Category Archives: Photography

July 1st, 2017 … An Old Friend Comes Home … Leica X-E

….. Roger and I are standing at the counter at B&H. I think it’s like 2012 of 2013. The salesman is working with another customer when he sees Roger and says I’ll be right there. Sure enough in 15 seconds, he’s shaking Roger’s hand.  He doesn’t acknowledge me and that’s fine.  Roger looks at me and does that silly thing with his eye. I’m supposed to know what it means but after decades, I still don’t. He tells the guy I’m his partner and all the sudden the salesman wants to  give me his firstborn son.

Roger gives the salesman an order number. The guy goes to the back of the store an in 5 minutes returns with a look of curiouosity on his face. He says, “there seems to be a mixup with the order, they didn’t specify which camera and lens you wanted”. Roger looks in the box,  picking up the Monochrome, the M24o. There around 7 lenses in the box. Roger says to the guy, yes a mistake has been made. Where is the Canon 5D and 24-70 and the 35 1.4? The salesman says, “can we get the Leica that you want first”? Roger immediately says, this box is part of my order.  It all goes with me.

I think the salesman is like 27 yo but he needs to wear a diaper. I think he dropped a load.

He says Yes sir, be right back. On his return Roger says he wants to see the Leica X-E. Well the salesman runs and comes back with a new X-E. he opens the box and loads a batter in it. He hands it to Roger who in turn hands it to me. I start checking it out. They finalize the bill and for some things ordered a few weeks ago. I figure it’s around $80,000.00. A man walks over to Roger and thanks him, shakes his hand and says’ “We want you to have the X-E as a gift to a loyal customer”. Of course Roger is very gracious and thanks all concerned.

We carry the two boxes out to Roger’s Jag and put them in and we head back to Philly. We get to the first rest stop and of course I need to go. So, we pull in and Roger waits in the car as I go in. After a few minutes I come back to the car and get in. Roger starts the car and hands me a box. He says, I want you to have the X-E. I tell him thanks but no thanks. That cmera goes against everything I have going on. I like to set my camera on M mode, auto iso and then choose f/stop and shutter speed. This way I can control my exposure and the camera works with me selecting the ISO.

The Leica X2 and X-E do not do this. They will not allow auto ISO in M mode. I tell him forget it. Then as we are driving along, he’s telling me that I am too comfy in the way I work and with the cameras I work with. He tells me that I don’t think anymore but just respond to the scene kinda like a very open minded auto mode. Inside, I am getting pissed. Not because of what he’s telling me but because it’s all true. He reminds me that in my film daze, I would have a fixed ISO, sorta of maybe but I ain’t sayin’ nuttin about that stuff. I smile and admit he’s right but I don’t want to fix something that’s not broken. He tells me keep the X-E and just enjoy it. I used his X2 many times before so I know the work involved in un-taking-for -granted and adapting-what-I-know-but-don’t-use -properly.

So I used the X-E for almost a year along side other cameras but it doesn’t like to share experiences and knowledge with any other camera. Leica’s are greedy with time and love. They do not like to be with a ny other camera out working. So after a while I stop using the X-E. All my other cameras are ok with each other. So, why rattle cages when it’s not necessary. Roger is in India and Pakistan working on a case and I take some things out to his home and put the X-E on the shelf. Life goes on. Time passes and here we are. Weekend before last Roger and Mary come to Philly from Hong Kong for a visit. He wants me to come out to his home on the main line and check things out. I do the inventory for his acquisitions. This at times is a task but I do it because he’s my friend. So we are in the vault and looking at some nice Leica’s. He picked up a 250FF I think it’s called. Nice stuff. Then I see on shelf where I placed it years ago, the Leica X-E. I smiled.

Roger said once again….”take the X-E and use it. Don’t return it, it belongs to you and it will help you discover your inner self again.I shrug my shoulders because I know the camera pretty well and I know it will do what it wants and not what I want. There is a compromise with it but I need to just let go and open my mind and heart. I tell Roger, ya know something, I will take it and use it. I need to be on a screen camera again. Even the GRII is very fast and intuitive but the X-E makes me slow down and live and feel the moment.

The Leica X-E will not give you Auto ISO  in M Mode. The screen is the pits. It takes a while to turn on and it goes to sleep in a minute. It focuses ok and manual focus is very good. The lens is a Leica Lens and any Leica shooter will be happy. It’s an outstanding lens. You can make an exposure and it’s slow to write to the card.

So why use this age old camera? Ok, first off, it is ELEGANT. Even tho it’s not fast it’s very Elegant. What it does it does well and what it doesn’t do, I don’t need with this camera. There is a cerebral connection that this camera offers and supports and all I need to do is stop having pre-conceptions about what I want it to do. So, I am back to the raw elegant basics and I have a companion with me that is an old friend. I will not take any other camera out with the  X-E. If I did it would be Mom the Ricoh GRII because she’s a screen camera also. You all have a fine weekend and HAPPY JULY 4th to one and all. I’ll be working with Dad the Leica X-E for a while.

May 21st, 2017 …The Hot Sauce of Photography

Hot sauce is a great metaphor for your individual photography. I mention this because it rekindles the emotional state that can over come us about intent and acceptance of our work. You can get all the cameras, lenses, pc’s, software etc but the final residue of emotional stance is in the photos.

Once you make the photos and then put them out there, well hot sauce starts to cook. Why Hot Sauce? Well, here’s my take on it. There are countless variations of Hot Sauce. Some are mild, some hot, some hotter and even some that require a stretch to the definition of the word HOT. Then we have many labels, sizes, colors scent etc. oh, don’t forget some are just hot and too hot to really taste and others have hot but a distinct flavor.

Then there are the users of the sauces and people vary in an undefinable number. So many variables. I suppose after spending time going thru what you like and don’t like, you choose what best suites you.  At that point it’s about taste and it becomes a personal taste and you have to support it regardless of what others feel about your sauces. Some will like your choice of sauces and others may not. You may even feel intimidated from some who claim to be very skilled and knowledgeable about sauces.

Believe me, there are those among us that are professional Hot Sauce appraisers. Some of these people can tell you the vintage of the Sauce. Some are gear oriented and can discuss the bottle, cap, label etc. The thing is that everyone has an opinion and many like to express it to others about others hot sauce. Of course usually they become defensive about their own sauce and maybe that’s why they go on the offensive, because it protects their sauce from open opinion and critique from others.

So, as I said in the start, Hot Sauce is a metaphor for photography. If you just think about the hot sauce metaphor and then apply it to your photography, maybe, just maybe, you can realize that your have your own bottle of sauce and like it or not, not all with like the look or flavor or aroma. You have to accept the fact that a photograph that you make and love is your hot sauce and has a right to be on it’s own.

Your life is a competition. Don’t believe it’s not. You are competing against yourself. No matter how you bet, it’s always against yourself. We will not survive the end of the competition. What does that mean? For me it means, I do my work because I have to. I would lose a reason to breathe without it. If I meet others that are as serious as me, don’t I have the responsibility to accept them and their work? No one should pass judgement upon another’s sauce.

What hurts me if I see someone with potential doing beautiful work, and that person gets criticism and then they sloe=w down or stop, that’s F***ed up stuff.

Do your thing and find your vision and don’t get sidetracked by the the so called negative energy users. You will never make too many photos and you’ll never have too much time to do it.

Enjoy your hot sauce my friends…….I’ll be around……peace

May 2nd, 2017 … On Vision … Seeing With the Fuji X-Pro2

There comes time that I have to take inventory of what and why I am doing what I am doing. It’s not about justifying gear or computers, software or any tangible items. It’s about Intent and the Fulfillment of Intent.  Believe me, it’s a heck of a lot easier to justify buying gear than it is to check your motivators and what drives them and the hunt for satisfaction. I mean, I could say, I need a new lens, save up the ducketts and get the lens. Case closed.  Yeah, I want the New Fujicanikonlei camera. Save up the money, (no ducketts for this camera)….get it and once again, case closed.

What comes to me in this thought train is….what is the common denominator? There is one and that’s what needs to be addressed. Perhaps Olivier was right when he wrote his piece on GAS, Gear Acquisition Syndrome. So, if gear is a deterrent for close evaluation of the work and the process, what is it hiding? What is the TRUTH that we all need but yet fear?  Why do we fear this TRUTH and why do we not address it?

When I was an ADMIN at Amin’s forum,, many many members would ask about gear in the open threads. It was and still is the most user friendly forum still in use. There would be many opinions raised and facts that sprang forth and all was settled because everyone had that in common, gear. Some knew that I had  a long history in photography and with galleries etc. So, sometimes I would get a message or email requesting a conversation about someones photos. I loved it and always responded quickly.

The point is, not that the questions were asked but…..the fact that they asked me in private and not in the open forum. I found that very interesting. It means that with gear etc, all can chime in and no feelings get hurt. Then when they wanted my opinions about their work, that became very personal and also very touchy. So we would do sessions in private.

I sought the common denominator above and truth of what that is. It’s vision and the judgement of such vision. Everything a photographer does or thinks about is about VISION and the PHOTOGRAPH. We can buy gear, read books, collect images, buy software and take workshops, go to universities and it all comes down to VISION and the IMAGE. Everything, every single thing you think about or manage to do can be used as a deterrent. It also can be used as a means to an end providing you stand in the face of your work, recognize that work, recognize that you are the maker and the one accountable for that work.

Keep in mind that there are many masters to compare to, many friends and many you don’t and never will know. There are photos plastered all over the world. Yours are just some in the mix. There are shooters that work and get paid high bucks, many that work hard and get little bucks. Many shooters are in it just to have something to do, many want the fame and sometimes fortune that may happen. There are those among us that want to use photography as a tool to meet people.

The motivators are to many to fathom. So, what we need to do i stop hiding from our work. Stop running from the fear of acceptance or rejection.

What matters not just in the end, that implies that the journey is over, but what matters is you standing with full accountability in front of the mirror of yourself and your work and say…..

I am the one who saw and made these photos. Good, bad or indifferent, I am proud to be accountable for this work and my life in photography. Regardless of what others think or say or feel, I will not be controlled or sidetracked by them.

I stand naked here with my photos and recognize the fact….hmmmm wait a sec. Don’t stand naked around and have your photos… I think I might understand but spouses and parents and siblings and mostly…. shrinks will never get it.

Be blessed my friends. Remember, what you do and think is in your photos. Find and make them interesting for YOU. The others may or may not get it but you need to.



April 28th, 2017 … Philly Street … Fuji X-Pro2

So after a long deliberation I decided to sell off some stuff and get the X-Pro2. I had the X-Pro 1 and an XE2 and other things. Fuji didn’t see fit to make me an X shooter so I did it myself and I answer to no one. The X-Pro2 is now my interchangeable camera. The job was taken from Serendipity the Olympus PenF. I love buying cameras and gear but hate to part with them. This is not GAS, it’s DSG. Oh, DSG = don’t sell gear. Truth be told, it’s important to shake the cage some and rotate cameras regardless of how you feel for them.

I think the Mother Processing Computer at USA Central Headquarters, Weather Control Unit has also made changes. In a few days we went from rain and chilly to sunny and 84F.

See, sunlight is necessary for shooters because, well I think we all have our own reasons so I will let that one go. What I been going thru is validation. I mean I have to accept what and why i am doing with photography. So, like I go out and make photos and I need to validate everything. It’s about commitment and acceptance. Those elements are not active without intent. So I been examining my intent and the after work of it.

I had breakfast with a small group last week, also the reason for no post in a week), and we were discussing things like intent. One guy had an attitude and was riviting a youg woman about her work.

She was getting upset and almost in tears and I jumped in  and tried to rescue her from despair. So, I said…..leave her alone as you are no authority. Right away he lashed out to me. (now I must admit, I am not good at holding back but there was 3 woman at the table so I didn’t curse but invented words that meant those curse words.) He said, Don, I don’t care for much of your work. I think you are wasting time doing photography. I smiled. So I leaned back and said, ****. listen, I will put orders in to the international congress of photographic rules and guidelines. I will state that every shooter and every one that will be a shooter or that will be born and become a shooter, learn your guidelines and rules and esthetics and all, every single one get your stamp of approval for their work. The the whole FUC**** world can be to your satisfaction. Will that satisfy your ego?

After he stood up and left, the crowd clapped and we had a much better time without him. (note, I called him a day later and we talked and he didn’t apologize but kinda backed off. The call was tense and I could feel it. So, to break the tension, I said… I know the issues for you. You haven’t figured out how to check every ones work in a good manner. We both laffed and I expect him to return to breakfast next trip.)  So this hit home base for me and I realized that …. to quote Dylan…”One should never be where one does not belong.” What that means at the moment for me is, that if your working for something other then your own satisfaction, it’s issues that will arise.

What makes a good client shooter is not the gear so much. It’s discovering your client’s wants and needs and then finding a way to satisfy them. So in a way that could mean that you are a formula shooter. You have recipes that work and then decide which one or mix gets the job done. Then you get paid. The reason you got the job was because you understand your client’s needs and wants.

It’s the same but even more intense when you are your own client. So we need to discover motivation, obstacles and intent to start. It sounds simple for real but the underlying reasons and motivators could be very intense. When I was doing many workshops, it was a period of complacent satisfaction. UI was teaching what my students wanted to learn. One day long time ago, I realized that my ability to help my student uncover the obstacles that created blocks is what was really appreciated. This certainly isn’t an easy task. It requires drowning in ones emotions and intent and swimming to the surface and seek solid ground to build upon.


….gotta go but will continuw this on the weekend………………………………………………………


March 28th, 2017 Raw? … Color? … The Fuji X100F Made Me Do It! … Part 2

JPEG treated as a DNG and pushed the parameters.

Let me start off by saying that I have a few shooters that wrote me and were not thrilled about me writing this stuff. I am being accused of not being a PRO. It’s true, bows my head in shame, I’m not a pro, I’m not a pro. I am a LIFER. I do photography because I will cease to exist without it. I don’t do it for money. No one pays me to do a job or gig. I do what I do because I HAVE TO. I am a photographer because it’s my life’s work and I want to share as much as I can. I do and I do all that without being a PRO. I am a LIFER and maybe coulda shoulda been called an amateur. What an honor that is. You don’t get the, go paint your bathroom. I’ve been called a tourist like it’s an insult. Ya know something, we are all tourist thru life. No one gets a permanent visa, even the pros.

So let it be known that I have a few people in my head. I chat with them about things because I don’t trust anyone else. There’s a discussion going on about film vs digital. This is all tied in and it became obvious to me that I couldn’t do it in 2 parts. So I will do this until I have my day and others also. The reason the film vs digital thing is relevant is because, the negative and print vs the digital image. There are some very important things in this discussion that hardly ever gets mentioned. Perhaps, these few things I bring up are some of the most important to recognize.

sooc Cc ISO 6400

I have a air conditioned, filtered air, water darkroom. It’s as dust proof as I could get it. I haven’t used it in many years and still, not any dust on anything. I loved printing and did many different things. Traditional silver, platinum/palladium, gum, color, just about anything I wanted to do, I could. Many friends and others have used my darkroom and everyone loved the experience and results. So I am kinda anal about things like quality. Then back in the early 90’s it seems that my prints were selling well and many exhibitions all over the world. Well, the point to this part is, does anyone know where the gremlins are in wet printing?  I do, it’s in the DUST SPOTS. There was/is no way to eliminate dust spots. So that would mean, make a run of prints and then start going over them very carefully and spotting them. I did a run or 100 35mm negs and 5 prints of each in 1995. It was for my archive. Now it’s 22 years later and I have to spot the prints. Unreal.  Paper prints spotting is a chore. I have/had an assistant and she could spot prints all day and never miss a single spot. Now she’s a famous photographer and I can’t afford to have her do it.

Another thing that is way different between digital and analog printing is….repeat ability. With digital, you press a button and make as many copies as you want. Not so with analog. What does this have to do with color and raw and jpeg? ok…it means that the camera has presets in it. I am using the Classic Chrome for the time being. For the life of me I can’t get a matching image from raw vs jpeg. If I shoot in Raw & Fine, I get both

The raw will show the preset quickly and then just be the usual flat raw image. The jpeg will come in as a finished image that you can tweak almost as much as raw.

So back in the cave shooter daze of early raw stufts, it was said that you can’t do things with a jpeg that you can with raw. Back then it was true. Now we are in the enlightened ages and well, it’s maybe not the exact same  but then again, raw, can’t do what a jpeg can. It’s not really 6 of one, half dozen of another either.

So the argument that stands about digital vs analog brings forth another issue. That issue is ISO.  The shot above in the Tropicana was at 6400. We all know what that means and it’s not only acceptable but assumed that it is a dependable speed. I know that Ektacrome had goos latitude but no wheres near 6400. The scary thing is, that it could go higher. So where is the advantage of analog when it comes to ISO?

The thing with the Fuji X100f and it’s jpegs is, they perform so well that I am not missing raw. I am not afraid of doing color again and in time, finding my palate.

The first frame is a jpeg out of camera. It’s Chrome. The I decided to work it a little and I did and it was easy and acceptable. The second has some work done and it’s easy to see. The third is a B&W conversion from the OOC jpeg. I’m not going to stand and say that it’s better or worse than anything. I’m just saying that the reason for using raw is dwindling. It’s not just me, but many are finding this to be true. It’s also really about digital vs analog and that issues has many nutshells to turn over but really….the main issue is the camera. Using a Leica M series that’s analog or film has a magical experience that everyone should know and feel. As far as quality, ability of the files or film to do other things, not as big as an issue as it was.

I spent about 40 years or so using an M camera. I used an M4 in Viet Nam and on the streets ever since, awesome camera, named Andre’ back then also. The Fuji X100F gives a similar experience, so similar that many die hard M shooters both film and digital, have an X100 something. So the point is I suppose, that we all need to find our way with things. We need to be able to rely on others and their experiences to help shed light on things.

I probably won’t be making the argument about film vs digital, or b&w vs color or a host of other things that may help others and may feed others but for me, I have clarity and I see the light. Andre’ the Fuji X100f has showed me the way of the new photography.

be blessed my friends. Once again….I am not a PRO, I am a lifer. The photos above and in the other post and most on Flickr are made for technical aspects that I am looking at. I tried to keep the esthetics out till I am at one again with mother light.





March 16th, 2017 … Re-kindling the Light of Inspiration … Fuji X100F

I get kinda edgy when I read or hear about someone saying they need to go to exotic places to make photos. For me it’s always been in the heart and mind that feeds the eye. Of course I like to travel to erotic places….ummmm errr exotic places but not doing that requires a temperament and a drive to work under all circumstances. When I was actively teaching work shops, I made a few procedures to reinstate the inspiration to work. I feel it is critical to vision to be able to uncover thoughts and find the photos in areas where on is constantly working.

Many get what writers call The Block. It’s not a sweet thing to deal with be we can over come it with diligence and patience. The first step in overcoming any kind of block is to recognize and accept that you are in a block. This is not for the light hear-ted. Many will tell you to take a break, put the camera down. Others will say to do something other then what you do. For instance, if you do street, do garden, or portraits etc. Others might say, eat pizza and drink beer.

Well, I see all those methods as a justification for not addressing your real love, photography. What I mean is, if you love something and it starts to have issues, you need to work those issues out and find a path to productivity again. You need to find “The Light of Inspiration” once again.

I always listened to the people I respected and still do. I may have been a bad boy because listening and doing what they say was always different to me. My mom was a Frank Sinatra fan and always played his music. I started to like it at a young age. The one day, when all things in the universe started to come together, I mean the clouds got dark and the ground warm, the flowers pointed upwards, dogs stopped barking, parents too… and then, then coming from the record player, Frank was singing…”I did it my way”. Well, in my mind Frank was telling me to do it my way, mom didn’t agree and told me he was not singing to me directly and that I was responsible to still do it her way.

So, I came up with a method of re-kindling the light of inspiration.

Here it is in a nutshell but it’s a good one.

Day 1 …. Go into a room that is quiet and do not do anything but sit and look around for 1 hour. No camera, radio, cellphone television, nada. Nothing but your self. In about 15 minutes you might start to get bored. In 30 minutes you will send a hit squad out to get me. No books, mag etc. Just you and the room. After maybe 30 or so minutes, you might start to look at things more closely and maybe even make photos in your head. Do it. Frame, look at everything and relax. No input other then your eye, heart and mind and muster up. If you have a partner and kids etc, you may want to stay longer and it’s ok.

Day 2 …. Go back into the room with your camera. Sit and relax and repeat the Day 1 1 hour exercise but this time, use the camera to frame and stuff. No photos to be made. Just use the camera to see but not to record even if your next masterpiece is there. Just see and enjoy that on it’s own.

Day 3 …. Go back in to sanctuary as you now know it and spend the hour seeing like Day 2. This time, make 1 photo, just one and now you should be hungry but just 1 photo. You can process this 1 photo and nothing else.

Day 4 …. Go to sanctuary and have your camera, (best if it’s named but not required) …. Now breathe and make 6 photos not of the same thing but 6 what you feel are keepers. Make this last an hour. Not less. Process the photos.

Day 5 …. Sit in sanctuary with your photos and study them. Try to feel the experiences of the days and how you reacted to time and the energy of the room and how it effected you and you it. At what level do these photos work? How would others see them? Do you feel right about them? Do they represent you and your life during the experience?

Make sure that you do not make any photos other then the exercise. So for like 5 days, don’t do anything but this project. If you do this and need to talk to some one about it and your results, Im available.

I’m not dropping Paul Strand’s name here cause that’s tacky maybe, nah…. Strand sometimes made a series of photos of dishes, fruit etc. He saw each individual photo as a life of it’s own. Maybe the photos were grouped in a series but as like people, each is an individual and we need to deal with it as such. I’m not putting anything else about the visual exercise because I don’t want to set up preconceptions for those that may use it.

You will know who did this because you will see The Light of Inspiration in their work.

Peace all…………..


December 29th, 2016 … Finding Your Place Amongst The Masses

When we look over our work, it starts to become obvious about how we approach photography. I think it’s maybe time to rip into what we did for the year and seek a solution for our spot in the grand scheme of things. The masses I’m referring to are the masses of photos you made and fell in love with. I suppose this could be thought of as a way to organize ones work. Years ago I used to lay out my work and get answers to the riddle of my photography.

I would lay out about 12 prints on the floor in a horizontal line. Then try to make sense of what they were saying to me. Maybe take one out, add one whatever. The scrabble system. I would look at photos and try to find a belonging to one on the line. Then add this photo horizontally up or down in line where they fit together.after a while, it starts to become clear where my efforts were at.

We can’t do that digitally unless you make many prints. There is no software that does this either. So I needed to find another method. Ok, this is the hard core method and if you need less of  strong result, by all means change the numbers I lay out.

Here we go. Look in your catalog for the year and very carefully, select the very best images and just 1 per week. If you worked every week, you should have between 48-52 photos. If you worked less, just take one from every week as long as you feel it’s your best work. Open a collection in LR or whatever you use. Move the photos around to get them in a sequence that makes you happy and it makes sense. What you are looking for is the common denominator between photos. It may at first seem very random but trust me, and trust yourself, it’s not random at all.

Don’t remove anything from the catalog yet. In fact, go back over everything and pull one shot from each month and work them on the collection. By now you should be seeing photos that work together or look like a series, group, no matter hat you call it, just look and feel the photos.

Lets say you have 8 photos of the rain and umbrellas etc. Gather them together and open a new collection named “Rain” and put them in there. Ohhh you just discovered 9 photos of low light, so make a collection “Low Light” and put them in there. You get the idea. Now go back again and pull 1 photo for every other month. Sort them and place them in a collection.

After you feel you have all the really good photos that resonate with your eye, heart and mind…….close LR or whatever and forget about the stuff for at least a week. Go make photos and do not look at your collections. The reason is that the collections are looking at you.

After a week or so passes, open LR and look at the collections, 1 at a time. Do not edit anything out. Every image has the potential to push you against yourself and lead to a new direction or lay a solid foundation with what your doing now. When you study this work, you are studying all that you are as a human with a camera. Your thoughts, feelings, sensitivities and everything you are is here in front of you. It is said that every photo is part of a mosaic of the portrait of yourself. So, your looking at yourself. You also can see what attracts you, what trigger mechanisms etc are working with you.

Life is a passing dream but it doesn’t mean you have o be asleep to dream. The best dreams are the ones we have while we are awake in the here and now.

The point here for this method is to get you organized in the here and now and to understand how and why you work.

Be Blessed Everybody and have a Lovely Romantic Happy New Years.

shooter out……………………………………………………………………..

Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 28 … Street … Deciphering and Realizing Intent


Sometimes when I’m out making photos, I start to get a feeling of some sort. I mean I don’t try to define it emotionally or with words but I try to see it and make a photo of it. That must be my intent turning on and guiding me thru the world I am in and helping me to find visually what inside I am feeling. It is not an easy process but one I would never want to be without. So at what point do I determine if my efforts have realized what my intent was after. Well, it’s a process. I guess there are steps to realize intent and not always the same steps and not always the same order of steps. Not that is so ambiguous, but it tries to clarify the ambiguity of the image and even before it is captured at times, in fact, many times.

The above photo: I saw this steam coming from the ground. it was blowing out the highlights, perfect for me. I saw the light overhead and it made the steam into something more surreal, more of a piece of a dream. I’m under a tunnel so it’s dark all around, but the light shines into the darkness and makes it not so fearful. I love what I’m seeing, but I’m not seeing enough. I looked up and saw the light at the end of the tunnel, the glow was growing and I could feel the photo being formed and wanted it to be born. I looked down again and moved slightly left to create tension with the lines and then quickly looked up. I couldn’t believe my eyes. All the sudden out of nowhere the Photo Angel sent me a the Angel of darkness and I saw my photo…..Click.

The thing is, to have all three elements of the self-find and realize your intent. The Eye, Heart and Mind work together to find the subject and realize the intent. The entire process from start to finish is ambiguous and should be allowed to remain that way.


Some say that I am obsessed with death. Maybe that’s true but who isn’t. It’s the one question we never live to get an answer too. I was at the Frankford Transportation Center, my favorite place to work, and I saw this guy with a face on his belly. It looked like the face was coming out of him. I knew before release that this photo would require post processing but I knew what it would need. Click……..

When I imported the photos into LightRoom, I saw this one and it was ok but not finished. So I opened the Develop Module and started to relax. I remembered what I was feeling at release and open my presets. ( I got these Presets from a guy named Shooter. My shrink says he’s the same as me but I don’t believe it.)…. I clicked thru a few and hit this one. It’s Afterlife. A little tweaking here and there and I saw what I felt and wanted to feel. I realized my intent.

Have a blessed day…….. end transmission …………..

Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 8 … Lesson From Ilya Bolotowsky


This is the crossover from West bound to East bound on the Elevate train. I’ve been in love with the design and metal ever since I was a kid. I remember being around 13 and passing thru this and thinking, some day when I’m older and a photographer, I’m gonna make a photo of a lady as we look at each other. Maybe it took 50+ years but I’m glad young shooter remembered to plant this idea in our head. So as I was passing thru the time/directional tunnel, I became aware of a woman passing thru from the other side. I raised Andre’ the Fuji X100s and he was ready. She looked dead in my eyes and I got Andre’ in position and ….CLICK! The young shooter from the past is long gone. He stayed at home with Mom when the getting older shooter went to Viet Nam. I think a lot but not all of my innocence died over there. When I got home Mom said to me, looking right in my eyes, “Where is my son, your not my son”? Ya know parts of me died in Nam lke every other Vet but I managed to bring pieces of me home. When mom said that, well, the rest of me died.


I guess that Mother Light kinda adopted me and made me her child. I was actually saved by photography. There’s many ways to get saved and I implore you to find a few ways to salvation but remember, as shooters, we save ourselves and each other.

Photographers don’t work just for themselves. They work for other photographers. We seek and find satisfaction from each other and that feeds the selves that we are. Our responsibility is to our selves and to feed each other energy so that other photographers may continue to work.

Photography is about instant gratification. It’s very easy to see what we captured almost instantly. Then bring the image to life in LR and then send it to Flickr and other social media spots. When we see hits and likes and comments, it drives us to continue the good fight. So this instant gratification is an ongoing project. It’s the battle to fight for photographic survival.


This relationship with others is most important, especially for fuel to continue. But if we look at what’s going on in our process, we begin to see many symbiotic relationships thru the entire process. Many years ago I was photographing American Artist. I travelled all over to make the acquaintance of the artist and to make the photo. I made many including BB King, Salgado and his wife, Harry Bertoia, Luciano Berio, Edmund Bacon and many more.

I started to ask questions about the art that they were producing. One conversation was with Ilya Bolotowsky. I used an Arca Swiss 2×3 with a roll film back and also a 4×5 Deardorff. These cameras intrigued the artist. Ilya asked me why I used the Arca Swiss. I said it was a great tool, compact and extremely efficient. He looked at me and said, “Pity”. Then Ilya called me to his table where he had his brushes. I looked at them and thought he has many brushes. He said, Don, there are my friends. We work together and they know more about holding paint then I do but we work together to make the painting. He pointed to one really used brush. He said, this is “Jasper.” He helps me get the lay of the canvas. He picked the brush up and held it like it was alive. He looked at it, and I know he said something to it quietly. I could almost hear it but I definitely felt it. So we sat and sipped tea. It was the same tea my Grandfather gave me when I was very young. I looked at Ilya with a love that  I didn’t understand but knew someday, I would grasp it.

After tea, we made the photo. Ilya smiled and so did I. He said to me,”your camera is your friend but it’s your partner more then a friend.” On the train back to Philly from New York, I started to understand Ilya and what he was teaching me. I looked in the bag and saw Ilya laying there in rest and peace. See, I named my 2×3, Ilya. When he came to Philly for the opening of his exhibition, I brought 2 framed 16×20 prints. Ilya saw me and walked to me right away. I was honored because this master recognized me. I showed him and his wife the print. She dropped her jaw and Ilya look at it carefully and said, thank you maestro. I handed Ilya his signed copy and he immediately said, I didn’t sign yours. I panicked and went in the back of the gallery, opened the frame and then Ilya signed it. I still have that framed print on the wall.



I learned from Ilya about symbiotic relationships within my work. I name all my cameras and they may be subject to name change but they all have a name. They are all my friends and they are all share a synergism with me in my work and my life. Sure many younger shooters think I’m crazy. It’s ok I accept the charge and I will continue to be crazy. The Ilya Bolotowsky photo was made in 1976.


The beauty of life is found in the streets but it’s not the only place to find it. We should strive to see and capture life wherever and whenever we can.  I love the garden because it sings of new life daily and praises the passing of life from those plants that died. Tanya does all the work and I do all the photography. Sometimes I am allowed to use the lawn mower but never the weed wacker. she doesn’t care if I kill the grass but hurt a plant, I sleep in the garage. This is one of my Sunflowers. It’s now about 5′ high and will get to over 8′. I have 15 planted and 13 living. I looked at this in the morning going to the bus stop and after I came home, I wanted to make a photo. The wind had a sense of humor. See, it was still all over the garden, not a wisp of air. Then as I framed the camera, wind came and blew the flower all over.I looked at the garden and saw the beauty of the stillness and as I focused, the wind moved the flower all over. I closed my eyes and felt the blessing from above.  Ilya was making sure I had a name for my sunflower and he made sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. I named the flower Oscar, and then the wind slowed, and then the wind stopped and ….CLICK

Thanks Ilya………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Winter Doldrums, 7F … ShOoTeR in Da House … Canon EOSM2 iS tO

02-15-0040-EditOlivier is going on and on about his new camera, the Canon EOS M. Well, when this was first introduced a few years ago it perked my interest. There was something about it that appealed to me and just as I was about to buy it, I started reading about slow AF and crapola like that. So I passed it by but always thought about it. Time went by and I got Andre’ the Fuji X100s and that’s my main squeeze. It’s by far the camera that puts me where I need to be when I am working.

So here I am with my Sony RX1003M and I like the camera but I hate the menu. I don’t love the camera. I like it a lot. Well a guy in Texas is getting the Sony and I now have a Canon EOS M2. Thanks to eBay for fast turn around.

Olivier tells me, “dude, you won’t believe how close that 22mm lens focuses and it’s not Macro.”  So I get bored and take the Canon out and start to mess around with it. Well first off, I notice the menu is so similar to the Sony that I almost puke. Then I sit back, sip some Green Tea,(Organic only from Tibet)….and say to me self, yo, Shooter, think Canon and ye shall see the light.

So I finish my tea, pick up the little rascal and look at the menu. I go thru it a few times and eureka, it starts to make sense to me. Look, I’m stuck in the friggin’ house. da wifey Tanya is here and what the hell can I do to escape reality… Of course, silly, get into the camera. So I immediately realize that selling the Sony for the stupid menu is no longer justified. I now realize that the Sony has a zoomie lens and I donotcanknow like a zoomie.

Whoa, hold on dude. Yes the Canon has a zoomie but hes smaat enough to be able to change his vision with different optics. This is good.


So I start to get into finding things I need to work the camera. The truth, I have the camera ready to go in manual mode in less than 5 minutes. It’s that simple. NO… I DO NOT READ MANUAL UNTIL I AM LOST AND THEN IT’S TOO LATE CAUSE THE CAMERA IS DEAD TO ME IF I NEED A MANUAL.

The Truth Of Going

One of the things that shooters are trained to believe is that you need to go someplace to find good photos.

Look, sure it’s great to go to exotic spots and seek your images. But the truth is, if you can’t find them at home, they aren’t out there anyways. I tell myself this to convince myself that I’m able to find photos wherever I am.

Well, it hit about 15F and let me tell ya something. Working in LR and making photos around the house ain’t bad. It’s not hard to live with. I mean, sure I wanna hit the streets especially with the little rascal Canon EOS M2 but it ain’t happening. So it brings to mind the thoughts of just relaxing with photography and just enjoy the beauty of making images that are just pleasing to me.


Theres a certain amount of greed in photography. Like, you do it for yourself. We all know that photography is visual communication and thus it should be communicating to others. Well, that’s true but sometimes we need just to communicate with ourselves just to have a grasp of what we are doing and discovering. These photos may be key to the body of work that you live. I mean, we get direction from photos that ask questions as well as answer them. You test the parameters of your vision and the results hopefully give you an answer to what you are seeking. Even if the answer is not what you expected, there comes a realization in direction as to whether you are on the right path or wrong path. Even that is a learned experience because if we see the right path and recognize that, is it because of habit or are we complacent? The wrong path opens the doors and ask, why is this the wrong path? Perhaps I should be here and be out of my comfort zone just to experience  something new.


So the Canon EOS M2 is the kind of camera that was introduced to the wrong market. I think Canon saw this camera as a tool for pros that wanted a compact camera. Well, that’s a mistake and by now they know it too. A pro will want a camera that is basically his/her pro gear but shrunk down in size but now IQ or features.

Enter The Inspired Eye Shooters, Olivier and Shooter. Well, many pro shooters complained about all sorts of things on the camera. It got belittled. criticized, looked upon as useless until. Some smart shooters thought, ya know, this is a  little camera, solid metal, nice IQ and ok UI. No Olivier and I aren’t the smart guys that figured this out. Those guys are over at DPR and I ain’t mentioning names like Joe or Ben.

I’ll get more into this again tomorrow if I get my frozen butt up from the chair. It’s a metal camera so it’s gonna be cold in the hand but I gotta get out and work.

……………………………………………………………………end transmission…………………………………………………………………………