Sunday, April 8, 2018

Moon Tornadoes.

Working.  What else is possible?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Wisteria Tornadoes.

First a little Fotofest wrap-up.

With my art-dad, Man Ray at MFAH.

Mixing with installation art.

The swashbuckling Lottie Davies and my spare fake beard.

Home the first week:  Butler Creek grabs me by the throat.  This is the 10th view from this bridge and previous bridge of Dean Church road at Butler Creek.

Wisteria fighting knees.


Puzzle Twisters.

Mourning Dove Feathers.

  Then I had an idea about how to tweak my tornado form a bit while simplifying the lighting...

Five steps in...

Pyrocat HP5 Negative.


Was only proofing but I pulled out a box of Kodak Elite Fine Art paper, S surface.  25 years old.  Gotta be shot, right?  It has a little fog, but printed pretty dadgum good for paper that ought to be dead and gone.

  Moon Tornado on deck.  Perfect conditions tonight.  

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The frustrations and exhaltations of art making

  Pretty terrific receptions at Fotofest.  Home with several projects on the table.  But.  There is always this sense of the unseen miracle, hanging just beyond my reach.  I'm never happy unless I am working...and working usually means searching.  And frequently you just find a dud.  Insecurity and arrogance.  I'm a genius.  I'm an incompetent boob.  Hot on the trail of something, then confronted with a dead end.  Its worse than rock climbing.  Rock climbing remembers wonderfully and you yearn to be leading up some clean rock face working out the puzzle.  But when you do it you are terrified, dirty, hot, cold, frustrated, in a tangle of equipment, thirsty, starving with gravity drag-hanging on you like a toddler with bad debt.  Completely bumfuzzled that you have voluntarily climbed up into a risk-filled crazy environment...for NOTHING.  All you want to free.  To see the next thing.

Why would anyone DO this?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Fotofest, Houston, March 15-18, 2018

  Very intense as always in Houston for the Fotofest Meeting Place.  The Meeting Place is a portfolio review.  You get 20 minutes at a table with a curator, publisher, gallery folk, collector, et.  You get to pick from a list and you get most of your list.  Extra reviews can be scheduled in open slots if you can get them.  There's a fee of nearly 1000.00 for this event. It usually fills up early.  There are three four-day sessions.  Biennial.  I was in Session 2.   It's a serious thing.

  Cindy and I stayed in the Whitehall hotel.  That's another grand for expenses.  Downtown Houston clears out and closes down on the weekends so you can starve on Saturday if you aren't prepared.  We took a food box.  Usually you are eating out of a coffee bar or a sandwich shop while they charge you 29 bucks a night to stow your car.

  Every evening there is a bus tour of photo galleries or museums.  One night is the open Portfolio night where all the registrants get half a table to spread out your work.  That's open to the public.  Hectic schedule.

  Great reviews in general.  Called a genius couple of times.  I show silver prints which stand out in a digital printer world.  My presentation seems relaxed, (I think), but shows two bodies of work.  The Blackfork Bestiary gets shown and then Magic & Logic.  I concentrated on the local Texas collectors and institutions.  Got to show to the Menil, Lamar University,  Foto-Relevance Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts Gallery, Houston Center for Photography and others.  I included The Guardian newspaper and one German collection.  Also the Cincinnati and Milwaukee museums.  Plus collectors.  The Houston group got fairly fired up.  There is a lot of my work down there but looks like there will be more.  Maybe shows.  Nobody ever starts laying 100.00 bills on the table but follow-up is the key.

  Cindy, who is a keen observer of people, went along to help on my side of the table and watched faces for reactions to certain prints.  Some of them were prints I didn't suspect.  Very valuable info to get.

  This was a huge hit, and I didn't show any landscapes until the second two days.  Everyone wants me to explain the shadow.  My general policy is never to explain the mystery in a photograph.  It's kind of the wrong question anyway.  "Tell me about this image", or "what were you thinking when you shot this", or even how did you recognize this as a photograph?  "Describe your work flow."

But everyone wants to know what the shadow is.  It was liked by locals and internationals alike.  If they only knew- the whole Shiprock portfolio is shadows, more than anything else.

Another favorite:

  Anne Tucker paused on it for a long time while my 20 min clock ran.  She said I had "feminized Weston's Nautilus."  And she said it like it was an interesting thing.  I just showed this as a set of contacts talking about my work flow.  Several other folks picked it out.

Plus this and this and this, et.:

 So now I'm home.  I'm broke.  What else is possible?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Feather dusting.

Pyrocat neg with stale toast and a friends collected Dove feathers.

A print on Ilford MGWT.

Loosened the feathers a bit.

Might make the portfolio box.  Can't show more than two of these to any particular person.

Moons and still life.

Pyrocat negative.  Still life in the studio + Moons.

Same idea with double martini glass.

Contacted on Ilford MGWT.  Might make the cut.

Ground glass to negative to print.

 First bloom of Spring.  Tulip Tree.

A reasonable Pyrocat negative.

Then a proof on RC and a print later...and filed into oblivion.  Just not enough ignito.

Thursday, February 22, 2018



  After distractions by travel and feathers I put an old idea front and center.  I wanted a vortex in a bottle full of fish.  I'd worried about the fish.  I could buy them from a bait shop, no problem, but I didn't want to HARM any of them.  I know that the fishing/bait process leaves zero survivors, but I just couldn't bring myself to kill minnows.

  But, a fishnado didn't work.  My technique wouldn't spin the water with the added weight of the fish...and of course they swim upstream...

  So I switched to jars and glasses.

  Was standing in line a Whittaker's buying a bag of three dozen minnows.  I'd kept my foot firmly planted on the accelerator chasing images and was deep in thought about how I was handling the subject, lighting, thinking about what else was possible, et.  A guy in line started talking to me about the White Bass beginning to spawn, how many I would probably catch, if the rain might affect their biting, how good they would taste fried.  I couldn't have tracked less if he had been speaking Chinese.  I know I know what that is...  All of a sudden I realized, MOST folks buy minnows to FISH!  NOT for photography with a god-awful retrograde 8X10 and ridiculously big sheets of film!  My paradigm shifted without using the clutch.

  Such a strange life.

  The minnows go in a deep pool in the branch of the Blackfork that I live on.  I dump them in and they totally disappear.  So far, I've dumped two bags- 72 minnows in the creek.  I never see a one after they hit the water.  Everything is a mystery.  Just have to navigate anyway.

  Back in studio.  Had a new thought about a tornado image.  We'll see if it works.


Houston feathers.

We stayed in Houston with friends for the Houston Center for Photography's annual print auction.  Very nice affair.  The next morning we were off to Rothko Chapel to let Cindy experience that and the Menial, then lunch with Jeffery Koslov.  Lotta art.  I left Houston with a ziplock of dove feathers that Kathy Kowitz had collected from their bird feeder.  I went straight to work with a couple of ideas from my notebook.
First try.

Then I thought I nailed it...but didn't.  Once more shot at it.  That's pretty common with my work flow.

Pyrocat negatives.

Deer leg bone from the Butler Creek system and White-Winged Dove feathers from Houston.  In my little studio.

Minor White Jupiter Portfolio at Sam Houston State University.

The Good Doctor Sneed met Cindy and I at our alma mater to look at Paul Caponigro's Portfolio II and the Minor White Jupiter Portfolio.  Anyone can do this, but most of the time the portfolios just sit.  The library card in the Caponigro portfolio still had my signature from 1975.

The Jupiter Portfolio has a fable written by Minor.  It's very much in the feeling of the early 70s.

He's an entertaining guy.  I think the fable is online somewhere.

Dr. Sneed with infrared Ivy.

Cracked paint.

Our favorite.

Wonderful to see both portfolios. Very similar in printing. It looked like they were printed on the same paper.  Nearly a matte surface.  Prints were on the edge of softness.

  The librarian in Special Collections pulls them and gives you some white gloves.  You can take as long as you want.