Private Crossings


Just before Siggraph I ran across an imported, ad-free, all-black-and-white magazine that hadn’t been in my local store before: PRIVATE. Issue #33 bears what I consider to be an rather classic-looking (almost clichéd) image for its “East Europe” issue: a George Georgiou cover shot of Serbian workers in front of a heavy, rust-era-looking pipeline — a bit grainy, contrasty, and one assumes that other than a slight shift in the fashions of their coats, these fellows coud have been working on the same heavy-industry line in 1980 or 1950 or 1930.

On this surface we can see reflected a great difficulty in the “timeless” character of black and white — its very timelessness reveals its disconnection from immediate reality. For example, the image above could have been made twenty years ago, or yesterday — only subtle clues can let you determine which.

6 min read

Are Sepia Images Better?


As I may have mentioned before, one feature of the LX1 that I like is the ability to simultaneously store both a RAW file and a full-sized JPEG image, complete with whatever imaging mode is currently active: particularly grayscale and/or sepia toning.

1 min read

Short, Attentive Spans

When we lived in Hawaii I enjoyed what seemed like a relatively short commute: only twenty minutes from Leeward to Windward sides of Oahu, traffic permitting. I could have the sunrise over the sea going in and up the Pali, and the sunset over the sea driving back away from the harbor.

In the morning I would usually time my drive to coincide with the local broadcast of the local news in Hawaiian, tacked-onto the end of All Things Considered and just before a program I had not heard since our move: Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. The presence of some single poem each morning was a regular reminder that life and spirit could contain more than just another predictable workday.

2 min read

Always Home

Always Home

It’s just economics of scale, we like to tell ourselves. On my last rushed morning in Boston I set off to seek out a few extra gifts for my return to the bay, something unique and memorable. Instead as I orbitted in increasing circles through downtown it was clear that I was less in Massachussetts and more in the United State of Generica, with every storefront filled with familiar brands and stocked with goods in no way different from those in Santana Row or The Great Mall. In the end I settled for some team shirts, sold every fifty feet throughout the mall under the Prudential tower and all supplied by… a centralized web site in Washington State.

Okay, the big guys succeed on costs and inevitably the little guys end up either losing on price or having to carve out a space based on tradition, design, or quality… right?

Then I got home and found this Metro story waiting un-read on my kitchen table: how Stanford Coffee Roasters, a small, popular, successful and long-established business in Stanford’s tony mall, was pushed out not, apparently, for any economic reasons, but because the mall owners prefered homogeneity.

“I was told that they preferred to rent to a Triple A tenant,” she recalls. “I said, What is a Triple A tenant? They told me it was a business that would have a national chain and national marketing.”

In other words, the mall managers prefered Starbucks over the successful Stanford (in Stanford) not for the rent values but simply because they felt that national chains were inherently superior to anything that might have a local flavor (literally or figuratively) — so superior that it was worth crowbarring-out a local landmark for the sake of enforcing dullness.

Note to self: never shop at Stanford Mall again.

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. — Eric Hoffer