Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi wrote an article for liveBook's new blog, Resolve, describing his experiences teaching a National Geographic Photo Camp in India. I especially liked what he had to say about the educational role photography plays within a global context:

I believe strongly in the power of photography to teach, to raise awareness, and to intimately and dramatically bring to life our stories, our issues, and our subconscious concerns. I have witnessed this power in countless situations, including refugee camps in Uganda, rural villages of Oaxaca, Mexico, the Latino district of San Francisco, and the South Bronx. These are the other National Geographic photo camps I’ve been a part of, but beyond this one set of experiences, I’ve been reminded repeatedly that photography has an uncanny, unique power to inspire, to prick the questioning mind, to discover beauty, and to express the intimate and personal.

It is this nexus of passion for, belief in, and commitment to the unique universe of visual storytelling that compels me to keep on driving forward, moving against the current odds, the dire predictions and blatant economic and structural trends. I cannot stop, nor do I believe I should. There is a usefulness, potency, and necessity to photography.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kindle 2 has launched!

See Jon Stewart interview the boisterous founder of, Jeff Bezos, about Kindle 2. This product started shipping as of yesterday, February 24, 2009.

This interview is aptly titled "Jon Stewart vs. Kindle 2."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Flurry of activity

Simply put, here is Gusman doing what he does best...

gus triptych 2

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Troll or trawl?

Some may find this to be a tad picky, but it is a pet peeve of mine that people substitute the word weary for wary. It happens more often that you'd think. The former refers to a state of feeling tired, and the latter means to be cautious. So, when someone says "I am weary of that suspicious looking man," my initial reaction is more likely to be annoyance for their mistake than concern for their safety. Perhaps my priorities are out of whack, but it's still true.

The other day I was listening to a David Sedaris audiobook (highly recommended way of passing time on a treadmill, by the way), and he was describing the act of "trawling" through something.  I can't remember through what it was that he trawled.  But it made me wonder if, when I refer to "trolling" through something - say, the Internet - I am using the word incorrectly.  When I use the word, it's usually referring to something vaguely seedy, and I believe he was using "trawl" in a similar context:

"Andrew enjoys trolling the Internet for cute guys."

Obviously, this is an important issue that needs to be addressed, so I consulted Wikipedia:

Trolling is a method of fishing where one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish, are drawn through the water. 

Trolling can be phonetically confused with trawling, a completely different method of fishing, where a net (trawl) is drawn through the water instead of lines. Trolling is used both for recreational and commercial fishing whereas trawling is used mainly for commercial fishing.

This meaning of the term 'troll' as 'to wave a bait' is probably a heavy influence on the adoption of the term for describing certain negative social interactions in internet discussions.

Thank you, Wikipedia!  The last sentence is particularly interesting: at least now I know how I came to use the word in the first place.  

How's that for random Saturday morning musings?  Stay tuned for my next linguistics topic, the fascinating and unusual Pennsylvanian usage of the word anymore!  Included will be an interview with the Pennsylvanian that brought this phenomenon to my attention, my husband. 

Yep, exciting stuff. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Guerilla Disco

Has anyone else noticed the advertising trend of creating guerilla-style, theatrical interruptions in public places?  I'm sure everyone's heard by now about the flash mob dance-off at a London rail station courtesy of T-Mobile on January 15, 2009. I can be a little behind the curve at times regarding news, so I'm just now catching up. 

Just in case you haven't heard, T-Mobile hired 350 dancers to put on a "spontaneous" dance-off to the puzzlement and amazement of hundreds of folks on their way to work, home, wherever. This is an innovative approach to their Life's For Sharing campaign. If you haven't watched the commercial, click play on the video below. It's fantastic!

This ad has spawned not only a multi-million YouTube cult following in the past few weeks but also - you guessed it - a copy of the event courtesy of Facebook. A couple of weeks after the launch of the ad, approximately 13000 people crowded the Liverpool Rail Station for a 25 minute silent disco. I must say, after reading an article from UK's Weekly Telegraph, I so wish I had been there!

Last year, Gossip Girl hopped on the bandwagon with Jenny Humphrey's fashion debut.  She hijacked a fancy schmancy New York benefit with her own show. Yes, this is a fictional television series on the CW, but still. Check it out:

Schmap Attack

Schmap included another one of my photos in their Key West travel guide.  These are digital guides that can be viewed on your computer but also downloaded on iPhones and blogs.  Handy.

Besame Mucho

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Scanner Madness

In an effort to post some photos using my Nikon N70 film camera, I decided to take advantage of the super-snazzy film scanner at school today. I walked into the lab feeling confident in my embrace of modern technology (after spending hours in a medieval darkroom developing the film to be scanned, that walk felt like a time warp to the future). Unfortunately, this wonder of modern technology had a ragged sheet of copy paper taped to it stating "Broke - do not use."

The other available scanner is a flat-bed style that can be rigged up to scan film, but not easily. Well, at least I couldn't figure it out after messing with it for an hour and a half. This is a test strip I used to see if I could get the darned thing to work.

It took so long to do this I feel compelled to post it. Phew! I took these shots as part of an assignment in capturing "light." That was the extent of the explanation of the assignment; it was our job to interpret that as we like. These are not my favorites, but I kind of like them as a, this really took forever! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they fix the decent scanner!

Memphis botanic gardens grid

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Snuggie Phenomenon

Is anyone else mystified at the cult following that has ballooned around the Snuggie?  For anyone who lives under a rock and doesn't know what I'm talking about, go here for enlightment.

A group of my friends went to Las Vegas this weekend for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party.  Lo and behold, there was a Snuggie sighting.  My friend, Rister, took this picture of two happy-go-lucky Snuggie fans out of the town in Vegas.  You can see him in the reflection to the left of the couple.


Did the Snuggie folks sell their souls for this kind of PR?  Incidentally, I'm pretty sure Rister was wearing one of these Snuggies by the end of the night. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Looking In

As I'm getting more familiar with the process of shooting, developing, and printing film photography, I can't help but notice that there is some creative leverage found here that is difficult to duplicate in digital photography.  What I'm mostly talking about is found in the printing process.  Ever seen an old photograph with some rough, wavy lines around the image?  That's what happens in the printing process when you expose a negative to photo paper and don't crop it.  It is a fantastic way to frame some photos (depending on the subject matter). 

Another thing I love is a contact sheet.  When using 35 mm film, you can line up multiple negatives, side by side, and expose them onto light-sensitive photo paper to yield "thumbnail" prints.  This is a quick and dirty way to see which photos you will eventually want to enlarge and print.

Something that's cool about contact sheets is that they can tell a story in chronological order from exposure 1 to 36.  When I decided to go shoot some pictures the other day, where did I go?  What was I drawn to?  They are their own special kind of narrative.  And, although they're just a step in the process, I think they are strangely beautiful on their own.  Speaking of: NPR just published an article about a just-released catalog entitled Looking In: Robert Frank's 'The Americans.' It chronicles the 83 images currently on display at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. of his full-fledged photographic series The Americans (first and fully published in 1958).  

According to NPR: "It's sacrilege to say, but perhaps even more revelatory than the 83 photographs themselves are Frank's contact sheets, a frame-by-frame record of the images snapped on his sprawling journey.  Filling 81 pages of Looking In, they not only provide a thrilling and rare insight into the shaping, through masterful editing, of images into art, but they also reveal how a great photographer sees - in this case, directly into the soul of America."

About the photographer in general, they go on to say: "His images perfectly capture the new America: a flag-draped memorial to Honest Abe; celebrity-worshippers at a glitzy premiere; Windy City operators huddled in political deal-making; the empty chairs and desks where bank-loan officers and aspiring homeowners once sat; couples clutching in hope and love and uncertainty on public lawns.  

It's evidence both of the cycles of American life and the timelessness of photographer-filmmaker Robert Frank's art that a half century after the debut of his ground-shifting book The Americans, so many of its brazen, coarsely poetic pictures still frame our national experience."

"Guggenheim 340/Americans 18 and 19 - New Orleans 11/1/1955" - Frank shot this roll of film in New Orleans in November, 1955. It contains two images, numbered 13 and 16 in the row outlined in red, that made Frank's final cut for The Americans. Photo number 16, "Trolley - New Orleans," became famous as The Americans' cover image.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Krazy about Kindle

For a gal who claims to love all things paper, I have definitely betrayed the industry by fully embracing Kindle, Amazon's electronic book reader, even before I have one.  Face it: it just makes sense.  I've read a ton of consumer reviews and tried a friend's out, and I just have this feeling as soon as I get it in my hands, I will fall absolutely in love.  However, I feel some residual guilt about this.  Therefore, following is a list of pros and cons:

- Kindle is a handy size that can fit easily into my purse.
- They replicate the look of a printed page to avoid eye strain.
- You can download any book available in a digital format from Amazon's Kindle site anytime, anywhere, directly from Kindle.
- There is no charge for instant book access.
- Books range in price, but most new books and bestsellers sell for $9.99.  Not bad.
- George won a Kindle at his last work conference in Nashville.  Yes, he realizes he will be handing it over to me upon delivery.  Woo hoo!

- Not all books are available in electronic format, and at this point I am not sure what is driving the decisions behind what books are and aren't being e-published. 
- I doubt the book industry will latch onto the digital wave that the music industry has fully embraced (hello, iPod).  There's an interesting article from NPR about this that came out yesterday.
- The charge supposedly lasts a week, but the first time I'm on a plane and it goes out, I will be furious.  Even if it is my fault that I didn't charge before hopping on aforementioned plane.

My opinion may change, but right now the score is 6-3 in favor of Kindle.  Plus, I am lucky enough to avoid the steep $349 price tag (which is why I mention it here and not in cons).  

Long live Kindle!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hobbling Arts Hobbles Innovation

An article posted today on the Psychology Today blog asserts that the arts have made a lot of scientific and technological innovations possible.  Therefore, as our economy continues to go down the tubes, we should think before cutting art curricula in our schools.  Here's an excerpt of the full article:

In medicine, the stitches that permit a surgeon to correct an aneurysm or carry out a transplant were invented by American Nobel laureate Alexis Carrel, who took his knowledge of lace making into the operating room.  Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic penicillin while gathering beautifully colored microbes for his (rather unusual) hobby of "painting" with microorganisms.  Pacemakers are simple modifications of musical metronomes.  If you have an neurological deficit, your neurologist may employ dance notation to analyze your problem.  Physicians at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and other major medical centers are trained by actors to interact humanely with you as a patient.  These same physicians may learn to observe your symptoms more closely by being taught to draw, paint or photograph, or through art appreciation courses.  Many hospitals employ music to relieve stress in operating rooms and post-operatively.  Painting, drawing, and sculpting are also used to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders...The fact is that the arts foster innovation.  We've just published a study that shows that almost all Nobel laureates in the sciences actively engage in arts as adults...Bottom line: Successful scientists and inventors are artistic people.  Hobble the arts and you hobble innovation.  It's a lesson our legislators need to learn.  So feel free to cut and paste this column into a letter to your senators and congressmen, as well as your school representatives, or simply send them a link to this column.  One way or another, if we as a society wish to cultivate creativity, the arts MUST be part of the equation!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Doris adoration.

For anyone that doesn't know, I adore Doris Mitsch's work.  I first noticed it during my time at International Paper.  A competitor printed a stunning, perfect-bound book displaying her gorgeous photographs on their gorgeous paper.  I smuggled it home from the printer that made the mistake of showing me the piece and, occasionally, I'll pull it out and drool for a few minutes.

Instead of using a camera, she uses a flat-bed scanner.  I haven't done this yet, but at some point I'm going to pull myself together and try it out.  I have a feeling it is much harder than it sounds.  For instance, a flat-bed scanner is...flat.  How does she get all that dimension if the subject is smashed against a piece of glass? 

Exactly.  I have no idea.  When I find out, I will definitely post the answer.

Here are some of her beautiful images and a link to her site:


Saturday, February 7, 2009

My first photo credit!

I am happy to announce that my very first credited photo was published recently on Schmap maps.  

Schmap is a leading publisher of digital travel guides for 200 destinations throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  More than 90 million Schmap Guides have been downloaded since first release in March 2006: this phenomenally popular series can also be browsed online, with versions optimized for iPhone and Nokia users.  According to Time Magazine, "Maybe it's time to ditch your oldfangled maps for a handy new schmap." 

What fun!  Click here to check out my photo of the Memphis Botanic Gardens.  There are 12 photos of the botanic gardens that are posted on the top right portion of the page; simply scroll through them and you'll find the photo and my name.

Here's the photo:


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I despise film!


I know photographers everywhere gasp at such blasphemy.  But, today, film is my enemy.

I just started a photography class that is completely film-based, so I had to chunk my digital camera and quickly familiarize myself with George's nice-yet-ancient Nikon N70.  That is fine.  It's annoying yet fine that I keep glancing at the back of the N70 to check the photo that isn't there. It's challenging yet fine that I'm learning to process film and that part of this process is in scary, pitch-black darkness.

What ISN'T fine is that after two hours of film exposure plus an hour or two learning to make contact sheets, my first two rolls absolutely suck.  

Tomorrow, my opinion will probably change.  But today digital photography is a magical dream come true.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Why food diaries are a bad idea.

On a whim, I decided to join an online food and exercise diary last night. I'm not sure if it'll work, but I'm thinking if I have to post on the internet the fact that I had two pints of Haagen Daaz chocolate ice cream (in one sitting and, yes, I've done it), I may at least pause the next time I have an urge to do so.

The web site is, and it is chock full of statistics, reports, and polite reprimands. The overall goal is to raise awareness of what you're putting in your body and, hopefully, eventually stop putting so much bad stuff in it. Today, I got a happy face because I exercised, but because I exercised I got a sad face because my total caloric intake was too low.

Yes, I agree, I'm already getting some mixed signals.

I'm willing to deal with some inconsistencies here and there. However, I've found a fatal flaw: in the report section, it gives you three quick bullet-point pieces of information based on what you've reported thus far in the day:

1. How many calories you have left in the day to consume yet maintain your weight.
2. How many calories you have left in the day to consume yet lose .5 lbs per week.
3. How many calories you have left in the day to consume yet lose 1.2 lbs per week.

I take their statistics with a cynical grain of salt because they also informed me that if I continued today's pace for a month I'd lose 20 pounds. I know that's a bunch of crap. But when I saw that I had 700 calories I could still eat and (according to this site) STILL lose 1.2 lbs. in seven days, a little voice in my head whispered, "Go on, finish the pint. You've got permission."

I'll keep you posted on that 20 pounds I'm losing by eating chocolate ice cream at 10 PM every evening on the couch.  Thanks to my new online conscience.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In a hurry. A big hurry.

This is a sculpture right in front of the Rhodes College Refectory (a.k.a "The Rat").  I guess they're hoofin' it to class?

Statue in front of the rat

cmyk search