Monday, August 30, 2010


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Once again I can feel the season turning. We have passed the cusp of summer when it felt as if a sunset shoot must always keep me shooting past 9 PM and a sunrise shoot meant living with 4 or 5 hours of sleep. Already it's getting easier to shoot at sunrise.

Today I saw a pond filled with Canada Geese all as still as stones and facing the sun at midday, but even they must be getting anxious and having martial thoughts; soon it will be time to begin autumn maneuvers, staggered squadrons launched at intervals, barking from pond to pond the goose nation's sky command.

Looking back over where I've been it's clear much of the summer I spent threading the labyrinth of Hudson Hills discovering new territory among disorganized valleys. Too often my wanderings led through abandoned barns and barns whose owners couldn't afford to fix the rotting roof. Empty dairy barns sit beside un-grazed pastures that may one day sprout rows of boxy homes or giant hanger-like barns for colossal horse farms or farms of prize cattle. Tomorrow I'll wake early and hope for morning fog.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lethe Waters No. 2

JILL ENFIELD: "Every setting conveys a thousand realities and the joy of photography comes with emphasizing the dimensions that bring personal choice to bear. A still scene w/o apparent action can reflect anything between tranquility and horror. Leaving it's capturer the choice."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Several friends wrote in to say the previous image was one of their favorites. Several others wrote to say they would have liked it better if, "the processing had been more conventional." or as another put it, "more photographic." In fact, the image above and the previous image were rendered simultaneously. Each time I adjusted one so it became my preferred version, I'd work on the other until I liked it better. Working on this version I always tried to maintain the look of photographic reality. Within that world alone there are an infinite number of choices. In the other version I gave free play to possibilities outside that expected photo reality though without changing the forms of the image.

In the end I wonder if the two images may not show the same place viewed from opposite shores. In any case, I'm interested in knowing if viewers have clear preferences for one or the other. Or better yet, I'd love to know how the two images feel different, suggest different kinds of reality, perhaps.

Be sure to click on both images to view them large.

I should add that there are a few elements in the images that were not treated the same. Most noticeably, in the previous image I took a tiny delight, perhaps perverse, in leaving the power lines that tell of a road just behind the cemetery. Of course, there was no question that they had to be removed from this, photo-realistic version.


The exhibit of my photos at the Sharon Historical Society continues through September 17. 

Farm: Personal Wanderings through the Berkshire, Hudson, and Taconic Hills remains on view at the exhibit and online at my blog site and at these links: LARGE VERSIONREGULAR VERSION

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lethe Waters

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Sometimes they are cared for, nestled beside a church or on a hillside on the edge of town or even when they appear unexpectedly along a wooded stretch of dirt road or in the middle of a farmer's field. I also find them abandoned, overgrown in the middle of the woods or beside an auto dealership or next to a strip mall. Outposts of time where even the blank stones whisper - stand there like the men and women and children too who once they were when they animated this place, and I marvel at Earth's relentless spin.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Garden of Earthly Delights No. 5

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: My father always had a garden. He loved making things grow, and even when we were living in New York City, he had an area of the dining room crowded with potted plants, and a bit of the window sill beside the fish tanks lined with stem-filled bottles of rank water and roots, and glasses where old pits sat unmoving, suspended by tooth picks. Each summer we rented a house with a garden where I quickly learned to walk carefully to avoid stepping on tiny things I couldn't see. I can still remember watching him in awe and terror, in that garden where the tomatoes were a jungle canopy high over my head, petting a bumble bee for me on his finger.

It was a trick, of course, and I'm not sure where he learned it. I don't think he thought it was something the bee enjoyed, just something it permitted. That's what it was to me, anyhow, a scary trick, and I never had the courage to learn it.

Many years later, when my parents were no longer renters but owned their own garden, my father had plants wherever he could. They were in the living room and on the porch. A small greenhouse was tucked against an outside wall where living room windows looked into it, and the work room we called, "the tool house," was so filled with plants that one could barely use the rusting tools, and he had vegetable garden too.

There was an ethical note to his gardening then that I had not noticed when I was younger. Perhaps it had not been there; perhaps I was too young to understand. If a plant died because he or a "sitter" had missed a watering it was a failure of responsibility in a way that was very different than if he had accidentally run out of gasoline on the highway. He was a down to earth, practical man, and I was surprised once when I may have accidentally abused a cutting, "It's a living thing," he admonished.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Garden of Earthly Delights No. 4

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Whenever I post a series as dark as this, I'm aware that some readers may wish to turn away. I suspect some may skip these posts completely. I understand and respect that choice; my intent is not to creep out subscribers, and I appreciate those who have read this far. 

Bug photos are probably not for the dining room wall, and my brother is running out of guttural exclamations each time he receives one. However, in a guest bathroom they might inspire interesting contemplations and questions later.  I've received all sorts of reactions, only about a third in the form of a cringe. Most of us have a natural aversion to insects. I know I do. They are creepy, and they are even more repulsive when dead. However, after I really look at the images, I also find the insects strangely tender, these tiny sentient animals at the completion of their journey, returning to earth. For those who only get the creeps, my apologies; tomorrow's is the last.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Garden of Earthly Delights No. 3


"Within the shadow of the ship I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire."


Metamorphosis No. 2 "The Photographer"

Life percolates in places once dead.
A finger clicks the shutter
That freezes the
Shell's cracking,
Web's spinning,
Tunnel's buzzing and
Hopes by freezing to make things thrive?

Wonders if his still animation
Reflects only the narrow casement where
Decay piles high,
Or if it is singed by the genial heat
Of dreams and regrets
And loves and hates burning still in
Some eternal angst.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Garden of Earthly Delights No. 2

OSCAR WILDE: "The very landscape Corot looked at was, as he said himself, but a mood of his own mind."

My new book, Farm: Personal Wanderings among the Berkshire, Hudson, and Taconic Hills is now available at the Blurb Bookstore, and you can thumb though some of the pages at either of these links: Farm: Personal Wanderings 13 x 11 or Farm: Personal Wanderings 11 x 8. There are buttons for viewing full screen and for purchasing.

Farm II, an exhibition of my photographs at the Sharon Historical Society, in Sharon, CT, continues through September 17th.

Garden of Earthly Delights No. 1



Life percolates in places once dead.
What sets it all in motion?
What finger gives the nudge -
Makes the buzz in the wasp's tunnels of mud,
Sets the spider to her spinning,
Makes the larva crack its chrysalid shell
And stretch moist limbs in a new-made world?

Was it a breath of spring
Pollinating, blossoming, soaring eternally?
Or was this genial hotness
A March mistake,
In a moment of space
between the casement and the storm pane?


My new book, Farm: Personal Wanderings among the Berkshire, Hudson, and Taconic Hills is now available at the Blurb Bookstore, and you can thumb though some of the pages at either of these links: Farm: PersonalWanderings 13 x 11 or Farm: Personal Wanderings 11 x 8. There are buttons for viewing full screen and for purchasing.

Farm II, an exhibition of my photographs at the Sharon Historical Society, in Sharon, CT, continues through September 17th.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Falls Village Farmstead

ANNOUNCEMENT: My new book, Farm: Personal Wanderings among the Berkshire, Hudson, and Taconic Hills is now available at the Blurb Bookstore. The book is available in 3 formats. You can thumb through pages by clicking on either of these links to the Blurb Bookstore.

I wish they could be sold for less, but all three contain the same 120 pages of pictures and writing. For those wishing a signed copy, you can send a check for the cost plus $5 to cover additional postage, and I will order it and send it on.

It has been a major effort to pull together the work and thoughts of 5 years of wandering. I designed and edited it in conjunction with this summer's two exhibitions of my farm photographs. I'm pleased with the result and hope that readers will find a meaningful experience in following pictures and text through the journey.

The Sharon Historical Society exhibition continues through September 17th.

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: What do I love about farmsteads? Part of it is the play of shapes: Tall haybarns and vertical silos like the turrets of castles; bankbarns tucked to the hillside; corn cribs with slats or wire mesh; stone fences and wood fences, door yards and barn yards and backhouses and outhouses; and further out rows of corn seedlings or soy that plot the swells and dips of hills; and fat Holsteins peppering the pasture when the sun is low in the sky. As the photographer moves, the farmscape dances. In its do-si-do are dynamic moments, moments of balance, edges, corners to be found and a thousand collisions to be avoided or harvested.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Falls Village Farm

REMINDER: Reception tonight, 5-7 PM at the Sharon Historical Society, 18 Main Street, Sharon, CT, 860 364-5688.  A new book by Emery Roth will be available in limited quantities.

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Some barns are sentinels guarding history. The old Schaghticoke trail from New Milford, CT, to Great Barrington, MA, passes by these barns. It's an important thoroughfare even today. Before they were built Waramaug, the powerful, Wyantenock Chief probably passed this way to share news with the tribes up north of the white men settling by his summer lake. It's hard to believe that between those quiet times and these this was a place where heavy industry rutted the old road.

They called it Falls Village and dreamed of the power that would flow from the falls, miles of it, but it was iron that fueled the economy and a hunger for charcoal devoured the forests, to fuel iron furnaces that lit the night sky. And the air was thick and the streams foul. Beside the old road they put down railroad tracks to handle the added load. And then the railroad put yards here with a large turntable and sheds employing the mechanics that kept the cars rolling. Cannons and cannon balls were shipped from here and guns and tools, and in town they built important looking buildings. In 1914, when they built a hydroelectric plant here, the water wheels were gone and most of the old iron industry too, and things have mostly gotten quieter since. The traffic is heaviest on Sundays when fun in the Berkshires spills back south to city and suburbs, and most of those who drive this route from the Berkshires travel to enjoy rural New England.

The current owner of these barns doesn't know when they were built. He thinks the barns were built by Quakers. The jerkinhead roof is generally considered Dutch. It's likely these barns witnessed most of the commotion and drama that once took place here. Many travelers passing this way have noted these barns which appeared in a NY Times article. They have a friendly way of turning toward the road and making space for passersby. Few of those travelers can imagine the secrets they hold.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Winchell Mountain Sunburst

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: A half spin of the planet backward, and here are the same fields from a different angle, and somewhere between the two images lies this percolation on Making Hay:

Baled hay
from windrows mowed
and sunshine dried
while stem
and leaf
were swollen with sweet juice
sucked from sunshine,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Windrows at Sunrise on Winchell Mountain

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: How differently the hay farmer lives with the weather! He watches the mix of warm and cold and wet and dry and knows what will make the grasses lush and what will make them rot. He's ready as they ripen to cut at the moment the leaf is sweetest, yet mindful of the dangers of changing skies. When the hay is cut and cured in the field, the farmer hopes for long, clear days and the sun's benedictions. Rain is ruinous. He knows about sunshine and planetary motion and making hay.

REMINDER: Opening Reception for Farm II, at the Sharon Historical Society is this Saturday (Aug.7) from 5-7 PM. For information call 860 364- 5688 or email