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Books Living Music Photography

Life is a Contact Sheet

Happy New Year! Let’s work towards better outcomes in 2022 than we had in 2021! Like most I’m looking forward to leaving 2021 behind and excited about what the future could bring! Now onward to my first post of this new year!

While away for the Thanksgiving holiday I started watching the Beatles’ Get Back documentary on Disney+ while in a garage in Sonoma county. We had gone away with family and this spot was a great escape for the Thanksgiving weekend. Sometimes the place where you watch a TV show or read a book becomes it’s own memory riding alongside the show or the book in your mind.

Get Back is the remastered version by Peter Jackson that looks and sounds really good – especially given the vintage of the film that it’s based on.

Recently I was on a morning walk listening to the Holiday Special edition of the In The Hive podcast with Joe Hagen and Emily Jane Fox. Joe hosts a great segment talking to Don Was of Bluenote Records about the therapeutic beauty of listening to jazz music (especially in these Covid times). Don commented about the Beatles’ Get Back documentary – about how fascinating it was to see the Beatles working through their creative process – oh so many takes! – before they get to their final result. It was quite interesting to see them working and collaborating together – and just how much time and effort was involved in their creative process.

While I was listening to Joe and Don talking about Get Back, their comments brought to mind that Get Back is really just another metaphor for what photographers know as a contact sheet – the capture of all of the images which are winnowed down to get to a final image choice or two – or sometimes none at all.

Here’s an example of a photographer’s contact sheet:

Magnum has a wonderful book of contact sheets from many of its great photographers. When you leaf through that book you realize just how the creative process takes to work and image and reach the photographer’s ideal result.

But isn’t that process of iteration fundamental to any creative pursuit? Writing, photography, music, you name it. And, isn’t that iteration process what living itself involves? Once in a while we see the iterative steps in action when artists like the Beatles or the Magnum photographers share a behind the scenes look at how they got to their final work product. Those are special learning opportunities worth paying attention to!

Watch Get Back and you’ll find it fascinating but also a bit frustrating to see just how many steps can be required! You can see the same kind of process when you browse through Magnum’s Contact Sheets!

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

Dale Carnegie

Science seldom proceeds in the straightforward logical manner imagined by outsiders.

James D. Watson
Categories
Family Living Memories

Carl J. Loftesness – 100 years

My Dad was born on Dec 31, 1921 – exactly 100 years ago today. He passed away at the age of 88 but left us with so many great memories of good times shared with all our family. It’s a great day to remember all he did for us along the way as we keep him in our hearts.

This photo is one of my favorites. I was too young to remember the moment but I will always remember the bike and my Dad’s joy in getting me to ride it so many years ago!

Carl and Scott Loftesness

Categories
Christmas Main Dishes Pork Recipes

Merry Christmas 2021!

Christmas Morning – Sharon Park

Merry Christmas! Even in these Covid times in late 2021 we celebrate this special holiday – although with a much, much smaller get together of family and friends!

This morning’s walk at Sharon Park was beautiful with low clouds, early morning sun and still air. A restful respite in between recent rains with more rolling in later today.

For today’s Christmas dinner we are making one of our favorite recipes: Scott’s Favorite Slow Roasted Chipotle Pork. I first posted this recipe back in 2005 – over 15 years ago. We’ve made it many times over the years since. Slow roasting is perfect for those days when you just want a dinner that’s very tasty but super easy to prepare. It’s always been a hit with our guests too. This year pork prices have spiked (what inflation?) but even so pork shoulder is perhaps the least expensive main meat course you can make.

Last night for Christmas Eve we had cracked Dungeness crab (from Cook’s Seafood) with sourdough bread and melted butter. A real San Francisco Bay Area holiday treat!

Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas!

Categories
Blogs/Weblogs

Happy Anniversary -and- Thanksgiving!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the start of my personal blog here using the sjl.us domain. It all began on November 25, 2001.

In my first post, I wrote about Amazon having free U.S. shipping on orders over $99 (that’s changed since then!). In a second post that day, I wrote about an article in the San Francisco Chronicle talking about why writers enjoy living in the San Francisco Bay Area (I wonder whether that’s changed – given the current cost of living, etc. in this area!).

I had played around earlier creating a personal web page (using an early Microsoft web page editor named Front Page) but when I started this edition on November 25, 2001 I was using Radio Userland (built on Dave Winer’s Frontier). Sometime later I migrated it to TypePad and later again to WordPress.

It’s somehow appropriate that this 20th anniversary is also Thanksgiving Day here I. The United States!

Categories
iPhone 12 Pro Max Photography Photography Workflow

Mornings at Sharon Park

During these hopefully late stages of pandemic life I’ve been doing a regular morning walk around Sharon Park and the pond.

Last week the City of Menlo Park drained and cleaned the pond. It’s looking fresh again after a summer with some algae growth.

The last couple of early mornings have been foggy which adds a moodiness to the scene. And it’s usually pretty quiet early in the morning!

I’ve recently shared on Instagram a couple of photos taken on these recent morning walks. These photos have been post-processed using the iPhone Photos app along with DistressedFX+ and Snapseed. These apps have become my usual workflow for processing on my iPhone. These tools are quick and easy to use plus they help add some drama and a painterly effect to the images.

Categories
Books Living

Life in these United States

woman in white long sleeve shirt standing near white and gray house during daytime
Photo by Julian Jagtenberg on Pexels.com

A couple of commentaries I read today really brought home to me some of what’s happening to life in these United States. Both of these articles strike me as like the other:

Zen and the Art of #VanLife Influencing

The problem of getting old is an old problem, which means there are plenty of established ways of coping. The new problem, the one harder to deal with, is the diminishing possibilities for our species. Settling down means something different now, because there is no long term. The best one can hope for is a temporary pocket of equilibrium, to be enjoyed while it lasts, and then mercilessly abandoned. …

I grew up in Portland, and I love it. Here’s why I’m never moving back, even though I can work from anywhere.

…what links the vanlifers, the influencers and the get-rich-quick kids isn’t laziness or dreams of going viral, but rather a sense of precarity that they see all around them, whether in campgrounds filled with the homeless, in the ongoing climate disasters and now in a pandemic that has isolated them from their friends. …

In other news, I’ve recently discovered Ted Kooser (thanks to the By the Book profile of author William Kent Krueger in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review). Kooser’s known for his plainsong poetry about the Great Plains. I’m really enjoying his prose – in particular his great memoir about life in rural Nebraska: Local Wonders. Highly recommended – his evocative sentences are a real delight to read!

Contrary to what out-of-state tourists might tell you, Nebraska isn’t  flat but slightly tilted, like a long church basement table with the legs on one end not perfectly snapped in place, not quite enough of a slant for the tuna-and-potato-chip casserole to slide off into the Missouri River. The high end is closest to the Rockies, and the entire state is made up of gravel, sand, and silt that ran off the front range over millions of years. …

Categories
Creativity Photography

My Creation Process

During this time of much more limited opportunities to make new photographs, I’ve enjoyed going back through my back catalog of images (over 70,000!) and doing creative edits on them.

Most of these edits are done quickly – literally in the spur of a moment – when I get an inspiration. And the edits are almost always done on my iPhone – it’s become the workhorse of my photographic creativity!

A typical session involves me coming across an old image of mine (the Photos widget on the iPhone does an amazing job surfacing old yet interesting images). I’ll then make a duplicate of the image and open the duplicate in one of the editing programs I use (usually either Photos itself, Snapseed, or DistressedFX Pro). I’ll make whatever edits, crops, texturing, etc. that I’m inspired to make by the image itself.

A few minutes later, I’ll save the edited image back to Photos – and, if inspired, make one final edit pass – typically using Snapseed. Sometimes I’ll want to add a black border – I do that in Snapseed. Then I’ll post the image to my Instagram account. End-to-end this process usually takes 5-10 minutes. Once in a while I’ll stumble across another image in the process and go on another editing jag.

There’s a wide range of creativity that I’m applying during this process – depending on the image. Often I’ll be using DistressedFX Pro as I’ve come to love the addition of textures to many of my images. Other times I’ll take a color image to black and white, perhaps severely cropping it as well to reduce what I call “image noise” (distracting elements) and provide increased focus on what I find most interesting.

You can see some of the range of creativity in some of my images below. More can be found on my Instagram account.

Categories
Books Living

More Book Recommendations…

After writing yesterday’s post including my book recommendation for Falling, I realized there were two other books that I really enjoyed reading in the last couple of months – and wanted to share them.

The first is Daniel Silva’s The Cellist, the 21st book in his long running series about Gabriel Allon. Silva rewrote a lot of this book after the events at the Capitol on January 6th. He lives in DC and is married to a CNN correspondent – so he was right in the midst of those January events. He masterfully weaves that story line into the end of The Cellist. There’s a great interview online with Silva talking about this book that’s worth watching.

The second is the The President’s Daughter by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. This is their second collaboration – I also enjoyed the first (The President is Missing) but found this second one even more enjoyable. Patterson’s use of plot twists along with Clinton’s “spice” of realism regarding the presidency and post-presidential life add a lot to this story. There’s also a great interview of the two of them with Lee Child that’s well worth watching.

Both of these books – along with Falling – are great summertime reads!

Categories
Books Covid-19 Living

Stuck in Neutral

Back in May, I wrote about re-emergence – that feeling of coming out of the pandemic and “getting back to normal”. If only that had proven to have been true!

Instead, what’s happened is the “Delta relapse” – as this new Delta variant has demonstrated again that viruses are clever and have a “mind” of their own. A more contagious mutation – causing “breakthrough infections” even among dual vaccinated individuals – has thrown a new damper over those good feelings we had back in June.

For me personally, that’s meant staying closing to home again – avoiding group contact, etc. But it’s also been good in some ways – as I’ve added a new regular daily walk to my morning routine. That’s help me drop a few more pounds in weight – a very good thing – and provided a daily photography opportunity.

We’ll see where we are as we get through August – as schools try to re-open, traffic picks up again, and “normal” life tries to re-emerge again. Delta curves in India and the UK provide some hope that the US will see some stabilization and recovery soon. We also expect to hear soon about the need for a booster shot this fall for vaccinated individuals – wouldn’t it be wonderful if that got combined with this year’s flu shots?

Life goes on – just another roller coaster ride!…

Book recommendation: over the weekend I read Falling by T.J. Newman. It’s right at the top of my list of the most enjoyable books that I’ve read this year. Definitely not recommended for reading on a flight but otherwise it’s a great escape! I finished it in one day – a great example of a “page turner”!

Categories
Living

A Profound Shift…

From a commentary by Marc Andreessen:

This is, I believe, a permanent civilizational shift. It is perhaps the most important thing that’s happened in my lifetime, a consequence of the internet that’s maybe even more important than the internet. Permanently divorcing physical location from economic opportunity gives us a real shot at radically expanding the number of good jobs in the world while also dramatically improving quality of life for millions, or billions, of people. We may, at long last, shatter the geographic lottery, opening up opportunity to countless people who weren’t lucky enough to be born in the right place.