Monday, January 9, 2012

The Reincarnation of Robert Parker

Parker was dead to begin with. So, when I picked up his latest book, Killing the Blues, a Jesse Stone novel, I assumed it was one he stockpiled before his death.
I love Jesse Stone. The police chief of a small New England resort town, Jesse is a burnt-out, alcoholic, ex-LA policeman. He's also the subject of a series of dynamite novels and an equally dynamite series of movies starring Tom Selleck.
About two pages into this novel, though, I begin having problems. It was Jesse Stone, yes; it was Paradise, yes; it had all the usual elements, but it wasn't Robert Parker. I'm not sure I could have elucidated the differences, but Parker hadn't written this book.
I flipped back to the book cover. Aha! It said, "Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone," and then, down below, the name of the author.
Once I was able to get my mind around the fact that Robert B. Parker would no longer be writing Jesse Stone novels, I was able to finish the book with equanimity. And it's a good book. I'll read the next one too.
But it's just not the same. Lots of people have tried to take over for dead novelists, and to my recollection, none has carried it off. There have been James Bond books, Sherlock Holmes books, Jane Austen books, Nero Wolfe books.
Sometimes they come close (Sherlock Holmes), sometimes they are way off (Nero Wolfe). I appreciate the efforts, and I read the books, but I do so miss Ian, Jane, Conan, and all the others.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nine-Mile and the human condition

I spent a day at Nine-Mile canyon this summer. It's actually more like 40 miles, but has been called the "longest art gallery in the world," since it's chock full of pictoglyphs from the Fremont and Anasazi cultures. One of them is a spectacular display. It's right near the road, and there's a parking lot nearby. That's it on the right. This panel is about twelve feet long and about six feet high, so it's good sized.
There are a number of figures on the right side, four of them I think, that have bows, and are apparently hunters. If you look closely, you can see what appear to be wings on the backs of the figures. Here's an enlargement.
The funny thing is that the largest of the figures, the one on the right, seems to be sporting a goodly sized penis. Now, anthropologists will muse about the significance of that penis, and of the "wings," and of the horned figure top center. But they make, it seems to me, two unwarranted assumptions. First, they assume that the piece has a structure -- that it was either done at one time or added to with intent to expand the meaning.
The second assumption is that the intent was serious, even reverential.
I beg to disagree. People are people, whether they live now or 800 years ago. More important, teenagers are teenagers.
I'd venture to suggest that, oh about the year 1000, a couple of teen aged boys climbed the rock one night and when the left the guy on the right had his penis.
Sacrilege, but it strikes me as right.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A good picture ruined

I stated last time that I like subtlties in shade and color. Here's a picture that should have been a doozie. It's a winter scene, foggy day, sun above the trees. When I saw it, I was captivated. I think I used my little pocket point-and-shoot for the shot.

What ruins it, of course, are the four lines running across the picture. I could PhotoShop them out, of course, but I don't like to manipulate photos in more than the most basic ways. After all, if beauty is truth, it ought to be authentic beauty, shouldn't it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Being subtle

One thing I like in photography is a kind of a subdued tone to things. I'm willing to take garishly colored photos, as much as anybody, I guess. I don't think you can be a serious photographer and not love color. But, some people choose to work in black and white. I like to work in colors, but those that are more subtle gradations.

Here are two shots I took that illustrate this. The one was taken last Christmas, in Prosser, Washington. I didn't mute the color at all with the camera, nor did I tinker with the color afterwards. It's the fog that does it all. The only real color in the photo is on the wreath, with the red bow and the slight read of the binder twine that ties it to the post.

The second shot is simply a flashlight embedded in the snow in my front yard. You can tell it's a color shot by the blue tint of the snow and the yellow in the light cone, but it's just barely there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Logan in Winter

This is the Logan LDS temple, taken facing west toward the Wellsville mountains. I like this shot because it doesn't have the usual landscape features that are typical with shots of the temple. Instead, it seems to be floating above the trees, as if it were above the concerns of the world.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Left behind

Here's a photo I took at the slough west of Logan, Utah. The old boat had served well, and was now left to rot.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Presenting illustrations

There are a number of ways of presenting illustrations. For print media, they are --in descending order of desirability -- 1) line drawings; 2) shaded drawings; 3) grayscale photos; and 4) color photos. I rate drawings higher than photos because it’s easy to eliminate noise – you simply don’t put it in. Line drawings are also better than shaded drawings because they reproduce well in all sorts of formats. Sling a line drawing on a copier and you get a crisp copy; do the same with a shaded drawing and it’s liable to turn out patchy. I like black and white photos better than color because of the same thing – if you reproduce a color photo as black and white on a copier, you lose definition.
With the advent of PhotoShop and other software, it’s much easier to manipulate photos, of course. The problem there is that you run into ethical and sometimes legal issues, especially if the photo is not yours or if the content is compromised by the manipulation. So, I prefer to keep it simple when possible and use line drawings. Since we’re talking about photography, though, we’ll simply pretend that drawings don’t exist,
For electronic media, most of what I said above still holds, except that you needn’t worry about color in terms of reproduction, so color and grayscale will swap places. The only problem with color in this context is the fact that color hue and intensity will vary from screen to screen, so you can’t be subtle. Use strong tones.