opinions on photography

Paul Bader Photography Interview

The Paul Bader Photography Interview:

Paul Bader Photography:  His Photography Story.

*** Because WordPress will not allow the Audio Podcast to be embedded here (e.g., it keeps getting deleted after each “Save Draft”), you will need to go to this SPECIAL PAGE, to Start the Audio Podcast, AND THEN, you can see the photographs below.  Sorry you have to jump around to get the audio interview started; but for now this is the only way I can do this operation. ***

Paul & Rita Bader

Paul & Rita Bader

Paul Bader

Paul Bader

Left Side - Robert & Otto Bader, Vernon Dankenbring, and Paul Bader, 1942

Left Side - Robert & Otto Bader, Vernon Dankenbring, and Paul Bader, 1942

Paul and brother Robert Bader, 1947

Paul and brother Robert Bader, 1947

Paul and brother Otto Bader.

Paul and brother Otto Bader.

PAUL BADER PHOTOGRAPHS:

Cowboy with Cigarette, by Paul Bader

Cowboy with Cigarette, by Paul Bader

DARK EYES, by Paul Bader.

DARK EYES, by Paul Bader.

Fun with Beer Foam, by Paul Bader.

Fun with Beer Foam, by Paul Bader.

MACHINIST, by Paul Bader.

MACHINIST, by Paul Bader.

Man at the Controls, by Paul Bader.

Man at the Controls, by Paul Bader.

Portrait of Girl with Ball, by Paul Bader.

Portrait of Girl with Ball, by Paul Bader.

BEHIND THE SCENES:  The ‘Elbow Grease’ Behind Getting this Podcast and the Photos Published Here!

Paul Bader is my Great Uncle.  He had a long career as a Professional Photographer, creating wonderful portrait and wedding photography.  He was also an accomplished Pet Portrait Photographer, and I think seeing his Pet Portraits as a kid is where I developed an eye for creating my Cat Portraits.  He is a longtime resident of Valentine, Nebraska, which is where he did much of his work as a Professional Photographer.

Currently, Paul is very active as a musician and singer.  His music style is country, very ‘cowboy’ish’ and folksy.  I hope I did justice in describing his music style.  He and my cousin Rhonda, sing and play music together.  In fact, the first part of this audio-cast is a song sung by Paul and Rhonda, and it is probably very familiar to many:  “Summertime Blues,” by Eddie Cochran.  The version I was most familiar with was by The Who.  Paul and Rhonda have given this popular tune their own special twist and sound – they have ‘made it theirs‘ with this rendition.

I would say that Uncle Paul was probably my first influence in the world of Photography.  Maybe I didn’t fully realize the good influence he was at the time, as a kid.  At my late Grandmother’s house in Lincoln, I would always see, and be amazed at the photographs and portraits my Grandmother had on the walls in her home that Uncle Paul had taken.  The seeds of Photography were probably planted in my brain because of being exposed to Uncle Paul’s Photography.  And in addition, the freedom of artistic expression was reinforced by my late Grandmother, who loved to paint.  Photography and Painting:  What a wonderful combination!

The Process of Getting this “Project” Done:

This whole interview project has been in the-works for some time, and it took quite a bit of effort to put it together.

This project all started because I wanted to document my Great Uncle’s Photography Career.  And, being an avid listener of the Brooks Jensen Podcasts (Founder of LensWork Magazine), I learned from one of Brooks’ podcast episodes about the merits of capturing peoples’ stories with audio recording.  So, thank you Brooks, for the idea.

Keep in mind, the distance between Penang and Valentine is around 9,100 miles, and a lot of the work on this project was done by regular post

What's that?  You know...stamps, envelopes, etc.

Let’s see, where was I…

Oh yes…I drafted a number of interview questions regarding Paul’s photography career for which I was curious about.  I sent the questions by email to my Mom, who forwarded the questions to Uncle Paul.  Uncle Paul recorded his answers to my questions on audio cassette tape.  A set of tapes were mailed to my Mom, and she made tape-to-tape copies.

After she was done making copy-tapes, she mailed the cassette tapes to me…the copy-tapes.  Unfortunately, the quality of the audio is instantly reduced at the copy level.  However, no worries, we can deal with that.

When I received the cassettes, I had the next level of copying technology to deal with:  Grabbing the audio from the analog cassette tapes and transferring that audio to some kind of digital format.

Thus, I bought a Panasonic cassette recorder/player, and also an analog-to-digital cable:  One plug of the cable goes into the Panasonic Player’s earphone jack and the other plug goes into the computer’s microphone jack.

I used Audacity Software to make the first recording.

The resulting file was HUGE:  The saved interview digital file was in the 160MB range.  The new digital file was TOO BIG for a Podcast style file.

I originally wanted to create an mpeg4 movie showing Uncle Paul’s photographs and running the audio interview at the same time, and that was not working well either, because the mpeg4 file size ended up being 260MB.

My luck was getting worse with each rendition of the interview.

I had to put the project on hold for a while to think out the problems I was facing.  I wouldn’t be able to do the mpeg4 movie, that fact was clear.  So, after a couple, maybe three weeks or more, I came back to the project to reconsider other options.

One other audio issue I had to work with was that the sound/quality level of the song is different than the interview file, and two files make up this single Podcast file.  This is due to my novice-talent working with audio files.  But it was a problem I had to deal with.   I attempted to ‘amplify ‘the song part of the file, just a little (by 1.7 dB), and I think it raised the song volume as I anticipated it would.  The interview part has better sound volume, so that is why the song needed the boost.

Besides the audio portion of this project, there is also the photographs portion.  I needed to get photograph samples from Uncle Paul to make the project complete.

Uncle Paul and my cousin Tim worked on taking digital photos of the originals prints, and this, I know, can be a challenging task.  When the digital shots of the original prints were completed, the digital files were sent to me by email.

To bring back some of the luster to the photographs, I worked on several of the photographs using my preferred software program for editing, Paint Shop Pro.

Therefore, the images seen in this blog entry were minimally edited:  I adjusted the Histogram Levels, a bit of adjustment in the Contrast, and I used the Clarify Tool adjustment to give some punch to the edited photographs.  I wanted to revive the prints without changing the interpretation too much.  My goal was to bring out the rich black, and to boost the mid and high tones in the photographs.  I hope my recent digital adjustments come close to the original prints looks from when they were first created in the darkroom.

BACK TO THE AUDIO PART:

Now…

If you use GOM Player or some other audio playing software with Equalizer Options, then move the 6K and 3K levels way up and that brings out the voice more clearly.  Move the 12K, 16K and 24K levels down near midway, to reduce high level noise.   Sorry for the need to adjust levels, but I’m not an audio expert – I’m just doing the best I can with the know-how I have on audio.

It took quite a little fiddling around, but I finally got the audio file to the size of 34MB (roughly), and I’m not messing with it any more.

The FINAL step before putting this Blog Entry together was finding an archive site online where I could upload my audio podcast file for eternity.  I did this at a site called, ourmedia.org.

In this audio interview, Paul discusses some important aspects of his career, the learning process of being a Photographer, and the challenges he faced living a ‘Photographic Life.’

Main Interview Topics:

  1. Early Artistic Endeavors – Commercial Art.
  2. Early Photography Training with Hattie Joy.
  3. Drafted into the Service (Marine Corp.) & Photography.
  4. 1952 Married Life and Farming in Kansas – Back into Photography.
  5. First Studio in an Abandoned Cream Station.
  6. Work in North Platte for Photographer, Earl Herana:  Learned how to be efficient – Every movement counted.
  7. Worked in Grand Island for another studio doing mainly darkroom print work.
  8. Photographing babies.
  9. Photographing Portraits, Senior School Photos and Weddings.
  10. Using the 8 x 10 Camera with Flash Bulbs!
  11. Changed to Speedgraphic 4 x 5 Camera.
  12. Conversion to Roll Film and Strobe Lighting for Speed.
  13. Lots of Wedding Work, PLUS, Selling Vacuum Cleaners!
  14. Winning Prizes for Photography.
  15. Pet Photography and “Tricks” to Get Good Shots.
  16. Getting burned out a little on Photography – Trying Life Insurance Sales.
  17. Purchase studio in Valentine, Nebraska.
  18. Push into Color Photography and Experimental Techniques (Double Exposures).
  19. Studio Fire Story.
  20. 1987, decided to sell the studio.
  21. Advice for Photographers:  It’s not a 9-to-5 Job!  Give it your all!
  22. Spends time now making and playing music.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the family photos of Paul Bader (and Brothers); as well as, seeing some of his prize-winning photography; and hearing his music & his story about being a Professional Photographer.

The Paul Bader Audio Interview – Just CLICK HERE!

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STORY TELLER…or, What?

Cherry Red Nail Lacquer,v4

Recently, I heard a photographer, one that I respect quite considerably, say that when he takes a photograph, he approaches the task as a “story teller”.

That got me thinking about how I approach taking photographs.

I know that I am NOT a “story teller” – that is something I can be quite certain of.

What is my definition of a “Photographer Story Teller”? This is a Photographer who can see a scene, and then through the visual art of Still Photography, translate onto film (or digital file) what is happening, or what had happened in that scene.

Some Photographers are expert at this story telling skill. Recently, I read an article about Chargesheimer (aka, Karl Heinz Hargesheimer), who was a Street Photographer / Social Documentary Photographer after the Second World War. His photographs show life in urban Germany in the 1950’s and 60’s. I think People, Place and Time captured in one frame, when done skillfully by the Photographer, then an observer can pretty quickly see what the environment and atmosphere are in that place. When the necessary elements are put into place in the photographic frame, when the image is captured at that decisive moment, then that makes a “story telling photograph”…A good story telling photograph.

I think that I’m an “interpreter-alchemist”.

I do not go into a photographic session hoping to tell a story. If I were photographing people in a social environment, then yes, I would hope to capture their story. But I shoot “things” usually. Small subjects.

I look at an item, the subject. I eyeball it for a time…sometimes for a long time and I see how it looks, the form, the design, the texture and color. And then, I ask myself, “How do I want to make this look? How should I interpret this subject?” “How can I change this subject to look the way I want (or need) it to look?”

I am of the opinion that my small subjects don’t have stories. What is important to me is to interpret and change (the “alchemist” part) the subjects as I see them in my minds eye. Therefore, when I look at one of my photographs I can say: “This is how I view this subject…This is how I wanted people to see this ‘thing’. My photographs may be total misrepresentations of the real makeup of the subject. I may change the color, the hue, the physical features, or make it so that the item defies gravity, marks time, or any other number of features that will help me change the subject to my visual interpretation.

Well…maybe you have a different way of approaching your photography, and that is good. We all can’t be the same, and differences make us human and creative beings.

Have fun!

Old Wood House at Night, v.2c, & Original

The bottom image is the original shot. The top image is the edited version. The top version is also the one the B&W image came from.

Photographed by Nawfal Nur

It is like Day & Night. Sometimes, you just have to work with the original to get something that you can be happy with.

You go out at nighttime, let’s say, and you see a scene, and it may not be ideal, or the circumstances may not be ideal, but you see potential. You grab your camera, you set it on your tripod, and you take the photograph. With limited time and working with the existing lighting, you take the shot: The “original photograph” is like the clay a potter works with to create a piece of art that is previsualized in the artist’s mind.

As a photographer and artist, you start working with the original image making the artwork come to life; it starts becoming the image you saw in your minds eye.

For me, I like this process, working with the original and then molding and shaping it until it becomes the image I saw in my minds eye, as I said, a work that I can be really happy with.

If I have a choice, I prefer to get the photograph as close to my vision as possible, with the original. However, this is not possible all the time.

This scene was photographed at around 11PM, and the only lighting was a single HPS (high pressure sodium lamp) street light, which for photographic purposes, is a very weak illumination source. Various other urban light pollution was around, but definitely not helping the photographic situation. What drew my attention to this scene was the texture of the materials in the house, the spookiness of the environment, and the possibilities I saw in my minds eye. That was enough for me to take the effort, and make the exposure.

Opportunities & Preparedness…

Yellow Line, by Nawfal Nur, All Rights Reserved

“Yellow Line”
From the “Distinctive Georgetown” Portfolio
Bishop Street, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
© 2008 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

Opportunities & Preparedness…

Always being prepared, having your camera with you, actively seeking out photographs with your eyes wide open, and seeing things differently are some of the major keys to taking better, and more interesting photographs.

Earl Nightingale said many things that I always want to strive for, and here are a few snippets of those things:  ‘Study and Prepare Yourself…Your mind is your richest resource…Look at your work with NEW Eyes…Serve the customer better than anyone else serves the customer…

Earl also said:  “We become what we think about.”

J.B. Matthews wrote:  “Unless a person has trained himself for his chance, the chance will only make him rediculous, a great occasion is worth to a man exactly what his preparation enables him to make of it.”  I’m sure that Mr. Matthews meant all people in his statement (as Earl N., mentioned), and Matthews’ statement is indeed, very profound, and very humbling.     

This is why knowing as much about your field, whether it is photography, or computer science, or WHATEVER, that you are a first-class professional in your chosen field.  Also, that you are constantly educating yourself about your profession, keeping up with the times and surpassing your competition.

Special Note:  See…I wasn’t prepared just now, I lost all my tags and categories for some strange reason…I should have saved all first.  Even when you think you are ready, you may not be ready.

The following video link is of one of my favorite guitarists, and perhaps, one of the best guitarists in the world (at this point in time).  The video was not recorded in a studio, but rather, at the NAMM show/exhibition, so the audio quality is a bit off, but if you listen to the playing and observe the technique, you will soon see why I believe Jeff Loomis, of the band NEVERMORE, is one of the best players around.  I have mainly put this video up here, to demonstrate someone in the field of music, who I believe is a first-class, prepared, professional.  You can substitute anyone of your choice in this type of exercise.  Pick someone you know is skilled in their field, it can be your field or another one.  Just watching someone who is at the top of their game, pushes you a little (or a lot) more, to improve yourself.

 

 

Photography Madness!

Does anyone, anywhere, have statistics on how many ‘bloody’ photographs are taken in one day? It must be an astronomical, unfathomable number of shots taken in a 24-hour period.

Now, how many of those shots would be considered, based on the most scrutinizing factors, quality photographs, pure artistic renderings? And, how many would be considered off-the-wall snapshots?

It used to be, BACK IN THE DAY, that photography was considered a highly technical profession where only highly skilled practitioners of the art, would have a clue how to operate and take artistic scenes with photographic equipment. Nowadays, everyone and their dog (so to speak) has a digital camera that practically takes the photograph for them, and EVERYONES’ shots are so fantastic that EVERYONE is automatically considered a ‘highly-skilled’ photographer.

Hummmm, seems like somewhere along the lines, the idea of being a Photographer with great skill and artistic vision, where the skill of operating the camera equipment was just as much a part of the process of being a professional photographer, has become blurred. Why? Because, technology has made it so much easier to operate equipment and take pictures.

I’m sure I have many people who read this, a bit off-balance at this point.

Maybe you are saying: “What is he talking about?” “Is this a bitch & moan session?” “Is he being sarcastic?”

Hopefully, some of you are saying: “Yeah, right on, this guy is making a lot of frack’en sense!”

Well, anyone who knows me will know that I have a considerable dry humor, almost like dust. It is subtle, in a way, and may appear sarcastic to some (not totally intentional).

These are, of course, just a few quick observations and things to think about.

Naturally, I don’t believe that new digital cameras create Professional Photographers, that’s nonsense! “Pros” are still people who make most of their living by selling photographs, or their services, to take photographs. “Pros” are also those people who know how to solve photographic problems when a client asks them to take pictures of something, “like they need this shot, YESTERDAY!”. “Pros” are the people who get hired on a regular basis to take photographs. “Pros” are the people who go into their studio, or are out in the field, or on the street shooting news imagery, day-to-day-to-day…

It just seems a little odd to me, that photography technological advances, have maybe, turned photography into the worlds number one “hobby” or part time profession. Wasn’t it Stamp Collecting before (as the most popular hobby)?

You don’t see technological advances in digging tools, making Archeology so much more popular as a hobby, or profession. I have yet to hear anyone say to me: “Yes, I’m a part time Archaeologist (or Paleontologist), I dig up artifacts and fossils in my spare time, because that new-fangled digital chisel makes it easier to get them suckers out of the rock!” Haven’t heard that one yet. I think the job market for Archaeologists and Paleontologists is OK, shouldn’t have to worry too much about technology advances causing a glut in that line of work. Or what about better pneumatic wrenches turning everyone into auto mechanics in their spare time. Probably not…

Well, so I don’t add to the clutter of photographs taken today, I’m not going to add one here to my journal, I want to do my part to conserve.