Saturday, July 7

Pennsylvania Barn #7

That's the diving/fishing dock poking into the emerald lake there to the lower right. The brown field mid-right was recently seeded for a winter crop. And in the center is the fully restored barn they've converted into a full service event site. They successfully hosted a first wedding the weekend before this series was photographed. 

If you look closely just to the left of the tree -  see the lavender covered trellis? Perfect for bridal pix from every angle - especially with the photographer's back to the barn and the pond, fences and the heart carved into the hill shown in Series 5 behind the wedding party. 

It feels like a romantic chic-flick movie set. 

Tuesday, July 3

Pennsylvania Barn Series 6

Catching up time... Thought I'd stylize these a bit... Explanation in the GEEK STUFF below

Here's the Southern Side... Or a northern view of the barn. There's a large parking lot off to the left rear with room for overflow under construction behind the fence to the right. You'll recall that there are two distinctive details to the Pennsylvania Barn. I discussed the overlay or overhang back in Series 7, well this is the other side where the construction is banked to allow ground access to the upper floor where we find those glassed access doors enter into...

This is a monster space capable of holding 750 people for parties, meetings, and weddings.This image covers only the eastern half - note how the room's constructed to allow north and south light avoiding the glare of morning and afternoon sun.  Hmmmm... and  I guess it might also host funerals? One could hold the funeral downstairs then come up here to join the family for drinks and luncheon. Or... maybe not, depends if they'll all have to caravan to a cemetery. Heck, if it's a cremation or an Irish wake, they can bring the urn and/or the coffin right on up to join in the celebration of life.

I'm really lit but that circular staircase, it's a woodworker's art! Again, everything is red oak without nails... Instead holes are drilled then wooden pegs are glued into boards. There's a loft upstairs but I wonder if gowned-women will negotiate that staircase. They've installed professionally lit makeup bays off the the left corner above with a huge-multi sinked bathroom to the right rear. There's also an ice box to keep the champaign chilled. There are lots of USB ports and charging stations along with blue tooth speakers to play favorite music from the bride's cellphone. The TV screen is on the wall behind me where I think that beyond full cable options, they've added CCTV to watch the guests arrange and congregate in the Great Room and on the grounds around the lake.

What's good for the geese is great for the ganders. Here's a fully equipped man-cave with broadcast, movie, and sports channels. There are also blue tooth speakers to allow groom to play loud music (the room's soundproofed. There's planned CCTV to watch the guests arrive, and a game box under the TV with controllers on the couch. Of course there are abundant USB outlets and charging stations. The wet bar is part of fully equipped kitchette and that's a large changing room/bathroom in the right corner. 

GEEK STUFF: Unfortunately I had to resort to paintings for these last two images since I was invited to capture the exterior at sunrise and consequently did not tote along indoor lighting. Bummer. These are all multi image panos stitched together from hand-held Canon 7D images then processed with various tools. 

Saturday, June 30

The Pennsylvania Farm Series 5

Go on back and study the 3rd in this series which I posted on June 26. See there on the lower right... behind the spring house? There's a natural spring fed green lake. This one... In the Fall...

Now look up there on the upper right. See it? There's a heart carved into the crop. Remember, this is a working farm. And in October, well, there are few more gentle places on earth. Can you envision a bride in the foreground? Some of the party lolling in the chairs... Drinks in hand? Once this was a swamp which the family dug out and created more efficient drainage into a stream. See there on the lake's right? Yep that's a diving and fishing dock. The float on the left is the drain as well. Centuries of hard work. 

And now, directly behind me here sits the restored barn. Nope, not shabby at all, huh? BTW: Look at the last post in this group... Series 4. Follow your eye to the far right about a quarter of the way down. See the chairs? Yep, there they are up above. This is a large scene, perfectly executed. 

GEEK STUFF: Yep, hand-held with my Canon 7D Mk.II through its 17-85mm glass - I captured a 3 panel pano. Then it got stitched together in PSCC-2018 where I fixed the distortion, optical range, and relative dynamics. Then I added pieces of various imaging from Topaz Clarity and finished the work with the power of Alien Skin's Exposure X3's Agfa slide film. 

Thursday, June 28

The Pennsylvania Barn Series 4

Ahah! See - there's the barn and how it fits into this scene. Told you that it looms over everything. And since this is a wide angle view, well - this still understates its mass. Anyway, look at its overbite. 

Okay, that's really an overlay, the way that the second story overhangs the space below - it's a key feature of a Pennsylvania barn. It kept farmers and animals out of the elements, and allowed wagon and truck loading and unloading as well as pulling stuff to the animal stalls up there. Easier to clean out as well. The place is huge.

GEEK STUFF: Hand-held my goto 17-85mm on the Canon 7D Mk-II. Processed with PSCC-2018 and worked with Clarity in the Topaz studio then finished with AlienSkin's Exposure X3's Technicolor - at least in spots. Really love the color density that it affects. 

Tuesday, June 26

We Ain't Got None Of These. You?

Even in Baltimore, Philly, and NYC - well, this franchise hasn't come yet. I mean America's planted KFC, Starbucks' and Mac D's worldwide - but the Dutch haven't slipped this idea into U.S. streets. Least I don't think so. Maybe they've already had a growth spurt? Anyone out there had a Condomeri come into your town?

I almost missed this shop as I walked the city's streets. I'd gone a few steps beyond it when it dawned on me what it sold... And I mumbled, "Huh?!" Unfortunately I was scurrying back to our boat and lacked the time to look inside. Next time... 

Blow this up, the window displays are intriguing. 

Monday, June 25

The Pennsylvania Barn Series 3

Ok... still haven't reached the barn there on the right in this series. Lens distortion caused the foreground to appear bigger - while in fact - the barn actually LOOMS over the caters' truck entry and the professional full kitchen... Cool the way the designer incorporated the food support wing to look nothing like what it is. 

GEEK STUFF: Canon 7DMk II, Canon 7D, EF-S17-85mm, Processed in PSCC-2018, multiple iterations created then blended on the macro side with Alien Skin's ability to capture such emulations of film with Exposure-X. I grew up using Agfa slide films with its decisively elegantly rich palette. On the micro side, after the usual cleaning up in Photoshop Topaz tools allowed me to enhance every little part of the image. Together with Photoshop's adjustment layers - there's every tool imaginable. 

But perhaps others can imagine more?

Saturday, June 23

The Pennsylvania Barn Series: 2- Daybreak - 6/19/18

The Caterers Quarters
   The restored Pennsylvania Barn session I did last Tuesday was sort of a convocation for the place. The owners have built an "Event" structure aimed at hosting any number of celebrations, particularly weddings. 

   Now I'm walking slowly around the building in the background is the spring house displayed in an earlier post, in the foreground is where a catering truck can enter directly into a fully equipped professional kitchen so they are out of the elements with a LOT of room laden with all of the equipment for a team of cooks to work. This building is connected to the stone barn behind it and stairs together with hidden hallways allow wait-staff to access multiple levels of event rooms.

   Look there on the upper right behind the farmhouse. There's a huge heart mown into the hillside grass.

GEEK STUFF: Not much to add from the earlier captures, same camera and lens, however this is a five shot pano stitched together in PSCC-2018 in post where I used Alien Skin's powerful Exposure X3 to add a Kodachrome II palette while painting in the sky and highlights with PP's curve adjustment layers. while the lighting was just pre sunrise and relatively flat, I added the romantic glow with my own tools to emphasize the key details and to allow edges to fall into vignette.

Thursday, June 21

The Pennsylvania Barn Series 1

You're entering a Lancaster County farm. OK, you know I guess that this county sits atop America's richest non-irrigated land. Friends own the spread and they've just refurbished their stone 

barn. So they let me take sunrise pictures last Tuesday (June 19th). There was a storm brewing in the east as the sun rose just beyond those trees. No, that's not their farmhouse there beside the road, nor is that the restored barn to its right. Today they're both storage structures. See the cobblestone drive? They're from Europe. Once upon a time, empty or partially filled sailing ships needed ballast on the way over. The blocks were quarried on that side of the Atlantic and dumped over here into large mounds around Chesapeake and Philadelphia ports. Hence they were free resources to early road builders. They are just one authentic touch on this 18th century working farm.  

Now turn around 90 degrees and facing West... Look how the cobblestones wander through the alleyway with a spring house on the right and on the left - Yep: Here's the authentic 1840 Pennsylvania barn. 

The Pennsylvania Barn’s main feature is the projecting 7-8 foot forebay, or overshoot. But, it is important to remember that in order to be considered a Pennsylvania Barn, it must have these essential features: a projecting forebay and banked construction, almost invariably with the eaves side in the bank.” The Pennsylvania Barn appeared late in the 18th century and flourished from about 1820 to about 1900. It is most common in the southeast and central parts of the state (although it can be found in many parts of the state). Although people from all social groups built Pennsylvania Barns, they are most closely associated with the Pennsylvania Germans. And at the center of it’s epicenter of interest sits Lancaster County with this barn on the Armstrong farm in Refton built in 1820 and entirely restored in 2018. 

GEEK STUFF:  I did the series using my Canon 7D, assorted lenses and post processing with a combination of tools from PSCC, Topaz, and Alien Skin. For particular drama, the sun rose through a cloud bank of a gathering late-spring storm providing a combination of strong light at first then flatter light perfect for avoiding the super contrasty early morning sun.

More to come...

Sunday, June 17

Tack-Sharp Enigma

Explaining Amsterdam
After my fourth visit, I'm thinking that Amsterdam's one of my favorite places. 

It's like everything I understand but isn't. The city's infrastructure seems comfortably similar to my world, yet it's in a culture-bubble that's puzzlingly different. Its people have a methodology that seems so like mine but which just doesn't crunch and chew at life as I've been taught. 

Amsterdam's like San Francisco without the hills. 

GEEK STUFF: What's to say. I roam streets with my Canon 7D and look at them through my default 17-85mm lens. Afterward the serious image making began in PSCC-2018 where I tried to puzzle through the feelings of a moment.

Look here... where land meets the sea, but nowhere beneath the sky is there anything remaining of "The Natural" world. Even the water's engineered to behave lest it spill over everything the Dutch have created. And in the very center of the corset-tight control, there's an equally precise piece of black and white art that's drawn with the same precision in a monotone that leaves no room for subtlety and yet no clear room for interpretation.

It, like its city, is a tack-sharp enigma.

Saturday, June 16

Whoa! They're... Like Tribbles!

A Couple Of Amsterdam's Bike Park Lots
There are other cities where bikes are like... well... cockroaches. They scurry everywhere in Amsterdam. And the inspire every visiting mayor from America to accomplish the same thing at home. The thing is that except for some humpy canal bridges - Holland is FLAT! Still it doesn't stop the hope-springs-eternal-crowd. There's a relentless effort here in Lancaster to duplicate Amsterdam's bike-friendliness. And I do bike around regularly, particularly in summer. 

Still, in Amsterdam people of all ages own bikes and they collectively congest every inch of the place. Lancaster's built on the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania. These hills are not particularly friendly to people uninterested in serious exercise. So we're going through a lot of bike-path-on-existing-streets-construction to satisfy a really small percentage of the population. Today, Sunday, I watered the front flora and in the twenty or so minutes on a perfect summer early afternoon, a lone kid on a bike passed by. And we live on one of the city's main arteries. 

Not surprising I've got mixed feelings about Amsterdam's bikes. On the one hand, they fit the place so perfectly, and they are a faster way around that place than even a car or cab. But they infect the ambitions of American politicians to duplicate an unduplicatable phenomenon. In that latter case those burgeoning bike lots are just another threat to my pocketbook by the same well-meaning dreamers who tried to give everyone a mortgage back in the first decade of this century... A whim for which we are still paying ten years after.

GEEK STUFF: Used my Canon 7D from a river boat where the bright sun allowed me to hand hold its EF-S17-85mm at about 900 ISO. Post processed in PSCC-2018 implying Alien Skin's Snap Art 4 after I'd reworked the photo to bring out its ominous feelings with a starker palette. Fun stuff. 

Thursday, June 14

No Bull - Mbarara Bustles

Patiently Awaiting the Stoplight
Here's the early afternoon midweek epicenter of Mbarara - the largest central place in Uganda's SouthWest. Growth? Founded in 1901, Mbarara's 2001 population was about 69,000, 82,000 in 2010 and  in 2014 about 84,000 making it the country's fastest growing city and 3rd largest after Kampala and Kira. Why so busy on a typical afternoon? Hey, the reason for Mbarara is its position as a a key transportation hub for long distance trucks destined for and coming from RwandaBurundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Yep, that's a 20% population growth rate in around a decade, right? In demographic terms, Uganda's a young country its streets swirling with children, teenagers, and young adults. 

GEEK STUFF: Snapped this with my Canon 7D through its EF-S: 17-85mm glass. Post processed in PS 2018CC with a bunch of my own tools to emphasize the action of this scene under the equatorial mid-day, way-high contrast sun. No bull about it, Mbarara bustles - huh?

Monday, May 28

Comfrust Madrid

Twin streams pierce the lingering darkness of Madrid's AM drive-time where the sun comes late but rains come early. The morning's metal muddle squirms from both directions - as if one flow is seduced to fill the hole the other's created. A sort of equilibrium of ballast. Pity that the soft stuff within those machines won't trade homesites so that the morning snarl goes flaccid. 

GEEK STUFF:  How'd I do it? Well I pointed my 7D Mark II's Canon EFS 17-85mm through a bus windshield to grab the scene. Then in PSCC-2018 the image was kneaded with an array of tools I created along with those from Topaz and Alien Skin so that each of its parts could be first plucked for independent attention then reassembled to highlight my question about commute-frustration (comfrust?).

How badly did the Apian Way clog from morning traffic into ancient Rome? Were the arteries of classical Athens clogged with squirming streams of carts, riders, and carriages? Did Egypt or Mesopotamia need traffic cops? Is congestion a symptom of civilization's  success or its curse. Certainly it is a tax that seizes hours/days/months/years of life. In a way, that's the harshest tax of all. 

Friday, April 27

A Mist of Tower Bells

Nearing Vienna
A mist of tower bells
Glazed the Rhine
Snuggling into ears,
Muscle, and

I still haven't figured out how to use GPS feature on my 7D Mark II. From the date and time our Teeming River Cruise boat was maybe ten miles west of Vienna. The sky was clearing and the bells pealed. Our boat was so silent that only the waves lapping against the shore added a percussion line. Pretty moment, very typical, but nothing much deeper. Hmmmm... perhaps if I'd dropped a nude couple climbing the trees? Howzabout I dyed the two yellow? Is beauty alone sufficient excuse for making an image 

I think we use beauty up quickly. There's something about it that wears out fast. Even when the original moment startles, its image rarely invites a return to study or enjoy it. 

Oh well. You all know that i'm an Alien Skin beta tester. And I totally enjoy using their newest sophisticated application. But just now the lure of Topaz's new Impression offers so many options to dig into an image. Fact is that the two apps are powerfully complimentary. I finished this image in Alien Skin's Polaroid, creating a romantically subdued palette that I have no other way of accessing. 

A few years ago, a friend told me that she thought filters were merely devices to save a bad image. No, she's wrong. No one charges that a larger bristle brush is what is necessary to save a mediocre oil painting. Filters are tools. I've never found one that allows a miraculous one click redemptive overlay. Instead I employ my large collection of filters to work upon parts or an image - or a feeling. 

Perhaps I'm just paranoid? And yet the same folks who abhor post processing techniques are gear heads anxious to talk about the latest lens, camera body, or light array. Is this an ideological thing: progressives anxious to find new tools, conservatives determined to protect tradition? Wuddaya think? 

Monday, April 9

Dear Leader In Budapest

Got to spend a sizzlingly hot July 2017 day in Budapest. The city baked beneath a squint-making sun. Stupidly I chose a seat atop one of those sightseeing busses where the sun melted both my brain and this place's urban charm. Finally, in center-city we found an outdoor café where, from across the street, this facade glowered down - bringing to mind the Soviet Big-Brother who'd imprisoned Hungary. But in reality, this sign was cultural appropriation from another land - mine. Do young Hungarians get off on Totalitarian Art? Is that how U.S. pop music's enjoyed?
I've read Europeans intellectuals dismiss the U.S. as the place that went from savagery to decadence without passing through civilization. And  yet here Hungarians scar a grand (if dingy) piece of their architectural inheritance with this! It is as if someone stirred a stinky boot into the goulash. 
Still, I'm thinking this image of that dichotomy offers so much to both emotionally and intellectually fill exactly the right spot in a hip-elegant living space. You think?

BTW: What's the English equivalent of the word 'Mandoki'? It sounds vaguely Asian, no? Just how far east had we travelled? :-)