April 27, 2016

Catalina Canceled.

Our big adventure planned with Big Dude’s parents was a day trip to Catalina Island.  We had our ferry reservations and our island tour reservations, our lunch packed and our camera bags stuffed, our excitement level high.  We arrived at the harbor to discover the ferry was canceled.  Because Wind. 

So we defaulted to Laguna Beach.  Where it was also windy.  We explored the Laguna Art Museum, an art gallery, a couple stores, and the beautiful beach pathway.  It wasn’t Catalina, but it wasn’t a bad alternative.  I love where we live.

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Downstairs was a neat collection of paintings of Los Angeles “City Life” 1930-1950s.  I’m tremendously partial to watercolors.

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And here’s where they waited for me to finish meandering…

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And here’s where they waited for me when I last-minute decided to meander through the gift shop on my way out …

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More waiting.  Look alike much? 

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Hey, Look!  Jesus and Mary are displayed amongst the superheroes…

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Still windy.

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Many new beautiful art installations throughout downtown …

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So, not Catalina.  But not bad.

April 26, 2016

Balboa Park, San Diego

When Big Dude’s parents visit, we go places Smile.  Last time they came, we hit The Getty and The Disney Concert Hall  and Griffith Park all in one day.  And Palm Springs on a different day.   This time we headed to Balboa Park…

What a BEAUTIFUL place to walk around!!  And if we lived nearer, I would be quite happy to go there regularly and walk around.  The historic buildings are lovely and interesting, the plants abundant, the pathways winding, neat neat neat.  What’s not so neat … how expensive everything is.  This is not Washington D.C. and [nearly] every museum is costly to enter. 

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We had pre-chosen to go to the Reuben H Fleet Science Center because we wanted to see the National Parks Adventure in the IMAX Dome Theater.  And you couldn’t go to the movie without buying admission to the Science Center.  See how that works?  oy.  Expensive movie.  The Science Center was just ok (nothing that we hadn’t seen elsewhere) and the movie theater was … disappointing.  You don’t hear me gripe here often (except maybe about traffic?), but this movie was EXPENSIVE.  And the theater (IMAX, Dome) was NOT GOOD.  The film itself was blurry, with “dust spots”, with crazy unattractive fisheye bend effect (and you know me, I have high regard and appetite for fisheye width), and our seats were totally craptastic (way too close for such a large screen).  And did I mention, expensive?!? 

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So anyway, we watched the movie, quickly moved thru the Science stuff, kicked our dissatisfaction to the curb, and headed back out to explore the pretty park. 

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April 16, 2016

To View–or Not to View–the Work of Other Creatives

Original Creation, Study the Masters, Imitation is the Highest Compliment, Imitation is Plagiarism, Copying is Bad, Nothing is Original, Be Original, Don’t Look, LOOK!!   I’ve heard it all.  And often.  And I think there are gems of wisdom throughout the “Photographic Celibacy” (a phrase coined by Cole Thompson that advocates never studying your fellow photographers’ work) Continuum (the “Continuum” is my mashup of the varying philosophies).  To View or Not To View.  Here are the options as I see them through these five articles…

Complete Celibacy:  Cole Thompson*, if it’s important to you to develop your own individual vision, it’s perhaps worth considering NOT viewing/studying/”being-inspired-by” other photographers’ work.  Studying others’ work can make an “imprint” on your conscious and subconscious mind and end up in your own creations.  I appreciated this quote by Cole Thompson:  [at a portfolio review of his own work] “One of the reviewers said that it appeared I was trying to copy Ansel Adams and Edward Weston’s style.  When I responded that I was, because I loved their work, he very bluntly pointed out that Ansel already did Ansel and that no one was going to do it better than Ansel.”

Modified Celibacy:  Sarah Marino*, it’s ok to look and find inspiration, but it matters *when* you choose to look and *when* you choose to avoid.  Sarah Marino’s approach [to her landscape photography]:  “While I still find energy and inspiration in viewing photographs from others, I try to be diligent about not researching a place I am going to visit or am already photographing. By avoiding researching how others have photographed a place, I am able to approach it with awe, wonder, and curiosity rather than spending mental energy trying to keep outside influences at bay.”

Helsinki Bus Station Theory (this is a fantastic analogy, be sure to click thru!) - Arno Rafael Minkkinen*, developing your own creative vision is a journey and you should  “STAY ON THE BUS” to differentiate your work, create your masterpieces, have the “stamp of your unique vision.”

Explore Others’ Work to Extend & Define Our Own - Erin Babnik*, it’s ok standing on the shoulders of giants, just make sure you are contributing and “extending the conversation”, creating *substance* more so than *difference*.  This quote from Erin that I LOVE:  “… burying your head in the sand only cuts off an important avenue for personal development. If we think about existing photographs positively, as foundational elements for all that follows, then we will be more likely to process this visual input in creative ways. We don’t have to try to ‘un-see’ other photographs or fear how they might affect our own work if we embrace the idea that we can ‘own’ our responses to them.”

Binge/Spree/Debauchery(only said here as an antonym of celibacy):  Ugo Cei*, no artist grows in a vacuum, study, immerse yourself, devour, select only inspiration that speaks to your soul and lights a fire, be deliberate, practice and practice and practice more, feed your muse.  Ugo Cei has a great list of “to do” activities that help you do just that.
*each article referred to above is linked; just click on name.

So where do I fall in this spectrum?  Truthfully, at different times I land in different places.  In the beginning, I was all about studying peers I admired.  I’ve gone through periods where I minutely study only my own work and look for the common threads of what makes “my” pictures mine.  I look for my weaknesses.  I look for my strengths.  I then look again at strengths of peers’ work.  More importantly, I study what makes the Masters masters.  I’m all about the Copia.

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Copia is a term of rhetoric that refers to expansive richness and amplification as a stylistic goal; it’s loosely translated from Latin to mean an abundant and ready supply of language – something appropriate to say or write whenever the occasion arises.  Erasmus created a whole theory and wrote an entire book on this concept.   Please forgive my segue here; I promise to tie it all together …My dudes (God bless ‘em) have all been exposed, from the very first days of their education, to writing by imitation.  I did not set them up with a notebook and tell them to freeform diary their thoughts.  Instead, I gave them beautiful sentences to copy.  We studied Aesop’s fables and timeless fairytales and worked our way up to classics of literature and famous essays.  My dudes studied and imitated and paraphrased these masters of writing and rhetoric.  We developed COPIA:  figures of description, figures of speech, simple/compound/complex/compound-complex sentence structure, expansion, contraction, types of paragraphs for essays (encomium, paraphrase, cause, opposite, analogy, examples, testimony, epilogue, confirmation, refutation, comparison).  We played with narrative structures – simple linear, flashbacks, in medias res, end-to-beginning.  All of these pieces of the rhetoric puzzle are “tools in our toolbox” to help us write persuasively and beautifully.  And if Little Dude asks me even one more time WHY he has to incorporate three figures of speech into his narrative … (but I digress…)  Anywhooo.  COPIA.  Tools in my toolbox.  I like to study the excellent elements of excellent artists.  If there’s room to incorporate such excellence into my own creations, I’m all for it.  I want a whole "toolbox" of elements of excellence that I can choose to use or exclude in the making of my images.  And thus, Erasmus, a writer/rhetorician makes it into my post category of "Lessons from the Masters."

And in the spirit of celebrating the development of copia … here is Little Dude in his graphite drawing class, learning from a master, imitating art, all with the goal of stretching/refining/defining his own skills and vision.

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April 13, 2016

Chasing Sunsets…

Two nights in a row, we looked out the windows, guestimated our chances of a spectacular sunset at the beach, and jumped in the car to go find out.


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So, first night:  beach was spectacular, but the sunset?  Not so much.


The beach was downright stormy – super strong winds and crazy waves.  And the sunset?  The Best.

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Big Dude captured some footage for our 1 Second Everyday