Tag Archives: china

Perspective

| currently listening to: Take The Skinheads Bowling, Camper Van Beethoven, Telephone Free Landslide Victory, 1985 | LINK

the photography:
there is something very tangible about learning a trade from someone with deep insight, years of experience, and an updated knowledge of the industry you are studying. the learning process is best described as an open dialog between student and teacher. great learning opportunities arise when both sides bring a desire to be in such a relationship.

as i look back at my schooling it seems funny (read: depressing) that many of my relationships with my teachers were fairly cordial but bordering on the ‘politely frigid’, especially in college. i blame myself for these relationships as i tried my damnedest to put in a solid effort in many courses but the subject matter wasn’t always what i wanted to learn at the time. the story of my life will inevitably read something like this: blah blah blah wasn’t what i wanted to do at the time blah blah blah blah ironically blah blah blah.

coincidentally i didn’t major in art in college. my American Studies BA is doing me a ton of good right now but i digress. even though i focused my work on american history through the eyes of sociologists, anthropologists, musicians, and artists, my real love was art and the study of photography and design. when i received my degree, i was 4 credits shy of an art minor. i never wanted to take those 4 credits because they were only offered for Art History 101. so what was the first thing i did in the 3 semesters after graduation? i went out and took an art history course, a color photography course, and a 20×24 polaroid course. lordy… i feel like people should go to college when they are 24 instead of 18. that way they would appreciate the academics a bit more.

but there was one professor i liked. and i liked him because he liked me and i liked him because he hated me. come to think of it, i think he liked/hated all the kids. he was my photography teacher. we would spend hours in class arguing over aesthetics and arguing over processing film and arguing over the great photographers of the 21st century, it never stopped. now, bear in mind that this was a time before the consumer digital age and DSLR’s were still $10K for the cheap ones. out of all of our (i use our as a collective because discussions in class would involve the entire class) yellings and name callings (oh yes, that happened on many occasions), one of the greatest things he ever taught me was thus:

CHOOSE YOUR PERSPECTIVE. if you don’t like what you see through your lens, move your feet and try again. words of wisdom. to this day, this statement is one of the reasons i love using prime lens’. primes won’t let me cheat on the perspective by zooming in and out. find the perspective you want by putting yourself in the right space to take the photograph you want to take. if you set yourself up right the first time, you’ll never second guess that you should have been three feet to the right, or six inches down. creating your own perspective before you take the photo also allows for less time in the editing process. if you move your feet and and find the right balance through your viewfinder before you take the photo, you won’t have to crop your photos after the fact.

and amazingly, if you take the time to practice taking photographs with a specific camera and a specific lens you will actually get to know the differences between what your eye sees and what it will look like through your camera. you will instinctively know where to plant yourself to get the right perspective. it’s a great feeling knowing that you didn’t spend the day walking around in circles zooming in and out just to get the three photos you wanted. think ahead, move your feet, click the shutter three times, viola. next location.

the music:
camper van beethoven is one of the great american art house bands. misunderstood and hard to classify, they spent much of their time making great albums and creating a niche following of diehard fans. and once they broke up (only slightly), their leader went on to have commercial success with his follow up band, Cracker.

like their contemporaries R.E.M., CVB turned out more genre bending music in the 80’s. a quarter of this record is instrumental ska-ditties that show off the brilliance of the up-strum on the guitar. but this track, which takes a mighty swing at the lameness that had become the mid-80’s punk rock cliche, hammers home the humor, the tight musicianship, and the pop sensibilities of this rollicking crew.

instead of fighting? let’s just take the skinheads bowling. awesome… listen for the call and response hilarity that follows.

got big lanes.

beijing revisited – 1/3

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EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Room Temperature Suite, Don Caballero, What Burns Never Returns, 1998, | LINK

the photography:
SIDE NOTE FROM THE LAST POST: so i have one clarification to make about the music from the last post. my wife noted last night that if it were not for her, i would not have listened to that stellastarr* song so much. this statement could not be more true. i love my wife and during our early days of courting, i would play whatever music that she liked so i could keep her attention on the music and not on the fact that the floor of the passenger seat of my subaru was covered in empty dunkin donuts extra large coffee cups. oh… and i tried to hide the fact that i’m a steering wheel drummer. that didn’t go so swell…

here is more of our china trip revisited. images are from our stay in beijing. we spent much of our time walking along the enormous (and i mean really large) streets near the forbidden city as well as taking some side trips out to see the great wall and some of the larger temples outside of beijing proper. the forbidden city and the waterways that surround it are some of the most interesting places on earth to people watch. fishermen, peddlers, tourists, students, you name, they’re here.

amazingly the only thing that bothered me about beijing (besides the fact that it reminded me of not only LA but also of the couple miles of Western Avenue in Chicago north of North Ave and south of Howard) was the air pollution. not only was it everywhere but it was dense and thick and awful. i have had asthma since i was in 5th grade and i have never been in a tougher situation than walking the streets of beijing. it was like breathing through an exhaust pipe on a car without a catalytic converter while smoking three cigarettes. ok… maybe it wasn’t that bad… but it was pretty awful. looking back on it, i didn’t even worry about the air while i was there because everything else was so amazing and new and intriguing that i didn’t let it bother me until after the fact.

mmmmmmmm. street food. stinky tofu has a scent all it’s own. it’s the closest thing to ipecac that i have had the pleasure of smelling.

sigh… it was a gorgeous city to say the least. this group of images is part 1 of 3. the photos were with the 5D and my EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM. did i mention earlier (in fact i did…) that for this entire trip i was wearing either flip flops or my blue dock-siders. true story.

the music:
volatile is probably too kind a word for the history of this band. as far as descriptives terms used for their live shows, i would pick “bombastic”, “thrilling”, “loud”, and “build it up so you can break down and/or blow it up”. don cab has been through more lineup changes than the smashing pumpkins yet the center of attention is always on their founding member and drummer, Damon Che. that dude slays.

so many time changes, so little time.

so many hammer-ons, so few fingers.

hong kong revisited-4

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 24mm
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EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: The Devil Isn’t Red, Hella, The Devil Isn’t Red, 2005 | LINK

the photography:
the fourth installment from my trip to hong kong is centered around the waterfront of the city and a small little day trip we took to Lamma (think Llama) island. Lamma island is most famous for it’s fishing villages and quaint seafood markets/restaurants but it’s also an enclave for hippy ex-pats. perfect. out of all of the places to hang out in southeast asia and i find the one that’s most like my home state of vermont. sweeeeet.

it was a really rad experience. Lamma island does not have any cars or traditional roads per se. everyone gets around by foot, bicycle, or by these little narrow work trucks that look like cushman’s sliced in half the long way. we hopped off the ferry and walked the entire island in a less than a couple of hours. the only drawback? it was 85 degrees with about 85 percent humidity. wow. i haven’t sweat through t-shirts that fast since my days playing ‘sauna football’ (which is, in fact, a made up game where you can assume one sweats a lot because of the heat, humidity, and the weight of the football pads). this is what shows up in google if you type in the words ‘sauna football’. too hot…

my favorite images from Lamma are from the dragon boat (i think that’s what they called the boat with the red flags flying ferry) which brings tourists to the island for what i can only assume is the chinese equivalent of the hawaiian luau. check the roast pig. tasty. also? the baywatch photo. you know which one i’m talking about. the entire beach on the backside (southeast) of Lamma island had a shark fence. yeah… i’m gonna go swimming… sure.

photos again were with the 5D and my EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM. in retrospect, if this were a photo-centric excursion, i probably would have brought my entire lens arsenal. but since we were meeting my sister-in-law and checking two duffel bags of her stuff back to the US, luggage room was at a bare minimum. this combo worked out great. versatility versus size/weight.

the music:
hella is one of those bands that makes music on a level that is all their own. ‘traditional pop songs’ is a phrase that doesn’t even come close to enter my brain when thinking about hella. the music is a combination of the incredibly talented Zach Hill on drums and the ‘also as incredibly talented’ yet weird bending guitar stylings of Spencer Seim. it’s an acquired taste of metal/indie/rock rhythms mixed with blips, cracks, circuit bending, and straight ahead strumming all with nasty time changes and what can only be best described as ‘time loses’.

sometimes it’s as if my bloody valentine made love with the black keys and mr. bungle jumped in right before conception. but most of the time hella’s music is closer to that of trans am

hong kong revisited-1

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| currently listening to: The Boys All Went Home, The Gentlemen, Blondes Prefer The Gentlemen, 2002, | LINK

the photography:
two years ago this summer, my sister-in-law maeve, was living in china. that’s right. china. she was spending her junior year abroad from college traveling, studying, and honing her chinese language skills. she was also fulfilling her own personal dream of constantly being the most awkward person in the room. picture this: 5’10” blond white girl amongst a dense asian population. she stuck out like a sore thumb. she even wrote a blog about it. check it: Awkward in China

now the reason i am telling you all about this is because just yesterday, maeve flew back to china for another 6 month stint. i’m so excited for her and i wish we could bring a new born baby (still in the womb but headed out shortly) with us to visit her. but alas… almost two years ago, cath and i spent a little under two weeks leapfrogging from shanghai, to beijing, to hong kong, and back to shanghai. it was an incredible journey with lots of stuff to see and experience. walking around the cities, seeing all the sights, hearing all the sounds, it was just an amazing experience. i could walk through the markets for the rest of my days, meeting merchants, haggling over squid heads (i never actually haggled over squid heads but i did witness it…), buying porcelain mao’s, and eating smelly tofu. i could do it all day, every day.

so since maeve is headed back to china, and since i don’t have a ton of time to take more photographs (as i am getting ready to welcome a new baby in about a month) i figure i could post a few sets of photos from our time in eastern asia. have i mentioned before that i would live in hong kong at the drop of a hat? all it would take was a good job offer and i would pack the family up in jiffy. i just don’t really like the 14 hour plane ride… jeez. i am

this first set is from walking around the streets of hong kong. photos were shot with the 5D and my EF 24-105mm f/4.0L USM. it was the perfect camera and lens package to not seem too much like a tourist but to still get everything i needed out of a camera and a zoom. sigh. i miss exploring in asia. it was just simply magical.

the music:
i may have spoken the wonders that are ‘the gentlemen’ on this blog before but let me re-iterate for those non-believers, non-listeners, and never-heard-ofs… these four men from the boston region kick so much ass, it’s not even funny. the gentlemen are a combination of two boston area (via upstate new york and connecticut) bands that have done their time in the eastern seaboard touring trenches. hardened living, hard drinking, fast women, and loud playing are the themes that run through their music.

they are just so damn good.

if any of these bands make it through your town, you need to be there. your life will never be the same:

the figgs

the gravel pit

the gentlemen

if all three play on the same bill? you can bet your sweet ass i’ll be there.