Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Learn with Cheryl
Searching for creative and artistic direction? Join Cheryl for a mentoring program tailored to your creative needs.
Register now for Cheryl’s online classes
Cheryl returns to ppsop: "All About Color," "Photographing Children," and "Painting Photos." Sign up today!
Cheryl’s Photo Gear
Learn about Photography, art, color, classes & more
specially priced Preorder today!
Category Archives: Photography
Photography provides a vehicle to communicate what we see and feel. And so the essential question is, “What are you trying to say?”
How do you find your photographic voice?
Be curious. Visit museums, and go to the library and look through photography and art books. Browse online galleries and collections. Study. Formulate opinions on style, form, technique, and message. Notice the artists and photographers’ prevalent themes. Decide what moves you. Make a list and then ask yourself, “How can I incorporate these components into my work?”
I spent years searching for inspiration and expression. Personally passionate about music and color, in time, I discovered the Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who transformed hues into lyrical forces of spectral and musical equivalents. One of his most important paintings, Painting with White Borders, is the inspiration for the border tutorial I will share with you shortly. Kandinsky struggled with this painting, reworking it fifteen times until he arrived at the solution — a white border. His response to “Why white?” — “White expresses a harmony of silence, pregnant with possibilities.” (http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/exhibitions/past/exhibit/4236)
I also pay homage to Vincent Van Gogh (in the following video tutorial) who walked excessively through all types of weather, searching for his voice (and peace of mind). “Wheat Field in Rain” — one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings — creates a profound and tactile immediacy.
About my photo
One rainy summer afternoon, while driving along Montauk Highway, I saw a field of sunflowers and a old truck with an American Flag. I had to stop and so I drove my car alongside the field, opened the car window and photographed. But I felt removed and couldn’t compose good enough from the car. Recalling Van Gogh’s painting “Wheat Field In Rain” and his habit of walking in inclement weather, I went out into the field, protecting my camera from the pouring rain with an umbrella hooked over my shoulder.
Later, I uploaded the images, selected my favorite, and adjusted the RAW file in ACR. After running through some basic adjustment layers in Adobe Photoshop, the photograph just didn’t feel complete. It was missing something, or, said another way, the photo wasn’t saying enough. Using Kandinsky’s Painting with White Borders as inspiration, I too created a border. Mine was yellow. Why yellow? “In addition to selecting a coordinating color, yellow embraces both Kandinsky and Van Gogh. In color geometry, (Kandinsky) the triangle is yellow and Van Gogh is synonymous with yellow sunflowers). Curious about the color yellow? Click here to read a blog post I wrote celebrating yellow.
The following is a video tutorial detailing how to create an artistic border. I am using Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, but this lesson works on all Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Elements versions.
Would love to hear from you.
All my best,
Check out my new eBook: Photographing Children Naturally
Vacations are essential for creativity
According to Daniel J. Levitin (Author and Director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition, & Expertise at McGill University, NY Times 8/16/14),
“Make sure you have a real one (vacation). The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtimes, and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains….
If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods….
Daydreaming leads to creativity… the ability to change the world, to mold it to our liking, to have a positivity effect on our environments…”
I read this article and thought about a vacation I had earlier this year. It was March and like most New Yorkers, I was coping with frigid weather.
And so I went to South Beach, Florida. I traveled light and did not take my pro camera because with that in hand, I’m working. I wanted to chill (pun intended!) — partition my day (which according to Levitin is essential for creativity to flourish).
And so there I was, daydreaming, lying on a lounge chair facing the turquoise beach, underneath a huge blue umbrella. Comfy and cozy, I looked up and…..
I saw too many fabulous things at once; blue on blue motifs (monochromatic color scale), umbrella tassels creating patterns crying for order… and the negative space — blue sky.
I only had my iPhone, and begrudgingly I said to myself, “Just zone out and be on vacation.”
But I couldn’t. It was too beautiful.
Here are some end of the summer photo tips:
- Always have a camera (smartphones count) with you
- There’s still time for daydreaming
- Photographers never vacation – this is a good thing!
- Find the patterns and show them with thoughtful composing
- Let color drive your creativity
- Look up
Since the images are blue themed, I’ll add a few color notes. (This is a snapshot of lessons taught in my “All About Color” class at ppsop). Blue is the most popular of colors; it evokes calm, tranquility, intelligence, and trust. Blue is a cool tone and recedes. This means blue creates the illusion stretching visual space. (To read more about the color blue, read my blog post: Some Things Blue).
Tips for capturing a smile, naturally:
Photographing Children Naturally is the philosophy I share in my new eBook, Photographing Children Naturally and in my online class Photographing Children: Rising to the Challenge. My pseudo documentary style embodies a posed-but-not posed approach. I set the stage and then encourage the children to be children.
Parents often want a smile and so I work on bringing on that smile, naturally. Here are some tips for capturing smiles.
- Forget about the smile (initially, at least). Instead, work towards building a connection with the child. Relate by creating a playful environment, helping the child forget about the camera. Children are smart, they know what you are up to (“You want me to smile – no way!) and they can be stubborn. Remedy: Be charming and relate. Ask a teen about music, a ten-year-old about skateboards, be silly with a toddler, make funny faces and sounds with a baby. Play music, sing songs, have a bag full of communication tricks ready.
A portrait is a collaboration. Instead of saying, “Look here…smile,” wait for the child to relax while you continue with your banter (relationship building strategy). With time, trust will arise, and the strained lines of a fake smile will fade.
Think beyond the concept of a smiley face. An honest smile is subtle, happiness leaps from the lip line, or exclaims by a confident head tilt, twinkles in the eyes, gestures with the hands. Train yourself to see these subtleties, they are the essential ingredients for good portraits. Art is in these details.
Be patient and ready. Determine the camera settings from the get-go. Work on shutter priority if action is the photo goal or aperture priority if you want a selective focus photo. Consider manual exposure, especially when lighting conditions are stable and when using a speedlite. Test fill beforehand. Don’t be fussing with your camera. Be ready and respond on the spot.
Before the child entered the room, I set up by placing an Impact travel backdrop stand (which comes with two light stands to hold the pole and a travel case) near a six foot slider for window light as the main light source. I used a Westcott white “Wrinkle” resistant 10 foot backdrop. I like this backdrop for young children, as it is soft like a fuzzy blanket and they enjoy lying on it.
I used the xRite Color Checker Passport to create a color calibration profile and also for a white balance target. A speedlite, diffused by a Westcott Rapid Box Octa for fill, was hand-held by my assistant. Knowing I would not be able to pose Aniya, my assistant moved with the child as if tethered, maintaining a 45 degree angle to the child’s position.
To learn more about Photographing Children Naturally, please read my eBook (available exclusively at flatbooks.com) and join me for “Photographing Children: Rising to the Challenge,” a four weeks class (at ppsop) rich with lessons, assignments, in-depth critiques, and a lively Q&A.
All my best,
Photographing Children Naturally eBook - Reviews
Photography Exhibits Must Sees
A Fine Art Mentoring Client (FAME) will be visiting Manhattan later this month and asked for a list of photography exhibit “must sees.” I decided to share my suggestions. Let me know if you visit any of these fabulous exhibits.
Gary Winogrand @ the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
(though September 21, 2014)
Bronx, NY born photographer, Gary Winogrand’s most iconic images capture Manhattan in the 60’s. Known as one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century and classified as a street photographer, his prolific work is still being discovered. There are at least 250,000 images Winogrand never processed. Developed posthumously, some of these images are in this exhibit (like the image above on view in Gallery 691 @ the MET). To Winogrand, the act of photographing was far more interesting than making prints or editing for books and exhibits.
“I photograph to find out what something looks like photographed.”
Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness @ The Museum of Modern ART (MOMA)
(through November 2, 2014)
American born artist (1956), Christopher Williams’ retrospect features nearly 100 photographs, spanning his 30-year photographic career including fashion, portraiture, landscape and an emphasis on still life.
“He is an ardently self-conscious artist who wants to let us in on his entire act. You feel his touch everywhere: in the installation, the catalogue, the simple map and the crazily ornate checklist, both handouts that are an essential part of the show….There’s nothing that he hasn’t tweaked or deleted. This includes the labels and wall texts; the framing of the photographs (those extra wide mats) and the height at which they hang (noticeably low)…It is as if, having tunneled into photography in every way imaginable, Mr. Williams has broken through to the exhibition form, which is becoming his true subject…”
~Roberta Smith (New York Times, August 1, 2014)
Urbes Mutantes: Latin American Photography 1944-2013 @ The International Center of Photography (ICP)
(though September 7, 2014)
A major survey of the photographic movements in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. The exhibition draws mostly on street photography and
“explores pubic space as a platform for protest, popular street culture, the public face of poverty, and other characteristic of the city as described in photographs…Urbes Mutantes points to the depth and richness of the extensive photographic history of the region.”
Keld Helmer-Petersen @ The Yossi Milo Gallery
(Through August 29, 2014)
Color photographs by Danish born photographer Keld Helmer-Petersen (1920-2013). As black-and-white photography was considered the only photographic art form in the 1940s, Helmer-Petersen’s pioneer work with color film
“… set a new standard, establishing the practice of color photography as a fine art and paving the way for subsequent generations of artists, including, William Eggleston.”
~(Yossi Milo Gallery)
“…the book is elegant, the photographs stunning… and the sentiment within Cheryl Machat Dorskind’s style lovely and utterly charming. I love her work and I think the people and children she photographs are fortunate to have themselves “captured” for a moment in time by the internal lens within her creative mind’s eye, as well as the technological and mechanical one within her camera…the one that listens to Cheryl’s creative interpretation of what she sees, of what is in front of her…”
~Giselle Minoli (click to read the full review)
“Glad to see your work! I am so very tired of photographers arranging overly sentimental images and contrived settings.”
“Cheryl, Congratulations on the ebook! Your print book (and online class) on photographing children got me through my very first family photo shoot, 2 years ago, and is still one of my go-to’s when I need some ideas or references. I recently was a photographer for a mission in Haiti with so many children there…your teaching on the basic principles of taking pictures of children stuck with me and led to some amazing pictures and a very happy customer. All the best to you… Downloaded the eBook last night. It has something for everyone who photographs children—from the basics to recommendations on equipment, lighting, and photo shoots.”
~Kris Jensen McGarigle (Hang Onto Your Hat Photography)
“Enthralled by her eBook that came out this week…Great advice, quotes, along with compelling imagery.”
~Karen Meyers (Karen Meyers Photography)
My New eBook - Great Summer Read
Whether you are or a photographer looking for a new direction or a parent or grandparent striving to capture meaningful family photos, this beautiful eBook provides all the inspiration and techniques you’ll need to capture the spirit and individuality of children in timeless photographs.
- Camera formats, lens selection, and exposure fundamentals
- Working with natural and supplemental lighting
- Moving beyond the snapshot to create compelling portraits
- Recording the milestones in a child’s life
- Posing, wardrobe, and rapport tips
- Photo session strategies and management checklists
Enjoy and let me hear from you.
All my best,
Improve Your Photography Skills
Embrace the beauty of the Hamptons while learning composition, camera technique, lens choice, exposure, and the art of seeing.
(Rain date: Sunday, October 12th, from 8:30-Noon)
(Rain date: Sunday, October 12th, from 8:30-Noon)
Private photo safaris/lessons can also be arranged!
Email me to discuss: [email protected]
Photo Safari Schedule
- “Meet and Greet” at Remsenburg Academy (130 South Road, Remsenburg, New York 11960)
- Equipment review/instruction
- Photo walk with personalized hands-on-lessons in gorgeous locales!
$150 per person. Click here for more info and to sign up today!
“Thank you for a great workshop last Sat. I had a wonderful time. Not only did we visit some beautiful and unique landscapes but it gave me an opportunity to explore my own photography skills. I learned what a difference a polarizing filter can make! I am very pleased with my results and loved the relaxed, supportive feel of the workshop. Thanks again for a great day. I slept well that night! :)”
“I learned on the shoot that a DOF (Depth of Field) app was available for my iPhone; and I downloaded it and Cheryl instructed me on how to use it for my D7000. It’s very helpful and I will continue to use it in the future. Cheryl also instructed us on which filters to use for different lighting situations and my neutral density filter was extremely useful that day. It filtered out strong sunlight and preserved detail in my photo and my pictures were not overexposed. Thank you, Cheryl, for your time and expertise on this shoot.”
This article originally appeared in the e-zine, “The Handmade Photograph,” March 13, 2014
From the beginning of my photography career, I married paint with photos. Photography was my canvass, color my voice. At that time, there was little information available on the technique of handpainting and what was available proved contradictory and frustrating. Determined, I experimented with photographic papers, artist’s oil paints, and pencils. The learning process was often exasperating and expensive, but I persevered.
In 1987 I had my first solo exhibition in New York City, and I have been exhibiting ever since. I began teaching handpainted photography in 1993 and my lesson plans developed into a best selling book, “The Art of Handpainting Photographs.”
This one photo of my daughter Nicole and I bridges three of my passions: photography, painting, and motherhood (and children and family portraiture). It was a beautiful July morning and Nicole’s newborn sister was napping. The warm sunlight encouraged a spontaneous dress-up photo session.
With a Nikon N90 S, AF- DC Nikkor, 105 mm f/2 lens (a beauty of a lens), Ilford HP5 Plus film, tripod and a cable release (with a long extension), we photographed a roll of self portraits. I printed the image onto Ilford Matte Multigrade fiber paper and added washes of oil paint and pencils until the color softly carried the message.
This photo was almost the book cover of “The Art of Handpainting Photographs” and remains an inspiration for my self portraits and photographing children images.
The Handmade Photograph, an e-zine for photographers, educators, and artists, explores the hand of the photographer. Published by Wendy Erickson, the former editor of Photo Technique magazine, her e-zine promises to be a rich and unique photographic resource for modern and historic photographic techniques.
Please share this post and help announce the launch of The Handmade Photograph.
Happy Birthday Vincent Van Gogh
Born in 1853, Vincent Van Gogh decided to become an artist at the age of 27. Mostly self taught by copying masters’ works and studying drawing manuals, Van Gogh produced over 900 paintings and over 1100 works on paper during his anguished life.
As photographers, we have much to learn from Vincent Van Gogh. Most importantly, Van Gogh felt that it was necessary to master black and white before working with color.
Digital photographers control at least 16,780 million colors, so it is essential to know when and why to use color and which colors (s) make most sense… or should you convert to black and white? Food for thought for the weekend.
For inspiration consider reading the biography, “Van Gogh: The Life”
“The sympathy an artist feels for certain lines and for certain colors will cause his soul to be reflected in them.”
~Vincent Van Gogh~
Or visit an online museum and study his work.
Have a great weekend,
I have heard many concerns about Adobe Creative Cloud and wanted to address one of the issues.
You can create and save Adobe Creative Cloud psd files to your hard drive and then use the Photoshop files (psd) in older versions of Adobe Photoshop (such as CS5, CS6) in the event that you decide not to continue with Adobe Creative Cloud.
The only snag is that if you use a new Adobe Creative Cloud feature, such as Shake Reduction, when you open the psd file (created in Adobe Creative Cloud) into an older Adobe Photoshop version, you will not be able to access that filter.
Otherwise the layers remain intact and you can continue editing the file.
Here are two screen shots to illustrate.
Using Adobe Creative Cloud for this first screenshot, I converted the image to a smart object and then added Adaptive Wide Angle and Shake Reduction filters as smart filters.
I saved the Creative Cloud generated psd file to my hard drive and then opened the psd file in Adobe Photoshop CS6. Notice the hazard icon. The Shake Reduction filter is grayed out and I can not access it, but I can continue to work on the file in CS6. The Adaptive Wide Angle filter will work in CS6.
It is a wise strategy to make a duplicate of your Photoshop files, flatten and save as archive images. Personally I make a high res tiff (no compression) and a high res jpg of images I have worked on.
Please feel free to share some of your Adobe Creative Cloud thoughts and concerns.
Have a great weekend,
I had the privilege of co-teaching a workshop in Tucson with the Garden Club of America Photo Study Group
They were a talented, motivated, intelligent, and creative group of people who I look forward to staying in touch with. Photography provides a wonderful venue for sharing visual passion.
Stay in touch!
I originally coined photopaintings for their marriage of my passions, photography and painting. Handpainting or hand tinting is a technique as old as photography itself, one I rediscovered back in the 1980s and helped bring back to the spotlight with my best selling book, The Art of Handpainting Photographs (Watson Guptill: Amphoto) The name photopaintings also nods to the late Henri Cartier Bresson, an iconic favorite, when reading his book, PhotoPortraits.
Why paint photos? When I decided to become a visual artist, I was concerned about the short life of color photography, it faded. To overcome the limits of the technology of the time, ironically, I stepped back in time and rediscovered the art of handpainting photographs. My Photopaintings begin as traditional darkroom hand printed gelatin silver b/w fiber print, a rarity these days, which are then enhanced with glazes of transparent oil paints and other artist’s mediums. As the New York Times says,
Cheryl Machat Dorskind applies subtle color to black-and-white prints to amplify the romantic feeling of mist shrouded coastal landscapes…her hand colored photographs celebrate natures’ misty moody character. Her deserted harbor, with its empty boat and unruffled water, seem to imply that human use would interrupt the spell. Pale pink and blue tones give the images a delicacy and an aura that suggests an uncommon moment.”
In the early 1990s, I quickly jumped on the digital train embracing the new technology. I adore all things digital and work with the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, using a digital brush (with the help of a Wacom Intuos 5), blending colors and painting with light.
The exhibition presents a selection of my favorite handpainted silver gelatin photographs and a grouping from a current on going body of work (archival pigment prints) that celebrate the light and colors of the Hamptons.
The show will remain on view through August 11 at the Remsenburg Academy (130 South Road, Remsenburg, NY 11960). Gallery hours are Thursday – Sunday, 12 – 5 and by appointment 888-395-1666. The artist reception is on Friday, July 26, from 5-7 PM.
Learn with Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Join me for a Hamptons’ photo class
Photo Safaris – sea with me!
Photo Safaris are four hour guided photo walks through gorgeous terrain and incredible light. Experience the beach and ocean habitats through the eyes of your camera while enhancing your skills and meeting new people.
Click here and sign-up today and join one of the three offerings; space is limited!
Master your Camera
Do you want to learn how to make the most out of your camera? Are you curious what the M, S (or TV), A (or Av), and P mean on the control dial? (I’ll tell you right off that P does not equal portrait!)
Join me and move off of “automatic.” Master your camera and shoot like a pro!
Click here and sign-up today, (two class options)
Handpainting Photographs – a 2 day intensive
Learn the artistic techniques that made my first book, The Art of Handpainting Photography a best seller. If you want to turn your photography into works of art then join me for this two-day intensive and leave with the skills you need to handpaint photographs (with the digital brush and/or traditional darkroom paper).
Click here and sign-up today. Offered twice: July 28-30 and November 1-3.
These nine year old girls may just be tomorrow’s leaders.
by Cheryl Machat Dorskind
March is Women’s History Month
and many fine institutions pay homage, including the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, and NASA. Women’s’ History month began in 1995. Our local Westhampton Beach Brownie troop celebrated women by sponsoring a panel that included a woman lawyer, a woman police officer, a woman doctor, and a woman photographer (me).
The program began with us reciting the Brownie code (which I actually remembered) and then the panel members answered the Brownies’ questions. The fourth graders smiled brightly as they took notes with neon colored highlighters. The afternoon ended with strawberries, water (no juice or soda!), and of course, brownies.
Questions from our future leaders included:
Brownie: “How do you get an idea?”
Cheryl: “I often “get” an idea when it is least expected. I may be cleaning the house, driving my car, taking a shower, or dreaming. Ideas can come at any moment so I always carry a journal and camera with me.
Brownie: “What kind of camera do you have?”
Cheryl: “I have lots of cameras. The best camera is the one you have with you.”
Brownie: “When did you know you want to be a photographer?”
Cheryl: “I knew I wanted to be a photographer, a writer, and an artist since I was twelve years old. I was enrolled in painting classes, my father built me a darkroom (surprisingly one student knew what a darkroom was!), and I always loved to write. It is important to find your passion.”
One of America’s best kept secrets
by Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Today begins my “Intro to Digital Photography” class at Suffolk County Community College. It is a five hour weekly class that teaches both camera and Adobe Photoshop skills. I have been teaching at this community college for twelve years and I agree with Jill Biden who says that “Community Colleges are “one of America’s best-kept secrets.”
Like Jill Biden, I see instantly how “classes at community college impact the lives of students for the better.” Teaching photography is a wonderful thing, as I can see how my student’s vision is forever changed. Some go on to have the “I-want-to-be-a-photographer” bug, while others have a new means of communicating their hearts and minds.
I also teach photography and art related classes online at the Perfect Picture School of Photography since 2006. Online education is a totally different mindset, but I love it just the same. It is amazing how connected you can be with others through sharing photography, strategy, and vision. I teach four courses online (All About Color, More About Color, Painting Photos, and Photographing Children: Rising to the Challenge) and many students join me for more than one, and over the years become my friends.
So with 2013, I thought, what better way to begin my passion for teaching than to leap into the rapidly growing field of MOOCs and be a student. For those who are unaware, MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course and many say (Forbes, NY Times, etc) that this forum is the future of education.
Currently courses are offered by a few distinguished organizations including Coursera, edX and Udacity and they are designed by “academic rockstars” attended by hundreds of thousands of students from around the world. While students are rarely rewarded for credit, MOOC classes inspire enrollment for learning satisfaction. What a great concept…learn for the sake of learning.
So I took the leap and joined a class.There are hundreds to choose from. For the moment, I would rather not say which class I enrolled in. Instead, I’d like you to explore the three MOOC venues I mentioned above and let’s start a conversation about courses that have captured your eye.
I will return to this discussion as my class unfolds and share new experiences.
All my best,
Interesting people make interesting photographs, and it is interesting to see where they go with their lives. When I captured this photo of Michael Oren ten years ago (on Ilford Delta 400 professional film), he was promoting his book, “Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East.” Ten years later film has been replaced by digital photography and Michael Oren is Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.
This photo is one from a collection of images created during an August 2002 portrait session in Quiogue, New York at the home of a mutual friend. Of all the Hampton celebrities, authors, and dignitaries I have met and photographed over the years, Michael is one of my favorites – he is a great guy.
Happy New Year!
Inspired by Pulitzer Prize Winners Naifeh and Smith for their brilliant book, “Van Gogh: The Life”, I wanted to share some other great reads.
1. “How Music Works” – David Byrne
2.“The Life of Oscar” – Junot Diaz
Diaz, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, recently won a genius grant and has released a critically acclaimed collection of stories, “This is How You Lose Her.” His 2005 novel, “The Life of Oscar “ shows Diaz’s rhythm as a “syncopated stagger-step between opacity and transparency, exclusion and inclusion, defiance and desire.” (NY Times Leah Hager Cohen, 9/22/12)
3. “The Yellow Birds” – Kevin Powers
“A first novel as compact and powerful as a foot locker full of ammo” (Benjamin Percy, NY Times, 10/7/12). Written in a fractured structure, Percy explains that this style “serves the story in two ways. First, it turns readers into active participants, enlisting them in a sense as co-authors who fit together the many memories and guess at what terrible secret lies in wait …Because they lean forward instead of back, because they participate in piecing together the puzzle, they are made more culpable.”
4. “Live by Night” – Dennis Lehane
Janet Maslin claims it is “Crime Noir 101, as taught by the best of its current practitioners.” A nominal follow up to Lehane’s “The Given Day,” “Live by Night,” brings us back to Boston in the 20’s during prohibition. “Yet his idea of plain old crime is sophisticated, literary and barbed enough… that it makes this book a sentence-by-sentence pleasure. You are in the hands of an expert. And you’ll know it.” (Janet Maslin, NY Times 10/3/12)
5. “San Miguel” – T.C. Boyle
Described as “chilling and beautiful” and “a striking departure from his satirical novels of off-beat characters,” Jennifer Reese of NPR further says “But just when you’ve decided Boyle has written a horror novel, he introduces a long, tender love story that brings the narrative to its bittersweet conclusion.”
6. “The Round House” – Louise Erdrich
Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for fiction and author of “Love Medicine,” Erdrich’s novel is about “a teenage boy’s effort to investigate an attack on his mother on a North Dakota reservation, and his struggle to come to terms with the violence in their culture.” Erdrich accepted the award and said she wanted to “acknowledge the grace and endurance of native women.” She added: “This is a book about a huge case of injustice ongoing on reservations. Thank you for giving it a wider audience.”Leslie Kaufman, NY Times, November 15, 2012).
7. “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” – Katherine Boo
The winner of the 2012 National Book Award for non – fiction, this book is about the “heart-rendering struggles of the dwellers of a slum in the shadow of luxury hotels in India.” In her acceptance speech Boo states, “If this prize means anything it is that small stories in so-called hidden places matter because they implicate and complicate what we consider to be the larger story, which is the story of people who do have political and economic powers.” (NY Times, November 15, 2012)
8. “Bel Canto” – Ann Patchett
Many critics complained that Ann Patchett should have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year for her fantastic book “State of Wonder.” (To remind you, no one was awarded the Pulitzer fiction prize for 2012.) Ann Patchett is a book lover’s friend, she even opened a book store in Nashville, TN in 2011. Many consider “Bel Canto” her finest book. Here is a wonderful link if you are interested in learning more about Bel Canto arias. (http://www.nytimes.com/video/2008/11/28/arts/music/1194834022983/bel-canto.html)
Be sure to add my blog to your RSS feed as I will be following up with a Holiday Book list in early December. In the interim, I would like to hear what you are reading and in what format.
Happy Thanksgiving and be well,
For my daughter’s card, I scanned, cropped, and retouched a photo that captured her winning smile. For luck and good fortune I printed the image on a gold metallic paper.
Want to use gold in your card? Scan the metallic paper and then add the high resolution jpeg as a fill layer in Adobe Photoshop. Control the intensity of the gold paper (on faces) with an adjustment layer mask and brush. “Like” my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CherylMachatDorskindPhotography) and mention “gold” in a comment and I will send you a paper metallic jpeg
If you want to mail your holiday card by mid-December, it’s time to get started.
I will be speaking at the Photo Plus Expo at the Javitz Center in NYC on Wednesday, October 24th from 5-6:30 PM (session 2) as part of a panel discussing “Preparing Successful and Employable College Graduates.” Join me for a most interesting and important discussion.
Hope to see you Wednesday, October 24th,
Six Tips For Photographing Children Naturally
© 2012 Cheryl Machat Dorskind
“Like the people you shoot and let them know it”
I recently photographed a twelve year old boy at the beach and wanted to share some tips.
A consultation begins the process. At the meeting, learn the expectations. For example will the client want an 8×10” print or a wall sized canvass? Determining the output size in advance is important for pre-visualization. Compose with size in mind. Additionally, larger output size requires large files sizes.
Plan the wardrobe and pay attention to winning color combinations. Children’s swimwear often features bold saturated colors. Finding clothes with minimum or no logos is tough. For this session we chose a gray shirt to balance the highly saturated colors of the swim trunks and board).
To help break-the-ice with twelve-year-old Justin, we walked together down the beach and chatted. I did not want Justin to perform; I wanted him to be himself.
I did not use an assistant because adding someone to hold my flash or reflector would break the bond Justin and I had formed. Luckily the overcast sky and time of day did not require supplement. The beautiful Hampton sunlight was shining its magic. (A surfer even stopped and commented on the gorgeous light.) Instead, my assistant shot some video that I uploaded below.
Determine Your Camera Settings Before You Begin
Preplan your camera settings. Select an exposure mode, focus and drive mode, ISO, aperture, and shutter settings that make most sense for your session before you begin so you are not fiddling with the camera. I used continuous drive mode and AI Servo (AF Mode).
I was working an hour before sunset and the sun was weaving in and out of clouds. Knowing I can use a high ISO on my camera, I set it to 640, enabling flexibility in terms of shutter and aperture selection. Since the sunlight was changing rapidly, I used aperture priority exposure mode and kept my eye on the shutter to make sure it did not dip too low to cause camera shake.
From time to time, check your camera settings. Sometimes in the midst of a shoot, you will inadvertently move the exposure or your exposure mode dial (consider taping the function drive in place). Check that your shutter is fast enough to avoid camera shake (1/focal length of the lens) and that the appropriate focus tracking is set.
Beforehand, I decided to use a 70-200 mm lens providing ample space between Justin and I. This distance enabled Justin to relax. (At the beach you do not want to be changing lenses).
Keep the pose natural
Patience+rapport = natural poses. Let the natural body language be your guide and then tweak. Set up a scene, and then let the action occur. Be ready to capture the moment. The “right” smile is often right after the child smiles.
Shoot at the child’s level
Children will react better and your images will improve if you meet the child at their eye level. This often means you will find yourself on the ground.
Know when you are done.
Personally, it is a feeling I get. I feel done. “I got it.” Be sensitive to the fact that most children do not want to have their picture taken. Learn to sense enough is enough. Quickly scroll through the thumbnails to see if you have a few winners.
Join Cheryl for one of her online photography classes. New sessions begin this weekend (October 7-9) and November 5, 2012.
All About Color
More About Color
Photographing Children: Rising to the Challenge
Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, and the soul is the piano with many strings ~Kandinsky
“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, and the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposely, to cause vibrations in the soul.”
Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) transformed color into a lyrical force, spectral and geometric musical equivalents. His work is profound and spiritual. “In Art” is a collection of his visions of art and soul, color and geometry.
Oscar winning actor Helen Mirren speaks about how she relaxes and finds inspiration by going to a museum. Her favorite artist is Kandinsky and in this video she talks about Kandinsky paintings and how they enrich her inner voice.
“When I draw something I remember it. The drawing is a reminder of the idea that caused me to record it in the first place.”
~ Michael Graves
New York Times (09/01/2012)
When I photograph something, I remember it. I have been photographing for a long time and still remember when I photographed images I come across in my archives. The photographs stamp an emotional ambiance and color my memory.
That is why I always have a camera with me. It helps me see. The point and shoot (or smart phone) becomes a sketch book. I don’t leave home without one.
Personally, I am more fluid with a small camera, I can easily observe and merge with the environment.
Have a great weekend,
Friday Quote: “All the wonderful accidents that happen to you as an actor”
This line caught my ear while driving the other day and listening to Frank Langella’s interview with Dave Davies for NPR’s Fresh Air (August 16, 2012). I later listened to Langella reminisce about how hard it was to portray President Nixon.
“Well, I was at the Museum of Radio and Television. I asked the lady there if she’d be good enough to give me some tapes on him. And she said how many do you want? I’ve got thousands and thousands. And she brought in a big wagon and I got a sandwich and an iced tea, and sat and plugged in the Watergate shows and watch him. And then I got up to go to the bathroom and I pressed the button and when I came back I pressed slow motion as a, in an accident, really. All the wonderful accidents that happen to you as an actor, and that was one of the great ones for me. And I watched his eyes and the way his mouth moved and his hand gestures in slow motion. And suddenly I began to see what he was hiding. I began to notice the ticks much more vividly than I had normally, because we had all seen so much of him that you grew used to it. But when you watch him in slow – when you watch anything in slow motion you’re going to see something a little waiver in the eyes, a little strange smile, whatever. And that’s when his heart, when the soul of the man, as I perceived him, began to take shape for me and then I began to think well, maybe, maybe I can find a way to do him.”
Hearing others I admire respectfully admit mistakes encourages hard work, bravery and a willingness to experiment. Langella struggled, watching thousands of videos to find his Nixon voice, he researched, contemplated and then accidentally found the answer. Mistakes can be fortuitous seeds for brilliance.
Labor Day marks the celebration of American workers and the beginning of the school calendar. And as I begin teaching my fall semester classes at the local community college in an economic environment that does not scream for more photographers, I encourage you to work hard at your passion, listen, experiment, make mistakes, and celebrate.
Happy Friday and a Happy Labor Day weekend to all my American friends,
Friday Quote: “All our knowledge has its origin in perception.”
~Leonardo da Vinci
I like to walk. I walk the same five mile route almost every day and each time I walk this path, the light shifts, colors change, wildlife scatters, and the trees and flowers bend with the wind.
Here are a few these summer photos (all captured with my iphone):
Friday Quote: “When was the last time you laughed?”
~ Barbara Kruger
Barbara Kruger’s new installation “Belief + Doubt” features massive-type aphorisms in Kruger’s signature colors of red, black, and white. The exhibit officially opens on August 20 and will remain on display through 2014.
According to the Washington City Paper (8/8/12), Barbara Kruger is one of the greatest feminist artists of the 20th century and an important contributor to the fields of text-based art, appropriation, mass communication and corporate critique.
I was fortunate to be at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum earlier this summer while the installation was in progress and I snapped a few photos.
All Images:”Belief + Doubt” – © Barbara Kruger, photos by Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Have a great weekend and a hearty laugh,
“Literature is the right use of language irrespective of the subject or reason of utterance” ~Evelyn Waugh
What is literature?
Friday Quote: “Literature is the right use of language irrespective of the subject or reason of utterance.”
And what is the “right use” asks Jim Holt in his NY Times editorial “Is Philosophy Literature?” (7/1/12) “Lucidity, elegance, individuality.” (Evelyn Waugh).
With summer nearly halfway over and I thought I’d share my summer reading list.
1. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. A very quick and enjoyable summer escape.
2. “Song of the Lark” by Willa Cather is a beautifully written portrait of a heroic woman artist.
3. “Da Vinci’s Ghost” by Toby Lester. A fascinating historic journey into the Vitruvian Man’s impact on da Vinci.
4. “Sacred Geometry” by Stephen Skinner. A very palatable explanation of the Pythagorean theory and mystical history.
5. “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb. An inspiring teaching resource easily translatable to the classroom.
6. “Quiet” by Susan Cain. A nice companion for those of us who have been labeled “too sensitive.” It’s filled with rich insights on the artist, the inventor, and introverts vs. extroverts.
7.“The Lower River” by Paul Theroux. The atmospheric, edgy novel finds its protagonist unprepared as he journeys back to primitive Africa. it’s almost as great as Coetzee’s haunting “Disgrace.”
8. “Canada” by Richard Ford. Andrew Dubois’s glowing review in the New York Times (June) sold me on this book. It is next on deck.
9. “Adobe Photoshop for Photographers (CS6)” by Martin Evening. Evening is an Adobe “Hall of Famer” and this book doesn’t disappoint.
10. “Picasso and Photography” Anne Baldassari. I never realized the impact of photography on Picasso’s art.
Would love to hear what you are reading. I bet my readers would too.
Yesterday I ate something that kept me in bed so I turned on the tv and watched the HBO documentary “Marina Abramovic′.” I was stunned by its intensity and sorry I missed her 2010 MOMA retrospective. If you were one of the 750,000 viewers I would like to hear your thoughts.
The documentary did not sit well with my queasy stomach, (I stopped it when the magician was eating his wine glass) but I wanted to share some of Marina’s wisdom. She is an artist (doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a “performance artist”) who embodies Zen philosophy. To her, intention and being in your authentic space is sacred. I was profoundly touched by her presence on screen.
“Artists have to be warrior, have to have this determination and the stamina to conquer, not to just cover new territory, but also to conquer himself and his weaknesses. So it doesn’t matter what type of work you are doing as an artist, the most important is which state of mind you are doing what you are doing. And performance is all about state of mind.”
“Artist is present”
From her manifest:
- An artist should not lie to himself or to others
- An artist should not steal from other artists
- An artist should not compromise for themselves or in regard to the art market
- An artist should not kill another human being
- An artist must not make themselves into an idol
- An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist
A recent NY Times interview with Marina concludes this blog, although I recommend watching the documentary first before you read the interview and judge Marina and her art. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/magazine/the-devil-in-marina-abramovic.html)
PS Feeling better, I finished watching the video last night.
“I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed” -Gary Winogrand
An unfortunate event.
Curious, I approach.
With my camera, I hone in.
I look behind.
And turn again and find another door.
With a camera you have the power to transform.
Friday Quote: “Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places, if you look at it right” ~ Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia
I went to see Andrew Wyeth’s paintings at the Brandywine River Museum and I thought to myself as I walked around the back path I had mistaken for the entrance, “Why go inside? I’d rather experience what Wyatt experienced directly.”
The riverbank, overgrown with foliage, was a magnificent playground of dappled light.
Can this be true? Buddhism is the 4th largest religion in the US. (James Atas “Buddhist Delight”, http://nyti.ms/NzHElT). With this bit of news, I thought I would re-share a recent blog post, “Ten Best Buddhist Books.” http://wp.me/p1UbOe-n3
Have a favorite to add? Send me a note.
New Ideas Fascinate Me
© 2012 Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Looking for a new motif for your photography? Well, Thomas Struth might have an answer. Struth bypassed photographer’s block finding his muse for over forty years in a broad range of subjects including urban environments, families, technology, and (today’s topic) museums. Struth doesn’t look at his breadth of subjects as personal reinvention, but rather fascination with new ideas,
“It has less to do with reinventing myself then with how I simply change as a person and how will new things come into my life, New things fascinate me and I’m interested in new problems.
Finding new new ideas requires an open heart and mind and curiosity. Struth wrote about the museum experience:
“The question is? What are people doing there. Why are they there? The answer is museums provide a protected space where people can reflect on history and on the perspective of history provided by other people before them.”
Museums create a protected space to unleash your imagination. In museums I loose myself and time. Willa Sibert Cather writes in “Song of the Lark” (free download on the Kindle),
“It was with a lightening of the heart, a feeling of throwing off the old miseries and old sorrows of the world, that she ran up the wide staircase to the pictures. There she liked best the ones that told stories… In that same room, there was a picture— Oh, that was the thing she ran upstairs so fast to see! That was her picture. She imagined that nobody cared for it but herself, and that it waited for her… She liked even the name of it, ‘The Song of the Lark’… She told herself that that picture was ‘right’… the almost boundless satisfaction she felt when she looked at the picture.”
Art will refuel a photographer and expand her repertoire. Use a camera for sketching. Capture history-making-images. Photograph (If the museum permits) a Mary Cassatt or Rembrandt for light, color, and composition.
So here’s to another happy Friday. I hope you find your muse,
© 2012 Cheryl Machat Dorskind
“Stare. It is the way to educate your eye… Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something.”
This Evans’ quote appears adjacent to his 1938 Subway and 1941 Bridgeport photographic series on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, one of six artists included in the show “I Spy: Photography and the Theater of the Street.”
Sound dramatic? At the time Evans’ “I Spy” experiment was a radical departure from his precision style compositions as he explored random expressions and gestures on the NYC subway and a street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Motivated to step beyond his comfort zone, Evans recalled years later, “beware of this; don’t accept acclaim; be careful about being established.”
Evans’ goal was to make the camera an objective recording device. On the subway, Evans hid is Contax camera, the prefocused lens peaking out of his jacket. For the Bridgeport series, he used a 2 ¼ camera, his eye looking downward on the focusing screen. Evans clicked the shutter at whim, most strangers never knew.
Times have changed. You can not stare at strangers these days. The unspoken rule in New York City subways is “No eye contact.” And what about copyright laws? Can you really post photos of strangers without worrying about lawsuits or being punched in the face? As a side note: Evans was concerned about his subjects privacy and waited nearly twenty years to publish these works.
The exhibit “I Spy” creates a timeline of street photography and in addition to Walker Evans, includes the photographs of Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Bruce Davidson, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Beat Streuli. It is a terrific exhibit. On the one hand, the show is hung beautifully and the open gallery contrasts with the claustrophobic space of the subway and crowded city streets. Personally, like seeing a favorite band or celebrity on stage, I get a thrill from looking inches close to iconic photographs.
Seeing the contrast in size and color between Walker’s subway photos (1938) and Bruce Davidson’s (1980) images startle the senses. Davidson’s chromogenic large format photographs shock and recreate the dirty, crime ridden, dark, dank station atmosphere into the National Gallery of Art. The photos also reflect the changing times, whereby Davidson asked permission to photograph many of his subjects. His work was dangerous; he was mugged at knife point and accused of rape. Still, Davidson was addicted,
“In this grim, abusive, violent, and often beautiful reality of the subway,” he wrote, “we confront our mortality, contemplate our destiny, and experience both the beauty and the beast….Trapped inside” the moving train, we all hang on together.”
The issue of copyright is addressed with the inclusion of the larger than life size photographs by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, who was sued for privacy violation. In 2006, the New York State court ruled in favor of the photographer, citing
“On the grounds that his photographs were works of art and therefore constitutionally protected free speech, exempted from the reach of New York’s privacy law.”
The show brings us to date, with the work of Beat Streuli (2002-2012). Across the street at a coffee shop, a still camera was prefocused on an Astor place subway stop. The images are projected side-by-side on two flat screens, changing to the bustling New York city pedestrians rhythm, in “staccato fashion.”
The curator sums up the show’s relevancy to today’s ubiquitous camera, “In this age of cell phone and security cameras, YouTube and Google Earth, the photographs also make us aware of our uneasy relationship to the camera, suggesting both our fascination and discomfort with its intrusion into our daily lives. “
In closing, if you are in Washington DC, don’t miss this exhibit which closes August 5, 2012.
Final note: My online classes start this weekend. Why don’t you join me?
© 2012 Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Birthdays are complicated. Literally a birthday marks the day you were born, but psychologically the date is laced with expectations and hopeful celebrations.
I just had a birthday and thanks to social media, I marked the hatching of another year with many people around the world. I hope this new year continues to bring new friends.
Coincidentally (although I do not believe in coincidences) I was reading, “In Our Prime” by Patricia Cohen.
“The term Happy Birthday did not appear with any frequency in English language books until after the Civil War.”
Wow, I thought and read on,
“Receiving a card to mark one’s entrance into the world would have been as odd as being congratulated for growing out of a pair of shoes. The practice of sending cards began in 1870s and 1880s, when Christmas card producers retrofit leftover holiday postcards with birthday greetings. Cards created exclusively for the occasion did not appear until the twentieth century.”
I still send birthday cards and often create my own, but I admit my practice is in the minority. I only received four written cards, while I received many postings on facebook, private locked messages on G+, and emails. Surprisingly, I did not receive any e-greeting cards this year —could this be a sign of a downward trend? Interesting! In time, the history books will include a passage on how birthday cards became obsolete by 2020.
I decided to research birthdays as I was curious to know who else was born on May 25th in addition to a dear friend and my father-in-law. I also share my birthday with a new friend I met on facebook. When we first connected, I thought he was someone else, and when we realized the mistake we remained friends, an experiment to see how many degrees of separation there were between us. So far, I know of two: May 25, and Boston University.
A few things I discovered:
- Mary Cassatt was born on May 25th
- Historian Elizabeth Peck (www.las.illinois.edu) suspects birthdays went mainstream after WWII and by the 1950s they were a right to childhood for all.
- The Happy Birthday song was copyrighted in 1935 to Jessica Hill and remains protected until 2030!: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/the-absurdity-of-copyright-happy-birthday/
I listened to Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to the University of Arts, Class of 2012, (Philadelphia, PA) the other night. What a pleasant surprise. It was rich with good advise and very inspiring. It has a special appeal for artists, photographers, writers, illustrators, graphic designers, and book lovers.
Previously, I knew a little about Gaiman’s work (my husband has Sandman statues and a collection of Gaiman’s comics) but now I am a fan.
Here are a few quotes:
“I learned to write by writing”
“You can be as creative as you need to be to have your work seen”
“The old rules are crumbling…so make up your own rules”
“Be wise because the world needs more wisdom….and if you cannot be wise, pretend you are wise and pretend like they would…Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.”
Happy Friday and a shout out to men and women in uniform servicing our country on Memorial Day weekend,
Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Gordon Parks
By Cheryl Machat Dorskind
I was so happy to read the announcement about the upcoming photography exhibit at the International Center of Photography in midtown New York City celebrating Gordon Parks’ 100th year anniversary of his birth.
The ICP is taking the show to the streets, by including mural size photos as window displays and downloadable talks to mobile devices by Gordon Parks himself. The aim is to introduce Gordon Parks’ works to a new generation.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Gordon Parks’ genius as a filmmaker (including “Leaning Tree” and “Shaft”), writer, composer, and photographer. Largely self-taught, he lived to 93 years old. He was able to overcome many barriers as a child, including poverty and racism. During his tenure at Life magazine, Parks’ photographs focused on social inequality.
Perhaps his best known photograph is “American Gothic” which depicts a black cleaning woman named Ella Watson who stands stoically in front of an American flag, a mop in one hand, a broom in the other. Copyright laws restrict me from posting this photo, but I am able to post another that features Mrs. Ella Watson. This photo was obtained from the Library of Congress’s vast digital photo resource. If you haven’t visited this website, take a look this weekend. It is rich with American history. (www.loc.gov)
Below are a few quotes from Gordon Parks.
“Time smiled, touched my shoulder, and told me things I’d never heard before. Now and then certain wonders of the universe descend carefully from the Maker’s hands and, one by one, fall into a chosen space to blot out emptiness.”
Humor on aging:
“Recently my memory is slippery, like an eel. The spectacles that were missing this morning were kind enough to turn up on my head.” He says, “Funny, things I forget are often more significant than the things I remember.”
Eyes with Winged Thoughts
On love and hope:
“Despite the turmoil, anguish and despair disrupting the planet we inherited, there is something good I choose to sing about. That something lies within us, patiently waiting – beneath us, above us and around us.”
Eyes with Winged Thoughts
The exhibit opens Thursday, May 24th. Maybe I’ll see you then.
Have a great weekend and keep your camera in heart synch.
by Cheryl Machat Dorskind
© 2012 All Rights Reserved
In•tu•i•tion — The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning (Webster’s Dictionary). Intuition guides the photographer: Where to look, How to frame, What to see is the photographer’s internal, intuitive dialogue.
Harry Callahan was self taught and known as the “regular guy.” He was also a devoted and beloved teacher. His work ethic was pronounced and laced with intuition. Britt Salvesen sums up three prerequisites for intuition: openness, freedom, and curiosity which are maintained with effort, discipline, and patience. Callahan’s intuitive love for his wife Eleanor and daughter Barbara are reflected in the renown photographic series he created of them.
Intuitively, I knew this was going to be a great moment with my daughter Nicole.
Happy Mother’s Day,
Ten Suggested Buddhist Readings
Artists, writers, and photographers have been influenced by Eastern philosophy for centuries. One could argue that Henri Cartier Bresson’s famous coinage, The Decisive Moment, is the quintessential essence of Zen philosophy.
“To take a photograph means to recognize — simultaneously and within a fraction of a second — both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived form and meaning….
This attitude requires concentration, discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.”
~Henri Cartier Bresson~
My husband Glenn, who is an English teacher and meditation instructor, has provided a list of his top ten Buddhist books with handy links.
by Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Intuition: Some call it a “sixth sense,” an “urge” a “feeling”, “knowing,” “pulling,” “drawing” us to pay attention, to create.
Harry Callahan, one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century, was also a devoted photo instructor, chairing the photography department at Rhode Island School of Design from 1961-1973 (and continued teaching until retiring in 1977). I wish I had known him.
Harry Callahan spoke often of intuition in relation to his work. “Once we recognize a potential photograph, we begin to “see” in our mind the image that will convey the visual-emotional experience of the subject to the maximum degree—that is we visualize an image. Our visualization starts with the subject but takes into account the characteristic of the medium itself and of the specific equipment and materials we are using.”
“I know that, for instance, if I want to photograph on the beach or something, then I’ll walk around the beach and all of a sudden I see something. And then that’s the beginning to start working on something, and then maybe I’ll photograph that and walk down farther and find something very similar, and then keep working on that sort of a little theme, whatever it might be. And then the next time I go to the beach I might say, “well I want to go back and do that.”
PS My May online photo classes begin this weekend. Sign-up today and join me for a four weeks of photo inspiration to jump start your intuition:
Friday Quote will focus on intuition for the next few weeks. We will begin with the pithy words from a master.
“Art takes wing from the platform of reality. We observe reality; we may or may not feel anything about it. If we do feel something, we may have a moment of recognition of the imperative subject and its qualities in terms of a photograph. In a sense this is a mystical experience, a revelation of the world that transcends fact and reaches into the spirit.”
Ansel Adams in collaboration with Robert Baker
Polaroid Land Photography
Boston; NY Graphic Society/Little Brown, 1978
Here’s to openness and intuition,
From the blog series: Friday Quote: Truth ?¿?
“The power of photography lies with the power of undeniable reality of the image…What is real about the medium of Photography? Photography is very unreal. You take a three dimensional world and reduce it to a two-dimensional world. You take color and reduce it to black-and-white. You take the world and life constantly moving within time, and reduce it to an instant moment. That’s not real. It is an illusion of reality. There are many things that are very false about photography when it is accepted without question. You must recognize this and interpret it as you would any other art form, and then maybe it is a little more than real.”
Interviews with Master Photographers
James Danziger and Barnaby Conrad III
As Newman remarks, photography plays with the notion of time. Time can be on our side.
Make the most of your time and have a great weekend,
Friday Quote: Truth ?¿? “Photographers are always imposing…” ~Susan Sontag
“Photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it. In one version of its utility, the camera record incriminates…In another version of its utility, the camera record justifies. A photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened. The picture may distort; but there is always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which is like what’s in the picture…While a painting or prose description can never be other than a narrowly selective interpretation, a photograph can be treated as a narrowly selective transparency…Even when photographers are most concerned with mirroring reality, they are still haunted by tacit imperatives of taste and conscience…In deciding how a picture should look, in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always imposing standards on their subjects. Although there is a sense in which the camera does indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, photographs are as much an interpretation of the work as paintings and drawings are.”
A recent editorial in The New York Times Sunday Review (my favorite section) previewed a Susan Sontag sampler, a taste of what is to come in a new book of Sontag’s journals (1964-1890) edited by David Reiff (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/opinion/sunday/a-sontag-sampler.html).
Within the sampler, you’ll find a list of things Sontag likes:
“Ivory, sweaters, architectural drawings, urinating, pizza (the Roman bread), staying in hotels, paper clips, the color blue, leather belts, making lists, wagon-lits, paying bills, caves, watching ice-skating, asking questions, taking taxis, Benin art, green apples, office furniture, Jews, eucalyptus trees, penknives, aphorisms, hands.”
The last item on her dislike list is “taking photographs.” Surprising? She was after all Annie Leibovitz’s partner for fifteen years, but once you read On Photography, I suspect you’ll understand. Her posthumous collection of letters will be published April 10, 2012. Click here to pre-order.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend,
“Photography never lies: or rather it can lie as to the meaning of the thing…never to its existence.”
Below Barthes remarks on his experience as subject:
“In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art. In other words, a strange action: I do not stop imitating myself and because of this, each time I am (or let myself be) photographed, I invariably suffer from a sensation of inauthenticity, sometimes of imposture (comparable to certain nightmares). In terms of image-repertoire, the Photograph (the one I intend) represents that very subtle moment when, to tell the truth, I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object: I the experience a micro-version of death (of parenthesis): I am truly becoming a specter.”
I just saw the Cindy Sherman show at MOMA and her self portraits play on these philosophical “what is truth” probings. She constantly toys with herself, molding her image, grabbing a self out of her bag of costumes. I am a bit haunted by her later, larger than life size portraits of aging woman, who on the surface appear elegant. Juxtaposed on digitally imposed bucolic backgrounds, on close exam the aging details crack the heavily powdered foundation and reveal gravity, wrinkles pointing to masked time.
© 2012 Cheryl Machat Dorskind
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
As The Fog Rolls In My Vision Clears
Cheryl Machat Dorskind
As the fog rolls in, my vision clears.
Its ethereal mist contrasts the ordinary and awakens my camera. Clicking away, I celebrate.
At f/22 (optimal for great depth of field), fog slows the shutter. I secure the camera on a tripod and set the ISO to 100 (fog is noisy). Fog has many nuances. Wanting accurate color, I shoot in RAW and set my white balance to “cloudy.” (Cloudy white balance counters the generally blue bias of fog and synchronizes all jpeg thumbnails). With image stabilization (aka vibration reduction) off and manual focus on (fog impairs auto focusing), I rely on a shutter release cable (or a self timer) to eliminate camera shake.
Perhaps the only unromantic thing about fog (from the camera’s perspective) is the dampness. Consider weather gear.
Exposure is tricky because of fog’s reflective nature. Manual exposure mode is your best bet and bracket even if you are shooting RAW by one stop, plus or minus, so you have these exposures to suit your post processing mood.
Notice how fog (gray) emphasizes green’s vibrancy. Try this: close your eyes, count to five and then look again. Do you see red? This phenomenon is known as simultaneous contrast.
This week’s Friday Quote begins a mini series: Truth?⸮ Photography’s credibility aura will be explored.
“A failed attempt to photograph reality. How foolish of me to have believed that it would be that easy. I had confused the appearances of trees and automobiles and people with reality itself and believed that a photograph of these appearances to be a photograph of it. It is a melancholy truth that I will never be able to photograph it and can only fail. I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.”
Contacts volume 2
Duane Michals, an American born contemporary photographer (1932 – ), often makes use of photo sequences and text.
Have a great weekend,
This past week’s New York Times Sunday Review (3/18/12) had a couple of interesting columns. As an author, photographer, and educator, I was especially focused on the articles about reading.
Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, in her column “My Life’s Sentences, “likens writing a sentence to taking a Polaroid. “To write,” she says “is to document and to develop at the same time.” And like a photographer who builds a portfolio over time with discerning edits, Lahiri’s work “accrues sentence by sentence. After an initial phase of sitting patiently, not so patiently, struggling to locate them, to pin them down, they begin arriving.”
The other article that grabbed my attention was “Your Brain on Fiction” by Annie Murphy Paul who explains why the experience of reading can feel so alive, “…. The brain, it seems, does not make much of a difference between reading [fiction] about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case the same neurological regions are stimulated.” This clarifies why I have avoided reading the last 30 pages of Disgrace by Nobel Prize winning author J.M Coetze; I simply am not ready to say goodbye to Professor Lurie and Melanie, Bev, Lucy, and Petrus.
Annie Murphy Paul’s column concludes, “Reading great literature…enlarges and improves us as human beings.”
And with this optimistic note, I will now finish Disgrace.
And……What’s on deck? Man Seeks God, by Eric Weiner (hardcover), Vincent (900+ paged book but worth its weight for its cotton rag deckle-edged paper), The Tourist (paperback) by Olen Steinhauer, and The Marriage Plot (Kindle) by Jeffrey Eugenides. On my iPad, I’ll continue with Mari Smith’s The New Relationship Marketing.
And how about you. Reading anything noteworthy that you’d like to share?
“A lot of the early modern artists believed that art could change the world. A lot of artists today don’t’ believe that. Well, I do…The urge to depict and the longing to see depiction is very strong and deep within us. It’s a 5,000 year old longing — we see it all the way back to the cave paintings — this need to render the world. Art is about correspondences — making connections with the world and with each other.”
David Hockney, considered by many as one of the world’s greatest living artists ( 1937 – ) is a painter, printmaker, photographer, and stage designer. His works are characterized by economy of technique and a preoccupation with light and frank realism.
He has a lot to say. Here are a few books to read more of his insights. They might just give you a creative jolt.
Couldn’t resist one more quote:
“I think that the way we depict space has a great deal to do with how we behave in it.”
Have a great weekend,
“Technical prowess, I know just as much as I need to know and no more. I am interested in seeing the thing. I could tell you how a view camera works, I could probably explain it to you, but I only know that from experience. I knew nothing about it before I bought one. I had some wild concept that you can change space, which… you can. But, once I bought the view camera, everything else was just eyeballing it…If the thing doesn’t look like the way I want it to look, I’ll try something else.”
PRODUCER: Tina Barney, 1994
DIRECTOR: Mark Trottenberg
Jan Groover died on January 1, 2012; she was 68 years old. “Her relentlessly formal still lifes of mundane objects brought a sense of Renaissance stateliness to postmodern photography…The pictures resonated not only as subtle documents of feminism, but also as unusually beautiful investigations of the fictions that are inseparable from facts in the conventions of photography. (Randy Kennedy, The New York Times, January 11, 2012).
Here is a link to her works in the MOMA collection.
“Compose and Wait” ~Sam Abell
“One of the things that I most believe in is the compose and wait philosophy of photography. It’s a very satisfying, almost spiritual way to photograph. Life isn’t’ knocking you around, life isn’t controlling you. You have picked your place, you’ve picked your scene, you’ve picked your light, you’ve done all the decision making and you are waiting for the moment to come to you.”
For over forty years (born 1945) Sam Abell has been a photographer, educator, author, and mentor. He learned photography from his father at their home in Sylvania, Ohio where he lived for eighteen years. Abell states that the flat landscape of Sylvania —one of the flattest landscapes in North America — developed his signature composition style;
“the background is level, horizontal, and cleanly divides the frame, top-to-bottom and near-to-far. I find it, in addition to it being a graphic element, to be an optimistic or positive element… The horizon to me always meant possibilities…”