Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Memories

Two articles published recently (this week) about Memorial Day. Please take a moment to click on each link and visit the two sites. There are some similarities, but each article is different.

Blogcritics gave my article there a front page headline on Saturday, 5-28-2010.

The article over at Hubpages is longer and has more photos as well as related merchandise:

I hope these two pieces help you remember those who gave the ultimate for our freedom today. Many times veterans are heard to say, "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a veteran." No matter what language you speak today, if you see a veteran, be sure to offer your appreciation.

We often hear that in war, the first casualty is the truth. Regardless of how the politicians behave and the decisions they make, or the motives that drive those decisions, the poor grunt in the trenches and foxholes has to live with them. I choose to honor the men and women in uniform who meet the enemy in person. What becomes of them?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Football is in the air!

Not just because of Ben Roethlisberger. Most high schools have finished their spring training and graduation is just a couple of weeks away. Football officials are signing up for the fall and we start meetings in July. August and the first weeks of the next season are barely a hundred days away.

It's a good time to re-visit a couple of articles I've had published that relate.

The first applies to every area of our lives although I wrote it in the context of football.

Next comes an article that gives me a headache. Football helmets keep coming off!
You'll see in the article that both national and local organizations have promised to do something about it. So this season, we have a new rule. Officials have to watch for symptoms of concussions. A whole new can of worms!

Since October 22, 2009 I've had fifty articles published at and I hope you have or will enjoy many of them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Book Review: Zen and the Magic of Photography by Wayne Rowe

Haiku: Pictures
by Bob Etier

The photographer
Sees an invisible world
and captures moments.


I missed my exit. On the way home from work the other night, I drove right past my exit taking the same route as every night for over four years. Obviously this is a well known journey for me. I was aware of the other vehicles on the road and the operation of my own car. I was driving safely but my thoughts were elsewhere. This may not be the best analogy for a zen experience but it sure fits the mold for a somnambulist trance.

Since becoming a professional photographer, the most frequent compliment received involves my ability to "see" the subject with a different eye. "Oh, you see things I would have never noticed!" is a common remark. A major influence on my selection of subjects has for years been William Eggleston. Years ago someone said of his work, "He doesn't go out looking for the bizare, but he finds it in everyday situations." When an artist can produce work that elicits those type comments, it shows that he or she was "in the moment" when that piece was created.

A simple definition of zen is "meditation". Wikipedia says this of meditation: " a holistic discipline by which the practitioner attempts to get beyond the reflexive, 'thinking' mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness." We're back to "in the moment" now and it can apply to anything from motorcycle maintenance to religion to photography. Zen and the Magic of Photography is Wayne Rowe's offering on how to learn to see and to be through photography.

Dr. Rowe is a professional photographer and a professor of photography at Cal St. Tech in Pomona. His book consists of three parts. Part One deals with the image, zen, satori, haiku and their connections. Like Dr. Rowe, once I became "enlightened" it was clear that zen experiences have occurred for me and my Canon as well. I learned that seeing "with a different eye" can be described as making the "invisible visible". Chapter titles pique the readers interest with names like "Zen and the Empty Mind" or "The Role of Intuition and Feeling in Photography". My wife has written haiku for my images for years and Rowe's commentary on that aspect of zen really appealed to us.

Part Two encourages the reader to be open to all forms of the photograph from still to motion pictures. After a brief discussion of the "third effect", we're back to being in the moment. Covered here is a comparison of method acting as exemplified by James Dean and Marlon Brando to zen due to their "intuitive, spontaneous, realistic, and 'in the moment' style". Another example is the zen experience of a noted movie director as he films a climactic scene in Capote's In Cold Blood.

The concluding section offers examples from Dr. Rowe's own portfolio as well as others that illustrate his message. Analyses of the images by someone with Rowe's experience and love of his art make the book even more valuable to both the novice and seasoned professional. I especially enjoyed his comments on an iconic shot of James Dean at Times Square by Dennis Stock. Even a casual reader will quickly discover that Rowe has accomplished his goal to help us see and be through photography.

Would I buy this book? Yes, in a moment. It will help all photographers benefit from zen more often, and on purpose.