2019 – UPDATING THE WEBSITE…PUBLISHING A BOOK……
It’s February now, and I’m feeling a bit anxious about upgrading my website from a Flash-based format to a WordPress-based one. I hoped it would be easy, but it hasn’t been. My web-guru has been working to ensure things function properly, and I have partnered with a local custom printing service (Gango Custom Printing, www.GangoCustomPrinting.com in Portland, Oregon) to provide professional printing+mounting+matting+framing for potential customers. We’ll see how all this works, once it’s up-and-running.
The book about to be published is a new English translation of the ancient Chinese wisdom-metaphors called DaoDeJing. These metaphors have been a source of inspiration for me for more time than I can recall. Actually, the inspiration has been largely subliminal, not always overtly explicit. When I look back on my 50+years of shooting, and browse my portfolio, I see that I have been “trying-to-see” the “unseeable,” a foundation of DaoDeJing. That’s not immodesty, that’s “becoming-humble” in a very real sense, 不敢𤔡天下先 (bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān: not trying to become the “best” in the world).
The book became a labor-of-love, and lured my creativity for many years in its making. Now, within the next few weeks, it should appear in-print, with more than 50+images from 50+years of photography, helping me “see’ myself in perspective….an ever-changing perspective. I hope you enjoy reading-viewing-experiencing these ancient wisdom-metaphors and images, as I have enjoyed their unfolding together.
2017-2018 – WINTER
The winter of 2017-2018 proved to offer some great special-weather shooting…cold, but with innovative lighting, and rare (for the American Pacific Northwest) subject compositions. I had recently upgraded my Leaf Aptus MFDB to a Credo-60, plus I had the great good fortune of trading my Hassy Flexbody for a Silvestri Flexicam. That was one wondrous trade!
The Silvestri allows me to use full “camera movements,” where the Flexbody allowed only tilt+rise/fall. Also, with the Silvestri, I can use a sliding-back adapter, and never have to remove the MFDB from the camera to expose a frame. In changeable weather conditions, this is a real benefit!
My productivity that winter was a joy! It’s lots of work, but be not deterred! “Camera-movements” broaden your range of skills, even considering the (relatively) smaller size of the digital sensor compared with 4×5 sheet film. Once you become comfortable with these “movements,” they open doors to your creativity you can’t reach otherwise. Computer software does NOT approach what the actual optics produce. Be assured!
That doesn’t mean I no longer that the Sinar P-2 on-location. It’s just that having the Silvestri in my pack, means I can move a bit faster, and dodge bad weather more easily!
2017 – SOLAR ECLIPSE……!!!
I had never photographed a solar-eclipse before, so the whole thing was one huge learning-experience! The “Totality” encompassed our small farm and an adjacent swath about 20-miles wide. But what did I know about “solar-filters”…..???…..(much like a welding-helmet filter, but much stronger, using higher quality glass). And plotting the AOV (Angle-of-View) for the duration of the sequence (over 2+hours!)…..???…..and remembering that right-in-the-middle of it all…there will be 2-minutes of fast-moving near-total darkness….??? But…I always carry a small flashlight in my pocket…so not-to-worry. Right?
Friends from miles-around came for an overnight stay, and another pro-shooter from Portland was one of the gathered-souls. We ate, drank, laughed…and scouted our vistas for the morrow, setting-up tripods for the morning shoot. Lots of excitement!
I used an intervalometer to ease the boring stuff like “timed” images during the initial (and final) sequences….but I was relying on my innate manual skills to capture a variety of time-values for the complete eclipse portion of the event. Everything was going according to plan! Until…I reached into my pocket for my trusty-dusty mini-light…and then….!!…I remembered loaning it to one of the city-campers who need it last night to find their tent after the evening party!
I had no way to read (and quickly adjust…) my exposure-settings in the dark! I moaned!
Luckily, pro-shooter buddy Mike called to me in the fast-descending dark…and tossed me an extra headlamp he had in his pack. In the dark…he tossed it! OMG…what If it crashed somewhere out of my grasp? But…..luck-being-luck…I managed to catch it…and using it, continued shooting…missing only about 15-seonds of that precious 2-minutes of once-in-a-lifetime exposures!
My heart raced for days after that close-call!
How could so much good planning…be blasted by such damnable bad-luck?
The end-results were worth the effort, and Mike and I both felt we shared a memorable time in the pleasurable presence of some fine-folk, during an auspicious natural event.
2015 – REALITY STRIKING…..
As far as photography, things seem to trundle-along smoothly. The Bright-Tank Gallery idea was both enlightening and exhausting. If anyone tries to sing-a-song of sweetness-n-light about the work a Gallery demands…..be sure they’re humming on-key! My shooter-buddy Ted and I worked our butts-off. And we had lots-n-lots of fun in the doing. We were able to engage photo-artists from a wide geography (Oregon & Washington State), representing a large swath of creativity in the photo-world. We even made sales, too!
Our Gallery was situated in a nice little side-room of a local restaurant, and the room was used by numerous civic groups during the month; service-clubs, hospital-auxiliary, school-groups, etc. So our monthly show received good exposure, for fixed periods of time. And, there were walk-ins, and drive-byes as well, of course. The part that was very stimulating for the two of us, in addition to the photo-creativity of our own material, was meeting, and then helping other artists present their work to the public. It was great fun…with food-n-brews right there in the midst of things!
After a couple years, my health began to decline, and Ted agreed to continue on his own, conscripting outside help as needed. There’s a lot of work to mounting and dismounting a show! Don’t be discouraged! It’s a creative act deciding which pieces fit-together in what-formatting. But.…it IS work…and lots of it!
After plying the skies solo for a while, ted tied to enlist others from local photo-groups to engage, and take some responsibility and initiative. Again…remember…it’s a lot of hard work! So gradually, as the enthusiasm waned, so did the quality of the shows, and the viewership as well. Management of the restaurant that hosted us began to unravel…and our fabric finally tore.
Now, we have wonderful memories of energies-devoted….new friends-found….and a couple years of experience under our belts!
Onward…Upward…toward bigger and better imaginings!
2013 – UPDATING
It’s been too long since last I updated….!!…so here is a shotgun blast of news.
One of my 2011 dreams was to help establish a collaborative fine-art photo gallery, here in Silverton. Well, The Bright-Tank Gallery is now almost 1-year old, although the players are different than first-imagined (www.FaceBook.com/BrightTankGallery). My pro-shooter buddy Ted Miller and I finally managed to convince the owners of the local brew-pub-restaurant that devoting some special space to our work would benefit both their business, and our business.
After a couple months of learning the ropes, we decided to share the wealth, and invite “Guest Artists” to hang their work for a month at a time. We’ve had some very memorable shows! It’s really interesting to encounter the separation from the “sheep-and-the-goats” in terms of who really IS interested…and who really CAN present their work professionally. It’s been a steep learning experience, for all of us.
Opportunities continue to evolve, and meeting-sharing with other photog-friends is definitely rewarding. Lots of work, but good fun too! Don’t let anyone fool you: having a formal Gallery is one hellova lot of hard-sweaty work!
Since I last wrote, I’ve managed to schedule and shoot two coastal photo-safaris, each netting over 100-images of saleable quality. Some of these you can see now on the website. Others will be emerging. It’s been a struggle, since I have also experienced some serious health issues, which limited my endurance, and my physical range for hauling 50-pounds of gear up-and-down trails-n-dunes. But I’m keeping at-it! Let me know what you think of the new images.
In our profession lately, there has been lots of band-width devoted to the “back-to-film” movement, and I want to pay some lip-service to it as well. I spent 40+years shooting film before shooting digital, and in my opinion there is no “back-to” in the current movement….there is just “still-is”…if you know what I mean. I’ve compared “digital” to just being like any one of the particular films we shot in earlier permutations of our careers. Of those films (and of digital…) we ask ourselves…..how does it work??….how does it look??……what are its advantages/disadvantages??…etc. It’s just like comparing all the film-types-manufacturers, and making a particular choice. It’s all part of the creative selection-process: we choose what works best for us in specific situations. We try it. We adjust it. We adapt to it.
So as the blog-waves increase in number and intensity…don’t get lost in the debate-babble. Keep your bearings. There is no “better-best” to be argued over…it’s just a personal decision about what works better-best for you in a particular setting, for your particular purposes. And that will keep changing. Guaranteed!
In 2014, I’m hoping to see more improvements in my own evolving style. My work illustrating the DaoDeJing is helping with that. I’m aware that my style, over 50+years of shooting, has had various “appearances”….but the one which has endured, is the “Dao-Look” in my images. Hence, the professional name of my work, “SeeingTao.” (As an editorial note, it doesn’t matter whether you write “Tao” or “Dao”…phonetically they are equivalent, and the “T” fits the logo better than the “D,” so that’s how it happened!) Some of the current images will appear in the book in monochrome, to fit the spare style of the writing. Can you guess which ones? I’m working on selecting images now, so if you have hints or suggestions, let me know!
2012 – DREAMING
The digital world of our art medium changes so quickly, that anyone who tells you they are “on top of it” is being less than forthright with you. That said, each of us must find our own way. It’s not easy! We muddle….we fumble….we grovel & groan. But…above all…we learn. Some of my plans for 2012 are based on the learning I experienced in 2011. Read some of the highlights in the “2011 – Reflecting” section below, and you will begin to grasp the issues involved.
One of my admiring-inspiring foci has been the work and writings of Alain Briot (www.BeautifulLandscape.com). In his “Artist’s Statement” for 2011 he deftly outlines some of the struggles we all are experiencing in this field (http://www.beautiful-landscape.com/Artist-Statement.html). In this piece, Alain presents a variety of forces present in the digital-film worlds, and how he deals with them.
This year I hope to deal with some of those forces in new ways. One of those is to exhibit more. Print large…and see what there is to see. A large print can be amazing in its impact. It is also a “truth-teller.” It tells the “truth” about what the photographer was trying to do-see-share. When it “works”…it provides an intense learning experience. When it does NOT “work”…well….I have to struggle to “learn!” Such is the creating life….
I want to thank my good friend and pro-shooter companion, Ted Miller (www.trm-photo.smugmug.com). He contributed the photo you see this year. Yes, we’re (all) getting older. Some of us are having a tougher time with that than others. I don’t pack all my camera gear around as easily anymore. Ted is young and strong…but he shames me into packing my own stuff still. I can only hope….
One of the 3-year horizon projects I have is translating, and (of course!) illustrating the DaoDeJing. Many of you will already know my work in Process Philosophy, and so will recognize the foundational connections. I am working directly with a Chinese scholar, Meijun Fan, Ph.D., living here in the USofA, and she’s keeping me strictly honest in my work! We are about 25% complete in our efforts, and we hope to present a paper at an international conference in 2015. We have a lot of work to do….so we’re devoting significant amounts of time each week working toward completion. That limits my time available for SeeingTao photographically…but…I’m managing …so far!
And finally (at least for now…!), another friend, Barry Shapiro, and I are hoping to congeal a wild idea about forming a cooperative photography gallery right here in picturesque Silverton, Oregon. This is a very artistic-intense area, with several hubs of creative activity including galleries, co-ops, associations, and such. For now, it’s just a warm idea. We’re hoping to incubate it to hatching! I’ll keep you posted as the process unfolds.
I’ll try to add more news on a regular basis…let’s hope I make good on the intending!
2011 – REFLECTING
2011 has been a year of admiring-inspiring. Through many permutations of my personal expressiveness, I have been greatly influenced by admiring the work and vision of various other creative souls. Sharing their work with you is like taking a vacation, of sorts. A vacation into new lands…new ways of seeing…new senses of valuing.
I’d like to thank my friend Don Boyd (www.DonBoyd.net) for productive and helpful criticism about my website. Don, largely thanks to his input compounded with the input from others, led me to explore new ways of sharing my work with my fellow travelers on the way of SeeingTao
There are many souls to introduce…and I will share their visioning with you, largely in no particular order, but beginning with someone who has a far-reaching influence on many photographers these days, Quan Tran Luong (www.TerraGalleria.com). QT initiated the Large Format Forum (www.LargeFormatPhotography.info), which abounds in wide-ranging stimuli of all dimensions. QT himself is a stunning creative soul, and through his website and email exchanges, has been a mentor to me this past year.
Where to go next? In this country there is the super-luminary Charles Cramer (www.CharlesCramer.com) who sits astride the glorious 20th Century traditions of Adams, Porter, Weston (Ed, son Brett, and granddaughter Cara…who has become a personal friend over several years www.CaraWestonPhotography.com and whose visioning is uniquely her own….in spite of her luminous heritage!).
In the same voice as Cramer, there is John Sexton (www.JohnSexton.com), trafficking in the mid-California zones so familiar to Adams and Weston. He partners with Cramer for a totally mind-blowing combination of extra-terrestrial experiencing. Stephen Wilkes (www.StephenWilkes.com), Danny Burk (www.DannyBurk.com), the uniquely incomparable Bill Atkinson (www.BillAtkinson.com), and of course, Mark Dubovoy (www.Dubovoyphoto.com) are an amazing continuing source of admiring-inspiring for me. Visit their websites. Expose yourself to their imagining…SeeingTao in their own spectacular individual ways.
Across The Pond, there is a fast-paced movement in action, spearheaded by the likes of wildly imaginative Tim Parkin (www.TimParkin.co.uk) and the stalwart likes of Joe Cornish (www.JoeCornishGallery.co.uk), Dav Thomas (www.PeakLandscapes.com), and Simon Miles (www.SimonMilesPhotography.co.uk who has become a personal friend of mine). These chaps are rocketing into hyperspace, no-holds-barred! And I’m dragging along with them the best I can. At Tim’s energetic guidance, that formidable island rag, Great British Landscapes (now just recently renamed, “On Landscape” www.OnLandscape.co.uk) is re-establishing itself as a formidable force in the overall creative equation.
Now some of you may ask me…Why such a focus on landscapes, when most of my work is elsewhere? Great question! The answer is simple really…creativity! Some of these guys also work closely along my own lines (QT, Cara Weston, Atkinson, Miles, Wilkes, Cramer to a certain extent), but ALL of them manifest different forms of creating that appeal to my own sensibilities. I have learned from them all.
And so I’d like to turn close to home, yet still in the American West…the amazing lands that have lured so many into intense inspiration and creativity. There are two names with whom some of you may be familiar here in America, but they were new to me. We have shared some email exchanges that have been admiring and inspiring. Mutually. They are Michael Fatali (www.Fatali.com), and Alain Briot (www.BeautifulLandscape.com). Now be forewarned! These guys are truly impressive, handsome hombres. But, do NOT be distracted! It is their CREATIVITY that attracts…NOT their CHARISMA! They are GOOD. And not JUST good. But REALLY good!
Michael is an innate artist. Blessed with some inner sensibilities, he has evoked imaging that truly inspires. Alain, is both natively talented, and also formally trained (he has a Ph.D. in Fine Art from the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris). Visit their sites. Immerse yourself in their unique visioning and imaging. They will become hallmarks of the creativity we call photography.
As a final, slightly different note, I’d like to introduce you to the work of Michael Wood (www.Miksang.org). This group of inspired souls has a vision…and they are pursuing it…and succeeding! Their work is remarkable, and admiring-inspiring all at the same time. My work has a lot in common with their creating, and I anticipate we’ll do more sharing this year.
So, you see…2011 has indeed been an admiring-inspiring year for me. I have expanded my own repertoire. I have expanded my own horizons. As the digital world swirls around us, we need all the anchoring we can find, to avoid losing our bearings in this creative endeavor. Each will find their bearings in differing sources. Here, I have tried to summarize some of my own anchorings…..