Sunday, April 19, 2015

More on Photographic Education

I have a lot that I would like to write about today. For an under-educated old fart it should not be even debatable whether or not anything I write should ever appear in public. The answer is definitely, absolutely not! Never the less, I would like to write about a brief encounter with an amazing lady, one of the artists that displays her art at Aurora, at Open Studio last night and I may yet.

But instead I am going to write about my recent post where I quoted Henry Holmes Smith on the current state of photographic education. He mentioned that he thought that people all over the country were incapable (emphasis mine because I agree) of teaching what the students needed to know and instead were busily teaching things that the student doesn’t need to know (it would be understandable if Smith were being more inclusive but I assume he meant only photography).
Today, I received two new books; one by Jay Maisel and one by David duChemin. Of course I already knew duChemin’s thoughts on the current state of photographic education and have written about it before but I still would like to share his introduction to The Visual Toolbox, 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs. Which by the way would make a great self-taught course in photography. Hint, hint!
“If I were to begin a school of photography right now, I would send the geeks screaming for the hills. Or at least avoiding my school in droves. Every student would spend one year with one camera—a fully manual 35mm camera like the Pentax Spotmatic or he Canon AE-1. It would have one prime lens and a light meter. Students would be restricted to black and white film. And they’d be restricted from using anything digital except an iPhone. There’d be no magazines and no how-to-books. Students would spend a year making photographs, talking about them, studying the work of photographers—past and present—who had something to say, those who made their mark in some way. They’d study stories, and painting, and some art history beyond merely the annals of photographic history. For some people it would be a long, long year.”
I also know that duChemin, when he said "talking about them", didn't mean debating how well or how poorly they conformed to the conventional impediments which seems to be the only way that amateur photographers are capable of talking about photographs.
I would like to share two of his pull-quotes which is all I have really read so far:
"A photograph of a beautiful thing is not necessarily the same thing as a beautiful photograph." 
"We can be as paralyzed by unearned praise as we can by undeserved criticism."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Aurora Open Studio

Invitation to all. I now have display space outside the frozen food locker so I have some stuff displayed. Some of it is fairly new.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Yes, I  know that I give my friends that shoot flowers grief but I have been shooting flowers for three days. At last they have succumbed beyond the point where they still useful--well, if I can shoot dead creatures, maybe I can shoot dead flowers. We will see.

Dolores and Alcy showed up at the studio Sunday afternoon with a boat load of flowers. Then Alcy and I continued shooting hers Monday afternoon. She left all of the flowers in my trash can so I have been shooting most of the day today.



A Quote, Henry Holmes Smith

 A longtime friend recently discovered that I have a second, though sadly unattended, blog. Her interest piqued my attention. I was reading a piece I wrote—well I mostly copied—on Henry Holmes Smith. Now I know most who read my blog do not know Smith and those that do probably don’t care that he is one of the eminent teachers of photography. Late in his life he sat for an interview that is published in Dialogue With Photography, by Paul Hill and Tommy Cooper. I would like to quote his answer to one of the questions asked.

 Q. What are your thoughts on photographic education today?

A. I think it’s excessive, I think people all over the country are busy teaching people things they don’t need to know. They are incapable of teaching students things they need to know and if they taught them things the student needed to know the culture would see that it was quickly extirpated.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Saturday Drive to Anderson

Alcy, Clayton and I decided in spite of the weather to make a road trip. It couldn't be any worse than the last time we were in Anderson when it was so cold you didn't want to get out of the car for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

Confederate Memorial
There was a time when a memorial to the brave men who struggled in the War of Northern Aggression stood on the courthouse lawn of practically every county in Texas. That was before the war was stupidly lost a second time. Even though this is not on the courthouse lawn it is great to see that some have not totally capitulated.

The Fanthrop Inn
The last time we did not do a tour of the inn built two years before Texas won it's independence from Mexico. I am glad we had the opportunity as they are starting a grounds renewal project and the inn will be closed for several months.

Martha's Bloomers
No trip near Navasota would be complete for Alcy if we didn't stop at Martha's Bloomers.

We shot in and around Anderson for probably three hours. Interestingly the rain held off until just as we were leaving. Then it stopped as we got to Martha's Bloomers long enough for us to shoot there and then to take a brief walk in Navasota. It rained until just before we approached Nelson's Ornamental Concrete on the outskirts of Brenham.

Nelson's Ornamental Concrete
I persuaded everyone to stop at Nelson's. I shoot lots of things at Nelson's but my favorite is what I call the back lot where all the broken pieces and overstock is located. It always strikes me as an archeological site being tagged and palleted to ship to some museum or collection. Okay, I am aware that there is a monumental difference between ornamental concrete and ancient artifacts but it is a silly mindset that I enjoy getting into when shooting at Frasier's. I make up stories for a lot of the photographs that I take.  It is simply a part of my game of photography.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Decision Day

I haven’t done yard work for probably twelve years. I’m basically talking cutting grass-that is the extent of my ‘yard work’. In the summer I would go out promising myself that I would cut a third of the back yard then I would rest. I wouldn’t quit and I would come in just short of heat exhaustion or sun stroke, soaked in sweat and totally exhausted. I decided that it was cheaper to pay to have it done by younger people than the medical bills would be.

It has never been satisfactory. I have had for brief periods someone that I felt did a decent job but they never lasted long. The current fellow was, I thought a Godsend. He did mention that my back yard was a booger—I knew that. Well, I paid him in advance over two weeks ago. A week later he cut the front but never returned for the back yard. I was concerned that he was sick but leaving the house a couple of days ago I noticed him out in his yard.

Well, I decided that I was the one person I could depend on so today I trotted over to Lowes and came home with a spanking new bright red self-propelled Toro and a new gas can. Got it put together and started on the back yard. Remember it was in need of cutting over two weeks ago and we have had plenty of rain and sunshine since. It was well beyond needing cut within a couple of days of the payment. It was like tackling a jungle.

My plan was to cut a little then rest, cut a little more then rest and then finish. I almost succeeded. About two thirds of the way through I noticed my head was pounding so I did take a break. Today the weather is pleasant. In a month or so it is going to be darn hot and I am not going to be able to do it all at once. I just have to remember that.

Tomorrow, I may be able to get out of bed. That is if I am able to walk to the bed at bed time.

That's okay, the back yard is cut and if the weather holds I will trim up the front and possibly touch up the back.   

Sunday, April 5, 2015