Monday, March 31, 2014

Q&A: Gerd Ludwig’s Long Look at the Chernobyl Disaster | PROOF

Q&A: Gerd Ludwig’s Long Look at the Chernobyl Disaster | PROOF: "Deep inside, at a dark hallway, we stopped in front of a heavy metal door. The engineer indicated I had only a brief moment to shoot. It took him a long minute to open the jammed door. The adrenaline surge was extraordinary. The room was absolutely dark, lit only by our headlamps. Wires were obstructing my view. At the far end of the room I could make out a clock. I was only able to fire off a few frames and wanted to wait for my flash to recharge. But he already pulled me out. I checked my pictures. Out of focus! I begged him to allow me in one more time. He gave me a few more seconds to frame the clock showing 1:23:58 AM—the time when on 26 April, 1986 in the building that housed Energy Block # 4, time stood forever still.” —Gerd Ludwig on photographing inside reactor #4, where an explosion caused a catastrophic nuclear meltdown. Ludwig describes this as one of the most challenging situations he has ever photographed."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Barbarians at the Gate: In the Digital Age, Is Photography a Trade or an Art?

Yes, the "barbarians" are at the gate!  Run, hide, and feel insecure about your craft!
The following was in my email this morning.  I didn’t really want to take the time today to write a long post, but I’ve had some thoughts on this subject brewing in my head for a while now and seeing this article this morning brought it all together for me. 
So, here we go…
First, a clip from a post on the MCP Actions blog on the terrifying photo below...

MCP Thoughts on editing photography images:

I had posted this image on the MCP Facebook Page in February showcasing our newest Lightroom presets (InFusion and Illuminate).  I never expected to hear anything except, “cute kids” or “how did you do that?” or “great save.” No laws were being broken.  No kids were harmed.  It was an image that was not exposed properly.  That’s it!

Instead, I had angry photographers blame me for all kinds of “crimes,” such as:

  • Ruining the photography industry
  • Teaching people to fix images in Lightroom or Photoshop so they do not need to learn their cameras
  • Helping new photographers undercut experienced pros
  • Showing images from people who have no business being photographers

And well, the list was longer than that but you get the idea…

Wow.  …though anyone with any familiarity at all with the current state of the photography industry will recognize these reactions immediately.  Fear is the driving force in the trade right now.

Of course, I am sympathetic to those who currently make a living from photography, especially those with families to support who feel their livelihood threatened, but I am also realistic about the changes the digital age is bringing not just to photography, but to all of the arts, and in many ways these changes are creating the sort of conditions in the photography world that have existed in the other artistic trades all along. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Video: …Thawing…

REPOSED FROM: Suburban Eschatology Part Two

Thawing after the ice storm.  Orient, Oregon.  February 9, 2014.

Just a quick one I threw together yesterday…  An opportunity to familiarize myself with some of the Premier Pro CC changes, to do some side by side work with some different cameras (used my lousy Android phone for some of these shots), and to play with some more complex audio mixing than I’ve done so far.

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Saturday, November 02, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: The Plan

First, A Bookkeeping Note…

This is a repost from my Suburban Eschatology Part Two blog.  This will be the last time, most likely, that I post this sort of writing on this blog…

For the last year or two, I was posting these sorts of posts on my Rubble blog.  However, over time my plans for these blogs have changed and evolved.  At one point, Rubble was going to be my blog for all things arts oriented and this was going to be my blog for personal stuff, whether it was posts about family oriented issues, pictures of the kids, or just self-indulgent navel gazing.

I suppose that over the last year, I’ve come to realize that posts like this one are probably more in the self-indulgent navel gazing category rather than in the arts category. 

Well, that may be a bit harsh.  But as my artistic and professional life has evolved over the last year or so, so has my plans for these blogs.  I was originally going to write a series of articles on my son’s special needs and dealing with life with a son with ASD and other such things for this blog, but I really don’t have the time now to do such a thing (oh, and it also turns out that ASD was a mis-diagnosis). 

So one reason to move these posts from Rubble to SE2 is so I’ll actually have stuff to post here!  But still, they are more personal and I want to, from here on, at least, keep Rubble for other sorts of less personal posts.

Maybe I am just stalling, or maybe it is my OCD…  I am reposting these sorts of articles, dating back to the start of NaNoWriMo 2012, on the SE2 blog

NaNoWriMo 2013: Goals

November 2 and my word count is zero.  Yep.

And I’ve been planning on writing a blog post about NaNoWriMo 2013 for about a week now…

Well, we all have to start somewhere.

In a sense, though, I have started because I am taking the rebel route this year and finishing the book I started last year instead of starting a new one.   Because of this, I am not going for a “win” this year with 50,000 words.

And I am not even setting a goal of finishing my book.

So why even “participate” if I am not really participating, if I am not even setting any goals?

Because, to me, one of the primary purposes of NaNoWriMo is that it gives aspiring writers a framework to build solid writing habits, and this is something I am in terrible need of this year.

I’ve been a professional writer for years, but it has been technical writing.  Honestly, I find it difficult to even call that writing.  Most of what I do in that field is layout design, photography, and cutting and pasting.  But I’ve always considered myself a writer, it’s just been many, many years since I’ve actually done any real writing.

Last year, during my first NaNoWriMo, I finally felt like I was coming home to the craft I’d been neglecting for far too long.  I was writing fiction for the first time in over a decade and I was writing a lot and almost every day.  I was building all those good habits I’d been neglecting for so long: daily work, writing even if I wasn’t in the mood, working through blocks and deadspots, staring down the smug cold stare of the blank page and making it my bitch…

It felt good.  And the community of writers online, who were all in the same place I was, going through the same things I was going through, added just enough encouragement to get through the tough spots.  Writing is usually a very solo and sometimes lonely art, and I loved the community feel that NaNoWriMo (especially the Portland Facebook Group) brought to the experience.

In 2012, things went great.  I jammed through my 50K and finished somewhere in the mid-60s.  I didn’t finish the book, which was a goal, but it was firing along nicely and I was still working.  Then, in mid-December, the next big project came along and I had to set the novel aside for while, but I was fired up and knew that I’d pick it up again, soon.

Then another project, then another project… 

In the spring, I decided it was time to get back to work.  My break had been long enough that continuity was going to be an issue, so  I was going to use NaNoEdMo (Novel Editing Month) in March to re-familiarize myself with the draft so far and get some red inking in to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo in April…  Life got busy, more photography and video projects came rolling through…  No editing, no writing…  Not even any reading.

And now it is November again, and here I am.

So I will be a renegade in 2013.  I will participate this year, but I will have different goals, and the primary one is to build better writing habits that are sustainable while working on other projects.  Because of this, I do not want to drop everything and jam through to 50K or even just the end of the book, if that is (hopefully) closer than 50K words away.

I fear that if I set that goal and saw that it was unattainable that I would just bail on November entirely, like I did last Spring when things got busy, and that is exactly the opposite of what I want to do this year.

I also cannot drop everything for one project, and with the heavy demands of my family on my time (I am something like the on-site, full time social worker for my extended family, a role that is my “day job” right now), I need to work on making writing a part of my life most days, not just for insane spurts a couple months out of the year.  So even if I could drop everything for a mad NaNoWriMo rush, doing so runs counter to my goals.

A few days back, while trying to find time (see, that is the issue I am trying to fix here) to write this post, an old friend of mine, Mia Marshal posted a great post on NaNoWriMo, about what it has meant to her and on why she is not participating this year.

In essence, Mia explains that “NaNoWriMo…  taught me what it means to be a writer.”  It taught her the discipline one needs and it gave her the tools she needs and the experience she needs to be a full time, professional writer.  However, for her, because she has learned these lessons, now she is in a great place where:

…what I used to call NaNoWriMo, I now just call writing. At some point in the last two years, 50,000 words a month became my new normal, and it’s why I now call myself a writer.

Recently, I found myself in the mind blowing position where I needed to get some business cards printed up for my photography and video work.  Not because I wanted them, but because people kept asking me for one.  However, at the end of the day, I still consider myself a writer first, so I put that on my new cards, as well.

But Mia boils it down to the brass tacks.  I can call myself a writer all day long, and I can consider myself a writer, because I used to do that thing and because I want to do that thing again.  But until I can make NaNoWriMo every month, and not a crazy, burn everything except for writing experience but a natural, intergral part of what I do most days, then it doesn’t matter what is on my card or in my heart, because I am not doing the thing that I am claiming to do.

So my goal for NaNoWriMo 2013 is not a word count.  My goal this year is to develop the discipline and tools I need to make writing a regular habit, a near daily part of my life, whether or not it is writing 1,667 words per day or not.  And yes, I do want to finish last year’s book. But, if I succeed in my goal, it doesn’t matter if I finish it by the end of November or not, because I will finish it.  And I will edit and rewrite.  And I will start working on the next one after that.

A few years ago I started posting a Photo of the Day on Rubble.  I stopped doing that a little over a year ago, because I felt that I’d achieved my goals with that project, which was forcing myself to work on photography every day.

As I wrote when I ended the Photo of the Day:

When I first started the POTD on February 13, 2011, I was in a very different place in life than I am right now.  I was in a rebuilding phase and, as a part of that rebuilding, I wanted to put more focus on photography as I moved ahead in life.

Well, if the main goal of the project was to inspire me to take more photos, that is a mission accomplished. 

Beyond accomplishing the goal of taking more photos, it also made me a better photographer.  When I started the POTD project in early 2011 I was someone who enjoyed taking pictures.  Almost three years later, I am going pro, and a big part of that is because I work on it every day in one way or another.  At this point, I don’t need an artifical framework to force myself to do this.  It now just who I am and what I do.

Starting a similar process with my fiction writing?  That is my goal for NaNoWriMo 2013.

It is November 2 and I still haven’t re-read my draft from last year, so that is where I am starting.  Organizing my notes and re-reading the existing draft.  After that, I’ll either continue working towards finishing that draft, or I’ll start a complete re-write, depending on what I find over the next few days.  Either way, it will be a little time before I break zero on my word count.

But this is good.  Because I am doing it and not just thinking about it.  It’s been too long since I’ve been doing and not just thinking about it, and I look forwards to getting to know my characters again.  I’ve been away from them for far too long and, I promise, it will be different this time!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Orson Scott Card v. Ender: Boycotting Ender’s Game is Bad for Art

With so many artists we have to separate the work from the artist, because a lot of them ARE (or were) asshats.  And yes, sometimes they head so far off into the crazy that it is tempting to not "support" their art because we don't want to see a single one of our dimes fall into their pockets, or even offer them any tacit support of their ideas...

However, what has happened with Ender's Game seems like a real shame to me. It is a great book and I am really looking forward to the movie. I will see it. I will pay to see it. And, I suppose, that means giving a few dimes to OSC. But it also means giving a few dimes to the other artists who've contributed to this movie as well.

With Card, reading his more recent books is pretty painful because they are far from the brilliance of Ender's Game or Speaker For The Dead (which is even greater than Ender, IMHO). They are great examples of what happens when one's ego consumes one's talent. I also think this is what happened to Card politically, he got some traction in certain circles and then ran the football into the full crazy end zone.

But at the end of the day, I choose to support the great art and ideas expressed in Ender’s Game and Speaker, and I can do this without supporting the rest. This movie, whether it succeeds or not, is one of the few recent attempts to bring great, classic, deep and thoughtful sci fi to the big screen and I hope it succeeds. Not because it will benefit Card, but because its success will benefit the art, and hopefully encourage the production of more great sci fi movies based on big ideas and that don't sacrifice great writing for big effects and action sequences.

So blacklist OSC if you must, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Supporting this movie is a lot different than throwing down $30 bucks for OSC's next hardcover piece of ego fueled drivel, and it is a good thing.

Orson Scott Card: Mentor, Friend, Bigot | Underwire |

"As a college student, I corresponded extensively with Orson Scott Card. For several years, I considered him a mentor and a friend. He was incredibly generous with his time and advice, and supportive of me as an aspiring fiction writer. I’ve had dinner at his home.

"I was out during that time. I was also largely unaware of the extremity of Card’s politics. His political reputation was much quieter back then — most of his internet presence was concentrated around a network of online writing workshop and critique groups — and his op-eds were published in circles I never stumbled into. The only time his beliefs came up in our conversations was a comment he made about fiction being a totally inappropriate venue for any kind of ideological proselytizing. I may not have agreed with his personal beliefs — I knew that he was an observant Mormon and at least somewhat politically conservative — but I respected and still respect the principle of not using fiction as a soap box, even if the author who introduced it to me has since forgotten or abandoned it."

My experience with Card is a lot like hers, without the direct contact.  Back in the Pre-Internet days, he was very active on Prodigy On-Line (I think that's what it was called) and that was very cool for me, and he shared a lot of information about writing with a bunch of us wannabes.  He was one of my favorite Sci Fi writers of all time (and his early books are still some of my favorites).

I was shocked last spring to hear that this movie was delayed by the studio largely because of the controversy over Card (though they denied this, if I remember correctly).  I always knew that Card was a devout Mormon, but I deeply troubled to hear that the author of one of the greatest books ever about tolerance and acceptance of others (Speaker For The Dead) was so vocal and public about his intolerance for the GLBT community.  To me, ensuring the success of this movie is a step towards getting THAT movie made which would do more to damage OSC's cause than boycotting this movie will.

Learning about Card’s words and actions caused me to really take a look at this issue of art v. artist.  In the end, I find I still can support the art over the artist, though I think it is also important to point out that we are drawing a line in our support, too. 

And, for me, this really has to do with more than just the GBLT angle in this particular case because, let's be honest, his ideas were the societal norm for the vast majority of history, so if we were to boycott all homophobic artists, we'd probably be boycotting 98% of everything ever produced, which feels wrong.  And if we aren't, then it also feels wrong to boycott Card.  Though being a product of his religion and times is no excuse for his public lobbying efforts…

Yet, I do think it is fair, even important and necessary, to point out when we are supporting the art over the artist, especially when they are  inserting themselves into political debates.  And this particular case really does sadden me because in many ways Card has shown himself to be a very decent man over the years through his support of beginning writers, even more so than I realized before reading the article above.  Few writers would bring an aspiring novice home for dinner.

People are complicated.  And yes, sometimes, they can really piss us off!  I have friends who’s views are not too far off from Card’s and it is sometimes difficult for me to reconcile my feelings about them.  But, unlike Card, they do not have a public platform to contribute to the debate, so their personal feelings are pretty much just that, and so my concerns are eased because it is hard for me to see how they are directly harming others while I can also hope that, perhaps, that my view can erode at theirs a bit over time. 

With Card’s public platform, however, that isn’t the case here.  His beliefs, when he lobbies against the GBLT community from a platform of intolerance and fear, is harmful to others.

But if I can reconcile these conflicting feelings about my friends, then I can do it with strangers whom I’ve never met, though it is much easier to paint strangers into black and white categories without ever knowing, or caring to know, what a complicated mess they really are.

Orson Scott Card Responds to Ender's Game Boycott With Ironic Plea for 'Tolerance' | Underwire |

"In a recent statement to Entertainment Weekly, Orson Scott Card responded to a proposed boycott of the upcoming film adaptation of his novel Ender’s Game by informing the movie-going public that it doesn’t really matter that he’s been working ceaselessly for the last decade to make sure gay people don’t get basic human rights, or that he advocated the violent overthrow of the government should same-sex marriage become legal, or that he’s used his position as a popular author as a platform from which to spew increasingly aggressive anti-equality rhetoric like his comment in a 2004 essay that gays ‘cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.’"

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