Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It is becoming all about them. I have resigned that it is a subject not of choice but of necessity.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just back away from the technology

In the middle of nowhere and still can't put the camera down. It's an addiction.

- excuse the typos...posted via Windo's iPhone

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rare moment

Sometimes, just sometimes, there is a rare moment of genuine affection between the siblings. I likely won't see it again for years but it is nice to know that it exists...sometimes.

- excuse the typos...posted via Windo's iPhone

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just saying...

A friend asked me if I had been shooting lately. Although I will never stop taking photographs, I haven't been as prolific as I was during my year long 365 project. My intent in the last couple of months was to morph the blog project into a book, but time flies and still no book. I thought, may be, just may be I would think about posting again...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

365. Life goes on...

I have thought about this post for one year now. I thought about what it should be called and what kind of image should represent all my hard work. Three hundred sixty five days straight of my photography - it is unbelievable to image I am here.

When I wrote up this morning I thought I came up with the perfect title... "The End". Isn't that how all stories end? I had the title, so it was just a matter of coming up with the photograph. As usual life got in the way of today. Plans changed, my mom cancelled on me, Curtis made me angry, the washing machine broke, Abbey was grounded...I ended up alone in my bedroom folding eight loads of laundry. And this day I waited for for one year came and was like every other day in so many ways. Nobody got the memo to stop and remember it was special for me. But that was kind of the point, right? Life kept getting in the way of my passion and if I wanted to make photographs I would have to make the time no matter what life handed me. I can't help but think that I am quietly putting this project to bed as 80 million people are watching the Super Bowl.

Thank you to all my friends, family, and students that kept me going, that helped me understand that I could do it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

363. Wonderland

Too many glasses of wine and advice from myBFF that confirms I don't really need to write...a picture alone is worth a thousand words. So good night and only two posts left. Yeah!

- excuse the typos...posted via Windo's iPhone

Thursday, February 3, 2011

362. In a Pinch

Last night I watched a film that focused on our dismal K-12 educational system in America. Today, I listened to the chancellor of our college talk about the future of the California Community Colleges - more promising than K-12 but also quite possibly dismal. There are so many challenges and so many directions that legislators can make the community colleges head that it is dizzying. The chancellor's speech was meant to motivate us to embrace technology and the opportunities that are on the horizon - initiate change. But there were warnings of so many ways it could all go wrong.

Since Obama's State of the Union speech last week I keep hearing references to America reclaiming its spot as the top nation and much follow-up discussion if this is even possible. For the past several years working in public education I have been trying to maintain a positive attitude. Nose-to-the-grind-stone, just-wait-out-the-storm, and pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps attitude, but it getting hard to keep-my-chin-up as the budget crisis continues.

Keep-your-fingers-crossed that education the future of education in California is not as dismal as it appears to be.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

361. Homework

Katie and I got in a big argument today about homework. As kids go, Katie is fairly easy when it comes to homework. Every now and then she procrastinates and then it piles up and then she is behind and then... well you get the picture. Last night I must have reminded her about homework ten times. As she was playing on the computer she swore it was all done. Then of course tonight she looked at her agenda and discovered that there was a lot more there then she had expected - shocking! I am not a big fan of homework for children grades 8 and lower. I think that kids should practice at school and only if they are having difficulty with concepts should they bring it home. Project based learning is great for home - not worksheets. But if Katie's teacher is requiring homework she has to do it.

After our big blowout I ran to meet Curtis and watch a new documentary making the elementary school circuit called, "Race to Nowhere." It is a critique of our educational system. And much of what it claims is true, but much of the movie is based on anecdotal evidence and the perspective of upper-class white families. The argument then is deeply flawed if applied to all, but relevant to the upper crust.  Here is the gist... homework is busy work, parents are over scheduling their kids, kids are suffering from stress related illnesses, and kids are cheating to keep grades up in order to get into college. All this stems from the "No Child Left Behind Act" that created an educational system is based on rote memorization of standards and not the process of teaching creativity and critical thinking.  Through out the film I found myself oscillating between nodding in agreement and shaking my head in disagreement. The movie was able to point to many flaws in our educational system that need changing - I only wish that it made a stronger data based argument so that more people will listen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

360. Imagination

My daughter Abigail is an amazing little person. She is so kind, sweet, and empathetic. When my mom is in her other world and I am so frustrated by not being able to communicate with her, Abigail can jump right in and talk to her. I am sure a lot has to do with the fact that she is only 8 and can call up an imaginary world herself. I worry about the effect this will have on my children - watching their Grandmother slip further and further from reality. It stresses me out, but Abigail seems to go with the flow.

Monday, January 31, 2011

359. What was I thinking?

On Wednesday I have a presentation to give to my educational colleagues about my blog. Months ago it seemed like a good idea - now I am not so sure. I called the presentation, "Blogging, Creativity, and the Power of Practice". What the heck does that mean? And what did I (and my students) get out of this ordeal that I can quantify and discuss in front of other college professors? What was I thinking? Have I been thinking?

The weird thing is this last couple weeks I don't feel I have much to say. Normally I am fairly opinionated and it is hard to shut me up. Sure I had days in the last year where I didn't want to stay up late and write, but I usually had something on my mind. Lately... blank. With seven posts left to go why does writers block have to set in now. Why not a week from today when, for the first time in a year, I won't have to write a nightly post.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

358. Neck

In one of my online classes I ask students to post a famous photograph and discuss its importance. While I was reviewing posts today, one of my students posted the image that Man Ray took of Lee Miller's neck. She discussed that the beauty of the photograph came from its simplicity. 

Some nights I sit here night after night trying to come up with a good idea and it is nice to be reminded that some of the best works of creativity are based on simplicity.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

357. Profile

A view we rarely see if ourselves - our profile. I had to use Curtis' iTouch to compose the shot. It has two cameras and is great for self-portraits. It lets you point the camera at yourself as you are taking the photograph. Dwayne Michals would think this was cheating.

Any way - the shot is make up. No shower. Hair au natural. No vanity.

- excuse the typos...posted via Windo's iPhone

Friday, January 28, 2011

356. Waste

So much of this week was a waste of time. I spent hours on the phone reporting the theft of my purse and belongings. Today was a two hour trip to the DMV. New technology promised to make the long lines at the government office a thing of the past, but it didn't seem to deliver. First, I tried to make an appointment to get a duplicative license. The first available appointment was for mid March. With no other choice I looked up the wait times for each DMV office on their website and with a published time of 22 minutes I headed over to wait this morning. It took 36 minutes just to get in the door. Once off the side walk it was another 90 minutes to finish my deed. Insane. During the whole experience I could only think how easy it could be. It's a duplicate license... Couldn't I just file online? My home address is already on file. If they want proof I (as opposed to someone else) ordered the document a kiosk that reads my thumb print would work. So much of the paper at the DMV (and the paper pushers that work there) is unnecessary.

I guess in this bad economy we are trying not to lay more people off but this system needed an overhaul.

Oh yeah it will take two months before my new license arrives.

- excuse the typos...posted via Windo's iPhone

Thursday, January 27, 2011

355. Self

I was thinking that since this year long blog has been all about me and my life that may be the last week of images should be all self portraits. It seems like a good interesting idea tonight. By tomorrow I may change my mind. I am allowed to be indecisive and fickle at times.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

354. Window

I went on the most beautiful hike today and returned to my car relaxed and full of peaceful and quiet thoughts. Until I noticed that my car window was shattered and my purse was gone. The rest of the day was wasted with calls to banks and insurance companies. It is hours of my life that I will never get back... along with my favorite handbag. Sometime in the next week I will have to spend hours in line at the DMV or wait for the next available appointment in March to replace my drivers license. Ug. I can't even remember what I had in my bag, but there is a lot of stuff that I carry around everyday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

353. Out of Steam

I am out of steam for many reasons. In my dreams I saw the final days of this blog as the best, the peak of all my posts. But honestly I haven't been into it for the past couple weeks. I just want the project to be over. To say that I did it - I posted for every day for one year straight.

Tonight I needed a photograph of Katie for a middle school application. I ended up scanning my hard drive for over an hour. I realized that the reason I started this blog was to start giving myself permission to take time for myself, for my photography. The insanity of posting everyday started by accident - some misguided compulsion. What I realized tonight by looking at thousand of photographs was that I did take some really good images in the past year. This blog should have been capped at 200 days... that is when my steam started to cool and my images started to pale.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

351. Brother

My big brother David. In our mother's living room on a Sunday in January. Our brother Matt tortured us through most of childhood. Matt was cruel and got away with everything. Dave and I bonded in our frustration and we always got along as long as we didn't discuss politics.  I am on the left. He's on the right. But being a conservative is one of his only faults. We live in the same city and both teach at the same college but it is odd how little time we get to spend together.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

350. Guilt and Shame

My mom convinced her aide worker to bring her by for an unexpected visit.  I have a bad cold and had barely woke up from a much needed afternoon nap. She wasn't making much sense. She talked for several minutes about things we couldn't quite understand and we convinced her it was best to go back home and rest. She agreed and left. I didn't ask her to sit down and talk. I didn't invite her to stay for dinner. She seemed more like a stranger at the moment than my mother.  I went and laid back down until my own brain fully woke up. And then I became overwhelmed with guilt... or was it shame? She probably needed familiar family more than anything.

I am half Jewish and half Catholic. A friend that shares this similar up bringing and I decided that in the end this leads to a life of guilt and shame. I already wrote about guilt in this blog months ago, so today, it's shame.

Friday, January 21, 2011

349. Time flys

My brother called on my cell as I pulled into my drive way. We spoke for the next two hours. The conversation was about our mother and necessary, but at the end of the day I wonder where the time went.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

348. Freud was right

I try and fool myself. I try to tell myself that I can handle anything. But Freud knew a century ago. It all comes back to Mom. I try to disagree, but in the end… at the end of the day… I know that I miss her so much. I wish I could just predict which version I will meet. As my brother says, version one or two. Version 1.0 is the pediatrician, ever patient, doting mother, and insanely intelligent. Version 2.0 delusional, hallucinating, nonsensical, argumentative and often angry. The personality doesn’t change day-to-day but hour-to-hour. I picked her up early this morning for an appointment. She was in a difficult, moody, and angry all the way to the doctor’s office. We went out to brunch after – she said little except to patronize the waitress for putting lingonberries on pancakes instead of spaghetti. I dropped her home and bravely asked her over to dinner tonight. At 5 when she arrived I got version 1.5 – somewhere in between impossible and lovely. And I’ll take it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

347. Rock solid

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

346. Badwater

The water edge where I stand taking this shot is 282 feet below sea level. Telescope Peak in the background is 11,000 feet. Even standing looking at the discrepancy in altitude it is hard to comprehend. My trip to Death Valley was during another learning community, two classes in one - photography and geology. For three years I have listened to my co-worker lecture about geology and the formation of the mountains and rocks of California. And I crack up every time he starts a sentence with, "These mountains are relatively young in geological time. They are only about 100 million years old." But it is hard to laugh when I think about what a short period of time humans have been on this ancient earth and how much damage we have done. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

345. Path

I am a bit lost. I have only twenty posts left and I am not sure what to write about. Have I said everything that needs to be said? Have I run dry? Ug. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

344. Got My Back

It is nice to know that someone has my back. On Friday I took my girl scouts to a camp out in Rustic Canyon and when I arrived I realized there was no cell reception. I started to panic. I had 8 girls to manage while at the same time trying to figure out how to post the blog without a cell connection. The first couple of hours at camp always includes a lot of settling in. It was well after dinner and just before bedtime that I was able to interrogate a high school level girl scout to discover the one cellular sweet spot at camp. It was located at the top of a hill and available for text messages only on a phone with the Verizon network. I persuaded a friend to try it out and sure enough if she stretched her arm out over the balcony of cabin 13 the weakest of signal was there. I was able to text Curtis and get him to guest author the next two nights of blogging. When I got back on the grid today I was able to read his posts. He had my back, he wrote two beautiful posts and supplemented them with some decent photographs. This blog has monopolized much of my time in the last year and I know there have been several times that Curtis wished it never existed. But this weekend, he knew I was so close to the end of my project and how important it was for me to keep going.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

343. Shoes

So, she hasn't caught on yet. She made the mistake of giving me the password and now I can post whatever I like. Seriously, this will be my last - not just because she'll catch on and change the password, because she will, but because I think this schedule is too much to keep up with. Who knew that someone with such small feet would have shoes that were so difficult to fill?

I think if I were to ever put my hand in and attempt visual art there would have to be some kind of secret quality or part that no one knows. When I hear someone that knows a lot about a particular piece explain the ins and outs and subtleties I can't help but wonder if the artist actually meant it that way. I only know music and there's a certain unexplainable something that happens when you are creating music that tells you you're on the right track. It seems some of the best songwriters are just continually hit with this instinct-type inspiration. I believe that too much technical knowledge can kill the creative. I think at some point we're told that we're not doing it right but really it's just that we're not doing it like everyone else. This is the endless and dangerous paradox: too much kills the truly creative but not enough and you don't have the tools to accomplish your vision. "Learn it all and learn it so well that you forget it," I was told. I'm not completely sure this is possible. That being said - my hidden element or secret in each piece would give me an inner "wink" knowing that all the things the technical art aficionado could say about my piece would be from "them" and not from me...

Steve Martin has a business card he gives to fans that meet him that reads: This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and found me warm, polite, intelligent, and funny.

With that in mind, please read this blog post and know that it certifies that you have given me these last 60 seconds and found this post informative, witty, thoughtful and creative.

Friday, January 14, 2011

342. Mundane

Shhh. Don't tell Wendy, I'm sneaking in... Am I doing this right? The title is supposed to be short and poignant, right? Here goes:

Since meeting Wendy I've been to more than my fair share of museums and art shows. While I learned to appreciate the cheese, wine, and the occasional hipster microbrew, I sometimes found it difficult to appreciate the actual art. My inner voice would challenge the actual craftsmanship put into each piece rather than just allowing myself to enjoy it. If it looked like something that might have been done on accident, I dismissed it (still do to an extent). If it looked too simple to accomplish it was boring. This eventually led to the common belief that the other parts of the gallery were sometimes better than the "art" being displayed. Some of you have heard me as I was sure to point out the mastery that went into each light switch. "The intricate detail and realism that the artist who creates these fire extinguishers mounted in the walls is amazing," I would proclaim. I even recognized the spectacular utilitarian qualities of the drinking fountains - "I think this is the same person that does those beautifully sculpted door hinges but I just can't remember their name."

Don't take this wrong, I do actually enjoy a lot of art but I've got my standards. However skewed they may be...


Thursday, January 13, 2011

341. HDR

So I have been interested in creating some HDR (high dynamic range) images for some time. The basic principle is this. Using a tripod you take about 5 or so photographs that are exactly the same composition, but the exposures ranges from too dark to too light. The HDR software creates a composite - an image out of several images - using the details in the best of all exposures. So consider a sunset image. When you create an exposure that favors the colors rendered in the sky, the foreground is black, a total silhouette. Because the photographer makes several exposures in HDR for both the details in the shadows and the highlights, the composite combines the best of both worlds to construct an image of more range than a single image.

I have experimented with the HDR software a bunch of times and always ended up feeling let down. I thought I didn't expose the source photographs properly. In Death Valley I was careful to make the correct range of exposures, but again, crappy outcome with the Photoshop HDR software. In the end I created a simple composite of two images by hand and the result isn't half bad. I have seen some really outstanding images and just have to figure this out.

Three Hundred Sixty Five One Photo at a Time