Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Town Called Sunset

Photographs from “Brazen Grit” on exhibit:

Warren Public Library, Warren CT
thru October & November
SLIDE-TALK: Saturday, Oct. 14 @ 2 PM

Whiting Mills, Winsted, CT
Oct 14 to Oct. 27

Stratford Library, Stratford, CT
SLIDE-TALK: Sunday, Nov. 5 @ 2 PM

Mattatuck Museum: part of “I Believe in Waterbury” exhibit
thru Dec 3, 2017

Democratic Headquarters, Ansonia, CT



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL (Continuation of August’s travels in Maine): I hadn’t come to Deer Isle to photograph sunsets, but I was there for the constantly changing weather that would be s[ecially lit when the sun was low. When I arrived at the Pilgrim’s Inn (https://www.pilgrimsinn.com) in Deer Isle I was given a warm welcome from Nicole and Scott. Built in 1793 and turned into an Inn in 1890, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and well deserves to be. 

When I let Nicole know I was looking to make photos and would appreciate any hints on where to shoot, she quickly told me that the place to shoot sunset was Sunset. Amazed that there was a place just for shooting sunsets, I asked where one shoots sunrise. She immediately directed me to Sunshine. However, it was on the causeway, just beside the inn on August 6 I watched simultaneously as the sun was extinguished in the west as the full moon rose in the east. 

















Friday, October 6, 2017

Stoninngton Harbor, Maine



Photographs from 
Brazen Grit” 
on exhibit:

Warren Public Library, Warren CT
thru October & November
SLIDE-TALK: Saturday, Oct. 14 @ 2 PM

Whiting Mills, Winsted, CT
Oct 14 to Oct. 27

Stratford Library, Stratford, CT
SLIDE-TALK: Sunday, Nov. 5 @ 2 PM

Mattatuck Museum: part of “I Believe in Waterbury” exhibit
thru Dec 3, 2017

Democratic Headquarters, Ansonia, CT



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: (A continuation of August’s travels in Maine) In Southwest Harbor, ME, my GPS told me that my destination, Stonington, was only 17 miles away but that it would take almost 90 minutes to get there. Stonington, Maine, lies on the edge of the ocean along a mountain ridge, one of many carved by glaciers. It became popular to a yacht-owning, sailing elite that began traveling beyond the fringe in the 1870s. Getting anywhere overland then was a long and punishing journey. Even today it takes nearly an hour to get “inland” to the “coast road."

Today the road to Stonington, ME, crosses over two sea passages. First a slender 1939 suspension bridge arches high across Eggemoggen Reach, to Little Deer Island. Then comes a causeway over to Deer Island where Penobscot Bay penetrates to Eggemoggin Reach. It is an island of bays, inlets and coves with a granite core. Beyond Stonington is Isle Au Haut that can be reached by ferry. Between lie countless islands, minor mountain-tops; even today it's a world best traveled by boat, and I’m told it is the center of lobstering. Steinbeck wrote about it; Eliot Porter photographed it.



Monday, September 18, 2017

Valley Names


FINDING BRASS VALLEY, A PLACE IN TIME THAT HAS ALMOST VANISHED

Sunday, Sept 24 @ 4:00pm

SLIDE TALK & BOOK SIGNING with EMERY ROTH II
The Norfolk Library, 9 Greenwoods Rd. E.




PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: The names are nearly forgotten: Israel Holmes, Aaron Benedict, Hiram Hayden among others. The name "Brass Valley” is rarely heard. We pass surviving building clusters without recognition. Few know why brass mattered or that by 1890 brass was Connecticut’s leading industry or that the towns along the Naugatuck River down to Bridgeport and New Haven,  produced 85% of the rolled brass and brass products of the United States.

The Naugatuck River flows across this picture from left to right between the two stacks. On the far side of the river next to the masonry stack chalky smudges on the brick powerhouse still spell out “Benedict & Burnham,” though the company has not existed for more than a century. They made brass wire, rods, tubes, and sheets in buildings on the property around the powerhouse.

On the near side of the river beside the metal stack there is no old sign to identify the property. The brick, gabled building with the Victorian tower was the lampworks of Holmes, Booth, & Haydens, built in 1880 after their original lampworks, on the same site, burned. Between the lampworks and the second Victorian tower can be seen the tube mill building added before 1900. Holmes, Booth & Haydens manufactured a range of brass parts and products in buildings that are no longer grouped around the lampworks and tube mill.

In about 1900 it all became part of a new entity, the American Brass Company, largest brass manufacturer in the world, and the brass industry in the Naugatuck Valley fueled the dreams from which the cities and countryside around Brass Valley flourished. At the same time the old names began to fade, though from the riverside one can still read letters spelling Benedict & Burnham.


Jose at Pickling, 2011


2014

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Maya



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: I used to think that art was as natural as crabgrass, hemlocks and rabbits; to ask its purpose was to miss the point. While I still believe that, I also believe that art which is lasting explores ones relation to oneself and others, to the planet and nature and to universal forces. Art which dazzles, fades quickly. Art which touches us with some truth has a chance to hold our attention longer and even stay with us. 

After a weekend photographing lobstermen, harborscapes, water and sunsets in the area around Bass and Southwest Harbors I drove to Rockport for a weeklong workshop with, photographer, Keith Carter. His work as represented on this web site (https://www.keithcarterphotographs.com/ghostland) had touched me, and I wondered who the man behind the lens might be, and what he might do to help me open new work. There were 14 of us, and I suspect we all sought the same thing, the path forward. Class time was largely spent reviewing the portfolios we brought and learning about the pictures that most inspired Keith and about many he had made and why. 

Each day we also reviewed photos we’d taken in response to daily assignments which were completed outside class time. Keith provided poems as a springboard to seeing/making new images, but mostly the places around Rockport looked to me as they had looked on previous trips. On the second afternoon, however, we went to an artist’s barn, home and studio where four models were ready to pose for us among an array of curios. My best photos were made there.

One of Keith’s pleas was to ignore the rules. I recalled Freeman Patterson describing the beauty of a roll of pictures that one of his students thought she had ruined by overexposing. Keith told about his own discovery of the power of accidental blurring in his first recognized image. For whatever it’s worth, prior to this workshop I would have rejected this image and not thought to develop it. Although I recalled the moment when Maya’s hands came into full blossom, I had hoped to have stopped them still; I never would have developed the softness of their motion or the moving catchlight in her eye.

By the end of the week we had seen much of Keith’s excellent photography, but it was clear that the roadblocks to new work were at least as difficult for him as for us, and that our most important answers lay in ourselves and in our work. 

I was helped in my photo by Maya who was as much an artist in her modeling as I struggle to be in my pictures. She internalized each of our requests to her as if it was part of a story she was living. Much of the credit for this image goes to her.




Saturday, September 2, 2017

We Are Makers



You are invited 
to view seven of my images from an earlier exhibition


On display throughout September 

Stratford Public Library
2201 Main Street,  Stratford, CT. 
Visit the library web site for times
(http://stratfordlibrary.org)

Stratford Library slide-talk: November 5 at 2 PM




PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: We are Makers. After our time in the trees, our human minds freed our dexterous hands to do impossible things. Making stuff, handiwork, is in our DNA. At least it’s in mine, which is maybe why it feels like death when a manufacturing region vanishes and a culture of innovation is hollowed out.




Friday, September 1, 2017

Sunset Conversation at Southwest Harbor



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Great photographers warn us that it is not enough to photograph the picturesque. Although photographs such as this may have a short shelf-life, the feelings they evoke are genuine, and when I’m in the area, I never miss a chance for sunrise or sunset at Southwest Harbor. 

The first time I passed here was in the spring of 2006 in an ephemeral moment of hallelujah light. I had scouted the area on my way to a workshop in New Brunswick, Canada, and had returned here from the workshop full of the week’s energies. After two hours photographing seagulls near Seawall, a few miles further south, I had lost my light. The road to my B&B took me past the head of Southwest Harbor, and as I passed, the water and sky blended raspberry to cornflower, the anchored boats gleamed in the light of the setting sun, while mist like whipped cream floated over the horizon behind them. I was blinded by the beauty and pulled the car off the road, but I was already too late. 

I know, it’s only another sunset in another Maine harbor, but I’ve come here many times since. The sun rises beyond the harbor and sets behind it, and I’ve photographed here at sunrises and sunsets. In the back of my mind is always that missed photograph and the knowledge that extraordinary things happen here if one is just persistent and patient and seeking the picturesque.




Sunday, August 27, 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Bass Harbor II




PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: By afternoon the cove is quiet, lobstering done for the day. In the morning, when the lobstermen leave, it will be different.

Bass Harbor is a well-sheltered cove at the outer, western edge of the Acadian Peninsula, the outer edge of the mainland. This edge gives Bass Harbor lobstermen an edge in getting to the lobsters and the mainland link gives an edge in getting them to market. Anyone who wakes early and goes down to the town dock before dawn will begin to see the pickups roll in and will meet the fishermen of Bernard getting the edge. Most have been here for generations. Long before the sun is up captains will row or motor to lobster smacks anchored mid-harbor, while mates gather whatever is not already aboard and stack it beside the winch where the smack will dock. There may be hampers of bait, new traps, new lines & buoys, food and coffee to be handed or lowered to the captain when the boat pulls up and docks. Once loaded, captain and mate will sail past the jetty and the large pier where the ferries to Swans Island and Frenchboro dock, past the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse to the sea between coastal islands and to the traps the fishermen have set. The pickups will continue arriving at the Town Dock throughout the morning and slowly the parking area behind the dock will fill with a tide of pickups which will begin to turn around 10 or 10:30 AM after the lobster buyer has arrived with his white truck and scales. 

In the afternoon civilians and tourists will begin arriving for a lobster dinner at Thurston’s, a walk along the docks and a few selfies.




Sunday, August 20, 2017


I’m pleased to share the news that two of my photographs:

Waterbury Grit
&
Holmes, Booth & Haydens’ Lampworks from Rolling Mill Playground


 will be included in an exhibition:

I Believe in Waterbury

at the
Mattatuck Museum
Sept. 10 to Dec. 3
Opening Reception: Sept 10, 1-3 PM


Waterbury Grit:


PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: What portion of the program of local Connecticut art museums should be focused on artists whose muses are local, who sometimes speak with a special intimacy because they speak of places that have gotten under their fingernails? What responsibility do Connecticut museums have to nurture this resource, or do we already look and behave like everywhere else? What rewards might come from people seeing their own communities through an artist’s eyes, not just the pretty places but the real places? It’s my own feeling that every Connecticut museum should have an ongoing series of exhibits of locally inspired art. 

I applaud the Mattatuck Museum for calling on local artist to create art that I hope will challenge the people of Connecticut to look again at Waterbury and to understand it and to celebrate its strengths? I hope everyone will get there, and I invite friends to come to the opening reception on Sept. 10 from 1-3




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bass Harbor




Bass Harbor

Bedrock America 
Of soil and sea
Toil and commerce
Right of passage
Father to son
Island of tradition
Water suffering the shore.



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Maine Lobsterman at Dawn



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: The typical lobsterman sets his pots and visits a portion of them each day. The routine, done at a sprint, is grueling. The lobsterman knows his traps by the markings on the buoys that float above them, and "lobster wars" have been started by men who disrespected other men’s pots or set pots in the wrong waters. Rules and forums for settling disputes have evolved a culture to make lobster fishing profitable for all. Typically, the captain steers to where he can grab a buoy and wraps the rope around a winch on the side of the boat beside the helm. With the flip of a switch a pot is pulled from the bottom. 

Dan's pots are set in pairs. Hauling them onto the gunwale is hard work for strong men who hope the pots will be heavier with lobsters. As soon as Dan and Nate have hauled the first pot onto the gunwale, Dan is retrieving a second one and Nate is emptying the first. Nate works like a film on fast-forward as I struggle to snap meaningful frames. Each lobster must be checked. It must be above a certain length, below a certain weight, not have eggs or a notched tail. If the lobster has eggs, Nate must notch the tail and toss it back. That lobster has been granted a long and productive life unthreatened by the men who will catch her children. A female with eggs or a notch that makes it into the tank can result in a $500 fine to the lobstermen. After Nate has selected the keepers, he bands two claws faster than a toupee in a hurricane and drops them through a hole to a tank filled with water. Hard-shell lobsters get double-banded and set aside; they are double the value.

Lobster fishing is a classic American Industry. It’s still carried on by hundreds of independent businesspeople who own their own boats, hire workers and maintain a capital investment. About twice as many lobsters are caught on the North Atlantic Coast in Maine and Canada as in second-ranked Norway. Lobster became fine dining in Boston and New York in the mid-nineteenth century; before that lobsters were sea bugs. To meet the new demand, Maine lobstermen developed the ubiquitous "lobster smack," a boat customized with an open cabin and a place to store the lobsters to keep them alive. The large American Lobster found in Maine and Canada is considered by many to be the best dining-lobster in the world.

Of course, the smallest markup goes to the men who make the catch; none live lavishly. In the middle of Bass Harbor are floating docks where senior lobstermen have been granted space where they may pen a small portion of the lobsters they have caught. This allows them to catch when lobsters are plentiful and sell when they are scarce and the price has risen. While visiting Stonington, later in the trip, I passed a wooden impoundment in one of the coves. I learned that is where the big lobster companies can store tens of thousands of lobsters employing the same strategy to maximize profits while fit supply to demand. Tanking the catch is not an option for most lobstermen, however. They live at the bottom of the food chain and must take what they are given. Their houses are small, but the ocean’s horizon is large. All I met cherish their way of living.

















Thursday, August 10, 2017

Maine Lobsterman Before Dawn



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL:  I met Dan in 2011 as he docked and tied off the smallest lobster boat I’d ever seen. He called it his “skiff.” At the time, he was a young man still in school. He had recently been given privileges to set a small number of traps in the region serviced by Bass Harbor. I’d just been out photographing on a full size boat, and I had some idea how much hard work there was for a team of two to pull, bait and set traps. I was struck by Dan’s self-confidence and drive. I’d never seen a lobster boat like his before; the cabin on his skiff was almost narrower than his shoulders. I’ve been told that’s the way many young lobstermen begin.

It happened that the next day I was on the opposite shore of Bass Harbor, and I caught a picture of him in his skiff as he returned to port in the cove below me. When I saw him on the dock one more time, we exchanged emails so I could send him the picture, and we have remained in contact from time to time since. In six years he has traded his skiff for a full boat, married and begun a family and increased the number of traps he pulls, baits and sets, and he has a mate who works for him now. When he contacted me recently and asked to buy a print of the picture I’d taken of him in his skiff, I asked if he would trade it for a chance to photograph him at work. We met on the dock at 4 AM, and I gave him a large, framed photograph. This shot was taken as soon as there was enough light to make an image and 20 minutes before the sun rose. 

My thanks to Dan and Nate for letting me photograph them at their work.



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Flow



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL, April 14, 2017:  I am writing from my hotel room in Jersey City where an easy commute to lower Manhattan has made this hard-working town posh. From my window I can almost touch the World Trade Center. It is my third night here. My friend, Gary, and I spent the day exploring Bayonne and the two long fingers that reach into the center of New York Bay. I wondered what, if anything, remained of the bay in which Henry Hudson dropped anchor, or even of the shore frequented by Yachtsmen and vacationers after the Civil War. Between 1880 and 1920 Standard Oil transformed the landscape and the two fingers are piers built in the 1930s that have long been at the center of world's shipping stream in war and peace.

As expected, this is a high-security area, and finding places to shoot the giant cranes and gantries was difficult. This is a surreal patch of Jersey wasteland, and I am amazed at the strange things one can compose into a photo that includes the World Trade Center. At one point we got tangled up in traffic where a six-lane stream of tractor trailers pulling container flatbeds was cued waiting to pick up or deliver containers. Every few seconds another six trucks would be released from the cargo gate to drive beneath the cranes for loading and unloading. The line may have been as much as 50 trucks long. We were row boats amid a convoy of freighters coming and going, and we scrambled to make a u-turn and get out of their way. We were told that this was a slow day due to Good Friday, but I have a hunch the stream of trucks flows thru here 24/7.

In the afternoon we found our way to the closed Military Ocean Terminal where roads made alleys between abandoned truck bays no longer appropriate for a world that flows through shipping containers. The road ends at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port where all was still, and on our way out we passed again between alleys of bays still as quiet as a ghost town, but as we approached the far end of the last alley of shipping bays there were festively painted, patchwork food trucks waiting, and suddenly a stream of men and women dressed from head to toe all in black flowed into the street in front of us. All was commotion as they swarmed the food trucks, and transit buses began arriving to take them away. Where had they come from? What did they do here? Where were they going? In the late day shadows their dark faces and coveralls were featureless. I thought of Niebelungen dwarves emerging from Niebelheim. It might have made remarkable pictures, but neither my friend nor I had the nerve.

Most of the day lacked the clouds that might compose desolate, flat pictures, but in the middle of the day we had found a wasteland “park” at the edge of the busy shipping complex. As I photographed amid broken culverts, industrial rubble, and a forest that was struggling to be reborn, two mockingbirds began an ever-changing musical dialogue, and as I continued making pictures I found myself singing along. When I emerged from the park back on Goldsborough Drive the clouds had shifted. Across Upper New York Bay to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, all of New York Harbor was talking to the sky.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Unwinding



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL:  To reach the choir loft one must dance. The fluid wind of the stair offers no hint at the awkwardness of the Fandango.