Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

What’s a blog

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
An aerial photo from the St. Elias Mountain Range, converted to B&W in photoshop. Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

An aerial photo from the St. Elias Mountain Range, converted to B&W in photoshop. Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Someone asked me recently, “What’s a blog?” And after  I got over the initial shock and wonder, repeatedly asking myself “is he (yes, he) for real?”, I tried my best to answer.

Seriously, what IS a blog? I guess it’s a journal or diary. Or a news outlet. Or a discussion forum. Or about a million other things.

Technically, the root of the term comes from the longer word “weblog”, meaning a log, on the web. Log like a record of some kind.

But what IS it? For me, it’s a double edged sword; a chore and a hobby. It’s work, sometimes, and sometimes it’s great fun. And sometimes it’s a pain in the a&&; especially when I have nothing of interest to write about, or when my blogging platform, wordpress, causes me no end of headaches and pain and grief as I try to solve some problem I’m having with the site. A site without a dynamic component, like wordpress, can be MUCH easier to handle than a blogging platform. If you folks out there had any idea how much of my life has been wasted as I’ve sat and stared at a screen wondering ‘now why the hell doesn’t it work’, you’d send money. Or drugs. Or money and drugs. Or, well, something. It’s ridiculous.

But I digress. Which is fine, of course, because it’s a blog, and it’s my blog, and I’m allowed to digress. (more…)

What The Hell Is Google Thinking – Google Images

Monday, February 4th, 2013
A screenshot of how google images displays photos, hotlinking the original file, with a "Save Image" option.

A screenshot of how google images displays photos, hotlinking the original file, with a “Save Image” option.

Hey folks,

*Update, Nov 13, 2013 – there is now a formal antitrust complaint registered by CEPIC, the Center of the Picture Industry, thousands of photographers and picture agencies, against Google on this matter. See here.

So, by now a number of people around the web have commented on the new Google Images display; some even talking about how nice and clean the interface looks. What I haven’t seen is anyone discuss how the Google Mobile App now works.

At left is a screenshot from my iPad of how Google Images, using the google app, displays photos on mobile devices. Underneath the image is a tiny thumbnail showing where they’ve extracted this photo from (and where the source file is hosted – in this case, my website).

When the visitor clicks “Options”, under the file, the 3 options are
“Save Image”, “Similar Images” and “View Web Page”. That’s right, the very first option is “Save Image” – Google grant you the option to save the full size jpeg right from my website, without you ever having to actually visit my website.

This is a pretty ballsy move, I must say. There’s been quite a bit of chatter around the ole interwebs about the new google images, on various web masters forums and so on, as well as some of the social media. Twitter, Google plus, etc. See Official Google Rollout, or Webmasters World. Safe to say, a lotta people are peeved. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this (that I’ve seen, anyway). (more…)

BBC – Wildlife Photography and full disclosure

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Coyote pup sitting beside yellow daisies, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Coyote pup sitting beside yellow daisies, Jasper National Park, Canada. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

BBC = bBS

Hey Folks,

Here’s an interesting article from the UK Telegraph; the first paragraph pretty much sums things up: “The BBC is accused of routinely faking footage in wildlife documentaries, by using studio sets, sound effects and tame animals to portray creatures in the wild.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: yes, indeed, the UK Telegraph commenting on any media source of ‘faking’ anything is pretty sad. Let’s disregard tabloid integrity for a moment and consider what this is really about (and what’s WAY more fun); wildlife photography.

Wildlife photography does not include zoo and game farm animals; shooting captive subjects, given that some folks are perpetually going to choose to do this, should always be labelled as such, even if only via context (see Darwin Wiggett’s bear photo for an example; and notice that he captioned it regardless).

I have yet to hear anyone explain how photographing a bear in a cage is wildlife anything. The root of the word ‘wild’ is free-willed, not Free Willy. I understand, for certain, there are degrees of what that might mean. Is a zebra migrating hundreds of miles across the plains in Africa before being hemmed in by a fence really free willed? *

The fact that there are indeed myriad shades of gray, woven through every possible facet of our world, does not make charcoal black any less black. We might differ on where 18% gray is, but we know what black is.

(more…)

What’s in a word; just what is a professional photographer

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
Brown bear, Ursus arctos, standing raised upright and rubbing her back against a birch tree in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska .

Brown bear, Ursus arctos, standing raised upright and rubbing her back against a birch tree in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I can’t imagine my father ever calling himself a “professional University lecturer” or my brother referring himself to as a “professional math teacher”.

The word professional means many things; but when it’s followed with a vocation, such as “photographer”, it doesn’t mean that you enjoy photography a lot, or that you speak politely about it, or that someone bought a print from you. It doesn’t even mean that you have a website. It doesn’t mean you teach workshops and lead tours, either.

Show me a professional photographer, and I’ll wager a dollar I’ll show you someone who’s struggled to pay their rent, who’s sold gear to make their car payment (or sold their car to make their gear payment), someone who’s eaten peanut butter sandwiches because that’s what was available to eat.

A professional photographer has made real sacrifice to do what they do (there are always exceptional cases, with trust funds, a wealthy spouse, etc). It’s a risk. It’s giving up an awful lot to choose to pursue a particular vocation. It’s losing on that risk, picking up, and swinging the stick again. And again. And yet again. Repeat, infinitum.

It sounds much more glamorous than it might be. It means you take the bus sometimes, it means you sit in the rain and wish you were somewhere else. It means you sometimes take a lower price for a sale because you need shoes. Pardon my French, but it means you’ve been sh** on. It means you’ve wished, cursed and swore that you had chosen some other manner to live by. It means you say ‘yes’ when you think ‘oh sh**, that gig sounds like hell’. It means you say ‘yes’ and then that gig actually IS hell. And you then say ‘yes’ again. Still you pursue it.

(more…)

Photographs are making us richer

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Arrigetch Peaks, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska.

View up Arrigetch Creek toward the Arrigetch Peaks, Xanadu, Ariel and Caliban, from left to right. A popular rock climbing and backpacking destination, the Arrigecth Peaks lie in the heart of Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, right near the Continental Divide. Arrigetch Peaks, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

You perhaps saw this recent story in the news about our ‘drowning in a sea of images’. It’s an interesting view, and, I believe, a very valid point. Any kind of inundation makes staying afloat a difficult task. And sometimes it’s impossible.

A photographer and artist I admire, Chase Jarvis, recently posted a response to this on his blog, about how we’re not drowning, but getting richer with this unabating torrent of images. That’s kind of a weird take on it. What kind of flood can we swim through?

Chase argues “shouldn’t it be said that we’re not drowning in photography at all, that we’re perhaps getting metaphorically rich off more and more of these veins of gold?”

“veins of gold”? Gold has value because it’s rare. And because it’s durable. If gold were produced quite as readily as iphone “pics” seem to be, and had a similar lifespan of any digital file, it wouldn’t cost eighteen hundred dollars an ounce right now. I’d suggest a better chemical analogy might be carbon dioxide. CO2 seems to be pretty prevalent right now, becoming ever more so, and, contrary to what the s(k)eptics tell ya, it’s not enriching our world. (more…)

GoDaddy Hosting Service

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Hey Folks,

Just spreading the word here: You’re all familiar with GoDaddy hosting service. The CEO, Bob Parsons has posted a video of himself on vacation to Zimbabwe, where he, gets this … shoots a bull elephant. The video is presented here.

The guise that this is “saving people’s crops” is simply ridiculous; I suppose next he’ll save by handing out free GoDaddy caps to villagers he not only fed, but clothed, the villagers.

If you host your site with GD, I hope you’ll take steps to move it elsewhere. I certainly would. There’s no way I’d want any of my money going to fund this idiot’s business.

Photographer Jim Goldstein has a blog on this topic, as well; and full props to him for getting the word out there on a subject like this. HIs blog is here.

Cheers

Carl

Photography; gear matters

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Bald Eagle Portrait, Homer, Alaska.

An adult Bald Eagle silhouetted headshot, on perch, Homer, Alaska. (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). This photo was taken with photo equipment, by a photographer. The 2 worked together. The eagle co-operated only briefly. Pesky eagles. Click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

I read it again last night. This nonsense has to stop. Why do photographers so often have such a hard time simply acknowledging that what we do is inherently technological? As such, technological advances (i.e., new gear) can (and typically do) play an enormous role in the work we produce. Perhaps much more so than most other art forms.

You’ve all seen the kind of commentary I’m talking about; another piece about how painters don’t talk endlessly about their paintbrushes. Or, even more inanely, how if Art Wolfe were to shoot with a P&S camera, he’d still produce a remarkable portfolio. It’s the photographer, not the camera, that produces great work, blah, blah, blay.

Right? (more…)

Photography ≠ “Painting with light”

Monday, February 14th, 2011
Black and white photo of Great Egret, St. Augustine, Florida.

Black and white photo of Great Egret, St. Augustine, Florida.

Hey Folks

“The word photography is based on the Greek φῶς(photos) “light” and γραφή (graphé) “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”, together meaning “drawing with light” (ya gotta love Wikipedia).

“Photography means painting/drawing with light”.

It’s time photographers (and photography) mature, and walk away from this virtually meaningless phrase. The phrase is a fabrication, deception at best, and  has never been valid. Let it rot. We’re not painters, we’re photographers. We no more “draw with light” than does any person with their finger in the sand. Pixels and film aren’t light, they don’t even “capture” light, they merely represent it – to propose otherwise suggests only a childlike understanding of what light might actually be.

If interpreted in this callow manner, all painting would similarly be “painting with light”. Indeed, all visual art could be a form of painting with light; drawing with pencils and crayons, digital graphic arts, sculpture, pottery, dance, et al. Van Gogh painted with light. Michaelangelo painted with light. Early aboriginal cave paintings were painted with light; with no light, there’d be no painting. Most certainly, there would be no viewing these paintings. The idea that we paint with light is no more valid than saying carpenters sculpt houses with stardust.

(more…)

Extreme Environmentalists, the Gulf Oil Disaster and ANWR.

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Arctic fox and oil barrels on the coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Arctic fox and oil barrels on the coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Excuse my rant; but, this is my blog, and I’m about to wander in the mtns for a while. Before I go, I need to speak out.

I read earlier today of ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s latest comments about the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. She states “Radical environmentalists: you are damaging the planet with your efforts to lock up safer drilling areas”.

Her basic premise is that the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is the work and responsibility of “extreme environmentalists”. Let’s disregard, for now, the fact that she’s been a proponent of offshore drilling for years now (including her 2008 run for VP where she repeatedly claimed that Drill Baby, Drill “also means safely tapping into our offshore sources, safely, environmentally safe”. In her own words, whilst debating then-Senator Joe Biden she stammered “You even called drilling — safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore — as raping the outer continental shelf. There — with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that.

“friendly”? If it weren’t so sad it would be farcical; what the hell is “friendly” about extracting crude oil from beneath the ocean? Makes me wonder what kind of “friends” some of these people keep.  If one of my friends came over to the house and started drilling a hole 20 000′ into the lawn I’d say they’re outta their mind.

I’ve no problem with a discussion of the collective responsibility owned by our society. I hopefully made that clear in my earlier post here. But I won’t absolve the oil industry of their responsibility, nor the clowns who would reduce a discussion of the energy policy of the world’s largest energy consumer to a 3-word bumper-sticker slogan: “Drill Here, Drill Now”  of theirs, which is the intent of Palin’s outburst. Sarah Palin’s remarks, along with this childish assessment from Ted Nugent is not an honest critique of any social construct at all. In fact, it’s nothing more than the opposite of that; an attempt to divert attention from the direct and very palpable targets of hella-oil, political corruption and bumper-sticker political campaigns to a somewhat more nebulous, transparent target. That is intolerable. (more…)

Designating Wilderness: your choice.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (aerial photo).

Coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (aerial photo).

Hey Folks,

Last night I attended  public comment hearing for the preliminary stages of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In short, this comment period allows the public to offer information and thoughts on some of the issues they feel might need to be addressed, and oftentimes their thoughts as to how those issues should be addressed. The CCP will be a document that “outlines and guides long-term management” of the Refuge. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are the land management agency responsible for managing the Refuge. If you would like to add your input at this stage, here is Comment Form for the Refuge. Before you do, it’s worth browsing the FWS ANWR webpage for some useful ideas on how this works (they’re not looking for reasons why the coastal plain might or might not be opened to drilling – that decision is to be the work of Congress, not the simple folks of the FWS).

One of the critical topics up for discussion is the designation of  ”wilderness” in the Refuge. Currently, nearly half (41%) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 19.3 million acres is designated wilderness. The remaining 10 million acres are not currently designated “wilderness”. The FWS are presently proposing to study these areas and determine whether or not they qualify as wilderness; the ‘Wilderness Review‘ section of the CCP. A recommendation could then be made to Congress to designate these areas wilderness. Such a designation would render the Refuge off-limits to oil and gas extraction.

The arguments were the same tired commentaries we’ve heard countless times now; (more…)