Musings on Photography

Recommended

Posted in Blogroll by Paul Butzi on June 16, 2010

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Three blogs I’d particularly like to recommend, because the photography on them has had me captivated for some time now.

Number one – Juha Haataja’s wonderful Lightscrape. This blog is the perfect answer to those folks who insist that great photography is about equipment. Working with a single digicam, Juha Haataja has been cranking out photographs that make me envious at an astonishing rate. Fabulous stuff.

Number two – Carl Weese’s Working Pictures. There’s an extraordinary directness to these photographs that I very much admire and wish I could get into my photographs.

Number three – Oren Grad’s Things Seen. Of the three, I’ve been avidly following Oren’s the longest. There’s some of that directness of vision in Oren’s photographs as well.

I often follow photoblogs for a short while (a few months, say) and then find that all the work blurs together and I lose interest. These three have not only held my interest for much longer than the usual time, but my interest has actually increased, and I when I see a new post pop up in my RSS reader for any of these, I’m always delighted at a chance to see the next photo.

New Words

Posted in Blogroll, whimsy by Paul Butzi on September 12, 2009

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I like words. I’m fascinated by new words, especially new words that, by their nature, capture the essence of something.

Amy Sakurai pegs the ‘perfect’ meter with her new word, “Leicarati”, in this interesting post on her blog.

SoFoBoMo Hardcore

Posted in Blogroll, Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on March 23, 2009

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I got some email from Sean McCormick, pointing me to this post:

My intention is to spend 48 hours traveling the Neutral Hills – an area of East Central Alberta, Canada – where I will assemble both a written and photographic diary of my trip while covering as much of the area as possible. This diary will be published in book form within a month of the completion of the project as per SoFoBoMo’s rules.

This will be an endurance test for me. I’ve put myself under pressure to produce images before, but I’ve never forced myself to do it over a 48 hour period with no sleep, regardless of weather and lighting conditions. This will be a new experience, which is the point of the exercise; to push myself past old limits and find new ones.

Wow. That’s all I can say about that – Wow. He’s imposing on himself a whole bunch of rules that go way, way beyond the simple SoFoBoMo restrictions. His whole concept is an intriguing study in using restrictions as a way to push yourself further into new artistic areas than you’ve gone before. Go read the whole thing. You’re not going to believe some of the rules he’s setting up.

I’m sure looking forward to seeing how his plans play out.

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Audience

Posted in Blogroll, the art world by Paul Butzi on March 3, 2009

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I found the following on Terry Teachout’s blog

“An audience aware of the importance of its own opinion can be dangerous. An audience that seeks above all to have an opinion–and to parade it–is a menace. The audience that believes that one goes to the theatre to form an opinion–that opinion is what the theatre aims to create–is destructive of all real values in the theatre even when its opinion is favorable. The theatre is a place for experience rather than for judgment. An audience’s merit is its capacity to feel rather than its disposition to hold court.”

Harold Clurman, “Tryout” (New Republic, Aug. 2, 1948, reprinted in The Collected Works of Harold Clurman)

I like Teachout’s blog a lot. I like this quotation quite a lot, because it seems to touch directly on what I think is a real problem, not just in theatre but in the world of art consumption in general.

Dynamic Range

Posted in Blogroll by Paul Butzi on February 17, 2009

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Over on Mike Johnston’s The Online Photographer, Mike weighs in with an excellent explanation and discussion on dynamic range.

Go read the whole thing. Maybe twice.

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Focus/Depth of field

Posted in Blogroll, process, technique by Paul Butzi on January 20, 2009

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For some time now, I’ve been fiddling around with very shallow depth of field, placing the focus in unexpected places, and all the related issues that go hand in hand with those experiments.

Some of those things I think I’ve started to get a handle on, and some of them I haven’t. Despite (or perhaps because of) this partial success, I found this post on Andreas Mannessinger’s blog to be particularly interesting.

Andreas writes (in part):

I’ve made a few images in the morning, some not even bad, I took my time, but none of them even comes close to these two snaps. I shot them through the dirty rear window of the tram, just after it had left the underground passage, shortly before the train station. I still had the camera ready (in fact I almost always have), but it was a very short moment, certainly not the moment to worry about composition.

I have made two exposures, the Image of the Day focused on the outside scene, the other (to see the difference, you really have to click at both and see them bigger) focused on the dirty window.

Compositionally the Image of the Day better suits my taste. The position of the sun is dead center horizontally and on a third vertically, the masts on both sides make for a nice frame, so if I had framed the image consciously and if I had chosen the time to release the shutter in relation to the position of the train, this would have been pretty much it.

Emotionally the other image grips me stronger. The vague nature of the scene behind the tack sharp dirt of the window, that leaves so much open for interpretation, I really would have liked this to be the capture made at the right moment with the right composition. Alas, in a moving train, in face of a scenery that changes by the second, there is no chance to repeat anything, no chance to shoot the same image twice, but differently focused.

You really need to go to Andreas’s blog, and look at the two photos. I agree with him about the composition, about the symmetry and all that. But that second image – focused on the dirt on the window – that image just makes me swoon. Go click on it, and look at it at the maximum size possible. That, my friends, is the photographic equivalent of the sound you get when you sob on your long cool winding saxophone.

The next time someone tries to tell you all about how great photographs have everything in focus, or the focus needs to be on the most important compositional element, or any of the rest of that jazz, just let them go on and prattle until they run out of steam and drift to a stop on their own. Then go and show them that photograph.

I mean, wow. That’s about all I can say about that, is “wow”.

Lens hoods

Posted in Blogroll by Paul Butzi on December 24, 2008

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The always insightful Amy explains why lens hoods are essential. (her blog is on my ‘read first’ list. It’s not a very long list. Yes, that’s a strong recommendation. Want a treat? Go check out her Portland: A Love Letter. Paul rates this book ‘awesome’. Paul does not rate very many things ‘awesome’.)

I hear they can cut lens flare, too. Whoo! You’ve heard people say there’s a lid for every pot! But the real secret is that there’s a hood for every lens!

Do *you* have hoods for all your lenses? Why not? Lens hoods are cheap. Lens hoods protect your cameras and lenses.

And lens hoods fill your photos with flare-free creamy goodness.

Buy hoods for every lens. Trust me.

Seeing… Thinking… Photographing

Posted in Blogroll, web issues by Paul Butzi on November 12, 2008

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I use an RSS reader to read blogs (NetNewsWire), and sometimes I subscribe to a blog, and the blog goes inactive. Bloggers are people – things happen in their lives, and the stop blogging forever, or sometimes just for a while.

But with an RSS reader, I stay subscribed to those blogs even when they go dormant. And if, by happy circumstance, the blog goes active again, my trusty RSS reader picks up the new post automatically, and so I get to read it. There are perhaps a dozen dormant blogs on my subscribed list right now.

That’s how I found out that seeing… thinking… photographing had a new post. I’ve much enjoyed Julie’s writing and thinking, and so I was delighted to see a new post, go to the blog to view it, and see, in addition to a great post a bunch of really great photos on her flickr photostream.

Kreative Blogger

Posted in Blogroll, Solo Photo Book Month, web issues, Websites by Paul Butzi on November 3, 2008

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Andreas Manessinger, way over in Vienna, Austria, has awarded me with the ‘Kreativ Blogger’ award.

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Andreas gives me this award for SoFoBoMo. I’m grateful for the award, and I appreciate the recognition, and I’m happy to accept with one proviso – I accept the award on behalf of ALL the participants in SoFoBoMo 2008, both those 60 who finished a book and those who didn’t finish a book but had the courage to try.
I think the drill is that I’m suppose to list six things that make me happy, and then list 6 blogs that I think deserve the award themselves.

Six things that make me happy:

  1. my family
  2. Fall in the Pacific Northwest of the US
  3. taking a walk with a camera and a dog
  4. my old, creaky, non-usm Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens and my EOS 5d
  5. my home, complete with my photo garden
  6. reading a good book

That’s a bit of a fudge, because the camera and the home don’t actually make me happy, but they let me do things which make me happy. Close enough, as they say, for government work.

Herewith six blogs that I think merit a Kreativ Blogger award:

Colin Jago’s blogs on auspiciousdragon.net. Not just photostream, but also his other blogs, for always getting me thinking in new ways about all sorts of stuff.

Amy Sakurai’s blog LovelyAngel, for her candid descriptions of integrating photography deeply into her daily life.

Doug Plummer’s Dispatches, for his insightful sharing of all the details of his creative process.

Oren Grad’s Things Seen photoblog, which continues to delight and amaze me as well as show me new ways of seeing.

Paul Lester’s Photography, both for his insight into the link between spirituality and art, and for his uncommon capacity to make photographs that get me thinking.

Frank Armstrong’s Pitchertakin‘, for his wonderful photos and his direct approach to just about everything.

Seattle Seen

Posted in Blogroll, Photo Garden, process by Paul Butzi on October 13, 2008

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I’ve been a avid follower of Oren Grad’s Things Seen photoblog for quite a while. It’s not your ‘every photo is a big, glorious Photoshop wonder’ blog, I think it’s more of a quiet “here’s what I saw” blog. I grew up on the East Coast of the US, and many of the photos are in locations on the East Coast, so there’s a certain resonance there that I find rewarding as a viewer. The locations move around, though. It’s been interesting to see photos of places that I’ve visited, and photos of places I haven’t.

So I was startled and delighted when photos appeared from Seattle, a city that’s not far from my home, and which I know well. (Start here and browse forward for the Seattle photos)

And the interesting thing is that Seattle doesn’t look the same through Oren’s eyes as it does through mine. I don’t much care for cities, and if I were to make photos in Seattle in the locations Oren did, my photos would not look much like Oren’s. I’m not saying Oren’s are good, or that mine would be bad. I’m observing that they would be different, and that’s got me thinking. Fun thinking. Interesting thinking.