Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shroud Room or Composition in Blue and Brown

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  There is an odd corner at the Klotz Silk Mill that I don't recall seeing in any online photographs, in part because it is hidden until one swings open an awkward door. As everywhere, things have been left as they were on that day in 1957 when the mill ceased operations. Here, coarse cloth (cotton?) has been carefully hung for a purpose unknown. What was it used for?  There's nothing like it anywhere else in the mill. Here it sits, ready for use on a day that never came for a purpose forgotten.

I'd missed this spot until our last morning in the mill, and, frankly, if I had seen it earlier I would have judged it unpromising and moved on, perhaps wisely. However, by that last morning I had the leisure to take the challenge of an unlikely discovery. How to compose it and develop it so that it might at least hold ones eye? The room was tight; bright sunlight glared from behind the fabric but barely illuminated it. I thought, why would anyone take a picture here?

One of my shooting colleagues arrived in the room at the same moment but from another direction, and we each took turns shooting and trying to make something of our discovery. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


at the Housatonic Camera Club, 7 PM
Noble Horizons, Salisbury, CT


From lives of simple drudgery to lives of complex drudgery,
Autumn spreads a golden shroud to the tatters of our seasons.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created coequal, that they are endowed by their creator with similar inalienable rights. Among these are some life, liberty in that area over there and, after work is done, happy hour.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  It was an outsized in-reach and all around it and in it was a claylike muck that adhered like cement. Once I had stepped into it, the damage was done and I was bound to cross the deepest section though it pulled at my hiking boot with every step. Two car tires half way up showed where a trailer had been enveloped by the machinery. I too was engulfed in industrial viscera. That was the phrase that crystalized the image, and from that point every decision: where I stood and shot in the goo, the lens I used scoop it, the exposures I set and the processing afterward were all determined by that phrase, "industrial viscera."

I received an article in my email today that suggested photography without a message is mere, empty "Aestheticism," and quotes Kant to prove it.

What is the difference between having a message and making something clear? As a photographer, I can't be too concerned with message beyond being properly respectful of others. The task is to find a place, a mountain top or a few cells of honeycomb or an old factory and select from it elements that make something clear of my experience of that place. How I transform the reflected light collected into a photograph is for me about clarifying that experience more than attending to literal appearances. How I process the image is dictated by the image and the feelings that attend it. I try more often than I succeed.

The article spoke about "ruins porn" prettifying rustbelt blight with little regard to those who live there and suffer, and it added a new term, "nature porn" to describe those eco-friendly calendars and the chain-emails that bring us steroidal nature and fill us with dreams of places secluded and wild.

In fact, isn't all art pornography teasing out feelings that we may submit to its will - to lose ourselves in a book or a symphony or a photograph. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Garden of Delights No.9



Relatively speaking, 
moments are eons 
and mayflies grow wise 
in a mingy season, 
and realms there must be 
where time is slow 
while we pass as mayflies 
without reason.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Garden of Delights No.8

COLERIDGE:  "The albatross fell off and sank / Like lead into the sea."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Here's ample evidence life is cheap; climates shift with little regard to the living things that perish in the ebb and flow of eons. We have little enough understanding of the self-hoods of others of our species, much less the selfhoods of these insects cavorting then contorting then stilled.  I'm told they communicate with various faint buzzing noises and chemicals, as if there is no sorrow in their dying song as we comb the heavens for alien others with which to share space.

The only alternative to the world we have is the one we create.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Waterbury Starry Night


Smoldered and moldy factories along the river's winding sheet 
where the railroad used to cross, and the brass mill used to hum,
and the slow march home along South Main of rattling vans and pickups,
and the wind in the hills and the flow of the river washing toward the sound.

NOTE: Double click images to enlarge. Details will become clear as the image is viewed on a larger scale. Here is a close-up view of an area in the center of the image:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Silk 'n Style

by Emery Roth II

with Rick Pauline and Dawn Dingee

discussion & presentation

The Klotz Throwing Mill in Lonaconing, Maryland, is an accidentally preserved, "gilded age" silk mill from the beginning of the 20th century. View it through the eyes of eight photographers who traveled there in two groups in the past year. See the machinery and factory where the dreams of the gilded age were spun.  Consider how different eyes convert the experience of the mill into still images, learn about the region, and join a discussion as we consider whether Style matters.

WHEN: Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 7:00 PM

WHERE: The Housatonic Camera Club

Noble Horizons, 17 Cobble RoadSalisbury, CT

Garden of Delights No. 7

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: While photographers are still behind  the shutter there are already so many issues and opportunities to consider that many of us prefer to concentrate our efforts there. The deluge of digital options may seem as if it will drown us if we let too much in. ...or in it we may find new expressive possibilities that exist between photo-reality and graphic possibility. My own experience is that digital experimentation only expands expressive possibilities and enhances the pleasure I take in developing an image.

In chemical photography "solarization" is a phenomenon (to my knowledge B&W only) caused by extreme over-exposure; some tones reverse themselves. Although I've never done it, with practice and craft chemical photographers learns to produce and control the effect. Man Ray was famous for doing this. Before I began using ColorEfexPro plug-in for Photoshop, my experience was that digital solarization was a special effects filter with no nuance.  It was either on or off. A friend of mine called it "the Man Ray effect."

A number of images on this blog were made with the ColorEfex solarization filter. It provides several different ways to control the finished appearance, including a slider which sets the transition points where tones reverse and one which seems to change algorithms underlying the effect. The filter extends solarization into color photography in which colors reverse to their complement. While using the software the image changes continually with the sliders, and with a bit of experience one can learn to control the sliders to explore what the image is capable of - see the different events that happen as the "elapsed time" slider reveals and conceals detail. Often the experiments produce a variety of novelties, all with interest, or better yet, all strung into a movie they become the over-familiar, sci-fi journey through some other dimension. Occasionally the sliders bring something into focus that seems surprising and worth keeping, and with patience one can tune it in.  Or maybe there's nothing there at all. As I said in the first post, this is all experimental, and I'm eager for reactions.

For this image, the first step of the process was simply to intensify whatever color was in the image and concentrate contrasts using TopazAdjust. Solarization will burn away a good part of the saturated color, and what is left can be adjusted to reveal details that would otherwise be partly hidden.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Garden of Delights No, 6

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  The series was begun in 2010 and I've always found it an excellent place to engage the fullest range of processing options. The divide between photography and digital art is a vague one. I am equally interested in the digital development of the image as in the process of exposure to light. 

Digital photography has revolutionized photographic development as much as launching satellites into space changed flight. That places no obligation on photographers to go digital, nor once working in digital are we obligated to push processing beyond convention, but it seems anachronistic to me to work in digital and limit exploration of developing to digital simulations of chemical techniques. 

The photographs in this series are a place for me to experiment with and explore a wide range of processing options. I want to push and test limits. I hope viewers will feel free to pass along their reactions.  Whether good or bad, I'm interested in where, if anywhere, they take you.

Earlier posted pictures in the series can be found by typing "Garden of Delights" in the search box above.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Corn is as Cold as the Temperature Goes

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Too cold to go out and make photographs, and the saturated soil freezes well below the root line. Moles and voles and things in warm holes are sleeping in.  Me too.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  The series is Footsteps. Are some of them yours?  Some of the images were shot and processed as far back as 2011 and left to accumulate. My intent has been to post them with no comment beyond the title.