I’m basically still laughing about this instagram post. I snapped it a couple of weeks ago when I was coming out of the train at City Hall. It could have been a decent shot because the ceiling is actually very cool, as was the quality of light that evening. However, I was very frazzled and running a bit late from having to take a different train than normal due to a track fire. As a result, I didn’t even stop walking to snap this photo (which basically guarantees a crappy photo). But I mean, I still HAD to take the photo! Look how shaky it is; not sharp at all! Well, I guess if someone is shaking around the screen while you look at it, it probably looks okay. I hastily put it up on my account while I was walking. Then, TBH, I kind of forgot that I even posted it until the next day when it had somehow overnight earned roughly triple the amount of “likes” as any of my images normally do on instagram. I don’t have a popular account. My photos usually garner like 50 ‘likes’ max. My friend left a nice comment, which I am guessing was a sympathy comment. Something like “I have seen that ceiling in real life. Despite your photo, I still think it is a really good ceiling.” I’m chalking all of this up to magical new FB (who as we all know purchased/ruined instagram) algorithm which apparently knows better than the actual user what content he/she likes the most. I mean, I know that there aren’t any AMAZING images on insta account. But seriously? Shaking ceiling? Anyway, thanks FB/insta, for getting possibly one of the worst photos I have ever published in front of the max number of people that your algorithm knew would like it! Thanks random internet ppls for making this terrible image one of the most ‘liked’ images on my account!
Friday evening brought a brief squall to lower Manhattan just in time for the evening commute. Luckily, I was already home since my office was closed early for the long weekend. I decided to break out the 200mm and take some snaps of commuters with their umbrellas. Here are a few of my faves.
It is July 1 and since I have a bit of time on my hands, here is a music post. One of my modern faves, Jamie XX, released a video this week to accompany some of the audio from his track ‘Gosh’ that came out ahead of last year’s In Colour album. While the video does have some striking visuals, I would have much preferred that he just give us some new music. I had a couple of WTF moments while watching the vid. The first was the choice to use a Subaru in the vid. I guess when you come from the country that gave us Aston Martin, Subaru is exotic? Next, I was wondering if that Eiffel Tower was CGI (esp during the shot that pans out at the end). I did some quick innanetz research (Googled ‘eiffel tower replica china’), and it turns out it is just a replica built in the city of Hangzhou China (where the entire video appears to have been shot).
Part two of music post:
I love Spotify. I was one of the early US subscribers when you still had to be invited to be a guinea pig on the domestic Beta iteration. Like half of the rest of the country, I was invited to join by the mysterious “Mrs. Kutcher,” Hahaha. Anyway, I build a monthly Spotify playlist of stuff I’m digging at the moment. For example, today I published my “July 2016” list, and started building the playlist for Aug. Anyway, I decided to share the July playlist below. Maybe I’ll start publishing my lists every month, like the ISO50 guys used to do (which I loved, btw). Anyway… here:
Happy and safe 4th of July!
There is something to be said for the vibe that summer nights embody. As near as I can tell, the unique summer night aura is a universal thing that exists in every place where the summer season is a thing. I remember feeling it when I was a youngster staying up late skateboarding with my friends. School was out, so no need to get up early. The nights were still warm enough to wear minimal clothing, yet a nice reprieve from the oppressive daylight heat. None of the problems in the world seemed to matter at all, those nights. Even though the sensory elements are very different in NYC than where I grew up, the same essence of summer night energy is present.
I brought along my range finder Friday night. I feel like the on-camera flash preserves the gritty feel of the thick wet NYC summer night air. We started out in NoLIta and hopped our way over to the East Village for some late night Crif Dogs. Capped off the night taking the pooch for a stroll to chase some rats.
With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to be “off the grid.” It seems like there are new cell towers going up in every last remote region of the industrialized world. Last weekend I found myself in an area so remote that there was no cell service, and the nearest land line was a 4 hour hike away. It was refreshing. We spent 5 days in a Utah mountain range called the Uintas. My family vacationed there during the summer when I was young. Nestled between the dense lodge-pole pine trees on the edge of Moon Lake, there is a rustic ‘resort’ comprised of log cabins and a lodge dating back to the 1920s. Last weekend my family had a reunion in those same cabins. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to take B on an overnight backpacking trek for the first time in her life (something that I have enjoyed doing since I was a youngster). B and I arrived in Salt Lake a couple of days before the reunion started, met up with our good friend Sam Adams who came in from Portland (OR, not ME), and headed into the woods. We left the car at Moon Lake (which is where the road ends), and proceeded to hike to a remote glacier-melt called Brown Duck Lake. Even though the hike was only about 7 miles, there is roughly 2000 feet of elevation gain (starting from over 8000 feet). All three of us are in relatively good shape, and it still took us a little over 4 hours to complete. Our ginger pace may have also been partially attributable to the fact that I was carrying about 30 lbs in camera gear (which I broke out and used often along the way) in addition to the tent, sleeping bag, etc.. My shoulders are still a bit sore from the endeavor.
We arrived at Brown Duck Lake about an hour before sunset, in time to set up camp, build a fire and catch some fish for dinner. The lake is loaded with native trout. We caught a few different varieties, keeping only a brown trout and a cutthroat for dinner. After swapping Sasquatch stories and shooting about 300 frames of the night sky (mostly film and on Sam’s camera), we hung our packs in trees in an effort not to attract any bears, then hit the sack. We broke camp early the next AM and made it back down to Moon Lake just as some of my family was beginning to arrive. We spent the rest of our time in the mountains catching up with family, laughing, eating, fishing, hiking, playing horseshoes, and sitting around the fire. Sometimes it is really nice to be completely disconnected from the real world, especially when surrounded by amazing company.
Hailing from Auckland NZ, photographer Johnny McCormack came onto my radar this week via Juxtapoz. Jux highlighted a series that McCormack recently published entitled “Homecoming.” While the set could readily be dismissed as just another minimalist collection of cool tones, I really enjoy this project. I admit that part of the allure for me personally is the way that the images of the snowy mountains lit by low winter sun resonate with my fond memories of growing up in the Rockies. Personal sentiments aside, I think that the aesthetic presented in this collection has the ability to evoke a certain mood in anyone. McCormack describes the project saying:
HOMECOMING stems from the ‘out takes’ whilst travelling internationally to shoot commercial and editorial work for over a period of sixteen consecutive winters. Shot on the outskirts of the pacific rim, paying close attention to the notion of a return and yearning for ‘home’ a body of work began to unravel.
Being far from home, finding solace adrift in strange and incongruous territories, places of wonder and curiosity – the photographer attempts a sense of belonging via his lens while living and operating within transient circumstances.
The resulting landscapes evidence places of retreat and pilgrimage – for the viewer, potentially to also find a way to return home.
Being photographed is tough. Some people are so good at it. They look so natural and comfortable, effortlessly cool, etc.. I look basically the opposite of all of those things in just about every photo ever taken of me. I have always felt more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. The above image is a perfect example of why. I am super awkward in photos, and have accordingly disliked being photographed for most of my life. In recent years I have thankfully come to embrace the awkwardness, and I have my little sister partially to thank for this. If there is one person who ranks on my levels of unnaturaltude when the camera is pointed in their direction, it is her. I should also mention that she is a woman who struggles with autism. Perhaps I too have some sort of social disability which causes me to lose my sense of “normalcy” when I find myself staring into the business end of a lens.
At any rate, I have her to thank for my decision to embrace my shortcomings as a subject in photos. A few years ago, I noticed that she had adopted sort of a signature pose for photos. She would hold up two fingers, peace-frogs-style and pop her hip out to the side. By doing so, she spun her discomfort of being photographed into her own brand of sassy protest (“okay go ahead and take my photo, but you are going to get this pose”). Amazed at how well this seemed to work, I took a page from her book and started throwing deuces in photos every chance I had. When possible, I will even incorporate double deuces. As ironic as it may sound, I have hated photos of me much less since adopting her approach. While the photos are ostensibly “worse” and certainly more contrived than before the advent of the deuce pose (not to be confused with the other deuce pose), at least I can laugh at them now, as opposed to just cringing. So while I will most likely never be able to look cool, natural or at ease in photos, I can thank my sis for helping me embrace a signature awkward pose.
Last summer I saw some atypical wall art (in a bar, in Jersey) that caught my attention and got my creative wheels turning. In this bar is a light box hanging on the wall with 35mm slides mounted under glass. The slides are backlit by they light box. I liked the way that it made me get up close to see what each of the individual images were. I decided that I wanted to replicate the piece, putting my own spin on it and using my own images. This was part of the impetus of picking up a manual 35mm camera again this year for the first time in probably 20 years. It has been a lot of fun shooting with that thing, even though it is one more camera to lug around. I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible though, using only a 50mm lens and shooting mostly natural light. This way I can avoid being weighed down with extra glass and strobes.
Last week, I had the first roll of slides developed. There were a couple of images that I really liked. But, for sure Sturgeons law was in full effect. I put together a little makeshift light box to get an idea of the aesthetic. Just for fun, the top image is linked to the full resolution file. I had to compromise on the image quality quite a bit to get the file size small enough for a manageable upload. But I feel like there are still enough pixels to get the gist. I also included a couple of details in the images below.
After shooting 2 or 3 more rolls, I plan to start building the light box. Stay tuned! Ha.
What was forecast to be a very soggy weekend, ended up being sunny and delightful. We ended up in Beach Haven again last weekend because we needed to pick up the dog (who splits her time between Manhattan and the beach). The weather was nice enough that I actually go in the water. It was still a little brisk, but definitely doable.
Saturday was the third iteration of Beach Haven’s ‘Hop Sauce Festival.’ It is a festival that features regional craft beer, along with small batch purveyors of hot sauces. Food was available from a bunch of the local spots and the live music was also homegrown. We had a great time and left with scorched tongues from sampling all of the different sauces.