Sunday, December 30, 2007

Just Another Brick In The Wall...

Downtown Los Angeles - 1972
Click on photo to enlarge - © 1972 jim otterstrom

Downtown Alameda - 2007
Click on photo to enlarge -© 2007 jim otterstrom

Brick wall photos, old & new.

I was a newly-hired Postman (a Special Delivery Messenger to be exact), back in the early 1970s when I took the "No Comment" photo at the top, but I still had delusionary ambitions of making a living as a free-lance photographer/artist/craftsman (before I realized that would also entail becoming a businessman, something I have absolutely zero talent for).

In those days I mounted, signed, framed, and hung my pictures in any joint that was interested in having art 'for sale' hanging on their walls, and I actually sold quite a few too, at funky little galleries, restaurants, saloons, grocery stores, and craft fairs.

At that point in time, when I prepared my photos for framing, I always rounded off the corners of the prints (using a quarter as a template for the radius), then sanded a thin white border around the edges before mounting them on black mat board (you might say it was my signature style of matting).

Those ancient mounted prints are either long gone, or, too deteriorated to display anymore, so, just for fun, I thought I'd try to duplicate the look of my primitive old technique in Photoshop.

So, if you enlarge the 1972 photo at the top, you will see it presented exactly as it was 35 years ago, when I was 27 years old.

Then I decided to take one of my recent photos, from this past November, and 'mount' it the same way.

There's 35 years of life in between those two pictures, yet they look to me as if they could've come from the same roll of film.

"Some things change very slowly, if they ever change at all."

But the art of photography has sure changed. In 1972 you actually had to acquire some skills & knowledge to make a good picture, where any of today's digital cameras capture near perfect images in simple point & shoot auto-mode. I still like to compose my shots with manual settings though, which is why I have a digital camera that allows me to do so.

I love the way color photos look against a black background (similar to the way Earth looks against the blackness of space) which is also why I chose this particular blog template (although I've noticed that, on some laptops, Earth Home Garden comes up with a white background??).

The days are short and the weather's cold, so it's as good a time as any to be messing around with photographs, old or new.

The Los Angeles photo was taken in 1972 with a Nikon F2, and probably a 24mm wide-angle lens. All exposure data is long forgotten.

The Alameda photo was taken on November 12th, 2007, with an 8 megapixel Canon S5IS, in manual mode. Settings - ISO 80, f /8.0, 1/160 second, 32.2mm zoom (35mm equivalent).

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jim, I am a frequent reader of your blog for the past year or so. I always enjoy it.

This past week I read the autobiography of Ansel Adams and it made me think of you. I think it was the fact that he was a man who loved nature and worked to conserve it, his photography, his beliefs and his beard. :-) I really enjoyed the book and was sad to be finished reading it.

I am also interested in photography and nature. And, I happen to have the same camera you do--it's a great little camera!


6:43 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Hi Mel-

I'm so glad you dropped in to comment today, and that you enjoy reading Earth Home Garden.

It always amazes me when someone has been visiting here for a great while, and yet, I was never aware of it.

Ansel Adams, now there was a guy that could take a picture!

When I started getting interested in photography, and taking classes, back in the late sixties & early seventies, Ansel Adams was still teaching a regular class in Yosemite, where he would have you make a camera out of a shoe box by poking a hole in one end. That would be your camera for the class.

I really regret not taking that class. I tried to enroll for it one year but missed the deadline or something. What a great experience that would've been, learning about light from the master himself.

I haven't read his autobiography but your comment has put it at the top of my list. Like Alexander Von Humboldt, Thoreau, John Muir, and so many others, Ansel Adams was an inspiration and a role model for all of us would be Nature Worshipers.

I really like my little Canon S5IS too. I don't think you'll find a better or more versatile camera for the price. At least not this week.

Happy New Year!

10:25 AM  
Blogger arcolaura said...

Jim - I am intrigued by the colours people choose as background for their blogs. Somehow each blog background seems to provide a good setting for the pictures that appear there. I use Google Reader, but if there is a picture I usually click through to the blog itself because the pictures look so much better in their "home" colour background.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention using Photoshop to round the corners of an image. I was trying to do exactly that this morning and couldn't figure it out! I just stumbled across your fascinating blog -- talk about serendipity. Can you tell me how to do that?

1:38 PM  
Blogger jules said...

I always enjoy your pictures. You have such an eye.

On the blog background, I have no trouble with the black, it's the colored words that make for hard reading, especially the 'red on black' ones. Red is especially hard to read, blue not so much, but still hard.

Keep up the good work.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


Thanks for the compliment and I'm glad you like my pictures. I love creating and sharing them.

I agree with you about some of the colored text being hard to read and I had already been thinking about lightening and embolding the text for this post, so thanks for the gentle prodding.

2:04 PM  
Blogger jules said...

The lighter colors are ok to read, lighter brighter colors. The darker ones are just so hard to see on the black. Thanks for considering it.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


Your observation reminds me of musicians and how each individual can make the same instruments sound so different.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


That just proves that we don't need to understand everything to have an appreciation for it.

I don't really understand the complexity of botanical classifications and terminology but it doesn't stop me from fully enjoying the flora and fauna of our planet.

I'm glad you like my pictures.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


Sorry it took me so long, but I have finally tried to answer your question about rounding the corners of images in Photoshop.

See the newer post 'Window on Green Way Drive' (January 12th, 2008) for an explanation of how I do that.

I hope it helps you.

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