Originality

After a lifetime of image making, the one thing that I can pat myself on the back for, is being an original.  Oh some of my pictures may look like those made by others, but it is never intentional.  We all have learned from viewing the images of others, but most of us tuck that knowledge away so we can use it when we need it….to create our own images.

The majority of my workshop participants over the years, were given a speech by me to warn against copying my ideas or anybody else’s.  Be an original.

I have been fortunate to photograph a few national parks, national monuments and historic sites.  At times I have stood in the footsteps of the great Ansell Adams.  I have however never made the same picture as Ansell.  Now some may say that maybe I should have, but I prefer to use ideas that originate in the fertile, all be it slightly disturbed, recesses of my own mind.

In the 1990s there was a photographer who went around the country creating images as identical as possible to those that Ansell made.  He even cut down a tree that had grown in the way in one location.  That is beyond my imagination.

As I observe many of today’s top image makers, it becomes clear quickly, which ones copy the style and subject matter of other shooters, and which are their own thinkers.

I have posted a few black & white images on these pages over the years.  All of those have either been shot as original  b&w digitals, or they were shot as color digitals and converted at home.  In every case but one (a Badlands shot), the conversion images were meant to be gray-scale from the moment of conception.  I have mentioned that I developed and printed my own b&w for 30 years.  Just a few issues ago, I recommended the art (my opinion) of b&w superstar and former Ansell Adams protégé, John Sexton.  My point is that I love and understand black and white.

Many of today’s top pros grace the pages of Facebook with their view of what a b&w image should look like.  Many of those images are wonderful and I commend all of them for trying a medium that was probably in its prime before they were born.  One suggestion…….know when to stop.  We live in such a “follow the leader” society that at times I wonder if anybody thinks for themselves. I opened my Facebook homepage a few days ago, and seven, yes seven, of the top or near the top pros had their black & white takes on every subject ever known to man.  I was 25 posts (including test posts) down the page before I saw my first color image. Sometimes the best thing one photographer can do when they view the images of another photographer is enjoy them, and then forget them.  Maybe if the b&w trend continues, color will become the next fad.

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PBS Documentary.

We have been speaking of black & white, and that theme fits nicely with a PBS documentary I watched recently.

The show focused on the life of Seneca Ray Stoddard. He was in some respects the William Henry Jackson of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.  His 8×10 b&w (negative size) images were made from around 1860-1885.  They were originally made around Glens Falls and Lake George, and were essentially tourist shots.  Tourism was a brand new business in this era. Eventually he traveled deep into the wilderness of these eastern mountains and his work evolved into art.  My opinion. His last photos were made to show the damage of clear-cuts made by the timber industry.  Stoddard was a prolific writer, a publisher and  a public speaker.

This is no Ken Burns documentary, but it if you love history, or photography, I think you may enjoy it.

Shifting Gears

I have absolutely no intimate personal information about any major league stick and ball sport.  My opinions come from what I have read and heard in various forums.

I had a friend from Oregon (formerly from WI) ask me my opinion on the suspension of Milwaukee Brewer (baseball) Ryan Braun for the rest of the baseball season.  I think a 65 game suspension is just about right.  Maybe even a little longer would have been proper. You cannot cheer when players you do not like are suspended, and gripe when your guy is punished. Braun is a great player and had been a great representative for Wisconsin.  He didn’t only break a rule, he lied about it.

I know a lot of fans think that MLB was out to get Braun after the reversal of his penalty in 2011.  So what?  That doesn’t change what he did, and what the punishment should be.

Professional baseball has gone from the worst of the worst when it comes to performance enhancing drugs, to the toughest.  The toughest sport on these drugs at one time, the NFL (my favorite stick and ball sport), is slipping badly.  One drug which is deemed against the rules in the NFL, is legal within the U.S. with a prescription.  How much trouble do you think a professional football player has finding a doctor to write a script for that drug?  They say and I don’t know if it’s true, about 25% of the entire league is on this drug.  How many of your heroes do you think are in that 25%.

NASCAR (that’s right) had a suspension last year and I hear that pro tennis is next.  With so many supplements available over the counter that contain ingredients that in sufficient amounts, are against the rules, how do you really police this while staying within societal norms?  I think all sports need to carefully consider what to ban and what to accept.

As an aside about the NFL, they have had over 30 (33 I think) players arrested for committing crimes since the February Super Bowl.  That includes one first degree murder charge.  The NFL needs to do something now before we all consider it just another refuge for thugs and criminals.  Possibly more lifetime bans?

Well I think I have covered enough subjects with my opinions, so I will spare you any more.

Have a great day and may God bless,                                                                                              Wayne

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