Monday, June 24, 2013

The Audubon Experience

So, your four younger cousins come in town for the weekend and you're looking for something to 'bout take them to the Zoo?  And Aquarium?  And Imax?  And top it all off with a bacon cheeseburger from Camilla Grill?  Yes, that sounds like a good plan.  All of that.  In one day.  It's doable, and it was actually quite fun.  Here are some pictures from the day.

[A note to my fellow photographers:  I figured that I would want to take some good pictures of the animals (and cousins) so I started to make sure my Canon 5DIII was good to go for the day.  I couldn't decide on a lens, and I didn't want to bring two.  Just as I was about to walk out the door I put it down in favor of my favorite camera ever: the Fujifilm X100.  It is such a brilliant little camera, and although it has it's fair share of quirks, I've learned to live with them.  I absolutely love to shoot with this camera.  It can handle almost any situation and it is the perfect size...I can fit it in my pocket if I want to.  It has totally replaced my DSLR as my walk around camera, and I'm not even sad about it. 

Anyway, the point of me telling you this is now that the X100s is out, this beaut can be found on eBay for around $600.  A steal if you ask me.  I'm not upgrading because I don't have to.  But, if Fuji releases a full frame camera in the future, I'm selling all my Canon stuff...not even kidding.  Now please note, this is a photographer's camera...anyone not sure what they're doing will get very frustrated.  But they did just release this baby, so check it out!]

The crew.

Sea horses have got to be some of the most interesting creatures on the planet.  We stared at them for a good 10 minutes.  The males actually carry the females eggs for them in a huge pouch, almost like a kangaroo.  We witnessed a live birth of what looked like thousands of little seahorses, almost totally invisible to the naked eye.  It was pretty crazy to watch.  (Not pictured here.)

When Orangutans fight over a t-shirt, it's very entertaining.

Design inspiration at the Zoo!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

David A Smith: The last of his kind

Here's your daily dose of inspiration.  Meet David A. Smith, a traditional sign writer and graphic designer, among other things.  Actually, he's an artist in the purest sense of the word.  A very technical artist, but as you'll see, he creates masterpieces.  As the video above shows, this guy is a master at so many, drawing, glass gilding, gold leaf, sign making, etc...  The phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" does not apply to him.

(Please note that I have used the term 'artist' and 'master' very carefully, as both are highly overused these days.  For example, Britney Spears is not an artist, period.  Anyway, I'm getting off subject.)  

What's so sad, like so many things these days, is that this beautiful art is completely dying.  Like so many of these great buildings and monuments that are rotting away due to the lack of craftsman and stonemasons, this kind of art is also in danger.  David is one of a handful of guys worldwide who can produce this kind of stuff, whereas there used to be a shop like his on every corner.  Technology is a great thing, don't get me wrong, but we rely on it too much.  (I know, I ironic, coming from a photographer who's never stepped in a darkroom in his life.)  As David says, it's the blending of the old and the new that allows him to do what he does.  

It should also be noted that David does a great deal of teaching as well.  He wants to pass on his knowledge of this lost art before it's lost forever.  If there's a silver lining, it's that I truly believe art like this is on the rise again (relatively speaking).  It's a scarcity, and smart people want the real thing.  It's like the wet plate process in photography...too many people are too good at digital.  It time for the artists to separate themselves and go back to the way things used to be.  

Anyway, I don't consider myself to be a graphic designer, even though I do my fair share of 'design' (aka Photoshop).  I often get depressed or down, or simply feel uninspired in my work.  Then something like this video comes along and bam!, my creative energy really gets going.  So, I say to you- watch and be inspired!

Check out more of David's work here.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

I like big prints and I cannot lie...

...that is all.

Metairie Cemetery under the (almost) full moon

There's something about walking around a cemetery at night, under nothing but the light of the full moon, that really gets my senses going.  I used to house sit for one of my mom's friends who lives right on Fairway Drive.  Their back yard literally opens up to the cemetery.  The had a little treehouse-like tower that was perfect for sitting back with a glass of wine and watching the sunset over the gravestones.  On an almost nightly basis I would open the back gate and explore the cemetery in the darkness.  I never even brought a flashlight.  

Metairie Cemetery is unlike the rest of the New Orleans cemeteries in a couple of is perfectly maintained and it is nowhere near any undesirable neighborhoods.  Meaning, aside from the ghosts, it is very safe to explore at all hours.  I loved bringing friends out there, and it always surprised me when they got so freaked out.  Even my most masculine of buds was hesitant to wander through this graveyard at night.  

I don't know what it is, but I've always been fascinated by cemeteries.  And we're lucky in New Orleans to have some of the most unique, and beautiful.  Wandering through these "Cities of the Dead" at night stirs my imagination like little else can.  It's dead quiet...your senses start to pick up the most faint of sounds, your eyes adjust and almost become night vision goggles.  Your body is on high alert...and it should be- you're walking through a city of dead people at night.  

All that being said, it actually relaxes me.  I walk through these graves staring at the names and dates, trying to imagine the lives of these people I've never met.  I try to imagine the tragedy of burying a child, or a wife that died in childbirth.  The grief that took place right where I stand makes me contemplate the meaning of my own life.  Some stones are extremely poetic.  Some brief.  Some are still littered with gifts and fresh flowers, years after their loved ones have departed.  Who keeps coming back?  

Anyway, it had been far too long since I had walked through this cemetery at night, and so on a recent clear evening under a relatively full moon, I made my way back out and enjoyed a perfectly peaceful stroll through one of my favorite places on earth.  Enjoy the photographs.