Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweeping the Sea

After seeing the Helen Sear show, Chloe and I went to the Randall Scott gallery, also at 111 Front Street, where we met the gallerist who generously showed us some prints by photographer Chris Anthony. Above is my favorite image from that viewing.

I met a young photographer in Russia years ago who had a messier version of this image, titled something like "Babushka Washes the Sea". It showed an typical older Russian woman with wash rag and bucket, cleaning up the sea in a much less wistful manner than the maiden featured here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Helen Sear at Klompching Gallery

I really enjoyed this show of large digitally manipulated photographs that look like embroidered tapestries. When you look at the images up close you can see the digitized edges of the lines, and it is unmistakeable just how stitch-like they are. These flat images have a definite sculptural feeling and look.

Image courtesy Klompching gallery

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Editor to PDN Photo Annual: Fact Check Much?

I'm sorry to report a major disappointment involving PDN's Photo Annual this year. They credited photo editor Molly Roberts at Smithsonian for my robot story with Timothy Archibald that won in the editorial categorey.
I emailed PDN about the error this morning, and requested a correction in the online version, at least. I have not heard back yet.

Update on this- PDN did respond after some additional inquires on my part. John Gimenez apologized graciously and sent me a corrected PDF and corrected the online version.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sharon Core Lecture at Photo Fest

Went to the Sharon Core lecture on Saturday at Photo Festival in DUMBO. The detailed problem solving she does as a part of recreating paintings as photographs is mind boggling. It seems to me that Core must come to occupy the psychological space of the artist's work in an unprecedented and unanticipated way. Core even grows her own antique varieties of vegetables for props, in the case of the Raphael Peale "Early American" series of images she is working on. The rhythms of this kind of work are necessarily slow, timed to the growing season.

I learned that Core trained as a painter, and she uses these skills in her photos, painting in the shadows and the surfaces in the photographs, and then lighting on top of those. Shown here is one from the "Early American" series, a personal favorite because it shows jimpson weed (Datura stramonium), a highly poisonous plant that is also used as a hallucinogen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Me Again

After hearing the comments from friends I decided to go with this image from the Nathaniel Welch shoot instead. It looks a little weird cropped down to thumbnail for the blog, but at least I look lively. Hope you all like this one better. I've changed my mind already a few times, but this should be final. It's nice to know that someone besides myself cares how I present myself in photos! This one is not retouched, either.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shannon Taggart and the Third Hand

Shannon Taggart is a talented photographer who invites chance into her photos as a kind of third hand. These images are digital and the effects were made in real time slow exposures, not in post-production. She recently shot these portraits for me of Harvard professor and string theory math genius Shing-Tung Yau. His work is famous for providing the math for proving multiple hidden dimensions. Shannon was the obvious choice, and I was super happy with the result. We hashed out some ideas for the shoot, and started with the notion of the book and the spaces between the pages being hidden dimensions..

Shannon on her portraits project: "The photographs are focused on deconstructing the posed portrait session. Each sitting involved the introduction of a unique element used to invite a chance occurrence. The photographs are a result of that random component, the person and the space around us coming together in odd unison, merged by the camera in a way that could not be anticipated or repeated. These interactions and their results have been mysterious to me. They seem to render the depiction of the subjects unintentionally."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Very Disturbing Experience

I just had my first, and hopefully ONLY experience of being retouched by a professional. It was wrenching. First, I felt insulted. Why would I want to try and look younger and prettier than I am? Or like I wear a ton of makeup?
Secondly, I was dismayed. This is how I'm supposed to look? I was very happy with the photos, but after seeing the image returned by the retoucher, I saw all my flaws larger than life. I sent it back asking for no retouching on the face, just color correction- those are my flaws, and I'm keeping them, thank you very much.

This shoot of me by Nathaniel Welch was piggybacked on the shoot of the former National Security council chief Robert Clarke at the Discover offices last week. The final select will be used as a headshot on my Visual Science blog. Normally I find being photographed is like eating glass, but the capable Nathaniel made it almost easy. Nathaniel did try to sell me on another lighting set up that I wasn't crazy about by telling me it made me look interesting. So I had to tell him "I AM interesting. I'd rather just look good". I suppose these are some of the benefits of producing your own portrait shoot. He also made good, clean shots of the notably brusque Clarke in just a few minutes. I was impressed, and will definitely be using him again.

Natural History Museum, New York

Yesterday I spent the day on a shoot in the staff only section of the AMNH. I can't think of too many other ways I'd like to spend a day. Photographer Robert Clark was shooting a still life portfolio for me for the upcoming Discover special issue on human origins. We worked with AMNH curators, writers, academics and media relations folks to locate artifacts for the shoot from the vast collection. Much on the fifth floor was beautiful and old, the wooden glass-front cabinets, the script on the artifacts, the lights, the furniture. Big windows look out over the treetops. I held a bone needle in my hand that was considered fairly recent at over 30,000 years old. Curators were flustered when they failed to locate a horse carving for us. The last time someone had laid eyes on it was one hundred years ago. Apparently that is not unusual in these sprawling anthropology collections.
It is easy to make fun of so-called primitive peoples and neanderthals. However, when you are holding a mammoth tooth in one hand, and a stone spear point on the other, you would be a fool not to be impressed. How many people today would be willing to take on a mammoth with a handmade spear?

Please excuse the terrible Blackberry photos