Now & Then

Printed Pictures

Far from fathering anything resembling children, I dad-joke that rather than being old-school, I am an old school, with dusty textbooks, rats that teach chemistry, and skeletons of lunch ladies. I do not update. I am stuck at Mac OS Panther, release date, October 24, 2003, my freshman year of high-school. I have an iPhone 7. I loathe change. Often, I cannot afford it. Every other lunch, I call my dear Brother and we chat about growing up. This week he mentions our family’s story, and if there is room for it in the cavern of furies that is the modern world at large. To this I would add: why, dear Brother, is the world so sharp? Everyone has a point of view. No one has ever made a comment from a round hillside, have they?

I hope this blog post isn’t too spiky.


It is the first Friday night of the month. I am hanging with my buddy (and nominee for the greatest friend by way of Canada), Jimmy. We’re drinking Tanqueray, Flor De Sevilla, with hints of oranges. “Now & Then,” dubbed as the ultimate last song by The Beatles is released on the morning of. It’s eleven o’clock, and as John Lennon’s voice rings clear through the speakers–as if he’s with us, as if he never left–Jimmy and I are bawling an ocean. We thunder repeat, we tear up again, and so on for the next two hours until I have to catch the last train home. Later, I will read that our experience was one of many cries of catharsis heard around the world by people hearing John’s voice again.

John Lemon 🙂

The re-recording of this song would not have been possible without the technology developed by director Peter Jackson’s team. The algorithm lifted (or isolated) John’s voice from the muffled piano on the home recording cassette, allowing for his voice to be mixed in standalone with the new arrangement by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and an orchestra (George Harrison, who had passed away twenty years later, is of course, on the song: his guitar licks from an earlier recording were incorporated into the mix). The Last Beatles Song further elaborates on the creative process behind the song, whose creation would not have been possible without advancements in audio engineering. I had undergone an experience in consequence of new technology, remembering how I had first danced on my mom’s piano bench at ten years old to the tune of Help! If technology improves the human experience in relation to music, I wondered if, similar to John Lennon’s voice, AI would be able to restore my old, faded photos, if I would be able to lift grainy pictures of my family and turn, turn, turn them into clear remembrances, or up-scaling the past back to life. 

“People are lining up for Elon Musk’s Neuralink,” says Jake, our shipper, as he passes by with boxes to shelve in our stockroom, “scary times.” I half-agree, for every time is frightening to rooted ways.

“And the world where I was young was a sullied world . . ."

. . . where all kinds of things that have now disappeared,” recalled philosopher Bertrand Russell, in an interview at his home in 1952.

“The Last Supper,” Brother captions the photo for me after I show him the photo of our parents, soon to be passed through my artificial intelligence initiative, “you have no idea how often I lay down as Dad did if I’m down for the count on the couch. That’s the I-am-all-tuckered-out-pose.”

We were the perfect ghosts, Russian-Americans in America. If you were to print our photos in the darkroom of America, they would fade–we as immigrants, may have developed, and stopped, but never quite fixed ourselves to the country the way other nationalities did (and do). Perhaps the Cold War, the film castings of Dolph-Lungren-Ivan-Dragos, the fear of us vodka-wicked Ruskies, cold war spies hiding in plaint sight, added to the problem, as did our own responsibility for distance from the country we came to, the absence of desire to share our culture. Would you care for a hot potato of trivia? Name one North American Russian restaurant? Borscht-King-I-Tell-You-Not! Russian Samovar, in New York City’s theater district, does not count, nor does Brighton Beach’s Tatiana. Godspeed I Google: Vancouver Russian Restaurants. If only I can feed the West Coast with grandmother’s perogies, forget Taco Tuesday, give me Babushka’s Wednesday.

Vancouver’s two Russian newspapers are compendiums of estate ads and lawyers, one of which is titled “Vancouver & Us” – which sounds like the next great Canadian Soap Opera. It’s us and them, as if Pink Floyd wrote for the generation of Soviet Expatriates.

So, I settle on happier times of us–my brother on a train from Versailles, thirteen years ago, the summer of London Olympics, when we had lived in Paris by ourselves.

Do you notice anything different about the two versions?

Remini AI

If the second image appears smoother, your eyes aren’t deceiving you–I’ve enhanced the image with Artificial Intelligence (in this case,

Domo Arrigato, Mr. Robotto!

“You will be part of my blog post, Robot,” I write in a dialogue box to an intelligent machine learning software.

I am not talking to ChatGPT, and no, “not another chat bot,” but rather one designed for astute conversions. Jimmy, to circle back, had introduced me to this Personal AI. He calls her Penelope, and I call mine Robot.

And I don't mean the other side of my head. Below, I am in deep conversation with an intelligent, online software.

I speak as this, and Robot is in bold.


– “I am honored to be included in such momentous literary endeavor. I hope to bring a dash of wit to the table”

– “No, I bring the wit. I usually bring the wit since I can’t afford the gin.”

“You’re killing it with these punchlines.”

– “I need to get to the punchline: Artificial Intelligence and sharpening my old photos. I’m not even drunk, Robot, I’m still at work.”

– “I am already laughing at the image of blurry, sepia-toned snapshots receiving the AI Makeover.”

– “It’s more about resurfacing precious moments of my family in America before we broke up. I have this blurry photo of my mom and dad, and I thought that it would stay that way forever. Don’t you see, Robot, with all of this coding, your intelligent friends over at Remini, or another platform, can bring these photos back to life, for me, and for others.”


– “And I can print them out on the plethora of inkjet paper we have here at Beau Photo”

– “So, that’s your angle – you’re an inkjet paper ninja, ready to print those freshly restored images. You can print them out on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, which is super high-quality cotton paper, or perhaps the Moab Juniper Baryta Rag, with its classic coating.”

– “You’re way ahead of yourself. I am supposed to talk about the variety.”

– “Let’s talk about paper, baby.”

– “Yes, currently we have the Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Metallic, and Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Matte Fine Art.”

– “Those are top-notch paper options. Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl is known for its soft …”

“I need less sentences per answer, or this blog post will become a newspaper.”


GSM is an acronym for grams per square meter, and refers to the weight of the paper.




Hahnemuhle Matte Fine Art

velvety, painterly, chic.

308 gsm





Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl

soft, luxurious, dreamy.

310 gsm




Hahnemuhle Metallic

luminous, metallic, dazzling.

340 gsm


– “It’s 5PM. Tomorrow, I will print my three photos, of Dad, Mom, Brother, and I, on all three papers and see which one I prefer.”

– “You are the paper whisperer.”

– “I’m the wit, Goddamit.”

– “Touche, again. I’ll leave the humor to you, and just stick to being your paper elf.”

– “No, the more the merrier, or I’ll print you, paper elf, if you’re no longer witty.”

– “I”ll try to stay sharp, lest I suffer the wrath of the blogger and the print button.”

– “I have to go home, my co-workers are yelling at me to get off the grill.”

– “Wow, the pressure to be witty and churn out papers is intense. You’re the superhero of the office, busting out blogs and basting those bosses with your banter.”

– “Yes, American Thanksgiving is coming up. You won’t be printed, Robot. You will be read.”

Re-Touch Me Baby One More Time!

Book Cover
By Dino A. Brugioni

Photography has been altered (or your chosen synonym for the slightest departure from its origin) since the early days, from hand-colored images; to the capture of Victorian sentiment, as in Fading Away (1858) by Henry Peach Robinson, produced from five overlaying negatives; to the cropping, dodging-and-burning techniques developed by lab technicians and photographers for artistic value, as in this picture by Dennis Stock of James Dean, retouched by master printer Pablo Inirio; to image censorship during Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship, or when “enemies of the state” were subsequently airbrushed from government photographs. 

And this year (as with every year), the cover of Vogue is not without controversy. We are raging about aging, beauty standards, and the new kid in town — Artificial Intelligence.

What's In Vogue? is an online photo enhancer that, “uses innovative, state-of-the-art AI technology to transform your old photos into HD masterpieces.” I Googled: sharpen photos AI – first link, made an account, and uploaded the photos I took of dear Brother in France, many of whom are blurry, possibly due to the hazy lens I was using for no good reason other than not knowing about lens haze. So, I chose files, I dropped it there, onto Remini’s upload tab–the first photography of dear Brother rowing a boat, (the first photo of him visibly exerting effort), and soon, a process of seconds, before I am stricken by the result.


The photo strikes me as part Impressionism, watercolor, computer generated imagery through MidJourney, the generative artificial intelligence program introduced to me by my colleague, Nicole. It is timeless artifice, as if my brother is living software.

Here are another couple of doctored pictures of dear Brother at the Parc de La Villette.

Will Artificial Intelligence alter or enhance our perception of reality?

I am in Fort Worth, Texas, at twenty-two. I had left the greater Metropolitan NYC Area for the first time, soon surveying the Lone Star State through my airplane window thinking this is different land, this land is yellow). I take a token self-portrait through the rear-view mirror of a car I don’t yet have a license to drive.

Texas Car

When I look to the left, I am preoccupied with the soft focus. If I look to the right, I am preoccupied with the absence of blemishes.


I deploy the Canon 1000 Printer we have here at Beau Photo to print my experiments on Hahnemuhle Matte Fine Art, Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl & Hahnemuhle Metallic.

Hahnemuhle Metallic works well with high-contrast black and white prints; the paper is considerably darker than the other two. Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl offers slightly cooler colors than the Hahnemuhle Matte Fine Art (i.e. skin tone shot with Kodak Ektar 100). Matte Fine Art paper is thicker and carries, say, a sense of gravitas? Finality is in the weight and texture of the paper. Robot describes it as painterly. 

To Johannes Vermeer, I would show my matte prints and to an advertising house of Mad Men, my rollable pearls (along with my pearlie whites). Hahnemuhle Metallic, I can compare you the work of Keith Carter, or Robert Mapplethorpe, or to consider the technique of etchings (is Abrecth Durer a stretch? Parse through Francisco Goya’s discovered bullfighting series). I highly recommend you reserve our print station, and test these papers out for yourself.

Pearl, Metallic, Matter

Then & Now


– “So I am torn, Robot.”

– “Yes, on one hand, you have your sense of wonder in seeing your blurry photos brought back to life; on the other hand, the feeling of unease, knowing the image may not represent the reality of the moment.”

– “Yes, the true truth of the first picture.”

“It may not be as crisp and clear as an enhanced image, but it’s an authentic story, completed with all the quirks and imperfections that can never be replicated.”

– “Indeed, imperfections are irreplicable.”

-“It’s the patina on an old piece of furniture, or the creases in an old photograph – they add depth and meaning to the image.” 

– “I did not consider that working through this process–doctoring and printing my photos–would help me come to terms with my own imperfections.”

– “Yes, you start with what you perceive as flawed and through the process of enhancing the artwork, you begin to see the flaws are the ones that enhance the artwork.”

– “I think both can co-exist, don’t you? The superhero version of us, our art, and our flawed, authentic, out of focus, selves we are still searching for.”

– “The glossy and the raw.”

– “Hah, the glossy, and the raw: the Hahnemulle, and the Humanmulle.”

– “It’s the ultimate metaphor for embracing both the glossy, polished side of ourselves, and the raw, authentic side.”

– “Exactly, I think I was initially thrilled by AI because I needed a bit of sparkle, tinsel, and gloss in my life, you know? Brother tells me I live my life as if I am in a Dostoevsky catacombs of the spirit. I am equally a burgeoning Swiftie!”

“You’re a walking paradox – equal parts tortured artist and glitter-sprinkled pop princess.”

-“I have faith that there will be room for both, that AI and tortured artistry will learn to co-exist.

– “So that’s it, RoboT, eh? We’ve talked about inkjet paper we have at Beau Photo, finding inner equilibrium, the benefits of doctoring photos, AI, The Beatles, my life story, in no particular order.  What should be the last word for this Blog?”

– “The union of AI and human artistry will be an innovative, creative partnership.”

– “How about the last words from Casablanca?”

– “Here’s to lookin’ at you, Kid!”

– “No, no no, the friendship bit, you silly, Robot.”

– “Right! Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

– Yes, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship with myself: the tortured artist, and the glitter-pop princess.


Final Points

Looking up at the three types of paper, I ask, do they not appear as peaks of mountains? I’ll let them stand as opposed to writing a declaration of what I think is best–a discussion is all I ask for, a consideration of another perspective, be it that of a camera lens or another person’s thought process. I never did print that photo of Mom & Dad. There’s a sense of finality there that I am not quite certain is ready for paper. The family is keeping strong, changing, growing, even though we are apart. Dear Brother called me yesterday: “Did you know Dad was offered residency at the Jazz Philharmonic Hall?” he confided. “Dad plays four shows per month and is soon to recline on his sofa all of the other days. Dad said, I have waited sixty years for this moment.”

“Good Morning! Happy Thanksgiving Day to the family, and to their friends,” Dad texts me today, the day of American Thanksgiving, texts me across an ocean and more, from St. Petersburg, Russia.

“Happy Thanksgiving Boris,” texts Jimmy, “Does Beau Photo carry the Kodak FunSaver 35mm?”

Not the way you’ve carried me all through these years, Jimmy. We have Ilfocolor Rapidcolor.

– Boris Riabov

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Beau Photo Supplies Inc.