Note: The ride in the slideshow was Clint's Husted's last ride. The story below comes from Clint helping me change my tires in anticipation of the trip. He died about a month after the trip and I put the pictures together with sound I had gathered as a memorial for the family. . . . . . . . . . . The late Clint Husted and I devised a method of changing tires we called the Armstrong method. It is cheaper, and much less reliable, than a hydraulic lift. To demonstrate the method, you need a heavy motorcycle, such as a BMW K1200LT in need of tire changes. Ordinary mechanics might use a lift but it is much more of a challenge to use the Armstrong method. Continue reading
Every now and then I am reminded of how wonderful the gift of sight is. I have enjoyed photography for most of my life and it is hard for me to conceive of life without sight. One of my students was simultaneously taking a photography class from me and another from an art program. The art photography instructor had given an assignment in which the students were to make pictures while blindfolded. When our student in common put her prints up for critique, she was criticized for not have prints that were focused. I simply could not figure out the purpose for that assignment. I have thought about that assignment often and still cannot find an educational justification for it. I did find a book of photographs made by students who were blind. They were all made with cameras with wide-angle lenses, which had plenty of depth-of-field. That book got me to thinking about the creative act itself. How could those blind students appreciate the book they had made because they could not see the images? Doesn't a musician need to hear the music they play? Don't artists and photographers need to see the images they create? Isn't sight and sound critical to the aesthetic experience? Perhaps my thinking is limited because I do have aided sight (glasses) and aided hearing (hearing aids). But Beethoven composed music after he became totally deaf. And Tara Miller is a commercial photographer who is blind. Limitations are not necessarily barriers. Just this week a new camera technology was introduced that may well be in high demand for any photographer and will enable blind people to take up photography without any worry whatsoever about focus. The camera does not focus when the picture is made but is focused afterward via software. The point of focus can be changed at will by clicking on the picture. Thus, end viewers of the photography can potentially focus anywhere within the frame. The photographer doesn't focus at all. I am especially taken by technology that enables us to see clearly what cannot be seen by the unaided eye. Newton invented the telescope to better view the mysteries of the sky. The late MIT professor Harold Edgerton invented electronic flash in order to freeze motion. One of his most famous pictures is that of a drop of milk splashing to form a crown. These effects are made possible by the incredibly short duration of an electronic flash, which is much, much faster than a camera shutter speed. There is a difference between looking and seeing. We look were we are going (unless we are driving a car with a cell phone held to our ears). We see when we are able to study and enjoy the detail of what surrounds us. As a artist you will "see" if you follow the principles elaborated by Betty Edwards in "The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain." In taking 30 minutes or more to do a contour drawing of your hand you will really see the detail in your hand. Photographers and artists will often study a scene carefully before raising the camera to the eye or putting a drawing pen to paper. Photographers also look for unusual angles that provide a different view from eye level. Sometimes when you look at the ground you discover things you don't see at eye level. Henry Luce wrote the manifesto of Life Magazine at its founding as a picture magazine in 1936. In part it read: "To see and take pleasure in seeing To see and be amazed To see and be instructed" Take the time to see.
ten newspaper columns in history and Ernie Pyle's 1944 column “The Death of Captain Waskow ” is number one. The first time I encountered this column was in a special display at the Ernie Pyle Museum in Dana, Indiana. I heard the column read and it brought tears to my eyes. I later read the column. There is a rhythm to his words and the honor accorded Captain Waskow by his men is memorialized by Pyle's words. There is no doubt in my mind that the column deserves the recognition as the best column ever written even topping the 1897 “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” by Francis Pharcellus Church. Note: I made the image of the folding straight razor at the top of this blog in the kitchen of Ernie Pyle's boyhood home in Dana, Indiana. The razor was not necessarily the one used by Pyle's father but was part of the period decoration of the home.Ernie Pyle, the beloved WWII war correspondent, wrote, "The first one came early in the morning. They slid him down from the mule and stood him on his feet for a moment, while they got a new grip. In the half light he might have been merely a sick man standing there, leaning on the others. Then they laid him on the ground in the shadow of the low stone wall alongside the road." The National Society of Newspaper Columnists has named the top
I like simple solutions to long-standing problems. Biting flies are certainly annoying and they do carry diseases. I happened on to the Epps Ultimate Biting Fly Trap because I am now on the email distribution list of AgriSupply where I bought some plastic water-proof manual cases. The manual cases were originally intended to be mounted on farm equipment to hold operating manuals. Motorcyclists also use them to hold extra fuel containers, tool kits and the like. I now have three of them mounted on my motorcycle. The appearance of the fly trap mimics the profile of a farm animal (horse or cow). As the flies circle in for their meal, clear plastic deflectors knock them into ordinary soapy water. The soap breaks the surface tension of the water and the flies drown. The manufacturer claims the trap will drown a pound of flies a day. That's a lot of flies. Of course anything named "Ultimate" should be effective.
Ever heard of a light field camera? Neither had I. Imagine snapping an image without having to focus. Later, with software, you can play with exactly where in the frame you want the focus to be. The Lytro camera is the by-product of a Ph.D. dissertation by Ren Ng. It is due on the market late this year and is apparently to be a point-and-shoot camera, which means it might be afordable. The Lytro website has some images up that you can play with. Explore the focus on the test images. It is an unbelievable experience. Imagine having the freedom to concentrate only on the framing and moment of a picture. Focus can be determined later. Wow!
The Indianapolis Star laid off 62 employees yesterday. Some of them are my personal friends. There is no joy among those who still have jobs at the Star. Readers who don't follow the business of journalism really should. Without having a functioning press, we cannot begin to attempt to have an informed electorate. Corruption would become the standard method of doing business. The established business model of journalism has failed. It relied too heavily on revenue from print advertising. Continue reading
Smize. No it's not a typo; it's a new word for photographic posing. As a photographer who prefers the photojournalism style of shooting (nonposed) the concept of posed pictures is a little foreign to me. But even photojournalists sometimes work with models, particularly on fashion shoots. Beginning photographers sometimes are confused about where to focus the camera. I have always taught my students that the eyes should be the point of focus 99.9 percent of the time. But which eye, inquisitive students ask? "The one closest to the lens," is my standard reply. Tips for "smizing" in the link above really reinforce the importance of eyes in any kind of people picture. A picture of a person that doesn't show the eyes in a prominent way is just a picture of a head. When we see the eyes, we have much more of an impression about that person's personality. The television show "Lie to Me" reinforces the point and there is serious academic research on facial and body expression so that show is not a Hollywood fabrication. For example, research has shown that common facial expressions are pan-cultural. A happy face or one that expresses pain or sadness is pretty much the same in all cultures. Before I had read about "smize" I had never really thought about willfully projecting a feeling through the eyes. I imagine it would take practice. But it is an interesting concept to think about. I wonder if Allen Funt would have ever said, "Smize you're on Candid Camera!"