Street Photo for Father's Day.

Street shot from San Antonio.  Originally created on color slide film and then scanned on an Epson V500 Photo flatbed scanner.

It's coming up next saturday. Father's day. I can hardly wait. I haven't been at all subtle. I've been leaving little hints all over the house. Notes on the front door.  Notes on the bathroom mirrors. Even notes on the TV screen.  My wants are simple, my needs even simpler. I've worked hard to be a good dad and I'm ready to sit back and be showered with teenage appreciation.

So, besides a $50  cash loan (shot in the 1980's....) what's on the list?

I'm looking for just a few upgrades.  To start with a new MacBook Pro with a retina screen would be nice but it's a little bit out of the price range capabilities of a non-working 16 year old.  So I've made some adjustments...

I would like to get my hands on an OMD EM-5.  I'm still resisting getting one for myself because I want to see what else hits the market this summer, but, if someone were to buy me a black one as a father's day present I couldn't bear to return it....

And while I'm at it I've heard some nice things about the Panasonic 14mm lens.  But if you're going to get me the 14mm you might as well get it with the GF-3 body because it's not that much more.

I can always use another one of those great Fotodiox 312AS LED panels that changes color temperature.  One can never have too many and they're great for quick lighting set ups.  But I wouldn't protest if Ben and his mom went in together to pop for a Lowell Prime light...

I lent a fellow photographer three of my Elinchrom D-Lite 4's and it caused me to realize that five would be better than four when it comes to lighting inventory.  The D-Lites have been flawless performers at a small price.  Nice to have one more back up.

I know this  will come as no surprise to long time readers but----the Nikon D3200 has piqued my interest.  24 megapixels and a lens for only $699?  Freakin unbelievable.  And as I'm on record having said,  "There's no law that says you can't have more than one really cool camera."  Just to  experiment with, you know...

If the OMD EM5 doesn't make the cut could we settle for one more EP-3?  I need something to hang the 12mm lens on when I'm carrying multiple bodies for shoots...

Do I think Ben is going to go for any of the stuff above? Naw, but I can always dream.

I think the real trick for father's day is memory cards.  They're scalable and always in fashion.  I'd like a few more of the Transcend 16 gb SD cards.  But if money is an issue I'll be happy with more 8's.

And I'd like one more set of Eneloop double A batteries, if possible.

Wait, wait, I forgot that I wanted a new table top tripod and a few umbrellas.

Ah well.  Maybe a necktie with a picture of a Leica on it and a hand drawn card.  That would work too.

Quick note on scanning.  I do all of my scans, both print and film ( medium format and 35mm) on an ultra cheap Epson V500 scanner.  I used their canned software as well.  I am very happy with the results I get and don't want anything better.  If there's any interest from people who still have film then let me know and I'll write a piece on how I scan stuff.  I've heard the v700 is a bit better.  But I haven't tried it..

I have one suggestion for every father on your list:

Coming up soon....

K.B. Dixon's Book, A Painter's LIfe, is wonderful. Perfect Summer reading.

"Bullshit is a preservative.  There is nothing better for a reputation than a hopelessly convoluted analysis by one of the tenured gods of critical commentary."

----an excerpt from A Painter's Life,  by K.B. Dixon.

I've never met Kenneth Dixon but I just finished reading a second book by him.  It's not about photography, per se, but there are so many tangential tentacles...  The book submerges the reader into the day to day life and thoughts of a painter named, Christopher Freeze, by way of a mix of conventional narrative, passages from Christopher Freeze's journal, and pithy, witty excerpts of reviews from critics.

Freeze grapples with issues that plague all artists:  How to start. How do you know if what you are doing is any good? Where will the money come from? How to balance the time needed to create art with the time needed to actually sell enough art to have the time to do the art.  Dixon's character is flawed, self-indulgent, effete, and enmeshed in a lifestyle that straddles the academic world, the art world and the small, personal world of the artist.

His characters' observation are both witty and bitchy and entertaining.  It's a wonderful book to read because it's like looking into a gold fish bowl at an occupation that most of us will never understand.  But at the same time photographers always seem to be grappling with the same basic issues:  What is inspiration and how can I get some?  Why can't I just photograph?  Why do I have to waste time doing all this other stuff.

But the book is also a wry and slightly subversive tweak at the art industry, the critics, the dealers and the amateur collectors.  Freeze's observations about the patrons of the gallery are wonderfully cynical...

The character, Christopher Freeze, ruminates about his relationship with his art dealer, his painter friends and rivals, and his wife.

The book is extremely well written.  Not in the sense that it speeds you through a pyrotechnic plot with rampant adrenaline and harrowing twists and turns but in the sense that one really enjoys the way the words come together.  His writing is both spare and elegant, and profoundly funny.

It's a book of observations.  Of judgements and opinions.  But mostly it's an explanation of the ongoing conflict between life and art, told with dry humor.

Two observations about Dixon's books:  1.  I wish I could write even fractionally as well as Dixon.  He's never obtuse or wordy.  He has an economy of style that's effective and pleasurable.

2.  Every time I picked up his book and read for a while I saw some of my flaws in his character and there was a sense of recognition. (Cheap therapy?)  He very accurately described the split nature of an artist constantly frustrated with the need to consider the market and the need to spend time and energy in actual creation.

What resonated most for me was the underlying idea that work created for an audience, exterior to the artist, cripples the important work of the artist.  Everyone makes choices and finds a balance.  This book is a look at the shaky balance of one painter.

I've enjoyed Dixon's books because they reinforce ideas I like and make me feel at least minimally attached to part of a thread that runs through our culture.  There's a familiarity that runs through them.  Finally, the books are aimed at adults.  Not that there is anything unsuitable for children but the writing speaks to people who are living adult lives.  Making a living, trying desperately to do their art, trying to balance the need for a bit of isolation with the fear of being wholly forgotten.

If you want to read something fun and insightful I highly recommend it.

It's a novel.