Washington DC, 5 April 2020
This is Monday's post, but I actually wrote it and posted it on Sunday.
Early in the morning: It's sunny, a few high clouds, very pretty, and dead quiet on the Washington Waterfront. Not surprising early Sunday morning, but I tend to think that it's going to be pretty close to dead quiet all through the morning, afternoon, and evening, and that is not normal for this neighborhood on a pleasant spring weekend day. This is a blog on a photo site, and I have some time ago settled on blogging only on photography but at this point the covid-19 pandemic is so intrusive that it's gone beyond the more casual mentions I've made of it as background. It's now the background, middle ground, and foreground of everyone's life.
I'm both relatively exposed and relatively protected.
On the exposed side, I'm not over sixty-five, but I'm close, and consider myself in a high risk group for age. Worse, my lungs were wrecked by growing up in a family of heavy smokers, and a good part of that time in what was then the most polluted place on the planet, in Mexico City. Then, later in life, I was grabbed by chronic allergies. Today, how could I tell if I had covid-19? I'm always a little scratchy around the throat and drippy about the nasal passages. I could have a mild case of the novel coronavirus and never know. On the other hand the possibility that an infection would get completely out of hand seems very real to me, and even more real to my loving Julee.
On the protected side, I'm retired on a pension and don't need to go out to make money nor worry about the loss of income if I can't. Julee works at home for an international NGO. While the funding that pays her is always uncertain, for the moment she has work and an income. So, our daily routine hasn't changed all that much. I work on my photography, I work on this old boat... Julee works on early childhood development. That work has pivoted very much to the pandemic in the last weeks, but she's keeping the same hours.
What has changed is our interaction with the wide world. Things had gotten very quiet in Washington by the time I got back from the delivery trip, and they got quieter still last Wednesday when the local govenors (Maryland and Virginia) and the Mayor of Washington DC amped up their guidance to requirement and ordered the population to stay at home across the board. Along the DC Waterfront at the Wharf where we live there was a scattering of people out, acting very properly, maintaining distance and interacting only with those that appeared to be family. But there's always a subset that don't quite get the message... The historic Fish Market remained open. Hey, it sells food, which is and has to be allowed, and it was fine through the week... Then on Saturday word must have gotten out that this was a traditional public space and a traditional high point for Washingtonians that people could still go to. And they went. And, at the end of the day the DC Government shut the whole operation down.
And, for good measure, the entire Wharf development where we live... When I looked out this morning and started writing this blog entry it was completely deserted. I thought people had begun to figure it out, but it's enforcement. There's a line of police tape at Maine Avenue with actual police at the entrances to the Wharf and the Fish Market backing it up. Julee and I took one of our careful, socially distant, walks this morning and we got in and out on the simple explanation that we live here, but it was a little nerve wracking, and I expect that the non-residents were being politely turned away. The Wharf management has further blocked the two recreation piers. Damn!
And yes, I talked to Maryland's Natural Resources Police (they take care of the water, including the entire Potomac south of Washington) on Friday, after the last post, and was told that no boats should be on the water, with certain specific exceptions which didn't appear to obviously cover me. So no trip to Herrington Harbour for heavy maintenance this month. Herrington was very understanding, and will reschedule with me once the dust settles. Just as well as taking and keeping the boat there would have involved a fair bit of travel beyond the delivery itself, which is just what the governor of every state and jurisdiction on the east coast wants us to avoid.
So we're here, mostly within our own neighborhood, mostly within our home, until further notice, like much of the world. I called it right when thinking about it a month ago. I registered some uneasiness to the captain on the delivery trip and he first thought I was expressing unease about the health risk, and was at pains to reassure me that three guys overwhelmingly isolated on a boat weren't in much danger, which I think was true. But that wasn't it. I was concerned that things would get out of hand very suddenly and all transportation would be shut down, trains and boats and planes, to quote the old song, and that I would be trapped somewhere in the waterways of the South away from Julee. Transportation in the U.S. hasn't, even now, shut down completely, but I don't think it was a silly fear. An American friend in Nepal emailed me asking for advice while I was on the trip. (My last job I was the U.S. Consul in Nepal.) I wrote back that evening saying that they needed to decide very quickly what part of the world they wanted to be in, and get there as expeditiously as possible. It was already too late. Nepal shut down the borders and the airports that night. The Embassy has since arranged for a couple of charters and gotten about five hundred Americans at least as far as Dulles Airport in Virginia, but my friend considered the risks of nearly twenty hours in a metal tube with two hundred and fifty random compatriots and has stayed put. I think I would have moved a week or two earlier.
So here we are, all over the sensible world, sheltering in place. A lot of people are in much greater distress that we are, being actually sick (perhaps very sick), having lost livelihoods, been stranded far from home, or, in some cases, isolated with people they don't like. Julee and I are not dealing with any of that, which is a real blessing. I try to keep this site free of politics, but since I've already written a goodly essay that has nothing to do with photography, I have to say this: I really wish our political leaders had used the time when this was coming wisely, and hadn't denied and dithered until they had no choice but to act. This could have been so much easier if we'd geared up sooner, lives could have been saved, and the way forward as a nation and as humanity so much more clear. I think anger will be a useful emotion going forward.
Parrish Sky, Washington Channel
Washington DC, 3 April 2020 Another example of my versions of Monet's haystacks. The weather and the light is always different, so even though I'm taking pictures of the same view, they're not completely repetitive... I'm honoring Maxfield Parrish in the title of this seven frame-180 degree panorama of the Washington Channel taken from the end of my dock because of the clouds, particularly the pink mountainous ones at the left. Parrish painted in what we photographers call super saturated colors, but sometimes those really are the colors of nature. There is no manipulation in the colors of this photo. Straight from the camera!
I took this photo five days ago. Washington was already very quiet as people hunkered down and stayed home due to the covid-19 pandemic, and spaced themselves out when they were in public. It seems a long time ago. In the last forty-eight hours all three of the local jurisdictions (the District of Columbia (DC), Virginia, and Maryland) have amped up their restrictions on going out. We weren't going out much but were going to take the boat to long planned and long delayed heavy maintenance down river and up the Chesapeake. But the govenor of Maryland has banned boating... Maintenance may be further delayed. I do have months of projects on the boat that I can do here with the boat in the water...
Also doing some catchup maintenance on this site. Everything prior to 1 January on this blog page has been archived to the blog archive page. (Where else?) I've also cleaned up some of the formatting on my page on infrared photography. I'm always impressed at how many times I can proof read a piece and still have errors left over for future proofings...
Tidal Basin Police Tape
Washington DC, 30 April 2020 What an odd homecoming! We're living in the age of covid-19 and it's hard for people to take it as seriously as they should. These are the iconic cherry trees at the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial a bit less than a week after the peak of their bloom, usually a time of festival, celebration, and large crowds of locals and tourists viewing the blossoms. This year crowds were sparse, then people starting coming in numbers in spite of the risk. It began to get out of hand, to the point where the city government closed streets and then walled off the tidal basin itself. I went prepared to turn around and leave if there were numbers of people out, but there weren't. The police were out in force, being very specific about where one was allowed to walk. Not along the edge of the Tidal Basin, as you can see! So Julee and I skirted the area and walked out through East Potomac Park towards Hains Point, where I took the photo below. As you can see, many petals had already fallen, but the blooms were still full and beautiful.
Potomac Park Cherry Blossoms
Elizabeth River Wake
Elizabeth River Lift Bridge, Norfolk
Washington DC, 27 March 2020 Not quite the end of journey, but close, close. Both these infrared panoramas were taken as we were closing in on our transit of Norfolk, Virginia, and I find it interesting that there's only about fifteen miles between them, from a canal through a forest to a path across a harbor that is a major base for the U.S. Navy and a serious hub of the heaviest industry. They build nuclear aircraft carriers only a little way off of the path we took through Norfolk to Hampton where we spent the last night of the journey. Then a passage up the Chesapeake to Solomon's Island, very fast at first, and then a bit more cautiously as the open water got bouncier. That night I was home on my own boat in Washington DC.
I'm a bit behind on the posts, and a little uncertain as to whether to continue to lag or catch up expeditiously. Washington is very quiet under the covid-19 public health interdict, but I've been out photographing the waning cherry blossoms in this time of plague.
Large Utilitarian Objects, Moorehead City
Hampton, Virginia, 23 March 2020 Grabbed this three frame infrared panorama in Moorehead City last Friday as we were, for the fourth time, waiting for a bridge to open in front of us. The last three delays weren't at all bad, once a bridge that opened only on the hour, once a bridge that opened only on the half hour, and, this time, a working railway bridge serving the port where the railway operations took precedence over the small boat maritime operations. This bridge is actually normally open, but down in front of us while a locomotive was shuttled across it by another locomotive.
The first bridge to delay us was the real kicker. It wasn't just the day and a half we spent behind it, but the fact that that day and a half has delayed this part of the trip and we're in weather that would have otherwise have been behind us.
It's a bit like the movies... We're travelling over the map, quite literally, as we're using a variety of navigation aids that use moving maps. Unfortunately, unlike the movies, this isn't a device to make the travel happen more quickly. Fortunately, this is pretty amazing travel and worth the time. Here's a little picture of them all in use while we're driving the video game, as Captain Scott puts it. The first screen is my iPad, the second one on the wheel is Scott's much newer iPad, and then the little Garmin unit on top and the much larger Garmin unit in the panel. We use them all, and constantly check against reality, because after all the actual current location of the channel markers and the actual current depth of the water is what matters, isn't it?
We're laid over today because it's blown up a storm and this isn't a boat to be out on that kind of weather. Then... Either a day to the Washburn's Boat Yard on the Chesapeake, or two days to Washington, depending on how Maryland handles covid-19 over the next forty eight hours. If Washburn's closes there will be no point in taking the boat there for shakedown maintenance, and the boat will go to it's home port and return to Washburn's later when the pandemic allows.
Swansboro, North Carolina, 20 March 2020 I'm still headed up the East Coast of the United States on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in a small motor yacht with my friends Scott (the delivery captain) and Mike. There are wrecked boats all along this route. This is hurricane country... Usually the wrecks are little pleasure boats. One imagines that they were kept at a non-commercial dock avoiding the requirement for insurance, and that the owner who couldn't afford insurance also wouldn't be able to afford salvage when the big winds blew their boat ashore. I'm not sure what the think of a commercial boat like this one, which had to have insurance, but this kind of wreck is less common. This shot is a two frame horizonatal panorama.
We spent the day before yesterday in trapped behing this bridge in North Myrtle Beach. It was broken and wouldn't swing open... Lost a day and a bit more while we waited for the repairs to be made and slipped by the first thing in the morning after the mechanics were through. We understand it broke again after we were past...
I started this blog entry in the morning before we set off on the day's run, but at the very moment of this writing we're en route through Moorehead City, North Carolina. I'm not at all sure I'm going to be able to post to my Friday schedule since I don't know what kind of internet access I'll have this evening. We stayed at the city dock in Swansboro, and they didn't even pretend. The marina we were at the night before pretended, but weak signals and glitchyness overwlemend any possibility of actually logging in. And I don't pay AT&T enough to use my phone as a hot spot...
Unlike foggy yesterday this morning dawned clear and blue, with just enough cloud to make the sky interesting. Relatively open waters too, so we're getting opportunities to run fast and make better time.
Bridge at Beaufort
Charleston, South Carolina, 16 March 2020 This was the night before last, as were continued northwards. It's another shot of a waterway and a bridge, but waterways and bridges are fairly common and typical sights in the Lowcountry and I think it's one of the better shots from this stretch of the voyage on the MV Argentum. It's a four frame panorama assembled from photos I took with my phone. I've a lot of infrared shots from the days on the water, but they're not coming out quite as well as I'd hoped...
At Jeckyll Island
At Sea, MV Argentum, 13 March 2020 As of this morning, I'm two days up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Jacksonville, departing from Savannah, Georgia this morning. It's not exactly being "At Sea", but "On Twisty Little Inland Waterways" doesn't have quite the same ring in a header. This picture shows our little boat the Argentum (to be renamed when the owner can get a paint specialist to polish the current name off the stern) at dock at the Jeckyll Island Marina early yesterday morning. It's Infrared, of course, and a nine frame horizontal panorama.
Sailboat, ICW Yesterday was an interesting day as we wended our way through the Georgia Lowcountry. This really is low, fractal land. You can see boats far away apparently ghosting along on the ground but really in a small channel between the marsh grasses. This photo is less mysterious, a boat we met along the way, sky and clouds above, water and refections below.
It will take me several days to work through all of today's photos and which ones are really ready for prime time, but of course I'm still in motion and will be taking another set of photos tomorrow, and the next, and the next... So it will be a while before I work through them all! I am glad I'm crew rather than running my own boat. This way I've the time to think and take photos along the way.
Sunday Morning Coffee, National Airport
In Transit, 9 March 2020 I've not cancelled my trip in the face of covid-19, mostly because I have friends counting on me. But, captain and crew of the boat under delivery will be keeping a close eye on the news as we come up the The Ditch, as the Intra-Coastal Waterway is sometimes known. I have decided it would be wise to travel a little lighter, so I've left the camera bag and tripod behind, and am travelling with my minimum photo kit. A Canon EOS 5D Mark III, modified for infrared, Canon EOS R for color, both with the odd-but-very-sharp Canon F2.8 40mm pancake lens, a Zeiss 25mm for wider framing, if and when I take the time to change lenses instead of shooting a panorama (though I do sometimes shoot panoramas with with the 25mm), and a bag of batteries with their charger. It's not really light, but it's a lot lighter than the bag, which is home to three camera bodies and about ten lenses, including the massive 100-400mm zoom that looks like Rey could use it to shoot down a tie fighter. I don't use that one very often, but when one needs a fast long lens, nothing else will do! The corners contain all kinds of smaller accessories and add ons which add bulk and weight.
The truth is, the bag is a bit of a tool to limit the kit. With very few exceptions, if it doesn't fit in the bag, it's not part of my photographic life. This makes it possible to put everything I need in one place, and I can just grab the bag, with the tripod as needed, with the flash bag as needed, and go. Most of the time I need a lot less, and here I am on an adventure with that a lot less. And I'm glad the cameras are getting smaller!
Washington DC, 6 March 2020 It really is a wintry snapshot, grabbed on the fly a couple of days ago. The day before that Julee had badly pulled a muscle in her leg at gym and we'd wedged open an appointment that morning with our orthopedic surgeon, just in case it was one of those injuries that turns out to require immediate attention. Fortunately no, this one will heal on it's own, given due respect, and is amenable to mild exercise like hobbling carefully down the seawall to the falafel joint for lunch.
It's getting non-photographically busy. Monday I'll fly down to Jacksonville, Florida and join a boat on a delivery trip up the Intracoastal Waterway towards Washington. This is the protected inland passage that runs inside the barrier islands of the east coast of the U.S., taking advantage of every twisty river and and watery straight, linked as necessary by cuts and dredged channels. I've never done this and am really looking forward to it! I am taking the full photo kit, including tripod, and we'll see what comes of that.
Sadly, I'll miss my French class next week...
Théodore Rousseau in the National Gallery of Art
Washington DC, 2 March 2020 I'm studying French... It's been a while, and Julee and I wanted to brush up, so we went to the Alliance Française above Dupont Circle and tested. I did pretty well and got tracked into the level 4 classes, which are serious lecture courses, but in French. So I'm studying French painting, specifically, <Le réalisme and le naturalisme>, Nineteenth Century art movements, in opposition to Romanticism and before Impressionism. (Note we anglophones capitalize our movements!) I'm not quite sure what to make of these labels, especially after my Sunday visit to the National Art Gallery here in Washington where I made a focussed run past paintings from the Barbizon school. From 2020 the divide between the romantics and the naturalists doesn"t seem so very sharp. And, interestingly, the English Wikipedia article on realism addresses realistic figurative painting from all epochs, while the French Wikipedia article on réalisme is about the France-focused mid Nineteenth century movement that is the subject of my class...
Panoramic Landscape near the River Moselle by Théodore Rousseau (from the web) Here is Rousseau's big little panorama itself. I saw it first online, and thought it was going to be bigger than it is. Of course, it was painted on location, so limited in size to what Rousseau could carry, especially what he could carry in terms of a fresh wet painting when he was finished. And I don't know how much paint and canvas he could afford! It's currently part of a temporary exhibit called True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870, three rooms full of small easel paintings done on location, many of which are quite stunning, full of sunlight and warmth.
Today I'm feeling pretty clear about what I saw and felt yesterday in the museum, but I left deeply discombobulated. First, I had one of those artistic panics. "What does this all mean? What makes a piece of art good? How does that apply to me?..." The truth is I don't know, and I'm not sure it's safe for me to enquire too closely! Second, the art history divide I feel isn't between the French realists and what came before, it's between them and what came after, specifically impressionism, modern art, abstract art. It's clear to me that I belong to and am a part of that world, even if the vast majority of my work is as figurative as Rousseau's painting of the Moselle Valley. The painting that really grabbed me yesterday was Paul Cézanne's portrait of his father, which I rushed past while looking for older paintings. It's totally figurative (I'm sure you'd immediately recognize the man if you met him) and full of light, but the brush strokes are completely original, non-"realistic", and the setting is abstracted. The perspective of the armchair is really off, which can't have been an accident given Cézanne's training and skill. And, interestingly in opposition to the Rousseau piece, it's a lot bigger than one expects, over six feet tall. Among other things the subject of the portrait owned a bank and Cézanne never had to worry about the cost of materials.
In the end, I'm not sure it pays to think too much about schools and styles. I study the photographers and artists of the past and present, sometimes quite closely, but in the end I'm going to go where the muse takes me, inside or outside of a particular school or style. What else can you do if you want to feel the holy fire?
Hong Kong From MacDonnel Road, HDR
Washington DC, 28 February 2020 So, this is the rebuilt version of the Hong Kong cityscape I posted last Friday. I assembled it with updated and commercial versions of both the High Dynamic Range (HDR) and the panoramic stitching software. It's a very different beast! On the unequivocally plus side, the stitching (via the PTGui program) is seamless and completely clean. (I had one small bit of ghosting in the sky, but that was an artifact of the HDR process, and very easily fixed in Photoshop.) On the other hand the HDR combination (using Aurora HDR) went a very different direction, and I'v been spending the last couple of days thinking about that. The previous version was moody and blue. This version is relentlessly bright and sunny. But, it was a bright and sunny day! Perhaps not relentlessly so, but you can see the sharp very shadow on the red building.
I'd had the image of the blue dark version in my mind for a number of years, so this bright pinker version actually took me aback, and I had to think about it. It's growing on me! It's really crisp, and in truth Hong Kong is a city with a lot of pink in it, so it's actually more realistic, although it has that pop-y HDR look. I'm happy, though I reserve the right to continue working on the image!
Tidal Basin, Pre-Spring Day
Washington DC, 24 February 2020 Yesterday was warm, over sixty degrees Fahrenheit by my measure. (I keep a swimming pool thermometer tied to the rail of the boat to check air and water temperatures.) Unseasonably warm, but I think you could say that of our entire winter. Julee and I left the Wharf and walked around the Tidal Basin, and I took this photo from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. The trees of all kinds are beginning to bud out this last week of February.
Hong Kong From MacDonnel Road, HDR
Washington DC, 21 February 2020 This is the last of the three High Dynamic Range (HDR) images I'm happy with. Though, I'm not as happy with this one. I think it's a really striking image, and I like it, although I'm not usually in the typical HDR photographic world of exagerated colors. On that scale it's modest, but it's still on that scale. The problem is that it's also a stitched panorama (double technical!) and it contains a pretty bad mis-stitch on the round building with the pie section missing. It doesn't look round here, does it? And there are breaks in the lines of the brickwork. At the time I took and assembled it (2012) I was still fairly new with panoramas and didn't know how to fix it. It's still complex, since I should really recreate the HDR and the panorama in my newer, commercial, versions of the two applications, and see where it goes from there. One can often improve on even strong photos over time as one's skills improve, but I still think the last couple of photos are ready for prime time, while this one isn't.
The picture was taken from the roof of our apartment building on MacDonnell Road. I took a lot of pictures, in all seasons, all weathers, and all times of day from this spot.
Washington DC, 17 February 2020 Following on from last Friday's post, this is the other HDR image from Linda's that makes me happy. Now that I've pulled it and posted it, I note the it was actually taken the same day as the window picture below. A Good Day, photographically!
Washington DC, 14 February 2020 The furnace fan is repaired, and I've wended my way back down south. I broke up my trip with an overnight stay at my Aunt Linda's. She has a place in Brooklyn that is one of those amazing artist's spaces, built sometime long ago as a small factory and now reconfigured to house several families of varying degrees of intimacy. Some are tenants, in completely separate apartments, living separate lives, and some are actual family (though that can be complex!) living around the large space that was the old factory floor. It is small for a factory (tiny, actually, but a century ago a tiny factory in a U.S. city was a very viable economic unit) but it's huge for a living room, though, like all American homes, most of the family life takes place in the kitchen. I'm very lucky indeed to be welcome there.
I was lying in the sofa bed at one end of the living room, which is my spot there, and looking up at the street windows and I was reminded of the photo above, which I took of those very windows on another visit eight years ago. I was experimenting with High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography at the time, looking for a way to deal with very contrasty photos, the shadowy abyss of a Hong Kong street between tall buildings, with bright blue sky visible above, for example. Here I was just playing/experimenting, but I like the results a lot. It's not "realistic" photography, but not all photography needs to be realistic, even for this disciple of Group F64. What really mattered to them (and to me) is that the processes used be inherently photographic, rather than painterly. And, as always with me, this image is straight from the camera, even if highly manipulated in terms of tones and colors. This picture was taken after midnight with a tripod for long exposures. The light comes from entirely from the street lights.
I just started to go off on an explanation of the process, but it gets highly technical rather quickly! At some point I'll write an HDR technical page to go along with my technical IR page and my prospective page on panoramas for anyone genuinely interested.
Danny Chau of Chau Digital in Hong Kong taught me the real solution to the shadows and bright light problem in digital (really counterintuitive to those of us brought up on film photography) so I didn't pursue HDR very long, but it has its own interesting aesthetic. And I find it interesting that two of the three HDR photos I'm really happy with were taken in this house, within a couple of days of each other. I think I'll post the other one on Monday...
Cemetary Grass, Gloucester
Gloucester, Massachusetts, 10 February 2020 So here I am, TCB. (Taking Care of Business, as Elvis used to say.) It turns out the house needs some immediate attention, not as an emergency, but to forestall the emergency. So, I'm making calls to local contractors today instead of waking up in Brooklyn as planned. It's winter, and has been dry, though it's raining today. Not hard. We had a few lonely flakes of snow yesterday afternoon. Yesterday morning was sunny, so I went out with my camera. I think this picture was the best from that stroll. It's simple, tending towards the abstract, but I think it works, at least to a degree... And, I like it because it's almost black and white, though it's absolutely a natural color photo, just as it came from the camera. And, I think it's an interesting companion piece to my other disordered grass photo, taken a couple of months ago on the other coast of the U.S.
Gloucester, Massachusetts, 7 February 2020 A bit of a break from what I'm doing right at the moment. I found this picture while scrolling through the images searching for something else, and I think it's worth another look. I took it from Kellet Island in Hong Kong Harbour seven years back.
What I'm doing right now is Taking Care of Business in Gloucester. Came up yesterday by bus, scouting along the way for places along the tracks to return to for photographic safaris later on. Maybe not so later on. The trees in the roadside forest were bare and stark, and really beautiful in a dark and moody way on that dark and moody, wet and foggy, ride. I need to get out there fairly soon and be seriously landscapsical.
Washington DC, 3 February 2020 My view for much of the weekend, from behind the counter in the Martha Spak Gallery. At five o'clock I was a bit put out because no one had come to visit me, but a bit after five my friend Seung dropped in and we had a nice chat about the art. Seung has a good eye and a wonderful collection but she's filled her walls up and is very picky about any additions. It was in general a very quiet late winter day at The Wharf and quieter towards Close-Of-Business on Sunday, presumably because people were beginning to congregate at their Super Bowl party locations.
Washington DC, 1 February 2020 My schedule required me to post yesterday (Friday) but yesterday I was driving a big loop through Baltimore and Annapolis hunting for boat parts. (Successful trip!) This weekend I'll be babysitting the Martha Spak Gallery here at The Wharf while Martha is on travel. I'll open the doors at noon Saturday and Sunday, close between six and seven and would be delighted for visiters. As you can see it's tucked in between a wonderful bookstore and a spa on District Square.
Washington DC, 27 January 2020 While the Wharf Development is anything but shut down over the winter, it is very quiet in comparison to summer. The retailers tell me that January is a dead time of year for them, which makes sense as everyone is shopped out after the holidays. The restaurants are dealing with the double hit of less flush customers and the fact that much of their business is geared towards alfresco dining and drinking, and it's chilly. The Water Taxi (what the big shuttles plying the river between nearby points in the District, Virginia, and Maryland call themselves) is shut down for the season. So here we are, on a weekday morning with a single person walking down the seawall in front of the docks where I live. You'll note also that a good half of the boats have been cocooned in shrink wrap for the season. In heavy winter weather that covering makes taking care of the boat so much easier, but we've had hardly any heavy weather this season. There's still time of course... This shot is a nine frame stitched panorama embracing the wrap-around perspective such a shot will deliver.
Thin Ice, Capital Yacht Club The river has frozen this season, but, as you can see, not very much. A thin, thin, layer in the still protected head of my slip on an especially (but not very) cold night, and even this had melted away by noon. Our measure of freezing is when we see the ducks walking around on top of the water. I don't think this ice would have supported the weight of any bird bigger than a wren. We continue to watch the weather (forecasting has gotten so much better!) and note the incoming nights when the air temperature will get below freezing. I monitor the temperature of the water with a spa themometer. It's 41 degrees F this morning, at the end of January.
Ivanos and Bugatti by Edward Weston (from the Web)
Washington DC, 24 January 2020 A picture chosen for my day at the Washington Auto Show with my friend Scott. I find this a very odd photo. Not because it's not wonderful. It's beautiful, and a bit funny, all at once. It's odd because Weston was a great portraitist, but wasn't really in the habit of taking pictures of the wealthy and their possessions. The Bugatti was a millionaire's car and the driver is definitely showing off his very pricy Leica camera. I've done a little digging on the internet, and found a little more about this. The driver is Paul Ivano, a Hollywood cinematographer, and the passenger is the actress Claudette Colbert. This doesn't make the photograph any less odd! I haven't found more of the story yet. Is it in the Daybooks of Edward Weston? I don't remember, and will have to check when I get the library unpacked.
The car is a Bugatti Type 35, a twitchy supercar that people raced in Formula 1 and which won the world championship in 1926, back in the day when the gulf between a serious race car and a reasonable street car wasn't so wide as to be absolute. A different world... I found the car show underwhelming. Lots of really good cars, all looking very much alike, and frankly boring. If I had the budget to buy one this year I would, and would be happy with it, but it wouldn't excite me. Perhaps I'm older, and have other things going on in my life (photography, boating!) but I think we're also at the tail end of the glory days of the automobile.
Le Bon Combat
Washington DC, 20 January 2020 I have a show in August! On Friday I signed an agreement with Martha Spak of the Martha Spak Gallery here at The Wharf to show my Haitian photos alongside the work of a Haitian painter. It will be interesting to curate such an installation, since the works will need to complement and strengthen each other, and contribure to a shared visual narrative. Early days yet on planning and plotting... As we get into it I'll post more. Meanwhile, a photo from my "Haiti Streets" gallery in way of introduction. (And there are more, and more recent, Haiti photos in "Port-au-Prince, December 2017". )
Reading Terminal Market
Washington DC, 17 January 2020 An interior panorama from last week's visit to Philadelphia. It's an iconic spot that has great memories for me, since it's across the street from the downtown convention center. I first went there years ago when I attended the annual WorldCon science fiction convention when it was held in Philadelphia. This photo is emblematic of many issues... It should have been underexposed a stop to reduce blown pixels at the bright lights everywhere. Not too much one can do to fix that. Even after masking and restitching numerous times there's still one area of mistitching, though that can probably be fixed by hand in Photoshop. Mainly, it could be a little wider top and bottom, and there's a slope down to the right, which both make it hard to make the best crop to a clean rectangle for display. Sigh! It's hard to pan across the scene in a level line. Easier outdoors, where I've learned to follow the horizon with the gridlines in my viewfinder. But indoors there is no horizon to follow and I was holding the camera above my head and composing in the hinged and swivelled outside finder. I should be taking pictures like this from a ladder, but that would require premeditation. This photograph may not progress beyond this intermediate stage of processing, and I may go back with a ladder and some extra equipment.
It does bring me to the next technical "About" page I want to write, on panoramic photography. That may take me a bit, because there is a lot of history there that I want to illustrate. Panoramic photography pre-dates digital photography by a century or so...
Rittenhouse Square, Winter
Washington DC, 13 January 2020 Well! I obviously don't have enough critical and difficult readers following this blog since I posted three blog enties in 2020 without updating the year from 2019 to no negative feedback whatsoever... Now fixed, along with the copyright date on the landing page. Happy New Year once again!
The photos above and below were taken in Philadelphia on Friday, while doing tourism after the last post. The top picture is a three frame vertical panorama, wrapping up to the branches directly above me as I stood in Rittenhouse Square. Unlike many pans of this sort I've tried, this one works with only a little tweaking of the projection. The one below is a photo of oportunity from the platform of the Philadelphia subway system.
This site is now secure! It wasn't quite as easy as paying the domain service an extra ten dollars... To reliably and consistently pop up with a secured version of the site some work is required on the host server, and, like so many things in the web world, the process is not obvious, at least not to me. It turns out that it is as simple (on my service!) as flipping a virtual switch, but that virtual switch is buried in the menus of cPanel and you have to know it's there. On to figuring out enough of PHP to make that work for me!
Philadelphia, 10 January 2020 Came up yesterday for the reception for InLiquid's show of its new artists, which included a piece by my friend and fellow artist Maureen Drdak. It's a very strong piece indeed, the fourth in her Inner Perceiver series. Now, the morning after, we're in our AirBnB basement apartment while Julee works on a grant proposal for her organization and I think about next professional steps. So, no photo, since that isn't what is front and center on my mind this week. A little later in the day we'll venture forth and do art and tourism.
So, I'm building my mailing list, and dealing with just how disorganized my addresses are. (I've never really recovered from the breakdown of MSDos program porting to the Apple ecosystem years ago...) Thinking about the next upgrades to this website, and thus having to learn new things. Time to encrypt and add the "s" to "https"? Probably, since I want, at some distant time, to be able to take payments through the site, and, most immediately, add an interactive sign up process for a mailing list. That seems like it may be as simple as paying my hosting service an extra ten dollars a year. Doing the pop-up for the sign-up looks rather more complex, involving learning how to use a whole new programming language, PHP. And, figuring out how to access the PHP interpreter on my hosting service and activating it on my local system (that is, on my own computer at home). It does appear that PHP is included in the Mac package, but that configuration files need to be edited by hand to activate it. Always a little dangerous... Especially for the semi-technical like me. When I say I'm learning something like PHP I don't mean I'm becoming a real expert. I'll learn enough to serve my narrow need on my own web site, and move on! I'm not enough of a coder, nor have the memory, nor the time, to do more. But, part of Busy 2020!
Radiation Fog, Washington Channel
Washington DC, 6 January 2020 So, here we are, further into the New Year, and a bit further into this so far chill but not dreadfully cold winter. I took this three frame panorama from the end of my dock a couple of days ago, a pure target of opportunity. But, one of the things about living in a photogenic place is that there are targets of opportunity, and the wise photographer (or landscape artist or poet) takes advantage. That's why we always carry our cameras... The changing weather means that there are always new pictures, even in the same place.
Gulf of Gonâve Here's an example for twelve years ago, taken from the balcony of Julee's and my apartment in the New T'Adesky building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Third (and top) floor apartment facing west and overlooking the City and the Gulf. The closest I've ever come to living in a penthouse, and we understood at the time that we'd never have better views. We faced the sunset, always different and often glorious, to the degree that we'd look out and say to each other "Ho Hum! Another beautiful sunset." and I'd run for my camera. I took a lot, and a wide variety, of photos from that small balcony.
Washington DC, 3 Jan 2020 It's a bit obvious, maybe even a bit trite, but here's my picture for the path ahead in 2020. I walked up to the Homestead Graveyard in West Swanzey on Christmas Eve to take pictures of the old New England gravestones. None of them are worth a second look, but I did capture this one across the street on the way back. I'll put it in the categories of "not bad" and "useful for a metaphor"!
I think this a year to be more agressive in getting my photos out there. So, I will be starting a email list for a biweekly note, and cross posting in on both my Facebook pages and on Instragram and Flickr. As now, I'll be trying to pull people into this website. It's mine, and I'm not fighting with Mark Zuckerburg about how to compose or present my work or thoughts, nor worry about politics, advertising or pet photos. In non-virtual world I'm going to see if I can pull off a real gallery show or two in the course of the next twelve months. I do have a couple of leads there...