Websites For Spring; Where Do You Get All Those Marvelous…Quotations?
“Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.”—Ambrose Bierce
The second question readers ask when they meet me (the first is how to pronounce my name) is where do I get the quotations that kick off this column? I collect them from various sources, including reader submissions, and have an affinity for the sarcastic and witty, which is why writers such as Mark Twain, H. L. Mencken, Douglas Adams, and the less celebrated Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914) often appear. Bierce was an American writer best known for his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and the satirical dictionary The Devil’s Dictionary. A short French film La Rivière du hibou, based on “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” appeared as an episode of TV’s The Twilight Zone. Bierce went to Mexico in 1913 to fight with Pancho Villa and while traveling with rebel troops, disappeared without a trace. The script for the movie From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter by Robert and Álvaro Rodríguez gives you a chance to see what might have happened to Mr. Bierce while he was in Mexico.
Jerry Hiller’s website is chock-a-block with photographs of the undersides of piers. He chose this subject because it allows him ”to show motion as well as the constant struggle of nature vs. manmade structures.” If that doesn’t sound very exciting you would be wrong, dead wrong. In his galleries, Hiller takes you on a tour of five California piers, introducing you to a world that people may take for granted but few take the time to really see. Did I mention that all of these images were monochrome? That’s a smart choice because color would make the images literal and remove not just the beauty of the man/nature relationship Hiller works so hard to achieve but its mystery as well. Adding to that mood is the light cyan tint that he adds to the photographs.
The individual images are untitled but each pier has its own personality that’s a combination of the structure’s construction and interaction with nature. Hiller selects those moments, often of solitude, using a blend of techniques, including slow shutter speeds, to create moments of solitude and beauty. My favorite pier is Newport because of its structural complexity and the way Hiller weaves a combination of soft water with the pier’s hard, complex geometrics. His compositional mastery is only one of the reasons Hiller’s haunting images will stay with you for a long while. Be sure to visit his blog, “Under the Boardwalk,” for a look at the man behind these wet images.
The first thing you see at Geraint Smith’s site is the “Photo of the Day,” a concept I’ve mentioned before as a useful attention-getting tool. Smith agrees. Smith started his “Photo of the Day” to inspire him to be more prolific. It also increased traffic to the site from 15,000 to 30,000 page views a week after he realized a changing website would ensure more returning viewers. It helps to have great photos and Smith delivers. His images are collected in four main galleries plus a “Photo Archive” of many of these wonderful pictures of the day. “Scenics” contains images of traditional landscapes but both descriptions sell these photographs short. Smith has produced epic images of such grandeur it will redefine what you think of as a “scenic” photograph. Exquisite composition is married to a grasp of color and craft to produce images of such beauty—both in your face and sometimes quiet—that you want this collection to keep on going.
His best “Wildlife” images are those that provide context: a bird on a wire or a buffalo sitting in tall grass. In “Architecture,” he applies the same creative approach as his scenic images but this time gets closer to his subject, weaving light and shadow with the shapes of each structure while making sure to occasionally hit you over the head with a splash of color. “Musings,” for the first time, introduces people into his oeuvre and here Smith displays his mastery by capturing tender moments, such as a child holding a duckling and an introspective image of an elderly couple looking at a landscape that has many levels of interpretive meanings. Take some time to read Smith’s “Bio” and learn more about him. It gives insight into the kind of person his is and the remarkable photographer he has become.
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