Analyze the Data not the Drivel

Recent Images

  • It's easy to see why Joshua Tree is used for low budget science fiction movie sets.

  • Heading for the hills.

  • In addition to her tub ambush pictures, Hazel also composed some "artsy" pictures. This lovely high key bubble bath shot is a fine example. Restoring high key shots is generally more work as the bright tones expose every little spot. I had to remove hundreds of scratches from the original slide that would normally be invisible.

  • When I first visited the site of the monumental Crazy Horse sculpture in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1974 I was taken by the warm all wooden interior of the small museum on the grounds. This room no longer exists. It's been replaced by a larger and uglier room.

  • After exposing your cyanotype to the sun for three to five minutes you simply rinse it in plain old water until you get the yellow out. This is ridiculously simple compared to traditional darkroom development.

  • Edmonton's High-Level Bridge from the western side. I walked across this bridge every day during my last year at the University of Alberta. Occasionally I would think about jumping over the side but I've always wanted to see what comes next.

  • Shortly after developing an interest in photography I took a trip to Victoria B.C. with my father. My first 35mm shots, like this one, were made with an old Signet 35 rangefinder. The Signet was older than I was at the time. It had belonged to one of my father's uncles, then my father and finally me. I used Kodachrome 25 for this shot, one of my all-time favorite films, and I remember focusing on the boat's masts through the rangefinder. I doubt I could use a rangefinder now; my vision has declined to the point that I rely on automatic focus and blowing things up to 200% or more when editing images. For a long time, this was one of my favorite slides. It still projects better than it scans which is typical of most chromes.

  • Cusco Cross.

  • A gate marking the entrance to the Pantanal in Brazil. The Pantanal is a large wetland and ranching region.

  • Mali often complains that we "have no good pictures of the two of us." I think this one is Ok.

  • Sometimes a collage conveys a better impression than a sequence of images. This image was built from a number of shots I took while hiking with my wife's Meetup group in the Boise foothills. It quickly imparts a sense of the day.

  • The sandstone on Table Rock is still being quarried. Stone from Table Rock was used in the construction of the Idaho Capitol building and the Old Penitentiary.

  • Accidental street art.

  • I finally got around to visiting Camel Back Park in the Boise foothills today. It was an overcast day which is ideal for hiking provided the rain holds off.

  • My maternal grandfather Gert with me in 1954. It's transparencies like this that make me glad that Hazel was using Kodachrome slide film. The original slide is old enough to collect Social Security but the colors are still beautifully warm and balanced. Kodachrome approaches black and white negatives for archival durability. I wonder how many grandchildren of today's millennials will get a chance to view their grandparent's digital images. Unless you take complete control of archiving digital files and moving them from one storage device to another as technology changes I can assure you nobody will be looking at your Instagram or SmugMug shots seventy years from now.

  • My good friend Carl sitting in the sun on the benches of the University of Alberta Student Union building. Carl was one of my best friends in Edmonton and it saddens me that I have so few pictures of him. He was a "goofy poser." When you pointed a camera in his face he immediately started clowning even more than usual. Carl died in near poverty a few years ago from prostate cancer in a Calgary hospice. Upon learning of his illness I called him a few weeks before his death. He was taking pain drugs and it took him a few moments to recognize my voice. I hoped to chat with him again but death intervened and I was left with the feeling that I didn't say goodbye and thanks for being such a superb friend.

  • The cyanotype process uses UV sunlight to create a latent image on suitably prepared materials. You can use paper, cloth, anything that will hold the mixture of Ferric Ammonium Citrate and Potassium Ferricyanide. The mixture is non-toxic and, (you still don't drink it), so you can use your own body as a "negative."

  • My brother Steve filming me 1970. He is in front of the then Alberta Government Telephone building in Edmonton. Steve spent a few years shooting 8mm movies in the early 1970s. I am not sure if any of them have survived. It would amuse me to see what he was recording when I took this picture.

  • Gert and me. Hazel snapped this shot in Meeker Colorado on one of their "visit the grandchildren" trips.

  • Aileen rocking a green Christmas dress in 1961.

  • A dead python in a Brazilian Pantanal drainage ditch. This poor snake was a victim of "rancher ecology." Rancher ecology is a comprehensive doctrine of environmental stewardship that ranchers all over the world rigorously uphold. The prime directive of rancher ecology is simple: if it's not a cow or a rancher shoot it!

  • Jacob near the high eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park. Shortly after entering the park you drive by a nice roadside lake. I've never been able to resist water reflections.

  • My maternal grandmother Hazel liked people and it shows in her pictures. This is a rare shot of me, the goofy kid in the background with his mouth open, and my siblings in 1962. The original Kodachrome slide was way underexposed with uneven flash highlights. I didn't expect much but given the subject matter, I gave restoration a shot. To compensate for the poor exposure I scanned the slide twice. Once for normal tones and again with the scanner light set to its highest setting for the underexposed shadows. I stacked the scans, blended the exposures by averaging and then applied HDR tone mapping. I was surprised at how well the tone mapping spread out the harsh flashlight and pulled up the shadows. After blending the HDR map into the base layer I had a decent image to work with and then went about my usual color balancing, burning and dodging, and spot removal.

  • Perhaps the finest bench view in Boise.

  • Me and Mali on an Idaho shaped park monument. I expect we will be entering a monument erection drought. This particular monument commemorates the arrival of Oregon Trail pioneers in the Boise River valley back in the 19th century. This marker was placed before it was widely understood that the spread of white people is not something to celebrate but something to relentlessly condemn. Eventually, this harmless rock will be seen as a blatant white supremacy dog whistle that must be pulled down and ground into sand. History must be carefully edited lest we accidentally learn something.

  • Mali posing by sage in Camel Back Park.

  • The original snapshot was printed on patterned paper. You see little regular hexagons in the before image. Patterned prints are a pain to retouch so I removed the patterns with Affinity Photo's FFT filter. After removing patterns I balanced colors. This was more of a chore than expected. I tried a number of programs, Affinity Photo, Picture Window Pro and finally Lightroom. I liked the Lightroom result the best. I reloaded the color balanced image back into Affinity and fixed defects. The print has a large color stain that shows on the carpet. The original negative must have been damaged. I recolored the rug and painted it back into the picture. Whenever I heavily edit an image I create a before and after to reassure myself that my edits were worthwhile.

  • The developed sheet with the "negatives."

  • I attended a Cyanotype Workshop at the library this afternoon. I was expecting a dull indoor lecture but it turned out to be a way to much fun outdoor hands-on activity for kids. I fit right in the with five to ten-year-olds.

  • Helene and Jacob beside a memorial. I believe the monument is in or near Cochrane Ontario.

  • My grandmother Helen reading The Night Before Christmas to me. Her sister Margo is in the background. The original Kodachrome slide is dated February 1961 but I suspect this was taken a month or so earlier. Helen died when she was eighty-five and Margo lived until she was ninety-six. Margo was an excommunicated Catholic. She married a divorced man and was probably the reason he got divorced in the first place. In those days Catholics took their doctrines seriously; they would view our modern cafeteria Catholics with contempt. Despite being thrown out of the church Margo remained a devoted Catholic. I used to irritate her by dismissing her sky fairy beliefs as primitive nonsense that would soon disappear like the belief in Greek deities disappeared.

  • Until my visit to Brasilia, I was a big fan of the ultramodern style of architecture. I liked glass towers and unadorned concrete facades. I expected Brasilia, a "city of the future" built from scratch in late 1950s and early 1960s, to really impress me and it did but not in the way I expected. It turns out that gleaming spotless facades do not age well. Even in 1979, a mere twenty years after most of the city's famous buildings were constructed, a lot of them were looking pretty ratty and stained. The eye is drawn to any imperfection on blank surfaces. If you erect spotless facades plan on cleaning them frequently.

  • Mali with her mother Mahin behind the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. The view of parliament hill and the Ottawa River from behind the supreme court is one of the best in the city.

  • To date old slide scans of a trip I took with my son through northern California in 2008 I browsed dated digital images I shot at the same time and came across the Nikon D40 frames that went into this panorama of Yosemite National Park high country. I probably tried stitching these frames years ago and gave up disappointed but as I have remarked many times panorama software continually improves. Today I dropped the original D40 NEF files into Affinity Photo, built a panorama, applied tone mapping and then blended the tone map back into the stitched frames to produce this pleasing result. Yosemite suffers from too many goddamn tourists but if you can ignore the grunting naked apes there is no denying that the park is jaw-droppingly beautiful and deserves the reverence it has reaped from touring hack photographers like me and masters like Ansel Adams.

  • Heading west back to the old Penitentiary after walking past the Table Rock quarry ruins. My wife doesn't like me bringing up the rear but if I didn't I wouldn't enjoy views like this. It was a superb bright spring day with what I call highlight clouds in the sky.

  • Some intrepid soul tagged Table Rock above Boise. Graffiti is often artless vandalism but I appreciated its color contrast when composing this wide shot.

  • The Boise foothills are blooming with a variety of wild flowers.

  • One of Hazel's Kodachromes of me taking early steps. The expression on my face reminds me of how I felt taking my first steps after my quadriceps repair. Walking, it's not overrated!

  • The last anniversary picture of my paternal grandparents Frank and Helen. Frank and Helen were married on February 14, Valentine's Day, and I have numerous snapshots of them celebrating their anniversary over the years. This is the last shot I've found. Not long after this picture was taken Frank was diagnosed with lung cancer. Though he quit smoking more than fifteen years ago the damage had already been done. He died late next year.

  • Exposing a cyanotype to the sun above with the developed image below.

  • The calibrated world is not as saturated as the online world.

  • Me in my living room at 10634 69th Ave. in Edmonton. Some of my more interesting old pictures are room interiors. Interior pictures are usually composed to jog memories and show off possessions. As the years roll by these humdrum shots become more and more interesting. I remember many of the objects in this room. The chess set on the shelves, the old cathode ray TV on the floor and the sideways framed map of Barbados on the wall. The only object I still have is the small yellow glass egg on the middle shelf.

  • Sometimes optical experiments work. I took this shot of an Indian Paintbrush flower on my first hike up to Pine Creek in Montana way back in 1971. I didn't have a macro lens or even an SLR camera. I unscrewed one of the objective lenses on a pair of binoculars and used it as a magnifying glass. I held my old rangefinder up to the binocular lens and pulled the shutter. I've shot dozens of images of Indian Paintbrush flowers over the years but I still like this one the best.

  • We took a quick trip over to Bozeman and Livingston late last week. My father will soon be selling a townhome in Bozeman and we wanted to check on it and meet the people that currently live in it. While in the neighborhood we visited my mother's grave in Livingston. It's been six years since she died. The next time I go I will take a brush and pail and clean her headstone and the nearby monuments of my grandparents. For many years my aunt Alberta made a spring tombstone cleaning trip to Livingston. A lot of us thought it was a bit nutty but now that I know more dead than living people in Livingston I see it as a nice tradition.

  • Mali's mother Mahin in a black sweater. Before her dementia set in Mahin was a patient an interesting model. She was fun to photograph. Mahin died on New Years Eve 2014. We think of her every New Years.

  • Me on a red couch around the time I learned one of life's most important skills: sitting up! This is another one of Hazel's old Kodachromes. The original slide was decently exposed with only modest scratching. The colors, especially the red couch, had faded a bit during the last sixty-five years but a touch of tone mapping brought it back.

  • Old quarry operations have left some nice exposed sandstone cliffs on the Table Rock trail.

  • Table Rock Cross and arrowleaf balsamroot flowers.

  • The Camel Back above Boise on an overcast spring day.

  • One of my father's 1967 shots of the Posideon Temple in Greece. I scanned this image years ago but held off restoring it as the color negative was heavily damaged. The sky was filled with horrible blotches made worse by Nikon's crappy early 2000s scanning software. I always liked the light in the sky so today I dropped the scan into Affinity Photo and spent way more time than I should have inpainting away thousands of defects. I am still not entirely satisfied but at some point, you declare things good enough.

  • Some duds age well. I used this old Ektachrome to protect slides that I considered "better." Now I find the deep shadows, grain, unbalanced colors and the mysterious figure in the chair under the light more interesting than many properly exposed shots. This room was the common area in the Campus Coop building I lived in during my last year at the University of Alberta. The building no longer exists and I know at least two of the people I lived with have died. Eventually, only the deep shadows persist.

  • After rinsing simply dry your cyanotype. Here is the sheet the kids were lying on. It has a cave painting vibe.

  • Me overlooking Montreal from Mount Royal.

  • I was a destructive little shit during my teenage years. In 1968 I carved my initials into the window ledge of my dorm room at ACS. As bad as this is it's minor compared to chipping through the dorm room walls and setting off bombs. I could have been expelled for any number of creative offenses but I was always careful to break rules that were not in the rule book. By the time I left ACS the rule book had many new J.D.B. inspired entries. My friend Ned Prothro celebrated my reign of destruction by snapping this shot of my "artwork" a year after I left the school. He titled it "Immortality."

  • Cusco llamas in front of Saqsaywaman walls.

  • My mother giving my then baby brother Steve a bath. Hazel didn't concern herself with focus and lighting conditions when something caught her eye. She just pressed the shutter. Here we have out of focus red-eye inducing flash in the face combined with extreme underexposure. I scanned the original Kodachrome slide twice and experimented with blending the exposures using HDR stacking. It didn't work well so I masked off parts of the image that came out hazy and manipulated contrast by painting on layer masks until things looked ok.

  • Mali's mother Mahin patiently posing in our Orleans basement. Light from below is not common for portraits but here it makes you look twice.

  • One of my first digital collages put together with my favorite image editor, Picture Window Pro, in 2004. This file sat in one of my WIP, (Work In Progress), directories for fifteen years. Today I decided it's not too bad. The individual images are all self-developed and printed Kodak TriX 400 black and white snapshots that I had glued into an old diary. I scanned the diary images with a flatbed and before doing any restoration work built this collage. You can see many scratches, spots, and other defects that I typically edit out. Some claim this adds "authenticity" so that's what I'm going with today.

  • The hiking group walking through the remains of the old quarry on Table Rock.

  • Looking south from the Table Rock trail over the Boise airport to the Snake River plain and the Owyhee mountains on the horizon. Boise has its charms.





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