eBooks are no longer available for now.
I posted here that if you emailed me, I would send them to you for free. Many responded, and I happily sent the books. When people asked for one, I sent both anyway.
Sadly, the last five people who asked for them haven’t even bothered to thank me. In the face of such rudeness in response to my generosity, I’m shutting down the free service. For any of you who come looking, you’re out of luck.
This won’t supply a lesson to the rude ones, but it may serve as a reminder to the rest of us. “A community is fueled by gratitude” some wise sage once said. Personally, I ran out of gas.
Undergoing some light revisions, “Finely Focused” and “More Finely Focused” are unavailable at the moment for purchase here. You can try, but it won’t work.
Secretly, if you email me, I’ll send them to you…gratis…for the time being. Subject to change at whim.
The floor of my new house, on the coast of Maine.
I rewrote “Finely Focused” to take the Mechanical stuff out (cameras, lenses, loading film holders, developing film, etc.) and concentrate on composition. Everyone had always told me that composition was a mystical thing, reliant often on luck, the alignment of the stars, blah blah blah. Or, students would tell me that they “had composition down, but really needed to know how to load film holders.” Oh, please! I responded that I had learned film loading in about ten minutes, but saw composition as a lifelong struggle. What was their secret?
Well, in the spirit of Fred Picker: “that all seemed wrong to me.” It seemed like a deeper, more emotional response could be “constructed” out of elements of composition, if only I knew how those elements, and their use, affected me emotionally. So off I went, skipping and hopping to explore elements of composition and how they worked, or didn’t, for me. What a blast!
The result was “More Finely Focused,” that talks about it all – I hope not too goopily, to use a technical term, and gives the reader 60 – count ’em – 60 exercises to sort it out for themselves. I really tried to avoid “mumbo jumbo” and New Age Art crapola, keeping it practical. The reader can judge whether I succeeded. “Constructed,” used in the previous paragraph, is too mechanical a term, but I don’t have a better one that doesn’t lapse in to goop. “Conjured”? Nope, too Harry Potterish, my owl tells me. Suggestions?
Spoiler alert: While I tried to build up a more conscious “vocabulary” of composition elements and how I apply them, the last thing in the book, prettymuch, is an admonishment to “forget it all,” put it in the back of your mind, let it bubble up when needed, and not take a Mechanical approach to composition – egads! How deadly a Mechanical method would be! I guess what I had realized was that I did these things more-or-less subconsciously, and undertook to make my understanding of them explicit (and extend them – I learned a lot developing and testing the exercises). Once understood, I could file them away in the empty caverns of my brain, and heart.
Well, having just returned from a 39,583 mile trip around the country, living out of a Chevy van (sorry, SoCal guys, we’ll talk about a workshop in the future, but I just never knew my schedule more than about two days out), I can say that I basically spent 7 1/2 months photographing every day. For me, that means being present in the moment every day for 7 1/2 months, because that’s the only way I can ever hope to make decent photographs. It seems to me that Minor and some of the other majors were basically getting at that point – being present in the moment is a prerequisite to making meaningful pictures. I, personally, don’t think it goes much beyond that, although I might make a case for emotional vulnerability. When I’m present, I’m really seeing what’s there. And if I don’t see it, then, obviously, I won’t make the picture. My subconsious then intrudes to help me make better, more meaningful pictures. I hope.
Now, it’s also true that “90% of success is just showing up,” and I certainly did that. I was also Practicing by making pictures. But having been pilloried here long ago for an article advocating Practicing, I guess that Practicing really didn’t matter, even though I can see the improvement in my work over the 7 1/2 months…
3,000 plus digital images have survived (probably out of 12,000 made), and I have yet to develop the film. Lots of lessons learned, such as how long it took me to learn to see a different landscape for what it was, and then, I hoped, “push past postcards” to make more meaningful images than ones to mass-print and put in Walgreens. Such as how hard it is, and tiring, to stay in the moment and be present. And other lessons still percolating somewhere deep in what’s left of my brain.
The staying-in-the-moment, however, made every day of the trip magical. I was never bored for a minute. Not one. I’m now trying to maintain that state of mind back in Maine, dealing with “mundane” aspects of life. It’s hard, but worth trying.
Enough. Please excuse me – it’s time to listen to “Music From the Hearts of Space.”
34,000 miles into it, and I made it to the desert.
Slept in the van in Joshua Tree National Park last night, and understand why people fall in love with the desert. It was lovely, even though the mosquitoes were the worst I have suffered on the entire trip, including the Everglades and the deep South.
A new page, with pdfs of old articles.
Pictures on the way, methinks.