Saturday, December 31, 2005

adieu 2005

I thought I'd take out the old year with this photo of my friend Carl. The end of the year is a time to look back, sometimes past the current year, to summarize a whole life, and what it has brought about so far. The ability to look back and cherish is a gift given by all the things you held close during that time. Carl is one of them. He and I have been good friends for about 35 years now. Hopefully he'll be out of rehab and back home in a week or two. He's made fantastic progress since his stroke.

This was taken with Tri-X. I worked in my cold N.Miami darkroom during the recent cold snap. I'm more used to souping film at 85 degrees than at 60. It's not always easy getting great negatives at those extremes. Lately my friend Mikal Grass has been buying some strange films and I've been playing around with some MACOPHOT CUBE 400, but I really don't care for the flattened out mid-tones. Mikal is fond of new film discoveries and often shares with me. There's something to say for that, as long as you keep notes and use the film creatively.

Hari Krishnas March by Pentacostal Ministers

The Hari Krishna movement was big with young people in the late 1960's. Here a group of them march along a sidewalk in downtown Miami ringing bells, beating on drums and tambourines, and playing stringed instruments as they chanted. The two gentlemen in dark suits are Pentacostal ministers who actually seem to be enjoying the sight in comparison to the older woman who appears quite shocked. The ministers and their ministry are described in more detail in the posts below. After a couple of years the Hari Krishnas seemed to just fade away here in Miami. I was shooting with a Leica M4 and a 35/1.8 Canon lens, holding the camera at arms length over my head and aiming by guess more than anything, but it's a common news photography technique for shooting over the heads of crowds and after awhile you get pretty good at it. It's also a very flattering angle. This is printed full frame. The scan is off a print from the 1970's.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Like the photo immediately below, this is another outreach program of the Pentacostal Church Of God out of Cleveland, TN. The Rev. Tom Morse, who founded Surfside Challenge here in Miami, bought a large camper and outfitted it with pulpit and pews to bring religion to the community. Here he's the center white man between 2 ministers down from Cleveland, TN to see what he was doing. The three of them are trying to persuade the black man into staying for services. You can see the Church on Wheels behind them. The photo was shot in Overtown with a Leica M4 and probably my 35/1.8 Canon lens. It was becoming fashionable amongst young blacks to wear a comb stuck in their hair but big bushy afros and afro picks were still a few years in the future. I was always getting asignments`to shoot in the black community in those days. There were very few black photographers around and a lot of whites wouldn't take those asignments. For a couple of years I was on staff for a black newspaper, the Florida Courier, their token honkey. The only time I ever had anything aproaching a problem was an asignment to cover a Black Panther meeting (A radical Black Power group) also in Overtown. They didn't want to let me attend. I showed them my press credentials, listing the black paper, and they reluctantly let me in. On the way out everybody high-fived me and we parted friends.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

It was the late 60's and Surfside Six was the hit TV show, filmed here in the Miami area. Reverand Tom Morse, a Pentacostal minister from The Church of God in Cleveland, TN came to town with the mission of saving souls and getting kids off of drugs. He called his organization Surfside Challenge and rented a large old house on S.E. 15th Rd. off of U.S. 1, just south of downtown Miami. He went to the love-ins in the parks, attended rock festivals, and ended up with twenty to thirty youngsters living there. I forget exactly How I met him but I was soon doing all their P.R. photography and taking photos for their various publications. Not big money but I got into a lot of rock concerts. I met a lot of business leaders and political types which led to other better paying photo assignments. He used to like to take to the streets and preach to people one on one. This was shot in Overtown, a black neighborhood just north of downtown Miami, late at night. The young lady was obviously a "working girl". Leica M4, 35/1.8 Canon and Tri-X.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Summer Fun

In the late 1960's I was shooting for The North Dade Journal, a local weekly owned by the parent company of The Miami Herald. The editor was big on what he referred to as "wild art", random interesting shots that you just happened upon as you drove around town. There was a small lake a few blocks from my house surrounded by Australian Pines, and some kids had tied a long rope near the top. They'd swing off the bank over the water and catapult themselves out into the lake. One hot summer day I was driving by and noticed a few boys sitting in one of the trees watching as their friends went flying into the water. I stopped and shot a few frames trying to catch one in mid air or just splashing into the water, but this one kid was so graceful just swinging on the rope that I always loved this shot!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Starbucks is my favorite places to sit outside and have coffee. The outdoor tables and chairs, and people who come and go at all hours of the day, resemble a European piazza in many ways. Strangers chat with each other, and eventually, become friends, or at least coffee acquaintances. Sometimes I run into people I know, sometimes I run into people I haven't seen in twenty years.

It also lies within the five mile radius of my house. On pleasant fall nights, I can easily walk there.

My Bessa and the 15mm lens are always with me. I have recorded my coffees at Starbucks faithfully. Someday maybe they will be an archaelogical find, like the cherry pits found in the excavations during the construction of the South Street Wharf in Manhattan,-my photos will give a cross section of the Starbucks patrons in North Miami.

No, more likely they will give an idea of what papers and chemicals were available in 2005.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A few more days of this last years 15mm portraits of myself, and then I'll move on into the next year.

Sometimes, when you break into a new artistic stride, the more you repeat the process, the more you become familiar with what you're doing on an intimate level with your body of work. Why have I been taking these photos? At first, I said and I thought, that it was to record moments in my everyday life, friends I meet, strangers I speak to. But as I go on with the project, I see there's something more to this than even met my eye. Something compelling me to work with the camera until I work out what it is exactly I'm after. To question something past all previous interragations of myself, and to force myself to answer up. Like backing myself against a wall, I am photographing myself until there is no place to conceal the least part of myself.

But something always hides from the self. I have concentrated on these photographs for a year, mostly close to home, and in everyday and natural situations. My days are rather predictable, and of late, rarely do I leave a 15 mile radius from my house. This is where my life is, and has been for a number of years.

In the old days, 60's, 70's, and even the 80, my range of travel was the Miami Metropolitan area, with rarely an excuse to leave it. The world traveled to Miami/Dade a great deal. Things were happening. Things were obviously changing. And yet, because it all came here, I didn't have to leave.

Now, I wonder still if I have to leave.

Changes are being made, people are still coming into Miami/Dade, but it no longer is an event. I am no longer working for newspapers -at any regular pace-and I am far outside any "scene" that may, in whatever snail's pace compared to the previous decades, they are happening. Days of Rosie O'Donnell, Estavez, and Versace seemingly stirring up a Miami Life taste treat for the country, lingering memories of Miami Vice, and art Deco colors, seem like only a passing fancy here now. Yes, South Beach, as it always did, entertains the current population fad, and they in turn tempt a few visitors, to join a night life I have long forgotten, and was never really tempted by in the first place.

Versace was murdered in the midst of the South Beach Revival, and for a while we were on the news and brought onto television screens everywhere. But after that, whatever sparkle had been felt, a slowly drifting sparkle like the leftover smoke from a fireworks display, went away. Miami is now just a place that is not Baghdad, that is not New Orleans, that is not....well, wherever the next next goes. We have finally
reached that point, after which persisting until life seems gone out of everything, some small emotional climate change will try to produce another renaissance.

I hope not to be here by then. I have the idea that I will photograph myself out of the Miami/Dade consciousness long before it happens. Some of us will probably have to leave, to make way for those who will come, packing the new Renaissance with them.

So these few days, you will see my establishing shots, let's say, of the picture of my latter years. These will be the ground laid, the departing station for what comes next. Perhaps nothing will. Perhaps the Renaissance won't come. Perhaps the Copa Cobana will not ever return to Miami. Or maybe Miami will become a jungle, forgotten by all the lives that continue to drift upwards into the sky as generations pass by. Perhaps giant orchids will overtake Miami/Dade, and will reach higher than the Empire State Building, or Taipei 101-giant pink purple, rust orange, yellow green orchids eating up the South Florida land mass.

Perhaps by then I'll know who I am, and will come back to once again photographing the "what's happening" in South Florida.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

some wedding photography

I took this on a wedding photo shoot with Marc Williams, a fellow photographer I met over at the forum. This was shot in May of last year. He was in Miami on a job, and asked me to second him. It was shot with my M2-R and a 6 element second edition 35mm Summicron, probably 1/30 at f/2.8 or there abouts. There's a bit of blur in one foot. (The film, contact sheet, and print were developed, printed and scanned by Marc Williams.)

It's all natural light carefully measured with the incident attachment (Invercone) on my trusty Weston Master V. It was some "new" Tri-X and some of the previous generation. I don't know what Marc souped them in. I used an ISO (although the meter says ASA) of 400, fudging the exposures to mostly assure sufficient shadow detail.

I metered for the shadows instead of the dress because with conventional black and white film you have three main variables that affect your results. First is choice of film. Tri-X is much more forgiving in exposure that T-Max 400 for instance. Second is exposure. You can't expect shadow detail if no light hits the film in the shadow areas. Third is development, which controls contrast. It's best to give enough exposure to assure shadow detail, such as detail in dark hair or the mens' tuxedos. This being a second marriage the bride wore a pastel dress, so it wasn't a concern to get detail in white lace, for instance. Still, there was spotty sunlight in some areas outside, and strong window light in some interior shots. Overexposed areas in the photo can be burned in to provide some detail. Underexposed areas? If it ain't on the negative it ain't there!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Making A New Friend

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pelicans Above