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Will be poking around the anniversary and site today, in and out,

starting with this very interesting new article compiled by SRaffa.



:heart:
As you all know, nothing motivates me to actually finish work like an audience.  

So I hope you'll come join me.  

www.justThorne.com

For real this time!  ;)



This weekend, to welcome you, three new prints!

Lives at Stake - now!
Right About Everything on Saturday, and
History of Men on Sunday.  

Plus, half a dozen works there already that you may not have seen.

I am feeling the mojo again.  

And if some of you would enjoy it too, I think I might be able to keep it up!  :w00t:



:heart:
Hey, thanks for your response to my bad news a couple of weeks ago.  It's been hard, but the well wishes meant a lot to me.  Still do.  

Meanwhile, the promised good news - my long-overdue website overhaul! - is still a couple of weeks off.  

But some of you may recall my habit of doing new art for holidays and special occasions?  

Well, today would surely qualify.  

Congratulations, America, and all over the world.  Our horrible nightmare is finally over.  

:heart:
  • Listening to: Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)"
Hi.  

Unfortunately, 2008 ended on a really sad note for me.  

But I've been thinking about you all a lot, and I'll be back with some good news in a week or so.  

In so many ways, it will be a very different year.  

:heart:

The end of a year, or five...

Mon Dec 31, 2007, 4:41 PM
Okay, so I obviously left dA in 2007.  

I saw ndifference, CageyButterfly, and surrealist-geek banned earlier in the year, not for violations, but for expressing opinions and facts that the administration didn't want to hear.  

So there's the dilemma, do you see?

I could either continue to contribute here, and allow the implication that I found those events acceptable...

Or I could speak my mind and be banned myself.  

But I want my journals to stay here.  So I backed myself up, every note and journal, and engaged the "proper removal of the delete function" a couple of hundred times, to leave in every other way.  

I can't even say any more about it, can I?  That's the dilemma.  Speak up, but risk being shut up.  Permanently.

And that's how my life at dA came to an end.  

...

Maybe I'll update you someday, if I ever get another web presence rolling.   I sure promise that my artistic motivation misses you!

But anyway, I've been thinking of you guys a lot, missing you and wanting to update you.  There's an end-of-year entry posted now on my rarely-updated blog, if you want to soak up some blather.  

It's all about the New Year's juncture, the most important to me personally in the whole year, and I wrote it largely with you in mind, so thought I would give you a head's up.

Miss you a lot, wish things had gone differently...

And of course, wish you nothing but the best for 2008!

:heart:

  • Listening to: Tortoise' A Lazarus Taxon

Coming to an End...

Mon Aug 6, 2007, 4:30 PM
My "big news" has to wait a little longer, but you're welcome to read between the lines.  Many ventures in my life tend to resolve around five years.  And then that will be that.

Will write about my own reasons soon, but for now, you should check out the latest issue of suture.

____________

My summer in the States is almost over.  Leave Lex this weekend, to see my family and some old friends down south, and then to fly back across the Atlantic for another year in the Middle East.

Looking forward to going back, actually.  My art computer is there, and dying to get back to work.  And it will be nice to get paid again.  Been broke all summer, after paying off all my consumer debt with the previous year's earnings.  So this year will start putting money in the bank (and hopefully soon, a Swiss bank).

But this summer has been good.  Miss Biz and I are closer than ever, and have loved so much of our time together.  She's a very special cat.  All my friends compliment her on her personality, and I hope someday to take the picture that does her justice, and makes her my most beautiful model.

My allergies have been the worst thing about returning to North America.  Haven't suffered them so badly since 1992 or so.  The Middle East is plenty dusty, but it's not organic.  So it spoiled me in an unexpected way.  And dry heat is a lot less draining than humid heat (though July was unexpectedly beautiful here).

The coolest aspect of the vacation has been my rediscovery of music.  Been on a long slope for years of listening less, and stewing in silence more, but this summer has become a turning point.  Excited about the daily vitality of music like I have not been in a very long time, from both old treasures and new discoveries.  Ripping it all onto a hard drive and then filling gaps in my collection has rejuvenated me on many levels.

For example, I had no idea that Sonic Youth could kick my ass again so freshly as Murray Street.  Had expected for years that the first two Beatles would sound relatively primitive, but have been amazed at the quality of their earliest material.  (The first two were the last two that I needed for a complete collection.)  David Byrne's Look Into the Eyeball and Beck's The Information are both really solid new entries to the canon.  Definitely waited too long to enjoy Laurie Anderson's delicately quirky Life on a String.  And Nick Cave's Grinderman project has been a revelation, such teeth and velocity.

But the highlight has definitely been Eric Bachmann and Crooked Fingers.  Have enjoyed the initial Crooked Fingers album for years, for its post-Waits sense of loss and sadness ("She Spread Her Legs and Flew Away..."), but always thought it was a one-off project.  Was stunned this summer to discover much more had been released.

I'd recommend Bachmann to anyone who enjoys clever wistful wordplay and melody with a rich sense of texture.  The first Crooked Fingers is haunting and often tragic, amazing accompaniment for late lonely night (with only one upbeat track that always seems out of place to me, right after a transcendently liquid opener).  Bachmann's 2005 solo album, To the Races, would be good if you like spare minimal instrumentation with a beautiful morning feel.  The third Crooked Fingers, Red Devil Dawn, is probably the most accessible, upbeat and friendly, great for a sunny afternoon.  

But the fourth record, Dignity & Shame, has been the outstanding discovery of my whole summer, a sweet sundown record of amazing variety and texture, a couple of thunderous rockers, and the most bittersweet heartbreak duet that I've ever heard.  (Lara Meyerratken adds wonderful harmony to much of the album, but her role in "Sleep All Summer" is positively magical.)  There's one countrified track that sounds a little skew to me, but the overall gestalt of tempos and moods works amazingly well.  And it's well worth cranking and basking in all its textures and surprises, right from the opening edge-of-your-seat tension track.

So of all the music that I could point your way, that's at the top of my mind.

Though I shouldn't forget to point you toward Once, if it's still showing at a theatre near you, surely the most intimate musical in the history of film.  (I saw it three times and can hardly wait for the DVD.)

Or, as I said, if you wanna get your ass blistered, check out the Grinderman album.

But for now, I'm packing up and resolving last loose ends.

And then I'll probably write one more journal entry in a couple weeks, once all my ducks have all marched out in a row.

:heart:

If you want one of my prints...

Fri Jul 13, 2007, 11:24 AM
Fair warning, all my prints will go offline at DAPrints in about a week.  I'll be setting up shop somewhere else sometime next year.

This does not reflect dissatisfaction with DAPrints.  I have other reasons, and frankly, I'm one of DAPrints' biggest fans.  I've had little issues here and there, and had to struggle to rectify by 1.8 gamma workflow with their 2.2 process, but it's long been my belief that DAPrints has been a tremendously valuable service here.  And I have never felt that the profit-sharing arrangement has been unfair.

In fact, I'd give DAPrints credit for inspiring a major turning point in my work, way back in 2003, and my obsession with quality beyond the bounds of efficiency.  My whole book-in-progress owes much of its origin to DAPrints.  I think their value is especially great for those who come here and are nurtured to take their work to the next level.  DAPrints offers an excellent opportunity to do that.  That's what it did for me.

But, I am taking them down in about a week, so if you want to order one, now is your last chance for the foreseeable future.  

Virtually all of them have been proofed by me, and I'm completely satisfied with the results, other than the following exceptions:

Eye on the Prize and Promise to Keep (and maybe The Honeymoon is Over) are slightly dark, but still gorgeous.

Every Little Thing She Does and From This Day Forward are unacceptably dark (my fault, really) and are not available.  (I don't have the means to fix them this summer, to my regret, since they're two of my favorites.)

Yes, You became too light after my last revision, and has also been deactivated.  All That You Can't Leave Behind might be slightly too light, but acceptably.  (Both from the same shoot?  But developed months apart?  Interesting...)

However, I had proofs sent to me in Saudi after my last major overhaul, and most of them now look exactly as I'd always intended - luminous.  Especially the "nearly black and whites" (that actually have hints of color) of Lauren, and my only true black and white photograph, Life by the Horns.

So if you want a sliver of my personal artistic history, get one while you can.  They probably won't be available again until sometime next year, and through a different channel linked from my own website.

Again, I've got no beef with DAPrints - it's not about that.

____________

Personal update:

Life back in the States in strange.  I'm loving the quality time with my cat, hating what this country is doing to my allergies, and strangely off-balance in my attempts to enjoy my old social life.  Pretty cash-strapped, so avoiding opportunities to go out and spend money.  (Which also means avoiding the coffee shop and its wireless internet.  Have got a smoking Windows laptop on loan from my job overseas, but no Photoshop on it, of course.)

But the return is doing one thing that I hoped.  It's recharging my jets to get back to my G5 iMac in the Kingdom, and get back to work on my art and book.  Had lost my mojo in January, but I can feel it raging back to life now.  Might have a very rewarding model shoot or two before leaving the States again.  (I.e., she's fabulous!)

Got my entire music collection ripped onto a hard drive (a true uncompressed backup of about 300GB, except that my Abbey Road is missing), which will increase my quality of life there.  And also bought a car right before I left, so will be more mobile and independent next year as well.  (Now if I could only get that country to chill out about cameras!  Spent most of last year dreading confiscation.)

Will be making a pretty major announcement in about a week.  Still lining up the details.

Love to you all.

:heart:

Seen and Not Seen

Tue Jun 12, 2007, 5:14 AM
Will be back in the States soon (for two months).  I'm ready.  These last two months took a rather bitter turn.  

I normally find it annoying or uninteresting when someone posts song lyrics in their journal.  But frankly, this song feels often like a metaphor for my life.  It haunts me.  

And it's really all I have to say right now.  

Seen and Not Seen, lyrics by David Byrne,
from Talking Heads' Remain in Light

He would see faces in movies, on T.V., in magazines, and in books...
He thought that some of these faces might be right for him...
And that through the years, by keeping an ideal facial structure fixed in his mind, or somewhere in the back of his mind...
That he might, by force of will, cause his face to approach those of his ideal...
The change would be very subtle...
It might take ten years or so...
Gradually his face would change it's shape...
A more hooked nose, wider, thinner lips....
Beady eyes...  A larger forehead.

He imagined that this was an ability he shared with most other people...
They had also molded their faces according to some ideal....
Maybe they imagined that their new face would better suit their personality....
Or maybe they imagined that their personality would be forced to change to fit the new appearance...
This is why first impressions are often correct...
Although some people might have made mistakes...
They may have arrived at an appearance that bears no relationship to them...
They may have picked an ideal appearance based on some childish whim, or momentary impulse...
Some may have gotten half-way there, and then changed their minds.

He wonders if he too might have made a similar mistake.

...

I Quit

Sat Feb 17, 2007, 2:13 AM
So, later on today, I go back to work, a long-time goal come true.

That is, since 1990, have wanted a job (that pays real money and bennies) where I could stay up late and sleep in the morning.  Last/my first semester, I had class at 10 a.m.  This semester, I don't have to be at school until 4.

As I sit here this morning, spending my time as I please, I'm digging my new schedule already.

Thus ends our longest vacation of our school year, other than summer.  We got two weeks in October for Ramadan, two weeks in December, and over three weeks just finished between the semesters.

This long vacation did not turn into any of the productivity I expected, but neither will I ever forget it.

Art-wise, my stall has continued.  Something went wrong in December and that kind of productivity has been lost to me.  It's all too daunting, but I hope to build a new routine in this new schedule.

Similarly, and much more maddening, much more frightening, much more troubling, my book has gone nowhere in the past few weeks.  But am more optimistic here than about my art.  I think my book needs "my day job" (or "night job" or whatever) as a germination location for my thinking.  And now I'll be able to think about the book "off-site" and then come home and work all night.

Of course, knowing me, I'll procrastinate from my book while working on art again?  Obviously, that wouldn't be all bad.

But procrastination is the devil of my life.

I realize this with new clarity, because of the main way this vacation HAS been productive.

Three weeks of doing little else than searching my soul, with many unexpected rewards.

Spent most of my thirties running away from my age, dreading the next landmark.  And yet now, feeling strange unexpected rightness at my age of 40.  As if I own it.  I can finally wear it like a badge of honor.  Never would have anticipate this, but it feels right and proper like I never could have guessed.

Have had a fulfilling and rewarding correspondence that has been very helpful in this regard.  We often learn more about ourselves from what we have to give and share with others.  This has led to many helpful breakthroughs.

Finally rounded the corner on the major heartbreak of my life.  Can finally look back and understand it in a way that doesn't require me to take so personally.  Can't do justice to the load off my heart, but it's substantial relief.

On the other hand, am finally facing the magnitude of the major trauma of my life.  Something horrible happened to me in 1998, and of course I've always known that.  But I'm starting to face it with new clarity, to try to deconstruct it and put it in its place.  Maybe I'll seek professional help when I return to the States.  I finally see there would be no shame in that, taking care of my self.  But that trauma is not going away on its own, I realize that now.  Fooling myself to think that it would.

In this gender-stratified culture, there is of course no love to be found.  So I've been looking abroad.  Might have found some, that would someday reward my patience.  It's premature to declare anything definitive, but I think she/we may be amazing and perfect for each other.  (In fact, the primary patience is to relax and let her realize it too, and she seems off to a good start.)  So that may amount to no news in the end, or it may become another reason I will never forget this vacation.  I found her on January 31, and sent her flowers last week.  It's been a long damn time since Valentine's meant anything hopeful to me.

Unfortunately, I had intended to buy a particular pedal trainer during this vacation, but it was out of stock when the time came.  So instead, have finally started using our exercise room here in the compound.  Just doing 45 relentless minutes on the treadmill for now, but every day.  I hate sharing the room/space (because I hate when someone else wants to talk to me or turn on the television), so it's another advantage of my new schedule.  Everyone else will be at work during the day, so I'll have the room to myself.

I refuse to jog because I hate what it does to my shins and knees, so I walk very aggressively instead.  It's been good to work on my heart in this fashion as well, haha.

So all this gives me new context to view the future, helps me mount new priorities and try to reevaluate how they all fit together.

I'm a big believer in vision, that to envision goals and targets with clarity is a major halfway step toward achieving them, and arranging other priorities around them in a cooperative way.

So this vacation will go down in my personal history, as a landmark turning point and investment in my future.

I finally quit.

After fifteen years, more or less.

Averaging around two packs a day.  More than a carton a week.

Defining my existence by a never-ending ritual to overcome persistent withdrawal.

Fooling myself into believing that poison was something I enjoyed.

Cold turkey a week ago, and days in bed to breathe deeply and rest it off.

It's been horrendous, and still stressful...

I'm not sleeping worth a damn, and still can't seem to catch my breath...

Chewing a lot of gum and sucking on a straw for relief...

And you know?, this country doesn't smell very good.

But I am definitely done.

Quit.

:heart:

  • Listening to: Adrian Belew, Sides One Two & Three
  • Reading: Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop

Happy New Hello to You...

Sun Dec 31, 2006, 11:49 AM
Had hoped to have some new art ready, but I've frankly been completely stalled out, artistically, for months now.

But my research goes well.  Got a (desperately overdue) 20" G5 iMac in October, so I'm finally running OSX and researching in CS2.  Did a six portrait project for Laura that went well.  Oh!, and finally got Aperture loaded up about two weeks ago, and it's definitely living up to the hype!

Funny story from last week.  With CS2, I could finally investigate the Shadow Highlight command and test its mettle.  Almost immediately, I recognized that it was chasing down the same algorithm that I've been researching for two years.  This was somewhat alarming!  Is it superior, or invalidate anything I've been doing?  Went to bed troubled and concerned that it would take me months to reverse engineer it and learn from it.

After some thought the next evening, I managed to replicate its effects virtually exactly.  In about ten minutes.  Whew!  Six months of trial and error that I won't have to do.  And a nice little validation that I'm not just your everyday Photoshop whore, haha.  Ten minutes?!?  Who's your daddy...?

Life is rather lonely here, but I'm a homebody anyway, so I'm better suited than most the other westerners.  I have some buddies, surely, but we all tend to be a solitary lot.  Have managed to scare up a moderate collection of MP3s for my iTunes though, since I didn't bring almost anything from the States.  (This summer, I'll rip my whole collection to bring back with me on a hard drive.)

One good friend from the States (who found me this job to begin with) lives a few doors from me, but we tend to get in deep philosophical discussions and argue like cats and dogs.  He's much more of a nihilist than me, and I get (tokenly) resentful when he declares that this doesn't matter or that doesn't matter.  Hogwash!  Everything matters, I say.

Unfortunately, photography is quite frowned upon here, so I've barely taken any pictures.  I see some beautiful skies sometimes "out there," but can't really get the shots I want from inside the walls of the compound.  But I'm resolved to "push the limits" a little more aggressively next year, a sense of entitlement having come along with some duration here.  Much of the architecture is monumentally impressive, I want my shot at it.

Internet access is sporadic.  DA is filtered out by the main services here, and I can only get to it by occasional satellite access.  But email works and I can generally keep up with most my reading.  Have gone through phases of no net at all, and those nearly drove me batty.

The job pays well and I look forward to paying off all my debts by the end of 2007.  So this transition will have been a huge net gain in the long run.  Solitude feels like a proper price to pay, though I have to be careful not to think about my cat too often.  I miss her terribly.  But my best friend cares for her well, and so I'm thankful they have each other.

What a year it was, hmm?  I turned 40 in October, so there's been lots of cause for reflection.  Funny thing, March 1 was probably the greatest accomplishment of my life (in terms of affecting people worldwide), but I go weeks at a time without thinking about it.  It was actually quite a lonely experience at the time and it's encouraged me to think about my future differently.

So, as with every new year, I reflect upon the lessons learned, try to file away those matters I'd rather forget, and focus ahead on priorities anew.  I tend to make my bigger changes rather slowly, but I think there's a major diastrophism gathering steam in my future.  As if this last one wasn't profound enough!

And, of course, since you guys are my extended worldwide family, I had to wrangle that satellite so I could say hello and let you know I'm thinking of you.  I hope art will return to me, and that art generally will brighten lives for all of us in the new year.  

And in each our own adventures, I hope we will all find many causes to celebrate, and make 2007 a year we will always remember fondly.

Look to the future for the hindsight to determine the present.  It's a fruitful strategy, use it sometime if you're having difficulty in the present tense.  It makes all the difference to me.

I guess that's my thought for the day, my gift in leiu of art itself.

Much love to you all, and merriment!

:heart:

  • Listening to: Rolling Stones - The London Years

Signing off...

Sun Aug 27, 2006, 1:20 AM
Am glad I told you in advance.  Appreciated all the well wishes.  You guys mean so much to me.

Been a hell of a week, above and beyond the call of duty, cleaning my place up, and purging, and of course packing.  Proud of how much I accomplished, if not enough time with Miss Biz.

Honestly?  I'm still all sunken inside.

But I moved from Memphis to Lexington five years (and three weeks) ago.

And though my heart is aching all kinds of ways...

I'm leaving here a stronger person.

Finally leaving behind the heartbreak that brought me here.

And knowing what I want to do with my life.

Which I owe almost entirely to deviantART.

Yet not just a little, to Lexington itself.



I'll be back.

:heart:

  • Listening to: Crooked Fingers

I read the news today, oh boy.

Tue Aug 22, 2006, 5:28 PM
So, I've been anticipating this for a while, but today it became official.

Pardon my mysterious tenor, but it's the only way I know to talk about it at all.

Here is the benefit:

Full-time pay (and perks) for part-time work, allowing more time to work on my art and books, as I've long desired.

Here are the detriments:

Leaving my groovy penthouse behind, and Lexington behind.

Leaving my computer behind, and the internet behind, and without until I can afford a new one (or possibly longer, based on other potential complications).

Leaving my stereo and music behind.  (Was never able to rip CDs onto a hard disk, as I'd planned, once the laptop was taken back.)

Leaving my friends behind (few of them admittedly, but still).

Leaving girls behind, and any prospect of their company, or modelling.  (Strangely, after a last-minute unprecedented episode that reminded me both how blissfully wonderful and bitterly vexing/blithely inconsiderate/snottily disrespectful they can be.  But the bliss was extraordinary, a perfect last episode if never I experience it again.  And it was so heaven-sent unlikely that it feels as if I might not.)

Leaving my urban landscape behind, to live in a more suburban-style setting, a gated sterile community (with a swimming pool, but only men), requiring a car to get anywhere else.

Worst of all, it would still feel like an even trade, except that eventually it became clear that I'd have to leave my cat, my girl, behind.

If I'd been excited before, I became forelorn then.  It's breaking my heart to leave her.

So, basically, I get to take my cameras, some hard drives, and some clothes, along with a few books to read.

The new gig starts mid-September (and, not incidentally, will involve coping with my biggest single pet peeve on a daily basis).

But I leave this weekend.

Full-time pay for part-time work, allowing more time to work on my art and books.

But it's gonna feel like forever until I can finally get the new computer, and get down to that (and back to the internet).

Am I excited?  Not really at all.  No.  

Simply resigned to the importance of the book itself.

It feels like something I have to do.

:hmm:

  • Listening to: Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball

Nothing to Offer

Wed Aug 9, 2006, 3:59 PM
Wrote one of my "poetic state of life" journal entries Friday night, and then lost it all in a browser crash.  Shame too, it summed up a lot with unusual brevity.  But especially because it took so long.

My computer situation is so bad that it takes about a minute to type twenty words into a DA text field.  (I normally type about 120wpm off the top of my head.)  DA (either v4 or v5) is a mangled mess in my antiquated browsers, as is half the web, and attempts to go to untested destinations (and surely MySpace) results in crashes about half of the time.  (In DAv5, I can't even view deviations at all, there's no image on the pages.)  Only about half my favorite blogs (and virtually none of my mainstream news sources) load worth a damn.

Minor personal annoyance about DAv5:  It seems I'm gonna have to flip my avatar to "overlook" my comments again?  Fortunately, I've got a flipped one already made (for my other account), but have always preferred the leftward version.  (Looks more effectively authoritative while still humble.  Noticed that when I built the first one, Christmas 2002.)

(Worth noting, I'm not really at all impressed with what I can see of DAv5, but neither do I feel any desire to bitch about it, even if I COULD functionally engage it.  But I think my preference would be for the new tweaks in a skin more like our last one, this one appears less unique/more trendily conforming to the rest of the web to me.  But, like I said, it's all a mangled mess here, so what do I know?)

(Also worth noting:  I personally think art on a computer screen would look better on BLACK (or near-black) than white, where it would "shine out," but there may be prevalent UI wisdom that rules that out, I don't know.)

(Also also worth noting:  Felt I should share some thoughts on the birthday and anniversary of last year's events, but found myself paralytically reticent to do so, beyond the tech difficulties themselves.  Feel as if any further attention to my role in those events risks seeming unsuitably self-congratulatory, even while feeling there's an important story/POV yet to share.  Suppose it'll have to wait for the history books.)

Unfortunately, all my Photoshop work has ground to a halt, which is of course just maddening.  Especially when artistic inspiration finally returned somewhat last week.  But I need another hard drive again, and my machine's not multi-tasking between 'shop and the net worth a damn.  (I.e., that's why the laptop was such an important component to my routine before I had to give it back.)

The program in which I'd outlined my book (OmniOutliner) was an OSX application, so can't work on that with this old OS9 machine.

So I'd been craving "more time" for so long, and now that I've got no job to consume it, I've got no money with which to enjoy it, and no functional tech with which to spend it. (Can't even burn CDs at the moment.)  And, not incidentally, no girl on which to lavish it, haha.

My mood's been generally good, sort of like a Valium haze to mask over some lingering bitterness (and not even over the job, just some longer-term issues), and there's plenty of hope, so I don't mean to bitch or whine too much, just express a generally helpless limbo ennui that I'm in for the time being.

Email and Notes still work, thankfully.  They feel like my lifeline sometimes.  (Pissed away my "real" social life in exchange for art obsession long ago, it's been creaky trying to build a new one.)

Finally made a business card (with a new image I'll post here someday) and a simple presence at justThorne.com, and got some ducks in a row during my first couple of weeks of unemployment that should turn in my favor next month (though they'll remove me even further from the life I've known, expect an "adieu" journal entry around the end of the month).

So, until then, mostly just walking a lot.  (No real motivation to take pictures, though I've usually got my little Canon with me.)  Just trying to get my share of fresh air.

Dreaming of better days.

And cooler ones, haha.

:heart:

Helpful Spirits?

Thu Jul 20, 2006, 8:58 PM
Hey, regarding my last journal entry with all those new JPGs, some people wanted to see previous versions for comparison.

Would appreciate the feedback, so if anyone wants to compare, all the old brightness levels (of the model photography) are still on display in my OMP portfolio.  (If it asks you to log in, it'll also provide a link to click through as a guest.)  You'll also see a treat or two there you've never seen before, couple of method studies and a couple of "drafts" that will get finished up for here someday.  (My greatest piece ever is lurking there in unfinished form, waiting for me to get the time and CPU horsepower and CS2 to do it right.  I won't confess which one it is, though it won't be too hard to guess.  But, then again, you'll never guess what's in store for it either.)

So, if you're inclined, would suggest just picking a couple of favorites from that big batch of thumbnails last time around, and then using those for before-and-after evaluations.

For my part, am quite confident that the dark ones are drastically improved - particularly Life by the Horns and Cliches Because They're True; suitably confident that Every Little Thing She Does and All That You Can't Leave Behind finally look "right;" but more concerned that d.a.y.d.r.e.a.m has turned out far too bright, and wondering about But for Somewhen Else too.


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(For what it's worth, though you can't compare them, There Is No Name For This and The Descent of the Royalty should definitely finally look "proper" now, notice the detail in the shadow perimeter of Descent that likely wasn't visible before.  That had been one of my biggest bafflements before I figured out the AdobeRGB gamma problem last year.  But how about Evidence?  The original small version/brightness of that was put in my Scraps this weekend.)


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But that's all relevant to the JPGs.  Am VERY confident the revised prints will all be properly spectacular now.  (Several looked really good but not perfect before, brightness-wise.)  Got them all pumped through DAPrints last night, and also made many more sizes available than before.  Most my images need that "title buffer" at the bottom, but I was very pleased how many of them widened well with new space to the sides.  That'll influence my sense of composition in the future.  (Still gotta do the big nature shots and the Lances though.  And two prints were taken down altogether for further revision.)

It was my parents who'd point out to me that 2:3 is a damning ratio for buying frames off the shelf, and that 4:5 is much more conventional, so made 4:5's available for my vast majority.  But isn't that interesting that the frame industry hasn't gotten with the program of the typical photographic ratio?  Weird.

Anyway, am in a very strange mood this week, between numb shock and profound unease.  Got fired from my job Monday under very shady circumstances.  That treacherous bitch mentioned this spring had been making nice with me for quite some time, evidently in a plot to collect the basis to stab me in the back more drastically.  She had been acting like my best friend and supporter until she had what she needed to get me fired.

So am unemployed and fearful for the roof over my head, but keeping busy with various productive ways to try to turn the situation around.  Unfortunately, I SUCK at self-promotion in any way (other than to people like you who seem to unconditionally love me), so I can't just go around saying "pay me to take your picture," but am lining up a couple well-connected people to provide informal agency for me.  Working on my website, getting some business cards print up this weekend (with Life by the Horns as the compelling image), and basically trying to forestall selling the camera rig to pay the rent.

Icky.

Anyone know any literary agents?  Would rock to get an advance on a book contract.  Could draft a thorough proposal in 48 hours, but it would overcome my own weaknesses to have an eager audience waiting for it.  (I suck at selling, I rock at pitching, if you see the difference.  Responding to interest verywell, but not generating it worth a damn.)

Anyway, if I seem even more erratic than usual in coming days, you'll know why.  Lots to sort out, both emotionally and logistically.  I'm not taking the treachery too personally - it reflects more on her and I know that - but that doesn't mean it's not upsetting.  And of course stinging ruefully from having given her any benefit of the doubt.  I could have gotten her fired (or at least severely reprimanded) for the incident in April, but it just seemed so obviously out of the question to me to risk her job or livelihood.

And then besides all this, of course, there's the verge of World War III.  Which has a more direct relevance to my possible future than you'd ever guess.  But let's just say it's not helping my outlook, it's not at all abstract to me.

One foot.  In front.  Of.  The other.

My survival mantra.

:hmm:

Okay, so the last thing with Photoshop CS2 before losing it last weekend was to spend a whole day revising the vast majority of my JPG's.  Gonna start uploading them in a few minutes (despite massive browser clunkiness) so that I have something productive to show for this weekend.

Spent most of it either a) recovering from errands in the heat outdoors, or b) struggling to polish off Wishful Thinking/Try As You Might, but am convinced it's not yet looking anywhere nearly so good as it could be.  Dramtic, yes, but not gleaming, which I hope to pull off.  So, no new work, but at least a fresh look at a bunch of old work.

The (long-planning, long-desired) idea behind revising the JPGs is twofold:

1.  To use CS2's Bicubic Sharper algorithm to make snappier small versions - I work big and they've always tend to lose something in translation.  Bicubic Sharper should help restore some of the snap/depth that my big versions have.  

Wrote a Photoshop action that would reduce each image to seven different sizes (basically to prepare for any anticipated purpose), with both the Sharper and "Unsharper" versions to choose from for decision on a case-by-case basis, often deciding to set the Unsharper version on Darken over the Sharper for the best net result.  (I.e., sharper edge shadows with minimized brighter-side halos.)  Time-consuming?, yes, but the Action made it a lot easier (espec. since CS2's Actions allow one to save and USE History States in the progress of the Action, which was indispensably useful.)

2.  To bring them "up to date" with all I've learned about color profiling in the last three years.

Most of my older images have appeared dark here not just for the obvious reason - made on a Mac with 1.8 gamma - but also for an inobvious one (that affected my prints too).  Even when I seemed to have everything figured out and doing my workflow right, somehow a 2.2 gamma seemed to be entering into the equation where I couldn't find it.

Turns out (I discovered last year), color spaces (not just profiles) have inherit gammas of their own.  That is, my color space of choice, AdobeRGB 1998, is based on a 2.2 gamma!  Ack!  (AppleRGB and ColorMatch RGB are based on 1.8g, and sRGB, naturally, is also based on 2.2g.)  So, since preferring the more rich color of AdobeRGB, built my own custom variant (last summer) hinged on a 1.8 gamma instead.  And that's improved things much since then (effectively solving my print problem completely).

So, last weekend, opened up all those old ones built in AdobeRGB, and Applied the new custom profile, and then, for everyone else's sake on the web, Converted the new JPGs to sRGB.  That is, Applying doesn't change any data, it just changes how the existing data is interpret - in effect making them match my monitor in hindsight - and then Converting does change data, based on exactly how that data is interpret by the Profile assigned to it, but ideally to a better fit for the vast majority of profile-indifferent browsers.  (Far as I know, only Safari takes profiles seriously.)

Just sharing all that in case anyone else has been frustrate by similar issues, I'd be glad to offer further advice if anyone needs it.  (Replying Notes, however, is easier than replying Comments in my non-DA-compliant browser, however.)

So, anyway, DevWatches beware...  (It'll be a process of hours though...)

And then, next weekend, will prolly tackle updating all those old print files too.  Many of them were proofed to perfection already (though the trial-and-error was laborious without understanding what was wrong), but at least a dozen of them will benefit anew (all the Shae shots in particular, from when I "knew enough to be dangerous.")

Also, many more pieces are "coming out of hiding" from last year, but mostly "also-rans" or revised-in-2004 originals now destined for Scraps (including my two DTF's from way back in the day).  Four pieces are remaining under wraps, though, pending spectacular new revisions, so that they'll be fresh surprises for those that don't remember them from before.  (For those that do remember, those pieces are Seasons Come and Go, Height of the Summer, Untitled, and Mission from God.)

One strange bit of bad news.  It seems one source file was lost in my drive crash of 2005, but only last week became evident.  That was The Message Is Clear.  But that one will be a joy to revise/rebuild someday - it was made during a transitional period in my technique anyway - so if source files had gone missing, that was about the ideal one to lose.  (I was scared to death - for a while - that I had lost the source files for Untitled.  That would have been a disaster, a labor-intensive fifteen-shot stitch that I'm dying to finish for print with my new techniques, but they thankfully did turn up on my other archive drive.)

One last bit of good news.  My main external drive (with my archived body of work) that locks up my old CPU via Firewire seems fine by USB 1.1.  Just proved that today when bringing the new JPGs over to the old system.  Obviously, not terribly practical, but for lower-meg tasks, but a lot more practical that swapping the drive into my limited IDE bus (and having to remove my Photoshop scratch disk to make room for it).

Anyway, just wanted to give you all fair warning.  And I do think some of the images will shine bright with new life, if you're inclined to zoom in on any of your old favorites you see come around again.  If I'm uploading them, it's because there should be a substantial difference.

:heart:



ps - yes, limited and obsolete internet DOES suck.  But trying to make the best of it.  Basically, if Photoshop's busy, then the net's a risk I can't take.  So sorry if comments go unusually unreplied, rest assured I'm reading them when I check in every day or two.  Can't tell you how much they mean to me.

:phew:

UPDATE

Okay, so I understand my new JPGs won't flood your devWatches after all...

So here they are, if anyone's interested...  Updated to be brighter and crisper, I'll be interested if anyone things I've "gone too far."



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Next up (within a day or two), revised prints, and the latest shocking news in my life.

Yes, it seems that thunderstrike was an omen.

:hmm:

Stunning

Fri Jul 14, 2006, 7:55 PM
At 10:31 pm, I just heard the scariest and most unique thunderclap of my entire life.

A sudden mighty burst, the world lurched, with an even-descending microwhiplash that last over 40 seconds.

At the beginning, there was no cracking open, no process, no warning, an immediacy like a meteor impact, when you were asleep to begin with.  Even massive fireworks have more beginning and end than this did.

It was as if suddenly the world had changed.

The tail shuddered through my feet for over ten seconds - ten whole seconds through my feet - and then discernably through the air for another 30.  But freakishly even, no warble at all, like a mighty amplifier simply being shut up, and the slightest amplitude in the signal fading off logarithmically.  Except that it was a slow logarithm, and stubborn to finally let go.

But nothing about the whole thing was rumbly.

Once it finally abate, I admit I filled with fear.  What was that?

I found myself halfway waiting for a horrible shockwave in its wake.

I ran out my door, down to hall, and to outdoors.  I stepped halfway out into meager rain, just desperate for some sign of explanation.  But there was none.  And it sounded like my neighbor was just carrying on with his life.

I'm back, so struck as to write you immediately.

Every gene of mammal I'm built on is still in awe, and tentatively fearful, afraid to relax.

It makes me more afraid, of someday when a bomb might fall.

It helps me understand where mythology came from.

Those single inexplicable events.

I'm hearing sirens out there, but nothing with quite the urgency of a four-alarm fire.

But clearly in reaction.

What the hell was that?

It wasn't like any thunder I ever heard before.

The world feels different now.

:o

...

Bad as I feared...

Tue Jul 11, 2006, 7:22 PM
Based on (as recounted last time):
1.  Having to return the laptop to work, and
2.  Being told specifically not to hit DA from the office, and
3.  Being stuck with only my old 300mHz OS9 tower at home...

It seems:
4.  I will be scarce around DA for a while.
5.  Possibly longer, if other variables come into play in August (which I'd already anticipate, so:
6.  In some ways, I'm being forced "ahead of schedule" to nearly vanish.

So, of course:
7.  This is rather upsetting.

Sometimes, I feel the journey of the last eight years of my life has been to lose the things that have given me comfort.

Coming home from work yesterday, I felt as if a limb was missing.  That laptop had been "internet at my fingertips" for about three years, so I kept stumbling upon the faulty reflex to reach for it.  (For DA, for Wikipedia, for the blogosphere and news, etc.)  When my tower is Photoshopping, it risks any work I'm doing to tap the net.  OS9's worst quality is that a whole machine can hose up if one program goes wrong.

Meanwhile (during a rare Photoshop break tonight), have tried all three available browsers this evening, and two of them can't handle DA at all, and Explorer only bare-marginally.  (Netscape used to work better than it does now, not sure what's up with that.)

It frankly amazes me even more how well Photoshop itself does perform on this machine.  Even juggling multiple half-gig's full of layers at a time is like lightning compared to these old browsers.

Do hope to borrow a friend's laptop for checking in this weekend.  Spent Sunday (with the laptop and CS2, before giving both up) making fresh JPGs of virtually my entire body of work, and, not incidentally, revised versions of nearly all my older prints.  So this weekend, hope to upload them and tell you more about those.  (There's a reason I've never said "Buy my prints!" before, based on a "5% imperfection" in the old ones, that will now be gloriously corrected (as the newer ones have been already).)  Worth doing, you'll finally see much of my work as I've seen it myself.  (Brighter, basically, more luminous.  I'd finally found the hidden gamma setting last year, that almost no one knows about, that had bunged me up until last summer.)

So, my ultimate unfortunate point?

1)  I'll be pretty scarce around here,
2)  Missing you terribly, and
3)  Hopeful that anyone will use email for anything important (cause I can check that from work),

Because

4)  My "day-to-day" life at DA has come abruptly and ingloriously to an end,
5)  Or at least to a prevalent hiatus, and
6)  Little could feel more wrong.

:hmm:

You can blow out a candle...

Thu Jul 6, 2006, 7:43 PM
A lot of my older deviations may be revised with this weekend with improved JPGs.  It's something I've been meaning to do for a while, and my current window of opportunity is about to close.

I can't find the relevant journal entry.  Does anyone remember that laptop I wrote about?  The one that I chose very specifically not to steal from work?  By making sure it got re-entered into the inventory database even while it's lived (under an approved arrangement) at my home?

I got told today that they want it back, ASAP.  He seemed annoyed about it.  I told my story of having "done the right thing" (quickly, in about three sentences), and he didn't seem to give a damn.  The whole issue was just an annoyance to him, and I was the cause.

In the same short meeting, he told me specifically not to browse DA at the office.  I said, "sure thing," but of course he still seemed annoyed.  I suppose I blame him less for that, a) not knowing what the "deviant" might mean, and b) we're not supposed to browse "personally" at work.  (Though, of course, everyone does.)

So WHACK, that's a lot of transition to absorb.  Though my DA during the day has been minimal (at least, for ages now), losing the laptop is a huge deal.

For those that don't know, Mac OS 9 was the last "classic" version of their OS, and Mac OS X is UNIX.  In other words, night and day.

I do all my Photoshop and such on a 1996 300mHz Power Macintosh, running two monitors, both SCSI and IDE drives, and 3/4 gig of RAM.  But because it's so old, it can only run OS9, which hasn't been so bad since I had access to X elsewhere...

That is, on the iBook from work.  Small, underpowered, but perfect for the occasional OS X utility, occasional minor research in CS 2 (which won't run in 9 of course), and offloading all my internet activity off the tower, onto a handier little platform for typing and browsing.

All afternoon, it's been sinking in, one frustration at a time...

No more Safari.  No more Firefox.

No more iTunes.  No more burning CDs.

No more CS 2 for resizing my jpg's so much better.

No OmniOutliner that I've been writing my book in.  (It's been massively outlined.)

And, of course, no more keeping "old creaky" at least dedicated solely to my art, as it's been for years now.

And other little benefits besides.

...

The irony is that I have a plan, in which I would have offered them the iBook back in about six weeks.

But I am under this huge stress in my life that the plan is going to fall through.

It seems alarmingly possible, "alarmingly" considering how long it's felt like my only hope.

And suddenly, today, my current "what-if-it-craps-out?" got feeling a lot more oppressive.

And I was stressed to the core already.

By the devil of my worst possible enemy, the bane of my existence, the hell toward which I am pathologically averse.

Paperwork.

And bureaucracy.

Why does it seem that any potential for hope...?

Has to require my version of Kryptonite?

:surrender:

I pledge allegiance, to the flag...

Tue Jul 4, 2006, 4:47 PM
Happy 4th-day, surely.

I had a piece in mind, but it just wasn't working.  Bums me out cause I'd been counting on finishing it for quite a while, but it's just not coming together.

But here's the basic message that I had in mind:

Have you ever thought about WHY it would require a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning?

Because "banning flag-burning" would be unconstitutional.

:doh:

:|


<a href="glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/"">Glenn Greenwald is still kicking ass and naming names.

He is truly a patriot, when we need them more than ever.

:heart:

Just checkin' in...

Wed Jun 28, 2006, 7:17 PM
Ended the workday in a strangely serene good mood today, so thought I'd check in and say hi.

On one hand, regret that no art's been finished lately, but on the other, have just been Photoshopping my brains out, so have felt duly productive, while having fun with the challenges.

Got about six different pieces in the pipe (including a new one started last night), but none of them quite dazzle me yet, hence the restraint.

But my buddy Thad's good for me.  He looks at something in process like But The Door Was Open... and says, "Wow!," and reminds me that what no longer surprises me will still quite surprise you.  Am hopeful to maybe finish it for Friday night.  (It's been in progress off-and-on for ages, but finally had a mental breakthrough on it just lately, that helped me see some magic in it that makes me a lot more excited about it.)

One thing to always keep in mind about my (lack of / slowness in) output is that I really prefer to finish everything for big print before sharing it here.  Door Was Open, for instance, would be a lot easier to finish for the web, but the print detail is vexing me a bit.

Funny thing from a couple of months ago.  For years now, my research has been in pursuit of extraordinary crisp detail, and in my mind, it's always been in pursuit of a scrupulous professional standard, like we'd see in a glossy magazine.  But in an airport a while back, I was looking at a Vogue and realized just how fuzzy and indistinct so much glossy photography amounts to.

Had set a bar higher for myself than anyone else would.  Gee, imagine that, haha.

Anyway, one big reason to finish it for Friday night is because I've got a different priority in mind for the long four-day weekend (that won't amount to any new art to show you), so I'd kinda like to get something new post first.

I get "unrelaxed" when it's been too long.  Though have been happily researching away, mostly, unusually satisfied just to spin my wheels in it.

My recent challenge has been that I have several bang-up methods for making an image look more wow, but it's tricky to make them all play nice with each other.

Always spending idle time at work stewing like all hell over this stuff.  Can't imagine the look on my face, surely the intensity shows.

My research has become the central drama of my life, it delivers my highs, lows, hopes, dreams, fears, and oh! those red herrings.  Feels risky to my sanity sometimes, to be so obsessed, but it feels like such a productive obsession.

Though, granted, it'll be a lot more productive if I can get a new computer later this year.  The current arrangement has definitely become a massive bottleneck.  But it should pan out eventually.

(For those that don't know, I juggle half-a-gig-and-upward PSD's on a 300mHz 1996 Power Macintosh.  Honestly?  The main drag is opening them and saving them, so I'm not complaining too much.  But it'll be nice to get a box that will run CS2 instead of just 7.  I do own CS2, but can only run it on the tiny iBook.)

Anyway, it's been beautiful here, beyond belief.  Gorgeous clouds in the afternoon skies, amidst the most lovely temperate June ever in my adult life.  I normally hate summer, but wouldn't if it always felt like this.

It feels like a bit of heaven, and late this morning it even looked like it.  The afternoon clouds in this region are truly special, I noticed as soon as I moved here five years ago, and they still amaze me on a regular basis.

So money's always a bitch, and big daunting changes lurk over the horizon, and there's some nasty bureacratic paperwork looming over me, and DAMN IT if I still haven't quite got my edges coming together like I want them to...

But after a hard day of just racking my brain, it ended with such a sweet sense of serenity, that I thought I'd say high, and try to share it with you.

Sorry if I'm a little AWOL around here, but it feels right to be selfish, and productive to play.

:heart: