Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Hound of The Baskervilles III

"Baskerville shuddered as he looked up the long, dark drive to where the house glimmered like a ghost at the farther end."

Moving on now, with these images, to a little darker scenario - considering the recent spate of Blog commentaries (on
The Online Photographer and The Landscapist Blogs) re: whether or not "the gear describes the vision" or is it something else. I know first-hand that when I was first learning, "cutting my teeth" on the nuances of photographing the nocturne (with transparency film - remember that, kids?) - as I tell my students: "after awhile it seemed that the materials described the vision" (limited tonal range, the need to avoid blown-out highlights, etc.). Now, how is that any different in the digital age - with its multitude of choices - color or b/w, a selection of white balances (color balance in film terms), adjustable ISO (ASA) settings (with ever-improving quality at high ISO speeds)? The medium (film) is simply replaced by the gear, it would seem - hardly a shock there, in our frantic, technology-driven society.

"Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!" (Dr Mortimer)

About the time I was pondering the above photographic conundrum (I mean, the G10 can't walk the dog!) I was listening to this fascinating story on NPR about our human lives with canines (some 10,000 - 15,000 years, now) - interviews with Stanley Coren, author, "The Modern Dog: A Joyful Exploration of How We Live with Dogs Today" and Cesar Milan ("The Dog Whisperer") - about how things have changed markedly in the last 15 years in the relationships we have (and the care we give) with dogs. Susan and I like to kid that Tegwen likes to think of us as her 'management team" - a well-meaning, but not particularly efficient one!

"A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog."

Enjoy these images (up to 1 second in length exposures) - for, much like Conan Doyle's serialization of the book - more, darker ones to follow . . . (in The [not so] Daily Nocturne)

("So, the dog's and human worlds are really intermingling . . . " - from
TTBOOK story)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ruby Nocturne (but no more than two . . .)

Night Photography news/views from The [not so] Daily Nocturne:

First of all - this Paris performance (1969) by the Thelonius Monk Quartet: "Ruby, My Dear" - 'nuff said?

Page Two: this image - below - from The Nocturnes' good friend, Troy Paiva (whose second book, "Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration," was selected as the Best Special Trade Photography Book of the year at the recent New York Book Festival) - here exploring the connections 'tween NPy, music, irony, and the color red (originally pointed out courtesy of Andy Frazer's Blog). BTW, by now his Web site should be revamped with a new look - check it out!

Do check back in again, for these NPy/musical connections . . . (in The [not so] Daily Nocturne)

(Oh, Ruby, don't take your love to town . . . )

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Hound of The Baskervilles II

". . . I counsel you by way of caution to forbear from crossing the moor in those dark hours when the powers of evil are exalted."
(Hugo Baskerville's document, read by Dr Mortimer)

"They say it is the cry of the Hound of the Baskervilles.’"
(Holmes, to Sir Henry after hearing the sound).

Continuing now, with the investigation (elementary?) of the text, the G10, the question of how much blur/noise/etc. is too much, and the hazards of working with a canine model, Eschewing a tripod, working hand-held, with shutter speeds hovering 'round one-half to one full second (or two) in length, likewise concerning oursleves very little with substantial depth of field (not out usual best practices) - with these images we started honing in on certain elements of the 'near nocturne' - all the while recalling passages of this most famous work by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

"Life has become like that great Grimpen Mire, with little green patches everywhere into which one may sink and with no guide to point the track." (Dr. Watson)

More to follow . . . (in The [not so] Daily Nocturne)

("But now we have to prove the connection between the man and the beast.")

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Revolution WILL be tweeted . . .
(with apologies to Gil Scott Heron)

Amazing scenes, crowds, and bits (tweets) of stories coming out of Iran, post "election." Does everyone see the irony in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reluctantly responding to a twitter-fueled "not-exactly-flash-mob?"

Read all about it: here, here, and here.

Stay tuned (we should all . . . )

("The revolution will be no re-run, brothers / The revolution will be live.")

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Magical Mystery Tour

An interesting column/pop quiz by Jon Carroll in Friday's San Francisco Chronicle - available online at SFGate, and worth a read, I think - and no way related to this earlier post in this space.

So, which one is it?

("Roll up . . .")

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Hound of The Baskervilles

"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

- From "Silver Blaze" (1892) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Beginning this past January, and continuing thru late April (when, for us, the 'twilight hour' moved beyond a workable time-slot), I was in the habit of walking Tegwen (Golden Retriever) AND the G10 (Canon) 'round Mare Island - moreover, photographing Tegwen while learning the capabilities, limitations of the G10 (a great little camera, BTW!). The wintry, wet and windy conditions, the fact that we live so close to the wetlands (read: bog, moor, or moorland), and some of the reasons stated in the previous blog post got us thinking (uh, oh!) - about one of our favorite (too obvious?) works of literature, One we think is very suited to long walks in the countryside, 'round the periphery of the bog. Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles," long an inspiration for us, contains many memorable passages that drive home that almost primal attraction of NPy and the mysteries of the nocturne. And of course, nothing says mystery and heart-stopping, murderous terror in the night like a Golden Retriever, right?

{:<)} .

Working within the camera's range of slo-o-w-w photography (up to 15 sec exposures, max) and an uncooperative (tho' still devoted) canine model we set out into the twilight and beyond, to see what these 'puppies' could do. Giving in to some slow shutter speeds (not paying too much attention to focus/sharpness/etc.) and some deliberate camera movement seemed OK - a scene as you might experience out on the darkened moorland with a 'hell-hound' on your trail (Wow! - managed to work a Robert Johnson reference in there . . . !) . Some of our results follow. Quotes, except where noted, are from the text of "The Hound of The Baskervilles" (1902) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

"Dr. Mortimer turned the manuscript to the light and read in a high, crackling voice the following curious, old-world narrative:-
"Of the origin of the Hound of the Baskervilles there have been many statements, yet as I come in a direct line from Hugo Baskerville, and as I had the story from my father, who also had it from his, I have set down with all belief that it occurred even as is here set forth."

"Baskerville was in the habit every night before going to bed of walking down the famous Yew Alley of Baskerville Hall."

More to follow . . . (in The [not so] Daily Nocturne)

("Life has become like that great Grimpen Mire . . ." )

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Stormy Nocturne

With the return of precip to northern California (rare in June!) we're thinking a lot of those long walks from the past winter - the rain-slickened streets, fast-moving storm clouds, abrupt bursts of rainfall, wild looking skies - mostly done around twilight and a little later . . .

. . . And this video by Clannad with a young upstart named Bono. Back in the day, one could imagine Máire (of the family Ní Bhraonáin), Bono, and their respective bandmates sitting 'round the turf-fire, after a hard day walking the bogs and famine roads (filming music videos!) in the West of Ireland, drifting in and out of bits of conversation in Gaelic. Of course, this was before Bono decided to save/direct the world's billions of people (and U2's billions of €uros!).

While not in a league with Joe Reifer's (he belongs to a league? - who knew!) infamous walks - one covered the length of Mission Street, another all of Geary Street/Blvd, and the current "Every Street in Albany" (hm-mm, maybe we should have a William Kennedy quote here) - these evening walks on Mare Island provided relaxation, exercise, reflection, and a time/space to ponder new connections between twilight, photography, literature, the Celtic world, the canine world, and how the medium/gear shapes our message.

More about this, to follow.

(In a lifetime . . . )

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


We would like to celebrate/share the release of New York Photographer Lynn Saville's new book of Night Photography - Night/Shift. Published by Random House/The Monacelli Press, this hardcover text includes 80 color photographs, with an Introduction by Arthur C. Danto, art critic for The Nation.

A book tour is currently underway with appearances around NYC on June 5 at ICP, June 12 at Bookcourt, and July 15 at the B+N, Tribeca - details can be found on her site.

Also look for a review of the book in this space in the near future!

BTW, did you know that Lynn was the Juror for The Nocturnes 2000, our first online
exhibit in 2000 (and back when Lynn was mostly doing b/w work!) - my, but how The Nocturnes family has grown . . .

(From the desk of The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man)