Odds and Ends

wire

I’m kind of in a funk right now with life in general and (especially for the purposes of this blog) my photography and in a wider sense the whole medium of photography.

I always have a love-hate relationship with my work. Some days I look at the images on my walls or on my monitor and I think, “These aren’t too shabby – maybe I’m getting the hang of this”, but the next day I look again and think, “Time to give it up dude – this stuff is just way bad”.

One of these emotions would be good about now. Instead I’m just disinterested – well maybe not disinterested really, I’m still very interested in photographic imagery – more like discouraged? tired? dissatisfied? gripped with a feeling of ennui? I don’t know.

ramp

I look at a lot of photos – I go to shows, surf the web, and read books. Nothing is really holding my interest these days. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I know I’m not seeing it.

Going back to the “old” masters helps some – Adams, Weston, Steichen, Horst, Link, Penn, Cartier-Bresson, etc.

I just pulled up Flickr. It tells me that over 6000 images were uploaded in the last minute. Yikes!

Photography started out as a technological novelty. It took many many years to gain enough respect to be considered an art form. Has digital technology overwhelmed the artistry so that photography is once again just a novelty?

Maybe there is a dividing line in the photography world. Maybe it has always been there.

Some of the hottest trends in digital camera features for the $3,500 and lower range are HD video, photo sharing technology, in camera image manipulation, sound recording, auto-focus, and even 3D photography.

vents

On the other hand, ads for medium format digital cameras in the $10,000 and up range still tout image quality and true color rendition as major features. Someday I’ll win the lottery and be able to afford one.

I don’t really know what this post is about – just some random thoughts about photography that are running around in my brain right now. I promise that I’ll do something better next time.

MDW

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6 Responses to “Odds and Ends”

  1. Cutthroat Stalker (Scott) Says:

    FR,

    That’s interesting, your funk. I find I’m very cyclic in my interests, with some major down time between. I’ll get really gung-ho about something, tend to bleed it dry, then wander aimlessly for a few weeks or so, then swing back into something else quite heavily. So I certainly understand what you’re going through. Keep looking at stuff, something will come to you.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hi Mark,
    These photos are thrilling! Really! you must be in a funk, not to like these ones. Of course, I love it when a photographer gets all the abstract parts of the composition right – with everyday objects that others might just pass by without looking. These are superb.

    Your mood may only be the winter blahs. I’ve been going through some myself – some family stuff that is heavy on the shoulders, and then it wipes out my desire and ability to do art work. And when it rains like it does here, I don’t even want to go out to get my daily walk.
    One cure is a daylight spectrum lighting in one’s work space. It gives the impression that there might even be some sunshine one day. We’ve see very few sunny days here.
    I, too, can get discouraged when you see all the work that is out there on the web and in commercial or other venues. There are some especially wonderful photographers out there, and then there is the ho-hum stuff, but we all get to post it and let others see.
    And that’s a good thing, because I live so far away from where you are and yet I can enjoy your photography and converse with you over photographic or artistic matters. That’s an amazing thing, that we would never have done even ten years ago.
    A humanistic astrologer friend of mine explained life cycles this way – there is a seeding time, a growing time, a reaping time and a laying fallow. These cycles take seven years each, she told me, and generally, I’ve found that my life has fit into this pattern.
    In artistic development or activity, I find the same pattern emerges. We have a time of exploring; of enriching the seed idea end exploring it creatively; then we reap the benefits of the time we put into it – our growing technical ability has given us a facility with whatever it is we are doing, the images look way better, come more easily; the reaping time may even include showing and profiting from one’s work – gaining recognition and stature in one’s work.
    Lastly there is the laying fallow time.

    As in agriculture, in art (including creative photography) there is sometimes a need to regroup, gather forces, rest, leaving the senses still alert, but not necessarily doing anything with them. It’s a time of refreshing the nutrients in our being. Are you perhaps in that stage when you have produced a fine body of work and now it’s time for some R&R from it?
    Knowing about these natural cycles in our development and our work has made it easier for me to go through a funk period; to realize that it too will pass; to realize that it may just be the time to be quiet, to absorb, to think and evaluate before a new series or direction comes up.
    Anyway, I hope you are out of it soon.
    And if you had said nothing about the funk, I would have thought you were moving in a new direction with these photos. Maybe you are!
    I think they are most interesting.
    K

  3. forestrat Says:

    Thanks for the encouragement you guys! I’m feeling better already.

    I really do go through periods of loving everything I do and then periods of hating everything I do all the time. I’m used to that cycle.

    My current malaise is probably a bit of seasonal affective disorder – it is pretty gloomy around here all winter. I need to get outside more. Plus my day job is no fun anymore since our nice small agile innovative company got bought out by a huge sterile corporation and I have been reduced to a Dilbert-esque cubical drone while I wait for the final axe to fall.

    I don’t know about a new direction in my photography. If it is, it isn’t a conscious thing. However I have noticed that I’m taking a lot more black and white photos in the last few months. I have always struggled with black and white, but now I find my camera set on monochrome more often than not. Weird.

    I was down at another Erie Canal lock taking night shots the other evening. I’ll post them here soon. More b&w abstracts.

    Thanks again.

    MDW

  4. fencer Says:

    Hi forestrat,

    Yes, these are great photos… you are able to impart a mood, a sense of presence to even these “ordinary” things. That’s talent and craft, perceptiveness and passion.

    But sometimes, even all that doesn’t lift your heart, and you have to endure for a time…

    Looking forward to seeing your next photos!

    Regards

  5. flandrumhill Says:

    Years ago, the photography course I took while studying fine art only involved B&W. After a full year of taking a huge number of B&W photos, developing them myself and editing them in a dark room, color photos seemed cheap and void of personality. That wire image at top reveals more character than many color photos I’ve seen of people. It’s not easy to do that.

    Everyone needs some form of expression, whether physical, verbal or creative. I think a time of reflection is also needed in order for that expression to be the best we can offer of ourselves and our ideas. Maybe funk time is just reflection time that’s needed at this point in your life.

    • forestrat Says:

      Ah, the darkroom; I miss the smell of a fresh roll of film and the wonder of watching an image appear out of the depths of the developing tray. On the other hand, I don’t miss the mole-like hours spent in the dark and the itchy skin that some of the chemicals gave me.

      I agree that color photos are often of lesser quality than black and white – not because color is bad in itself, but because including lots of bright colors can overwhelm other factors. It’s easy to subconsciously get caught up in all the pretty colors and forget to create a photo with depth.

      I’m glad that after years of struggle, I am finally starting to create a few decent b&w images. Photography isn’t always as easy as it seems.

      I think some subjects just have to be in color since the interplay of hues is the essence of the scene so I love being able to switch modes on my digital camera rather than being stuck with whatever film I have loaded or needing to carry two cameras.

      Taking a little time to reflect will be good for me. I got a Sumi-e kit for Christmas and I’m going to give it a try. I expect it will be a total disaster, but I think it will provide some new perspectives.

      MDW

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