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.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Security Alert for HP Notebook Computers

As reported in a BBC news article, there is a security flaw in HP notebook computers that allows malicious keylogging.  According to the article, "HP said more than 460 models of laptop were affected by the 'potential security vulnerability'."  The problem extends all the way back to 2012.

I had purchased an HP notebook only last month and discovered my machine was one of those affected.  I immediately went to the list provided by HP and downloaded the security patch via FTP with no problem.

The keyloogger, discovered by security researcher Michael Myng, was initially built into the Synaptics Touchpad software for debugging purposes and is turned off by default.  Hackers could nevertheless gain access to it and enable it.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Central Park in Autumn

The photographer at his tripod as he attempts to capture the beauty of autumn's colors.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Problem with Posting Street Photographs

As some may remember, I posted at the beginning of the year my intent to publish one street photograph each day.  I kept with that resolution well into November but then stopped and removed many of my posts.

The problem is that photographs, when posted by themselves, contain no information that will allow search engines to find them and thereby bring viewers to this blog.  As a result, I was averaging only a few views each day, not enough to make the effort worthwhile.

I'll be considering over the next few weeks where best to take this blog since I certainly don't want to discontinue it.  Instead, I want to find a subject that will attract readers and make their visit here more rewarding.  In the meantime, I'll probably be posting random photos I've taken in Central Park and elsewhere in the city.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Blue Hours

A few months back, I published my fourth novel as an ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I'm very excited about it and honestly think this is my best work yet.

The book is intended as a tribute to Cornell Woolrich, who more or less invented the noir genre, and at the same time an attempt to explore the very meaning of the term.  After all, noir is, by definition, dark.  A number of authors, however, lighten their narratives in order to achieve better sales and attract more readers.  Their protagonists, no matter how tough they initially appear, usually prove to be decent law abiding citizens caught in circumstances beyond their control.  In contrast, I've chosen to tell my story from the point of view of a violent drug user with few, if any, redeeming features.  My intent was not to make the character sympathetic but compelling.  If a monster, he is not a cardboard villain but rather a living breathing human being tormented by his failings while unable to break free of them.

The Blue Hours is set in New York City in 1970, long before gentrification, when the town was still gritty and crime ridden.  It tells of a violent junkie, just released from jail, who wakes one morning in an East Village tenement to find himself holding a smoking gun and sitting beside a corpse.  With the police relentlessly pursuing him, he desperately tries to find the one witness who can tell him what really happened.

In addition to writing the text, I shot the cover photo on infrared film and then printed the negative in a wet darkroom.  I also designed the book's cover in Photoshop.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Photo Book Review: The History of Fashion Photography


One volume I've had lying about literally for decades and have finally found time to read is The History of Fashion Photography by Nancy Hall-Duncan.  The book was written to accompany an exhibit at the George Eastman House, where the author was then working as an assistant curator, that was held in 1977 and that attempted to provide a comprehensive overview of its subject up to that date.

The history proceeds chronologically from the industry's beginnings when the available technology prohibited any reproduction at all of photos, through the earliest era of fashion magazines when Baron Adolph de Meyer and Edward Steichen (who had died only four years before this book was written) were employed one after the other by Condé Nast, and from there decade by decade to the time of the work's publication.  Along the way, each new movement and change in taste is carefully described and analyzed.  For me, the most interesting chapters are those dealing with Pictorialism and Surrealism.

In general, Ms. Hall-Duncan's treatment is insightful and even-handed without ever becoming pedantic.  Some photographers she mentions, such as Bob Richardson, have themselves fallen out of fashion but most have stood the test of time very well.   An entire chapter is devoted to the work of Richard Avedon and Irving Penn.  The selection of photos from the original exhibit is excellent and makes this one of the best anthologies of fashion photography available.

What truly makes the book fascinating to read now is its perspective - that of the late 1970's. This, of course, was still the era when print editions of fashion magazines such as Vogue reigned supreme.  There's no intimation at all of the upheaval that the introduction of digital cameras and the internet would bring to the fields of editorial and advertising photography. It was an analog world where photos were shot on film and then converted into halftone reproductions using methods that would now be considered primitive.  The leading practitioners of fashion photography at the time of publication were Helmut NewtonGuy Bourdin and Deborah Turbeville, though icons such as Cecil Beaton were still alive and are described in the present tense.

Unfortunately, this is a poorly designed book.  Although the jacket states that the Alpine edition is produced from the "very same plates" as the first edition (Abrams), there is a great deal left to be desired.  The crowded text is in a sans serif font that is difficult to read and that is so far to the edge that it falls into the volume's gutter.  Footnotes are placed awkwardly on the opposite side of the page where the text would normally be shown.  More importantly, the photographic reproductions themselves are not of first rate quality.  Interestingly, this seems more a problem with the black & white photos than with the color.