Wednesday, October 30

A Lot about a Lot...

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 16

OuttaDaGate - Kayak Scramble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 14

How Many Tecks? Smell-Ography?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 13

Cut To The Chaise

Canon G10 processed in PS6

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

Hmmmm.... what comes after infinity?

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

Friday, October 11

The Communications Room

Istanbul, Women pray separately in the Blue Mosque.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 8

Lancaster Winter Crop

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, they're a surprising culture, eh?

Saturday, October 5


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

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

Thursday, October 3

Rome: An Arch Comment?

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

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

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

 Whyzatt? And why are they all so stereotypical? 

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

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