Yesterday I had a visit from a friend whose interest in photography was recently reignited. He asked what suppliers I recommend for photographic equipment, accessories and services. I thought a good way to answer him and others who have asked similar questions would be for me to list organizations and links here on the blog. I have used all these organizations, some many times, and can, without reservation, recommend them all. So here goes.
Equipment and accessory suppliers:
B&H Photo Video – vast inventory and great customer orientation
Adorama – vast inventory as well, very reputable
Used photographic equipment
KEH Camera - most reputable used equipment dealer with a very accurate grading system. One pays a slight premium for purchase peace of mind.
Digital photograph printing
MPIX – quality online printer with a large variety of paper sizes and three different paper grades (as with any printing service, make sure your monitor is properly calibrated and your files are soft proofed to obtain must accurate color reproduction)
Photo book publishing
Pentax specific Camera and lens information
Pentax Forums – Very active forum with an impressive amount of Pentax specific information including current equipment as well as vintage equipment
Yesterday I was handed an Amelia Island Film Festival brochure. The festival runs February 27 thru March 2, 2014. One thing on the schedule that caught my eye was a showing of the PBS American Masters Series “Richard Avedon” on February 28th at 2:30pm. A second thing that caught my attention was the festival features a beer garden with Jacksonville’s own Intuition Ale Works hosted by Hola Cuban Café. Good beer and Richard Avedon, two good reasons alone to attend the festival.
Photographers and painters each often have a low regard for the other’s form of art. Indeed, some painters, even today, question whether photography is art at all. The more I learn about both forms of art, the more I’m convinced they are more alike than either would like to admit, at least in the way they mentally conceive of the final product of their labor. A visit to the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. is my most recent affirmation of this conviction.
The feature exhibit at the Phillips is entitled “Van Gough Repetitions” The theme of this exhibition of Van Gough’s work is what he referred to as his repetitions, or closely related versions of the same subject. Van Gough would paint subsequent versions of paintings he previously painted in an effort to improve upon the earlier versions. In some he would change the intensity of the color or the hue or both. Photographers do a very similar thing when they change saturation, hue and white balance in post processing. They are attempting to improve upon the initial version of an image from the camera. In one of his repetitions “Le Moulin de Galette” Van Gough leaves color and intensity in the later version essentially unchanged but he simplifies the composition by removing several people from the scene in order to make the painting less cluttered and therefore stronger (my interpretation). Photographers do this all the time when they clone out distracting elements to accomplish the same end that Van Gough seemed to desire in “Le Moulin de Gallette”.
Now, let me be clear here, I am in no way minimizing the work, talent and skill of Van Gough in painting his repetitions. Clearly making changes to an image in Photoshop is vast magnitudes easier than painting a second or third version of an already masterful painting. What I am suggesting is that, while the tools and amount of skill and effort differ greatly, the thought process of a master painter and that of a photographer, and the variables that each looks upon to achieve a more desirable result are very much the same.
Photojax is an annual photography festival held in Jacksonville, FL. This is the third year for the festival and as such it is in it’s infancy. Accordingly the scope of the festival is modest but never the less well worth attending and supporting. After attending and thoroughly enjoying last year’s festival, my first, I wrote a blog post describing the event. This year I’m trying to get out ahead of the curve and, in advance of the event, encourage folks to attend and support photography in our part of the world.
This year the kick-off event, an exhibition,The Camera’s Eye, at the J Johnson Gallery, takes place Friday January 24 at 6p.m. This exhibit will feature some work of the,”masters” including Edward Steichen, Man Ray, Walker Evans, and Diane Arbus.
Saturday, January 25 starting at noon until 10p.m. there will be an open house at the CoRK Arts District in the Riverside area. If you have not been to CoRK before you owe it to yourself to visit this unique facility which is not open to the public except for events like Photojax.
In case you hadn’t noticed, suburban malls are fading from the landscape almost as fast as multiuse sports stadiums. For the most part both are relics of the same flawed 1960’s architectural thinking. In today’s enlightened world, instead of malls, we build little movie set towns and villages with tree lined avenues and fountains with plumes of water. Rather than being populated by humans, these fake little towns are inhabited by stores, usually of the national chain variety. They have names like St Johns Town Centre and River City. Perhaps, the same line of reasoning is behind the building of little miniature forts which we refer to as gated communities. Why can’t things simply be what they actually are? But I digress.
Since I have an affinity for photographing abandoned and decayed places, dead malls seem to fit the bill nicely. This past Friday, I decided the visit Regency Square Mall in Jacksonville. Now, Regency Square has not expired yet, but it is rapidly approaching need for life support. Two of its anchors are Sears and Penney’s both gasping for air. Then if you subtract the sneaker and gangsta hat stores and the gold chain kiosks, there’s not much left.
I have to say personally even in their heyday I never had a lot of affection for these malls. No nostalgia here. If you would like to learn more about dead malls, there’s a nice compilation at www.deadmalls.com .
Amelia Island, Florida this past weekend hosted the 6th annual Petanque America Open, the largest such event in the US. Since I live on Amelia Island and love Petanque, I couldn’t have been happier. But, first things first, what the hell is petanque you ask. Well, according to a handout published by the Amelia Island Boules Club (the largest Petanque Club in the US), “Petanque (pay-tonk) is a French game that emerged about 100 years ago. It is similar in format to horseshoes, and the Italian game of bocce. Steel balls (boules), about the size of a baseball, are tossed at a small wooden target ball with the objective of ending up the closest.”
The Petanque America Open was the brainchild of Philippe Boets the owner of Petanque America, an online petanque equipment supplier who has also been the organizer of the event since its inception six years ago. It is an open is the purest sense. Anyone ranging from world champions to hacks like me can compete. And, because the teams for the first day’s rounds are randomly selected, a hack team may be pitted against a team of world champions. It’s sort of like a weekend duffer playing 18 holes against Tiger Woods
For me, the whole event made for one of the finest weekends I can remember in a long time. My teammate and I played five games Saturday and two games Sunday before being eliminated. On Saturday, one of the games we played was against the team of Peter Hassone of New York and his teammate Khalid originally from Morocco and now from Charlotte. We later learned that Peter had just qualified to represent the US in the World Championship next October. The experience of playing against these guys was amazing, exhilarating and humbling all at the same time.
Our elimination, however, didn’t end the good times. There was the bar, the band, the lamb sausages and most importantly there was watching amazing players duke it out for the quarter final, semifinal and lastly the final.
By the end of the day Sunday I had had my fill of petanque, until, well, until Saturday morning when, like every Saturday, I go down to riverfront and play petanque with my friends and neighbors.