Monday, March 31, 2014

I spend a lot of time looking at the photographs of other people whom I admire.  I sometimes wish I were able to easily visit visually interesting places that are very different from here. The photographers I like a lot travel all over the place, but also find their own backyards worth recording.  I am trying to do that too, as I have and continue to do with Kingsley Plantation.  But, looking back over old negatives is almost like taking a trip to make pictures that I couldn't have made from here, or from our house in New York.  This one is a detail of one of the many falls at Tremen Glenn in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  I may have posted it here a long time ago, but even so, it's been redesigned by cropping, and toning in the way I've been doing for the past few years and is very different than originally printed.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Here is another in this ongoing project.  When Kingsley plantation was active, there would not have been any growth behind this cabin.  No trees, no Spanish Moss, no understory.  It's testament to the felicitous conditions for vegetation that a veritable jungle has erupted since the plantation was in use.  Beyond this cabin were more than 900 acres of cleared, arable land.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just can't help it, and it has nothing to do with photography, but v/v current events in Russia/Ukraine....Putin on the Blitz!  Sorry.  It won't happen again. (Lies, all lies, yes it will happen again he said to his evil half!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kingsley Plantation will probably hold my photographic interest for a long time to come.  Worthy bodies of work are not accumulated quickly, so I expect to be visiting it quite often.  Having posted a group of mostly abstract images of the cabins I want to offer some context regarding their place.  Only 60 cleared acres remain of the original 1000 arable acres.  The cabins are sited on those, and immediately behind them, there is a riot of dense, jungle-like abundance.  The first of these two pictures includes a tree that may or may not be ancient enough to have shaded the cabin behind it.  But, the other portrays the dense growth that was not there when the plantation was an active farm. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

If you've been visiting here for a while, you'll be aware that I have struggled to find subjects that I felt a resonance with other than the beach.  Kingsley Plantation, however, has been a wonderful find.  The slave cabins assume a sculptural quality when their planes and angles interact with strong sunlight.  I went back again yesterday, and spent a long time shooting two rolls of film (20 exposures altogether).  I don't use a zoom lens, and don't rattle off 150 digital attempts that get sorted out in Lightroom later.  For just one frame, I may move the tripod three or four times after having examined the subject from as many viewpoints as possible.  Here are three more from this most recent visit.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Having lived in the north until last August, slavery was something I studied in high school and in a 'black history' course I took in college.  I had no visceral sense of it at all.  But living in the south now, I've sometimes encountered relics and reminders of institutionalized racism.  My stepson goes to a high school that was once a segregated 'black' school that is now a magnet school of the arts. But, the greatest impact of any echoes of the pre-civil rights south are the relics of slavery.  The photographs here are of slave cabins on the Kingsley Plantation, an estate managed by the National Park Service that has preserved the main house, many outbuildings, and the ruins of cabins lived in by 60 to 80 enslaved Africans who worked the farm.  They are made of tabby, a locally manufactured building material made of whole and ground oyster shells, then coated with a lime putty also derived from the shells.  Here's a link to a Wikipedia article about tabby and these particular cabins.

I want to add this link as well to the history of this plantation.  It is a very unusual story, and is perhaps unique in the kind of life its enslaved population lived.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Did you know that lab rats giggle when tickled?  Did you know that cows have 'best friends'?  Did you know that monkeys fake laughter with their fellow monkeys when their fellow monkey's chatter bores them? much for the primitive notion that lesser creatures than humans are 'dumb'.  Only the most mean spirited and ignorant fail to notice how 'human' our animal cousins really are.  They laugh and play, love and mourn, rejoice and suffer.  We are soooo close.  But, what of plants?  This, and many other trees that are chosen to be photographed, are isolates.  They have had no choice.  They grow where their seeds take root.  Given the as yet undiscovered languages and society of animals, is there also an as yet undetected language and society of plants?  Do they have spirits that inhabit the ether and commune in ways we can't really imagine?   Our human ancestor's were animists and believed that spirits inhabited all living things plant and animal.  Were they right?  Did we lose that sense with the establishment of monotheistic religions?

I was driving to Jekyll Island when I noticed this lonely palm in the midst of a vast salt marsh.  I stopped and photographed it with a wide angle and telephoto lens.  This is the fruit of the latter that I otherwise rarely use (300mm on the Pentax 67).  As with many other lonely trees, I hope what I've imaginecd could exist and actually does, and this guy has buddies even though they aren't close. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

As is typical on barrier islands, the sea and the weather take their toll in fallen trees and erosion.  This nearly post-apocalyptic looking beach is on the ocean side of Jekyll Island, Georgia.  That these two trees remained rooted in the sandy soil is remarkable as their supine brothers litter the shore all around them.  Further in from the ocean, similar trees survive and bend away from the persistent wind coming from the sea.  If I return here in another decade, even those may have endured a similar fate.

Monday, March 3, 2014

At least once every year I hit a dry spell that's frustrating and disappointing.  Sometimes it's due to circumstances I can't control like our recent move to Jacksonville, Florida.  Or, it's due to pressures of work that interfere with the openhearted approach to making a photograph that I need to do anything worthwhile (no longer an excuse as retirement has set in!).  Now, it's due to a persistent frustration with my new-to-me Florida environment that just isn't stimulating my creative impulses.  I have lived in the northeast all my life thus far, and have thrived on the rich variety of seasonal changes that are so inspiring.  That variety presents itself with changes of color that offer seasonally different tonal values, changes in the intensity of natural light that are a seasonal feature of a northern latitude, and flora that grows less densely than the near jungle effect that is so locally prevalent (see Clyde Butcher's work here:  ).  But, the ocean is still a wonderful resource and I will continue to look to it for inspiration.  I may change my approach, and do some long exposure work with the view camera, or travel farther away for features on the shore that may be appealing. 

I will, of course, get through this, but I hope the breakthrough happens soon.!