by ag

[NEWS FLASH] In the midst of writing this update, my camera died: the problem was a lens that wouldn’t retract or extend fully without pushing, pulling, rotating, or some combination thereof. Without anything to lose, I decided to take it apart and see if I could restore it to life. Thirty tiny screws later, I still couldn’t extract enough of the lens to examine it.

Below is a mashup of the deceased, taken with both the iPhone 7, and the 8 megapixel camera I started Pixetera with. Until I find a “real” camera upgrade that fits my specs, these will accompany me on my travels. From what I can see of the current market, it may be awhile :(

(Click on image to enlarge.)


It should be interesting: Any self-esteem I may have had as a long-term professional will, I expect, go down the tubes because of the total disdain I’ve had for smart phones as photographic instruments. Maybe I’ll discover a new way of working, however, and grow to embrace them. Greater miracles have occurred for sure.

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When I started Pixetera as a photo/day project in 2012, I hadn’t done any personal work in almost 3 decades as a professional photographer. At the time, I didn’t give any thought to the future but when 2013 came and went, and 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 as well, I found myself still going strong. I sometimes think that I’ve been taking photos with a vengeance to make up for all the years that I missed out on doing my own.

Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve become much more demanding about what I post. Pictures I would have been content with years ago now grow old in a desktop folder called “New”; others that I would have accepted straight out of the camera with only minor processing begin life instead as raw material to be sculpted or worked on (and on and on) until a more satisfying image results.

Last year I became enamored of the unusual color palettes that are sometimes produced with Photoshop’s Inversion option. It’s surprising because the original colors were often what attracted me in the first place. I also like Photoshop’s Oil Paint filter — in moderation — for replacing the sharp realism of photographs with something softer and more lyrical.   

If I didn’t feel that I was still exploring the medium, or discovering new subject matter, I’d probably slow down or stop. It certainly helps to be living in a small-size city whose illustrious past and struggling present offer a seemingly inexhaustible bounty of photographic inspiration. Now that I’ve decided to get outside every day for fresh air and exercise, the images come on an almost daily basis.

In February, I began experimenting with the visual stories I call New Novellas, distant relatives, I like to think, of the graphic novel and Duane Michals’ sequences. Unlike those antecedents, however, the narratives always come after seeing the images themselves rather than vice-versa. The different personas I enjoy taking on as narrator are part of the fun.

Mashups, which I’ve been doing for at least five years, continue to be a never-ending source of discovery and pleasure.

I don’t do shows much, and when one of my photos was accepted for the Western Massachusetts 2019 Biennial exhibition (“From Seed To Fruition”), the experience confirmed why not: The recognition was hardly worth the time, energy, and cost involved in being a participant. I have no idea how others do it without being blessed with discretionary resources I lack.

Digital exhibition opportunities, on the other hand, are a different matter. A local gallery stages an open show in the fall and spring that displays images on a large video screen in addition to framed prints. I had 50 photos total in the last two shows I entered at a cost that was a fraction of what I spent for the biennial. Their reception was in inverse proportion to their expense.

Continuing in the same budget vein, I finally broke down — despite all my antipathy to Facebook — and opened an Instagram account at the beginning of the year. Can’t say I understand why it’s preferable to a blog where the artist has more control over the presentation of his or her work, but I’m old school. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a photographer whose Instagram images I feel like following, but the floor is certainly open to nominations :)

May next year at this time find us with a new American president and a Congress fully controlled by Democrats! It’s our democracy’s last best hope.