Monday, October 31, 2005

Stars and coyotes

One of the things I love about living in the country is the magnificence of the starry sky. Early this morning, before the sun rose, after loading fresh logs onto the coals left in the woodstove, I went out with the dog. I was instantly drawn to the radiance of the stars glistening through the tree branches. Out here, without any airborne pollution or extraneous light, the sky is velvety black and the stars are so bright that you can't help but notice them as soon as you step outside. I was reminded that I had just read that the idea for putting lights on Christmas trees came from Luther - who noticed the stars flickering through the boughs of a conifer one night. He thought that a candle lit tree would symbolize God's magnificence.

In the city, stars are a murky business, something you might or might not notice. It's no wonder that urban dwellers are distant from nature, and from any sense of man's insignificant place in the universe. When everything that surrounds you is man-made, it's easy to start to believe that you are the center of it all. In the country, when you look up at the sky, you are aware of our minute place in the grand scheme of things. I wonder how much of our spiritual connection to our world has been altered in ways we don't consider, by the technology we have created. In the world that existed before Edison and the invention of electric lights, for most of the world's population , every clear night was a testament to the grandeur of the universe - a lesson many of us don't receive today.

Have you ever lain on your back in a meadow on a moonless and cloudness light and looked at the stars? Imagining the incredible scope of what you see? Looking into a far distant past - because the light has been traveling so many thousand, maybe millions of years before it touches your retina? It's quite easy to become disoriented and feel like you are falling endlessly into that infinite space.

Some mornings, still dark, when l go outside, I hear coyotes. They create a wonderfully wild cacophony of sound. Sometimes it's a howl, and then it's a kind of mad chaos, like a badly out of tune orchestra trying to tune up - or as my neighbor says - like children being tortured. When he told me that, soon after we moved up here, I thought he was exaggerating. But then one dark morning, I heard it. The cries came from one direction at first, growing and waning, and then were answered by other packs and soon I was surrounded by these wild sounds. It lasted for several minutes and then suddenly died away to silence. But the raw feeling of wildness stayed with me all day.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Making books

Some time ago, a very successful friend of mine told me he wanted to publish a book of my photographs. He wanted me to learn InDesign and do the layout myself. I was thrilled at the prospect because, who doesn't want a book? Or, as my friend said, "There's something about a book." But I was about to move and didn't have time to attack the project right away. As time went on and I didn't work on it, I got further and further away from the idea that I could make it happen. I guess I was afraid that I wouldn't be successful at it; and that I wouldn't be able to find the proper theme or pick the right images, or, or, or. Every excuse I could think of not to move forward.

Thankfully, I've had a paradigm shift in my thinking (or better fear-of-failure management) and I am now ready to move forward. Why now? I have been thinking about the elusive, fragile, and transitory nature of the digital medium. Most of the work I do now - that all of us who do art on computers do now - is intangible. What I mean is that there is nothing that can be held in one's hand or placed on a wall or stored in an old yellow Kodak photo paper box. The images are stored in formats that might not be easily accessible with tomorrow's technology - on storage media that is unproven over the long haul (cds, dvds, etc.). While I'm alive, I'll make sure to resave my work to the newest and most durable media. But it's a constant, time consuming effort to manage all of this stuff. And will anyone else bother? Or even know what lurks on my computer and in the boxes and boxes of cds gathering dust on my shelves?

So, that's why a book now. I want something that lasts beyond me in a form that is easy for my kids and grandchildren to find and examine. Totally narcissistic right? But what could be more narcissistic than writing a blog anyway? Assuming that what one says has any value to anyone else.

I decided that before I begin on the book I was asked to make, I would make one or two others in order to become accomplished at the process and art of book design. Because there are several viable publishing on demand (POD) options out there now, I could design a book, make a copy or two, and offer it for sale if I was satisfied. If not, I hadn't invested much money and I had learned a lot.

iPhoto's iBook has several new formats and most importantly, you can choose blank pages without a template. The templates offered by iBook and My Publisher (non Apple equivalent) are really basic and not very attractive. So, what I've done is to lay out a book in InDesign that is the exact dimensions of the iBook. I can save the InDesign book to a pdf file and then use Acrobat to save the individual pages as jpegs which can then be imported into iBook. It's been working very well.

After I had already started laying out my first book for iBook, I learned about Lulu. Besides offering POD, they can also register the book for an isbn from the Library of Congress and offer it for sale through Amazon and B&N, etc. I think I might try them for my next book.

making books part two

floating island

floating island
Originally uploaded by lightpainter.
the north fork from shelter island - the sort of moody image that I am often attracted to.

I rarely get much response for an image like this on either flickr or fotolog. It seems that the ones I respond to best, the ones that I have an emotional attachment to, do not move the general public. I have to remember to be true to myself and not get seduced by the feedback for other, less emotionally honest images. It's very easy to want to please the crowd - keep those comments and favs coming - and lose sight of how I really want/need to express myself.

Someone on flickr commented that the image isn't sharp and therefore less than it could be. I don't understand this fixation on sharpness. To me, this image is a dream - and thus, not completely clear by its very nature.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

morning sun

morning sun
Originally uploaded by corespirit.
Another powerful image by Cor. She made this early one morning in our backyard.

Corinne's new flickr space

My wife, Corinne, has been making many images lately. We live in the country and she is very attuned to the changing weather and sky. I've finally convinced her to let me start a flickr space for her. So here it is.

First snow

This is one of her amazing images.

Ingrid's main blog

I just realized that my friend, Ingrid

Ingrid in the Gunks

has another blog besides the one I referenced before. So, here it is.

doesn't work on safari completely

Since I'm somewhat of an idiot when it comes to html and to all of this blogging stuff, I couldn't figure out how to do links. I assumed there would be a link button for technical dummies like me but I couldn't find it. What I discovered is that there is a link button but it doesn't show up in safari for some reason. So I switched to the newest mac browser from netscape and lo and behold there it is.


Here I am, two days into the blogger universe and I'm switching already. The first one I made was through tripod, where I host my pitiful website. It was easy to do and I had already created several blogs where I placed photos. But I didn't really like the look of it and they seemed to be on the fringes of the blogging world. I went to Ingrid's blog and wanted to leave a comment. In order to do so, I had to sign on, so here I am.

Friday, October 28, 2005


4 of 25

I don't know what it is about the backs of signs. and I like vertical lines that cut all the way through an image. can't explain. i think I'll make a stamp out of this.


my stamp gallery
Flickr just offered some new options. You can now send your flickr photos to a printer from within flickr and either have prints mailed to you or to your nearest Target Store for pickup. I don't think I'll ever use that service. You can also select various sets of your photos to make into a book. I don't think I'll ever use that either. Not that I don't want a book, but because I need to have more control over how it looks than is currently offered by this service. I'm working on that now (creating a book) and will report on my efforts soon. But what caught my attention from the new offerings is the ability to create US Postage stamps out of your artwork. You can create them to use privately, or you can "publish" them for others to buy. If you sell any, you get a small royalty. I decided to give it a try and have submitted 3 of my more popular images. Click on the images in the gallery to see the stamps. Pretty cool, actually.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

what i like

chance meeting

I really like this one. That's all. Nice to see it again- and at this size. I like my images presented small. So you have to get close, intimate - not pushed against the back wall like you do with big poster size prints. I want your breath misting the glass of the frame.


So, here it is. I've been avoiding this - making a blog with words instead of photos - for a long time now. I'm a fairly private person - and I didn't think that I wanted to create a collection of blatherings for the world to see. But I had lunch with my friend, Fred, today and he convinced me. OK, time for a link, let's see if I can make it work here:
Fred's blog

OK, that worked. Time for bed. Next chapter: my photos on stamps and what I'm doing with InDesign.