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Archive for June, 2012

Andres Kertesz: The Polaroids (Book Review)

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

The Polaroids by Andres Kertesz

A beautiful photography book was produced by the master photographer Andres Kertesz (1894-1985) towards the end of his life. Following the death of his wife from cancer, shooting in available light in his New York apartment, Andres Kertesz produced a body of work created with the simple Polaroid SX70 that are almost spiritual in their simple composition and use of colour. A couple of those sensitive still life photographs leave me begging for ideas how they were executed: Andres Kertesz: The Polaroids.

This is a particularly small and well made photography book. It is heavy and the pages are card-thick with many of those pages relegated to a single one-to-one reproduction of an individual polaroid photograph. The cover is a glossy grey with a single Kertesz still-life of blue, green, yellow and red that typifies the high quality photography. There is a short Foreward by Eelco Wolfe, former Director of Communcations at Polaroid Corporation and a beautifully written introduction by Robert Gurbo, the curator of the Andres Kertesz Estate.

Andres Kertesz: The Polaroids is a photography book lovers’ photography book that has not made compromise in the quality. Heavy, clean and well designed.

The resurgence of Polaroid through The Impossible Project and other industry players has made this final chapter in the Andres Kertesz story even more fascinating. Because now you can go out and buy a refurbished SX-70 and shoot Impossible Polaroid film at relatively affordable prices. And when you see the limitations this work was created under you might better understand the magnificence of the work. They are a beautiful study of emotion, colour and light upon the backdrop of his small apartment and what could be seen from his window.

In these later years, Andres Kertesz was captivated by the immediacy of making images with Polaroid and he would sit them around his apartment to absorb their value. He shot prolifically, viewed the work critically and pulled together a lifetime behind the camera to create a unique body of work that stands on its own. In my mind, at least, these are among the best photographs produced during his career.

This book has made it onto my bookshelf as a keeper and I’m revisiting it often. You may also enjoy reading my review of Kertesz on Kertesz.

The Aspiring Life of a Suburban Mazer

Friday, June 15th, 2012

It would come as no surprise to regular readers – I’m a mazer; a mead maker. And I take great pride in creating high quality melomel and cyser from simple organic Tasmanian ingredients. I like those ingredients to be as hyper-local as possible. The meads are often parted with as cherished gifts.

In the process of producing mead I’ve learned to ignore almost all of the standard advice – I don’t let my honey boil because it affects the taste; I don’t do the first racking for as long as six months; and I don’t add extra chemicals to clear the mead but rely on tannin in fruit to perform that process.

I rely on fanatic attention to sanitisation, the quality and features of the selected honey and fruits and the patience to let good mead become mouth watering awesome mead after a year in the bottle.

I also find inspiration in the history of mead because the earliest archaeological evidence of mead dates back to 7000 BC (mead predates soil cultivation). It is the oldest of drinks. And, incredibly, mead will last 1000 years in the bottle and taste the better for it. If you make a good mead and put it away for your grandchildren’s wedding they will only thank you when they open the bottles.

Mead has been heavily associated with Empires throughout history as well as rural enclaves and ethnic cultures spanning Asia, Europe and Africa. So mead provides you with an incredible 9000+ year history in the glass – Vikings toasted in their Mead Halls, the Vedic and Sanskrit hymns sang of mead, the Greeks and the Romans revelled in mead. Pirates, tribesmen and troubadours; kings and philosophers.

There are a large number of mead styles but I particularly focus towards those that fit into two categories:

  1. Melomel – made from honey and fruit using water for volume
  2. Cyser – made from honey and apple juice (a sub-category of melomel)

At the end of 2012 the two year product development regime that I’ve been implementing should be almost complete. These final batches due in December will provide confidence that not only can I produce larger volumes of high quality product but that my control over the outputs are predictable.

Because I have no interest in producing, selling and marketing a good enough to sell mead product. I want the ability to produce a high quality premium product to pursue a very distinctive niche among the growing mead producers. And the market I am most interested in is outside Tasmania.

Good Business Avoids the Courtroom

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

There are some primary business truths you can take away and nail on pieces of old carved timber across your office wall. One of those solid truths is that it is always better to avoid a legal fight than to get yourself into one. Often the problem is that conflict becomes a personal pride decision rather than a business one.

The Cost of Defending yourself in a Courtroom

Lawyers are expensive. In a globalised economy you may have to defend yourself in the United States, Barcelona, Sydney or Bangladesh depending on the people in the conflict, the prevailing legal system in play and the nature of the contention. You don’t get to choose the legal venue as your home ground.

That means legal conflict involves hiring lawyers, possibly investigators and more than likely travel and accommodation for repeated visits to the place of hearing.

You should quickly get the point here. It’s unlikely that any legal issue you choose to battle will be in your 5 mile radius, during the lunch hour, without personal and financial cost – it risks your business. If cashflow is the blood of a business then legal action can be a slashing of the wrists (however you might envision it as a running of the bulls in Pamplona).

Employ Legal Advice Early (Before you Publish)

The other carved in timber truth about legal advise is hire well and hire early. The simple fact of life is you should talk to professional legal representation at the earliest stage – certainly before you call other businesses out to a noon showdown and most definitely before you publish to the Internet.

Because the moral high ground won’t get you very far in a court of law if you’ve constrained yourself to the gumboots you wrote and yelled in public.

A good case as an example right now is The Oatmeal versus FunkyJunk playing out across the Internet. Semi-famous guy has content repurposed and does a public outing. A while later, outed repurposers (notice I’m trying to avoid being sued for taking any side in this stouche) demand $20,000 or they’ll take the guy to court and he responds with a slap in the face proposal to raise that $20,000 and donate it to two charities, sending the repurposers a nice photograph of that cash.

To his credit, Coudal Partners report The Oatmeal has raised $118,000 in a day or two. However, I’m not sure the populist Internet vote will count for much unless those dollars are repurposed rapidly to pay for legal representation. The bottom line of any legal stouche is you have to put bums on seats in the courtroom. And that, sir, is prohibitively expensive.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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