Monday, June 30, 2014

Epic II

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Photographed a week ago still mounted beside the annealer; found last week tossed aside as scrap.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Body Politic

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: When I visited last week the tube racks that filled the aisle beside the annealer had been trashed and the beast lay cold and disemboweled in the empty space.  This week it was cut in two for easy scrapping.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Remembering the Annealer

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: If the brass mill were a bestiary, the annealer would be some armor plated creature that hunches like a rock when enemies hover; it was an organism that lived at a tempo almost too slow for human observation. At one end of the annealer there was usually tube waiting on the rack to be rolled onto the conveyor. It might sit for twenty minutes, or it might sit for hours. Inevitably, when my back was turned, and I was photographing something else, the waiting tube was rolled, and the rare human interaction of man and beast was missed.  

The conveyor moved rows of tube through a long heated chamber - slowly the way a clock’s minute hand moves, too slow for observation. Eventually rows of tubes emerged slowly on the other side. Sometimes long wisps of steam rose from the ends of the tubes as they entered and exited the annealer. The vigor and the beauty of the steam varied with the diameter of the tube, the temperature of the shop, and elements beyond my ken, but I often tried to get human events and steam into the same image, but all the stars were never quite in alignment then. This shot with José is as close as I came.

The annealer heated tube that had been stressed and stretched as it was worked on the draw benches. Heat relaxed the crystal structure of the metal to prevent pinholes from developing. I always found it to be a photogenic tangle of tubes and pipes and wires and ducts, and even on occasion tried to photograph inside of it as it ran.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mayor's Office

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: The Sterling Opera House, they say, is haunted. Upstairs plaster walls hang silently, and no applause follows, only cracks, but if it is the sound of bones rattling or chains being dragged, it more likely comes from down stairs behind the dressing rooms in the City Council Rooms where the city council met with the mayor before there was a city or a council or a mayor. There was only a benefactor manufacturer named Sterling. He made pianos, and employed many people in town. It could have been the plot of an opera. He paid for both city halls, they say, though there was no city.

Monday, June 2, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL:  The Sterling Opera House, they say, is haunted. Furniture moved, toys left, the usual stuff. How could it be otherwise? What fitter place for regrets to lodge or revenge to seethe? How many coughing Mimi’s upstaged? How many Lears, unforgiven while crooners got ready backstage? It could be any missed cue or final curtain that lingers like an animal caught in the wall, a warm spot when you pass through padded houses and empty houses and the closed house. An opera house without ghosts, they say, is like a mirror without reflection. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Pilgrimage to Forsaken Acres

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Lazlo and I were back at Forsaken Acres last week. The fields around the abandoned farm were planted and two-inch seedlings poked through the mud in tiny rows. Another week or two before they will be ripe for photos.

When I was last here the silo at the east end of the farmstead had collapsed, and I predicted these remaining two would not last the winter. In fact, the old farmer’s handiwork is tougher than I suspected and a comparison of this with the image I made then [] will show how little changed the farmstead is, though this time I caught it under midday sun with a lighting guy in the heavens who for a brief moment made the sun shine just behind the silos, and of many photos I took of his lighting experiments, this one best brought out the spirit of Forsaken Acres as I found it that day, a ruin that has survived so long nobody can tell me of a time there were cows in this milking room. The business of this valley then was milk, butter, and eggs for New York City.  Spring rains long ago made the roof and columns of the cow barn mushy, and the weight of snow and ice has pounded it as surely as if a giant foot had trampled here, but one can still creep inside where the structure rests on the metal cow stalls, at least until the new spring vines, fighting for their place in the sun, claim every shaft of available light. Although there are no graves here, this is a spot deserving of seasonal pilgrimages, at least until the cenotaphs implode.