Somewhere in Boston

Right after photo school, I worked for a time as a commercial photographer for a company in transition between analog and digital. We produced slides for corporate presentations, a precursor to Powerpoint, on hulking computers the size of washing machines, output to slide film. The original part of the company, neglected and slowly dying, did conventional analog photography with an amazing ancient wooden 16×20 camera with shutterless lenses, mounted on huge rails, and more conventional studio shots. We had one client who built syntervac (sp?) furnaces, which I never knew what they were. Large custom on-off items which I photographed on the factory floor. I used a lovely old wooden Deardorf 8×10 camera, painting the fill-in light with a lightbulb mounted in a sort of a cake pan. Primitive, and I had no idea what I was doing, lucky that I managed to get useable exposures. I had plenty of free time to play in the basement studio with cameras and lights. I made liberal use of all the “free” slide film and processing, and spent many a lunch “hour” wandering The Fenway shooting slides (see above). When I left after two years, I managed to abscond with a WW2-era Linhof field camera and a few lenses (which I foolishly sold). So ended my one brief foray into professional photography.

I’m on the Instagram!: @harvinstephis


Sunbathing, and another change


When I was in photography school, an educational foray that didn’t hurt me none, my first teacher, Fred Sway, made the comment that the term “shooting,” didn’t really fit with photography. Making a photograph is actually a pretty passive act, he pointed out, nothing more than accepting light. That has always stayed with me, as has Fred’s deep understanding of light. The photographer points the camera at something, adjusts what settings are at his disposal, light enters through his opened shutter and is captured by the film, or paper, or other recording medium in the camera. That’s all there is to it. The rest, the philosophy, technique, the fuss over lenses and cameras and film vs digital, that’s just logistics. In the end, photography is captured light.

So, long story (and I could easily make this story longer) short, I’m going back to my original photoblog, Captured Light (which, by the way, will be the title of the massive retrospective volume of my life’s work). I will continue to use this blog to post writings, few and far between as they may be. In order you don’t miss a single word or photon, you might could subscribe to both. I know I’m going to. I promise you won’t be overwhelmed.

As The Worm Turns

The only thing worse than getting a song stuck in your head is getting a song you don’t like stuck in your head. A song you have not listened to since back in The Day, for a very good reason. A song that you heard once 20 years ago and it got lodged in your brain, dormant, waiting to emerge from its chrysalis and flit around between your ears, making you crazy. A song that, even though you don’t like it and would never choose to listen to it of your own free will, somehow rises to the surface. And the only thing worse than getting a song you don’t like stuck in your head is a song you don’t like with what you know are the wrong lyrics stuck in your head. Scientists don’t know why, but these are the songs that tend to get stuck in your head most often.

This phenomenon is known as a “brain worm.” Opinions vary as to how to get rid of them. Our research has come up with a few suggestions:
1. It has been suggested that chewing gum, oddly enough, can dissipate a brain worm, something to do with working your jaw. The only thing chewing gum has gotten me is the Doublemint jingle stuck in my head. Double your pleasure, my ass.
2. Some say that singing along out loud and letting the song run its course will make it go away. Some of those songs that show up in your head, you might not want to be caught out in public singing them. Especially since you have the lyrics wrong.
3. Then there’s the idea that a brain worm can be replaced by picking a different song and singing it to yourself. Be sure it’s a song you won’t mind getting stuck in your head. Refer to #2 above for guidance. And don’t repeat step #3 or you’ll be caught in some sort of Twilight Zone endless loop nightmare.
4. Experts say that walking or dancing at a different pace and rhythm than the song stuck in your head might work. If you’re in a place where dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld might not go over so well, this remedy might not be for you.
5. Whacking yourself repeatedly upside the head with a board might work, but is not recommended for (hopefully) obvious reasons.
6. One last idea is to pick up the phone and call a friend, the theory being that talking on the phone is enough of a distraction to get your mind to change gears. You might try transferring the song by singing it to your friend, who will likely become your former friend.

These little worms are persistent buggers and will come right back around given the opportunity. It can be a lot of work to keep them at bay. There are no known credible reports of brain worm fatalities, but there are all sorts of things that “can’t happen.” Be careful out there.

We had some friends over for dinner the other night and somehow the conversation turned around to a particular artist from the 70s. You can thank me later but I won’t mention the artists name or the song we were talking about. This “friend” who shall remain nameless (it was Dave) sang a snippet of the song with the evil intention of getting it stuck in our heads. Needless to say, it worked and the evening was very nearly ruined. Funny joke, Dave.

Like the practice of having someone scare you to get rid of hiccups, try Googling “brain worms”. Looking at the pictures and descriptions might scare the worms right out of your head.

Or maybe not.

(And it was “Have You Seen Her,” by The Chi-Lites. You’re welcome.)

Forward, into the past!

107 “Children and hot fluid should be kept apart.” Sage advice from the side of my French-press coffee brewer.

A new reader of One Life (that brings my total readership to three or four) has been bravely going into the Archives and posting comments and likes (thank you, Katherine and your wonderful Photobooth Journal), inspiring me to delve back into the past. I was surprised to find how far back One Life goes – all the way back to February of 2005. I spent far too much of yesterday afternoon pawing around, reacquainting myself with myself.

What I found was a personal journal, musing about what I was doing day-to-day, observations about my early experiences with multiple sclerosis, family and work life. Usually there was a photograph attached, although the links have long expired so I don’t know what the pictures were of. Lots of links to other sites, odd things found online, what music was playing as I wrote, those links long expired too. In the end, the record is only interesting to me, and even then, not very.

But I feel inspired to get back on the horse. To stop taking myself and my blogging so seriously. What paralyzes me now is the self-imposed notion that each post has to be a fully thought out and insightful essay. I have a folder on my hard drive of barely begun such essays, writings that invariably get tangled up with lost threads and wind up pointless. Almost as if I was writing for an audience, and not just for myself. Imagine that!

Well, no more. I’m going to write what I want. I hope you’ll come along for the ride and share your thoughts; I’d love for this to be as much of a conversation as it can be.

What’s playing: Sweet Jane. Thanks, as always, to Radio Paradise, the best radio station ever.

arch“A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has a curious ability to remind us – like rock and sunlight and wind in wilderness – that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments, we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.”
From “Desert Solitaire,” by Edward Abbey.

I had in mind a brilliant essay, inspired by Abbey’s passionate and eloquent meditations on solitude, the southwest desert in general, Arches National Park and the pre-dam Glen Canyon in particular, exploring where a man in a wheelchair fits into the natural world. But as so often happens between then and now, those words have wandered away. In lieu of my lost words, I’ll simply leave this passage and highly recommend the book from whence I borrowed it. Perhaps my words will reorganize themselves and find their way onto the page. You’ll be the first to know.