Thursday, July 23, 2009

West Main Street - Garage

Almost everyone in Charlottesville refers to the City as composed of different parts. I suppose this is typical of most places, and, in the case of Charlottesville, the parts have changed over the years. When I first moved here the “Corner” (the buildings on University Ave., opposite UVA) was where much of the music venues were, and also where most of the night life happened. The music scene began to bleed into West Main Street, with Trax-Max and the Mine Shaft, and it bled further down the street with Starr Hill. Eventually the Downtown Mall became what it was intended to be many years ago, and now it has the two largest venues in town.
All the time West Main was something in between something. While it was a “part” of Charlottesville, it was more of a connector. If you walk the length, you’ll see it go from upscale near the corner, to empty spaces, and “seen better days” buildings. This is where I photographed some structures. They’ve been empty for a while. As can be the case; the lights on, but nobody’s at home. Case in point, below.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Unseen Corner, Rt. 12, Avon, N. C.

Click on the picture for a larger view.

Much of our current environment becomes invisible to us over time. Like a virus that we’ve built up immunity to, we simply don’t “bother” seeing it anymore. This can lead to some odd decisions in infrastructure placement and appearance. Cartoonist R. Crumb went through a period of drawing power poles, wires, and the huge (dangerous) hanging transformers above our heads. Most European countries ban overhead power hardware, so these places look oddly bare to us when we first travel there.

The current photo is a corner on highway 12 in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The block behind this corner is a stretch of beach houses owned by one realty company. Their “branding” is to have some alternating white and red bougainvilleas on each corner of Rt. 12, which essentially is the only major road on this very thin strip of land. The traffic light control box was planted in the middle of this set of bougainvilleas, which appear cloudy/smoky due to their moving in the high wind during the time exposure. The box at the top of the frame is the remote control interface. This is the “hurricane evacuation route” and so probably requires immediate remote control during evacuations. No one “sees” this corner, so several cars and trucks stopped in the middle of the road (it was late and traffic was sparse) to ask what I was taking a picture of. None of my answers seems to satisfy, although they drove off after a comment or two, or a guffaw.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Charlottesville Mall - Photographs and Fantasies

For a set of more Mall night shots, click here.

A doorway on Second Street, off the Downtown Mall. It may appear to be the utility entrance to a cineplex, but there is evidence that other forces and laws are in effect. I've taken a series of color night photographs of the C-Ville Mall at Night.

In fact, I never took anything other than black and white in night setting for years. I had fallen into an orthodoxy that many night photographers follow. The condensed version of that; color film can't produce "true" colors under available light in typical night situation. Almost all outdoor lighting is some odd combination of mercury vapor, or fluorescent, or one of the newer technologies. These are some of the things that drive astronomers nuts and also has made the historic McCormick Observatory less useful as a research tool. Light pollution is one of the major problems for astronomers, and also means that very few people have really seen how impressive a clear, un-light-polluted, night sky really is.

Shifting back to photography, arguing the validity of color representation in a typical night lit scene is a lost cause. Our brains make adjustments based on our almost instinctive knowledge of the daylight colors of objects. Film, or sensors in digital cameras, have their own spin, but we soon make that part of our habit of "seeing."

I find that what I get from shooting color (negative) film at night is "interesting." Sometimes a color that is technically "wrong" is a surprising discovery.
Here are a few more examples, all linked to larger versions, click here

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