Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dining Out

This is in a small clearing in our woods. The table came from a friend. The chairs and china and candle holders and sliver ware and wine glasses came from Goodwill. When dinner was over we walked back to the house leaving everything behind.

My plan is to come back every few months, in the different seasons, in all kinds of weather, and take a picture of myself sitting here waiting,  possibly for years, as this little scene is reclaimed by the power that reclaims all things.

I can picture an 80 year old man sitting here still wondering the same things this one does.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Portfolio Book

I have been meaning to do this for some time - gather the scattered disparate images of this "body of work" into one place.  I have started and stopped more than once. It's aim was not promotion, just a wish to keep some accessible record. Many of the pieces are no longer in my possession.

Digital imaging has exploded over the last 5 years and with its popularity an industry of ways to store, manage, and share them has followed. Photo books is one of the options and there are many tools from which to choose. They range from the automated packaged click and go to the custom made. I think these books are rapidly replacing the old albums that held photos in sleeves or used adhesives.

If you think your parents had lots of pictures with boxes of old slides and brittle albums it will seem trivial compared to the numbers we are generating today. With no film costs and immediate evaluation of the image let's take another one. What the heck shoot 'till your finger hurts just to be sure you get a good one. I love this change in the history of photography. But how will we keep these images to be seen in our old age? Store them on a hard drive? Hard drives fail. Your nifty Firewire or USB isn't going to plug in to your new computer 10 years(5 years?) from now. Are you still watching your VHS tapes? Most of the work for this book was getting usable images from an assortment of slides, prints, and low resolution digital.

Our ever changing media storage.

So as primitive as it may seem some advise using good ole paper to archive your favorites. Photo books make this fairly easy to do and the cost has gotten reasonable. One work flow is to mark or tag your favorites (most photo organizing tools do this) through the year and at year's end make a book.

An easy to use option is included in iPhoto and looks pretty nice with some classy themes. Drag and drop from a folder of images, add a little text, and click "buy now". Similar tools are available online - some require download of software others just require upload of your images. I tried iPhoto and several others but each time reached a point where I wanted to do something I couldn't so set the project aside.

I wound up using an outfit called Blurb. They have the plug and play software but also provide templates for inDesign, Adobe's professional desktop publishing software. Working within their guidelines for proper printing, the design is then open ended. The completed project is uploaded to them as a PDF and I received my book within a week.

Like so many other Web 2.0 tools Blurb has made an effort to create a community of users. Your book is made available to the public(or not if you choose) in their "Bookstore". You can set the price and actually make money if it sells. People can comment on books and they have various promotions. They have a great tool for previewing the books - an online flash widget that works exactly like turning pages in your lap. This is pleasantly weird to me. I have spent a little too much time looking at wonderful books people are making.

This book is the standard landscape layout with "image wrap" hardcover and just 40 pages - a cutoff point for the next jump in price. The online preview just shows 15 pages but the "full screen" viewing option is about as nice as hard copy. See the book if you like.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I like bugs cause no one else does...

Daughter Robin has a sign on her wall that says "I like poetry, long walks on the beach, and poking dead things with a stick". She has always been thus. Christmas 1997 we gave her a bug aquarium - a small plastic dome to temporarily hold her finds for examination. I wrote this poem in the card.

I like worms that are slippery and slimey
I like to hold 'em till my hands are all grimey
I like beetles and spiders and ants
And toads that will try to pee on my pants
I like to catch em and put em in jars
It's kinda like jail without any bars
I know it's not nice but I don't keep 'em long
And I give 'em some play things and sing 'em a song
I like 'em shiny or stingy or covered with fuzz
I like bugs cause no one else does.

Writing a poem to accompany a gift was something my father did and I carried on the tradition occasionally.  His were usually limericks, a clever little something pertaining to the gift or the person. My sister in law Pat has taken up this baton and written several for family events. I wonder if others do this or whether it was done more in the past before the days of Hallmark and the ready made verse.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Legoman, Oh Legoman

Legoman oh Legoman
Come put us guys together
Build us castles high and strong
And ships for stormy weather

Take us in your nimble fingers
And all our pieces find
And we will gladly be for you
Whatever's in your mind

Legoman oh Legoman
Oh hear our desperate plea
We're trapped within this darkened box
A yearnin' to be free

So place us on the battlements
The drawbridge, in the spire
Bring forth the wizard with his books
And torch of magic fire

Give us helmets, swords, and shields
And capes that we may clothe
There is no battle that we fear
It's boredom that we loathe

Conjure up a pirate isle
With caves stuffed full of loot
The nasty alligator
That chewed off Wilkie's boot

Fabricate a splendid coach
Fit to carry royal blood
Then march us through the city
Though the streets be filled with mud

Make us mighty warriors
Make us strong & kind & just
Make us champions for the helpless
In you we give our trust

Oh Legoman oh Legoman
On you we all depend
For though we're only plastic
You turn us into men

So be our leader, be our king
Beside you we will stand
And we will make your dreams come true
Your wish is our command

Rummaging through old papers I found this poem. When our son was a lad he was an avid fan of Legos, so much so that we sometimes called him Legoman. For a few years another set topped his Christmas wish list. In '96 I wrote this poem to accompany the gift.

Note: From humble beginnings in a carpenter's shop in 1916 in Denmark, Lego is probably the world's most popular toy. The name was formed from the Danish words "LEg GOdt" or "play well". Later on it was realized that in Latin the word means "I study" or "I put together". Aptly named and a very cool toy.