Danger Ahead

Danger AheadSatire is a fun thing to play with in photography. It’s something I think about all the time. My image, shot for today’s Daily Photo Game play’s with this notion on a couple of levels.

Our new streetcar in Portland has these cycling “warning” signs along the line, when I first saw them I thought it was a joke (those crazy Portlandia’ns). The implications struck me as ironic, that is to say something that is supposed to be healthy – bike riding – might nearly kill you. The sign is so explicit, it is hard to believe it's real.

I was reminded of these road signs as I mulled on Robert’s bicycle image “The Joker” and the lightbulb went off.

At first I was content with my image straight out of the camera, however, upon closer inspection of the image, I noticed the corse dot pattern used to print the sign. Another flash of inspiration… that dot pattern, the strong primary colors and ironic subject reminded me of Roy Lichtenstein’s work.

My Lichtenstein treatment of the photograph adds yet another layer – a type layer that is – to the original image, taking the piece in a more satirical direction. What struck me in the pairing of these two images was another implied message, that in playing this photograph, I became the joker as well.

Apologies to Mr. Lichtenstein…

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Lizard Eye

Lizard EyeThe exploration in creating something totally new has always had an allure for me, spontaneously transforming an object or scene from the mundane into the extraordinary. This process is not always rewarded with success, but I keep throwing myself into this state of discovery... "let's see what happens".

Robert's image, "Transformer" reminded me a coil of corrugated material I had lying around - and a photograph I had recently made for the Game - but never submitted. The ribbed quality of the material harkened to the stepped-motion effect in his image. Sure enough, my hunch was rewarded with a strong connection between the two images.

Interestingly, "Lizard Eye" can either come forward at you, like an eye of a lizard would, or it can recede back into space like the tunnel it really is. There is no digital trickery here, just the object and light.

Its almost as though "Lizard Eye" is keeping a watchful eye out on Robert's creation. Like two sic-fi titans set for battle, who knows what might develop in this other-worldly conversation.

Mr. Nut Case

Mr. Nut CaseOn a recent walk with my wife here in Portland, I couldn’t help but be inspired by all the “stuff” laying on the sidewalk from the latest windstorm.

I was immediately taken with the Chestnut tree seed pods, the yellow spiky balls I used for eyes. They looked so expressive, kind of furry and empathetic.

After connecting with the “Chestnut eyes”, one thing lead to another. A branch for a nose, a leaf for a smile and some animated twigs for brows, voila, a face is born. About mid-way through this playful and creative exercise in street art, I found a thin rubber belt in the bushes and looped it around the elements and it began to take on even more humanistic qualities. What fun!

It took an hour or so for the face you see in this image to emerge. People stopped and stared, laughed or scowled. Not sure what to make of the whole thing.

It wasn’t until I saw Robert’s image “Mrs. Potato Head” that it occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to share my nutty image with everyone via the Daily Photo Game dot com.

I always see faces in things, this time I was able to create a face right there on-the-spot, on a city sidewalk. Other facial form seekers may wish to view another of my photographic creations: “Rasta Dog“, shot for the Game as well.

The setWe left “Mr. Nut Case” on the ground for others to appreciate, or not.

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Fully Baked

Fully Baked

My new image for the DailyPhotoGame.com.

Robert"s storefront bakery image, "Hansel and Gretel", had so much color and pattern to it, this got me thinking. I know of a local house that embodies the local saying "Keep Portland Weird". The house's bright colors, objects d'art, the signage and all of the rest of it is so over-the-top, I thought it would make for a good conversation with Robert's image.

Not sure what they are bake'n in this place, and I am pretty sure I don't want to know.

The house is crazy, and the car that goes with it is even worse. Be sure to click on the thumbnail to view the larger file, note the upside down Barbie's hanging from the trees.

I suppose it verges on the surreal, but I am pretty sure the neighbors can't appreciate the irony.

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Inside Out

Inside OutIn considering Robert's beautiful still life "4 Poms" for the DailyPhotoGame.com, I faced a dilemma. How would I take the conversation further and not be repetitive in the genre?

Robert reveals the inside of one of his pomegranates, and that idea took hold during my morning brainstorming. I also liked the notion of impressions/depressions, rather than dimensional objects. I executed several tests along this direction, but none were quite what I was looking for.

However, one take-away that I did learn from those tests was the optical illusion that took place on the impressions of my subject, walnuts. In some cases, I could not tell if the walnut was coming out of the surface, or going into the surface. This illusion intrigued me.

So I simplified the set, narrowing down the elements to two, the yin and yang of it, the inside, and the out. Which do you see, the walnut coming out or going in?

The background is clay and I kept the support pin, it added a somewhat scientific and purposeful reality to the set.


Black and white wall mural of Hollywood Legends in Hollywood, California.

Black and white wall mural of Hollywood Legends in Hollywood, California.

I shot this documentary image in Hollywood while attending college in the early 80's. I have always loved it, and the Game gives me an opportunity to have it be seen in the light of day.

This street scene has a wonderful composition, it is fantastic dance between the larger-than-life celebrities and the "little people" passing them by.

The result has the uncanny effect of integrating the two subjects, mural and walkers. The black silhouette coupled with the black mural background, unites the whole image as a singular expression, not two different realities. I also love compositional tension between Astaire's gesture and the opposing silhouetted figure. Even the walking woman at bottom left feels like she is from another era.

Apparently, the wall and mural came down in the Northridge quake, but was partially rebuilt and repainted by the original artist, Eloy Torrez. After the quake, people took the fallen wall debris and various pieces of recognizable faces as star-struck souvenirs. It is located on Hudson Avenue in Hollywood.

It is cool to be able to preserve a bit of the original mural through this documentary image, one of the true strengths in the documentary experience.

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Y Not

Y NotContinuing the alphabet soup here at the Daily Photo Game, I am playing this loosely connected image, "Y Not". This was a product of yesterday's Columbia River Gorge excursion, such an awesome place to hike and witness.

However, as is my way, I am less interested in general photographs of nature without the fingerprint of man. This image spoke to me at first as a hand and then the rotational thought occurred to me. After seeing it in that orientation, I found the "Y" of it all, cosmic.

I liked the typographic narrative of Robert's and Jay's images and hope that it continues.

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Water and Ink #1

Water and Ink #1My play for today's image for the DailyPhotoGame took me by surprise. I had no idea at the onset of this day that I would create something that far outpaced what I had conjured in my mind's eye.

I liked the flowing nature of Robert's image "Fahrenheit 451" and its shape inspired me to consider the nature of fluidity and form. What could I do to put a twist on this lyrical conversation?

As it turned out, my choice was a natural antidote to fire... water. Yes, this photograph is of water with the introduction of india ink as the dye. As one might imagine, the opportunities for unexpected forms, anthropomorphic characters and abstraction were plentiful. There are many winners from this shoot and I am still digesting their individual strengths.

This image titled "Water and Ink #1" is one of the more literal interpretations, most are so painterly that they look like... well, paintings. I really liked the fact that a face could be discerned in this case, the snout of a horse laying down. It is reminiscent of a Chagall in its dreamy abstraction. I suppose it could be called Weeping Horse as well.

I am thrilled with the results and plan to shoot more.

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Abandoned Paper Mill

View of underground abandoned industrial facility.

View of underground abandoned industrial facility.

I recently was invited to take a tour of the Blue Heron Paper Mill, now defunct, abandoned and destined for gentrification. The site is literally right on the Willamette River in Oregon City. This is the kind of special place where Native Americans used to pluck salmon from the waterfalls, but is now damed for a power plant, but that is another story.

This paper plant is special too, at least in my eyes. I am attracted to these industrial environments of old, I am not sure if it is the gritty textures, the architectural forms, or something about the abandonment that speaks to me.


My attraction and empathy could stem from the legacy of those who stood before us - for better or worse. The shear amount of concrete, materials and energy to build such a place, only to have the times change the entire enterprise become obsolete, is in itself a haunting story.

Old storage tanks in black and white.

Old storage tanks in black and white.

Apparently, the site closed down so quickly that employees just walked away from everything, giving the offices and facilities an appearance of a "ghost town".

The site and tour was fantastic, although I always seemed to be a thorn in the side of the docent leading the tour. "Where's our photographer" she would say ushering the small group along to the next dilapidated interior stuffed with remnants of pipes, tanks and god knows what else.

I never had enough time to devote to the site that it deserved, but I was able to capture a number of quality images, some of which are shown at this gallery.

Friend, and fellow artist, Becky Busi summed up my photography from that day this way...

"Wow. Amazing photos and to think we were actually there...! You have captured a softness in the degradation. Acting as the intermediary between past and future you have collected a jewelry box of industrial manufactured spaces transforming them into diamonds and rubies from a by-gone era. Thank you so much for sharing these...lovely...."
Thanks Becky.

The industrial site has recently been purchased and is destined to become a marquee destination spot for Oregon City. Their website presents the following goals for their master plan... "a way that embraces the four core values of this project: healthy habitat, historic and cultural interpretation, economic redevelopment, and of course, public access."

It will be interesting to witness the evolution of this site over the next few years and see how the transformation takes place.


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The Model Man?

The Model Man?Again we find Barbie's friend Ryan featured at the Daily Photo Game.

Robert's image led me to all kind of thoughts about male stereotypes, archetypes and body expectations. Women typically bear a larger burden for body expectations, however I thought I would investigate the male ethos around this social affliction. I choose a satirical approach, blending myself into the doll, adding a surreal quality of real and unreal visuals to parallel our cultural expectations in the "real" world.

Narrow waist and narrow mindset. I digitally forced my 56 year old body into the outline of Ryan's form, this was an interesting idea of confinement and an attempt to fulfill the notion of perfection imposed by advertisers and ourselves. I overlaid the dolls plastic highlights onto my own body to further illustrate the false nature of our body expectations and the plasticine nature of its ideal.

This mindless idolatry of the physical form is why I included Barbie's other friend Ken, sans-head. As Robert stated "he's (Ryan) got no heart" and I wanted to continue that observation with this commentary on the vacuous importance our society places on the physical - whether it be beauty or age.

I liked Robert's shadow box treatment and I thought pairing the two similar environments together would make for a strong visual statement. They will be interesting to see together as a book-matched diptych in my ongoing book on the DPG project, "Conversations".

On a personal note, people have approached me to say I remind them of Richard Gere. This too is a false body expectation, as I have no ownership of their impressions, and still think of myself as the pimply face teenager who had trouble with girls.

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