Monday, April 30, 2012


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: She told us the barns and the farm have been there since the 18th century. How many generations of barn swallows is that, and were these swallows the descendants of the original settlers? The barns were coming down, they were beyond repair. I asked if we could come back another time and photograph down by the swamp, and I could feel her mind catch at the word, "swamp." When she returned to the farm after a long time abroad, she wondered what was gleaming in the afternoon sun in the field where she used to ride horseback. She had to walk to the edge to realize the beavers had reclaimed it. "Sure," she said, "you can photograph there."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On Still Water


On White Pond

The swan glides
On a slick of silence 
Serene soundlessness resounds.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Polyphony of Earth & Sky

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  At Fawn Pond deep in White Woods, Monet time again amid peepers' songs.  There is magic in mud, and more than lilies are bubbling at the bottom, struggling to be born. Although the songs are of spring, the ceremony still wears the colors of autumn.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Only a few days left!
Brass Valley: Made in America
photographs by Emery Roth
March 3rd to April 25th

When I began following the old tracks through the Naugatuck Valley, I wanted to photograph what was left of its industrial past. I was looking for rust and a glimpse of another age. I never expected to find myself in a time warp, photographing where giant hydraulics are still hissing, steel clanking, hot, glowing metal flying through the air, where the steam still rises from old pickling vats, and men charge furnaces in buildings where the soot has had more than a hundred years to cake. I never dreamed such a place still existed. This is a show about that place. (

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Hilltop Barn, Peter's Valley, Spring, 2010


Slow Sacrament

Lifted on queen posts,
Wind-braced and weathered
Purlins in procession
Uphold the liturgy
Ready as they bend,
Though it's not clear why.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Red Ventilators


Spirit Condensations

For the steamy breath of cows,
their honeyed scent 
and sweat of
sweet lactations 
and ruminations 
and cowlike conversations
that once kept this old barn warm, 
I moved closer,
but all was cold and dry.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Barn with Red Ventilators, Peter's Valley, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Of all the barns of Peter's Valley, this one kept drawing my eye for the beautiful way it caught the afternoon sun and for the red ventilators which stood out against the amber of the early spring leafing. It was along a narrow, windy stretch of the chief north-south road, few places to pull over, and I passed it many times before I found a place to stop.

Most of the farms of Peter's Valley were dealt a death sentence when the land was condemned for a hydro project that never happened. Sixty years later, and except for the ones at the craft center, all are crumbling ruins. They have a mysterious, silent melancholy, but not this one.  It seems to house some park function and the old spirits have been thoroughly exorcised. I stopped briefly. Pretty as it was, it felt totally dead.

This image is very close to the view that drew me as I passed by on the road.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Showers, Peter's Valley, 2010

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - Does it communicate? I took this photograph on April 17, in 2010, a bit over two years ago. The barn is in Peter's Valley near the Delaware River in New Jersey. I was attending an annual photographer's retreat. I posted other photos from Peter's Valley intermittently in 2010 from May through June . One last shot appeared in July,  

If other photographers are anything like me, this photo illustrates the uneasy relationship we sometimes have with what we have shot, or am I alone in this?  Reviewing shots the day of a shoot or even the day after is almost always a disappointment. I like to get at least a week out before I comb for keepers and for shots I want to add to this blog. That's a good time to start reviewing and marking images I may want to process. While reviewing "the contacts," I resist the urge to stop, but sometimes I'm stopped by an image that calls to be processed now. 

However, it was months later when this photo called, "stop!" I thought I was done with Peter's Valley/2010 shots. It was not much to look at unprocessed, a difficult photo situation, and I prepared myself for an HDR, but after much tugging on tonalities and texture, I liked what I had and put it in a folder I keep for images I may use, and there it has sat, and it continues to draw my eye, but it's one of those images about which I wonder, does anyone else see it as I see it? Does it communicate the things I've come to enjoy in it?

What have I learned about processing in 18 months?  Perhaps to be more careful about red/cyan fringing, a sometimes unavoidable issue of lenses and light. In any case, the processing I had done was not acceptable to me. As red/cyan fringing must be handled at the point of converting RAW files into a working format, the task of reprocessing sent me deep into my archives and faced me with a mystery. 

I can't recall ever trying to duplicate a particular finish before, but I took that as my goal. The processing had not been simple. My collection of tools & techniques has changed in the intervening time. I've managed to achieve the same tonalities and look of the earlier image, the fringing is gone, and the sky behind the trees is superior here.  I'm still not sure if the first final image had been warped into its finished design or if it was a melding of two different originals. Enough to say I am unable to recreate its exact contours, and in that respect this image is different.

I have just discovered other photos from the Peter's Valley shoots that I think worth processing, and the anniversary of that shoot seems an apt time, and an opportunity to revisit from farther off.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Returning from Wangum Pond, the Day before April, 2012 (revised)

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: On second thought, a tight crop on the left side brings focus to a composition that was in danger of becoming static. The areas on either side of the central tree weren't in play. The crop adds importance to the bright snow and sky on the right side and motion to the central tree.

Returning from Wangum Pond, the Day before April, 2012

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: On the way home we are stopped in our tracks by a hillside orchard under slaty sky. Here, the subject commands the stage and we dance to its tune. Three steps forward and the trees spread wide; five steps back and the trees collide. Step to the left, step to the right, do-si-do and, swing her round,then change lenses, and do it again.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wangum Pond, the Day before April, 2012, No.5

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The skeletal forms of the bog attract me and the textures, but photography at its simplest is about filling a rectangle, and the fun here is in teasing a bit of order from the riot of the chaos where so many things vie to be the subject.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wangum Pond, the Day before April, 2012, No.5

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Casual visitors find such places death-like. Those who dwell know they are places intense with life.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wangum Pond, the Day before April, 2012, No.3

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I'm often drawn to photograph those places where the work of beavers and road crews and other forces of nature cause wetland to swallow what was once rooted and firm. Such places expose time's edge with refreshing bluntness.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wangum Pond, the Day before April, 2012, No.2

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: It is transitory, an interlude, but to the photographer it is the event, the chill calm that succeeds a spring snowstorm before the clouds are seared and the frail architecture of snow gives way. With the palette unified, compositions are abundant, and one good site is all it takes for the time it lasts, no reshooting later.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wangum Pond, the Day before April, 2012

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Yesterday the birds sang.