Archives for posts with tag: still life

The doctor performing my annual eye exam this year saw something in my right eye. A thin film or membrane, a ripple in the retina at the macular region. My eyesight checks out fine, corrected to 20/20, but she worried about it and felt it should be looked at more closely by an opthalmologist.

The new machines available for eye examination are truly remarkable. I went to Kaiser as they have all the machines including the deep retina tissue scanner that was recommended. I normally don’t like going to Kaiser very much, they’ve not been particularly effective at curing ills although they’re always ready to treat patients with some new drug or another. But for this kind of examination procedure, they’ve got the right bits.

A jovial male nurse led me to this room, subdued the lighting, and put the relaxant into my eyes. It takes 20 minutes or so to do its job. I couldn’t help but pull out the X2 and shoot a few pictures of the space and the equipment in the dim light. There was an eerie quiet heaviness to it that appealed to me, I wondered if the camera could catch it.

The retinal scanner was run by an Asian technician. “This is an expensive machine,” she said, “The other one in the next room needs to be serviced and that alone is going to cost $25,000! It’s a good machine, though: I took the training and was certified, it’s easy to operate.” The machine scans not only the 2D in plan view but allows looking at the layers of tissue as well. It takes about 90 seconds to do the job.

Back in the subdued lighting of the first room, the opthalmologist entered. She was a personable and pretty woman in her early thirties. “Here’s the tissue in your left eye, which is very healthy and normal.” All the layers of membranes, these infinitesimally small things a few cells thick, were laminated evenly in the macular region. “And here’s the problem your optician saw that we wanted to check on..” The image of the right eye macular region is mostly the same as the left, but in the center there is a depression of the bottom most layer and a slight widening of the gap between the layers; it’s lost the smoothness of the left eye’s appearance.

“This is very light degradation,” she said. “It’s just age related deterioration. Your vision is still easily correctible to 20/20 so there’s nothing to worry about, and likely won’t be for a long time, but we’ll keep an eye on it.”

“How long?” I asked, after we joked around about my becoming-old age and she in her thirties. She had a good sense of humor… “Oh, so you mean that when it actually becomes time to do something about it, I’ll likely be 90 years old and so decrepit anyway that it’s hardly worth doing anything then anyway?”

With a twinkle in her bright eyes, she said, “Uh, yeah, that sounds about right. If you’re that kind of cynic …” And she laughed.

I laughed too. “I can deal with that. Thanks. Maybe some medical miracle will fix it then anyway, you know?” And we both laughed. I thanked her and left to go back to work.

I can wait. I’ll see what happens. Life is good: enjoy it while you can.

– Godfrey, October 2012

The year flies by, and crawls at the same time. Memorial Day coming up already. Wow.

I was in Portland, Oregon last weekend. There was a thriving Japan Town in Portland as World War II broke. The Oregonian headline on a sad day shortly after December 7, 1941 announced “Portland: First Jap Free City!” as thousands of Japanese were trucked off into internment camps. 
This sculpture, in a park by the Willamette River in downtown Portland, honors the memory of the innocent Japanese Americans who suffered as war criminals for the duration of the war. It affected me, and affects me still. 

We must not forget—without remembrance, without history, we will all repeat our mistakes over and over again. 

It was a chilly, and wet, weekend. My Saturday morning walk through Guadalupe River Park was a meander, as I had a friend walking with me. It’s difficult to concentrate on seeing when there is someone who wants to talk nearby. 


Near and far, far and near. My vision would not settle although the light was beautiful. I wanted the longer lens, then I wanted the macro lens. Had only the one with me; it was enough. 

The whole weekend was caught in this slow oscillation between tick and tock. A few more photos will surface. Later in the week. 

It goes like this sometimes. Focus returns at its own whim. 

– Godfrey


The other evening I watched a short documentary piece on the news. One of their most respected reporters visited the site of the nuclear reactor melt-down in Japan last year. On March 11. 

And I realized that a whole year had gone past since I updated this blog. So much has happened in the past year, in the life of the world, in my own life, that there is no way to attempt to recount it all here. 

But a year gone by … it is time now to move beyond it, to consider the blossoming of this Spring. Without forgetting the suffering that such a minor hiccup for the planet caused for so many people, but respecting it and accepting the message it provides. Dwelling in the past is a dangerous thing. We must always move forwards. 

I make plans for the future. I’ve decided on a weekly update here, for Sunday mornings, as appropriate for the time I have to work with at present. And each week I’ll hilight one photo per post here as always, with maybe a point to a gallery elsewhere occasionally. With thoughts and ideas accompanying as always. 

– Godfrey
It was a quiet moment yesterday, late enough and cloudy enough that the light was utterly shadowless and had an interesting feel .. a ‘rich flatness’. It had been a somewhat long and unfocused day where I could not concentrate. I finally packed it in at my desk and headed over to a local cafe I’ve begun to frequent more. Warm enough to sit outside, so I did.

My book sat on the table in front of me. I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t focus on ‘what to do next’, kept getting distracted. I read a chapter in my book. Stopped. I pulled out my notebook. Fussed with my pen. Started to write. The act of writing a list of things to do, sequencing them, thinking about them, studying the words and characters led me into a different mental state. I was grateful to leave the one I’d been in. I closed the book and stuck it in my bag.


Sitting there, meditating and sipping my drink. I felt like I hadn’t taken a decent photo all week. The notion came to me “From your seat, what do you see?” so I started to look around intently, but was again distracted. Voices in my head … “you should read! you should …” I didn’t know what. The camera was sitting on the table in front of me, ready, and I flipped it to video mode and took a long, slow pan starting at my extreme left and running to the right. Forty-eight seconds. I watched that video about ten times: it was easier to ‘see’, to concentrate using the video than to look at the space around me.

And then for fifteen minutes I made photos, without going more than forty feet. This scene was the first I saw and the last thing I photographed. 

You know what is really real when you see it on the video.
I had occasion last night to visit Foothill College in Los Altos Hills: an exhibition of photography made in Cuba was opening. It was a fine show of intense work by a half-dozen or so photographers. Inspiring … I’ll have to go back to see the photos again, of course, since actually having space and time to appreciate photographs is about the last thing you get to do at a reception. A beautiful place too, the reception was in the Krause Center For Innovation gallery, housed by old observatory buildings. 

As I left, the late evening dusk was just fading and the lighting on this lovely old observatory dome and wall stopped me in my tracks. And I realized, I don’t have my tripod with me! Ah well, I had the new camera: new technology  … wonder what it can do? I wonder what I can get with it hand held …? 


It’s amazing, the rush of technology this past half decade and some in photography. The capabilities of today’s cameras is simply astounding compared to what was available as recently as 2005, and lightyears beyond 2001 and before. It seemed obvious to me, working in the Dark Ages of digital imaging in the 1980s and 1990s, that this revolution would be profound when it hit production prices. But how could I have predicted it would happen so quickly? I couldn’t, I didn’t. And I am glad it was: it means I will have time to enjoy it, to learn it fully, to get back past all this equipment bother into Photography again. 


Another milestone passed yesterday … After a month’s persistent work, my office in our new home is finally fully operational. It’s been a big job, a lot of work, but the shelving is built and in place, the desk and worktables are arranged, the equipment is hooked up and humming. I’m still unboxing and putting things away but finally there is a place to put those things away, enough mental space to be productive and think again. 

Now to think hard and move forward with a new plan, new ideas, into new endeavors. The hard part, in other words, is now in front of me. And, as it turns out, it’s the fun part that I’ve been working to get to. 


Moving onwards …
On my walks in morning light, the air is cool and crisp even in high summer. But lately it’s been cool here, even in the middle of the day, and the light is delicate and beautiful during the time of the walk with a gentle fog and soft light everywhere. 

As I walk I come across these fragments of things, an unknown language of debris and wind, spelling out unknown messages I recognize but cannot translate across the pavement surfaces. 


Memory flits through my head: a novel wherein a sentient computer seeks a way to express its sentience: it made boxes, art pieces of ineluctable beauty composed of a bit of string, a piece of bone, ephemera. Poised and self-contained yet yearning and full of emotion. Captivating notions. One of the Neuromancer series, perhaps? perhaps.

The past week and some has been a relentless push to reach a point of departure. Many levels. And then this photo from my archives of recent work leapt out at me. Multi-layered mental states, separation crossing space, the pieces of twig and leaf, lines crossing a divide. A gesture, unbidden, on the ground plays out its music, an eye captures the song. Sentience or Chance? I cannot say. 

Tomorrow I head south, an overnight in San Simeon to see the famous castle, once again in Mexico. After which trains from there to here again. It will be a fine adventure. 

This metaphor breathes quietly in my thoughts. 
I was going through my collection of “curious bits” the other night. Flotsam and jetsam accreted over the course of years … photographs, poems I wrote, stories, clippings from the news paper, all kinds of stuff that go as far back into my personal history as grammar school. Through high school, into my first, second, third, and then fourth college career, and beyond that. Scribblings and notes from all over the country, and the world, as I wandered.

There’s the tattered original copy of the O Lucky Man! poster I made when I canvassed friends at UCSC’s Kresge College to petition to bring this strange movie back for a second showing. The Dorian-Grey-esque sequence of all my high school and college ID cards. The high school commencement program that I’d quite forgotten included my own poetry … a touch strained it seems to me now. The etching that Dawn Fredericks made of me as I sat reading in the Windham College library one fine Saturday afternoon in the late Fall of 1978, in Putney, Vermont. Photos of the burned rubble of our science plane from my time at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab… 

Whew. It’s a trip to get into these things. 

Felipe forebore to look at bits of it with me. And asked, “So when are you going to scan this stuff before it disintegrates?”


Back again to Anacortes, Washington, in October of 2008. A great town that is! I rose every morning and walked, made photographs. The smell of the salt water, the docks. The sounds of bouys and sea birds, the hammering of metalworks in the shipyard. I’m enjoying going through these photos and working on them. 

One of the mornings was quite foggy and I remember coming upon this wall of vines in my walk. They emerged from the wall into my consciousness as if from under water, the effect I’ve tried to express in this rendering. Great depth, the tendrils of leaves brushing the surface of perception, almost translucent in the soft morning light. 

I remember this moment, and all those moments of curious bits, with crystal clarity, as if they were just a day away. It takes but a moment of seeing the artifact of the moment … in a photograph, snippet of scribblings, whatever … and the whole experience awakens for me to relive. I made two prints of this photo — they are delicate, sensitive, things that are aging already as they dry overnight. Things … 

I responded, “These things must remain perishable, locked in their time, and no attempt to scan them will suffice to grant them immortality. Their essence, their existence, is made more real by the probability of their disappearance. They are meaningless without my thoughts, and spur my memories to go beyond the Present.”

I’ve been reading too much Zen philosophy, I fear… or I need to read more.

Workshop Notes 

Next up in my workshop series at the Media Center

Photoshop: 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: Levels, Curves, Layers and Masks. We will examine organizing your files and how to work efficiently. You’ll be introduced to methods and concepts for sharpening and printing. No prior Photoshop experience required, an interest in Photography essential.

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

For more information and registration see the website 

Or call Dave Sorokach (650-494-8686) at the Media Center

Or email me directly if you have questions..
Stars light, stars bright, 
Seven stars I see tonight
Against the deepening evening sky, 
They float and watch the Time go by.


Last photo for 2009. It’s been a year. 

Happy New Year!
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… 


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 – 

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