photo books

Three Canons:

Be still with yourself

Until the object of your attention

Affirms your presence

Let the Subject generate its own Composition

When the image mirrors the self

And the self mirrors the subject

Something might take over


This is a quote from Mirrors, Messages, Manifestations, a Minor White photo book, that I would really like to own, but it is out of print, and the used copies start at around 200.00, out of my price range right now. I really don’t need another photo book, but I have this addiction, what can I say.

I put this quote up on instagram and twitter today, as it really resonates with how I like to function with photography and all the other ways of relating with the visible world. Speaking of twitter, I have let myself get sucked down that rabbit hole, and I am stepping away. Since I have figured out how to successfully use instagram, I really don’t need twitter. Not killing it, but posts in the future will only be related to this blog.



Or, does size really matter? I have been seeing and handling smaller zines like the one below over the past months and really liking the esthetics of the smaller size. Seeing it juxtaposed with my last zine, the size they have all been, has got me thinking about size, and playing with the smaller format.

The smaller size is really growing on me, and there may be other benefits like cost to print, and mailing costs. Plus, my zines have all had about forty pages, and it occurred to me yesterday, while working on #7, that shorter, and I mean a good bit shorter, is fine as well. I was reviewing the images for #7, and the potential text, and couldn’t come up with anything else I needed to shoot or say regarding the theme I had landed on.

This will all depend on what the test copy looks like after I send it to the printer, but it looks like, change is gonna come.



This is sort of going to be a “how the sausage gets made” post. My friend, and zine subscriber, Scott, has heard a lot of this already. My process is not very complicated, especially compared with the online publishing places like Blurb.

I design the zine totally on my ipad pro. I do not even own a laptop anymore, so doing a Blurb book is not an option, and believe me, when I started this zine thing, I tried to figure out a way to do it that way, but it didn’t work. I have a photo to pdf app, it’s easy to work with, but is limited to certain formats that have to be consistent throughout the document. In other words, all the pages look the same, size of borders, portrait or landscape and so forth.

When I want to add text, I can either use the snapseed photo editing app, which allows me to overlay text, or I type text in the note app, screen shot it, and then crop it down to the right size. I like doing hand written text sometimes, and for that I use just plain paper and then take a photo of it and tweak it in snapseed. With the photo to pdf app everything has to be a photo of some kind first.

There have to be two pdfs for the final zine. To get the front and back covers, I create an edge to edge pdf for those two pages. Then I create a second pdf for the body of the zine using one of two formats depending on how wide I want the borders. These pdfs are uploaded to dropbox and then shared with a local printer. The equipment that the printer uses has its own limitations. Even though it goes to them in the usual 8 1/2 x 11 format, their printer is incapable of printing edge to edge or to the bleed as they call it. This requires them to cut the zines to eliminate the white edges for the front and back pages. The result is a zine that is 8 1/8 x 10 5/8, more or less.

I have only done one edge to edge zine, the second issue, but I would like to do more because I really like that look. Also, I am trying to make the zines not all look the same from a design standpoint. I have been playing with the double exposure feature on snapseed and I like the results so far.

Neither of these images will be in the next zine, but I intend to use some of the same techniques in the design for #8. Again, thanks for checking in.



both sides now

As my last post indicates, I don’t play well with authorities, except my own. This goes way back to grade school. We had to say the pledge of allegiance before class started, and in some cases back then, the lord’s prayer. There was always a voice in the back of my mind asking what does this have to do with reading, writing and arithmetic, and of course the answer was nothing. It was all part of the indoctrination created for the public school environment, which was designed to foster good and obedient citizens. That has not changed. Then the state would double down on that by teaching a sanitized pro American version of history, serious propaganda laced programming for young minds. And of course it was mostly bullshit. That hasn’t changed either, and may be getting worse in some states.

I evolved quickly out of that, especially when the civil rights movement started, and then of course came the Vietnam War. Protests, marches and all of that happened, which really pissed off the ultimate authority figures in my life, the parents.

So, I have a history of questioning authority, or perceived authority, no matter the environment, and that includes photography. I have a habit of poking photography authorities online, even calling out some who I follow or have followed. If you are spouting off on some “rule” of making photos, or some regimented “how to”, just because that is the way it has always been done, or the way some famous photographers have done it in the past, I’m more likely to call bullshit than I am to buy into it. It’s just who I am. It’s a character flaw, or just a trait I can’t escape from at this point in my life. At 71, there are no urban renewal projects in the offing. It’s all I can do to maintain at this level of anarchy without further escalation.


what is good work

I was listening to a podcast today by a photographer with great professional experience who was discussing certain cameras and the concept of “good work” in the context of people using those cameras. But what constitutes good work. It seems to me that it depends on what type of photography you do. The guy doing the podcast has professional experience in photojournalism and documentary photography, neither of which I do, or have much interest in. Is he judging only from that bias or area of interest, who knows.

I have never submitted photos for a portfolio review, even though there is a local annual photo festival where that takes place. I don’t take photos for other photographers, mostly because that doesn’t interest me. I don’t take technically good photos, on purpose. I don’t seek to capture reality, it’s more fun and interesting to me to distort it. It may not be “good work”, but it’s more important to me that it is my work, not someone else’s idea of what photography should be.


no instagram

Decided to deactivate instagram this morning. Posted there a couple of days ago that I was going to do it Monday, but could see no reason to wait. Made the decision not to delete it completely in case I change my mind down the road, and to hold on to the user name.

Reactivated my twitter under the same handle, nocontextzine. Blog posts get shared there if people want to follow that. Not sure how much other than that will get tweeted.

new playmates



I will be here more it seems. Took a trip to visit family last week in Asheville, and went untethered, no ipad. I don’t have all the social media stuff on my phone, it is a functional tool. I enjoyed it very much. Since returning, I have found less and less satisfaction with how instagram works. I had a flurry of participation on the 4th, mostly deleted. It’s a habit I can change and create new habits. I am finding new people on ello, and posting there.

I don’t enjoy photography as much in the summer in the south, too hot, harsh light. Sometimes I try to go at dusk or when there is a small break in the heat, 80s instead of 90s. This was taken from my car window at my wife Kitty’s workplace, air conditioning.



And no, this is not going to be about “selfies”. A guy I follow, Paul Hedderman, who expounds on the concept of nonduality, uses the word selfing to describe the activities generated from the mind that we action figures use to prop up the mistaken idea that we are “long lasting independent separate entities”, a self. I’m not going to use this space to go into that any further, he has a cool website,, if anyone wants to hear more. That concept, selfing, seems to be a focus of what may be coming next in the images and words that are surfacing right now.

I am a huge fan of the photography of Ralph Eugene Meatyard. He worked as an optician in Lexington, KY, and photographed in that area up until an early death in 1970. He played in the surreal and abstract, hung out with the likes of Wendell Berry and Thomas Merton, who appeared in some of his photos. I stumbled on his work a few years ago at an exhibit in Cincinnati, which was dedicated to the Lexington Camera Club group, of which he was a part. I purchased that book and a used Aperture monograph of just his photos, and fell totally under his spell of unique photography.

I recently discovered a new book from an exhibit in 2017, and it was quite fascinating.

Reading this book, and reviewing the others, has also inspired my next direction. Zine 8 will be a little different perhaps.

Speaking of the zines, I am starting to see a possible end to the series. Nine may feel like enough, but we’ll see.