Viva La Cuba! (Part III)

The Cuba 2018 gallery and Galleries section debuts. Thoughts on the kind of photography I find most rewarding—street portraits.

I’m happy to report that I’m done processing the top-tier selects from my Cuba photos and as such, can now officially debut the Galleries section of Cuba’s the only gallery in there now but more will be added regularly as I work my way through my image archive. Gallery contents will remain sparse—images and titles only—so that the photographs can take center stage. I’ll use the blog to add pithy commentary and behind-the-scenes context for select images from time to time because blah blah blah is what blahgs are best at.

I don’t have many rules about photography. I think a good photograph can be made with any equipment and that the things people fuss about—namely focus, bokeh and to some degree, exposure—turn out to be nowhere near as important to producing an effective image as people make them out to be. I guess my only “code” in photography is that I don’t take photos of the destitute and pass them off as some noble-minded attempt to depict of the state of humankind—I’m not a photojournalist. I also don’t edit photographs much at all—my edits are mostly limited to global adjustments, cropping and cleaning sensor spots—but this, in addition to trying to get things right “in the camera,” isn’t an artistic or philosophical stance as much as it is a factor of time constraints. In any case, I tend to disregard anyone who gets religious about what “proper” photography is or how it is done. Actually, I tend to disregard anyone who gets religious about anything or who uses the word “proper” as a way to tell me what I’m doing wrong. Which is basically everyone on the Intertubes.


My great uncle's Leica

Gear Up, Gear Down

Gear and practice.

I don’t get a lot of questions about photography. Very few people ask, “What are you trying to accomplish in this image?” Instead, most people ask questions about photographic gear. “Do you shoot Nikon or Canon?” “What lens did you take this image with?” “What strap/bag/flash/tripod/underwear do you recommend?” A lot of people confuse having a discussion about cameras with having a discussion about photography and for me, anyway, these are not the same thing. My biggest lament about photography is that the compliment you get from the viewing public most often tends to be:

“That photograph is wonderful. You have an amazing camera!”

Spoiler alert: it’s not the friggin’ camera. No one says of David Simon that his keyboard must have been magical to help him bang out The Wire. No one remembers Picasso for having exquisite brushes or Luke Skywalker for the power converters he never picked up from Toshi Station.

It’s true that gear and practice are intimately related topics in any field. The things that you do and the ways that you do them are both enabled and constrained by the tools and materials you have to work with. And these days many of us are all spoiled by choice. Commodity gear in many fields consists of highly sophisticated tools that require little skill to get started and that presume to understand your intentions so they can do a lot of the work for you. Over the years, my pursuits have generally settled on simpler tools that may require a few more skills to use but once those skills are acquired, allow me to better connect my intentions with my results.

Neither approach is unilaterally better than the other—if the results of the more automated tools are acceptable, why not do them more quickly? The people whose work and methods I find most compelling generally work from both camps and are not religious about it, and I try to echo that ethos in the way I go about things in photography, woodworking, bicycling, and so on. I tend to walk away from theoretical and “gear qua gear” monologues and gravitate instead toward conversations about intent, process and approach.

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New and Improved

Hello. Again.

To those of you who don’t know me, allow me to state up front that I am probably not the droid you are looking for.

Those of you who do know me may be asking, “So why the new digs, yo? What happened to etherfarm?” Let’s begin by just agreeing to forget about that “yo” you just used, then let me put to rest any laments you may have for the demise of my former site. Just like a phoenix that got old, began soiling itself, went into hiding, realized it had merely eaten a bad burrito then took a few Immodiums before resuming its majestic flights, Etherfarm will be reborn at some point as both a company and website dedicated to my creative pursuits. More on that some other time.

The 4.7 humans who have followed me through the years on know that it has languished for quite some time.