress 3 dimensions into but more, I love the way 2-dimensional objects come to the photo. They are natural to photos and work well with 3-dimensional things.

For me, it’s magic and I work it constantly. Then when it’s ion my head as to the abstraction, I need the emotional content. This woman is the same as the guy is. Borth 2 dimensions and yet the emotional content, for me, makes the shot.

Mom and I walk around a lot together. I see this woman in the window and she captures me instantly…. there’s no reason to make a photo. Then, as I am flirting with her and she’s making that face…. this guy walks in front of the camera….I wait and he moves just a wee bit left and then looks at me dead on to the eyes. The photo is not working, I need her eyes, …then as if Hertzog directed him, he turns left as if on cue. I see the headphones and it immediately brings the relationship of the loneliness a woman has when she’s there and her man is listening to music and ignoring her….CLICK!

I will do this format for a while because some shooters have asked me to. I hope youse alls find this worth your time and it’s interesting.

Be Blessed, one and all…………. shooter out…………..

February 12th, 2019 … Some Photos and a Mild Discussion … The Prunes of Photography??

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…damn right it’s cold. oh, sorry folks, I didn’t know youse all were here. See, I was talking with a Police Officer and we decided it’s cold. He works for the Transit Authority, better know as Septa. I see him many times as I travel by public transportation as much as I can. I love it. I know most hate it but for me, it’s the mix of the people, the buses, trains and whatever. I’m not going to tell you the officers name because he said if I do he’s locked me up in a cell with my wife for 10 years. Let me tell ya if that doesn’t scare the doo doo out if ya, nothing will. Anyway, I have Mom the Ricoh GRII with me. Youin’s all know I name my cameras. I do that because they all have a way of seeing that’s different from each other. That translated to how they work differently with me.

I was just asked by one of youse to briefly explain the reason for naming my cameras. Ok, short and sweet. Let’s assume we all love photography. We all love making photos.  So if this a fact, and it is…. this love is directly related to time and life. The naming of a camera makes it personal for you and also makes a tangible connection with the camera and the art of making photos. It’ forms a closeness or a bond.

That’s it……

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…..anyway back to the unnamed police officer. I’ve seen him many a time and he sometimes goes to the Dunkin Donuts and has a box of a dozen and a large container of hot coffee, He goes around to some homeless people and gives them a donut and a cup of hot Joe, as he calls it.  He told me that his superiors told him he wasn’t allowed to do this coffee thing.

….and then the statement from him that matters to all. Yes, every human and subhuman like politicians etc needs this lesson. “If we abandon our humanity, what is left? It’s a small thing I do but it keeps me human and lets the people I help know they have some dignity and humanity left.” Wow!

Many years ago, my Grandmother told me, “What goes in has to come out.” Sree, I was a young teenager and had eaten much junk food. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Junk food wasn’t invented yet. My grandmother was aa pre-junk food advisor. Anyway, I was bloated with, um food. She walked to the cabinet, forbidden to all but her. I could hear the music of the Ride of the Valkyries in my head. No speakers, or digital; versions. It was music to scare the do do out of me. I knew instantly her intention was to clear my bowels. I was horrified that she would reach for the dreaded enema bottle. My butt cheeks locked in anticipation. Then, then out of the cabinet, my nerves settled to a lower point of the guard. In her hand, small wrinkled and slightly shaking, was a bag with black things in it. She handed me 4 of these wrinkled black things. She said, eat the Prunes one at a time but get all 4 eaten in a few minutes. In the HOLY SCRIPTURES, no matter what religion you follow, there is a law that is the 11th Commandant. “THOU SHALL NOT EVER DISOBEY YOUR GRANDMOTHER”  Whit all due respect, I ate the prunes as instructed. Nana told me to sit and relax in Pop Pop’s chair. This was a high honor bestowed upon me by an act of love.

After about 15 minutes, but who’s counting, I felt the Valkyries rumbling in my poor belly. I ran upstairs to the bathroom. Quickly dropping my drawers and sat on the almighty toilet. The prunes immediately without hesitation, battled the Valkyries and won the battle. The rest of the toilet procedure is better left alone.

I learned a few things in this episode. One was that above all people on the earth, no one will ever love you like a grandparent. This of course in adaptable to anyone you love or loves you. I made that statement so when Nana reads it in Heaven, she won’t have bad feelings.

What does this have to do with photography? I know if your reading this, you have a complete understanding,  That goes without thought. Please bear with me cause there are some new people here and they don’t really get my style of writing.  So I’ll explain to them and youse regulars don’t have to read this.

See, we are making photos of things we find interesting. My brain is a Capco, model 256a, 1949 issue. It’s slower than the new models and doesn’t have the features that newer models have, What my brain (mind) does, it connects my optical sensors (eyes) with my emotions stemming from my blood pumping station, (heart).

So, if what goes in has to come out, why do we need to be concerned anyway. When we work, we essentially process info that has been put into us. The output usually is a result of input and the mix with what we add to that input.

There is no photo ever made or will be made that is PURITY. what we need do as photographers, is to recognize the results of our photos. Recognize the source of inspiration. Is it an overload of info coming into us from outside sources? What part of the photos is our contribution to stimuli?

Essentially what I’m saying is to try to locate and define the stimuli entering your mind and to acknowledge that it’s impossible to escape it. Stieglitz had a body of work called, “Equivalent”, Part of it was, a cloud in the sky and it equaled the torso of a body.

I am not saying to do that. I was sitting with Ding at the museum and he showed me some Stieglitz photos. I saw and held some Equivalents.  I understood what the intention was and the emotional impact they had on me. My heart changed its pattern of beating. Ding took the prints and placed them in their box.  Then he handed me a print I was very well in love with. It was The Steerage. 

Let me tell ya.  I held that photo from the edges, the way he taught me. I had all kinds of emotional feelings. I studied every small part of the photo. The faces embedded in me before embedding was invented. Ding smiled and asked me, “What do you feel about this image?” I immediately understood “Equivalent.”

This is the key to the life of a photographer is. Each photo you make is equivalent to the experience of living at the time of exposure. So, you owe it to yourself to determine how much of the images are from the part that needs prunes or how much is actually your creative input. We are not alone in the world, We are not alone in life. We are not alone in our photos. We just should strive to recognize what’s in them and then to understand all the facets of the photo.

Do you SEE your photos? Do you see YOU in the photos?

December 14th, 2018 … Still Crazy After All These Years

….. it’s the early 80’s and I’ bringing 40 framed prints to a gallery in Olde City for a  solo exhibition. It’s been 2 months in the works to get to this day, The Day of Hanging. I liked to hang shows and am actually very good and precise. I actually was a member of a gallery with the mixed artist. Most were faculty from universities and schools etc. So when I curated and hung the shows, i never had anyone complain. Mixing mixed media and having the show read well, is no easy task. Pat on my back and I needed it. This was different and it’s not my first solo show. It’s just the first for this gallery.

So I park in front of the gallery and P…says we are all ready. He has some young cute assistant and I hmmmmm, Okie. We get all the frames inside and drink coffee. The girl starts moving things around. She feels she has a talent for sequencing work. I’m quiet. P… says Andy is an expert at this. I’m thinking, she’s 21 and an expert….okie. She may very well be but I understand sequencing and she and P…haven’t a clue. i know by the way they placed the frames. So, I said to Andy,m ok… let me give it a shot. I start moving frames and after 15 minutes, I’m happy with the sequence. Andy moves in closer and then turns to me and ask….Do you make all these with a camera? Well, now I am 69 and if she asked me that question, I would poop my pants. oh yeah. This was a long time ago and I was younger and could hold, um… things better. To tell the truth, when Andy asked me that question, I almost did poop my pants. C’mon, what kinda question is that to ask?  Andy says you must be really crazy with all these dark pictures. P…says, yeah, Don makes lots of crazy pictures.

Well, I deal with criticism very well. If a viewer or many viewers have things to say, fine. I don’t take it to heart. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a lower body part where they can shove their opinions. The thing is, the gallery owner and director make statements like that, I got pissed. We are supposed to be in a synergistic relationship that feeds each other. My prints sell in his gallery and he gets 40% of the sales. So we get it all set up and ready. The 3 of us are sitting around and Andy apologizes for saying my work and I are crazy. P… has to leave and will be back in an hour.

Andy asks me if I can explain some of my photos so she will have a better understanding. Sure I said. She starts questioning me and much to my surprise, the questions were very thoughtful. I’m about 32yo and going on 80. I start telling Andy that I make photos that are a part of my life. See Andy, I was a soldier in Vietnam and that affected me for life. I will never fully get out of Nam. The dark tones, the highlights and the way I present the subject matter, all the aftermath of Nam. I can’t make photos of pretty flowers, or nice buildings and not even make photos of pretty girls,. wait, wait, let’s not get carried away. I can make photos of pretty girls….I’m not stupid.

I explained to Andy that my work is my life and my life is my work. I can’t be what others want me to be. I can’t make photos for anyone except my own soul. I like when someone responds to my work and even like it more if they buy some, but it’s not the motive for my persistence on discovering the world that lives within me and without me.

Opening night P and Andy greet me. I have jeans on and Docksiders, a whiter Tee shirt and a herringbone jacket. People start coming in and I greet them and answer questions. Many are people I know and it’s very comfy. Andy is walking a small group around and explaining my photos. I was so interested in hearing the conversations. She was very heartwarming and captivating. P…comes to me and says, You see why I have Andy here. Andy comes to me and wraps my arm in hers.  < i have a strong heart and won’t let myself fall in love or like or anything. I have a smile on my face and we walk to some people and she introduces me.

There’s an older couple whom I have seen many times at First Friday’s. Andy says Dave and Maria would like to buy 7 photos. I have the list. Andy and I walk to P… and explain that 7 prints are sold. P…says he sold 4 already. I explain to P…. I wish Andy to get 20% from my cut. So, P…you get, 40%, I get 40% and Andy gets 20%. We all agree and Andy is like in heaven. The end of the night we sold 19 prints. The shows up for a month with openings every Friday night. Andy sold more prints and she became a great gallery director. Now she’s one of my finest collectors and takes good care of me. Andy became very wealthy and very informed. She’s well known and a sharp buyer.

I guess the moral of this story, the moral of this song is….. she judged me as crazy and my work. I judged her as a young girl like a butterfly. I learned that Andy had the flair to be a gallery director. She had an instinct for the viewers and how to motivate them to buy. She knew how to stir me and get me thinking and not be complacent with myself just cause I was working over and over in a similar vein.

What did I learn about me?  I’m Still Crazy After All These Years

….as shooters, usually first impressions don’t mean much, we need further investigation of our subject and ourselves to be worthy of Mother Light

November 24th, 2018 … Sometimes I get it right

When looking for photographs, find them in your heart, then bring them to your camera. The rest is photography. 

 

Simple words but to live by them is a lifetime of work. I taught myself many years ago to trust my heart above my mind. I mean we need to trust our mind and I do but there is a stronger satisfaction from images from the heart than from the mind. See, I spend a lot of time working and always did. I can remember some photos that I thought about and made. I remember photos that I felt and made. I know many will say I am missing the boat cause ideally, the photos should come from the Mind and Heart. Well, for me there is a distinct difference between the two. I like the split because I analyze my work in a way the lets me separate and join together the mind and heart. I suppose it’s ideal to have both work together but I like to think that the difference between the two makes for a strong understanding of the images.

Way back in the early 1970s, I did an experiment. I spent time making photos of my wife and kids. I felt these photos very strong and I was very excited by the photos. Then I went to the streets and made photos that I thought about. What I mean is, I had ideas of photos and wanted to make them so I could see my ideas come to fruit. Many of the photos from both groups we very exciting and satisfied my curiosity.  But the experiment was more intense. I wanted, no needed to see which if any of the photos rang truer than others. The net result of this experiment was actually learning to accept the images and how they affect my work and how they affect my future work.

Editing and curating your own work is a lesson in ego washing. Ideally, you put a lot of images in the mix and then doing the job of editing to get the final residue and gist of your work. Sounds easy enough but we need to realize that what we are doing is bringing others to the life of our work. They become a part of our mix. I have edited many photos from many people for the Inspired Eye and other duties for the images. There is a manner of approach to viewing and even making photos. The “WHY” and the “HOW” are essential and understanding the difference is crucial to success. The key factor of the how and why is to get how the shooter thinks and or feels. Years ago going to exhibitions and gallery openings, I would look at the photos and try to feel them as if the shooter made them for me. I loved when I connected to an image. Made me feel like I knew something. Secretly inside and never brought to the surface, I asked how the shooter made the photos. I was interested in what camera, what lens, what film, how they processed, everything about the blood and veins of the photo. I was not an academic and had little or no training in photography. I felt often like an outsider but my lust for life with my camera superseded any feelings of self-worth.

 

I’m not being self-indulgent here. I had to figure this stuff out mainly by myself and then let it grow inside me so it was a part and is a part of my existence. If I was an academic then this stuff would be in me and be proper. So I try to explain how I think and feel about things best I can at the moment. I’m editing and curating an exhibition for a woman shooter. She is very talented and yet I feel something missing from the photos. Emotionally they are very strong but they lack interesting eye travel. Her heart is intact and she makes the subject appear with the viewer. The photos lack a sense of environmental presence. Even Avedon with his corner portraits has a very strong sense of environment. The lack of environmental info is also the presence of environmental info.

I am caught in a conundrum about her exhibition. If I say anything at this time about the photos having an emotional stance but lacking in the rest of the frame, she will be very upset and well she should be. If I just let this go and she does the exhibition, some viewers will feel the lack of supporting energy and she will be upset because I didn’t express my thoughts before she was hanging naked on the wall.

So it appears the life force of the Heart and Mind exist in a very strong manner, and we must deal with it even if we don’t’ understand or accept it.

August 1st, 2018 … How to See a Horse

Ya know that rule about eye contact, being most important? Well, I was never one to follow rules too closely. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but sometimes I like my photos to just be observed. See the girl up above, yeah, the one in the white dress? Well, if I waited a fraction of a second, we would be locked in the eyes. I anticipated that and released before that happened. Why? Well, she’s got that mask thing on, she’s all alone in her world and I just observed her and made the photo. I suppose it’s not really like a detachment. I mean if she’s in her world and I’m in mine and I make a photo of her, am I intruding on and in her world.  Stuff like this haunts me all the time because i never really get an answer that fully answers the question once and for all.

Did you ever analyze your subject matter?  Did ya ever question why certain things turn you on and other things, ya don’t give a hoot about? Sounds like childs play and maybe ya think it is but I tellya, these are life altering questions. I think the way to work this is to anylize your images and find a common denometer that inks them.  OK, shhhhhhh… we are all serious about photography and our lives, granted. If you haphazzardly spread this stuff around, next thing ya know, the one you kinda donr’t really care about,  well that one will end up in a Museum and you’ll have to pay to see the work. So we keep this under wraps and even Mueller can’t figure this out.

The novice would think we are talking about trigger mechanisms. We are in a way but it don’t weigh enuff. We all know that the trigger mechanism lives inside the photo and perhaps that made us click the shutter. Hold on folks, just a min….I am losing myself. da da la de da… there I am…  See, the difference is this….subject matter is already a choice that sleeps in your eye, heart and mind. Your job and the job of your Named camera, is to respond to outside stimulus and then and only then let the trigger set the shutter for the photo.  So I think where we need to get clarity, and I speak, no…sorry I write about this because there seems to be a bit of confusion on the area of photography.

Probably most of us can anaylize our intent ansd subject matter.  It’s like this. If we look at a horse long enough, we still see a horse. Walk around like those blind Priest and the elephant. No matter what you do, you will see a horse. Partially because we are programed to see things and apply tags to them quickly. So, a horse is a horse of course a horse will always be a horse, of course. If you don’t believe me ask Mr Ed. Ya don’t trust a horse, ask Wilber. See, our mind as powerful as it is, has preconceptions and other things in there to boggle it. If we look at a horse and see a horse, we fit in to the mass of society and we never need think any different. We are in the safety zone of no questions and need no answers. It’s acceptable and down right proper. What’s my point? ok…..

As a photographer, wait… as an inhabitant of this planet we all love and destroy together it’s socially and photographically to see a horse as a horse. BUTT!

When I see a horse, I want to know it’s name. I love the brown coat and the way he stands, so proud, even while making a dumping. I love the white patch that he has between the eyes. I wonder if he’s married and even has kids. I wonder what the horse is thinking about as he looks at me. I think his name is Ralph, Ralph the horse. So noble. Why on earth would anyone just see a horse? Hold on now. This might be crazy and from me, youse know it could be. Wait a darn minute. I just had a brain, ummm well… thought. Not very often but i learned to pay attention.

What if and I know this is a stretch, what would happen if we all looked at our subject matter and didn’t just see a horse?  What if we really tried to feel our subject matter from our Eye, Heart and Mind? What if Edmund Bacon was right? What if we looked at our scenes on the streets and the people being affected and affecting the environment. What if we didn’t see a horse at all and we just saw Ralph the horse that is smarter than I?

If we get bold enough, nah… what if I get bold enough and go out with Andre’ the Leica M240 and look for photos and break the patterns of thoughts and emotions and seek to find out there what dwells in me.

June 10th, 2018 … Thoughts on Seeing … Inside and Out … Lesson from Minor White

There are a few ways to see photographically. I’m just gonna touch on a few of the most important that I know.  So shall we break this down to:

Seeing the reality in front of us … or seeing the reality in our mind. They are not one and the same and no camera ever invented can join or translate the two and get the desired result.  So, what becomes the issue for us as shooters? I can speak for me and I see things kinda like this.

If I get an idea in my mind and wish to make it come to birth as a print, (I use that term loosely) … it could be said that I had a pre-visualization.  Ansel had a method of pre-visualization that back in the 60’s and 70’s served to isolate most large format shooters from small camera shooters. The idea was to tune everything you know at the precise moment of exposure, how the end result would be. You could see  the image in your mind’s eye and you worked methodically to make the image as visualized in the mind. I did all that. I got everything so precise that it became routine for me to make photos. Remember that song, “Along comes Mary”?

Well along comes Minor. I went to a workshop with a friend and ya know, it was cool. I was still under the mental and emotional influence of Nam. At that point in my life, I didn’t really care about too much. Minor was leaning back on a tree and a few gutsy people sat around him. He had a presence about him that was very spiritual. I am pre-visualizing about photos of Minor and just letting my mind take hold of the situation. A young woman came over and told everyone that a class was getting ready to start. Everyone but Minor went to the class. Minor leaned back against the tree and I stood there just looking around. It was just the 2 of us there. I looked at Minor with respect and a kind of reverence but no fear. I would never no fear my entire life to this very moment. I remember Ding showing me Minor’s works and he had a kind of stillness about him. It was like Ding felt he was in the presence of something otherworldly and he passed that on to me. Ding asked me how I felt about Minor’s works and I said, it’s like Minor’s images are from a place inside him that he taps into. He has a resevour of energy and love and is capable of making the images with that source instilled in them. Ding patted  me on the back and I immediately understood that the sourse was Minor’s heart.

Minor asked me to sit and we started to talk. He asked me”How’s life”? I told him I left it in Nam. That was a gateway answer. We started talking about the military and he wanted to know about every second of my experience in Nam. His eyes peirced my soul with intensity. Then I directed the conversation to photography. I said, Minor, I’d really like to talk just about photography. He said I thought that’s what we were doing. (ya ever see a dog look at you and tilt his head from side to side? that’s what was happening to my mind.) Minor said, what do you think photography is? I couldn’t answer. He told me, from this moment on, photography is about your life. It’s about some people that read you and understand you. You have to find the photos that you believe in. Many won’t cut the grade but regardless, they are all from your heart. In time, hopefully, you will learn to see from the heart and see from the mind and then to understand the difference. Minor said Ansel made photos that were representative of the subject matter. This is natural because he captured the beauty of the natural landscape. Steiglitz made photos that were representational and also that were as he called them, equivalents. I see making photographs as making them for their own value. For me, the photograph is it’s own life, separate from the subject matter. It is it’s own personal reality.

I told him I was an advocate for Ansel’s Zone System. He smiled. He asked me if I liked working so methodically and pre-planned. I said I didn’t really know another way to think and work. He looked at me like I imagine an Angel would look at me. Really seeing my heart and total worth as a human. Then he grabbed my head and shook it and said dump all that shit in there down the toilet. I was at a loss. He then placed his hand on my chest over my heart and told me, that is all that matters. I told him I didn’t really understand. Minor said you can think your way thru life and maybe find a rewarding end. You can FEEL your way thru life and then, there is no question. The answer you seek will be in the images that you Felt with your heart. That I understood. I never saw Minor again but he’s got a space in my heart and mind for all time.

Interlude, The Portrait

I asked Minor if I could make a portrait of him. He agreed but said he had one stipulation. That was that, I never show the photo to anyone, ever. I took that lightly and made the portrait. I used a 4×5 and processed the negative. When it was dry, I showed it to him. He loved it and said, you caught me. I was proud. Then he said, we have a pact together correct? I looked him in the eyes and immediately understood the intent, in a way I never did before.  I told him I will never ever show the portrait to anyone. As I was bgetting ready to drive back to Philly, Minor took my hand in his and grasped it between both his hands. He said, I hope you find peace in this world. My dad died when I was 6 years old. I kinda felt that Minor had some of him inside him. It was like I had tears fom my heart and Minor found a way to let me cry without anyone else knowing. We did our farewells and the last words he said to me was…”The Pact”.

The reason I told ya’s about this is: I became acutely aware of the word INTENT and some intrusions on it. In my mind, there exists a difference between B&W and Color. Not just in the spelling of the words but the real meaning associated with each. I suppose I have adopted and implemented the B&W in my work. I was never really attracted to color and maybe there are some reasons not entirely my own. None the less, I have lived other shooters ideas about things and made some of that my own. Remember Minor telling me about the HEART? Well, I didn’t always pay attention but something was brewing inside It wasn’t a craft beer either. I started to wonder about the photos from my mind’s eye and the photos from my heart. The real issue I wanted to discover was the actual combination photos of the mind and heart. Was I perceptive enough to spot anything remotely associated with either? I asked that question over 45 years and never understood the answer clearly. What I taught in class was…..when viewing your photos, can you recall the precise moment of release and all that was there with you at that time? See, there are many things to confuse the intent of your heart and or mind. See how I went right into color vs b&w, without notice? Well, that’s how it works. Exterior stimulus with effect the inner workings of out heart and mind. We need to have the knowledge that something is happening here, what it is isn’t exactly clear.

Ya know about those pre-conceptions I mentioned? Well, they don’t come from you, they come to you. They instill their rubbish into your heart and your work. They are the poison that others send to you and … us, without the ability to stand for and with our work, will fall prey to the effects of those preconceptions. Is this heavy doo doo? sure it it so get your camera and get your butt out there and make photos. Just stay focused on the 2 main ways of seeing, The Heart and The Mind.

Ya know, maybe it’s also about working for you or for them…hmmmm

… with an open heart and an open mind. I always believed and taught this concept. It’s actually the sword to carry thru life. Afterall, basically, it covers any situation you may come across.

June 3rd, 2018 … Legend of The Girl Child Linda … Cont’d

             ( the photos are from 10-13 years ago but they reflect my thoughts for this post)

….so as Linda and I walked away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, she asked me how I really felt about the memorial and everything going on. She asked again why I don’t make photos there also. Linda, photography is essentially for me. Maybe it’s my guide on the path to redemption. Maybe it gives me some kind of peace of mind and perhaps, it eases my heart and mind. When I come to the Memorial, I’m not here for me, I’m not seeking anything but the visual evidence of lost lives

So, once again she ask me why is my photography all work and no joy.  Ok, the thing is this. Many young people are very smart. They may even be very perceptive. Us oldens are put on the earth to advise the youngin’s about the ways of the world. It’s a natural course of being. So, when a youngin ask questions that may challenge the olden’s, worlds could shake and stuff. Not kiddin’. Well, for sure, the olden’s mind needs to wake up and start putting petrol in the thinking motor.  Maybe she is right and I need to slow down and smell the flowers. I mean I do many things for many people and I love it. I can’t and won’t stop that. I ask Linda, what she thinks I should do. (I don’t need an answer really cause I’ll do things my own way, that’s the only way worth dying for and that means it’s the only way worth living for)

Linda says, you know that little camera you have in your pocket all the time? I said, you mean the Sony? I always have that with me cause it’s so small and light and does everything.  She says, maybe you should just use that and  feel light like a tourist and just enjoy photography. (ok, so my brian is present and not on vacation. Methinks the kid just might have an idea.) The problem is that I like to work with a focused intent. Regardless of how the photos are liked or disliked, I just need to be able to look at them and stand by them as if my children.

EPSON DSC Picture

So she tells me, maybe forget all you teach to others and just let yourself make photos because it’s fun and you can. So I agree with her and myself to lighten the load physically and emotionally and try to, actually, just enjoy the act of seeing and using the little Sony RX100 v. The photos in the previous post were all made with that camera. I named it Dad when I got it cause a Dad can do anything like the Sony. My Dad died 62 years ago when I was 6yo. So, hence the name for the camera.

She told me she was meeting some friends for lunch and I was invited to go along. I quickly rejected the idea and told her, I will walk the streets a little and reflect on things. I handed her Garry the Olympus Pen-F  and told her to use it until her camera arrives on Wednesday. She said no thanks cause we never know when we will meet again. I agreed. We hit Chestnut street and 2nd and we parted company. I walked around and just was a tourist in my own city and make some snaps with the Sony. In a minute my iPhone rings, I see the name and hmmmm. Hullo,  Hi, it’s Linda, I’ll call you when the camera arrives. Ok, thanks for everything, …..silence……………

I have always stood by the fact that, We are all tourist in this world, no one gets a permanent Visa.

(a side note worth expressing. There is a Senator that’s dying. People feel sorry for him. I don’t. I hope when he dies, he doesn’t go to Hell or Heaven. I hope he goes to the place where all the POW/MIA are from every war we ever had or ever will have. I want him to face these troops and explain to them why he didn’t do anything to bring them home.)

June 2nd, 2018 … Legend of the Girl Child Linda … Cont’d

…. I’m tired and burnt out. Lack of sleep again and the nightmares that have haunted my time to rest for decades, taking it’s toll. It’s Memorial Day and I need to get down to the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.  Hey, don’t even think about me being a one day a year advocate or supporter. I live this every single moment of my life. The POW/MIA issue is first and foremost on my agenda of living. So, don’t even think I’m a one day a memory guy.

…chuga chuga chuga, the RT67 is pulling up and exactly on time.  I get on the bus and swipe my Drivers License and the fair is paid. Bus is not full cause people are celebrating the  holiday.  I get ready to sit and I hear a voice call to me…”Don, back here”…..I turn to look and low and behold, it’s the Girl Child Linda. She’s sitting in the very back of the bus. So, I smile and slowly walk to her with the Frank Sinatra strut. Nah, kidding, more John Wayne… giggles.

I sit next to her and we greet each other and immediately, any ice is melted.  Linda sees my camera around my neck and ask me what it is. I reply, it’s the Olympus Pen-F with the 12mm sees 24mm. She looks at it and I hand Garry the Oly Pen-F to her. First thing she says is, oh my, it’s so small and light. She ask me if it’s named after Garry Winogrand. I smile and say, no way, it’s naed after Garry the fish guy at the fish store. He can can gut and clean a weakie in 11 seconds. I figure any man that can do that deserves to have my camera named after him.  11 seconds, he’s won every fish gutting competition world wide for at least 6 weeks. I’m smiling, see I love when someone just takes the bait and goes for it.

 

Linda shoves her shoulder against my side. I said, Winogrand for sure. So, I show her some things about the camera and her eyes are glistening. She loves the EVF and the tilt screen. The art filter knob kinda went over the top. So she starts looking thru the finder and ust grabs her vith the FOV and DOF. I put the 25mm 1.8 on and she sees that and now it’s all over. She ask me if it’s a good camera. I replied, ya know how ya buy a camera and fall in love and then sell it cause another camera gets your heart? She smiles, yes. Well, this is my 3rd copy of this camera. So, her iPhone goes to work and she gets to B&H and orders the camera, and some lenses and a battery. 2 minutes and she says, I’ll have it all on Wednesday.  Will you help me get it set up and running? Sure.

Linda ask me where I’m heading and I tell her the Memorials. She smiles and ask if she can accompany me. Sure. She says she’s going to see her Grandfather’s name on the wall. I know too many people on the wall but I go because it’s hallowed ground for me. There will be many there and all kinds of ceremonies. She ask if I take pictures there and I reply, not really. I bring my camera here in case of some fight or vandalism etc. Then I make photos. She looks at me as if she understands and respect my feelings.

We now are exiting the bus and boarding the train. We grab a seat and I tell her to sit by the window.   I hand her Garry the Olympus Pen-F and she starts looking thru him and I can sense excitement. She starts flippin’ thru the menu and tells me that this camera has so many options. Options, is that what you call it? I call it, Points of Confusion but your right, it has many options.

Linda ask me a question, why do you always call your photography, work? I tell her, it’s my life’s work and always was and will be. It’s not your life’s joy? If it’s always work, what do you do for the joy of it all? I can’t answer this so quickly because I need to reflect on it all. I need to formulate an answer that will be truth and at the moment and many moments in the past, maybe i don’t see or even know the truth anymore. Perhaps she has triggered a key element in my stance and essence of it all.

Finally we get to the Memorail and we walk to the names on the wall. I know many but interested in seeing the one that means the most to her. She walks to the name of her Grandfather and puts her hand on it and moves closer and kisses it. Many cameras are clicking away. Mine is still and just holding everything in reverance.  ….a tap on my shoulder, a voice speaks, Don, good too see you brother. It’s an old friend, Rob. You gonna introduce me to your daughter? Immediately Linda, with some tears in her eyes says, oh, we are just close friends. Rob smiles and then hugs me and then Linda and salutes and say’s he’ll call me later.

Linda takes my hand and then I say, let’s go. She ask why I didn’t make any photos and I told her I don’t need to. This place for me is a Center Point of Sorrow and Loss. Not from the people that visit and not for the people whose names are on the wall. It’s a constant reminder that the Gov’t and people of the country not only have forgotten the soldiers, lost and POW/MIA and those on the walls all over the country, not forgotten but disregarded.

So she’s smart enough to switch the subject and she ask me, again about my difference between work and joy.

The answer to her question is in my next post and hopefully no later than Monday, perhaps sooner.

Be blessed all and I have started the next post… have a blessed weekend …………. shooter out…..

 

April 8th, 2018 … The Myth of Cameras and Other Things

Many say that any good shooter can get a great photo with any came

ra. That is the absolute truth. It’s also not the only truth. There are other truths to uncover and reasons for those truths.

As photographers, we need to have an underestanding of what our camera is. I name my cameras because I can and because I see a shrink on a regular basis. The idea for me is that the name of my camera is a metaphor for my entire process of photography. But what role does the camera really play?

The camera is a translator of light. I will not get into the controls as we all know and use them. The camera has another purpose and that is to inspire. As a translator, the camera brings to the sensor, the light from the scene. But is that all? What about emotional impact, how about the esthetic or even the graphical content? Can and does the camera capture those elements and more? How exactly does that even happen? I gotta tellyaalls, all my life I have sought and found questions. I love questions but I don’t really seek answers. Let’s assume that life is a journey of self discovery. So, while you will find many questions and should take them on one at a time. That allows us to find and process more than one answer to any given question.

I actually don’t want a real answer to anything, except what time dinner is. The question is important and the journey to find an answer is life and the answer, while it may annswer the question, it can’t ever be complete.

So, hopefully you follow me here and see what it means to photography and to your time above ground. I take Mom the Ricoh GRII out and I am intoxicated. I am in a zone that happens on first touch with the camera and actually last for a looooong time.  It makes myhand float like some kinda vessel and I just watch the screen as we make the frame. Snap focus and that’s it. It’s all about seeing and feeling.

The Fuji X-Pro2 is named Walker after Walker Evans.  The camera has a very professional feel to it. Really, it’s an amazing camera cause even in the rain or snow, it does what ya want a camera to do in adverse conditions as well as good conditions.  It’s nice to have interchangeable lenses. I use the EVF mostly.  Just let me get the meat going….. just a min, trust me, I’m not lost.

The Leica M240. Gotta tell ya, I have used Leica’s  the better part of 48 years. That doesn’t make it right, it just means a long time running. I’m not even gonna push the Leica or any other camera. You have your own and good.

Ok, we have the pc and the software that takes care of the processing. It’s basically a constant.  We have the scenes out there that we work and it’s a inconsistant constant.  I was told by some mentors and Isee now that many people teach, see something as if it was the first time your seeing it. Well, it doesn’t mean work a street corner and next time jump from a roof so you can see it for the first time the next time. I have tried this many times and failed. My uncle Birney told me many years ago, that it means you have a poisened mind. So, I call that exercise bullcrap. It’s impossible or is it? Well, not totally either way.

So, there always is a common denominator in life but that’s not always what we need. Sometimes we need to cut the edge with a new way of thinking. So, if we have the pc and processing running and we have our streets (anything you call subject)….working, how do we change our way of thinking and seeing?

Enter the camera. If you let your camera be your friend instead of a tool, you will find that your synergysm with your camera, will start to awaken the interior thoughts and feelings that you can find out there and get into your photos. some of the shooters I mentor insist that the camera is a tool and that they command it’s use.  It makes me sad when I come across someone that thinks this way. I mean, it’s like there’s no attachment and kinda feeling like the master of their universe. So sad. I often wonder how they are with people and family.

Then there are those that come and start off feeling like the master of their world and after some time and some chatting, things start to change. Usually a slow process but what’s interesting….we share photos on Saturday Breakfast, and I can see the progression in the work as they become more human with a camera. There is a definite visual progression that becomes obvious to all. On the other hand, my friends that insist on having a tool as a camera, usually but not always, the work is at a stagnant point. That’s why we meet anyway so it’s ok.

I think for most humans, not politicians or lawyers etc, the compass should be our guide. So, as you walk the streets with your camera, and seek your photos, your camera is the conector between you and your lifes work and your images. It’s this way for everyone, like it or believe it or not. If this is truth and it is Gospel as photopgraphers should believe, how is it possible to disrespect photography and Mother Light by having your camera be a tool? Oh my, how can one disrespect themselves that way? Look, I’m old enough to realize that there are many ways to approach things. That’s not the issue. The issue is, that I express myself and hang my um…. on the wall. You may or may not agree but you know where I stand. When I was younger and totally engrossed with photography, I loved it all, every single part.’ I don’t love it anymore, I LIVE it.

I go out to shoot almost daily. I walk my miles and make photos, not many but enoough to keep me above ground. I am connected and my camera helps me feel at one. I get home and shelf the camera and I start to feel lost. I start almost immediately missing my work and my life.

Be Blessed everyone and I hope you find the light to make you excited and maybe name your camera.

Namaste

November16th, 2017 … A Casual Walk With My Intent … or Gone Fishing

Like any serious photographer, I have my moments of discontent. What I mean is that the photos I’m making are ok for me to continue but not the celebrated ones we hope will shine. I wrote about this a few post back. Flashback to around 1973.

I’m sitting on the bank of a creek and fishing with Bill, my father in law and Bob his brother and my 2 brother in laws Dan & Billy. I have all the good stuff. Fenwick ultra lite rod, Penn reel and all the lures and things to make Opening Day of Trout Fishing a great experience. I had my Leica M4 and 35mm Cron in my vest pocket. I will not talk about the financial investment in this undertaking. We are fishing our own styles and I caught a few small ones and put them back in the water.  I said to Bob, what the hecks going on? All these people fishing and not many fish being caught. Bob was laid back against a tree stump like it was an expensive leather chair.

Donald, he said, 90% of the fish are caught by 10% of the fisherman. 10% of the fish are caught by 90% of the fisherman. I almost stopped breathing. I had an epihany, and it proved Bob right. Oh my I thought. Why am I doing this? Bob said, Donald….I come out here to relax. I love the fresh air, the water all the nuts like you trying to catch fish.  I said your fishing. He reeled his line in and there was just a sinker, no hook, no bait. He’s calling me nuts right.

Bob said. look, it’s very relaxing right now. No kids, no wife, no work just you bugging me, he smiled. I asked him, why no hook or anything? Donald, if I have a hook, then I need bait. Then the hook gets snagged on something so I need to start over. What happens if I catch a fish? I gotta deal with that and …it’s good fishing but it damn sure ain’t relaxing.

Making photos for me is like fishing. I love to catch the big fish but I won’t rule out the ones that are not keepers. I LIVE photography. I love every single aspect of it. If I was to just go for those great shots, what about the energy that goes into that. I mean if you picked up your camera and every time made your masterpiece, well, they wouldn’t be. The inverse square law dictates that in order to survive as a photographer, you need to take the good with the bad and love all equallly.

The ones you feel are not keepers, if you don’t love them you will not learn from them and probably not find the great shots you are capable of. Not every shot is a benchmarm, nor do they need to be. I go out on the streets and I am relaxed. I’m breathing, listening, seeing and processing in my heart abd mind photos I seek to find. You can do things the way you want but trust me, if you slack off because your not getting the work you rhink you want or need, you better open your eye, heart and mind cause your making a mistake.

I’m not saying to get complacent, just saying there’s a lot of fish in the waters. For me, I;m very relaxed and content just being alive with my camera.

….shooter out………………..