Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Homage to WRJ for AOA Toilers

What this Vermonter thinks of when she thinks of White River Junction.

I look at this picture, and know that soon, when I see it in real life, I will be free, unfettered, and perhaps with just a little hair left!

And, I must say, this Saturday will be the first time in my life that WRJ is a DESTINATION and not a stop on the way to somewhere else!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reality Check Here

This is my desk -- and I'll bet it's a stand-in for 19 others.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Destruction

Christmas Eve Destruction

This church building survived the 1927 flood, but not the night of Christmas Eve 2008. My cousins were all married here. As a child I went to the country fair here, before it got too big and had to move to behind the school. It is/was in the heart of Fairfax--its white steeple the quintessential symbol of the New England village. It's been a store now for many years, and like all village stores, you never went there without running into someone you knew. And, it was the only general store in the heart of the village. There are two others, but outside the village.

I have known for many years that one should make sure to tell the people you love that you do love them. You don't know what the tomorrows bring. Well, it can hold true for Vermont as well. We need to notice, and to show, that we love it. Because, over the course of many tomorrows, it too may be "changed utterly." (Yeats again.)

My close friend, Mike Cain, is not only a member of the Fairfax Fire Department and president of the Fairfax Historical Society, he also lives about 100 yards from the fire. On his web site there are many spectacular images of the Steeple Market Christmas Eve fire.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Only in Vermont!

This is my holiday picture of the year.

This truck is driven around the north country at night during the holiday season. Coming home from Burlington one evening last week I found myself behind it in Westford and followed it all the way to where I turn off 104 to go home. Just after turning onto my road, I craned my neck to watch it disappear down the hill outside of Faifax.

Well, it didn't. I saw its blinker on to turn into Nan's Mobil and quick did a U-ee. Of course I didn't have my tripod, but managed to will myself still for the shot. This kind of thing can give you the warm fuzzies about Vermont.

The truck is one of S.D. Ireland's fleet of concrete mixers. And, notice the shamrock. On March 17th, Ireland lines up ALL of their trucks and the convoy drives around the Burlington area, shamrocks turning and horns blowing all the while. (They may go farther afield, but I don't know.) I once saw the line of them out my office window when I worked in a building at Tafts Corners. It was impressive.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


In her comment on my previous post, Susan asked if I could make malls appealing subjects to the artist. Well, not really. Though the image above is quite fine in my book, it's not exactly a building portrait that Lowe's could love. I'm working on some others, but it's like getting blood from a stone.

Monday, December 22, 2008

For Susan Abbott

From the moment I knew I was a finalist I've known that somehow my project would have to include something ongoing for making and keeping connections between Vermonters and artists, and, I've just realized--also between artist and artists. And this post shows why.

I've been following everyone's blog and soaking up the images, but Susan was among the first heavy duty bloggers and so she's got the longest track record for me. And, as a photographer repelled by power lines, I've been fascinated to see them in her work. So, last Saturday on my way down to Burlington, I stopped the car in the middle of the road in Essex and shot this. It's not art, but it shows that I now see things I blocked out before.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hard Edges

That's it. The title of my project. Hard is, well, "hard" as in not soft, but it also means "difficult".

Everywhere, in everything I've read--the books, the CFV stuff, letters to the editor about Walmart--everywhere. It's hard edges.

Walmart yes. Walmart no.
Jobs/Transportation. Seclusion/Privacy.
Development. Preservation.

If I close my eyes, I sense threats everywhere to everything that we want to keep. Violence is abroad in the land. Like any war, this one escalates all too easily. And, the only defense is control. But control needs consensus. And consensus slams up against the hard edges. It is a vicious cycle and we spin eternally. In Yeats' words: Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.

He also gave us the phrase a terrible beauty. I will go after that. As beautiful things disappear, one struggles to find and keep them. As more disappear, terror creeps in. The beauty that we seek to hold becomes a terrible one in that we cannot hold it.

Hard Edges is something that photography can deal with. I can deal with.

Friday, December 19, 2008


The previous posts that might have been were consumed by my actually WRITING my proposal the last couple of days and by yesterday I was approaching cloud nine, sort of. And, this morning . . . !@#$!@#$!%*.

I woke up with a totally new idea. All along I've been wrestling with contrast, a tool I feel is among the most powerful that photographers have. The proposal that I just trashed doesn't cut it on that score; it just wimped around the edges of it.

With contrast it is possible, as was once said of the job of a diplomat, to hit you over the head and also make you like being hit over the head.

I know this: I don't want to get to just the people who normally look at art and visit galleries. I want to include images that might just appeal to those to whom an art gallery is a foreign country. (My relatives are mostly in the latter group, so I know what I'm talking about!).

I grew up in a small New York town on the St. Lawrence River. When I was 9 or 10, I was yelled at by my teacher for being late for school. The same day I was yelled at by my mother for being late coming home. Between me and the school was a steam shovel digging up the earth for a cellar. I couldn't tear myself away from it. The sound, the rhythmic swinging of its arm, the cascading earth as it fell from the shovel. It was blue and huge and it ate things. And, no one ever made a cute, squishey Barney out of that dinosaur.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Franklin County Pictures!

Finally, I know something for sure about my project.

There will be pictures of Franklin County.

This is a matter of concern to me because in all the Vermont and New England books I've read or skimmed lately (and in my lifetime) pictures north of Burlington range from none to few and very far between. All my adult life I've known that folks were fond of saying "Franklin County has more cows than people." And, that statement always made me proud. (Aside: I think that may no longer be true.) But you won't find images from here among the luscious views in Washington or LaMoille or Orange counties. An occasional one on a calendar, yes, but, photographically, this seems to be the forgotten county. Not any more.

Though, I must say, it's rather a daunting task for a photographer to contemplate taking pictures of the "future". Hey, if I could do that, I'd be funding an arts project!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I'm sharing this with you all this morning because I don't want to be depressed alone.

Climate Change and Future Land Use in the Adirondack Park is a very well-written short piece that will likely make you want to get drunk or to lock yourself in a room and do whatever it is you do to escape the world. We should read it for the simple reason that the Adirondacks are our closest neighbors and their problems are and will be ours.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yet Another Driving Hazard

Reading the "Gravestones" section of Christopher Lenney's book, Sightseeking: Clues to the Landscape History of New England, I came across another delectable piece of information illustrated by the following image:

Early Christian cemeteries buried folks with their feet pointing East so that they would, on the day of resurrection, be properly aligned when they arose from the dead. Thus, all graves are so aligned in our old cemeteries. At least in the ones I've seen. Further, as you stand before a headstone to read the inscription, the body lies on the other side of the stone.

I now carry a compass with me. And am even more in terror of driving off the road. As I said in a comment on Dana's blog, I now constantly survey any likely wooded area that I drive by in case I might spot a "wolf tree". And now, I also make fast calculations (if I can see the sun) about the headstone alignment in any graveyard. If the sun isn't visible, even with a cloudy simulacrum, I slow down and whip out my compass.

I sincerely hope I live to turn in my proposal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

IP and Art of Action Art

Something's been bugging me for a while, and now, with the advent of several more bloggers on our little scene, I can't sit on it any longer.

And, I'm apologizing before-hand, if anyone feels I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. BUT . . .

There is a lot of quite splendid images appearing in these blogs and I just want to make sure that folks are attaching at least the bare minimum of IPTC information to those images.

I know that most of you are painters and draughtsmen, but even though a digital image of your work is not THE work itself, it is still your property.

The "bare minimum" is your name, © Your Name 2008., and either your email or the URL of a website where someone can contact you.

Without this information, any image you put up on the web becomes what is now being referred to in the art world (and in Congress) as "an orphan work".

If you use PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements, you can get this info into your image by the File Info selection under the File Menu. (Other image handling programs may have similar access, though it might be under IPTC.) If your image handling program does not have this, toss it, and get another. AND, if you use any version of PhotoShop BEFORE CS4, and use the option "Save for Web", any data you have put into the image file is stripped! Adobe has been pounded on this, and has corrected the situation with CS4.

If any one wants to know more or needs help, I am easily contactable and happy to help. My phone is here. (Just not after 4 p.m. I'm usually at the keyboard by 3:30 or 4 a.m. so I'm apt to be somewhat inchoherent at the end of the day!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now You See It. Then You Won't.

I've been reading letters to the editor in newspapers, and hearing snippets on the television about people having fits about potential installations of wind towers and cell towers--in their back yards or on ridge lines. I guess someone, somewhere always will object to some installation.

After months and months of this, I'm finally ticked off. As those reading this will know I'm a photographer. Part of what I do is shoot stock photos which include "travel/scenic type shots" of Vermont.

Well, I've yet to see a cell tower, or a wind tower that I can't get past or around to get a good shot in the vicinity. BUT, and it's a big BUT, I daily curse power lines. Loudly, vociferously, and profanely. They go for miles, occasionally changing over from one side of the road to another. But that's it -- they are ubiquitous and ugly as hell.

I don't, however, see any letters to the editor about power lines ruining the scenery.

And, I'll bet it's just because, most non-photographer types don't even see them. They've been here a very long time after all. So, I expect, that in 2080 or so, nobody will see the cell towers or wind towers either. As for me, I'd sure rather breathe clean air and be connected to the rest of the world, than not.

And, hey, we could paint the wind towers greenish on the bottom, moving through hues of blue and gray to white at the top. And, yes, you can put one in my back yard!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Disappearing Article

Reference to Vermonters being possessed of (or by) a sense of place keeps coming up in many of the materials I've been reading over the last couple of months--in books, in quotes from folks appearing in the various reports from the Council on the Future of Vermont, in reviews where art concerning Vermont is considered. Many places.

This reminded me of something said by someone I worked with years ago who had recently come up here from New Jersey. In a tone bordering on disgust, she said, "It drives me crazy that people up here use the definite article when you ask them where they live!"

She was referring of course to exactly the kind of answer I give when someone asks me where I live. My answer: I live on the Buck Hollow Road.

THE Buck Hollow Road. But, if one lives in a city, of course you don't say that. You say, "I live on Congress Street."

My deep language and literature background causes my skin to crawl when I consider how long it might be before this particular use of the definite article is not a significator of a rural Vermonter, but rather an anachronism.

And, I can tell you when this will occur: it will happen when your road is no longer a rural road. And then, the word "road" will itself be an anachronism. We don't have roads in cities, we have streets.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Can A Painting Do?

I was startled yesterday in Montpelier to hear Dana Wigdor ask this question in three-way conversation with myself and Susan Abbott after the webinar. We were of course talking about our art impacting Vermonters, or the future of Vermont.

As I drove north in the gathering dark, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I probably can't answer it to her satisfaction, but I sure can for myself, and maybe even in the context of the Art of Action project.

I sat in tears in the Turner Room of the National Gallery in London many years ago. And, years after that I stood transfixed and stunned in the Ontario Gallery of Art the first time I saw the work of Canada's Group of Seven.

In those moments something coursed through all the interstices of my brain, likely much as our blood flashes warmth to our whole body from a single swallow of hot coffee by way of the suddenly heated blood coursing through our arteries.

Maybe this is what we need to do. Go after that grail of "touching blood". Make them hurt, dance, weep, howl, feel heat in the blood, but above all think.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Long Ago and the Now Future

These days everything I read is read against the background of Vermont's Future. This article on digital privacy in the NY Times, 29 Nov. 08, is no exception:

"[Dr. Alex Pentland, MIT Media Lab,] says "there are ways to avoid surveillance-society pitfalls that lurk in the technology. For the commercial use of such information, he has proposed a set of principles derived from English common law to guarantee that people have ownership rights to data about their behavior. The idea revolves around three principles: that you have a right to possess your own data, that you control the data that is collected about you, and that you can destroy, remove or redeploy your data as you wish."

English Common Law

All Canada except Quebec and all of the United States except Louisiana follow common law. U.S. state statutes usually provide that the common law, equity, and statutes in effect in England in 1603, the first year of the reign of James I, shall be deemed part of the law of the jurisdiction. --The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia

The Expanded Party Line

If you were around Vermont after most folks had phones, you will remember the 8 party lines. I remember my Aunt Eula on her chair, heavy black receiver in one fist, the other hand clamped over the mouthpiece, listening. Fast forward to this, again from the Times article:

"The new information tools symbolized by the Internet are radically changing the possibility of how we can organize large-scale human efforts," said Thomas W. Malone, director of the M.I.T. Center for Collective Intelligence.

"For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew," Dr. Malone said. "In some sense we’re becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Tiny Loss to Good Progress

In the past, my work has focused on what is fading from the landscape. But here is something not of what we usually think of as landscape. But it was once a common sight in interior landscapes. Less so now.

This will not be with us much longer. As we work hard to insulate our homes, replace old and rotting window frames in order to conserve energy and lower fuel costs, there is one small casualty.

Winter's frost on the window.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Broadband Advocacy

For purely selfish reasons (as well as normal ones) I welcome the latest AOA blogger: Dana Wigdor. Her blog, eVillage is tackling an issue dear to my heart and aggravating as hell, but which I as a photographer, could not find a way to work with artistically!

She's coming to grips with broadband accessibility in Vermont. Right now thinking about how it can have a tiny footprint. Or at least I hope she is--our projects are still in the germination stages.

As a photographer, among other activities, I contribute to a stock agency that requires the size of submitted images to be at least 48MB. This translates to a file size of anywhere between 8MB and 14MB that has to be uploaded. The pain of this on slow satellite (which is not even working in rain and snow) is excruciating. And, for this privilege I pay $50 per month!! This is the lowest service tier of three; I can't afford the higher ones. (And, I paid $200 to get it installed!)

I'm living with the windy promises of our governor, and various official folks who are quite pleased to be able to announce that 2010 or 2012 will see all of Vermont with broadband-- and this from an administration that also says it wants to bring clean industry to the State. Telecommuting is growing and clean, and we're definitely missing the boat--in fact we've already missed it and are simply hanging onto the gunwales.

I'm rooting for Dana, even against my own AOA self-interest. You go girl!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let's Get Down What We Want . . .

Two Pages in "Two Vermonts"

I've been plowing through Two Vermonts by Paul Searls and practically on every page wishing for concrete examples of just what uphillers or downhillers wanted at any given time. I would give a lot if Searls simply once defined authentically rural life!

And, on pp. 154-155 I at last found something quotable.

...Vermont's appeal to early-twentieth-century Americans lay in the degree to which outsiders perceived that the authentically rural life [...] described as extinct in fact survived.

...the downhillers' unilateral approach to achieving a "new Vermont" imperiled the very remnants of the way of life they praised as the source of Vermont's virtues. If they had wholly had their way, there would eventually have been nothing left to sell.

and finally this Vermont oxymoron

...Beautiful Vermont, a short book aimed at selling summer homes [put out by the State Board of Agriculture contained this quote:]"...in a scenic sense, Vergennes is superb." Therefore, "a great future awaits the capitalist or association of moneyed interests that decides to establish a big industry in Vergennes."

Postively schizophrenic. Now, and once again or perhaps, as usual, we are still messing about with this dichotomy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Birthday Present

I'm scared to death to write this, but I think maybe the half-day off I took on my birthday a few days ago to play with my model railroad, might actually have uncramped my brain.

Or maybe it's just something in the Vermont November air, because Elizabeth has also just announced she's found her way to a project.

Whatever. I just may have done so as well. It seems to be becoming a "what is, what was, what could be (ought to be)" consideration of the landscape. And, I'd better say that my approach to landscape is all-inclusive. Taft's Corners is just as much a landscape as is the glorious view of Mt. Mansfield from the top of Carroll Hill next to my back yard.

I think I still have an issue to resolve however. And it arises when I think about the pieces of our projects being sold. Being bought by someone who wants to hang art on their wall. I'm not at all sure I'd want some of my visual presentations of my ideas hanging on my wall!

Here's part of one "diptych":

I'm going to have to chew on this a bit.

Same Sunset - Two Artists!

This image (from an earlier post) is here again because of a wonderful coincidence.

I swear that this same sunset was photographed by David Kearns from the Firehouse Studio in Burlington, Vermont, just 30 miles south of me. David is not just another artist, but he is also, as I am, a finalist in the Vermont Arts Council and Lyman Orton's Art of Action Project in Vermont.

Here the link to his images of it that he displays in the small slide show that's second on the right of his page.

And here's my image (again):

Lost History Recovered!

Two exciting days in Fletcher, Vermont!

Yesterday I met with Charlie Tinker, our local genealogist, at the Town Clerk's Office to look at some of the 350 4 x 5 glass negatives that town residents have recently purchased. They will be and are the basis for the fledgling Fletcher Historical Society of Vermont. So far it's Charlie and me.

The negatives were stored in a Fletcher attic somewhere around 1910 or so, and then, some decades later were shoved out to a barn. Where they have remained until someone (unfortunately not a Fletcher resident) came across them when he was was asked to look at stuff in the barn for possible purchase.

Well, he got them, and now the residents of Fletcher have forked over $4,000 for them. They contain images of ancestors of many current Fletcher residents, images of buildings, farm animals (especially oxen), schools and school children, snowstorms, and heaven knows what else.

I've just finished pricing the necessary archival storage materials for them so that we can beg folks for more money. (Archiving them properly will cost about $300.)

They are currently wrapped in pulp paper, some of it actual newspaper--an archival nightmare. But, fortunately, they are almost all labeled with names AND dates. So, the old wrappings will have to be indexed as well. It is a large task, but thoroughly exciting.

Yesterday I photographed some of them in a makeshift manner, but scanning will be much better. Here's one of them from 1907.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Finally: a lighter moment in this project!

This is an excerpt from today's Sunday NYTimes on the multiplying markets for commercial advertising. I've cut out the extraneous bits.

Hitt: Let me give you a scenario. I'm the somewhat desperate C.E.O. of a company called Jack's Overalls. We manufacture functional clothes, and in the era of corporate farming, our market is fading. My younger vice presidents are telling me that we need to try new media.

Bastholm: Well, we do have a ton of different new media and new ways to use them. But before we get there, I would suggest that first, you take a step backward and ask yourself, How do I make my brand relevant? Overalls are a staple of Americana, a cultural icon. The question is, How can you make overalls relevant to people today, and how can you use these different media channels to accomplish that?

Palmer: Your customers in the past have been farmers. Overalls are a commodity.

Very functional. And your market is shrinking.

Palmer: So you have to create a new market. Farming may be going away, but what's on the rise? Right now your overalls are made with special pockets and holders for farming tools. Maybe we retool them for urban farmers, as it were, and their specialized gear. You have special pockets for your iPhone and your BlackBerry, and a pocket for your headphones, another for your wallet, your subway card, your keys.

Bastholm: Let's really take the brand into the 21st century, shall we? Why don't we put a ShotCode on the front of every single pair of overalls. A ShotCode is like a bar code. You scan it with the camera in your cellphone. And then something comes out the other end. With bar codes, it's a price. But with a ShotCode, it could be a song, it could be a picture, it could be a link to a Web site.

Hitt: People would come up and shoot me with a cellphone?

At 5 a.m. this gave me a real chuckle. (Disclosure here: I wear overalls a lot, especially in the spring and fall.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Food for Thought

There's been a pause in this blog as I work on my proposal for the Vermont Arts Council Art of Action Project. That work also includes a blog, which is being updated far more than this one at the moment. See here.

But today, I stumbled upon this meaty piece by Andrew Keen about the Internet. It is, IMHO a must read.

Confessions of an Internet Iconoclast. You have to scroll down a bit to find it.

After reading it, I was reminded of my ever-so-often-recurring thought about television: it could have been such a wonderful thing.

Still, I am an IA (internet aficionado) and likely always will be. But, at the same time, I agree completely with Andrew!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Landscape and Responsibility

The following quote--though not specifically about Vermont, does give a broad view of historical "progress". (Italics are mine.)

By the end of the nineteenth century the majority of Americans were already living in towns and cities; the majority of Americans, that is, had pretty well broken their ties with the rural landscape and had begun to forget the role that the landscape had once played in the formation of their character and identity. I do not mean to imply that the new industrial order invariably meant a lowering of the quality of the environment of the average American. Quite the contrary: many small farmers and farm laborers were happy to exchange their exhausted acres and squalid houses for less strenuous work in a factory and a home in a company town. . . . Furthermore, the urban American found that all significant experiences, good or bad, now usually took place in the company of many other people, often strangers, and in environments owned or controlled either by the public authority or by a corporation: factory, office, or store; beach, park, or sports arena--environments for which the average citizen did not and could not feel any responsibility.

John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, pp. 62-63.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Stumbled on Stuff

I'm finding it truly amazing the Vermont bits I am

More Stumbled on Stuff

I'm finding it truly amazing the Vermont bits I am falling over as I research this project! But this one may beat all for its oddity:
Vermont Town Repeals Ban On Fortunetelling
ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP)-- . . . . Soothsaying might still be banned in some parts of the country, but St. Johnsbury has repealed the ordinance against peering into the future that it had on the books since 1966.
. . .
The ordinance had left little to chance, banning practitioners from telling fortunes or attempting "to reveal future events in the life of another or by means of occult or psychic powers, faculties or forces, clairvoyance, psychometry, spirit-mediumship, prophecy, astrology, palmistry, necromancy, cards, talismans, charms, potions, magnetism or magnetized articles or substances, oriental mysteries or magic of any kind or nature; to undertake or pretend to find or restore lost or stolen money or property, gold or silver or other ore or metal or natural product; or to undertake or pretend to unite, or reunite or to find lovers, husbands, wives, lost relatives or friends."

Full link here to the story which is on CBS3 online. (Note: the ban was repealed in July 2008.)

Perhaps We Need a Referendum Too?

Read this in today's New York Times Editorial Section:

Across the nation, voters approved $7.3 billion in new spending for parks and open-space preservation. Sixty-two of the 87 referendums to acquire or otherwise protect open space were approved. And the support came in rural, Republican areas, as well as in those that lean toward the Democrats.

Full editorial is here.

Especially called out were California, Florida, Minnesota, and if you can believe it, New Jersey.

New Jersey voters showed that they feel strongly about acquiring open space before it is all eaten up by strip malls and McMansions.

If Vermont doesn't figure out something soon, we may lose our edge in the new "Green" World.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Going in Circles

I ran across this note in the Public Forum Notes from Chittenden County (on CD from Sarah) June 2008:

"Transportation is an issue. VT is very spread out – hard to get places. One person said even getting to Burlington from Essex Junction was difficult."

I'm scratching my head because I know that one of the two prime influences that changed Vermont in a major way some 40 years ago was the construction of I-89. The change came because by means of the highway, it was EASY to "get off the farm"--to commute to Burlington for the job market.

Maybe our art should consist of medieval wheel of fortune images? With some regularity it seems the same issues rise and fall in some mystifyingly structured order.

Are we condemned to always have the same history repeating itself for each generation?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Troubled Thinking: My Ball and Chain

The pause in the blog resulting from my laser eye surgery, was maybe a good thing. I think I've come to terms with why I'm having such difficulty with this project. And, ironically, the reason is the same one that made me want to apply. What got me here now seems like a ball and chain.

As long as I read the several books I have going and keep on taking notes, I'm fine. Whenever I start to think visually and viscerally, I short circuit. And, this picture represents the reason for that disconnect.

This was my field, my mother's field, my Aunt Eula's field, my grandmother Clara's field, and my great-grandfather's field. He bought this land in 1867. My grandmother was born in 1865. The cluster of trees on the far right surrounds and now encases a large rock ledge. My Aunt Grace died on that ledge one morning in 1925 when a blood clot moved and struck her heart. My parents built a shack there in the 1930s. My cousin Brenda and I played there often in the late '40s and early '50s. And, until 1969 or so, that was where all the detritus from the farm was dumped. Most of it now gone back to earth, except for bigger pieces of iron, and the glass.

To survive and keep what few acres remain of the family land, I had to sell this field last December. Right in the middle of this image, there will be a house next year. And, as far as the Art of Action project goes, I have not been able to get past this image. It, me, and my family history so clearly and strongly illustrates one of Vermont's on-going issues while causing me real pain, that I can't find my way forward. But I will keep trying.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Short Hiatus Here

I had non-elective laser surgery on my right eye yesterday and it seems likely to be couple of days before things are back to being better. Thought I could put up a new post with images, but that proved too much.

So, have to do the things with deadlines. I simply can't imagine anyone have such stuff done to their eyes JUST so they wouldn't have to wear glasses. Boggles my mind!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vermont Infrastructure Rant

These images, taken this past September, are "lovely" indicators of the state of rail travel in Vermont. The first one is a view of the Amtrak Passenger Station as you approach from the parking lot. The second is a closeup of the station sign, which perfectly illustrates the current state of rail travel: neglected and underfunded.

As an interesting aside to do with post-9/11 "security issues" there is this:

Because I live about 14 miles from St. Albans, but want very much to photograph freight trains, I inquired at the NECR office about the freight schedule. No dice. Forbidden to give out freight schedules. So, I left and went about shooting, including the first in this post. As I walked up to the door of the Amtrak station, there, for all to read, was the schedule of the daily Amtrak passenger trains! Save the goods and to hell with the people.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Farmers "disappeared" by Census Bureau

Read this somewhere recently and can only conclude that I must have read it after I was in bed and without my notebook.

Apparently, in 1990, the word "farmer" was removed from the occupations list of the U.S. Census Bureau and replaced with "agricultural worker".

That should have cut all Vermont farmers to the quick, and likely did when they found out about it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Model for Development

The image is from Vermont Images in the FSA-OWI Collection-1935-1945.

It is by Arthur Rothstein and is of a garage owner sitting in his garage in Cambridge, Vermont which has been converted from a blacksmith shop. It was shot in the later 1930s. Talk about your small footprint! Horses and shoeing have gone to pasture, and automobiles have taken to the roads. Same building, same "industry" and yet development with the changing times and without encroachment.

I am drawn to photographing the magnificent, but decaying barns that once were part of small Vermont farms, which of course has led me to think about abandonment in all its forms. And, the other day, a friend of mine commented on the new Lowe's store that has been recently built on Shelburne Road. She said that about a mile closer to Burlington there are large abandoned buildings near the K-mart store.

There must be infrastructure in those buildings--wiring, plumbing, drainage, concrete cellars, or at least a platform. Surely we can develop of kind of "Revival" architecture. Just as we commonly site new building projects within the existing landscape, why can't we consider that an abandoned building IS part of the existing landscape (as it surely is) and create a design that incorporates it?

Vermont's Future

Vermont's development as a recreational region affords the most promising opportunity for business growth in the state at the present time, and so far as can be foreseen, for a considerable period in the future . . . . The whole subject should be approached in a hardminded, intelligent, . . . spririt.

Interestingly enough, the above quote is from The Vermont Commission on Country Life, published in Rural Vermont (1931).

Let's see, that's 77 years ago. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Footnote on Roads

If you've ever attended a small Vermont Town Meeting, you will be aware that a sizeable chunk of that meeting was likely taken up by a discussion of road maintenance. The following excerpt from George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature (NY: 1864) will clearly explain the reason for this.

Friday, November 7, 2008

YAS = Yet Another Sunset/Sunrise

I just can't let go of these. The color creeps into my peripheral vision at the end of day through my southwest window as my computer work is coming to an end. I look, and then grab the camera on my way out the studio door. And, so with this one, I finally gave in and uploaded it to Alamy. And, there it will sit, no doubt with the other gazillion sunset/sunrise images. It is, and will remain, the only brazenly obvious sunset image in my stock image collection.

Also, I've started another, very specific blog. It is a chronicle of my thoughts, experiences, excitement, and angst as I create, prepare, and finalize my proposal for the Art of Action project for Lyman Orton and the Vermont Arts Council. I figured it deserved its own blog, rather than having bits scattered among the general visual stuff here.

Why wolf trees will be scarce

In my previous post I described a wolf tree. The image here provides a visual explanation of why wolf trees will be and are in short supply in Vermont. Fields that might have previously been abandoned for all the years needed to surround the wolf tree with second growth forest, are already sold as building lots. If there was a tree in the field, the best we can hope for is that it wasn't sitting where the "best house site" was. It might then have a chance of survival.

As fast as land ceases to be farmed, it is sold. Piece by piece. Acre by acre. Field by field.

Of course there will be development and growth. But, should it be two miles out from the urban area? Or six, or eight? When will the road between Fairfax and Fairfield cease to be a road and be reborn as a city street?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Study in Brown & a Wolf Tree

And then this:

I learned from Anne Whiston Spirn's book, The Language of Landscape, that there is such a thing as a "wolf tree". It is a tree that grew in an open, tilled field. It was left alone when the field was created. At that time it was not a wolf tree, but rather, just a tree.

After the field was left untilled, unfarmed, uncared for, the vegetation that had been kept at bay by plowing or haying, began to reclaim the field. As years passed, tree seeds fell on the field, from the wind or birds and began to grow. As is typical of new growth, they grew up straight. As they grew, they came to surround the old tree.

The new growth, untended, resulted in the tall, straight trunks with foliage at the top to get the light. At eye level there are none of the huge, horizontal branches that we see in the old tree.

So, there, in the middle of the skinny, new forest growth, is the very old tree, with its very old branches, large and horizontal, looking nothing like its new neighbors. And, now, its new growth grows upward rather than outward, because it too is fighting to reach the light.

New Blog for the Art of Action Project

Ideas are wildly careening in my brain and I'm setting up this blog, separate from my Photography blog, in order to help myself corral ideas that are, as Stephen Leacock famously said, "galloping off in all directions".

Being selected as a finalist in the Vermont Arts Council's Art of Action (AOA) project supported by Lyman Orton, has completely upended my visual life over the last month and will continue to do so at least until the end of January.

I realized that AOA bits were appearing piecemeal in my photography blog and thought they deserved better.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

OT: Speaking of Light--as Photographers Do

NOVEMBER 4, 2008

We finally turned the light on again in this benighted country. Let's hope it shines into all the dark corners. The last eight years have created so many.

Clair Dunn
U.S. Citizen

Just thought I'd write that to see what it feels like to admit again that I am one.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Art of Action Update: Sans Art

Just read a fellow finalist, Elizabeth Torak's latest post here, and was happy to find I had company in my state of critical mass. Everything that passes into my brain now goes through the "AOA filter". Unfortunately it's not exactly a semi-permeable membrane. Rather it seems like the huge grates that stop logs upriver from where they are not supposed to get. Which means of course, that almost everything gets into my brain.

So far rolling around is Priscilla Paton, Edwin Smith, William F. Robinson (TWO bloody books) and, Spirn on the Language of Landscape. Unfortunately, her writing style leaves something to be desired, so that's a tough row to hoe.

You will note there is no image in this post. I, like Elizabeth, am, at the moment entirely "imageless". This may be the first time I've cursed my excellent academic background.

But, I am driven to read, to note things of note, which by now are all over the map and in absolutely no order in my notebook. I'm just afraid I'll forget what was triggered if I don't write it down.

An so it goes -- and right now, I can only go with the flow. I just want to read, though I wish there were four of me. (That's the number of books I've got going.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fluorescent Lights & B/W Prints

This is a small rant.

  • 1. I try to conserve energy as much as possible.

  • 2. I have replaced all tungsten bulbs with compact fluorescent lights.

  • 3. I cannot now judge my prints in my studio after dark.

I've faked the results for you in these two images. The first is the image as it appears in daylight or with normal tungsten bulbs. The second is how the image appears under fluorescent lighting. Mine or in the gallery. (And there is no significant difference between Kodak Lustre and Fuji Pearl.

This drives me nuts. Some chemistry/optics genius needs to invent a fluorescent resistant photographic paper.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vermont Artists and a Coincidence

I've just spent the morning checking out a number of Vermont artists and what I saw was indeed "something to write home about."

Art of Action Finalists will take you to the AOA project coordinator's blog where he offers links to those artists who have a web presence. Take your time with these sites. (Skip mine.)

If you, like so many non-Vermonters, are one of those who has experienced Vermont as a state of mind rather than an actual place, you will get your grounding here.

What I've seen this morning makes me jealous of painters. Makes me love them unreservedly. And at this moment it also creates one of those "coincidences" that often occur to us, and which we usually shrug off.

Last night, early evening actually, I went outdoors to have my last cigarette of the day and noticed a faint, small reddish glow in the distance, rather near my neighbor's house. I determined that it wasn't emanating from their house, and began to get a bit alarmed as the glow was on a hill, and reddish -- in the countryside this usually means fire. As I kept watching, it began to get brighter and less red. And, in the time it took for one small, self-rolled cigarette, the moon rose, fully engulfed in wisps of clouds and pieces of night. I wept because I could not paint.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Useless Image -- Except for my Eyes

After looking at countless stock images as I was moving into the business, I spent a long time thinking about all the images with saturated colors that I saw. I also looked for comments on the prevalence of such images, but found almost nothing. It is apparently the norm.

I may be shooting myself in the foot, but I can't bring myself to do that. I try to send my stock images out into the world with their real colors. Of course sometimes this means that in the group of thumbnails on a stock agency's search page, my images will not jump off the page. I have to live with that. But if someone buys one of my images, they will get reality.

Which brings me to this image: this was taken outside my front door a couple of days ago, just before sunrise. I was transfixed by that sky. It was, as it appears, unbelievable. It looks like the most saturated of stock images. But it is not. It is wholly untouched. In my book, it's not good for anything except to take my breath away.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Analog Gear in the Digital Bag

After much cussing my second time at the site of a magnificent Vermont scenic, I have packed a compass in my camera bag.

A week or so ago, on a spur of the moment ramble around the back roads, I came upon a spectacular shot of a valley. It was late in the morning and the light wasn't good. Took some shots, but knew they'd be useless. When I got back home I looked in one of my Vermont atlases and determined that the best time of day would be late afternoon.

So, the next sunny day, I went back. Only to find that again the light was less than ideal. While the map told me that the road ran more or less North to South, it didn't show me that my exact spot was right after a severe bend in the road.

Had I had a compass with me on the first trip, my second trip would have been successful. I would have known the exact orientation of where I had located my tripod for those first shots and where the sun had to be when I came back.

Thus we learn.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

September was a good month!

Earlier this month I announced that I'd made my first stock sale. Now, on the very last day of the month, I received notification that I was one of 20 artists out of 300 applicants to be selected by The Art of Action in Vermont. This means that I will receive a sizable grant ($2,500) to research and prepare a proposal for a visual arts project that will direct attention to some of the challenges facing Vermont in the coming decades. Vermont's independent newspaper, Seven Days, has a good summary of the project.

When I received the short note from the administrator of the Call for Entries, I cried--something I don't often do. And, it was because this award told me that others saw what I was trying to do with my images. The administrator, John Zwick maintains a blog on The Art of Action here.

I'm deeply grateful to Lyman Orton, the person who made this opportunity possible. He is a member of the Orton family which owns and operates The Vermont Country Store. More to the purpose of this entry, he and other family members administer the Orton Family Foundation, a foundation intimately concerned with the environment, with quality of life, with community enhancement in any number of areas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PhotoShelter Shutdown: Tangential Interest

I stumbled across this link in one of the fora I regularly visit. Images of the WTC Disaster 9/11 taken on that day by Allen Murabayashi (erstwhile leader of the PhotoShelter Collection). The one I have linked to here is one of the finest images I've seen, except that it's not straight vertically. Something which can obviously be forgiven in such unprecedented conditions. It is the entrance to a slide show of more images taken on that day.

There are no comments or captions, which is appropriate here. For this immediately recognizable iconic disaster, none are needed.

I also found it interesting that there is no metadata in this image: something I find curious from a major player in the stock photography business. Needless to say, I added the basic stuff in the copy I made.

Friday, September 12, 2008

PSC Shutting Down - Archive Regaining Focus

It's the end of a very short era in the stock photography annals.

The PhotoShelter Collection announced yesterday, that the doors are closing. It was an effort that failed. But, at least they tried. I, along with many others, think perhaps a year was just too short a time, and perhaps the plan should have had at least a 2-year window. These are tough times, and so everything takes longer.

BUT, they are saying that they will go back to their roots, which is the PhotoShelter Archive. I applaud this. I've been a paying member of the Archive since January or February and find it valuable and slick. I'll like it even better when they improve the stats and search engine. My photography website links to my Archive galleries.

Here's their comment on the Archive in their Collection closing announcement:

As an ongoing indication of our commitment to you and the Personal Archive, we are currently developing a new feature release to address some of your most frequently requested items. We'll also be hard at work developing new innovations to help advance both the art and business of photography. We will be in touch soon regarding these exciting announcements.

And here's the link to the main Archive page.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Small Announcement

Since this blog may loosely be construed as a chronicle of my progress in the digital visual world, I probably should announce that I've sold my first stock image. Any stock togs reading this will already know that it takes a lot of work to even get to this point, never mind progressing to where your income from stock is significant.

And it has taken much work, much study, much shooting, much thinking.

The sale occurred on the 4th of September and was an Alamy sale for a book, full page, print run of 25K, educational use. So, I'm not suddenly rich: image sold for $205. My take is $133 and some change. At the time of the sale, my portfolio on Alamy only consisted of about 106 images. Very, very small.

I only do Rights Managed (RM). And IMHO if you are starting out in the stock business you should aim to have a large portion of your portfolio RM as well. A good article to start with on this exceedingly important issue is from the ASMP Library Rights Managed Stock vs Royalty Free Stock.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wild Image Search and Hurricane Gustav

It's 5 a.m. in New Orleans now and my server, where this blog is located, is in Metairie, LA. So, don't be surprised if you weren't able to get here in the first two days of September! (Actually I just ran in here to post this after listening to CNN's Sanjay Gupta report live from Metairie.)

Bob Croxford in the PhotoShelter forum posted this link a couple of days ago and I must have wasted and hour and half with it. So, of course, I want all other togs to do the same!


It's a wonderful piece of efficient coding--something not widely seen now in these days of cheap memory. It does color searches on images. I have a question though about the image pool they are using (It's from Alamy.). I wonder how they selected their 3 mil of images from the over 10 mil on Alamy. I wonder too, do they ever refresh it?

Anyway, if you are an Alamy contributor it's worth a look, and if you are an AD or graphic designer, you might find it quite helpful in some circumstances. And, for fun, trying selecting MORE than 10 colors.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Day at the Fair

Last Saturday, with tickets to the Prairie Home Companion Show (a Christmas present), which also gave free entrance to the Champlain Valley Fair--Vermont's largest, I took about 250 shots. The interesting dilemma in sorting them on Sunday was something I hadn't run across before.

It's easy to decide between the bad shots and the good ones. But, once into the good ones, and after making the obvious decisions about the ones to work up for the stock agencies, ones to set aside for working up for gallery prints, and ones to file for the possible future stock request, there are some left over.

I like the vastly different sizes of the horses in the image, but the background is cluttered and not aesthetically pleasing. Here's another.
I've just put piece of it here to show the 3D aspect of the ribbons of the fireworks trail. The thing is too blurry for stock and the full image is broken up by shadows of the scaffolding for the stage.

Which leads me to mention why I didn't get my ideal images of fireworks. We weren't allowed to bring tripods in to the stage show. Grrr. And the fireworks happened right after the show (10K or so folks in the audience) and there was no time to get my tripod back.

Anyway, back to the images: I mean they are not good for stock; I'd never print them for display; but I like them. So, I've no idea what to do with them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sebald and Mueller = Inspiration

Some things are for the soul as well as the eyes. Put onto the books of W. G. Sebald by a friend, I am currently reading Austerlitz. This is not a "page-turner" book. It meanders richly through European memory and European places--in reality and in thought. Dappled with black and white images, for the most part uncaptioned, that make you feel, occasionally that you are privy to some off-planet view of things, this is a book for reflective folks who have much that can be triggered in their brains. Sebald offers triggers. It will likely take a long time to read this book.

The same person who recommended Sebald, also suggested I take a look at the photographs of Dana Mueller and I have done that. It's more than worth a visit if you consider yourself a landscape photographer. Also worth a visit is the ArtSpace interview with her. She is much exhibited and recognized for her work, and I for one am thoroughly embarrassed that she was unknown to me.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Snap

Something snapped when I was tuning my friend Ellen's piano (see previous posts for other mentions of Ellen).

She was glued to her computer while I was tuning, and when I took a break, I went over to see what she was doing. And I saw images--gorgeous images. I was sucked in.

She had just discovered photography and was off the deep end with it.

I drove home in a daze. And all I had was my Nokia (previous post).

The rest of the story:

I went further into hock (What's another $1K when you've already HAD to run up the CC for car transmission replacement, gas tank replacement, vet bills, dead laptop, etc. etc. all within an 8-month period.) All for necessity and not one penny for the soul. It was then, in late September of 2007 that I said "screw it". And bought my Pentax K100D. Joined BetterPhoto. Got Adobe CS2--remember that crappy first photo of my cat?

When I was about to throw the image away, something about his eyes stopped me. Here he is transformed. The image also now has a title--Essence of Cat--and sells well as a matted print in my local gallery, STAART.

next installments utterly condensed!

You will note the great hiatus in dates here. I simply had too much work to do to and too much to learn to maintain the grandiose historical outline I had started out with.

history continued and much abbreviated . . .

2nd Warning: Don't read this unless you read the first (Background) one and are a glutton for mistreatment.

In the ensuing decades I worked for a publisher of college textbooks in Boston math and science as a production editor. Marched against the Vietnam War, worked on Shirley Chisholm's presidental campaign, was precinct captain in my area of Cambridge, MA for George McGovern. AND, had a few very valuable lessons in photography. This was the time of my first camera -- A Mamiya Sekor which I used for years, until I bought a used Pentax K1000. I was strictly a black and white shooter, and today, I still think like that for the most part.

Additionally and extremely important to my entire professional growth, I began collecting, studying, and using type -- lead type. And all the equipment necessary to do letterpress printing and established Fairfax Press.

To make a long story short -- I eventually ended up moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan and entering the Graduate Graphic Design Program at Western Michigan University. Studied with Jon Henderson who later became the head of the Hallmark Research Library. When he left, he was replaced by a person of, to be kind, about 1/3 his mental stature. I left t the department, spent a year in printmaking and then switched back to English, receiving an Honors M.A. and going on to Ph.D. work at the University of Western Ontario.

After leaving -- with the infamous A.B.D., I returned to Kalamazoo and set up my own graphic design studio, producing work for Selmer Music Company, U.S. Robotics, French Paper Company, and Western Michigan University.

In 1988 I had to return to Vermont to take care of my aging parents. This was the end of my visual life as these were the days before the ubiquitous computer and I could not take my clients with me. I had to work for others. All work for the next 10 years was for leading edge technology startups and therefore my normal work week was about 70 hours. No time for anything else except rest and recuperation to prepare for the next day.

From my third job in this era I got laid off (along with otheres) without severance and being owed back pay. It was then I tried to start a web design business. And that was a laugh. It was 1995 and everyone EVERYONE I talked to told me they thought the Internet was a "load of hype" and was never going to amount to anything. I knew they were wrong, but I didn't get any business except for a wonderful guy in California, Jed Donnelly, whose Computer and Communications pages, begun in 1993, are still active today. And, whose pages are still using my very dated banners! Reading Jed's bio is like reading a history of the Internet.

The other client turned out to be a fairly large one. He owned and ran a teleconferencing site called "Summons Teleconferencing" I redesigned his site and wrote a ton of perl programs for getting at visitor stats--in those days you had to roll your own. Within a couple of years he sold out to Genesys for a mil or so--nice for him, but my tenuous attempt at a web business was gone.

That was the end of my web design career. So for nearly 10 years I tuned and repaired pianos. (Don't ask.) And then, something snapped.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Background - First Installment

I think it's time now for a little background:

Warning: Don't read this unless you have some misguided interest in my professional history or in the low end of the publishing world.

I spent almost 30 years in some form of visual activity, which abruptly stopped in 1988. My visual career began quite unobtrusively in about 1962 or '63 at the State University of New York, Brockport. I was poor and a scholarship student who also had to work. My friend Patrick worked in the AV department and got me a job making line drawings of archaeological photographs so that they could be projected. I sat at a drawing table in the basement of the Admin Building with lead-paned windows--quiet and alone. I found I liked this very much. I liked the translucent tracing paper, the pencil sharpener, the clarity of the lines.

Humble beginnings to be sure. But, they didn't usurp my passion for reading and for all things literary. After a few checkered years, and an unfinished degree, I ended up in Boston running folding and collating machines at G.K. Hall, Boston, MA. For years they published huge books which contained reduced images of index cards from the library card catalogues of special collections around the world. And, that is what I did, for half the day I dealt out index cards onto a frame (21 to a page I think), slapped on a printed page header, clicked the camera, changed the header, swept up the cards, and replaced them with the next batch. The other half of the day I sat at a circular table, turned by a foot pedal, and pulled out folded pages that were then stacked--one signature to a stack. That alternated with running a folding machine which folded these pages in half.

(A web note here: Using these books, a researcher could "browse the stacks" of world famous collections without actually going to the library. Needless to say, this was doomed by the Internet (closed in 1993). And, interestingly, while there are myriad G. K. Hall publications referenced on the web, there is no history of this niche publishing firm, which certainly was a significant one in the annals of American publishing.)

I worked on the fifth floor, but it was the fourth floor that interested me. There was a woman there who work with triangles, rulers, and books full of variously printed alphabets. I would make any excuse to get down there and look at her drafting table. I also learned to play the numbers--strictly a fifth floor activity! But I made enough money to get myself transported back to Brockport and to buy my textbooks for the semester. I campled outside the Financial Aid office until they gave me a student loan and a job. I finished my degree (B.S. English) in two semesters and returned to Boston, where I ended up working as an editorial assistant for Benwill Publishing, now defunct, but then a publisher of two respected technical trade journals: Electromechanical Design and Circuits Manufacturing. (Electronic History Note: we featured the first "micro chip" on one of our covers and recognized the future--this was some time in 1970.) We also featured the first HP hand-held calculator -- it could add, subtract, multipy, and divide and cost $100.00!) (After my stint here, Richard Seltzer also worked at Benwill. (If you don't know who Richard Seltzer is, you weren't one of the early adopters of the web (or maybe just too young!).

Enough for now -- I'm finding as I write this, that my working life has been connected with the electronic age from the beginning. As a result, it's taking longer than I thought to get up to the present day. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Fun with Better Photo

I mucked about some more with my cell phone and BetterPhoto, and managed to get one more interesting image while waiting at my vet's house. I sliced this out of the image and again PSed it until I saw something I liked. And, it is still one of my favorite images, though of course it is quite small.

Ellen and I began talking on the phone several times a week, looking at each other's images that we sent up to BetterPhoto. As I looked at our images, I felt an incredible longing for a "real" camera. Basically I was doing 0-60 in a two-week period here. But the crushing debt on the CC kept me tamped down. But only for another couple of months. I fell in love with one of Ellen's images--you can see it here and began to drool excessively. I dug out my old b/w contact sheets from the years when I first got into photography--all film, all b/w.

Then something happened; don't remember exactly what it was, but got dealt another financial blow which hit the card again and I said "screw it". After a great deal of research, (but not quite enough), I bought a Pentax K100D. And, of course it came on a dark and stormy night (UPS comes very late where I live.) Without having the foggiest about the myriad buttons, I snapped one of my cats in low-light (really non-existent light). Crappy image for sure, but dear to my heart.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Damn Kodak, Hello Nokia

All I had was a cheap Kodak DX3215 that I bought a few years ago to quickly get images of pianos up on the web. BUT, for some reason the software to do this no longer worked and when I tried to update it, I got a humungus program called "Easy Share" which did everything except connect my camera to my computer. (I'm very computer savy and surfed for hours trying to fix my issue, only to discover that it was Kodak's issue.)

I blew it off and looked at my
Nokia cell phone, which heretofore I had considered to be "only a phone" and started taking pictures with it. Too poor to even afford a visit to a local campground, we set up our ancient camper in the backyard and spent a wonderful 24 ours enjoying Vermont! As the sun was setting, I saw this image of our old railroad lantern and its shadow, snapped it, and mucked about with it in Photoshop to get the second one. I had joined BetterPhoto and uploaded it. And, among all the Nikons, Canons, Pentaxes, and Canon Powershots, it received an Editor's Choice.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Serendipity Can Change A Life

I think it was sometime in July or August of 2007 that I went to tune my friend Ellen's piano. We go back a few years to when I took bass lessons from her--she's a brilliant jazz bassist, well-known in New England and an amazing teacher.

While I was tuning, she was hunched over her computer, and when I finished I went to see what she was doing. She was mucking about with beautiful images and they were hers. She had recently discovered photography and proceeded to show me her images on her BetterPhoto Gallery.

They were stunning and I was transfixed. My past intimate association with things visual came flooding back. I drove the 35 miles back home in a fog of excitement and memories. Days passed and the fog did not dissipate.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Brass Ring

Listen up AARP!

I'm 64 and fed up with working a jobs that were at their best, bearable. On Sept 29th, 2007 (oops, was only 63 then) I went into more debt and bought a digital camera. A good one.

I'm making pictures. I used to do this a long time ago but the lack of money forced me to stop. Not any more. I'm going into hock for a last chance at the brass ring. I know what I'm doing and I'm doing it right.

And here starts what I think about taking pictures. And making images. They are two different things entirely. But when they work together, you get something greater than the sum of the two.

This is the short intro and I end with this magnificent quote from Dorothea Lange:

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.