Sunday, September 30, 2012

USS Yorktown

Ken and I went over to Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum this afternoon. An amazing place - they have the USS Yorktown, a WWII aircraft carrier, the USS Laffey, a Destroyer, and the USS Clamagore, a submarine, all on display. We started out at the visitors desk of the Yorktown, and met Larry, one of the volunteers. He is a WWII veteran, but of the U.S. Air Force, not the Navy. He was a radio operator on a B-17 bomber toward the end of the war. I asked him a lot of questions, and he had a lot of stories to tell - I think we talked for half an hour, before beginning our tour. Oh, he is 90, by the way even though he doesn't look it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Industrial Landscape

I have always been fascinated by the industrial landscape. Here in Charleston, South Carolina I have seen these huge cranes rising above the waterfront - they are part of the Wando Welch containerized freight terminal, just northwest of the bridge I have been showing you for the past two days. So Ken and I were wandering along a path behing his house, along the wetlands. The marsh is gorgeous at this time of year. And believe it or not, seeing the cranes in the distance made this a more interesting landscape for me. I love the contrast of the natural world, and the industrial world in the distance.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Shot This From a Moving Car!

I shot this from a moving car. But... I wasn't the one driving! How unusual is that! My friend Ken was driving and it was much easier to shoot when I didn't have to try and keep the car on the road and take the photograph at the same time. I am so taken by this bridge - the New Cooper River Bridge, that I wanted to show you a different view of how the bridge looks, compared to yesterday's photograph. It is such a striking sight and stunning against a blue sky. Here is something else unusual about this bridge - a public works project - it was finished both ahead of schedule, AND under budget. How amazing is that!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Big Boat

I know, I know, this is not really a "boat," it is a ship. It is in fact, a cruise ship, the Carnival Fantasy, all 855 feet of her. She stopped in Charleston, SC for the day, and we happened to be at the dock when she set sail again. She first moved away from the pier sideways, and then backed away so she could turn for the channel. I started photographing this process from the beginning and then realized that if I waited, I could get her lined up exactly with the stunning cable-stayed New Cooper River Bridge that opened in 2005, and is a landmark in Charleston.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waterfront Park

We are in Charleston, South Carolina visiting friends who used to live across the street from us years ago. We have always stayed in touch, but we never came to see them here before. So today we did a walking tour of part of Charleston, and of course my radar was scanning at high speed, looking for photographs everywhere. We were walking through Waterfront Park which has a couple of fountains in it. I saw from a distance that there were children playing in this fountain. I switched to a 200mm lens, and walked quickly toward the fountain. Fortunately I got close enough while they were still playing. I didn't have much time to shoot - I think I shot about 12 frames. This could be better, if they had stayed in the fountain longer, or if I had gotten there sooner. But I will accept this as not too bad.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

High Flight

I saw this contrail today on the way back from the grocery store and I thought of the poem "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and it begins: " Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings..." A contrail is a "condensation trail" that comes from high-flying turbojet aircraft when the exhaust from the engines, which contain water vapor, condenses and freezes into ice crystals. So they are actually man-made clouds, and they usually form above 26,000 feet. So when I see the contrails, I know that there is a jet at the front end, and I think of people winging their way somewhere far away.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just Like a Tourist

Funny, when I am in the city, I do stop and look up at the buildings, just like a tourist. I don't consider it to be unsophisticated - I consider it paying attention to all the wonderful architecture in the city. I saw this scene the other day, late in the afternoon on a day with intermittent light rain. I was walking by one of these monolithic buildings sheathed with dark glass. When I did look up, I realized I was surrounded by them, and the leaden sky only added to the scene, making everything omnious, I thought.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


We have had so many magnificent days with blue skies lately. After the high pressure system that gives us these conditions starts to move away, the next system that moves in may be a warm front. Moisture on the leading edge of the front first comes in at high altitudes - generally about 16,000 feet, and because it is so cold up that high, the moisture turns into ice crystals. And that's what Cirrus clouds are made of. But I prefer the poetry and beauty of these clouds, to the scientific explanation. Don't you?

Saturday, September 22, 2012


OK, this is crazy wonderful! Through good luck and amazing circumstances, I was chosen by "Wish of a Lifetime," for seniors, to fly on a special Boeing 727 aircraft that went out over the Atlantic ocean, and then climbed and descended on parabolic arcs, and everyone inside the specially prepared aircraft would all experience weightlessness. Such an unimaginable experience! It is impossible to describe the feeling, but it was unlike anything I have experienced before. And, man, was it FUN! We did fifteen of these maneuvers, and were weightless for thirty seconds each time, and then it was over too soon. This was certainly one of my most memorable experiences in life!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Scene From The Street

I was walking crosstown down in the 20's on the way to a gallery, and quickly walked by this window on the street. I kept going for a few seconds, and then what I had seen began to register. So I turned around and passed the window going back the other way, got my camera ready, and slowly came back to the window and took three frames. I like that this is a passing scene from a New York sidewalk. I looked around and found out that this is some kind of office for the U.S. Post Office, where trucks are kept, I think. But here is the best part - I enlarged the photograph, because I was curious what kind of magazine he is reading. It has pictures of rifle scopes, some mounted on guns. To each his own.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The High Line

In the late 1990's I saw a gallery exhibit of photographs of a mile-long elevated railway in Manhattan that had pretty much been abandoned and was overgrown with weeds and brush. The photographs were beautiful. There was talk of tearing the railway down, but fortunately citizens got together to save it, and with money the City of New York contributed, it was turned into a park. The first section opened in 2009, and the second section in 2011. I have always wanted to visit it, and am embarrassed to say that it took until two days ago to get there. I was not disappointed - it is a stunning park with wonderful views. But the best part is the plantings they have chosen - naturalized plantings that are inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the disused tracks. I also have to say that I had such a hard time finding one "best" picture.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


A good friend asked me to take a photograph of this building about 2 years ago, and I only got around to it yesterday! Yikes! It is the Flatiron building on Fifth Avenue, between 22nd and 23rd streets. I realized that what is amazing is that I rarely get below 34th street when in Manhattan. All the museums I visit are all further uptown. This is an iconic building - The photographer Edward Steichen did a stunning photograph of this building back in 1904, and I can't hope to even come close. Things have changed some in 108 years. But maybe I will go back and photograph it in the winter in the rain when I get a chance, to see if I can do better

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Random Intersections in Life

I went to the city today to see a couple of photo exhibits. On the way in, I was standing on the platform in Jamaica, where I change trains. Suddenly this person was two feet away from my face, staring at me. My first reaction was: "Man, who IS this?" Well it took me perhaps fifteen seconds, and then I finally recognized him. I think it had to do with context - why would this person be in this spot? So this is my friend and former colleague Paul, who was a writer at the paper I worked for. Not only is he a great writer, but a wonderful, thoughtful person. We worked on some interesting stories together before he became a columnist. He is now a writer at another big newspaper in the city. So we had some time to catch up during the second part of the train trip. It was so good to reconnect! So naturally I had to get out the toy camera, and memorialize our meeting. You would think I could take a better picture of myself than this!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Leaves

I was riding back up our hill at the end of my bike ride, and realized that I hadn't found a shot for today. So when a neighbor's garden caught my eye, I stopped, got off the bike, and got out my iPhone. The plant that attracted me, with hundreds of thin leaves, close to the ground, turned out not to be as interesting as I thought. But I did find this plant. It is kind of cool - the gardener has planted it in such a way that it completely surrounds a telephone pole on the corner. I may have to post that shot later on. But the plant does a great job of making the garden look better, because the pole is not visible. What grabbed me here were these incredible variegated leaves! They look as if they were splattered with paint! They are stunning to see in person.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


This is Kwame, who I know from church. We have known him since we took a couple of classes together fifteen years ago. He has lived an amazing life, and dealt with difficulties, but he remains someone with a sunny disposition. He is very smart and a curious person, and is now working on a book. I get to talk to him each week before Mass starts, and today we were chatting, and I looked at his amazing face, and said: "Don't move!" and I got out my toy camera and shot five frames. I love what I have captured here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Park City

What an amazing day today! We drove out to Port Jefferson to meet the ferry boat from Connecticut, and it was carrying a childhood friend of mine, and his wife. I have known Larry since 2nd grade, and his wife Nancy since High School. But we lost track of each other, and I hadn't seen him in 42 years! So we spent a good part of the day just sitting, eating, and catching up - on an entire lifetime. A wonderful day. So this is one of the two ferries that travel between Bridgeport, CT and Port Jefferson, NY. Bridgeport is known as "The Park City" - thus the name of this ferry. I love that the ferry, which carries cars and people, looks like some kind of crustacean, with its bow raised, in preparation for the cars disembarking after it docks.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Worked On

"Worked on" is what photographers say when they have made adjustments to a photograph. In the days of black and white prints made in a darkroom with an enlarger, "burning" and "dodging" were techniques of darkening and lightening individual areas of the print. Now that we work digitally, some of the techniques are different, but the effect is the same. Generally, I make very few changes in the images I post, but in this image, I darkened the sky a bit to give it detail, and then the grasses in the foreground were too dark to reveal their patterns, so I lightened the whole foreground area, and then increased the contrast just a bit. The trick here is to not have any changes that I made seem obvious. I hope this looks "normal" to your eyes.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Nice Morning for Seagulls

We went down to the promenade by the harbor this morning, thinking it would be a nice place to have our coffee. It was a perfect day, with warm temperatures, a clear blue sky and almost no wind. A perfect day for sitting and watching the water. Guess who decided to join us? We each had a scone to munch on with the coffee, so I am guessing that our visitor was hoping we would feed him as well. But we didn't. It is not good to encourage that behavior. The thing that I liked about this photograph are all the subtle shades of blue in the water and the sky.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Invertebrate Biology

As I drove by the harbor today on the way home I saw a whole group of people down on the sandbar with shovels and buckets. I have never seen so many people in a group on the beach. So I screeched to a stop, jumped out, grabbed the camera, and started photographing. I began shooting from a distance, and then gradually moved in, until I was standing at the periphery of the group. When there was a break, I asked the professor if it was a class, and he said it was a field trip for a college class in invertebrate biology. I asked, because I knew you would all want to know! Even thought they were in public, I didn't feel comfortable moving in for close-up views of the students, so I worked at a distance to find interesting silhouettes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fresh Paint

I told you I was painting the garage doors, and even showed you a photograph of the doors after the first coat of primer. Well here is a close up after the final coat. Here's the thing I love about this - I loved the old paint on the doors, cracked and peeling. So now that it is painted over, I love that it is not smooth and perfect, but that you can see the texture of the old paint under the new. The texture is brought out by the late afternoon sunlight raking across the doors. Gives it character, I think.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Level of Stupidity

I decided to drive out to Southold last night after supper, with my car full of telescopes, to do some observing, since we had such wonderful clear skies. On the way out, I realized that I had not shot anything for the blog, so I started looking around. Then I saw the view in the rear view mirror of the car, with a line of cars behind me with their headlights on. "I can make some kind of photo of that" I thought. So I got the toy camera, and aimed it at the mirror, while keeping my eyes on the road, and started shooting pictures blindly. I was NOT looking at the camera. When I stopped, I looked at the photos and found this one. What is cool is that, at first, you are not sure what is going on. When I snapped this one, I accidentally included a view under the mirror, as well as the view in the mirror, and it included this car passing me on the right. Kind of a cool photo, because you are not sure what is going on at first, right? See I told you it would be a doozy!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


At the end of the service in church today, they asked all the grandparents to stand, and then they said a blessing for all of them. There were a lot of grandparents in the church, but this group was just across the aisle from me, so I concentrated on them. I thought I had a good picture, but as I look at it now, the expressions give us no idea of what is going on. Wonderful faces, though, don't you think?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I Can't Make Up My Mind

Some time back I posted a close-up photograph of this wildflower border garden on the edge of the road, just up the street from me. I mentioned that there were a lot of flowers and a white gate, but the light was such that I couldn't include very many flowers or the gate in the photograph, if I remember correctly. So I have been watching the flowers all summer, and today, on the way back from the recycling center, the light was perfect, and, as a special treat, the gate was opened half way, which gave me a better view of it. So this is good, except for the life of me, I cannot decide which photograph I like the best. So I will leave it up to you. These flowers are really beautiful, aren't they?

Friday, September 7, 2012

I Forgot My Water Bottle

What a great stroke of luck this photograph was! I finished my bike ride, and sat on the bench for a while to cool down, and then rode home. It was there I discovered I had forgotten my water bottle. So I took a shower and then had dinner, and then drove back down to where the bench is. There was my water bottle. As I walked back to the car I saw this! The first thing that struck me was the dog facing in the opposite direction from the owner - that seemed to be the picture. But I was a long way away and only had my toy camera with me. So I took a couple of frames, and then moved closer, hoping that the dog wouldn't move, and took a couple of more frames and moved closer again. Fortunately, the dog did not move, and I got this close, and got this shot! I was thrilled. The funny thing is, the dog would look at me from time to time as I moved closer, and if it decided to move, my photo would be toast.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Wildenhain Pot

I wanted to post another photograph from the exhibit. There were two venues for the single exhibit, and yesterday's post was my favorite sculpture in the first gallery. This is perhaps my favorite from the second gallery. I love the "ears" on it - they seem to have no purpose, but they make the pot so much more interesting. I also love that there are no fancy glazes on it - I think it is just fired clay. Doesn't this have a wonderful shape?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Frans Wildenhain

One of the things I wanted to do while in Rochester, was to see an exhibit of ceramics by Frans Wildenhain, the internationally renowned master of pottery and ceramic sculpture. He taught in the School for American Craftsmen at R.I.T. between 1950 and 1970 - including the time I was there. I actually did some work for him, doing photographs of a 200-foot ceramic mural that he was commissioned to do for the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. Anyhow, it was wonderful to see such a huge and varied collection of his pottery and sculptures at the exhibit. This photograph is of one of my favorite sculptures on display. And I thought it made it more interesting picture to have the photographer in the photograph.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Passageway

I went out to RIT to see an exhibit of the ceramics of Franz Wildenhain, who was at RIT back when I was a student. An amazing exhibit. I always enjoy wandering around the campus looking for photographs, and I was not disappointed today. This is a passageway between two buildings on the campus. I was headed out to the car to get my umbrella - you can see the gray skies in the distance from an oncoming thunderstorm. The thing I like about this image is that it feels like some kind of stage set.

Monday, September 3, 2012

George Eastman's Garden

So here is my dilemma: I wandered around the gardens at the Eastman House, which I always do after spending time in the galleries. This is my favorite photograph. It has a different quality from any other garden photo I have taken in the past. The large dark shapes in the background are unusual for me to see and give this image a different feel. OK, this part was easy. I took the photograph in color, but then converted it to black & white. I have s couple of wonderful books of black & white garden photographs taken in the late 1800's and early 1900's and I really love what the photographers have done without the advantage of color. So I am always thinking about the difference between working in each. So I am not sure whether or not the black and white photo here is better than the version in color. I think it might be. What do you think?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Four Eggs!

My friend Herm and his wife Mary Jane have four new chickens. Well, not that new, actually. They have enough property for a nice garden, and corn, and now the chickens. Anyhow, Mary Jane is really excited because the hens have started to lay. She was showing me the cage that the chickens live in and then she opened the "egg box" and was overjoyed that there were four eggs in the box. I loved the lighting and the textures of the smooth eggs against the rougher straw. And of course you are going to say: "Wait, there are SIX eggs." Right, but two of the eggs are ceramic eggs that are left in the laying box to encourage the hens, so that leaves four "real" eggs. This was a test.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Me and My Mentor

This is a photo of me and my mentor and long-time friend Herm. My first job out of college was as a photographer at the Times-Union in Rochester, NY. Herm was an art director there and we became friends right away. He was the guy who taught me to go hunting (although we never actually shot anything,) and he taught me to ski, and then he got me involved in Amateur Radio, and lastly, cycling. So it was fun today to go riding with him for the first time in about thirty years. We did about fifteen miles, and he is still a stronger cyclist than I am - he always has been. And today he was faster than I was, but that was because his bike cost more than mine! :-)