Eugenes

This photo was made as part of a student project to re-photograph some of the images of Eugene Atget on a student workshop in Paris. This is the side door to the Cathedral Saint Sulpice. I recalled it and thought it would be a good photo for this reflection from last week.
A few weeks back I read and wrote about about Ralph Eugene Meatyard. The article was about his photography and his attempt to see things out of focus. It started me thinking about how often the name Eugene turned up amongst photographers. Last year I gave a lecture to my History of Photography class that was named Eugene3 that dealt with the influences of Eugene Atget, Eugene Smith, and Eugene Richards on photography. It was easy to do because these are three of my heroes in photography. I thought more about this and recalled one of the original members of Stieglitz’s Photo-secession —Frank Eugene.

I wondered what the etymology of the word Eugene was, so I looked superficially (my dictionary). It means well born, aristocrat, or upper class. It comes from the Greek word – eugenios. Not that common a name, it ranked 545th in popularity for males of all ages in Social Security Administration statistics on 2000-2003. It was 80th in popularity for all males on the 1990 US Census.

Eugene F. Lally worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA and wrote a paper in 1961 that introduced digital photography. It proposed the design of sensors with arrays of photo detectors with the analog output converted to digital to provide real time guidance and navigation for manned Mars missions. This was the first presentation of a digital photography application. Although intended for use on spacecraft, it certainly had far reaching implications for general photography. Frederic Eugene Ives designed a color camera he called a Photochromoscope. Photographs were made with three distinct colored filters and used again after development to view the pictures. He also worked on the first commercial production of halftone printing plates. He held 70 patents for various imaging processes. There’s not a doubt but that the innovative photographer who developed the strobe, Dr. Harold E. Edgerton, was blessed with the middle name Eugene.

Lest we forget, Eugène Durieu made photographs for his friend, the painter Eugène Delacroix, to use in place of models. A third French photographer was Eugène Disdéri. There is difference of opinion regarding Carleton E. Watkins, the famed landscape photographer of the West at the turn of the 19th – 20th centuries. Some photographic historians weigh in on the side of Emmons. In spite of that, his daughter, Julia insisted that her father’s middle name was Eugene.

Eugene Wright was the photographer played by Bobby Darin in the 1962 movie If a Man Answers. In searching for the photographer responsible for a particular photograph of a ferry landing in New York City, after months of digging through all sorts of archives, the name Eugene de Salignac, a municipal worker, surfaced. Turns out he took more than 20,00 photographs of modern Manhattan in the making. He was the official photographer of the Department of Bridges from 1906 until 1934. He was finally recognized with an Aperture book and a large exhibition of his work.

In spite of this plethora of Eugenes all of whom have excelled in photography and image making, I feel comfortable sticking with my original three heroes — Atget, Smith, and Richards. These are three photographers in the finest tradition of documentary photography that make art. Their photographs are often more than a document, more than a report; their photos are comprised of a bit of their humanity combined with silver and put on photographic paper. It’s photography that truly has soul.

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Street Artist in Florence

This artist was in the street everyday nearby the outdoor market, the leather market, in Florence. He was from Morocco. i bought a water color landscape.

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Locks of Love

Along river banks in both Florence and Paris I’ve encountered these locks with a couple’s initials scratched or engraved into them, locked to a chain, and then the key has been thrown into the river. They signify the eternal association of the couple. A nice custom.

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Saint Catherine Siena

This Photograph shows Saint Catherine. Made in the chapel just behind the Hotel Alma Domus which is an old convent converted to a hotel in Siena. The bottom floor still functions as the convent. Catherine was quite a lady. Born in Siena in 1347 and died in Rome in 1380. Her mother Lapa gave birth to 25 children, Catherine was the 23rd. She spent much of her life assisting the poor and the illl, and was questioned by the Dominican Order who thought she might be committing heresy. She was a letter writer and inch of her correspondence was with Pope Gregory X! asking him to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States. She ultimately impressed Gregory such that he returned his administration to Rome in 1377. Her head and other relics are entombed in the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena.

When accompanying a grow of students in Italy we stayed several days at the Alma Domus which is very reasonable, perfectly located and half the rooms have a spectacular view of Siena, a spectacular city.

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Old Gives Way to New in Havana

The photo illustrates the changes and the conflicts that Cuba faces. The new modern double bus in front of the shabby, run down buildings with tattered clothes hanging out to dry. This contrast of the old with the new was made even more dramatic this past Sunday when Raul Castro announced that this term would be his last. It is a five yer term and it is not clear that he will survive until 2018 or that he will not have to join Pope Benedict in cloistered retirement.

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez was named second in command and presumably first in line of succession as leader. Already the Cuban American contingent is complaining that this is not democracy but a perpetuation of the dictatorial socialist regime. That seems fairly obvious and also predictable. There will be many firsts though-a middle aged leader-not a wet behind the ears amateur as there was post Revolution, and not some old stodgy Revolutionary as there has been mostly ever since. Canel Bermúdez is an engineer, presumably he understands how to make things work, he has served his obligatory time in the military, and he is from an area of Cuba that was a hot bed of the resistance to the status quo during the Revolution. This will be the first time since 1959 that a Castro has not been in charge! Raul has shown that he is more moderate than Fidel although not so much or so fast as to satisfy the impatience of the anti-Castro contingent. Remember this group is well represented in the more rightward wings of our own Republican party which seems dedicated to nothing changing, ever. So they are already leading a confusing life (see Rubio, Marco). Still when you see the nice new Chinese bus that has replaced the noxious, uncomfortable camellos of the recent past, there is a less than subtle sign of forward movement.

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