This is not a fish bottle

Ruby Blue

So it turns out my mom is not "all right" after all. Half right will just have to do.

I'm willing to spend a few hundred thousand dollars never to hear that again

When I was in college I lived in a brick building near Harvard Square. My apartment was in the back of the building, overlooking a small parking lot. Across the way there was a building for married Harvard grad school students, which was also made of brick. Two boxy brick buildings facing each other with an open space between them--the acoustics were phenominal.

On warm days in spring and summer, with the windows open in both buildings, the sound of couples having sex bounced and boomeranged between the buildings on a regular basis. It got especially symphonic on Saturday mornings.

When I was a 20-something college student, I didn't mind it. Actually, I thought it was kind of funny. Especially Saturday mornings, when I was probably still a little drunk. I'm sure I even added to the cacophony on occassion.

But as a 40-year-old condo owner with 20-something tenants living above me who seem to have no understanding of either open windows or acoustics, I'm thinking that it might be time to start looking for a single-family house.

"I do believe one of my drafting brushes is missing"

As promised in yesterday's post, Stolen photographs:

Stolen photographs

I took four items from my mother's art studio that I thought would make good still life photos. When (or if--and that's a big if) she figures out which items I took, I'll post pictures of them here. If she figures out more than one at once, I will do one photo with the objects she identified in it.

You should have heard me trying to explain this to her.

Waiting for the rain to end

Waiting out the weather


Went to my favorite beach yesterday after work and the light was awesome for about one minute ... and during that minute I was picking up dog poop. Then these big clouds came in, and it started to rain. I snapped these quickly and ran back to the car to wait it out, hoping the light would come back (they were some thick clouds).

The sun did come back out again for a little while ... and I think I got some nice shots in the sunshowery late afternoon/early evening light.

Good photos + writing = new sidebar links

So I can't quit my job (professional satisfaction + steady salary + health insurance = not going to quit my job), but I can fantasize via Funemployed, "experiments in wily world beyond cubicles and comprehensive health insurance."

Check out the fun behind-the-scenes look at a photo shoot with a model covered in clear goop. Her writing style is hilarious: "sticking fingers up models’ noses = better than a cubicle."

Love the before and after shots of her garden make-over. She is also very brave: she touches slugs, something I could never, ever do.

And, while I'm at it, holy cow would you please go and check out Steven Cohen's photography website. Sorry about the flash intro, but when you get to the main page, hover over the word "work" and click on one of the numbers. Personally, I am in love with the third set and totally and completely intend to (try to) copy what he's done.

I've been playing with matches lately (did some more this morning that I'll upload soon) and intended to light them all when I'm done and photograph that. Now that I've seen the photos he did of the same subject, I'm feeling a mixture of envy and inspiration. I doubt very much I can match (pun seriously not intended) what he's done with the concept, but I am damn sure going to try.

I need a light box, like, now.

I have the too many pictures blues

Found a great new photo site, blue pixel, which I'm adding to my sidebar. This advice from the May 14 post, Sketching, really struck me. The title of the post refers to the fact that painters often go out and make sketches to work through an idea:

And more often than not those sketches get thrown away. That's an important lesson to learn as a photographer. You don't have to make a great picture every time you go out with your camera. But you certainly won't make any great pictures unless you go out and shoot.

I recently went to one of the beaches in Marblehead to take some photos. In fact, I took a lot of photos. This one little forlorn row-boat with peeling paint--laying upside down way at the back of the boat yard-- caught me eye. The light wasn't great (midday and sunny) so I went back a couple of days later, on an overcast morning and took another dozen or so photos of it. I even cracked out the tripod.

I've been looking at those photos for a few days now. I keep going back to them, running through them in full-screen view on my laptop. And you know what? I just don't like them. So I'm going to save my hard drive the space (and my mind the obsession) and just delete them.

This is a big step for me, especially after spending so much time and effort to try to get a good shot of that little rowboat. I'm a definite hanger-on-er when it comes to photos, even the ones I don't like. Sure, I delete anything that's out of focus or has other problems that can't be fixed in Photoshop. But I usually keep even the pictures that are technically fine but that just don't sing. The truth is, you're lucky (or I am, at least) if one shot out of 40 is a keeper.

All of which adds up to a LOT of photo files on my computer. It's not that I can't back them up (my new laptop has a CD burner), but it can be overwhelming going through all the photos I've taken, trying to find the ones that are worth printing or uploading to Flickr. And I don't neccessarily want to waste time making backups of photos I don't like and will probably never print or post or show to anyone, for that matter.

I think, going forward at least, I'm going to try to be more ruthless.

Free kisses with every portrait session

First cute dogs, now even cuter babies. What is this blog coming to?

Calvin in the greenhouse

Seriously, have you ever seen such a sweet face? He's so curious, carefully studying the world around him, taking it all in.

Little does he know, the dog is about to swoop in for a kiss:

Free kisses with every portrait session!

Babies and dogs. Sheesh!

I'll post more as soon as I can ... They'll be marked private for family and friends, so if you're either, make sure you sign up for Flickr (if you haven't already) and send me a note so I can add you to my contact list.

That is, unless you don't like babies and dogs.


On the alert

Just checking in to make sure you all remember how friggin' cute the dog is.



My photo “Wooden Boats for Sale” was used for an article on buying used boats in Pacific Yachting magazine. Small picture and no credit, but I did get paid a whopping two-figure sum!

My original photograph, taken at Redd's Pond in Marblehead, is here.

Dove's "real women" faked?

If it is true that the photographs for those Dove ads featuring “real women” turned out to be edited and airbrushed, I am going to have to go on an Amazon stampede.

I might even have to sit on someone.

(AdAge explains it so I don't have to and StyleDash has more pictures.)

Edit--April, 2013: Four years later isn't too late to make a correction, is it?

While writing this post on the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign, I found out that the man who said he retouched the photos says his quote was taken out of context. He only did minor edits, such as color correction.

Here's the original AdAge story: Dove's 'Real Beauty' Pics Could Be Big Phonies
And the update, also from AdAgeDove: 'Real Women' Ads Were not 'Digitally Altered'
Here's the original New Yorker article that sparked the controversy: Pixel Perfect: Pascal Dangin's virtual reality

Me and Aaron, we're tight, too

So, despite my extremely negative attitude and nearly reverse jinxing myself, I did get into the Marblehead Arts Association show.

I would have been happy just to get my photo accepted, by the way. So imagine my surprise when it turned out my little pic won best in show. That's me, to the left, feeling very awkward and embarrassed (but also secretly very pleased with myself). And this is the photograph that won the prize:

On the water

In her comments, the judge said incredibly nice things about the photo, including--and I am not making this up--that it was like "a contemporary update of work by the 20th century photographer Aaron Siskind."

Holy Crap.

But just before my ego started to get way overinflated, I had this conversation with a woman who also had a photo in the show.

Mean lady: Oh, you're the person who won best in show.
Me: Yes, and I saw you won an honorable mention--congratulations.
ML: Well, I would say congratulations to you, but I don't agree with the judge's decision.
Me: [awkward silence].

Later she came up to me again.

ML: I probably shouldn't have criticized you like that. But I'm not sorry, because that's how I really feel.

She also told me my print should have been bigger, and that it wasn't a "standard" size, and mentioned that she works part-time at CVS and one of the Boston branches has her photographs on the wall. And that she's been published in JPEG magazine. Only instead of pronouncing it Jay-Peg, she pronounced it Juh'pug. I guess it was obvious I didn't know the word juhpug, so she spelled it for me.

Meanwhile, everyone else was really nice to me, and congratulated me even if secretly they were thinking that they were totally ripped off, too. Which is, after all, the socially acceptable way to criticize people in a situation like that--in your head as opposed to out loud.

A double-reverse jinx? Inconceivable!

Every once and a while I get the whole "You have a blog? That's inconceivable!" thing from someone who's new at work or who didn't happen to know that I have one, since I don't necessarily talk about it a lot.

"What do you write about, what you had for breakfast or something?" one of my new co-workers asked me yesterday. And I said "no" but when I showed it to her, of course, Wednesday's post came up.

That's the post in which I wrote about what I had for lunch.

Anyway, hello to the handful of co-workers who learned about Gienna Writes in the past couple of days if their curiosity happened to get the better of them. And, by the way, I do not think that you know what this word 'inconceivable' means."

On a side note, Karenology TOTALLY called it about the reverse jinx. I have news to report on that front, but I don't want to double-reverse jinx anything ... so I'll wait till I'm absolutely certain before I put it in print.

Sorry if that's vague, but all will be revealed soon.