Thursday, September 8, 2011

Great Grandfathers and Other Things

I really miss the weirder side of photography. I've been walking the straight and narrow much too closely lately. So occasionally I put the Lensbaby on the Nikon or as I have been doing recently leave the Nikon in the bag and use the Samsung. I love the grain, the lack of sharpness—the more surreal quality of the Samsung. I plug in all the minus EV available because I love blackness. A few days ago I walked around the house shooting photographs of pictures or any object that I could find behind glass, through the glass into the china cabinet and the curio cabinet, getting double and multiple exposures in a single frame.

In the hallway I shot a photograph of a photograph of Janet’s Great Grandfather Peace and just down the hall a photocopy of my Great Grandfather’s discharge papers from the Civil War that Janet had done for me. Noticing them tonight I decided to combine the two photographs and frankly Scarlet, I like the results. Interestingly they both came to Texas from Missouri after the Civil War, hers from Howell County on the Arkansas border and my from Scotland County on the Iowa Border.

I have a few other shots that I did that I liked so I’ll just post a couple.

This is another photograph that I thought turned out interesting. Janet loved seashells. What is shown here is only a small part of the ones in the curio cabinet. Most of the objects in the curio cabinet are in the same positions that Janet originally put them. The shells are Janet's arrangement. Over the years I have moved a few things but very few. I did move the small figure for this shot but I thought that for the photograph it was appropriate. There are actually two of the figures in slightly different poses. Janet found them partially buried in the beach sand at Morgan's Point after a hurricane one year. They are just pot metal so they don't have anything more than sentimental value although it would be interesting to know their history. I thought that gave the figure enough of a nautical background to be combined with the sea shells. The sand dollars in the jar were collected on the beach at Galveston by my stepmother one year when my folks were down for Thanksgiving.

This is a book that I have been wanting to read for a while. I've seen references to it numerous times in various forums but so far I'm not terribly impressed. Maybe it has to grow on you. The War of Art seemed to go appropriately with the only weapon I had available. I also purchased another copy of Emerson's Self Reliance although I have no idea why--I must have a half dozen copies already. That I have been impressed with for, well next year, it will be sixty years. I was thirteen the first of the several hundred times that I have read Self Reliance. Janet and I both grew up reading Emerson's essay.


  1. Gary, all three are nice but the first one is far and away my favorite! I'm curious as to why you placed the gun where you did in the frame? Did you think of pointing it any other direction? Also, it looks like it is in the bathroom, which is a depressing thought! It's probably not in the bathroom, but that's what it looked like on first glance. Hmmm...

  2. 1 of 3 Jan, the first one is my favorite also because it probably is the easiest understood. It also makes a connection with Janet which I very much enjoy doing still. It’s not a relationship that is evident without explanation but I know the relationship and after all my photography is for me. It is great when others enjoy or comment but I do very well even when that doesn’t happen.

    Of course, on the second photograph, no one other than me is likely to know the relationship, or even care about the relationship, between the figure and the shells. Like many of my photographs it will always remain a private photograph.

  3. The third is not as ominous as it appears but a photograph with only one word, war, that is easily read and that contains a gun should appear ominous. It is taken in the bathroom because that is where I am reading The War of Art and not having a gun safe I hide the Ruger in the linen closet when I leave the house and don’t take it. I was in the process of putting away the Ruger so I could go out to eat when I noticed the book on the edge of the bathtub and got the idea for the photograph. I actually took several with the gun in different positions. Some you could read the full title, some the gun was pointed more toward the camera with only the front of the barrel well defined in focus. I liked several of them but this is the one that stood out. As far as the positioning in the photograph it served two purposes—first according to the World of Woodard—it leaves a lot of blackness in the photograph. I like blackness because it is where things are hidden and having a lot of blackness questions what is hidden—and since you did ask I am assuming it served my purpose well. I do not recall if I mentioned it in the original post but all of the photographs I shot that day were with the camera set to monochrome on JPG which means that it was not converted from color and the color cannot be retrieved as if it were shot in RAW. The black and white was intentional and was locked in at the time of the exposure. All of the photographs were shot using in camera metering with the EV compensation set to its very lowest value, minus 2, which means that they were all intentionally underexposed as much as I could make them. I like that the positioning and the blackness prompted a question. The second reason being balance. The photograph is very unbalanced which I feel is very appropriate to the subject matter and the subject. Sometimes putting the center of interest very close to the edge of the photograph leaves a feeling of something being very temporary, that it shortly will be gone out of the frame—it gives a very short time frame to the photograph and for some reason I like that. Whatever the image portends will happen shortly and will be over. I am not entirely sure that I know what the subject of this photograph is other than the questions that it asks, the impression that it leaves. I am not even sure why when I saw the book I thought that it would make a good photograph with the gun. I am glad that I did because I do like the photograph but the reason for liking it is more felt than it is reasoned. The day I took this I was looking for subject matter that could be transformed from reality, would be more surreal than a normal photograph, would have mystery and would ask questions. It was just the mood that I was in that day and I went with it. I was very pleased with a large number of the photographs that I took that evening.

  4. 3 of 3 As you probably are aware I very frequently post a photograph then after living with it for a little while I will make changes because I will begin to see the photograph differently. I doubt that I will be making changes to the third photograph but now looking at the first one I am questioning the portion on the left that is black. I may move the image over in the frame the next time that I work with it. Originally I liked the black and the unbalance probably was the mood that I was in when I originally put the combination together. But now I am no longer in that mood about that photograph.

  5. Thanks for the explanation, Gary. All very interesting. I'm glad I asked!

    The second one (still life) evokes a lot of memories and personal history for you, but is still holds the interest of a casual viewer.

    I like your statement about your photography being for you. If our photography brings us pleasure, it has accomplished something wonderful. If someone else happens to enjoy it, all the better.

    As for the first one, it is aesthetically pleasing but it is also a wonderful way of combining both yours and Janet's ancestry into a single photograph. How cool is that!?

  6. I like the first one best, for the way it feels like a dream. Many fragments overlaay and interweave and something that transcends all the layers appears. Great shot!


  7. Jan thank you. If I may add a little to the photography for me. It really goes beyond enjoyment. Truthfully there is a lot of my photography that I do not actually enjoy. Now a lot of that is my photoshoot in a group work--it is mostly something that gets me out of the house put not much more. True, like at the temple, I enjoied capturing the details of the carving, the playing with the sunset colors--that is enjoyable but the photography itself doesn't do much for me beyone being something that fills time. I guess that is why the Table for One is so important because to me it goes beyond the photographs. As I said in the artist statement for the portfolio, most will only see these photographs as pictures of coffee cups. They are. To me they are much more than that but I don't really expect them to be much more to anyone else.

  8. Gary, I understand what you are saying. But even photography as a hobby, whether it is getting you out of the house, forcing interaction with others with similar interests or something you can truly get excited about - it all adds up to enjoyment of a hobby. I don't think anyone likes my photos as much as I do - and even I don't enjoy most of them. I can't really remember when I've taken a photograph that I really loved, but then most of them are taken "on the run". So they are little more than documentary. But when I do take an occasional photograph that I love, it rarely does anything for anyone else. Oh well...that's why we do it for ourselves and not for others. If we wait until others go crazy over them, we might have to wait a very long time! LOL!