Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mini Projects ~ part deux...

For myself I feel I can not share a theme or an idea in a single image.  I simply can't.  It's not in my nature.  My nature is more rococo and baroque.  I am attracted to large, complex stories and project.  Therein lay a small problem.  I all too often want to share a lot of material and I tend to struggle in guiding viewers.

In my posting about creating mini-projects in a style proposed by Lenswork Magazine I complained about the size of three projects that have been in limbo for months.  Two projects involve street-art and the third has to do with alchemy and it's place in the medieval Catholic framework of belief.  There are simply too many images to select from and I wasn't sure how to "say" what I wanted to "say."  I was feeling overwhelmed.

By contrast, the Medieval Steel and Avion III projects were small and quick to implement.  They "said" what I wanted to "say" and that was that.  I see that paring down the number of images in a project to just the core things I have to share concentrates me, concentrates the theme, and concentrates the viewer in a laser beam like manner.  The approach might now work well for everything I do, but in these cases it worked the treat.

The Lenswork idea of Seeing in 6's has a certain simplicity to it, a certain directness.  This seems to be what I currently need to "get off the dime" and complete a few more projects.

It's in this spirit that I release three mini-projects on Paris street-art.  The idea was to pay a visit to two locations, photograph the areas in the states they were found on just that day, and to record for posterity some of the things that attracted me the most.  It's in the nature of street-art to disappear after a short period of time and to be forever lost under future layers of paint or to the wash wands of city cleaning crews.

As in many places, it is illegal to create graffiti here.  If an artist is caught the fines can be steep and the legal actions harsh.  I understand the desire to limit the amount of graffiti.  I would be rather upset if, for instance, someone tagged la tour Eiffel or the exterior of the Louvre.

Yet there are spaces that seem to have little social or cultural value.  I've found two places in Paris where street-artists seem to congregate and work.  Les Frigos is a huge old cold storage meat locker.  It's been converted into expensive artists "lofts."  Art creation spills out into the surrounding parking lot.  Les Frigos is surrounded by new glass and steel high-rises and I like the idea of a bit of "grittiness" standing off against ugly modernity.

The second location is rue Denoyez.  For many years it was an important center of street-art in this city.  Last year the authorities reclaimed the street by refurbishing the buildings starting on the south end of the street.  New businesses have started to come in and I'm affraid that the entire street will be "cleaned up" and handed over to businesses.  Street artists have been evicted and their art galleries have all been closed.

My Street-Art mini-project series is currently organized in two ways.  The first is by location and the second is by color palette.

Here is les Frigos (viewed on a tablet as you would a book)

Here is rue Denoyez (viewed on a tablet as you would a book)

Here is rue Denoyez 2 (viewed by laying it flat and spinning the tablet horizontally)

Les Frigos ~ Paris

Friday, February 26, 2016


LensWork Magazine is sponsoring a short image essay challenge.  It's something they call Seeing in Sixes.

After a few Full Strength Belgium Quadruples I sat and thought a bit about the approach of setting the size of a project to 6 images.  I have three projects that have yet to be completed.  Two are related to street art and the third is devoted to the role of Alchemy in Catholicism.  Alas, these are rather large efforts and I just don't seem to find the time to concentrate on them to bring them completion.

A mini-project, on the other hand, would allow me to select a few images that fit a theme and for me to quickly complete a work and make it available for distribution.

If I read between the lines, the folks at LensWork Magazine are attracted by the quiet, reclusive, spiritual aspects of the Japanese culture.  Perhaps this is why the idea of a shorter, more succinct imaging effort appeals to them.  The approach seems to offer: Cut out all the fluff and get down to the very core of what you want to say.

Recently my wife and I visited two museums in Paris that don't usually get Top Billing on anyone's Must See list.  These kinds of places attract me for the lack of crowds, poor light, yet potentially interesting subjects.

At the Musee des Arts et Metiers we paid close attention to their exhibits of pre-1900's aircraft.  One example seemed to lend itself to setting the basis of a short image essay.  Clement Ader's 1897 steam-powered Avion III is an engineering marvel.

Here is my short image essay of Avion III

Avion III ~ Clement Ader

The very next day we visited la musee de l'Armee at Invalides.  The light was low and indirect, and the exhibits felt old and musty.  And yet... and... yet... the way the light bounced, shimmered, wriggled, and slide off ancient steel... there had to be short story in there, too.

Here is my short image essay on Medieval Steel

Medieval Armor ~ Musée de l'Armée

I was able to process, collate, edit, and distribute these in less than four days.  While the approach might not be appropriate for everything I do, I'm happy to have read LensWork to pick up on an interesting idea.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Beast of Turin

I wrote an entry to one of my other blogs about the Beast of Turin.  It was quite the adventure.  What I didn't stress was how much my father and I wanted to see it run at Goodwood in 2015.  He was sick and my wife and I were hunkered down trying to get our state-sponsored health insurance.  Needless to say, I was pretty happy to get to see the 1911 Fiat S76 right here in my hometown.

My encounter with the Beast yielded some interesting images, so I collected a few of them into a short visual story.

Readers can download the Beast of Turin image essay.  I hope this pleases others half as much as it does me.

Beast of Turin ~ 1911 Fiat S76

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Getting to satisfied...

I know I'm not "marketable", in the traditional photographic sense.  No gallery would ever have me.  My work is simply far too varied.

I enjoy working with creative costumers, dancers, and circus performers.  Some of my most pleasing work has been with other creative people.  Yet other subjects call to me.  For instance, if I see a steam locomotive, out comes the camera.  Or when early Spring arrives and I know the birds are nesting, I'll haul out the Big Bird lens and head to a pond, river, or lake.

Recently, one of my favorite subjects has been to photograph old automobiles.  Paris seems to bring them and their drivers out in droves.  Early in January it was la traversee de Paris (hivernal).  This week it's the annual Retromobile show down at la porte de Versailles.

I enjoy visiting the Retromobile venue before the show opens.  It's fun to watch as the back door of a large transport drops open to reveal something tasty inside.  This year was no different and I found myself nearly jumping up and down in anticipation of what might be revealed next.

After running out of trailers to spy on, I went inside to watch as everyone was busy working to set the show up.  Cars littered the display area while waiting to be lined up properly on their stands.

Working in natural light under cloudy skies is wonderful.  Few specular highlights form on a car's bodywork.  The beautiful even light shows the car in all it's glory.  Inside an exposition building the light is nothing but one lamp after another.  Cars reflect dots of lamp "highlights" all over the surface.  I find this can be more than a little annoying, particularly when I find a wonderful automobile and want to show it's shape and color and not be distracted by irregularly placed dots.

The following Ferrari (a 330 GT Spyder? - perhaps someone can set me straight if I'm wrong) is a good example.

I worked the image as best I could in Sony's AWR to JPG conversion program, then I opened it in the Gimp.  The above is as Gimp first saw it.

Working carefully with the heal tool I removed as many highlights as I could.  Sometimes I needed to use the clone tool with a larger brush to cover certain problem areas.  I left the sides of the car as were, for the most part.  I liked the line of lights along the edge of the body as they help accentuate the Ferrari's lovely shape.

The work took perhaps 30 minutes of careful attention.

I like how many of the distractions are removed.  And I particularly like how the Ferrari is now just a beautiful Ferrari.  It's no longer a car sitting in the middle of a show hall.

As a final step I wanted to remove the overly yellow cast.  While there are a number of ways of doing this, the smoothest I found when using the Gimp is to find a nice film emulation in G'Mic.  I could do the corrections by hand (selecting channels and colors, etc), but sometimes the transitions between colors are a little harsh.  Hence my sometimes use of G'Mic film emulations.

Here is the final result.

Happiness ensues.  Out comes the Belgium beer.  Or something like happiness.  I just remembered I wanted to try a light LAB color-space correction, too.  OK.  The Belgium beer will have to wait another 30 minutes...