Saturday Evening Post #140 : Stereotype

Stereotype has among its first usages several hundred years back as: image perpetuated without change.
More recently its use is in the realms of psychology deal with, so I’m told, the thoughts of an individual being applied (rightly or wrongly) to a group of people.
Rough boyscout definition only.

Our blog friend Eleanor raised such an issue for the other day as her new camera is cranking out huge CR3 files and its meant she has taken to using JPEG format.  I made the comment that I often shoot JPEG format. And with good reasons.   Bought the usual responses, of ‘can’t be a true committed photographer if you’re not using raw (usually put as RAW-but its not an acronym). My photos are doomed to the dustbin of the furthermost photo hell, and me along with it’.
Truth be told I like working in JPEG as it frees me from sitting staring at the screen cranking first this, then that slider. Strange old stereotype that judges the quality of work by the file type.   I know pretension exists, still.

However changing thoughts, I had to go, on my doctors instructions to one of those, you know, what do ya call ’em,  ohhh.   Oh yeah, cognitive memory tests. Where you get asked if you can remember important stuff. Such as, What year is it? Who is Prime Minister of Australia? Count backwards from 100 minus 7 at a time… hmm, 93…..Oh, I give up.

All sorts of things I’m not all that interested in. I’m more interested not so much which day of the week it is, but will it be sunny, no wind, a low tide, what season, and will all that be good for photographs.

Among one of the questions was something about ‘Do I like to cook’.  So I gave an answer. But.  It didn’t match the stereotype required answer, and I came to the conclusion the inquisitor wasn’t interested in my answer, only that I’d fit the pattern of old male, unable to boil water.  I took time to explain I learned to cook from my Mum early in life, spent a summer holiday working with a hotel chef, and had been househusband for #kneetoo for some 18 years since her back injury.   I think I grasped the basic principle behind boiling water, and could, given a few moments notice, master the skill of opening a tin of baked beans.
However all to no avail, as it wasn’t in the stereotype answers required.

Why, I thought on the way home, don’t they ask me some questions I’m actually interested in.

How much sodium sulpite is there in a litre of Kodak D76 developer.
What is the processing time of Tri-X in D76 diluted 1:1 at 20C.
What is the calculations for DOF.
What are the three factors affecting Depth of Field.
Can you recall what is the significance of the Circle of Confusion.
etc
For the digital age:
Describe the Bayer Pattern
For bonus points what is the first name of Dr Bayer
For double bonus points, Have you met Bryce personally
Explain Discrete Cosine Transfer (DCT) as the basis for JPEG compression.

Ohh sneaky how I managed to get that in.

Not content I had to also see a podiatrist, just to check that my feet where still down there somewhere.
It was all going swimmingly until the question about ‘would I walk very far during the day?’
Stereotype kicks in. Old bloke, couch potato, might be able to walk to the mail box
My answer, most mornings I walk for an hour or before breakfast and on a day in the field I might make 10-12Km,  was not the right answer.
So we had to spend the next few minutes going over the details, you know just in case I was doing my Walter Mitty impersonation. When I mentioned that, I received a blank stare!!!!
How easy it is to consign people it seems.

A good, dear friend, told me once that she attended such a ‘memory’ day, and was asked, “Shirley, What day is it?”
Her answer, with a straight poker face. (She was quite the intellectual, an educator and author), ” Oh, that’s easy, it’s the day you told me to come for my appointment!”. Dumb silence.  And a little check-mark in the ‘failed’ box.

Gotta finish on a high.
Do you follow  “First Dog on the Moon” cartoons on the online The Guardian, news. ?
If not then do take a look at this one.  Why Vaccines should be like Hot Chips  The birdo answer is in the last panel.

Tonight’s Image is bought to you by JEPG.
This is Jack the Eastern Yellow Robin, we worked two seasons with the pair.
Shot with a D2x camera on the Mode1 JPEG setting
The reason I like that mode is the beautiful clean greys that it produces. I still use a variation of it in the D500.

Saturday Evening Post #139.1 : On Dorothea Lange

It’s not often that I need to add something to a Saturday Evening Post.

I was directed to a Youtube site, and as I don’t usually spend much time on there, I’d have been very lucky to have found it even accidentally.

Someone has taken a sound track of Bruce Springsteen’s rendition of a song by Woodie Guthrie that he wrote in the 1930s concerning the “Dust Bowl” refugees in the US as they moved from their devastated farms, west, looking for work. They have also collected a slide show of Dorothea Lange images to go with the music.

Lange and Guthrie were contemporaneous, both approaching the refugee activity in their own way. Dorothea with photos, Woodie with poignant heart-felt words in song.

If you are not a Springsteen fan, and let’s face it sometimes the word are hard to understand, nor are you a fan of his music, at least on this its a very simple guitar accompaniment, the best thing to do is turn the sound down, ponder the words, and become involved with the visuals.

A version of the song by Woodie Guthrie is here

They are not all from her work with the refugees, some are from a series of the “White Angel Breadline” (1933).
(Lois Jordan, a wealthy widow living in San Francisco, known as the White Angel, established a soup kitchen to feed the needy and hungry. With little or no outside funding, Jordan fed more than one million hungry men over a three year period)

What struck me personally was the broad similarity to some of our most pressing social crises.

Such issues as: the Biloela Tamil family, Refugees in detention, and the Homeless on the streets of Melbourne the First Nations people recognition, Yes, even climate change, among so many others.

I wondered what Woodie Guthrie and Dorothea Lange would have done against these predicaments.
Dorothea is quoted as saying, she considered her portrait subjects collaborators and is quoted as saying,”I never steal a photograph.”

Photographically it also had me wondering, “Where are the Great Photographs of these current issues?”

Sadly, I had to conclude we live in a world of visual overload. A photo of an issue is only as fresh as the number of ‘Likes’ it has recieved. Each one has a very limited shelf-life or use-by date. Overwhelmed with the next disaster we are fed a constant steam of images, each catching our attention, but like newspapers of old, (remember newspapers?) tomorrow used to wrap up the scraps for the bin.

Does this mean, or am I inferring, that there are no great photographs nor story-telling photographers, left.
No, of course not.

But as you, hopefully, follow the Youtube link you’ll see how great and powerful a medium photo-journalism can be.

Follow this link

Bruce Springsteen ”I Ain’t Got No Home” – YouTube
Mick Wilbury

I leave you with a Dorothea quote,

“I am trying here to say something about the despised, the defeated, the alienated. About death and disaster, about the wounded, the crippled, the helpless, the rootless, the dislocated. About finality. About the last ditch.” – Dorothea Lange

 

 

Saturday Evening Post #139: The Bohemians

We’ve been locked down to a 10 and then 25 Kilometre radius for the past few weeks.  Add to that the weather that seems to have translated itself from somewhere south of Antarctica, and #kneetoo still in recovery mode, there has not been a lot of enthusiasm to venture out to check the mailbox, let along go to the field for birds.

Thanks to a recommendation from Mike over at TOPS, I decided to buy a Kindle copy of a book by Jasmin Darznik titled The Bohemians

Warning: It is a novel. An historical novel; but a novel none the less.
It takes its setting in the late 1910s and early 1920s.  Its major setting is San Fransisco.

The heroine, is none other than Dorothea Lange. A photographer I have discussed on this blog before as her stunning photos and photo-journalism had an impact on my visual growth as a very young photographer. As a wet-behind-the-ears youngster, my local librarian had noted my interest in photography—perhaps astutely as  I’d borrowed the same basic photography books umpteen times and knew them from cover to cover, and admitted me to the ‘Adult’ section. Which, had for reasons I’ve never pondered, a really fine selection of photo-folio books. Several Dorothea Lange works were there and again I could pore of them learning a little of the artistic ability of this amazing lady.

Bohemians

This is not really a book review, nor am I crusading to have you rush out and buy or download the book.
The character, “Dorrie”, tells her story in the first person, and it’s a relatively good yarn, rollicking along, as Ms. Lange meets all the historical characters that played a part in forming the real Dorothea’s life.
It is also an interesting journey into the early 1920s and of course the struggles of the time. Quite a number of photographers make appearances, along with artists and writers.

Fair kept me busy during the rather cold weather of late. Hot cup of Cacao, my new fav warm drink, in my new “Hug Mug” and there was an afternoon or two speeding by.

I’m not sure about the author’s intention, but not doubt some of the social inequities of our current time have found their way into the story, which makes for some interesting comparisons.

There are a number of historical glitches, not big ones, Ansel Adams did suffer from the Influenza outbreak of 1919, and mostly they could be overlooked or simply left out of the story.

“Dorrie” hocks her beloved Graflex camera early in the story, but pops up a little later on making portraits with a 35mm Leica camera.
Really?

The Leica wasn’t announced until 1924 and production and first sales were 1925, I’m not sure of The Bohemians time setting but its highly unlikely “Dorrie” would have had access to one.  Still in the concept of the storyline it’s pretty inconsequential what she shot with. Dorothea Lange was making fine portraits and story-telling street shots no matter what camera she used.

Medical Update #5,  #kneetoo, is on the move, managed today to walk a few hundred metres up to the community centre in our village and enjoy a chat and coffee with several friends.  Full-steam ahead.

Stay safe

Return to the Office

As the first Australian Lockdown came to an end back in March 2020, Scomo, our Prime Minister announced that it was “Time for Australia to come out from under the Doona and get back to the office”. Fine sentiment.

For readers not familiar with Scomo, it is a contraction of the Prime Minister’s name. Scott Morrison.
It came to public attention first on August 2, 2018, when during a press conference, Mr Morrison was asked about his leadership aspirations, as there was a lot of unease about Malcom Turnbull’s leadership.
He reached out and hugged Mr Turnbull and said, “This is my leader, I’m ambitious for him”

To which the (doomed) Malcom Turnbull responded, “Thanks, Scomo.”

The irony of the comment really only became obvious about 3 weeks later, when Malcom Turnbull was ousted, and Scomo became Prime Minister. (Skipping over some of the heavy duty political drama in there!)

So with the recent lifting of restrictions on the Victorian Lockdown to a 10km travel radius, I decided to take Scomo’s advice and “Return to the Office.

Mostly I wanted to see if the Flame Robins were still in the area. But as it turns out, they have become very conspicuous by their absence.
I did find a lone Black-shouldered Kite who was happy to share a photo of its hunting prowess.

Then I heard the intense call of Magpies announcing a raptor approaching. Looking far across the paddock a small dot with large wings was headed my way. To be honest, at first I thought it was a local Black Kite and was nearly going to dismiss it, but the intensity of the maggies attack made me look again.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Trying desperately to get enough speed to gain some height and escape being harassed. However maggies are trained for this and they were making sure that the Eagle had to stay down just over the paddock.
It kept coming and then the Eagle and its attendant pesky magpies flew pretty much over where I was standing.

Thanks Scomo.
Hope I don’t get deposed 🙂

Saturday Evening Post #138 : That Old Deja Vu Feeling Again Again!

Been chatting, but you know, socially distanced, with a number of people over the current lock-down covid situation in our area. All of them had suffered through the long lock-downs of 2020.

Most said the current restrictions (with or without having had a vaccine), initially weren’t that hard to get settled into. But, and it seemed to be pretty universal, within a few days we all seemed to come to the same feeling, helplessness, that we’d not experienced the first time through. Not a depression, mind, but rather a niggley feeling of how quickly we had succumbed to the inevitable. It’s not an anti-lockdown thought/ Most of us appeared to at least except the need to contain the outbreaks.
But it all adds up, another quarantine failure, lack of speed on the vaccine programme, groups of vulnerable people that have been ignored, nursing home outbreaks, name calling—she said, he said—political infighting, and raging rampant fear news.

That we can talk about it and more importantly laugh about it seemed to be a good tonic

Medical Update #4
#kneetoo, is still dealing with a numbing pain of the replacement, and the long process. The good news is she is quite on the move and walking quite freely. Her physio was here the other day, and after a walk up and down the hallway, the physio said, “It’s a fine sunny day, would you like to take a few steps outside?” And so she did.
The physio opened the door and #kneetoo stepped outside.

Every bird for kilometres around felt a shiver up its spine 🙂

While all this was going on, I was sitting on a small bank of sand overlooking the beach and a number of Greater Crested Terns were taking turns (pun intended) fishing along the water’s edge.

This one had returned empty-billed, much to the chagrin of it’s hungry juvenile