Things I Love, March 2017

Pluto, backlit from the Sun, from the New Horizon’s spacecraft

I was happy how last month’s post came out, so I’m going to make this a tradition  — a monthly post where I get to talk about things that I loved from the month, whether they relate to photography or not.

  1. Favorite books I read (non-photography). Pax, Sara Pennypacker. Your classic tale of a fox and a boy in time of war. Excellent YA fiction. Autumn, Ali Smith. The first in a series of four books coming out over the next year, this elegant book explores community, connectedness, aging, love, and more in a post-Brexit and post-Trump UK.
  2. Favorite photography book I read: Modern Color, Fred Herzog. Herzog’s color street work from 1950’s-present Vancouver (mostly) is like comfort food for me, and this is the most comprehensive book yet of his work (and well printed). Based on his previous books, it might not be available long for reasonable prices, so move quickly if you like his work.
  3. Favorite exhibition: The Thrill of the Chase at the Portland Museum of Art (Maine). This exhibition of the Wagstaff Collection from the Getty Museum is a must-see (and you can see it until April 30th). A spectacular collection of photographs that goes from the beginnings of photography until the mid-1980’s and it is chock full of gems.
  4. Best link for lens geeks: Roger Cicala from Lensrentals analyzes tons of zoom lenses and comes up with some universal (or almost so) truths. The short version: for normal zoom lenses (24-70mm or so), they are highly likely to be better optically on the wide end rather than the long end, which is a bit counter-intuitive for me.
  5. Favorite Science Photo: This amazingly beautiful photograph of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft, backlit by the sun and showing Pluto’s ever-so-tenuous atmosphere. (see it above).
  6. Quote: “There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every of them sufficient.” Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
  7. Song: Day to Day by L.A. Salami. This version is recorded by NPR’s All Songs Considered one night at the SXSW music festival in Austin, my original hometown (at least it has the best argument for that spot). Bluesy/folk from an English guitarist. Amazing song and musician.

Things I Love, February 2017

Photograph: Ok, I don’t have the actual plate in hand since it was still in the drying rack when I last saw it so this iPhone snap will have to suffice, but I love this portrait of my daughter, my first ever wet plate collodion/tintype piece ever (and even the first time I’ve used a large format camera!).

Ok, I’m going to try something new here — a monthly post where I get to talk about things that I loved from the month. Some things will be photography-related, some things not. These things might not have actually been published/released/occurred this month, but this is when I came across them.

We’ll see how this all develops, but I can use more positivity in my life (as I suspect is true for many!).

  1. Favorite books I read (non-photography). A great month for reading. The best were: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dilliard. A contemporary Walden written about Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, a love letter to the natural world. The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Challenging and powerful book. Moonglow by Michael Chabon. This “autobiographical novel” could not be more in my wheelhouse — Michael Chabon, WWII, and the space program — but at its core it is a personal story loosely based on the life of Chabon’s grandparents.
  2. Favorite photography book I read: Western Landscapes, Lee Friedlander. This giant tome, beautifully printed, collects Friedlander’s wonderful square format landscape work. The crisp compositions also provide another way of dealing with those big and clear Western skies in a way different than Weston, Adams, etc. by photographing so many shots through trees and brush.
  3. Favorite exhibition: It has to be Brenton Hamilton’s 20 year retrospective at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor. You won’t see anywhere else such a range of wonderful images masterfully created using so many 19th Century processes. The exhibit goes until May 6th.
  4. Favorite Science Tidbit: How about this (composite) photograph of the Earth and Moon from 200 million taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, about 120,000 miles away? This is excellent for appreciating their relative sizes and distance between them.
  5. Favorite Science Discovery: The discovery of seven (!) roughly Earth-sized worlds orbiting a single star. For those who grew up before we knew for sure that there were any planets outside our solar system, the idea that there might be more planets in the Universe than stars is mind-blowing.
  6. Favorite photography quote: “The world is open wide to the photographer who can see. And one can never be bored if one can see.” From the description of Black Mountain College’s 1951 summer session, from this great article about the history of their influential photography program.
  7. Song: A Little Uncanny from Conor Oberst. I’m pretty new to Oberst, and my 10-year old loves this song, too — we ended up discussing all the references in the lyrics while we are driving to and fro.