From Black Box to Fieldwork — Still Cookin’!



It’s a lucite paperweight with the artwork etched in from the back.

I, James S. Oppenheim AKA J.S. Oppenheim, and Communicating Arts have enjoyed it as emblem.

Properly lit, it’s striking.

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Among the early dreams for Communicating Arts in 2006 when the move was made to Hagerstown, Maryland, a county seat in the western panhandle — and a terrific location in the mid-Atlantic collection of states — was that of shooting small objects: jewelry, inkwells, candy dishes, alabaster statues, glass eggs, and so on.  That offering continues.

As good as our cell phones have gotten with recording, much in commercial and fine art continues to recommend studio-level control.



As energies decline, and, alas, they do, some things remain more inviting as work than others.  Communicating Arts has had the privilege of spending some quality time with a very special cat, “Graycie”.

Graycie, Koch Family, November 20, 2015

Such efforts involve connection, empathy, and patience.

I’ve no idea how the catfood people wrangle or direct their talent, but method is very simple: set up, sit still somewhere, and pray.


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Communicating Arts has also enjoyed getting band work.

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Still, there may be nothing quite like an intriguing face.

Sitting Portrait, April 2012

I may have developed too much consistency in style.  Perhaps Communicating Arts should be shooting more exterior portraits and directing and producing more atmosphere and look.

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And then there’s the more cared for snapshot: “Fieldwork”, I call it.


I know I would tired of being stuck indoors with objects hour after day after week on end — but gardens and fields (add the drive, add a glass of wine, and when the light is no more, work in a restaurant for reward), they are the best places, rain or shine.


All things countryside continue to attract my attention.

It’s generally good just looking and sometimes looking twice.

White Spring


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A Start On this New Baby Preceded by Theme Search Hell


I communicate — read, research, chatype with my Facebook buddies worldwide, and post on a pretty good blog — at the nexus of “conflict, culture, language, and psychology” most days, and even within the ugly information environment in which I swim virtually in blood and suffering daily (thank God, it’s “virtually”), I haven’t been so tired out as I have been with frantic search for a free WordPress theme supporting the “favicon”, that tiny emblem used as a browser’s tile tab.  For that . . . you don’t want to know.




But I’ll tell you anyway.

I’ve probably installed and fiddled with upwards of 30 noncommercial themes in the process of getting to this one titled “Portfolio”, which seems like it will serve Communicating Arts — Photography as well as support the hunt for editorial and research tasking AKA “bread and butter”.

What was I looking for?

I was looking for a spare, spacious, and positive typeset (black on white) theme, nothing more than a clean sheet of virtual paper.  The “Twenty” series (“Twenties” “Ten”, “Eleven,” “Twelve”, and “Thirteen”) would have sufficed, perhaps, but for the favicon issue.

As with BackChannels (officially “Conflict-Backchannels”), I’d have had control of the top menu, banner, and page color (that one’s “Chateau” operating under’s upgrade plan — I wanted this space [in which I am a web hosting reseller]  to continue with the domain “” and an associated e-mail address that I now believe I married, must have, now that I think about it, many long and memorable years ago).

So on to the new.

Today, I happen to like the scribbled logo-header, swiftly arranged using Photoshop CS4, a bit behind the software curve, so to speak, but then the suite’s happily resident on the computer quietly whipping air across its chips and drives about 18-inches from my elbow.

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