Sunday, January 31, 2010

No Trespassing

I don't particularly like it, but I put myself in their shoes, the owners of property along Mt. Pleasant Road, or for that matter, any roadside attraction, fenced or not. I mean no harm, but I don't know such when visitors to the drug house use our back ten acres as a short-cut to the main road. No, I don't.

Nothing about me says I am harmless, except for maybe my camera. Yet a photographic quest is not license. So, even though fifty feet further in is the image I really want, I stop at the fence.

Having attempted to complete phase two of this week's photo assignment, and failing to capture the right lighting from the computer screen and the meager light from outside that shown in my dungeon, I opted to derail from my friends playing in the blogger Main Event and hit the open road. Enough with people and their bodies! After all, there was sunshine after a rain and the temperate forest moss would be glowing.

There is little special in the below images. They are at best reminders of a nice drive along a road I have been on only once before. A reminder that unless I look, I do not see. And a note to return, lean in a little further and look a lot closer. A note that I bring home an complete the assignment.
This stump is five feet tall. The fence is old and beaten down...

For Akileos


I managed some decent lighting after all.
Until this luddite can figure out why the vids don't show on his website:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Since we're on the subject

I did some video and photo works back in the late nineties that have come to the front of my mind the last couple weeks. The recalling is not surprising in that they involved the human form in one way or another.

The originals are somewhat longer than the below edited-for-YouTube versions, yet the spirit remains. You might want to have the kids leave the room.

On the advice of friends and DW, the videos have been deleted. Seems that naked is naked is naked somethimes. You will be able to find them on my website tomorrow. > More Videos. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Week Four – Picturing the Body — Nude vs Naked

Part one, or rather, the first session is in the can. There is still another part to the assignment, to do another session with a different subject. In that finding one model was difficult enough, I think it will involve yours truly. Fair warning. I may, however, be forced to rest on my laurels and suggest earlier works for consideration.

So, what is the difference between nude and naked? I can’t exactly say at the moment, but I do have a gut feeling about what category each of my photos falls into. For the most part, I was doing both with this first session. The first few are nudes and the latter are naked. Why? Because there is much more going on in the naked pictures, vignettes of a inappropriate setting where one is less likely to see a person without clothes. They are still about the body, but the body is out of an anticipatable context. Something is amiss. The world in the photo has larger implications, perhaps like Adam and Eve discovering their nakedness. Wanting to know, or rather, a need to discover meaning is a fall from grace. Nakedness is shameful and nude is beautiful, right? The word “nude” implies an aesthetic, the body as an object that suffers not the same stigma as nakedness. But already I anticipate the distinctions blurring. Upon further inquiry and discussion it might turn out that my suppositions are na├»ve, or at the very least forced be to become more coherent.

This is a nude. It is a “study.” The body is the focus, and is framed so. Never mind that the photo was taken in a duck coop with duck poop and feathers on the floor, and cobwebs on the walls and windows.

But what about this photo? The body is still considered; yet, does the introduction of the duck make her naked? As soon as we ask the question, “What is she doing with that duck?” or “She doesn’t have any clothes on and she’s holding a duck!” she becomes naked.

When we move from merely observing composition to querying for meaning, we move from nude to naked. But in no way do I mean to say that a photo has to be one or the other.

This photo was taken in our greenhouse. My lens steamed up, a happy mistake. Still, is this photo a “nude” or is it a picture of someone naked trimming dead plants? How about the following one?

I am giving in to the temptation to withhold commentary for the moment in order for you, dear reader and gazer, to determine your own answer.

When preparing for this session I purposely set out to create vignettes that would begin to tell a little story. The photos above have a certain aura, a filter derived from location, composition and post-production. They are somewhat hermetic, which, now that I think about it some more, may be a good determination for what constitutes a “nude.”

Not so below:

When I first called up this photo, I am certain I uttered aloud. It hit me in my solar plexus. When I showed it to DW, she commented that it seemed forced. Staged? Most certainly. After all, I do like those Vancouver guys, Jeff Wall and Rodney Graham. Yet, perhaps more to the point, I am most definitely trying to tell a story. Symbolism abounds. And the model becomes just another symbol from which one must attempt to derive meaning by itself and within the context of other symbols. She is not nude; we are forced to consider her as naked.

I also shot some video during this part of the session, for while I planned on submitting this work to fulfill part of the assignment, I also wanted to incorporate it into an ongoing project, “I Like Art but…” a semi-homage to Joseph Beuys. (The compost pile she is working contains a dead coyote and ten year’s subscriptions of both ArtForum and Art in America.)

Perhaps understandably, after this scene was fully documented, photos on the pond seemed perfunctory and that plan was scratched. That left the culvert pipe. Let me just say that photographing nudes in a rather public area makes it hard to concentrate on the task at hand, and with a level of discomfort that all were feeling (DW assisted), we made haste, and you know what that brings. With that said, I did manage to salvage one photo.

Even so, it does not have the same appeal as the above “nudes,” primarily because it is within a meaningless context. Even if we were able to experiment with lighting and a variety of poses, I suppose I would have walked away saying, “A nude in a pipe, so what?”

I will have to think some more on this nude vs naked conundrum. I hope that what thoughts I have put together so far make a modicum of sense and look forward to the notes and thoughts that come from next week’s in-class discussion.

In that the model is privy to this blog, I would like to publicly thank her for her time and willingness to endure the coop, the dirt and the chill. I think we managed to have some fun as well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Set-up Notes

The forecast for Friday is rain. Who knows? There's a big low off the coast and a tiny high keeping it there for the time being, giving us sun today, but for how long?

Why the concern? Because I have a model lined up for a photo session Friday. Lighting will again be an issue, yet I hope earlier test shots on cloudy days will help me make good decisions. Today's test shots were more about getting the scenes prepared, finding good angles and trying to figure out some other potential lighting problems. I want to have as much as possible ready to roll for my model, although willing, has expressed some concern for her comfort as she will be unclad in rainy,  50°F weather. I can't say I blame her.

Photos in the duck coop won't be as cold as outside, although not much better. It's dry,  but there is that bird smell to contend with. I foresee a problem with those windows in the back. There is light coming in from a door behind and to the right of the camera, and another door behind and to the left. I may duct tape some black plastic over the outside of the windows. I do, however, like the light of the heat lamp. I will try to use it. And in case you're wondering, the ducks will most likely be present for part of the session.

On a nice day like today, the pond shows some potential, especially the reflections. I'm not crazy about the buildings in the background, so I walked the perimeter to find a good frame. I'll have to clear tall grasses out of the shot when shooting straight on; yet I also want to take some photos from atop a ladder, which will not only make the buildings a non-issue, but may also emphasize the reflected body on the water surface. This will be the most pastoral setting of the day, for sure.

I built the scarecrow today. It is next to the Beuys compost pile, an ongoing project. I will bring the model into the project and see what we come up with.  I took this photo from some distance and like the way the scarecrow and hay rake interact. I am thinking about taking some long-distance shots as a way of subverting the gaze, although I don't know that something this "busy" would be effective for such a photo. I will most likely work at some middle distance when incorporating the compost pile, rake, scarecrow and model.

Just for kicks. The heat lamp in the guinea's coop produced the red. Note where his "shadow" blocks the light.

Ephemeral perfection

I don’t know how or why the words combined themselves late last night, rising from the fog that became one big ghost, or at least that’s how I thought about it at the time. And then I thought, “ephemeral perfection is good enough,” which is something I can more readily get a grasp on. Still, meaning slipped. The words seemed to nestle in paradox, nothing and all. So I went searching. As Cicero said, I shouldn’t be surprised to find the phrase all over the Web.

Page after page. It seems such a pity, the overuse.

The irony does not escape me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More photos from this week's assignment


I'll be dipping my toe in these turbulent waters. I won't live blog. Just too much, too many cards. I'll maybe comment afterward.

First break. A lot of sitters at my table, and more keep getting moved to us. Right now there are two of us playing? Can that be right?  If so, after the break should be interesting as I've never played PLO HU, let alone in a tourney structure. Holding my own at 11.5K.

Second break. Rough ride but only 269 out of 1634 runners. Down to 5800. A huge dry spell and two pairs keeping me humble.

Third break found me sitting out to do chores. Made the money before that but nursing a small stack of 11K.

Out in 65th,  Kings and Tens against Acesxx. Two before the next level in money.  Had a great time chatting with Lightening36 and IlliniFan (I need your blog url again), two Illinois boys like myself.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm in, and in between

I signed up for the WBCOOP and received notice fifteen minutes ago that I've got a ticket to ride. I'm going to blog as long as I last, or as long as I play, and believe me, there's a distinction. DW is out grocery shopping at COSTCO, which means there will be several boxes to help bring into the house about an hour into the tourney, and then the ducks will have to put in the coop for the night about 34 hours into the tourney. If I make beyond to either point, I'll have to sit out for a bit. If I make it three hours, that sit-out can be critical. But I'm juggling, and I do have a semblance of  priorities remaining in my conscience. GL to all of those who I read and who read me.

One minute before we start. 1688 runners. It will be interesting to see how many sit out because they're stuck in traffic.

Tard opens with A6o and is out to pocket 8s. Guy to my left has doubled. Great.

2:05 - A6c on Button. Flop the nuts. Little bet with four players and no takers.

2:09 - UTG raises 3 x BB. I call with TT from MP, as does CO. SB 3-bets pot. I am only caller. Tc3h3c on flop. SB jams with AKc. River is Ts. Lucky me.

2:16 - Guy to my left has bled off half of his stack already. 2nd level. Patience, Grasshopper.

2:20 - Folks still registering. Up to 1731. Level 3.

2:27 - Idiot calls my TQs raise with T4o and hits two pair on turn. Down to 3K.

2:30 - CO steal goes south for 400.

2:36 - Get a little back when I call a raise from CO with AQo, A on the turn and I take it there.

2:44 - Sixes in the hole with the BB flop a boat. Big stack tags along for the ride but chickens out on the blank river, a 2.

Break. Table is a bit nuts. Calling station is taking pots with a pair. Folks are playing like blinds are 250/500 instead of 40/80. I guess it's to be expected, this being a freeroll. But where is your dignity, people!? I'm still hovering around 3K  and am the third lowest stack at my table, the bulk of the players with around 6K. At this moment, the chip leader of tourney is WesRoks of Chicago with 22,301. About to start again.

3:05 - 3-Bet a Button steal from the SB with AKc and get a fold. Miss a big hand while typing. LOL DW on her way home.

3:13 - Kissed DW. Small pot with 8s over 6s.

3:18  - Another small pot (blinds and antes) with 8s. "This is not a cash game! This is not a cash game!" is what I keep chanting as I fold suited connectors early.

3:22 - And as soon as I finish my chant, I get Qs in the BB, call an all in and dodge an A; then the big stack tries a hijack and I 3-bet from the SB with pocket tens. He folds. I'm above 7K.

3:34 - Doubled up from the Button when big stack at the table jammed my 3-bet. Me: KK; he: AK.

3:45 - Flopped a gutshot but didn't have the guts to see the river, despite tempting odds. Lost a grand. And a couple more in similar scenario the next hand. Tighten up time.

3:50 - And no sooner do I type that, within three hands I'm dealt AK. Once in SB and take down a sizable pot from UTG raiser. On Button with three limpers, I bet the pot. The guy from the previous hand is the BB and jams 6+K. He: AJ, and no help forthcoming. 21K.

Break. And I can use it.  We're down to 344 players out of 1740 runners. Barry from Springfield is in first with 57,159. I'm at 23rd.

4:09 - Big stack at the table just got bigger. Jamming with any Ace, apparently. Rivered a baby, one card flush against two pair.

4:13 - Only blogger I have recognized so far at my table is The Trooper, sitting immediately to my left with a small stack. Big stack just keeps growing when AQ beats JJ.

4:16 - Just took out The Trooper when I hit on a steal with odds on his all-in. At -25K. Joxum is cruising with 31.5K

4:20 - Boat brings me up to almost 30K through that calling station I mentioned earlier.

4:22 - Calling Station out with 8s against Qs.

4:25 - Big stack jammed with pocket fives. Oops! Not big stack any longer.

4:30 - Naked Ace steal goes south with a 3-bet.

4:40 - KJ does well against JJ. Up to 36.5K

4:44 - Huge mistep when I flop 2 pr. I bet the pot with two others in. Both call. Dead to a set and flush draw gets there.

4:45 - Just like that, my QQ against AK. out in 178th place.

Big fun.


Online Poker
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! Bloggers can register for to play for free in the WBCOOP, if you don’t have a PokerStars account you can get your Poker Download here.
Registration code: 66859

It couldn't be any easier.

Picturing the Body – Week 3

Before the nude studies, there is an interim photo assignment for the class I am taking. Due this week are photos of my “tribe.” It makes sense. Last week I had to photograph strangers; this week, study someone to whom I am close; and next week another stranger, only this time in what could be considered a very intimate situation if it were not out in front of God and everybody who drives by. (I have contacted a model and am waiting for a response.)

DW, although a tribe member, is out. She’d prefer not, and I’m fine with that. However, I am presented with a bit of a problem: other than that of my family, none of whom live within a thousand miles of me, to what tribe do I belong?

My son and daughter-in-law belong to a tribe. They have a group of friends, both nearby and dispersed, on whom they depend. The group is dependent on the group, giving willingly and freely of time, possessions, and a friendly ear. They barter for goods and services. They crash at each other’s pads when visiting or displaced. When Son and DIL moved back to the States from Hawaii, a friend offered them her spare bedroom, rent-free, until they could get on their feet. The arrangement had no time limit. I have called their group a tribe for some time now, not only because of the above examples, but also because when I met a significant number of the members at their wedding, I was introduced to no less than three shamans.

Still, when faced with naming my own extended tribe, I was temporarily flummoxed. DW and I spend a great deal of time alone, leaving the farm to run errands, see a movie or exhibition, flying to visit family, yet always anxious to return to our cocoon. Not that we don’t have friends here. We go to dinner, chat over the fence, and lend a helping hand when others ask.

There you go.

Meet Lucinda and Cleo.

They live up the road a piece on Lucinda’s family farm, a 180 acre parcel that was homesteaded by her grandfather at the turn of the last century. Lucinda is also a veterinarian; Cleo is retired from the local cannery. They raise beef cattle, sheep, chickens and goats. They also farm trees for lumber and rent out grass seed fields to another long-time farming family. They are busy, busy women, seemingly always on the brink of exhaustion.

When chores are done of a Sunday morning, they set aside the remainder of the daylight hours to rest. Not this Sunday. They had me as company, and as Lucinda “sat” for me, Cleo prepared a batch of cornbread for me to take home.

The photo session is one I wish I could do over again; yet, neither they nor I have that kind of time available. The large window was the sole source of light, which, had I been more inclined to direct my subjects as to where they sat in relation to that light, could have been better managed. In this respect I failed to accomplish part of the assignment, which was to consider the light. (But hey, it’s their day off! They don’t need to be bossed around. Not that anyone could anyway.) Often the left side of Lucinda’s face was lost in a glare, and when she looked out the window, as she was wont to do, her glasses made the problem worse. However, she was often still enough for the otherwise low light in the room. On the other hand, Cleo, as is given her nature, is much more animated. In the shots where both are at sitting at the table, there was typically a part of Cleo that was lost in a blur. While I don’t mind presenting such an image, I find a suitable one to be a rare item. If it don’t emote…well, just don’t.

In an attempt to neutralize some of the lighting’s ill effects, I PhotoShopped the images as B&W and played with the tones as best as my rudimentary skills would allow. For the color images, I tweaked (usually lesseneing) the saturation for some of the colors. If I am an amateur photog, I am an even less practiced PShopper.

The most important criteria remain to be evaluated: Did I capture the “essence” of these women? Is there one photo in particular that fully does them justice, or does there need to be? Do the photos work formally? Out of 150 photos, I culled five that might be acceptable to share for the assignment, yet none of them are perfect. I find it interesting that I have excluded photos in which my subjects are smiling. This is more a reflection on me than on them for the visit was wholly enjoyable, and to this extent, I am presenting aspects of my friends. However, farm folks are often a staid bunch, and I do believe I captured that aspect. As for the formal qualities. the last photo is my favorite. The angle, particularly of the large wall of cabinets, pushes Cleo into the foreground and the dog further back into a corner.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Whenever I see the word, “noise,’ I think of Bill Monroe. Love the music, and love the nasal voice, an under-rated vocal style. Oops, free-associating again!

No, the noise is mine. About me, and others. Click on the links and then come back.

And photos accompanying the article.

For background on the project, read Part 2 of this day's blog entry.

This is the artist’s statement I wrote for the more curious viewer/potential buyer:

“RawCan” by Patrick Collier

The challenge Mary Lou put forth was both simple and complex: Make art from a can with one bean sealed inside. So, where to go from here? Well, the bean rattles around. In fact, depending on how one moves the can, the bean is capable of producing several noises. Likewise, one can strike, rub and scratch the can and its label to create even more sounds.

“RawCan” is a series of nine recordings that explore several of the can’s sound possibilities. In keeping with the theme of “Nourish and Sustain,” some of the tracks on the CD are either looped or layered, as a kind of recycling. The results, somewhat ambient in nature, become “meditations” on the can. (And, if a meditative state is achieved while listening, one is further nourished and sustained.) Other tracks have a more rhythmic structure and highlight the can as a percussion instrument. At the heart of any sustainable practice is a simple yet effective efficiency, and it is in that spirit only hands and the can were used to create all of the sounds and beats.

Although the can is absent from the exhibited piece, there is a photo essay in the jewel case as substitution for the can's physical presence. The actual can remains intact elsewhere, and in all of its “can-ness,” continues to inspire this artist.


  1. C(h)an(t)
  2. Can of Hail
  3. Canned Beat
  4. Ghost Can
  5. Can Factory
  6. Popcan
  7. Power Lines
  8. Tall & Round
  9. Fiction Writer

I was interviewed about my piece in the exhibit/benefit last week. And even though one may find it hard to believe it was the subject of that particular post, I wrote about that experience shortly afterward.

The article in today’s physical, tossed-up-on-the-porch newspaper is quite nice. Front page of the Arts section. Can’t miss it. Neighbors called. DW, with a joyful noise of her own, danced around the room.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The house apparently changed hands about six months ago. A Craftsman style that is quite common up here, it either set empty for years, or someone very infirm lived there. During that time it didn’t deteriorate too badly, moss doing what damage it does each winter, and that’s about it. Windows seemed solid, roof intact, although the place was in need of paint and landscaping.

Paint and stumped-off bushes were the first signs of new ownership. The work was slow, as if the new owners could only manage time on weekends or after work. Then a crew showed and the pace picked up. And then stopped. The trim and anything above twelve feet remains unpainted.

If the new owner is not home often and long enough to finish the work, the able body that spends much of his time sitting on the porch each day might be employed to help, yet I get the feeling he can not be bothered, his immaculate white ball cap pitched to the side, sports apparel baggier than practical and suspended at a level on the hips that must make walking difficult. Hence, he sits, oddly without the benefit of earphones or buds, watching the traffic.

A month ago signs were placed in the yard. Driving into town, one could read “Yard Sale” painted on a piece of plywood. Driving out of town, one read a similarly fabricated sign: “Christian Home Donations Accepted.” A few items, a printer, an obsolete monitor, dish wear, stuffed animals and trinkets were placed on a table in the yard. Not really enough stuff for folks to stop, yet there they remained regardless of the weather or hour of day.

This week the pace again picked up, not on the painting, but on the items put out for sale. Tarps were hung from the house to protect some of the merchandise. More people joined the young man on the porch, yet the yard remained absent of buyers. Today, it being a Saturday and sunny, a number of potential customers wandered from table to table.

Maybe, since I have to go into town again tomorrow, and if the sale will be operating on the Lord’s Day, I will stop and browse, snoop, and see if there is a jar in which I can insert a dollar. If not, my barber has his business in the building immediately to the north, and I will ask him when next I need a trim, which is soon. He will likely know, as barbers often do, and based on earlier inquiries of a similar nature, he will readily share.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


As I went out to take care of the ducks this morning, it was audibly apparent that the frogs are already at it on the pond, or at least warming up. I estimated about ten frogs in all, and two varieties. They usually start to get active toward the middle of February, and may know something about the weather ahead that I may only suspect. Given that last year we kept water in the pond until all of the tadpoles had morphed, we should have a bumper crop. I wonder how much extra electricity we used working the pump to keep those squiggly tails wet. Our good neighbor to the east complains that they keep him up at night. Just wait until April!

We’re having sweater weather, even if one has to occasionally throw on a rain slicker. Good weather for the ducks, don’t you know? Still, I was amazed when I found seven eggs in the coop: three Magpie eggs and four Runners. Every bird that could, gave. The remaining two birds, the Ancona and another Runner, are in stages of molt. The Magpies are now five years old and the runners six. By most accounts they should be done with this egg-laying business. However, the oddity of this bounty does little to salve the wound of another eighty pounds of feed on my shopping list today.

The warm weather also means that we use less firewood, which is a good thing considering that we have already burned two-thirds of our four-cord supply, a good portion used during the prolonged cold spell in December. What remains of the stacks resemble Jenga blocks on the brink. I try to stay on my toes when loading the buckets. I want to keep my toes. I’d also like to not buy another cord come March.

In other news, I have booked my flights for Las Vegas in March. I bring this up only because I will have to rearrange the remaining pile of wood before I leave. We can’t have DW damaging her cute little tootsies.

Actually, I’m pretty excited about the trip. It has been two years since the PAOers have gotten together. There will be several folks returning, plus some new faces, even though many of us have more than a passing familiarity in that we have played thousands of hands with each other. I’m also hoping to meet some of the LV based bloggers I read. However, I don’t know that I want to sit at the same poker table with any of them.

It may be a phase that will pass, but I have cut way back on the number of hands I’m playing each day. I’m down to about 100, either at PA or Stars, and I’m spending more time at the former, which has not been the case the last several months. And even though it may be temporary, of course there are reasons. I’m spending more time with artistic endeavors (God, that sounds so pretentious!), reading a pile of art periodicals, and researching photo techniques. (Speaking of photography, I started to watch the BBC4 series, “Genius of Photography.” There are clips on YouTube.)

Less poker might also be good for the ticker. I get too worked up, and I have to admit that I monitor my roll like I’m being graded, which only adds fuel to the fire of adrenalin. Until I can get the emotional aspect under better control, it’s best that I play with fake money or at the lowest stakes possible on Stars. Add to that an attempt to change my playing style, to be more aggressive. Aggression stimulates what? You got it.

Still, with Las Vegas looming, I have to keep playing and trying to improve my game. Admittedly, I’m pretty ABC, and I pass on a lot of opportunities to play a better game. The good news is that I now recognize when I play a hand too passively, and have begun to remedy it with some pretty lovely bluffs. The bad news is that until I get some time in with new strategies, I’ll probably experience a bit of a downturn in profits. It hasn’t happened yet, but my roll hasn’t budged either. Hopefully, the steepest part of the learning curve will be short-lived.

Of course, writing the above gets me itching to play, so I put up an 8-game table while playing a PLO table, a $10 buy-in for each, and now have an additional $10, the price for: one hundred kilowatt hours, two-dozen duck eggs to paying customers (none), two-fifths of a bag of feed, one-twentieth of a cord of wood, or ten minutes at a penny slot.

I think I’ll go read for a while.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More thoughts on this week’s photo assignment

Mental note: take tri-pod on cloudy days.

I was looking for light. Any light. What I found was the contrast of reflections against gray. Look harder. Surely there are dark places that would welcome any color. Dark places are not hard to find.

I went to the river today. There are great puddles of water underneath the bridge, puddles large and deep enough to swallow a truck. (I should know, having drowned my F250 in this very spot a couple years ago.) I thought I might be able to capture some reflected light off of the water and up onto the bridge’s pilings. Something along those lines is what I sought, but only found reflections on the water’s surface. Concrete is uninteresting and unworthy as the light falls flat.

Back in the rig.

For the past year or so, the small railroad company that operates in this area has been clearing forested areas away from their tracks to reduce the number of fallen trees that would otherwise inhibit passage. They are also installing sizable galvanized culvert pipes in the hillier grades to facilitate better drainage and minimize washouts. Never mind that the tree removal will cause more erosion; the culverts will take care of the excess run-off. At least they’re thinking ahead.

The staging area for this work is at the head of our road, about 1.5 miles from home. Trees that are fit for lumber (meaning fir trees) are taken down the tracks directly to the mill. The rest, stumps and all, are hauled back up to the staging area. A rather sizable mound has been gathered, perhaps 100 feet long and twenty-five feet high, which means the width is necessarily equal to the height, if not more.

I have photographed this work area before, specifically the tangle of trees, but was unsatisfied with the results. Yet, now with an assignment to “look for light” and already on this reflected light kick, I thought there might be potential in the galvanized pipes that laid about. And indeed there might had I brought a subject to stand alongside a stack of four.

As I walked toward the pipes, I noticed a small amount of rainwater had settled in them. Hmmm, reflective surfaces on the inside and outside, the interior ones in relative darkness and those on the exterior in the light of a waning day… Another mental note, but for now I would take the more direct route and try to do something with the interior surfaces.

My ISO, set at 1600, was way too high. I dislike the graininess of the images, especially of the first one. Still, I was shooting at anywhere from 1/60 to 1/125 at f8, hence the need for a tripod. Yet, all is not lost. I will return to try some different exposures. It also occurred to me that the interior of these pipes might provide a certain privacy for someone who, say, is not wearing clothes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week Two of Picturing the Body

I put the word out today that I need a model to pose nude. Sheesh.

The “word out” consisted of an email to the woman who runs a gallery in Salem. She knows everyone, or so it seems, and it is my hope she knows a model or knows someone who knows a model of either gender. I also put a little ditty on the social media site, not so much to find a model but to make fun of me having to find one out here in the middle of nowhere. “Without the town tongues waggin’” is how I phrased it.

DW suggested a Barbie doll, that after refusing without me having to ask. I wasn’t going to anyway, not with the way my mind works. Nothing kinky, mind you (like a Barbie doll), but I’d prefer to not add to the plethora of svelte poses in the woods, on a glen, in a waterfall, or, for that matter, among clean white sheets. I believe there will be a risk of hypothermia, so my model should be of a strong constitution and flexible will.

It’s not an easy matter, photographing strangers. Not for me, anyway, a poor multi-tasker. Yet, I will not make the same mistakes/oversights I did in the last assignment. In fact, I’ve been scouting locations, taking photographs of the area, looking at potential lighting issues (this week’s assignment), learning my camera, all in preparation for a clearer focus on the matter at hand.

If you read the comments section of my blog, you will have seen the comments made by jw, the gentleman teaching the photog class. He was very kind:

Great subject and I'd love to hear more about her. You make me want to go see where she lives (her personal environment) and meet the characters from her brief story.

If you choose to follow it up it'll interesting to see how your camera relationship evolves.

So, I went back to the liquor store and had a chat with K. It seems that her “personal environment” includes a long-haul truck driver who, were a session to happen, could not find out. No thanks. Sticks and stones.

In the meantime

I'm working on a long post that may see the light of day in the next week or so. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a song, first performed by the songwriter, and then a version done by someone more familiar. The background vocals for the second were done by the first.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On Display

I spent an appointed hour or so yesterday with a gregarious bunch, and walked away, not unscathed, with impressions.

The Dead Line

The last day to apply, to submit.

Latitude will be permitted for the latter;
the former, a petition in order to proceed,
I fear.  This is where dread mixes with
peevishness: an embarrassed, oblique anger.
Otherwise, the words would kill, immolate.

Whoops! Too late! Step aside.

Others prefer an opening, perhaps a simple question: “How long…?”
The listener is surprised at the answer’s duration, followed by regret.
Social cues are a useless strategy, feigned distraction more effective.

It is good to be ignored. Grace and mercy.

“I never make the same piece twice,”
the first fawned over like the bauble it is.

“I ignored the instructions and instead gave you what I think
you should want,” always a good move with more of the same.

Out with it: “I’m narcissistic.”
The joke fails like a nose on a paper plate commentary
is glossed over because of something remotely
shared, the rhetorical complement taken as simpatico.
Et tu? Thank you.

The audience peels away, one by one, no bones about it.
But what if no one, save the gatekeeper, was in attendance to start?
“We look forward to reviewing your completed dossier,”
like a vapor disappearing into a darkened corner.

“Wait! I have so many questions!” If it were an oracle instead of a bureaucrat, I would have more patience with the misplaced punctuation, and to what, exactly, the phrase referred,

perhaps even resigned.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Picturing the Body

Assignment 1: Intimate vs Private

“So, if you’re already a photographer, why are you taking a class?”

After giving K a brief description of what I was after, namely photos of a relative stranger, and why, to fulfill requirements for an online photo class, she agreed to be my subject. K didn’t know if her boss would like someone taking photos inside the store, yet out in front was okay, and since there was another woman working, K took a five-minute break.

Even though I had already begun snapping away, she evidently still had some reservations.

I explained that I felt a need for a new challenge, more instruction, and told her the name of the photographer who was giving the class. “A famous photographer in England” was my final pitching point.

K works at the local liquor store, and in that I make trips to said establishment on a somewhat regular basis, we are not complete strangers. However, we have never had a conversation, so I hope this doesn’t break a rule of the assignment. With that said, I have eaves-dropped on conversations she has had with others in the store, so I used what information I had to gain her confidence through a few questions. This also fulfilled another requirement of the assignment: get a story.

K is forty-eight years old. She lives in the next small town over with one of her two children. The other child lives in a nearby city. The two children are from a marriage to a military guy, a lifer now retired, whom she met while she was also enlisted. Four years in service to her country were enough for her, for, as she stated, she had a problem with authority. Upon her discharge, and while still married to the soldier, she took to wearing ripped jeans and the like to military-sponsored functions.

Portraiture is a new arena for me, excluding self-portraiture. Even within the latter context I am but a babe in the woods. Yet, what is immediately clear is the difference between the two. A “mirroring” takes place in both, but when the subject is the other, one must, to some degree and in some sense become the other. Despite her early reserve and the chilled air, as I turned the questions toward her and she told me her story, plus the fact that I made it clear I was listening, K became more animated (as I knew her to be from watching her in the store). There came a point in the encounter when we had reached a degree of intimacy from which I knew I could invade her private space for the close-ups.

Intimacy becomes strategic, at least in the above completion of the assignment. Though subtle, a struggle ensued, and in this sense, the “versus” in the title of the assignment becomes apparent. “We” is still “I”. My needs. Her needs may be tended but they remain unacknowledged. Then again, the degree of intimacy is still managed by elements like time and the predispositions of those involved, and is therefore does not completely overtake privacy. “Versus” is the gap.

Not the best execution, the idea an afterthought.

“Would you like copies of the photos?”


“They will be on the internet.”

“That’s fine. You’re only have my first name.”

“I probably won’t even use that.”

“Who’s going to care?”

“Right. It’s not like I took pictures of you nekked.”

We’ll be addressing that topic a few weeks further into this class. Meanwhile, here's a few more from today:

And with this image in my viewfinder, I knew the session was over.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Three days remain

On my free trial of Poker Co-Pilot, a tracking software for us Mac-abled. has being able to see my opponents' VPIP/PFR/Agg helped? I believe it has, for it is difficult to keep any semblance of a notion for the first stat in my head. Not only that, but the program has shown just how little attention I pay to my opponents. Maybe it's the micros, and being such, one doesn't have to be too sophisticated. I know a maniac, a calling station and a rock when I see them; yet there is so much more, which until now, I hadn't bothered with.

Still, now that I have the data, what can I do with it? How does one play against a 85/3/67 who has position? In a lot of ways, my education has just begun.

Oh, and I can post charts!

Pretty good, huh? Except for that pesky Non-showdown winnings line. Before I had the software, I had no idea that there was a problem there. I was just playing the way I play, making good calls and folds on the river. Even after I looked at the chart for a couple weeks I still wasn't too concerned with a more or less steady climb. Eventually, however, I had to ask myself: What's with the NSW?

See that little hump toward the end of the graph line? That was me betting with position to isolate. See the down side? That's me betting with draws that didn't get there and c-bets that were not believed.And as an argument in favor of position, below is the same chart isolating my plays from the Button.

I know some of my readers use tracking software and are used to looking at charts like those above. This babe in the woods would appreciate any comments. In the meantime, I think I'll go ahead and purchase the software.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A different focus

I sometimes refer to when DW and I had a gallery in Chicago. I occasionally google the name of the gallery just to find artists we showed who have websites and list having shown at “bona fide.” When applying for jobs, grants, etc., it helps to jog my memory. Today was one such day, yet I also started to reminisce, and found myself thinking about one artist in particular, Hans Wijninga.

Hans walked into the gallery one day, portfolio in hand. He wanted to show me his work. Normally, this is a big no-no in art gallery protocol, yet since the young man was from out of town, the Netherlands to be exact, I decided to have a look. I was glad I did.

At the time, Hans was making large-scale photographs of ordinary events, people and people in places, photographed from some distance, and processed with some degree of blur. The blur gave the photos a somewhat painterly feel. Yet, there was something else about the photos that caught my eye, and that was the framing of the shots.

We gave Hans a show (the above photo was in that exhibit), shipped his work from his home, sold a piece to a well-known collector, shipped the rest back, and kept in touch for a couple years thereafter, after the gallery had closed. When we moved away, contact was lost, and just like a lot of other people and things, farming prioritized them out of my mind.

I googled Hans, found his website, and knew I had to share his work. It is both sublime and beautiful in its simplicity and treatment. Have a look, especially at 2004 and 2008.

The lead-in to an afterthought

If I were a poet at an early age
the golf balls we collected
he more than me
for it was his market
Hey Mister
twenty-five cents each
yelled from the corner and brace at the eighth tee
from which most of the balls collected
had been dispatched with a hook
into the stream we waded
until one hundred and forty exchanged hands
and transformed into a single-shot .410
I would have seen the symmetry

Sunday, January 10, 2010