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February 23rd, 2000

Learning Something
I got the black and white contact sheets back yesterday and some of the color slides this afternoon. I don't think I shot very many good pictures, not compared to some I shot at last year's parade, but I'm not discouraged. Some days you're hot and some days you're not. We'll see what they look like over the next week. Too many people who were aware of the camera, perhaps, too many people posing and I was not putting out the effort necessary to get beyond that. I looked like a photographer, I just wasn't shooting like one. Happens. It's a hobby. Don't sweat the little shit. Sniff.

I got my copies of Popular Photography and American Photo today, neither one of them particular favorites, the first a catalog of mail order camera ads and product comparisons and the other a magazine with some pretense of seriousness that seems to follow the work of fashion and celebrity photographers, the big bucks, big talent boys and girls who shoot for Vogue and J. Walter Thompson.

No particular excuses for Popular Photography. I like to look at camera ads as well as anyone else and this issue had an article on using PhotoShop that tweaked my interest. Beginner's stuff, but then I'm a beginner. The photographs don't push any boundaries, but, you know, they don't put you to sleep or anything either. There are a couple of decent columns and if you read between the lines you sometimes get a glimpse of truth.

American Photo is more ambitious. They are presenting, after all, the folks who are bleeding out there on the leading edge where all the money and talent hang out. Big bucks mass market commercial photographic art. But I'm finding it depressing, not because they don't have what it takes, they have what it takes, but I just don't have the stomach anymore to digest what they're shooting, their collective vision of a culture they document maybe too well. Their subjects are big, beautiful, hard and brittle and if you tapped them with a hammer, they'd shatter. Shit. I wouldn't last a week. Even the naked ladies are weird and spooky. I mean really weird and really spooky. X Files props. I'm not sure they've ever run a nice scratch 'em behind the ears kitty cat picture.

I think what happens, if your lucky, is you find a kind of photograph, a kind of mood or feeling that you relate to and you follow with your camera. I'm not there, never have been there, but I have this feeling that I'm getting closer and maybe one of these days it will catch me or I'll catch it and we'll take a ride for however long it lasts. It is about images. None of the equipment really matters very much as long as it produces results. Have I said this before? I don't know. Anyway, part of that is you start really not liking certain kinds of photographs because they don't match your own particular vision. Doesn't say anything about you, doesn't say anything about them, it's just you get a glimpse of something you want to follow and you stop paying attention to anything else.

The vet says she'll take a look at Wuss again in a month. Deja vu. He's down to 8.9 pounds SF Chinese New Year Parade from a more robust 9.2 pounds that he weighed in with last month. Nine pounds. I guess that's about right for a cat, but nine pounds? You could evaporate that walking around the block on a hot afternoon. You could gain that over the course of a serious Thanksgiving dinner. He's got pinworms that you catch (when you're a cat) from fleas. He is sitting beside me now digesting the worm pill that I popped into his mouth after dinner. I have ear drops for his ears. I have some stuff you put on the back of his neck that will straight out kill any and every flea he might even look at for at least 30 days and I have two more cases of c/d-s cat food that should keep him well, if unhappily fed for another month. Or two. No more sonograms unless he's not better next month. Bump-pety-bump. Did he have worms and fleas last month when they looked at him? Or the month before? Should I be learning something from this?

Both pictures were taken at the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade. I'm not sure I got very many good ones, at least compared with last year, but I'm going to spend some time comparing the negatives to see if letting more light in is an improvement (shooting TMY-400 at ISO 320 rather than 400). I know you are all waiting on the answer with breathless anticipation.