Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fern Hill Farm

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Fern Hill Farm is a short distance from the burned barns at Hanover Hill. It is another great, hollow shed that misses the lowing of cattle. The barns of Fern Hill are tall and dark, and they loom from a perch part way up the side of the valley. I have tried a number of times to make a photograph of them. This is the closest I've come.

While I was there hunt dogs were following scents in the wooded hillside above the barns. Their yapping and yelping echoed oddly under the long, low, metal roof where the barns had been expanded. At first it sounded like people talking, but eventually one of the hunt dogs followed the scent to the edge of a barnyard, revealed himself as the source of the noise, and would not be deterred for anything from the chase. I heard no guns.

It is clear these barns were home to a very significant herd as was Hanover Hill, and a bit further west is Hiddenhurst and there are two more a bit south whose names I don't know, all empty, all falling, a valley full of cattle turned to empty fields and pasture. Sturdy as these barns look, they are already falling and unsafe.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunset on Hanover Hill


The House on Hanover Hill

She remembered: 

Waking early, 
the scent of fresh hay already in her dreams 
and something else she couldn't recall 
in the corner bedroom where the peeping sun first peaked.

How her fingers 
repolished the banister down the stairs! 
wet sneakers in dewy grass, 
her bicycle, propped against the great maple that defined the yard. 

Standing in the center of the center field, 
rowed corn measuring the hills' undulations, 
the amber waves, a quilter's celebration,
concentric reverberations as far as vision,

And the bicycle 
slipping on the sand as her leg
dodging ruts, coasting, freewheeling, carefree 
swung safely on to the saddle

The colors in crystal
green, golden, ruby red beside the onion braids, 
in rowed procession gleaming
and the smell of cinnamon and turpentine in the pantry closet.
Fragrance of cedar
like a premonition
when they brought in the old, wooden chests
and laid in the curtains and linens and dishes and all.

another view of the Farm on Hanover Hill:

Sunday, November 27, 2011



1.  Photographer and friend Martin Kimmeldorf has combined my photograph, "Paper Trail" ( with a photo of his own.  The combined image can be seen on his site here:

2.  My son, Emery, has been making some beautiful jewelry from some very surprising materials and has a web page showing some of his work and offering it for sale.  You can learn about it at:

3. Only 1 DAY LEFT to take 25% from orders of Blurb books at the Blurb Bookstore. Use promo code ZOOM to claim your savings. Prison - The Shape of Freedom is available in in two sizes. Small is 7"X7". Purchasing it with a hard cover gives it a bit of heft. The large is 12'X12" and comes in regular and deluxe versions. There is also an ebook version so inexpensive it's almost like stealing..

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rimy Cell

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: One of the pleasures of this series has been the number of people who have written to describe where the images have led their thoughts. This is one of three images in the book, all new, that appear at climactic moments and without any text. I'm always interested in hearing where such images take willing imaginations and what trajectory they have followed.

TWO MORE DISCOUNT DAYS: Prison - the Shape of Freedom is at the Blurb Bookstore now. Preview it online or order a copy for the holiday. Order by Nov. 28th and use promo code ZOOM to save 25%.  

Now also available inexpensively as an ebook.  Select the small, 7X7 version ( to purchase the ebook version. As the type appears larger in the small version of the book, only that one has been released as an ebook.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Prison Cell, the Colors of Time

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Although prisons abound, most of us know them only from the outside and at a great distance. Yet their symbols inhabit our history, our news and our dreams. Hospitals are about our frailty, death, heroism. Schools are about growing and striving. Prisons are about walls.

For each image, there came a time while working on it when my involvement with it led to words. This image appeared just as I went to conclude the analogy above.

Prison - the Shape of Freedom is at the Blurb Bookstore now. Preview it online or order a copy for the holiday. Order by Nov. 28th and use promo code ZOOM to save 25%.

The book comes in two sizes. Small is 7"X7". Getting it with a hard cover gives it a bit of heft. The large is 12'X12" and comes in regular and deluxe versions. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Reflection

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I'm thankful for many things this November. Among them are those who read and especially those who take the time to sometimes respond to this blog post. May all find plenty of pie and whipped cream this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011




To hold the fluid moment, 
make it strike an attitude 
as roots cling and clouds blow and 
leaves turn and fall and 
purlins crack and 
mountains shift and 

Can any photographer ask for more?

REMINDER: Prison - The Shape of Freedom is now available at the Blurb Bookstore, and I'm told orders placed before November 28th, can receive a 25% discount by entering the code word ZOOM at checkout.  You can preview the first pages of the book now at the Blurb bookstore: Don't forget to click into full-screen mode.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Prison - The Shape of Freedom (cover)

TIME OUT: I pause the usual journal for a commercial message. Just in time for holiday gift giving, I have edited, revised, and extended the prison journals into a book, Prison, the Shape of Freedom

It is available at the Blurb Bookstore, and I'm told orders placed before November 28th, can receive a 25% discount by entering the code word ZOOM at checkout.  You can preview the first pages of the book now at the Blurb bookstore: Don't forget to click into full-screen mode.

This is more than a republication.  Working on it has been a process of discovery. The distance of autumn has offered me perspective on decisions made intuitively last spring. As I added and edited pictures and text, it often felt more like I was finding the shape within rather than pasting on. I hope that those who followed the blog will agree.

The book is available in two sizes and three bindings. Deluxe versions at both sizes are printed on fine, uncoated paper. Give the gift of prison to find the shape of freedom.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Copper Tube Boogie-Woogie

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  The die hanger has controls to operate the die head and the conveyors that move the new tube. Jose is die hanger, but usually he works at the other end of the factory, trimming the end off nearly finished tubes. It takes three men to free the pipe from the extruder. While the die hanger controls the movement of the die head and conveyors, the system operator manipulates a bar that knocks the dies apart and frees the tube.  Meanwhile the tube puller, Bob, helps the tube along its conveyor, disposes of waste, and recycles the various dies.

In the background, John prepares another load of scrap to travel back to Ansonia while a bouquet of blocks flies toward us for the heater man. Somewhere beneath the bouquet of blocks must be Carlos with the controls for the crane.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Die Hanger

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: If the block was hot enough when the ram began squeezing, only a bit of rim from the block will remain at the end of the new tube; one can never squeeze out that last bit of toothpaste. If the block was not hot enough, the ram will seize up before it is done pushing all of the copper through the cutting dies. Whatever is left of the block will hang like a stump on the new pipe. Spike, the die hanger, works the controls that slide the die head assembly forward exposing the stump at the back so it can be cut off.

As the saw cuts, push dies cool on the slide tables and on the hydraulic platform on which they fall after extrusion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dragon Master

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Those who were there recall the day the extruder exploded like a gun shooting the block and shrapnel down the factory floor. At the end of the conveyor that leads from the extruder there is an iron plate to intercept such trajectories; though it is little match for what might be fired at it. On the iron plate someone has drawn a panicked face in chalk. The combination of immense pressure and intense heat inside the dragon can make for nasty dyspepsia.

The system operator is the dragon master. Fred is the system operator. He tunes and adjusts the beast and oversees operation from the master controls. Each job requires a different configuration of dies and other interchangeable parts, and the machine is enveloped in pipes for cooling and heating and hydraulic control. Fred must watch and manage them all.

How does one learn to feed and care for an ancient dragon, the last of its species? Fred says he learned from the previous operator. Before that he worked as a tool maker. There's a back-up System Operator if Fred has to be out. Are they also the last of their species? When asked why he's the one working the extruder Fred says, "None of the other guys wanted to."

Thursday, November 10, 2011


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: When the crank is pulled the dragon tenses, clanking begins, a funnel of steam puffs from a stack, and hydraulic muscles bulge shining forearms that push the ram. The ram pushes the push-die and the block into the greased container. The extruder moves like a living thing; torso segmented, the groin pushes forward as the chest hunches back  to take in the block. As the block slides into the container the ram inserts a mandrel, like a long tongue, down through the center of the push-die and block so that the semi-molten donut of copper is totally contained within massive steel. 

And then she whines and wheezes, squeezes and wines, 2700 lbs per square inch of pressure squeezing, wheezing copper as if it were paste through the cutting die at the end of the container. From the sides of the ram come puffs of smoke and licks of flame as the grease inside the container is seared away, but at the front, the dragon's mouth roars flames, puffs sparks, breathes fire as a glowing tube of copper slowly grows.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ready to Load

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: There is a pregnant moment, after the heater man has sent the block, and the machine op takes control and loads the extruder. The elevator drops, and the die man rolls the steel push-die down the slot (in the center of the picture) and into position behind the block. The machine op hits a button, and a plunger pushes the push-die and block over a bridge to the last elevator. Another button lifts the elevator which rotates 90 degrees as it rises and leaves block and push-die ready between the ram and the container.

Finally the machine op pulls on the long, steel lever that comes out of the floor, and hydraulics the size of a large, freight truck engage for action. The dragon of the foundry was a tin dragon with a pot of gold. This dragon has the muscle and hot fury to transform this short gold block into a long, glowing tube.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Heater Man

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The heater man is the first of five. It takes five men to run the extruder. Nobody sees the heater man. He's back, behind ovens and conveyors, behind the yellow rail, watching graphs and temperatures, maintaining his equipment, waiting in a narrow passage against the back wall where there's barely pacing space. His equipment is noticeably newer than elsewhere in the factory, but he's all alone. When a block is hot, from somewhere behind the ovens, the heater man pushes a button, and 300 lbs of hot copper moves down the track, appears and stops, a glowing, orange beacon in front of the system operator.

I have not yet captured a good photo of Miguel, the heater man, but his title has provoked the following bit of nonsense, perhaps inspiration for a future portrait.

Song of the Heater Man
(to be accompanied by steam puffs, clanking steel and the sultry whine of the straining extruder)

Heater man,
where does he stand?
watching the graphs
watching the heat

Behind the ovens,
watching, waiting,
no pacing space
for the heater man.

When he pushes the button
the hot block rolls
but nobody sees
the heater man.

Nobody sees
the heater man,
meter man,
watching the heat.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Extruder

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:   This is the last of the brass in the Valley of Brass.  The first time I entered and photographed here I looked around and saw a plume of smoke or steam puffing steadily into the joists of the factory shed, and I turned my camera that way. I later learned that was where the whine of straining engines came from, and the heavy clank of steel striking steel so you felt it in the souls of your feet. Without realizing it I had composed a telling photo of the extruder, the most important piece of equipment in the factory. It is the last of its kind, nothing else like it in the country.

When I took that photo I was standing somewhere down the floor from here. Now I am standing at the main controls looking back. Breaktime is almost over.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Autumn Barn


Hollow Together

Hillside barn 
hollow with age, 
no longer fit for the stacked hay,
stares into the valley 
where the works have closed.