Friday, November 9, 2012

Photography is Simply a Medium for the Artistic Eye + Cast-Iron Cornbread with Hot Sauce Butter

"Red Head in Victoria, Texas" 
Photos by Jack A. Atkinson

As NYC, its museums and art galleries clean up the mess and slowly come back to normal, I am taking the opportunity in this week's issue to share some thoughts on photography and some personal photos which have been languishing in "my camera" file from the past 12 months.
Notes on photography
and why you should never be jealous of other people's photography gear.
I am an artist and not a professional photographer, but I have worked as an art director for national and regional magazines, big city metropolitan newspapers and for multi-national corporations. As a function of these art director positions, part of my job has been to contract with excellent photographers for various photo assignments. It was up to me to let the photographers know what the publication needed for each unique article or photo essay. Many, many times I was standing behind them, looking over their right shoulder, as they worked with the fashion models, took the pictures of the still-lifes, or product set-ups, or locations, or situations, or events, and occasionally was there for a complete photo essay. 
After working with hundreds of the great photographers in the USA, I have learned a little about how they work and how they arrive at the results they desire. 
Please don't ask me detailed questions about the technical aspects of photography, but these wonderful photo experiences have taught me that the artistic eye and the artist's confident reaction or directions, trumps elaborate equipment, formal training or an expensive studio, every time.   
My take-away: "Each person's photos are as unique as their handwriting." Good photography seems to come from the eyes and thought processes of an artist / photographer and (usually) has little to do with fancy equipment and gear. Every photographer will pick a unique angle, depth of field, lens, approach, lighting, crop, effect, point-of-view, etc... even when shooting the same subject and ever one will have a different result.

In the end, photography is created by the individual behind the camera. There is no doubt, the photographer is the most important element in every photograph, not the subject being photographed or the equipment being used!
(A caveat: photography is a mechanical process and because of that aspect of this art form, it does require equipment. Just keep in mind:elaborate equipment is not the secret to great photographs.)
A peek into my recent photo files:
The following images are a few random "snapshots", captured with my entry level Nikon camera. They were taken over the past year. I share them with you, not as examples of great photography, but because I enjoyed taking them. View them as a diversion, while the New York art world cleans-up the mess left after last week's mega-storm.
"Lady Liberty - Foggy Day"

"Patio, Denver"
"Manhattan, 2012"

"The 'PATH' Often Taken"

"Spilled Drink at the Whitney cafe"

Stop Trying To Fix The World
and Fix America First!"

"Hopping, Skipping or Leaving - OK"

"7.5 seconds of panic and pain
does not count - in Bull Riding!"

"Fire boat celebration on the Hudson"
"Drive-In Theater in Ohio"
"Coffee Break at MoMA"

"Stem Sculpture"

"Sea Foam"

in My Rear View Mirror"

"Feather - Beach"

"Try Your Luck - Pick Your Prize"

"Life Finds A Way"

"Bikes - Chelsea"



"Donaldsonville, LA - A tiny town -
 with a huge French cathedral"

(below "Hay Bales")

(The above photographs, in this issue, are 
© Copyright 2012 Jack A. Atkinson. All rights reserved.) 

Cornbread cooked in cast iron skillet

2 tbsp. bacon drippings (or 1/4 cup corn oil)
1 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1 1/4 c. buttermilk 
(add more buttermilk if needed - the thick batter should pour, but should not be liquid).

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Put the drippings in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and place it in the oven for a few minutes until it’s sizzling.

3. Mix together dry ingredients and set aside.

4. Whisk egg and buttermilk, then mix with dry ingredients.

5. Take the skillet out of oven and pour the hot oil into the batter and mix.
6. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 20 minutes, until the cornbread is brown on top and pulling away from the sides of the pan.
7. Immediately upon taking the cornbread out of the oven, serve with a some hot sauce butter (recipe below).
Hot Sauce Butter
New idea for buttering your cornbread
1 lb. butter
5 tbsp. Tabasco
1. Dice up the butter and place in a mixing bowl.
2. Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add hot sauce one tablespoon at a time until fully emulsified.
4. Scrap the compound butter out of the bowl and onto a piece of parchment paper. Roll into a cylinder and refrigerate.

(Source - Atkinson Family Cookbook)

Until later,
ARTSnFOOD, All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © Copyright 2012 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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