GIMP! -not so 'gimpy' anymore?!


For any of you who are into retouching or manipulation of photographs, there is awesome and amazing news you should know about, especially if you abhor the pricing of Adobe Photoshop.  GIMP  has recently announced, on top of their new release of 2.8 with optional full single window mode, a development version able to incorporate full 16- and 32-bit picture editing, along with EXR and HDR layering.  SWEEEEET!!!

If you aren't too excited or wondering what all the giddy is, I suggest you download a version from their stable release download page for your correct OS (unix/linux, windows, mac) and try it out. There is also an installable Help, or try F1 for context help in the program itself, and for extreme die-hards there is 'The Gimp Bible' floating out there somewhere in pdf land too..
So you might also be  wondering well why would you want to do such a thing? the program you have works 'just fine' you keep telling yourself? I'm sure that like most others that I have talked to about their editing programs, that same program is some freebie with nowhere near the power or capability found in Gimp. After myself having used those same other programs, and found them lacking in either editing, speed, fluidity, or stability issues, I keep finding myself rolling back to my lovable affable Gimp, always cuddling it like a lost love I somehow did wrong to. Adobe Photoshop I have tried, but even Elements drags a lower-end PC to a near- absolute halt. Why deal with self-torture when the closest thing to Adobe is a soft warm fuzzy GIMP?

But if  you like your proggie, stick wid'it... just me and my thoughts man.. me and my happy thoughts..


Archaic and Simple Beauty...

mmm..  preciousss...
   Okay I'm definitely a nutter I suppose. I find beauty (and sometimes ugly) where most people miss or find things as the opposite. If you have visited this blog enough, it should be more than enough apparent that film as a photographic media is still a high viability option at my end, although I do also find purpose and use for the digital end. Case in point is how ecstatic 50 rolls of Kodak Color film sitting in my fridge for storage can still make me 3 months after buying them on the cheap at 1 dollar apiece. -and yes 80 percent are not past expiration either. Cold storage? yes! although I dont think the 'freezer' option other film users on the net say is okay is quite viable, after all I WILL use it soon enough.
   Next in line after having bought nearly a gazillion 36-exposure rolls, is learning to develop the film itself. That, however, seems to be a pressing issue at this point. Having never developed film, save for as a 1-hour lab tech, I can't really say that I believe things will go well the first time. Sure, places on the net say it's sweet-as-pie-'n'-ice-cream to do, but that's presuming you're glorious with BW film, which is negatory experience in my realm. I already have an awesome developing tank to do 3-35mm rolls or 2-120's, and found a Tetenal press color developing kit, but silly me forgot things like a proper thermometer, film squeegee, bottles, and a dark-changebag! ...duuuh!  Hmmm- maybe digital isn't so bad after all. Wait! hahaha!  -silly me and you! Move into medium and large format for gallery prints and guess what then? I suddenly realise I don't have 6K (minimum) for a 40-60 MP digital 4x5 camera!  -somehow I'm guessing most people don't either unless you're like a photographer, whose name conviently excapes me, who can make only 1 picture for only 1 collector and precharge $60-K for it.. somehow I don't think that fits many of us, or even commercial photographers that are well known in their industry.
   So the moral of that story? Laugh all one can, 'archaic' film is still here to stay for serious artwork, maybe not so much for commercial work -unless of course money isn't anything to you. Am I putting down everyone with a digital (compact) camera? Heavens NO!  "Different strokes for Different fo'ks", as Sly and the Family Stone say. Not to mention it actually adds another dimension of fun to photography if one's really into it.

Blanche Bachelor Button
Nikon D80, 1:2; FastStone color-adjusted
   Well.. now how's that for ya? I go on and on about film, and then something like this just about makes me bawl (yes i'm a softy sometimes). I believe the above might actually be an artprint for matting and hanging upon some empty wallspace at 8x8 inches printed. Pretty sweet indeedy. Originally the original .NEF (that's Nikon RAW file) was slated for the trash bin as the purples on this bachelor button wasn't exactly spectacular in definition. In fact, I thought maybe I didn't focus this properly or it had hand-blur, as all my macro closeup shots are hand-held at 15 or 30 of sec and naturally lit, which accounts for a high percentage of dumpers, not to mention personal frustion. Leaning on advice from 'the Pros', I often give one final shot at every pic in some BW / desaturation view just before dumpage. Many professional photographers NEVER dump a 'bad' pic and often keep it for years coming back to it later, realising that it actually is of merit and salvagable. However, not many of us can afford that kind of storage space, and my personal advice to all you amateur photogs out there is keep it for about 6 months, 4 views, and then dump it for goodness sake. Take the BW, somewhat color-twisting, or cropping treatment to it a few times to see if it is salvagable to your liking. Remember also, that it must be appealing first to you: and secondly, if the photo is for a client or personal printing, make sure it can print at 300-dpi at the size required. Some items do fine at 250-dpi for digital photolabs, but for artprints or shows 300-dpi is the min, about 500 (if memory serves) is the max needed. Published print is usually 150-200-dpi, but submit it at 300-dpi or it might be refused.

hunh? what was that all about?
squirrel caught in the act,  300mm, no crop

Clover Study 1; Gimp -dodge+burn

Ant on micro-budding Flower; 1:1

'Tree Spook 1', FastStone color-adjust


the True 'Greening of Bridgeton'...

collage of views of the true value of bridgeton-
 the money, the claiming calendar, the million-dollar monstrosity,
 fairway litter, runoff rubbish and more, constant crash bits
 WARNING:    -Crabfest Ahead!
   After 13 years here you'd think I'd be used to the dishevelment that is commonplace city greed and wanton ignorance, but it just seems to never end. Since the airport- correction, the city- correction again, the military (oops did I let that slip?)- bought out nearly a third of the city of Bridgeton community residences for the land adjoining lambert field several years ago its only gotten worse for the community. I remember when every quarter you could see litter being cleaned from the streets, streets and lots being cared for, and general overall growth for the community and its residents by means of the upkeep and the influx of merchandisers /services etc. Since then I can attest only to the Death of what was once an active community. Where once there was activity for all ages including teen and elder, now there appears the only activity is that unbecoming for a healthy lifestyle; just within one block are 7 liquor stores and bars, 4 banks, and a zillion restaurants and a few over-charging retailers- of minimum wage pay and usually part-time work only, of course. Gone is the mall from years ago, the theater, a blockbuster, a kfc, and more. In their place instead are the aforementioned, and empty decaying buildings for lease, and the most common recreation since then has been a substancial increase of cigarette smokers where it seems half the population lives on nicotine-and-tar smoke for excitement -and I hear quite a fair amount about the use of the other kind also -just as like to the pipe dream that the area really has become. 

   So imagine when amongst the profusity of junk mail several months ago Bridgeton dared to cite themselves as 'Greening Bridgeton'. Did I miss something? apparently so... For at least 4 years now, the area has been trampled like so as shown by the photographic examples above- litter constantly abounds upon many main sidewalk greens, vehicle debris and damaged curbing and traffic pole pieces lie strung about for months on end, and waterways and runoffs are clogged, overgrown, and filth-ridden and polluted, even obtaining such fantastic items as doors and shopping carts. Now I know what alot of the top brass boys are thinking for excuses- well.. we lost revenue and what amount the traffic-flow from 3 main interstate crossings in one area alone, etc etc etc. -Yes I have heard it all before. But what about the 3 or 4 million I heard the city got just for clearing a certain bit of that in the buyout? no, instead of serving the city in the best way possible by upkeep and keeping its workers etc, it went mostly to one new building I shall not mention -and while it is indeed a needed replacement for that which sat on an area that was bought out, couldn't it have been wiser spent and divided accordingly? I suppose that with that kind of monies the city's streetcleaners also had to be sold to cover the cost of the largest monster building in Bridgeton. What astounds me is the absolute nerve of the city council or whomever to build such as though the rest of the city was as grand- one would think it was halfway downtown to require that type of gigantic monstrosity of a building to fit in- instead it is far more an eye-sore especially on the street upon which it is located.
    Another bit is the curious way city folk think that THIS is proper pruning... like the excess length of cut grass at around here. hmm.. I find it quite humorous how city people are want to call the poorest of those around them and simple country people as redneck stupid and ignorant. Quite. Within the month after the brush above was cut, the new growth rings were already rotting to disease. And the pruny tree pictured you should see in person- heavens above, it looks more likely to have been planted as the apple tree from the wizard of oz or some other garish hellbound forest. Yeesh. But then again I guess when most landscape is done by unregistered hispanics who air-toss manure chips from truck-height so as to unwittingly make other sick, one can't expect much perhaps.

   But then again, I suppose it's 'just more of the way of the world, that's just the way it is'. PLEASE- no more Al Gore tactics about how we're 'saving the planet' by buying CFL bulbs! Really 'Mr-i-invented-the-internet- Mr-the-world-is-melting- Mr-nobel-peace-prize- Mr-'our-purpose'-speaker' ? I believe it's become quite apparent especially the last decade what the top-rung 'purpose' is- GE money and mercury poisoning (yes did everyone forget the mercury in CFL bulbs and the 90 percent chinese death rate in manufacturing them?) PLEASE wake up people! DDT and lead aint got nothing on Mercury poisoning! Think there's an abnormally high amount of birth defects and child problems as it is, you just wait until 10 years from now. Mark my words good. I remember once upon a time when I was a child that we were told that we were to recycle and that everyone was recycling to save the earth as such. My, how the tactics have changed to turn upon the people. Growing up I was also far more keenly aware of the many advances of science that most people didn't realize existed. Case in point- it amazes me also that cars are the enemy vehicle, when in fact, any large diesel engine, that is as say for commercial dump trucks and freight transportation, is actually the harbinger of acid rain and the earth's air killers because of the minute metals latent within the fuel. I remember specifically in reading about a simple ionizer for a measly $250 per vehicle as remedy, not to mention the metals could be reclaimed from the ionizer as valuables- and this was the mid80s-early90s. -so go figure- deduce your own conclusions... I have enough concerns myself just dealing with the every-other day air pollution and wondering when a certain 3 spots on one street are going to become sinkholes to china (there are 3 spots where i have seen garbage, then street blocks, and then about 4 feet dirt overlayed ontop that, dumped into about quarter acre spots when buildings are torn down and the land 'reclaimed' for commercial purposes.)

   A prime example of the real harm already upon us < Midway > Now one thinks an albatross and that many is of no concern, but therein lies one's ignorance about how truly interdependent all life on this planet is. Compare half your body full of plastic bits suffocating one's lungs to mercury poisoning and such similar- things aren't as far apart as you'd like to think.


--more on Chris Jordan's photography with a video trailer at the end on his film project concerning the crisis at Midway.

I say just 'Doze it All and start over!


First Day of Spring..

- I .. feel .. just .. so .. giddy!
Okay, so it's been 'spring-like' for some time lately, but it's 'official' now.. except at 85'F in February, makes you wonder how hot its gonna be at summertime 110'F? -let's hope not.. 

..no more huddling in the morning sun for warmth!!


Do Your Own Thing..

STL-Lambert IA, 2010;   Kodak GC400
decisive moment - or snapshot - or art?

Yes its been a while again at the blog due to a long bout of intestinal illness. I gotta get crack'n at writing as I got several posts I've been meaning to write, the first one being this..

As I'm sure most amateurs have heard of HC-Bresson, I'm sure they've also heard his 'most famous quote' about 'the decisive moment'. Unfortunately in my opinion I believe it's being far far too over-used to the point of abuse. In the last 2 months alone, I have run across about 4 or more instances where some photographer has used it, either on websites, books, or their advertisements; the worst about it is when they use it for a point where it isn't even realitive to their photography. It also looks bad if you're looking for a serious wedding or portrait photographer and you run across 3 in 10 websites trying to relay that line in the first paragraph; that alone would make me lear away from a 'copycatter' as a non-creative photographer when I'm trying to find something different (ie special) to make the photo taken as my family's own other than just the people in it. I realize it's hard sometimes to write something inducive but it's practically plegerism if everyone repeats the same sentence.

As I am always constant to admit I'm no professional or semi-p, I still have to say one thing serious: Do Your Own Thing. That and learn Real Old-School photography if you want to really learn photography and be something special. I get so sick of the new photography books, or reviews bashing real photography books that actually teach or lay out real learning items- either the new books focus on gear for half the book and hardly touch anything other than the extreme basics (and consequently have very weak actual photography examples), or the good books are being bashed for not having digital (mainly from what I read the reviewer basically just wants the camera to do everything, ie should'a spent less money on a compact camera instead for p-n-s snapshooter..) The best knowledge comes from old 35mm books before digital kicked in, and even ones on darkroom processing. Everything digital, including photoshop retouching, comes from, and is so much easier to understand, sometimes able to enact without even thinking, from the old-school film world.

Picked up a 'candid portrait' photography book from the library (which is so severely overloaded with digital format its sickening (they all have the exact same info in them -seriously)) and have been trying to browse through it, but it nearly drove me nuts looking at it and stopped after reaching a section where the author, who supposedly is 15 year phot-vet with her own shows and (some not so awesome) photography awards, tried to explain DOF, saying the only thing affecting dof was aperture; really? funny that. What about focal length /angle of lens? Hyperfocal distance, etc.. hyperfocal distance is something I've only ever encountered in about 3 of the 250+ books I've read, but it's actually a basic principle, along with infinity focus. The other major peeve I have with the digital photography world is how people, including the afore-mentioned author, state under their photos the gear, t, f, details, but don't relay exactly the focal length actually used, like say 135mm. Instead the entire zoom length of the lens is given, like 70-200mm. For one thing, it should be straight-foreward if you're even semi-prof, to figure out EXIF info, and at the other, it isn't necessarily helpful, because of DOF- if it's a variable f lens (that is, the max aperature is different from low end to high end, say f3.5 at 70mm, but its only able to max at f5.6 at 300mm) then the dof will be different especially if one's trying to figure out the technique and it seems to vary largely from say a bird to a person to a building. I know this might not be confusing (or at least it shouldn't be it seems) but when I was starting it was a confusing point for one reason or another.

Something I read once upon a time, and more than once, from people who actually made the photography world what it is now, and stated also I believe in The Zone Method of Exposure, is the best photograph is one that's done right the first time, without needing little if any retouching or manipulation. It's not the gear, but the person, skill, or subject, that's the important factor. For the most part, the power lies in the craft of the thing before and during (if you want -another 'decisive moment'). I believe that Photoshop has partially ruined the beauty of photography; in that I mean I see far too many photoshop'd images, regardless of being commercially used or not. These days far too many companies bank out for the overdressed and overmanipulated image, somehow believing that image manipulation equals talent and experience. I've watched a well-known young canadian photographer's vids on 'how to photograph and photoshop' his work, and sorry to say it wasn't mature or knowledgeable on either.. especially if one relies on erase to a layer upon layer in PS; a little something called masking would be far wiser workflow etc. Again, these are just my opinions, so don't bludgeon me, please. If you're serious about learning photography and have to be a autodidact (like I am with everything) to learn it as most people are starting out, it will be completely difficult, esp if people tell you just postprocess it later; Well, how is one to learn to take a good photo to start the PS, when you have to learn the PS to start 'to be a good photographer', but you cant learn the PS if you don't know the good photo? catch22.. When I worked a retail store a few years back, a cosmetic dept girl who was studying graphic arts /design, and myself were always going off on the large (and small) stock advertise shelf flyouts and other items- it was amazing how shoddy the work done on the item really was that was pushed through- either the PS was horrible, or the photography was to begin with, or worse yet, both. We were completely amazed; and yet that is what sells. But thing I say is: Will it be important or remembered decades on? Nope, think not. True, most photog these days won't be, but alot of things such as that will die out faster than others indeed. And on the other hand beside the photog point, no modern female realises that the 'beauty' is not the model's actual face NOR the makeup, but rather how much the actual face and body, and the makeup!, have been overly PS'd; and therefore negatively affecting their state of being of what beauty really relies on- the inner self- NOT makeup or hollywood.

So what should someone serious about photography be looking at? Old-school -what is that and who cares? No one uses that anymore!? Really? Learn-up kiddies! Hardcore Learnfest atcha! Even if you think your photo-field is leaning towards fashion or just portrait and you say Horst, think further back than that. Even if you're thinking food or some sort of close-up, guess what? -it's still the same old school. We need to delve into old, nearly 100 years ago from this year. Yes I said a century ago, that includes you hardheaded digital types out there! For the best of everything and where 98 percent of all photography delves from, we need to go to Steichen and Stieglitz, whose main important works lie between the 1900-1940s. Even landscapes, believe it or not, athough AAdams is considered the main, can be traced to the beginning refinement by either one of these two (which one it was exactly I don't recall, and no, I'm not denouncing Adams, as he is indeed the one that most refined it to what it is considered today, and if I remember correctly (although I cant remember the name) he didn't 'invent' the zone system as many believe!! -He only had to constantly implement it and therefore enforced it in his photoshops!) Alot of people still think the beginnings of photography lie with Eastman (Kodak man -Eastman named it Kodak because it was easier sounding than his own name and believed k was a 'strong letter'); some believe it started with documentary photography in the 1870's; still others just really don't know and think it was a 1950's thing (really!? wow!) I think i remember reading somewhere it was 1730, but the first photograph was 1826; and after 1839 it started becoming commonplace. But really the 'camera obscura' has been around since before the 15th century, although only really used for 'realist drawing'. In fact, the 'art of photography', or what photography culture is defined, has rolled through the stages of chemically experimental, documentary, straight portrait ('iron neck' portraits), artistic (renaissance scenic), life snapshot (Kodak age), an argumentive stage refined into a new age of everthing (thanks to Steichen/Stieglitz), and then it basically stayed there and developed in that loop until the advent of the digital age whereupon we still (basically) relie upon these methods but have (in my opinion opted to focus more on) Photoshop'd manipulation.

So you're asking yourself, 'where does that leave me? that sounds like a bunch of bull. What am I supposed to read then?'
The best books and vids I have found to date that stick in my mind are:
The 35mm Handbook (any book by M.Langford really)
Masters of Photography, BBC Series, 1983
Genius of Photography, BBC Series
Digital Photo, (Britain mag. for PS), www.photoanswers.co.uk (seriously the best no-nonsense fast PS learn)
and believe it, your own Camera Manual !!
--and THEN move to lighting... Strobist-101

But most importantly, "Just do your own thing!" & "Just get out there and shoot!"

My favorite photographers?
  Steiglitz, Steichen, Brassai, Atget, Eisenstaedt, E.Smith, Rodchenko, Blossfeldt  -just to name a few

PS- Eisenstaedt- don't know who he is? smack yourself away 1000points! His most famous photograph you have seen. Decisive moment you say? NOT! Eisenstadt actually was running around snapping pics of everything that Vday, and that was the top one of several people, including several of that couple (who actually did not know each other)!

PPS- back to HC-Bresson; think every photograph of his is made by him waiting for that moment? NO! think again and again! Ever see his contact sheets and watch /read him? you'd see what I'd mean. He even admitted more than once that was something he said only once and didn't mean it in the context every one takes it as. To define it PROPERLY (and even what he said) is basically: "a good photograph is one that (isn't necessarily of good composition but) catches the decisive moment of something in life, that is the most important of that instant of time". Basically that. The 'decisive moment' is almost always stated by also the example of his photograph of the man jumping the puddle.



It had to happen..

Untitled, 2010   Kodak GC400, underexposed
I knew it, whatd I say, eh?
Several days ago I was talking to the photo tech at the 1hr lab at a large retail chain, and got some odd news I believed I saw coming there. The store was apparently talking about scrapping their lab completely. Seems that after they dropped doing 35mm roll film, they arent doing enough business to keep it open. The tech agreed, it was ridiculous to drop film; sales dropped to nearly nonexistant almost immediately. I concluded with her that the store was crazy especially with spring and summer coming up in the next 2 months. Think about the weddings of 40 disposable cameras apiece, and the senior citizens who cant manuever around a digital camera no matter how 'simple' the controls. Sometimes the old way IS the best way. Not to mention who really wants to stand at a kiosk and go through all those snapshots when all you had to do the old school way was real customer satisfaction of 'just drop it off and give me prints of everything'? Now not only is it new cameras but also figuring out another computer when trying to figure out the family PC was an effort for these folks (even I cant remember everything and I started with programming on a Commodore!) And yes, digital might be the 'younger generation' thing, but how many parents are willing to lend the family camera to the minus 10 age? Retail store market directors think they have it in a purse, but its more a snag. Film dying? really? look online at a the junkiest film cameras and they aint cheap either. Like Ive said before, some top folks claim to serve the best interest of the consumer, but then again...
You cant be slim and fat all at the same time!

Coming soon-  the real 'Greening of Bridgeton, MO'


Mysterious X

'MysteriousX' selfportrait
strobist info- 1sunpak433d-aluminum foil snoot bottom front-1/16, 1sunpak433d-ambient room-1/4 power, iso-400, 1/60, f11
camera raw multi-exposure convert, GIMP dodged/burned, layered

Several weeks ago I came across Zack Arias 'Transform', really struck a cord with me like alot of people. Like the guy because he's mostly a realist when it comes to the actuality of being a photographer truly trying to make it and not just following the regular crowd of studioboys and snapshooters who really arent trying to be creative to really carve a real name and business for themselves, just saying 'look im a photographer' for the money. I for one havent tried to place myself out in the open yet because I dont believe my work is where it should be to survive by being different or at least somewhat professionally technically proficient. I can definitely say however that I am far more advanced than 90pct buying DSLRs out there or similar expensive look-at-me cameras, but that still doesnt mean Im ready either.

That however is not the reason for my sentiments or selfportrait above. Lately Ive been delving deeply into FirstTimeUser's tumblr stream as I love old photographs and nothing these days really compares to them or the efforts that they required -that partially explains for the style of the pic above. The resonance with Z.Arias is that Ive had a * time lately, like oh say the last several years, physically, mentally, financially -and it feels like the hole just keeps going to where I cant get out of anything. Ive been constantly upset, frustrated, depressed, and hurt, ill, and sick. Im sick of the wet dreary winter and parttime minumum pay job (even though I like the place) and I seriously want spring and summer here. I want a serious career in photography because art has always been my expressive, and Im sick of being maltreated for standing up to corporate bullies for myself and others and being paid so damn * little when the work done is perhaps the most crucial elemental base of all their operation. Im sick and tired of holier-than-thou attitudes because of their financial blisses upon my back and others while they sit their * in an office or a meeting and pretend their smarter or better somehow just because of position, title, pay, or heavens- a degree. what BS- I actually have more credits and tougher ones at that, than some stupid smoodge with a business degree, let me rephrase that, a MBA at that even! I could go much further and * on the business-customer-logistics-HR psychology * those people love to throwdown on that discussion, but i wont. Lets just say ive been a psych major also and Ive worked from janitor to liason and even RD, and I do know more than the 'company man' wants their peon to know in rights, law, and corporate drivens. Enough said other than alot of you all need to sit your * down and realise what the * really goes on, stop blacklisting, and learn the difference between associate and employee, and how and where your money really comes from, and stop letting company job money become your moral fallback. MFA!
It really isnt my intention to sound like a major * here but I guess I just have the moral standard practices those specials try to tell everyone they have in practice but dont. Thats the other reason I want to be a photographer, because I dont bs, am honest tell it how it is, and respect others regardless your role or looks just so long as you try to truly work with me, without trying to angle me for your own benefit to trash me in the sewer after youre done. And no, honestly, I dont like to b*.
WOW! that was soooo not what I was wanting to type, but I want to leave it out there for others to see. Yes the studios and photographers I might try to work under or with might not appreciate it at all, but maybe the ones Im trying to photograph who are the common people of the land might actually get the gist of this, I dunno. All Im saying is I truly struggle not 'gee i struggle too..'.

I am more than a face you dont want to see. I am more than a human you dont want to call your brethren. I am more than a hooded shadow you wish not to feel in your presence and hear whisper truth into your heart. I am someone important that cares to be held and loved properly as you do. I do believe in God and living the 2 Rules as I am able. I am like a Jedi, but I do not need mind control. I try and do and fail, and yet hopefully will succeed God willing.

I am a Mystery  -an X   -an X to the n-th unknown.