Sunday, December 31

Crushed Together

<- Click here
Big times tonight (New Year's Eve), so wanna blog early. Saw this crushed plastic water bottle during Rocco's Great Train Adventure yesterday. They say that mid day lighting, particularly in winter, is the worst. Yet this seemed so gentle. How to explain it? Anybody got ideas? Anywayzzzzz...

Here were wonderful elements... trackbed stones, a metal wuzzit, and that capped bottle. Hmmm... I wonder which of these will have the longest half-life? Anywayzzzz.... It was a combination of the forms basked in glorious light and the color that sparked up at me and begged out for doucumentation. Nothing here is "natural"... every element was randomly distributed by some people. But slathered in that end-of-the-year-light... Whoa! They meld together in a perfect major chord, no?

Happy 2007 everyone...

Saturday, December 30

Secret Forgotten Passageway

<- Click here
Took a hike with my buddy today. In 1927, Lancaster finally threw the Pennsylvania Railroad out of its center city and opened a new "grand" station on what was the city's far border. From the 1850's at least, tracks and trains cut a wide swath across the town, creating intolerable noise, congestion, wild vibrations, and just plain danger to commerce and pedestrians alike. So, how did these tracks wander through neighborhoods, and what did the city's front door look like to those hundreds of thousands who arrived over the years by might Pennsylvania Rail Road train? Rocco and I followed the clues and discovered the hidden passageway into this colonial brick and shutter town.

Friday, December 29

Judgmental? Uh-Huh.

<-Click here
Why not judge? So much of Pittsburgh is grim. Look at this street. The homes are maintained in the sense that they are generally clean, the siding is rugged, and the sidewalks are swept. The owners can afford reasonably new cars and satellite dishes. So why are they aggressively insensitive to the dingy, depressing discordancy of the way their residences look like so much architectural litter? Don't they get the Home & Garden channel on those ugly dishes? Here're private property rights gone carcinogenic. There's no way to make an uplifting image of this urban flotsam. I know... I know... I am being judgmental. But maybe judgments are what's needed to keep civilization from fraying around the edges. Like here in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, December 28

Suite Moments

<- click here
Deadlines day is, like, synonymous with the last minutes of an NBA game. There's a blast of frenzy you can smell. My space at the magazines is NOT a paperless office. Note that you cannot even see the monitor on my desktop Apple. Fact is, should any of this cargo shift, limbs could snap. It takes me the best part of the morning-after-deadline, to file, clean and repack the stuff each month that gets flung around in those last moments. It is simultaneously a way hot job... and a way cool way to make a living.
Careful where you tread in here, you could splash through a puddle of adrenalin. And that's a suite thing.

Wednesday, December 27

Tractor Beam

<- Click here
Pittsburgh has two Apple Stores! There is only one in the entire eastern part of Pennsylvania. Hmmmm.... And since we were visiting Pittsburgh, well, HEY! Unless they tie me to the mast and pour wax in my ears, I am going to throw myself up against the place. This one is in Shadyside, a chi-chi spot where medical people vie with Univeristy of Pittsburgh students to buy latté, Lord & Taylor, and posh art. I'm guessing the shells around the shops are remains of mid-nineteenth century brick and shutter buildings. Lancaster could look like Shadyside... and any twelve women off the street could look like Gwyneth Paltrow with a zillion bucks worth of fashion, cosmetic and surgical enhancement. Hell, it takes Gwyneth Paltrow a zillion bucks worth of cosmetic, fashion, and surgical enhancement to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.
But anyway... here's an image of the money-magnet store looking all sexy and alluring. Yeah, I went in. Yeah, I came out with a portable HD and a new graphic application. It was like shooting up... right into a vein. It rocks! Thank God there's no Apple Store in Lancaster.

Tuesday, December 26


<- Click here
Visited an antique dealer recently. She had a collection of newspapers from the 1950s. The society section was in a strange sort of color that was called Rotogravure, I think. Don't know much about the process, but the colors were peculiar. So when I stood atop Mount Troy overlooking Pittsburgh today, I had those slightly fading, slightly out of register, slightly off colors in mind. They seemed right to capture this aging city's vision of itself. Can you feel the mood?

Monday, December 25

Un-Happy - Finally

<- Click here
Aren't you run down with all the happy happy happy stuff? I mean what if the New Year, ain't looking all that good? Suppose that you bumped into a realist? After all, there's a war of civilization's going on. The dollar is in the hopper. The American borders may be leaking terrorists. Another 9-11 could send the whole world spiralling into depression. And Iran is maybe the best new nation to join the nuclear club, and it's headed up by a theocratic fascist with apocaliptic pretensions! Hey.... What izzat breaking upon the beach?

Sunday, December 24

Christmas Cow

<- Click here
Forget your reindeer... Forget red noses. Here'ze a red cow. Hey! Y'godda' problem widdat?

Merry, happy, and blissful - Christmas everybody.


Saturday, December 23

Strange Winter Moon

<-Click here
Coming out of Gibralter's Restaurant this evening, my friend said that this global warming is tough on retailers. "They can't sell winter clothes!"
Tomorrow's Christmas Eve and we shall be finally going through those woods and across some rivers. So this probably really shall be my last musing until sometime next week (till Wednesday maybe). We're going to Pittsburg where the lake effects usually ramp up the cold and snow. Wonder if the people staying in our home will be warmer than us? It is strange, look at the green grass in front of Snyder's Funeral home here. Hmmm.... maybe if I buy some land just to the east in Blue Ball or Intercourse - you think it'll be shorefront property soon? That'd make it a cool investment, eh? Know what? Better strike that word, "cool".
Merry Christmas to all...


Friday, December 22

A Penitential Season

<-Click here
Advent is a penitential season. Whiners who think that we start the Christmas season too early should have been around during the seventh and eighth centuries when fully 60 days were set aside to meditate upon the birth and Epiphany. Regardless of when Christ was born, choosing the winter solstice almost guaranties penitential weather. Interesting isn't it the the two greatest feasts of Christendom, Lent and Advent are synonymous with storms? It's no surprise that pop singers here in the northern hemisphere croon about April showers during the first and white Christmases during the second - of course the reverse happens down south.
Regardless, absent the snow - which really doesn't much fall here abouts until late January/early February, here's a stereotypical night in a Pennsylvania Advent. Actually while damp and chilled, it's kind of pretty, don't you think? And of course, penitential. Can you hear Crosby singing... "I'm dreamin' of a drizzling Christmas?" Tra-la.

Thursday, December 21

Barnstormers Fleeing?

<-Click here
From way back there, sometimes it's hard to figger out what's going on. Like suppose this lad thought that all the guys who made his team the league champs... Suppose it seemed that way off in the distance those giants were... were leaving. No... Hey! Suppose they left? Suppose the general manager, the coach, the marketing director, and the corporate sales directors all quit. Well, hey... that'd be some story, huh?

And suppose that none of the Lancaster newspapers, TV or radio stations reported why every important executive abruptly quit right after the new Barnstormer baseball team won its division and league titles! Well, that'd sure leave this little fella down, right? It'd seem as if there was some sort of astonishing cover-up going on. If only he could see better. If only the rest of us could, maybe we'd know what the hell was going on, eh? WHY THE HELL DID EVERY ONE OF THEM QUIT? At Christmas time, izzat the best present to give to little Bleacher Boy?

Wednesday, December 20

What's "Real" Here?

<- Click here
A print of this image just sold for a reasonable amount of money. Now, I don't sell my images as a rule. But I do donate them to charitable organizations so they can raise money. This one was sold by the Lancaster Museum of Art. I enjoyed watching it hang... well I enjoyed standing around and listening to people comment, and question the thing.
"Is that a photograph?"
"No... no... look at the sky, it's painted."
"But the stores are so perfectly rendered."
"Yes, but look at the foreground. And Look at the buildings in the darkness behind."
"Wait... wait... those Christmas lights, are they real? What is real here?"
"Oh,it has to be a photograph."
"No! No it can't be. But, how did he do that?"
Of course I'd have preferred the debate to have involved standards of beauty... References to Albrecht Durer, or perhaps Whistler, Eakins, or, um, Winslow Homer. Okay... I can dream, huh?
Still, it does evoke another time when things were simpler here in the states. Or, I wonder, did they ever seem simpler when they were happening? Gosh... here I am patronizing the past... Jeeez.... Ah well, have a happy.
This may be my last post for a while. We are off to go over the river and through the woods. If I cannot get here until perhaps a week from now... my best for a holy and happy holiday - whatever flavor you prefer.

Tuesday, December 19


<- Click here
It's an annoyance that Lancaster County hates its county seat and only city. Whether they consider it God-less, heathen, criminal, spend-thrift, foreign, minority ridden, inefficient, inebriate, lazy, grim, or just plain dangerous - the consensus among county folks would agree with fencing the thing in. And yet, in order to serve the religious, political, civil, judicial, professional, and social service requirements of the county, some 30% of the city of Lancaster's land has been removed from the tax roles (including a couple of very large plots containing the county's only jails). Meantime surrounding municipalities erected thick zoning walls against high or even medium density residential construction - legally sealing into the city low and moderate income people.

All of that has resulted in a disproportionate number of city residents with special needs. But since only property taxes are allowed to support the city services, middle income people flee the Lancaster's consequently higher taxes.

And when the city attempts to create tax enhancing projects - like a convention center - the county people of both political parties - fearing competition - rebel, electing a team of viciously hostile county commissioners who are less than affectionately known as Manny, Moe, and Molly.

Can you see the fence built all along the tracks? Incidentally, residents of the county are deeply religious.

Monday, December 18

Top Of St. James

<-Click here
Last night I looked down, tonight, lettuce go up, eh? That's the oldest Episcopal church in the city. The graveyard's stones are a who's-who of 18th & 19th century commercial and government leaders. The artists of the city earn their spurs by imaging the city's church spires. It's sort of a rule, you gotta do the Big Six. But how to find them in your own voice?
I tried to combine a touch of Charles Demuth with a lot of Ted Byrne here. I'm reasonably confident that no one has ever made this image before. That's something anyway. This is maybe the twentieth time I've worked on the belfry. It's the first time the result doesn't look, to me, like a cliché. Hope you agree and enjoy.

Sunday, December 17

There Ought'a Be A Law

<- Click here
Two and a half blocks from my house, all around E. King St. and N. Lime there's a gunk of these places. They take a piece of the check as a charge for cashing them. Banks don't do that. In fact, most local banks are now offering free checking, and are paying interest on accounts even without minimum balances! So, who needs so many of these places?
Banks demand verifiable identification to open an account. These businesses demand a part of the value of the check.
Apparently there are a lot of people who find it less expensive to pay for check cashing than to pay for phony documentation.
So, why doesn't the state simply regulate these services the way they do banks and require that they require at least the same documentation a banks. If it's possible that some employer is making out pay checks to illegal immigrants, then these spots, working under my proposed revised regulations, will discover them pretty quickly, eh? Are you listening state legislators?

Saturday, December 16

Marquee Triptych

<-Click here
Here are three approaches, each takes on some significant differences from bottom to top. Yet, like faces, at first glance they might seem almost identical. We're able to learn visual differences so quickly. And we can remember them, even though the differences might defy verbal explanation.
I wonder how it is that we can learn complex visual nuances, and respond to them on both intellectual and emotional levels, yet much simpler arguments elude us when they're explained to us in words or print?
Oh, this graphic is a triptych play upon the marquee of Lancaster's Fulton Opera House, one of the oldest theaters in continuing use here in America.

Friday, December 15

Before Planes And Television

<- Click here
This hotel went up in the 1840s. Who knows, Lincoln may have slept here during his commute to Gettysburg for the address. It's a four story Lancaster building on N. Queen Street. And it occurred to me that once upon a time you could only get that high by packing a lot of stuff underneath you.
Now we can get so much higher with only air beneath us. There have been a lot of people who have soared with only air under them in recent years. But in their case it was broadcast air. An insubstantial support they discovered, when the media decided that they were yesterday's news. Old as it is, maybe there's more to be said for moving on up with something substantial undeneath, eh?

Thursday, December 14

Movie Dreams

<- Click here
Odd, it was last night that I dreamt it. Well, this is as close as I can remember the thing. There were people coming and going along the ramp. Zeotropolis has been gone a while. At least, um, maybe. It was an independent movie theater on the west side of the city. The owners were mellow people with such a love for what they did. Unfortunately, love couldn't book big buck movies. Still, it had a following. And good cheap buttered popcorn.
But none of that accounts for the dream. A couple of defeated city councilors were in it. One, everybody's fool, went around screwing folks. And they threw popcorn at him. And after awhile it stuck. So someone broke open a pillow. And we all threw feathers. He ran out, popcorned and feathered. And the movie ended. You Fruedians, does any of this have something to do with my mother? If I had an analyst, this'd giver her a laugh, huh?

Tuesday, December 12

Light Bursts

<- Click here
A certain image can seem like a ball of light beneath one’s mouse – on the verge of bursting. And light is one of the most vivid dimensions of our experience. Leonardo wrote that a painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light. He felt that there was a value in starting with shadows. It is light that invents color, and color that finally bursts things into being. If existence is about being, then light is a necessary and moving condition.

Monday, December 11


<- Click here
After a century, the last animal bustled through the narrow room behind that window on the left. And the guy slid a final weight along the manual scale's bar. He jotted down the numbers, handed one carbon copy to a farmer to the other side of that low partition behind his chair, another to the shipper at the farmer's side. The weighman pushed his original into a folder, grabbed it, pushed back his chair and left for the main office some distance outside. He shut that door, picked up his check, and never returned.

The once-largest stockyard east of Chicago closed that day. See the last calendar on the right? The manuals, pencils and sharpeners, all sit the way they were left for a century of days at closing time. The man forgot his sweater,along with some personal stuff, it's still hanging in that closet back on the left. Since then, only dust has come each day to an office that's waiting... waiting for farmers, shippers and its weighman.

The office is patient.

Sunday, December 10

Sfumato Depreciation

<- Click here
Eighty years ago, in 1927, the Pennsylvania Railroad moved its main station from the very center of Lancaster city to a spot on the border. It was, as pictures of the day show, an unambitious new building. And for eight decades it's been worn into nubs by countless travelers. Twenty five years ago, Harrison Ford's hand grabbed this post in a movie called "Witness". Maybe they don't want to repair it out of sentimentality? Perhaps it's like the teenager who refuses to wash her fingers for days after touching a rock-star idol?
The station still works, and probably will until it tumbles. But its workers seem to love her. They've got the inside merrily decorated for the Christmas season. But I guess this little pictured post's beyond shining. Subsidized roads and airports have stolen the travelers away, and a financially struggling AMTRAK won't be soon around with polish.
For this little guy, at least, it doesn't look to be a happy newel year.

Saturday, December 9

Chick Magnet

<- Click here
We should have named this guy, "Aww..." That's what people call him, at least at first. I had a snapshot. I wanted to see if it could be made into a portrait. Here's the result. Does it work? Or is it still just a snap?
Regardless, this is Rocco. He's just over two years old. If you look back a week or so on the blog (November 27 = "Crow Droppings"), you'll see my VW spattered with bird poop. The city's startling the crows to get them to move on. They do it by shooting very loud rounds from a portable cannon. Rocco is sitting there quite concerned that the %$#@! cannon will explode at any second. He does not like cannons. Know what? Neither do I. I dislike crow droppings more.
Oh, the title of this piece? If you are looking to meet women, Rocco is the key. He has an astonishing way of drawing ladies from everywhere. Social life drooping? Get a Rocco.

Friday, December 8

Golden Meaning

<-Click here
It's not so much that I shall die - but that everything else goes on. It's the party that I shall miss, the ideas, joy, art, music, greatness, achievement, answers,feelings, that won't happen on my watch. It's tantalizing to realize that now that we know so much about so much, that we can understand questions that were never before even anticipated. And that somewhere along the time line beyond ours... they will know answers and even more astonishing questions.

Thursday, December 7


<- Click here
We tend to think that a smiling monk has arrived in a place where we want to be.Everything about him seems to be cast in the same wonder. He's carried along on a tide of dreams, but are they his, or ours?

Wednesday, December 6

Sun Spill

<- Click here
Saw this on Cape Cod in October. The sunrise caught by the morning dew makes a glimmering flow that's shuffled one way by the breeze and another by the sun's rising direction. The currents give me a buzz.

Tuesday, December 5

Christmas Door

<- Click here
My wife's president of the Lancaster Historic Preservation Trust. We had friends from the board over for a little holiday thing tonight. Our wreath went up on Sunday. Lancaster doors are famous for their Christmas wreaths. Well, if not famous... content. Here's ours. Merry....

Monday, December 4

Marching Home

<- Click here
This monument starts with the American Civil War and then adds ornamentation around its base for every succeeding conflict of any note. At the moment, they're preparing a spot for whatever it is Washington's calling the current business in Iraq (the last plaque was engraved "Dessert Storm"). Interestingly, there's still a passel of places for more plaques. Do you think, on the designers' parts, this was insightful or pessimistic?
Do you think those empty spaces are really, like, the designer’s editorial comment? If that’s true, was he a monument builder, or a social critic? Are those spaces indication of despair of our weaknesses, or confidence in our resolution to defend what’s good?

Sunday, December 3

Me By Three

<-Click here
Over at another website asked contributors to submit self portraits. Now these are all people with gordo photographic knowledge. The height of the steaks is (or is that "stakes"?) intimidating. There are contributors, for example, who are doing self portraits through pin-hole cameras somehow attached to digital camera bodies. Holy Fisheye, Batman!!
So what to do? I wanted to get a likeness of me. I wanted something showy... yet subtle. Elegantly arty.... Which at the same time would dribble technique, yet... yet still show something about me as a photographer... You know... intense, serious, yet approachably gentle, brilliantly humble, and of course sexually intense.
Unfortunately the Robert Redford who starred in The Sting was no longer available to be my stand in. Sigh.... So, I figured that I'd go for a low-key shot. Something with a lot of portentous (no... not PRE-tentious) shadows. Noir... I wanted to slather noir all over the thing. And color, but classy color, you know? Warm classy color.... SEPIA! Of course. But some intense, over-saturated chromes too. Something that says... "This guy glows! He's hot! And.... thoughtful... DEEEEEEEP!" But since you can't have intense color and sepia all in one shot... Okay... so I figured I'd combine them. And add a prop camera since that's what all this is about... And hands. Big hands to distract from my face (you'll recall the unavailability of Redford, right?).
And finally, an artsy crumble. After all the careful work (which is NOT retouched), why not show just how casual I am by aging the final print? So, I did that then folded in a couple of drop shadows to make it all pop.
And here it is... You want the technical data? Sure.....
DATA: Saturday, 12/02/06, 12:52 pm: Apple 17" MacBookPro w/ bundled PhotoBooth Application, Meter Mode Auto, Exposure Program: Normal, ISO Whatever, Lens built into the built in camera, built into the top of the monitor, Exposure: Wait three seconds and the screen flashes.

So? Wuddaya think? Izzis fun or flop?
Comments? Huh? Huh?

Saturday, December 2


<- Click here
Has anyone else noticed that the great northern U.S. cities are becoming seedy? As folks post images of Asian, European, Canadian, and Southern American cities - you see glimmer, high-tech and a patina of elegance. In the north, it looks as if the economic tides are receding, leaving behind shells, and detrius which still have the shape of their purpose - but their essence has left.
I wonder if bricks, cement, wrought and mill work have any way to miss their now dead functions? Look here, see how each was crafted to shape a hope, a dream, a plan? And now, urban weeds grow up as signage of abandonment. All over America there are bodies like these, not yet crumbling, not yet decayed... just lifeless... purposeless... Answers seeking questions. They're memories really. But they're not written in words, so they'll soon be like a melody carried in bits on the breeze... hardly heard, and increasingly unfamiliar.

Friday, December 1


<-Click here
I've heard that daVinci's Last Supper began deteriorating only months after it was finished. Apparently the north wall of the monk's refectory at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan was not entirely hospitable to the oil-and-tempera based medium the master used to paint the masterpiece.
Ironic then that this wall scribble is maybe a decade old on the southern wall beneath a railroad bridge going into Lancaster. While it rarely gets direct rain or sunlight, it's otherwise completely exposed to the temperature and humidity shifts of our part of the world. Yet it's still as bright and uncracked as it came out of the spray cans. Just as roaches will survive an atomic blast, grafitti will probably build the stories of the Fourth Millenium's archeologists. Don't you wonder what they'll conclude about us from these sort of things?

Thursday, November 30

Lock Boxes

<- Click here
It's said that it was Bobby Coyle that built them to house he and Cassie's wedding gifts until they returned from their European honeymoon.
On the Titanic.
It's said that it was Cassie Costello who wanted the metal strong boxes built with opaque glass doors so her things would smile in the sun until she came home.
It's said that since that long ago time - no one has seen them smiling.

Wednesday, November 29

Neon Night

<-- Click here
The smoker's haven't gaggled here yet. They will.
You look at this place and you know it's a city because rural spots don't have "out-backs" like this. And you know that very nearby there are girls in short skirts, and guys who like girls in short skirts accompanied by a driving bass.
And you know that a neon back alley and a driving bass behind a club are as much a pulse beat of a city as blue skys and brook babbling are to the country. And the cool thing about Lancaser is that it is minutes away from both.

Tuesday, November 28

Life? Down There?

<-Click here
In the late 19th century all applicants for a civil service job had to submit to a phrenology examination. A phrenologist searches among the bumps on your head for information about personality. Now there are new designer proceduress for making strangers less strange. Are they similarly bogus? The only thing between us and the bogus is the scientific method... yet still we feel an irrational tug down alleyways where glimmering things seem to swirl.

Can you tell that my brain feels itchy today?

Monday, November 27

Crow Storm

<-Click here
So the city has a new party in power and, well, just look. It's like Hitchock came to town with these people and pooped all over everything. Okay... now I'm not saying that the Mayor is personally responsible. But I have been listening to Al Gore, and he makes a lot of sense. And he says that The President and his Congress are causing hurricanes, and making it warmer and all. But I figure that The President can't just diddle into every state, county, township, or city, right? I mean, like, he's busy screwing up the entire world. So, well, who's left to diddle with little places like here? Which makes me wonder what the new City Council has been doing since January. After all, I've parked my car in this spot for thirty years and... And... Well, I'm just sayin'... You know? It do make you wonder... You think I oughta walk on down to city hall? Huh? Huh?

Sunday, November 26


<-Click here
Yesterday I showed you the wreckers who were digging around into the middle of something. I told you that they were banging and drilling inside of the very epicenter of the city of Lancaster. In fact where King and Queen streets come together is the town square - everything else radiates outward from an obelisk memorializing the county's Civil War dead.
And just behind that sculpture on the south-eastern corner sits the county's grandest building... what was the Watt & Shand department store. The wreckers are disemboweling it to create room for a grand new hotel and a convention center. But, with the care of a diamond cutter, they're preserving this radiant vista.

Saturday, November 25


<-Click here
And tomorrow I shall post what they are digging behind in the very epicenter of historic Lancaster City. In the interim you might notice that this guy is looking at stuff that hasn't seen sunlight in well over a century. Those fire escapes to the right? they were hidden in a dank, grim alleyway - and you'll note they were appended quite a while back. Apparently the original structure was built for access from this side, but later structures which have just been demolished closed off horse-drawn deliveries. This walkway is wonderful, the best view in town to what's turned out to be an archeological surprise.

Friday, November 24

Cubey Alleyway

<- Click here
Charles Demuth was called a Precisionist painter. As far as I can tell, that was like a flavor of cubism. Demuth was born in Lancaster in the late 1800s. It's not clear that he loved his city. It is clear that many of his masterpieces which hang in the world's greatest museums were impressions of Lancaster, PA. His family home and business were a block from where I took this picture today. He undoubtedly knew this place. Lancaster uses its alleys putting important front entrances on them. A recent remodeling to 100 Christian Street created this doorway sculpture literally in the shadow of 18th century steeples. It's State Senator Armstrong's office. He chairs the Senate Appropriation's Committee. See, this city really uses its alleys. Judging by the way Demuth saw everything else, well I sense the ghost of his brushes dancing all about this, and so much of his town.

Thursday, November 23

Suppose He Was Now?

<- Click here
This young man isn't - young. In fact he's dead. His faded picture on a battered postcard was recently found in a drawer by his granddaughter. I was asked to bring him back. And I wondered. What if I really could? What if we could grab him to roam around our streets for say, a week? Would he freak? Or would he slide into our place as easily as he slid into the European war where he was about to be dispatched?
So many of us wonder what it'd be like to visit the past for a day, or longer. But so few of us wonder about visiting the future. As far as this guy is concerned. We have visited it. Tell me, do you like it better here than they way you understand that it was back then? Do you freak?

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22

Nociception Overcomes

<- Click here
Some ideas are so simple... Clichés actually. But here this one seems so profound. And when I saw this spacecruiser landing in my backyard... Okay, twin leaves, in fact, taking up space in our garden... I saw how painfully eaten they were, yet they still looked leathery and strangely beautiful so as a result this concept popped right into my mind.
"Nociception" of course you know is the technical term for the perception of pain... So the title says? Why, "No pain... No Gain!"

Tuesday, November 21

Two Americas

John Edwards is maybe running for President. During the last race, as John Kerry's running mate he complained that there are, "Two Americas".
Well maybe. Maybe on the left there is one that is licentiously giddy, while on the right there's another that is impenetrably moralistic - so that the bulk of us in the middle stand agape at their antics and even portentously fearful of their political torque which threatens the civility of our political processes. When one cannot compromise, when those who disagree are dismissed as evil, when one sees the other as threats to their very definition of themselves... Can civil war be far off? Is it time for Streisand and Limbaugh to each crank it down? Or are they both together - one America - while we're all in the other?
Perhaps it is time for us to build a wall?

Monday, November 20

Random Clicks?

<-Click here
Once a guy took a bunch of frames and walked along flinging them in all directions. Then he returned and took pictures of whatever the frames surrounded. He then showed them to people who almost uniformly found the pictures of value and most had good things to say about their compositions.
The human mind looks for patternsm, works to identify them, and once found - sucks at them for meaning. Ever noticed how you can find figures in clouds? Cleaning the backyard last weekend I came upon this tableau atop a potting table that was covered by a linoleum sheet which came with the house. The dirt was from last summer. The leaves dropped in the Fall. I saw this... this pattern. Does it have value? Is the composition interesting? Can your mind suck out its meaning? Maybe I should go find a pile of frames to fling? Wait, isn't that what we do whenever we click the shutter?

Sunday, November 19


(Click left) A couple of years ago I tried my first panorama. It was November in E. Dennis, Mass. That's Cape Cod beyond the abandoned cranberry bog. Fall was late in 2005 but it burst out in fiery glows. The image is sort of primitive but it gets at the idea.

Saturday, November 18

Appalachian Fall

<- Click here
Um, well, it wasn't a formal workshop. I mean, like, there was no one there to accept a tuition. And the instructors sort of looked way inside of themselves. But, in fact you can look back over my postings of the past couple of weeks to see what sort of work I managed to get from that shop up at Lake Harmony. All things considered, it was way worth it. At least I think so. Oh, that's my buddy Steve on the poster. Anybody want to sign up for our next workshop? We work cheap.

Friday, November 17

Complex Simplicity

<-Click here
It's an odd thing. When I set out to do an image I want to resolve everything inside of the frame. You know how a sixty minute TV drama resolves it all? That's the way I seem to want to work here. So I start looking for my concept within the borders and I pull and poke, pick and peel to let it free. Problem is, it's tough to say, "Hey! That's it Ted. Here, you've told a story of the serenity that can happen even when vivid color's trapped within an impending storm. So STOP!"
But I worry that something can escape my attention that makes the point. So I keep poking and scratching. There's such a compulsion to over work the jewels that digital reveals. So, I stop it at a point where I hope that all the complexities explain a simple idea. And that's it. Of all the endings that could be of this image. This one is it.

Thursday, November 16

Tone Poem

Click here
Composers have tried to mimic nature with tone poems. But, can an image maker mimic, say a concerto? Can I create a pulsating theme that's spirited and pleasant enough for you to sense a solo oboe? A cloud of violins? A vibrant hue of muted horns? Can an image contain both quiet resting places surrounded by lively dancing textures, and within it all a structure that's firm and leading through it its center to some distance spot deep in a piece called Lake Harmony Steps #2?

Or not...

Wednesday, November 15


<-Click here
A dusky, somber moment: what the poet would call "fuscous" - that's what I was after. And I wanted to bag it right at that crack between Autumn's end and Winter's start. All - out fuscous. Fuscousness all around. I wanted my viewer to sense it tumbling from the image.
Oooooo...kaaaay.... so what to do? Howzabout getting up reeeeeely early, on a stormy morning... at a mountain lake that the summer people had abandoned. Howzabout finding just enough color to remind my of what happened here a couple of weeks back, and enough silver/gray to remind me of what will happen a couple of weeks ahead. And do it before the sun bathed everything in golden contrasts. Does that nail it? Do you feel all fuscoused up?

Tuesday, November 14

Vatic Color

<-Click here
I'd never heard the word, "vatic". You? Then, reading something by John Updike... there it sat, like a hole in the sentence. For me it was a drop-out in. You know when you've got someone on a cell, and the.... there's.... a gap? It was like that. Sent me to the dictionary. Ah-hah! So how to use it in an image?
Well at Lake Harmony I stalked the thought through my lens. Hunted the thing down like a predator. Found it dangling from the crook of a tree branch. See here? The color? Vatic's an adjective used in poetry. A vatic guy tells you about future truths. He's a prophet. So - here's vatic color. Reveals future truths, righ?

Monday, November 13

Rock On

"Magic Realism"... That's what they called the inventions of the great Colombian novelist, Gabriel García Márquez. He wrote stories which seem totally real when suddenly, "PHHHT!" a torrent of flowers pours from the sky... or a rock glides across a pond. Well, here's a rock at Lake Harmony. And here's a pond. Hmmm..... Will the wait be long?.

Sunday, November 12


<-Click here
Meditation... David Bayles & Ted Orland wrote, " In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive. (Art & Fear: Image Continuum: 1993)"
Meaning? I trigger the shutter, run the result through post processing, and out come images like 'The Juice'. Now, who determines whether 'The Juice' is any good? Um, I guess that depends upon what your definition of 'good' is. Wait, maybe it depends upon what MY definition of 'good' is?
I've got a friend who believes that an artist must have an audience. Audience is a part of the definition... his definition. You can't be a closet: sculptor, musician, painter, dancer, or photographer. To him, every art is a performing art. Okay, but even if he's right (and I don't buy it), it still begs the question... what makes 'The Juice' any good? If the audience rejects it, is it bad art? Is it art at all? Is it implied that art only exists if it has an audience which likes it? Now there are two conditions, well actually three - since without the creator, there would be nothing to put before an audience. So, to be any good, then first 'The Juice' has to exist... then it has to have an audience... then that audience has to approve of it. Whew....
Now back to Bayles and Orland.... if an artist learns to accept him/herself... and follows her/his own voice. And that acceptance results in a personal concept that is out of tune with the cultural moment... Then what? Culture says the stuff is bad... audience, a creature of culture deliver's culture's opinion and POOF!... "The Juice" is no good. For a few years, when culture evolves and... POOF!... "The Juice" is good. Sounds like art is a moving target, eh? Or maybe, art is what artists do. Take it or leave it, audience.
Maybe "The Juice" is as good as I feel it is? Hey, I like it. A lot. And as long as I'm not asking for a market to deluge me with money... That's good enough. Right?
Artists are different from doctors, locomotive engineers, street sweepers, or economists. They are not defined by credentialing boards, or their boss's job title. They are artists when they believe they are artists. And as long as they keep believing they are artists. It is a matter of faith. Hmmmmmm....

Saturday, November 11


<- Click here
Grief... that's what I've gotten recently for my abstract posts. "What's happened to your organic center, Ted?" Some ask. "Have you no sense of the decisive moment? The photographer's responsibility for reportage?" Stung... Yep, I am stunnnngggggggg! But, not a tad apologetic. All photographs lie... Hold that... They are to truth as music is to truth.
A composer presents a melody, then varies it through changes in texture, changes from major to minor, and ornamentation... Yadda... yadda.... So does a photographer. Through choice of perspective, framing, lens, filter, film/camera, exposure, f-stop, speed, depth of field... chrome or monochrome... A visual melody is changed until the moment that shutter allows light to hit film or sensor. All the stuff that happens in post-processing is ornamentation. And it as much a part of the process as purchasing a tripod - only more essential. An artist lives within the process. Before him comes an insight or idea... after him comes a completed work - but it is in the process where the entirety of the artistic thing happens.
Here... see this image above? I took it at sunrise on an October morning following a stormy night. This tidal spillway was drained in a daily cycle that's been going on since glaciers choked it dry. Can you sense the channel? Can you feel how life is coping with that force? Can you sense a primal moment? If so... the image of pre-sunrise light upon an ancient marsh expresses my concept... my feeling. It is true, and it was process that made it so.

DATA: Wednesday, 10/06/06, 7:16 am: Canon EOS 20D, Meter Mode Auto, Exposure Program: Normal, ISO 400, Lens Canon EFS 17-85mm, Focal Length 33 mm, Exposure Bias:-.67, 1/125 at f/9, RAW