Sunday, July 29, 2018

Catching up, Maybe?

OK, It's been quite a while since I've posted here. Life has been busy, but not really that busy. I've still been photographing a bit, but it's been on and off too. Mostly I've been working on and off on street material with some mix of Alt Right influx's into Berkeley. I've also taken 2 photo workshops in the last year too. The first was fun, easy and nice 3 day visit to the downtown area of Seattle with Peter Turnley of mainly human based street photography, the other was about month ago in SF of three days or more intense more advanced street photography. I came out of both with mixed opinion of the work and of my own work. IN both palaces and cases, my better work was photographing children. Up until last year, I almost never photographed random kids, it just wasn't socially exceptionable in my book. Now I have a better idea of how to read folks in these types of situations and what not, but not always.




San Fransisco (SOMA area)

Anyway, forward today here in Berkeley. I finished up a catching a lecture at BAMPF and on the way home wanted to finish up a roll of film. I've been trying to capture folks leaving a street level elevator using a slow shutter speed. Ideally the elevator is in full focus, while people moving into it, out of it, or across it would be motion blur. I've opted not ask folks for any permission in part because I can't really contact folks coming up, and me being the big guy that I am am very blatantly out in front of the elevator with a camera point an camera at it ready to take a picture. If you don't want me to take your your photo, just tell me or at least give some sign that you don't want it. That's always worked for me when I've taken photos like this. Well until today. I had a gentleman walk across the door in front of me and the door and click the camera and he heads to the bus stop next to us. I wing the film and set up for the next shot, which take a minute or two, but this time I didn't take a photo as the person who has come out of the elevator is in a wheelchair. I didn't take the photo for two reasons, first the person is too low in frame and it won't fill frame right. I'm also apprehensive of photographing a person in a wheel chair who is using the elevator for the right reason (It's the only way up out of BART for someone who handicapped). Most folks using this as an exit are very able body'd folks and again wouldn't have a problem photographing them (I do usually smile and if I make eye contact with them say hello too). Anyway, back to guy who waled by, he kind of comes back over and ask's what I'm doing. I'm happy to tell him, street photography and that I'e capturing images of people interacting with the BART elevator in such a way as not capture them, but not in recognizable way. He in turn wants to have an argument the right to not be photographed in public. I stayed as diplomatic as I could, but basically told him, how he would handle this, isn't how I handle it. He's not happy, but his bus come and he's gone. I stand outside this BART elevator another 5 minutes and no one uses it and I move on.

I do understand what the guy say said, and what he felt here. He blindly walked in front of me (all 6 foot 275 pounds of me (I don't hide when I photograph, it's just physically possible) and try read the people around me when I do street photography. But alas, I'm still not always good at reading people. Oh well. Anyway, on the way home stopped by Trader Joes for some milk. IN line, I ran into another gentleman I photographed over a year earlier at one of the alt right troll sessions that have been occurring here in Berkeley. I couldn't talk that long with him and I left him a card so I could share what I had. Hopefully he'll email me and I can share it with him as I think it was a good photo of him t00


Cheers folks

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Magnum Worshop Part II

So, as a follow up to my early blogpost I somehow got into Magnum Photography workshop in SF this last weekend. The workshop was mainly a day of lectures with Q&A from few professionals of various types, a day of portfolio reviews and no photo taking. Afterward we had drinks at a local bar. Being the old man I am, I had a drink mainly talked with everyone I could find with an accent. I can always listen to someone with an accent for hours over anyone who sounds like me. 8-) A few folks showed off equipment on both day one and two. While I generally like camera equipment speak, I really tried to avoid it for the weekend as I really wanted to focus (pun intended) on review. I did bring the m7 along, but opted to take on single photo Sunday morning on the walk between BART and event venue.


Day 2 was photo reviews with two different groups, in both cases I was later half of the reviews so it was great to see other folks work and hear their reviews first. So first, my work was definitely in the lower third of all the material I had seen. No one needed to tell me that. But one of the main reasons for me taking this class wasn't to compare my work directly with anyone else's, but was learn and push my own work. So, in a nutshell I learned the following: I'm a good technician, but I lack focus and emotion in my work. Now I kind of knew that, but having folks bring it forth and central was something I needed to hear. But I did get some idea's based on my own review and others on where I can work. So I've been devising three to four projects to get me moving forward. Here they are in a nutshell

Scooter Rally photography: So most people I know already know that I've documented various scooter rallies on the west coast for close to 20 years. Most of these read on surface as event photography, but if you look across all of them you really see my develop as photographer, but in their current form they do lack direction, story and focus. I did show 3 photos form the last year that showed some of my work here as such I am no taking some time to hone in story within them. What I mean by this is that I'll be taking segments of this archive and finding stories within them and then developing (or finishing) storys based on these. The first of these is on a friend of mine up in Portland who I have documented his work as mechanic for the last decade or so. I want to focus in on his carrier, his relationship to Portland and where he's going. I have much of the backstory, but I'll need to do a proper interview and then figure out what photos I have that cover his story and what I'll need to finish the story.


The next project of sorts is based on some exploring I did last summer at Donner pass. I'm still in early stages of what really explore, but I want see about documenting the graffiti art that is strewn up that way. Right now I need a clear weekend to go and revisit the place and see about contacting some of the graffiti artists too.


Now the third project is really the big one and I guess I should do some explaining here. The project kind of comes from 3 idea's I heard during my reviews. So, one of the things that's been really missing in my work has been emotion. For the last few years I've really felt disconnected from life. I'm not really emotionally engaged much these days and in turn it shows in my work. For these same few years while I've been exploring I've been mostly shooting landscapes of various sorts and kind of avoiding people. The second part of the idea came when one of the reviews complained (in general) about how the homeless were treated in San Fransisco. She was really taken back about people here culturally seem to ignore the homeless and treat them like they do not exists. I have to say, I do this but my experience is a of a mixed bag here too. So I do this, I ignore on the surface, but I do feel for the folks I come into contact with who are on the streets. But it is defensive mechanism none the less. Anyway, this got me thinking about my work, my home, how I've been feeling and thinking about how to combine them into a longer range project. My idea in nut shell I have titled "Disconnected in Berkeley." I've hit my immidate archives of work and found several images that capture and help tell this tail and am adding more every week. This one actually excites me and I hope this project can really grow, not just photographically but also emotionally. So, more to come here


I guess, more to come. Thanks

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Oakland Women's March - January 21st, 2017

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I think by now, we are all ready aware of who, what, why and when of the coming together of the various Women's march's across the US back on January 21st, 2017. I for one wanted to go and take part in what ways I can. The want and need for me then was to support family (I was raised in a household of 100% women after all), friends and colleges who will more then likely see larger brunt of problems and hell then I will as a middle aged middle class white male. I most wanted to see and experience the emotions around this event, I also wanted to use what skills I had as a photographer to catch and share around me. So early Saturday morning I looked outside at the growing clouds above me, packed my camera, some water and rain jacket and headed to North Berkeley BART station to travel to Oakland and experience the day. Upon arriving I was marveled at the growing size of the multiple lines to get into the BART station. This was my first site of how much larger this event was going to be then I imagined. I quickly figured out which of the two lines was tickets and turn style and headed to the back to wait my turn to get into the BART station. I wasn't surprised that most of those in line were white middle class families and predominately female. In my suburban hood, that is pretty much the demographic around me. Ages varied, but everyone was excited, even the middle aged middle class single male among them. In retrospect I should have already had camera out to document this early stage of the day, but instead bided my time and worried that the wait to get in would make me (and others) late to the ball.

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Once I was past the turnstiles it was quick and easy trip down underground to the train. BART kind of dropped the ball, this was a weekend sized train (6 cars instead of 10) and it most of the cars were already full. I had to search for an open spot near the end of the train to fit in. Once crammed in, we were on our way. As the train started in Richmond, the very predominantly white middle classed group of us was in fact joining smaller group of folks who lived upstream of us and we were not quite as white middle classed as we had been upstairs. We stopped briefly in Berkeley (downtown) and Ashley (south Berkeley) for moment, but our train could take no more on-board at either stop leaving hundreds with a dreaded faces to wait for another train that most likely would also be filled. At MacArther station (north Oakland) a few departed to catch a train to SF and even more then surged onto our train then had left leaving us all far closer then our white middle class was used too. But it was OK, we needed this. At 12th station we stopped and were told of delays getting to Lake Merrit station, so many of us abandoned BART and started a hike across downtown Oakland so we would meet and take part in the day.

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The walk itself was it's own mini march, we set about in groups and marched over. When hit Oakland Museum, were hit by a wall of people covering the entire breadth of the street and reaching off toward our start destination 3 more black away. This was far bigger then I ever thought it would be.


I tried to squeeze in and by, but after a block it was apparent that this was close I was going to get start of the march, on the good side, the march itself once started would come this way and we'd be able to join in. As we still had another 30 minutes or so till the start, I un-slung my camera's and started to roam and see what I could find. At this point I was very cautions of what I shot. The idea of a white middle aged single middle class guy photographing all those women was in the back of my mind and I most certainly wanted to cover this responsibly. As a start, I focused in on the thousands of signs around me, let's start on those. Message over messenger. Yes, that would good start for me.

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After 20-30 minutes though, I could scan viewfinder on the back of the camera and see that while I was catching message, I wasn't catching or documenting the face and emotion around me. So I slowly started to step back and photograph a slightly wider perspective and try and document the human side of the events unfolding around me. After a few minutes though, the street began to be cleared as head of the march was making it's way north east in our direction.

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We waited in the bicycle lane for the head of the march to come by, banner and all, displaying the simply sentiment of the day. Our women's march had stared and and didn't really pass us by. As many of those around me began to filter into the march, i wanted for a few hundred folks to go by and I too slipped into the middle of march and stopped being a bi-standard and take part with those around me.

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Photographing the march, from within the march as moved along proved to harder then one might think. If for instance I stopped to take a photo, 20-30 right behind me would also have to stop, and as such I couldn't really stop and get much documented this way. So I changed tactics and moved to the edges of the march and began to capture the people who were lining march, spectators of sort, but everyone of them participant too.

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As We rounded away from Lake Merrit, I found myself having made my way to nearly the head of the march. From time to time, I could jump out of the march and photograph back in, but it was also a chance see more of the march then I could from within.

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It wasn't that long, but the last 3rd of march was more cramped, mainly due tothe towering buildings around us, but after 20 more minutes it was apparent that this part of the march was reaching the end and would soon turn into Frank Ogawa plaza for the next stage of the protect. AS such I jumped out of the march and found my way into the plaza to catch the end, or the new beginning.

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So, what to do next. The Ogawa plaza was fairly muddy and really only had one way in for the marchers who came in behind me, so it was also slow to fill. I took stalk of what I photographed already and began a new plan on what to photograph next. As I noted early, my early take on the march had been that it was filled with large body of the white middle class, but after all this time and moving around and see more then just the few thousand marchers, one could easily see that this protest had a lot more to offer then my original take on it all. First among those white middle class, were quite a number of gay, queer and transgender. I was reminded by boss right after the election that while she and her wife felt safe here in the Bay area, she and her family wouldn't be visiting any of the red states for quite some time. It was also apparent that other groups had filtered in and to be honest, they were far more at risk then I would ever be, so from here I tried to photograph and document this part of the protect by finding what I would call "couples". It would better call them "Two's" as I wanted to find and photograph pairs of people that were not my initial finding for the day. This proved easy for about 30 minutes, but once the square began to fill up, my ability to find and photograph became such that stuck in the back not able to really see or partake in the staged presence ahead of me.

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About this time I had been texting off and on with a few friends in attendance, trying to find out where any of them were. I had heard back from one that she and her sister had made their way to Ogawa plaza and found it far too crowded, so they began traveling backwards back down the parade of marchers in hopes of experiencing more and finding out just how big the protest was. I for one, followed suit and headed back Oakland and found that up until now, I had only seen a fraction of the protect.

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Moving back down and against the sea of protesters first proved to difficult, but I found if I kept to small traffic island, I could move, stop and photograph without obstructing the march itself.

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After nearly another hour, the marchers were no where near done. But being the old man I am, I was. I made my way back up to 12th street and found my way back onto a BART train back to Berkeley. But oh what a day as I still now had around 400 digital photos to start processing and 2 rolls of B&W film to develop, scan, grade and process. Oh what a day

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More photographs from Oakland Women's March can be foundhere Enjoy

Friday, January 6, 2017

Oh Boy

So, earlier this week I applied for a limited seating (30 spots) Professional Practice Workshop with Magnum Photos. The location (SF), price (2 days & $400) and subject "Longterm Photographic Projects" all kind of came together for me. The first was obvious (the class was local, when Magnum normally isn't), the price might seem like a bit, but really it's cheap in-comparison to many of the photography classes I'd actually take. The Subject was the final sell to me, if I said where I need work in my personal exploration of the photography it is expanding my sense of narrative in my work. I'm weak here and I could use some help if you ask me. As I tell myself I'm a good snap shot shooter, but working with the something bigger has been my stumbling block when it comes to developing my photography skills.

San Francisco Professional Practice Workshop: Longterm Photographic Projects

The deadline was end of this week, so I rushed my application quite a bit, but first up I had to 5 photos for a portfolio review. I shuffled into my flickr account to find a decent example of work. I also had to write up two separate paragraphs concerning Personal Statement/Expectations and Project Description. As most of you know, I am not a writer in any way shape or form (thank you dyslexia). The Personal Statement was OK, but it rambled a bit and kind of weak too. The second paragraph was even weaker, mainly because I haven't really done any long term photo projects. Ugh

Anyway, back to the photos and lack of a second paragraph. So I went into my photo collection on flicker and started to look for photos that I took in the last year, that didn't so much tell a story of a narrative, but looked at my work, skill and environment. I carry a camera with me almost every day and everywhere. I've always documented what was around me, so that was the best place for me start. I started off with about 10 photon in whole, all of them involved people and environment of a sort. Their was a mix of 35mm B&W film, color digital and was taken on 3 very different camera's as a whole. Here are the finals I submitted.

UC Berkeley, just outside of the Edwards track stadium on the street side - summertime. I was carrying my 35mm Fuji TX1 panoramic rangefinder camera at the time when I saw this person on the steps with the sun beating down upon him. He could have taken to the shade 9where I was at the time under a tree), but he was here, just off the street, with a little of solitude from college and busy streets. The classic architecture and physical disposition just seemed to at odds and together at the same time. I was maybe 15 feet away when I shot this


Donner Summet Tunnel - IF you're ever north of Taho, CA near Truckey and Donner Pass, you'll find some very nice hikes and rock climbing spots. I actually made my way here because I was looking for combination of a nice hike and some rocks to scramble on and shoot (with the camera) and some exploration. This fit the bill, as this is an abandoned turn of the 18/19th century railway tunnel that today is hikable, but also is of sort a mecca for graffiti artists. While exploring I could smell spray cans and found 2 artist at work, at the same time this couple passed me and just were kind of ignored what was going on. Click. SHot was on the m240 + a 28mm f3.5 Nikkor-W lens (about 60 years old lens).


This was shot in a bar, in the Mission District of SF. I was in this particle bar to meet and get my book signed by Jim Goldberg. I actually shot 4 photos here of him signing another gentleman's book here, but this was the only one where he looked up and it was oddly blurry, but more in tune with atmosphere. I wish I had shot lower angle here, but the movement blurriness and lighting do sing out drama here. This was also kind of plant photo as Jim also works for Magnum. But since you'd have to read the book on the table to possible figure this out. M7 + 35mm 2 cron asph


I was looking for another color photo when I was reminded of this photo, it's a UC Berkeley Pep Rally. I work for UC Berkeley and at least M-F I do not shoot photos of the students at UC Berkeley. You'd think that CAL would great source for me to take photos since I'm in that environment you'd think I'd have an ample amount of photo from here. But the students are here to learn, and when I'm at work my rule of thumb (for me) that I don't take photos. So this photo is from weekend pep rally. I've been shooting the band off and on since I moved to Berkeley, so this means I shoot them 3-4 times a year during football season. I'm an old band dork and football bores me to death. Anyway, this photo was taken a few months ago, I was actually off to the side of the band, ready to video the tuba/sousaphone players as they come out of the band and skip around. But before they did I looked to my left and took this photo. It was magic hour and this photo had drama written all over it. m240 + 35mm f2 corn.


This is Soupcan. I've known Soupcan now for about 16-17 years. I met him first at the 2nd annual Las Vegas Vintage Scooter rally in 2001. Since that time, I'd run into 1-2 times a year at some scooter rally here on the west coast, either in the Bay Area, or in Portland Oregon and I've probably documented Soupcan more then I have any other vintage scooterist as a whole. When Soupcan is at a scooter rally this will be his perfect storm of all that is the Soupcan (though this depends on age and few other notes). It is his people, who he loves dearly and it time to catch up. This is Soupcan at his own scooter rally in Sacramento CA. As you might tell, he is telling us something every passionate. M7 + 50mm f1.4 lux.


So after applying, I reread my weak 2 paragraphs and went to bed thinking, I'm not getting in, 30 seats open and I'm not really up to snuff. right? Most of the magnum workshops that I've looked into in the past fill up very quickly and since they wanted to know a bit of info here my thoughts were, their have to more qualified applicants. Seriously, how could 30 more qualified photographers not have already applied for this? Or at least 30 better writers then me. But low and behold 2 days later I got my acceptance letter.

So, at the end of the month I'll be spending 2 days at this workshop. Day one will mostly be lectures, day 2 I'll have the 5 above photos figuratively torn to shreds. I an nervous but excited too. Oy vay