80mm f/5.6 1/125s ISO100
Digital cameras are awesome, but I will always love everything about film. From preparing your rolls to enlarging your prints I love the feel of film photography. I love the look of it, the smell of the chemicals, the sound the shutter makes, digital will never match the pleasure of the senses that film provides.
The Amateur Photographer's Handbook by Aaron Sussman influenced me with his wonderful take on composition, seeing the world in pictures, and enjoying photography. If you are going to take up film, this book is a must-have. It covers all aspects of photography from taking your film out of the can to developing your negatives to making enlargement prints. The information on forgotten chemicals for developing, techniques for altering negatives, and many other "post" arts that have been lost in the digital explosion will help you understand film and work with it easily.
My film camera allows me to shoot at ISO speeds of 25, most digital cameras go as low as 100. You don't have to know what ISO means, you do have to know that digital is still not as precise as film. Film is simply older. Film has evolved over a century of tinkering, digital can not yet boast that claim. Someday digital will surpass film, especially now that innovations in analog are no longer a goal, but that day has not yet come.
Grain and high ISO's are another area where film crushes digital. Really high speed film creates prints with a nice grain, and enough detail to look good. High ISO digital looks like a Monet painting, it's great if your eyes aren't sharp, but to the rest of us it looks smeared.
If you shoot film, and you're not developing your own negatives, you are missing out. The things that can be done to negatives are only just now being rivaled with computer generated tools, rivaled, not equaled. Read this book and learn how to turn a photographic negative, a piece of sandpaper, and a Q-Tip into a work of art.
If you want to try your hand at film, but don't want to mess around with chemicals, try out thedarkroom.com
, they can develop your negatives and even scan them for you so you can easily have digital files of your film photos! It doesn't get much easier than that.
The digital revolution has damned our photos to sit on memory chips, cd-roms, and harddrives. Photos are meant to be displayed, if you fancy yourself a photographer, even if you are 100% consumer digital, print your photos out and hang them somewhere or pile them in a box and leave it on the coffee table. The greatest gift photographs give us is the ability to touch an image, to pick it up and hold it, to feel. You can't feel a picture on a computer screen.
28mm f/2.8 .4s ISO400
The title of this post is a quote from Louis Pauwels. It rings just as true today as when his father told it to him. This simple quote is a fundamental aspect of the human world. You would be wise to ponder it's meaning.
So very often do I hear people discussing, debating, and complaining about what is wrong with the world today. I admit that I have indulged in this type of speculation on more than one occasion, but I am going to tell you the secret of what is really wrong with the world. This is it, the absolute true nature of all of humanities problems. Are you ready for it? Here is the answer.
Q: What is wrong with society, humanity, and people in general?
That's right. There is nothing wrong with us. Each person is walking around doing what they want, for better or worse. We are all following the quote, we are all getting what we resemble, not what we deserve. If you are unhappy with what you have, it is usually because you think you deserve better than you resemble. Ghandi believed in this idea also when he said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” This quote has often been shortened to "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
It is time to wake up and realize that you are telling people how to treat you every minute of every day. How you dress, how you walk, how you talk, your tattoos, jewelry, everything about you is a message that you are sending to each person who looks at you, unless mommy still dresses you every morning.
If you don't like the cards you've been dealt, shuffle the deck. Get treated like trash? Fix your tattoos, buy some different clothes, change SOMETHING. Until you've tried changing yourself, your life will never change.
Anton LaVey said: "The clothes make the slave." and this is where you should start. How you CHOOSE to dress is a reflection of who you are. It might not be accurate, but every person who looks at you will treat you like you are asking to be treated by your clothes. It may be unfair, but it's a fact. If you aren't willing to try dressing different, you aren't willing to change your life, so stop complaining about your misfortune.
The depth of the quote at the top of this page reaches far deeper than clothing, it reaches into our souls to deep places that psychology has not yet developed terms for them. Ponder it and see how deep it goes.
35mm f/8.0 1/125sec. ISO100
If you came from another planet and watched Earth, you would no doubt laugh (or whatever your race's equivalent to laughing is) until becoming physically ill. The human race sometimes seems to me to be a bad situation comedy. We endlessly worry ourselves over the most inane and trivial matters, often while allowing much more dangerous issues to slip past us unresolved.
The internet is a blazing example of the habits of our strangeness. The inexhaustable power of information sharing and communication the internet provides is far beyond the science fiction fantasies of any previous time on this planet, and what do we use this impossibly powerful tool for? Primarily to look at pictures of nude people and secondly to broadcast our every thought to as many others as we can.
The countless hours we spend on facebook pushing our inanities on others is trumped only by our never-ending search for erotically exciting imagery. The strangest thing about these habits is that we don't need the internet for either of them.
In the time before the internet people were spending their time looking for erotic images and broadcasting their thoughts, but we did it outside, in the analog world.
I fell in love with the internet before it was a reality, but as time goes on, I am disappointed in how it has grown up. I still spend my waking moments seeking erotica and broadcasting my thoughts to others, but I have grown bored with photos and social networking long ago, and now seek these things in the third dimension. I miss the tactile sense.
How long until we lose the ability to register physical sensation? The flat screen of the smartest cellular device will never feel like reality, and as friendly as I am with my keyboard, I find myself staying away longer and longer.
As my ghost lingers on in the social networking world as a voiceless shade I live on, in a different world, a world where I can touch and taste and smell, a dirty, disgusting world full of wonderful deliciousness, and I wonder why I ever wanted the digital in the first place.
47mm f/5.6 1/125s ISO100
It is often said that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I have never truly believed that statement. It is true that the pen is subtler than the sword, that the pen creates wounds that may bleed for much longer than the sword, and it can even be said that the pen cuts deeper than the sword, as the sword can only cut flesh and bone while the pen may pierce the mind and soul as well. The pen may have it's advantages over the sword, but mightier I doubt.
The pen very often motivates the sword, and the goals of the pen are achieved through the works of the sword. So the pen may be the invisible hand holding the sword. The pen may use the sword to destroy, but cannot destroy the sword. The sword can, however, destroy the pen. The sword may be used to destroy all pens and all works of all pens, and even all those who remember the works of the pen, but the pen can never make the sword extinct.
The pen has tried to destroy the sword. From many hands have words of peace been penned, and many mouths have spread those words in many lands, but words cannot destroy, they can only create. The pen cannot destroy, it can only create. The pen can cause destruction only by inspiration.
The sword can only destroy, and destroy it does, from good or ill. The purpose of the sword is never lost on deaf ears or blind eyes. It takes intelligence to be touched by the pen, but there exists no creature too small or mean to be touched by the sword.
The pen might not be mightier than the sword, it may in fact be it's equal counterpart. One half of the whole, together creating the ultimate weapon, but apart both failing at their ultimate goal.
240mm f/8 1/125s ISO100
On this planet, most animals are predators. Although there are plenty of species that consume only plants, and a handful that eat the leftovers from other animals, the majority live by killing others.
At some point in the story of homo sapien we developed the taste for meat, most likely starting out as herbivores. It is not entirely clear why, but we now have the ability to eat both plants and animals.
Many animals that adopted a diet of other animals also developed anti-social behavior, the leopard for instance is a solitary creature, only seeking others of its kind briefly during mating season and for a short period while rearing their young. Tigers are also mostly solitary, and although lions hunt in packs adults spend most of their time alone.
Except for a small number of species, like the wild African dogs, an animals circle of "friends" is small. Can we expect anything different from humans?
Humans seem to have always existed in packs, but our ability to form strong bonds with our own kind is strained as numbers swell. Like the lion, we seem to build a circle of close friends numbering from six to ten and those outside that small number suffer different levels of neglect. Of course, we can work in teams of far greater numbers, our ability to deeply relate seems limited.
Although we often have delusions that humans are more like lions, kings of the jungle, we seem to be somewhere closer to penguins, living in massive communities but developing close relationships with a small few.
I often encounted people who believe humans are somehow elevated from other animals, better and special, but as time passes and I observe humans and animals, as I read the observations of others, I firmly believe that we are not much different. We are a unique animal, yes, but not so far removed as some wish to proclaim.
Most predatory animals hunt in small groups of friends to provide for their families. Humans no longer need to hunt, we rely on a small number of individuals who produce large quantities of food for the rest of us, and I can't help but wonder sometimes whether or not we have lost something by this disconnection. Humans seem to be the animal most disconnected from the ebb and flow of nature, perhaps this habit is one small contribution to that disconnection.
I leave you today with questions, but no answer, in the hopes that you will use that wonderous human brain to observe, analyze, and conclude on your own.
200mm f/22 1/100s ISO1600
Anthropology is the study of the human species, and, although many will argue otherwise, much insight is gained from the field of zoology. Animal behavior has many parallels to human behavior. We are, after all, animals. One of the behaviors of animals I find particularly interesting and insightful is the reaction to boredom.
You see, animals who experience lack of stimulation develop self-destructive behaviors. Long term exposure to boredom causes compulsive harmful behavior.
Lack of stimulation, or boredom, is usually suffered by caged or domesticated animals, but is also intermittently observed in wild creatures as well. Animals that no longer need to search for food, hunt, or fend off predators and thieves frequently get bored. Boredom in animals manifests itself most visibly in strange behaviors. Constant biting or licking of the extremities or inanimate objects, punching the ground, banging the head against walls and chronic masturbation are all animal signs of boredom. Wolves and lions are known to chew holes in their legs or tear out patches of fur if boredom is allowed to last. Monkeys and apes have been known to knock themselves unconcious by knocking their heads against the ground.
Bored animals are usually more aggressive as well. When a second animal is introduced to provide stimulation to a bored creature, the newcomer is often met with anger. Sometimes the bored animal will warm up to the new, sometimes not.
In my experience, some of the most self-destructive things I've done, in retrospect, were feeble attempts to stave off boredom. Boredom can breed depression and anger, two emotions that can damage the self if not properly released.
I don't know if depression is felt by animals outside of the human species, but I am pretty convinced that much of our depression comes when we are bored. The old addage 'time flies when you're having fun' is a testament to how boredom weighs heavier on us than enjoyment, and how we can avoid the destructive power of boredom. The secret is not to always be doing something, but to enjoy what you are doing, even when you are doing nothing.
Today this website recieved a facelift and some liposuction. I cut and trimmed and even sculpted the old into a brand new animal. Hopefully the new format will help to give you some insight into my personality, in addition to just displaying some of my works.
If you get really bored, swing by the studio and say hi.
300mm f/5.6 1/400s ISO250
If you're like me, and spend most of your time working, then you might also be guilty of forgetting how big the world is. There was an eclipse a few days ago, and I totally missed out on photographing it. By the time I got out to make some images the moon was barely in front of the sun, so I ended up with a few awesome photos of what looks like a pac-man. It's easy to lose track of events, but it's a shame to miss out on an experience because of work.
So, instead of some awesome photos of an eclipse that only happens every so often, I am left with this image of a common weed. This weed is a bit different than others, though. This weed is often given to children as a talisman that grants wishes. I'm sure you were at some time given a dandelion and told to blow it's seeds into the wind while thinking a wish. Children are often taught little rituals and rhymes concerning wishing. Blow out the candles on your birthday cake, make a wish. See a star at night and recite 'Wish I may, wish I might, first star I see tonight...' Children are encouraged to wish at the strangest opportunities. It has always amazed me that adults aren't encouraged to wish much at all.
As an adult we are accosted with such phrases as 'Wishful thinking' and a host of other derogatory words when we make a wish. Is it any wonder that our wishes came true more when we were children?
The little poems and strange behaviors we are taught as children were something akin to magic, like spells by which we can attain our dreams. It seems silly when you think about it as an adult, but is it ever a bad idea to instill in anyone the habit of wishing? When we make a wish on our magical dandelions or when we see the first star on a fresh night sky or when we blow out the candles of our birthday cake we are telling ourselves what we want. Making a wish is having a dream, and a dream becomes a goal before it grows into an accomplishment. 'Wishful thinking' it may be, but no great feat happens without first being born as a wish.
I encourage you to remember the magic of your youth and make a wish today. Use a dandelion, a star, or whatever other method you remember from your childhood, and wish for something that you truly desire. If you keep your wish a secret, it just might come true.
34mm f/5.6 1/160s ISO100
Humans have been obsessed with themselves most likely since the dawn of our time. Cave paintings and sculptures of the human figure are by far the most prevalent. Laws have been created and destroyed concerning the creating of images and likenesses, and even today the copyright war rages on, attempting to control the way likenesses are used.
We have laws concerning who can create a likeness, and how it can be created, and how it can be used. Free from the old superstitious fear of witches we are no longer afraid to allow our likenesses to be created, but we are still concerned with how they will be used.
The likeness of a person has been thought to be linked to the one it was fashioned after, and many cultures feared that their likeness could be used for malevolent purposes. Today, images may still be used to defame or slander the subject. Unlike yesteryear when a witch would torture a wax figure of her enemy to cause pain or even death, today vindictive persons may upload embarrassing images of their enemy to nefarious websites, or even send them to the phone of random strangers. The methods of mis-using likenesses have changed, but the results are still very much the same.
The ancient Greeks were probably the best artisans when the human form is concerned. Their statues and carvings have flawless lines, poses, and perfect anatomy. They have remained unmatched, and probably will for a very long time. The ancient Greeks didn't create images and likenesses for nefarious purposes, they did it because they found it beautiful, just as artists of today spend much time re-creating and capturing the beauty inherent in the human form in its natural state.
Advertising agencies have long since known the power of the human form, and will always add some 'sex appeal' into their campaigns, even if the average gazer doesn't recognize it. Artists of all types have always known the shapes of beauty and often employ the composure of the sensual in order to add interest to their works.
Time may pass, the world around us may change drastically, but people are still doing the same things they've done for thousands of years. As much as we have progressed as a species, we have changed so very little.
70mm f/8 1/400s ISO100
"They don't build 'em like they used to." Of course that's not true, people build things in whatever way their patron pays them to. 'They' could easily 'build 'em like they used to' if it was in the budget and requested. It's usually not, though. The opulent mansions of yesterday have given way to the skyrise apartment complexes of today, and I wonder if the change was for our benefit or not. Has man's spacial needs changed, or is it being ignored to cut costs and pack more people into a smaller space?
Of course there are many books and studies on the subject, the answer to those questions is out there for all to see, if one cares to look.
The structure in the image above isn't that old, but I have always loved the ominous look of those pillars.
53mm f/16 1/60s ISO100
Artists are a different breed of people. They're prone to mood swings, erratic and often eccentric behavior. I'm not quite sure what it is that drives a person to create art, but I do know that it is a habit that borders on compulsion for many artists.
It's that compulsion that seperates the artist from the hobbyist and the entrepreneur. The hobbyist is fine creating a few things here and there while the entrepreneur is fine with only creating art when they are paid to do so, but the artist has a constant desire to create and is usually only happy while creating. The artist, unlike the hobbyist and entrepreneur, is never happy with their previous works, and is always trying to create better works. I would gamble that all of the past masters of history would agree.
Photography, when indulged in for the art, is one of the most difficult mediums to work with. The limitation of what is in front of the lens is sometimes maddening.
When I want to paint, I am limited only by my imagination and my level of skill. Skill can be improved and imagination is never lacking, but to take a photo I have to actually FIND the things I wish to photograph. This means physically searching for the right location, the right model, manufacturing the right lighting, the right props, etc. etc. ad infinitum, and nothing is more frustrating to an artist than limits.
While not every artist has an agenda like Banksy
, every artist has a vision of what they want to create, and the photographic artist suffers from lack of materials more than artists in other mediums these days, those materials being subjects to photograph.
I don't mean to suggest there is a lack of things to photograph, I'm saying that photography poses a unique obstacle to the artist. When I want to paint a rockabilly chick sitting on a car I simply walk into the studio and start painting. To accomplish the same goal photographically I have to find a woman that looks similar to the one I imaging, I have to find the car, I have to find clothing that mimics my vision, I have to apply the makeup to the woman, style her hair, set up lights, etc. Making photographic art utilizes many of the same resources used to make a film. Hair and makeup artists, prop coordinators, wardrobe managers, casting directors, lighting assistants and more. One photo in Vogue, or similar, magazine takes upwards of four people to accomplish. It only takes one to paint a landscape.
I don't care whether you're a hobbyist, an entrepreneur, or an artistic virgin, I implore you to go out and create SOMETHING, even if it's only fond memories...
The above image was created in an area of San Luis County, California called by the locals 'Pirate's Cove'. It's a rare clothing optional beach, although you can't see the beach part in the image, but that's the point. The habitable portion is hidden from casual onlookers, and who doesn't like a secluded beach?