Photographing from the train

October 31, 2010 § 1 Comment

On my way to New York with a friend for a day of enjoying photography. First PhotoExpo at the Javits Center. A massive room, filled with booths displaying all the latest photo gear. And packed! Thousands of people jamming the aisles. Happily, I was quite serene. I like the cameras I have, and didn’t need to feverishly pepper the Nikon and Olympus reps with questions.

Then on to Pace-McGill in midtown to see “Archaeology,” a show of Irving Penn’s platinum still lifes. I saw this work in New York when it was first shown in the 80s, and I still find it intense and interesting.

And we finished the day at the International Center for Photography with a show called “The Mexican Suitcase,” photos from the Spanish Civil War by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David Seymour. The negatives were thought to have been lost in the chaos of the war, although they were often rumored to be in a suitcase somewhere in Mexico. A couple of years ago, they turned up in Brazil, quite an astonishing moment in the history of photography.

My photos are from the train ride into the city. I was experimenting with the high-contrast black and white setting on my camera. It was in many ways a perfect East Coast day. A bit somber, with an overcast sky that made everything seem very serious. And life’s own contrasts were in sharp evidence . . . the environments seen here from the train window juxtaposed with the cool, silent gallery on 57th street, displaying immaculately beautiful photographs with a selling price of $70,000.


Still life photographs:The debutante and the wodewose

October 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

She from the glittering ballroom and he from the edge of the forest, a half-tamed creature of the twilight. Her pearls and his roots and shafts. They intersect in ways that neither understands, but that delights both.

The wodewose is a mythological creature known best from English folklore. A wild, hairy man whose origins go back into the darkness before language and who can be found in many cultures, even right up to our Bigfoot. The key is that he is not completely wild, but that he occupies a space just at the edge of our civil lives . . . half seen, half understood, not fully one of us, but not an animal, either.

I love this mixing together of the wild and the cultivated. I remember someone saying about Deborah Turbeville’s photographs that they were taken during “l’heure entre chien et loup,” the hour between the dog and the wolf. This twilight when the wild and the cultivated mix and overlap seems to be the most evocative time of all. And it doesn’t even need to be a time. It can be any state in which the rough and the elegant mingle . . . it’s in a rusting piece of farm machinery or the stained pages of an aging book.   Above all, it’s the mingling of the rough world with the elegance of the photographer’s mind, the place where he or she steps off the path and allows the precision of the camera to engage the tangle of the blackberry canes.

It’s interesting after all these years of photographing to be able to see this as clearly as I have now in the past couple of days, prompted by photographing these pearls. The wild/civilized  interface is the armature around which I have built my body of work (to the extent that you can call my varied ramblings a body of work) and the photographers who have fascinated me–Irving Penn, Turbeville, Josef Sudek, Sarah Moon, Nancy Rexroth, Sally Mann–all share that impulse to one degree or another.

Ricoh CX4

The Chapel and Home Depot

October 23, 2010 § Leave a comment


We went to Home Depot today to pick out a new kitchen countertop. While we were there, I got several samples of textured formica to scan as overlays for my pictures. This pattern is called “Deepstar Fossil.” The photos are of the chapel at the college where I work.

Ricoh CX4, set to soft focus

Autumn leaves

October 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

The usual red and gold maple leaves are on the ground everywhere now. But I also enjoyed the color in these plantings beside the building where I work.

Ricoh CX4, on the “Toy Camera” setting

Ricoh CX4

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

My new Ricoh CX4 just arrived. I like it because it does so many things–soft focus, night shots, “toy camera” effects–there are lots of art filters built in, which is perfect for me. I like to concentrate on photographing things from my everyday life, but I like to transform them in such a way that they take on new meanings. With all these creative tools, the CX4 is just what I need.One of the great things is that I can combine some of the special effects, which is something you can’t do on a lot of cameras. The pictures here combine the sepia tone and soft focus. I also like the sepia on this camera, as it is really brown, like old photographs. The  “sepia” on many cameras is a sort of ugly pink. And the CX4 is tiny, so I can carry it everywhere. I hope there will be many more posts with this camera. These are from the first few pictures I took after work tonight.

Double chapel

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

I love double exposures, and I love playing around with pictures to make them into something else besides only the things we see. Come to think of it, isn’t that what a chapel is about, not just the building we see in front of us, but what else is there? Chapels are always double exposures.

Maine forest and field

October 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Top two: Wood lot on my family farm in Maine. Bottom: My uncle’s implement shed, now in disuse and surrounded by weeds.

Olympus E-PL1 and Lens Baby Composer. Overlay procedure from Shadowhouse Creations at

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