Washington Channel Dawn
Washington DC, 15 January 2020 Last June I started one of these posts with "It's hard to get away from the moment" and that's even more true now. Then, it was Covid and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Now, of course, we have Covid, and much worse than we had it in June. And, we have, ten times bigger than BLM, the insurection of 6 January. We didn't have a front row seat (prudence required that we kept our heads down!) but we live close enough to the Mall that we heard the amplified music played before the speeches and, of course, the sirens as belated re-inforcements began to come in. A terrible day, though the processes of elective democracy held in spite of the assault. That and the aftermath have sucked a great deal of the oxygen out of the room. I'm still functioning, but I find it more than usually easier to do the physical work of maintaining and upgrading the boat rather than the mind work of writing and photography. On top of the fact that the travel (even very local travel) that keeps me photographically fresh and engaged is more difficult and frought than ever.
We had a potential exposure to Covid on the 8th, so we were locked down even more than usual while awaiting our test results. I walked, but went to no stores, did not buy my hot chocolate at the Praline Bakery, didn't even visit the boat of a friend to return a couple of wrenches. We're negative, so that's over and we've returned to the level of masked caution we'd been observing before.
And yet I've continued to take photos and process them. The three frame panorama of the dawn and radiation fog on the Washington Channel was captured three days ago using my cellphone from the clubhouse. A target of opportunity. (The best camera is the one that's with you!) But also, yet another shot of the marina where we live. Here's to a better and broader 2021!
Good Harbor Beach
Washington DC, 8 January 2020 The last two or three days in Washington have been pretty heart wrenching, so I'll put that aside in this blog, which is (mostly) dedicated to photography. I took the panorama above at the end of November, in Gloucester, at Good Harbor Beach, which is the go-to walking beach on Cape Ann. The photos that make up this three frame panorama were taken at the end of November, the last time we were in Gloucester, and perhaps the last time we'll be there for a while.
CYC, December 2020
Washington DC, 1 January 2020 Happy New Year! The photo is a panorama of the marina where Julee and I live, stitched up out of four photos I took with my phone a couple of days ago, when we had wonderful afternoon light. At the end of December we're coming into the deepest part of Winter. Many of the boats are wrapped up, and we're all hunkered down, but so far it's been a mild winter. It's cold (and was actually colder when took the picture, in spite of the sunny skies) but not freezing, and we have no freezing in the ten day forcast.
So, the Best Wishes for all of us this year! Health, calm, and prosperity! I'll be working on my photography, getting my images to a wider audience, our boat, our house, and anything I can manage to make a better world. It's all a bit ambitious, but that seems to be called for these days...
Washington DC, 26 December 2020 I'm a day late with the blog entry, but yesterday was Christmas and I was quite occupied with it, even if Julee and I were having a properly isolated Time of Plague celebration by ourselves. The boat is decorated, we had the traditional (in Julee's family) cheese and chocolate fondue on Christmas Eve, opened presents in our pajamas on Christmas morning, had a really lovely special meal in the afternoon, and spent a good deal of the day on the phone and on Zoom with family on both sides. This worked for me, and I think it worked for the family too, though I am looking forward to a more crowded celebration next year.
The photo is the third of my pictures from the recent, equally careful, trip to Saxis on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake. It's one of the interior doors of the cottage we stayed in, and old, picturesque, roughly hand built, little building from the 19th Century. Shadows of venetian blinds are nothing new in photography, but I find them appealing, and there is a lot of graphic interest in the sharpness of the wood and door knob, and the softness of the shadows themselves.
Winter Sky, Assateague
Washington DC, 18 December 2020 We got away for a bit. Julee needed a break away from the busy office that is the salon of our boat. Now we can't do normal travel in these times, so she went online and booked a whole cottage AirBnB in Saxis, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore of the Cheasapeake. We took our own food, went to no restaurants nor any bars, and were altogether isolated and safe in this Time of Plague.
We were aiming for Chincoteague, the barrier island on the Atlantic, but the prices got considerably more reasonable with a bit of distance, and Saxis is a short drive to Chincoteague and interesting on its own. For me, the interest in Chincoteague came from reading Misty of Chincoteage as a child, and knowing a little about the herd of wild ponies that lived, and still live on Assateague, on the oceanside of Chincoteague, and thus, I suppose, a barrier island to a barrier island. I'm now rereading the book, and I'm picking up a lot that went quite over my head when I was seven. We did see the wild ponies, but at a distance, and it wasn't very spectacular. Horses grazing in a field... But Assateague is now a National Wildlife Reserve and saw wonderful birds, delicious wetlands, and amazing trees, alive and dead, like the ones above.
Assateague Wetland The banner photo above is a four frame panorama I took later in the afternoon near the pony pens. This photo is an infrared three frame vertical panorama so I could get the foreground water, the middleground weeds, and the background trees into the photo without changing lenses.
Home again, and refreshed for the season. As befits the Time of Plague, we'll celebrate Christmas alone. As I've said before, we have the Winter to get through, and we're not getting sick, or getting anybody else sick. Late on the post today, but I spent my morning shag running around town for parts for my boat projects...
Thawing Washington Channel
Washington DC, 11 December 2020 It's definitely Winter, but not like this. The photo was taken a couple of years ago, when the Channel did freeze, but not very hard, and not for very long. This three frame panorama was taken the day after the pancake ice formed, and it was already melting. Last year's Winter was milder still, and the weather people are thinking this year will continue the trend. They could be wrong, of course! It has gotten cold, and we had a few flakes of snow on Wednesday morning, and the forecast indicates a bit more next week, but it didn't, and won't, stick. We'll have to see what the next three months brings us.
I've been obsessing a bit about a lovely bit of photographic music. Si La Photo est Bonne (If the Photo is Good), by the French chanteuse, Barbara. (Like a lot of French vocalists of the mid sixties, she went by a single name. I was at the end of grade school and living in Paris at the time and the whole seminal and vibrant French pop culture of the time passed right over my head. I was introduced to it years later by a flame of my middle age.) I speak a fair French, but I don't follow lyrics easily (even in English) so I didn't pay it much attention except that I liked that it was about photography. Except it isn't... It's about the attraction to bad boys: If the newspaper photo of the young perp is good... Oh well! Given that the great Johnny Hallyday had a big hit riffing on on Tennessee Williams, starting with a spoken intro that was the last lines from the French version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, anything was possible.
Chopper, Washington Channel
Washington DC, 5 December 2020 It is getting Wintry-er on the Washington Channel, with chilly rainy days interspersed with colder clear days, and wonderful golden red sunsets. There's no color in this infrared take on the sunset, but I do think it captures the cold, very-nearly-to-the-solsice feeling we have these days. The helicopter is another big aspect of life on this waterfront. The helicopter route for the District of Columbia goes almost right over our heads, with the choppers down on the deck to avoid the commercial airliners landing across the river at National Airport. Most of them follow the route to the White House heading right as you look north, or to the Pentagon, pealing off to the left, but some of them are on on the way through. We see Park Service machines, Coast Guard, and civilians that are obviously camera platforms. They don't fly through, but turn right and hover over the Mall during events. This one is in the colors of the HMX-1, the Marine helicopter unit that specializes in VIP transport. It's not the Prez, flying alone and not being one of the big Sea Kings.
Wintry Channel Here's what the scene looked like in color. This is a three frame stitched panorama. I do take a lot of photos of this stretch of water...
Gloucester, Massachusetts, 27 November 2020 My show at the The Martha Spak Gallery is something of an infrared retrospective. It's nowhere near comprehensive, of course, but it starts almost at the beginning, with Reaching Tree taken in August 2013, and includes this photo, taken just under a couple of months ago. It's been a pretty good seven years! The show has one more weekend to run and will be open the coming Saturday and Sunday from noon to five. I want everyone to go, of course! But... It's Covid time and though the gallery is a safe, masked, retail environment, I have to admit that safety is relative and that I understand when people are careful about non-necessary shopping and cultural events.
So, I've put the show online here so you can see it if you can't, or feel you shouldn't, make it in person. Please take a look!
Contrails, Capital Yacht Club
Washington DC, 20 November 2020 It's been a rather boat-y (that is to say, non-photographic) week. Monday and Tuesday I was on the road up to New England and back, buying and hauling an anchor windlass, or winch, to replace the irreparable unit I have. A rather large hunk of metal to be transporting in the back of of a small/medium SUV! And, in the last week, winter has kicked in. I know, I know, it doesn't officially start until the Winter Solstice on 21 December, but I've never had much patience with tying the seasons to the astronomical equinoxes and solstices. When it gets warm I think of spring, and when it gets cold I think of winter. Besides, aren't the solstices for dancing naked in the woods? (Maybe the old religion is more appealing during the summer solstice...)
The photo's from February, when Covid-19 was on the move, but hadn't yet gripped everyone's attention. The sky was full of people going places, and our sky in particular was full of aircraft overflying Washington from the trans-Atlantic routes on their way to the interior of North America. The day was much like today, clear, and cool. We still see contrails, but in ones and twos. It's a different world, and while we will get through this and our horizons will open up, I don't think it will be the same.
My show is coming up to its third week. The Martha Spak Gallery is open weekends, noon to five through the end of the month.
Washington DC, 13 November2020 Friday the 13th... I'm not superstitious, but it's been a funny season... We're coming into the second weekend of my show at Martha Spak Gallery, but I'm taking a posting break from that and presenting a very wide panorama I took with my phone from the deck of my boat club early in the morning a couple of days ago. I've posted pictures from this vantage point before, but like all sensible people in this Time of Plague I'm staying pretty close to home. There is value in working with the variations in light and weather and point of view. We do travel between homes, but carefully (no overnights in New York, no gallerying there, no stops along the way except one careful, masked, pause in New Jersey for fuel) and I'm sincerely wondering if even that will be limited in the weeks to come. Fortunately, this is a good environment for Julee and me should we have to hunker down even more than we're hunkered down already.
So, today, working on the mailing list and getting Mailchimp set up. I've fond that absurdly opaque... Forward!
Washington DC, 6 November 2020 A shot of Martha Spak, of Martha Spak Gallery putting my name on my show in her space! It really looks good and I'm very happy to see the work up on the wall again.
Untitled Here's a shot of some of the smaller, framed, photos going up. I did hang some of the pictures too, but I have trouble being on both sides of the camera at once. It can be done, but requires some setup and I didn't have the bandwidth on a day we were busy hanging the show.
So it's up. The doors are open weekends from noon to five, and we can open the gallery other times on request. Contact me! I will eventually document this show on this web site, but for the moment, the only way to see it will be to pay it a non-virtual visit.
Washington DC, 30 October 2020 So, Wednesday I spent the day assembling the small, framed prints for my show. The photo shows the setup on the boat's dinette table, diminishing pile of prints to the left, on top of the diminishing pile of mats, cut to size. I'm cutting the opeing on the table, fully marking the cut lines in pencil, then using the straight edge to guide the magic Logan mat cutter. It worked well, though I got tired towards the end, and didn't notice that the second to last photo had been straightened and slightly cropped, and so was slightly smaller along the long edge than the standard 2X3 ratio prints than preceeded and followed it. I had one mat to spare, and so was able to finish this part of the show.
I was going to stage the three big prints yesterday, but it rained all day, so I did inside work instead, starting on taking the web site to the next level, with pop-up signup forms for a newsletter on approprite pages and in my emails. I'm going to have to learn some more coding to get this right... A week or two of study and experiment if I'm lucky, a month or two if it turns out to be as diffucult for me, as, say, getting the text to scroll over the photo on my index page.
But, the sun just came out, and it's really pretty. Onward! There is a lot on my plate today.
Low Tide Arc
Gloucester, Massachusetts, 23 October 2020 I seem to be turning into a landscape photographer. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not the way I tended to think about myself in the art. I think I'll still resist a bit, just because I remain a photographer of opportunity, and there will always be cityscapes and seascapes, still lifes, (Of opportunity, not set up!) and pictures of people and happenings. But, in this time of Covid people and events are rare (though I did post such a photo on 15 June) and there are only so many ways of representing my corner of Washington DC, so the energy seems to be going into Gloucester, but since the Gloucester is relatively small I can claim a lot of its corners as mine.
This corner is Good Harbor Beach, something of a Gloucester institution. A walk or two is always part of our time here. This day Julee and I went at the lowest of low tides on the day after a goodly storm and the seeing was crisp and the light crystalline. Perfect F64 weather! I shot both color and infrared, but got pulled towards the infrared, as in this shot back along the sandy low tide causeway to Salt Island. I'd never before been to Salt Island before, because the tide was never low enough.
On the road to points south tomorrow. The small prints for my show should be waiting for me in the Captain's Room at the Capital Yacht Club in Washington. I'll plot and plan with Martha on Sunday, if she's in the Gallery, and in any case frame the small prints and stage the big prints over the next week.
Black Mountain, Vermont
Gloucester, Massachusetts, 16 October 2020 The show is more and more set in stone. I've ordered small prints and frames, to be sold at very, almost dissappointingly, reasonable prices, coordinated publicity with my beloved gallerist (Martha Spak of the Martha Spak Gallery) and have identified the trio of big prints to set the tone. Black Mountain, above, is one, and it will hang beside Reaching Tree, below, in the entrance to (hopefully!) pull people in. I'm not going to go into great detail about the show here and now, though when it's been up two or three weeks I'll post a gallery on it. I will say that it's titled Invisible Light because it consists entirely of infrared photos, starting with these two, which are among the very first of my infrared photos to make my heart sing, with examples from all the years since, including a little still life I took a only couple of weeks ago.
Untitled Here's an illustration I took with my cell phone while I was assembling the sample picture for Martha. As we're doing everything to cut costs, I told her I'd "cut my own mats, a skill I picked up a thousand years ago in college" which was a little disingenuous, since, while I can honestly say that I'd been taught the skill, it's a little less certain that I'd learned the skill. With the tools of the day it required real freehand precision, not my strong point. I'm happy to report that the last forty years have brought enormous progress in things like computers and cameras and hand mat cutters. The $23.85 Logan mat cutter is the most delightfully clever tool, making good results possible for the unskilled as long as they follow the process carefully. This was on the aft deck of the boat I live on, the best workbench available to me in good weather. If conditions are bad when I'm back in DC and have all the components I may have to sneak into the clubhouse to frame the rest of the show.
We'll hang the show on 4 November and it will come down on 30 November. In this Time of Plague the galley's open only on weekend afternoons, but I can open it by appointment other times for the interested. If you're in the Washington area please come by during the regular hours or contact me if you need a special viewing.
Washington DC, 9 October 2020 Well, yay! The show is on, at the Martha Spak Gallery at The Wharf in Washington DC, running from 4 November until the end of the month. With Covid, the gallery has regular hours only on weekends, but I'm hoping to get some time during the week when I can open it myself for the folks in the neighborhood. Details to be arranged over the next three weeks... The name of the show will be Invisible Light, like my first show in Kathmandu, but this time the photos will be all infrared shots. I'm really looking forward to seeing the work up again.
Reaching Tree, above, will be the keynote photo, along with Black Mountain, Vermont, both in the doorway. I'll hang a big Fewa Lake on the center island, and the rest of the show will small, framed photos. Small for me that is... The prints will be twelve by eighteen inches, framed eighteen by twenty four inches.
More as this rolls out! Once Gallerist Martha and I had agreed on presentation and pricing, I put in an order for frames, made a trip to Blick Art Materials for matts and bought them out of their entire stock of a particular weight and color of board. The frames arrived today... It should all come together in time, which is short...
Washington DC, 2 October 2020 No photo today, as I'm rather distracted. There is the bigger stuff, of course, but also I'm trying to put together a show proposal that will work for my prospective gallerist. It's an interesting balancing act between creating framed prints that are affordable, and putting up work that is technically good enough that I can be proud of it. And all dependant on materials I have to source, both from afar and from the local art store. Back to it, and more on this next week when this will have resolved one way or the other.
Washington DC, 25 September 2020 There is a real chance that I might have a gallery show towards the end of the year. I'm cautiously very excited... To that end I put together a roster of images where I thought I had big, gallery-sized, prints for the gallerist, and then went to the storage cage below The Wharf buildings to take inventory and see what was truly available. I'd been sensible enough to label most of the boxes with their contents, but until then I had no separate written inventory I could refer to. In the process I got reacquainted with older favorites. This one hung in the Siddhartha Gallery in Katmandu just over a couple of years ago. I think it really captures the feel of a late afternoon in the fall in The Valley, as one calls the high alluvial bowl that contains greater Kathmandu.
Concerning the kite, I'll quote the caption from the entry in the show page on this site: "Kite flying is a seasonal thing in Nepal, something boys and men do in the fall, and so loosely associated with the festivals of Dasain and Tihar. As one looks over the cityscape of Kathmandu in the afternoon one can usually see a couple of dozen kites in the sky. There's only one here. These are South Asian fighting kites and the pilots compete to see who can cut the strings of their opponent's kites with the strings of their own kites. Perhaps this kite is the survivor of the afternoon's combat. The photo is a three frame stitched panorama." And infrared, of course! The hanging print is about six and a half feet long, and the string of the kite is clearly visible.
It's been an odd couple of weeks since the return to Washington. It's an unsettled season, between politics and Covid. Work on photography, work on boat, and look forward to more settled days!
Window Still Life
Washington DC, 18 September 2020 A window still life I took two and a half weeks ago in New England. Unlike most of my black and white images it isn't infrared, but a visible light color image rendered to black and white through the magic of Photoshop. There are black and white digital cameras, but they're rare and tend to the very expensive. So, I do what most photographers interested in monochrome these days do and start with the color image and process the color out. I do like black and white, which is a part of my pull to infrared. I'm also drawn to color that seems black and white, like the photo below, taken of a storm brought into New England on the periphey of a hurricane in late August. It's a completely natural color photo, straight from the camera.
We did indeed leave the dock below behind us, finally, and have the boat and home back to Washington as documented on Facebook. It's good to be home. It is also really good to be back in front of the big, bright, sharp, and accurated MultiSynch PA272W monitor! It's a tool that makes the work so much easier.
Tracy's Landing, Maryland, 11 September 2020 I had really been hoping to have left this picturesque dock behind me when this post went up, but, alas, the final, necessary, part for the boat did not arrive yesterday so the boat remains in Tracy's Landing. Here's hoping for today!
The photo is an infrared shot of the dock where the boat has been kept for the last week. I have nearly identical shots in color. Not much color, because the weathered wood is fundamentally dark gray. The color and infrared photos don't actually look that different, but I still think the infrared version is better.
I'm going to go to a weekly schedule for posting here, starting today. So, no Monday blog. I'm not actually having that much trouble keeping up, or even having something to say, photographically, but I'm taking baby steps towards a more agressive online presence, and a weekly post right before the weekend seems like the way to go. That way I can plan a bit more, say a bit more, and perhaps be a little longer and meatier in my opinions about photography and art.
Wetland at Herrington
Tracy's Landing, Maryland, 7 September 2020 A bit before dawn, on our boat, in the water. (I've taken to waking up early in my impending early middle age.) We've cleaned and straightened up, and our home is once again feeling quite homey after the months away and the coming and going of the mechanics. The salon carpet is likely ruined, but we didn't like that carpet anyway... Tomorrow the head mechanic and the head joiner will be on for (hopefully!) last work and we'll be ready to go after that.
Took the photo above yesterday while strolling through the marina. Opted against posting general marina photos because I've done that before (see the 31 July post) and against the more abstract plant portraits I taken in the last couple of days because I wanted to post something that gave more of a sense of this place.
Delaware Memorial Bridge
Annapolis, Maryland, 4 September 2020 Disaster... Great trip down, as you can see from my phone shot of the bridge as we crossed the Delaware from the Jersey Turnpike to I-95. But once we got to the boatyard we found the boat still on the hard (out of the water, on blocks) with multiple critical assemblies not yet re-installed. along with dire warnings about the condition of other critical assemblies. Oy! A phone call on Wednesday would have kept us in Gloucester, and saved us a small fortune in temporary accomodation. Picking up the pieces...
P.S. Friday evening: Boat's in the water and mostly reassembled... We'd planned on leaving today, but that's off, and there was still some work to be done when we left the boat, so a weekend departure is off too. So, reconvene with the mechanic Tuesday morning, and I'll have to gather a crew to bring her home later in the week. (Julee works, and can't take the time...) That'll be harder in the Time of Plague, and it's all very messy, but we're on track, and we're in our rented digs and confortable.