Basically, I have been compelled by curiosity.

Mary Leakey

Paleoanthropologist and author Mary Leakey (born February 6, 1913) was interested in archaeology from a young age—she went on to discover a robust australopithecine fossil at Olduvai Gorge that changed the way we understand the scale of evolution.

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Born Dec 23rd, 1908

Died July 13th, 2002

 

Yousuf Karsh was born in modern day Turkey, during the Armenian genocide, he wrote about watching his sister die of starvation and several relatives killed.  Including two uncles who were tossed into a well to die.  When he was 16 he was sent to live with an uncle, George Nakash, in Quebec Canada.  He was a photographer by profession and ultimately arranged for an apprenticeship with John Garo, in Boston Massachusetts. 

Returning to Canada four years later he worked with a photographer named John Powls whose studio was near Parliament and ultimately taking over the studio when Powls retired.  He was invited to join the Ottawa Little Theatre.  Ultimately it was here that he learned the dramatic lighting that be became known for.  But perhaps more importantly it was here that he was giving an opportunity to photograph the Lord Duncannon the Governor General and his wife.  I could only imagine that Karsh was nervous, but in his words

“In my eagerness and delight I became too excited. My mistakes in English frustrated me; I did not even focus the camera correctly; not surprisingly, this first photographic attempt was disastrous. But the Bessborough,s proved most understanding of a nervous young photographer’s feelings and consented to sit for me again; this time my portraits were a great success and appeared in the Illustrated London News, and the Tatler, the Sketch, and many newspapers across Canada.”

It might very well be that this sent him on a road that would enable him to sit and photograph portraits of statesmen, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, and men and women of accomplishment for the rest of his career.  Probably his most notable portrait is of Winston Churchill.  As the story goes, Karsh was waiting for Churchill to finish speaking to the Canadian Parliament.  Karsh had set up the night before, to be ready for Churchill, who was not informed about being photographed after the speech.  He apparently complained but remained and lite a cigar, for which was ever present.  Karsh recounts this experience as such,

“Churchill’s cigar was ever present. I held out an ashtray, but he would not dispose of it. I went back to my camera and made sure that everything was all right technically. I waited; he continued to chomp vigorously at his cigar. I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, “Forgive me, sir,” and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph.”

It was Churchills defiant expression and disdain for what just happened that Karsh captured, that seemed to resemble what Britain was feeling at the time.  Churchill would later tell Karsh

“You can even make a lion stand still to be photographed”

Thus, he named the picture, The Roaring Lion. 

Karsh’s first show was held in 1936 in the hotel Chateau Laurier.  He moved his studio there in 1973 and remained there for the rest of his career, which he retired from in 1992. 

Time Magazine and The Metropolitan Museum of Art has proclaimed him one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century.  In truth, I would venture to say in the history of photography.  I would think he would make any list of top 100 photographers of all time. 

Websites

Wikipedia Entry

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yousuf_Karsh

Karsh’s site

http://www.karsh.org/

Time Magazine collection of Karsh’s color pictures

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/07/20/culture-icons-the-portraits-of-yousuf-karsh/

The Metropolitian Museum of Art’s collection

http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!/search?artist=Karsh,%20Yousuf$Yousuf%20Karsh

Smithsonian’s recounting of the Churchill story

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/the-day-winston-churchill-lost-his-cigar-180947770/

 

Quotes

– “Within every man and woman, a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity, the photographer must act or lose his prize.”

– “My chief joy is to photograph the great in heart, in mind, and in spirit, whether they be famous or humble.” 

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I’m not sure who coined the phrase “the eyes are the window to the soul” it’s been attributed to Shakespeare, da Vinci, Emerson among others. I first came across it reading Watchman Nee’s book “The Spiritual Man”.  Here in week five of the Project 52, the theme is “The Eyes Have It”.   I remember trying this in film days with disappointing results.  I had my niece hold her eye open while I got as close as I could with my macro lens.  No lights other than the indoor ambient lights, nothing more than trying to keep the eye from blinking.  The thing I remember most was how ugly they came out.  Every blood vessel, every defect, and I think I did it in B&W so no color.  Live and learn, right? 

So here is where the digital age reigns supreme.  If you look in the gallery you’ll see the picture that I started with.  It’s pretty ugly.  My first idea was to superimpose a universe into my eye.  I really wasn’t happy with that.  So I extracted the cornea and went a different direction with it.  The first was just using it in space and then observing earth from the skies.  Once I got to that point It was just a matter of coming up with the finished image.  

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Submitted this

Critique from group suggested this rotation

And the addition of the cooler bluish temperature

 

So here is week four of the Project 52.  Week four’s theme is frost on objects.  I figure it’s a good time as winter just started on the 21st of Dec.  So, thank goodness, the days are getting longer.  But on the other hand, they’re be getting colder before they get warmer.  As a chef working for a university I get some nice time off during the holiday season.  

As a chef working for a university I get some nice time off during the holiday season.  I try to make the most of it, taking photography, photoshop, digital art, and multimedia classes online.  But in addition to these indoor activities, I also try to get out and about to some photo shoots.  And this year was particularly productive in that way, getting to Palmerton Pa, Rickets Glen, Forksville pa, Childs State Park, and several waterfalls in Ithaca NY.  It was a great time and I got some awesome pictures.  While my original idea for this project was to get out on a very, and I mean very cold day, to play with freezing bubbles, it just never really got that cold.  But I had some great pictures for this project.  The one that I submitted received some great critique and I reworked it.  I’ll show that here and some of the pictures that didn’t make the cut.  

 

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The Hummingbird
Week Two

Living in NE Pa, you get a lot of migratory birds that come and go with the seasons.  Red Breasted Grosbeaks, Ospreys, Cardinals, Grey Herrings, Red Winged Blackbirds, Nuthatches, etc.…  These all have their distinct songs and sounds, when a Pileated Woodpecker is pounding on a dead tree you know it. 

The Hummingbird’s distinct sound is in its wings.  Beating at fifty beats per second, yes per second.  They hoover in flight and zip back and forth, to and fro.  They measure only about four inches, have a high metabolism which demands a high calorie diet.  Naturally they feed on nectar gathered from brightly colored flowers.  Birders and hummingbird fans create a simple syrup made of sugar water and hang it in special feeders.  Once they find these feeders they’ll buzz around and sip it going to a near branch if necessary. 

But considering all this, their biggest claim to fame is the distance that they travel.  They’re winter birds.  Not the kind that like the winter.  More like those that pack up into their trailers and head south at the first sign of cold.  That’s because they winter in Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean.  I think it’s in this light that this next project has a healing element to it.  The first step was to take negative ideas, thoughts, fears and write them down on the paper that this work is layered on.  You can’t see any of that layer, but it’s there, with the Hummingbird.  Carried far away.  Negative energy to get it to its destination and return.  Return to bring a smile to my face when I see them diving each other, and fighting for the nectar that it, no we so truly need to survive.  What is your nectar?  What brings a smile to your face?

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Me at 2 and 54

Selfie, but not really! 

This is to be a self-portrait project.  While in all fairness I don’t think anyone, who suggested this project was thinking about the traditional phone selfie, But I can’t really say don’t do it.  I would suggest that you look to create a portrait in an unexpected way.  A quick search on Google will give a great selection of different things that people have done to take a self-portrait.  Take a look and see if you can find some inspiration.  Mine is here.  Originally I wanted to superimpose the little boy onto the current me and make them blend.  But that wouldn’t work.  I just didn’t realize how much our faces shifted and changed as we age.  So after several renditions, ideas, and efforts, this was what I came up with.  

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Today I’m going to start with a couple of formal definitions from the Oxford Dictionary.  Compare the following adjective

Objective – (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts:

‘historians try to be objective and impartial’

Contrasted with subjective

Subjective – Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions:

‘his views are highly subjective’

Contrasted with objective

These two words are so intertwined that the dictionary links them together.  This is also true photographically.  I have to make subjective choices when capturing an image. 

  • What is my subject? (Subject as a noun vs subjective as a verb, might make a good post for another day)

  • Where am, I going to take the picture from?

  • Am I going to use a slow shutter speed to capture motion or a fast one to freeze it?

  • What angle am I going to aim the camera at my subject?

  • What am I going to include within the frame of the picture I’m taking?

  • When am, I going to hit that shutter?

What are we doing when we take a picture, capturing a subject.  Something that is influenced by our personal feelings, tastes, and opinions.  We look for people, props, or locations to shoot.  To include in our creative activities.  Yet we look at Time Magazine, or USA Today and believe that the pictures we see there are reflecting the truth of what happened in a particular event.  The subjectivity of the photographer has certainly influenced his objective picture. 

This is the difference between the more objective documentary or journalistic photography and more subjective fine art or creative photography. 

Consider our judicial system.  Can a judge really sit on a bench and rule objectively?  Perhaps he is a staunch proponent of abortion, or the death penalty, or gay marriage.  How does he rule as per the law?  He needs to listen to a case objectively, with an open mind and an ear toward how the law is written and applies to a situation. 

Therefore, we as photographers can go to a location as a group and capture a wide verity of unique images.  Each of us brings our proverbial luggage with us.  Our life experiences, our own points of view, or hurts, loves, and perspectives.  The culmination of our lives that has made us who we are. 

What’s the takeaway here?  We as photographers need to identify what our purpose is.  Are we trying to reflect the truth of a situation, or just to stir up some emotional feelings with our work, for some cause or purpose?  Are we trying to express ourselves creatively, our feelings, artistically, expressing ourselves through the medium of photography?  Whether we are capturing photographs as documents or art, we need to review the subjective decisions that we make in light of our purpose.

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Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it.

Langston Hughes

Harlem Renaissance heavyweight Langston Hughes’ (born February 1, 1902) work focused on the black experience in America. He was also an originator of Jazz Poetry, a syncopated form that influenced the Beat generation.

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NO!  I don’t mean me.  To even think that I could claim to be a rising star in art or photography would be propitious.  I am an amateur photographer in the truest meaning of the word.  I love photography.  I have spent many years, since the mid-1980’s, when I was still shooting, and developing my own film and prints.  Then I pursued the digital era.  I was very intimidated by the software part of it.  I started with Adobe Lightroom, which I let sit on my computer for about a year.  After which, I took the time to learn Lightroom and its awesome ability to process an image. Then about two years ago, I took a class and started working in Photoshop, which opened a digital art type of creativity. Then last winter I took a painting class in which I learned to create my own textures and paintings for my work in photoshop. This all seemed like the natural progression of things.  

The last piece in this puzzle came to me slowly.  There is a group of friends that gather monthly to attend the Scranton First Friday Art Gallery openings.  We go for a bite and a couple of drinks, and the go and scrutinize the new art being displayed.  We critique it and examine it.  Study it and talk about it.  It was in this environment that I learned a couple of things.  First that I seem to be drawn to a surrealist, imaginary, almost hallucinatory style of art.  Secondly, I have a certain affinity to multimedia.  Combining different mediums to create or to vitalize my vision.   

It’s with all this new found creative energy and some encouragement from a friend Nanci, that I’m taking a multimedia art class.  For the first project, I was to state an intention for the year.  Now, as I think I said a few posts back, I’m not one to make a new year’s resolution.  But I guess I’m justifying this by not calling a resolution, but an intention.  An intention for the year.  Mine is “focus”. 

Living a life of focus is my intention for the year ahead.  To live in a state of flow. Focused on creativity, tapping my imagination, finding my voice, and learning to express it in ways that challenge me.  Discovering vision and dreams, and ideas.  Challenging myself in new fields, directions, and genres of creation and with a verity of mediums.  Then combining those efforts and mediums with my photography and creative life.

 

So here is my first effort.  As you can see, it’s not a masterpiece.  But it’s mine.  Created with my hands, and my feeling, and a little bit of my heart. 

 

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I’m not a baseball fan by any standard.  But even I know who Yogi Berra was.  Yogi Berra was famous not only for his baseball career but his little tidbits of wisdom that came to be lovingly called yogism’s.  Little truths that while were obvious, were made clearer by the simplicity of vision he had on life.  So here is one that I want to examine.  “You can observe a lot just by watching”!

I recently went on a photoshoot with a small group.  A friend came to visit from Tennessee and there were a few of us that just had to get together with him.  It was an eclectic group, each having a unique creative style and take on their photography.

So as the day drew near and we all watched the weather, it wasn’t looking bad.  There was supposed to be some fog in the morning, which can be interesting in photography.  Then breaking and lifting to a fairly war and partly cloudy day for the middle of January in NE Pa.  Living the furthest away I got up and out the door and on my way.  I drove in and out of the rain all the way there.  Needless to say, it rained on and off all day long.

When we arrived, at our first spot, a tall stand of straight pine trees.  We all headed out in own directions seeking our prized images, in our individual styles and preferences.   But as the time passed a familiar thing happened, as has become the norm with this particular group of friends.  We touched base!  To see what each is getting and exchange how we did and what we did.  Then we head out again and apply some of what we just discussed with each other. 

It has proved a great learning instrument.  We watch each other, we ask questions of each other, we critique each other in the field, and make suggestions right there on the spot.  It’s a wonderful thing when you get close enough to people to be able to observe them and them you. 

On we went to the next location and the rain came.  We would wait in the car looking for a enough of the weather to get out and about to capture our images.  But none of us minded, because we were joined by our creative pursuits.  Sitting there talking photography, laughing, picking each other’s brains.  It’s wonderful.  So simply put, in photography observing is so much more than studying your subject.  It’s watching your peers.  Giving your attention to what those around you are doing.  Noticing if there is something that you are missing. 

So the question we should be asking ourselves is “how far does your observation go”?

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“How do you become a good photographer?

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot!

But first Learn, Learn, Learn!”

– John Greengo

I loved this picture of his, that white and blue in the ice and the black water contrasted with the ominous sky.

As the year has progressed I’ve found myself working on several large and time-consuming projects.  It’s part of my plan to build in some accountability, by sharing that progress here.  But as a result, the quote of the day is being reeled back to a quote of the week.  This will give me the opportunity to share my efforts in several of my other endeavors,

Firstly, the Project 52.  I wrote about this a few weeks back.  http://peaceofmyheartphoto.com/52-project/  This is a photo theme a week culminating in one complete picture as a result.  I ended up with 17 fellow photographers to participate.  We have a closed Facebook group where we share all our work and encourage each other to grow and improve.  This has proved to be a challenging and creative project. 

Or my mixed media efforts.  I’ve signed up for a mixed media/painting class that is at least one glass a week but has proved to be several classes.  It is my objective to turn out one completed project a week, stemming from those efforts.  The ultimate goals here are to learn to make better textures for my photoshop efforts and to incorporate my photography into this medium. 

Next, I’ve been taking several photoshop classes online.  This started about two years ago, and I am now pursuing a more digital artist type of work.  I seem to lean toward the surrealist camp, and like creating things that provoke a thought or emotion in the viewer.  So there are two bi-weekly classes here, equaling one a week.  Those efforts will also be shared. 

I also lead a local photography club where we try to get out and shoot, we also meet bi-weekly to learn about photography.  So presently we are working though the fundamentals of photography.  So we get a weekly assignment that helps us apply what we had just learned.  So an article about that subject would help me solidify and reinforce the fundamentals. 

Then I have been writing about the occasional photography/creativity type thing that crosses my mind. 

So hopefully you see the need for me to try and structure my time and commitments.  I feel if I can get focused and organized with these things I will be able to help thrust my creativity forward to a place I never imagined.  I don’t really think many people read this regularly.  This is probably more a therapeutic outlet for me than anything else.  But for anyone that does I thought it best to share what was going on and what my thought process was.   Thanks for understanding.  Get creating yourself. 

  

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I know, I know!  I already posted week two.  But wasn’t sure that I was going to include all of my project 52’s here.  I think I’m going to try to do just that though.  That will give me a nice chronical of the process and progress that I’m made.  So here it is

I had fun doing this first project and ended up with several that I did that were just okay. I have to learn to look real close and clean things before I shoot a still life. Because every speck of dust shows up, I did one of those yarn snowmen and he was a mess. Oh well. LOL.  Here’s is week one of project 52!

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

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So a couple of years ago I started a 365 project.  As evidenced by the fact that there is nothing here about it, I would say it was a complete failure.  So when I decided to take on a 52, one a week, it was with a little bit of hesitancy and fear.  So I put it out there to some friends that I wanted to do this and asked if anyone was interested?  At first, I only had one response, and that was it.  Worst than that he was notorious for not following through on anything.  So I embraced the painful truth and bucked up.  I started making a list of projects, and before I got too far, another friend said she wanted to join me.  Before I knew it word spread and there are now 17 fellow photographers, some near some far, all looking to challenge themselves with a project a week.  So here is week two of FiftyTwo.  

With this project, I envisioned a painterly type still life.  So below are three versions of it.  First is the picture that I worked with to create the two finished images.  Then the one painterly one is more of a traditional still life and the third is more of a modern take on it.  

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I had never heard of Nan Goldin, she is an American fine-art and documentary photographer. She seems to photograph the LGBT community so the image below seems as though it would represent her work

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.”

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

While this is a representation of her work, the next picture is her documenting a beating she too from a boyfriend.  Her work seems to make a point of showing real lives and it’s struggles

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I love the sentiment of today’s quote of the day

“Art is what we call…the thing an artist does.

It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.

Art is not in the …eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.”

 

Seth Godin

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