Thursday, November 30

Lock Boxes

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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

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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?

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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

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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


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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


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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

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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?

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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


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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

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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


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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


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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

Friday, November 10

Colored Bubbles

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I caught this at first, peripherally. Colored bubbles danced at the corner of my eye, glimmering at me to look, then squint so that my eyelids squeezed the vivid gels of stuff. You ever done that? You know, just peeked through narrow slits so that all you saw was a kind of concept of the things that were there? On occasion it's a useful way to look at images, ideas, and life. The challenge was how to communicate that concept of The Shirte, as opposed to a definition of it.

It seems to me that if an instant resonates in a way peculiar to just that moment... then that is what I need to capture, and try to communicate. So here is my sense of the fabric of the epicenter of Provincetown, Mass - on a dreary Halloween Day in 2005. Think of it as a colored nuance.

Thursday, November 9


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The Gothic cathedral has three levels. Above rise the towers, connected by the gallery of gargoyles - images of hideous beasts that were believed to keep evil spirits away. Below are vibrant deigns in glass and paint that measure dozens of square feet. And then lower down are the gallery and entrances separated by a huge mural dedicated to Gluttus The Max.

This place looks like what happens to a tattoo addict who keeps going back to different artists. It is a cacophony of dischordant swirls, graphics, and colors spitting it's taste into the face of every passer-by. Look at it for long and you want to wash. If you could cuss with design... this is how you'd do it. You know the kid who always acted out in class? He owns this place.Call it the Cathedral of Ugg.

Wednesday, November 8


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So a guy says, "Yo, this thing's not a photograph, Ted. I don't know wudda-hell-itiz, but it ain't no photo."

Wrong! If it's not a photograph, um, wudda-hell-izzit? See this image exists. It came from my camera. This deer was standing on the back porch of a mountain cabin up in Lake Harmony. It was chewing on a cracker and staring at me through the back door window. And I took its picture with a wide angle lens - standing that close.

But then I figured, wait. Everybody's got some kinda picture of a deer. I mean how rare are the things? But then I says to myself... "Self, what's a deer? I mean what is the essence of deerness?" Now you may wonder why I talk to me. Passing right by that... I looked to see if I could isolate that deer essence. You know, leave just enough so that if I took anymore away – POOF! –No deer.

And here it is... it shows what deers have, and other things lack. Why... it's... it's... an ontological miracle. Right? Um, oh yeah, and it's still a photograph... I just kind of shoveled stuff off of the photo plane to reveal that cracker eating deer. If you know what I'm saying here?

Tuesday, November 7

If It Ain't Baroque

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Suppose you could see radio waves. You would be blind. Ditto if you could see air. But if you could see the the contrasts between light and dark forces that held the smooth and broken surfaces of colors to the shapes all about us... What would you be then? How would you see the world? Would you see the cables that kept everything together? Have you ever noticed, out of the corner of an eye, something just a tad odd. No, not odd, say, out of place?
Imagine you're here, at Lake Harmony and a rising sun's about to explode from last night's storm clouds. And in the dramatic contrast between night and emerging day, for the briefest instant... you sense there are strands, wires, aerial ligaments that tie everything to everything... and then they are gone. Whoa! Crank down the Vivaldi, Dude.

Sunday, November 5

Time Out --- Be back by Tuesday

Got a new computer yesterday. My main machine is a MAC-DP-G4. Yesterday we went to the MacStore and I bought this bright new MacBook Pro and a Mighty Mouse. Of course it is consuming all of my spare time, first in bringing everything from the G4 onto line, and secondly, testing its limits. I've also gotta figger out how to get my PhotoShop CS running on the thing... it gives me an error message, even though I'm supposed to be allowed to have the application resident on both machines under the licensing agreement. So.... I shall work on that a bit later.

Until then.... I am on blog vacation... See ya on Tuesday November 7.... K?


Friday, November 3


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So you begin to tell something, right? Open your mouth, waggle your tongue, words tumble out and in an instant or two, there's an imaginary period that completes a new sentence which no one ever before heard. Including you!

Where'd it come from? That sentence. When you started your tongue going, did you know all the words that were about to stream out? The sentence completed an idea. Where'd that come from? Do we have, like a faucet at the end of a hose that connects a glowing passel of squirming idea soup somewhere in our minds... one end's connected to that place, with its spigot spraying its contents onto our tongues? Hey! Where'd that idea come from? And say, you're walking through a woods on Hilton Head Island and you come upon a hacked tree part that'd been carefully fit across a sharp gulley. And as the light sparkles through a high tree canopy – what does your spigot spray out? And if you're alone, with no ear to hear it...

Do you make a sound? Or is that the entire purpose of a place like this? Quiet reverence? Maybe there are places where the spigot has no function? Places that exist solely as input... So later, somewhere far away, our spigot has something to output?

Thursday, November 2


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The sun sets on trees
Hilton Head has trees
Therefore the sunsets on Hilton Head

Some things are intuitively obvious... like the trees, drenched in Spanish moss, hugging the shoreline against the glare-gold washed skies of a South Carolina sunset. They are (is this a word?) syllogisitcally correct. While humans float around in words which can mean this or that... contentions which can mean anything... the sun, the sea, the rocks and the trees dance together into a performance which means exactly one thing... There's solace in their honesty, no?

BTW... I missed posting this yesterday by three minutes. But, well, I just wanted to get the image the way I understood it wanted to be gotten. It took three minutes too many... So be it. Sorry, but sometimes art just won't cooperate with the clock :)