Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mushrooms grown by me!

Mushrooms grown by me, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

I was worried that the crazy mushroom growing kit that sister-in-law Dana gave me for xmas might have sat around my office too long to produce. Luckily, it's still got some pizzazz. Here the results of two weeks of weird loamy soil sitting in a box in the basement, with me misting it every day.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

We've lost alot in the air

5, originally uploaded by Avi_Abrams.

I'm just old enough to be able to remember when people tended to dress up for plane travel and when people actually smoked on planes and when in-flight meals were actually meals. To say nothing of the wonderful color and style of the stewardesses—excuse me—Flight Attendents.

I found a beautiful and delightful blog collection of images from the golden age of commercial air travel. Take a look.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Special Agent Lucy on Trivial Thursdays!

lucy is evil, but i'm nice, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

Tomorrow on Trivial Thursdays, my long-running college-mutant version of a morning drive-time show, my guest will be the only woman with the moxie to shout me down. So much so that I married her!

Tune in to Trivial Thursdays—The Lucy Show on WRFL 88.1fm, tomorrow at 7am!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Thinking about Photography

self-portraitI've been much more concerned with my photography lately.

Not "concerned," in the sense of "what will become of it?" (although there is that), but just rather with Photography (capital "P") and how it is a part of me and what I can do to develop (sorry) that part of me. The weird thing is this: I've recently made the foray into the not-inexpensive digital SLR world, by purchasing a Canon Digital SLR. Let there be no mistaking: I'm wild about this camera. It's a great camera. I feel like I've come home, in terms of having back the responsiveness of an SLR that I grew up with, a responsiveness that was lost for a number of years as I played with a variety of point-and-shoot pocket digital cameras. Those cameras all had their own merits, too, but also their foibles. Mostly, I guess these have to do with my preconceived notions of resolutions and lens quality, etc. I guess, equipment issues. Speed of focusing, ease of use, resolution, that sort of thing.

Recently, I've had some photographic experiences not directly tied to my own work. I've been reading essays by Janet Malcolm on some of history's great photographers—Steiglitz, Weston, etc. And it's been interesting—more so than I might have guessed, honestly—to read some things about the lives of these characters. In many ways, they had plenty of their own foibles. Weston, for instance, was a quite the heartbreaker, apparently. Steiglitz was rather an asshole.

These things are sort of beside the point, but I learned some interesting things not too long ago when I went out on a "photo day" with my friend Boyd. I wanted to play with this lens that I'd rented; Boyd, however, showed up to our location with a 4 x 5 large-format camera—a looming beast in a box, on a hulking tripod. Boyd came prepared to shoot about a dozen pictures. That is the nature of his contraption. It's not about volume, but rather about quality. Which is more indicative of the history of "art" photography, I guess. I suppose it would be overly broad to claim this about photography in general, since photojournalism has long required "mass shooting," as my friend Jenna recently referred to the common practice of shooting many many pictures.

And it's not that I think it crazy to approach photography from this labor-intensive handful-of-images approach, it just hadn't really occurred to me. It's a whole other aspect of photography that I had never considered. The nature of my historic relationship (mostly self-taught) with photography has been the convenience of the SLR, which has, ironically and from time to time, seemed rather inconvenient to me, compared to the myriad of pocket cameras that have emerged over the years. In fact, a fascination in one camera in particular, the Lomo, is sort of what got me back into photography after some years of waning interest. That was followed somewhat by a brief foray into the delightful lo-tech medium-format wonder of the Holga. And I've seen people on Flickr who can do spectacular things with seemingly modest cameras.

Now, with my Canon, I have probably the nicest (and certainly by far the most expensive) camera that I've ever owned. And, let's not be coy: My investment is modest compared to the potential of future investment in lenses and so forth. But here's the rub: As I upgrade my equipment, I've found a growing concern in me: the concern that whatever idiosyncratic style that I may have might be lost as I "join the troops" who shoot with the standard arsenal of equipment. A little voice inside says: Maybe you'd be better off to stick with, say, toy cameras, to keep some sort of oddness that some people seem to love about your photos. But, conversely, maybe I would be hiding in that idiosyncrasy— limited by a limited technology.

So, while I'm mildly skeptical of my equipment, it's for surprising reasons: I just bought a new lens, and looked forward to getting it. But after shooting with it, I was happy with the clarity of the resulting photos, but maybe a little uncomfortable about how … normal they looked. I mean compared to some of my weird, old blurryvision® pix, of which I'm mighty proud.

And to dovetail this in with my mentions of essays about the giants of photography and my experience with my friends who have forayed into medium-format film photography—It's easy to forget—or never even know—how hard, how complicated, how demanding photography used to be. Now, everybody has a camera. There's phone cameras, there's little bitty cameras, there's an army of soccer moms with XTi's just like mine. Which causes me to gulp a little bit. I would like to be a (more) remarkable photographer. I would like (and there's some embarrassment here) to be known as a remarkable photographer. And let's not forget this: ideally, I might also like to be paid as a remarkable photographer.

But reading these essays and watching my medium-format dabbling friends, I'm seeing that—historically—being a remarkable photographer was much much much more arduous. And why should that matter? There's is a romance about that which is undeniable to me. To understand the science, to gather together (and care for!) the equipment, to master the darkroom, and to shoot in such a way that might —might!— lead to a handful of exposures in the course of a day— And all this without the least bit of a guarantee that the photographer would even have the camera pointed at the right thing in the first place.

It's kind of mind-blowing, really. I guess that's all I'm wanting to say. But if you want to get together and talk about it over a drink or coffee or (heaven forbid) over a photo shoot, I'm game.

I'm going to stick with this digital business for now; but I reserve the right to change my mind and start shooting with Brownies, if so moved.

I can see (more) clearly now.

new lens lucy!, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

I had been intently contemplating the purchase of a new lens (50mm f1.4) for my camera, and finally pulled the trigger. After Amazon took over a week to deliver it (Amazon is starting to slack, btw) and I finally got it in my greedy little hands, I took some pictures at Gallery Hop. Here's a set of shots with the new lens. It's a challenging beast; well-endowed with its own glories and foibles. But I think there are some great pictures to be taken in the coming days.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Apples in Stereo!

robert, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

There's much excitement around town as our (kind-of) home-town pop wonders The Apples in Stereo get ready to wow the world with the long-awaited New Magnetic Wonder. To get things going was a gig at CD Central to be followed later tonight with a full-scale bliss-fest at The Dame.

Check out some pics from the CD Central gig here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Could it Be?

In the wake of the seemingly-settled 15-year lawsuit between Apple Computer and the Beatles' label Apple Records, some people are saying there's gonna be a whole new revolution in digital music delivery. Like Wired News, for instance.

Will the iPod be the new CD?

Monday, February 05, 2007

leaf geometry

leaf geometry, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

I rented a Macro lens this weekend and took some cool pix with photo pal Boyd. If you want to see more, click here.


bennett, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

I rented a Macro lens this weekend and took some cool pix here and there. If you want to see more, click here.


marionette, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

I rented a Macro lens this weekend and took some cool pix here and there. If you want to see more, click here.

betty and olive

betty and olive, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

I rented a Macro lens this weekend and took some cool pix here and there. If you want to see more, click here.

Required Stormtrooper reading

required Stormtrooper reading, originally uploaded by mrtoastey.

Check out some pics from this weekend's rather bizarre Joseph-Beth event, featuring droves of Star Wars fans and costumed maniacs from not one, but two, Star Wars fan groups. These are the pictures that you are looking for…

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Laptop Lounge in effect!

Wow, Mr. DJ! Had quite the time doing the Laptop Lounge gig at a couple of events in the last two weeks. At this year's Heard it Through the Grapevine benefit, worked up this cuh-razy mobile rig that allowed me to pump latin jazz in a variety of venues. Hence the tag line on promo materials: "You never know where he'll turn up!"

The other gig was this year's Casino Night at the Headley-Whitney Museum, themed "The Gambler." I surprised myself by being able to come up with over three hours of western (not country) music. But the mood music prize must go to Calexico, for their amazingly appropriate dust-blown mariachi jams.

BTW: As I was driving home, I realized with great satisfaction that I had absent-mindedly managed to not play Kenny Rogers all night.

Friday, February 02, 2007

lolli's teaching me

Blogpal lolli yesterday blew my mind with her new-found curiosity about Technorati. Apparently, it's high time that I set up my Technorati Profile. So release the spiders!