Journal: Determined – Learning – Still Fighting


I switched main web hosts earlier today, and I’ve decided to lag the propagation by the new server addresses, so I don’t feel I have e-mail waiting in one place and not in another.

Something like that . . . .

That could make it difficult to find the tired old main web ( — enjoy the last look (I don’t even care to know if it’s there right now): it will come back as a WordPress web.

Of course, unless I restore the piece, there will be “link rot”, including early references on this blog to slide shows once anchored by the site.

It pains me to think that my efforts will one day become someone else’s “way back machine” discovery — or worse: my magnetically suspended arrangements will disappear from the web a day to a week following my own departure from the planet (not today, thank you very much), and there won’t even be the possibility of a single “wow — check this out!”

I like to entertain.

Not that I’ve had a “wow moment” lately although the politics blog, Conflict Back-Channels, which I simply call “BackChannels” along with a lot other folks using that title these days, has been reaching in the span of 30 days the intellectually intrepid of about 65 nations, including North Korea and Vatican City.

Go figure.

If they’re reading my blog, why is everybody still fighting?



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Bertha Been Down So Long It Looks Like OUT to Me


Two or three months ago, not a lot of social contact, a quiet phone, adrift on the World Wide Web, albeit with a kind of anchorage on Facebook and habit in the area of “conflict, culture, language, and psychology” in the form of a blog, BackChannels, I just couldn’t take another of Bertha’s rumbling ink fixes without knowing — not gambling — that I would sell, say, 20 fine art prints at above $100 each to cover the costs of what the big hulk of a now old HP B9180 unit would drink in Vivera inks.

I pulled the plug.

May Bertha rest in peace.

Unless a B9180 enthusiast catches this post on the web and sweeps in to rescue Bertha in the very near future from an ignominious end at the local landfill’s electronics shed — to be followed perhaps by a glorious resurrection associated with precious or toxic metal recovery in an enterprise somewhere close by a southeast Asian circuit board recycling junk pile — I’m done with printing.

Could I get in another printer of same or better quality?


Do I wish to?

If my wallet felt thick and my future with the same felt secured, I would, but I’m hedging today.

It would take the assurance of a $5,000 commission or project to resume printing.

Bertha, I’m Sorry — Times Change

Not only have I unplugged the printer, the best commercial print shop in my town, First Look Photo, is closing its doors at the end of the month.

A Canon retailer, First Look lost out to B&H for my silly spending on Nikon gear, but it got some money for the fine art papers on which I enjoyed printing.  Still, what has happened to The Print?

Those stacks of 4 x 6 and 5 x 7 inch prints that used to make the rounds of hands at kitchen tables worldwide have been transformed into cloud-delivered images on smart phones and so many other gadgets with screens.

Look, Ma — no film, no paper, no wait for processing, and just as good as the big camera’s picture!

And no photography store down the boulevard either.

However, I do have in mind an alternative camera shop two towns or so up the highway.  Even so, everything one might want may be shipped in from an online store, the friendly chit-chat with the sales staff excepted.

If the print is really the thing and my signature on it worthless, I can resume posting at Fine Art America. On that venue, I cringe to place a value on a print that would fall below the cost of the printing and framing as charged by the establishment.

Aye, ‘Tis the End of an Era

There may be more to this story than laying to rest a fine old bitch of a printer and witnessing the passing of the place you could go into with dreams and a credit card (be careful, be very careful) and emerge with a nifty chunk of glass and a thick semi-technical manual filled with pages on composition, light theory, films, developers, and curves.

The good news: I’ve left a Nikons D200 and D2x, a complete “lens library” AND a field that on even the eve of its invention — think Talbot a little more than Daguerre — longed for the classical past or, also, maximized the value of a soft paper negative with romantically printed Greek tableaux.

Indeed, in photography, the exploitation of fine old methods turns out . . . kind of cool.

On my last visit to the local camera shop, the other guy at the counter was looking at the stock of RC papers (those who know, know) for his basement darkroom.

He asked.

I answered, “No ferrotyping needed for that”.

Kind of cool all of that back there in yesterday.

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Published! For Kindle.

Oppenheim, James S.  A Younger Soul: Seven Short Stories.  Hagerstown, Maryland: Communicating Arts, 2013.

The busyness enabled by the web — the Facebook thing and its 570 buddies; the several blogs; the unbridled span of artistic and intellectual interests — finally staggered me, and the whole “Bertha-the-Printer” thing (she’s checking herself out by spitting ink as I type) feels like the last straw: I’ve done enough for glory!

My environment may be rich, but I seem to remain ever the bohemian rattling around inside of it.

I haven’t set down the cameras, far from that, but am more inclined to license images than print them (unless there’s an order out there tall enough to cover the complete costs of the work and produce some pizza on the side), to continue shooting for fee (of course), and then, using Amazon’s vendor program, to get started on the next e-book.

Teaching, Statuary, Augusta Memorial Park, Waynesboro, Virginia, April 9, 2013

Statuary, Augusta Memorial Park, Waynesboro, Virginia, April 9,

Of course, I would like to post commissioned work on this blog, but, alas, as regards the above, I was merely a passenger on someone else’s trip yesterday (see¬†“Statuary, Augusta Memorial Park, Waynesboro, Virginia, April 9, 2013”).

My work has a reliably luminous quality these days, and for that, many thanks to Nikon glass and Adobe software.

Composition: sturdy, formal (most of the time), focused.

Luck: unbelievably good, although I am one of those who believe there is no bad light — in fact, as long as there’s light, there’s visual atmosphere. ¬†Perhaps with what I call “response photography” — the photographer as traveler through an environment — atmosphere x subject x depth-of-field x frame becomes the photograph, and atmosphere itself I interpret as location x lighting extant or lighting design. ¬†That’s why in “constructed photography” — the photographer as producer who imports into a frame the elements of his work — the determination of mise-en-scene (everything in the scene, visual and intellectual) leans so heavily on building a set and lighting it or discovering a location and working with season and day to construct a moment for recording fit to concept.

Back to luck: if you go out to a garden to shoot flowers and encounter heavy gusts, you might be unlucky. ¬†Of course, if you go out without intention other than to find something lovely or worth the film — these days, editing time at the computer — and you catch long colorful stems trembling in the light and blurring here and there at lower speeds, well, you might be lucky after all.

Be all that as that may be, thanks to my friend, I had a good day afield and at times lost among memorials and their elegiac and familiar figures and encouragements.

Augusta Memorial Park, Waynesboro, Virginia, April 9, 2013

ISO: Work!

I don’t know whether the skills — and by inference the capital in equipage and knowledge — exhibited in this space are going to work for me, as it were.

This morning began with my editing a friend’s resume — yes, I can do that too even though approaching my own (there’s a new section on the above tabs) plainly scares me.

Oh my God, what have I done with my life!?

From one perspective, I can answer that without cringing: if deflected, discouraged, or inhibited early on,perhaps, I’ve nonetheless spent my life reading, writing (well, “journaling” at least), playing music, and engaged with photography.


Of course.

From another perspective, I may not be anything like what America’s combined accounting, engineering, and political cultures want.

Had I gotten any kind of smooth launch into music (one with much less other traditional intellectual enrichment), I’d have hoped by now to have transitioned to underscoring films.

In another life — that train needed to take me to Boston.

This other organic thing, less one-track minded, has sprawled a bit, and here am I squeezing it back into form, casting for “tasking” and otherwise molding it, kneading it around projects.

A combination of the two — direct service relationships and income; independent creative entrepreneurship — comprise my needs.

Offered: a terrific broad editorial and research capability bounded by English only and not by geography at all, such may be the “life of the mind” on the World Wide Web; general photography, where one indeed has to go somewhere with a camera, making the same an east coast (mid-Atlantic, New England, southern states) sport from my location close by two major American Interstates: I-70 and I-81.

Troubled manuscripts — academic, business, creative — may be welcomed here!


Also, schedule permitting and pony car willing, speeding with Nikon glass away from this desktop on a client’s mission would be welcomed here too.

It has to happen.

All kinds of things are just ready for it.

In Inventory 3-25-13

I don’t know if I like defects.

I know I don’t like discovering them.

This afternoon’s story unfolded this way:

1. HP’s inks arrived about an hour ago, and, indeed, “Bertha” (infamous behemoth of a B9180 ink jet unit) needed her cyan; powered her up; fed her a full ink cartridge; deleted from the printer’s memory the two earlier jobs on which she stopped for want of her cyan; and started a simple, small job, i.e., the second snow snapshot from the latest post on the more personal blog.

2. Out of paper! ¬†Where did I put the remainder of the Ink Press? ¬†For a while, I couldn’t ¬†find the box, so I rummaged out of the back of a closet a few damaged sheets of Epson Pearl, 11 x 17, and cut that down to 11 x 12, removing some bent corners . . . only to learn that Bertha’s instructions (software) didn’t seem to want me to load an odd-sized paper — and then: the missing package? on top of the printer . . . .

3. Loaded 11 x 14 and ran a print.  Not bad.  A little reddish for a near monotone piece.  So I ran another, an old leaf heavily back lit.

Leaf, Backlit, C&O Canal, Maryland, December 29, 2006

That above came out of the printer noticeably striped.

It made me wonder if I had looked hard enough at my latest prints.

I use a 5,000K CFL for editing (Lacie 320 monitor; Macbeth color charts and other guides; plus I’m “tuned down” about 10 percent or so, and somewhat compromised between ambient interior brightness and print impact — I need a slightly brighter edited “print” to get a good looking real space print for indoor display), but (reminder: I was talking about my office light source), I have it aimed at the ceiling for indirect and dim room lighting (the monitor is everything).

Well . . .

I reversed the CFL bulb (it’s in a workshop reflector), put on the “readers” (1.5x) and looked again.

What I found: light striping and perhaps, in the last few prints, what looks like magenta cartridge misalignment.

One has to really look, up close, magnified, to see this stuff.

Very light, or what I call “faint” artifacts may be ignored — the image impact is such that such have to be pointed out to be “seen”.

And some things may add charm the way a nub or two might a sweater.

Still, I’m not one to send out work with industrial-strength grooves in it.

For the moment, I have half a dozen prints — should they be called “seconds”? — set aside and unlisted.

Of the listed: fine for the wall, but . . . Bertha’s tiring me out.

I’m going to align Bertha’s print heads, run some proofs, and come to a decision about sending her on to my county’s recycling program.

Boutique printing — very limited edition, totally hands-on, also at the mercy of technology or involving some struggle between the artist and the unruliness of the machinery — is not high output lithography. ¬†For some barely visible qualities, some “small shop” artifacts may add to charm. ¬†Such become indicative of a period in a shop’s history.

On the other hand:


Enough said.

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In the order signed:

Black Eyed Susans: 1 – 11×14 Ink Press Luster, 10-1/6 x 12-3/4

Black Eyed Susans: ¬†1- 11×14 Ink Press Luster, 6-1/4×10

Three Susans: 1 – 11×14 Ink Press Luster, 13-11/16 x 9-5/8 slightest banding, invisible head-on

Mumma Farm Outbuilding 1- 11×14 Ink Press Luster 6-3/8 x 9-5/8

Peeling Paint, Mumma Farm Building¬†(first of the three at URL location)- 2 – 11×14 Ink Press Luster, nominal 1/8-inch border, soft

Peeling Paint, Mumma Farm Building¬†(first of the three at URL location) – 2 – 11×14 Ink Press Luster, 8-1/8 x 5-1/16 (soft)

Blue Treetops – 1 – 11 x 14 Ink Press Luster, off-centered 6 x 10-11/16, blurred and textured (very arty)

American Farm Girl: 1 – 11 x 14 Ink Press Luster, no border, slightly stripped, ink droplet, left side.

American Farm Girl: 7 – 11 x 14 Ink Press Luster, bordered 3/4-inch nominal, faint striping, high impact print; some borders smudged.

American Farm Girl: 1 – 11 x 14 Epson Glossy, bordered 3/4-inch nominal, faint striping, some borders smudged.