Photography

Gulls

Just for fun, here are some seagull photographs that I took at Parker River Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, MA earlier this month.

For me, there are two notable things about these images. On a visceral level, I enjoy looking at them because they remind of the freedom of flight. On a philosophical level, they raise some thorny questions about authorship in photography. Am I the “author” of these images? For many of the photographs that I choose to share, the answer to that question is an unambiguous yes, but these seagull images defy a clear answer because of the particular way I captured them.

Wildlife shots like these are often taken with an extreme telephoto lens that lets the photographer see and track a distant subject as if it were “up close.”  But these seagull images are actually extreme crops of fairly wide landscape shots. What that means is that I didn’t really see these gulls in any significant detail at the moment of capture: when I was looking through the camera viewfinder, these gulls were small spots set against a wide expanse of sky. Thanks to the super-high resolution of the camera I was using (50 megapixels) I was able to zoom in after the fact and see these gulls in good detail, for the first time, in my photo processing software.

Of course I had to lug my camera to the beach, watch the gulls for an hour or so, take a few dozen shots, and then spend some time in post-processing before arriving at these particular images. Intuitively, I feel like I earn some kind of “credit” for that. But yet, it still feels awkward to call these photographs “mine” when I didn’t even clearly see the subject at the moment of capture, or have any idea of what I was getting.

This leads into the bigger question of what makes me as a photographer feel connected to any particular image that comes out of my camera? One thing that gives me a feeling of connection is when I set out with a certain intention for a shot and then recognize the intention manifested in the result. Another thing that gives me a feeling of connection is simply that I happen to like the result, regardless of whether I intended the result or not. As for these seagull images, I certainly like them, but it doesn’t feel right to say I intended them.

Guitar, Music

Arrangements for Electric Guitar

I wanted to take a moment to share my current musical project. I’m working on a set of original arrangements and/or recompositions of jazz and folk standards for fingerstyle electric guitar. My goal is to create a set of twelve arrangements; as of now I’ve got three.  I’ll be sharing samples of my work in-progress on Bandcamp. I’ve got lots more to say about the project but for now I’ll keep the announcement short and invite you to listen here:

Diversions

Once again, it’s not April Fools’ Day

I seem to be trying to start a tradition of refuting April Fools’ Day each year, so here is my current effort:

The assumption that today is April Fools’ Day is widespread, but so is influenza, and neither are good. In fact, April Fools’ Day was officially cancelled in 12 AD by Emperor Augustus after he was presented with a bronze bust of himself blowing an ancient Roman form of bubble gum. He declared “Stultorum infinitus est numerus,” a phrase he obtained by typing “Latin phrases about fools” into Google. Since that time, all celebrations of April Fools’ Day on the first of the month have been illegitimate, although in modern times, a little-known UN resolution A/RES/66/2938 revived the holiday and moved it to April 2nd.

See also: It’s not April Fools’ Day and It’s really not April Fool’s Day