Friday, December 9, 2011

I used to live a few miles from where I stopped last week to make this photograph.  It was taken from a little park in Peekskill (say that fast a few times!) just beside the Indian Point nuclear reactor...and I mean BESIDE the reactor.  I could have thrown a rock at one of the out buildings.  The Hudson River is rather narrow here having just made a sharp bend from due north to sharply west for a while. This is why there are some serious issues with its' effluent which is much warmer than the river's normal temperature.
But, those issues aside, the afternoon light was diffused in late autumn haze, and quite beautiful and I enjoyed being there after many years away.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A mile or two from our house is a field that's been vacant for as long as I've known it.  Recently, I guess, it changed owners, and the new landlord is clearly a Christian.  It's easy to drive past this scene and not notice the crucifix (or small sign  "God's Little Acre" ) because the value of the cross is so similar to the surrounding grasses and more distant trees.  But, I did, and stopped for a while to make this photograph. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In mid/late autumn the trees revert to their skeletal selves.  The endless patterns of symmetry that one discovers that were never designed for aesthetic satisfaction by nature, are nonetheless truly rewarding to discover and uncover.  A well known artist, speaking about portraiture, said something to the effect that portraits of others reveal the artist more than the subjects.  I'm certain that is true about the kind of photographs that I'm drawn to appreciate and to make.  Here are three.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I sometimes take the same route home that I take in the morning (there's an alternative), and do so because there's no toll, and because the latter part of the trip is though Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks.  For too much of the year the morning drive is in darkness, but the afternoon drive isn't, and the scenery is gorgeous in every season.  The two pictures below were made in a little park that sits beside a Hudson River inlet.  The inlet is barricaded by a railroad bed that was man made to accommodate the Hudson Line and goes all the way north to Poughkeepsie and beyond. 

And, here's another image that simply celebrates the new lens I bought from  It's a 300mm f4 one that was listed in LN- condition, and seems to be just that.  The thing is tack sharp even at shutter speeds slower than 1/30th when mounted on my very sturdy 'pod with the massive Manfrotto ball head that weighs about 4 pounds and has the mass to steady a lens of this focal length on a 6x7 camera.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The extraordinary October 29th blizzard we experienced here in the Hudson Valley of New York was unseasonable, unwelcome, destructive, and beautiful.  The destruction was from the weight of the snow on still fully leafed trees that were in peak color and not destined to fall for a week or more.  The beauty was from the clingy, wet snow that girded limbs, branches, twigs, and leaves.  Were I a color photographer, the yellows, reds, and oranges of the autumn color show that were set off in bold relief by the snow would have been a real treat.  Still, the monochrome of it all was beautiful to me.  This is a scene from behind our house. 

A week after the blizzard, all was back to normal (except for post storm repairs), and I was again enjoying the glories of the autumnal show.  But, despite its not being particularly vivid in a seasonal sense, I decided to stop at Iona marsh on the way home from work a few days ago . It's a tidal marsh that, were it not for the mountains that rise beside it, could be mistaken for an ocean side marshland. The tide had drained the water and all it would have contributed to making a photograph.  But, I really liked the stalks, stems, seeds, and branches that I found rimming the big muddy, and decided they would be just fine as portrait sitters.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The upper photograph is yet another in the series I've made at Round Lake, one of two lakes less than five miles from home.  The other lake never seems to call me visually, and I've rarely photographed it, but I feel, out of fairness, that I probably should try. The lower image, therefore, is from Walton Lake, the 'other' lake. Perhaps it's the easy access I have with a parking lot, a dock, and no traffic to interfere, but Round Lake has become a favorite place to visit, just sit and watch, and when conditions are favorable, to photograph. Walton Lake is less accessible, and not so easy to get to, but it needs to be attended to.  Mission!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Autumn in New York's Hudson Valley is over the top gorgeous.  It doesn't last very long so even going to the movies on the weekend is not a good idea unless it's pouring rain with gale force winds and maniacal zombies lurching toward your front door.  These two images were made on Sunday, October 23rd at a little river near Harriman Park that just two months ago was a raging aqueous nightmare during and after Hurricane Irene. It's back to its' gentle, quiet little self now, and a pleasure to visit.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's very nice to have one or more places nearby that are continually interesting to photograph.  One of these is Round Lake, a modest sized body of water very close to our house.  Last winter I made a photograph here of the dock below covered in snow.  Last week, I was lucky to be free to visit the lake on a very foggy morning.  Here are two images from that visit. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

After finishing the roll of film from which yesterday's post was made, this image is from the next roll about five minutes later.  It's Bethesda Fountain, a landmark Central Park icon, that is an extremely popular destination in the park. I've been coming here for decades, and never remember seeing the lotus plants that are present now in the fountain.  I suppose they're a recent addition, and one I like very much.


Monday, September 26, 2011


Though natives of other capitals will disagree, I think New York City is the most interesting, dynamic, and vital city in the world.  I am not a native, but have been privileged to have lived in, and later nearby (still in NY State) "the City" for decades, and I consider myself a New Yorker to the core. Manhattan is an absolute gem, and within Manhattan, Central Park is a diamond.  Both this year and last, I've accompanied my wife, and now my stepson into Manhattan on Saturdays for them to attend classes at the Art Student's League of New York while I spend that time doing something else. My mecca is always Central Park. With a monopod I got last Christmas,  I've decided to use my Mamiya kit there  These images are from the first roll of film I've made this way.  They are statues of the poets on the Mall in Central Park that most people refer to as "poet's walk".  The poets are Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Fitzgreene Halleck. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

The most beautiful season of the year is just beginning to emerge from the lushness of a wetter than usual summer.  I've never known exactly how the relationship between weather and autumn color works, but I suspect that this will be a memorable year.  This image is a late summer one.  I will go back later and see how it may change as fall progresses.  It is of a marsh beside the Hudson River in the town of Cornwall-on-Hudson from a road that's not easy to find, but well worth looking for as it meanders by the river's edge. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

This coming Sunday will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11/2001.  The images posted here have never been printed nor scanned until now.  I took them a little over a week after the murders at the WTC and they have haunted me since.  There were hundreds and hundreds of posters with pictures and messages begging for any information that could possibly reunite the missing with those dear and important to them.  Those reunions never happened.  I have not been able to prepare these few photographs for this post without intermittent bouts of deep grieving, and tears.  The entire experience of that day has made me profoundly hostile to religion...every religion... and, especially, their particular forms of fundamentalism and judgmental intolerance. 

Sadly, the NO FEAR poster seems to me to be more bravado than reality.  In fact, the thousands of people who still live with PTSD belie the notion that terrorism has no impact on our or anyone's society.  The next photograph tells a different story.

As does this one.

This last represents but a miniscule fraction of the tsunami of grieving, and mourning that brought many hundreds of people, including myself, to lower Manhattan to be witness to and connect in spirit with the nearly three thousand victims of wanton murder and the far wider circle of their friends and families.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A year ago or so I bought two exhibition catalogs of the photographs of Chip Hooper.  I've like his work a lot since I first saw some large monochrome prints at a now closed gallery in NYC.  His principal body of work is of shoreline views of the ocean and the extraordinary variations that occur.  For the past several years I've been fortunate to have been able to spend a week or so at a beach front place in Florida that has allowed me to see what Chip Hooper regularly sees at the Pacific Ocean sites he frequents...those wonderful variations of sky, and sea and their perpetual interactions.  The two 'graphs below were made at a location south of St. Augustine.  The first, facing the ocean of course, and the second 180 degrees behind.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When you're facing the ocean on almost any kind of day there's probably something worth photographing.  I was lucky enough to be in Florida at the beach during the onset and retreat of hurricane Irene with absolutely no ill effects from the storm.  Instead, there were the most extraordinary sky shows of brilliant clouds and roiling ocean.  Here's but one of many negatives I made last week.  Not unlike digital photographers who wisely discard huge numbers of "captures" that just don't make it, I have discarded a lot of negatives that just weren't worthy of further attention.  This scan is of one that I will print this week if I can.  I really like it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here is one more cityscape from a while ago. This is Park Avenue (NYC) from a 10th floor office window at 230 Park Ave (the New York Central building).  It is dwarfed by the Met Life (nee Pan Am, then Sony)  Building behind it, but has this unobstructed view looking north.  It was taken around 5:00 PM on Christmas eve of 2000.  My friend was still in her office, and she let me bring in the camera and tripod, open the window, and shoot an entire roll of this single view.  I had to experiment with exposure time, so some of the negatives are unusable, but this one is the best of the lot, and I think it was 45".  It also demonstrates the convergent verticals a rigid camera is stuck with in this situation that a view camera's movements would have "corrected". However, I think the convergent verticals help the eye down the "chute" so to speak, so I don't regret the rigid camera.

BTW, this will be the last post for a while as we're going away for a week or two. Happy rest of summer to those who get to enjoy time away from their normal routines...and to those who don't as well.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Continuing with posts of older negatives is this one. It's from the same roll as my post of August 3rd, and was made from the same rooftop.  It's interesting that photographs that may not be particularly special in themselves, are amplified in their importance merely by their being made in locations not available to everyone.  This may be one of those photographs, but I like it as an image as well as its' being a record of place, and time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

As I wrote in my last post, summer light isn't the best for the kinds of photographs I prefer to make (and to look at for that matter).  So I've been casually reviewing negatives that have accumulated over the last decade that I've never printed or even scanned to proof .  I came across the photograph below that was taken in March of 2000, and I think I know why I didn't print it at the time. I was using pre-cut mats to mount my prints which pretty much required that I utilize the full, or nearly full negative.  Ever since I learned to cut my own, and acquired the mat cutter to do it with, I've felt totally liberated to arrange and crop the original as I choose.  This had stuff in it I couldn't exclude when I took it because of my Hudson riverbank point of view.  But I just finished printing it with judicious cropping.  This is a negative scan that very closely emulates the physical print except for the toning which is a bit different from the print due to my minimal photoshop skills.   

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer is too often a miserable time to make photographs around here.  The light is exceedingly brilliant and intense leaving little latitude for subtlety.  Of course, the adage has it that breakfast and dinner are the worst enemies of good outdoor photography, but they're also cherished times during this season when I have time away from work, so they're just going to have to remain in the schedule.  The quieter light at the beginning and end of the day comes too early and too late for me.  But, as summer wanes and the days get shorter with sunrise coming later,  I'll be a lot happier about getting out to photograph.'s a photograph from February 22, 2000 that I've always been happy I made, but was never quite satisfied with. In the negative, the moon appears above the left side of the bridge.  I have finally decided to crop it out (it's not been cloned away, the image has been cropped), and I'm much happier with the result.  I was on the roof of a building on East 57th Street in Manhattan looking east into Queens.  It's the 59th Street (Queensboro) Bridge.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Most people seem to like sticks-in-the-water kinds of photographs. Either that, or such images are an infection among minimalist photographers. I'm not one of those, but I like them just the same.  The natural beauty of natural sticks adds a good deal to such work, because their forms are so elegant and complex.  Wandering along a pond side trail I'd never visited before, there was a little clearing, a bench facing the pond, and what you see here.  I sat for a long while enjoying the sounds of bull frogs, and the patter of very light drizzle on the water in front of me.  There were also several acres of lily pads in full bloom that were too far away from where I was able to place the camera to make a photograph, but they were gorgeous to look at nonetheless.  Now that I've found this local site, I'll return whenever light, atmosphere, or seasonal changes invite me. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

I feel bad that it's been nearly two months since my last post here, but my musician and teacher life has made it impossible to make photographs.  But now I will have a few weeks to myself, and this past weekend I was able to use the camera (in this case, the P67 with 55mm lens).  This is a 'graph of Round Lake in Monroe (NY) that I've photographed many times.  Every time has been different, and this was a cloudy bright early morning with not a hint of breeze, and no one on the lake.

Monday, May 30, 2011

It's hot.  It's too hot.  It's too damn hot this early in the season.  I will not complain, because it's been too damn cold and too damn snowy this past, and last winter.  I know there are places in this country and in others that maintain a fairly uniform pattern of weather that never wanders into extremes.  But, we don't live there and have to make do with what we get.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow the mercury has, is, and will be reading near 90F, but it was only a few months ago that the snow was approaching 4 feet in depth.  So....I repeat...I will not complain.  I will just post a couple of pictures from 2008 (when the snow wasn't so deep that I couldn't hike in it) that I made with the Shen Hao.  It was tough slogging in the snow with the 4x5 backpack and a tripod, but I really enjoyed the shlepp, so here they are, two antidotes to too early summer!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The town we live closest to doesn't have enough of the charm that other nearby places do.  In the middle and latter part of the 20th century, too much was torn down and replaced by characterless, modern storefronts and shopping venues.  Nonetheless, some of the town's ancestry remains on a few streets that have preserved their late 19th century flavor. However, there is one wonderful asset that is about a mile and a quarter around, and that is the Goose Pond park.  At all hours of the day people walk or run around it on the encircling footpath.  Serious joggers in spandex and tank tops pass very conservatively dressed Chassidic men and women with their strollers. In fact,  all manner of people seem to love the place (as do I). 

In the warmer seasons, the two halves of the pond (there is a street that divides it) are aerated to help keep the mosquitoes down, and a dredger pulls copious water grass out as well.  Early this past Saturday morning I visited with the camera, and these are what I came away with.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday, May 7th, was gorgeous here in the Hudson Valley, and staying home to do yard work was unthinkable (well, actually it was thinkable, but not acceptable) so off we went with cameras to the black dirt region.  I think I've photographed this particular irrigation ditch a dozen times, but it's always different.  The sunlight was creeping back across the field as the clouds moved on. 

(This was photographed with the P67 and a 55mm lens that I'm becoming very fond of, but have rarely ever used before.  I don't think wide angle is easy to use well, but I think I did so in this case.  There's always a lot to learn.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The all too brief season of flowering trees and early leaves is upon us here in the Hudson Valley. The greening is progressing rapidly, and is discernible daily.  I'm amazed I haven't driven off the road, or into a tree for all the staring into the woods that I do going to and from work.  I've known where to find the dogwood trees below from having visited this spot in other years, but now there are a number of signs designating the area as a US Army live firing range with trespass forbidden. The gunnery is actually quite a way into the tract of land, and very far from the public road that borders it by the Hudson River, but it's off limits nonetheless.  So...of course that's where the best camera bait is located, hence I ran the very remote risk of being arrested by federal police while making these 'graphs.  It's interesting how doing that sort of thing is kind of exciting, and makes the experience all the more intense. 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I wish I had the time (and the courage) to fully photograph the black dirt region of Orange County, NY.  That would, of course, have to include documenting the migrant workers who harvest the onions and other produce that find the ancient sea bed soil so rich and nourishing.  It would also have to encompass all the seasons, and the full range of weather that blesses and besieges the land.  Still, I have made enough photographs over the years that I will always remember the look and feel of this region.  The two images below were made at the same place on the same day in mid-April.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

After endless bouts with snow, sleet, ice and frigid unpleasantness the return of real-thing-spring is beyond welcome. Behind our house are twenty plus acres of  forested land that have been able to remain undeveloped because they sit atop an aquifer owned by the town.  The consequence is that we get to enjoy trees in their seasonal splendor both leafy and skeletal without another house in view.  Just now, they're leafing out, and a few entertain flowers that precede their greening.  This past Sunday, April 24th, I walked back there with the P67 and made the photograph below.  It's minimal as flowering trees go, but it's actually there, and I didn't have to trespass on anyone's land to make the image.  Eventually, we will move to north Florida, and I will deeply miss this landscape while I learn to love another.  This, and many other of my 'graphs will sustain the memories. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's damn difficult to make a waterfall photograph without it being a cliche.  I've been photographing this one in Harriman State Park since I moved to the Hudson Valley in the late '70's, and it's always been a joy to look at and a challenge to photograph.  Of course, just about anything in nature has been photographed countless times so trying to say something unique isn't a worthwhile enterprise.  What matters is that the image is worthwhile to the photographer, and I think these two may be to me.  Of the 20 negatives exposed using three different lenses (55, 105 and 135) and two different shutter speeds (1/15th, and 1/60th), these are the only two I'm willing to share.  I will return to this subject again many times I'm sure before we move south eventually.  It's an old friend I'll always remember it fondly, and as with any old friend, it's nice to have pictures of!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This post is a bit unusual in that I've made the actual print below before scanning the negative.  As traditional a photographer as I may otherwise be, scanning negatives beats the hell out of making contact sheets, and I haven't made one in years. Once a negative is scanned, it's incredibly easy to see what's possible in Photoshop so that darkroom work then becomes considerably more direct.  It's just a matter of figuring out how to make the print look like the best rendering I've created on the computer.  With experience, that translation gets easier and knowing what will and won't work and why is invaluable.  The biggest difference is viewing the image by transmitted light on the monitor rather than reflected light on the print, and that distinction would apply regardless of whether the actual paper print were made in the darkroom or the lightroom.

The scene here is by a path along the Wallkill River at New Palz (NY) in the early winter of 2008. The water is from heavy recent rain, I think, and not an overflow of the river. I have no idea why I've neither scanned, nor printed this before.  It seems like a pretty good image to me. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's the first full week of spring.  Obviously, that called for a snowstorm. And so it proceeded, but with paved surfaces too warm for snow to stick until the overnight when the air temperature dropped into the 20's.  It's really rare that I am available when both weather features are visually interesting, and when what I'd like to photograph is accessible.  So often a good snowfall makes all the road pullouts impossible to park on, but this time everything came together. These two photographs are the result of a really enjoyable hour in the wet, falling snow.

(I've had my Pentax 67 kit for over a decade now, and I am still delighted by the bulletproof build of that system. Getting it a bit wet didn't phase it in the least.  I know everyone admires the Hassie outfits used by many prominent artists, but I'll stick with this gear as long as it lasts. The 4x5 just wasn't up to the wetness!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the ongoing lookback at older negatives, I found this one from a few years ago.  It was made at a beach in Florida that, sadly to me, allows vehicle traffic.  Many photographers make pilgrimages to the western American deserts seeking the perfect composition with flawless sand and gorgeous light.  I haven't been so fortunate, but have been happy to have access from time to time to the sand dunes at our Atlantic shores.  As we will be moving to this area in several years, I'll probably not think too much of this image when I will have made innumerable and perhaps much better ones, but for now, I like it.