Monthly Archives: January 2006

Ghost in the Machine

Adam &Eve

I made a long overdue trip to the Museum of Modern Art, my first time this year. I never get tired of looking at the museum’s permanent collection, particularly its photographs. There’s always something to find in Walker Evans, one of my idols, or well-recognized masters like Edward Weston. The quality of the printing is an education. I spent more time with the Irving Penn photographs today, since I need to shore up my portraiture abilities. One of the biggest surprises today was how captivated I was by the platinum prints of Peter Henry Emerson.

Emerson also drew upon the newly accepted scientific models of vision to propose that pictures should only be sharp in the critical point of our focus of interest, a technique now known as ‘differential focus‘. Although this is true of one or two of his pictures, in general they are sharp or relatively so overall.

Often, I spend most of my time on the third floor, which also includes the drawing and architecture exhbits, before I make the obligatory visit to the painting collection. It’s interesting to see which artists come into personal favor. Certain painters you always like, others rise and fall in estimation. The current multimedia exhibit tickled me, and caused me to break out my camera.

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Daphne in Frigg

Zoetrope friend Daphne Buter is featured photographer in the current issue of Frigg Magazine.

Sarah Konrad (photo)

Sarah Konrad became the first American woman to qualify for the winter olympics in two different events. She will compete in Torino in biathlon and cross country skiing.

Amy Tan’s Journey to West

Amy Tan, the author of The Joy Luck Club, has been named literary editor of The Los Angeles Times magazine. Editor Rick Watzman says the magazine is being renamed “West” to mark a stylistic return to its 1960-70s heyday. With magazines having cut back fiction for years now, it is good to see a major player come back into the market.

Photographic Immersion

The introduction to Masters of Photography: W. Eugene Smith describes the lengths that the photographer went to immerse himself in his subjects.

In 1948, Smith left without his editor’s blessing to photograph a small-town country doctor in the Colorado mountains. Resisting pressure from New York to return, he stayed for twenty-three days and nights. He used a technique that would become his trademark: "photographing" at first without film in his cameras, he stuck to the doctor like a second skin, hoping the townspeople would become so accustomed to his constant presence that they would ultimately accept him as one of their own. That he succeeded is manifest in the intimacy of the photographs he made from within the community rather than as an outsider looking in. "Country Doctor" profoundly changed the course of print photojournalism, and ultimately affected the cinema verite tradition as well.

Fort Kent, Biathlon

Downhill Tuck

Kevin Patzoldt-Manbeck competes for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team during an event in Fort Kent, Maine.

E and I drove 12 hours from New York to Maine so that I could cover the TD Bank North (Biathlon) Festival. (The drive from Houlton to the Canadian border on a snowy U.S. Route 1 seemed interminable.) How the biathletes perform in the event goes a long way in deciding whether or not they will make the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team. Sunday temperatures hovered around 18 degrees fahrenheit, a mite bit cold to a boy like me who hails originally from the Carolinas. A sunnier Monday was balmy in comparison.