Wednesday, April 23, 2014




anchors in space
windows through time 
bidden or not
like the morning 
and cinnamon
scent of the bakery 
on the corner
no longer
and the sigh of the factory whistle 
when shifts changed, 
and the watchful clock at Union Station 
saying no one should ever be late
and the world was rolling on.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  How is it that our noblest aspirations so easily fall victim to meanness, greed and abuse - become magnets for it? Or were predatory instincts driving things from the start? For the first time I find myself counting on two hands the number of similar campuses abandoned and shuttered that I've photographed or tried to photograph. We hope the laws that closed them offer protection against similar abuse, but we close such places even as we deny liberty to more people than ever before in history, and we use a more blunt architectural style to confine them. Does the change in style reflect any changes in our values, and who is the "we" that can make a difference?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Ball Game

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: There is little left at Pennhurst to tell of the way lives were lived there. Though in the last of the three buildings I visited, there was enough furniture remaining to distinguish or characterize areas that might have been rooms, wards, lounges and labs. Beds were sparsely distributed where once they must have crowded the floor. Some of my colleagues wore face masks to block mold, but the old stanch has faded with time, and earplugs aren't needed anymore. I worked in solitude among large lounge chairs and sofas of inhuman rectilinearity. Moldy hulks with no crevices to lose your keys, no place for dust bunnies to roost. They were unmoving presences like an alien life form waiting to resume conversation. 

In another lifetime between then and now, it seemed, the buildings had been the handiwork of vandals who painted their own graffiti shrieks through the abandoned halls, and some of the walls were gardens of mold. I found myself constantly photographing the windows and thinking of the people confined in these rooms always wanting to look out, and yet all the views at Pennhurst continually look back in.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  More and more I am interested in making photographic images at the extremes of light: that point where brightness becomes specular blindness or where darkness becomes still. We are zoned against these regions, but they are the realms of mystery. Who among us doesn't remember a time in childhood lying awake at night alone in a darkened room?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pennhurst Asylum

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I went uninformed, nothing more than a gawker at an accident. I knew a bit about the scandals of Pennhurst Asylum and thought I understood the process by which such places, however good the initial intentions, become underfunded warehouses of abuse. It's not my habit to gawk.  I like to understand the places I photograph, but circumstances and time and there I was. It didn't help that at a certain season it drew crowds from far away to see it ghoulishly costumed as a Halloween haunted house. The haunted house remained set up in the administration building and was simply refurbished each year. Otherwise, what struck me was how ordinary and respectable Pennhurst seemed. 

It could have been the campus of a college or a prep school, but for one odd feature. Because my first visit took me only around the perimeter, it took awhile to discover it. Paths lead through quadrangles between the buildings, but unlike the paths on most such campuses, Pennshurst's paths were all four or five feet above the land around them and lined with railings to keep one from falling off. I learned later that the paths were, in fact, on top of windowless, concrete tunnels that connected all of the buildings. They were not merely service tunnels but the daily passageways used by inmates and staff.

Places such as Pennhurst thrive by looking ordinary and respectable, Horrors and heroes are hidden by brick and ivy; it is for that reason hallowed ground. What does it mean to photograph respectfully here?

I recommend visiting this site to learn more:

NOTE: For some reason this image always looks different after upload here than it does in any other forum. My monitor is calibrated, and this image is meant to have considerable shadow area. When posted here the shadows are brighter. I have adjusted this version of the image to compensate for Blogger's effect. If anyone knows what's going on here, please leave a note.  The image was uploaded in sRGB.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ruins on Mill Street

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: In the summer of 2013, the old dye works, abandoned for a decade, magnet for people left homeless and unemployed erupted in a ball of flame that burned for days.

Hand Made

Along the web where thumb folds into finger 
brick cadences resound as loaded piers
piling and arching against the weight of time
The meter of the module is a loom
to weave a wall of petit point perfection. 
A cold caress, to stroke it with your mind.
What ancient mason's hand? What royal tomb?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

St. Anne's of the South End II

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Most of us who live in the area know St. Anne's from driving eastward through Waterbury on I-84. How different its aspect from the streets around it. 

For the past month I have been constructing a family scrapbook, choosing to restore old photos or to let their age and the scars show bravely through or even to make the new look like a treasured relic of the past. Returning from my recent shapeshifting through time, my urge seems to be to see Waterbury as it was.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

St. Anne's of the South End

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL & ANNOUNCEMENT: Today's Photo has been in hibernation while my attention has been on another project. All is well, and my thanks to those who wrote to inquire. It's good to know friends care. I'm pleased at last to be able to tell readers of this blog that I've signed a contract for the publication for my book currently titled Brass Valley: Made in America. The release is over a year away, but I will let readers of this blog know when release is imminent. 

The news is, however, bittersweet as I received word this week that the brass mill, closed since this past fall, will not reopen. This was the last of its kind, the last real remnant of old Brass Valley. After three years of photographing there regularly, I'd come to know the men who always tried to look out for me, help me understand and get my shots. I miss seeing them, and the book will be dedicated to John Barto, President of the firm who gave me freedom to shoot, and to the men who worked there and were my friends.

TODAY'S will continue to be intermittent as I give attention to finishing the manuscript, but this image marks the beginning of a new series on Waterbury that will NOT be part of the Brass Valley book.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shroud Room or Composition in Blue and Brown

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  There is an odd corner at the Klotz Silk Mill that I don't recall seeing in any online photographs, in part because it is hidden until one swings open an awkward door. As everywhere, things have been left as they were on that day in 1957 when the mill ceased operations. Here, coarse cloth (cotton?) has been carefully hung for a purpose unknown. What was it used for?  There's nothing like it anywhere else in the mill. Here it sits, ready for use on a day that never came for a purpose forgotten.

I'd missed this spot until our last morning in the mill, and, frankly, if I had seen it earlier I would have judged it unpromising and moved on, perhaps wisely. However, by that last morning I had the leisure to take the challenge of an unlikely discovery. How to compose it and develop it so that it might at least hold ones eye? The room was tight; bright sunlight glared from behind the fabric but barely illuminated it. I thought, why would anyone take a picture here?

One of my shooting colleagues arrived in the room at the same moment but from another direction, and we each took turns shooting and trying to make something of our discovery. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


at the Housatonic Camera Club, 7 PM
Noble Horizons, Salisbury, CT


From lives of simple drudgery to lives of complex drudgery,
Autumn spreads a golden shroud to the tatters of our seasons.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created coequal, that they are endowed by their creator with similar inalienable rights. Among these are some life, liberty in that area over there and, after work is done, happy hour.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  It was an outsized in-reach and all around it and in it was a claylike muck that adhered like cement. Once I had stepped into it, the damage was done and I was bound to cross the deepest section though it pulled at my hiking boot with every step. Two car tires half way up showed where a trailer had been enveloped by the machinery. I too was engulfed in industrial viscera. That was the phrase that crystalized the image, and from that point every decision: where I stood and shot in the goo, the lens I used scoop it, the exposures I set and the processing afterward were all determined by that phrase, "industrial viscera."

I received an article in my email today that suggested photography without a message is mere, empty "Aestheticism," and quotes Kant to prove it.

What is the difference between having a message and making something clear? As a photographer, I can't be too concerned with message beyond being properly respectful of others. The task is to find a place, a mountain top or a few cells of honeycomb or an old factory and select from it elements that make something clear of my experience of that place. How I transform the reflected light collected into a photograph is for me about clarifying that experience more than attending to literal appearances. How I process the image is dictated by the image and the feelings that attend it. I try more often than I succeed.

The article spoke about "ruins porn" prettifying rustbelt blight with little regard to those who live there and suffer, and it added a new term, "nature porn" to describe those eco-friendly calendars and the chain-emails that bring us steroidal nature and fill us with dreams of places secluded and wild.

In fact, isn't all art pornography teasing out feelings that we may submit to its will - to lose ourselves in a book or a symphony or a photograph. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Garden of Delights No.9



Relatively speaking, 
moments are eons 
and mayflies grow wise 
in a mingy season, 
and realms there must be 
where time is slow 
while we pass as mayflies 
without reason.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Garden of Delights No.8

COLERIDGE:  "The albatross fell off and sank / Like lead into the sea."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Here's ample evidence life is cheap; climates shift with little regard to the living things that perish in the ebb and flow of eons. We have little enough understanding of the self-hoods of others of our species, much less the selfhoods of these insects cavorting then contorting then stilled.  I'm told they communicate with various faint buzzing noises and chemicals, as if there is no sorrow in their dying song as we comb the heavens for alien others with which to share space.

The only alternative to the world we have is the one we create.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Waterbury Starry Night


Smoldered and moldy factories along the river's winding sheet 
where the railroad used to cross, and the brass mill used to hum,
and the slow march home along South Main of rattling vans and pickups,
and the wind in the hills and the flow of the river washing toward the sound.

NOTE: Double click images to enlarge. Details will become clear as the image is viewed on a larger scale. Here is a close-up view of an area in the center of the image:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Silk 'n Style

by Emery Roth II

with Rick Pauline and Dawn Dingee

discussion & presentation

The Klotz Throwing Mill in Lonaconing, Maryland, is an accidentally preserved, "gilded age" silk mill from the beginning of the 20th century. View it through the eyes of eight photographers who traveled there in two groups in the past year. See the machinery and factory where the dreams of the gilded age were spun.  Consider how different eyes convert the experience of the mill into still images, learn about the region, and join a discussion as we consider whether Style matters.

WHEN: Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 7:00 PM

WHERE: The Housatonic Camera Club

Noble Horizons, 17 Cobble RoadSalisbury, CT

Garden of Delights No. 7

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: While photographers are still behind  the shutter there are already so many issues and opportunities to consider that many of us prefer to concentrate our efforts there. The deluge of digital options may seem as if it will drown us if we let too much in. ...or in it we may find new expressive possibilities that exist between photo-reality and graphic possibility. My own experience is that digital experimentation only expands expressive possibilities and enhances the pleasure I take in developing an image.

In chemical photography "solarization" is a phenomenon (to my knowledge B&W only) caused by extreme over-exposure; some tones reverse themselves. Although I've never done it, with practice and craft chemical photographers learns to produce and control the effect. Man Ray was famous for doing this. Before I began using ColorEfexPro plug-in for Photoshop, my experience was that digital solarization was a special effects filter with no nuance.  It was either on or off. A friend of mine called it "the Man Ray effect."

A number of images on this blog were made with the ColorEfex solarization filter. It provides several different ways to control the finished appearance, including a slider which sets the transition points where tones reverse and one which seems to change algorithms underlying the effect. The filter extends solarization into color photography in which colors reverse to their complement. While using the software the image changes continually with the sliders, and with a bit of experience one can learn to control the sliders to explore what the image is capable of - see the different events that happen as the "elapsed time" slider reveals and conceals detail. Often the experiments produce a variety of novelties, all with interest, or better yet, all strung into a movie they become the over-familiar, sci-fi journey through some other dimension. Occasionally the sliders bring something into focus that seems surprising and worth keeping, and with patience one can tune it in.  Or maybe there's nothing there at all. As I said in the first post, this is all experimental, and I'm eager for reactions.

For this image, the first step of the process was simply to intensify whatever color was in the image and concentrate contrasts using TopazAdjust. Solarization will burn away a good part of the saturated color, and what is left can be adjusted to reveal details that would otherwise be partly hidden.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Garden of Delights No, 6

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  The series was begun in 2010 and I've always found it an excellent place to engage the fullest range of processing options. The divide between photography and digital art is a vague one. I am equally interested in the digital development of the image as in the process of exposure to light. 

Digital photography has revolutionized photographic development as much as launching satellites into space changed flight. That places no obligation on photographers to go digital, nor once working in digital are we obligated to push processing beyond convention, but it seems anachronistic to me to work in digital and limit exploration of developing to digital simulations of chemical techniques. 

The photographs in this series are a place for me to experiment with and explore a wide range of processing options. I want to push and test limits. I hope viewers will feel free to pass along their reactions.  Whether good or bad, I'm interested in where, if anywhere, they take you.

Earlier posted pictures in the series can be found by typing "Garden of Delights" in the search box above.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Corn is as Cold as the Temperature Goes

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Too cold to go out and make photographs, and the saturated soil freezes well below the root line. Moles and voles and things in warm holes are sleeping in.  Me too.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  The series is Footsteps. Are some of them yours?  Some of the images were shot and processed as far back as 2011 and left to accumulate. My intent has been to post them with no comment beyond the title.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


A very happy holiday to all.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bottom of the Shaft


Factory Lift Part II

I'd like to be the guy that unwinds time.
He sits above the stars and sees time fall
like a blizzard sweeping across an empty plain.
or sifted flour to raise daily bread.
It's only pulleys and weights, that's all it is.
a trick of leverage, tomorrows and yesterdays.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Silk 'n Style

by Emery Roth II

with Rick Pauline and Dawn Dingee

discussion & presentation

The Klotz Throwing Mill in Lonaconing, Maryland, is an accidentally preserved, "gilded age" silk mill from the beginning of the 20th century. View it through the eyes of eight photographers who traveled there in two groups in the past year. Consider how different eyes convert the experience of the mill into still images, learn about the region, and join a discussion as we consider whether Style matters.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 7:00 PM

WHERE: The Housatonic Camera Club

Noble Horizons, 17 Cobble RoadSalisbury, CT



Orchid Lust

Silk is slippery.
It murmurs in 
plush, Victorian syllables
that shimmer like gossamer.

Swaddled in purple velvet's 
downy cushion 
we remember that silkiness begins in the guise of a moth 
or a burrowing worm or tentacled arachnids, poised and still.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Skeletons in the Closet

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: In a world of Victorian spindles and knobs, gears and sprockets, these pressure cookers look out of place, and, in fact, I've seen no other photographs of them despite the number of photographers that have passed here. Why is that?

They might be Gothic instruments of torture in a Victorian silk mill mystery, Holmes arriving before the pressure meter that runs from minus 30 through plus 60 has fully reset to an ambiguous zero, and only he knows if the sad victim was steamed like a lobster or slowly depressurized.

How did these serve the more acceptable aims of the silk barons?  Did they set the dyes, or did they shrink and tighten the silk fibers the way the annealer uses moist heat to repair the crystal structure in stressed brass? How little I know about the ways of raw silk! Where would we need to look to find someone who would know how to use this equipment today? The rust and stillness of the mill beg the question.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Factory Lift


Factory Lift

I'm not sure I ever noticed how 
much elevators are a lot like clocks.
Pulleys and weights, that's all they are, 
and the right grease to make them glide. 
One is set to lift a load. 
The other leverages our hours. 
if we can buy them back 
at the end of the haul. 
Four hours in two shifts plus food stamps. 
Of course, we can always use the stairs. 

I'd like to be the guy that drives the elevator, 
propped on his stool, floor numbers in his head, 
with his wrist twisted around the handle that levitates us. 
He knows to within 30 trips 
plus or minus 
how many trips he makes each week, 
and figuring market cycles roughly, 
he can tell you how many trips he will have to make 
'til his last ride in twenty-three years, 
so many months, weeks, days hence. 
He's steady, and he never uses the stairs.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gilded Age Gilding

PHOTGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I think Charlie was the first to put the shoes by the chair, maybe the umbrella as well, but there are always new still-life set-ups appearing here. As I got to the top of the stair, Charlie's still life was in front of me, though Charlie was gone. He appeared as I began to play with the elements he had left, rearranging them to make use of what I liked in the excellent southwest light. Rick and others followed later as we all selected from three floors of silk mill factory that had become a time-capsule sealed in July of 1957 and only recently opened. Time stopped here, and we had come to photograph it and compose it and process it into finished images.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bespindled and Bebobbined



It is a silken circus
bespindled and bebobbined
of Victorian, industrial clatter.
to capture the whole, 3-ring show-
silken filament streaking
bobbins bobbing,
flywheels winging,
and the steam calliope!
and to also eyeball every sprocket,
savor the nattering and shuttling
of the tiniest cog
in the unbroken linkage
between initial cause
intermediate event
and ultimate purpose,
and to show it in a photograph.