Skip to content

Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.

Archive

Archive for May, 2009

(Originally posted on Sunday, May 31, 2009)

by Gerald Boerner

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)

image Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
(34th president of US (1953-1961)

An interesting comparisons of the attitude towards books, especially those proposing views different from yours, is found between Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Allied Commander-in-Chief during World War II, and Adolf Hitler, leader of the Third Reich. Eisenhower seems to encourage the open examination of ideas, while Hitler demanded the destruction of any book that did not coincide with the narrow ideology of the Nazi regime. (The photo below shows the spot on the Babelplatz in Berlin where some of the most famous book burnings took place.)

image Babelplatz, Berlin, Germany:
The scene of many of the Nazi book burnings during WW-II

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, Leader of World War II European Operations and President of the United States

Books, magazines, and newspapers undergo extensive editing and fact-checking, in general. Web pages, videos (YouTube) and blogs, however, generally do not undergo such scrutiny, except as an afterthought. We must learn to be discriminate users of web-based information, since we cannot necessarily trust it. Such is the difference between the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.com; they both may have good information, but while the latter is more up-to-date, the former is generally more accurate. Therefore, be wise in your sources…

Anyone have a good book?

“From behind the Iron Curtain, there are signs that tyranny is in trouble and reminders that its structure is as brittle as its surface is hard.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States

[Biographical information is from the Wikipedia article on Dwight Eisenhower that can be found at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_Eisenhower ]

(Originally posted on Friday, June 26, 2009)

by Gerald Boerner

image Last week, I introduced you to the Commentary in ‘LensWork’ by Brooks Jensen. In that commentary, he discussed creative blocks that photographers encounter in their work. Much of that related to the tendency to procrastinate and ten ways to break free of this block. Today, I want to go over the first five of these techniques in a little more detail.

In this posting, we will examine the first five of the variables that may affect you to PROCRASTINATE. These are:

  • Structure…
  • Commitment…
  • Peer Pressure…
  • Project…
  • Visualize…

I am both summarizing what Jensen presents as well as some of my own experiences with these techniques…

  • Structure…
    Create a project! This project can help you structure a set of tasks that must be accomplished to complete the task. This definition provides the structure that leads to a goal. By starting to complete these tasks will, in turn, lead to the accomplishment of the overall goal. As many writing manuels discuss, it may not be important to complete them in sequential order. Of course, many tasks, such as the processing of a photograph from the camera work to the development process (film) to the print. By working towards the goal in small steps leads to MOTIVATION…
  • Commitment…
    The planning process described in the previous point is only the start. To accomplish the goal, you must commit yourself, your energy, your resources and your time to that goal. This does not necessarily mean that you drop everything else, but that you budget some of your time and effort each day to the goal. Nothing gets done without such commitment. To facilitate this process, you might think about noting your daily progress in a diary, much like a dieter does with his/her food choices and intake…
  • Peer Pressure…
    Another way to find motivation is to get help from our peers. Photographers, in Jensen’s commentary, can join with other photographers to create a joint venture. The joint effort to this group project will receive support from the other members of the joint effort since everyone must complete their own parts before the overall task can be completed. My wife, Grace, used this technique to help motivate her to do more walking. She formed a Facebook group, the ‘Virtual Walking Buddies’ (VWBs) to help encourage her to walk our dog, Baby, and help other members start and maintain their walking program. This can be a great, friendly motivator…
  • Projects…
    Defining a formal project, rather than just casually practicing your skills, can do wonders in building motivation. Last summer I wanted to improve my camera skills. Rather than just saying that I will take photos of something, I decided to photograph trains, including Metrolink, freight and Amtrak trains that run close to where I live. I wanted to improve my composition, exposure precision (shutter speed and aperture settings) and mastery of photographing is different lighting conditions. Therefore, I decided to photograph trains in early morning light (including pre-sunrise), late evening light (including post-sunset) and different weather conditions. I had to get up early, delay dinner, and brave inclimate weather conditions. As a result, I took several thousand images. From those, I selected about 250 good ones and, finally, isolated about three dozen very good photos. This enabled me to take a half a dozen excellent images last fall…
  • Visualization…
    This technique refers to more than just imagining what you want to photograph! This term is used more like the Gestalt psychologists and means the context that the "more clearly we see a proposed results with our minds eye." We need to keep at a task until we achieve the results that we really want to accomplish. I have a photographic site that has beautiful palm trees with a bluff in the distance. I have photographed this location over several months with different lenses. The wide-angle was OK, the prime 50mm was so-so, and the telephoto was good, but compressed the distances involved. I finally achieved the image that I was seeking when I photographed the scene right after a storm, with turbulent clouds, through the my macro zoom lens! Success at last. And it was through repeating the process until I can up with the right combination of lenses, exposure, and environmental conditions. This can work for you too…

In the next posting, we will examine the last five of the variables that may affect you to PROCRASTINATE. These are:

  • Deadlines…
  • Publication…
  • Starvation…
  • Mortality…
  • Magazine Submission…

Next Week: Well, enough for this week. I will address the remaining five suggestions next week…

(Originally posted on Friday, June 26, 2009)

by Gerald Boerner

image I just received by new issue of LensWork Magazine (http://www.lenswork.com). This magazine focuses on ‘Photography and the Creative Process’ and is truely incredible. Brooks Jenkins, the editor, does a great job in bringing this out every other month with some excellent galleries of new and established photographers. In this issue, the ‘Editor’s Comment’ column addresses the creative blocks faced by many creative individuals including: Artists, Writers, and Photographers. These blocks, often discussed under the term ‘Writer’s Block’ are common to all of these groups. I will draw from this editorial for much of the information that was presented, since this magazine is available now only by subscription.

For the creative professional (artist, writer, photographer, etc.), the process of producing their masterpieces (hereafter referred to as works) is anything but a smooth, linear process. It is often accompanied by many starts and stops. The commercial professional, whose livelihood depends upon the production of a finished work, has much inherent motivation to finish it. This is not the case of others who pursue a creative outlet as a hobby, passion, or other activity separate from their ‘day job’; this group may include many types of artists, teachers/professors, researchers and others who do not have the built-in motivation of survival as their motivation. Many of the creative works produced today are in this category, especially while they are trying to establish themselves.

So, what is this creative block? Why don’t many creative every finish a work? Why are their works often tagged as a ‘work in progress’? In a word, it is PROCRASTINATION! Projects, manuscripts, or canvases will often be in this state of partial completion for long periods of time. Why? For the photographer, at least, Jensen points out that the procrastination is "not really the root cause" of the block, but really reflects on a more deep-seated problem — the quest for PERFECTION.

What does this mean? Almost every photographer makes a compromise between producing a work that is good to excellent with whatever resources (assets) are available to him/her. This may be time, money, travel to a location, etc. In their quest for PERFECTION in their work, the dedicated photographer tries to go beyond a reasonable level of work in his/her quest. This is exemplified by the many stories of Ansel Adams printing and re-printing from his negatives for years before he achieved a print that matched the image that he had in his mind when he released the shutter of his camera.

The bottom line seems to be this — "compulsive perfection is procrastination". Why? If the work is left incomplete, it can be improved, thus the state of imperfection is acceptable. Jensen also points out that one must distinguish between a theoretically perfect work from the practically superb work. The latter is obtainable whereas the former is always just out of reach. Jensen goes on to suggest ten ways to help motivate ourselves as creative practitioners to complete a work. These include:

  1. Provide a structure for the work
  2. Make a commitment to the work
  3. Apply peer pressure as part of the work
  4. Define the work as a project
  5. Visualize the work
  6. Define deadlines for the work
  7. Contract for the publication/display of the work
  8. Identify starvation as a consequence of not completing the the work
  9. Face one’s own mortality as a threat to the work
  10. Commit to the submission of the work to a publication, exhibit, presentation, etc.

Next Week: Join us as we examine the first five of these items in more detail. See you then…

We will post reminescences of past family celebrations and memorial events. We will also post information about significant ancestors found in our geneological research.

We will be studying a variety of aspects of visual perception, human motivation, and their physiological bases. We will post additional finding on a weekly basis. Please join us for this adventure and we welcome your feedback and input.