Photography In Use, Count the Ways

I am not blogging much anymore, and why is that? My head is filled with stuff I want to write about, opinions I'd like to share, events that I'd like to mark with a post. Because my very thought processes take the form of personal essays, it is usually, easy enough to get me started. But, these days, even that way of thinking doesn't get me to a keyboard.
Photo taken my Nine Lam, just before we sat down to eat a big green salad.
At last, it's time to work on a FOWH video, and he is ready to begin when we are.
Some of the lack of blog posts is due to fatigue. After a day in a borrowed darkroom, I am weary. My need to act on creative impulses is sated. Instead of writing a blog post, I spend time on Instagram, uploading my own pictures and following visual trails to other interesting feeds in art, interior design, poetry, book readers, chefs and food stylists, travelers and collectors.
Silver gelatin print from a 1989 negative. All three daughters in Aruba on a rocky beach at sunset.
New supper recipe - shrimp, okra, tomatoes over rice. Skillet all-in-one dish, too.
This picture found its way to my Instagram feed.
All is visual. 'Sorting and editing' as my friend Martha calls it. The very meaning of photographs is changing for me. I continue to photograph every day, because there is light and color, juxtapositions of objects and shapes everywhere. I cannot resist playing. Often, I go out into my garden in the early morning, iPhone in hand, just to look at the light and photograph what I see. Sets the tone for the day, perhaps? I sometimes wonder if taking photographs like this is similar to what smoking a cigarette was back in the day - take a few minutes off, clear the mind, or at least, simply look with soft eyes without much thinking. Sort of meditative?
I bought a $27 plastic Holga camera (similar to those old plastic Diana cameras no longer made) and shot a roll of 2 1/4 black/white film. Am having trouble even finding someone to process it, so have yet to work with the negatives. My thought was to take this cheap plastic camera to Rome and see what happens in the Forum among the columns, at the Coliseum, beside the Fountain of the Rivers at sunset and in the churches when light streams through high windows. Cheap plastic cameras are notorious both for light leaks and unplanned oddities in the negatives. Will be fun to play with light and shadow and shades of gray again, at the expense of color and without the instant gratification of digital.
Recently read an article recently titled, 'As We Become Cameras' by Matt Hackett. The author speaks of "the era we are in the midst of, with a profusion of cheap, miniature, wearable, networked cameras and screens...' and continues, 'as they become ubiquitous, I doubt we will think of these things as cameras much longer. We hardly think of the tiny quartz wafers inside every integrated circuit as 'clocks,' if we think of them at all. Cameras will become equally invisible facilitators of remote vision...what we do with that power is up to us." With that plastic Holga camera - and in that loaner of a darkroom - I am taking a step back in time and am still making objects, pictures on paper to be put in a frame and hung on the wall. Fancy that.
Galveston lilies I dug up and brought back home have bloomed and beginning to make seed pods.
This is my favorite part. How many years have I gone to Galveston around my June birthday to photograph lily seed pods when they begin to burst apart? So many times.
Where are the streams of honey bees that should be feasting on nectar here?
Second season when the bees have not appeared.
Writing and darkroom work are both slow processes. Both take thought and redos and far longer than I initially think to get what I am going for. And the thing is, I kinda like working with both pictures and words. All the time.
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FotoFest's 2016 Biennial opened when I was in Seattle with daughters and grand kids. Themed as Changing Circumstances, Looking at the Future of the Planet, its subject matter is right on target, confronting mankind's lack of stewardship for Planet Earth and the attendant climate change all still a myth to so many folks. ES and I went to FotoFest's closing reception last Saturday night to see work in the Silos at Sawyer Yards, Winter Street and Silver Street Studios.  Left the place with tired feet and in a state of un-ease. Photographs on display are chilling. Especially those of Edward Burtynsky, that lined the Silos gallery below. Shocking what we've done to large portions of the only Earth/home we have. The photo above was taken in Ontario, Canada. Forgot to gather the caption into, but the area is huge and we've made a mess of it. Photos below show workers in a Chinese chicken plant and a section of land in Arizona that divides the Navajo Reservation from rampant growth in Phoenix. And then there is the photo showing silo farming in the Texas Panhandle. I always wondered about those large circles in the desert I see from airplane windows. Now I know.
Poultry processing plant in Jilin Province, China, 2005. Why do they wear pink, I wonder, even though that is not
the most important question to be addressed
Arresting image of suburban residential growth that butts against the boundary of the Navajo Reservation.
Pivot irrigation in Texas Panhandle, using water from Ogallala Aquifer, which is rapidly disappearing.
Efficient growing, but unsustainable.
These photographs are fearsome, terrible. What are we all thinking? The images of mines for metals and forest clear cutting I could not photograph, even to write about.The photographer covered lots of ground on Mother Earth and shows us the need to put our house in order.
Dorinth Doherty's new work, Preserving Eden, comprise photos of seeds in worldwide seed banks or depositories is scary in another way. Preserving seeds in 2016 feels to me a similar undertaking not unlike the monks in the Dark Ages preserving printed materials until the Renaissance when they could be shared and understood as valuable again. And without bees, how on earth (pun intended) will seeds be pollinated? Dorinth writes in a caption next to her photographs, "These images of architecture, technology, and types of collections provide a window on our scientific heritage and our cultural aspirations and fears, which in turn govern what is saved and why."
Corn Husk (Landrace), 2009, from series Archiving Eden.
Amid the lab paraphernalia, see the baby picture holder. What about the generations that follow us?
Will they have good food to eat? Will be have preserved as much as need?
She explores the role of seed banks and their preservation efforts in the face of climate change and the coming extinction of many natural species. Individuals and government from around the world are collaborating to create the first truly global botanical backup system, a positive development. But she writes, there is 'also a complex web of political and economic issues surrounding these large-scale collections, all relating to who should have control of one of the world's most basic resources. Dorinth's Archiving Eden series gives us a hint of the work of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault near the North Pole.
There was much, much more to see and think about at FotoFest 2016. Thanks to Wendy, Fred and Steven and all the staff for bringing us the evidence.




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