Category Archives: Social Commentary

When Life Throws a Curve

From the vagaries and ups and downs of life.  I find myself recovering from surgery with time to reflect.  Another Intersection of Life and Art.

As you read this I am on my way to the Mayo Clinic, Phoenix Arizona for a Consultation.  But here is where The Story Begins:

On October 3, 2018, I was diagnosed with a “brain mass”.  Vision problems had sent me to the Ophthalmologist.  His testing and measurements of my left eye indicated something bad was going on behind that eye.  He sent me to the emergency room, calling ahead to discuss with the Dr. what tests would be appropriate.

 

(The Ambiguity of the Mirror from “The Artist’s Studio” symbolizes my Journey.  So it will be the featured Image for these medical update posts…….)

When I arrived, they were ready for me and ordered an MRI with contrast dye, no questions asked.  The diagnosis:  Brain tumor of unknown type growing behind my left eye; referral the the Neurosurgeons.

But, there is also a back story:  I am an 8-year breast cancer survivor.  So I also (and for the rest of my life)  have an Oncologist. He now enters the mix. His fear is a metastatic spread of my previous cancer, which would be a sure death sentence.

Weeks of testing:  Bone Scans, PET Scans, CT Scans…………All showing no breast cancer;  Dodged that bullet!  But I still have an unidentified tumor in my head that needs to be identified so the best treatment can be determined.  All non-invasive procedures exhausted, now it is time the the Neurosurgeons to perform a biopsy.

So how do they access that area behind the Eye?  By drilling holes through you sinuses.  The ENT Surgeon does that. I didn’t even get a black eye from this; but I do have a puffy face.  My worst bruise was from the arterial blood pressure tap-in.  Apparently when you have brain surgery, they tap an artery to have the most accurate blood pressure.

WatingForBiopsy
Waiting for my Biopsy

Biopsy Results:  I have a rare but treatable/survivable brain tumor (Which I will name and discuss later).  It is in effect a birth defect.  It was supposed to be reabsorbed as my little fetus grew, but it wasn’t.  And when that happens you have a little guy in your head that probably won’t be a problem unless you are 1 in a million me.

My Neurosurgeon removed what was safe to remove without doing harm.  It was affecting my optic nerve (first symptom), my Pituitary Gland and Carotid Artery (the brain’s source of blood).

Follow-up will require a unique radiation treatment only available in a few places.  So I have been referred to The Mayo Clinic in Phoenix AZ.

POSTSCRIPT: Ongoing, I will be taking a road trip to Phoenix (Dates TBD); loading up the 4Runner with my camera gear and film (bought for a cancelled trip to the Everglades).  Radiation I know will be 5 days a week for 8-10 weeks.  So I will be doing photography as I feel up to it and posting as I go.  Exploring Arizona for that time and keeping OldSchoolPhotoLabs very busy.

Ciao Baby!

Alternate 5-Frames: Carhenge

5 Frames of Kodak Portra 400, Exposed @ ISO 320 (6X7 120 Format) by Kathleen E. Johnson

On August 21, 2017, thousands of people converged on Alliance, Nebraska, as one of the prime Solar Eclipse viewing locations in North America. NO you are not going to see eclipse images, but a bit of Americana I had heard of (probably on 60 Minutes as a child), but never thought that I would visit: CARHENGE. We thought about stopping by on Eclipse Day, but the traffic proved unmanageable.

The following November, we had an opportunity to return to Alliance and made our visitation. It was a lovely, sunny, November day.  And walking amongst the Cars, it proved much more photogenic than I had expected.

It seems like ages ago, but in 1990 I had an opportunity to visit the real Stonehenge. Those photos were terrible, so you’ll never get to see them here. But I can say the advantage of Carhenge is that it’s a true life-size model that you can walk around and experience as the Ancient Ones may have done at the real Stonehenge. And it has become a focus for sculpture built from car parts. But that’s another story…….

The camera was my favorite Mamiya 7 with the 43 mm lens. All exposures @f/8, and shutter speeds of 1/125 to 1/250 to capture details in the shadows. In my experience Portra Films have a wide exposure latitude. At ISO 320 color saturation is more true to life than Portra 160. I’ve settled on Portra 400 as my color film.

P.S Okay you can see my Eclipse Images on film HERE.

Armistice 1918-2018: What Have We Learned?

Over the past 4 years of the 100th Anniversary of World War I (The War to end all Wars, except that it didn’t).  I had hoped for some thoughtful reflection on the Root Cause of Conflict.  I am aware that some of this occurred Across Europe.  But nothing here in the USA.

WWI History is barely touched upon here.  I know much more than the average America due to an excellent AP European History class I took in High School.  It was taught by one of my most memorable teachers, Mr. Knab, from the perspective of the root cause of conflict and how it directly led to WWII.

An opportunity lost……..

Memorial_Day

So I am Honoring My Father’s WWII Service in a Segregated Army, in Italy.  1st Lt Vernon Johnson.  An Army He later helped to Integrate under orders from President Truman.  He worked in the Army Reserve, ‘helping’ white soldiers get used to taking orders from African America Officers. At the out break of The Korean War, he was like other WWII veterans, exempted from further service because he had a wife and child.  At least back them they did not want to make more Widows and Orphans.

Notably my Father was also a Buffalo Soldier…..And he loved the Bob Marley song.  He felt Appreciated and Respected.

 

 

My Father always talked about the Children he met in Italy………

 

 

And Training at Ft Huachuca, Arizona…….

 

 

 

We’ll end with a Photograph of my Mother.  The one that my Father carried with him through the War. I found it in his old foot locker along with many of the images above:

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Mom is still with us at a Feisty 95……

Alternate 5-Frames: HearseCon 2018

So here we go.  I’ve decided to re-publish my Emulsive Articles here, after this particular submission disappeared into the ether of the internet.  I explained my position and recommendations on the subject here. All re-publishings will be marked as “Alternate”.

So here is Alternate 5-Frames HearseCon 2018:

5 Frames of Lomo 400, Exposed @ ISO 400 (645 120 Format) by Kathleen Johnson

Here is an introduction to a local festival that may surprise you! And a camera that I have not mentioned before, although it is featured in my contributor’s portrait: My Fuji GA645Zi. This is my medium format street photography choice because of the auto focus and zoom capabilities. Read the Camera Review on EMULSIVE here. I’m not so negative about that camera as the reviewer. I wanted a ’point and shoot’ medium format camera and that’s what it is.

Now for the Festival: HearseCon 2018. Yes it is what it sounds like, an annual convention held here in the Denver area for Hearse Enthusiasts. They come from all across the Western US and Canada, some with beautifully restored Hearses, as you will see here today. Think of HearseCon as a Goth Cultural Experience for Grown-Ups and you’ve got the Picture. There are Hearse Show events across the country if you ever want to experience one, but I think this is one of the largest.

In the past I’ve used B&W film for HearseCon, because I thought it would capture the grittiness of the event. Last year I tried Lomo Lady Grey 400, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results using this particular film, and I’ve found the GA645Zi shines best with color film. So I pulled out the Lomo 400 Color, because I didn’t quite want the sharpness of Portra 400. In other words, Lomo 400 has a bit more grain and that suits the subject matter. Sometimes hard to know what the focus point will be with the GS645Zi, but the subject turned out very sharp anyway……..

 

 

About the Car: My bad, I took a cell phone picture of the information sign, but didn’t write anything down (and didn’t check the image before leaving). The joke was on me because I couldn’t read the sign later. But thanks to the Internet I was able to narrow down the Model and Year. Above is likely a Vintage 1937 Buick model, Sayers and Scoville Byzantine Hearse with a straight-8 engine. The Owners were from Utah. Sayers and Scoville is still building custom hearses.

You’ll find more HearseCon Images Past & Present Here.

 

Somehow Interesting……

Sometimes you see an image, and know that it has to be captured, even if an unconventional subject.

Library_Bathroom2

Which Crop do You Prefer?

Library_Bathroom1

I think what I really like is the water fountain.  So maybe I’ll try a closer crop?

Let’s Take A Break………

Let’s take a break from all of the Artistic Seriousness.  Sometimes photography should just be FUN!  So I’ll share with you A tasty morsel from our Team Building Garden at work: Courtesy of Team Plantform….

Tomato1

And it was VERY YUMMY!

Tomato2

I’ve also tagged this as an ‘Intersection’, because Gardening is its own Art Form……

Intersections of Life and Art

I’m going to be posting more in depth commentaries on specific issues that affect my Perspective on Life, and therefore my pursuit of the Arts.

Annoyingly, I want to post these as Pages…so they aren’t hard to find.  But WordPress does not post updates for page changes.  Boooooooo!

So I’ll have to post separate notifications.    These post will always be identified by the Eclipse as the featured photo:

Totality

My First Intersection was prompted by the dismissive attitudes of Tennis Pundits that I reached out to on Twitter, following the U.S. Open Women’s Final.  To see how I make this Intersection, Read On!  (Warning, might not be much fun, but it’s greatly watered down from my original essay).

Alternate 5-Frames: Walker Ranch

So here we go.  I’ve decided to re-publish my Emulsive Articles here, after my submission that will post for Halloween disappeared into the ether of the internet.  I explained my position and recommendations on the subject here. All re-publishings will be marked as “Alternate”.

5 Frames of T-Max 400, Exposed @ ISO 200 (6X7 120 Format) by Kathleen Johnson

Last July I spent an afternoon at a special Photographer’s Open House at the Walker Ranch Homestead, a part of the Boulder County Parks and Open Spaces. Located in the Front Range Foothills above Boulder, Colorado, it is a popular hiking area, but the Homestead site is only open to the public a few times per year.

I took my favorite Mamiya 7 with the Mamiya f/4.5 43 mm lens. Some of these images have been cropped. I exposed the film @ ISO 200 with additional compensation for my yellow filter.

An overcast and windy day, so the outdoors photos were so-so. But I fell in love with the Homestead Attic living space. So I present the exterior and we move upstairs.

 

The view through the window was exposed @ f/8 1/60s; Cradle exposed @ f/4.5 4s; Nightstand exposed @ f/4.5 2s; Bed and Chairs with window exposed @ f/8 1s. Of course, all using a tripod and cable release. One neat feature of the Mamiya 7 is that you have a maximum timed exposure up to 4 seconds before you have to use the Bulb setting and time it yourself.

Thoughts on Personal Vision

 

Above, three recent but very different images that I had submitted to an online Gallery.  Two are very recent, but the Apache Plume is from about 12+ years ago. So what does that say about my photography skills, style and personal vision.  Keeping in mind that vision and style are not synonymous.  These represent different styles, but I think a similar vision in regards to how I see the light and what attracts my eye.

All of these images received a similar ranking (details here).  That soul destroying ‘Special Merit” category that keeps you wanting more.  So what does “special merit” mean anyway?  Have I not progressed at all in 12 years?  Or are my interests and vision not the current hip and trendy thing? (I think the latter)  So I’ll get recognition, but never actually win a contest?  (One of my recent submissions is going to be published in a book this year.  But that’s another story……..).  And what is winning?

My middling success for a while sent me down “The Rabbit Hole”  as I discussed recently on my photo diary.  So I’m reflecting, reorganizing and redirecting my energies.  At a recent Personal Vision Workshop with Cole Thompson, we discussed how winning can actually be a setback to the progress towards understanding our personal vision; leading us to pursue the WIN rather than the VISION.  Small rewards can seriously sidetrack real goals and personal accomplishments.

Who are you making photographs for?  Yourself or the win?

 

 

7 Day Challenge From Twitter

I was recently Challenged by  to post 7 images, B&W, No explanations and no people.  Similar to the 7 Day Challenge on Facebook in January.  Try Challenging Your Photo Friends…

 

Mine have a common theme, although that is not required.  Can You Guess the Theme?