In case it's not apparent in the web size file (click on the picture to get a somewhat bigger and clearer view), the flag is painted onto the garage door. The garden seems to be a mix of flowers and vegetables.
So, OK, there can be something good about a bright, sunny, day. The shadows. Especially around mid-day in the summer. Long, raking-light morning and evening shadows are one thing, but the shadows cast by a high in the dome summer sun are a whole different matter. A thing that changes as well depending on how close to the equator you are.
Corporate ID isn't just ad agency hype, it's a real thing. I was surprised that I didn't instantly recognize the empty gas station neon sign—Sunoco popped into my head after a few seconds. The rainy day seemed perfect for this.
Copake, New York
So I have to wonder where the name of this old-fashioned fast food place came from. The town of Copake is a metropolis of 3,600 people. It's set a little more than a mile west of an utterly empty section of Rt. 22, the two-lane state highway running north/south near the Connecticut border. The Hub lies about two-thirds of the way between the highway and the town. Hub of what, I wonder?
In other news, the TOP Platinum Print Offer ended at 7:00 PM Central last night. Something over a hundred prints will be heading out across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and all the way to Singapore and Japan. I'll be tied up with fulfillment till sometime next month, but I have a good backlog of recent photographs to keep this blog ambling along in the meantime.
The final installment of posts about digital/Pt/Pd printing is now up over at The Online Photographer. It should be of interest to anyone who might want to actually try doing it themselves. Also, as I'm posting this at 2:00 PM Eastern daylight time, the special TOP Platinum/Palladium Print Sale has just six hours to go. At 7:00 PM Central it's all over and the pictures will never again be available at this price.
The platinum/palladium print offer continues over at TOP (link in sidebar at right). Along with the print offer there's a series, only one up so far, of articles describing the printing process which I hope will be of interest generally, not just to purchasers of the prints. One question that has already come up is whether I expect the digital negatives to be more durable than traditional in-camera film negatives. The answer is no, but thank goodness they don't have to be! The point is that, once the file is established and tested successfully, the negatives themselves can be cloned endlessly. Any individual negative is expendable. If it gets damaged or begins to fade, just pull a second negative out of its folder and keep on printing.
We ran off for the afternoon. A photographer friend was in an opening at a gallery in Hudson, and we'd been meaning for years to get to the nearby Thomas Cole House National Historic Site. Tina thinks of the Hudson River School painters as a strong background influence on her work, and I love seeing original paintings by Cole and Church and the rest. The house was itself fascinating and worth taking the tour.
The weather turned to rain as soon as we got to our destination, and while I like rain it was a little too thick to do as much work as I might have liked in the interesting light at Catskill, NY, but I got a few things there, and some more back across the river in Hudson, killing a bit of time before the gallery opening. In between we had a genuine New York Style Pizza (if you grew up near NYC the style is unmistakeable) at a little place on Main Street, Catskill, that we remembered having lunch at perhaps fifteen years ago.
Meanwhile, over at TOP (link in sidebar at right) I have a post up telling some of the story of how I began to work with second generation digital negatives for platinum/palladium printing. And, of course, the TOP 2014 Pt/Pd print sale is in progress there.
So, the picture revolves around the text, the sticker on the stop sign. The utility lines and strong vertical objects dominate the picture space. But, cover the walking figure at the center right of the frame, and watch everything get dull. The shot keys completely off that small element of action.
Woodbury, Connecticut, tests for making digital negatives for platinum printing
Photographer, videographer, podcast personality at The Documentary Photographer Podcast, and wonderful interviewer, Roger Overall, in County Cork, Ireland, was gracious enough to interview me for the third installment of The Documentary Photographer Podcast, back in the spring of 2012. He even more graciously took time out of his busy schedule last Friday to do an interview for a new 'cast, #21, triggered by the TOP Pt/Pd print offer.
Of course we caught up on what happened on the Giant Drive-in Theater Road Trip, which was just about to launch at the time of our last talk. The discussion ranges from logistics of a really long road trip working with large and ultra-large format cameras and the needs of the, ahem, film—as well as digital capture, in the heat wave and drought of that year (it's worse now), moving on to the problems of doing a large edition of prints in the Pt/Pd process, referring to, of course, the current TOP Pt/Pd print offer. We got into quite some detail about how you integrate digital tools and procedures into a traditional process (see illo).
Before that, on the road trip front, we talked about the irony of finding yourself carrying five forty-pound cases of equipment into an insecure but air-conditioned hotel room because the secured/alarmed car is turning into an oven at four o'clock in the afternoon when the shade temperature is 104° F and there is no place to park the car in shade!
We discussed how, in Buena Vista (I coach him how to pronounce it properly), Colorado, I found the Comanche theater, on a plateau at 8,000 feet, with mountains rising all around it, and it was over 100°F at five o'clock in the afternoon. Climate change is here.
If you have an hour to kill, there are worse ways to do it than listening to Roger's podcast with me. ANY of Roger's podcasts will be worth your while, because he is such a good interviewer that I will vouch for any one of his intervening 'casts sight unseen, even though I haven't caught up, because he's simply so good at asking the right questions to find the interesting discourse.
Today is our 43rd wedding anniversary, though a lot of people have a more recent anniversary of another sort on their minds. The Knights of Columbus at a church in Canaan had a large flag suspended from a ladder firetruck, a tent with benches and chairs and a coffin draped in a flag. A man was reading names. Oddly, at least during the minutes I was there making some pictures, the names being read don't seem to have been the Twin Tower or Pennsylvania crash site victims, because every single one of them began with military rank. Captain, private, and so on. I guess it might have been a list of police/fire casualties.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
We went for a little look-around in the fittingly gloomy weather hoping for a few pictures with interesting light. Had a surprisingly nice lunch at a pizza place, which had their flag in the parking lot flying at half-mast.
This isn't a junkyard. It's adjacent to a place that appears to do automotive repair work along with heavier-duty truck service and general machining work as well. All on a part time basis since I seldom see activity. Just like most of the remaining farmers around here, it may be that a general purpose mechanic/machinist needs a day job. Sometime when there is activity when I walk by, I'll have to go in and ask. This is right in the middle of a mixed residential/commercial area perhaps half a mile from the center of town.
"United African American Baptist Church, Iron Gate, Virginia, 2002"
"Dawn, Shepaug River at Steep Rock, Washington, Connecticut, 1996"
It's four years since our first TOP Platinum Print Offer. The second one is now officially up and running, and will last just five days. These are two of my favorite 8x10 format photographs, available as platinum/palladium prints during this sale for a fraction of the usual gallery price.
After a doctor's appointment in New Haven this morning, I was able to run over to the Yale/British art museum to catch the Bruce Davidson, Paul Caponigro exhibit. British? Well, not crazy at all. Both photographers did large bodies of early work that proved pivotal to their careers, in Britain, back in the late 50s and into the 60s.
The Caponigro photographs are exquisitely seen and beautifully printed, but I've never really responded to this work and it was never an influence on me.
But the Davidson prints! I knew almost all of the pictures intimately, from reproductions, but have seen almost none of them before as silver prints. As an aside, neither the literature nor the staff could fill me on when the prints were made—vintage or contemporary? The donors are all credited handsomely, but the curatorial detail of when these prints were made, right after shooting, or after forty years of contemplation, seems worth asking and telling.
These pictures, along with contemporary work by Ken Heyman, were directly instrumental in my deciding, fifty years ago, to pursue photography as my life's work. Can't get much more influential than that. A detail about presentation—no gigantism here. The Davidson prints appeared to be 8x12" picture area, conventionally matted, in a 16x20 narrow black frame. This makes me think they may be vintage, but I'd love to hear that he still prints them this way.
The show closes Sunday, so if you have any interest in either of these important American photographers and can make it to New Haven by then, your trip will be well rewarded. I'm going to see if I can dash down for a longer look between now and then.
Six seconds. First shot catches the Prius coming into the frame. Two seconds later, just its shadow leaving the frame. Four second wait as another car goes through, then the third exposure for the clean view of nothing but the road surface and curb at the right, before another car comes through.
There's a strong tendency in thought—or at least writing—about photography, to emphasize the single, perfect image. There's also a similar tendency to emphasize the idea that pictures should be used in a series to tell a story. I'm quite amenable to the first tendency, hoping to make a single definitive picture of an interesting subject. But then I tend to think that if one perfect picture of a white country church in a rural setting is nice, perhaps a set of fifty or more of them might be even nicer. Or, one really fascinating drive-in theater in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania on a misty morning...you get the idea.
David Vestal had no use for the idea of the picture story. "If you want to tell a story, use words. That's what they're for. If you want to show what something looked like, use a photograph." I mostly agree, especially when I see advice, or even workshops, teaching that photographs are about storytelling. Nope. They're about showing what things looked like. But sometimes, it's interesting to see how, what they look like, changed, over the course of six seconds, or six decades.
An announcement on the "things to look forward to" front. We're about to launch our second Special Platinum/Palladium Print Offer, at The Online Photographer site (see link at right). The first one, back in 2010, was successful, putting 240 Pt/Pd prints out into the world. So successful, in fact, that I resolved never again to commit to making scores of Pt/Pd contact prints from irreplaceable original in-camera negatives. The difficulty was that, at that point, I hadn't seen digital/platinum prints that I found convincing, while the traditional analog approach to second generation negatives has never appealed to me. So I kept an eye on things in the field for the next several years.
Over the course of months last summer and fall I ran exhaustive tests (some of the gory details can be seen by clicking on "platinum/palladium" in the "Labels" sidebar at right) to come up with a procedure to make digital negatives that produced Pt/Pd prints that have the all-important "look" of quiet, rich, smooth tonality that to me is the signature of the process.
Then the planets had to come into alignment for the timing of the second Pt/Pd TOP print sale, and that time is 7:00 AM, Central Time, this coming Wednesday, September 10. The sale will run for exactly five days. Two prints will be offered, at a fraction of the gallery price. Stop by Wednesday morning for a look at the pictures. A couple of platinum prints won't control pests or remove critters, but they could be very nice things to have.
When I was a little kid my parents did their banking—such as it was; checking, savings, safe deposit box, and mortgage—at The Montclair Savings Bank. It was an august institution with a vast high-ceiling marble interior and limestone exterior. Probably what this building looked like around 1955. I'd guess they were the local bank willing to give a machinist a mortgage to buy an acre of land in the mid-40s, then expand the loan for construction costs of a house (which he mainly built himself). Got their return, month in, month out, no flips or trades or bundles or tranches.
I wonder if Montclair Savings, or even the building, exists at all today. Probably not.
This is the view across a farm field that I've photographed many times, in many seasons. I also walk past it, perhaps 300 times a year, because it's at about the halfway point in my four mile walk, "around the block." For years I've had a wave and nod relationship with the farmer, a robust man I'd guess to be in his seventies. He'd be out tending his two cows and several steers, or working on the farm equipment, or out working the fields, and we'd wave. Maybe we'd comment on how hot or cold the day was, or how windy. The wind is fierce through here and windy winter days are the ones I walk around a different block. One time as I walked by I saw that, in the open entryway of the barn, one of the cows had managed to get her front left hoof stuck in a shipping palette—I banged on the house door and told him so he could go rescue her.
A couple weeks ago as I came around the block, he was carrying a bucket of something to the far end of the cows' enclosure, a couple hundred yards from the barn. I asked why the Room Service, and he said she, the black cow, was due to deliver a calf any minute, so he was giving her a break. Over the next ten days the two cows, one black, the other brown and white, each delivered a beautiful all-brown calf. Whoever the father is must have dominant genes.
Tuesday I had to plug my ears about a mile into the usual walk to block the scream of an ambulance coming from behind me. Fifteen minutes later, I saw that the ambulance was at the farm. EMT's won't say anything to a stranger, so I walked on. Today, after printing all morning, I headed out around the block, and saw a woman, perhaps 35, talking on a cell phone in the driveway of the farmhouse. I stopped and interrupted her conversation to ask if everyone was OK. She said, "Yes, we're fine," in a way that seemed ominous. So I said that I'd seen an ambulance here the other day. "Oh. OH! Yes. My Dad passed away."
I never knew his name, but think of him as a friend. I've been around for people dying long slow deaths from nasty diseases, and people living uselessly with a sound body housing a ravished brain, so I guess this isn't that bad. He sure went out with his muck boots on.
UPDATE: Via the Waterbury Republican newspaper, his name was Thomas Lizauskas. He lived his entire life here in Woodbury, was from a farming family, and loved the outdoors. He was exactly my age.