Friday, November 21, 2014

As I've written, the beach is just a 20 minute drive from where I live.  Unlike the New Jersey or New York seashores, access is unfettered by fees, windshield stickers, or "No Parking" signs except in some exclusive residential areas.  In fact, Jacksonville Beach has free parking lots with porta-potties.   So, to not take advantage of what's there is to really waste an opportunity.  Rather than go to the gym today,  I walked on the beach below.  I didn't realize how strong and steady the breeze was until I turned around to go back.  Yikes!    (digital)

Since posting this in color, I was curious to see it in monochrome.  In Photoshop Elements 11 it was simple to extract the chroma, futz with highlights, midtones, shadows, contrast and brightness with the following effect.  Better?  Not really....just different.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The area of Jacksonville where I live has quite a few corporate parks.  They're landscaped to a fare thee well, but not very interesting to photograph (and...I've tried...a lot!) as the design isn't from nature, but from an architect.  All the housing and corporate developments built in the last several decades are required to include retention ponds to compensate for the acres covered by buildings and pavement.  The effect is nicely verdant with trees, shrubs and ponds, but not visually compelling.  This little tree was difficult to isolate, and it's the best I could do with it.  (film)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's been a while since I visited Kingsley Plantation.  I wanted to wait until the light was different than it had been last spring and early summer.   It's now more oblique, and casts shadows that weren't possible when directly overhead.  There's much more visible texture now, and forms are better defined as well.  These were taken somewhere close to noon, and I want to go back at an earlier hour for even more oblique light.  It is my intention to make as many images as I can, and then choose twenty or so of the best.  So, there may be repetitions in the meantime!  (film)


Monday, November 10, 2014

I've not gone to the ocean for a while...stupid, really, because it's only 20 minutes away, and it's always different and always a pleasure.  So, I thought I'd take my mountain bike to the beach and ride it there on Friday instead of going to the YMCA gym.  When the tide is out, there is a lot of packed wet sand that's perfect for biking, and the knobby tires and rear fender are great for traction and avoiding splashed butt syndrome.  I rode a good long distance and came across the posts I photographed below.  I hadn't known they were there until that ride, and was eager to return with the camera the next day.  Here's one from that second visit.  (film)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I don't think I've ever included an acknowledgement of another photographer's work here.  But,'s my blog, and I shouldn't feel restricted as to what I post, so here's something different.

 I have at least five books of Michael Kenna's work, two retrospectives, one anthology, and two monographs of singular subjects.  France is the most generous and sumptuous monograph I've collected by any photographer.  Knowing his work from these books, I've concluded that Kenna's so-called minimalist, long exposure images are just one segment of  his overall body of work.  The majority of the photographs are just superbly composed and interesting images of subjects that are a pleasure to look at.  (In fact, the long exposure minimalist images do not appeal to me with nearly the power as the rest.)

As I've written before, I am utterly disgusted by what passes for contemporary 'art' photography.  It's boring, careless, and poorly crafted in every sense.  It should be an embarrassment to those who champion it, but they're intent on proffering what hasn't been seen before even though it likely wasn't worth seeing in the first place. But, it's new! And...there are legions of visually illiterate viewers who will follow anyone that appears to be an authority no matter how flimsy their credentials and background. 

I am a classical musician, and have the utmost respect for excellent intonation, tonal purity, beautiful sound, and expressive interpretation.  Kenna meets parallel visual standards with supreme virtuosity.

 (digital, and with a tripod! lol)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

These towers are often very compelling to look at with billowing steam jetting into the clouds.  I expect to photograph them as often as I can when the conditions make them particularly interesting.  From up close, they're huge, and their exhaust impressive.  (film)

Friday, October 17, 2014

I never imagined that there would be a vibrant wine industry in the south.  New York wines are middlin' at best, and don't really compete with California wines I think.  But, Georgia?  Who knew? 
These two photographs were made at Wolf Mountain Winery ...the real deal and truly on a steep-to-access mountain top.  The place is exceptionally elegant and beautiful, and the members of the family I met who own it were really, really nice.  (film)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

After seeing my son in Atlanta, Georgia, the rest of my eleven day trip focused on photography.  I didn't shoot nearly as much as I'd hoped to, but did make a few images that I'm happy with.  This is the film version of the digital image I posted on October 10th.  It's interesting that the aspect ratios of the two pictures are so different.  The digipic is nearly a panorama, while the film image is much less wide (both were cropped a bit on the sides).  Even online, the difference between a hand held p&s image, and one made with a medium format (6x7) film camera on a tripod with an excellent lens is quite obvious to me at least. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Having only glimpsed cotton fields after they'd been harvested, my recent trip to Georgia had me there when 'the cotton was high'.   It's an interestingly heliotropic crop whose bolls aren't even visible from the side away from the sun.   As I drove past a field, I only realized what was growing there when I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw the vast ocean of white.  It's a crop that has very powerful associations with slave labor, and seeing the density of the planted field, visions of men, women, and children with sacks suspended beside them with straps, laboring in the broiling sun were quickly called to mind.  The irrigation apparatus is, of course, a contemporary device.  (film)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I almost missed this as I zipped along a two lane rural road approaching a little Georgia town.  It caught the corner of my eye, and I turned the car around and went back to it.

One of the pleasures of using a point and shoot camera is the sense of freedom to photograph anything at all.  My 'serious' film camera sits on a tripod ready to expose a frame to a carefully metered and focused scene.  But, the little digi gets handheld, and manages exposure and focus on its own.  That's a treat!

Friday, October 10, 2014

I didn't realize scenes like this still existed.  I thought laws protecting the environment from this kind of air pollution (and, some fog as well) had put an end to it, but, apparently not.  This is a Georgia Pacific paper mill belching out smoke and steam on a bright October weekday morning just outside of Brunswick, Georgia.  It's going to get worse if the forces of stupidity and greed trying to roll back environmental regulations have their way in Congress.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Splattintootree,  Splittintwoshee, Gladditsnottmee

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Before you accuse me of hypocrisy regarding photographs of sunsets, let me declare up front that these pictures are not posted here as art!   They're P&S digicam snapshots, but they are nice to look at.  They were taken from the "Club" floor at the Sheraton in Atlanta after a stormy day while I was visiting with my son who was here on business.  He travels more air miles than Santa Claus, and I get to spend time with him when his work is done. 

Though I could have converted them to monochrome, sometimes color is the whole point of the photographs, and these are some of those!  ;-)

Monday, September 15, 2014

One of my friends said, "What is lacking here in interesting scenery is compensated for by incredible clouds."  It's true. There is a fairly consistent pattern of cloud formation that often leads to rain in the afternoon and evening.  (It's 6:30 PM and raining now in fact.)  I was getting the mail at about 5 o'clock and was dazzled by the western sky.  I am beginning to enjoy having my little Canon S100 digital for immediate gratification, and grabbed it quickly to record a bit of the drama. A little futzing around in Photoshop dumped the color, and hyped things up a bit.  Still, it ain't REAL photography! ;-)

Well into adulthood, I admit to having had a fear of  'the south' that was linked to the awful behavior of mobs and individuals during the '60s in response to desegregation and the civil rights movement.  Bombing 'black' churches, lynching, burning down houses of African Americans who chose to speak out and up, fierce police dogs attacking peaceful protestors, yahoo bigots screaming racist slurs and a host of other despicable practices made the region anathema.  And, of course, the slave cabins and images from Kingsley Plantation continue to reinforce the notion that this is not a region to visit let alone live in if you are a white, liberal, Yankee.

But, having now been a full time resident of north Florida for more than a year, I feel there has been significant change, and my discomfort has abated.  I know there was no dearth of racist intolerance and bigotry in many other regions as well, but the consequences of red-lining, block busting, unfair hiring and firing and a host of other sins didn't make the headlines the way what happened in the segregated south did.  A bad rap?  I don't think so, but now is not then...thankfully!

So, it is wonderful and refreshing to read the story linked below, and view the images of a North Carolina itinerant photographer made of different stuff.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yeah, I kittens or sunsets!  Well, Scooter is 14 and by no means a kitten.  He's a retired cat who can be so laid back that a squirrel will walk past him and not even notice he's there, nor will Scooter twitch a whisker in his direction (true!).  He doesn't have many teeth left, but could still defend himself with claws if he had to.  Perhaps cognizent of his seniority, he is far warier than he used to be and often prefers to be on the screened in porch (or 'lanai', to use the local term) looking out rather than actually being outside...less stress I think.  He periodically adopts perching places that range from a pile of clean laundry, to an empty basket for magazines, or a favorite padded chair seat, and now, to this little table by the front door.  His one principal interest is napping, and he's extremely good at it.  After these pictures were taken, he walked away, jumped up on his favorite chair, and went to sleep.  The perfect retiree!   "I am kitty!  Hear me snore!"

N.B.  As I am now posting the occasional digital image, I'll identify film from pixels for most posts.  These are scans of film exposures made on a tripod with the P67, 135mm lens on Delta 100.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This will be an odd post, and there won't be a photograph or two included.  Rather, I am posing an open question and looking for serious answers.

I am at a total loss as to the way certain contemporary photography disregards most of the criteria I consider essential to a good picture.  In my email today was a new issue of an online photography magazine that baffles me. What I see there over and over again is haphazard lighting, indifferent color...usually somewhat washed out, random composition that seems to deliberately disdain coherent organization, centers of interest that aren't interesting, subjects that wouldn't hold my attention for a moment in reality, a voyeuristic view of people who have no apparent reason for being photographed, and a host of other sins of omission, and commission.  These photographs get published on line and in books, and garner praise by virtue of their being chosen, but without an explanation of why.  (I find it hard to believe anyone would buy any of these pictures for their walls, and I'd love to know how many copies of such books get sold.)

The alternative isn't kittens and sunsets, saturated and over sharpened color landscapes with pristine, dead calm water and snow capped mountains.  I realize that stuff is often kitsch, and is as guilty of  egregious sins as the work I am referring to in the paragraph above.  I make no brief that plodding along with endless variations of Yosemite in winter and the like would be preferred alternatives.
Nor do I  think umpteen Kennabe long exposure style photographs should be thought of as 'better'  art, whatever that is.  I am not writing in praise of stagnation. I also do not contend that my own photographs should garner any particular attention.  But, at least they're honest attempts to meet  standards that have been well established over time. And that's the heart of the question I'm posing...why have those standards been abandoned, and why does deliberate ugliness command the approval of the arbiters of 'fine art' photography???   

So, if you have a comment that will enlighten me, please make it.  If it makes no ad hominem attacks, and uses presentable language, I'll post it.  I apologize in advance for the 'captcha' nonsense that imposes, but I can't seem to disable it.  Comments are delayed until I can check them, but I won't ignore any that meet the two criteria I mentioned.  Thank you in advance! publishes a wide range of photobooks that run the gamut from wonderful to execrable, so look there for examples of the best and worst. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I confess to owning a neat little Canon point-and-shoot digital camera in addition to my 'real' film cameras.  Because I don't take it very seriously, it's fun to use, and I enjoy the easy delete function I employ frequently.  The images below were made with it while driving back from my trip to Savannah and Brunswick.  I had been looking for cotton fields without success, but passed this dirt road that I got a glimpse of at 65 mph, and had to turn around to return to.  While taking a five hour class in Lightroom (a pixel processor), I converted the color image to monochrome and messed around with it a bit.  For me, color is literal and boring and becomes execrable when it's super saturated.  It gets even worse with the nightmare use of HDR. (high dynamic range). 

The idea of HDR is the notion that it records the full range of light the eye can perceive.  But, the eye does NOT register both bright and dark scenes simultaneously.  Our irises open up in low light, and close down in bright light.  Though we may quickly change from one to the other, they are not both viewable at the same time.  Another drawback is that rendering everything in the photograph with equal tonal importance allows no area to become significant ....aesthetically stupid!!   The look of HDR is contrived and false.  So is the rationale for using it.  More and more it seems that software engineers are dictating photographic aesthetics, and like lemmings, vast numbers of digital photographers are drinking the Kool-Aid.  I will not be one of them. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

While in Savannah, my friends and I spent some time in Forsyth Park.  It's a gorgeous and elegant place where people exercise, and walk, and sit and talk, and just enjoy being outdoors.  There is a prominent and much photographed fountain, and statue of  a Civil War hero of the Confederacy.  Of course, in some of the southern states, that war is referred to as the War of Northern Aggression, and not without reason although it both shocked and amused me when I first heard it called that.  Compared to Central Park in NYC, it's very small, but it has some echoes of "Poet's Walk" at the south end.  There are far fewer benches in Forsyth, and a dearth of buskers, but there is abundant Spanish Moss that immediately tells all y'all you be in Dixie now,..... Bubba! ;-)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

During my trip to Savannah and Jekyll Island, I only exposed two rolls of film.  Today, I developed the other roll that included some Forsyth Park images, and a few from Jekyll Island.  I like this one from JI.   I think the witchy trees contribute an eerie sense to a quite ordinary scenic overlook viewing bench.  As the temperature was in the 90s, the humidity oppressive, and swarms of gnats were buzzing about without mercy, it's no wonder no one had chosen to sit there.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August in the southeast is a time to allow for liberal doses of indoor hibernation.  Days go by in the 90s without  a weather forecaster's comment about a heat wave....of course it's a heat wave...what's to discuss!???  It's is the obverse of winter time snow and ice up north.  Even its worst, though, there is still nothing to shovel, nor any reason to be housebound.  No...get in your car and drive to the mall...always 72ish, and comfortable.  Boring as it is, at least you can walk around.   

This past weekend  I visited Savannah with some friends to see a photography exhibit at SCAD.  It was a retrospective of the regional photographer, Jack Leigh.  Beautiful work shown in an exquisite city that can charm the feathers from a peacock!  The next day, I drove to Jekyll Island to revisit driftwood beach.  The weather was witheringly hot and humid, but I did the best I could nonetheless.  Here are two from that visit.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

There are two more monographs I've obtained that I am enjoying a lot.  One is by the late Georgia photographer, Jack Leigh titled The Land I'm Bound To.  The other is by George Tice titled Seacoast Maine.  Both are vivid evocations of place, and both do it well.   Many of Leigh's photographs share themes with those of Tice, and there's no doubt that he's been influenced by that master, but Leigh is genuinely of coastal Georgia and is original and true to that subject.  I mention this because I need the influence too.  This flat Florida landscape isn't easy to photograph the way the rolling hills, and open forests of New York are.  Both Leigh and Tice use fog as an important filtering element, but that's not so common here.  Coastal Florida, though, has incredible clouds that form on many summer afternoons and often bring local downpours. The photograph here was made standing at the edge of the little roadside pullout where I found the bent over tree in my previous post. The clouds were not spectacular, but were good enough!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Until I feel ready to resume the Kingsley project, I will continue to look for other stuff to photograph here.  I've had the best luck along one particular drive that also brings me to the plantation road. It makes me a bit twitchy to drive past it,  but I'm forcing myself to wait while my imagination incubates what to do next there.   These two were made within a mile or so of each other.  It seems the best 'scapes here usually involve sky and water.  But sometimes, there are trees that compel a photograph as well.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Two things happened to me in the last two days that have had an impact.  One was a Charlie Rose interview with Sally Mann in which she demurred having talent, but acknowledged having tenacity.  To that end, she declared a willingness to rephotograph a subject as many times as it took to get it 'right', and then persistence in the darkroom to realize the best the good negative could surrender.  The second was the purchase of two monographs.  The first was 'here far away' by Pennti Sammallahti, and the second was Wynn Bullock, 'Revelations', a retrospective.  Their impact was to smack me upside the head about what it takes to 'make a picture', rather than render a negative.  Without Photoshop, these traditional artists bring drama and dynamic tension to what would be very ordinary images by intense burning and dodging.  Sometimes those techniques are so subtle you don't notice they've been applied, but the success of other images is entirely due to those blatant manipulations.

I'm in a learning process with the slave cabin pictures.  I need them to be much more dramatic, and that's not easy given what they are in reality.  Here are two that I've pushed to the edge of credibility, although they still look less than I want them to.  So, I may have to rephotograph the lot in a different way.  Tenacity and patience are the crucibles of progress. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When the Kingsley slave cabins were inhabited, the area around them, and all the acres beyond were cleared for cultivation.  The riotous growth of flora in the interval from then until now is astonishing to a northerner who is accustomed to slow growth, and a minimal understory.  One would expect clutter, but whole forests of trees risen as these are is a phenomenon new to me.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Standing in one of these cabins on a hot, sunny day becomes very uncomfortable very quickly.  This is one of only a couple of frames I exposed last week when I preferred to stay in the shade and make photographs from a distance.  If I used a digital camera I suppose I'd be much less choosy about what to photograph, and 'shoot' a great many more frames.  But, with film, I take a lot of time to select subjects.  Despite the heat and glare, I took a while with this one. My shirt was wet when I walked away to seek relief under the shade trees nearby. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

More by accident than design, I drove to Kingsley chasing some gorgeous clouds and found myself stopping instead at the cabins even though I promised myself I wouldn't.  The weather is hotter than it was in May, but the light is still about the same...bright sun, and strong shadows, so I hadn't much expectation of anything looking different.  As I was inclined to stand in the shade, I chose to regard the cabins from a distance (although I also got into one and made some exposures there too.)  It's taken a long time to decide to include some of the contemporary settings for these buildings...particularly a palm tree or two, but they're there, so they need to be photographed.  The forested image is similar to one I've posted earlier, but different enough to present.  In the end, if I can only choose one, it will be nice to have several to pick from. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I am no fan of palm trees.  In fact, I think they're rather ugly, and I am eager to fell the one that inhabits our front lawn in favor of a deciduous or some such leafy tree native to this area.  But, being the true softie that I am, I wouldn't take down our palm tree without regret.  And, when I come across one living a solitary life, I feel a degree of compassion.  Go figure!

Friday, June 13, 2014

As I've not yet lived here for one full year, I can't anticipate seasonal weather patterns as I could in New York.  But when there's 'weather' other than relentless sun, it's pretty compelling.  These three photographs are from the same roll as yesterday's post.  The first two were made as a storm was gathering, and the third as it cleared from my immediate area.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

These photographs are the first in my respite from the Kingsley project.  Oddly, they were taken on the road that leads to the plantation, but not because I was going there.  However, that road is more interesting to me than any other I've discovered in this overgrown landscape with its impenetrable  jungles, and flat terrain that doesn't provide even minimally elevated points of view.  As looking to the land is so unproductive, looking to the sea and the sky is crucial, and celebrating interesting trees is a daily quest.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I think it may be time to give the Kingsley project a rest.  I could easily burn more film there, but a lot of those photographs would be tiresomely repetitious.  As I've never done a project like this, I'm curious to discover how patience and percolation will inform it when I return.  It may require the light of a different season, or a lot of rain, or longed for fog, or human presence to stimulate new images that are different enough to be included.  In fact, I just discovered that descendents of the enslaved residents of the plantation are well known to the NPS people who maintain the place, and they attend various commemorations and ceremonies that are held there.  Meeting some of them would be a huge thrill whether or not they ever were photographically a part of this work. Here are a final two for a while that I took on June 1st.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The range of textures among these cabin remains is extreme.   These restored walls have been stuccoed with a material made from sand and oyster shell based lime.  The National Park service (using volunteers, I think) has done some wonderful work with a few cabins whose walls now look as they likely did when new.  The lintels are impressive, too, as I think they may have been hand hewn at least somewhat after being sawn.  They look authentic anyway.   Originally, the windows would have had wooden shutters to keep out as much nasty weather (and flying critters) as possible. Sooner or later I'll make an appointment with the person in charge of the plantation to get my facts checked, although I've read enough to believe I've been fairly accurate. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

As strong and durable as tabby is, it is perpetually vulnerable to vegetation that so easily finds a foothold on its rough texture, and organic composition.  This is the only plant I've seen on any of the walls, and I'm loathe to report it to the rangers, or tear it out myself.  I don't think this one little guy will do any harm as long as he doesn't make friends with any newcomers.  I want to photograph it again in different light, but I had to be sure I had at least this one lest it be gone when I visit again.

Update:  I have replaced the photograph I posted with this one that is better I think.