March 29, 2016

Oh, hey, it’s The Oh Hellos…

After wandering thru Warhol-ville, we picked up College Kid at his workplace (library) and headed down to all the Spring Concert festivities.

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The dudes were pretty stoked to see the Postcards food truck.  We saw them on the Great Food Truck Race.  And just like on the show, we couldn’t buy anything from them at opening time, because they weren’t open yet.  Hey, it takes time to create good soul flavor!!

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After Little Dude’s tummy was filled with good eats, he graciously agreed to ride the ferris wheel with me.

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It was a pretty spectacular view all the way around.  Little Dude was totally white-knuckling that bar, tho.

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Us the Duo? … they were pretty much completely darling.

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And The Oh Hellos? … THEY WERE FABULOUS!

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Neato day.

March 28, 2016

Andy Warhol

Few people on are the fence in their regard – or disregard – for Andy Warhol.  But whether you love his art, loathe his art, or are lackluster about his art, the fact remains that he is arguably America’s best-known artist and [also arguably] considered to be one of the two most influential artists, along with Picasso, of the 20th century.  Those are pretty big claims.  Pepperdine’s Weisman Museum currently has an exhibit of his work, so we braved the stoopid LA traffic …

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This particular article breaks down some of the reasons why Warhol matters.  I appreciated this quote that expands on the idea that Warhol’s oeuvre is a significant documentation of the history of the second half of the twentieth century:

Warhol’s art is itself like a March of Time newsreel, an abbreviated visual anthology of the most conspicuous headlines, personalities, mythic creatures, edibles, tragedies, artworks, even ecological problems of recent decades. If nothing were to remain of the years from 1962 to 1987 but a Warhol retrospective, future historians and archaeologists would have a fuller time capsule to work with than that offered by any other artist of the period. With infinitely more speed and wallop than a complete run of the New York Times on microfilm, or even twenty-five leather bound years of Time magazine (for which he did several covers), Warhol’s work provides an instantly intelligible chronicle of what mattered most to people, from the suicide of Marilyn Monroe to the ascendancy of Red China, as well as endless grist for the mills of cultural speculation about issues ranging from post-Hiroshima attitudes towards death and disaster to the accelerating threat of mechanized, multiple-image reproduction to our still-clinging, old-fashioned faith (both commercial and aesthetic) in handmade, unique originals.” ~Robert Rosenblum, art historian

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“"Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art," Andy Warhol famously said. "Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art."  Some people applaud his capitalistic focus and others condemn his art as mere commercialism.  Good article discussing this dichotomy.

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I enjoyed the exhibit.  Other Kellers were perhaps a little less (or a LOT less) enthusiastic.  But we all unanimously agreed that what followed – time with College Kid, food trucks, and concerts by Wilson Howard (student) and Us the Duo and The Oh Hellos – was pretty fantastic.

March 27, 2016

The Cross. Jesus. New Life.

… ”Over the course of three years, the disciples had heard Jesus teach on a variety of subjects, including love. But Jesus never spoke of love the way he did the night before he went to the cross (once Judas had left). He mentioned “love” more than thirty times that night — the Father’s love for him, his love for the Father, even the world’s brand of love. Yet, I imagine what rang, especially in the disciples’ hearts, were his words about love concerning those present among them.
Jesus made love personal, saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). Amid bickering and betrayal, relationship moved front and center. The disciples were about to experience sorrow they’d never known. They were about to be tested as never before. They needed one another. They needed to love one another. And their love would serve as a witness to a watching world that they were his disciples (John 13:35).
But once again, Jesus was not merely teaching. He was expressing the love he felt for them. “ . . . as I have loved you . . . ” No doubt, they knew that Jesus loved them. But this is the first time, as recorded in the Gospels, that Jesus openly expressed it. And he didn’t say it just once.
  • “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9)
  • “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
What a comfort to hearts filling with sorrow as Jesus spoke of leaving. Though he would be physically gone and though they couldn’t follow him, they could abide in his love.
And then he said this: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13–14).”  … Kim Cash Tate

“We often hear the phrase, “the crux of the matter” or “the crux of a situation.” The word “crux” comes from Medieval Latin, and simply means cross. Why has the word “crux” come to be associated with a critical juncture or point in time? Because the Cross of Christ is truly the crux of history. Without the Cross, history itself cannot be defined or corrected.
There is another word we often hear when we are in the throes of indescribable pain, the word, “excruciating.” That, too, derives from the Latin and means “out of the cross.” Across time and human experience, the historical event of the Cross intersects time and space and speaks to the deepest hurts of the human heart.
But we live with more than pain and suffering. We also live with deep hungers within the human heart, such as the hunger for truth, for justice, forgiveness, and peace. As I see it, there is only one place in the world where these hungers converge: it is in the Cross of Christ, where perfect peace and perfect justice became united in one death on a Friday afternoon.”  … Ravi Zacharias

”I keep seeing this image. It’s of the disciples, and Jesus’s mother, Mary, weeping at the foot of the cross. They are huddled together, trying to comfort each other. Trying to make sense of all that has happened. But it just doesn’t make sense.
‘The sky is black. All hope looks lost. Their dreams have died. It seems that nothing good will ever come from this.
‘To them, this day, Good Friday, is the darkest day they’ve ever known.
‘But the one thing that they do not know is . . . Easter is coming.’” … Vaneetha Rendall Risner

"I'm trying not to skip ahead to Easter. I'm trying, these two days, to sit in the grace of the stripped altar and enter imaginatively into the place of the disciples [and Jesus's mother], who only knew that their Lord had died, not that he would rise again.  Flannery O'Connor's stories are a help in that regard. Her characters suffer and boast and finagle their way through a broken world, unaware that grace is streaking silently toward them like a meteor that will throw everything off balance." ... Jonathan Rogers

“Jesus was dead and buried, with a big stone rolled against the tomb, and the Pharisees came to Pilate to ask for permission to seal the stone and guard the tomb. Pilate responded, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can” (Matthew 27:65). So they did.
They gave it their best shot — in vain.
It was hopeless then, it is hopeless today, and it will always be hopeless. Try as they may, people can’t keep Jesus down. They can’t keep him buried. They may use physical force or academic scorn or media blackout or political harassment or religious caricature. For a season, they will think the tomb is finally sealed. But it never works. He breaks out.
It’s not hard to figure out: He can break out because he wasn’t forced in. He lets himself be libeled and harassed and black-balled and scorned and shoved around and killed.
I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. (John 10:17–18)
No one can keep him down because no one ever knocked him down. He lay down when he was ready.
China may have been “closed” for forty years to Western missionaries, and it’s not because Jesus slipped and fell into the tomb. He stepped in. And when it was sealed over, he saved fifty million Chinese from inside — without Western missionaries. And when it was time, he pushed the stone away so we could see what he had done. …

For twenty centuries, the world has given it their best shot — in vain. They can’t bury him. They can’t hold him in. They can’t silence him or limit him.
Jesus is alive and utterly free to go and come wherever he pleases. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). All things were made through him and for him, and he is absolutely supreme over all other powers (Colossians 1:16–17).”  … John Piper
… ”But the old creation is to limp along a little longer, while they believe that the new creation is already here and walk by faith. They must not doubt though their mortal eyes cannot apprehend this new creation. By faith they must participate in it. They must live in the faith that the curse has already been repealed. That death itself has already been conquered. That though they go down to the grave - that this means nothing.
But they shall be raised again in glory - like their saviour. And their eyes shall see him and not another. Even as their outward man - which still partakes of the old world - is passing away, they must understand that the inner man now partakes of the glory and the power of the resurrected Christ. And is being renewed daily in this new creation. And one day, though their outward man has gone down to the dust, yet he shall come up again as well. Christ is the firstfruits of that great harvest.
So Jesus gives them an assurance, though he does not appear in the eyes of the world as a king, yet all authority, all power—in heaven and on earth—has been given to him. Though they do not see him sitting on his judgment throne condemning those who crucified him—though they do not see him with a visible crown or a visible kingdom—still he tells them, ‘I have all authority and power. My reign begins now. My kingdom is here.’" … The Whole Story as preached by Bill Baldwin

March 24, 2016

Lessons from the Masters: Helen Levitt


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How delightful and humorous is this image captured by New York street photographer Helen Levitt? I love what her friend James Agee wrote about her and her photographic style ...

"In every other art which draws directly on the actual world, the actual is transformed by the artist's creative intelligence, into a new and different kind of reality: aesthetic reality. In the kind of photography we are talking about here, the actual is not at all transformed; it is reflected and recorded, within the limits of the camera, with all possible accuracy. The artist's task is not to alter the world as the eye sees it into a world of aesthetic reality, but to perceive the aesthetic reality within the actual world, and to make an undisturbed and faithful record of the instant in which this movement of creativeness achieves its most expressive crystallization."

Not altering reality to bring aesthetic to it. But actually, truly, seeing & perceiving the aesthetic beauty within the world just as it is. Hands down, this is my heart's desire for every session I'm commissioned for and for my documentation of my own family.

March 23, 2016

The end of Galaxy-ography …

My long-standing relationship with my Galaxy S3 has come to an end.  It has now passed on to Little Dude for some serious Solitaire play.  These are the last of my Galaxy-ography:

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Big Dude moved on to an LG G4 and because of big discounting (BOGO half off, yada), I got one, too.  Two months later, I’m still a little conflicted about it.  Some things about the LG camera are fantastic:  the macro ability, manual settings, low light capability (my S3 simply couldn’t take pictures in low light, at all), HDR function, and selfie camera with built-in photoshop botox (of course, I’ll never use that, snort).  Some things are not so fantastic: the controls are cumbersome, no exposure adjustment for video, and there’s a significant delay after hitting the shutter (or saying “cheese”).  That said, here is the first of my LG-ography series…


March 17, 2016

Lessons from the Masters: Sam Abell

This book + this fabulous 2 hour lecture = GOLD.  Insightful, interesting stories about the creation (creative process) of images.  Sam Abell tells a good story.  And debunks a good many myths.  And learning about his process inspires me to be more intentional about my own process.  

Some notes from his lecture ...

re: Train photo, taken at age 14. Submitted to canon contest. Wanted to win whole shebang.  Instead won $15 honorable mention prize in junior category.  Only printed – in his basement darkroom, which was only truly dark at nighttime – 3 copies.  Just sold last print. 

Shoots full-frame [digital now] only, full uncropped image, aims for sooc-uncropped, just as he did when shooting analog.  Inspired by, of course, Henri Cartier Bresson.   Likes to shoot with two bodies, 1 with a 28mm lens, 1 with 90mm = his walkaround “kit”.  Uses 90% of time.  Shoots without flash.  Sometimes with tripod, usually without.

[Now iconic] Train picture of his dad – Dad gave him his rolleicord camera, told him to compose the picture and wait.  Recommended low angle, leading lines.  His dad also told him “bad weather makes good pictures.”  :-D

His dad taught him how to photograph.  His mom taught him what to photograph.

Composing from “the back” (the horizon, the environment, the geography), inhabiting “the front”, heads & shoulders belong above the horizon.  Student in Abell’s class summarizing main point [humorously]:  “nothing touches”.   (the “articulation of space”)

3’, 4’, 5’ of height makes everything look better (being able to get above your scene/subject)

Macro composition (all that’s in your frame, edge to edge, the whole enchilada) vs. micro composition (the specific articulation of space, compose & wait, NOTHING TOUCHES – ha!)

One of Abell’s defining features … a strong horizon line.  (ie in his window/kremlin photo, dropping out the kremlin background by rising higher, thus catching cement sill of building=strong dividing horizon line, and finally ending with strong window frame line as horizon, and bringing waving-in-the-wind curtain back in.   took 12 hours to create final image)

OMGosh!!!  Sam Abell shoots Canon full-frame in “P” mode with +/- wheel.  Uses lcd on back to determine if he’s happy with image AS IS (no plans to photoshop).  He then laughs and says Canon doesn’t want him to tell people this.

Internal framing goal:  linking still life to landscape

Compose (the “macro” part:  looking edge to edge, whole setting, back to front, separation of layers,  internal framing?, looking thru surfaces?). Wait. (for a blue umbrella, a dog & Frisbee, a bison, wind on albino peacock feathers, a horse whinnying …).  Adjust (the “micro” part: a gesture, expression, lining everything up, and as one student summarized: NOTHING TOUCHES).   Shooting on “P”.  Not cropping.  Not using Photoshop.  Sam calls this a church of photography – one where very, very few people are in the pews, and he’s afraid to turn around and look lest he finds he’s the only one in the pews.

Not from the book or lecture, but a recent shift in focus....
His epiphany, resulting in his current project:

March 16, 2016

Composition Tips for Square Format Photography


Square aspect ratio in photography is not a new thing. Rollei created the first square format camera way back in 1929. Hasselblad, Holga, Polaroid, Kodak and others followed with their own versions of square format cameras. And yet, despite this established history, square format photography is relatively new to *me*. As an enthusiastic wide-angle, big-landscape photographer, I’m always naturally attempting to fit as much beauty as possible in every frame. Bigger, wider. Cropping? No way. Square format didn’t hit me over the head until 2012, when I fell in love with Instagram. And was “forced” to fill my grid with squares. Until I became enamored with squares. And decided that even if I could use a horizontal or vertical images, I would choose instead to be a “purist” and use ONLY squares.

So what have I discovered in two years? Square format is remarkably different than horizontal or vertical (portrait) format. It’s somehow simpler. It’s symmetrical. Your eye “reads” through it in a circular motion, as opposed to side-to-side (horizontal format) or up-and-down (vertical format).
I’ve had to learn a couple new tricks to create stronger square images. The very simplest trick, ironically and surprisingly, is the very hardest for me to embrace and incorporate: putting the subject right smack dab in the middle of the frame.


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This trick is an old friend of mine, and it works just as well in squares as it does in other formats: simplify through using generous amounts of “negative space”, pushing your subject to corners and outer limits …

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Alternatively, simplify by filling the frame … Look to eliminate distractions.

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Diagonals (implied or implicit) have serious impact in square images…

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Leading Lines are pretty swell, too.

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IT’S OK – and totally not boring - TO GO AHEAD AND CENTER YOUR HORIZON
it works nicely with the symmetry of the square. The square gives everything a perfect balance.

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For whatever reason, the strong shape of the square seems to complement and accentuate other shapes within it.

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are, of course, fabulous in any format …

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I hope what I’ve learned in my pursuit of creating stronger square images can in some small way inspire you to create amazing squares!