Archive for the ‘Color’ Category.

Still Going, Just Not Sure Where

Step A - The Domain, Austin

I seem to have stopped blogging, or at least slowed down to a snail’s crawl, but I have not stopped making photographs. I am a little disillusioned with the web site, uncertain whether it is serving any useful purpose, and hence I have not been motivated to add any blog entries recently.

I am enthusiastic about taking photographs though and I have three weeks in Britain and France coming up that I am sure will offer many opportunities to do just that. And, I am one of those fortunate people to have already received my Olympus OM-D; this will be the lightest and most compact outfit I have here been able to take on a plane.

The Lazaras Creek

Taking a break from downtown and people as subjects, the heavy rains overnight on February 17 sent me back to Bull Creek the following morning to continue observation of how it has been changing under the impact of our continuing drought. The creek had been resurrected, if only briefly, even as the broader drought continued. The surreal mystery of the fire hydrant standing in the middle of the dry creek last October now runs to full irony.

5th & Alley

5th & alley - West 5th & Congress, Austin

By happy coincidence this week’s theme at VXFY Photos is “City” and I spent yesterday morning wandering the streets of downtown Austin collecting images that easily fit that topic. This is one of them.

My intension is to get out into the city at least a couple of times a month until it get’s too hot to walk the streets in June. If – and it is a big if – I stick to the plan I will post all of the pictures in either the “City & People, 2012” or the “Singles and Short Series, 2012” galleries as I go.

the anxiety of photography

the anxiety of photography, Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin

The banal anxieties that I had in mind as I worked on this image were rather different from the postmodern conceptualist concerns of the curator’s introduction and artist statements for the The Anxiety of Photography exhibition we had seen earlier that day at Arthouse in downtown Austin.

My egocentric concerns, last Saturday, were:

  • Will I have the courage to do more street photography in 2012?
  • Are my photographs any good?
  • Should I adopt the Sony NEX-7 or Panasonic GX-1 as my core camera in 2012?
  • Will my stock options be worth enough to afford a new camera in 2012?
  • Should I purchase an unnecessary upgrade to Adobe Photoshop, that I cannot right now afford, at the ‘special’ discount price expiring December 31st?
  • Will I fall down these stairs if I don’t stop looking through the viewfinder?

[Asside: The last two issues are the only ones that I have yet resolved: I did not fall down the stairs and I did not, and will not, give Adobe any more money for Photoshop until they revert to their previous upgrade policy. More on Adobe in a later post.]

The exhibition’s concerns were (quoting the description for the associated book by Matthew Thompson on

Photography’s undefined, in-between status–as a medium, a tool, an object, a practice or, more often than not, some combination thereof–is still however, unresolved.

As with much postmodernist art, the curator’s preamble and many of the the artist statements required the prior consumption of a shelf full of books and considerable deconstruction to interpret. Despite this fog of obscurity, several of the art works were worth taking the time to see and, for me at least, successful. I particularly enjoyed the two pieces by Erin Shirreff, which were visually striking from a distance and increasingly rewarding on approach; these managed to combine aesthetic pleasure in their form with humor and commentary in their content.

Still, at first blush, such postmodernist thinking does not have much connection to my own form of “straight” photography. For the purposes of the Arthouse presentation, the term “Photography” in “The Anxiety of Photography” has the same relationship as “oil paint” in “Impressionist Painting”, i.e. photographic content, chemistry and references as material for inclusion in the construction of composite work rather than as a stand alone, self contained, art medium. But the longer I have pondered the more I have come to recognize that my images are no more concrete and no less synthetic than the works shown in the gallery space.

The picture above may suggest anxiety in its angled forms, shadows, reds, voids, doorways and the feet of hidden approachers (a gang maybe?), but those anxieties were not present at the time the photograph was taken; they are my superimposed interpretation after fact. The image is not “documentary truth” of an event or physical state that actually existed; the image is “true” in my mind but not true in any court of law. The anxious center of the image, the woman in the red sweater, is actually my wife whose main concern at the time was how many blocks she would have to walk to get to the nearest café. I may not be a postmodern conceptual artist but I am definitely a candidate for postmodernist critique, just not important enough to be worthy of the effort.

Urban Void

Free Offer, Oak Knoll & Research, Austin

This is not a happy image; it’s downright gloomy, depressing, a little sinister. The car dealer that was here has shut up shop and left nothing behind but the barren forecourt; its a sign of the hard times.

“Covert” is the threatening name on the building across the street, easier to see if you click on the image for a larger version. At a still larger magnification “Wrong Way” is legible in the near central flash of red. Three white cars fly past in formation, hurrying to leave the frame.

A rule of thumb when using a wide angle lens is to make sure that there is something interesting in the foreground, close to the camera; something to catch the mind. I choose this picture as it stands, with its harsh angles and parallels, its urban tundra of tarmac and concrete, tire marks, hovering clouds, discouraging words, repeating and repeating toward some distant vanishing point.

Humanity is missing; this is a post-rapture landscape without the rapture.

Austin Rain

Edge - Third Visit - Bull Creek, Austin

Last weekend it rained in Austin. Radio DJs marveled between each set list; it was the lead story on every newscast Friday through Monday. Bull Creek flowed for the first time in five months; not deep, not fast, but magically, mystically.

Saturday afternoon I took the camera back to the creek for a third visit. The dusty brown rocks had greened; the algae had merely been waiting for moisture and not dead. Sunday turned cold and rained all day; a London day in Texas. Two inches for the weekend; not an end to the drought of the twelve driest months on record but a reminder that such a thing could happen and a relief from the possibility of more wildfires.

It may be false hope but we will take it just the same.