Saturday, March 31

G'Bye Armstrong

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Armstrong World Industries was the largest employer in this county for about three quarters of a century. Somewhere around 1965-1970 they bought a company which had used asbestos in their manufacturing process. In the 90's tort lawyers sued Armstrong for damages to a group of people who might someday show signs of asbestos related disabilities. Of course the lawyers won, even though the relationship between asbestos and human damage is weaker than glue made out of spit.

Seems that a group of workers who installed asbestos lining inside of ships during WWII, in unairconditioned, unventilated hulls - while heavily smoking... showed a disproportionate tendency to develop lung problems. That is the principle research which linked asbestos to later problems. So, any firm that ever sold the stuff, regardless of their level of understanding, regardless of the tenuous nature of the linkage... has been sucked dry by tort attorneys. Armstrong now employes thousands of fewer workers and probably will employ none in say, six years.

These were good jobs, with fine benefits, producing cutting edge flooring and ceiling products for world markets. Others now produce exactly these same products ... meanwhile Armstrong is getting chopped into parts for sale to appease juries who sympathize essentially with smokers who insulated ships under war time schedules in marginally ventilated spaces. And people who have never shown symptoms of problems have attorneys who are doing what you see in this image to the city's largest employer.

Lancaster will prosper beyond this, but the folks in those homes all around this plant... One wonders if they will suffer a lot more than the complainants who had the courts tear into their workplace.

Friday, March 30

I Need Some Advice Please

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These are a couple of views of my home studio. As you can see it is a large space under the eaves of a home that was originally built in the 1860s. We have restored it.

You will note that there are two partial dormers. In the upper picture the dormer to the left faces East and gets the direct morning sun. And in the bottom picture you will see the other dormer which gets the direct afternoon sun. My problem is that I am an artist who does a lot of work (as you can see from this blogsite). You will also see an HP Photosmart 8750 on the desktop just to the left of the monitor area in the top photo. That is a wonderful printer which has a 13" mouth. So I usually print on 13 X 19" paper and mount them in 16 X20" frames.

I'd really like to hang, at least my latest prints here in my studio. BUT... under the eaves, the walls slant. And I cannot hang images in the dormers given the power of the sun to bleach them colorless in short order. The little horizontal space on the north and south walls is largely filled with file cabinets and book cases.

What to do? You 'll see my email address to the right of this text. If you're shy about posting a message, drop me a line with your suggestions. If you mount pictures along sloping walls they look anything but elegant. This is a terrific space, air conditioned in summer, warmed comfortably in winter. It's comfortable for working, reading, or just listening to music. But it sure seems sterile without images. HULP!

Thursday, March 29


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Lunchtime today - stopped at the decaying Lancaster Stockyards. Took away this image. It nags at me. I wonder why?

Wednesday, March 28


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One of life's little "hoorays!" – the day you pay off your car. Three years ago, a dear friend offered me her 1990 VW New Beetle. It had 7,400 miles on it. Today it turned 15,600. On Friday I make the last payment. It will be mine. I drive about six miles a day, five days a week. The car's tires still have those little nubs on them that they get when they're pulled from their molds.

My friend took such good care of the car, I felt a debt to treasure it. Before this I had a new Passat. My old college roomate wants me to get a Lexus. Which brings me to the question of the day: Why would I do that? For six miles a day? The-soon-to-be-mine Beetle has a great air-conditioner and heater. The sound system's fine. It's comfortable, handles perfectly well. And I fill up the fuel tank about once a month. Regular gas, BTW. There's not a blemish on its blue body, I have the brakes, engine, lubricants and belts checked and maintained every 2,500 miles and it's washed and waxed every ten days. The agency's done all of the updates, in fact it's still under a limited warranty.

It drives quietly, there's no wear on the carpets or pedals, the inside's so clean there's a new car smell.

They don't seem to chortle at me when I drive it to the country club or the symphony. And as an editor and writer, hell - everybody expects some kind of eccentricity, eh?

Today I stopped at the agency. I sat in an Audi.


Tuesday, March 27

Privy To Greatness

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This is, or was, James M. Buchanan's privy. Buchanan you will recall was America's only bachelor president. I think his niece lived in the big house behind with the fifteenth President when he arrived back in Lancaster in 1861 where he used this privy off and on for the last seven years of his life. I wonder at the need for two rooms in this building, but not enough to ask anyone

I seem to recall that the poet Walt Whitman's productive life overlapped Buchanan's years. .
And it was Whitman who preached a poetry of populist transcendence that emphasized beauty and ugliness. He stressed the importance of triviality and fixated upon loneliness, detritus, greed, and sterility. So when I visited Wheatland... Buchanan's homestead on my way home from work today... I saw the way the 78 degree spring afternoon was seducing a kind of engorgement into the leaves of grass all around ... and Leaves Of Grass and the passions of spring snapped my mind to Whitman - and his own passion for triviality... and what could better combine Spring, Buchanan and Whitman better than this... James Buchanan's opulent privy?

Happy Spring...

Monday, March 26

Angels Play

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Perhaps someday I'll be able to find "WOW!" in another mountain vista. Michael Kimmelmen in The Accidental Masterpiece writes, "We are programmed now to expect awe in certain circumstances, and are therefore doomed to be disappointed when, invitably, we don't feel it."

I grow agape not at wind swept rocky peaks, but ones built by us. And New York City is all about what America once was about... BIG. It is large, robust, and muscular. It's buildings are comic-book brawny. When I think of Manhattan I think of structures which seem to hit their vanishing points before they get to their roofs. They puncture the sky, and sometimes even make it storm. And yet, people who live in cities like Lancaster, or New York... we don't look up. What happens to us, happens at street level. We have to be reminded about what's up there. Reminded to look at our vertical histories. And when we do, like tourists - we find a "WOW!" in the eye-poppingly, almost unnaturally gorgeous things that soar unsettling above our heads. Things which reach where angels play.

Sunday, March 25


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Until photographers relieved portraitists of their reportorial duties, it was their job to be plastic surgeons to the rich and famous. Artists finished off what powerful people imagined or dreamt that they saw in their mirrors. Today the assignment's handled by guys in smocks wielding scalpels instead of brushes. And portraits are done with lenses aimed at meticulously lit and painted subjects, through gauzy filters to create monitor images where imperfections can be replaced with subtle perfections. Surgeries happen under brush and knife to finish what nature couldn't.

And the artists? They've been liberated to deal with pure form. They can take their golds and cyans to create glittery glassy abstracts in paint or pixels... or both.

Saturday, March 24

Solve This Mystery

<- Photo from Bill Birch

Okay everyone.... here is a mystery for you. Will you please CLICK HERE to discover your detective assignment. If you click on the comments line after Bill Birch's story... you will see how far I've come. Using your image enhancing skills and your Sherlock Holmes' deductive powers... can you help fill the story in? Come on... let's see some powerful intelligence focused here... Okay?

From just the information in Bill's image:
1. Can you pinpoint the year/season/month of the photo?
2. Can you identify/date any of the elements re. function and/or date of construction?
3. Can you guess what is on that guy's head and why?
4. Can you create a credible story for the scene, given Bill's details?
5. I am particularly intrigued with the name of the financial institution's building and the meaning
of the large words on the billboard.
6. Can anyone clearly make out the words painted on any of the windows in the rear?

There's probably a great story inside of each of you which this image will trigger and if you'll share your comments here... That'd be REEEEELY cool!

And pass the URL ofmy page here along to friends. Let's see if we can get a large community of image savy folks concentrating on this. Puzzles are exciting... no?


Friday, March 23


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Experience is what happens to you, but what you learned from it is what I call maturity. Yesterday was a learning day... I learned that when four deadlines coincide, well you do nothing other than meet them. Some of you recall that I am the editor four Pennsylvania business magazines. And because I sit in the Big Seat, I grab for myself the Big Job. Most months I try to write the cover stories.

Well this month the story was about the crisis in the road, water, sewage and utility systems that underpin the Commonwealth's economy. I thought it was about finished when I discovered that Governor Ed Rendell was in Lancaster to present his solution to the problem. Well, I junked everything, raced to the conference, and at its end I got him a alone and- asked his Excellency a question. That's when he yelled at me! Yeah, contorted his face and hollered. My question must have annoyed him.

Now this is a guy who was Mayor of Philadelphia, then chairman of the National Democrat Committee, and who is now in his second term as governor of one of America's largest states. He is widely considered a strong candidate to be the next Democrat candidate for Vice President. He has done it the hard way... by working at it intensly. So it came as a surprise that he is also wrapped tighter than a newly purchased CD.

Either that, or wow, can I ever ask questions.

But anyway. The material I picked up at the conference meant that I had to rewrite all of my articles and so yesterday and a lot of early this AM were cram packed full with rewriting. Which led me to miss my post yesterday. I guess I just have to get my priorities together huh? And when I do, I shall be mature.

Oh... the image? From a long time ago. The red brick building is Lancaster's original and still working Farmer's Market. The grey building is the Greist building and is the city's tallest. And the moon? It is there because I am able to make it be. Enjoy...

Wednesday, March 21


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So here are my neighbors just up on the other side of the block. North Lime Street is one-way for traffic. I told you that this was the Historic District of the city of Lancaster. Musser Park on the other side of the street is just behind the Lancaster Museum of Art, which is itself the converted Grubb Mansion. These homes, together with last evening's posting give you an idea of my immediate neighborhood. Once again you'll notice the brick and shutter facades and brick sidewalks which Abraham Lincoln undoubtedly walked during one of his visits. His predecessor, James Buchanan was from Lancaster and his homestead is to the West of this area.

See here on the map... the arrow in green marked "2"? Well this marks the view of these townhouses pictured above which I have on my left each morning as I pull my VW Beatle out into traffic. Not too shabby, eh? Yeah, we're fortunate to live here.

Once a large limo with New York City license plates pulled up in front my house. A man in a rumpled suit got out and muttered to someone still inside, "How the hell can I find a way to live somewhere like this?" Well, it's a legacy we've received from the folks before us. We try to keep it up for the next generation. We're all on one sort of bridge or another, eh?

Tuesday, March 20

Commuting Through Lancaster

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There's something I wish photoblogs would do. I wish they'd show us their environs close up. Oh they can romanticize them, but still, images create an understanding of people in their place. So over the next months on an irregular basis, I'm going to grab graphics along my daily commute to the publishing HQ of Business2Business magazines where I am the Editor of four different monthly executive business magazines.

Now I won't bore you with this daily, but I offer it as example of what we can find in the commonplace of our lives. For example, this is my block on North Lime Street in Lancaster's historical district. To the right of these offices and homes is a large 19th century, meticulously maintained and privately occupied mansion. To their left and detached from these buildings is my townhouse. The picture was taken in 2003 in late March... see the patches of snow and early blooms on the bushes and trees? No, it's not an accurate rendering. I created it during my more, er, robust period of blown out colors. Still I like the brick and shutter feeling of my block and the undulating brick sidewalks, and the porches. These buildings went up in the mid 1800s for what was then Franklin College which was later renamed when it moved just westward of the city and is now called Franklin & Marshall College.

And here's the map we'll follow during this exercise. See the star toward the bottom? This image captures N. Lime Street just to the right of it. I'll take you along that route and show you things as I imagine them to be. And you can imagine yourself in the city I imagine. Hope you'll enjoy it. And I hope that I'll encourage other visitors to set off on a similar exercise and leave their URLs behind here so we can travel along with them as well.

Monday, March 19

Still But Not Hushed

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This stuff we do is "still" photography. Now the question for today boys and girls... Is it "quiet" photography? Can we render images which resonate sufficiently that viewers hear them as well?

This was a sunrise last October over Wellfleet. That's a village on Cape Cod. In its middle is this tidal marsh. The water was rushing in. All around me were gurglings. Within minutes the momentarily dry footing I perched upon turned soggy, then sank beneath feet of swirling salt waters. Birds awoke loudly. And somewhere behind me a lumber mill's "blahhhhhhhhh" ripped apart logs.

As you look at Marsh #11 I wonder if you hear that morning music? Is it only because the image transports me somewhere inside my memory that I see the racket of sunrise? Or have you heard enough of them to make this still photograph, noisy?

Sunday, March 18

Yellower Barn

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Last Thursday I posted a picture of this barn. Click here to check it out.
I also posted it at some internet photography forums for critiques. There were three. One group found the framing to be overpowering and glum. They also tended to find the yellow lettering distracting. A second group thought that the overall vibrancy of the image was dull. But the third critique, from just one astute reviewer noticed a halo around the buildings to the right into the sky which led right up the top of the barn roof and around it's peak. the first two were simple to attack, and you can see the brighter image and the altered borders easily.

It was that last crticism which worried me. I hadn't printed the image yet, but upon close examination I realized that I'd made a fatal mistake. In balancing the sky line I did what's called masking of an adjustment layer. Simply put I copied the entire image, darkened and adjusted its contrast to bring out the sky - then I wiped away the darkened area over everything but the sky. It's kind of like compositing two images. Well anyway, for those of you using Photoshop, I made an error which I've made before, and it's simple to commit. I wiped away the darkened image with a brush set to dissolve! Yipes.... That's like using a VERY bristly brush to make the erasure... When I blew up the offending areas in the earlier image I could see the scrapings which appeared as a glow on the smaller image posted here on Thursday. Be careful... if this can happen to me a number of times, it's worth checking carefully.

At any rate, it took me a lot of time this afternoon to clean up the orignal, since the error happened early on in my enhancement process of the image... and so much needed to be redone. Hope you'll appreciate it. I wouldn't have bothered, but I like this image enough that I hope that the Landis Valley Museum where the barn lives, will accept a large print so they can include it in their charity auction toward the end of April. We'll see if they're interested.

Saturday, March 17


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"The meaning of the work is not embedded in the object, but in the relationship between object and collector." - Gary Alan Fine: Everyday Genius: Self-Taught Art and the Culture of Authenticity (The University of Chicago Press: 2004) P.6

What do you see in the image I've posted tonight? Have you noticed that this hundreds of years old window is just slightly off-square? That the artisans worked the wood to mate perfectly with the Pennsylvania field stone? Masons and carpenters choreographed this dance which is as perfect right now as it was then. I'm trying to comment on permanence and how humans have withstood nature for a while. Today we need whirling machines to maintain our comfort. Then a fit between window and stone ... that was the HVAC of their time. In a couple of decades our machines are rusting hulks mounded in dumps. In a couple of centuries ... their stones still dance intimately with their lumber.

Professor Fine isn't convinced that my interpretation of my image has much meaning to you. In fact, it's not my interpretation which matters at all. Nope, it's yours. As a collector of images (whether on your walls or in your mind), their significance is only what you understand it to be. I can launch tonight's graphic filled with enthusiam about romantic ideas of permanence. But I am only the launcher... the image is the launched... and you? You, I suppose, are the launchee.

Gary Alen Fine believes that the artist's intent is irrelevant to its meaning. Hmmmmmm......

Friday, March 16

How I Do It

I am more than frequently asked about my post processing (PP) techniques in PhotoShop (PS). Specifically people are curious about how I get my 'look' in images. So I thought I'd take a relatively simple image which I previously posted on Wednesday, March 14th and to try to explain the techniques involved. By the way, I work with images at a resolution of 240 dpi with relative sizes of 3500 X 2330 pixels. Hence there is a lot of information available for editing. My images are designed to be printed on 19 X 13" paper at a minimum. And I work in RGB space. Hence there are some compromises made when I reduce a copy of the picture to sRGB space at 72 dpi at much smaller relative size for display on the web. This compression can result in some softening of the image as well as some loss of color range. But I am interested in producing large prints that sparkle and I'll tolerate the loss of information that comes with compression for display on the internet.

Let’s break the PP enhancements into three parts.

Part 1: the display, "Making A Threesome Pop" shows the final image surrounded by the three component images taken at Landis Valley Museum within the afternoon hours of 2 and 3 O’clock on March 14, 2007. The sky was thick with thin grey clouds allowing an even light to fall onto the subjects. I recognized that I was going to make a collage as I took the photographs and was sensitive to composing to capture similar shadow play on all of the structures.

Image #1 was the keystone to the final collage. But you can see that sections 'a' and 'c' were out of character for the 18th century home. However, images #2 and #3 located elsewhere in the historical village were of historic interest, but they too suffered from distracting settings – particularly with respect to the parking lot depicted in section 'c' in image #1 and the non-descript building in section 'b' of image #2.

So the first step involved straightening all of the images horizontally, then moving the relevant subjects from #2 and #3 into place in #1. The next step involved careful blending of the planted images to balance them into their new settings.

Part #2 then involved the use of masking layers to selectively vary the curves, saturation, sharpness of the individual component parts each on their own layers in order to create the organically acceptable final composition. Unfortunately I have trashed those layers as they did their jobs, and replicating them for this tutorial would be too exhausting.

Part #3 involved the use of overall adjustment layers to enhance the overall contrast and color intensities while stretching the sky from image #1 to create a more square-like aspect ratio in order to better set off the key subject. This was reinforced by expanding the canvas to allow for the dark borders which in turn seems to give the scene an illusion of brightness which the grey day inhibited.

An overall observation. My Canon 10-22mm lens, like all very wide angles tends to distort in a number of ways. In this case you will note that in Figure #1 the background appears quite distant. I stood perhaps four feet from the corner of the small building when I took the shot. In fact, the buildings in section 'a' were no farther away than the building in Image #2 appears to be. Neither of the pieces of images #2 or #3 would have been large enough to matter to this scene, had they in fact been where I have placed them. I like it that the optical impossibility of this composition lends an inexplicably spooky overtone to the composition. It is that overtone which is simultaneously difficult to pick out, yet which really makes this image express considerably more than will any of its parts.

Now, I've realized in working on this tutorial that there are scads of details which I've omitted. In fact this explanation has taken about two hours to prepare when in fact I actually created the original in about 50 minutes from file opening to posting on the blogsite. Whew! I cannot imagine how the folks who write those books do it. Unless they actually involve themselves in just describing one small technique, rather than moving from an idea to an entire creation. My guess is that it would take far longer than sixty seconds for a clarinetist to explain how he played the "Minute Polka" eh?

I hope this is at least of some use to you, and if you have specific questions about an element of an image, ask... and I shall see if I can answer in any reasonable time frame.

Thursday, March 15

Vividly Subtle

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Religious angst caused the world to go wildly tilted in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds sliding many Germans into Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Farmers with a deeply felt work ethic - they prospered here upon the world's richest naturally irrigated soil. And since the dictates of their fiercely strict religious tenants forbad ostentation or extravagant creature comforts, they plowed their success back into increasingly productive tools, stock, and structures.

To them, beauty had a function and their style was aggressive, unromantic, literal, without sentimentality and yet they loved color and decorative detail. If their Lord was praised by their success, their appetite for beauty was expressed in Germanic love of pure functional form. See... see it here in the explosive joy they took in releasing this barn to resonate in a brilliant yellow voice. No soft lighting, no contrived atmosphere - but undeniably a work of craft which punches into the realm of pure expression. It repays the viewer with an idea of worth, triumph, and a beautifully cropped ode to the redemptiveness of functional art.

Incidentally, this is a small scene from my visit this week to the Landis Valley Museum, supported by the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission just up the street from my magazine's offices here in Lancaster County.

Wednesday, March 14

Three Places

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Two of these were homes. And each is worked exquisitely. They were built some 80 years apart. Each was owned by similarly successful families. Opportunities change: Even over eighty years.

Isn't it spooky how spooky March makes things, even in the middle of the day? The word "stark" springs to mind, huh?

Tuesday, March 13

Um... Maybe this is better?

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At a semi formal dinner this evening, the person who was sat next to me mentioned that she found the hisorical preservations at Landis Valley Museum, "mysterious."
"It is as if you can sense the builders moving about them. And the lighting there," she poised between bitefuls to think for a moment. "It's as if it glows. My memory always plays Landis back to me in twilight. It's all very intriguing, if a tad scary."
So, with that lingering in mind, I revisited last night's orange farmhouse to see if I could find a ghostly presence at the place. Hmmmmm.... perhaps, if you squinch you eyes down... You can see it?

Monday, March 12


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When they built this farmhouse in the mid 1700s, the Landis Valley people understood floor space requirements. See how they alloted them?

Lovingly restored at the Landis Valley Museum, this is part of an 18th century village maintained in part by the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission here in Lancaster County. Wandering around the place this afternoon to grab some file shots for my magazines I came upon this clearing. So? is this one house, or twins? They make a statement about our drive for creature comforts I think that separates depiction from photography.

Sunday, March 11

Better To Make Than Receive

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At some point, if photographers are going to stake any claim upon creating art, we've got to make rather than receive pictures.

In 1756, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf named this village "Litiz" since Anglicized as Lititz. Today was early spring and the town park's huge flock of ducks prowled about in the glimmering stream for suckers who'd grind a quarter's worth of seed to toss at them. A chance for picture making, eh?

Saturday, March 10


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It is bad form to show visible panty lines. Which has led, in part, to thongs. From my viewpoint: Hey, not a bad thing. Nope,not at all.
Looking down at Christian Street here... There's a need for some infrastructure thonging. See how it's popping up through the covering? Can you imagine the foundation garments hidden beneath one of Lancaster's oldest streets? The church on the left dates from the early seventeen hundreds. Not even young by European or Asian standards, but hereabouts... it's ancient. And so too is whatever's under Christian Street. Problem is, the stuff doesn't want to stay covered.
Bad form eh? Wonder how they keep the past from tearing up into the present other places? On the other hand, given the way history keeps unexpectedly repeating itself in everything else we do... Maybe we need to apply some thong therapy to our politicians, our executives, our journalists... and to our Christian Streets... Eh?

Friday, March 9


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It was a beautiful and brisk afternoon today. On my way home I passed this nineteenth century carriage house which has been boarded up. The details have that melted Victorian look. It's as if they made aerodynamic buildings back then.
But this isn't really about the carriage house. Nope, I'm more interested in the idea of an abstract image made up from parts of the carriage house. Parts like these here in this opening image.
I liked the composition, and framed it tightly. Ditto the colors and shapes. Frankly, I think it's not a bad graphic, but... Well can a different composition distill out the essence of these colors and shapes? Since I've already cropped away so much that makes this "Carriage House", well suppose I then create motion to leave the viewer with a study in just color, light and line?
And if i do that, how much of the original needs to be included to give it some sense of authenticity? Howzabout this much? I guess what I'm getting at is the question of resonance.
Which of these images resonates most attractively to you? In a way I'm wondering which you think is the "better" image. And, of course, why? Normally i go through a number of alternative images when I prepare for my blog uploading. And somehow I intuit which one is right... which effort means that I am finished with the subject. But this time... well I wonder.
The first is crisp and hot, the second is rich and romantic. To me, they're each poetic because I think that the subject, mixed with the day, mixed with my take all mash together to justify the effort I've taken. But since I want to communicate either an idea or an emotional reaction to this moment in Lancaster I'm interested in your reaction, and input. Whuddaya think/feel about theset two? Anyone?

PS... Um I hope that the first image I posted here will dispell all of those terrible rumors that I shoot all of my photography through a Coke bottle instead of a lens and that my equipment is incapable of taking a crisp, sharp image. Okay? Good, so now I shall never have to do that again... Whew.....

Thursday, March 8


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Sometimes an instant is all you have, but it can be enough to make a memory-graph. Huh? A memory-graph is like a photograph, captured wherever it is that our brains store visuals. And they're imperfect duplicates right from the start. Worse yet, they're in motion, shaken and shaped by time, and compressed by other images crammed in around them. Colors bleed from nearby piles of storage and the weight of the things as we age cause them to go misshapen.

Should we do an archeological dig into the storage layers we could uncover things which are themselves images of layers of things. For example see this murky scene? There's an 18th century steeple, and a carriage house on the right from the 19th century. The scrawl? From the late twentieth century. Oh, and there's a car in there somewhere from somewhere in the 2000s. Imagine a scientist some two thousand years from now unearthing this scene. Could she spot the nuance of cultures here? Or would she figure that colonialists were upset with their police?

You could pardon her the confusion, but who will pardon us when we examine our memory cache... to discover the squiggly memory-graphs we use to guide us? Graphs which warn us, tease us, or direct us as we make decisions which propel us even farther away from the time we captured the things. And which cram even more information into the dense areas of where our personal recollections are stored.

Wednesday, March 7


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I can do ambiguous... But subtle? No... no... I do subtle the way that say, George Michael does subtle. Like Warhol, Souza, or maybe Jim Carey do subtle.
See this image? When I saw the toy I thought I could do a study of wood grain, carving and gentle colors. The way photographer friends have bathed things like cellos in sweet light. And then my imagination kicked in. And I saw the depth of the texture and the way the instruments actually gouged into the surface. And I saw the way the light created contrasts across what was anything but a smooth surface. And well... the image began to look designed by the same person who does Christina Aguilera's look.
I watched me teasing out the colors in all of their intensity. Hues that make a child giggle and run to the thing. And texture that invites kids to touch, bang, push, pull... rock and holler in joy as they ride the thing around.
And subtle went away.
Anybody got a cello?

Tuesday, March 6


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Can photographic images take on a cinematic quality? I've asked that before, right? It seems to perplex me. And if they do, can they focus their intent?

I sense that there are photographers with an inferiority complex. Outside of photojournalism, there are artists working in this medium who seem to think that they can only reproduce "found" realities. That they are always skittering along the edge of plagiarism. "An artist," one told me, "expresses himself through his medium. But we are left only with technique to do what we do. The actual subjects are created by other people, or in many cases, by God."

So the emphasis upon technique has become an obsession for many. They seek to maximize the "natural"... This is the Organic Movement. Regardless of how un-natural their mechanisms are, if the viewer accepts their final image in a way that allows for the "suspension of disbelief" so effectively that all "manipulations" seem transparent - then they have succeeded.

But the "suspension of disbelief" is at the essence theater and cinema. I contend that the ultimate objective of The Organic School of photography is to achieve a "Wow!" which is synonymous with the theatrical moment. I think that the aesthetic drive of critical photographic practice has become identical to that which builds the tracks for theatrical and cinematic acceptability.

Serious photographers are playwrights and directors rolled into one. They create the text and its display. Whether its a radiant vista, or a Norman Rockwell story-box, or an abstract or a macro exploration of texture, color and light... this is what is going on. And the end result is considerably greater than the sum of the found parts. Photographers, like the Edward Albees’, Tennessee Williams’, David Mamets’ and others - have become message bringers to an audience.

Or not... Your call...

Monday, March 5

Pattern Search

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Perhaps ancient monkeys who recognized faces looming among the leaves escaped the tigers? Regardless, some primal part of our brains has evolved to seek out patterns. Maybe that's why we're so contentious, since each of us is capable of finding, then defending' our understanding of patterns we discover in everything that swirls about us?

There's a curly willow tree on a pot beside the front door to our home. It's been pruned. On a wintery day, it's leafless and hibernating. Actually it's pretty ugly, and we'll probably replace it come Spring. But each day as I notice it aside the steps I see its tippy top and wonder about this pattern.

Wonder's a good thing, right?

Sunday, March 4

Thrills Through The Night

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You never know the end of a sentence you speak until it is over. You're listening right along with your audience. Meantime you're assessing reaction. You look at body language, listen for telltale sounds, and wait for interaction to shape your next sentence, even before it's spoken... or heard by anyone - including you. Well, a lot of art's like that. The process is mysterious.

I captured this retro car made from stiff paper from its perch on a child's antique bedlamp. The boy inside of me loves this guy. And as I listen and read what I write about him, I'm finding out why. What I feel about the time he is supposed to be from... About messages that mold our dreams. About color and fantasy and how my eyes still pop wide at things that are charming and sweet.

And I recall as a boy dreaming about driving, and piloting, and doing other super things. Right, "super" because to me driving and flying were indistinguishable from the stuff that superheroes did all the time in my comics and in my books and of course in the movies. At night, as I drifted off, they'd blur together with things that the grownups could do. I'd fly, I'd hit home runs, I'd leap tall buildings, I'd run touchdowns, I'd lighting-draw my six-guns, I'd drive like the wind through the night - in a hot rod that was round and strong and the sort of thing that hard-boiled detectives drove to foil the bad guys... and... and...

"Foil?" Does anyone say foil anymore? And do any adults have lamps with fantasy tough cars which are the last things they see before the room goes dark? And... and... We should. We should foil the bad guys and drive sweet works of art... If only in our dreams.

And that's the end of my sentence about that.

Saturday, March 3

Orange? Why?

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"So why," the tourist said with a smirk, "is this called Orange Street? Like, you don't grow oranges in Lancaster, Pennyslvania... Right?"

"Um, nope," I smiled as I walked away. "There''s another reason."

Friday, March 2

Why Five?

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They met here in secret, even in winter. But five chairs?

Thursday, March 1


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Once upon a time Payton and Tori were little girls. Here they are top and right with a buddy. Watching kids play diddles with something inside that crumbles walls of reserve. All that stuff we learn that makes us careful, and respectful, and respectable, and... and... adult! All that stuff fades a tad - when we watch kids play. And it makes us so happy that we smile. Which makes it alright to watch kids play.