Friday, July 29, 2011

Shows, Human & Nature

I made a quick trip down to the Paul Smith's VIC this evening to see the opening of a juried art show I had entered two photos in. Both were accepted and it is quite a good show. If you will be in the area I recommend stopping by the VIC to have a look at it.

I disagreed with some of the juror's awards (as usual) in particular the Best of Show award. IM{not so}HO the very best entry was a pastel by Joyce Hansen, a view of an Adirondack woodland scene with dark forest and a large rock covered in moss. I'd have declared that one as Best in a nanosecond if I were the judge. The work that the judge did choose was a sunset photo with looming clouds over a shoreline that had dark rocks protruding from the water in the foreground. It is a good photo but (again IMO) there was better work there.

On the way home Mother Nature treated me to another show, the sunset seen above. My original intent was to post one of the two photos that I have in the art show but in this case Nature won Best of Show with its beautiful sunset. The photo was made with my new G11 and was inadvertently shot in JPG. The camera has a habit of resetting itself to JPG. I have to reread the manual to see why that is happening because I almost never shoot in JPG, at least not intentionally.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Craft Fair Day and a Review

I 'did' the Ives Park Craft Fair today, part of Potsdam's Summer Festival. The weather was perfect, mid-80s and clear, enough of a breeze off the river to be comfortable as long as I stayed in the shade of my fair shelter. Sales were not so hot. I didn't go in the red but I didn't net anywhere near minimum wage for my time either. But that isn't the review.

The review is of my new Square, a device and service to accept credit & debit cards via a smart phone. The review is a short one because there isn't much to tell. It's simple and it works great. I had to slide the first card twice to get it to register but when it did read the second slide, the rest couldn't have been easier. Put in the dollar amount, the software figured the sales tax and added it for me (I had to set that up ahead of time but it was easy), I had the customer sign the screen with her finger and enter her email address, then it sent a confirmation email to both of us. It couldn't be easier.

The reader attachment for your phone is sent free when you sign up for the service. You download the software on your smart phone and set up the bank account you want the money deposited to. No monthly fees. A 2¾% transaction fee on credit debit transactions (more if you manually process a card, read their terms on their site at the link below). If you want you can also enter your cash sales (no fee on cash sales entries) so that they will appear on the on-line spreadsheet they provide. You can import that spreadsheet into your bookkeeping software if you want. I'll add to this when I see how long it takes them to transfer the money to my bank account but my initial rating of Square is 5 stars. If you are selling art, crafts or anything at fairs or any location away from a fixed business location but that has cell phone access, Square rocks, totally.

Disclaimer: This review was not requested. They don't even know I'm doing it. I received nothing for my opinion. I am a satisfied customer. If the link doesn't work for you just type in "".

Update Tues. July 19: The money from the Squareup transaction is in my bank account this morning, the second business day after the transaction was made.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Two views of a Barn

I went off to the mountains today to do some paddling. My canoe has been on my truck since the Old Forge outing but hadn't seen water yet except for raindrops. I decided it was time so I headed for Cascade Lakes and did a turn on Lower Cascade before heading further South to Chapel Pond. I happened by this barn at lunchtime. It is by a popular turnout in Keene Valley and there was a guy selling hot dogs, sausage, etc. so I stopped for lunch. He was a native of the area and we had an interesting chat. He told me that there used to be a gas station/convenience store/diner at that location years ago. The barn belonged to the people who owned the gas station and the field by it was their hay field. I'm not sure why a gas station/store/diner needed a hay field and he didn't explain except to say that they used the barn to store the hay.

He also said that the clump of trees in the middle of the field (behind and to the right of the tree) was there because it was an Indian burial site. Even when the land was in private hands (it's now state owned) the owners weren't permitted to use that part of the land because it would disturb the burial site. I have photographed this barn and the tree clump many times over the years and never knew its history before.

I liked the sky and the way the tree framed the scene so I made the above photo. As I was shooting it the hot dog man (I didn't get his name) told me that the better view in his opinion was up the road a bit to the right. I'd shot both views before but wandered up that way to see how it looked today and made the photo below. I was violating the "don't shoot between 10am and 3pm rule since both of these were shot around 12:45pm but the sky was good so I went for it. Truth is, I don't pay much attention to "rules" anyway.
The mountains behind the barn in the bottom photo are Porter (tallest just right of center) and Cascade (last bump on the right). Cascade is actually a higher mountain but it is farther away from this angle so Porter appears to be higher. The mountain seen directly above the peak of the barn in the top photo (the one with all the patches of bare rock) is Pitchoff. I hope everyone had as nice a day as I did.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

An ebook Review

I have decided to add some photo book reviews to the mix of this blog. I have a growing collection of ebooks. Ebooks are an interesting idea, a kind of democratizing of the publishing industry. One problem with getting a photo book published in the traditional manner is the expense of producing a large enough printing (5K or more) to get the per copy cost down to a price point that will sell in a mass market. As a consequence many photo books rely on images made in tried and true iconic locations. An ebook allows the author to take chances on subject matter that a traditional publisher might not want to risk.

With "Intimate Portraits of the Colorado Plateau" Guy Tal takes advantage of the economy of digital publishing to present a personal collection of wonderful landscape images. While some might bemoan the lack of a well printed book lying on the lap (I like those too) the digital format has the distinct advantage of being viewed in the same back lit manner that most photographers do their editing these days, thus (I believe) the images in an ebook are a truer representation of the photographer's intent than the printed page would or could be. Also the printed book becomes a thing in itself, separate from the subjects it represents, while the ephemeral image on the screen retains more of the "moment in time" quality of standing in the landscape itself. Lacking physicality, it becomes more nearly an experience of that moment.

Guy writes about how he came to the Colorado Plateau, influences on his photography and "the place" but it is through the photographs that the reader stands in his shoes and senses the deep affinity he feels for his adopted home. Rather than the grand view, Guy has given us landscape on a scale to "be" in, a scale we can relate to rather than be overwhelmed by and he has done so with a keen sense of color, form and space. This is a generous book of 146 pages loaded with Guy's unique vision. I am particularly fond of  the images of details, my favorite of which (from page 8) appears below.
I like the fact that Intimate Portraits is laid out as single pages, No photographs are spread across a gutter  as is often done in print and even a few ebooks I have bought. I highly recommend Intimate Portraits of the Colorado Plateau for your collection of digital monographs and if you haven't started collecting ebooks this would be a great start.

Guy has published other ebooks as well. You can find them at If the link doesn't work for you copy and paste "" (minus the quotation marks) to your browser.

Disclaimer: Guy Tal did not request nor did he give me anything in exchange for this review. It was initiated solely by me and reflects my own opinions. I did request and Guy granted permission to reproduce the images used.