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Sunday, 07 June 2020


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The pictures of the dog (lemme guess, it's Butters) [No, it's the lab who belongs to the farmer's son's family --MJ] and the silos have been nicely tweaked into monochrome. There is something magical about monochrome images.

They are timeless, do not have the distractions and frustrations of colour, and when imaging people (or even the dog), it brings out their souls.

Dan K.

Couldn’t agree more on “Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section”. In constant rotation on my planet. Another great one is as a duo with pianist George Cables “Tête-à-Tête“. If you like tie-ins, I believe Laurie Pepper was cousins with Eve Babitz, who played chess with Marcel Duchamp in a wonderful if slightly smutty photo by Julian Wasser. A few more degrees of separation and we’ll have Kevin Bacon!

If you want to see an interesting documentary about a photographer who can't deal with choice, watch the Netflix documentary about Platon Antoniou (part of the 1st season of their "Abstract" series).

I didn't know about Platon, even though (with hindsight) I've seen his work everywhere. You'll know what I mean as soon as you do a Google image search....

In the documentary he says he's severely dyslexic, so he can't deal with complexity. His portraits of presidents, celebrities, and unknown folks you'll discover with a quick search were mostly made with the same camera (Hasselblad 553 ELX), same lens (120mm Makro-Planar), same light (Profoto), same films (Porta 160 and TMY 400) and same white or black background. Everyone sits on the same box in his studio.

To see an artist who also needs things to be consistent in his work life, yet produces work of incredible variety, watch the first documentary in the series (Christoph Niemann, an illustrator whose work you're also probably familiar with, if not consciously). Where Platon's pictures are endlessly the same in their design, Niemann's work is endlessly different. The contrast between these two very creative people is delightful.

I like Ned's take. Really like how that almost white cyclone sticks out between the taller silos.

I often wonder if some of the junk photos I threw out couldn't have beeen improved but that I just couldn't figure out how.

I'm not super familiar with Art Pepper but I'd take issue with the idea that he never practoced. It's just not possible. There's no human evolutionary fundamental ability to play music or the saxophone. Perhaps he didn't practice 'as much'. Perhaps he was lying. But you don't just grab a sax, be a genius and get on the bandstand. Not possible.

Certainly playing and practicing are on a spectrum. If he played a gig every night for 10 years, well that's 4 hours of practicing. He's keeping the ball in the air, more or less. But at some point I think every great musician had their instrument in their hands non-stop.

I think it's important because it sets up an unrealistic idea about talent.

Part of my job is editing photos (of property, primarily) before they're reproduced and I find it much easier to work on those than I ever do my own files. It's almost like I know what I want other people's pictures to look like, but not my own.

Incidentally, the band Therapy? had a song called Straight Life on their 1997 album Semi-Detached, inspired by the Art Pepper book.

OK, so you weren't exaggerating. It really is a hill!

Two points:

(1) I also really enjoyed the Netflix documentaries on Elsa Dorfman and Platon (the latter being part of the "Abstract" series, which has plenty of other interesting people)

(2) Lately, I have been reading Hi-Fi gear reviews in search of a new Amp. The Audio Science forum/site strikes me as "pixel-peeping" to the extreme, given how much they are focused on measurements and data. One comment that I read was (paraphrasing): "I was considering the purchase of amplifier NN, until I saw that it had a Slew Rate of only XX volts/microsecond. That's a no-go for me". What really shocked me, though, was the review that you linked to. The reviewer only had the left speaker available for his review. How in the name of (insert favourite deity) does reviewing a single loudspeaker out of a stereo set have any shred of credibility ??

I don't know if it is intentional or not, but that image of Laurie and Art Pepper looks a lot like Adam's image of Georgia o'Keefe and her ranch foreman (IIRC)

I do like both the versions of the silos but each time I look I am distracted by what looks like the dog’s leash (I am a dog person) but is a path. Doesn’t happen with your original.

"I do it: I'll take someone else's JPEG off the internet and post-process it to my liking."

Me too. I have never admitted to doing it before now, but I guess it's just a form of critique.
The ones that can't be fixed though are where they have had the 'Upright Tool' applied but the camera wasn't held square to the subject.

BTW. I really like 'Looking down at my feet'. A good shot.

Sorry to be pedantic, but I think an extra "e" crawled into "judgment" when you weren't looking.

[Either spelling is correct. --Mike the Ed.]

I remember a Michael Connelly Bosch novel in the early aughts having that Art Pepper album playing in the book. Checked it out and have been a big Pepper fan ever since. The Art Pepper West Coast Sessions albums are a real treat for any Art Pepper fan. They were Japanese recordings if I remember correctly, when Pepper either didn't have a record contract or had a dispute. Either way these recordings are excellent.

Looking forward to your GX9 impressions. Time to move on from my GX7, but have been hesitant to replace. The sensor improvement alone is what I am after.

"How in the name of (insert favourite deity) does reviewing a single loudspeaker out of a stereo set have any shred of credibility ??"

You may not be familiar with ASR, but that's not really the review. The review is the graphs produced over hours of measurements with a $100K+ NFS. The subjective review is more of sprinkled sugar on top which you can feel free to ignore if it bothers you.

I do know what you mean about books leading to other books. I've been on a Gore Vidal kick lately, someone I passed over a lot when I was young, probably because he was over my head and I couldn't google his vocabulary and references. Just finished his enjoyable, gossipy memoir, Palimpsest, and then moved on to The Selected Essays, and learned about the author Italo Calvino, and ordered a collection of his short stories, The Complete Cosmicomics, which sound up my ally, recommended by Le Guin.

I would like both pictures much better if the white line entering the dogs nose and exiting the back of his head wasn't there.

Good article.

I do not understand the appeal of these monochrome conversions. They strip all the richness away. The rich greens of leaves and grass in late light are replaced with blah.

It's like biting into my favorite, deep, rich chocolate - and getting a bite of saltine.

Just a data point.

I still prefer color for this subject . . .

I usually refer to your "judgement" as "taste." And I have come to believe that it is THE most important skill or ability. In regards to printing and bw conversion, I have been using a borrowed Leica Monochrome for a couple weeks and absolutely love the tone of the bw that is rendered by this camera. I am trying to discern what part of my attraction is due to the 35 and 50mm 1.4 lenses vs the 40mp monochrome sensor and the way they have calibrated the tonal range. But either way, it seems to have greatly altered the way I am viewing the conversion process on images from my Sony cameras. I usually use Silver Efx for bw conversion and in the past almost always preferred the Kodak tri-x, plus-x, Ilford HP5 looks. After shooting with the Leica Monochrome, I find myself liking the Scala 200 tone. I'd love to hear your take on what I am liking! The Leica seems to have very little black and white and a huge, smooth range of gray in the middle, particually in skin tones. That's sort of my layman's description.

I use my GX9 mostly for dragonflies and birds. For these I need the focusing spot to be minimized, and at the center. In the field the spot often migrates (thanks to the touch screen). To re-center I simply touch the screen anywhere, then hit the DISP button. (I suspect you know this, from your previous Panasonic experience.)

". . . the spot often migrates (thanks to the touch screen)"

Allan, an innovation in the GX9 is the ability to keep touch operations on for other uses while turning off "touch focus". This is a game changer for me, compared to GX7, 8, 80/85.

How to do it is not intuitive, perhaps even obscure:

In the [Custom] Menu ("C" in front of wrench), set 'Touch Settings' and 'Touch Tab' to "ON" [Manual p 213]

The next two settings, 'Touch AF' and 'Touch Pad AF' may be whatever you like, and will be turned on/off elsewhere.

Now, pant, pant, out of the menu, touch the middle tab on the right of the screen "<", then touch the icon of a hand with index finger sticking out. It cycles through three settings. When it is accompanied with a big "X", Touch AF and Shutter operations are off. Hooray! [Manual p 53]

I hope that helps!

I think the subject looking at the wrong direction and the line behind him is too distracting. Then I find the original color one (but cannot comment). I think the photo would crop him out ;-( and in stead concentrate on the tree. If would be a good 8x10 pic for Ansel kind of pic.

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