31 July, 2007


Recently, another photographer approached me and asked what Photoshop filters I use on my images. Now, I do use a sharpening filter, and I do have a custom, warm-tone for my black and white images, when I feel they would look better warmer, but I knew this person was not referring to these basic filters or actions, but rather the “sets” that are available all over the electronic frontier.
“I don’t use any,” I replied. The photographer looked somewhat puzzled, then smiled, said, “Okay,” and walked away.
About an hour later the same photographer approached again and asked, “What I meant was, what action sets do you apply to your pictures?”
Again, I knew what they were talking about, but I tried explaining it again. “I don’t use anything like that,” I said. “I resize, dodge, burn, slight sharpen and bingo, call it good.”
This time the photographer not only looked puzzled, he looked frustrated.
I explained to him, “Look, I know these custom actions are very popular, and they produce a wide array of looks and feels, but I don’t use any of them.” “I just do what I did in the wet darkroom, or as close to that as possible.”

I think what this relates to is fantasy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Harry Potter, but I didn’t read the book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Lord of the Rings, but I didn’t see the movie. I’m not really into sci-fi and many of the image filters give the pictures a surreal look and feel, and that just doesn’t suit the style of photograph I’m trying to make.

When I’m making pictures I’m really trying to focus on light, timing and composition, nothing more, and trying to make my decisions and my pictures IN THE FIELD, not at the computer once I’m back at home.

Many of the portrait/wedding images I see have a look and feel that is way beyond anything I have seen in reality. Layer masks, coffee-colored skies, hyper-real colors, extensive retouching, etc.
In fact, with each passing year I see the level of manipulation going further and further. Case in the point, the car shooters are now, in some cases, being pushed out by CGI. My first response to this was, “When will this happen in other genres of photography?”
Why hire a shooter when you can CGI your pictures. Some photographer friends of mine laughed, but already I’ve seen two fashion spreads that are nearing this plateau.

One retoucher I met said that he felt we were now in the middle of the time period we would look back on and laugh at, saying, “We are in the middle of the period when we didn’t know when to stop,” in regards to retouching and manipulation.
Simply put, the idea of "perfection" is now what is expected. I prefer real or slightly flawed.

Several months ago I returned to the wet darkroom for the first time in years, and began to, once again, print silver gelatin. One of the FIRST things I realized after viewing these images, was how far I had gone with my digital prints. I realized I needed to pull back in almost every regard, sharpening, color, etc, and just how easy it is to get carried away by the technology, and the ability to get into every nook and cranny to “adjust.”

For me, the bar is reality. I don’t see with vignettes, with layer masks, with hyper-intense eyes, or with clarity beyond 20/20, so why should I see that in my pictures?

Again, this is just a matter of opinion and preference, but I was asked about this recently and thought I would write it down.

Happy Snaps.

30 July, 2007

Hat Trick

Yes, Iban Mayo, a positive test. The Triple Crown of Le Tour doping busts?


"But the truth is that the majority of adults who blog are doing it for business reasons."

29 July, 2007

Le Tour de Farce

Okay, Le Tour is over, and we look back on yet another debacle in professional sports. Baseball has Bonds. Football as Pacman, Vick, etc. Basketball has corrupt refs and mafia connections, and cycling has lust for dope.
Personally, I don't care if they are doped, and in fact, I would suggest we legalize and promote systematic doping in cycling. Why not?
Frankly, I'm growing bored with cycling. It is not enough anymore for someone to ride 30mph over 100 miles and then do it again the next day. It is not enough for someone to ride three days straight up near veritical mountain roads. It is not enough to ride nearly 3000 miles in three weeks. Boring. Boring. Boring.
I need more.
The standard sports are no longer the attraction they once were and are being surpassed by Mixed Martial Arts, Base Jumping, Bull Riding, and my favorite, Acapulco Cliff Diving.
So, I say give the riders in Le Tour as much dope as they can handle. Move the transfusion equipment into the team car so that they can get new horse blood as they ride.
In fact, I'd go one further. I would clone my best rider. That way if yellow jersey number one nears the mountaintop and explodes into a puddle of bovine adrenal gland, so what, just move on to yellow jersey number two.

I fear that even with these improvements cycling nears the abyss of soccer, or futbol, or football, or whatever you want to call it. It will never REALLY catch on in America. Americans want high scores, drama and full tilt action. We want crashes and wrecks. Look at NASCAR or hockey for that matter.
At the start there are only about eight guys capable of winning the entire event, the rest are there to suffer beyond comprehension in an effort to aid one of the eight. Americans don't dig this. It should be every rider for himself. Get rid of "team" all together.
Most of the time, in Le Tour, the guys are not really racing, including the last day when you think it would be tooth and nail, guys diving in front of each other to create wrecks to free their mates, especially when only separated by 30 seconds! But no, today's final stage was not "competitive" or "interesting" and thus neither was Le Tour.
I would delete the time trials, the rest days, the breaks and just say, "Guys, you have three weeks to get from point A to point B."
"See you in Paris, may the best man win."
The sound of blood pumps, hypodermic sharpeners and medical personal would deafen the spectators.
My fingers are crossed that these improvements are implemented. Although I'm bored with the current state of cycling, there is much to gain in keeping it around, especially if you own medical stock.

28 July, 2007


Wanted to send out a word to the families of those killed in the chopper crash over Phoenix. A horrible thing to endure, witness, etc. They were just covering the story, something anyone with any journalism background can appreciate.

The Old & The New

In the past 96 hours I have visited no less than ten photo galleries. Where these galleries were will remain a mystery, and so will the pictures that flashed before my eyes. This was not my first time visiting galleries, of course, but each time I go I see things in a slightly different way.
Before we begin, let me stress, I LOVE digital printing, and to blow my own horn, I was, with my friend Paul, one of the first photographers to start using this method, WAY back in the day. In fact, I have a handwritten letter from the National Geographic stating that I was the first person they had seen with this style of print or portfolio. I'm not saying I was the first, but I was in on the beginning of the curve.
Over the years I have had dozens of digital printers, dozens, and regardless of the make I found great things about all of them. Initially, permanence was an issue, still is on many printers, but early on prints would turn pink in less than two weeks, even the laminated copies. But, from the start, these prints were viewed by many using them, as "throw away" items. And this is what leads me to this post.
I noticed something at these galleries. I noticed a progression of sorts, of "old" technology being replaced by "new" technology. Of course you have the trend of the moment, enormous color images, printed this size for no apparent reason other than we now have the technology to do it. I think this trend will be on the outs as quickly as it came in, the same with hyper-small editions. Why? The fine-art world is fickle and changes with the wind, and we have history to prove it. Don't fret, this is a good thing, or another way of saying the fine-art world is WIDE OPEN. And how many people really have wall space to hang something 96x96? I'm rambling.
Okay, back to the trend.
The best prints I saw this past week were old prints. Yes, old prints, some fifty-years-old or more. The best color prints were cibachromes from a landscape photographer, and the best black and white, without question, were silver gelatin prints.
Again, did I mention my love of digital prints?
The "modern" prints, or digital prints, didn't compare in any catagory except size. The modern prints were huge, but in most cases had the digital look, and in some cases, were starting to display things that reminded me of my 1995 inkjet prints. Aspen trees with pink sides, flatness and overall color shifts. I noted prints that were made and sold ten years ago, and how they were labeled, which is CRITICAL for collectors, and then prints sold five years ago, one year ago. The terminology had changed, but the method of printing had not.
Now you see modern prints labeled as "pigment" referring to the ink base, which again is CRITICAL to collectors. And what all of these labels prove is just how fast the technology is changing. This is good right? Well, yes and no.
Yes because we have better printers. No because if you are the photographer, or gallery, you must catalog all of this information for your future as a photographer or gallery.
Several months ago I ran into one of the world's largest collectors of photography. His words to us were, and I'm pulling this out of my memory without notes, so cut me some slack, "If I buy a digital print from you today, and twenty years from now I need to restore it, or work on it, and I don't know the printer, the inks, the make up of the inks, etc, the value of my print just went way down." This person, as well as the other collectors I have spoken with, have all been interested in collecting, in my case, silver prints ONLY. They are not fond of the rapid changes in the digital world, the uncertainty of whether or not these prints will be around, regardless of the current longevity information. There are many arguments about permanence and I think for the most part, it is viewed that digital prints could last even longer than traditional prints, but seeing as nobody really knows for sure..... I guess only time will tell. Remember, there are prints sold as "archival" that last for one year because in the viewing conditions they are sold for, that is considered archival.
When I show my fine-art work to people looking for images, for the most part, I am showing digital prints. Why? Because I make them myself, using a 200-year, pigment printer. But, when it comes time for people to buy, they ask for silver. A few weeks ago I asked one of these people, "Why silver?" There response was, "Because I know that no matter how good you are, you can't make two prints exactly the same, and I know I have a unique OBJECT." Remember this word, it will be more important later on.
The opinion of inkjet, pigment, digital, etc, is that you can hit "print" over and over and make print after print that are identical, eliminating the idea of the image being an "object." It is now "just" a print.
Also in the past few months I ran into a museum curator who said, "I'm not looking for prints, I'm looking for "objects."
This is a very important idea. Making digital prints, in the minds of many, eliminates the craft involved in making images. There is no longer a physical element to the print, there is only the cold, lifeless technical.
I agree. When I make a great digital print, I say, "Wow, that looks great," but when I make a great silver print I find a far greater satisfaction of having "made" something. Now my friends in the tech world take great offense at this, for some reason, but most of them have not made a silver print in decades. And most of my friends in the tech world were not great silver printers to begin with, so the hours of fumes and frustration were easily tossed aside for the conveniece of making prints while watching You Tube or Springer. Yes, I have friends that watch both.
Okay, my last point in this long-winded mess...walking around a trade show I noticed enormous digital prints being hung in many of the booths. The moment the show was over, the prints were pulled down, torn up and thrown away. Thrown away. Can you imagine someone doing this with a cibachrome, silver print, platinum print?
Trivial. A key word here. Trivial. Trivial is what, in many ways, the "modern" print has become. You can make it, ding it, trash it. Who cares? Make another.
But, I think the "modern" print suits our lifestyle and attention span. Again, they look FANTASTIC, but there is a difference in perception. Who has time to print traditional anymore? Just bang out a few on the trustly old inkjet. Oh, the first one is blue, make another. Oops, this one is red, go ahead, make another.
There is no right and wrong in this world, only shades of grey. This coming week I have plans to make several digital prints, which will be sold, a silver print as well as a ultra-new, digital-silver print, thanks to new technology from Ilford. I think most of us live in a hybrid world, as evidenced by the Prius sitting in my driveway, the world's dirtiest Prius I should say.
But I think the message I have taken from all of this is that just because it is new doesn't mean it is better.
Next I will ramble about traditional verses digital capture, another puzzling "advancement." Since when did blown highlights become acceptable??? Oops, did I say that out loud?
Don't get me started.

Oh, by the way, during the time it took me write this I made 14 digital prints, cleaned my toaster and chased the neighbor's dog out of my yard.

Oh, and I failed to mention that all the black and white papers are going away, so we are all going to be stuck with digital prints. Sorry, slipped my mind.


They look friendly, but get out in the open spaces, suddenly you are surrounded.


I was in 15E

My Life

26 July, 2007

Things We Don't Need: 0002

Hotel toasters. They NEVER work. They allow you to press down, but they never toast anything, at any time, at any point in any way, shape or form. It is remarkably consistent.

El Perro es Muy Fuerte

On a flight, delayed, sitting on the tarmac waiting for storms to clear. A dog next to me. Cute little bugger, but he empties his digestive tract into his mesh cage. Hmmmm, so good on a plane with no circulating air. Help.

13 July, 2007

Things We Don't Need

This is the first post in a long, long line of posts regarding stupid things we have but really don't need.

A high def camera on the mountaintop for the weather guy when he annouces what the forecast is. Do we really need a high def cam? Do you ever notice the macho poses these guys strike when they lay into a fast moving storm front?? Too much.

Paris Review

If you don't subscribe to the Paris Review, you should. Their redesign is far better than old version, and I think Gilles Peress is on the advistory board, which means there are suddenly some very nice essay, photo-essays included in this magazine. This month, what must be a 30-page essay by Raymond Depardon, which is nicely done. Probably doesn't hurt he is also with Magnum, as is Peress.

12 July, 2007


Look at this stud. Check out the wind blown combover.

11 July, 2007

Vote for Calvin

Vote for Calvin:

It appears as if this pesky conflict raging in the Middle East is not going to quell itself anytime soon, and I’m thinking if we had a new spokesperson, a new flesh-bridge of some sort, we just might be able to make a little progress in getting this meat-grinder war, or wars, to shut down.
Looking at Iraq, it is clear to see the merge of Sunni and Shia didn’t work, and neither did the purge. How about the surge? Nope, it didn’t work either.
But who the heck can we send to be our ambassador?
Typically, in this type of situation you go to your star closer, someone like the aging Jimmy Carter. Maybe Carter doesn’t have a 100 mph fastball, but his off-speed political tactics have worked before, as in The Camp David Accords. But, I’m not really sure what those accords ever REALLY did. Plus, our negotiators are always aging Caucasian males in suits, and I’m not sure that style is going to work yet again.
So, Bush Sr.? Nope, won’t work. He already had one war there. Bush Jr.? Just kidding, not a chance.
Okay, got it, how about Clinton? Gentleman Bill, not known for his foreign policy during his tenure, but now he is a pseudo-diplomat, at times. But man, again, an aging white guy in a suit. My gut says it just won’t work.
I think what we need is a new direction, a breath of fresh air, and I have the perfect solution. I know the person we need.
Calvin Broadus, aka Snoop Dogg, the legendary hustler and rap machine is the PERFECT man for the job.
In short, Snoop transcends. Snoop transcends race, religion and politics.
The D-O-Double G is about three things, making music, making money and making love, and if my calculations are correct, those three things represent the goal of at least 85% of all males in the known universe, including those raging in the Middle East.
They might not admit it, at least at a public demonstration, but behind closed doors the insurgents, even the mighty Taliban are ready to sample the goods.
Snoop raps about many things urban, violent and on both sides of the law, but under that facade, I believe, is a guy who is at peace with the world and with himself, and that is JUST the man for the mission.
Imagine Dogg rolling down Hussein Blvd in Sadr City in his “Chevy 64 Red,” with Dre, hitting the “Bubonic Chronic.” A mind-blowing moment is what we need and this could be it.
Snoop would gather the groups and say, “Bitches, just work this shit out,” and they WOULD. How could you not with him in his purple robe and jewel encrusted cane??
After all, the groups fighting, us, them, Sunni, Shia, Al Queda, Taliban, etc, they all lust after what Snoop has…..AN EMPIRE.
Girls, drugs, a posse, real estate, fame, celebrity…you don’t think this is what everyone wants? Wake up! Jimmy, Bill and George don’t have it, never will. Snoop inhales, and isn’t afraid to admit it.
And, most importantly, especially with the Taliban, Snoop has street cred. Let’s be honest, The Dogg has found himself in several uncomfortable situations with the law. Snoop might know his way around a weapon if you know what I mean, allegedly, and with guys like the Taliban, this is instant respect.
Now, I’m not even sure you can get him. He might be touring, and for sure you are going to have to redo the inside of Air Force One. As it is, the posse won’t fit and Snoop’s needs are beyond what the current administration has in place. And forget about Customs.
Is it time to get a little shizzle on our pizzle and start the drizzle? You know what I mean. It’ a dog eat dog world out there. Maybe it’s time to feel the bite.

06 July, 2007

Get In The Water Now

Okay, for those of you living in Southern California who never get in the water, now is the time to break that habit.
The water is 70 degrees, a far cry from the mid-winter, mid-50's, crippling norm. So, get off your butt, drive west until you can't drive anymore, put money in the meter, and just start running. Run until your forward momentum has gone past the point of no return. By then, you will be in water thigh deep and can let yourself go. That first breath is a short one, but once that first wave washes over your head, you will be reminded, instantly, of your days as a kid when the water temperture didnt' matter.
Now, dont' swallow any of the water, cause you will probably get a serious disease, but that is the easy part.


I know what is going to happen. Today at Wimbledon there were some EPIC matches, we are talking slugfests including Federer, Ferrero, Djokovic, Nadal, etc, and what will NBC show????
Venus Williams for the third day in a row. If we are lucky we might get a little Roddick, but the chances of his match living up to the drama of other men's quarters is not likely.
And, I'm a big Venus fan, think she will probably win the entire event, but her matches are blowouts, routes, drubbings, and they are not great to watch, in comparison to others. Again, NBC has chosen to ONLY show Americans, unless we are in the finals, where they don't have a choice.
We gotta stop doing this and just show the best matches. My guess, if we are lucky, we will see Venus in the finals, hoisting the jewel encrusted platter for yet another time. But, until then, give us the good stuff NBC, quit messing around. It's bad enough we get tape delay. Dont' make us suffer another day.

05 July, 2007

Le Tour

My pick for Le Tour: Denis Menchov. Russia.

Stop The Madness

I'm worried. I'm now hearing about global warming in just about every way imaginable. Radio, tv, magazines, newspapers, talk shows, satallite, sign language and smoke signals. Global warming is now MAINSTREAM!!!! I know fifty other photographers working on global warming projects, and dozens more lining up to take a crack at it. Art communities, magazines and non-profits, only interested in hitting what's hot, and that is GLOBAL WARMING.

You might think this is a good thing. "Get them talking about," "that's what I say," Billy said. But, I'm not so sure.

In today's world of 24-hour news madness, where the same story, images and soundtrack are are blasted at us, over and over and over, on the same channel, in the same fashion, with a different host at the top of every hour, you just have to wonder what the accumulative effect could possibly be?


The problem is I am already hearing a collective fatigue in regards to this issue. Let's face it, when we get bombarded by something this much, it turns people off, and turns them off quick!!!!! Our collective attention span is so fast...whoa, that was it....it just went by. Gone.
I'm not saying I'm fatigued, but I have a special interest in this issue, but I know a lot of other people are already over it. I know because I've heard them say it.

I have no answer, no solution, other than perhaps turning off 24 hour news. Get in, get out, then research on our own. I don't have 24 channels by the way, don't even have cable, cause I know I'd spend WAY too much time in front of the tube. I'm weak and I know it.

So, let's be rational, and don't buy into the madness. The issue looks real, but the frenzy is not.

04 July, 2007

Recent Snaps

A few scenes around the office, and one really bad hair day.

Plutonium/Hotel OJ

Unknown sources are reporting that black market plutonium and hotel orance juice are now selling at identical prices on the open market. Smuggled through the Urals and into the wanting hands of terrorists and heavy metal lovers alike, plutonium has long been known for it's astronomical asking price. But visit any hotel, in any location in the known world, order orange juice, and you will also face a bill of ungodly proportion.
Both fluids are held and transferred in tiny containers, similiar in size and shape to other vessels, but miniature in form.
At last report, crack teams of world experts were monitoring the latest developments.

02 July, 2007

MP on Aligrator

Today on Aligrator.....


Okay, anyone reading this with an "info@" beginning of their email address has to change it right now. Yep, it's official, and the cat is out of the bag. We all know that "info@" means, "I really dont' want to talk to you unless I need something," and the fact that everyone now knows what this means renders this method no longer effective and only makes you look bad.
During my daily activities, my very diverse daily activities, I run into people with this type address, some used for personal and others for their business.
When this first started it was done as an attempt to cut through the hordes of email zinging around the electronic world. Then, the person with the "info@" address would typically have ANOTHER address you were supposed to use after they determined you were normal, or that they needed something from you, or that you could do something for them.
But, at least 90% of the time those addresses are nothing more than black holes, or sure death for email, prompting the client to then get back to you asking why you never sent the email you were supposed to send in the first place. The game goes back and forth, back and forth.
But now, after all these years, when I see an "info@" email address, about 99% of the time, I refuse to use it, and surely won't take any time sending anything to that address, forcing the client to actually call me. That way I can save the trouble of waiting for the "real" email address.
So, anyone out there using this system, it's old and somewhat outdated. Time to move on, show your real address, heck, go crazy, put an actual address, a real address, mailing, postage, white vans in front of your house, flags on your box type of mailing address. Go for it. Don't be afraid.

01 July, 2007

Sinking Ship

Okay, I found something worse than having major dental work. NBC's coverage of Wimbledon. I think it would actually be better to just not cover it at all. There is a real channel that covers this event, which used to be HBO, but I fear those days are over. I think now it is ESPN2, or another sports mega channel. NBC, for some reason, continues to broadcast tape delayed junk, or at least attempts to do it, but ONLY on the weekends.
Coupled with this alarming style of coverage is their incessant need to seemingly ONLY show American players, who in most situations, are NOT the best players in the game. If you are talking hardcourt, US Open, I can see trying to focus on the American players, but anytime you leave this tournament, head across the pond and find yourself on a "natural" surface, you can bet there are other players that should be being featured.
So, when I see NBC is "ramping up their coverage" I know it will be a two day old Serena match, where she is pounding someone. Or, Roddick, playing his baseball style, game, which is about a serve an brute force. Occassionally, they will give you a taste of Federer or Nadal, just because they HAVE TO, seeing as they are head and shoulders above anyone else playing the game.
I'm not saying that supporting the US players shouldnt' be done, not by a long shot, but you have to decide who you are targeting, tennis fans or the "casual" fan, an elusive bugger who has popped up in recent years and is demanding much attention.
So get with it NBC, take a stand. The Tour de France is coming up, and the networks here do the same thing. Painful, organ music, coffee filters over the lens and talk of "destiny" and "man vs mountain." If you want to know what is happening, real time, you gotta go to Verses where instead of buying coffee filters and organs they put a guy on a motorcycle with a camera.