Category Archives: Music

Replay: Capturing two transmutations of light

Photography is, above all else, about light, about capturing photons through either photochemical response [film photography] or photoelectronic excitation [digital]. Film photographers worked with a range of film, both positive and negative, black and white, and color. And color films harbored their peculiar ways of displaying the light they had captured, with, for instance, Kodak’s Ektachrome transparency film yielded images with the color balance weighted toward cooler greens and, as Paul Simon rhapsodized, Kodachrome produced “those nice bright colors”:

The song became something of a personal anthem, given that we also shot Nikons and Kodachrome and shared the experience of in-the-moment joy that can come with the single-minded openness to the unexpected a camera can bring.

Kodachrome died in 2009, Ektachrome in 2013. But as film died, digital thrived, first in the form of very expensive low-resolution still cameras, evolving into cheaper, higher resolution still cameras, them to movie cameras, and finally to today’s cell phones capturing both still and moving images.

And forget the limitations of film when it comes to playing with colors; digital lifts all constraints, adding the capability for seamless alternation and distortions, of which cats seem to be the principal subjects.

The camera’s lens plays a critical role in image capture, with macro lenses capturing the very close and telephoto lenses capturing the very distant. The width of a lens opening also changes the nature of the image, with very narrow apertures creating images with great depth of field, in which images both near and far appear in sharp focus; conversely, wide apertures yield images with a sharp center of focus and in which both near and far are blurred.

Another lens polarity is between the extreme telephoto and the fisheye. Extreme telephoto lenses resemble inverted cannon barrels, while the most extreme fisheye would be nearly hemispherical in profile. Telephoto lenses result in sharp but very narrow focus, while fisheye lenses distort [now, thanks to digital,  “correctable” by software].

For a good example of fisheye distortion, see the image at the top of our blog, a self portrait as seen in our reflection in a fisheye safety mirror at the entrance to a narrow passageway at the La Note cafe in downtown Berkeley.

So with that by way of preface, a reprise of a 27 November 2012 post containing one [guess] of our favorite images and a link to another [and click on all to enlarge ’em]:

Seen through glass, more or less darkly

A pair of glass-themed images from an August, 2004, road trip with younger daughter Samantha to the woolly wilds of Northern California.

First, an image of the view outside the former home of an old friend in Petrolia, as seen through a glass sphere on the window sill:

1 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 43 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.5

1 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 43 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.5

Next, a glimpse of the play of light through the grid of prismatic circular elements of the French-made sodium glass Fresnel lens — made with a long-lost secret formula — of the landmark Point Arena lighthouse, located on a stunning stretch of coastline:

4 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 15 mm, 1/125 sec, f4

4 August 2004, Minolta Dimage A1, ISO 100, 15 mm, 1/125 sec, f4

And now for something completely different

From Sole & DJ Pain 1, a song with which we can entirely agree, both for its vivid account of the full greed and panopticon scope of a corporation with more riches than most of the world’s government, and for the sentiments provoked by that realization.

Via Media Roots:

Sole & DJ Pain 1: “Fuck Google”

Program notes:

FTP Talks Denver presents, “Fuck Google” By Sole & DJ Pain 1.

Get “Pattern of Life” EP, free here:

Get CD Here:

New LP “Death Drive”

Filmed & Directed by Tanner of DAM Collective.

Shot at the Open Media Foundation


Quote of the day: San Diego has jumped the shark

From David Loy, writing in the American Civil Liberties Union’s Blog of Rights, describes the case of a California man who faces a possible life prison sentence for, well, rapping while black:

I’ve heard free speech isn’t free, and Brandon Duncan, who raps as Tiny Doo, has learned that the hard way.

Until recently, Mr. Duncan spent eight months in jail on “gang conspiracy” charges arising from several shootings in San Diego from May 2013 to February 2014. Prosecutors admit he wasn’t at the scene of the crimes, and they have no evidence linking him to the shootings. Mr. Duncan, who has no criminal record, also says he had no knowledge of the crimes. But the district attorney charged him all the same because he raps about shootings.

That’s not only absurd; it’s a blatant violation of the First Amendment.

Mr. Duncan, after all, is an artist, whose music reflects what he’s seen. “I’m just painting a picture of urban street life,” he recently told CNN’s Don Lemon. “The studio’s my canvas …. I’m not telling anyone to go out and kill somebody or go do something. I’m not doing anything differently than [Grammy-winning rapper] The Game.”

But the San Diego district attorney thinks otherwise. Under an untested law, an “active participant” in a “criminal street gang” who “willfully promotes, furthers, assists, or benefits from” any felony committed by fellow gang members can be charged with “conspiracy to commit that felony.” Unlike traditional conspiracy, the charge doesn’t require any agreement to commit the crime. Instead, it requires either “promoting, furthering, or assisting” the crime, which means being a direct accomplice, or knowingly “benefiting” from the crime.

Whether or not this law can be used to prosecute others, the prosecution is abusing it to charge Mr. Duncan. To “promote, further, or assist” means to aid and abet, and there’s no evidence he did that. That leaves “benefit.” The district attorney alleges he has “benefited” from shootings committed by unidentified gang members through making a CD called “No Safety,” on which he raps about shootings, and through receiving “praise” for his music. As the prosecutor admitted, he wouldn’t be charged if he sang “love songs.”

That’s wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.

From the Dept. of Why Are We Not Surprised?

A screengrab from The Hill:


And in honor of his stoner bully days, this video treatment of that favorite song from Sandra Buyak:

Another jazz great gone; farewell Buddy DeFranco

Buddy DeFranco was a jazz clarinettist in a league of his own, the preferred accompanist to the great jazz and swing singers of his age, a player in renowned big bands, and a soloist extraordinaire.

The Associated Press delivered the sad tidings today:

Jazz Great Buddy DeFranco Dies at Age 91

Renowned jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco — who collaborated with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and other top singers and musicians of his era — has died at the age of 91, his family said Friday.

DeFranco, a member of the American Jazz Hall of Fame, performed at venues around the world for 75 years and recorded with musicians including Sinatra, Holliday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. He conducted the Glenn Miller Orchestra for eight years from 1966 to 1974.

“Buddy DeFranco almost single-handedly was the clarinetist who moved the harmonic and rhythmic language forward from where Benny Goodman left off into the much more adventurous territory of bebop and beyond, while never forgetting his roots in swing music. He was also unfailingly kind and supportive to every other clarinetist who came after him,” said leading jazz clarinetist Ken Peplowski.

DeFranco began his career as a teenager in Philadelphia and went on to play with legendary bands including Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Gene Krupa and Charlie Barnett.

Composer Nelson Riddle wrote the musical “Cross Country Suite” in 1958 for DeFranco, and Nat King Cole introduced DeFranco when he premiered the work at the Hollywood Bowl.

Just how good was he? Consider this undated recording of the haunting standard “Laura” posted by vlogger jclc1608:

Buddy DeFranco: Laura

From vlogger konidolfine, another outstanding solo performance of a jazz standard:

The Buddy DeFranco Quarter: The Things We Did Last Summer

And listen to his exuberant accompaniment to Billie Holiday on this 1954 performance of a Billie Holiday standard, recorded live at Jazz Club U.S.A. in Cologne, Germany, via vlogger Taro Cross:

Billie Holiday And Her Orchestra: Bille’s Blues

And finally, what more fitting way to conclude that with this 1991 performance via vlogger SwingCla:

Memories of You – Buddy DeFranco

And now for something completely different. . .

Holy Lederhosen, Batman, It’s the Alpine Drums with “River of Steel,” a performance on metal toolboxes by Bavarian musicians at the Gasthof Hizinger in Sollhuben, Bavaria, a famous but out-of-the-way venue noted for its unusual range of musical performances [think ocarinas, accordions, trumpets].

So with out further ado, here it is, via Bayerischer Rundfunk [Bavarian Radio]:

H/T to Metafilter.

And whilst we’re on a musical theme. . .

While it’s not the finest rendition we’ve heard of Franz Joseph Hayden’s cantata Arianna a Naxos, this performance by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano and pianist Ken Noda for the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest 2014 and just released by University of California Television is  dramatic, and a pleasure to hear:

Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos – La Jolla Music Society SummerFest 2014

Program notes:

The fate of Ariadne, who helped Theseus to overcome the Minotaur and was abandoned by him on the island of Naxos, was an inspiration for numerous works of both visual and performing arts. Haydn took the myth as the subject of his cantata, composed in 1791. Recorded on 8/19/2014. Series: “La Jolla Music Society: SummerFest” [12/2014]