June 2006


I’ve never pretended to be an artist, but even so…drawing myself is much harder than I’d ever suspected! Although the figure at left looks (thankfully) like a person, I don’t think like it looks like me. It’s as if I can put the eyes, nose, and mouth in the right anatomical places, but I can’t capture whatever Essence of Individuality makes my face look like Me.

I did (I think) manage to capture my long, narrow face and over-arching eyebrows. But I think I got the chin too long, and I was entirely helpless when it came to drawing the scraggly mop that is my hair. Maybe this would have been easier to draw when I was bald?

So, those of you who are Real Artists…any quick pointers on how to move from Basic Line Drawing that Doesn’t Look Like Me to something with a bit of individual character?

    This is my third submission for the current self-portrait marathon. You can see my previous attempts here and here, and you can see a gallery of other portraits here. Enjoy!

Today’s Photo Friday theme is Automotive, so here’s a detail from the Findlay, OH mural I blogged last August. (Click on the image below for an enlarged version.)

Although I’m arriving at the party about a week late, it was only a matter of time before I joined the self-portrait marathon. (Thanks to Natalie for the nudge that got me going, as well as inspiring photographic examples from Dave, Jean, and qB.)

Not long ago, I posted another batch of reflective photos, so the above image of me and my pencam reflected in the passenger window of Miss Bling, my head in the clouds, is only the latest in a long series of reflective self-portraits. Given my obsession with reflective photography, it’s odd that I’ve balked at joining this present project, but I was initially intimidated by the thought that a self-portrait had to be either drawn or painted. In time, perhaps, I might find the courage to try to draw my own face; in the meantime, you can see a drawing of my back halfway down this post.

What I needed to push me to join this present marathon, though, wasn’t simply a nudge from bloggers more artistic than I. What I needed, simply, was a new photographic toy…

As if wandering around shooting reflective photos with the son of pencam weren’t enough, this past weekend I bought a Philips keychain digicam for $15 at the local Big Box store. Armed with my new toy, yesterday I took a mix of pencam and keychain-cam pictures while grocery shopping, just to see what I could snap.

I took the above extreme closeup with the $15 keychain-cam; I took the accompanying picture of that keychain-cam with my somewhat more expensive pencam. You’ll notice that both my pencam and my keychain-cam take halfway decent pix at close range and in bright light; you’ll also notice that I’m not smiling in my extreme closeup. What the keychain-cam saw is Lorianne Concentrating: this, presumably, is what I look like when I’m meditating, the Serious Stare the page sees when I’m reading or writing.

When I snap self portraits, you see, I’m directing all the concentration I can muster on the simple task of trying to frame my visage, the challenge of centering oneself in a reflective shot being enough to daunt even the most astute student of light and angle. And then there’s the simple challenge of avoiding glare and keeping one’s eyes open while shooting…

This patchwork of smaller portraits isn’t a conscious homage to Andy Warhol; it’s a simple response to the fact that this new keychain-cam (unlike my pencam) takes small, postage-stamp-sized pictures that lend themselves quite nicely to digital collage:

The result, I think, is a bit postmodern: really, isn’t it terribly old-fashioned to think that one picture could even begin to capture the multiplicity that is postmodern identity, any one photoblogger consisting of a multitude of individual faces and facets?

The fragmented faces I saw while browsing through sunglasses bring to mind some similar pencam pictures I blogged over a year ago, stores today being as well-stocked with self-portrait opportunities as they were then.

    The self-portrait marathon runs through the month of June, so you’ll be seeing more of me over the next few weeks. If you’d like details on how to join the marathon–or if you want to see other contributions–click over to Crack Skull Bob. Enjoy!

Stairway to somewhere, Findlay, OH

Ever since my first trip to Findlay, Ohio last summer, I’ve been fascinated by the old rusty staircase that ascends one of the brick buildings at the corner of Main and Front Streets. Yesterday was a bright, partly cloudy day, giving me a great opportunity to capture the lines and curves of this stairway’s antique form.

Stairway to somewhere, Findlay, OH

Stairway to somewhere, Findlay, OH

I’m not convinced this is a stairway to heaven…but it’s surely a stairway to somewhere.

Stairway to somewhere, Findlay, OH

For two more images from yesterday’s partly cloudy day in downtown Findlay, Ohio, check out my most recent post on Area 603.

This is Findlay

This billboard of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Findlay native Ben Roethlisberger has been hanging on Main Street here in Findlay, Ohio since last summer, before Big Ben became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl. You’ll notice that in his high school football portrait, Big Ben wasn’t wearing a helmet, a habit I hope he’s reconsidering now that he’s been seriously injured in a motorcycle crash.

Both Steelers coach Bill Cowher and lengendary quarterback Terry Bradshaw had tried to convince Big Ben that riding without a helmet was just plain stupid, but apparently Roethlisberger has a really hard head. Witnesses say Big Ben’s noggin hit the windshield of an oncoming car before hitting the pavement, and it subsequently took five doctors seven hours of surgery to repair Roethlisberger’s mangled jaw and nose.

When it comes to wearing a motorcycle helmet, Nike has the proper slogan: Just do it.

Last week, in the middle of a rough spell, a friend of mine emailed a group of friends with a curious question: “What’s shiny in your lives?” Although a request for something shiny initially struck me as being odd, on second thought I understand the sentiment behind the sentence. When life’s feeling bleak or even just humdrum, the presence of something shiny–even if it’s something shiny in someone else’s life–is enough to give one a momentary burst of motivation, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Ohio isn’t great on shiny things. Yes, there’s plenty of sunshine here on summer days: coming from New England, in fact, the first thing I’ve missed here in the Midwest is shade. There are woods and shady spots here in Ohio, but in newer neighborhoods, old trees are leveled for skinny saplings, leaving entire enclaves of cookie-cutter houses to bake in the light of June. But apart from the sight of sunshine, there’s not much shiny or spectacular in the Ohio landscape: both Findlay (where I’m visiting Gary) and Bluffton (where most of today’s photos were shot) are places where the mundane reigns supreme.

It’s easy to find something shiny in spectacular cities such as Boston, New York, or Montreal…but the search is infinitely more difficult when you find yourself in the plain-Jane middle of nowhere. Although Keene, NH is by no means a cosmopolitan hub, I know I’ll find photogenic blog-fodder nearly any time I venture out my door. Here in Ohio, though, things tend toward the bland and understated: you have to be keen-eyed and on perpetual look-out to find attention-grabbing things here.

I’d like to say that my eye for detail has been honed by two and a half years of almost-daily photo-blogging, but I know that’s not true. Growing up in Ohio, I long ago learned that shininess is where you find it, an ordinary Something that looks like Boring to folks accustomed to glitz and glamour.

    Tom Montag has posted his impressions of last weekend’s blogger-swarm in Montreal, so be sure to read his version of the mega-meetup.

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