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


I see that today’s closing at TED featured Jamie Cullum (he’s on Twitter!) playing John Lennon’s Imagine. A very powerful song for a very big event.

I couldn’t find that cut in iTunes – but it did cause me to browse many of the other 150+ artists who have recorded Lennon’s amazing song and are available on iTunes.

A couple of new found favorites: Chalice (doing a delightful Reggae version), the late Eva Cassidy (doing an acoustic version with her “goes right through you voice” – wow!), and Madonna with a live, very electric version – chills included!

Be sure to read more about Eva Cassidy – she died in 1996 from melanoma. Listening to her performance of Imagine was the first time I’d heard her amazing voice! Whew, takes your breath away. (For a real treat, listen to Cassidy’s True Colors while watching the iTunes Visualizer!)

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HDR Photography Honda Civic Hybrid iPhone 3G Living Music Photography San Francisco/California

Sunday Musings Heading Home

I was up in San Francisco for a few hours today taking some photos (playing with hand-held HDR again) – and came back along the Pacific Ocean on the Great Highway to Interstate 280 heading back home. The sun was at a low angle in the west while I was heading south on 280 – a very beautiful winter afternoon along the “World’s Most Beautiful Freeway“!

Books Music

Dirty Dancing (in London!)

I played tourist today in London. It was just great. Me and my Oyster card out on the surface of London. I stayed with the buses all day – great scenery and efficiency!

After walking down Whitehall from the Charing Cross Hotel and being first in line this morning at the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, I headed to Knightsbridge for Harrods and Harvey Nichols for some gift shopping, lunch and then headed back to my hotel for a brief rest and to try to figure out my afternoon game plan.

While checking out the London TKTS site, I decided to see if any tickets were available for Dirty Dancing – but none were. Looking on Ticketmaster, I was able to secure a 3 PM matinée box seat for Dirty Dancing. I bought the ticket from my Mac at 1:40 and was in my box seat at the theatre just up the Strand from my hotel less than an hour later.

I’ve always enjoyed Dirty Dancing the movie and especially the great music – but the stage performance turned out to be one great tingling experience. This show brings you right up to the edge with the goosebumps – and then brings you out of your seat in the finale. Wow! (Also, I’d say the audience at today’s matinée was something like a 5:1 female/male ratio!)

After the play, I caught the RV1 bus just around the block from the theatre in Covent Garden over to the Tate Modern – for another “big wow”! The sheer scale of the Tate is unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.

PS: At SFO while I waiting for my flight to London, I downloaded the latest Rick Steves’ London guidebook to my Kindle. Today’s serendipity wouldn’t have happened without Rick’s guidance!


Something Especially Beautiful

Today, while working in my office, I had Music Choice’s Soundscapes channel on in the background when the most beautiful solo guitar piece started playing…one of those songs that just makes you stop what you’re doing in your tracks and listen.

I’ve started going to Amazon to look for used CD’s when I hear something I like – the used CD’s are cheaper than iTunes. I looked up the artist and read the description…

“The ice machine in my refrigerator broke. I called a service technician to fix it. He showed up at my house and began working on the problem while I proceeded to work on my music. When he was finished, he came to my studio (that was in a bedroom no bigger than a closet) to present the bill to me. He noticed that I had an acoustic guitar in the corner. He told me he was a guitar player. I asked him, somewhat cynically, if he’d like to play my guitar. He paused for a moment, looked me in the eyes, answered ‘yes’ in a whisper, then picked up the guitar, sat on the floor and began to play.”…

Read more of it online – it gets even better. Tony Sandate’s Simple Song on the album Sunset Meditation is truly a sheer delight. I both bought it on iTunes and as well as a used CD on Amazon!


iPod Shuffle = Amazing!

I couldn’t resist and ordered an Apple iPod Shuffle on announcement day. My Shuffle arrived yesterday and I got around to loading it up tonight. The USB 2.0 loading from my PowerBook was a bit slower than the FireWire loading of a traditional iPod — but not by much.

What I find particularly amazing about the Shuffle is the superb audio quality. I’m listening tonight on my original Bose noise-canceling headphones and the audio quality is just superb…and it’s all pretty amazing coming out of such a small device as the Shuffle!



Internet Radio

Ben Fong-Torres writes today about Internet Radio in his Radio Waves column in the Pink section of the San Francisco Chronicle.


Tell A Friend

Just noticed this morning that Apple’s iTunes Music Store has added a “Tell a Friend” feature — allowing you to send an email album recommendation to a friend. The HTML email includes the album cover and a link back to the iTunes Music Store page for the album.


Killing the Music

Don Henley writes in the Washington Post about the effects of music industry consolidation. The effects are larger including consolidation in ownership of broadcast media, retail stores, etc.

Artists are finally realizing their predicament is no different from that of any other group with common economic and political interests. They can no longer just hope for change; they must fight for it. Washington is where artists must go to plead their case and find answers.


Tower Records

Tower Records filed for bankruptcy last week marking the end of an era. In today’s New York Times, Verlyn Klinkenborg shares his memories of that first Tower Records store he visited back in the mid-60’s.

For me, that first Tower store was the one in San Francisco’s North Beach, on the corner of Columbus and Bay. What a place — a big box retailer before we even knew what they were. As Klinkenborg says, “once upon a time Tower Records seemed like the last word in consumer gratification.”