The Temple of Jupiter, the propylaeum, and a sign of the times…Baal-bek…
The Temple of Jupiter, the propylaeum, and a sign of the times…Baal-bek…
*It has taken me some time to get back on the horse. I was out the other day with my Voigtlander, exposing some film…it felt good…gentle. No urgency, no great time-line to follow. So I took some pictures. I have some ideas.
*I have been combing through my negative notebooks, trying to find images of my mother’s office. I have found some. I know there are others. I would like to print some of these this winter.
*I need to type up my mother’s newspaper articles. I keep on saying that to myself…siga-siga…it’ll happen.
*I developed the 4 rolls of Tri-X that I shot when I was back in America in July. The camera I had on hand was a medium format Holga, so that’s what I used. I guess that sums up a philosophy…The best camera I could use is the one I am using. People talk a lot about camera X, or lens Y. They list the many attributes and the technical aspects…these things never made a photographer better, or even good. That has to come from within. Ansel Adams said something about that…good gear, bad photography…I can’t remember the exact quote. Liz knows.
*It is autumn, and we have had some cooler weather, but not right now. It is Little Summer and the scirocco blows a steady Force 5, gusting to 6. The air is hazy and hot and feels like 26C. I was out for a bit of mountain biking and then a swim in the sea. People here say the water is cold, but they haven’t been in Cape Cod in August.
*The election for the next American President is today. Polls have begun to open, voters are lining up to cast their ballots. There is so much at stake in this contest. I am not sure anyone can really guess everything that hangs in the balance. I mailed in my absentee ballot well over a month ago. We shall see. I am more concerned about the potential for aggression and actual violence at the polls. America will be divided whatever the outcome.
Many years ago, when I was writing and playing my own music, I conceived a piece entitled “God; Family; Work.” The premise was that all of us (i.e. human beings) were influenced by these three aspects of modern life. It was to be a rock ‘n’ roll symphony in five movements. I never finished it.
I have been googling the term ‘artist’ and have come up with nothing relevant beyond a definition that everyone has heard before. The jist is that someone has achieved this status after years of labor perfecting their skills and craft. I know some artists here on Paros, people of curiosity and brightness. I have been working with some other young photographers as of late, perfecting our technical skills. If someone wants to call what we are doing ‘art’ then that is their business. I would rather call it ‘work’. I get up in the morning, go to work, have some leisure time away from work, etc…
Of course, there are some who hear the term ‘work’ and run for the hills. I, on the other hand, find great satisfaction “in a job well done.” I share this joy with family and friends.
Greek Easter was splendid and filled with the aroma of roasting lamb. We paid homage to the spirit of the lamb and honored its sacrifice. Our food had a face. We connected the source with our bellies.
Here is an interesting link regarding Francis Bacon…
Slow Art Day at the Paros Archeological Museum was wonderful. About 12 people showed up and we viewed three different works each for ten minutes a piece. The kouros below is a small statue that I enjoyed a great deal.
This weekend I will jump back into the darkroom and, I hope, print at least 6 new pieces. I also have 4-6 rolls of film to develop. Next week I am off to the nearby island of Naxos for a couple of days. There is a 75km mountain bike ride I wish to take.
–It is New Year’s Day, 2015. Happy New Year! May this next year bring us all the best that life has to offer. I am sure there will be uncertainties, enough for all: jobs, businesses, pursuits of all colors. The best thing I have found is to be active and know when to let go of something that simply will not budge. It is better to walk away from the brick wall than to keep banging your head against it.
–Sometimes the best gifts can be those that have been worked on and constructed by the giver. I gave some of my family photographs this year. This past autumn I was lucky enough to be in Paris for a week and photographed the Parc de Bagatelle with my Voigtlander r4M using Rollei 400s film. The negatives were lovely and I chose three specific images for presents. I worked carefully on the pieces, choosing specific papers for the right feel, adjusting the developing chemistry to activate the proper tonal scale and contrast. They are lovely. I was happy passing them on to good homes where they would be appreciated.
–I return to Greece this week. If all goes well I will be back on Paros by Tuesday lunchtime. My name day is January 7th, which is also the birthday of a close friend, mentor and colleague. I hope to cook her and her husband dinner that night. Probably pork chops.
–The real gifts are non-material. I no longer live in an imagined world of fear, where people are out to get me, shaft me, or otherwise take advantage of what I like to think of as my good nature. I no longer play the victim card. I no longer need to open up my Bag from the Past to show people what-tough-time-I-have-had-and-if-you-had-my-life-you-would-be-like-this-too! I am so happy I found a way up and out, have been able to let go of so many bad ideas and open my heart, embracing change as a positive force. Yes, I have days that are not perfect, but that is OK. That is the gift of being right-sized: I am a person among people, a worker among workers. I am emotionally secure among grown-up people.
–I heard a good quote the other day…
“You know what the big problem is in telling fantasy and reality apart? They are both ridiculous!”
-I am back in the USA for the holidays. If there is anything I have learned this year it is that the varieties of human experience can be summed in a single word: absurd. Tragic, comic…whatever. It is all variations of absurd arrogance and tomfoolery. Disagree if you want, I won’t stop you. I am no different.
-The ‘Cafe/Kafe’ images are on display in a new gallery on my Sidelit website. You can access them through the blog or simply click here. These are scans of the actual b/w photographs, not scans of the negatives.
-I took the train to NYC a few days ago and visited the Metropolitan Museum for the day with a friend. We looked at a marvelous Cubist exhibit, a private collection of Braque, Picasso, Gris and Leger. Superb! Then we gazed in wonder at the Stanford Album, a collection of 18″x 22″ photographs from the 19th century photographer Carlton Watkins, the first to document Yosemite National Park. Truly amazing! Then we wandered among the 29 portraits of Madame Hortense Cezanne , painted by her husband over the course of many years. Lovely! We could not resist the small but dramatic El Greco exhibit. Astounding! With time to spare before our respective trains we ventured into the American Impressionist wing, visiting Sargent’s ‘Madame X’ and looking at Winslow Homer’s wild seascapes. She returned to New Haven and I headed back north. A perfect day at the museum.
-I have been going to the health club and walking/jogging my 8 miles on the treadmill with regularity. I love the knowledge that I can get my heart rate up to 170 bpm and keep it there for 45 minutes without losing my breath. I will be ready to get back on my bike when I return to Paros in less than two weeks. I miss it already. I have some Greek language homework to finish and a couple of emails in Greek that I have promised my teacher. First things first.
-I have been shooting some Fomapan 400 with my Leica M2 so I will have some non-Greek views to look at when I return and develop the film. I have to print more portraits before I get too busy in March. If I cannot complete the printing on my own then I will have to send the negatives to Athens and pay for the work. This is not an ideal situation, but if I have to do it, then I will.
-Christmas is in a few days and the New Year follows. Much has occurred in this past year and I am happy I have no regrets. 2015 is already shaping up to be busy.
–I was eating my corn flakes and goat’s milk one morning and it occurred to me that I am an incurable romantic.
–I returned from Paris two weeks ago and I am back on Paros, about 2300 km and one vowel distant. My time in France was lovely. My heart was filled with warmth even though the weather had chilled by the time I departed.
–I was able to shoot 4 rolls of Rollei Retro 400s while in Paris. I also gave myself a Christmas present. I found a very affordable Leica M2 at the local Leica store. The deal was good and I was there. I had to get it. According to the serial number it was manufactured in 1966. I find it extremely cool that I bought a an old Leica in Paris. It just feels right. Very romantic.
–While in Athens on Friday, I ran a couple rolls AGFA APX 400 through it. That made 6 rolls. When I returned to Paros and checked my ‘to do’ box in the darkroom I found two more rolls of film (Rollei Retro 100) that needed developing. I spent Sunday afternoon developing of film. 8 rolls from three different places from three different cameras…Here’s the breakdown:
–4 rolls Rollei Retro 400s, Voigtlander r4M w/ Voigtlander 35mm lens, Paris; 2 rolls of AGFA APX 400, Leica M2 w/ the same Voigtländer 35mm lens, Athens; 2 rolls Rollei Retro 100, Balda ‘Super Baldina’ (c. 1956), fixed 40mm lens, Paros.
–While working I listened to The Clash’s ‘London Calling.’ It was released in the UK in 1979. 35 years later it still sounds fresh, complex and vibrant.
–Romanticism…OK. I don’t wish for days gone by. Whatever they say, life was not simpler, or easier. Thomas Hobbes referred to life as ‘…nasty, brutish and short.” He was right. I like living on a remote island. Romantic again.
–The ‘cafe/kafe‘ photographs are matted, framed and behind glass. I will hang this small exhibit this Friday at Mikro Kafe here in Paroikia. It is not a grand exhibition, just something light and easy, something small to keep my hand in while I continue the prep for the second, far more involved ‘Portraits‘ exhibit next autumn. There. I said it. Autumn 2015.
–I had forgotten how posh Milos can be. It is easy to avoid if one so chooses.
–From the top of Prophitas Ilias (748 m) the view is spectacular. Even on a hazy day like today, the archipelago was in full view. Kimolos, Polyagios, Santorini, Sifnos, Serifos, Folegandros, Paros. This was all around me. Far to the south I could make out a faint, long shape: Crete.
–The FIAT Panda is, perhaps, the finest car in its class ever made. A real gaidaros…a real donkey. I have mentioned this in other posts already. A big ‘thank you’ to Niko’s Rental in Adamas for allowing me to change my rental agreement not once, but twice.
–I have purchased my ferry ticket back to Paros on the ‘Aqua Jewel’, leaving Sunday evening at 18:00 hrs. This leaves me with almost three full days left for my biking, hiking, swimming and photography. Not always in that order.
–Yesterday I had just finished up an arduous 10km hike, ending up at a lovely beach on the west coast. As I lay on the sand I suddenly realized I did not know what day of the week it was. I had to laugh.
–The last time I was here ( June 2012) I only spent 3 days. Being here so long has allowed me to really get into Milos. I have discovered that despite the heavy mining and cosmopolitan aspects, it is as rugged and wild as they come. Wild goats still scamper up and down the rocky crags.
–Tomorrow is a photography day. My goal is to finish one roll of AGFA in my Voigtlander and start another. Easy-peasy. Rocks and wood.
–Yesterday was the Ides of March. I made it through unscathed. Et tu…?
–The day before, march 14th, was my mother’s 90th birthday. She made it as well. 90 years…
–What has she been witness to since 1924! Well, almost everything worth talking about. Plus, she has raised three children and set them on their respective paths. One is a professor at a large University. Another is an artist living on a small island. The third is…well, that’s me. Funny. It feels like we three have all found our own islands we call home. Her love has been unconditional and generous. She may, at times, worry about our sanities, but she has always been there, no strings attached. She has never asked for proof of good will. If I have had any regrets or guilt, they have been my own and are non-transferable. Kind of like airplane tickets.
–Today I went to a mountain bike race in the hill town of Kostas. I could have raced it myself, but opted out so I could photograph instead. I brought my big Canon 5D MKII, my 35mm Voigtlander and my Wista 4×5. I packed up 16 pieces of Kodak TPX 320 and had some old-time fun with large-format sports photography. I am eager to see how they come out. While I waited along the dirt road for the pack to appear, I was suddenly struck by the knowledge that this is how it was always done, for almost a century. Photographers standing on the side of the road with their tripods and 8x10s/4x5s/etc…waiting for the runner/horse/bicycle/car/locomotive to come barreling down the track and trying to catch the moment. It’s not easy. I was thankful for my knowledge of depth-of-field so all I had to do was whip the film packs in-and-out of the back of the camera. I was loading, exposing, sliding the cover back on, unloading, and tossing the exposed film pack on the grassy ground. 15 exposures later (one dud) I was done. I finished up a roll of EFKE 100 35mm in the Voigtlander, made a few digital snaps of the closing events, and called it a day.
–I have been lining up some new subjects for continued portraiture. I figure that if I can practice diligence, I will have a large enough portfolio to begin printing next autumn. I continue to pray to the gods of photography for deliverance of a 4×5 enlarger.
–Spring seems to have arrived. The light has been superb. What else is there to say?
–They say our reality is Krishna’s dream while he sleeps on a lotus flower.
–It seems like a dream. I woke up a few minutes ago, startled and disorientated. Jet lag. I am in Athens. I walked out onto the small balcony of my hotel room overlooking the street. It is quiet at 04:00. The city sleeps, breathing slowly. Two days ago I was in America, visiting family and friends. I am in a different world.
–In America I ate hot dogs, apple pie, toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, beef jerky. There have been excellent sit-down meals too. Very American food. I have been able to stave off the calories at the gym.
–There was lots of snow there, and rain, and frigid cold. It was lovely. There was an abundance of water. On the little island I call home water can be scarce. We use less. Long showers are a luxury. I luxuriated.
–On the Massachusetts Turnpike I drove through the kind of rain, wind and fog that made it seem as if I was driving underwater, surrounded by a screaming mass of tractor trailers and SUVs all moving at 80 mph. I had little choice but to keep up. Every light on my little car was switched on so people would see me.
–Photography during the winter allows for simplicity. Sticks, snow, shadow, light.
–I am back in Greece. I have a few days here in Athens then I hop the ferry back to Paros. What is waiting for me there?
–I was thinking of taking pictures of metro stations. I need a new header image before I post this entry. I’ll use one of those.
–Life is like a dream. Row, row, row your boat…
October 30, 2013
–The weather is still hot during the day but the mornings are cool so I wear a sweatshirt when I leave the hotel. By 10:00 I am in my t-shirt. I have driven through hundreds of orange groves in two days.
–The ruins in Ancient Corinth are vast and the typical jumble. The Temple of the Corinthian Apollo is Doric. Lots of Roman stone. St. Paul was here.
–Akro Korinthos, 3 km up the mountain from the site, is massive. I have walked the walls. Easily as large as the outer walls of Dubrovnik…5km if I remember correctly. Walls built on walls…Mycenean, Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian. Everyone knew a good site for a fort when they conquered it. Impregnable and all but hewn from the living stone. Few people there today. Some workman digging a new drainage ditch. They are stone-faced when I say “kali mera.”
–I have seen more Golden Dawn graffiti here than anywhere in Greece. Lots of spray-painted Greek meanders…this is a ubiquitous symbol. It is on my bathmat in the hotel where I sleep. It’s on tourist swag. Now it means something else, something terrible. They have taken a design everyone knows as good and twisted it with their broken thinking.
–Nafplio is not Paros. The mainland is not the Kyklades. There is a roughness here, less open than the Greece I know. Fewer smiles. Gruff.
–Epidaurus tomorrow and Schliemann’s second site at Tyrins. My last full day here and I want to make the most of my little car. I might brave the winding mountain road to Ermioni for lunch after visiting the theater.
October 31, 2013
–Epidaurus, Tyrins…quiet but there are still buses and tourists. Mostly older groups and I seem to be shadowing a school group of American kids. They were at my hotel too. Quiet as mice. A nice thing to experience. Corinth yesterday and the theater today. Also the Nafplio museum…
–The winding road to Epidaurus and grove after grove of olives and oranges.
–A group of Russians at the theater…testing the acoustics with pebbles. Wonderful. Tyrins on the way back to Nafplio. Not much to see but an observation: the technique used to build the large Mycenean walls is the same as the wall building I have seen all over the Kyklades. No walls here, nothing crisscrossing the landscape. The Mycenean civilization was large.
–Blue domes are now terra-cotta tiles. I had forgotten that about the Peloponnese.
–When I was a boy, about 5 or 6, my grandmother gave me gifts from her time in Greece: a small model of a Greek house with a windmill, a komboloi, an Evzone figurine. She planted this seed. She was here.
–I am still enjoying my short DoF exercises. The stones, greenery and blue skies are perfect for this. Shooting at f/1.8 to f/4 only…