Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Foreboding Skies & Happy New Year

Leaving the studio around 6pm last evening after completing the final editing and uploading of images from an assignment for the US Census Bureau, I was treated to this incredible scene being played out in the sky. There is no enhancement or increases in saturation, I assure you. The intensely beautiful and colorful moment lasted only a minute or two before the skies turned black and opened up with a vengeance. Rain began pelting down just as I was climbing into the car for shelter... the drive home became at times nearly impossible as the rains lashed the windshield, lightening bolts criss-crossed the sky and thunderclaps rumbled in the distance. At several points, I was unable to see beyond the vehicle's hood during the drenching and had to pull over until the fury subsided. We've been receiving regular, steady drenchings now since December 22. The rains are much needed and have been, at times, island wide.

The mountains are green again, the reservoirs near capacity and the drought restrictions temporarily lifted. This afternoon... though skies remain mostly cloudy, there have been moments of the only full sunshine we've seen in over a week. No doubt if the rains hold back until midnight, the fireworks in my neighborhood will shatter the peace and send Max the wonder dog into fits of shivering fear. The good news is the grounds are saturated and the risk of fires will be at a minimum. Max will just have to take his Doggie Downers and hopefully sleep through the midnite chaos.

Some end of the year house-cleaning before we say goodbye to 2008:

Horsesthink has an entry today about Fuji's instant Polaroid-like films and a new large format film holder for their 10pack instant color films. Reportedly, a B&W version is on the way. Read more here.

Interview Magazine interviews the man who introduced color to the world of fine-art photography, William Eggleston here.

Photographer & blogger Justin James Reed makes his predictions for what 2009 will hold in store for photography blogs, emerging artists and more... here.

Post-Bebop trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and vocalist Eartha Kitt are now headlining in the Celestial Ballroom. They will be missed.

A very Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Seasons Greetings To All... End Of Year Musings...

We are now officially into wind down for the holidays mode around here. 

Today will be my last "official" day in the studio until 2009. That's not to say that I won't be working in some capacity over the Christmas vacation period. 

I have a lot of personal work planned... this weekend I even dusted of the Hasselblad and burned a few rolls of Tri-X... the first film I've shot in quite a while. A request for reproduction 4x5 transparencies from a reknown island artist required that I ship in fresh E-6 chemistry from the mainland along with a few boxes of Kodak Ektachrome 100 Plus to get the job done. A week ago, I ventured back into the darkroom to clean up a bit after a couple of years of minimal use, fired up the old E-6 Processor and ran it thru a couple of test cycles for the first time in three years.The processor worked flawlessly.

It would be very nice to be able to just shoot the film and drop it off at the local pro-lab instead of having to do it all myself. Most unfortunately, however, art reprography requires very accurate color rendering. The only remaining E-6 lab here is still using an old refurbished Refrema® Dip & Dunk processor requiring massive amounts of chemistry held in large dipping tanks. These chemicals are automatically replenished every X amount of sq. ft. of film processed. Needless to say, there just isn't enough film being processed locally these days to run the required amount of film on a daily basis to keep things balanced and accurate. Compounding the problem further is that this lab now only processes E-6 film one day each week, if at all. The last time I processed slide film, the color was so horribly shifted magenta that is was virtually unusable. My processor, on the other hand, uses very small amounts of fresh chemistry for each film batch and is incredibly consistent and accurate. The downside is that I no longer have a merchant account with Eastman Kodak® and the shipping alone of 10 liters of chemistry costs a whopping $250.00 where it used to only cost $10-$15.

It will be fun to break out the Sinar View camera once again, to load film holders, to work slow and methodically again as we did in the days before the release of adequate digital SLR's. It will be nice to smell the fixer again, to hand process black & white film, to spend some time making wet, silver prints again.

2008 all in all has been a pretty good year. Even though the work volume has slowed considerably over the course of the past few months (who's hasn't?), we will finish this year a little better than the last. What's in store for the next few months or year is anybody's guess. All I can say is that I am ready to begin a new marketing campaign with a new direct mail piece ready to go out as soon as the calendar page turns. In lieu of steady assignments, there's a wealth of stock, scenic hawaii and personal work never previously tackled to keep me busy for quite a while. To my photographer colleagues also experiencing the slowdown, it's time to do the same... work on your portfolio, refine you client database, discover & shoot more personal work and most of all... stay optimistic. While the downturn may be prolonged, it can't last forever and those of us that spend our time wisely will emerge stronger, better positioned and with a potentially viable new body of work unfettered by the usual constraints of the editorial & advertising markets.

The Obama family is ensconced in a nice, beach-front compound in Kailua for the holidays. Let us hope and pray that our president elect returns to Washington in January - refreshed, enlivened and inspired by his days basking on our sunny shores. 

To the rest of you that stop by here... I wish you all the best and warmth of the season. As it is in all years, we have made some new friends & lost a couple of old friends that will be sorely missed. Don't forget to help your neighbors, share your abundance, your talent & your skills. We'll be back next year...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just One More, 'Cause It's Never Enough

I like to drop in every once in a while to photographer Emily Shur's "My Four Eyed Fantasy" blog to see what's up. Today, Emily posted about attending a concert by The Cure at L.A.'s famed Troubadour Club. This reminded me of the hours spent during the '80's listening to the dark, dreary, mesmerizing sounds of Robert Smith & Co. and of this... one of my all time favorite music videos.
Perhaps I'll spin a Cure tune or two tomorrow morning on my weekly radio program "The Academy of Errors" at Manao radio. Maui listeners can tune in from 6-10 AM at 91.5 FM every Tuesday morning.Those of you out of signal range can catch the program via live internet streaming here.

Just Do It

This didn't take long...

"Tis The Season...

It's a Charlie Brown Ad Agency Christmas!

And a special thanks to Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua at the Burns Auto Parts Blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Opening This Friday Night

Tomorrow (Friday) night, The Paia Contemporary Gallery will feature an exhibit opening showcasing the works of Mary Mitsuda from Oahu, Pascal Pierme from Santa Fe', and Wayam Karja from Indonesia. The opening is from 6-9pm. RSVP is requested. Email them at: or call 808.579.8444 to let them know you plan to attend.

The Quality Of Rain

"Rain showers my spirit, and waters my soul" - Emily Logan Decens

Waking up this morning to skies heavy & steely grey, the scent of rain was in the air. Before the first cup of coffee was downed, the rain had begun, steady... increasing and relentless through the mid-afternoon. Earlier in the day there was even the rumble of thunder and an occasional flash lighting up the dark sky.

Winter in the tropics brings rain & strong winds from the southwest. On the upper slopes of the Big Island volcanoes and even on Haleakala here on Maui, there can be infrequent dustings of snow. So far this year, there has been no snow and the rains have been late in arriving. Today's wetting is a welcome relief to island farmers & gardeners. Summer and Fall have been unusually dry, the island looks brown and parched so the steady, all-day rainfall is sure to put some green into things just in time to get things looking at their best for the onslaught of holiday visitors.

Bad news... the usual minor leakage here at the studio which occurs with every wet Kona storm. Nothing is damaged, thankfully, as this is a perennial occurrence and everything is stored well out of water's reach.

The photos above are from the files... the water drops on grass image was published as a cover image in Spirit of Aloha, the magazine formerly published by the now-defunct Aloha Airlines to illustrate a story & photo essay titled "The Quality of Rain". That cover won the 2002 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The image below it was taken from a Waikiki hotel balcony during an especially violent lightning storm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Art Sale: Found Objekts

The triptych pictured above came to be as a result of an encounter & meeting with Japanese artist Miki, now living & working in Paris. The subjects of each of the three photographs are common kitchen utensils found in some form in most homes... a bottle opener, a cheese grater and garlic press. These items, however, Miki found in "rag piles" on the streets of Paris. As she told me, in some areas of Paris, when someone vacates an apartment or flat, either by death or relocation, and they leave personal items behind... the building superintendents will often place the left-behind objects along the sidewalks for people to rummage through. 

Each item was photographed individually with a 4x5 view camera using Polaroid Type55 positive/negative film (unfortunately now nearly extinct), matted and framed for an art show fundraiser for The Maui Food Bank.The theme of the show was food related and the goal to raise money to help feed the needy. Over the years, I have made several series' of these photographs, all as traditional silver-gelatin prints toned sepia. I recently received a request from a sister for a set of these prints to grace the almost barren walls of her (relatively) new home. With little time to get back into the darkroom to make traditional silver prints, I experimented this morning with scanning the original negatives and compositing them as they were displayed in the original framed triptych. 

I am rather pleased with the results and have decided to attempt an experiment... selling the prints of this triptych thru this blog. Each series is printed on Hahnemuhle 17"x22" Photo Rag Satin paper using Epson Archival Inks. There is a numbered edition of 20 prints. This edition of unframed prints I offer at $75.00 each + postage. Silver Gelatin Prints are also available.

 You can order by sending me an email:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Quick Trip Into The Valley...

Today I enjoyed the company &  rousing conversation of Jupiter Images contributor, Robie Price over a nice lunch. Topics of discussion included sailing the coastal waters of the State of Maine, the state of the stock photography business (SuperStock Agency the latest to announce a bankruptcy filing), the business of photography in Hawaii vs. the mainland, the fact that neither of us quite understand the current trend of "snapshot" editorial and fine art photography that is all the rage... at least in the photo blogosphere, finding a decent Apple computer repair guy/gal and a myriad of other topics best left off the blog.

After lunch, I took a drive into historic Iao Valley State Park just a couple of miles up the road from my studio. The rock formation pictured above is known as the "Iao Needle" and is listed in all the Maui guidebooks as a must stop. The air was cool and fresh as I walked down the path towards the streams edge. That it was late in the afternoon and the thick clouds had already begun rolling over the mountains allowed for long, slow exposures which turned the flowing water into misty swirls.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Catching Up...

OK... we're through the first major holiday of the season with two more to go in the coming weeks.  Around my house, the annual gobbler (organic & free-range, of course) was plucked, stuffed, roasted to golden perfection and quickly dispatched by a handful of hungry guests. In between hourly bastings, I managed to read a fabulous article by west coast photographer Doug Menuez posted at the Editorial Photographers website. The article is titled "On Chaos, Fear, Survival & Luck: Longevity Is The Answer". You can find it here. It's well worth the read.

In other news, Nikon has been slow to catch up with the competition in releasing a larger, full-frame sensor to it's Pro D-DSLR arsenal. It now appears that that's about to change. Over the long weekend, Nikon Europe announced the pending release of it's newest offering-to-be, the D3X.
Nikon D3x DSLR

Boasting a 35.9x24mm., 24.5 mexapixel sensor, a built-in optical low-pass filter (fear moire no more),  a new 51-point autofocus system with the same auto-focus tracking ability as the D3 and will write to dual CF slots at a mind-numbing 35mb./sec. Some of the reports I have read indicate that .tiff files created from Camera Raw/NEF files will be in the 75mb. range, plenty big enough to finally meet the requirements of major stock agencies and for making large prints without interpolation. Unfortunately, there are no firm reports of a price for this little beauty (rumours have it at around $5.5K) ... or a release date. You can find out more by clicking here.