EclecticPond: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Hey everyone. Remember when I did those cast photos for my friends, local theatre start-up EclecticPond Theatre Co (ETC)? Well, I’ve been up to those same tricks, this time doing a fair amount of photo work for their next performance, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Ironically put on in winter. oh well, warm thoughts, yeah?

Anyway, they were, as always, lovely people. Lots of new cast this time, but a few familiar faces in the mix. And, as always, I encourage everyone in the Indianapolis area to get out and support these guys and local theatre. This show will run Feb 10-11, 17-18, and 24-25. Hit the link below all the pretty pictures to learn more on their website.

The Cost of Digital Photography


The graph pretty much says it all, but here are some bonus facts as we approach five years of me having worked in digital:

  • I have shot between 18,986 and 19,686 frames using 3 different DSLRs
  • Of those shots, I have kept only 6,377. That means I discard 2 out of 3 shots.
  • Of the kept photos, 59% I consider merely snapshots, and don’t keep in Lightroom.
  • In Lightroom, 53% of the photos are marked Commercial or B-Side. Only 47% of my LR photos are for my own collection.
  • Only 12% of my LR photos are shared on Flickr.  That’s a mere 1.6% of all frames I’ve shot.
  • Only 4% of my LR catalog is being used in any portfolio capacity (here or 500px). That’s down to 0.5% of all frames shot.
  • When I shot my photos, by year:
    • 2007 - 0.5%
    • 2008 - 7.1%
    • 2009 - 4.4%
    • 2010  - 23.3%
    • 2011 - 56.1%
  • 2009 was my year of doubt, as I apparently kept fewer photos, instead of more. 2011 is when I got my studio lights, and I have 240% more photos from 2011 than I did in 2010 as a result.
  • 62.4% of my pictures are tagged “people”

Just so you know.

Categories: photo  

Papyrus Must Die Updated!

on tumblr:


Yeah, I’m just going to have to go ahead and argue your use of both “thoughtful” and “creative” based on your everybody-and-their-developmentally-addled-brother’s font choice there, bucko.

Categories: roaming updates  

More Minimalist Lens Wallpapers

Previous entries can be found here.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Tokina AT-X Pro DX AF 11-16mm f/2.8

Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 II

What Really Matters: Minimalist Lens Element Wallpapers [UPDATED] [And Again]

Are you a photographer? If so, are you of the belief that the most important part of your system is the series of glass lenses strapped in front of your sensor by metal, plastic, shims, and spacers? If so, this new series of wallpapers might be for you. Nothing grandiose, just simple, elegant, minimal looks into the most important part of any les: the elements. Three lenses at 1440×900 px so far from my personal collection and use, but, what lenses would you like to see added? And what resolutions?

All free, of course. Go spread them around. Just don’t say they’re yours. That’d be rude.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8G ED

Olympus ZUIKO Digital ED 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 SWD

Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

Bonus! Now with a pancake prime:

Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm / F1.7 ASPH.

Now with Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR II also. Future updates will get a new post. Any Canon requests?

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Three Last Chicken Skulls

So, with some help from Megan and the illustrious Nick Henry, I was able to brave the 20 degree working conditions outside–as well as the drifting snow–to shoot a few last pictures with my beloved chicken skull mask. Why? Well, they’re for something I’m not quite ready to announce yet, but, they do have a real purpose. Also, they’re just generally kickass.

For those interested, these were done with a Quadra ranger kit. The A channel was firing into a Paul Buff 64″ silver PLM for the key, straight off to my side. To my other side and just behind me I had the B channel firing through a strip bank, letting it just barely catch me edge to pull it back out of the shadows. Megan and Nick held the two modifiers steady against the wind. The D700 was on timer with Nick and I alternating hitting the shutter.

It was stupid amounts of fun.

Why Art Matters

The secret is that making Art, creating things, is a transformative process. The act of creation takes certain elements of our psyche, energy, if you will, and morphs it out of our heads and into the real world. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be alchemized. The reason why Art works so well in therapy is that it allows for negative energy and/or trauma to be cleared out of our heads, and turned into something productive, without having to speak about things literally. Pictures can communicate energy without words, and in so doing, can tell stories that would be otherwise stuck in the murky world of the subconscious. The act of creation is akin to shining light on our shadows, (Jung again) and it enables the creator the opportunity to move on. Catharsis.

-Jonathan Blaustein

Source: A Photo Editor
Categories: the arts and artists  

The Great Chicken Skull Revival

Well everyone, it was a lot of fun. I met a lot of cool people. I learned a lot of cool things, and I wrestled with some pretty big ideas. And, most importantly, I got to get a lot of baffled looks, and a lot of positive response, too. But now, it’s time to call an end to my Great Chicken Skull Revival. Final count: 24 pieces. A nice two dozen. Way more than I’d hoped for. All you anonymous volunteers were great.

And, now that it’s over, I’d like to put on my serious face and finally release the real artist statement, which should help make sense of this farce I’ve maintained for well over a year now, including a show full of perplexed viewers at Oranje 2011.

So, having delayed this long enough as is, here’s the honest statement behind the Revival:

The art world, I feel, is disconnected from a lot of things. Most importantly, it’s disconnected from the viewers, the very people who it needs to consume its art. Thanks to a tradition of encouraging vapid, empty artist statements that seek to use buzzwords to aggrandize concepts, seemingly as obtusely as possible, combined with an encouragement of “in” motifs and ideas, self-referential topics, and its open applause for things such as alienated nudes and seemingly nonsense subjects, it has become difficult for the average viewer to approach art at all, more or less connect to it.

And I despise that. So, I created a series that would show the faults in 1) the art world’s handling of the viewers and 2) what has become the viewer’s metric by which to gauge art as a result. The first conceit is a simple, but common one: if a photograph has a naked person who is not engaging in (or preparing to engage in, or enticing the atmosphere of engaging in, etc…) sexual intercourse, it must be art. Otherwise, why are they naked? The second conceit is built on the first: once something is art, if you do a series with people doing something obviously weird, and all doing it, then there Must Be A Reason. It has to Mean Something. Modern art, after all, is very big about doing weird things that Mean Something, right?

So, I resurrected a motif I’d played with before, one already steeped in Dada, surrealism, and sarcasm: a chicken mask, a scarf to hide the chin, a teacup, and a frame from which to suspend the teacup. It was a simple set of props, born of a college assignment to shoot teacups, character design for a serial comic, a love of the anonymity of masks, and the practical need of the first object I could find to suspend the teacup. The original idea was thus a result of several very reasonable goals, but the final image, left unexplained, was completely baffling to most viewers. In short, it was the perfect idea to bring back for this new purpose.

Every model in the series was volunteer. No shot was done for pay. I explained to each next candidate the premise: mask, teacup, scarf, frame, and the idea that as more people did this, more viewers would assume it Meant Something. Because that’s what we’ve trained viewers to believe. If something has naked people doing weird things you don’t understand, it’s obviously high art. It’s a statement. And, that’s the joke, albeit bitterly made: there never was a statement to be made from the subject matter, but from the assumptions viewers would draw.

On a personal level, and–unlike the primary aspect above–a completely serious one, the Revival was a way of addressing body issue in its relation to art photography. Thanks to an ever increasing bleed-over from the fashion world, and the internet demanding ever more commercialized, “poppy” photos before heaping accolades upon photographic work, we are exposed more and more to a world where the human form is constantly subjected to fashion and glamour standards. Lighting, posing, exposure, and retouching are all used in tandem to portray people as attractive, as sexualized. And I was beginning to fall into that spiral, that trap, and I was hating myself more for it. So, despite working exclusively with the naked form, something that is almost inherently sexual, I focused on recording it plainly and honestly. No retouching was performed. No blemishes removed. When I couldn’t control the light, I made no attempt to reverse any unflattering shadows or angles. It’s a small thing, and not one that was meant for the viewer at all, but I wanted to stand behind a series that embraced that raw humanity, and didn’t cave to people’s desires for ever crisper, more Hollywood perfect art to hold their attention. In short, while working with nudes, I didn’t want to further erode our own relationship with sexuality and attraction.

The end result is a bit hard to parse, on purpose. I wanted it to have time to exist so viewers could make the wrong assumptions. I released fake gallery statements made of empty buzzwords strung together in not-quite-English to further aid the confusion, although I don’t feel they did any greater harm to the viewers than the useless garbage they’re so used to reading anyway. And now that it’s matured, I want to make my every motivation transparent, so that I don’t further add to the very problem I have sought to satirize. The art world needs to be better to the general population, and restore to them an ability to approach and connect with those big ideas we all assume artists are trying to tell us. The popularity of “bombastic” has always confirmed this, but has been denigrated by “serious” artists. And, maybe that’s wrong. The populace, our viewers, they deserve better than being teased with ideas they’ll never have clarified. There’s a line between encouraging thought, debate, and discussion, and just being obtuse for the sake of elitism. And I genuinely believe we stay too far on the wrong side. The viewers do deserve much more than they’re given, and much better than I’ve myself treated them for the past year. And if nothing else, I think the Revival has been a runaway success in proving exactly that.

Now, everyone can get the joke, although I don’t think it becomes any less bitter for it.


Papyrus Must Die Updated!

on tumblr:


Haven’t we slighted the Native Americans enough? Do we really need to tell them that their culture is so unimportant we feel a font designed to mimic the ancient Egyptians is really close enough? Really?

Categories: roaming updates  

The Year of Noir

Oooh. New Year, and not even a hangover, really. Not bad. So, I thought I’d sit down and put some thought into what it is that I hope to accomplish this next year. And, to be honest, I’m declaring 2012 the Year Of Noir here at Zed Martinez.

Some background, so we’re all on the same page here. There are two basic roots for noir, which overlap, but also have their own motifs and tropes. The first is film noir, a cinematic movement from the 40′s and 50′s rooted in German Expressionism. It’s from this root that we get noir’s infamous low-key chiaroscuro stylings. The other is the literary origins of noir, an evolution of pulp writing known for its casual handling of brutality and its jaded attitudes towards sex and other emotional attachments. For my own projects, I intend to address issues and ideas found in both sources, so, if I’m talking about something and you don’t recall it from the source you encounter more, that might be why.

So. Year Of Noir. What do I hope to accomplish by doing this? Well, these are a few of the things I have on my mind to explore:

  • The use and establishment of gender, and especially gender roles, as portrayed by noir.
  • The handling of literary noir and pulp motifs in a post-Chandler world
  • The origins of noir in its pulp roots versus its current mental space after half a century of familiarity, evolution, and idealogical condensation.
  • Exploration of the original low-key visual style versus the modern, minimalist look popularized by artists such as Frank Miller.
  • Examine the motifs of humanity versus desensitization, especially its implications for male protagonists and its effects on our social definition of masculinity

Projects that will be completed in 2012 to support this currently include:

  • ChickenBones: An Antropolis Story (novel, illustrations, casebound text)
  • Resin-polymer sculpture of ChickenBones
  • Noir Abstractions (oil paint, caulk, mixed media)
  • Noir Inversions (photography)

Skills and techniques that I hope to improve during this next year include:

  • Use of light and storytelling in a single frame
  • Development of character and balance of woven plot lines
  • Book-binding with split leather covers
  • Mold making and resin casting
  • Abstract painting with limited color palette
Categories: roaming updates Tags: