March, 2010 Archives

This weekend I bought a USB mic for my Mac and downloaded Jing, a free screen capture software (http://www.jingproject.com/).  Jing is bare bones, no frills, and low fidelity.  But it has an easy interface.  You can use it to capture anything that appears on your monitor.  For instance, you can narrate a slide show created in PowerPoint.  Or you can capture your mouse clicks during a narrated PhotoShop tutorial.  But you have to plan things out (be linear), talk fast and not digress.  There’s no editing a Jing video.  You can make a 5-minute “capture” max.  You can pause the recording as you go along.  But there’s no editing after the fact.  So if the phone rings…

I made two sets of videos for my ART 287 Professional Practices for the Visual Artist students, both addressing our How To Photograph Art/Creating A Digital Portfolio unit.  It took me almost two full days to make six short videos.  The videos are not polished… certainly not slick.  We are talking public access not MTV.  They are currently parked at www.screencast.com.

To access the videos from last week, regarding the college’s Nikon D70 (parts 1-4), try this URL: http://www.screencast.com/t/ZTEwMmE0ND

To access the videos for class this week, Downloading Images/The Bridge, try this URL: http://www.screencast.com/t/OGZmZjRiNTMt

St. Patty’s Day is just around the corner.  So I thought I’d post some “travelogue” pix from my July 2009 jaunt to the Emerald Isle.  We spent five full days “on holiday” in Ireland.  We flew to Shannon and rented a car.  We spent a night in Adare, three nights in An Daingean (Dingle), two nights in the Killarney Lake District and one night in Cashel.  We stayed away from the big cities.  Mostly we hiked.  Along the way we befriended a number of handsome sheep and a few very curious cows.  And we experienced typical fickle Irish weather; that is, it rained part of every day.  I kept my camera in a plastic bag and sometimes photographed while holding an umbrella.

Dingle, or An Daingean/ Daingean Uí Chúis, as it is called in Irish, is a Gaeltacht – an area where the government recognizes that the Irish language (AKA Gaelic) is the primary language and widely spoken at home, in the workplace and at school.  We indeed heard people conversing in Irish as they went about their business in the market or pub.   Throughout the 40-mile-long peninsula signs are in Irish.  A common one is “Taisteal go Mall” (go slowly), followed closely by “Tog Bog E” (take it easy).   Something we took to heart as we hiked through the hilly pastures along the crisscrossing Dingle Way and Pilgrims’ Route – Go Mall/Go Slowly and Tog Bog E/Take It Easy.

At the pub you might learn that the original Celtic Crosses were carved from the standing stones of the Druids. On the other hand, a popular legend has Saint Patrick introducing the Celtic Cross. Regardless of its origin and meaning, the Celtic Cross is an ubiquitous symbol of Ireland, second only to the shamrock.

Great Blasket Island - They say that Great Blasket Island is the westernmost point in Europe. It was home to some of Ireland’s most famous Gaelic writers in the 1920’s and 1930’s. But the island was abandoned in 1953 when only 22 inhabitants remained (in its heyday, it never had more than 30 houses). Great Blasket Island remains uninhabited today. Feral donkeys roam the island and take shelter in the houses that have fallen to ruin.

Painted Sheep – Dingle. Of the Peninsula's 10,000 residents, 1,500 live in Dingle Town. The Peninsula is 10 miles wide and runs 40 miles from Tralee to Slea Head. While only tiny villages lie west of Dingle Town, the Peninsula is home to 500,000 sheep.

A Stolen Ringbuoy: A Stolen Life. Minard Castle, at Storm Beach, circa 1551 (Norman). Destroyed by Cromwell in 1650. It rained all day as we hiked along the beach and climbed the hill. The weather on the Dingle Peninsula is often misty, foggy, and rainy. But ask a local and they will tell you that there is no bad weather ... only inappropriate clothing.

Inch Beach, Ireland. Let's go surfin' now… Everybody's learning how… Come on and safari with me… This is the beach at Inch, on the Dingle peninsula, where the water recedes a mile at low tide. Ireland is a major surfing destination for those who love cold water, drizzle and fog.

For my birthday in February this year I received a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens for my Canon.  It’s a “cheaper” third-party lens and after a few experiments … in my unscientific opinion… I think it’s just fine.   I’ve never done macro work.   I don’t know how to light small objects.  I’ve never made still life’s.  I have difficulty with color.  And I have never made “decorative” art.  So obviously, this is what I had to do.

I did not have anything in particular in mind when I got the lens.  February was being February, so I decided to experiment inside my house, away from the slush.  I put the camera on a tripod and started grabbing stuff off tables and shelves.   The first image I made was of paperweights and a Daguerreotype.

When I was a teenager I excavated farm dumps for kicks.  Back before we had public landfills in New England, people dumped their refuse just out of sight behind the stonewall.  I would dig through these with a pitchfork.  I would mostly find shards of glassware and pottery, bone fragments, rusty and broken tools and other scraps of metal and sometimes I’d uncover fully intact turn-of-the-century bottles.   Ever since, I’ve collected artifacts.  Mostly small, easily transportable pieces of history with limited monetary value.   I’m mostly interested in what the “artifacts” look like, not what they are worth.   So my house is now full of small, old, odd things.   February being February, I decided to photograph what was within easy reach.   The straightforward macro images (Paperweights, Frozen Charlotte, Don’t Jump) became more arranged as the month progressed.

Experiment #1. With no forethought I arranged items within reach. I moved a nearby poinsettia so you could see it reflected in the Daguerreotype.

A paper pulp JOL from 70 or 80 years ago and a much older clock. I lit the hand turned bowl in the background with a flashlight during a long exposure.

The chicken foot was painted black when I bought it from a shop in NY. The eggs are goose eggs. The white feathers are from a peacock we met in New Mexico at Los Poblanos.

The newspaper is from 1865. Note the advertisement for “Stereo Views of the War.” The newspaper lines a trunk I bought at a flea market for $20. The eggs are some type of iridescent stone. The bones I found in the forest.

I found the deer skull and antlers in the forest behind my house. The background is an overturned copper wash boiler. Thirteen deer strolled through my backyard the other day. The deer eat my plants. I throw things at the deer.

Experiment #2 - Don’t Jump. Porcelain doll in crepe paper Santa suite posed in a pictureless 19th-century photo album.

Here’s a German (from Thuringia) Frozen Charlotte from 1890-1920 on a gilded fan. The background is a cover of a Victorian scrap album.

Marbles, white peacock feathers and in the background, a black feather boa.

The souvenir spoons were collected by my wife’s grandmother. The text in the background is from Blanchard’s 1903 Pocket Guide to Greater New York.

This is the outside of the 1865 trunk and a collection of keys. The big key opened a gate or door of a relative’s house – the tag says Nicholas Faulkner, 1850. I lit the inside of the trunk with a flashlight.

There’s no sense of scale here. The kneeless, dapper plastic man is just over three inches high.

Jack had lost a lot of structure by Thanksgiving. A tad past his prime, I think he was held together by mold. I used an oversized barbeque spatula to scrape him off the front steps.

The other Jack was no better. I carefully placed the squishy boys on black construction paper dislodging a small cloud of gnats in the process. I photographed them in late afternoon natural light.