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2009 31st year

145 Boyd Way
Carmel CA 93923
831 624-5535
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Al Weber 2009 Newsletter

If You Are an Artist, You and Your Heirs Are Going To Get Rich. In California, artists get a cut when works are resold, if everyone does what they are supposed to do. Five percent of any sale over $1,000 goes to you, within 20 years of your death. Yippee! So, if a print sells for $,000 and those involved are honest, you or your heirs are in line for a whopping $50. All you have to do is catch them. For further information, contact Patty Milich at the California Arts Council in Sacramento. Don’t call me for her number. I don’t have it.

From the Ashes. There used to be a good photography magazine called Photo Techniques. But what had been a fine publication, full of legitimate information, slipped away. A few savvy writers like David Vestal and Paul Schranz hung in there, but the magazine became sadly lacking, print quality went down, size diminished, general subject material grew stagnant, and advertisers went elsewhere.

Now a knight in shining armor has come forward. Paul Schranz, with 28 years experience writing for Preston Publications, has convinced those in charge to let him straighten out the mess, shake it up, hire some fresh young blood, pump some much needed money into the process, and VOILA, we once more will have a respectable photography journal.

Watch for the new editions early in the year. The name has been corrected to Photo Technique, just one of the small trivial items. Sometimes it is the small and seemingly trivial things that make a difference. Schranz can do the job, and he has support from those in the mainstream.

Books to Look Over The Face of Poetry. Margaretta Mitchell. University of California Press. A large and provocative assembly of portraits, by Gretta of poets at their highest, in classic black and white. Experience plus good taste well executed equals The Face of Poetry.

Connections. A Visual Journal. Ford Robbins. Red Mountain Press. A quiet understated and tasteful book, by a quiet, gentle and sensitive man. Black and white, employed tastefully demonstrating Ford’s interaction with the landscape around him. It’s just right.

Simple Systems. Nolan Preece. A Blurb book. We need to reduce Nolan’s caffeine intake. Wow! If a little color is good, this is what a whole bunch looks like. Tie that into a provocative theme, ‘Solutions’, and here is a virtual mind trip. Must be that Nevada air.

A 55-Year Retrospective. Loran A. List. A bit of everything seen over fifty years, but dominated by elegant interpretations of the female body. Loran has worked long and hard, with passion, and brought it all together. Class without the cheese. A good example of conventional black and white, used to execute an often-maligned topic.

Visual Metaphors. Richard Garrod. Think of sustained performance in photography on the Monterey Peninsula, and the name Garrod is always there. On a parallel track with Minor White, but having a long friendship with Brett Weston has influenced Richard to where he is today. It looks like a pretty good spot. David Gardner printing at his best.

Into The Vortex. Paul Christean. A self-published calendar, not for the faint of heart. He’s done it one more time. It just has to be the water. Certainly not Tab.

People Pictures. George Bond. A hand made 50-year narrative in picture form of all things important to George; kids, weddings, church doings, architecture and more. A contemporary version of the old-fashioned scrapbook; an item every family should have. Stand up straight ahead well-crafted black and white, with the Abe Lincoln statue on the rear cover. Good show George.

The Juried Exhibit I’ve recently judged a juried exhibit at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel. There were 700 entries. Judging was by slides only. Some were unhappy with the results. Some were pleased. My advice: Always read up on the juror. If the juror comes out of f64 thinking and you are dong conceptual color, the result is obvious. Why bother?

No matter how non-prejudiced a juror may try to be, they’re still human and have a life long development of taste. It has to play a roll. It’s crucial to know where the judge is coming from.

Read the rules carefully. What is the theme? Why is the show being done? Who really will benefit from it? Is your work applicable? Who is judging? How will it be done? Is there pre-judging? Is there post judging? These two common practices are usually kept under covers. Will work be seen in print form, or by slides? Remember, slides can make bad photographs look good, and good photographs look bad. Slides rarely reflect delicate or subtle tonalities. Those who employ fine printing techniques always suffer. Those working in alternate processes usually lose the finesse of the process. Making large or small prints for effect is lost with slides. In slides, a Costco ink jet print will look better than a hand made platinum print. That’s a fact.

Jurying by slides seems here to stay, however. In days long gone, a photograph was judged directly from the print. There was no chance for error. Judging by slides involves a computer and I question computer reliability.

A major problem is poor slide quality. You, the photographer, are responsible for sending the best possible slide file to a competition. Competition slides are not snap shots. They should always be made on a copy stand, with proper lighting and stability.

Given the presence of slides, here is a way to make sure your photographs will survive the transformation from print to slide. To get an idea as to how your print will look in slide form, place a piece of tracing paper over your print. It will obscure some detail. It will give you a good idea of how your photograph will look when judged by slides. Another approach is to view your print from the backside against a strong light. Neither way is perfect, but it’s an aid. It’s kind of like scraping burned toast. It can affect your work. Knowing your delicate, highly detailed photograph will suffer from the slide application makes one question doing the photograph in the first place. Judging directly from the print is still best. But that takes longer and involves a lot more administrative labor. Those in charge are more concerned about administrative ease than getting the best result. Judging by slides is in. It has become the standard in juried exhibits. It works fine for the organizers. It has become a disaster for serious photographers.

Monitor calibration is critical. Many work with a monitor that is out of whack. The monitor must be properly calibrated.

If you are entering a juried show, you need to be aware of the before mentioned pitfalls.

Jack Welpott called me after judging for the NEA. One might think such an organization would be above reproach. Before the judging, he was given a list of photographers who would get a grant, regardless of the judging. This happens a lot. Does this influence what you do with your art? You betcha it does. The energy created by adversity CAN reinforce everything else you do, or it can depress the devil out of you. Judging photographs without the vulgar intrusion of slides could happen again. But that will take work, lots of it. The button counters are in control.

Cats This has nothing to do with photography, but what the heck. The other night while flipping through the TV channels, looking for ANYTHING to watch, I caught a program about Cats. I like Cats. Suzie likes cats. We sometimes have as many as twelve sharing the house with us. This program was about showing cats. First they had to explain that the animals shown were actually cats. To me they looked more like something the cat drags in. Emaciated, scrawny, ugly and scared. These wild-eyed creatures with big pedigrees, reminded me of prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. All in cages, during the show, on the way to the show and away from the show. I was startled to see that even when they finally got home, they were still in a cage. And these people supposedly love cats. In contrast, our cats are well fed but not fat, roam the house at will, don’t need some toy on a stick to amuse themselves, enjoy hunting small rodents, sleep a lot, begrudgingly get brushed once a year, yet always look well groomed, and live to ripe old ages. Pissy made it to twenty years and eleven months. Poopsey checked out at eighteen years. We don’t choose or buy them, they choose us. Sometimes a stray will move in for a while, check us out, then decide they can do better down the road. Shadow lives around the bend and up the hill, but likes to dine with us. No big deal, we leave the bathroom window open for him, as we also do for Four White Paws, who lives down the hill. All cats are called in after dark as predators out in the woods lurk around looking for a nice cat-sized snack. Our cats seem to understand this. Marvin hangs out on top of the water heater, where we have put a nice cushion for him. At night, after I’m asleep, he moves to the small of my back. Both of us seem satisfied with this arrangement. Mama Cat sleeps on Suzie’s side of the bed and Toaster takes up the foot of the bed. Resident dogs seem to prefer sleeping downstairs, which is satisfactory all around. At night, the house settles down, the surrounding forest becomes quiet, waves crashing at Point Lobos echo faintly as a lullaby, and the Weber household is at peace for another day. I now wonder about all those caged kitties, locked away in some corner, never knowing the pleasure of being part of a family and not just a trinket for some very strange people. This brings us to the next issue. During the show, we see the fanciers who supposedly are the cat experts. They expound at great length about their passion, their unquestionable expertise, while stretching a poor beast at arms length as if they were wringing out a wet towel. This is routinely followed by a kiss directly on the mouth (ugh, remember cats eat weird things), and then the kitties are plopped back into the old cage. It dawned on me, after seeing a number of these fanciers, that they all have something in common. They’re weird. Reminds me of those in a circus sideshow. The weirdness is not natural, it’s man made. Very strange hairstyles, bizarre garb and make-up by the pound. They’re scrawny like most of the cats, or bulky like a Chicago Bears linebacker. And they never seem to go outside. Of course I’m no expert by their standards, but I have lived with cats more than sixty years, and I’ve never known one who wanted to be cooped up, indoors in a cage. Ours have always fiercely loved their freedom and ability to go in or out at will. I’ve found that outside is pretty important to cats; it’s in their make-up. Maybe that’s why show cats look so weird. They never get outside. If you’ve ever seen a cat taking a dirt bath, on a nice sunny day, out in the yard by the roses, you know what I mean. Oh joy, happy as a pig in a mud wallow.
Petroglyph Photos in Idaho In September I had a show at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. It was swell. If you missed it, you can see a few of the left overs in Carmel. There were 65 prints, nicely installed at the Herrett Center, a real class act. It’s been thirty years since I’ve shown Rock Art work. Also included were a few graffiti, which I find interesting and valid. Broken bones in my left leg and foot hindered me, making the drive to Idaho tedious, but made easier and most pleasant when my wife, Suzie decided to go along. We had a fine time, taking Heather with us. Heather moved in last spring. She’s another rescue dog, Australian Shepherd and 18 months old. This fine little girl, who, it turns out, likes to travel, blew early concerns away. The show went well, there was a talk to get through and the audience was most polite, followed by a one day workshop with some of their photo students. We got to eat, more than once, at one of my very favorite restaurants, The Depot Grill. Thanks to Shelley McCuen for arranging all this and putting us up in her neat digs on Pierce Street. We keep getting bombarded by places like New York City, Palm Springs, Dallas, Aspen, Santa Fe, etc., as the places of importance and grandeur. Bullsnort. Give me Twin Falls, or it’s like, any time. Everything there is real, including the people. I hope they ask me back some time.
The Mission Portfolios California has 21 missions, established by Spain and the Catholic Church between 1769 and 1823. One needn’t be Catholic to appreciate the importance of this part of California history. While photographing the smallest of the Missions at Soledad, I overheard a discussion in the gift shop about their new post card. Obviously dis-satisfied, they asked for my opinion. The card was pretty bad. The printing was poor, the photograph was sad, and the price was outrageous. They asked what I would charge to re-do it. My response-how about nothing for the photograph and you pay the printer direct. This would amount to a substantial savings. I would do a workshop at the mission, from which they would receive a portfolio of fine prints, and full reproduction rights. This was good for them, it struck back at a crummy photographer’s greed, and I had the pleasure of a workshop in a wonderful serene historically important place. Twenty five photographers attended and participated. Of course each of them also got a cased portfolio. A good show was arranged at the National Steinbeck Center. Forty miles down the road in San Miguel was a second mission, recently damaged by a serious earthquake. The word was out. Would I do a workshop and portfolio for them? Of course. Forty six came this time. San Miguel, although severely damaged, was wonderful. The Franciscan Friars who manage the mission were great. Hard working, highly intelligent and a fine sense of humor. The town was most receptive, especially Linda at the Country Diner, who somehow worked out feeding the troops in her tiny place. We even got a parade thrown in.

Of all the workshops I’ve done in the past 45 years, these two really stand out. It really felt good.

Is there a third mission in the future? Only the phantom knows. If you think there should be a third Mission workshop and that you would consider attending, let me know. I’m listening. 831 624-5963. If 25 respond, we’ll do it.

Special Edition Print In 1969, I field tested a lens for Hasselblad, a new 100mm Planar. They were curious as to how it worked from the air.

At an elevation of 500 feet, I shot two rolls of Ektacolor type S, over a favorite subject, the salt flats at Moss Landing. The results seemed good. In fact, I liked the results so much I bought the lens; discounted of course. Since then the majority of all my aerial work has been done with that lens. It’s been a good tool. Scanning the original film, I’ve found new sharpness with digital prints compared to earlier type C prints. A nice surprise. In the past forty years, I’ve shown a few of the series from time to time. Last year, while flipping through the files, I found one negative not finish printed before. Curiosity got the upper hand. It had to be printed. There was the expected fading, and a couple of chemical stains to deal with, but overall, the outcome was satisfactory.

I’m prejudiced of course, but I think it has turned out to be the best of the series. I’ve always admired Edward Weston’s Pepper #30. So as an inspiration, I’m calling this photograph, Moss Landing #24. Some things just take a little time.

So I’m offering it as a special edition, just to get it going in the market. The edition will be, naturally, 24. The first 24 sold are priced at $300 each. (Sales after #24, will be $1,200 each.) The size, approximately, is 8x8 inches, over matted in a 13x13 museum gray window cut out.

Larger sizes, up to 20x20 available. 11x11-$1500. 16x16-$1800. 20x20-$2000.

But the first 24 8x8’s will be $300, shipping included. California residents add $26 tax.

So long, I’ll see you when I see you,

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