A Kiss


is still a kiss…

Due to popular request (two?) here’s how this shot happened.

First off, I’m now back in the mood, meaning that the camera is always around my neck.  I walk down two flights of stairs and look through the glass door and it’s raining lightly.  I like to try and get a feeling of the drops of rain (which are visible in the non-web image and also the girl’s hair is completely matted down)… But okay, so I know that I’m going to want a fast shutter speed and I set the camera to 800 ASA and shutter priority at 1/500th or 1/1000th) with an f1.4 lens (the 50mm on full frame) this is probably going to be fine.

And I also transfer focus lock to the back of the camera for street shooting.

And I just walk out of the house with the camera hidden (because of the weather) under my coat, an umbrella, two bags of garbage, and a package to drop off at Fedex on the corner.  Out the door and turn to the right and I immediately see this couple (from the other side) and they’re having a very emotional moment.  The woman is upset about something and is crying.

I think about raising the camera to my eye – but a) I don’t want to really intrude on her private moment and b) I feel bad for them, whatever they’re going through and I pass by them.  As I walk towards the Fedex store, I turn around once and they are still in that emotional state.  I drop off the package, chat with the owner – I’m pretty friendly with most of the store owners in the neighborhood and to my surprise, when I turn the corner to return home, I see that the couple haven’t moved, and that the mood has completely changed.

I sense now that they are going to kiss.  I’m about 1/2 a city block away and I have the umbrella out now, and am trying to get closer without calling attention to myself.  I remember checking the top of the camera to see what the f-stop is going to be and it reads about f2.0.  I’m also beginning to scout for anything else that I might put in the shot.  Other than the older woman who is walking towards me, and I know her and know she will turn into her building…  And I’m also wondering whether a kiss on the street is even worth the effort or not, and I’m getting closer and they still haven’t kissed.

She’s laughing.  Still, maybe, but I don’t know if I want to waste my one shot on the laugh… and I actually turn my back to them and pretend to take pictures of stuff that’s around… and I’m still not really close enough…  And they’re are somewhat aware of what’s going on around them…  and so I decide this is stupid, I can’t stand on the sidewalk and wait for the kiss.  So I turn and with the camera actually to my eye, and focusing as I walk… and now I’m maybe 6 or 8 sidewalk boxes away… and yes, they do move to kiss and for a moment I’m still not sure… but then I notice that even though they are both short – she is on her tippy toes – and the woman going into the apartment… well it’s very close… and I move even closer and stop and take three shots in rapid succession… and just as I finish I get the feeling that they have noticed me, but at the same time don’t really care… and they turn to walk and we’re actually walking almost side by side now and I can hear their conversation.

She was upset about some mix-up having to do with their lunchtime date…  and they wander off, talking about where they will eat, and I make the left and go back into my building.

I don’t look at the images on the back of the camera when I get upstairs.  The camera sits for a few moments on top of a cabinet and I’m thinking about whether I did get anything worthwhile or not.  After a half-hour has gone by, I load them into Lightroom.  Yes, I did get one laugh shot which as I suspected didn’t work for me.  And one decent kiss, but it’s slightly out-of-focus and will have to be cropped on top of that… and I missed what I wanted with the older woman…  Exposure and general look are fine…

And that’s how the shot happened.  Anticipation. Luck, but not enough luck.  And just curiosity on my part and the fact that they took forever to get the lunch thing figured out.


When I'm Gone

Lester stopped by today and the conversation ran all over the place until he asked what was going to happen to all these pictures after I was gone.  It’s something I’ve thought about but never did come up with anything satisfying.  If I had children, then I could leave it to them.  But I don’t.  And I don’t have anyone in the family that I could see leaving it to.  What would they do with a bunch of files, some prints and a bunch of negatives.

What annoys me is the idea that this so-called estate might become valuable after I die.  I was pondering this dilemma that’s common to artists and I did have one idea, to sell off the rights to my estate while still alive.  I wonder if anyone has ever done that.  You could put it up on eBay and sell your lifetime of work to the highest bidder.  The winning bidder would be free to resell prints, make prints from the files or negatives or just sell the whole thing off to a gallery or a museum.

It’s a long shot, from the buyers point of view, but art collectors are always looking for these sorts of long shots.  And the point, in case that’s missed, is that the artist would get some benefit from his/her estate while still able to use it.

Despite the fact that he was famous, Walker Evans wasn’t rich as he neared the end. An art dealer from Madison Ave. offered Walker $50K for all of his prints, in or around 1972 and he accepted the offer. The dealer showed up at Walker’s home in Connecticut driving his fancy car. The image of a white Rolls Royce stuffed to the gills with all of Walker’s boxes full of photos, as it drove away from his house, has haunted me since I read about…  – Weber

I remember when Brett Weston burned his negatives: “The ‘child genius’ of American photography turned eighty on December 16, 1991. On that date he began destroying nearly seventy years worth of negatives.  – Mundy

Anyone that’s been involved in the art game for a while, knows that destruction and creation are just two sides of the same coin. – Dave B.


Poet’s Walk – Burning (2010)

There is something liberating about burning a print – especially a so-called signature print.  I can understand why Brett did it.  I can also tell you that I saw his exhibit at Aperature and his were to date the most beautiful (from a technical point of view) prints I’ve ever seen, and that includes original prints by Adams, Evans, and the other top photographers.  As a printer, he was the acme.

Buddy – Looking Up

“So what lens do you find yourself using the most with the 5D.”

Canon 50mm @ f1.4 / ASA 1600

Dave, please – no more cat pics.

I know, I know.  But now I’m busy now and he remains my best and cheapest model.

buddy_0882-EditDoes wordpress compress these jpgs again…?  The difficult transitions between black and mid-tones (lower left corner) aren’t nearly as smooth as what I see in PS or LR of the same size / resolution image.  Doesn’t matter on this shot – but it does crop up once in a while.

Ty doesn’t want to see any more portraits of Buddy.  But there have been photographers who’ve made a nice income just photographing dogs and cats.  What’s the name of the guy who photographs dogs in various costumes?  On the upper east side, I think I could make a good living photographing pets.  And the truth is, I’m more in tune with animals than people.  I’ve been working, in my spare time to put together a portfolio of pet portraits and eventually I’m going to offer that as a service.

Candid Pet Portraits.  If you live in Manhattan, I’ll show up at your house and do portraits of your pet – and you’ll get a bunch of wallet sized images and a nice big one.  Maybe 11 x 14 or even super big.  I can tell you that I enjoy working with animals much more than doing candid shots of people; esp. these days where you get kicked around for just about any sort of candid shot.  I could even move to France where you aren’t allowed to shoot people on the street, and just do Parisian Pets.  Yeah, there’s an idea.


– I am slowly adding the members blogs to the Photoblogger Society (bottom of sidebar) so members can get an idea of what their sites will look like.  Each one gets a separate page.  I hope to finish this today.

– If you are driving a Toyota and it starts to accelerate on it’s own, can’t you slip it into neutral, brake it, and pull over?  I’m serious about the question.  Or does it lock up the transmission as well and turn you into a hurtling projectile.  Now that would be bad.

– Tomorrow is last day of sale.

– I have one more order (a lot of 5 x 7’s to get out)

– The Epson 7800 is working like a charm these days (knock wood).  The secret cure was to change the maintenance tank, even though it said there was 30% left.  That has to be some sort of estimate since it doesn’t have a chip on the thing, and does it know how much of each ink I’m using.  In other words, I’m using much more of the three blacks than the average person. **Correction. It does have a chip (Ken Smith).

– Beautiful spring day.  Plan to actually get out and do some infrared.

Big Dreams

big-dream-0830When I was a kid – all this stuff was strictly against the law.  Now the state takes it over and the money is used for good purposes.  You can tell because the city schools are overflowing with money and class sizes have gotten smaller.  The idea of the state taxing and promoting what was once sinful, is worse than when it was a private enterprise, as it still is in a few states.  In other words, if you tax so-called sinful activities, then you make us all into bookies.  We are all living off the addictions of others.  That just doesn’t seem right.

What was the phrase that was big in the early years, no taxation without representation?  I don’t remember voting for taxing cigarettes, or having the state sponsored lottery.  Maybe I was drunk that day.

My Dinner with Matt

Matt usually takes me for a birthday dinner at the Mansion on 86th; usually a few months after my birthday because, well, I’m just not much into eating out.  But on the way back, it’s become a tradition to use him or his camera as a prop of some kind, and to shoot him in the parking garage mirror.  Since he’s shooting film, and it’s night, he’s not going to waste much film on this game; but since I’m digital, it doesn’t matter.

What do we talk about when we get together?  Well, generally some way to build the business – that never goes anywhere.  I’m sure that he’d like me to start a photography lab so that he could have a friend do his printing at a cheap friendly price.

And since I’m doing everything possible to move away (though it isn’t possible) of doing this type of production all day and night, we follow an imaginary path that involves renting space, and hiring people that always ends in the same place – nowheresville.

After dinner, we sit like two old men, outside the restaurant and watch people go by.  Commenting on the shots we’ve missed, or what we’ve gotten.  An ambulance pulls up with lights flashing right at me, and two attendants help someone out of the restaurant and into the ambulance, while I’m taking my pictures.  Matt tells me that my images will be underexposed because of the flashing lights, and grabs for the camera to see what they look like on the back but I don’t give it to him because he’s always teasing me about using digital so why should he get to see the instant stuff.

Get your own digital gizmo if you want instant feedback.  But eventually I hand it over and he’s surprised that the shots come out properly exposed.  Now how did that happen.  When he and I talk about photography, for me it’s like talking to someone from the 20’s.  It’s as if I’ve gone back in time.  You have to remember, he doesn’t even have batteries in his camera.  Doesn’t use a light meter.  Develops film without a timer or a thermometer.  (I’m not kidding).

If I told him that he should at least have a little pocket meter with him, he’d just laugh in my face.  Why would anyone need to meter anything after all these years.

Of course I do miss a few shots because the 5D simply isn’t as fast at focusing at night as the 40D was; esp. it seems with the 50mm.  I have to live with that in exchange for being able to use the higher ISOs.

Well anyway – maybe it that guy ordered the juniors cheesecake, which is what we had and it was like eating an entire cake.  If anyone tried to eat that thing by themselves, they’d need an ambulance.


The garage mirror (convex or concave… surely I don’t need to look that up).  I’ve going to say concave since it is caved in.


Ghostly for sure…  and why shouldn’t it be.  We are, after all, just shadows… walking around for a few years before vanishing…


into an ambulance.

What's going on…

* * *

Other notes.  I am getting about five requests a day now for the Photoblogger Society, but nothing that has blown me away.  (I take that back, I just got two really good ones). I hate being the gatekeeper, but I think that for this project to make any sense – you need one.  For example, two applications came in from relatively new blogs, and by new I mean maybe 20 images.  I’m looking for blogs that have some weight to them.  I mean they don’t have to sum up a career, but they’ve got to have some heft to them.

Please be sure to test out the code in your blog before I go live (maybe two weeks).  Even if it doesn’t work, I may find some kludge to make it work.  And remember, once the code is in place and working, it will be live.  By that I mean, then when the blogger for a day adds a post, it will appear in your blogger for a day post.  This gives life to the post, and I think is helpful in terms of attracting people to the Blogger of the Day’s site over time; at least before it’s completely buried in your own posts.


* * *

As far as my own struggle – the last two days (since I lowered prices and put up the sale) have been good, almost great.  What that means is that I made the rent in those two days.  During the previous three weeks or so while prices were high – just about nothing.  So it’s an important lesson, and I need to keep learning it.  What I have decided to do, is keep working as I’ve been doing – since that is bringing in an income – and start looking for an intern.  I have to give more thought to that since I get emails fairly often from students who would like to intern, but the business is so erratic, that I need to figure out how something like that would work.

But the idea would be that in return for doing the grunt work, I would teach what I could, and take the intern along when I go out to shoot.