Monday, May 31, 2010

Final Four

First of all, my apologies for not updating the blog recently. I thought I might be able to do it while traveling but it's really taken a back seat to the bare essentials: Eating, Sleeping, and Shooting.

Anyway, Fourth Round polling has closed. In somewhat of an anticlimax, all top four seeds advanced.

Frank pulled Erwitt's daisy (95-48). Cartier-Bresson decisively shot down Meyerowitz (93-52). Eggleston won the war with the obvious Kertesz (89-51). Winogrand defeated Friedlander to show us what he looked like defeated (88-57).

The fifth round is in the sidebar. Tough choices. Polling for this round ends June 8.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Elite Eight

Street Photographer Tournament Third Round polling has closed. Here are the results:

1. Garry Winogrand def. Alex Webb (133 votes - 45 votes)
2. Lee Friedlander def. William Klein (126-45)
3. Henri Cartier-Bresson def. Josef Koudelka (110-72)
4. Joel Meyerowitz def. Daido Moriyama (103-69)
5. William Eggleston def. Constantine Manos (131-40)
6. Andre Kertesz def. Diane Arbus (88-87)
7. Robert Frank def. Robert Doisneau (153-25)
8. Elliott Erwitt def. Helen Levitt (99-73)

Here's how the bracket looks this morning:

Fourth Round polling is listed in the right sidebar. Winogrand takes on Friedlander in a battle of content vs. form, it's b/w vs. color as Cartier-Bresson faces Meyerowitz, old school vs. new school in Eggleston vs. Kertesz, and finally Frank's frank lyricism challenges Erwitt's, er, wit. Who will emerge victorious?

This poll will last the normal week, ending 5/31, but due to travel plans I am not certain I'll be able to compile results in a timely fashion. Results and new polling should be posted early next week but they may take a few days so please be patient.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Decimal System

I leave for London Tuesday. Among the items I'm packing are The 10 Essentials:

1. Audio

2. Cameras

3. Film

4. Clothing for 10 days

5. Assorted workprints to leave behind in terminals,
lobbies and other randomly selected public locations

6. Sturdy comfortable walking shoes

7. Cat

8. Dinner jacket

9. Reading material

10. Passport with spares

Now that I've got that covered, let's take a step back. London? What's the story? The initial impetus for the trip was In-Public's 10th Anniversary Exhibition at Photofusion. I figured if I was ever going to make it to London again, that was a good excuse. But 6500 miles is a long way to travel for just one event, so I'm spending some time (my first out of the country in 10 years!) on a 10 day photo-taking jaunt through London/Paris.

I'm looking forward to this trip for a few reasons. First of all the obvious one. It will be wonderful to travel in relatively unexplored cities with time free to make new photos.

But also, and maybe less obviously, this will be my first opportunity to meet other members of In-Public. I've been in the group for a few years now and all of our communication to date has been electronic. I've seen photos of others and I have some guesses about personalities, but that's very different than standing face to face. Meeting in person should be fun, but honestly I am a bit nervous since I'm not generally good in social settings. I am prone to long pauses which sometimes don't go over well.


I suppose our group's situation is a microcosm of a much wider societal condition as more and more of our daily contacts take place through monitors. I know many people through various online communities, but without meeting them I will never feel like I really know them. And I think that is probably true for society as a whole. In some ways the world is getting smaller as interconnections multiply. But the essence of community I think will always be actual human contact. So with this trip I'm doing my part, or at least that's how I justify it.

For anyone within travel distance seeking actual human contact with IP, here are details of the show. It should be a good one. There will be a book published in conjunction, available here.

I will be gone until June 4th. I'm not sure what my internet situation will be while traveling so B may grow quiet until early June. Or it may not. Can't tell yet.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What To Do? #73

217. George Kelly, Camerawork, 2005

218. George Kelly, 3 AM, 2006

219. George Kelly, Carport, 2008

Happy Birthday, George!

(WTD? is a weekly installment of old unseen b/w photos)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Public Image Ltd.

This morning I am pleased to announce a very special offering. I am making available for sale a Special Limited Edition Jpeg File of this image:

Tea Kettle, 2002, © Blake Andrews

Long out-of-print, the Tea Kettle jpeg is now a collector's item. It commonly sells elsewhere for $200-$300. I have decided to release a limited production run of 20 jpegs available only through my blog at a one-time price of $150 each.

The image is a 600 x 450 grid of perfectly aligned pixels. The resolution is set at the international standard for web-ready collectible jpegs, 72 dpi, and the file size is 61 KB. The current color space is sRGB but I can customize this for individual users.

To view an actual size version just click on the image above and you'll be linked to an exact copy of the jpeg (note: this copy is not for sale). The image is suitable for web use, easily printable for framing, or you may just want to set it aside as an investment. The choice is yours.

Orders will be filled on a first come, first served basis until sold out. Once all the jpegs are gone, that's it. You'll need to look on eBay for a copy and good luck finding one. I have very few copies available and as availability is subject to change, I cannot absolutely guarantee fulfillment even if you have finalized the order. For this reason I suggest ordering as soon as possible via the PayPay link below. Once your payment is processed, you will receive a security code with instructions how to download your Special Limited Edition Jpeg File.

Order While Supplies Last!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Photo Economics

(Clockwise from upper left: Your Design Needs, Thomas Demand, John Pfahl, Andre Kertesz)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Forecast: Cloudy

OK Europe, listen up. You call that puny haze an ash cloud? My kid's firework puts out more smoke than that. You wanna see the real deal? This here's a friggin Ash Cloud!

Portland Oregonian, May 19, 1980. Forecast: Cloudy

Exactly thirty years later that photo still says everything. It isn't just on page one. It is page one. But if you want to attach a number, that's 24 megatons of red-blooded American thermal energy.

Mt. St. Helens lost 1300' feet in elevation just like that. Poof! A lot of what used to be the mountain turned into weather, and a lot of the weather fell on Portland 50 miles southwest. It was like a winter storm in the middle of spring.

Claudia Howell for The Oregon Journal

At first the city was excited. But gradually the realization of what actually happened began to sink in. Nature had dumped a constipated load, and the crap was everywhere.

USGS Archives

It was like thermonuclear winter. Authorities were forced into action. But they didn't sit around some conference room sipping Perrier wondering which flights to cancel. The entire airport was invisible. The city was invisible. City canceled.

OK, that last photo is actually a person blowing snow from her driveway. But you get the idea. Mt. St. Helens, my European friends, was a damn Ash Cloud!

Eyjafjallajökull? That's a spelling quiz.

Hmmm. In retrospect maybe it wasn't such a hot idea to write this with such American bravado. It could come back to cloud my trip to Europe next week, assuming my flight isn't canceled on account of ash. Hey Europe, you know I was just blowing smoke, right? Still BFF? Um, hello? Europe?...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweet Sixteen

Street Photographer Tournament Second Round polling has closed. Here are the results:

1. (1) Garry Winogrand def. (8) Danny Lyon (121 votes - 11 votes)
2. (5) Alex Webb def. (4) Jacques Henri Lartigue (69-56)
3. (3) William Klein def. (11) Tom Wood (87-25)
4. (2) Lee Friedlander def. (7) Weegee (85-45)
5. (1) Henri Cartier-Bresson def. (8) Willy Ronis (108-17)
6. (4) Josef Koudelka def. (5) Rene Burri (98-21)
7. (3) Joel Meyerowitz def. (6) Saul Leiter (78-46)
8. (7) Daido Moriyama def. (2) Tony Ray-Jones (66-56)
9. (1) William Eggleston def. (9) Bruce Gilden (87-42)
10. (13) Constantine Manos def. (5) Henry Wessel (49-48)
11. (3) Andre Kertesz def. (11) Martin Parr (72-56)
12. (2) Diane Arbus def. (7) Tod Papageorge (73-55)
13. (1) Robert Frank def. (9) Bill Brandt (112-14)
14. (4) Robert Doisneau def. (5) Marc Riboud (69-47)
15. (3) Elliott Erwitt def. (6) Brassai (84-36)
16. (2) Helen Levitt def. (7) Roy DeCarava (95-21)

This past week's competition was a bit painful for me to follow, as I watched several personal favorites including Tom Wood, Tony Ray-Jones, and Henry Wessel go down in flames. Oh well. Here is the updated bracket as of this morning.

This is where things begin to get interesting, as some heavy hitters are paired against each other. For this round I've decided to eliminate seeding information from the pairings. Originally it was a carryover from March Madness, but I've come to think it isn't very useful and actually may have influenced voting patterns, which was not the intent. If you want to see the original seeding you can refer to the bracket, but otherwise you're on your own.

In raw numbers, voting dropped off during week two. E.g., Garry Winogrand got 215 votes in round one, but needed only 121 votes to win the second round handily. I'm not sure why there was a decrease. The internet likes new things, and maybe the poll has already become yesterday's story? Maybe it's the lack of advertising? In any case the good news for participants is that with less people voting, every vote now carries more weight.

Third Round polling is listed in the right sidebar. Sixty-four began. Sixteen remain. Who will survive another week? This round concludes Sunday, 5/23 at midnight PDT.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What To Do? #72

214. Bring Recycling, Eugene, 2007

215. SE 32nd and Hawthorne, Portland, 2006

216. Laguna Beach, CA, 2007

WTD? is a weekly installment of old unseen b/w photos)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Eye Unlevel

The current Blue Sky exhibition of Livia Corona's Enanitos Toreros is an interesting experiment in presentation.

Covering one wall is the largest photo I've ever seen in person, a sixteen foot high version of this image:

from Enanitos Toreros, by Livia Corona

The print is composed of 2.5' wide strips of what I'm guessing are Chromira prints. No framing. My eye was about even with the nipples.

Along the other three gallery walls is a continuous row of several dozen small prints, roughly 5 x 7" each, tacked to the wall with pins, no frames, no gaps. The row is positioned about 90 inches above the floor, well above the 58 inch standard height. After looking up at a few of these, my neck began to hurt.

The radical size and positioning reflects the show's subject matter. Enanitos Toreros is a photographic essay on Dwarf Bullfighters and the subculture surrounding them. From the perspective of a Dwarf Bullfighter, looking up at any normally hung photo show would begin to hurt one's neck, so the tall placement is meant to give a taste of that. And I suppose that to a dwarf, many contemporary gallery prints seem as Leviathan as a 16' tall photo. Standing eye to nipple is nothing new to a dwarf.

OK, point made. As a spur to consider new perspectives the presentation works pretty well. The show broadened my worldview. But as an incentive to actually look at the photos and consider each one, I think the presentation failed. How can you analyze a photo if you can't see it clearly?

The show's odd layout made me think of William Eggleston's Guide. I've always been curious about the placement of photos on the page in that book. Some are at the top, some are at the bottom, some in the middle. The position on the page seems to roughly correspond with the perspective of the photo. For example, the famous trike shot is at the top of the page because the camera looks up at the trike.

Memphis, William Eggleston

Whereas the jigsaw photo, shot with camera looking down, is at the bottom of the page.

Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, William Eggleston

The correspondence isn't exact. Some photos aren't laid out like they should be, and most just float in the middle of the page. And the layout is mostly abandoned with respect to horizontal position.

But the overall effect is unavoidable, and similar to the Corona show. It makes the viewer aware of the photo's position in space, something they probably weren't even thinking of before. With Eggleston's photos, I am brought back to the scene of the photo. I imagine I am there looking with him through the viewfinder. With Corona's photos I imagine dwarves spending a lot of time at the chiropractor, which is something I wouldn't have even considered before.

If you make it to Blue Sky be sure to visit Hartman next store to see Mark Steinmetz's Greater Atlanta. As far as I can tell, this is the show's only west coast appearance. Great photos, great prints, all hung at eye level.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Winogrand Flowchart

(Click twice to enlarge to full size)

Junior Dominguez-Vidal

This article appeared in the local paper last week. It sounds like a fairy tale but it's actually true. For me the jury is still out on the kid's work —watch the article's embedded video to see examples— but the story is still pretty inspirational. Chalk another point up for the power of photography! Who says I never write feel-good posts?

Junior Dominguez-Vidal

Monday, May 10, 2010

Round Two

Street Photographer Tournament First Round polling has closed. Here are the results:

1.(2) Lee Friedlander def. (15) Max Yavno (214 votes -16 votes)
2. (7) Weegee def. (10) Ralph Gibson (187-43)
3. (3) William Klein def. (14) Charles Traub (156-30)
4. (11) Tom Wood def. (6) Erich Salomon (80-56)
5. (4) J-H Lartigue def. (13) George Krause (153-35)
6. (5) Alex Webb def. (12) Mark Cohen (125-64)
7. (8) Danny Lyon def. (9) Mario Giacomelli (83-78)
8. (1) Garry Winogrand def. (16) Bruno Barbey (215-16)
9. (2) Tony-Ray-Jones def. (15) David Hurn 116-37)
10. (7) Daido Moriyama def. (10) Ray Metzker (118-64)
11. (3) Joel Meyerowitz def. (14) Fred Herzog (178-30)
12. (6) Saul Leiter def. (11) Carl de Keyzer (110-52)
13. (4) Josef Koudelka def. (13) Richard Kalvar (151-46)
14. (5) Rene Burri def. (12) Raymond Depardon (81-63)
15. (8) Willy Ronis def. (9) Alfred Eisenstaedt (87-73)
16. (1) Cartier-Bresson def. (16) Luigi Ghirri (194-26)
17. (2) Diane Arbus def. (15) Charles Harbutt (169-42)
18. (7) Tod Papageorge def. (10) Gilles Peress (96-71)
19. (3) Andre Kertesz def. (14) Mitch Epstein (123-63)
20. (11) Martin Parr def. (6) Bruce Davidson (104-103)
21. (13) Constantine Manos def. (4) Raghubir Singh (76-67)
22. (5) Henry Wessel def. (12) Louis Stettner (80-52)
23. (9) Bruce Gilden def. (8) Lisette Model (117-65)
24. (1) William Eggleston def. (16) Bill Dane (187-13)
25. (2) Helen Levitt def. (15) Vivian Maier (107-32)
26. (10) Roy DeCarava def. (7) Leonard Freed (83-53)
27. (3) Elliott Erwitt def. (14) Thomas Roma (160-26)
28. (6) Brassai def. (11) Louis Faurer (124-47)
29. (4) Robert Doisneau def. (13) Jeff Mermelstein (93-92)
30. (5) Marc Riboud def. (12) Sylvia Plachy (97-45)
31. (9) Bill Brandt def. (8) Edouard Boubat (110-49)
32. (1) Robert Frank def. (16) Burk Uzzle (197-4)

A few upsets, a few very close races, and half the photographers eliminated. Here is how the bracket looks this morning.

Second round pairings are listed in the right sidebar, featuring several intriguing matchups. Webb v. Lartigue? Weegee v. Friedlander? Ray-Jones v. Moriyama? Doisneau v. Riboud? As with last time, there are also some brutal death-traps. Er, sorry about that Lyon and Ronis. Should be interesting to follow.

Have fun voting. Polls conclude Sunday, 5/16 at midnight PDT.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Everyone's a critic

I know Ryan Howard as a character on The Office, but until recently I had no idea of his photographic background. Thanks to a link on Muse-ings, I recently discovered Howard's photoblog One Thousand And One Words, which lists a growing array of sharply written photo critiques. Here's a sampling:

As you can see from this brief review, Howard really knows his stuff and he doesn't pull any punches.

Want a personal critique? Howard has generously offered to judge photos from his readers. If you have a photo in mind and you want it to receive an MFA-level analysis for free, just go to his blog and follow the submission link. If you have trouble choosing a photo, consider Howard's guidance: "I challenge you to be as avant-garde as possible, because the greatest artistic freedom."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What To Do? #71

211. W 14th and Burnside, Portland, 2006

212. SE 30th and Division, Portland, 2006

213. SE 12th and Hawthorne, Portland, 2006

WTD? is a weekly installment of old unseen b/w photos)

Thursday, May 6, 2010


"...The sheer mass of images in Flickr currently makes it next to impossible to look for images in any kind of meaningful way (speaking from my perspective, if you’re looking for random photos of sunsets or kitties you’re golden)."

Joerg Colberg

Results of my Flickr search 5/6/10 for images of "random photos of sunsets or kitties":

Am I golden? Not sure yet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Need-to-know tip

Pssst. Can you keep a secret? Tucked away on the second floor of the Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum in Eugene is a large exhibition of vintage Weegee prints. The show runs the gamut from self portraits to kaleidoscopic lenswork to Just Add Boiling Water. Many prints carry personal notes in Weegee's handwriting. It's the best show they've had in years.

Coney Island, circa 1939, Weegee
currently on display at JSMA, but don't tell anyone

But don't tell anyone. This information should be closely guarded, disclosed to people only a need-to-know basis. At least that's my working theory based on museum publicity. The show has gotten zero attention. No press releases, no lectures, no calendar listing, no mention on the museum website. Unless you stumble on it by accident or read about it on a top-secret blog, you won't discover the show.

All of this would be less disconcerting to me if it didn't contrast so strongly with the museum's treatment of the recent dorm-poster-friendly Sam Abell/Torben Nissen photo show, still on the website's front page a week after closing. Or high-falutin' concept photos by Jim Riswold currently showing, or the upcoming Warhol/Gus Van Sant photo show. I've gotten plenty of flyers and announcements about all of them. But the best exhibition of all is treated like a state secret. It's totally absurd.

Hey, JSMA, great show but pull your head out!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

American Icon

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State massacre. If you're like me, when you try to visualize that day you think of this photo:

Kent State, May 4, 1970, John Filo

It's pretty rare for an image to permeate society as thoroughly as this photo has. For many folks, John Filo's shot has come to describe not only that event but Vietnam protests generally, and maybe even the entire U.S. post-war culture clash. Along with Eisenstadt's kissing couple and Ruby Shoots Oswald, it is probably one of the most recognizably iconic photos in history.

Ruby Shoots Oswald, 1973, Robert H. Jackson

But why? What makes some photos iconic while others aren't? There were countless other photos taken May 4th, 1970. Why did that one catch on? Yeah, it's a great shot but just being great isn't enough. There must be other factors at work. Iconic Photos devotes an entire blog to the issue, but it offers no concrete answers. Other sites give a familiar checklist of generally acknowledged iconic shots, while still others recount them in detail. The photos on these sites are generally familiar. We recognize one when we see it. But how does a photo get to that point?

Maybe we should flip the question around and ask, what makes a non-iconic photo?

Ansel Adams is best known for producing several iconic images. Moon Over Hernandez, Half Dome Monolith, etc. These are great photos but they're so well known it's hard to look at them anymore. They've come to define him. That's why a site like this is so powerful. It's a deliberate look at Adams' un-iconic side which looks nothing like his best-known work.

Aw, Kitty, Circa WWII, Ansel Adams

Sally Mann's photos have a similar effect. Although her work hasn't saturated the public consciousness like Filo or Adams, many of her photos are iconic among photographers. Her very style is iconic. So it's a bit jarring the first time one encounters her square format color work.

Untitled, 1989-1992, from Family Matters, Sally Mann

I think the best source of anti-iconic work today is Flickr. It contains hundreds of millions of images, very few of which have reached any level of general recognition. Flickr is a case study in image democracy. Every photo gets the same treatment, same size, same layout, the same opportunity to be seen.

With the rise of Flickr, maybe there's no possibility anymore of any photo becoming iconic. This was the question raised in Ben Roberts' essay last fall on in-sight. I tend to agree with his conclusion that iconic photos are a thing of the past. Maybe so too are iconic albums, paintings, cars, and moments. A rising tide of information has flooded all the high points. Everywhere is sea level.

Here's the scene in the Kent State photo as it looks today from Filo's vantage point.

Kent State, Memorial to Jeffrey Miller, 2007, M. Stewart

Pretty nondescript. Pretty non-iconic.

Here's the iconic version: