Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Winter Developments, Stops, and Fixes

1. Let Aperture subscription lapse again. No regrets.

2. Let Penonomen and Instaxgratification lapse. Slight regrets. 

3. Tried posting a random photo on Facebook the other day, just to see what might happen. Mixed results. 

4. Let B lapse. Website hella lapsed. Is there a trend here?

5. There's a new home being built this winter in the woods about a half mile away. Well, it used to be woods. Last year they clearcut the entire lot —roughly 25 acres— for the homesite. We can see it from our kitchen window and my curiosity's been killing me. So yesterday Zane and I bushwhacked across the adjoining property for a look at the house, now in the final framing stages. Turned out it was closer to a mansion than a house, several thousand square feet, twelve foot ceilings, the works. 

While we were nosing around inside, the owners drove up, a young couple with a toddler. I introduced myself as a neighbor and they were nice enough about our trespassing. But I could tell it bugged the guy. I was wearing a hoodie, rough beard, backpack, and muddy boots, and could've been perfectly cast —in his mind— in any variety of unsavory roles. Zane was mute as usual. We live right over there, I said, pointing into the bushes. I wasn't sure what else to add. "Nice house, and damn it's huuuuge!" Nah, I couldn't say that. Instead we just wished them Happy President's Day and disappeared in the direction I'd pointed. 

6. Minolta broken. Leica beaten to a brassing pulp. I recently sold my Hexar and put the money into a Zeiss Ikon ZM. It's been a wonderful winter camera, and promises to be a workhorse well into the future.

7. During winter my main exercise is basketball. I've been playing 3 mornings a week at the Y with a group of slow, short, middle aged white guys like myself. It's great fun. To play basketball well —and maybe other sports like soccer and hockey— requires a level of non-planning which is difficult to attain. When you first receive the ball you basically have three options: pass, dribble, or shoot. Of course your defender knows your options too, and will react according to what he thinks your tendencies are. If you always make the same action you become easy to defend. So it's good to mix things up. No planning.

But it's more complicated than that. Because beyond mixing up actions, you've got to mix your brain up too. If the plan is "pump fake, then drive" it will be hard to sell your plan unless you leave your brain in the dark. Because a planned fake-drive just looks...well, fake. A good defender won't bite. In photography terms, it's the difference between staged and candid. There's no mistaking the real McCoy. Therefore the most effective shooting action is to make your brain actually think it's going to shoot. And who knows? Maybe you will? Then your whole being becomes invested in the motion. It looks like a shot attempt, your eyes go wide, you feel like you're about to...Then Boom —drive! If it works well you surprise everyone, including yourself. 

I think this is related to Csikszentmihalyi's concept of Flow, but that's another story and far too academic for the Y. I just know I enjoy the task of mixing up my brain. Plus I like to sweat. 

8. For me, winter is the time to print. Most weeks I edit about 20 rolls and print maybe 70 negs in the darkroom. This is faster than my rate of shooting this time of year, so I'm slowly catching up. But I'm still a year backlogged. The darkroom produces a lot of good-but-not-quite-there work prints which I'm happy to mail out to anyone interested. Just ask.

9. This winter has been hard on our cars. We had two of them destroyed in an ice storm. Thankfully we'd parked the Bentley in the field that night, so it escaped falling limbs. But the others got whacked. We replaced the windshield of one, and then I hit a deer with it. I can make someone a good deal on a Toyota Sienna with minor body damage.

10. For the first several years of my radio show I enjoyed keeping the material unorganized. But this winter I've phased into theme oriented shows. I did a show on musicians who died last year, and recent sets on the Moon, Kings, Pussies, and Love Songs for Valentine's Day. This shift to themed music has been unconscious and I'm not sure I entirely like it. After all, there is something beautifully brainless about pure free form radio where no one —not the DJ, nor the listener— knows what will happen next. I suppose it's a bit like basketball in that way. I like to play multiple songs on top of each other, which is like dribble/drive/shoot combined.

Nevertheless I've been drifting toward themed shows. The dilemma —and the opportunity— of the contemporary DJ is the same as for the photo curator or the foodie or fashion maven: Every song ever recorded is immediately accessible. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, coming about just in the past decade or so, and content curators in all fields are still sorting through the ramifications. In this context, themes can help cut through the clutter. But damn if I don't love clutter. Anyhoo, today is Black Song Title History Month. 

11. Heading to LA this weekend for Bookfair and Academy Awards. I'll be easy to spot at the Oscars, the only guy in a hoodie and muddy boots. Anyone down there who wants to get together for a beer and/or shooting, hit me up.


Chris Arts said...

Please keep it going. You have fans that appreciate stories about encounters with big house people. Look them in the eyeballs, kick 'em in the shins (in a non-confrontational way)

Stan B. said...

Somehow, always thought you'd end up with one of those Ikons.

Definitely enjoy your Bball while it lasts; last time I tried, it was a chore just to dribble, used to be automatic- like winding the advance lever! Now more work than fun- I'll just watch, cheer and criticize from now on...

PS- I got the feeling the guy built his McMansion to get away from people who look like you. No offense.

John said...

great instax photo of the framed house. I'll email you my details for the work prints?
Keep it up! The last great blogger!

Federico Rubio said...

Blake: This one is quite funny/outrageous depending on how you look at it, & you could insert into your list, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EgVkHjn0yE

Blake said...

Thanks for the comments, all.

Frederico, great song but pretty demented.

John said...

Posts like these make you my favorite writer of photography on the internet.

Marilyn Andrews said...

Who knew that Csikszentmihalyi was a real person? Thanks for the catch-up, wondered what you were doing these days . . .

TC said...

Sorry to hear about the MacMansion.