Thursday, May 31

Trinity In The Window

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I'm off to see the world tomorrow. Well, okay... off to see America. Um... The American South. The east coast of the American Deep South. Where hanging moss decorates the great elms. And mint juleps are served on silver trays. Where the pace and charm are southern. Where people work smarter, not harder. Heat teaches them all of those things.

Which means I may not post much until the eleventh since someone else will be here in my home. But before I go to see a an old friendly place with fresh eyes - here's a look at a place which no one has ever seen before. This image shows the facade of a grand old department store once owned by Watt&Shand families. They've carefully peeled off this facade to build a grand Lancaster Convention Center and multiple star hotel behind it. And for just this moment in time you can peer through that Gay 90's wrapping and see the colonial grandeur of Trinity Lutheran Church in the setting May sun.

By Fall the windows will fill up with Convention Center things leaving this the last time that visitors will see Trinity once again from the city square. Here... share this moment with us. Remember what may never happen again.

Wednesday, May 30

Mr. A.S. Groff's Hope

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I went out this evening determined to grab some good news. Some uplifiting image. Something bright and shining. Adios El Grimmo!

And then, in the middle of the Lancater Convention Center construction site... Look... look at Mr. A.S. Groff's hardware store. See the sign there... Well in fact no one's seen that sign for... for... A hundred years? Who even knew they once sold hardware there? They scraped away false facades and brought down some of the building's neighbors and "Pop!" ... Up came Mr. A.S. Groff's sign bravely announcing his ambitions, his optimism, his joys, dreams and brave expectations. There they are, painted on the side of a building just below a door that now opens onto nothing and... And I can feel how happy Mr. A.S. Groff and Mrs. A.S. Groff were the day they looked up and saw their names up there way over South King Street.

And in the golden setting sun of the last days of May here in 2007 I felt Mr. A.S. Groff's joy - as the twilight gently painted it bright on these few weeks before it gets covered again...

Then it shadowed over.

Tuesday, May 29

More Walls

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Organic... That's what this is. None of my pixel pushing or poking... just a wall pierced sometime ago with a window type that they don't do much anymore. It looks so solid... at first. But look... look how it's been scraped away by the corrosion of days rubbing against it again, again and again.

This is one of my themes isn't it? Grim seems to get all over my lens. That's not happy. And I'm such a happy guy. Except when time hollers my name from a wall and I twirl and shoot and grab another view of the way the gravity of nostalgia has picked at something. Okay... I'm aware a veil of history diffuses my images like a soft filter. Let's see if I can unscrew the thing tomorrow and find more potential than accomplishment. Hmmmm... That's a plan.

Geek Stuff: Sunday 5.27.07-2:56 pm: 1/100 @ f/6,3: Canon EOS 20D, Meter Mode Auto,Exposure Program: Normal, ISO 100, Lens Canon EF-S 10-22mm (f3.5-4.5), Focal Length 10 mm, Exposure Bias:-0.33, RAW: PP in PS-CS3

Monday, May 28

Walls

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Once upon a time kids imagined they would fly about crystal cities seamed together by gleaming chrome supports. And since they were children, there was little need to deal with the challenge of the bricks and mortar which weathered all about them. Youth invent new structures while adults perfect the old.

True urban creativity happens in the crack between those searching after an opportunity for the fresh in places filled up with a perfectly serviceable legacy. What’s true for buildings, walls, and windows – is true for ideas, imaginings, and dreams. When you run out of room for stuff, conservers will always struggle against replacers.

Techie Stuff: Sunday 5/27/07, 2:46 pm: Uncropped: Canon EOS 20D, Lens Canon EFS 10-22mm, Focal Length 10 mm: ISO 100: Exposure Bias:-0.33: 1/320 @ f11. Enhanced PS CS3.

Sunday, May 27

Crack Work


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Both the historian and the artist take their cracks at describing facts to us. In real life, I'm a journalist, which is neither an historian nor an artist. We're supposed to exist in the crack between their two worlds. Writers like me are challenged, in the best of all worlds, to assemble the facts into a pile through which historians and artists sort.

But here at ImageFiction I indulge that part of my brain which layers some emotion over some facts to present up, what? My wife Rita has a spectacular garden here in the city. From early spring to late fall there are dots of joy like this guy who's stretching awake in his sunrise shower. Now my organic photographer buddies believe that beauty, harmony, and energy are the natural subjects of what we're supposed to do. They insist that the final print should mimic nature to the degree that the viewer BELIEVES!. That the viewer accepts the image as true-to-some-original.

As you can see, I'm not down with that. Here's what I either saw over coffee last week, or what I wanted to see. As a journalist I'm not allowed to write about what I wanted to see, hear, smell, touch... But this is why this place is called ImageFiction. Get it?

Saturday, May 26

Benched

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When does summer start? If reality is a matter of perception (think on that line.. heh heh heh). Well, if our own reality is what we believe it to be, then in the United States, summer begins on Labor Day Weekend.

Which brings me to thoughts of hideaway benches and places like that where peaceful dappled sunlight flows over good books. Here's one hidden in Stauffer Park in Manheim Township just outside of the City of Lancaster.

Friday, May 25

Happy Memorial Weekend

I am BB-Qing tonight. Little break, maybe for a couple of days. Summer's kicking off Monday... That's what we seem to memorialize here in the ole USof A. We shall talk again, maybe tomorrow, right... when summer's come.

Thursday, May 24

Carriage Port

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If you stood staring directly into my lens here on this 19th century carriage porch - you'd see the Lancaster City eastern boundary maybe a hundred yards behind me. And you'd feel the same early summer sun warm you from head to toe.

I like these ports that were built to cover grand carriages from the elements. I can imagine the noise of the tack, the hooves on those bricks, the chatter of ladies in fluffy dresses, cigar smoking men in tall hats, boys in short pants all circled by dogs happily welcoming them. What I can't imagine is the heat of summer burning down on those corseted ladies, and their men in woolens. Nor can I imagine the smell of those sweat soaked horses.

In the now breeze whispering stillness of a mid-day in May, I wonder how long this portico's awaited the next carriage to come home?

Wednesday, May 23

Resemblance V. Meanings

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Simple elements can combine in complex ways so that resemblance remains but meanings morph.

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Hmmmm.... let me try a second take on this with CS3.

Tuesday, May 22

Gas Savings - Guaranteed!

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Got this last Thursday. My home is quite near to my magazine offices. You've seen my Beetle. Question: with less than a two mile commute, why use the VW, especially during summer's sunny days? Well, because I am a big deal executive with meetings all over the region. Because we have different Business2Business Magazines in four large counties here in Pennsylvania. Because as a member of the media elite, I am invited to all the important, decision-making, hidden rooms filled with the people who make every important thing happen. And besides, the company limo and driver are at my call, so why even think of driving?

NOT!

In fact, most days are spent in front of a my office Mac with a headset talking and writing to folks all over the footprint which our publications cover. I am virtually everywhere yet actually stuck in my office. So... I got this guaranteed-to-get me more miles to the week device which just might also get me back into shape for the European trip we're planning in the Fall (they tell me that people actually walk in Europe - yikes!).
Pretty thing, huh? And so far.. terrific fun. I haven't had a working bike for about twenty years. Wind whipping through my hair - I feel ten years old again. Wheeeeee!

Monday, May 21

Window To Nothing

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Here's a memory. Well it will be quite soon when the one guy on a mini bulldozer finally gets around to tearing this part of the Lancaster Stockyard down. Only rot demolishes things slower than this guy. Maybe it's already a memory in a way. It's what's left of a shell around this building. For the moment it's like a fossil, an imprint in space which looks sort of like what the painted and bustling place must have appeared fifty or eighty years ago.
I crank awareness up in my images. In fact that's what happens when each of us frames things. The choice we make in moving the borders makes for memory boxes. In this case, nothing outside of these borders will exist soon. Only what I've imagined in this cubicle. There's a difference between art and life. It has to do, I think, with the way life passes through memory to become the image. Just like this window, which is now not what it was, and might even be as you read this, no longer anything.

Sunday, May 20

Locked In

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In the stockyard I'm, like, hunting. Maybe that's too strong... I like beef stew, especially when the meat is cooked really tender, and the sauce is so thick it almost needs to be chewed. And as I fork through, I'm careful to mix things. You know, carrot and onion for one mouthful, maybe meat and potato for another. It's not a big deal, I'm not manic about it, but the jumbled mixtures add to the dining. Every taste is different.

I think that's what happens to me at the stockyard. i want to mix textures and colors, shapes and shadows. Like the stew, the platter is always the same but each lensful is different. Each time I go back there seem to be new hues, the wreckers are slowly revealing new layers. They are demolishing the place in such slow motion - since I started visiting last summer, they've pulled down about half of the structures and torn up most of the roads. The patterns of utility are disappearing. Leaving behind onions, carrots, and hunks of well cooked meat. Soon there will be little left but unintelligible rubble. Meantime there are locked doors to no place... or empty place... or...

Saturday, May 19

Remnants

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Everyday places become symbolic when they lose their purpose. And the esteem in which we hold their symbolism has to do with what?

We stick old cannons on park pedestals. There’s a Congressman’s office lovingly restored in Baton Rouge and the guy’s not near dead. We slavishly reconstruct churches, theaters, even privies. I’ve seen historic markers outside of taverns, barns, gas stations, and a farm that grew the world’s largest geranium! Allegories all.

And then there are places like this. It employed thousands over a century or so. And as the largest stockyard east of Chicago it fed millions. But now it’s a decomposing dump. How come it has no constituency?

Look, I’m not proposing anything – this isn’t a weepy poem – I’m merely probing at the meaning of acres of decaying structures which are crammed with garbage strewn by night-time bozos who are too cheap to buy a pass to the county landfill. And of course I am looting the ruins for meaning – or at least a pattern.

Is this decaying place a symbol of anything? A metaphor? Is there something noble in the memories or lessons that it might pass to us? Or is the expanse just as much trash as the trash that’s coating it?

Nothing lasts forever and I guess this is neither a sad nor strange moment of transition– merely puzzling and a tad grim.

Friday, May 18

The Ambiguity Of Wonderment

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In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they called the middle state between ignorance and knowledge: wonderment. Have things changed much? I like middle states - they are where ambiguity lives. And that might also be another way of expressing wonderment.
This image is an ambiguity... or a conundrum. Is it of something going in, or coming out? If I clicked an instant later, or earlier - would that have resolved it all? Does time overcome ambiguity? And wonderment? As we age, is that what cynical is about? Is that what time does? Is maturity the death of wonderment?

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Okay... and now for all of you who've wondered wuddahell this thingee is... Look! It's the new drainspout sitting within the old drainspout outside of my old historical home... Hence the iron collector at the bottom. I guess i cheated by turning it into a horizontal?

Thursday, May 17

Got My Bike...

My bike came tonight. Got it all set for my morning commute tomorrow. This has been a reeeeeeely long week. I'm going to bed to pedal in the glow of sunlight tomorrow. Meaning.... no image post. Sorry... other fun has intruded. Worse yet... there's something wrong with Blogger, it won't let me post a graphic tonight. Que Sera... G'nite...

Wednesday, May 16

Tuesday, May 15

Primary Election Day Today

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Today the Republicans and Democrats nominate their candidates for the November elections. Lancaster County is overwhelmingly Republican. So the fight for County Commissioner is held in this primary. Charlie Smithgall was the past mayor of Lancaster City but he did not get the endorsement of the Republican Party bosses for this primary. He's running against the machine. It's a lonely thing to do. All he has to offer is his name and whatever reputation that promises to voters.
Did I get that across here? People are voting as I write this. Before bed tonight we'll know if he'll be less lonely come Fall.

TED'S NEWS ALERT: Out of 80,389 votes cast, by 460 votes - Charlie Smithgall lost!

Monday, May 14

Floating By Ted

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Upon a time I did sports photography. Long enough to realize how hard it is. Long enough to make some money at it. Long enough to realize how good the best craft-sports artists were. How much astonishing work it would take to approach what they did on their worst days. So I stopped doing that. See, you not only have to want to take good sports pictures... you have to love sports. Understand them the way a jazz musician understands scales. Whoa... that is so wonderful when you see it. So I learned enough to become a very satisfied spectator of, not so much sports, but great sports photographers.

Still, every now and then an easy shot floats by. And I'm so very pleased that I can sometimes make my camera sing like that jazz guy does with his horn. When you take a terrific image, of magnificent athletes... for an instant you appreciate them even more. And in my case, it's nice to know that my muscle memory still recalls all of those thousands of sports shots I took ... upon a time. And lets me do this - when two guys do this.

Life is good.

Sunday, May 13

Jiggling Lines

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Optical truth reveals the lie of nature's perspective. You come across this settlement through a field - and as you see it up there on the hill it's all right angles, yet through a 10mm lens it falls off differently ... like in an imagination's snapshot of this cluster above you in the gold/blue first light. Lines seem to have their own mind jiggling to some crazy gravities. Who's to say which reality is "real"? Wait... wait... I'm to say it... and do, here. This is what I saw. I swear. My memory's my source, my authority. And after all, pictures don't lie. They aren't fluid, like say taste, or… or … romantic fantasy. Right?

Saturday, May 12

On Preservation

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Michael Kimmelman in his fascinating book The Accidental Masterpiece wrote, "Sometimes it's useful to preserve what is wonderous to show us what is rare." Or something close to that.

Which is how I feel about how sunrise coats things like syrup. It appears to come filled with a kind of glowing peptide which fuzzes up the edges of things in golds and blues. It's hard to mess up at sunrise, don't you think?

Friday, May 11

Squalk!

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At the Carney last week in Lancaster there was a game-table where the barker could attract no attention. She pleaded with passers-bye, cajoled, and finally insulted them. Called a grandmotherly lady the sort of names you expect to hear from a rapper on crack. Nothing. People rushed on past. The odd thing was that her loudspeaker was hidden under this bird. You got the impression that the penguin needed anger management rehabilitation.

Thursday, May 10

Short Term Memory

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Once upon a time I took baby pictures for $$s. Mothers taught me what they'd pay for. It was labor intensive and price sensitive. But school bills had to be paid, so the little darlings' images got churned out the way Hershey makes Skittles. It was one of the reasons I came to hate photography. Weddings were another.
Now I refuse to charge. If mothers or brides or mothers of brides don't like what I see... I don't really give a damn. Frankly, my baby and bridal pictures have improved explosively. Odd when you won't put a price on your pictures, people will offer you large prices. Go figger...

Wednesday, May 9

Zippered

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Why do we love these things? This carnival oblong ride has ferris wheel seats swaying along its outter rim. That rim slides fast - sometimes clockwise, sometimes counter clockwise – splaying its chairs wide outward . Then the oblong spins in a direction differently from the chairs. Girls squeal, boys yowl. It clatters in a coating of raucous 50's Rock N' Roll. Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers mix all through the screams'.

I've always wondered, even though I do them... Why we ride these things? Why we eat jalopenos? And "Why," as Frankie ponderd, "Do Fools Fall In Love?"

Tuesday, May 8

Rails Scraped White

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The sons of Pullman porters ride their father’s magic carpet
And the rhythm of the rails is a gentle heal….
The Warren F. Bennet sways along a metal highway that once lashed America together with a tenacity tighter than politics, entertainment, revivalism, and the greenback dollar all mixed together and baked in a Bessemer oven. There are still patches of glimmering steel scraped white by the Warrem F. Bennet’s wheels. And inside there’s still the air they breathed when Lincoln rocked along toward Gettysburg to tell about forefathers, nations, Liberty and equality – and to remember how some short distance to the west from Lancaster a great cause – caused so many to bleed. When the Warren F. Bennet rode a younger magic carpet made of steel.

Monday, May 7

Downtown

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I'm intrigued by the city shots friends send back from their European travels. Apparently everything they see is quaint. Well we've got quaint right here. There are facades which get quaint all over your image. See here? See the colors? The stone? The artfully trained leaves? The windows. Even the texture along the sidewalk screeeeeeeem out "Lookit me... I'm just as quaint as anyplace, anywhere, anytime... " Got that?

Sunday, May 6

Spooky House

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Spring along Indian Marker Road seems to speckle the place with a sort of ominous color. Everywhere else in the world, Spring elates the spirit... but here... it pokes at it a tad. Even pricks it in a way that's just the tiniest amount discomforting. Can't quite put my finger upon why... Can you?

Saturday, May 5

Shell


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For the eighth torrid day, Lancaster sweltered. And on that August morning, as I passed under the Amtrack overpass, this was on the side. The car parked, I walked back to see this hardened shell of leather, perfectly formed as if molded onto a body. But, as if a crab had left its shell, the body was gone. Why a winter's jacket during the tropical heat? What'd happened here the night before? Was the person sucked away into some alien's ray, leaving behind only his exoskeleton of tough leather? There's got to be a reason for its appearance and two days later for its disappearance... Leaving behind only one record that this jacket-shell was left on an urban beach.

And this is that record.

Friday, May 4

Urf City

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Okay... so there's this creature who's a part of a foamy time bubble in Urf City. And he's either dissolving into, or emerging out of, the clamorous color of a carney ride. And it's really noise, rumbling and sqeeeeeeeking around in a circle there in Urf City - from where it never escapes but runs and runs and runs... against the currents in the river of life.

Thursday, May 3

Innocent Fun

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Look at these faces. You can't fake that wildly happy excitement. These girls are well... look... look how you can look at them and see ten year old joy. Feel it! Love it. I'm so pleased that I was there tonight. That they were so delighted in that moment. And that their sheer loveliness got captured for all of us to grin along with their squeals. How very, very fine. Carnivals belong to the kids... inside each of us.

Wednesday, May 2

Silly

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Listened to an inspirational speaker tonight. I guess I am inspired. Not sure about what though. This is what came out after the inspiration of the speaker took hold of me. Hmmmm.... Maybe you are in a better position to judge this inspirational mood than I am?

Tuesday, May 1

Twi Light Knight

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The carney's come to Buchanan Park. Each year it arrives during the first week of May. There used to be something called the Loyalty Day Parade. It got so expensive the committee brought a carnival to town to raise bucks. Still they didn't get enough, so the parade died. But the carney comes every year to raise funds for Buchanan Park. And as they set up tonight I saw this guy, protecting the children from the oncoming night.

BTW: My enhancements to this image were made in CS2. I contacted one of the filter makers today. I was told that upgrades won't be available until the Fall. So, while I've installed CS3 onto my PowerBook Pro, I still haven't installed it onto my G4. Frankly I don't expect a speed augmentation on that machine, and I don't want to lose the availability of the filters I mentioned in yesterday's post. Oddly, this image, which I think expresses exactly what I sought when I took it, did not involve the use of any of those filters. Still, it's good to know that they're there.

A WORD ABOUT FILTERS: I've found that filters are relatively useless as stand alones. They scream out that the artist has taken short cuts. They dominate the image... and when you start noticing the makeup, the actor is in trouble. Moreover, filters quickly become clichés as soon as everyone begins to slather them on. However... they allow an artist to work on pieces of an image, especially when applied multiple times with different settings to tease out the details. There is no filter that I own which creates an effect that I couldn't do without using it. BUT... why take all of that time (this image took just less than an hour from downloading into PhotoShop to the final uploading of this written blog posting)? I see them as tools to be used in combination with others... just as lenses, lights, lens filters, and the like are tools. If you are dependent upon a filter to affect your style... well.. I wonder if you have a style... or whether you've simply purchased it. And if you have... then anyone else can as well. Not the sort of vulnerability an artist should have, eh?