Tag Archives: Dreamcatcher

January 9th, 2020 …Maintaining a Persistence of Vision … Insanity … The Exception To The Rule

It is widely known and accepted to think…. doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity. For me, doing the same thing over and over and accepting the same or similar results, that’s insanity. Actually it’s complacent insanity. I think some of the beauty in art and photography is the uncertain outcome. I mean, we take our camera out and search for our photos. When a trigger happens, we release the shutter and from that point on, we have an uncertain outcome.

If we worked and had a clear concept of the final image maybe that would be death to the explored creativity. Look, if you actually could see in the future, why waste that on making photos, see the lottery numbers for the next day. Trust me, that would be exciting and beneficial to all aspects of your being. So the idea of Ansel’s pre-visualization only goes so far.

Making photos is about selective input, processed and then output. During the course of each photo comes a certain methodology that each of us applies to our image creativity.  It usually is not in question because most people don’t care about how you did something but rather why you did it, at least that’s how it should be. Why is the key to interpretation and the subject of conversation. Unfortunately the root of the photo mostly lives within us and once presented to observers, the only control we have is the photo itself. Even that relinquishes our control to the observer. They decide what and why you made the photo.

So why is this important? Well, I was hoping youse could tell me why. Many times I might hear or see a comment that states, you’re doing the same thing over and over. This is probably true and the reason or partly the reason for this post. I assume accountability for my work and methods and intent. What about the viewer. What is the accountability of the viewer? Perhaps they are equally at fault for seeing and thinking the work is similar. They have conditioned themselves to see and judge in a certain way.

Decades ago, Ding and I would talk about this very subject. I told him I felt that the viewer is fixed in a state of comfort and it’s very difficult to move outside of the comfort zone. So, then when the viewer says that the work is all similar, it also means they see with the similar standards they establish for themselves. I did an experiment  a while ago. Not your concern how long ago, it’s relevant and always will be. I had a friend over and we would check out each others work. We did this a lot. it was entertaining but for me educational. I would show W some photos and without a doubt, he would say they are good. I know where this was oh and ye these are similar like in a series. I say nothing. I listened and I watched the process of how he addressed the photo.

So it was obvious to me that my work was being judged by someone that had tainted eyes. Not saying it was bad but he came loaded to the gills with pre-judgemental comments. Then, I asked him what he thought was similar or the common denominator of the photos. He stated the they were all with a Leica and the distance and angle of capture was similar. The subject matter was all related in a undefined manner. Actually he was very right on and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. I told W, “I’m not trying to set the world on fire but I damn sure wanna be there with my camera when it does. ”

I had made some very nice nudes of my wife. They were and still are very marketable. I traded 7 prints with Clarence John Laughlin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_John_Laughlin

Anyway, I asked W to check these photos out. He had no idea of the success of the photos. He looked at them slowly and intently. Of course my wife was stunning and very sensual. That combined with my passion of photography was a combination that surpassed my expectations. Well, as I figured, W viewed the photos He spent a long time on each. I realized that the choice of subject matter that is different than my usual choice can have a profound effect on the viewer.

This exploration was in the late 70’s. I had an exhibition at a local gallery with a good following. Opening night there were many people and i sold 3 prints I seem to remember. This was a Friday evening. I was excited and was looking forward to the exposure. The director asked me to sit in and talk with people as they come in and out of the gallery.  I thought this was great. I sat in the gallery and for 4 days about 15 ppl came in. It was kinda disenhearting. I was feeling bad and almost depressed and then a woman entered the gallery. She stopped at the door and looked around. She was tall, around 5’11”. Dressed in clothes that only wealthy woman wear. I immediately stood and greeted her and welcomed her in. She walked around and studied the prints carefully. I watched as she kinda swayed standing in front of the photos. after about 20 minutes, she called for me to join her and asked if the photographer was available. I looked her right in the eyes and told her I was accountable for the work as I was the photographer. She smiled and told me she related to the heart of the images and now to me. I felt a stirring in my body, no guys not that stirring but the kind that emanates from the heart.

This feeling was equal or above what I felt from Ding. She told me Diana was her name. We exchanged graces and I was honored that she liked my work. She told me she was a prominent collector of fine art and was local and that a mutual friend suggested her to visit my exhibition. She didn’t tell me who the mutual friend was. She invited me to lunch and of course I accepted. We left the gallery and there was a cab waiting. We arrived at the Bellevue and was seated in a small corner. She asked if i had any questions and that opened the door. Diana, what is it in my photos that attracted you? She replied, above all, your heart shines thru most of the images.

She stated that there are many kinds of photographers. Many want to be rich and famous and some are. Many just want to make a living with a camera. Don, you make photos because you love photography and you love the photos you make. I was flattered and surprised that she understood me so well. Thanks Diana but it might be nice to make some money along with the photos. She actually laff’d.

I smiled and she said. Don, that’s why we are here right now. Diana said that she will be a collector of my work until the end. She will contact me from time to time and order prints. I think this was like 1981. Diana is older than me but still my number 1 collector. I’ll be 70 and she is 83. Sometimes we meet and have lunch or coffee and we talk about life. She is always probing my mind and then explaining why.

I remember that she used to like that I was consistent in my vision. We started talking about artist and their insanities.

I will fire the blog up now and hopefully I didn’t lose anyone along the wa….♥

July 5th, 2019 … Hot Town, Summer in the City … Whole Darn World is Gritty … Always Was

I was with my squad on the beach at Chu Lai. We had a few days off and we definitely knew how to spend that time.  Many of the guys were swimming or surfing or doing things with the hooch girls. I was laying back on the beach with my camera and making some snaps. My Leica was black Laq and was so hot from the sun. I watched the guys letting it all go and thought, where’s so and so? I was very aware of the missing troops always. I made photos of them and if they weren’s around, I noticed. I could feel a loss inside that I didn’t fully understand. Spud walked over to me and stood there looking at me. He is bare ass naked and s, smiling. He reaches down and hands me a sally joint that he’s been smoking. A sally joint is a joint, pot and it’s soaked in liquid opium and then dried. Don’t take long to dry over there. Kids today that make blunts from cigar wrapper, sheeeesh amateur stuff. Of course, I never smoked anything or even drank the whiskey that Sgt Biggie was offering me.

Biggie came over and told me, Jingles, you’re on tower 1.1 tonight with Spud. Well, I liked Spud cause he was like on his 5th tour and a bad MFer’. I told Spud we were in 1’1 together and he smiled. I asked him if he planned on staying high for the night. He smiles, said, I been here 5 years and been high every day. I learned something real fast. Smoke a joint and do guard duty is the right way. They all knew what my friends back in the world knew about me. I was the most paranoid dude you ever could meet. See, if I was at a party and many people there, we all smoked or other things, I would always be at the window and look out and say….there’s still no cops around. We are ok, and all would laff at me cause I was paranoid like crazy. Well, my friends in Nam knew the same thing about me. They all knew that if they gave me a joint if there was a dink 500 miles away, I’d see him.

So Spud and I are now in the tower. Well, tower 1.1 is the main control tower and all activities from other locations, I have the m60 locked and loaded and aiming in the right direction. Spud has an M79 and we both have 45ACP as a sidearm. It’s getting really dark and quiet. It’s a scary time on guard duty. Spud is crashed out on the sandbags in the tower. I have 7 more hours to go and Spud is wasted and I’m like awake as ever. As the night progresses, I reach into Spud’s pocket and find the bottle of obesitol. Obesitol is a 4 oz bottle of this red liquid that the dinks sell to us and it’s really liquid speed. One bottle and a joint and I’m set for the night. So I pulled the shift myself as Spud slept in whatever kind of peace he was in.

Anyway, that’s not what this story is about, oh no… not even. See, in Nam..the temperature could hit 125f thereabouts. I remember thinking that if I made it home I would never complain about the heat in Philly. I was convinced that I could withstand any weather that came my way. Even the raid would never both me in Philly. In Chu Lai when the monsoons came, the rain was of something that came from hell. It felt like all the rain in the world was falling on me.

I was itchy and wanted to get to the street and make photos with Ding the Leica M9. There’s always a transition time switching cameras. Cameras will push their personalities upon you and we need to explore those personalities in detail. I was walking on Market Street around 16th. It’s like 90f already and the humidity is terrible. I’m sweating and it’s running down my face to my eyes. I walk slower than normal cause I got older than normal. Ding is on a neck strap ready to go and I turn left and see this woman inside a bldg. She’s standing there and all these reflections are happening around her. I’m kinda interested and yet no photo but then she raises her arm and hand to her head…..CLICK!  (photo 1)

So I decided to reflect after seeing the reflections. I thought how when I was 20 and in Nam that I would never complain about the heat back home. I felt that back then, I was of a stronger character and could withstand almost anything. I thought I was becoming a strong man and would carve out a future I would be proud of. 50 years ago, 50 years. Now I have a rear vision that I didn’t have back then. I guess I forgot myself from birth to 21. I feel like I was born in Nam and my fellow troops were my siblings. When one of my friends died, I tried to get a Dog Tag from him. I have 17 now at home. They sleep in my darkroom but the names, faces, smiles, laffs all live inside me. I made one vow back then and maybe it’s the only thing I ever did right. I remember everyone I knew who went home in a body bag and swore I would never forget them and I never did.

I wanted to write about the oppressive heat and how it affected my photos. Instead, I wrote about the driving force that lives in me that will carry me to my death and reunite me with my friends. Maybe that is about the oppressive heat, dunno. I’m too damn old to let it bother me.

Be blessed everyone    ……….shooter out……….

 

June 21st, 2019 … Ding McNulty … Saves Me Again … Leica M9

Ding said, slow down Don. It was a very hard suggestion for me. I was holding and viewing early photos from the FSA and I suppose I was excited. See, I always felt the photos, not just saw them. I could smell the sweat from the people, the sand, the dirty clothes. It all made me breathe photography more. Ding always told me to just slow down. flash forward to 2012.

Roger calls me and tells me he bought a few M9’s. I kinda remember he was in Germany at the time. I told him not to send it to me because I have a bad memory from the M8 and just wanna use my cameras. I was using Fuji and Olympus mostly. Roger was starting to have sensor issues and lost interest in the cameras. So, in 2016, he sent them to Leica and had the sensors changed, and the body cleaned and adjusted. He sent me one M9 packed in the box with the repairs done and told me, “Someday you’ll want this camera”.

I kinda chuckled because the M9 was a dinosaur when it was borne. I had Pen Cameras, Panny, all kinds. I was heavy into M43 and even was an Admin. I never thought about that silly M9. Time passed and Leica made the Mono, the M240 and other goodies. Still, I was not tempted to bring out the M9. I started using the M240 and it’s a fine camera. I spent over 18 months battling with the weight. Finally, I sent the M240 back to Roger. I made handsome photos with that camera and it’s a gem for a Leica, just too heavy for me. I’m lucky to have the Fuji X-Pro2, Olympus Pen-F, Ricoh GRIII, etc.

I fell to illness, Ulcerative Colitis. I spent very little time on the streets, or did I?  I was homebound.  I went thru some of my archives and it appeared that recently, meaning the last few years, I was going a little faster and deeper than I normally do or like to do. I’m 69 now and if I can’t see my work now, I never will. I am always happy with what I”m doin…..then I hear a sound in my tired brain.

I’m feeling a knock, knock in me poor head. I yell into my head and say…. what do you want and who the heck are you? The, then out of the darkness in my head, i hear a voice I longed to hear for all my life. The voice says, slow down Don, just slow down. Yeah, yeah, like you, just a voice know anything. Then, I start thinking and I do recognize the voice. It’s the voice of reason and the voice of pure understanding creativity. I can hear, use the force Luke… wait, wait, the wrong channel… this is Photography Issues from Philly, not Star Wars.

The voice was Ding McNulty. In my mind and heart, Ding is always with me anyway. It’s one of the reasons I go to a shrink. SLOW DOWN DON… JUST SLOW DOWN. Ya know, I need to slow down and smell the flowers. So I went to Roger’s house and into the Camera Vault. I saw my M9 on the shelf and took it home. I wasn’t really holding any expectations for success but I needed to give it a go. I put the battery in the charger and I remember about 3 hours to charge. I clean the camera the way Ernie from Leica NJ showed me. Then after some time, I put the battery in the camera, I put a card in and I use a slooooowwww 30mbps card. The camera gets turned on and I half expect this thing to be a paperweight. M9 boots up, I format the card….the battery reads under 50% which I expect is due to age. No matter. I go thru the menu and do my settings. Now, when I hold one of my cameras, my adrenaline gets to work. I am in a kinda hyper tuned mode. For some reason, the M9 is making me breathe and be aware of each breath. So, I say to M9, let’s try each other out. M9 tells me, look, shooter, I been waiting on the stupid shelf over 3 years for you to wake up.

Yeah, so what…..? There is someone inside my body that is telling me to just get you to slow down.. Yeah, right. You’re just a camera, what ya think I am huh, huh…I ain’t no damn fool. M9 says, you talking to me, you talking to me. No silly Don, Dinero is not in me, Ding is.

Well, maybe youse don’t buy too much of this. Maybe, just maybe I have a life that includes dreams and fantasy but…. I have a Leica M9 that Ding McNulty will visit from time to time. Like it or not, I am willingly being forced to sloooow down

Have a blessed weekend and maybe, just slow down a little……

 

June 14th, 2019 … Finding The Soul in the Swamp of Nothing

Twas the night before… wait… the wrong story. Lemme see, hmmmm… Then night light was starting to give way to daylight. The change in colors and the tones that separate them becoming obvious. People starting to move around, the cars and trucks and buses taking over the streets. People now on the lookout for traffic. The train I was on pulled into 5th street and I deboarded. Yes, you can deboard a train or an airplane. As I walked up the steps to street level, I could see fog and kinda like vegetation starting to consume the light. Oh no, the light. I pulled Andre’ the Ricoh GRIII from his bed (Tamrac 5720)  on my side and checked his settings. Alls well but I have this feeling of impending doom like we are in the middle of the nothing. Andre’ the Ricoh GRIII was warm and I can tell nervous. Why nervous,. because we have walked this path more times than I remember. Now, the light of day was not so bright and there was nothing to see for making photos.

As we walked thru the darkness of nothing, I felt the leaves of the weeping image trees land on my face and chest. The winds of sorrow had released the leaves and sent them to me. I felt a longing for my past life and yet knew it was history and will not repeat. Andre’ cuddled in my hand as he is the new guy on the shelf. He is not used to the longing of something in the land of nothing. I looked at a leaf that fell to my face. I was amazed to dee on it a photo I had made in history past. Then another leaf landed on me and I gazed upon its beauty and grace. Alas, another photo on the leaf. I felt not lost but still unfound. Andre’ said… sheeter, listen… you understand AI right? Of course, I said, it’s that great movie about that AI kids life. Andre’ kinda moved hi IS and I felt it. He said, listen, you watch much too much TV and your a 60’s dude. So, how about wee try fo focus in the crap are in. Andre told me he has RI installed. RI = Ricoh Intelligence, nor Artifical.

As we walked along the path of surrender and to the land of nod, Andre’ tuned himself on. All the sudden I could see light and shape and a frame that I thought would be gone for eternity, Nah… wait, wait… just till this little journey is complete.

The sky started to shine thru the dark canopy of despair and I could see in the distance, well… not there yet but working to it. I glanced and saw a young girl and a guy and she was looking at me cause I’m just so damn sexy and good looking….smiles.  Andre’ quickly set himself ready for the shot. (He does this by himself. It’s a feature that Ricoh instilled in the GRIII. It’s called, the inspiration factor)   As fast as I looked….click!

 

I guess the darkness of despair was starting to lift. But would it hold steady and allow me to breathe again? Would it allow me to be again? We walked until we came out the canopy of leaves with photos on them. I collected many leaves and they conjured up memories of photos last. I thought to meself, self… if’n all those leaves are all the photos then why are we in this stupid mood and in the darkness?

Maybe it’s true that opposites attract and that less is more. Maybe, just maybe being in the darkness without inspiration, is in a way healthy.

See, we all have times of darkness and kinda feel like we don’t have it anymore. I guess we are in a place where it seems we can’t escape. The thing is, to strive to live. Just because you feel that you’re lost, maybe that’s the driving force to find yourself. We are all on the edge of the abyss of non-creativity. We may even fall in,  but must not allow ourselves to surrender to the nothing. Even when it appears that we are almost done, their lives a spark inside us that will become the guiding light.  It is this spark that may be dwindling inside our soul that we must allow and feed so that it becomes our shining beacon.

 

May 14th, 2019 … Thinking vs Not Thinking … Are They The Same?

Accountability is the course for me. When I’m making photos, I am inspired by the simple fact that I was awake in the here and now making the photo. It gives me satisfaction and proof when I view the photos now and later. I’m not implying that anyone needs to follow in this manner. I can’t promise I will myself, and stay subject to change if needed or not needed. But on the issue of conscious accountability, this is it for me.

Giovanni stated in a chat we had, that he prefers to not think at all. I get that for real but I wonder if, in fact, that nonthinking state of working is any different than a thinking state of working? The old saying of “The proof is in the pudding” and it’s perfectly true. The thing is, there are many flavors and textures and taste of the pudding. So we all have the given right to choose and use the pudding of our choice. Do we taste our pudding as well as look at it and find it appealing? How about the scent? All these things and more come into play but are they conscious things or unconscious things and perhaps, crazy as it seems… a combination of all things.

What I find inspiring and exciting is, viewing my photos and that they in a way, draw me back to the experience of life. The experience of the moment of exposure. I think it’s more than the Decisive Moment, it’s more something of reinforcing the memory of life. Proof that I was there. So on the one hand that is very sweet and loving. On the other hand, it goes against the very essence of photography as I live it.  The photograph should live on its own merit and not have to draw upon the 3-dimensional reality for its value and existence. Perhaps this is not the only truth of photography. I mean, of course, memories are crucial to life and the validation of photography but the fact is, the photograph really is just a catalyst or tool to conjure up the lost memory or is it?

What about when you just want to work for the sake of saving your soul. I mean as art artform, (Stieglitz not so happy now) … Is the process the same for making photos as an extension of your soul as it is as a keeper of the memory. seems to me that making a conscious memory is a very important process. I never thought about just having a lackadaisical approach in making a memory.   I always tried to capture the best version of what or whom I was working with. We need to be awake and aware of the process and all of it’s intent before, during and after the exposure. We should desire to make the photo memory be all that it can be without the intrusion of anything in the way.

 

This has mostly been the Professional approach to making photos. It certainly requires attention and the absolute awareness of the shooter’s presence. There is a nobility in the very act of making photos. The usual situation of working for someone, money or not, requires a 100% concentration and awareness of being in the here and now. You need to satisfy the needs of your client, This is first and foremost. So that approach can and is applied to working for yourself. ultimately, working for ourselves is the step to working for a client. The pro shooter commits his/her vision to the project and makes the photos for the intent of the project.  (I am going to use a suggestive word and it applies to my thoughts even if it’s a stretch. The Personal Shooter.) The personal shooter has him/herself as a client. The photos made are for individual intent.

So in this stance, perhaps it’s ok to adopt a few ways of working. As Giovanni stated, he doesn’t want to think about things, just make his photos. I agree that this is a noble way to work and very fulfilling.  Maybe working that way has defined accountability but I like clarity. I’m not saying Giovanni does not like clarity, I’m merely stating that I like clarity during the process.  For me, there is elegant freedom walking around with my camera friend making photos and being in the here and now, regardless of where it is.

I believe in the principle of the Inverse Square Law. More is less and less is more. I see it like this. The more awareness I have the greater the freedom is born. I have very few intrusions.

The less aware I am of process, the more intrusions present themselves.  I don’t know anything as a landmark for reality. This I do know cause I live it.

When I was young, I was taught that a photograph speaks 1000 words. As I grew older, not so much wiser, I found that a photo spoke less than 1000 words. As time passed, I realize that my photos maybe speak a half dozen words and that’s given a stretch. I guess it’s that Inverse Square Law that has haunted my very essence for all my life. I view my photos and words lose meaning and become cloudy as the photos are borne.

There is a saying by a Doctor Murray Banks, It goes like this. “As you go through your life brother, whatever be your goal. Keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.

Be Blessed one and all.  Namaste’

 

 

 

 

 

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 23rd, 2019 … Take It To Another Place … The Spirit, Not … The Religion of Photography

… ok, ok I know I’m a bad student and a bad disciple of anything. I have taught or suggested for years about the here and now.  I still believe that and still live, practice and teach that.

It was early in 1970, Chu Lai … Vietnam. We were working with some ARVN’s … The Army Republic of Vietnam. I became friends with an older man named Chin. He was a photographer for his Army and I was a grunt with a camera. We had photography in common.  When we were taking a break or just downtime, Chin would lay on the ground and close his eyes.

He wouldn’t move a muscle. I sometimes watched him and wondered what he was doing. One day I asked him and he said he was meditating. I asked, What is meditating? Chin asked me to sit and he explained. He said for him, he would meditate to leave the state of being he is in and place his heat and mind in a more tranquil place. To take it to another place. 

Chin died in October 1970. I took a photo from his pocket and it was a photo of his wife and son. That photo took Chin to another place. I still have it, bloodstained and all.

A few years later, my Brother took me to Lorimer Park. We climbed up the hill made of boulders and when we reached the top, we sat. He wanted to teach me meditation. I felt that he knew my soul was tormented and needed a way to escape. I didn’t press the issue but was very suicidal and maybe he sensed that. Maybe he still does.

Jerry had me close my eyes and breathe deep but natural. He told me to listen to the sounds around me. Well, there are many people doing many things and I can hear most. Then he said, listen to the water trailing down behind us. I didn’t hear any water. Lots of things but not, water. We left and just relaxed on the way home. A few days later, we went back and Jerry told me to just filter. I tried to grasp the concept but try as I may, I could not hear the water. I wasn’t frustrated as I also knew I lost a good percentage of my hearing in Nam. To this day, I still have not found anything lost in Nam, nothing.

I thought back about Chin. The way he tried to teach me a way to escape the moment and take it to another place. Was meditation with my brother the same or similar thing?

Ding McNulty had a way with me that is still working. He presented things and concepts to me and had a manner that got them in my head and heart, without realizing I ever adopted it. Chin, my brother Jerry, Ding all had a way to get me to take things to another place. It’s all a good way to escape the moment.

Well, for me, it’s all nice and I appreciate it all but it’s not how I live my life. My photography dictates that I be aware in the Here and Now. The reason for naming my camera is to have it be a catalyst for my work.  If I’m working with Mom the Ricoh GRII, I am in the here and now. I don’t want to take anything to another place. I want to deal with what’s going on in and around me first hand. Photography is my meditation. It is the single device that connects me with the here and now. I walk, I see a scene and make an exposure. I saw in 3-dimensional reality the trigger for the transformation that I search for in 2-dimensional reality, or called LightRoom.  The finished photo becomes a statement of my experience in that here and now. It’s a metaphor for my emotions and thoughts. It does not take me to another place nor do I want it to. It keeps me focused and aware and aware of my existence with a camera. Perhaps for me, photography is the greatest meditation in my life.

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Life becomes a beautiful mystery. We as photographers have the gift to see and make photos of the little mysteries. Meditation is not where you go or what you do. True meditation is how you live and how you reflect upon the life you live. It’s not where you try to go or place thoughts and emotions to another place. The gift is to be able to be aware and accept the mysteries of your life and live and love it in your here and now.

For men, the greatest mystery of all is…. how does your wife like your cooking?

 

 

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

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…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……

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…..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?

February 5th, 2019 … Once Upon a Dream

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I often talk about being in the moment. Ya know how the Inverse Square Law works. Less is More and More is Less. Well, I discovered that there is depth to the law. See, usually, I am deep inside things and that means it’s more complicated to be free of things. I like being deep in the stuff but there are times in my life that I want to just flow with the current and let it take me where it shall. This is one of those times.

Think about the contrast of life. Let’s just keep our eye, heart, and mind on the Inverse Square Law. If in fact, less is more and more is less, maybe we need heed the warning of Opposite Attraction. Photographically, it works like a magnet. They say opposites attract. Do they really and what does that mean to our shooters. If it’s always warm where you live, then a cold front or snap carries a lot of weight. It’s the living contrast that effects us.

Maybe you’re in the Southern States of The USA. You have beautiful sunny weather. You are walking around in shorts and a tee shirt. In a flash of a second, a Tornado or Hurricane comes and you don’t have a home anymore. Yout little dog is up there with Dorothy and her Red Slippers. I may be making light of the situation but it’s real and not at all funny. It’s the Opposite Attraction that is working.

We as shooters have similar situations. Think about Oxymorons in your work. Opposites. So, we go on in our comfort zone making photos. We even get people that like what we are doing. We feel safe and secure in our Eye, Hear and Mind. We don’t think about the hurricanes that disturb our vision and work. Just because we don’t think about those hurricanes, does not mean they aren’t resting and building energy to awake and add chaos to our sanity and vision.  Do we need to prepare for the approaching storm? I think not. It generated for us and generally is not as destructive and other things in our life.

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Well, Like finding our little dog up there with Dorothy. That’s an exercise in futility. We are creatures of habit. We are comfortable in repetition and strive to repeat results by working towards them. This means that perhaps, we carve out a set of guidelines or rules that we assume will give the desired result, that we are comfy with. Generally speaking, the satisfaction of producing acceptable work to others and to ourselves.

I think part of the human condition is, taking things for granted. I’m not a religious man. I mean, I lost my religion in Vietnam in 1970. I feel I have violated the WORD of the LORD and am not worthy of the benefits of being religious. Decades ago, I went to a Catholic Priest for guidance. We chatted a few times and I felt like a man he was understanding. He never passed judgment on me. A short time later, I went to see a Rabbi. His father lived in the home also.  His father was also a Rabbi and was about 86 when I met him. I asked simply if I could deal with the father. It was agreed upon. As the 3rd session was ending I felt some relief but still this feeling of guilt and aloneness. The old Rabbi told me, “Don, there are many ways to live your life. You should just be Spiritual and not worry about the Dogma of Religion. Don’t take this guilt with you to your death bed. Go with a clean heart and soul. Life has passed judgment on you, not GOD. You can’t control what happens with your death but you can with your life.”

So, it’s important to be in the here and now, we all agree on that. But if you’re always in the here and now, then how to appreciate it and how not to become complacent? We need the contrast in life to appreciate what we have and what we don’t have. To be in the here and now, does that imply being not in the here and now is the opposite?

Let’s say that we are working on a series of photos of reflections. What seems to take place, is….when a shot develops and it’s a reflection, we think it suites our series. It’s a nice filling feeling. Self-accomplishment. What of the photos that are not reflections. What happens to the series and what7 about the anti-series photos.

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Decades ago, I used to lay out photos like a scrabble board. Visualize the horizontal line of photos and it’s about 8 images.  Of course, the photos need to be related, not just related by nature but by intent. Now you bring photos to the layout and then you see, that there is a photo that relates well to one image but not really to the series laid out. You place that on the line going horizontally to the photo it relates too. After doing this, you see this like a scrabble board and your photos are the tiles.

If you try this, you’ll see that opposites really do attract. The series is well defined and the photos spawned off the main line leads to new directions. They appear to be opposite of the main series but are they really?

As photographers, we depend on sets of constants. It’s difficult to work off the normal comfy places in our hear and hearts. As creatures of habit, we tend to dismiss anything out of our norm. I am told by my mind, that I haven’t finished this exercise. I will write more thoughts shortly

… to be cont’d …

November 26th, 2018 … One Shot Per Shoot … Fuji X-Pro2

… yes, the project is open for members but you have to commit to doing it till after the New Year. Gimme a min folks so I can tell the readers what we are doing (Beings that youse are not here having coffee with us I will explain somewhat about the project.)  Ya know, how about I explain this to the readers and youse here with me now so I don’t need to do it twice. Ok alls everyone, and you reading this are included.

We all know the value of the One Shot Per Shoot system of working. See, what happens is that we go out and make photos, (never take Photos) … and we sometimes lose sight of what we feel or think about our images. So, when we go out next time, we aim for one photo that satisfies us on many levels. How many levels? I can’t tell you that but it’s many sometimes but not always. Of course, you make as many photos as you want but the idea is to edit down to just one. Then recall the experience and breathe that in for a while. I suggest that you make a collection of the photos you select. Then as time goes by, and it will, you just look at the collection and low and behold, you see that you’re more focused than you thought you were. All the sudden I don’t seem so distant and vague but more defined. What this does essentially is this:

You start to become more selective on the shutter release. You start to see that even tho many photos are captured by you and your camera, certain ones are more distinct about your vision. They seem to relate to you more and that relationship grows stronger as time passes. No restrictions or limitations needed.

After you get back to Lightroom, or whatever, you start to really spot the ones that speak for and about you. The editing becomes very exciting and then pop the photo in the collection and see the fruits of your efforts. What you are witnessing is the birth of you and your vision in a manner that you take credit for.  No one selected these photos. They are yours and they breathe because you grant them life and therefore, they grant you life.

This is not an easy project but believe me, nothing you do with your photography will ever give you the satisfaction and results that this does.

… it’s raining and I’m with a severe cold. I am working by myself. The Xmas bells are chiming, lights flashing, the tents of the Xmas village are starting to open. I’m not a holiday shooter, I always feel it’s too easy and maybe a cliche. Then I remember this project and what’s fit for the goose is fit for the gander. I’m in the thruway of City Hall, standing with Walker the Fuji X-Pro2. It’s slow going and people are walking past me but nothing ringing to my heart. Then, then in the near distance, a woman walks with her little girl…..I figure Nah, trite, maybe why to bother. As they get closer to me the move to the left a little so they don’t bump into me…..the light captures my heart and my veins start to jiggle, heart beat rising, eyes peeled on their hands…. I raise Walker, a tear swells in my eye and I miss my mother desperately…..CLICK