Sunday, June 25

Daybreak on the 4th

Selected as the "Coolest Town In America", Lititz, Pennsylvania is home to the firms which do sound and sets for the world's most important touring music acts. Think Rolling Stones, jLo, Elvis, 4 Seasons, U3, Elton John, most key country acts, as well as Lady Gaga, and even Tony Bennet (Elvis? Well, once-upon-a-time, yep Elvis booked his sound through Lancaster County's Clair Brothers). And its in this quiet farming village where they all come to work out their pre-tour moves and acoustics. It's got an arts, and a professional community. All atop some of the richest non-irrigated farmland in the world! 

I grabbed this image on a 4th of July bike ride. This field of flags was just off the towns main cross street in front of Linden Hall's chapel. Founded in 1746 by the Moravian Church - this school was among the first to offer a rigorous college preparatory program for girls. 

GEEK STUFF: I pack a trusty Canon G10 into my bike pack. The small, light, G-series cameras offer both an optical range-finder (essential for focusing and framing against back-lit subjects like this) and full manual exposure, focus, and f-stops along with RAW space. No wonder so many pros carry them. The image was processed in PS/CC first in Photomap-Pro, then with a range of monochrome tools including the infrared augmentations in Alien Skin's powerful Exposure C2. 

Sunday, June 18

Details... Details...

The angel's in the details!
These things up there were a sort of marketing campaign. See, Granada's Alhambra was built in the middle of the 14th century by the caliphs of the Nasrid dynasty. Seems the Moors who'd invaded Spain in 711 were worried about their image of waning power. How better to project their dissipating might than to create an idea of heaven on earth? The place was created from plaster, timber, and tiles. Look at the dazzling workmanship that's survived  some seven centuries - even Napoleon's attempt to blow it apart.

Geek Stuff:  I imagine that big-time professional photographers have created rich images of the Alhambra's interiors. What I can't imagine is how they lit them. While the pros probably used 8X10 monster cameras locked rock-solid atop massive tripods and dozens of slave lights. Well on Wednesday, 10/26/16 at around 3pm - I pointed up my Canon 7D's 17-85mm lens which was widened to 17mm after I'd cranked up the ISO to 2000. That produced  a reasonably solid 1/125sec. at f/7.1 to grab good DOF and reasonable steadiness.  RAW let me dig out a couple of f stops in either direction to approximate an HDR dynamic range. Oh, each of those images above were stitched together in Photoshop CC from a number of panels.

O en Español:

El ángel está en los detalles. Estas cosas eran una especie de campaña de marketing. La Alhambra de Granada fue construida a mediados del siglo XIV por los califas de la dinastía nazarí. Parece que los moros que habían invadido España en 711 estaban preocupados por su imagen de poder menguante. ¿Cómo mejor proyectar su poder disipante que crear una idea del cielo en la tierra? El lugar fue creado de yeso, madera y azulejos. Mira la deslumbrante mano de obra que ha sobrevivido a unos siete siglos - incluso el intento de Napoleón de soplarlo aparte.

Geek Stuff:  Me imagino que los grandes fotógrafos profesionales han creado imágenes ricas de los interiores de la Alhambra. Lo que no puedo imaginar es cómo los encendieron. Mientras que los pros probablemente utilizaron cámaras de monstruos de 8X10 bloqueadas roca-sólidas sobre trípodes masivos con docenas de luces de esclavo. Bueno, el miércoles, 10/26/16 alrededor de las 3 pm - Señalé mi Canon 7D 17-85mm lente que se amplió a 17 mm después de que yo había accionado la ISO a 2000. Eso produjo un razonablemente sólido 1 / 125sec. En f / 7.1 para agarrar buen DOF y regularidad razonable. RAW me deja cavar un par de f stops en cualquier dirección para aproximar un rango dinámico HDR. Oh, cada una de esas imágenes de arriba fueron cosidas en Photoshop CC a partir de una serie de paneles.

Saturday, May 20

Real Alcázar Dome: Depth Rays

At about the time when Christians were recalling how to erect and decorate ambitious church domes: Pedro I in just two years (1364-66 ) built his palace - the Real Alcázar (The Royal Place) in Seville. Here's the ceiling of the (later added) _Salon de Embajdores_. It's where  Sultans met officials and dined formally. And where it's said (much like a similar scene from a Godfather movie), a later Sultan lured a rival's entire family for a banquet... and slaughtered them all. Tasty?

Anyway... This dome is made from interlaced staves of intricately carved and gilded wood. On the right and left: see the capitals atop two of the massive columns which support the massive weight of the dome? Amazingly so much of the Alcázar and Seville's Moorish antiquities have survived the geologically active quakes that shake so much of Spain flat.

Geek Stuff: This is a 17mm, three photo-pano stitched together from images made with my Canon 7D through its EFS 17-85mm f4-5.6 glass, processed in PS/CC employing myriad tools from Topaz, 0N1, and Alien Skin's enticing new Exposure X2. Of course the photos were handheld and shot at 2,000 ISO (1/13th of a sec).. Notice the lack of grain? Well, in fact I did a bunch of tricks to make the shadows and highlights pop while obscuring noise. The 7D has a powerful sensor though and low light noise is just a minor irritant problem.

Y por mi amigos de Espana...

Alrededor de la época en que los cristianos recordaban cómo erigir y decorar ambiciosas cúpulas de iglesias: Pedro I en sólo dos años (1364-66) construyó su palacio - el Real Alcázar de Sevilla. Aquí está el techo del (más tarde agregado) _Salon de Embajdores_. Es donde los sultanes se reunieron con funcionarios y cenaron formalmente. Y donde se dice (al igual que una escena similar de la película de El Padrino), un sultán más tarde atrajo toda la familia de un rival para un banquete ... y los mató a todos. ¿Sabroso?

De todos modos ... Esta cúpula está hecha de bastones entrelazados de madera tallada y dorada intrincadamente. A la derecha ya la izquierda: ver los capiteles sobre dos de las columnas masivas que soportan el peso masivo de la cúpula? Sorprendentemente mucho del Alcázar y las antigüedades árabes de Sevilla han sobrevivido a los terremotos geológicamente activos que sacuden tanto España plana.

Geek Stuff: Esto es un 17mm, tres foto-pano cosidos juntos de imágenes hechas con mi Canon 7D a través de su EFS 17-85mm f4-5.6 vidrio, procesado en PS / CC que emplea una miríada de herramientas de Topaz, 0N1 y Alien Skin Atrayente nueva Exposición X2. Por supuesto, las fotos fueron de mano y disparó a 2.000 ISO (1/13 de un segundo) .. Nota la falta de grano? Bueno, de hecho hice un montón de trucos para hacer las sombras y resalta pop mientras oscurece el ruido. El 7D tiene un sensor de gran alcance sin embargo y el poco ruido ligero es apenas un problema irritante menor.

Thursday, May 11

Andalusia Between Cordoba & Seville

So sunrise burnt away valley mists that coated a rare non-electric rail track wriggling through orange groves toward Northeastern mountains.
There are 88 bus miles stretching from Cordoba and Seville along the Andalusian plain. Andalusia includes Gibralter (Spain doesn’t recognize Britain’s claim to that rock), This plain is as much Europe’s Eastern entrance as Turkey is in the West.
Consequently beyond the bus windows is a plain that’s been swept in historic times by the native Iberians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, Jews, Romani, myriad Africans, and Muslim Moors, along with the Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who conquered and settled the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista.
This far south, road signs are frequently written in both Spanish and arabic.

Geek Stuff Canon 7D through its EFS 17-85mm (f4-5.6). Processed in PS/CC employing tools by Photomatix, Topaz and Alien Skin’s Exposure X2.

Thursday, May 4


Flamenco @ La Palacio Andaluz

Seville: If you can make it there (in flamenco) you can make it anywhere, right? The Palacio is a dinner theater with perhaps the best dance ensemble. Review: Really liked it. Good food, great dance, and since flamenco is theater… Well, there’s the hat trick :-}
Oh:  And La Palacio encourage photography.

Geek Stuff Canon G-10. Processed in PS/CC employing myriad tools by: Photomatix, Topaz and Alien Skin’s new Exposure X2. Stage lighting’s a challenge, so I try to make lemonade – y’know?

Saturday, April 29

OK, It's Worrisome, huh?

And these scholars are protesting fascism! Sigh. What the hell's happening on campus? Look, I'm a registered Democrat, at least through the next primary. After that? Grumble. Sorry, don't mean to be political, but once upon a time colleges seemed to be the place where beer and debate made the word "sophomoric" fun. Do fires, beaten women professors, speakers run off, and "debaters" like this gal seem kind of self indulgent. 

Question... by calling her a "gal" have I put my peace and quiet at risk of frazzling? Can you still say "gal"?  Or am I now unspeakably evil? If gal's gone, wuddabout "guy"? You get the feeling that there are flash fads frenzying flash mobs packed with nasty neurotic nut jobs? OOPS... NNNs are probably poised to give anyone a spontaneous dose of psychopathic proctology - which, may be the field of study that's replaced Western Civ? Is this a snarky transcendent moment or what? 

This gal and her pack of NNNs, waft the stink of 1930s Germany or Cultural Revolution China. Maybe both? 

It's worrisome, huh? 

Disclaimer: The basic image here isn't mine. It popped up on some news site without attribution. The processing is mine. I'm sort of glad I wasn't standing in front of this new-age beauty even with a very long lens. If anyone knows the photographer's name, please let me know - I'd like to celebrate her/his gonads. 

Sunday, March 12

Spain Day 3 • Bits of Cordoba • 10/24/16

Of course you can click on any image to see it large...

I've been apologizing to myself for getting sick. OK, that's dumb, but both Rita and I were felled during this trip - she got bronchitis, and since I'm more manly, well I grew it into pneumonia... Cough, Wheez... So this was the worst job of photographing I've done in decades. Sorry... sorry... sorry. Grumble.

In the 10th century, Cordoba was among the world's greatest cities.

The old city's snuggled behind it's massive ancient curtain wall protecting the colossal Mezquita. This Great Mosque embodied the power of the Islam on the Iberian Peninsula. Starting in the late 700s it was constructed by the Moors for over 150 years with lavish additions in the 10th century by Hakam II. The city was the sultan's citadel with a towering minaret high above all. A minaret which was replaced six hundred years later with this Torre del Alminar bell tower when Catholics reclaimed the city. 

The enormous Mezquita, now the Cathedral of Cordoba, is itself wrapped in a thick wall. Can't help looking at it's secluded rear door without imagining how it allowed dignitaries furtive entrance and exit. 

Spain's fabulous wealth allowed first the Muslims then the Catholics cities to compete with increasingly grand mosques, churches and then cathedrals. For example, here in the heart of the Mezquita is the very busy Catholic cathedral's main altar. Overdone? Hmmmm... I'm thinking that if this were music, the best descriptive word could be, um... cacophony. Each succeeding Cardinal must have sought some undecorated niche to stuff still more into this reconsecrated basilica.

This place reminds me most of a freeway at rush hour... clogged with architect and artist traffic. Maybe it was my fever, but the silently elegant remaining fixtures of the caliphs spoke to me more than the frenetic snarl of the cathedral's decoration. 

Wednesday, March 8

Valencia • 10/27/16 • 5:31p • Street Artist

Came across other North African street merchants last time I was in Italy. See the look on the guy's face? Before I could take a second shot, he'd swiveled to face into that doorway. The move seemed casual, graceful as a dancer. But he was hidden.

The work was nicely executed but probably computer stuff that was gone over with brushes. See how similar many of the images are? A man and his wares have probably stood against that ancient wall for centuries. Tough way to make a living from the swirl of passers-by. 

Here's the art business where rubber meets road. 

Tuesday, February 21

Meaning? 10/26/16 • Carthusian Tryptic.

Our brains really don't come empty. Millions of evolutionary years have wired in some instincts - which are sort of neuro-rules. Apparently ancient ancestors who were best able to make sense of a given moment, were more likely to live long enough to pass along an instinctual track in their babies' minds.I'm guessing that it fueled our ability to spot the tiger in the bushes, or the villain unsheathing his knife.

Anyway, what happens when there's really no order in what appears to be a simple moment? Granada's Baroque Carthusian monastery's like that. Its pieces won't fit together without some sort of key. But where is it? How to explain this happy couple, the dead clown and relatively ancient holes poked into walls - and an eye-fooling altar setting that's actually a painting? In fact, while the doorway steps there on the right are 'real', that alcove to the right of the painted altar piece was also, I think, painted to wickedly deceive the mind. 

So is there order among the couple and the tryptic behind them? Can your mind assemble the pattern, the order, the moment's reason and therefore its meaning? Or is this really a surrealist's romp? One thing's certain... Blown up to 7' on the horizontal edge - Here's an image that will ask everyone its questions each and every time they enter the room it dominates. 

Friday, February 17

Seville's 12th Century Gothic Cathedral

After he died a pauper, the monarchy resurrected Columbus as a hero. Cities competed... and still do... over claims to be the explorer's resting place. While the Spanish claimed his body rested here in Seville's magnificent cathedral no one had the courage to test the remains until a few years ago. DNA examination concluded that there were some milligrams of Columbus's corpse in here. Just which of his parts isn't made clear. Where's the rest? Maybe in Central America - who knows? 

My image belongs on a museum wall, y'think? 

Saturday, January 14

Spain 2016: 10/23: Page 1: Madrid & Toledo

For a larger view... Click on any image, OK?

España Day 1: Saturday 10/22/16 • Tour de España con La Cámara de Lancaster de Comercio (How's my Spanish lingo?)  - Produced by the TravelTime Agency - and led by Lori Heathcote & Courtney Bailey. Enjoy… And leave your wonderings to mix with mine... After all, art without wonder is merely craft, right?

"He who starts a journey of a thousand miles, best have plane tickets." - anon.

España Day 2: Sunday 10/23/16 • Madrid & Toledo

Okay, here come a bunch of my images (not photos… images - which are more impressions than photographs… feelings really - a sense of wondering space). 

A couple of thoughts here… For those of you who weren’t along, there were about 35 of us, mostly from Lititz!? Maybe because it’s America’s coolest town? Dunno, but I’ve plucked these things from my impressions and they’re as factual as, well - novels, poems, plays, or even melodies are when compared to reality… hence: ImageFictionBut then again, everything that’s photographically based is at least processed through a photographer’s point of view, as well as cropping, lens choice, camera processor, and spontaneous eye for detail… I just dig farther into conceptual stuff. 

Have you noticed that when you peer into memory compartments that things look more or less vivid, more or less to scale, and more or less meaningful? So our memory snippets skip their traces, like puppies who’ve lost their collars. ENOUGH RAMBLING… 

It rained… Poured off and on for the first third of out trip. And sadly both Rita and I incubated some sort of lung viruses which grew into bronchitis for her and pneumonia for me…. Infections that took us almost three weeks apré trip to finally slough off. So we actually had maybe 60 hours between deluge and plague to enjoy the trip. Worse yet  from day 2 on I got evicted from the  front seat so the interminable hours of bussing left me with few opportunities to spot oncoming scenes and to capture them.  Meaning most of the Spanish countryside went too blurry into my camera to produce usable material. Oh well… Enough whining… 

Here’s some of what I got…. starting with Day Two (10/23) between the raindrops first in Madrid, then Toledo. More days will follow here on Image Fiction... I'd of course, appreciate your feelings either as comments here or to

Oh, BTW, the sun rises MUCH later in Spain than in Lancaster County so virtually everything before 9am seems glimpsed through dim first light, mostly before actual dawn. Add the storm clouds and... Here’s my forever impression of Madrid. 

The Prado is Spain’s national art museum. It opens at 10 AM on Sundays. So we stopped to visit this memorial to Spain’s greatest writer. Perhaps it is a lovely park. Not sure since the weather gave the city a kind of feeling of Metropolis. One expects the Bat Signal to flash from the roof of that 1940s skyscraper… Home of Bruce Wayne Enterprises maybe? Dunno, but maybe Meg Lince… the real photographer with our party... grabbed a happier shot here from her perch on the ground before Don Quixote and Sancho? I’m looking forward to seeing Meg's work, maybe on her website

Anyway, our bus was first to the Prado at around 9:40 where this smoking fat guy kept us in the storm until exactly 10. Odd, since ther's a large, warm and comfortable waiting area just beyond those doors to the left which eventually accommodated scores of people. Well, maybe not odd since bureaucrats world-wide treasure their power, right? The rain in Spain was was a steady pain. Ooops, I’m whining again…. Sorry… :-)

And inside the Prado - what's there to see? Well as far as cameras are concerned… This capture below is all one can photograph. Looks a lot like the Rape of the Sabines in Florence’s square in Italy. At least I thought so but I haven’t asked Mangesh yet. It was good to have a doctor along though, especially a guy with his sense of humor. Rita and I needed both his skill and bedside manner later in the week. Yep, this is the sole Prado image. I really should travel with a tiny spy camera... Sigh....  😏

Sad about the rain, Madrid’s Spain’s capitol city and consequently - even under relentless showers - boasts stunning architecture from the nation’s many epochs of greatness. 

Ooops… this is a wrong-dated capture of the old walled city of Toledo about 90 minute from Madrid where we spent Sunday afternoon. We climbed  into the city on a series of escalators rising through  tunnels that are a triumph of sophisticated Spanish engineering design. As you know, Spain is Europe’s fourth largest economy (following Germany, England, and France), with cityscapes that routinely match or exceed downtowns in Manhattan, Rome, Paris, London, and Berlin. 

I’ve got scores of still untouched Toledo pictures like this one up above that I’ll work on during the winter… Well after we return from Florida of course :-)

Coming Soon Day 3… Cordoba & Seville crammed full with  Moor and Catholic cultural droppings.

Friday, August 26

Medium Tech

Musser Park, July 4th 2016 • The Red Rose Honor Guard presents as the Malta Concert Band plays the anthem.
Technology is how we... humans... extend ourselves. Take media for example. I'm sitting in a media room looking at 60 inch flat screen immersed in surround sound while typing into this blog as it appears on my 27" iMac. Both the cable system powering the TV and the mega-speed internet hookup that I'm feeding are portals. The let me peer into places scattered around the globe and then push back at them. Last night I Face-Timed some friends in Texas. Soon I'll interact with my home desktop from Spain.

Symphonic orchestras and classical musicians are experiencing huge difficulties attracting younger audiences who find that sitting in a concert hall only satisfies one of their senses. While the video games they left at home allowed them to interact with at least three... sight, hearing, and touch. No matter how expert the musicians, those hours in symphony halls are to them so flat in comparison. Even movies are flattened by their inability to permit interaction or to allow something other than a linear experience.

Linear? Well sure. Try to jump ahead in a movie theater to "the good parts" Look how the music "album" is dying as iTunes buyers or Pandora listener are  freed from purchasing collections of an artist's music, and instead can graze through vast cafeterias choosing where they want to wallow.

And then there were parades. Remember them? They were multi-media sure, but linear. People increasingly reject the tyranny of parade organizers who mix the mediocre or shamefully commercial into the stream... Once again forcing watchers to accept their judgements. Even the large holiday celebrations are finding it hard to compete against competitors for time. Competitors who have cut markets into tinier and tinier niches. Suburban 12 year old females with an Asian heritage can build their own community networks of people like themselves who will allow them multi-entry non-linear interactive, surround sound experiences that they can access spontaneously 24/7.

Mass cultural battlements will not survive those assaults. Instead they will increasingly appeal only to the nostalgia of aging groups. We talk about the death of distance, when it's the death of traditional glue that's even more existentially transformative.

High tech has destroyed a sense of long term planning. And medium tech's the fuel only of nostalgia. It's what good aging people put into museums and holiday celebrations, while they still exist.

Tuesday, July 26

Tell Me A Story • #5 - When to say, "Done!"

Runner • Lancaster Race Against Racism • 4/16

There're novels behind every face. 

Every artist understands the challenge of when to say, "There. That's finished! Now I can turn to another work." While we all know that a work is never finished. Nor is any one interpretation or conceptualization adequate. But the composer enters a last note, the poet a last word, and the novelist a last feeling. So do I. You? Do you know that anything ends sufficiently to write "Finis"! after a work? 

Anywayzzzzz.... You'll recall I wrestled with this man's image in late May. Then I had run into tech problems, which never did resolve themselves. But his story continued to haunt me... And then it occurred to me to think that he was best "penciled in". Uh-huh, that his story was difficult to capture and is best rendered in zillions of strokes. 

In this "Tell Me A Story" series, I'm interested in your thoughts/feelings re. this man's thoughts/feelings. Faces trigger us to wonder, then tell ourselves their story, right? So? If you found this as the illustration above a serious magazine's short story... What would it be about? Hmmmmm? 

Thursday, July 7

4th of July: An Allegory?

Pre-dawn, grey morning: Musser Park dresses for it 4th of July celebration
(Click on any image to make it pop) 

Art without wonder is merely craft, right? Last Monday morning I pointed my iPhone camera around  Lancaster's Musser park which is a few steps from our home. For maybe a half century the park's hosted an "Old Fashioned" celebration of US independence with children's games, cake walks, a band on the portico, and mounds of food. Thousands of people - the city's diversity - come but they space their arrival so that there's rarely a  moment that seems crowded.

The park is ringed by pre-bellum homes and sits at the rear of Lancaster's Museum of Art which occupies the 19th century Grubb Mansion whose rear portico acts as shell for concert bands, speeches, prizes... Like that. 

This year the sky that usually blares down a baking humid heat - was grey. Rain threatened but stayed away 'till after 2 so the temps were comfortable. 

Very early as dawn broke behind clouds before the setup began
Volunteers from the sponsoring Musser Park Civic Association arrived to get chicken going...
Chicken-charcoaled smoke fogged the neighborhood. A  scent of summer.

The ice cream truck and vendors set up along the north side...

Turkey Hill creamery exports its products from Lancaster
As teams set up games, tents... Like that...

Frank Byrne's the chairman there in the center - doing what a chair man does, right?
Frank Byrne chairs the Musser Park Civic Association, the neighborhood group which produces the Old Fashioned 4th. They act as junior partners to the City of Lancaster. It's the city that maintains the park, and the association which raises funding for capital improvements. I'd drop the Association's URL here, but right now it's kind of under repair.

4th of July kicks off the summer political season in Pennsylvania and for decades each major party's brought its tent and candidates to circulate. It's a good thing. All politics are ultimately local and at this level neighbor-candidates know one another and share common goals if not tactics. There's no rancor even if opinions don't mesh. 

City and county Dems are on the Left, GOP on the right. Appropriate right?
BTW, look at the twin tents up there. Notice something missing? Uh-huh. No presidential posters! Nope, their omission's not a statement - rather, well, seems that there just aren't any -yet. With the GOP convention two weeks off and the Democrats even farther away, the national committees haven't shipped yard signs, bumper stickers and the jetsam of candidate marketing. It's  sort of refreshing that we're not yet sucked into that Big Time candidate selling. Nope, 4th of July's for retail political marketing, one-on-one. Neighbors talking. Almost reminds you of a gentler time... Which may have never been,  huh?

I'm still working on my feelings through images  beyond these I've posted today - trying to find some wonder 'midst the craft of picture making. Which brings me back to that tiny essay way up on top of this blog post...

There's a veneer of celebration that coats an Independence Day party. There are clichés that we preserve in amber of romantic old-timey memories. But the symbols also tell stories of the moment and coming moments. Perhaps the grey dawn coating those fluttering flags is metaphoric as well as factual? Perhaps it's an augur? An omen? We live in the crack between back then and tomorrow. And perhaps philosopher Barthes' punctum's  worth considering? 

The sun'll come up tomorrow... and upon some future 4th of July celebration in Musser Park. But will it host the same culture on the other side of today's crack? Will it be recognizable to the people who lived back then? Or to those living here in this moment? Does that flat light cranking down the reds, whites, and blues aflutter on the bars of their fence - foretell? Forbode? or foreshadow?  Or is it just a snapshot in punky light? 

Does that image trigger thoughts? Feelings? Tell me the story you sense in the dawn's early light that fell here in this tiny spot on America's 240th birthday.