Saturday, December 22, 2007

War On Xmas

For the last several years I've been a photo journalist on the War On Xmas. This year I've yet to find much new to report, although admittedly I've been mostly in the green zone out of harm's way. So CLICK HERE to see the War On Xmas's past - and I'll add to the set any yule fire fights I might engage before year's end.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bat Street Photography

Here's one fresh off the frontal lobes - Bat Street Photography (BSp)

Hit the street blind folded (or at least with your eyes closed) - use your sense of hearing, your sense of smell, your street acumen to capture what your eyes cannot... also try not to step out in front of a bus....
Bat Street Photo no. 1 by bONGO.

BSp is like a work-out in the dojo, only you do it in the street... with a camera ... and nobody gets wacked - hopefully.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Camera Color Coincidence

Coincidence - when two unrelated events appear to be arranged or have some causal connection.

Color Coincidence - when it involves color.

Camera Color Coincidence - when there is a street shooter around to capture it.
Here two moving objects - man and bus would be gone seconds after the shutter snap. That transcient aspect is a plus but the photo could use more eye candy other than the left edge.

Here the color coincidence is between a stationary color reference and a (somewhat) transcient object. The man in black apparently discovering the coincidence is a plus but I can't help but wonder if the man in purple might have chose to wear a purple shirt knowing he was going to dine at Purples.Here the color coincidence is between two stationary objects - but is more interesting visually than the others - AND there is another reason why the third photograph will prevail, where the other two will eventually get the delete key - .

Yes, I enhanced the colors in all three photos - but the man in the first photo really was wearing red and yellow, and the man in the second really was wearing purple. But and this is a big BUT - if they were not I could have easily have changed them to achieve "color coincidence".

However in the third photo we know from life experience that those colors are true - that curbs by fire hydrants and driveways are painted yellow, that Yellow Tail wine uses a yellow tailed kangaroo in it's ads and this adds a certain cash value to the color coincidence that the others lack.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Street Pano Head # 3

Okay.. I'm burned out on this project - but here goes: The latest NOT field tested prototype.

First the basic criteria for a Street Pano head as I see it:
1. Must not interfere with normal street shooting.
2. Be quick to set up and unobtrusive in use.
3 Provide for smooth stable pan around nodal point while handheld.
So I gathered this stuff:
And made this:
That fits on the camera like so:

and then you use it like this:The plastic bottle neck attaches at the nodal point using a cable tie and the rotates around the dowel. The concept I think is reasonable sound, the execution could use some refinements. That's it for now.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Street Pano Head

I am not very patient but I am persistant, an odd combination that sometimes leads me down strange paths. This is one of them. I wanted to make a pano- head for the street snake. The basic criteria required something to hold the camera vertical and allow easy panning around the nodal point. I went to Lowes and bought this: And made this:The camera mounts vertically placing the handle right under the nodal point. The camera swivels on the bolt, and the street snake attaches to the eye bolt. I was testng it and seemed to work okay but then it broke - right where the two pieces of aluminum are epoxied. A nut and bolt would solve the problem...

But then I got a "better" idea, so (chapter TWO) I got this stuff-

And I made this:
Same idea, but the camera mount is different and the grip is made like this:
Two nuts are epoxied to strips of aluminum and the end of the bolt threads into the tilt head. When the camera pans the bolt spins on the nuts. That means for a 180 degree pano, the camera would move up (or down) 1/32 of an inch. Since it's hand held that a amount of movement is tolerable and it allows for a pretty cool design.. Heres the bottom view:Another view.

But, and it pains me to admit this.. it seems a little clumsy and ominous for street work... and... I have a much better idea. Cheap, easy, effective, transparent on the street... stay tuned for the THIRD (and final?) CHAPTER.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Down But Not Out

I've been working on an exciting new piece of Street Photography gear that I was hoping to debut tonight. I'd made a working prototype and was taking pictures of it - when it broke. Fortunately there is a fix but it means a few days delay.

And as I'm writing this rather off-the-cuff fill-in post, I realized that I'm really into problem solving. Even my approach to Street Photography and Art in general is that it is a problem to be solved. But while there are technical and graphic code quandarys the Truth as it is revealed to me is that Art is NOT a crossword puzzle nor a quadratic equation.

Art is Fashion. And if you are a Street Photographer or an Artist of any stripe, then you are in the Fashion Industry.

Art is fashion. Art is a hemline.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


When it comes to displaying your photos...The Web is cool. Books are nice.

But the true test, the art-historical standard for the battle of hearts and minds, takes place on The Wall.

Works on paper - watercolors, charcoles, photographs, etc. - have traditionally been hung in glassed frames with mats. But mats are to photographs what button down collars are to shirts. Stuffy, stifling, out-dated and ultimately unnecessary.

But that was then and this is
NOW - for works in sizes up to 18" x 24" - the bONGO BOX:
Not available in stores anywhere, but you can make it yourself. You'll need an acrylic box frame -( an 11x14 goes for around $6.US):Take out the cardboard insert and throw it away. Trace around the outside edges of the acrylic box onto a piece of MDF and then cut it out. Next make a cradle for the MDF out of 1x2's or something similar. Glue the MDF to the cradle. The sides of the MDF/cradle and the the sides of the acrylic box should all be flush..

If you don't have a miter saw nor clamps for gluing make the cradle using straight cuts, then use books or something heavy to weight down the pieces until the glue dries.
Then sand as needed and paint. Next apply double stick archival tape to the back of the photo and attach it to the MDF (for long term display first glue acid-free paper to the MDF).

Now the last step - fasten the acrylic box using clear silcone sealant around the outside seam where the box touches the MDF - and voila!

OWN THE WALL with the bONGO BOX - photo display for the 21st century.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Set Theory

When I first put my street photos on bONGOLIA, I loosely organized what I had at the time into groups of about ten images that seemed more or less to go together and called that a SET. Since that time whenever I get a new batch of nine or ten keepers I upload them and also call that a SET. But I think the term SET in photography should mean something more than "the latest wad of snaps I took". A SET should be a carefully constructed group of images organized around an implicit or explicit principle or theme. And the order of display should be just as considered as the selection of images.

For the street photographer that shoots as I do, with no subject nor agenda and no plan other than to take what the street has to offer - for that type of street shooter, creating a SET (in the proper sense of the term) becomes something of a venture fraught with agonizing reappraisals but rewarded with an occasional flash of insight.

I will have more to say about that process but for now I want to present the LINK to:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Finding Voice

The screenwriter had written something to the effect that "the Frat Boy's boombox pops on and a window shatters into a shower of glass."

Rob Reiner critiquing the script suggested that instead of the glass shattering that the glass just rattle in its frame.
A different way of saying the same thing - that the boombox was turned up WAY loud. These two images at a certain level are saying the SAME thing. One is shattering glass, the other rattling. Find your voice.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The Wall Walker shot is to Street Photography... what Fruit Still Life is to painting.

"Pear and a half" by Conor O'Brien

Stripped to a few basics: backdrop, character, pose, lighting, the Wall Walker shot is among the standards of Street Photography. The challenge then for both the painter...
"Tilt Life" by bONGO

and the Street to change it, mix it up, if only in an incremental fashion...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Precepts of Perception

Cross dominance, where your favored eye is opposite that of favored hand occurs in about three percent of the population. It's easy to test: with both eyes open, raise your hand and point to an object at least 20 feet away, then alternately close your left eye and then your right. The one that stays focused on the target is your dominant eye.
I have always been left eye dominant - until recently. Somehow my right eye has taken over. It's very disconcerting to me. I've thought, maybe I'm becoming more analytical in my approach to visual arts, more "left brained" in my thinking, and thus the shift in eye dominance. There is some evidence according to an article in the Oxford Journals that this might indeed be what has happened.

I also see stereograms "inside out" and have the dubious honor of being the only person in recorded history to have eye-zoomed.

My point in all of this is that HOW we see is at least as important as what camera gear we use - that there are individual, subtle differences in our perceptual "hardware" that effects how our brain views the world and consequently the photographs we take.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Street Snake

How slow can you go?

Monopods are often impractical for street work. They take too long to set up and are too conspicuous.

Tripods are the same only times three.

Leaning against something works, but where you want to be and where there's something to lean on are often two different places...

Image Stabilization (IS) is a great, but up-down and in-out movements are NOT corrected. IS only works for rotational motion in one plane (or two planes if you have a Pentax K10D).

Fortunately there is the StreetSnake by bONGO.The StreetSnake comes complete with 1/4" 20 eyebolt and 10" bungee cord. Simply screw the eyebolt into the tripod socket of your camera then attach one end of the bungee to the eyebolt and the other end to your belt buckle. The downward force exerted by the bungee creates "dynamic tension" that acts to stabilize the camera.

The was shot - as pictured - with a 25mm (35mm equiv) lens and ONE SECOND exposure using the StreetSnake
ONE SECOND exposure, 105mm(35mm equiv.) lens and StreetSnake...

StreetSnake - available at better hardware stores everywhere

- tell 'em bONGO sent you.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Title Tempest

Are titles important? What would the impact have been on these famous works if they had used these alternate titles?

"The Bridge" by Edvard Munch
"Squiggles" by Vincent VanGogh
"The Soda Jerk" by Edward Hopper
"The Smirk" ...
and "Bad Breath" by Leonardo Da Vinci.But a photographer might snap as many pictures in an afternoon as an easel artist paints in a career. If he were to title each he might come to the agonizing realization that a lot of his pictures bear striking similarities, that he pretty much keeps taking the same half-dozen pictures over and over again.

But do we really want our works to be known as "dcr112378.jpg" or some such? What is the right approach? Hopefully you're not expecting an answer from me at this point, but I can proffer this -

Title only for good reason, and after careful consideration....

"Cosmonautics" by bONGO...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Second Sight

So this blind guy comes out of a building and his cane is bouncin around like a metranome at a polka party - bam bam bam bam he's whacking the sidewalk with these high-stick arcs, people ducking for cover. Down the block I see this guy sitting on a ledge, back turned, totally absorbed with a book - and I know these two are on a collision coarse for a SP moment. Only I'm a couple yards behind the blind swordsman, way out of position, so I scramble bobbin, weavin around parked cars and just get to the sweet spot with about a half-second to spare. I gotta fire from the hip - no time to line up just snap and ... the scene goes down exactly as predicted... but

When I get back to the homestead I see that I've chopped off the blind guy's head and torso and there's this weird dutch angle goin on and I'm bummed. That's where things sat for a few days and then slowly the fog of preconceived notions began to burn off and where I had once seen a botched attempt to capture a pratfall I now saw a complex geometry and mystery unfold. Had second sight saved me from my blind ambition - or was it just more masturbation ? I'll stop when I need glasses.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kids R Kool

Taking pictures of kids has become such a delicate issue in our culture I even hesitated making this blog entry about them. But, then I suppose that's even more reason to do it. I sheldom take pictures of kids anymore, just 'cause of the flak potential from parents.

Outside of being as discreet and respectful as possible I don't know what to say -but then shouldn't you always try pretty much to be that way with all peeps?