Early Success is NOT a Predictor

I  visited the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Denver to see the exhibit of Francesca Woodman - a photographer that I DON’T hold in high esteem.  It was interesting that some of her early work is not bad compared to the photos that she took later on. Just us my opinion.

I had one her books and sold it soon after I got it.  Because I didn’t get was so earth shattering about her work.  In part I think her early death from suicide gives her work some bizarre cache’

Then I started to think about other photographers who started off Amazing and then went downhill.  The first to come to mind is Robert Frank whose The Americans is in my opinion THE best photography book ever published.  Then his stuff kind of goes to crap.

The first photo is as iconic as it gets.  The next two are totally forgettable.

The next person that came to mind was Roger Ballen

Same story here.  So early success is never a guarantee of lifelong success.

dekanta Contest

dekanta is the company that I bought my bottle of Yamazaki Whisky from.  They sent it from Japan and it came with white gloves!  They run a social media contest where they want you to take a picture of you holding your bottle with the white gloves.  For good measure because it is the 65th anniversary of Godzilla, I threw that at them.  We’ll see if this wins me any more of their whisky

Bauhaus at 100

The Kirkland Museum here in Denver is doing a celebration of 100 years since Bauhaus started:

Bauhaus, was a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. The Bauhaus was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. The German term Bauhaus—literally “building house”—was understood as meaning “School of Building”, but in spite of its name and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus did not initially have an architecture department. Nonetheless, it was founded upon the idea of creating a Gesamtkunstwerk (“‘total’ work of art”) in which all the arts, including architecture, would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style later became one of the most influential currents in modern design, Modernist architecture and art, design, and architectural education. The Bauhaus movement had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography. The school existed in three German cities—Weimar, from 1919 to 1925; Dessau, from 1925 to 1932; and Berlin, from 1932 to 1933—under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928; Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930; and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime, having been painted as a centre of communist intellectualism. Although the school was closed, the staff continued to spread its idealistic precepts as they left Germany and emigrated all over the world.

by H. Bayer

by H. Bayer

There was special significance for Bauhaus trained artist, Herbert Bayer.  He came to settle in Aspen, Colorado in 1946 way before there was anything in Aspen other than clean air.  

Vicki and I visited Dessau in 2013 and stayed in the dorm on campus for one cold nite.  Northern Germany in November can be quite cold especially if you are clueless as to how to operate the heater!

Tokyo Drifter

In this jazzy gangster film, reformed killer Tetsu’s attempt to go straight is thwarted when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. Director Seijun Suzuki’s onslaught of stylized violence and trippy colors is equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller, and Nagisa Oshima—an anything-goes, in-your-face rampage. Tokyo Drifter is a delirious highlight of the brilliantly excessive Japanese cinema of the sixties. - Criterion Films

As 1960’s films go it wasn’t all that bad.  Considering that the studio gave them little money and only 20 to 25 days to shoot the film it’s really pretty amazing. Vicki didn’t fall asleep during it so that garners at least 3 stars right?

PreConceived Notion of Japanese Photography

This reviewing of modern Japanese photography has been a real eye opener.  I thought of Japanese photography as being like Haiku. bonsai, meal prep in Japan - very nice, orderly, calm and non-confrontational.  Sort of like Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work seen below

Instead I’m confronted with photographers like Araki and Daido who present in a chaotic manner, out of focus, huge grain.  Lesson learned!

Kimura Ihei

hei Kimura[1] (木村 伊兵衛 Kimura Ihei, 12 December 1901 – 31 May 1974) was one of the most celebrated Japanese photographers of the twentieth century, particularly known for his portrayal of Tokyo and Akita Prefecture.Born on 12 December 1901 in Shitaya-ku (now Taitō-ku), Tokyo, Kimura started taking photographs when very young but his interest intensified when he was around 20 and living in TainanTaiwan, where he was working for a sugar wholesaler. He opened a photographic studio in Nippori, Tokyo in 1924. In 1930, he joined the advertising section of the soap and cosmetics company Kaō, concentrating on informal photographs made with his Leica camera. In 1933, he joined Yōnosuke Natori and others in forming the group Nippon Kōbō (“Japan workshop”), which emphasized “realism” in photography using 35mm cameras; but this rapidly broke up and Kimura formed an alternative group, Chūō Kōbō (“central workshop”) with Nobuo Ina and others.During the war, Kimura worked in Manchuria and for the publisher Tōhō-sha.In 1950, Kimura was elected chairman of the newly formed Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS); together with Ken Domon he did much to encourage a documentary spirit in amateur photography.In the mid-fifties, Kimura made several trips to Europe, providing photographs for the camera magazines. His work was included by Edward Steichen in the world-touring 1955 MoMA exhibition The Family of Man. Pari,[2] a collection of his color photographs of Paris, would only be published in 1974, but the use of color was ahead of its time.[3]On his return to Japan, Kimura concentrated on photographing rural life in Akita. He also worked on portraits, particularly of writers.Kimura died at his home in Nippori on 31 May 1974; the Kimura Ihei Award for new photographers was promptly set up in his honor. He remains popular in Japan: samples of his photographs still (2009) regularly appear in the magazine Asahi Camera.His work was exhibited at the Rencontres d’Arles festival in 2004.

Ueda Shojij

Ueda Shojij

Shoji Ueda (1913-2000) was born in Tottori Prefecture. In 1925, he entered the Yonago prefectural junior high school, where, during his third year, he immersed himself in photography. After graduating in 1931, he joined the Yonago Photography Circle. In 1932, he moved to Tokyo to attend the Oriental School of Photography. After graduating at the age of 19, he returned to his hometown and opened his own photo studio. In the same year he joined the Japan Photography Association (Nihon Kouga Kyoukai). He began to establish a reputation and his photographs were repeatedly selected for publication in photography magazines and displayed in exhibitions. In 1937, he became one of the founders of the Chugoku Photographers Group (Chugoku Shashinka Shuudan) and frequently presented his work in the group’s exhibitions in Tokyo. His works, such as Four Girls Pose, drew wide attention.

In 1947, Ueda became a member of Ginryusha, a group of professional and amateur photographers established in postwar Tokyo. In 1949, his series entitled, My Family, appeared in the magazine, the first of widely acclaimed works featuring Tottori’s beaches and sand dunes. In 1954, he won the Nika Prize, and in 1958 his works were selected by Edward Steichen for exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 1971 saw the publication of Children the Year Around, and in 1974, his series, A Piece of Life began to appear regularly in Camera Mainichi magazine.  In 1978 and 1987, Ueda was invited to participate in the Arles Photo Festival in France. 1980 saw the opening of his exhibition entitled, My View  in Tokyo, and in 1982 his work was selected for display at Germany’s Photokina Exhibition. From 1975 to 1994, Ueda taught at Kyushu Industrial University.In 1995, Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography was founded in Kishimoto-cho (now Houki-cho). In 1996, he was awarded a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the goverment of France. In 1998, he received the first Tottori Prefecture Prefectural Citizen Achievement Award

Getting my head around Japanese Photography - Domon Ken

After getting home from Japan, I realized that I didn’t know much about Japanese Photography/Photographers.  So I’ve been doing some reading and present some of the things I’ve learned.

Domon Ken
Ken Domon was born in 1909 in Sakata, in the North-Western Yamagata prefecture, however his family moved to Tokyo when he was seven years old. By his early teens, Domon had developed an interest in painting canvases, going so far as holding exhibits and even selling one piece for ¥30 (30 cents). Domon then tried unsuccessfully to make a living as a painter, but in 1933 at the age of 24 he followed the advice of his mother and joined the Miyauchi Kotaro photography studio as an apprentice. This was when Domon started to dedicate his life to photography, spending his nights reading books and learning about its history and fundamentals. In 1935 Domon joined Nippon Kobo, an influential publishing agency that produced ‘Nippon’, a magazine aimed at introducing Japan to the West. Nippon Kobo was established in 1933 by Yonosuke Natori, who used innovative photography techniques learned during his time in Germany. There Domon oversaw photography for internationally-bound brochures, and he spent time in the Izu Peninsula working as a cameraman for Rintaro Takeda. The photographs taken during this time became the basis for Fubo, his first book on photography.1939 had a major impact on Domon’s life. After leaving Nippon Kobo and joining the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Domon got married to Tamiko Nakamura. The two travelled to Miyazaki on their honeymoon, but Domon was not one to miss a chance for photography. Following the suggestion of art historian Sumio Mizusawa, this was Domon’s first visit to the temple that would become the foremost subject in his lifework, Muroji Temple.Domon went freelance after the war in 1945, and began “A pilgrimage through old temples” in Nara and Kyoto the following year. Domon became an honorary citizen of Sakata in 1974, which was when he donated all 70,000 pieces of his photography to his hometown. Sakata reciprocated by building the photography museum which was completed in 1983.  Other famous photographic works that are periodically shown to the public at the museum include “Muroji Temple”, “Hiroshima” (taken in the years following the dropping of the atomic bomb), “The Children in Chikuho” (photos expressing the daily life of coal miners and their children), “Bunraku Puppets”, and “Features”.

“A truly good photograph captures more than the naked eye.”- Ken Domon

Japanese Garden in Denver

Depite being in Japan for about 10 days I don’t think I really got to experience a good garden.  Maybe I was looking in the wrong places, got too tired with all the walking - don’t know!?

Anyway I captured some shots today of the Japanese gardens ad the Denver Botanical Garden to make up.

What you can do with a cheap camera and lens

The premise was to get a cheap Nikon Film SLR and have it in our trailer all the time.  Then I just need to bring film and batteries.  I selected the Nikon EM because I just got it back from repair and needed to ensure that it was working.  I selected in date color film and Japanese Camera Hunter ( JCH)  Black and White film to shoot.

The Nikon EM is a beginner’s level, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single lens reflex camera. It was manufactured by Nippon Kogaku K. K. in Japan from 1979 to 1982. The camera was designed for and marketed to the growing market of new women photographers then entering the SLR buyer’s market.

It is a bit awkward in that it is aperture priority only camera.  So for adjustments you either have to change the ASA dial ( and not forget to set it back after the shot) OR use a button on the front of the camera that opens up by two stops.  My review of the negatives show that when I shot plain and then opened by two stops that the 2 stop button worked fine.

I did not do my own developing on the JCH film - I had The Darkroom  lab process the film.  The color film turned out great as well.

Our Newest Collections

Of course you know that Vicki and I are very proud of ‘collections’.  Here’s our K pod collection which we lovingly refer to as the K Pod Shrine

We also like our Spirit Shrine - truth be told it is mostly Bourbon

Results of Old Film/Old Camera

Remember my previous post. Not as bad as I thought it would be.  An intermittent light leak from the camera - but given that people now buy digital filters to replicate light leaks this is acceptable.  The film had to be tweaked a bit to get the magenta out of the frame so to speak

Finally someone put into words why WE don’t like Susan Sontag

Have you ever tried to like something because it was the thing to do?  We all have.  I was told that Susan Sontag was a genius so I picked up her book ON PHOTOGRAPHY.  As I’m trying to read her book I thought that she must not have ever photographed anything.  It was so much garbage I never made it very far.  At the first opportunity I sold it.  

Quotes like this convinced me she was an idiot:

“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder - a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.”

Well finally I stumbled upon an old editorial putting into words what I couldn’t about why I hated her book


If ever a single person was living proof that intelligence is a meaningless quality without modest common sense, it was Susan Sontag who died last week. The reverential tone of the obituaries served to confirm that self-proclaimed intellectuals, no matter how deluded or preposterous, exert a strange, intimidating power over non-intellectuals – especially if they employ that infuriating literary device, the epigram. 

Beware the epigramista. Beneath the veneer of apparent profundity of the epigram’s internal contradiction, there is usually a deep well of meaninglessness, from which other intellectuals can extract similarly worthless academic baubles. The foremost proponent of the apparently profound but actually worthless epigram was Oscar Wilde – as in “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” 

Club Racing

Porsche Club Racing which is a national series actually started in the 1970’s here in Colorado at 2nd Creek Raceway. This weekend was the 2019 installment.  Just a few photos from the time spent at the track

Tarantula Migration

Every year in South Eastern Colorado there is a migration of Oklahoma Brown Back Tarantulas.  These are 8-10 year old males looking for a mate.  The females are in burrows in the grasslands. Once the males have mated they are usually dead by November because of cold exposure.  They are docile for the most part.  Their bite is not poisonous but if bitten one could get infected.  They also have hairs on their abdomens that can be “sprayed” at an attacker.  The hairs are irritating.  

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