Archives for the month of: December, 2009
My eye was drawn by the tree and shadows against the patterns of the wall. Soft, luminous things against edges and hard lines. I focused, set exposure and, as I framed the shot, the bicyclist entered the frame and passed swiftly through. The tree became a forest, the movement silent under its canopy.

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The Tao Te Ching spilled open onto my lap as I studied this image … 

Verse 35

Hold fast to the Great Form within
and let the world pass as it may
Then the changes of life will not bring pain
but contentment, joy and well being

Music and sweets are passing pleasures
yet they cause people to stop
How bland and insipid are the things of this world
when one compares them to the Tao!
One tastes, but the sweetness turns bitter
One sees, but the colors grow faint
One hears, but the sound fades into silence

One may look for fulfillment in this world
but his longings will never be exhausted
The only thing he ever finds
is that he himself is exhausted

An ending note to a year swiftly ending. 
Light continues to dance with Shadow. Movement passes quietly, without hesitation. 
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I took an early afternoon walk in downtown Palo Alto yesterday. Visited friends at the gallery, watched shoppers and families in the Sunday-After-Holiday quiet that pervaded the streets. Music floated out of an alcove in front of the the bookstore as I approached … I turned in, sat, and listened for a while. Of course I took out the camera. But I was more interested to listen to the music. The camera sat on the table in front of me, waiting.

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Two students from the San Francisco Conservatory. They played very very well, the air shimmered with their music. A wonderful duet. 

The alcove walkway is a passage from street to store. Dozens of people walked through. I was struck with how many people, intent on their own affairs, did not seem to even hear them … few even glanced in their direction. The man in the corner table behind them, deep in reading his book, also seemed utterly disconnected from the music filling the space. 

Until they stopped. They looked at each other for a moment, seemed to quietly laugh at some secret joke, and then the reader stood, applauded, and thanked them. People rushed in from the street and the store sides of the alcove to tell them how beautiful the music was, drop some money in their instrument case, applaud for a moment. I spoke with them for a few moments, thanked them for the performance, returned to my seat to collect my things. 

And then everyone was gone again. The reader went back to his book. The two violinists looked at each other again quietly, took a breath, changed their music and began to play once more. Everything was as before. 

My camera made a click. I rose and walked on. 
My chilly walk this morning, down in San Jose along the Guadalupe River Walk, happened past a man by the orchard who was feeding these lambs. I’d never seen lambs in the orchard here before. The man didn’t speak any English so I don’t know why they are there or how he came to be there with feed and milk for them. 

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He was uncomfortable with me making a portrait of him feeding them, my lack of language to communicate with him, but the lambs were unafraid. This one followed me along the fence for several minutes and didn’t bolt when I came quite close. 

As I said, chilly out this morning. Met up with friends and had coffee at the shop nearby. It’s that quiet time, between the poles of the holidays, when not much seems to go on and the world is somehow a little distant. I have the apartment to myself this week, and most friends are out of town. Time to think, to read, to study. 

Reading a book on Zen Buddhism, and another on the craft of seeing images, and a novel. Simultaneously. 

Yes, it’s that quiet time … 

Photography Workshops Update 

Here’s what’s on my workshop calendar coming up in January …

January 9-10 :: Lightroom: Starting In The Middle

A two-session workshop for photographers interested to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom. No prerequisites, some familiarity with Photoshop and image processing workflow is helpful. Students are welcome to bring a library of their own work, either on external hard drive or laptop.

January 23-24 :: Creating B&W Photographs: A Digital Approach

A two-day, hands-on workshop exploring the creation and rendering of black and white photographs using digital technology. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom image processing application approaches will be shown. You will be guided through a variety of different rendering approaches and printing techniques. The class will focus on doing, be prepared to bring your own photographs to work on! No prerequisites required, some background in using Photoshop or Lightroom is helpful. 

Offered at the Media Center, 900 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, California, USA

For more information and registration see the website – http://www.midpenmedia.org/ 
or call Dave Sorokach (650-494-8686) at the Media Center, or email me directly. 

It has been a long and busy year. Here we are again in the thick of the holidays with the coming year beckoning us on, and the past year reminding us of what was and will ever be. 

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I propose a toast to the Present! May your glasses ever be half-full, and the Past, whatever it was in passing, be a source of strength to meet the challenge of Future! 

I decided to produce a limited set of cards to mail this year, much more limited than in previous years, in keeping with an atmosphere of necessary thrift and economy. But even though only a few folks received them, I am thinking of you all, of all the friends and family I saw or talked with this past year, or didn’t as chance would have it. Of all the folks I’ve enjoyed doing business with in the past year, or years past. Of all the students who took my workshops, and in workshops I participated in, whose time and participation brought immeasurable joy and fun to our collective endeavors. Thank you all! 

I made nine images into cards as small fine art prints, each is numbered and registered in my records along with who received it, but of course even amongst those who received them most only see one of the set. So I offer them here on-line that all may enjoy them all… 

a slideshow:

or view them individually:
http://www.gdgphoto.com/2009-holiday_cards/

I look forward to next year, whatever it may bring. 
I hope all of you reading this do too. 

Health, prosperity, and joy to you… 
And thanks for being there. 
Another from my walk in Mountain View yesterday. 

It’s that dry time of year, when the air tends to be cold and the trees slowly go barren and quiet, waiting for sun to warm them again. Leaves, yellow and red, litter the streets as you walk. The sky is often gray, and the late dawn and early sunset slant the sun through the gray such that you feel you are walking through an all encompassing twilight. 

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I listen as I walk. I listen to the sound of people shopping for the holidays to come, to the crunch of twigs and dry leaves underfoot. I imagine when I see these utility covers in the pavement a river running just out of reach, just below the surface, that these cast-offs yearn towards in the dry land of their final resting places.

My Tao Te Ching opens to its last page and a snippet of the final verse stays in my mind …

Verse 81

Heaven gives, 
and all things turn out for the best.

The Sage lives,
and all things go as Tao goes
all things move as the wind blows.
I acquired a new lens today. Felt bidden to go to Mountain View and walk about with it for a bit. It’s remarkably small, fast and light; fits the camera nicely… 

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New equipment is always a moment’s pause to experiment, to try things, to test its limits and see what it does to your vision. It’s easy to fall into a sense of wonder – “Oh my, these are the greatest … I couldn’t do without this … ” – blah blah blah. The thrill of the new. The truth is that what it does for me over my previous choice of lenses is add a little capability and subtract a little weight from my bag. What I see, how I see it, hasn’t really changed. I guess I’m jaded with the thrill of the new … I just want to make photographs.

It’s the photographs which always matter most to me. While I was wandering downtown, I stopped into the used bookstore and found two wonderful photo books, Wide Open by Linda McCartney and Still Time by Sally Mann. I love used bookstores… I couldn’t put them down, so there went some of my store credit. I’ve spent a good bit of the afternoon leafing through them and finding wonderful gems between their covers. That’s the real thrill.

So I turned the corner from the bookstore, passed a cafe on the way to the car, and saw this table and chairs, newspaper lying on the ground. And something about it seemed so… just so, a state of suspension, of action that either just happened or was just about to happen. A conversation that lingered in the gesture of the paper lying there, passed it by, forgotten in the moment of that conversing as parties unknown went on to other things.

I like the lens, it let me see this moment better. 

Photography Workshops Update 

Here’s what’s on the calendar coming up in 2010 …

January 9-10 :: Lightroom: Starting In The Middle

A two-session workshop for photographers interested to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom. No prerequisites, some familiarity with Photoshop and image processing workflow is helpful. Students are welcome to bring a library of their own work, either on external hard drive or laptop.

January 23-24 :: Creating B&W Photographs: A Digital Approach

A two-day, hands-on workshop exploring the creation and rendering of black and white photographs using digital technology. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom image processing application approaches will be shown. You will be guided through a variety of different rendering approaches and printing techniques. The class will focus on doing, be prepared to bring your own photographs to work on! No prerequisites required, some background in using Photoshop or Lightroom is helpful. 

Offered at the Media Center, 900 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, California, USA

For more information and registration see the website – http://www.midpenmedia.org/ 

or call Dave Sorokach (650-494-8686) at the Media Center, or email me directly. 

Sometimes it’s little things that capture the eye and draw you in. A detail, a tiny change in color or shape that stands out from the surrounding. A moment that causes you to stop the world, and see. 

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I’ve been reading C. S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” this past week. One chapter at a time. Last time I read it I was in the second year of high school. Oh my, how this book has changed over the decades! … Or at least that bass-ackwards perception is what made me laugh this morning as I read the latest chapter. Screwtape’s clinical dissection of how to tempt Man with the notion of ‘the right to ownership’, of disguising the many flavors of ‘my’ and reducing them to one, and the seduction involved in making Man sensitive to ‘my time’ as if we had a right to Time … wow. 

At age 14 it could not have made any sense. At age 14 all of Time is in front of you, you cannot know mortality. It is that moment when we perceive the finiteness of Time that we begin to know our true selves. It is that moment which becomes the Now, the Present, the eternal instant of our lives. ‘My time’ indeed: we have no hold on Time, it slips inexorably through our fingers and into the Past, it bids us into the future, but all we really have is a quiet and lingering Present, a moment standing still in consciousness. 

Click. And it’s all there in the details. Now. This moment. This present. All moments. All we have. We cannot rush, we cannot dally. 

We are, and we are not. 
Well, I was supposed to be out of town this weekend, and was looking forward to the trip quite a lot. But then “Things Happened” and I could not go. Bummer. So I thought I’d catch up on stuff here at home, and did to some degree but didn’t really get much done. Double bummer. Such it is. 

At least I spent some time with a few photos that have been waiting for me to work on them. That makes me happy.

Have airport duty this afternoon which brought this photo taken last Monday to mind … 

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I like airports, at least when I’m not rushing for a connection. “The interactions of people moving with purpose.” I found some others taken earlier this year on my trip to Denver that I haven’t processed yet, expect a few more soon. 

Photography Workshops Update 

My last Photoshop workshop of the year will be held this coming Thursday and Friday evenings. There are seats available: sign up this week! 

Here’s what’s on the calendar…

December 10-11 :: Photoshop for Photographers: A Simple Approach

This two-session workshop focuses on learning how to get the most from just a few of Photoshop’s tools to achieve great results. In both lecture and lab time, we will examine computer and Photoshop set up, how to use adjustment layers and masks. We’ll discuss the concepts of sharpening, and go over printing fundamentals. No prior Photoshop experience required. 

January 9-10 :: Lightroom: Starting In The Middle

A two-session workshop for photographers interested to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom. No prerequisites, some familiarity with Photoshop and image processing workflow is helpful. Students are welcome to bring a library of their own work, either on external hard drive or laptop.

January 23-24 :: Creating B&W Photographs: A Digital Approach

A two-day, hands-on workshop exploring the creation and rendering of black and white photographs using digital technology. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom image processing application approaches will be shown. You will be guided through a variety of different rendering approaches and printing techniques. The class will focus on doing, be prepared to bring your own photographs to work on! No prerequisites required, some background in using Photoshop or Lightroom is helpful. 

Offered at the Media Center, 900 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, California, USA

For more information and registration see the website – http://www.midpenmedia.org/ – or call Dave Sorokach (650-494-8686) at the Media Center, or email me directly.