Monday, January 15, 2018

Coming Soon: Serialized Noir Fiction

On Wednesday I'm going to begin posting chapters of my first noir novel, The Dark Veil, and will continue to post a chapter each Wednesday thereafter until I've made the entire book available here in serialized form.

I'd first thought of aattaching a pdf to each week's post, but finally decided it would be more convenient to post each chapter within the body of the post itself.  There's no need then to download any files.

Those who who would rather download the entire book can click here for the Amazon Kindle edition or here for the Barnes & Noble Nook Book edition.

I hope at least some of my readers will find the story entertaining.  For those who are interested, here's a summary of the plot:

A down & out photographer is found shot to death in an alley in New York City's Chinatown. There weren't any witnesses, and so far the police haven't managed to come up with a single lead. Was it really nothing more than a random killing, or was the victim in possession of some terrible secret that cost him his life? 

That's the situation Quinn faces when he arrives back in Manhattan determined to find the killer. Thwarted by the police and barely surviving an attempt on his own life, Quinn struggles to find his way in a gentrified city that no longer has any place for him. Violent and unpredictable, he wanders the streets looking for answers.

Soon Quinn has come up with his own list of suspects, one that includes a knife wielding ex-con, a perverted Japanese filmmaker and a villainous Wall Street financier who just happens to be an expert marksman. Along the way, he falls in love with the gorgeous mystery woman who once modeled for the murdered photographer. But is Quinn too deeply involved to see where his quest is leading him? 

Set against a tumultuous background where rich and poor struggle for the soul of a city, the story moves relentlessly forward through death and mayhem until at last it reaches its bloody climax.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Photography Exhibit "The Immigrants" Closing Soon

The Howard Greenberg Gallery on East 57th Street describes its current show, The Immigrants, as "a group exhibition of works by select photographers."  Such a generic title hardly does justice to the wide range of artists whose works are shown here.  For once, politics and polemics take second place to quality and craftsmanship.

The exhibit opens with an image by Ernst Haas entitled Last Displaced Person Boat (gelatin silver pirnt, 1951) that sets the tone of the show perfectly.  Here a group of European immigrants crowd the rails of their ship and lean forward to catch their first glimpse of their new home.  One can only imagine the range of emotions they must have experienced at that moment.  Although Haas is remembered today primarily for his pioneering color work with Kodachrome, he was earlier in his career a master of black & white photography as this splendid image clearly demonstrates.

Next are two photographs by Alfred Stieglitz.  The first is his masterpiece The Steerage (1907, photogravure printed 1915-1916) that is considered by some to be quite simply the greatest photograph ever taken.  Its composition, with the gangway that moves diagonally across the middle neatly dividing the upper class passengers from those in steerage, is as close to perfection as can be achieved.  Next to this image is his equally famous City of Ambition (1910, printed 1920's) in the form of a very rare gelatin silver contact print. 

Lewis Hine is represented not only by photographs taken over the course of several decades on Ellis Island of which the best in my opinion is Climbing into America (1905) but also by his iconic Powerhouse Mechanic (1924) that gives an excellent indication of the type of work newcomers found once they were settled in the US.  This aspect of immigration can also be seen in photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White's Ludlum Steel Company (1930). Imogen Cunningham, the last artist one would associate with social realism, photographed the poignant Angel Island (1952).  The great FSA photographer Dorothea Lange has several photographs in the show, some of which depict the travails of interned Japanese citizens after the commencement of World War II, as well as I Am an American (1942).  There are also several photographs by Jacob Riis showing immingrant life on New York's Lower East Side in the late nineteenth century.  Even Eadweard Muybridge, most famous for his "stop motion" photographs, makes an appearance at the show with The "Heathen Chinese" Finding the Color (c. 1871, albumen print on stereograph) that shows Chinese workers laboring in the California gold fields under inhuman conditions.

Some of the photographs shown at the exhibit are not an exact fit with the underlying theme of immigration but are welcome nonetheless.  These include several images by Robert Capa including one taken on D-Day at Omaha Beach.  I had hitherto believed only one photograph from this first day of invasion had survived (almost all were destroyed accidentally in processing) and was heartened to learn that there are more still in existence.  Dream Street by W. Eugene Smith is an wonderful photograph, but unless there is a context of which I am unaware it has only the loosest association with immigration.  There is also a intriguing photograph by Robert Frank entitled Road to La Paz, Bolivia (1949) taken years before he commenced work on The Americans.  Finally, the exhibit ends on an ironic note with The Vanishing Race (1904) by Edward S. Curtis depicting the only group in this country not descended from immigrants.  What's not generally known about Curtis's photographs of Native Americans is that they are not documentary.  By the time Curtis began his series, the Native American way of life had indeed vanished and the photographer was forced to pose his subjects in clothing and activities that they had already abandoned.

Altogether, this is an excellent well curated show, one of the best of the season, and should not be missed. 

The exhibit continues through January 27, 2018.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Winter in Central Park

Winter has been pretty harsh here in NYC so far this year with temperatures hovering in the low twenties.  Central Park is as empty as it ever gets right now, but there's still beauty to be seen in the desolate landscape if one looks closely enough.

I have to be honest and admit I wasn't about to wander the Park myself in this frigid weather.  These photos were actually shot last month when it was a bit warmer.  I think they still get the idea across pretty well though.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

On1 Effects 10.5 Now Free of Charge for a Limited Time

For a limited time, On1 has made its Effects 10.5 software free of charge.  I downloaded it myself recently and encountered no problems running it with Photoshop in a Windows 10 environment.  There's a short three-question survey to fill out before downloading and On1 will put you on its mailing list, but you'll be able to opt out of the mailings at any time.  I've found On1's special effects software very useful over the years, and the price here is certainly right.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year, New Blog Name

I'm starting off 2018 with a new name for the blog and another try at making it work.  Unlike my other blog The Aesthetic Adventure that has always had a well defined purpose (reviews of cultural activities in New York City) and a steady readership, this blog has always struggled for both direction and readers.  That's probably because my own interests have always been so varied that they don't fit readily under one heading.  I'm not giving up, though, and am ready to make a fresh start.

In coming months, you can expect to see the following types of posts:

  • Photographs - street photography (including parades, festivals and such annual events as Midsummer Night Swing); fine art nudes; and photographs of Central Park;
  • Creative Writing - writing tips I've found useful plus discussions of different genres and notable authors within each;
  • Tech and Photography Updates - notices of new camera and software releases including free software offers from legitimate sources; thoughts on specific devices and programs I've used; tech news and security notices I've come across on the web;
  • Serializing Fiction - weekly posts, each of which will contain a full chapter from one of my published novels.

It's possible that I'll eventually narrow down the above list based on the number of views each category receives.  In the meantime, however, I'll stick with the above and see what comes of it.

I hope you'll enjoy reading my blog and that viewing it regularly will become a habit.  If at any time you have any suggestions how to improve it, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

"Pictorialist Models" Now Free of Charge

For the time being at least, Pictorialist Models, which is actually my photography portfolio in ebook format, is available free of charge from the Smashwords website.

This is traditional (non-digital) photography.  I shot all the photographs contained within the book on black & white film and then printed the negatives in a wet darkroom.

The ebook is in pdf format and can be downloaded at the link shown below.  Note that some of the photos contain artistic nudity.