Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Light and Shadow

New York, New York

Around four o'clock on a winter afternoon, looking down the ramp of an underground parking garage on East 30th street. This isn't direct sunlight—that's why there's an odd multiple shadow effect. The sun, low in the sky to the west, is reflecting off multiple glass and metal surfaces across the street, behind the camera.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Advertising En Plein Aire

Bristol, Connecticut

A while back in a post here I mentioned the contrast between the rural surroundings where I live, with almost no visible advertising to be found, and the ad-saturated environment in mid-town Manhattan. The small city of Bristol, CT, has nothing like the density of New York, but still displays plenty of billboards. Some, like the first one here, are for major international brands just as you'd see them on a highway with heavy commuter traffic.

Some are for relatively small businesses, like the local hospital and a restaurant located in the next town north.

This triple board (with a double facing the opposite way, behind it) is mounted on an old elevated railroad bed that runs through the center of town. The sponsors seem to be a blend of public service and private ventures.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Populated Place

Looney (West of New Castle), Virginia

Driving southwest from New Castle I stopped to photograph this little complex of buildings at the edge of extensive farm fields. Before leaving I checked the GPS and it said I was in Looney, VA. Later, I couldn't turn that up as a valid town name, but when I zoomed in enough with the Apple Map app and definitely found the cluster of buildings, there was a town ID of New Castle, but also the word "Looney" in a different typeface. Doing a search turned up a new identifier I haven't encountered before—Looney is officially a "populated place." Not very populated, though.

Hinton, West Virginia

For some reason there's a visual echo or resonance between this in-town outbuilding and the rural building in the first shot. That made me wonder how far apart they are (I'd gotten from one to the other by a very roundabout route over two days of driving and shooting) and the answer was almost, you can't get there from here:

The shortest road routes are about 80 miles through the hills and ridges, but it looks as though the distance as the crow flies is about half that.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


New Castle, Virginia

This building looks as though it has been here a long time, probably with a stable set of businesses. The Dollar Store across the street though seems to have taken over a building that originally housed one of the big chain supermarkets. Dollar stores—there are several competing chains—appear to be proliferating all around the country.

Friday, March 27, 2015

On Park Avenue

New York, New York

There seemed to be a sort of visual connection between the hydrant and the storefront, but there was just too much empty space in between. Then this guy came along with his red-booted dog. At the other end of the block, the signs and reflections in this healthy-fast-food place almost made a picture, but it didn't work until a customer walked in to place an order.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

On the Sidewalk

Naugatuck, Connecticut

No idea what's going on here with the rope. The white stuff on the sidewalk is salt or some sort of ice-melt. The handwritten yellow sign in the shop window says, "buy one get one free," which doesn't explain a thing. Maybe because it was so weird I shot ten frames of this over nearly a minute, which is unusual for me, but this first frame was the best.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More Storefronts

Covington, Virginia

The bright light reflected in decorative metal work echoed the stripes of the flag in the glass door and caught my eye immediately. The off-white stone columns reflected in the window are part of a courthouse across the street. These storefronts face due north, with very cold open-shade illumination from blue sky light mixing in interesting ways with the warm morning sunlight bouncing in from the courthouse.

Pearisburg, Virginia

This well-maintained building seems to be "between tenants." Once again a subject in open shade supplemented by bounce light from a nearby building.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shrines and Declarations

Buena Vista, Virginia

I've made pictures of church signs often enough that there's a label for that subject over in the sidebar, though it occurs to me that I've made few additions to the group recently. Something different is going on in these two pictures made early in February in towns near the western edge of Virginia. These are other businesses or organizations, not churches, showing displays of religious affiliation or intent. I'm going to be on the lookout for more of these, to see if it might become another, different but related, group of pictures.

Pearisburg, Virginia

Monday, March 23, 2015

Floyd-Davidson Post 126

Buena Vista, Virginia

Another unseasonably cold February morning at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The free-standing "marquee" for VFW post announcements struck me as quite unusual. It also reminds me of the roadside marquees used by many drive-in theaters. The solid brick structures contrast with another corrugated metal building. These aren't unheard of in New England, but they certainly are more common as you travel south. They're probably more useful in the milder the climate.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

City Trees / Winter Light

Covington, Virginia

Morning light in early February. It was unseasonably cold in the Shenandoah Valley with overnight temperatures falling to freezing. I thought the buildings and trees had a frozen, almost numb look until the temperatures finally moderated around mid-day. A month later, even in late afternoon there was a sense of chill in the New York light as the temperature headed close to single digits overnight.

New York, New York

Saturday, March 21, 2015


New York, New York

This was at a construction site on a Friday afternoon a couple weeks ago. It's the entry for equipment and material into the ground floor of a building being renovated. The lock and chain provide a bit of bas-relief from the flat plane of the plywood doors. The paint has an uncanny illusion of three dimensionality, totally unintentional of course, but I thought the illusion of depth on the flat plywood beat out the real depth of the steel chain. When I go out looking for stuff that might make a picture, what I hope to find is a visual arrangement, an arrangement I'd never in a million years dream up.

Two Buildings

Covington, Virginia

The top one is Covington Auto Repair, also a state auto inspection station, but looks as though it once was a car dealership showroom. I don't think I've ever seen a building with exactly this same design, but it's got elements of other showroom buildings that you see all over. Especially places where there is still an active downtown and commercial buildings from the middle of last century haven't been torn down. I've never had much interest in making pictures of high-end architecture, but the vernacular sort has always fascinated me. I'm always on the lookout for buildings like this even when I'm traveling to make pictures for some other project.

The second one is a very simple wood frame and corrugated metal storage building. In both of these I was struck by how different the early February morning light in western Virginia is from southern New England, just five or six hundred miles to the northeast.

New Castle, Virginia

Friday, March 20, 2015


New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven boasts the biggest St. Patrick's Day parade in New England. It takes about three hours for the last of the units to hit the marching route. There must have been some cold spectators by then. I left with an hour or more still to come.

Hartford's parade, postponed from last week, is scheduled for mid-day tomorrow. But right now, it's snowing all across the state.


New York, New York

I was curious about streetmessages.com. It turns out to be, "Outdoor Advertising in NYC for less than the cost of a Newspaper Advertisement." It might be interesting to find out what the connection is to the phone company (now that it's not a single monolith) since these mini phone 'booths' carry the advertising. Of course, a few words on a shop window get a message out as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Parade, IV

New Haven, Connecticut

Back in the Alley

Buchanan, Virginia

In a commercial district of a small town (and this one comes in at just 1,200 population) the storefronts on the main streets will usually be well-tended, to make a good impression on visitors or potential local customers. Side alleys may be less well cared for, or they can be impressively clean and tidy like the third one here. Either way, I frequently find interesting things to look at in the back alleys and side streets.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Parade, III

New Haven, Connecticut

What I find fascinating about parades isn't so much the marchers, floats, or firetrucks. Spectators and unofficial participants seem more interesting. This guy looks like a regular, though I've shot at this parade several times before and haven't seen him until this time. He kept that deadpan expression in place while displaying his message to the marchers.

As always, click on the picture to see a larger and more legible presentation.

(Not) Shot on iPhone 6

New York, New York

Whenever I spend any time in New York, I'm struck by the sheer volume of advertising everywhere. Where I live, in a rural community about 100 miles north of mid-town Manhattan, there are no billboards to be seen, few posters, maybe a small sandwich board by the sidewalk near town hall reminding citizens to vote, or pay taxes, or get your flu shots. Someone may staple a letter-size tag sale announcement to a utility pole. Woodbury is known as the antique capital of Connecticut, but the scores of small shops all have subdued, modest signs out front. By contrast, looking for pictures in New York, I find advertising has to be taken as an integral part of the urban landscape. Any picture of an area bigger than a few square feet at street level is going to contain advertisements.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

30th Street, 9:31 PM

New York, New York

Evening view out the ice-flecked skylight windows of the fourth floor Highlight Studio. With numerous bars and eateries on the north side of the street, it's usually very noisy on Friday nights. Last Friday, with the mercury dropping under 20°F, it was remarkably peaceful and quiet.

Count the Animals

Hinton, West Virginia

Monday, March 09, 2015

Workshop Snaps

New York, New York

From the weekend workshop at CAP/Penumbra. It was an extremely productive group. The six participants brought image files in a broad range of styles and subjects. We produced digital negatives from about forty different pictures and wound up with nearly fifty platinum/palladium prints by six o'clock Sunday evening.