Sunday, December 28, 2008

My darkroom calls to me yet I ignore it. My heart lately has not been there. I am losing my enthusiasm. I am in a dark place rather then a dark space (or vise versa). I still believe a darkroom can be the best toy a boy or girl ever had. Mixing chemicals, working under a pale amber light with printing paper in trays of Developer, Stop and Fix. Dark for dark business. It's engaging to all the senses in ways that a digital camera and photoshop could never be. It's something real rather then virtual. The world of photography though is abandoning reality for "virtuality". Purists are seen as lunatics. Where is William Morris when you need him?

This is an attitude I saw prevalent among all of Portlands Photo-luminaries. Image is everything and process is nothing. No one abandoned painting when photography was invented yet now that we have digital photography we seem to be abandoning analog photography and no one cares. This depresses me.

It's been almost three years now since I took a work shop with one of Portlands "photo luminaries" I learned one important thing from her that I have to keep reminding myself of. "Don't ever expect anyone else to care for your photographs as much as you do." It's good advice and a bit like those Oriental Aphorisms that are both blessings and curses rolled in one like "May you live in interesting times", or "May your children bury you."

So remember it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"That's not a Nikon, now this er is a NIKON!"

I got my son a Nikon coolpix for Christmas. It's a sweet little "camera" and takes very good "photographs". It's not quite as big or as heavy as the Photomic view finder on the Nikon but you can carry the whole camera in your shirt pocket something you couldn't do with the 5 lb. Nikon F.

I actually was impressed with the versatility and portability of the little coolpix. It has a very sharp lens and the tiny, tiny strobe really lights up an indoor shot. It can also take a very nice closeup though as far as I could see the optical stabilization isn't real good for a handheld closeup but probably in brighter light it would be more effective. Here are two closeups I did with the camera hand held with available light.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Pretty to Pretty Ugly. Portlands chance for a beautiful White Christmas looks like it's going to have to settle for slush. So typical. This time it didn't even last through Christmas Eve. I am still hoping though for a little Christmas Miracle a drop to freezing and a blanket of new snow falling on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter of 1968

We have been hearing comparisons of this winter storm to one 40 years ago. Here is a picture I took during that winter when I was first learning to use a camera. I took this with a rather nice Mamiya Sekkor rangefinder camera that I wish I could find now. Had a very nice 45mm lens I believe and a nice bright and easy to focus viewfinder.

A Winters Light.
Our office closed again so another snow day. I decided it was time to take a hike and retrieve the boys Christmas booty from the undisclosed location where it all had been hidden. I took some pictures along the way both with my film camera and with my son's (which will be mine after 12/24) digital camera. I really can't see myself using a digital SLR over my Nikon, Nikkormat or Leitz CL. I couldn't afford the lenses and even if I could I bet the quality of my old 60's nikkors and Rokkor lenses are far superior to whatever is being made now. Still the simplicity of a small slim Nikon coolpix with 10megapixels is a fun little plaything and if I owned any digital camera it would be in the sub 200.00 market for snap shots. I still prefer and respect the craft and skill and experience that one earns working with film and manual cameras. At least you can feel you have accomplished something in a format that takes years just to become adequate compared to the idiot proof digital camera where one merely needs a finger to take a perfect picture the first time you pick it up. Big whoop. But I digress.
It was a beautiful walk and I anticipate what may be actual falling and accumulated snow on Christmas Day. The rarest of Portland events. I have seen snow on the ground on Christmas day, once in 1990 where we had a very good storm that started around the same time this one did and remained cold up until Christmas. I have also twice seen heavy snows on Christmas Eve that melted totally away by Christmas Day. Last year snow fell on Chrismas Day, but this year could be a first at least as far back as I can remember to around 1957. I wouldn't bet money on it though but this storm is closest to the one in 1990 where extended cold temps and accumulated snow kept it on the ground till Christmas though back then by Christmas it was a thick crust of ice and not the nice powder we have now. So I am hoping for things to stay close to freezing and some more frozen precip for the next two days. I've done the shopping and there is plenty of food, coffee, wine, bread stored up to see us through to the weekend. I want for nothing more.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The weird Christmas cards of Ernst Haeckel. I found these in my very favorite website io9. The top one makes me think of Chuthulu from the H.P. Lovecraft stories which I have been reading in an excellent anthology edited by Joyce Carol Oates.

Artic blast 08!!!!

Looks like we are not going anywhere today. Reading H.P. Lovecrafts 'At the Mountains of Madness' about a 1930 polar expedition that finds evidence of an ancient alien settlement in Precambrian rock formations. Great reading for a Winters day and night by the fire.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December 21st, The Winter Solstice. "Longest Night of the Year"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

An 8th grade Christmas Party in 1959. Oak Grove Grade School.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

" Hey Guys come look there's something here in the ice!"
It was nice to have a little snow on the ground and anticipation in the air this week. My kids and I got a couple of snow days which gave me some time to get our Christmas tree up and decorated and inject some money in to the economy. I wanted though to get some pictures of Lone Fir in the snow but never got around to it. Perhaps I'll get another chance tomorrow. Last Sunday was the most interesting day because we got our tree, or I should say "We eeeaaaarrrrnnnndddd it." The boys and I drove out east looking for a u-cut tree farm in the midst of what was the worst of it. We had studded tires, lots of coats and blankets but the whole time I was white-knuckling it thinking I was going to get caught in a snowstorm and be stuck east of 82nd avenue after dark (the horror, the horror). We made it home though but without the traditional stop at Dairy Queen which was closed. Like no one wants ice cream when it's 23 degrees out.
This is a movie still from the 1950 something film "The Thing from Outer Space" which was kinda sorta inspired by the H.P. Lovecraft novella, "The Mountains of Madness".

Monday, December 15, 2008

"I love my country as it dies,

in war and pain before my eyes,

I walk the streets where disrespect has been,

The sins of politics, the politics of sin,

The heartlessness that darkens my soul,

On Christmas."

From 'Christmas in my Soul' by Laura Nyro.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Red and silver on the leaves,
Fallen white snow runs softly through the trees,
Madonnas weep for wars of hell
They blow out the candles and haunt Noel
The missing love that rings through the world
On Christmas.
...Joy to this world."
From Christmas in my Soul by Laura Nyro

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Here are some orchid photos I took probably back in 2003 at one of the shows. I was once very in to Orchids. My orchid collection was one of my first subjects for photographs. I am thinking of doing some posting of some of the hundreds of pictures I took of Orchids during my 20 years of cultivating them. When I built my darkroom I had a very nice collection of plants growing under lights downstairs, but as the darkroom consumned more of my time I ignored them and most of them died. I still have hundreds of photos though which I plan to go over and post along with stories from my days as an orchid grower. Perhaps even some cultivation tips.


Portland 1974
You have to see this. Here is a link to the excellent blog Cafe Unknown. It is a selection of photos from the PSU yearbook of 1974 which was made up of photographs taken around PSU and the city that contains it. Called a Portland Family Album. I remember this collection. The photographs are impressive and made when taking a photograph still took a photographer and not just a camera. This list of buzz words from 1974 some local some national is interesting. "Pocket calculators" you got love that, the 1974 equivalent of the laptop. Perhaps before the year is up I'll post my own list for 2008. Also check out his most recent entry including photographs by Minor White taken of the old waterfront around Front Ave. when Portland actually did look like a European city. Of course Europe had WWII and we had Urban Renewal.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Favorite Pictures of 2008.

I usually wait until nearer the end of the month to post these. I still have 4x5 film of the Magnolia flower from July that I need to develop so for all I know I may have something I am not even aware of. I haven't been able to devote a weekend to working in the darkroom since October so that film will have to wait for 2009. Film is a harsh mistress.

One of the photos is a discovered negative from 1969 taken when I was just beginning to learn photography, two are from our August trip to Pittsburgh, and one of the Magnolia flower pictures where I spent an entire day photographing a single flower with as many of my cameras as I could.

I will settle for these because they stand out from the rest of my efforts this year.
If I can just keep making at least 4 good pictures a year I feel like I am making some progress.

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