Tuesday, October 26, 2010



The river still flows by,
though the concrete millrace is cracked and stagnant.
When is the first frost?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Harlequin Autumn

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The seasons wash away like garish laundry while we grow thin and sere waiting for rain.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tiffany Mill Windows (fixed)

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Why am I sending out the same image twice? I learned early on that for me routines are essential. I had parked along a ridge where the sun was going to set. It was spring and the trees were budding and blossoming. There were wonderful pictures to be had. Normally I hang by camera backpack on my tripod as I work. It serves as a convenient "desk" as well as a ballast. This time I wanted to move the tripod to lots of different locations quickly, and I set the bag against a tree. An hour or so later and several miles down the road I went to change lenses and realized that my bag with the lenses was... well, at the moment I wasn't sure. It was getting dark. I had driven between three locations.

Whether it is always putting a filled memory card or empty battery into my left pocket (empty cards and full batteries always go in the right), the particular steps I always take when exchanging lenses, or how I always hang my camera backpack on my tripod when I stop and shoot, violating those routines is a prescription for trouble. After ten minutes of heart-sinking panic I found my camera backpack propped against the tree when I rushed to take pictures at the first stop.

A note from a friend today praised yesterday's version of "Tiffany Mill Windows" but suggested that it appeared a bit dark. Again my heart sunk as I recalled that I had increased my monitor brightness some time ago and had for the past week or so been over-darkening images to compensate. I especially appreciate those who write to ask about a possible problem.

The over-darkening is most severe on images like this with important shadow areas. The effect is even more damaging on the previous TODAY'S image. I will slowly revise the recent images on this blog site. My apologies for violating my careful routines. Let this be a(nother) lesson to me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tiffany Mill Windows

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The husk, the shell, the casing shucked at birth, or brittle, chalky bones? Sometimes it's hard to be sure, and the old walls are mute.

NOTE: All of these mill images look best when seen against a dark background. Here are a few earlier images inspired by the style of Louis Comfort Tiffany: Pond Tiffany, Tiffany Autumn. It seems autumn is Tiffany time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beside the Housatonic River, Autumn, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: They told me that time moves along a line, like a train on a railroad track vanishing into a dark, windy tunnel, but when I looked I saw it falling in layers, settling like old leaves and hickory nuts, the stones of Rome lying all about us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Leaves have turned earlier this year than I ever remember. Trees along the road were yellow well before October 5th, the marker I set on the year my daughter was born to measure future leaf change. There were few reds until a week ago, and color has survived the recent rains.

Autumn is a fit backdrop for this forgotten mill town where few trains pass, and it feels right that on several shoots here I have had to keep my camera sheltered under my "Rothcloth," (a photographic invention of mine that has been "manufactured" by Jane) while frequently wiping raindrops from the lens.

Many of the old mill buildings here are colossal ruins. A few still rent office space to small businesses. Some storefronts in town are for rent, others suggest another age. Friends tell me it's all a symptom of post-industrial society, and I wonder what "post-industrial society," might be. Is there such a thing?

I've been shooting here while processing photos of Maine fishing harbors, both remnants, some would say relics, of industrial America?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Sea-Captain's Wife

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: What can we know of the sea captain's wife who I met in one of those uniquely Maine, second-hand outposts of homeless stuff? She could have lived looking out to sea in a captain's house like the ones I pass in Belfast and Camden, and Searsport with their ship-shape carpentry and their widow's walks, all B&Bs today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Web Catch

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Thurston's lobster pound in Bernard is a great place to eat the freshest lobster available, and the wharves at Thurston's are one of my favorite spots to catch photos of the lobster industry. When we were there just after Labor Day the wharves were beginning to fill with traps. I've been there in early spring, at the beginning of the season when only a labyrinth of narrow passages, littered with buoys and gear winds mysteriously around each wharf between walls of piled up traps.

On the second day of our trip we caught our first sunrise in Southwest Harbor, then picked up coffee and were on Thurston's wharves in Bernard just after the sun topped the hills across Bass Harbor. I didn't know what I wanted to shoot when the low sun beamed down a row of traps. It caught the webbing of these three that stood out of alignment.

Around the corner I found another web that I thought worth photographing. A spider the size of a half dollar had built an enormous web in the sun among the traps. Photographer's are mostly scavengers, ragpickers. We wander and observe and find our prey where we can, not at all like lobstermen or spiders.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dirty Jobs

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Lobsterman can use up two of these tubs in a day. The herring are heavily salted and stored in warehouses by the shore. Aboard the boat they will be stuffed into fist-sized, mesh, bait "pockets" to refresh the traps as they are pulled. The old bait pocket must be retrieved, emptied, reused. Definitely a dirty job.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lobsterman's Commute

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Every job has its rhythm. For the lobsterman day begins paddling or motoring to his lobster boat which he has moored in the center of the harbor. Watch them any morning at the loading docks around Bass Harbor, taking turns to pull alongside one of the wharves by a winch. They stop on the dock and chat and drink coffee. While the captain gets the boat, the mate may get the bait and get it ready to be lowered to the deck. Perhaps new traps are to be set that day. They must be loaded too, or pulled traps from the day before may have to be unloaded. Well before most people are having their first coffee, pickups have formed a quiet row, red, blue and silver beside the common wharf in Bernard. The lobstermen are at sea.

Last year I photographed a day aboard The Dillon Chris and Linda with Captain Howard and Mate Roger, and I made a slide show of the photos. To view the slide show click: SLIDE SHOW.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Composition with Herring

Sardine Dilemmas

Skinless, boneless, packed in oil?
A key?
Twist or pry?

Who invented this?

Ribbon of metal?
A cut?
bleed or starve?

What kind of cracker?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - Herring is the preferred bait of the lobstermen. Warehouses and sheds packed with salted herring make the gull's contest for pecking order especially aggressive here. Watch them for awhile and see if you can spot top bird. These are not the obsequious gulls who beg at the pull-offs on the road to the top of Cadillac Mountain, hoping with their doorman-like deference to claim a bit of your lunch. Around the harbor, we're in the big league.

Monday, October 4, 2010



Lobster Bait

We are well-schooled.
We stay close,
move with our neighbors,
keep our distance,
align polarity,
swim only with those of our color and size,
diving - a flash.

Slipstreaming in a hydro peloton,
we hardly know who leads,
sifting krill,
upwelling with a plankton coriolis,
quivering with wild energy.
a whirling galaxy,
devouring mind incarnate.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lobsterman's Shack


Salt Cod Soul

How old is that fish smell that stains the boards of your old shack,
that salts itself on your forehead, stings your eyes
and swims in your blood? Was it pickled in wood traps
drying in the sun with their sea urchin freight
and their rotting crabs? They were always breaking, and you
were never without spare lath and a hammer and nail.

Was it there before haulers drew the warp
swiftly through your glove, back when you
hauled by hand from a dory at the harbor's edge
and sold three pound lobsters to the canneries - and later
when they filled three pound cans with half-pound bugs?
And was it the same when all the canneries closed?

Is the taste the same as sailing with seiners
on silken schooners beside the mackerel shoal,
till you spring at once to the seine boat, stealthily
circle the shoal, then draw the purse string shut -
fifty barrels of mackerel at a time,
though you ate dried cod and pickles for a month?

And on your way home with a bushel of salted herring
bungied in the back of your black, Dodge Ram
for another day at sea... what sweet smell
mingles with your wake and fills forgotten dreams.
settles like the smoke from your old wood stove
and rings in your ear like the call of the running tide?