Tuesday, April 28, 2009


#118, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

As the days get warmer and the moldy rattle of the air-conditioning unit beckons like a siren song, while the rest of New York takes to the streets with their abhorrent flip-flops and sun dresses, swilling iced coffees and smiling at their good fortune, a seasonal change afflicts me as well. Instead of my usual routine of slipping on a coat and zipping up a good pair of boots, tossing my camera in my bag and embarking on a pleasant afternoon of wandering and picture-taking, I must now weigh the pros and cons of venturing out into what feels to me like a furnace and to others like "a nice day." Say what you will, but I'm not drawn in by the fabulous new clothes on the emperor. I know that madness is afoot and that spring fever is on the prowl, and this can mean only one thing for my productivity: I slack.

Oh, but don't be fooled. You won't see that I'm slacking. No, on the outside, you'll see only the dogged industriousness of a one-number-per-day poster. You'll feast snack on the photographic fruits of my labor and may even chuckle at my occasional smattering of witty asides or string of non sequiturs. How does she do it? you may wonder. How does she continue to post a number a day when every other sane person is outside enjoying themselves, for crying out loud?

Demystification Part the First is complete, as I've confessed before to keeping a running stockpile of photographs from which I can pluck the coming day's number. But Demystification Part the Second is that this arsenal of numbers is far from fully loaded, and I am coming up on deadlines. Days for which I have no number. Rather than panic, I reserve the right to act as any sensible person working under deadline will act. No, I don't mean skip the assignment, and I don't mean make up excuses. Too easy! I'll do better than that. I will distract you with my special effects.

Any student worth his/her salt or any teacher of such a slackadaisical student will be familiar with this pedagogical cloak and dagger. The guidelines are simple. You stick to the assignment's bare bone rules. You show up. You give it a go, you even do it on time. But to compensate for a pathetic lack of content, you decide to dazzle your reader with a dizzying array of fonts, BS, and novelty-laced visual aids. You with me yet?

In this first example, note how the sepia tint to the image combined with the advanced "edge blur" function appeals to the viewer's craving for nostalgia and old-style sophistication while simultaneously granting you, the lazy photographer, a sensible yet artistic air. Never before has looking so authentic been so easy or, for that matter, inauthentic! If writing a caption to go along with that photo, why not try a classic serif font to grant your work a whiff of antiquity? Or how about a cryptic batch of webding to add that special je ne sais quoi to your writing? Substituting a bicycle for the letter "n" hasn't failed me yet, and I think you'll find similarly satisfactory results.

Still not convinced? Here is a sure-fire technique I have culled from years of observation. Why not try a bright, obnoxious color to get your reader's attention? Or how about blurring your numbers and amping up the contrast for a touch of computer-generated psychedelia? By this point, your audience will be so enthralled by your stunning vision, your bold originality and finesse with the color spectrum, that they will not even notice that you, er, don't even have a #119 lined up. Yet.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not endorsing regular reliance on these techniques over the long term. Moderation is key. There's still no replacement for the simple, undecorated image and a thoughtful, simple paragraph or two in response. But the mercury here is rising and deadlines are looming, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Which is why tomorrow's post very well end up looking like this last image. I don't ask for your forgiveness. Just so long as you're prepared for the possibility. Now if you'll excuse me, there's an AC unit I have to be installing.


Jackie said...

First: Ahhahahahahhaha!!!!!!!!!

Second: It's like the pleasant surprise I received yesterday when reading a student paper on James Baldwin. All fine, all good- until page 2- when a giant, nearly life-size picture of Mr. Baldwin himself was placed midway down, smack between two thinly disguised triple-spaced sentences that may or may not have been body paragraphs. Mr. Baldwin was looking well, as always.

Ray Gunn said...

As your sister in summer slackitude, I feel you. If I could only hibernate through these miserable hot months I'd be glad.

I beg of you, though, no more Photoshop tricks!

I recently discovered that Neck Face does not, in fact, have a neck for a face! WERE YOU AWARE OF IT?!

WVW = expla a very short explanation

Flann O'Coonassa said...

I hear you on the stockpiling front Therese. I actually wrote the entire contents of my blog in 2002, and the writings are being drip-fed onto the internet now, seven years on.

Only 20% of the store have thus far been exhausted, meaning the blog will continue for another good few months.

Unfortunately, that will then be the end of my blog, because you see, I am in fact actually dead. I died in 2003, and along with my blog, had stockpiled this and other comments.

Can't say exactly how I knew in 2002 that I'd need a bunch of comments about number-centric photography, addressed to a woman called Therese. It was just a hunch, really.

Therese Cox said...

Jackie - Wow, they saved the piece de resistance for page 2! Usually I get it on the 120-point fonted, never-asked-for cover page. At least he/she stopped short of going all cardboard cut-out on you. Though I'm sure you'll agree that at this point in the semester, a cardboard cut-out of James Baldwin (with subsequent request for an "A") would surprise you not at all.

Ray - Amen, sister slackitude. I promise that my Photoshop trickery was all a rhetorical device. Not to mention damning evidence of what heat does to my brain. But dude, that's a little disillusioning about Neck Face. And what's with his sidekick, Elbow Toe? (Not being facetious.)

Flann - I wish you all the best beyond the grave. May you post your last post a full half hour before the Blogger knows you're dead.

Julie said...

My heart sinks with long ones, but this was fun.