Sunday, November 10

Working on my Christmas Card....

Um... ChristXmas card... Sorry...


Wuddaya think? Got everything covered here? Wait... did I write Xmas? Darn... Meant to write HOLIDAY card. Now... now I gottit all fixed, huh? Suggestions? Lots of time to get it to the printer... I'm going to mail the things on April 1, that way I won't seem sectarian, y'know? 

Wednesday, October 30

A Lot about a Lot...

Along West Chestnut Street • April 5, 2003
Once upon a time a train ran through it. Here my lens looked north. About two miles to the right... toward the east... the main line of the old Pennsylvania Railroad and now AMTRAK's main line runs east along those nearby tracks to the Atlantic and west to the Pacific. For about 80 years, until 1929, those trains sliced Lancaster City in half. Here's a picture looking northeast of what once stood in that lot up there.

N. Queen St & W. Chestnut streets • Lancaster City Depot c. 1900

When the big smoky engines wormed their passenger and freight across Lancaster's streets, traffic stopped. Lancaster stopped. The 'new' station up by the mainline's been recently restored from it's 1929 shabbiness and the old tracks plucked out of the streets, restitching the city's halves together. Incidentally, that RR station is Pennsylvania's second busiest. And was the set for key scenes in Harrison Ford's Amish movie, Witness.

And after the old depot was razed, until two years ago, stood (??) that lot I'd captured in 2003. Sometime I'll get around to showing the sparkling structure that's been fit into the lots from the Chestnut street curb to behind where that Hertz-signed factory stood. Now the entire street's renewed and filled with period-appropriate new transport, retail, pubs, offices and condos. The gentry's returning to the diverse mix of Lancaster that's constructing new layers atop what archeologists will someday probe. 

You can smell ambition and optimism in the air that once hovered above that shabby 2003 lot.


Monday, October 28

"Why," the old man said, "If you can keep it."




Across The Street From Us • Late November • Lancaster, Pa.


Someone once wrote an essay about Derry, Ireland. It was after the fragile cease fire between Brits and Irish was holding and the bombs, gunsmoke, and carnage that littered the city had sunken into a recent memory place. He called that story, "Reveling In The Ordinary."

It's something we don't do enough. Media likes to find a man with his fangs into a dog. If it bleeds it leads. If anyone's destitute, then that's the lede line, or the headline. Media craves circ, audience, clicks. Many blame that on their source of revenue... advertisers voracious for messaging to the largest markets. And yet, when governments support media, it's still filled with fangs in dogs, bloody sidewalks, and those who cannot - or will not - do for themselves. 

And images like this one? Hey, not cool. Not edgy. Too... yesterday. They're reveling in the ordinary. Won't do... Nope, just not enough... grit. Eh? Sigh...

So we're living in a time of broiling politics, fueled by discontent and eager to smash the whole thing into a zillion chards of tribes to set upon one another and let blood spatter those walks. It's an atomization bomb that brings to mind an old man answering a group outside of Constitution Hall who  were asking what sort of government the framers inside had created. 

"Why," the old man said, "A republic, if you can keep it."

Maybe we can... if perhaps we may once again appreciate and revel in the ordinary?

GEEK STUFF:  Canon 7D MkII, 50mm, post in PSCC. It doesn't take much of a kit to grab a feeling of, well in this case: A merry Christmas time. But the only thing cool about it is... the late November air. Pity, this week I cannot find my edge. 

Wednesday, October 16

OuttaDaGate - Kayak Scramble

A salty inlet • June, 2019
Trigger warning... This tiny essay may distress a swath of readers. Sorry.

Pre-teen boys racing. Families yelping. Girls ready for the next heat. Hot-June summer morning. Squinch your eyes so color streaks against salty air and life is giggling, screaming, joy-filled fun. This is the sort of image these kids will access from their memory storage bins 20, 30, 60 years from now.

As winds of age scour my memories, well... So will I but... um... well... maybe next year?

So we're in an election cycle right now and so many of the candidates seem determined to paint things with an "awful" brush. They explain how we're neck deep in a dystopian pool of cess. Not to worry, they've got plans, strategies, policies that will drain away some of the stinky shit that's stained everything. And yet... Boys and girls play in the sun... colored streaks against salty air and life's giggling, screaming, exciting fun.

Hyperbole's selling all sorts of contention. But that image up there's not grabbed from some legend of a distant time. Unless we've already forgotten the summer that's right now turning to the dazzle of kids wallowing in piles of jewel-colored leaves. Uh-huh there are places where things aren't as charming... I know that. And I confront that in every news story streaming across my monitor.

But maybe... just maybe... a footrace, a ball game, a kayak scramble, a young couple swinging their hands ought to, just on some rare occasion, come out of the media gate?

GEEK STUFF: Canon 7D Mk. II through its EFS 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. I'd switched on follow-focus spotted on the boat. Post processed in PSCC 2019 to expand the dynamic range then finished in both Topaz Impression together with Alien Skin's Snap Art 4. Oh, Alien Skin's changed their name to Exposure Software.

Monday, October 14

How Many Tecks? Smell-Ography?


Juxtaposition... That's a terrible English word. It has the sound of someone coughing up some spiky mess. JuxT-A-PoSi-TION!!!!! Do the French have words like this? Even an angry Frenchman sounds like he's singing a love song... Oooops, I just checked and that's a French word! How can that be? Well, it's all in the pronunciation I suppose. In French that T's got to be muted. And the TION... ain't SHUN, it's more sensual as their tongues glide over the sition ... to a more graceful see-shown... In French it's a six syllable word while we English speakers compressed it to a harsher five.

Well anyway... As I crafted this Duomo bus stop something began to pique at me... How many technologies are obvious in the image? I count three... (1) the cathedral itself's a big lump of medieval tech, then (2) there's that electric light glowing in the lamp that's popped on until twilight turns to day. Finally (3) the big package of bus that's stopped to intake and outtake passengers. But do we count what's going on behind the screened trellises glommed onto the building? And while the sidewalks seem ancient, how about that road bed. Are the wafting banners woven on ancient looms? I doubt it.

How many "advances" have wandered into this plane over a millennia? Technologies are ideas made whole. They're imaginations we can touch, just as solidly as the Duomo of Florence's walls and windows. My fingers are dancing upon someone's thoughts. Is she or he - the designer of my keypad - still alive? The designers of my software? The imagineers of my typeface, pixels, colors, mice?

And did all of these wonderers ever eat... pizza? Was there a Dominos' parlor on each corner of downtown Firenze in 1296 as they broke ground for that astonishing building? If not Dominos... well were there pizzas then? Same recipe? Anyone there eat New York or Chicago slices? Did Pizza chefs in Old Tyme Rome compete with Pompeii's vacation parlors?

Did Marco Polo's import of pasta sweep the Italian boot by the time the Duomo went up? Imagine, this all might have happened before noodles arrived... Which makes me wonder... what lovely scents wafted through the air  at this bus stop place in 1296. Garlic? Tomatoes? Pizza?

We still have these lumps of tech, but those ancient scents and sounds? Nope. Lost to history. Smell-Ography's yet to be. We can only look at the early evening juxtaposition and wonder what's missing forever, huh?

By the way, is scent a dimension? Would it not bring an additional fullness to my bus stop up there? Hmmmmm....

Sunday, October 13

Cut To The Chaise

Canon G10 processed in PS6

It's election time in the USA. Promises are inflating like a fat guy at a complimentary smorgasbord. Each politico to the mic's piling on more free stuff. Until that ape up there. How's anyone going to top that slogan? How about universal credit cards that have 100% NEGATIVE interest rates? Hell, why stop at 100%...

Hmmmm.... what comes after infinity?

Someone's suggested I call this image, "Don't Cry For Me Socialista". But isn't that show-tune already playing for a while in Caracas: Right? 😁

Friday, October 11

The Communications Room

Istanbul, Women pray separately in the Blue Mosque.
Do women have a separate channel to the spiritual world? So many religious sects conclude that the male pipelines sit somewhere apart from the female. Do they head off in different directions? Run parallel? Is one vertical, the other off into some fifth or ninth dimension? As the West seems baffled around the edges by gender, much of the cultural worlds are emphatic about their strict definition and distinct differences even when it comes to divine communication. If one can use the prefix "co", before that word at all.

Up there are three devout people working to meld their beings with the infinite as they've been taught to understand the way this stuff works. They're devoted to processes that are pretty ancient for us humans. I wonder if the crowd that built, say, Stonehenge, understood different gender channels to the divine? And are we the first to atomize those genders or did they have dozens of networks on their prayer comm-sets?

Or... maybe... in the clichéd words of horror-creature movies.... "Professor be careful: There are some things that man was not meant to meddle with?"

GEEK STUFF: Canon 70D through its  EF-S17-85mm glass handheld then posted in PSCC 2019. I got permission to take these shots from that male official you can see in the upper left and lower right squares after he studied my media credentials. Nope, he did not demand a tip. 

Tuesday, October 8

Lancaster Winter Crop

An Amish team punches Fall soy seeds into the land.
Not a typical Fall scene lit by the neon colors of the season, huh?

Soy's harvested in late September then the crop seed's replanted in October for winter germination. At least that's how I understand it... and I don't understand enough about agriculture...Well not a lot more than it's greatest byproduct... beauty. Here - nearby to my home, a 6 mule team pulls a fall planting head across the soil just before the first snarls of winter paint the Pennsylvania leaves.

Geek Stuff: Captured by my Canon 20D through its faithful EF-S17-85mm glass, handheld of course, then processed in PSCC 2019 with help from some Topaz filters carefully brushed onto the appropriate spots to capture the sharp stubble and hairy tails. Oh... BTW - it is wrong to ever take a picture of an Amisher's face. We respect our neighbors around here - so I will never purposely do it, and if it happens accidentally, I trash those images.

But yet, do I need a face to convey a stoic muscularity of this man and team? While faces do reveal intricate personal stories... can they be any more expressive than this gentleman's shoulders and his freedom to go a distinctly individual direction in the face of a world-storm of technology?

My Amish neighbors simultaneously live among us, show a determined pride in their country, and live a successful and proudly religious life. Oh, and they also continue, for example, to invent and manufacture farm devices, employ cutting edge agronomics, all along with computer repair and maintenance projects which attract worldwide customers. Their detailed craftsmanship and quilting arts command international attention.

Yeah, they're a surprising culture, eh?



Saturday, October 5

NYC - THROB!



Tuesday, Manhattan,10:20 pm. Who cares? 
I'm over it. Yeah, the place throbs hot 24/7. So do a lot of cities. But frankly NYC's showing darkening age lines. Much of the skyline's a backdrop for Rhapsody in Blue. Gershwin imagined that haunting piece in 1924. 
The British novelist L.P. Hartley wrote, "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there."
New York's like that - a visit to the 20s. Not as high as other cities anymore... neither in buildings nor creativity. It's not as clean as other places... neither in in streets nor imagination. It's a city of scuffed shoes, frayed collars, cheap-suited-babble, and crumbling pretensions. A narrative about hardscrapple romantics held up between bookends of homeless and trust bunnies. 
They do things differently there, but unless you squinch your eyes and imagine the clarinet glissando into Gershwin's plaintive rhapsody... New York throbs not so much with excitement but more like the paper thin skin that tops a throbbing-fat boil.
It's old news.

GEEK STUFF: Canon 7D Mk.II,  EF-S17-85mm, ISO 1500, Hand held. Post processing in PS CC 2019. Multiple layers/liquify filters/brushes - custom tools. Tried not to just grab NYC's searing glare and smell, but its bends-making density, and the cacophonic din as well. 

Thursday, October 3

Rome: An Arch Comment?



Ruins of the Roman Forum from Palantine Hill.
From the Palantine Hill most everyone scopes the ruins of the Roman Forum. The Arch of Septimius Severus (here center right) fascinated me. The thing went up in 203 AD in celebration of Rome's defeat of the Parthians. 

Why my interest? Well the Parthians were essentially the Persians and for some 400 years (247 BC to 224 AD) ruled in most directions from the center of what's now Iran beating up the Romans pretty badly until stopped by Rome's emperor Septimius Severus who pushed them back west of the Persian Gulf - hence the Arch.  

Pendulums swing and now Persian successors in Iran are once again rattling swords toward the West (and vice versa). But, what tickles my imagination is nations' desires to build grand arches. People stand around and photograph London's Wellington Arch, Paris's Triomphe, Germany's Brandenberg, Shimbashi's Victory Arch, St. Petersburg's Victory Arch... on and on.  


 Whyzatt? And why are they all so stereotypical? 

The one up above is far from the world's oldest but after almost two millennia it's a curious model for so many of the rest. It also stands as a reminder of the joint emperors, brothers Caracalla and Geta, who erected the thing and inscribed it with tributes to themselves. After Caracalla got Geta murdered he had ego stuff carved over all references to his brother. So, like most commemorative arches, this one too is all about blood. 

Blood arches are among the things that make me think that: Because you can do something is no reason to do it. Y'know? 
GEEK STUFF: Took this from the place everyone stands on Rome's most famous hill with my Canon 7oD through Old Faithful... my EF-S17-85mm. Pre-processing? Well a multi thousand mile trip plus a hired guide through the ancient city. Post-proccessing? In PSCC 2019 I wiped away the original colors and brushed back my own colored feelings then made a big bunch of trash and debris in the lower left-hand corner go away with artsy negative space.
             :-)



Sunday, September 22

There are 42 million Ugandans


There are 165 million people in Central Africa, 42 million of them live in Uganda. Along that country’s southern E/W highway, here are 3. They tell a story?

Is there such a thing as "ethnic geneolgy" or is that too Lamarkian? Wait... Lamark was a Russian geneticist/philosopher I think, who claimed that ideas, memories, and attitudes could be stored in the genes and hence reproduced among generations When his attempts to prove that failed, Stalin killed him. 

As I walked about, these guys repairing their water-bike* showed less than welcoming looks to a European guy with a pricey camera, boots and ... probably... attitude. Remember, Uganda was a British Colony and remains part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. English is one of their three official languages. All of the signage is in English. White folk are not exotics to them, although perhaps maybe we are in this tiny widening of the road deep in equatorial Africa. 

I'm an atheist regarding "ethnic genealogy", but not cultural legacy. Moreover most homes sport satellite dishes that grab Hollywood and US TV. So, for example, Oprah and The Rock are both celebrities in Uganda. So those looks... are they windows into what? 

GEEK STUFF: Canon 7D, EOS EF-S17-85mm, finished in PSCC2019.


*Clean water's a valuable commodity in much of Uganda where people travel long distances daily to government wells to provide for their families. Most do that on foot (mainly women),lining the roads as they balance those yellow tanks on their heads. Fellas like this make their livelihood carting as many jugs as possible on scooters to homes or businesses that can afford their service. 

Wednesday, September 18

Within the Hagia Sophia



Hand held in front of recovered early Christian artwork (6th century) under reclamation on the ancient cathedral’s walls. Um…. full disclosure… Every element in this image was in the Hagia Sophia on that afternoon. However the arrangement has been, um, enhanced :→

GEEK STUFF: Canon 7D, EOS EF-S17-85mm lens. Post in PSCC 2019 and assorted custom tools. ISP 1,500 – dim light, great Canon processor, note the lack of grain. The camera’s magical. BTW… The afternoon that I visited the Hagia Sophia was in MID SUMMER! Those burkas had to feel toasty, huh?

Tugging this concept together it occurred to me to wonder whether discovery can be substituted for creativity? Or for that matter, is process the same thing as artistry? I've asked many artist this same question, "What percentage of any final work did you discover during the process?" the average of the responses is about 85%! Hmmmm.... is art merely discovered rather than imagined? Perhaps illustration is the only true form of artistry since an illustrator's gotta' begin with an idea that s/he then imagines into finality? 
And yet, illustrators are not highly regarded by fine artists. Weeeeerd!

Sunday, September 1


While I write this, Hurricane Dorian – 9/1/19 - rumbles off the Florida Coast… Will it veer? Collide? Smash? Crush?
Last year, as the air grew cranky, I wondered along the shore of Boynton Beach, Florida, imagining roilings shuddering from some dark thing that was no longer distant.
Had I wandered into the moment before torrential combustion? An instant when the pistons of a storm seemed to be building up a force of wonder powerful enough to punch through brick and steel as effortlessly as a radio wave? In my imagination, nature’s phasers seemed to be clicking their settings up beyond stun.
But was the storm impending or receding? Were things shuddering from aftershocks of a retreating massive fiery tumult, or the blunt fists of an oncoming furious demonical onslaught?
A moment like – well – what the world’s news media seems to hourly predict for us all.

GEEK STUFF: The reference photo was captured on a late afternoon stroll through my Canon 7D Mk II’s EFS 17-85mm glass. Then in PSCC 2019 I got to work imagining a storm’s first tendrils snaking along this pretty palm-lined foot path which meanders through the sandy shore of Boynton Beach.  

This is ImageFiction born from the maddening storm like the invective and jabbering idiocy which spews from the 24/7 news cycle. Like most art, 'Storm' is a question rather than an answer. Why? Because questioning’s what artists do, answering, on the other hand, is way above our pay grade.

Friday, August 2

Patagonia 12 Buenos Aires Street Scenes

More streets to come...
(1) Hot model (and statue) posing in La Boca on Friday summer afternoon.

(2) Caliente! Buenos Aires corner sizzles in high summer sun.

(3) Along the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires are balconies
vividly accessorized with mannequins like this of Evita Peron.

(5) Man w/ Fedora on Sunday streets of LaBoca neighborhood

(6) Musicians line the Streets along the wall of the Recolleta cemetery.
You're never far from music in  Buenos Aires.




Friday, July 19

Patagonia 11: The Punta del Este, Uruguay Puzzle



What’s the difference between seeing and noticing? Does one go to the machinery of logic, the other to the place where imagination churns? Maybe our senses send signals both ways at once? Do we escape into details to avoid over-heating our cerebral processors? Or maybe we both notice AND see details to collect as many as possible for logic and imaginations to process later?

I like to troll scenes with a camera so that the heavy lifting of collecting analytical fodder can fill up memory cards with facts while allowing me distill out whatever truth they contain at leisure. Yeah, that’s it… that’s why I postpone conclusions until I can swim around in snapshot images like Scrooge McDuck in his money crammed pool. 

Donald Trump Jr announces the Urugua Tower
Punta Del Este's a playground for South America's (and Europe's) successful. This summer-time city's golf-course-like-feellng boasts lawns better manicured than the work of a Parisian nail studio. As a Yank, I noticed a beach-front two-story photo of Donald Trump Jr. boasting the erection of a Trump Tower filling with luxury apartments. In this Spanish-speaking place it was hard to miss that the building’s advertising was in English.

A tour-taxi drove us through acres of the sort of mansions that line the roads of Palm Beach, Greenwich, CT. and Beverly Hills. The city's often compared to Cannes. Perhaps tacky’s been outlawed by Punta del Este where homes sit upon multi-acre hillsides of green, most with spectacular water-views. 


The air’s scented with gold.
Casa Pueblo; The house, gallery, museum, boutique hotel, and 
castle of artist Carlos Paez Vilaro (1923-2014) in Punta Ballena,
near Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Has this city of 9,200 (swelling to  perhaps 30,000 in summer) overcome or simply banned poverty? After hours of touring, we spotted NO low-income housing. Mercedes seem driven by the middle classes while the coolest youth drive Lambos as parents are chauffeured  about in Bentleys and Rolls. Until those streets, I'd never seen Bugattis in the wild.

So? Here's what puzzled me since our visit to the city. Why are struggling Latinos streaming north to the U.S. when La Dolce Vida glimmers in Punta del Este (along with Chilé and Argentina)? Es desconcertante, eh? Thoughts anyone?














Tuesday, June 18

Patagonia 10: Grim - The Falklands

Click on any image for a blow-up... 
NOTE- This is NOT best viewed on a mobile phone which will delete images and text. 
Ever wondered? Here is
the middle of nowhere
The Falklands...   are a glum archipelago about 300 miles east of the coast of Southern Patagonia.You cannot escape by swimming but perhaps you can stow on a fishing boat. There're about 700 square miles containing rock, sand, some brush and a bunch of seabirds. They're hours away from Argentina by plane and about a day or so away by boat. So. if ChilĂ© can own Easter Island in the Pacific, well, Argentina figures they ought to rule this place which they call the Malvinas. 
Falkland 1983
War Memorial
They're about 8,800 miles from Britain which has claimed ownership since the 1830s. That's when they took them from the French who previously grabbed them from the Spanish... Or maybe it was the other way around? In 1982 the Argentines invaded but were repulsed by the Brits, who it's rumored, that four years before under Maggie Thatcher they were trying to get rid of the place and its approximately 4,000 inhabitants. But those British subjects hold onto an important kernel of Parliamentary votes.

So, with a bunch of pomp and difficulty, the English rag-tag navy managed to eek out a victory over the invaders - who will undoubtedly try again - or that's what everyone thinks and causes the British to keep some thousand troopers on the rocks, at shuddering expense.
Waterfront Row in Stanley
It's hard to say exactly what the Island inhabitants do for a living, other than police, maintain, school, farm some sheep, and health-care one other, mostly in Stanley, the capital city. Its 2,100 people seem nice, speak English-English, watch American and British satellite TV and are totally inter-netted. 
Upkeep's not a homeowner priority.
The weather, much like London's, is - spontaneous. The temps are mildly chilly all year round, rainy, infrequently snowy, and rarely hot. Perhaps the best description is, um, grim. But, did I mention that it's a hard place to escape. We trudged past the governor's mansion and wondered what he screwed-up to get the appointment.

Marmont Row for Brit pensioners
Some of the pensioners homes are particularly snug and well kept along the waterfront. And of course they sport white picket fences and tidy English gardens. Notice how few trees are in any of these images... None are native to the place, nor are most of the vegetation populating the gardens.


When we were there on a mid-weekday, almost everyone, except for a dozen or so school kids on a sports' field, was inside. Perhaps that's the norm? As I said - we wondered what people did in Stanley but except for shopkeepers who were busy with a cruise ship visit, there was no one to ask


A village of hills
Built upon a jutting finger of rock, the place is hilly, but not San-Fransisco hilly... just sort of annoyingly difficult to walk. The tallest building's about three stories high, and since everything's on a rock face, every structure's got a view of the protected harbor. A harbor that's insufficiently deep to berth large-draft ships. Tourism's a big money-maker to Stanley since Patagonian tour ships routinely stop. Why? I guess someone's paid them off. Most of the population's historically been composed of British Service pensioners. Odd, since life's essentials are boated or air freighted in from great distances - it can't be a cheap place to live.

St. Mary's Catholic
Like every other tourist place, the biggest attractions are their two churches, a smaller Catholic chapel, and the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world. For some reason, the Cathedral sports a couple of blue-whale jaw bones that were restored a decade or so back and I guess form a backdrop for every non-Catholic bridal party.

The Anglican Cathedral & Wale Bones

The British call these places, "box-churches". They're fabricated structures from the home country and were sent to each new conquest of the former empire to be assembled-by-numbers in their new possessions - bells, belfries, altars, stained windows, and pews. If you've seen one, you've seen the lot.

Custom House & ubiquitous Land Rover


Like most socialist-ruled spots, the public buildings, roads, and infrastructure's are among the best maintained (look at the Parisian and Russian subways for example). No real difference on the Falklands. Police, public health, and municipal buildings there, like this custom's house, are among the spunkiest. Of course the Governor's mansion (Government House) seems the  grandest in Stanley.

The Falklands historically were a sort of garage for repairing ships caught in the maelstrom of sailing around Cape Horn, a business which has Panama-Canaled away. Leaving little behind of historic, scenic, or recreational interest. It's not someplace where anyone intentionally goes, but instead people seem to wind up there on their way. So here's 80% of our gang of wayfarers trying to figure out if we should pay a couple of hundred bucks to take one of the multitude of Land Rovers on a three hour ride to a distant beach where some King Penguins were spotted a couple of days before. We didn't and those who did reported that IF there were Kings there - they'd swum away.

From left: Gib &; Marty Armstrong, Mary & Joe Mayberry, Howard Roath, Me, and Barbara & Frank Pinto.













.






Sunday, June 16

Patagonia 9: Buenos Aires • Vanishing Point


Freudian fun decorates a Recoleta tomb 'erected'
before the psychologist's ideas roiled across the West. 
Thousands wander daily through Recoleta cemetery here in the epicenter of Argentina's brilliant city. They're exploring the excesses of the nation's richest families proclaiming their posterity, or at least trying to grab a piece of immortality for what? Their names?

These are the pyramids of Argentina writ tiny. The metropolis is just north of earthmoving Patagonia where seismic forces are working to crumble South America's lower tip  back into seas. 

So it will take a tad longer in  geological time to crumble all of these little buildings-for-the-dead back into watery dust. 7,000 miles away from Rome yet all built in that ancient city's classic forms - I wonder what will remain of these ruins in a couple of millennia? Judging by the cracks already - you think archaeologists of the fourth millennia will find as much remaining as we do today on the Italian boot?


Here I prefer the word necropolis to cemetery. The olden latonical word has such an ancient sense of what? Dread? Already, well over a century of weight's chipping and cracking at these facades, while hairy grasses are reclaiming the domes - tamping them back into earth. All while gravity and inner moistures are doing what they do to the flesh and bones entombed within these sepulchers of the rotting rich. Brrrrr...

Real estate gone now in Buenos Aires Recoleta cemetery, so the families built upward creating a sort of congested dead lock - dread lock? The hubris of wealth crammed resources into these spots that geological time's crumbling, pounding, and packing back down.

Recoleta Cemetery is not so much a final resting place, but a slow-motion vanishing point.  

*GEEK STUFF:* Captured by my Canon 7D Mk II on February 2, 2019 then processed in PS-CC with a myriad of custom tools and filters. The tombs seemed a clutter of the unfeeling muscles of once-powerful Argentine historical footnotes.


Tuesday, May 28

Patagonia 8: Buenos Aires - Deadly Thoughts


How do I wind up in cemeteries? Seems our guides, or friends find the largest and most historic dead-zones for us to wander (and wonder) about. So on February 2, 2019 - at about 10am: Here’s a moment in  El Cementario Recoleta where Argentina’s largely 1822-1960 very rich and/or famous are spectacularly interred. It’s a tourist magnet. And at its epicenter my Canon 7D MkII snapped this decisive Buenos Aires moment. Our brains are wired to bring order to puzzles. To find meaning in disparate stuff.

And in the park's epicenter - with all of the ornately crafted and bejeweled mausoleums about, my camera found this decisive moment of passers-by...

Strangers among the dead

And as I studied the moment... this came to mind:

“So… did’ja ever see a
poem?” she asked, her foot tapping.
.
 “Y’know, in another language?
Maybe Spanish? But, like, 
I don’t understand Spanish.”

“So… I’gotta’ geek at words that
sorta look English-ly?”
That foot twitched quicker.

“Which reveals what? 
Maybe there’s sorta’ 
D-E-E-E-E-P stuff in there?”

She paused, foot tapping loud.
“So… well look at this image. 
It’s kinda like that.”

Her tapping paused…

“You know what I’m sayin’?”

Well do you... um... know what she's sayin'? There seems to be a story in that image, perhaps a visual poem... haunting me as much as the opulently haunted little bone-homes lining the avenues which lead to esta centro del Necrolpolis de Recoleta. 


Wednesday, March 13

Patagonia 7: Chilean Fjords

Leaving Puerto Chacabuco our Norwegian Sun cruised at some 15 knots along the Chilean Fjords then the Straights of Magellan to reach the next port: Punta Arenas, Chile.




Here's an early morning grab taken from the foredeck while it powered south at some 15 knots along these watery highways. It took two days along first the Chilean Fjords then the Straights of Magellan to reach the next port: Punta Arenas, Chilé.




Up in the early morning darkness I was curious how the black blotches along each bank of this passage would look in the first sunlight.

Those aren't tilled fields. Nope, this place is virtually uninhabited. Instead the dark areas are dense green growths, the yellower regions are, for some reason, less fertile. Perhaps they're too rocky?


Some 25 hours later Thursday 1/24/19

800 miles nearer to the South Pole, the land grows dramatically craggier and mid-summer temps much chillier.

1519 Along the Chilean Fjords

Imagine how this looked to the 500 sailors in Magellan's 5 wind-blown ships as they discovered these passageways in 1519. Did they imagine that only 17 of them would survive their expedition and get back to Spain two years later?

What passed through their minds as they plowed northward surrounded by these treacherous coastlines and spookily quiet landscapes? Landscapes that remained unchanged from this in the last 500 years.

GEEK STUFF: Hand holding my Canon 7D and its EF-S17-85mm lens on the shifting decks of the Norwegian Sun. Canon's stabilizers are uncanny and it's processor can cut into both the shadows and highlights. 




Wednesday, March 6

Patagonia 6: Let Sleeping Sea Lions Lay

This craggy finger pokes from the sea some twelve miles south of Ushuaia, Argentina – the city at world’s end. Here Patagonia’s southern tip slices into the earth’s only spot where three oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctic) swirl together to brew storms and tides which conjure fog, rain, snow, ice, gales, wave-surge, and lightening strikes that last moments, hours, or longer.

Detail of a 40 yard-long rock off the coast of Cape Horn

Daytimes, hundreds of night-hunting sea lions doze among this rock’s gnarls. Even at rest, their raucous snoring, burping, farting, and random-yelping eclipse the din of New York’s Cross Bronx Expressway. 

People who come within feet of these lightening-quick 400-500 pound sea mammals risk maiming and death. Sea lions have crushing muscles reinforced by scalpel-honed fangs and claws. Look closely. See their pelts gashed with cuts, holes, and wounds that etch tattoos of damage? 
Not a good plan to tip-toe among them and scream "BOO!" Y'think? 

GEEK STUFF: Despite a wind-whipped hail pelting the catamaran’s pitching deck I hand-held my Canon 7D’s EFS 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens to get close as I dared to the colony of sleepers. Except for some PS-CC diddling with dynamic range in post, this image faithfully reveals the information within the raw capture.

Around noon on Saturday, January 26, 2019.  

Wednesday, February 27

Patagonia 5: Puerto Chacabuco - Soft Scrapple


For details, click on any image...
It's 291 nautical miles from Montt to our second
stop at  Chacabuco south through the Golf of Corcovado.
It's about a day and a half by ship between the red pins.
Puerto Chacabuco is a relatively new port city. In 1991 a savage wilderness fire and the eruption of nearby Mount Hudson volcano silted the AisĂ©n river and blocked access to Puerto AisĂ©n which caused the construction of a new port in the sleepy village of Chacabuco some 10 miles south of AisĂ©n. Transition's fattening up Chacabuco and its population of 1,243. 

However, the town's location along the far side of the AisĂ©n river is magnificent. 

At sunrise on Tuesday 1/22/19 we awoke to this view from our balcony on the
ship's port side with Chacabuco visible (below) from the starboard.
Daytime temperatures dropped about fifteen degrees, on average from Santiago mid-day 90 degrees to Puerto Montt and another ten degrees in Puerto Chacabuco. The town's weather is wet much of the year, but in mid-summer-January that still left us wearing heavy jackets over long sleeves in the port's morning which we ditched by late afternoon.

Joe & Mary Mayberry, Gib & Marti Armstrong and
 my wife Rita model Chacabuco January mid-summer fashions.
BTW, that's our Norwegian  Sun anchored to the right.

On the other side of the river from the image above, Chacabuco sits
 in a river valley and is beginning to sprawl as a result of
its replacement of AisĂ©n in 1991 as the region's major port. 

And what's to do in Chacabuco? Well, just about nothing. So we engaged an old VW bus-like ride to visit the new National Simpson River Park.

As you can see, the topography is rugged and mountainous.
Our bus had an ancient low gear which left us expecting to push.
The trip did reveal the life style of people living along rural Route 240 as well as structures in both Chacabuco and Aisén.


Generally the people are NOT poor. Rather they live in tidy, secure, and comfortable structures in a rocky countryside dotted by small livestock farms. NOTE the canted metal roofs in all of the structures above. Why? Tons of snow of course. Note also the lack of foundation shrubbery which is always destroyed by the collapse of snow upon them from those roofs. This is a challenging place in winter.

 The last President of ChilĂ© kicked off an expensive (and not overwhelmingly popular) series of national parks. One of the newest is the Parque National Rio Simpson. Which features, well, some wild flowers and the Simpson River. 

The Simpson's a nice mountain river, and well, ho-hum. Perhaps if you are a Saudi
this is inspiring. And certainly to fly fishers it's inspirational. I'm neither. Seen one river,
seen 'em all? Well no, but this one is pretty average even within its mountainous setting.

The trip up to the park though wound cooly through valleys alongside a rushing stream fed by waterfalls dropping from the peaked walls of the old Pioneer Trail.

Note, just to the right of the base of the lower waterfall. See the guy? I left him there 
to put the height of these glacial fed falls in perspective. Rain  returned as  I teetered
atop the two-lane highway bridge's  railing to grab this shot above the stream. 
In the very center of the port sits Radio Chacabuco there on the right. It was hidden behind a few downtrodden  
shops but worth the effort. See the dirt road? What you can't see well in this painting without blowing it up is the line of new  construction there between the mountain base and the field at the road's end. 
A Levittown development's happening there with perhaps a hundred homes going up. Chacapuco's about to change as its expanding port juices economic activity. This image captures the transition right before it happens. And, of course it's just the painting to bring country life to a chi-chi Santiago, New York, Lancaster, Atlanta, or Viennese up-market condo, right?


Chacabuco caused one of us to wonder if this is where you flee to escape the rest of the world. Near-antarctic winters are intense and even the summer's are challenging. But the farms and port apparently create jobs and incomes sufficient to live snugly with the weather, volcanos, and earthquakes. It's not hard scrapple, no... but definitely soft scrapple.