Sunday, July 20, 2008

N o MAS!

I wanted to do some SP today, but before I could go, I had to get some paintings done. Before I could do the paintings, I had to make the panels. Before I could make the panels I had to pick up a table saw. Before I could use the table saw I had to put it together.. and there-in lays the rub.

The saw was made in China. Well,it wasn't extactly "made" there - 'cause like the United States the Chinese don't actually make things anymore. What they do is stuff a bunch of nuts, bolts, screws, washers, springs, into a box made of recycled Starbucks cups and ship it off for us to put together.

They always include a diagram - the same diagram no matter what the product. You can't figure it out anyway. Oh yeah, and how 'bout changing the ribbon on the old dot matrix printer next time. Another thing that Berlitz English course - get a refund. I should go to the Olympics, take a side trip and look these jokers up. "you think it's funny? Funny like a clown? We amuse you??"

We've been so busy putting all this lead-paint-bird-flu-
erector-set reject crap together we took our eye off the thieves at the gate. Chinese to the left of us, C.E.O.'s to the right, and here we are - stuck in the middle-class quick sand goo- and got that sinking feeling, that ache in the pit of the stomach that says this time it's for real, this time they screwed the pooch good and there won't be any goin back.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where's bONGO??

When I first started out in SP, I would sometimes make a shot that I was so sure at the time was "great" that I would get this massive adrenaline rush like the top of my head would explode. This shot did that. Not 'cause I thought it was that great, but 'cause a bus laid on the air horn as it whizzed a few millimeters around me.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I was a few feet off the curb aligned where the two mirrors intersect, and where my reflection would vanish along with half the bus.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

ZIG Life

I checked out the Sony A300 - what a sweet package. The live-view with articulated lcd is da bomb for the street. But not wanting to invest in yet another DSLR system, I picked up a used first generation Zigview to hang on the back of my K10D. Total cost including shipping and the Pentax adapter came to $85. It turns out this thing has some major limitations - but if you can get one for around $100 or less I think it's worth the money. The screen swivels 360 degrees but only usable in the up and down positions as you get a chopped view in the other angles.

Switching back and forth from Zig to viewfinder requires two hands and ten or fifteen seconds (an eternity in Sp time) but it can be done - hint: make sure you wear a shirt with a pocket. The second and third generation zigviews look like a better implementation but way pricey and from what I've gathered have the same 1.3 cmos sensor.

bONGO, zig - zaggin down the street...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Huh? WOW! WOW! Huh,?

Ed Ruscha, the artist once said:
Good art is Huh Wow, while Bad art is Wow Huh.
Here we have Wow! - cool shot of a skateboarder!... but then ...yeah so, Huh?
Here we have a guy with a cup of coffee - Huh? Then we notice the hair -wirey - like the trolley wires! And doesn't caffine make you wired! - WOW!

Then again Peter Schjeldahl, the art critic, once said:
"Art isn't inherently anything.... The possibility that the whole thing is bullshit can't be excluded."

Friday, June 13, 2008


Taken about two years ago, well after my "ban on bum shots" pledge. I've never printed or displayed this image but there is something about it - the shined shoe sticking out from the blanket I think - that keeps me from deleting it. I have a lot of "undeletables" enough to make an alternative collection.They have been dragged across several hard drives now, but I can't bring myself to use them or delete them. Some are borderline good others not so much but all impervious to "Del"...
ciao bongo

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Fake and A Fraud

a fake and a fraud -that's what I feel like every time I sit down to update this blog 'cause the truth is I haven't been doing much if any street photography lately - I'm ashamed to admit. I'm a bit burned out and bummed out but not completely blacked out - yet. I've seen some pretty good SP lately and it's got my competitive juices going some. I want to hit the bricks with a new attitude and a new set of eyeballs - forget all the BS I've been sprouting here, and see if I can still take a decent snap... we shall see.

Friday, April 25, 2008


x ("Riddle Road" acrylic on 15x30 canvas by bONGO)

As street photographers we rarely know the motive, the "why" of the actions we capture.
We have at least a physical description of the "who", and we know the "where", "when" and "how",... but the "why we can only surmise. Maybe that mystery is part of the charm, part of what makes street photography work...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Things Nobody Told You #4

We didn't start the fire....

It was always burning since the world's been turning...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Things Nobody Told You #3

"there are exceptions, but mostly sp seems to be a passing moment in most photogs' lives. The expenditure of energy and time, the daily grind, for the usual meager return (and diminishing returns), naturally wears you down, particularly if you're not a pro." Noll Lluma

I'm not there yet but I can see how you could get there from here. This will be my summer of sanguine solace. I will be the first one on the street and I will be the last one on the bus back home.
soldier on...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


One segment of society not to be overlooked by the street photographer is the city worker, the shop keeper, the maintenance men, the working people that make the city go.

Bums, kids, dogs and city workers...

about the only ones that still do something besides shopping, talking on cell phones or drinking lattes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back To The Future

Sigma's new DP1 - 28mm fixed lens APS foveon sensor pocket camera comes with an LCD screen, but the optical view finder is an extra $150. Even though I don't have the camera yet, I figured while I'm waiting I'd see if I could come up with a less expensive and perhaps better finder for it. I looked around for a cheap camera that I could hack the finder out of and found this little Point and Shoot 35mm film camera for $4.99.

It's not much but has a 27mm lens and finder to match. In fact the finder is about as big and clear as anything I've ever seen..

The back element measures a whopping one inch diagonally. That is huge. I was about to start ripping it out when it occured to me that since I don't have the DP1 yet it might be fun to see what this relic could do. I put in some batteries and it fired right up. It has focus lock and adjusts the flash compensation. The lens is an all glass 27mm f6.3. If I snap anything worthwhile with it, I'll post it here.

ciao bONGO

Friday, March 21, 2008

Things Nobody Told you # 2

I have quite a few snaps where people appear to be making eye contact with me, but actually most if not all of those were taken with the half-mast bow grip, the 140L grip, or some other variation.

When you make eye contact with a stranger a tremendous amount of information is exchanged - too much information - more than your brain can process or act upon in the tenth of a second you have to press the shutter.
More often than not when you make eye contact you'll hesitate and that fraction of a second is all the time some Clown with an umbrella needs to step in and ruin the shot.
Another thing: Eye contact invites conversation - you're not there for a meet-n- greet nor do you want to have to explain yourself to every slob with a shopping bag or latte cup that happens to look in your direction.

So AVOID eye contact. Take that snap and move on.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Things Nobody Told You # 1

Okay - what's this... this could be good, this could be something..

Yeah - this is gonna be like something from the cover of Vogue... all I gots to do is wait till she gets alongside then pivot and ....

DOH! Watch your back, check the rearview - know what's creepin up behind you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sharper Image

If you found out your girlfriend was a female impersonator would you still kiss and hold hands?

Probably not, because although "she" would still be the same your perception of "her" would be radically altered.

That, in my opinion is why Sharper Image is in chapter 11.

Fifty dollar stainless steel nose hair trimmers with LCD light no longer confer status when they can be bought for $7.95 at When your neighbor has one in his medicine cabinet, when you find one at a garage sale for $2.00, your perception of what constitutes a high status personal hygiene appliance is radically altered.

The lesson is that mass produced products are generally speaking a poor place to seek status. That is what one of a kind artworks are for. And art need not be expensive. The Image of being "Sharper" is about (or should be)a refined sense of aesthetics, of connoisseurship and charity. And if the art is something you made, if you are the arteest - even better.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Street Addiction

More often than not a good photo depends on factors beyond your control. If you have good skills, some talent and are diligent you can boost the odds a little, but the bottom line is Street photography is gambling.

When I first started out I struggled for a few months until I figured out the basics and then, although I didn't appreciate it at the time, I had an incredible run of luck. True, I wasn't as discerning as I am now, and I had yet to harvest all the low hanging SP fruit, but putting that aside, I had a remarkable string of luck.

I now consider myself a journeyman Street Photographer, and as such I've had to come to grips with the reality that getting one good shot in five hundred is for this game, not bad. It's like all this time I thought I was playing chess but was really playing Chinese Checkers. My initial beginner's luck skewed my judgement on how big a factor luck actually plays in SP. Yes skill matters, but you can't photograph what's not there. Are you willing to bet five hundred times, a thousand times, before you get a hit?

Are you feeling lucky? Come on, maybe around the next corner, or just down the street, just one more shot, just one, just one more shot and you'll be even for all the time and shoe leather. All you need is just a little luck.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Split Decision

I had only a narrow angle to aim without shooting into harsh sunlight and waited to the last second to raise and thus reveal the camea. They first hesitated, bunching up, then one turned away while the other one tried to bolt.
Most people when confronted by a stranger pointing a camera at them will either try to:

HIDE by turning away from the camera or blocking their face.
or RUN by walking briskly through or around the spot where the camera is aimed.

In this case it was a split decision.
I took this snap several years ago, and while I like the play of horizontal and vertical lines on the shirts and how the "hider" appears to be contemplating the checkered wall, today I probably wouldn't bother taking the snap. But at the time it was something of a turning point for me. I had successfully predicted their range of behaviour and had used it to my advantage.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Quiet Iconoclast

The city is a grid where -like data points on a graph - people move about.Moving as directed, as planned, as predicted save for the Quiet Iconoclasts - those with their nascent nudges of non compliance.Like a jay walker caught in a swath of morning light.

the quiet iconoclasts, the data points that fall off the line.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Breaking News!

A Decisive Moment was narrowly averted today when an alert Insecurity Guardian detained a would-be Imagist found with nearly two-and-a-half pounds of plastic Nikon strapped to his wrist. The suspect appeared to be a street photographer and had concealed on a memory card various jpegs of conscientious consumers carrying shopping bags, swaddled in cell phone cocoons or drip fed from latte cups.

This kind of jpeg, Investigators warned, can easily be uploaded and viewed electronically by foreign operatives. A spokesman for the HomeLand Profit Alliance stated that all persons not conspicously consuming will be prosecuted regardless of the law and those found carrying cameras could face water boarding.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Blistered Blink

Here, now live in a blistered blink.
No dress rehearsals. No engraved invitations. BE Here NOW. BOOM. Take the snap or get off the street! BOOM. Do it. DO IT! Raise the friggin camera NOW use whatever settings you've got NOT the shoulda-woulda-coulda you wish you had - SNAP. Out- a focus - underexposed - it don't matter NOW or NEVER this way or no way.
Life is a blistered blink, baby... a blistered blink.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dog Daze

Bums, Kids, and dogs are often the only interesting thing happening on the street. Bums and kids come with certain ethical baggage that you have to learn to deal with, and dogs..... well dogs are just not as easy to get good street photographs of as you might think. First, they're low to the ground,

second, they move fast...
and third, they have their own agendas...

For awhile I thought a good technique was to pretend to tie your shoe - that gets the camera close to the ground for a dog eye view...

But it can also make you look like a pervert doing up-skirt photography, so be advised.

Good street photos with dogs are challenging but worth the effort.