Thursday, January 22, 2009

NPR - Blog for Choice

This is Blog for Choice Day.

Women deserve access to the full range of information and services to make the proper family planning and women's reproductive choices, and this, in my view, includes unrestricted and affordable, if not free when necessary, access to abortion information and services, unimpeded by anyone else.

I'm not going to hide my view that I support Roe v Wade, as I have already expressed my view on this issue. I hold no reservations about what women's rights are here, it's a decision between herself and her physician, and no one has the right to interfer with her decision about her own health, body and reproductive choices.

So, I don't know what else to say except that I want the Obama Administration to support this view and not just with words but actions, with proposing and supporting legislation for women's rights and with protection for the health care providers from protestors preventing access or the work of clinics. I want Obama to tale action against states which inhibit if not prohibt full access to information and services.

I want the Obama Administration to take a strong positive position on the issue of this not just here in the US, but more importantly and critically, around the world. In every nation where it's restricted or worse, prohibited. And if necessary, tie US foreign aid to women's rights and freedoms with their reproductive health. Let's lead the world here and there and show our respect for women.

Support a woman's freedom and rights to choices today, and every day from now on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

JMO - Silence is not an option

Well, Mr. President Obama, you've had silence as an option in answering questions during the transistion while President Bush was in office. But now, sir, you don't have that option anymore. Words are all you have, silence only begets oppositon from those who may want silence, yours to say it's not something you want to discuss or provide an answer. But words are your sword and words are your savior.

And silence is not an option. So you have to wield your words wisely, with discretion, truth and honesty. And while you may want to hide behind words, as a coat to keep what you know, think, believe and feel to yourself, you can't. People will see through words as fast they enter the world. Words are transparent, and try as you might want to make the issue complex or confusing, you won't as your words will betry you.

And words, when spoken from the mind and heart, are all you have to show your faith in our understanding and acceptance of the truth and reality. You can do that, as we can trust you will speak the truth and reality. Your words are all you have between you and us. We know it and you should, make sure it's a real conversation with us, the American people.

We expect honest and truthful words spoken with heart and conviction. Anything less will inform more than anything else. And we are listening now and will until your words become your enemy. Please don't make that happen. We're always here, always ready to listen. To your words and all they convey. And we won't be your enemy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

JMO - Just maybe it's time

Just maybe it's time for the Palestinians to have a nation and homeland free of oppression and suppression by neighboring nation(s) where they can have their own government and the people can have the freedom to life in peace with security and safety for all. The world owes them one. And just maybe it's time for them to have their flag wave over their own homeland which is recognized by the UN and all nations. After all, don't we all want a home and homeland to call our own?

JMO - Human Nature

I'll be the first one to plead guilty here about one idea. It's not the obvious saying about sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous, as people are apt to use for or against something without fully researching the subject enough to have a knowledge based opinion, but something similar we all do and I really get tired of hearing when practiced. And that is?

Don't put your opinion ahead of your knowledge or experience. It only shows your ignorance, both of the facts and reality.

I realize we can't know enough anymore about anything with certainty we have the knowledge or experience to express a view, but we certaintly shouldn't open our mouth espousing an opinion when we haven't even researched the matter, but our old knowledge and experience repackaged as new insight.

JMO - Dear Mr. Bush

On this your last day of your Presidency, and on the recognized Marting Luther King day too, I have only one thing to say to you and about your 8 years, and they're not my words but Martin Luther King's himself. And nothing could be more appropriate for a man who was of and for all the people, something you forgot and lost.

"Free at last. Free at last. God Almighty, we're free at last."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WA State Ferry System

Click on photo for Website

Mike Diehl has an excellent book out about the Washington State Ferry System (WSF). I ride the ferries once or twice a month to downtown Seattle (Bremerton to Seattle or Fauntleroy-Southworth) and often like to walk around and photograph. I'm especially fond of photographing on and from the car deck where all the obvious safety and mechanical parts of the boat are on display, see photo gallery (click on WSF and name of ferry boat).

It's one cool subject for a photographer. Everything clearly marked and easy to see and find. Simplicity at it's best. And yet while I've taken lots of images of ferries, I've also been stopped and detained from disembarking twice, once by the Captain and once by a Washington State patrol officer. All the while I have a letter from Shawn Devine, WSF Public Information Officer, which states:

"I forwarded your letter to our Safety and Security Department. They indicate that there is no law prohibiting photography aboard WSF vessels in public spaces. You are welcome to shoot your camera in any public locations. Our crews are trained to be alert to any suspicious activity aboard state ferries including what might be "unusual photography." There is no hard and fast definition of what "unusual photography" is.

Our Safety and Security Department indicates photos of areas where there is secure access, locked doors and safety equipment are examples of what might constitute "unusual photography" activity. I understand that you were questioned by a WSF Captain about photos you were taking aboard a state ferry. I do apologize for this. Our crews takes safety and security seriously and were probably being proactive about the situation.

Carrying a business card or identification badge to identify yourself to WSF crews is a good idea. I want to assure you that you will not be detained because you are taking photos of our vessels."

But the WSF also publishes and circulates a pamphlet on ferry boats which reads:

"Report suspicious persons, objects or activities immediately to a crewmember or law enforcement personnel. This includes unusual photography of ferry operations; people displaying heightened interest in restricted areas or taking notes while observing ferry operations; and suspicious waterside activities on or around the dock and ferries."

All of this happened after two men of Arabic ethnicity were reported riding 4 ferries in two days. They came aboard as walkons, the WSF has video and photos of them (the boats are thoroughly covered by cameras), and the WSP and FBI have interivewed many people, but to date, the two men have not been identified let alone found. But I was and am an easy target as a citizen?

So it's always confused me why the WSF does this. And why they can't issue photographers passes we can carry and/or wear to alert the crew we're ok and approved to be there with a camera. But all that said, the book is excellent and I highly recommend it if you're not living here. We can simply ride the ferry.

Monday, January 12, 2009

JMO - Small Observations

I was reading an article about Jane Birkin, her Website, when she was asked when she planned to write an autobiography. She said she wouldn't and didn't have any plans, and mostly because she said, "My memory is like a washing machine."

I like that visual and visualization. It leaves the mental door wide open to the whole array of interpretations, and how each of us would imagine our own memory and our own memories awash in our mind swirling and mixing with everything we are and have been and everything we've done and would like to do. A life in a wash. What would be in yours?

How small observations are so expressive. There's a small facet of Will Rogers in many of us, an off-hand comment about our life rings like an exploding star in the universe. I remember in climatology class, the professor recited the following quote, "Northern Europe has weather, the Mediterranean has climate." - Gertrude Stein. It couldn't have been better said.

I've always like observations like these, made famous by Will Rogers, collected in random thoughts and quotes along with James Geary's history of aphorisms. Sometimes there's a universe in a sentence, an exploding mental star of the obvious, complexity, simplicity, life, work, people, and everything else.

I've always liked one sentence observations because of the sheer power and imagination they contain and describe. Snippets of life holding a universe, in thought, expression and idea. What could be better to engage the mind? Ok, beside a good cup of coffee. Or, better with the coffee sitting in a comfortable cafe bathed in sunlight on a cold winter day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

NPR - Thank you Ms Warnes

I found that Jennifer Warnes has re-released her "Famous Blue Raincoat" album and CD with a reworking from the original analog studio tapes. They're Leonard Cohen songs so they're well written, but they're more wonderful with her voice. I've followed Jennifer Warnes since her debut in the LA production of the musical "Hair". I have all of her albums (really) and some of her CD's (later CD's not released on vinyl.

Her voice is like the finest Canadian sipping whiskey, it's flows smoothly into you, wanders around your brain and with a mellow, soothing, warm sensitivity fits into your mind, like it's at home and you're at home hearing the sound of her voice. From her very first to her latest songs, her voice aged but never lost its soulful warmth to feel good. It is hers and it's your when you listen.

What else is there to say, but simply Ms. Warnes, thank you from my heart all these years.

Photo on her Website, no photo credit listed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

An Ordinary Day

It was a dull and ordinary day, but you couldn't tell it by the images. You would have thought the sky and setting sun was magnificant, the wispy clouds beautifully creasing the edges of the sky, golden from the sunset, and the land a warmth you rarely see when the river flowed like silk, the rocks just shaded so you could see the detail, and the trees slowly fading into the darkness. It was beautiful whoever stood there.

Or at least that's the image they made in Photoshop to make it appear that way. Actually it was just another sunset where everything was getting dark. The only beauty was the sky as the sun set over the horizon. It was short-lived and quickly turned dark. Nothing spectacular, just dark, almost too dark to make my way back to the car and go home.

Isn't that always the case? You see a beautiful image, know where it was taken, and when, but when you get there it's not the same? Somehow the scene isn't what you saw in the image? It turns out to be just another dull and ordinary day, or sunrise or sunset as many image show. You stand there wondering what the hell is going on, except you really know but just didn't want to believe it.

I'm not going to arue against making beautiful landscape and nature images. Hell, they sell well for prints, for calendars and in books. But I will argue those images aren't real, aren't really images but simply marketing images for an idea the photographer wanted you to believe than what was real, what was really there when they were standing there with the camera.

I'm also not going to argue there aren't many scenes that are beautiful and are captured realistically on film or with digital images. As the saying goes, been there done that. I make no bones about the fact I'm an ordinary, observational photographer. I shot what I see and present what I thought I saw. Nothing more and hopefully nothing less. Just what was while I was standing there.

This isn't new with digital cameras, nor is it new with all the tools in Photoshop and other photo editors. There's been saturated and super saturated films for a few decades, Velvia is the best example. And photographers have always worked their images in the darkroom to enhance the prints to look better, more engaging, more highlights, etc.

It's as one professional landscape photographer said in a workshop, "Realism in wildlife photography is a requirement, but in landscape and nature photographer, everything is game and the goal is to make the image sell." And he went on to describe how to "punch up" landscape images in Photoshop.

Personally I was totally baffled. Not by the reality it's done, but by the arrogance he excluded one type of photography from alteration in the name of realism, but then threw out the honesty in landscape photography. He basically said landscape in photography is a market for images that sell ideas than scenes. It was like the morning on a cold winter day, clear and biting, and so real.

I left the workshop at the end of that session and didn't go back for the rest. While I know this is true, I know it's not true for me and for many landscape photographers who like capturing and presenting what's there than what's imaginary. But then all the outdoor photography magazines sell issues on how to "improve" your landscape and nature images.

And amost all the landscape books show the same, minus a few great landscape photographers, most notably Galen Rowell. Yes, he improved his images, but not to the degree the vast majority did and does. He strove to capture first and present second, but mostly he wanted you know see what he saw standing there. The witness the act of his being there, not imagination.

Yes, it's the reality of photography today. We can't be happy with what we see but what we want others to think we saw. After all, can you sell a dull and ordinary day?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

NPR - Please excuse the writings

I got to thinking after writing recent posts, that many people would or could read them and say, "Huh?" Or, "Like what's he talking about except his life?" I know and understand, I read some blogs and ask the same question(s). So, if my writings don't do much for you, so be it. That's the beauty of the Internet, you just surf on to somewhere else.

The real purpose of my writings is more to think out loud, nothing really important, just thoughts, ideas and questions we all have. I just decided to let them out of my brain. If the words brings a smile to your face, a quizical look, a tear in the corner of the eye, or a "Hmmm..." in the mind, that's enough for me.

And why the quote from Lewis Carroll? We should not forget the Internet allows us to just wander around, through and back to where you started, and hopefully, a little wiser or smarter. And don't forget Dr. Suess.

Hmm...,going or coming?
There's places to see!
But don't be long now.
You still have to be!

And so, where ya' goin' now?