Saturday, January 31, 2009

POW-WOW ~ Rockin' On The Reservation

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The 1,000th Blog Post ~ John Patteson

When I first met John Patteson (there is no "R" in it) back in the late 1960's he was still in his teens and enrolled in what was then Dade County Junior College. He was fresh back from a year or two living in Thailand, which is where his folks were.

I don't remember if I met him at the weekly love-in at Greynolds Park or at Thee Mushroom, a head shop about a block from the entrance to the park. I do remember that he had a sitar, and to my uneducated ear seemed pretty decent with it, but the 12 string was really HIM. He could make that guitar sing!

This photo was taken about 1969, shot a few blocks from my house in the oak hammock near Natural Bridge over Arch Creek. His manager wanted some pictures to show around and this was scanned from one of those 8x10 glossy hand-outs. I was shooting with a Leica M4 and a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor lens.

John never made it big as a folk singer. He got involved with the motion picture industry as an armorer and special effects person. He worked on Miami Vice for years, along with a large variety of films and TV shows. He never married and has no kids. He now lives about a hundred miles up the coast. We talk on occasion.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Loraine J. Rice ~ Actress - Model

Talent Enterprises was a local talent agency owned by Ruth Foreman. It would be another ten years or so before Miam Vice really put North Miami's motion picture and television prodection facilities on the map but Ivan Tors Studios had buit a huge sound stage, another one was about a mile away, and we had movie equipment rental companies an recording studios, even a film lab.
That all meant that a lot of folks had dreams of becoming a star! They'd sign with a talent agency and then have to get a composite with a bunch of photographs showing them in various outfits and locations. I was one of the photographers Ruth Foreman used to refer them to. Lorraine had hers made up at a print shop, an accordian fold affair comprising six pages. Most weren't nearly as fancy.
Along the way I picked up a couple of bit parts but my movie career went noplace. Very few ever do.

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Everybody's An Actor

Michael was the son of a woman who worked in the same office as my wife Stephanie. He was cute, photogenic, and very much at ease in front of the camera. It was a pleasure working with him. I have no idea what happened with his acting career nor have I seen him or his mother in nearly forty years.

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SUSAN HART, Aspiring Actress

Susan was another one of the young ladies I hooked up with through Talent Enterprises. In this case I made the prints to exact size, mounted them on a piece of matt board, and the headline and text was rub on transfer lettering. Southern Photoprint used to make an 8x10 copy negative plus 100 8x10 glossies for $10.00. Today you couldn't buy the paper alone for that price! Digital put the final nail in their coffin about five years ago.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Always The Well Dressed Gentleman

I ran across these school photos of my son Jonathan. They were from one of those 8x10 sheets with a whole bunch of small photos that you had to cut apart yourself. These two were never cut apart. There was no date on them, but he looks like he was in kindergarten or perhaps first grade at ther time. The big mystery is what's with the tuxedo? Boys that age usually hate getting dressed up, and fewer still have a tux, formal shirt, and bow tie at the ready in their closet. Hell most grown men hate wearing a tux!
I'm guessing here, but it might have been for one of his aunt's or uncle's weddings, and with the school pictures being taken shortly before or afterwards he just decided to go the whole nine yards and be the only kid in the class photo dressed like a true gentleman. He's still like that!

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Clubbing Around Miami in 1976 ~ DISCO

Disco was the craze and I was shooting for a couple of public relations agencies that handled them, plus doing stories for Miami Magazine. Most of the clubs were along the bay and offered docking for boats for the members. Most of the clubs' membership was made up of younger people, upwardly mobile young professionals driving fancy cars, and I picked up a lot of private parties, as well as corporate work that way.

One club. the Palm Bay Club, had a mostly older membership, and it was a wealthier membership as well, less concerned with showiing off their newest sports car. They knew they had money and their friends knew they had money.

There was a little shop in the lobby that sold a little of everything from the Wall Street Journal to make-up to bathing suits. The lady who owned it asked me to start shooting color pictures as well as black and white. She displayed them, a fresh batch every week, took orders for me and people could pick up their 8x10's or whatever at their covenience in her shop. It was a great deal for me and she used it as a way to entice people into the shop. She didn't want a percentage!

There was one lady well up in her 70's that used to want me to take her out to a delicatesan late Saturday night. She always ordered a pastramie on rye. She always paid. When we'd get back to the club about 2 AM she always invited me up to her condo, but I was tired and never did go. After she'd passed away the doorman asked me why I always turned her down. He told me that the last young man she'd taken a fancy to ended up with a new car and a $100,000 Christmas gift. Still, when you're in your mid-thirties a seventy-something year old woman does look a bit old!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

We Apologize For The Service Interruption

Dear World:

We, the United States of America , your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your patience and understanding.



(My thanks to John Sevigny for sending that to me via email.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

That Sure As Hell Ain't Santa Claus

First I got an invitation from this new bank on Biscayne Blvd., followed up by an email from the Chamber of Commerce. Finally I got a call from the Chamber. They wanted to make sure that there was a decent turnout for the bank's grand opening party.

Christmas was fast aproaching and I was making a game out of seeing just how many parties I could attend that were serving free food. Why pay for food when gourmet delicacies are available free for the taking? That strange creature shaped like the bank's logo (or was the banks logo shaped like him?) was posing with everyone. We got to wear a Santa Claus hat and get our picture taken with a Polaroid camera. I figure that with Polaroid ceasing film manufacture this might be my last chance to appear in a Polaroid photo. Get it while the getting's good.

So here I am wearing a Santa hat holding my little Bessa L with the 15mm lens in one hand, some free food in the other, while somebody else was taking what just might be the last ever Polaroid picture of me! They also gave out these neat little duffle bags with the bank's name on it. If I could find the damned thing I could tell you the name of the bank.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pondering Politics In the Drizzle...

North Miami has an election coming up in May for two of the four members of the city council and the mayor. Twenty years ago Councilman Scott Galvin and I both ran for council seats and we both lost. The city had at large elections rather than district elections. Scott and I had both gotten asolid majority of votes in our parts of town but not elsewhere. He and I worked our butts off with a petition drive to amend the city charter. We wanted elections for council people to represent a district. We had to fight the sitting council to even get it put on the ballot. It got on the ballot and it passed!
Scott finished college, got a job, and bought a townhouse. In MY district. He ran for council again and got elected. But that's cool. He's good at what he does and I had run more to get somebody out of office (he dropped out of the race) than any great desire to be on the council myself. We ghave districts but between my having covered North Miami politics for the newspaper, serving on several city advisory boards, and working on several political campaigns over the years it's difficult to have such a narrow view that I'm not interested in who gets elected in other districts. It all affects the city and what affects the city affects me.
I've been giving a lot of thought lately about the mayoral race. There are a bunch of people planning on running. One, a former mayor, a disater, I couldn't support if he paid me. As for the others, there's one that I think I'll be backing but I'm still not 100% sure.
That leaves the two council races, neither of which is in my district. Tonight at the Central North Miami Homeowners Association meeting I got to listen to and talk with a candidate running for the District 3 seat, Michelle Garcia. I was impressed, very impressed. I shot a roll of B&W of her working the room, talking with various small groups of people. The major concern of many residents is fear of losing their homes. They owe more than the house is worth these days and many have lost their jobs. It's a national problem, of course, but she was willing to listen. She listened to complaints about the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) and how they've screwed up the traffic patterns with no left turn, no U-turn, and no right turn signs where they're not needed. It creates a lot of you can't get there from here situations. She listened, took notes, promised to look into these problems. I took a yard sign. I'm on an avenue with a lot of through traffic. Maybe I can't vote for Michelle Garcia but I sure plan on doing what I can to help her get elected.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

All That's New Is The Handicap Parking Sign

The old tag agency is still here! When I was in high school back in the late 50's this also served as the place where you took your driving test, got drivers licenses as well as hunting and fishing licenses, got license tags. did car title transfers, had things notarized, all sorts of things. There was even a driving school here.
Now they sell insurance, transfer titles, are the source of auto tags but the state handles renewals by mail, and you go to a state office to get your good for eight years drivers license. Hunting and fishing licenses you get from Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World about ten miles away, up in Broward County. A royal pain in the ass! Why was I here on this day? To take this photo is why. Then I drove about half a mile up West Dixie Highway to the Sunnyside Cafe, orderd bacon, eggs and grits with white toast, and had a cup of cofee while I read the paper.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Wonder What I Was Thinking?

Here's another one of those photos of me from the era of wide collars, bell bottoms, wild prints, and long hair. I remember the shirt was sort of a royal blue with an off-white pattern of what looked sort of like rope. It was most likely shot by my wife Stephanie. She also would have chosen the location because of the way the light highlighted my curly hair, played with the structure of my face, and accented the luminosityof my light blue-green eyes.
Of course there is that ever present pen visible clipped in my shirt pocket, along with the bulge of a pack of Camels. Someday I'd love to meet a reporter who actually carries their own pen and paper when they're not actively on a story, and most of them seem to forget it when they are! And they still bum cigarettes with an "Oh, I finally quit, but every once in awhile I get the urge..."
As for what I was thinking? I ain't got a clue!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

About That Old Wing Chair...

My folks had purchased this chair shortly after getting married back in 1941. To me it was always "Daddy's Chair". My mother had her chair. When they divorced it was at my grandmother's house for years, but after my father had a stroke in 1970 he moved in with Stephanie and me. His chair followed him to Florida. It's still here in my house, just about exactly where it was when this photo was made.

There were a lot of changes in our culture in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The Civil Rights Movement, the End The War In Vietnam protests, The Women's movement. Equality for everyone! And that of course meant that it was now OK for a woman to photograph a male nude. I found this print, a single weight glossy 8x10 from before the advent of resin coated (RC) paper, hiding in another one of those boxes full of what we now refer to as "vintage prints".

I'm not sure if it was shot by my wife Stephanie or possibly by our friend Louise Dana with one of her Swiss made Alpa cameras. There's nothing written on the back of the print. Louis was at least twenty years older than me, and with me now being sixty-six, I'm not too sure that I could track her down to ask. Or that she'd remember. And ex-wives are ex-wives. It'll have to remain a mystery.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Walking North From Jewfish Creek

Jewfish Creek seperates Key Largo from the southern tip of the Florida "mainland", although back about 1970, when this photo was taken, "mainland" included about a thirty mile stretch south of Florida City where the high and dry was only this narrow piece of filled land containing U.S. 1, and on both sides was mangrove swamp. Those trees in the background are black mangroves and they grow in shallow salt or brackish water, not on real land.
A few miles north of Jewfish Creek there was this bend in the road. In this shot we're looking more or less south, I'm walking north. I've been trying to remember who shot this, but I'm betting on Jon Sinish because because my wife Stephanie would have had to get on her knees to get that low angle point of view while Jon could probably manage it by standing on tip-toe.
I still have that belt buckle! I should probably get another belt blank and start wearing it again. It'll go nicely with my hair now that I'm letting it grow back after all those years.
I'm not sure what camera/lens I have in my hand, nor what camera/lens was used to take the photo. For some stupid reason I remember that the jeans were brown and that the shirt was light beige with fine brown stripes.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Chimpanzees Don't Smoke

When I'm sitting around by myself, smoking a cigarette with my coffee, my mind wanders off in odd directions at times. I'd recently read another one of those articles about how closely we're related to chimpanzees, and with new techniques of analyzing DNA, even individual genes and where they are on the chromosomes, makes it increasingly possible to pinpont the genetic reasons for the differences between the two species.
So what made our ancestors forsake their arboreal past? What was it that favored standing upright and running on the ground over using all four limbs to negotiate tree branches? We now know that chimps aren't the fruit eating vegetarians we once thought. They hunt, they throw stones, use branches as clubs, even shaping them to be more effective, and use twigs to entice tasty termites out of holes. They'll opportunisticaly eat dead animals they find. Yes, chimpanzees make and use tools, just like we do. And while they don't speak the way we do, they do communicate verbally and with hand signs.
At the same time we're constantly bombarded by the anti-smoking rhetoric of "Oh, it causes genetic damage!" Why not "Oh, it can cause genetic changes"? Damaging a few genes isn't always a bad thing. If it wasn't for genetic change we'd all still be one celled creatures living in damp places.
At some point back in time our ancestors learned to use fire. We could cook meat and other foods to make it easier to digest, and get that valuable protein into our systems. We could survive in colder climates. Eventually we learned to build shelters more complicated than the platforms of branches that the chimanzees make to elevate themselves above most predators. We moved into caves and tents and huts covered with hides or thatching. A fire in the center of the floor kept it warm, and smoke drifting up through the thatch or the spaces between the overlapped hides tended to preseve them. It also chased away flies and mosquitos.
At some point it was discovered that meat hung from the roof would also get preserved by being smoked, and that the dried hides could be worked back and forth over a branch, breaking down the fibers and softening the hide. Chimnies hadn't been invented yet so our ancestors got to breath plenty of smoke. All that genetic "damage!" No wonder over the past half a million years we've become so different from our chimpanzee cousins. They don't smoke!
I took my cup inside, got a refill, and came back outside to enjoy the night air. I lit another cigarette.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Christmas Present From Kitty, The Feral Cat

She just showed up about six months ago, a graceful white cat with a touch of tan, slinking across the lawn and looking back towards me over her shoulder. I've tried to act friendly but she won't let anybody get closer than about twenty feet from her, then she bolts!
Some evenings I'll sit out on the front porch and try to offer her a bit of fried chicken or hamburg, but even that won't get past her fears. I started leaving tasty morsels on the porch in the evening. They were always gone in the morning, but I was never sure if it was Kitty, a racoon, a rat, or what? All I knew for sure was that something had feasted on it.
One morning as I walked out the front door the first thing I noticed were the feathers. They were everywhere! Then I spotted the bluejay lying on its side, head chewed off, in the center of the walkway about three feet from the porch. A week or so later I was greated by a small decapitated rat on my front walk. Since then it seems like about once a week I find a present out on the walk, mostly small rats but occasionally a bird. I've been making a bigger effort to put out some table scraps every night and she seems to be spending more time in my yard, but I still can't get near her.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gotta Love Them Cute Young Chicks!

Lately I really have been making a serious attempt to make mayhem out of madness around here, digging through boxes, unpiling and repiling heaps of the stuff most folks would have just thrown out years ago. Not me. No way! I just try to keep track of where something might be stashed. Mental notes. If I were to write them down then that would just be one more thing to keep track of.
A couple of weeks ago I was looking through some photo finishing bags and found this print of myself with the lady, probably at a fishing club meeting, probably last year sometime. I wouldn't have dressed quite that casually for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. But then again, I might have. Keeps 'em guessing!
As I looked at the photo I thought that it reminded me of another picture that was here on my blog a long time ago. They're both self portraits. The bottom one was taken right around my birthday in 1962. I'd either just turned twenty or was about to. In the upper photo I'm sixty-five. I've gotten a touch of grey hair over the forty-five year span but I still have my hair. The chicks love it! That and my sexy eyes. At least that's what they tell me.
I still have piles of crap to go through, and I still can't bring myself to throw anything away. The piles and boxes have been rearranged and dusted. I've found a bunch of images that I want to post on the blog. I'm also thinking about shooting some new photos of places around town that I last photographed forty or so years ago. Somethings really change while others pretty much stay the same. And that woman? I keep wondering what she looked like back in 1962.
Tech info: The top photo was with a Bessa L equipped with a 15mm Heliar lens on Kodak Gold 200 film while the bottom photo was on Kodachrome II film with an Olympus Pen camera sporting a 28mm Zuiko lens.

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My Birthday Greeting From The Miami Herald

I awoke about eight, pushed the coffee pot's "On" button, and went to brush my teeth. "A beautiful day" I thought as I looked out the window, then suddenly realized that it was my birthday! Sixty-six years old. 66! Neither of my grandfathers had reached this age. While the coffee pot was finishing its thing I pulled on jeans and a shirt, slid my feet into some deck shoes, and drove down the steet to pick up a Sunday paper.
A short time later I was sitting on the front porch drinking my morning brew and smoking a cigarette as I flipped through the paper. It's become a ritual ~ pull out the coupon sections to give to my ex, the drugstore fliers to peruse later, and check the headlines on the various sections, see what's happening in the world. I don't usually pay much attention to what's usually referred to as The Arts Section, but there it was! Big letters too. FUKU
I mean, OK, it's not the spelling you'd expect to see, but just how else would you be expected to pronounce it? And that would mean that it's not a word you'd expect to see in the Miami Herald on Page 1 of the arts section. Somebody must have gotten a big kick out of pulling that stunt! Or maybe they got a big kick (for real) FOR pulling that stunt? I'll never know.
I did find out later from one of the Herald's editors that he was as surprised to see it as I was, as were a number of other people who work there. It seems that we all got a good laugh out of it, and a good laugh makes a good birthday present. My thanks to whoever the hell it was!

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Right Hand Man

There really is an underlying photographic image here, honest!
It was printed on Ilford Multigrade paper and "developed" using Kodak Dektol paper developer and it's part of a series I've been working on over the last few months. In a few of them, and tis is one of those, I decided to add some color using acrylic paints. I need to do some more experimentation with the paint aspect. I use some bright colors here, and I love the way the finger tips and base areaof the thumb came out, but the fuscia just doesn't work.
I dipped my hand partway into a tray of Dektol, shook the excess off onto the paper, and then pressed my hand down firmly onto the paper, which was supported by a sheet of heavy plexiglass. My hand stayed there for a bit over five minutes. In the meantime the scattered drops of developer just sat there with no agitation so the developer loaded up with bromide, then I tilted the paper in various directions to allow the bromide loaded developer to run across the prints surface. It was all that bromide that left the grey streaks. I made a few more prints using the same technique but I wanted to get the opinions of a few other people before I went hog wild. So far they've been well received at a couple of gallery shows, but they didn't include any prints that were painted.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Making Boring Advisory Board Meetings Somewhat Less Boring

That's me on the right. I shot this with my usual "hold the camera with my arm extended out of the picture". This was during a North Miami Board of Adjustment meeting. Sometimes I dress for the occasion, sometimes I look like a vagrant...LOL
Last October I had an exhibit of my photos at the Mario Flores Gallery in downtown North Miami, followed by one at the N.M. Public Library. Mario wanted me to do something "new and creative" as well as show my more conventional work. The effect is achieved by splattering Dektol developer on the exposed paper, tilting it this way and that so the droplets run across the paper, then just leaving it undisturbed for five minutes or longer. I then splatter a bit more fresh developer on the paper, repeating the tilting procedure but this time just letting it develop for a minute or so, then into the fixer. The developing procedure takes up about ten minutes on the average before the fix and wash. I probably make about ten prints for every one I like and keep. Of course every print is a unique one of a kind.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Maggie's Gallery

I had a couple of friends who didn't know one another but they both used the same attorney, so I soon got to meet Jerry Weisberg, and he was looking for a photographer to shoot pictures for various cases he had. His office was in Coconut Grove, the "arty" part of Miami back then. I was in the Grove frequently, met people on my own and got introduced to others. One of them was this young woman who'd just opened an art gallery. I'm pretty sure that her name was Maggie, but 1968 was forty years ago. I'm also pretty sure that my friend John Patteson was the one who shot the photo with my Leica. He and I used to go down to the Grove together all the time.
The guy on the right, an artist, was Dutch and had a pretty strong accent but I can't remember his name*. This was probably the only time I'd ever met him. The guy on the left with the long hair was me. We were going through a bunch of my photographs trying to decide which ones to include in an exhibit.
*23 Feb. 2009 ~ I just got an email from Al Olme, one of my closest friends back in those days. Al wrote that the guy's name is Renis Opstal. Neither of us are sure of the spelling but it does seem to sound right. Hey Renis! If you run across this please post a comment on the blog or send me an email. Thanks!

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Fishing For Pickerel, Catching Perch ~ 1965

That first year that Stephanie and I were married we discovered a lot of things about one another. We'd only met a few days before we got married on December fourth, 1964, mid winter in Boston. She didn't know that I had a passion for fishing and I had no idea that she'd never fished before. Came spring time and I gave her some basic casting lessons at the park.
Anybody who's ever done much fishing knows that all fish aren't trophy size and you don't always catch fish. Come opening day of the fishing season and Stephanie managed to land a 5 lb. 14 oz. largemouth bass, along with a mess of smaller ones and several yellow perch. A week later she caught a 5 lb. pickerel. They were all caught with a bucktail jig on 4 lb. test line. She'd caught the fever! We spent our weekends fishing!
I'd already I sold my Honda motorcycle and bought a '64 Volkswagen. We started looking for a boat. When we found this 12 foot Penn Yan we both fell in love with it. The canvas covering was bright red and the varnished cedar planking with ash ribs on the inside made it look like a piece of fine furniture. It cost us $120 and it lived atop the VW for several years.
Stephanie might have been the one to catch all the big fish but I kept trying. Here's a shot she took of me in the old New Bedford Resevoir with a white perch. See! I could catch fish! They were just a lot smaller than the ones that she caught. She was using our "fishing camera", an old Minolta Autocord that went on to photograph several hundred weddings before I sold it for more than I'd paid for it.

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Trying To Play The Guitar

This is one of a mess of old prints I discovered hiding in some 8x10 paper boxes from years ago. "Vintage Print" is what they call them now. It dates to about 1965 and was most likely shot by my new bride Stephanie. We were living in Boston at the time. This new apartment was larger than the last and living room furniture was of lower priority than a kitchen table and chairs. Back then sitting on a floor wasn't unusual in our social set, and I could still spring to my feet without grabbing onto the the window sill and complaining about pain in my knees.
It must have been winter time because snow is plainly visible on the ground outside. I still had visions of becoming a great guitar player. I had no trouble learning the fingering but I can't read music and I'm about as tone deaf as they come. Eventually reality set in and I concentrated on my photography. Back then I had a Leica IIIf with a 35mm f/1.8 Canon lens and a Nikon finder. It was most likely shot on Tri-X souped in Acufine and printed on DuPont Velour Black graded paper. The print has held up well over the years.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2009 ~ Off To A Slow Start

I've got a bunch of B&W prints I made that need to be scanned, and I've got a few that are too big to be scanned without doing sections and "stitching" the sections back together. That's beyond my abilities! I got a flash of inspiration! I figured that for posing on the blog I didn't need the ultimate in resolution. I copied them and made some small prints. When you see them you'll understand why I couldn't just make smaller prints from the original negatives. They're one of a kind!
I also dug out some old published work from years ago, and from decades ago I found some of my dad's pen & ink sketches from when he attended art school in Boston circa 1937, along with a charcoal portrait of him done by one of his classmates. Again, I copied them. It'll be no trouble scanning the small prints and posting them.
The plan is for Flo Tiger to come over, tomorrow afternoon most likely, and give me another lesson in scanning, posting, making minor corrections, etc ~ all the stuff that every fifteen year old kid knows how do do, but I sure don't! I already have a pile of images picked out to scan, and in my head at least, the stories are already written.
I hope that everybody is healthy and having a good New Year so far. The Price Of Silver is back!