I recently visited a friend and mentor who mentioned during our visit the Facebook entry above when we touched on Instagram and what I call the “Instagrammification” of photography going on today. I have a real issue with Instagram, not only because Zucky bought it for a BILLION dollars, but also because it is just another brick in the wall sealing up talent with the cask of Amontillado in the catacombs of art. Instagram is only one portion of the picture though, but, it seems to be one that is so very pervasive that you just can’t avoid it.
The above photo was taken twenty seven years ago.. Process that.. Twenty Seven years earlier there was no Instagram, and the fact that it’s in black and white does not mean also that there was only black and white available to photograph with. It was a choice made by the photographer to use B&W and very likely was something shot for a newspaper, another dying breed today. The poster that I have highlighted and removed the attribution from is young, but, come on, really? Automatically it MUST BE Instagram because its in black and white?
I guess what I am aiming at here is this.. The technology today of digital photography has made a new generation of lazy photographers. Ones who do not necessarily have to know anything about photography, never mind anything about darkroom tech or god forbid, actual use of F-stops and lighting. Why bother? You can just autocorrect in Photoshop or Lightroom! Hell, for that matter, you can just put the camera on “AUTO” and snap away like a mobster with a Tommy Gun *rat tat tat* It’s all good, you needn’t think about what you’re doing, the camera will handle all the heavy lifting!
Now, with Instagram it’s even worse, you can, with a click, scratch your digital negative, or sepia tone the shit out of anything hassle free! Instantly, it’s old and cool looking!
No.. Not really…
Look, I know there are many talented photographers out there, young ones, learning the technology of both digital and analog, but, I fear that in general all of this easy access to making imagery is degrading the overall appreciation and artistry of photography… And that’s really quite sad.
Thanks Zucky for making it even worse with your claptrappy site..
Welcome to the photo monoculture.
Over the years I have been going to the Renaissance fairs in the area including going to the big one in Tuxedo NY. Often times I take the camera in hopes of finding interesting faces to photograph as well as action scenes such as the ones in this story. I was lucky enough to attend a local fair that had a full troop of anachronists who did battle in full armor.
The battles were some of the most authentic as well as informative as the players also would discus their attacks and defenses for the people after the battles had been waged. After working on these finishes though, I am contemplating a fuller project on modern day knights. The profile portrait of the helmeted knight (main photo) put the idea in my head for the series.
More to come…
The rest of this series can be seen at jpgmag
A few years ago, I worked for a time in New London CT. I took the time one day during lunch to take the camera down to the site of an eminent domain case that made national news. The case, Kelo v. City of New London was all over the forced move of a whole neighborhood by the water so the town could “develop” the area for business. The home owners fought against the eminent domain case being made by the state and town, but, in the end they lost and had to move.
Of course, as the government often does though, they failed to actually develop the land for a long time, and in fact, as I have not been down there recently, it may still be in the state you see it here circa 2007. Many people also got less than their properties were worth (a feature of eminent domain) and lost since nice waterfront property needlessly that had in some cases been in families for quite some time.
Needless to say, I am not a fan of eminent domain and given everything that has transpired nationally with our economy and politically, this was just a foreshadowing of what was to come.
This winter has been bereft of snow, unless that is, you consider the snowpocalypse that we had in October to be snow. That storm only lasted a day or so and managed to keep the state out of power for weeks it seems. Nope, no real good snow has come to us this year and it kinda sucks. I miss going out in the snow to shoot the boughs and to see what animal had passed the way before I arrived in my anorak and snowshoes.
So, I decided to sit down with lightroom and re-edit/edit some photos from winter’s past that I have on my drive. The full set can be seen on jpgmag.com but these are the ones I like the most really…
Winter blahs here… Blahs without snow…
There's a winter storm with my name on it And it's cutting up the coast On the radar there's a ghost Clear to the Carolinas It feels like years since December And it seems like more till spring I swear I'll bear up under anything That this one can dump on me It's a white rage It's a blank page -Blizzard
It's the mind of winter, One last drunken -Blizzard
I've got candles on the counter Water in the tub Survival skills I know, but Living I can't understand The wind howls all night long And the big plows thunder in the street You can hear the snow turn to sleet There goes the mailbox again It's a white rage It's a blank page -Blizzard
It's the mind of winter, One last drunken -Blizzard
And the flames sing in the dark Some stupid love song bout a broken heart I'd just as soon be holed up for days Dig out in my own time Lean on my shovel, squint in the sunshine Shout to the neighbors, make sure they remember me! And I know you're not coming back I can't say I blame you for that just so long you can stand Living with a snowman It's a white rage It's a blank page -Blizzard
It's the mind of winter, One last drunken -Blizzard By Hugh Blenfeld
In a post last week I wrote about how a place that I have been shooting for some time had become the subject of a SYFY show called “Paranormal Witness” After watching the show I went to damnedct.com and posted the links to the youtube and my story about my history with the place on their comments area under “Abandoned” Since my comments a torrent of others have put in their two cents including a group of ghost hunters “Team Proof”, an ironic name for a ghost hunting group because in reality, when you look at their site they really have none to speak of.
It turns out that Team Proof are the ones that provided information (none of which made it into the show) on the haunting at MTS and are claiming that their real “proof” is in the hands of said television company and they are afraid of legal action if they post it all. As this is a weak explanation, they went on to also explain that their story differed from the show on SYFY as it was finally put out and that it was sensationalized but hey, you can buy our book that has it all in there that will be out soon!
I then went to the “evidence” files that they have for other sites and what I found was less than spectacular.. Much less. The evidence consists of digital images of out of context objects, balls of dust or bugs flying through scenes lit by the flash, and lastly, 1.5k images of.. well, I dunno what they were supposed to be. None of the evidence was worth the time and what it really left me with was a sense that these folks are either clueless or, out for some attention (buy our book!) I made comments of this on the damnedct.com site and a storm ensued that ended up with the eventual, albeit not wholly unexpected digital epithet of “STFU”
Meh… So what does this all mean and why am I talking about it other than to kvetch?
Well, as an Urban Explorer, these sites are often compromised by fools seeking ghosts. They report these places and even (like the Proof people) eventually post the locations online and then its all over. Vandals show up and the places get even more beaten down and patrolled by cops and the like. All because someone wants to sell their book or garner the attention online. Of course the same could be said about anyone going there and taking pictures or video and posting them online, however, the most of us do not post the locations and we do not make things fantastical and tantalizing for the morons to try and get EVP’s there.
URBEX is a passion for many (myself included as you can see) These places have a great history to tell both in life as well as in decrepitude today. Often times these places are dangerous and loaded with asbestos, spores, fungi, etc that you really need to be careful about. Breathers are a requirement and care should be taken when shooting them. All too often the damage done by the ones who go before without care lead to the diminishing of the place in a more rapid way. I ascribe by the axiom that they came up with for the outdoor movement “Tread Lightly” Basically leave it as you found it. In the case of MTS there has been a lot of vandalism from rocks through windows to spray paint on the walls.
Whoa, ok so last nights episode of Paranormal Witness said “The Mansfield Mansion” which from the start kinda made me step back because I live very close to Mansfield CT. I started to watch the show on youtube this morning and the first thing I see is a house that looks a lot like Mansfield Training Center’s architecture. Sure enough, they look at this house and mention a sign for Mansfield Training School inside the decayed and dirty old house.
Yes, indeed, they tried to RENT/SELL some of the buildings at Mansfield to live in! This was 1994 about a year after they closed the place. I have done a lot of UE there and have had a couple strange experiences in different buildings over the years…
Mansfield Training School: http://tinyurl.com/6gr7393
Paranormal Witness SE01 EP04 Mansfield Mansion
Part 1 http://tinyurl.com/4xkwgr4
Part 2 http://tinyurl.com/6ef4px7
Part 3 http://tinyurl.com/3u8ba72
I wonder exactly which building on the property it was… My pics of the place can be seen here:http://tinyurl.com/3kx6ftu
You are looking at the three.. Count em, THREE images this summer that I really like. Not that I shot all that much this summer though. It seems that I lacked the creative inspiration to even feel like taking the camera out… It’s kinda sad really, and I am wondering why I had so little impetus to go out and look for things to shoot or even set up a studio and do some work. Oddly enough, I am feeling somewhat more creative now that its headed to fall, though not necessarily is it all about leaves and such. I have other things in mind, like the post before this one on death photos.
I need some creepy and broken dolls… Then I need to hit the asylum.. I will be even more enthused if I also get a model for the shoot that is forming in my mind.
*wheels are turning*
Anyway, not that scads of people follow this blog.. But, I am alive and I will get back to work.
Well, its that time of year again (Halloween) and one’s thoughts turn to the creepy. Today I was brought to the topic again of death photography in the 1800’s when I saw an article on io9.com about a tintype that purports to show Nic Cage as a young man back then. The photo (above) certainly does look like ol’ Nic and he has certainly sucked the life out of more than a few films lately, so I can buy into it. What I can’t buy into was the price wanted for the photo.. But.. It is memorabilia!
Anyway, I then went on a Google hunt and came up with a site, which I think may have something to do with the photo of Nic. The site, thanatos.net has some sample galleries that you can take a look at but generally wants you to buy into a membership ($25.00 for a year which I am considering) but, you can also just use Google to “google it” to get to see more than perhaps you would without the membership. *ahh Google hacking*
This type of photography was the rage back in the day because of a pervasive spiritualism post the Civil War and a sensibility about having a “Good Death” which went hand in hand with the idea of capturing that placid death on tintype or plate. What surprises me most are some of these photos with the eyes open.. You know these people are deceased (we think) and yet their eyes are opened for the photo! This means someone just opened their lids for the sitting… Creepy.
All of this has me repulsed and fascinated… I think I need to go to the local antiques places out here to see if I can lay my hands on some tintypes or plates that I can print and collect.
Today is Memorial Day, and having pondered this day over the last decade since 9/11 I have found myself drawn to the Civil War and this holiday’s birth. Of course today, it would seem that the meaning of the memorializing has been lost on the masses as they picnic and go to blowout sales. Of course today we are in the midst of a 3 front war and an all volunteer force protecting our country as well as fighting and dying in foreign ones at the behest of politicians.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
On this particular Memorial Day, I find myself sitting on the deck and thinking about the Civil War. In particular though, I am thinking about the advent of Photography andPphotojournalism showing the ravages of war to the masses. It was not until this point that photography, a new science and art, could be portable enough and able to capture what was happening, albeit mostly in the aftermath of battles if not during them.
The standard camera would have been a large wooden box with tripod. The view camera would use plate technology (Daguerreotype) to expose a negative that would then be taken to a carriage for processing in a portable dark room. One of the more prolific photographers of the time was Matthew Brady who photographed many of the battles aftermath. Brady is said to be the father of Photojournalism today because of his work during the Civil War.
Amazingly though, Brady was not really the one doing most of the photographic work on the battlefields. Brady was the first to franchise out his work, hiring twenty three men in total, sending them to the battlefields with the portable dark rooms to capture the battles. (see Brady’s wiki page for the names and their pages) It was the photography of the Civil War that also went hand in hand with the “Spiritual” movement that came with the massive numbers of dead.
Since the US did not have a means to catalog the dead, and there were no dog tags to name the dead, many families never got to know just how and when their son’s died. This in tandem with a Victorian notion of “A good death” wherein the dying is surrounded by their family and has died in some noble way. Often times, because of the lack of closure, many of the families then took up the ideals of the spiritual movement, believing that the dead were always close and able to be seen or heard from the other side of the “veil”.
It was from these factors and a healthy desire for money, that some of the photographers of the period became “Spirit Photographers” The challenges for some were to make the double exposures seem perfect, while others, did not care as long as they were paid. Often times though, the client was just happy to have some solace from the photo of their loved one hovering near them looking lovingly upon them.
Today, photography and Photojournalism have brought us not only still images but video both live and recorded from the field. There is no catharsis of spirit photography and generally the public is inured to the horror of battle because we are bombarded with its images every waking hour… And mostly we all just want to forget them.
So, on this Memorial Day 2011, I sit and ponder the holiday, photography, and just what if any impact any photojournalist can have on the course of events in the world. After all, this holiday was meant to hold solemn remembrance of the fallen warrior… Unfortunately it has become more about sales and barbecues. Much the same can be said I think about Photojournalism and the impact of it due to the media fire hose that we have today.