Fotography Friday: Light and Dark

So I’m a little late on this one because my family’s in town. Better late than never, though!

Light and Shadow, 10/2010, Omaha, NE

This one was taken on my Canon EOS Rebel T2.i at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. I have lots of neat pictures from the zoo seeing as how I’m a member there and go all the time. I’ll probably post a bunch of them.

Let me know what you think!

Fotography Friday: Plastic Camera Month Extended

So since my plastic camera month was not a full month, I decided to extend it just a bit. Here’s one that may look a little familiar:

Halo II, 6/2011, Lincoln, NE

This is just a shot of the dome at Sunken Gardens in Lincoln, NE. It was taken on Kodak Ektar 100 120 size film. It’s a little out-of-focus, but that’s the nature of Holgas. I have another shot of this same subject taken on my Canon EOS Rebel T2.i, but I like this one too. If you like this, be sure to say so!

Fotography Friday: Plastic Camera Month 3

So I was so busy playing with my new Droid that I almost forgot about this place! Just kidding. Here’s another one from the plastic camera vault:

Fountain, 8/2011, Lincoln, NE

This one was also taken on Ilford HP5 120 size film. It’s a fountain at the spa down the street from me. As I was taking the film out, I wasn’t using a changing bag, and it got loose and I had to reroll it, which is why it’s so leaky. I kind of like it; it pulls the picture together.

Fotography Friday: Plastic Camera Month 2

So continuing the plastic camera theme, here’s this:

Lily

Lily, 6/2011, Lincoln, NE

Another one taken on my Holga 120CFN, this time on Ilford HP5 120 size film. I like the heavy vignetting and contrast between light and dark in this one. Also, the sidewalk cutting through the upper right pulls the piece together and helps to frame it. My dad has a copy of this one.

Mark Twain on plagiarism: There are no original ideas

So, I’m a huge fan of Brain Pickings and I get their newsletter on my subscribing email (I have one email for personal/professional jazz and another for subscriptions), and this week said newsletter included this post about Mark Twain’s letter to Helen Keller about the plagiarism fiasco Keller faced some years earlier. In case you’re not familiar with the story, Keller once wrote a poem that was found to be strikingly similar to an earlier poem, yet she claimed it was her own original work. She was cleared, and these days most people think it was a case of cryptomnesia. Anyway, the gist of Twain’s letter is that “all ideas are second-hand.” As a writer and artist, I find this to be an incredibly apt observation.

I frequently refer to myself as a collagist because when I was 18 and first went off to college I came to the realization that nihil sub soli novum est. Every idea I had that I thought was great or award-worthy had been had before by someone greater or more award-worthy than me. I came to this realization first when I wrote a short story about AIDS that my teacher pointed out was uncannily similar to Ernest Hemingway’s famous short story, Hills Like White Elephants, which I hadn’t read yet. Then I wrote a screenplay about a child murderer preying on children in a working-class neighborhood until the adults in the neighborhood take matters into their own hands. One of the working-class adults marked the killer after stalking him and the rest of the community ganged up on him. I had no idea who Fritz Lang was at the time. Shortly after that I began working on an essay about how we can’t do anything without creating art, only to buy a copy of The Writings of Marcel Duchamp on eBay and see that Duchamp had the same idea 80 years prior to me.

Anyway, after getting really pissed off for a really long time that a bunch of great dead dudes were biting my game from beyond the grave, I realized that it’s probably something that every creative person deals with. In fact, it could be seen as a good thing: I am thinking along the same lines of some of the greats minds in 20th-century art and literature. This is probably a sign that I’m on the right track. Now what I do is I take other people’s ideas (or ideas that I assume have been had before me) and mash them up and try different executions and juxtapositions and so forth. I just make collages. In fact, recently I took the collagist title to a new extreme and have stopped doing any actual painting and stuck with creating collages. Last summer I made nearly two dozen collages.

So, the point is this: There are only a finite number of ideas that can be had, and with all of the people who have ever lived thinking of ideas for most of their lives, the chances are overwhelmingly great that nothing you think is actually original. The trick isn’t to do something new, it’s to do something better. Like I said before, Apple’s only innovations in the past 25 years have been in combining other people’s ideas into “better” ones and then marketing the hell out of them. And look how far Steve Jobs was able to go before his untimely death.