Thursday, October 18, 2007

Another night of nothin

Nothin to say anyway. Still working on the little photo retrospective. This is an exampe of what you can do when you get a decent composition but the color sucks. It's also an example of why some photos need to be big. The couple in the water is an interesting element, but you can't even see them at this size.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nothing to say

Just look at the pretty picture. Don't let them tell you Brooklyn's like totally ugly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Schips passing in the night

The SCHIP "controversy" illustrates some very basic differences between conservatives and normal, decent people and provides a clue as to how we could better win a lot of these arguments (in the arena of public opinion, of course, in real life it's not a contest).

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's thought of all the money wasted on our murder spree in Iraq when conservatives complain about a relatively small amount being spent to help hard working families who have suffered devastating medical crises.

It's backfiring on them this time, but in general, the construction "Why should my tax dollars pay for x" appeals to the masses. x can be just about anything and everyone who pays taxes can sympathize.

Still, some x's have more resonance than others. For example, "why should my taxes pay to put out other people's fires?" isn't going to get a lot of traction. What if my house catches on fire? It could happen. Of course I want someone to come put it out.

Same thing with SCHIP. Why should I have to pay for someone else's catastrophic medical condition? Well, that could happen to me as well. The ability to recognize that we are all in the same boat does a lot to bring out the empathy in people.

But I'm an idealist. I think most people can empathize with those who suffer catastrophes that are less likely to happen to them as well, particularly if it is a moral issue. But it often takes more time to for the meaning to sink in and a often a little guidance is necessary.

So although America will not be occupied by a brutally repressive foreign power in our lifetime and the great majority of us will not be secretly imprisoned and tortured by our government or have our family murdered by drunken American mercenaries, errr Blackwater employees, I think most of us would prefer not to spend our tax dollars on murder, torture and oppression, particularly when it is so damaging to the national security, which when the words are not misused, is our security as well.

So maybe decent people should try that old conservative rhetorical strategy and frame the issues we rail against in terms of our blessed tax dollars.

I'll be damned if I want my tax dollars fattening the investment accounts of traitors and murderers that are fucking up the lives of so many people who are ultimately not that different from us. Who does? Particularly when that money could be used to help people, you know, people like us.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Where have all the copy editors gone?

The Associated Press gets caught with a sophomoric copy editing error in a headline for a major story". Someone let slip:

Bush Raps Democrats on Spending Bills

They obviously meant the hed to read:
Bush Rapes Democrats on Spending Bills

Pathetic, just pathetic. And that's just the poor copy editing. Not to mention the dog bites man nature of the story.

Ha ha. The "dog bites man" reference dates me, doesn't it? According to the AP stylebook, the term has been replaced by "Bush rapes Democrats," but their own copy editors fuck up such a simple question of style. Must be Bush appointees.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The nature of kitsch

Since I've been staring at photos all day and have already discussed one with you, reader, I'll share my concerns about this photograph.

It's kitsch, obviously. I feel no guilt about taking it. What can I do? I'm standing there with a camera. I see a white crane scanning the pond, which I know to be populated by many small Koi. I can see what's coming. I consciously line up the circular groups of lilly pads and set the camera to achieve the effect I want with the depth of field. I lock the exposure to ensure the bird is white, but not blown out. I set the autofocus for action. The photo comes out pretty much as planned. It's like winning at the horse races, when you've extensively studied the racing form and the race goes down exactly as you thought. Photography and serious handicapping aren't that different. It feels good to get it right. But do those little victories of predestination have any larger value? I'm leaning towards no, or rarely at best.

I am not a nature photographer, much less a wildlife photographer. Those people camp out for weeks to get the shot they envision. I am more of a photojournalist. I struggle to see what's there from instant to instant.

The problem I have intellectually, and as a photo critic, with unabashedly beautiful pictures is that they rarely tell a story. They are presented solely as objects of beauty. And beauty, by itself, is not necessarily art.

Photographs like this beg interesting questions about the relationships between actual experience and the artistic rendering of experience, or the experience of artistic rendering. To be physically present and witness a lithe white crane fish a Koi out of an in-bloom lilly pond and fly away into a blue sky on a crisp autumn day, now that is a genuinely beautiful experience. Yet, a photograph of the same event is nothing to speak of. Why don't realistic depictions of what we experience as beauty affect us in the same way as art? Why does art look like crap when you're out in reality and reality look like crap when you're in a gallery or museum, or home in the living room? I think it's because there is a physical as well as an aesthetic feeling asscoiated with natural beauty. Appreciating art requires not only vision, it requires a significant ability to empathize as well.

Another saturday at the museum

I thought this composition was interesting in a formal way. I waited quite awhile for the pieces to come to together. It's from inside a small theater in the contemporary Caribbean art exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It's the second time we've been to see the current exhibitions. In addition to the Caribbean art, there's a great exhibition of the museum's watercolor collection and a major installation of feminist art, including "The Dinner Party" by Judy Chicago, a truly awesome work.

I've been working on photo stuff all weekend and haven't been able to get up the gumption to write anything, so this will have to do. I generally prefer photos that say something, but occasionally I don't mind looking at pretty shapes and colors.