Archive for April 2010
I’m sitting here at home today waiting for somebody from the phone company to arrive. That’s because I’m switching my telephone, cable TV and internet service from the cable company to the phone company. The primary reason for this is that the cable company does not carry BBC America, a station that I want to have that includes “Doctor Who” and other good shows, while the phone company does have it (though sadly not in HD, which other providers not in this area do have it in).
For the same price that I’m paying now, I’ll also be getting more stations like Showtime, a DVR so I can record programs if I’m out (I recorded “Dancing With the Stars” on my VCR last week and it looked horrible on my big new HD set), and a wireless router so I can use my new iPod to check messages and look up stuff on the web if the computer is turned off, and which would allow visitors to use wi-fi on their laptops instead of having to use my computer.
All this will only be possible, however, if they can find a place to put the big new box they have to install to connect the fiber optic cable to the system here. We’ll see.
I did something recently that I haven’t done for years. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on consecutive weekends.
Last weekend, I went to the Met to see the exhibit of drawings by Agnolo Bronzino, one of my favorite Italian artists. I’d seen some of his classic paintings in Italy last year, and I didn’t want to miss this exhibit of his works – the way that I’d recently missed the show of all the photographic prints from Robert Frank’s classic book, “The Americans.”
Bronzino was certainly a great artist, though as I recall, all of these drawings were just preparatory works for paintings and not finished works of art in themselves. Nonetheless, seeing a drawing of something often has a more intimate and personal feel to it than a painting – especially a larger painting. Here are a few works seen in the show:
Head of a Smiling Young Woman, 1542-43
Seated Male Nude, 1565-69
While I saw the Bronzino show on its final weekend, I went this past Saturday – two days ago – to see the new Picasso exhibit during a preview for members of the museum. If what I attended was just a preview for members, I can imagine that when the exhibit opens to the general public tomorrow it will be quite packed.
The Met joined the Picasso collecting game rather late, but according to what was posted there, it now holds the second largest collection of Picasso works in the United States – second only to the Museum of Modern Art here in New York.
This exhibition displays every work by Picasso that the museum holds. Organized chronologically, it offers the viewer a look at the wide variety of Pablo Picasso’s artistic output - from his early days (when he made a self-portrait showing himself with lots of hair on his head), through cubism, classicism, his work with linoleum cut prints, and finally to a large room filled with prints – etchings and aquatints - from his famous ‘347’ series of 1968 (some of them quite sexually graphic and explicit).
Here are some of the works on display that I found of interest, presented in chronological order:
Yo (self-portrait), 1900
Jardin de Paris, 1901
This and the following prints belong to the '347 Suite,' a series of 347 prints that Picasso prepared during about half a year in 1968.
Some of these prints are definitely on the raunchy side, especially those from the 'Celestine' series, such as this one. I'd seen some of these before and had thought of these as Picasso's 'dirty old man' series, but some of the others on display - such as those in his 'Raphael and La Fornarina' series - are even more graphic.
So, that's it - a brief overview of the exhibit. I cannot think of another artist who created works so stylistically different from each other over the years, but can at the same time be seen as the work of one hand. If you are in or will be in New York during the run of the show, April 27 – August 1, do try to pay a visit. I know that I’m planning to see it again. (If, on the other hand, you happen to live in rural Minnesota, perhaps it’s best to stay away.)******************************************************************************
Between my two visits to the Met, I made a visit to the other “Met” – the Metropolitan Opera. I went to see Richard Wagner’s opera, “Der Fliegende Hollaender” (The Flying Dutchman). This was part of my subscription at the Met, and though I am by no means a fan of German opera, I had wanted to see this one as I’d heard good things about it and I liked the overture.
Well, I did like the overture. I also liked the opera’s last five minutes, which were pretty dramatic. The opening chorus of Act III was pretty good, too. Unfortunately, I thought that just about everything else was pretty much a waste. (At least, the parts for which I was able to stay awake.) Just singers droning on and on with hardly any melody.
Wagner did write some beautiful music (even though he was a rat bastard as a human being), but most of that good music is hidden away between hours and hours of singers just standing there droning on and on – seemingly forever. (Somebody’s once described going to a Wagner opera as such: you sit there for three hours; then you look at your watch and you see that it’s only been twenty minutes.) Fortunately, this opera only ran for about two hours and twenty minutes – without any intermission – so I guess it could have been worse.
While I don’t care for German opera for the most part, I do love the Italian stuff, and I finish off my subscription in a couple of weeks with Rossini’s not-often performed “Armida.” I hope to like this one.
Oh, before I forget: the man from the phone company arrived about 10 a.m. and is still working as I write this around 3:45 p.m. I don’t know when he’ll be done – so I guess I’m still waiting!
(Several hours later)
The bad thing about this is that I don’t have a finished website now. The good news is that it’s lit a fire under my ass and finally got me back to working on my new website, which is hosted by GoDaddy. I’ve been paying for it for over a year, and have done quite a bit of work on it, but it wasn’t ready to go live yet. I needed to come up with something interesting for the home page, and I needed to upload more photos to even out the number of photos in each gallery.
Well, I’ve spent a lot of time this past week going over the design program, both on my own and on the phone with GoDaddy’s people. That’s the reason why I haven’t made a posting here for so long.
One major difference that has been made since I last worked on the site is the style of the photo galleries. With the old method, each thumbnail image was in a square box that had white space around the image – on the sides for a vertical image, above and below for a horizontal – to fill the empty space in the square. I hated the way the way that looked. To make it look better, I created a gray square to match the gray of the web page. Then I would overlay each photo on the gray square and merge them together. This created an uploadable image that was a square to fill the square thumbnail box, with the gray around the image matching the gray of the page to look smooth.
As you can imagine, doing this for every single photo was a real pain in the ass. Then, when someone clicked on a thumbnail, a new window would open.
Well, things have changed – for the better. The thumbnails, as far as I can tell now, are no longer in a square box. They’re just thumbnails on the page. Therefore, I no longer have to go to the trouble to create my own squares and overlay the image on it. Great. When a thumbnail is clicked, instead of a new window opening with the image in another square (as before), the full size image is displayed against a black background with the title of the image below it.
The only bad thing is that for advancing or reversing through the images, the icons for doing that are overlaid over the title. Having arrows to the right and left of the image would be much better as they wouldn’t block the title. You can also do a slideshow of the images now, but unfortunately, they’re done with hard transitions. A nice dissolve from one image to the next would be much better. Still, overall, it’s an improvement from the old way.
However, having said this, I also have to say that the galleries created the old way are still presented the old way. This means that I will have uninstall all of those images (with the gray squares) and reload them the new way. Not the most difficult thing to do, but tedious and time consuming.
If you want to see for yourself, you can take a peek and maybe let me know what you think. The primary URL, http://www.figuresofgrace.com/, is still waiting to be transferred over from Yahoo. However, you can see the new site as it is now at http://www.figuresofgrace.net/ . All of the galleries, with the exception of Vietnam in the Travel section, were uploaded the old way. Only Vietnam is done by the new method. Take a look at each, click on a thumbnail and see the difference.
Another thing I really need to do – and have been wanting to do – is to add unique titles for each photo, especially as I do hope to try marketing my photos a bit more seriously. This shouldn’t be a problem for my travel photos, but for nudes it’s another story. I just name each photo by the location and by the year of the image, with a unique number added based on the order in which I print the photos (ex., “Nude, Tuscany, 1998, #3”).
Well, for photos that I haven’t yet printed but want to post, I don’t yet have a print order. This should be an easy one to solve, as I’ll just assign numbers ahead of time and try to stick to them in printing - unless someone wants to buy one on a print to order basis and that image gets printed out of order. (It should only happen!) Of course, the number would still remain the same.
What will be more work is for the prints that I’ve already made. Yes, in my printing notebooks I have the title of each image next to the negative’s inventory number, but I don’t have a photo to go along with that in my notes. Therefore, I basically need to scan the negative of every photo that I’ve printed (over 200) so I can match them up with their respective titles – and that WILL be a lot of work!
I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, and most of you have probably read about it already, but the “f – eleven” photography group to which I belong has recently published a second volume of photographs by its members. (The cover is shown above.) My photos included are images of Venice, all from last year, and nudes wearing masks.
One of my photos from Japan was on the cover of the first volume, but the cover honors this time go to Ward Shortridge for his photo of Japanese butoh dancers in Oregon, I believe.
All proceeds from the book are going to benefit autism research. For more information, please click here. To see a full preview, click here.
So, first the good news. The new TV set seems to be working fine. The new computer that I’m writing on now also seems to be in good shape. Now the bad news.
I bought a new stereo/surround sound receiver with HDMI connections to go with the new TV. I thought the new unit was working fine, until I noticed that I was hearing static coming out of the right surround speaker. I know that the problem is with the receiver, because when I wired the right surround speaker to left surround output and the left surround speaker to the right surround output, the static sound followed with the right surround output to the left surround speaker. That pretty much proves that the output on the receiver - not the speaker - is the problem, meaning that I’ll have to take the thing in for service. Wonderful.
Then there’s my new iPod Touch. For one thing, I already got a small scratch on the screen. It probably happened when I put it in a little bag with the earphones that came with it. Luckily the scratch is on the end and not in the middle, and probably won’t be too noticeable to someone who doesn’t know about it. (If I meet any of you, dear readers, and I show you photos on my iPod, please forget that you read this.)
Still, that’s not really what I want about regarding the iPod. The thing does play okay, I must admit, and for a long time, too. I had it running off its internal battery for about six hours when I was printing photos last weekend and it seemed to use only about ten percent of the battery power, if I can trust the little battery icon on it.
That would make it good for listening to in the car when on long trips. (It would even be good for shorter trips, as I wouldn’t have to decide which CDs to bring along with me.) I actually got that idea from my friend Dave Levingston, who was playing his iPod in his truck the whole time we rode from Ohio to Chicago and back. I just had to get the required attachments to have it play through the car’s stereo system.
I planned to first use it Monday of last week, when I had to pick up some passengers and then make the long drive to my cousin in New Jersey for the holiday dinner (and then drive back, of course). A perfect opportunity to listen to a variety of music for several hours without having to change CDs, I thought.
As not to have to rely on iPod’s internal battery, I got another power cable with the adapter to plug it into the car’s cigarette lighter. When I got down to my car, I plugged it in and the iPod powered up. Excellent. Next was to plug in the audio adapter that I had bought, which connects the iPod to the car stereo via the cassette player.
I had no time to go back up to get some CDs to play, but fortunately I had left in the car a couple of CDs I’d put together containing the Beatles first four albums plus their singles from the early days. At least I had something to listen to for the long drive.
Before returning the defective adapter, I decided to go to my car after work a few days later to try it again, but to also see if the cassette player was working properly. I was going to take with an old cassette plus the adapter, but after speaking with someone at my office, I decided to bring my portable CD player, too. My co-worker, who’s into music in a really big way, told me that he’s experienced problems with those adapters using iPod and other MPs players, but said that they work fine with regular CDs. Dave L had no problems playing his iPod, but I thought I’d give it a try, anyway.
So, back to the car I went. The first thing I tried was playing the cassette, which played perfectly for several minutes, indicating that the cassette player is not defective. Then I tried the CD player to see if it would work connected with the adapter. I happened to bring with the CD with the Beatles first two albums to play, so I connected it up, put the adapter in the tape player, and on came the first song from the album, “I Saw Her Standing There.”
Still, I thought I’d try putting the adapter in just one more time with the CD player, but for the sake of something different, I skipped on to the second song on that Beatles album. What was the name of that song that (temporarily) came on next?
How appropriate, I thought.
(If anybody out there has any advice to offer regarding this, please let me know.)
At the top, a photo of Alison from 2004.