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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Empathy Project #30

In many of my patient interviews I have asked people that are older what they remember of World War II or the Korean War. These are wars I know well from studying history but I obviously have no first hand knowledge of the events. The first war that I remember, and which surely defined my youth, was the Vietnam War. I distinctly remember watching it on the news every night and being quite scared about the possibility of being drafted, though I was too young to actually be drafted at the  time. Of course, nobody knew how long the war might go on for. Vietnam, and the social changes surrounding it, were the defining events of my generation. And so, for the first time as part of this project, I had the opportunity to talk to someone who served his country in Vietnam. It wasn't an easy interview and I believe you can tell quite a bit not only from what this gentlemen says, but also from the tone of his voice.

 
 © Howard GRill

© Howard GRill

 

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

The Empathy Project #29

At age 92 she's seen a great deal. And she can tell you about it with great eloquence......

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project #28

This lovely woman needed a little reminding that everybody is important! 

My goal for this project was to photograph and interview 30 people. I have actually had the opportunity to 'enroll' 32 of my patients since starting the project. After I process the last several, I am planning to take a break and think about what my next project might be. I am not quite sure how one knows a project has been completed, but it feels to e like this one is winding down for me.

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project #27

The depression never affected this delightful man when he was a kid......he was still able to go skinny dipping in the summertime! His advice at age 87? "Keep your mind fresh."

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project #26

Do you know what a wood pattern maker does? Neither did I, but this very pleasant man really enjoyed his work, which combined the technical with the 'doing'. Listen on.....

When I first started this project back in September I had been hoping to collect 30 portraits and interviews. At the time I though that might be a bit 'pie in the sky', but it looks like it just might happen (especially since, while I have 26 processed, I actually have 3 more already waiting to work on!)

The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

Black & White Magazine Portfolio Merit Award

I am very pleased that my black and white floral series was chosen for a portfolio merit award and three of the images in the series were published in the current issue of Black & White Magazine (Issue #128).  It's always fun to see your images in print!

The three images published from the portfolio are:

 

 
 Sunflower    © Howard Grill

Sunflower    © Howard Grill

 
 Cyclamen    © Howard Grill

Cyclamen    © Howard Grill

 Lotus    © Howard Grill

Lotus    © Howard Grill

The Empathy Project #25

Molybdenum.....how much do you know about it? Well, I assure you that this gentleman knows far more about it than you or I.  In fact, as you will see, I even had trouble pronouncing it. 

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

Problems With My Canon ImagePrograf 2000 Large Format Printer

RANT WARNING:

Just under two years ago, after going through three print heads in about four years on my two Epson 7900 large format (24 inch) printers, I said that I had had it with Epson and their quite clearly faulty 7900 print head design (there were hundreds, if not thousands, who were having similar print head problems and at that time there was even a class action suit brewing). So I purchased a Canon ImagePrograf 2000 24 inch printer. The Canon has a print head that is easily replaceable by the user, and with the print head being the part most likely to develop problems (and also among the most expensive of parts), I thought that even if the print head went bad it would be easy to swap out (albeit at $650 a pop). I was looking forward to years of printing with the new machine.

I do need to say that the print quality, both color and black and white, with the ImagePrograf 2000 is fantastic. Every bit as good as the Epson (to my eye anyway) and I have no complaints about the quality of the output. Early on (while still under warranty) the print head did develop a clog that would simply not resolve in the yellow channel (part of the nozzle check pattern was fine, but part refused to print no matter how much I cleaned the head). I use the printer essentially daily, so remaining idle was not the problem (these big printers are meant to be used and if the ink stops flowing for a week or two it is very easy to develop clogs). Canon cheerfully sent me a brand new print head which I was able to easily pop into place.....problem resolved and to this date has not come back.

Unfortunately however, a new and seemingly 'terminal' problem has developed. All of a sudden, completely out of the blue, the magenta ink cart registered as empty. I changed the cart ($173 a pop for a 300 ml cartridge!) thinking I probably had simply missed the 'empty soon' warning. It registered as a full cart until the next day, when it suddenly went from being read as full to empty in a split second. That's 300ml of magenta ink that usually lasts me at least 6 months!

Canon tech support was very willing to spend a good deal of time with me on the phone, I will give them that....which is more than I can say about Epson support once your machine is out of warranty. They had me print out an error log from the printer, photograph it using my cell phone and send it to them.....there were no errors noted by the machine. They then had me update to the latest firmware. Another fresh cart of ink went in and registered as full.....it looked fixed! For a day. The next day the exact same thing happened (oddly without the maintenance cartridge filling up significantly with discarded ink as best one could tell) and another 300 ml cartridge was emptied and registered as needing to be replaced. In fact, whenever I lifted the cartridge out of the machine it did feel totally empty based on weight. But it was still printing and gave a perfect nozzle check. I was happy to keep printing since there was about a years worth of magenta ink that had been put in there somewhere, and as long as the nozzle check was OK I could ignore the 'cartridge empty' warning sound. 

That was until it developed it's 'terminal' problem. It wouldn't print anymore because it apparently finally 'thought' the magenta cart was empty. If I turned the printer on and off it sometimes bizarrely indicated full but usually indicated empty and, in either instance, the machine wouldn't print because of the empty ink cart (which by weight seem to be the case). If I tried to print I would get an error message saying that there was no magenta ink and printing couldn't continue.

Why do these things only happen when the device is just a couple months out of warranty? The machine is not even two years old. Canon USA wants $1200 pre-paid to come out and fix it (even though they say they have no idea what is wrong at this point)! Instead I called a local Canon authorized repair and maintenance company that actually has been a pleasure to deal with, but they had never heard of this happening before and couldn't guarantee what it would cost to fix. Nonetheless, the tech thought that it was possible that it could be fixed with a $27 part (print head management sensor) but the trip over and subsequent work was $180/hr. If that didn't work his next guess would be to replace the purge unit, a $300 part and $180/hr labor (the functional word here being guess), but that he couldn't be 100% certain that would fix it either. In addition, as I explained to him, there would need to be a wait between tries because I could just put a new magenta ink cart into the machine and it would register as full and work perfectly....for a day or two....so it would initially appear that whatever they did would work, but that the test would be with time. They did note that if they got it working (for even a day) that I could put it on service contract so that if it broke again a few days later it would be repaired. Great idea, but the cost of that would be $1200 for a single year of coverage! The machine itself was barely twice that brand new.

I decided to roll the dice and thought it would be worth giving them one chance with the best guess $27 part. I spent what was required to have them replace the print head management sensor and all was well. For a day and a half anyway, after which the machine emptied (presumably into the maintenance 'discard' cartridge) yet another $173 magenta ink cart....the third one since the saga began! However, I do have to say that the repair technician was honest and up front from the start and really did put in a good deal of time and effort before coming to my home to try to figure out what the problem was likely to be.

It was clearly time to cut my losses and not throw good money after bad. Between my experience with Epson, and now Canon, it does make me wonder if any of these large format printers are designed to really last more than a year or two. The extended warranties are expensive and seem necessary because, at least in my experience, it seems like the companies know the machines won't last. I could have gotten a 'lemon' once, but not all these times. To me, the whole thing just feels contrived. The problem is that I love making prints and enjoy making large ones. So I may be looking at yet another printer. 

It seems like the more electronic and 'better' printers get, the more likely they are to fail. The last printer I had which was replaced electively and only because I wanted to 'upgrade' was an Epson 7600. It has been downhill after that :(

At this point I am considering a return to Epson even though the  Surecolor 7000, which is the replacement for their 'ill-fated' 7900, uses the same print head the 7900 did, albeit with some minor revisions I am told. That, and the ink has been reformulated. I am a bit uncertain where this will lead me, but I am certainly very disappointed with Canon! 

I will post an update as to where this leads.

The Empathy Project #24

A six year waiting list for nurses to volunteer to go to Viet Nam! I love the things you find out just by talking to people. When you start talking and have no idea about a persons background you start to learn all sorts of things. Despite her being a patient of mine, I had no idea that this fascinating woman had been the head nurse at the hospital I now work at. I decided to ask her to participate in my project based purely on the book she was reading when I walked into the room (it was a history book about spies working for George Washington during the Revolutionary War). 

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation

I am very pleased and that the Arnold P Gold Foundation has recently recognized my Empathy Project, publishing a blog article and interview with me about the project. 

What is the Arnold P. Gold Foundation? They are a wonderful group that is focused on the importance of humanism in medicine and how it affects and integrates into optimal medical care. To put it in their own words, their vision is "to create the Gold Standard in healthcare – compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent care – to support clinicians throughout their careers, so the humanistic passion that motivates them at the beginning of their education is sustained throughout their practice. We strive to ensure that care and respect always govern the relationship between practitioner and patient." Their mission is to "sustain the commitment of healthcare professionals to provide compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent patient care." Their mission jives extraordinarily well with my goals for this work, and I am very pleased and honored that they have recognized my project in this way. 

To see the blog post and read their interview with me about the origins and goals of the project, hop on over to their blog and the post entitled "In The Empathy Collection, cardiologist shares intimate portraits of patients".

The Empathy Project #23

Although this lovely 91 year old woman is the 23rd patient that has participated in my Empathy Project, she is also a first!  All of the other patients that I photographed and interviewed were people that I had been seeing in my office as outpatients; she is the first hospital inpatient that I approached to participate. I was asked to see her as a consultant and had never met her before, but we hit it off right away so I thought if I was ever going to try to photograph an inpatient this was the time.

Towards the end of the  interview I talk about her being a YouTube star for her whistling video. If you would like to hear her and increase her viewer count here she is whistling................

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project #22

I found my discussion with this extremely interesting and accomplished man to be a particularly inspiring one, and I suspect that you will as well.

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

Where I've Been: The Smokies

I recently returned from a very enjoyable trip to the Smoky Mountains with a group of my photography friends for a week of shooting. It really is a nice thing to get away and do something you love. Of course, it was a bit ironic that we left this year's persistent cold of Pittsburgh to arrive in Tennessee just in time for freezing temperatures down there. There were two days when we literally shot in hail and sleet. In fact, the roads to the upper elevations in the park were actually closed on the days we had scheduled to go there because of icy road conditions. 

Still, I went prepared with some heavier clothes and the wildflowers were in bloom. In the end, photographing with friends is a real treat no matter what the weather.

I haven't processed any of my photos yest, but while I was there I did take a few cell phone shots as well as a few moments of video here and there. How could you not enjoy being in a place like this, no matter what the weather?

Quick Quotes: Morley Baer

"Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary object so you can transform it by photographing it."

Morley Bayer


My interpretation: you don't have to run to Antarctica or even Iceland to make great photos. Look in the woods near your house. The ones that you can walk to. There's great stuff there. And you can really get to know it and visit in all kinds of conditions. It's just harder to make a great photograph there because you've seen it so many times. Familiarity breeds complacency. And because there's not a 100 foot waterfall there. Well, not in my woods anyway.

However, you can go on line and find thousands of images of icebergs and penguins in Antarctica, but probably only a couple hundred shots of those woods near your house. There is opportunity there. 

I'm rambling a bit....free flow of thought. But I think there is something to it!

Musical Interlude

Do you realize that the last time I posted a musical interlude was all the way back in January? That's far too long without a bit of music to process photos by :) 

Some might say that my musical tastes are a bit eclectic and some might say that they are simply stuck in the past. Either way, take this trip back with me to 1982 and listen to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers do "Room To Move". For those not familiar with the group, here are some famous people who were once Bluesbreakers with John: Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, Jack Bruce, and John McVie (among others).

Enjoy!

The Empathy Project #21

When I first started The Empathy Project, I wondered if I would find enough people with stories that were interesting enough that myself and others would want to listen to them. One important thing that I learned along the way is that everybody is interesting in one way or another!

Regis' advice? " Don't stop. Because once you stop, you're done for a long time".

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
 © Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

The Empathy Project On NPR

I'm proud to say that The Empathy Project was featured as a story on our local NPR radio station. It is a short piece that I thought I would share. The audio is under five minutes, but it was really fun to be interviewed and they also included comments by the renowned Dr Robert Arnold as well as by one of the patients who they called. You can listen to the audio using the link just under the opening photo.

The NPR piece can be found here.

The Empathy Project #20

This fellow is really a wonderful character. An explosive wonderful character.....you will see what I mean if you listen to the audio. His recommendation? Stay away from dynamite! I have been taking care of him for several years, but had no idea what his occupation was when he was younger (he's 84 now) until I asked.  This was really a fun interview!

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen, check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
empathy 20.jpg
 

The Empathy Project XIX

This is the one that started it all!

About ten years ago, I took care of a patient who was the 'right blister gunner' (the person who sat with a machine gun in the encasement under the right wing of a bomber) in World War II. We quickly became friendly when he found out that I enjoyed fine art photography, as he was a painter. In fact, he had designed and painted the insignia on the side of the B-29 bomber that he flew in. His insignia denoted a wheel, with each spoke representing something about each person of the crew. One day he  brought  a gift to the office for me. He wanted to give me three old photos that he had, one of the design work he had done before painting the insignia onto the B-29, which he called  "The Big Wheel":

 
big wheel.jpg
 

the second was a picture of him and the crew in front of the plane:

george and crew.jpg

and in the third, you can see the insignia that he painted onto the actual B-29:

Big Wheel 2.jpg

He loved telling me stories of his days in World War II, and one day I asked if I could record him and take his picture, both of which he quickly agreed to. I arranged for him to have 45 minutes for his next appointment and we talked for most of that time and he gave me permission to use the material in any way I wanted. At the time, I thought that recording these types of stories would make for a really interesting project, but I ended up putting the idea away for ten years before I decided it was time to resume the project in earnest. So let me introduce you to George..... 

 
empathy 19.jpg
 

George passed away in 2013 at the age of 92.

The Empathy Project - XVIII

Back in September, I had introduced my Empathy Project. The idea behind this 'humanism in medicine' project is that doctors often see patients without nearly as much time as they would like to have in order to get to know them  as 'people'.  It's easy for doctors to lose sight of the fact that patients have the same types of lives as they do, with the same ups and downs, and with interesting events that they have either witnessed or lived through. This project is an attempt to recognize 'patients as people' by having me take their portrait and record their stories at the end of their visit to my office.

I think after listening to this delightful man you will have a sense of what hard manual labor is! Also, if he whets your interest in what it was like to work in a steel mill have a look (and a listen) to my Carrie Furnace Project.

As I make these posts, the portraits and audio will be added to my Empathy Project Portfolio, where all the entries can be seen and listened to in a group.

If you receive my posts by email, the audio won't come along with the image.....so, if you would like to listen check it out on the blog itself at howardgrill.com/blog

 
Anthony Trongo