The images above are” light painted” time exposures of a corner of my room. The light painting is done by doing a time exposure in a dark room, and using a L.E.D. flashlight to illuminate areas selectively. In this case I took four different variations of the light painting and combined them in a Flash movie so that they fade between each exposure. Since the camera was left on a tripod, the images fade between each other smoothly. The rather “blueish” tone is due to the color of the L.E.D. The red streaks were from a red bike light.
That’s a Fender Mustang electric guitar that I bought several eons ago. The Mustang was a model that didn’t really sell well when it first came out, but developed a following years after. It was a “short scale” neck, which makes “note bending” (pulling the pitch up of a note by pulling or pushing with the left hand) easier.
I was playing this guitar on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, in a bar with the band “Fat Shadow,” (not the same band as the current Fat Shadow) when I dislocated my shoulder. I had a chronic problem with the shoulder, and generally I had to go to the hospital to get it back to where it was supposed to be. The guitar skittered, face down, across the stage, making an indescribable noise. The audience got out of its seats and was shouting encouragement, presumably thinking this was part of the act. I went out to the car to get driven to the hospital. The shoulder popped back into joint when I sat down in the car, and I finished the night with the band.
I was going in the security door at work, and noticed something strange on the brick edge of the door frame. It looked like a twig, but on closer examination, the stick appeared to have two legs. It was a “stick insect” or Phasmatodea, according to Wikipedia. The second picture is a close up of its eyes, which are very small and oddly situated in the middle of its body.
Evolution is a difficult to get one’s mind around. Here’s a life form that is a credible imitation of a tree part. How did it get to be what it is, and what did it evolve from, and through, to get to where it is?
Is it the luxury of more than enough time? That would be 4.5 billion years, if the stick creature started at the very beginning. Not likely, but, give or take a billion years, that is still a long time. In our own timeline (that is “humans” so far) we see changes, attributable to evolution (not all agree on this). My only problem with the word is that it implies getting somewhere, when the sole point of evolution is just another generation of survivors. The point so far, is survival, at least on the surface.
By the way, Phasmatodea are not inclined to reproduce in the manner that humans do. The population is mostly female, and they don’t need a male to produce offspring. Females can lay eggs that hatch to become females with the same genetics as the mother. If they can find a male, they can, after finding a private spot, mate. Even then, the likelihood of a male offspring is less than the likelihood of a female, although this is the only way that genetic variation can occur.
If that is not enough puzzling detail, there is the “egg promotional process.” Some Phasmatodea have eggs that look like a type of food commonly gathered by ants (thanking Wikipedia here!). Ants carry the eggs (which look remarkably like the ant's eggs) to their nest. The young nymph that hatches from the egg looks exactly like an ant. This nymph climbs to safety in a plant or tree and then develops the features of an adult Phasmatodea.
(Click above for a larger image) When I hike or walk over open land, I tend to scan the path for interesting finds. The fallen fall leaf above has some small round structures on it. Why? What are they? Were they on the leaf before it fell, or did they form before the leaf dried on the ground? They look a bit like tiny mushrooms, or leaf blight, or both, if that’s how it works. I have no answers for this question, and would love to know if any readers might have an idea.
(Click above for larger image) The second is a very fine traveling vine-like plant that forms a perfect model of a network. I’d like to identify it, of course. We are collectors by nature and sometimes, of nature. This vine/plant/thing has nodes, and each node is surrounded by the same number of connections. Essentially, it is a model of a of an early version of networking also.
When I lived in New Hampshire, and when I spent a brief time in West Virginia, I knew a Freeman Smith (a father of a friend of mine), who had spent his life as an agricultural expert. He traveled widely as part of the programs the United States ran to educate farmers in many countries. He was able to walk through a wooded area or field and identify many of the plants he came across. Those informal walks with Freeman were enjoyed quite a bit by the twenty-somethings of the time.
This was when the “returning to the land” theme had begun to be discussed in popular culture. Euell Gibbons had come out with a book called “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” and the notion of identifying, and sometimes eating, wild plants, had become a hot topic. A person like Freeman could be a very interesting person to walk in the woods with.
After that I lived in various places, but when I moved from Washington D. C. to Charlottesville, I took up hiking again. I started photographing plants purely for identification later. When I went through the first spring in “C-vlle” I was surprised by the wildflowers that sprung up near the trails, wherever they could get some light from the break in the trees. It wasn’t long before I hit the public library, and the library at UVA, looking for more information. It’s not just the notion of identifying plants, it is also the plant history that is interesting. From that point on, I had to use some care hiking downhill. I’d get to lost in the view on the side of the trail, and manage to do a nose-first dive into nature.
I was wandering in Baltimore, waiting between buses (to Boston via New York) with an old 120 film camera (Rolliecord). I took a photo of a store window with the street reflection mixing with the mannequin. It was 120 Tri-X film.
The way her head is in the beginning of the out-of-focus area with the blurred lights makes me think of her as “dreaming.”
So, this is a traditional twin lens (one for viewing, and one that exposes the film) camera like the Rollie, such as the Rollieflex, which was a slightly higher quality model. They were easy to carry and relatively simple. There wasn’t much to break, although the film transport (it had to manage the spacing of the images on the film) sometimes could get troublesome.
What I never understood: how to compose something in the square format finder. You generally took a photo planning a rectangular crop that was either vertical or horizontal. Thinking about cropping it from the square took some planning if you wanted to make a rectangular crop later.
An interesting place for discussions about the format, and film cameras, is Flickr.
Frankly, the subject of this photo is a bit of a mystery.
This is a set of walls in a sandy lot next to the Food Lion market in Avon N.C. These walls were in place one summer when we came down to spend the typical week in a beach cottage. The summer before the lot had been just sand. I took a 6X9 cm. negative photo on “chromogenic” film which I remember being a two or three minute time exposure.
The walls were notched on the sides at about the same height, but they weren’t arranged in a way that suggested that they could all come together as a structure. They were up the next summer too, but the next year they were gone.
About four years beyond that the entire shopping center got expanded and re-designed. Only then did I think to ask the manager of the Food Lion about the walls. Unfortunately, that was only his second year in the store. I had no luck asking at the cottage rental agency either, as no one remembered them.
This photo was taken Saturday in the vendor parking area at the Charlottesville City Market. The dog was snoozing while waiting for its “person” to return from their sales booth at the market.
This shot brings to mind a few thoughts about “domesticity." A relationship with a pet is unencumbered by some of the complexities that humans can add to relationship. Thought, roles, misunderstanding; all terms that we are familiar with. It can get complicated.
I’ve had two cats for more than ten years now. They are self possesed, aware, and affectionate. We have disagreements, but they recover more quickly than I do. I could and should learn from them, but, being human, I have my limits.
When I had my dislocating shoulder fixed surgically, the cat of that era (we have a cat history here) hung next to me for most of the period I was recovering, even though he was more of an outside than inside cat. After I became mobile again (headed to six months of physical therapy) he went back on bird patrol.
A friend of mine, Danny Webster, is having a show of his sculptures at Runk Dining Hall, which is at the University of Virginia Campus, in the Hereford Campus area. The opening reception is this Sunday, October 16th, 4:30-6:00pm .
I took photos of the sculptures, which are large "fishes" made from a variety of unusual materials. You can get the idea of the scale of the sculpture above from the dinner ware and U. S. Quarters its made from. The rest of the fish sculptures are made from equally diverse materials, like circuit boards, shells gathered in the Outer Banks, guitar picks and buttons. To read more about the show itself, and view a video, you can got to this link. The article is written by Kate Colwell, and the page was published by UVA public affairs.
An unusual day: When I woke this morning and came down the stairs, I saw that the cat food bags in the kitchen closet had been torn open and the food bowls were totally cleaned out. This usually means that an animal, usually a raccoon, has gotten through the cat door, which has a magnetic lock. Both cats wear magnets on their collars and the magnets unlatch the cat door so they can push it open. The door will not open inward without the magnetic latch being activated. Raccoons are smart and also have claws that enable them to hook the door and pull it outward to get in.
But usually the raccoons tear up the entire kitchen closet, dumping food out. In this case, the bowls were empty, and some of the treat bags were torn, but the bins hadn’t been opened. So I cleaned up the food and figured I’d have to put it away at night again. I went back to the computer to work (telecommute, two days a week). Later, while walking through the living room I noticed something on the floor. It was the body of a squirrel, with just a bloody mess where the head had been. I cleaned up the carcass, bagged it, and threw it in the outside trash. Both cats were staring at me with innocent looks.
Back to telecommuting, clicking, uploading and so on. Somehow I had forgotten about the head. Cats don’t eat heads. I went looking for it. Under the pillow, nah, the cats aren’t Mafia. I looked everywhere, except where the head is, of course. No head, anywhere. Two heads are not better the one, especially when mine is one of them and the other one is rotting under furniture somewhere. Just a pleasant surprise I can look forward to, probably requiring a little biologic time to pass?
This is a parking lot wall not far from the Charlottesville Downtown area. It’s on a path I follow from a parking spot to my favorite coffee brewer. I had noticed the hole in the wall earlier; apparently it had been mistaken as a trash container. All sorts of odd items had been stuffed in it.
Nature, and especially ivy, has a way of making the best of a situation. This is about 5 feet above the ground, and I couldn’t find any evident soil nearby. It’s all concrete or asphalt for as far as you can see.
The downtown area of Charlottesville has history built into the walls of most buildings. The Mudhouse coffee shop, where I generally buy my coffee, has been renovating the interior of their place on the downtown mall. There was layer after layer of wallpaper, newspaper scraps, stenciled messages, as they stripped the wall. I stopped by more often just to see what new layers came up.The renovation is finished now, and they left the cleaned, but unfinished, wall between buildings open to the room. The whole shop interior is now a rearranged space, and the it looks great.
I’m intrigued with urban and suburban “landscapes.” These are almost always unintentional in design. They are the convergence of growth and necessity. We are a people interested in getting from A to B in the shortest time. After going that route enough times, we cease to even notice it. We are the in-between people, always headed somewhere else.
So, when it comes to design, we are masters of the unintentional. This is a section of the overhead railway over the “Corner” adjoining the campus of UVA, the intersection of 14th St. and University Ave. It feels like Brooklyn for about 15 feet as you pass under the bridge. There’s a tree top in the distance visible above the wood railway timber. If this were a painting, that would represent nature. Historic photographs of Charlottesville (Google “Holsinger photographs”) seem to show this bridge, although it’s a bit difficult to say for sure it’s the same structure.
There is one constant rule for street level architecture in the “modern” world. “If there is room enough for a door, and a cash register, it’s beautiful.” That’s what I thought as I looked out the window of the Saigon Café Restaurant at the building in the parking lot, which I eventually, after the garden rolls, took a photo of. “Parking lots A and B” appears to be the name of the business. These are places on, or near, Allied Street in Charlottesville. It’s is also a location of the largest (I think) concrete plant in Charlottesville, Allied Concrete. Saigon Café is in a large concrete structure (mere coincidence) that might have been a motel once upon a time. Fortunately, after we’ve lived somewhere for a while, the environment slinks into the background and is no longer noticed. After staring at the building I realize it’s actually the back of C’ville Coffee. I guess I’ve never looked at the backside, or for that matter, the outside, because I drive over in a trance and start noticing my surroundings only after the first latte. C'ville Coffee’s front is a nicely done, “art deco” restoration.
I’ve had some dreams of parking lots, and, in these dreams, the lots stretch forever, and I’m either lost, or maybe finally home. But, no lawn chairs in sight
As route 250 crosses over the mountain headed west towards Waynesboro, there is something like a commercial ghost town. At the crest of the mountain, where the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park (A.K.A. Skyline Drive) passes over route 250, there is an area in which every single business (even the gas station) has closed. In the midst of this is a closed Howard Johnson, shuttered, but otherwise untouched. It looks almost like a houseboat run aground on an overgrown river bank. It is in great shape compared to the other empty buildings there. Most of the buildings are heavily painted with “tagging.” The H.J. is untouched. The roof of the building is in perfect shape. Evidently they used a ceramic tile on the roofs. All the tiles are the trademark orange (not even faded) and none are broken.
My apologies to Douglas Adams for borrowing a concept (the restaurant at the end of the universe)
This is a night (time exposure) of “Free Bridge” which is on route 250 as it enters Charlottesville from Pantops Mountain. This was taken with a rather old 4X5 camera with a Schneider “Angulon” lens equivalent to about a 28mm wide angle on 35 millimeter film. The time exposure was not very long, about 90 seconds on Tri-x Pan at F16 .
It is called Free Bridge because it was one of the bridges that didn’t have a toll during the early years of Charlottesville. Since traveler information was scarce, private tolls could be an unpredictable element when traveling. I have no idea what the original bridge looked like.
I’ve always thought that Free Bridge is a elegant, simply designed, bridge. You do not appreciate this in the least while driving over it. All you see is the railing zipping by. Only from the river can the arched sides be seen. The night view from the side, with river reflections, and well planned lighting, is the only way to appreciate how well it fits the River. It’s difficult to find this vantage point now; as the summer weeds aren’t cut currently (one can guess that money is involved). I made an effort to find the spot, in summer heat, just a few weeks ago, and came out frustrated, soaked with sweat, and pierced with thorns. The thicket is almost impenetrable, and you don’t know exactly when you’re going to take that last step all the way down the bank into the mud.
This was many years ago, in one of the many iterations of a certain bar space, in Chestertown, Maryland. I lived there for some time. This is a picture of Ron, at a slow point of the evening. This space was so many different bars over time, I'm not sure what name it was operating under when the photo was taken. Just slightly past the dinosaurs, it was "Emma's Past Time Bar." I once saw the original sign for that in a welder's workshop in a nearby town.
I lived in a second story apartment for a time, and I could see the front of this building by hanging out the window a bit.
I think the reason I like this is the way you identify with Ron's momentary immersion. You can tell he's lost in thought. We tend to be that way, until we realize that we are. I've been told that describes "arriving in the present moment" by those who practice that very act. Its the waking up.
I have a tee shirt which says "Lost in Thought, Send Search Party" on the front. Friends laugh at this, they know its the truth far too often.
Technical: 35 mm Tri-X, Canon camera and lens, developed normally in D-76
After I had written the short piece about trail riding the Rivanna River Trail, I realized I had links to some historical writings about the Rivanna River that are quite interesting.
The first piece is called “Sett over ye River By Chance”. The link will take you to the exact page the article starts. It’s a fascinating story about the early and later history of the Rivanna River.
The second is “The Rivanna Navigation: Almost a Canal System” which talks about the entire history of the River by discussing the changes in transport methods. In short: first you needed to cross it to get where you were going, then you started to go up and down river with goods and the like. The latter required some River improvements, especially during periods of slim rainfall. Now we drive over that bridge so fast, you might not even notice passing a river.
I got a bit lost on Bear Den Mountain, at the Skyline Drive National Park. I took the wrong fire road down the mountain, and ended up about two miles from my car. I had to walk back on the grassy side of the drive. I almost stepped on the snake in the picture. Fortunately, as it turns out, I noticed it. It was beautiful, but not happy about the privacy issue. I took two photographs, looked it up when I got home. Timber Rattler. I was very lucky to be looking down before coming up on this fellow. That being said, after the two photographs, he moved into a coiled position. About two months ago I had heard a PBS show about strike distances for snakes (both poisonous and non-poisonous). They are capable of reaching much further than most people think, since the tail becomes the anchor for the push. So, I walked a large circle around him (I had to go in the road) and hiked back to the car.
I was walking the then unpaved Rivanna Trail (year 2003, I would guess) near Free Bridge in my usual walking/pondering posture. That posture would be: looking down at the trail and thinking about the physics of gnat flight or if I left the door unlocked at home. At times I’ve almost run into another walker. I turned a corner in the trail and noticed I’d come upon a makeshift picnic table with some people around it. I snapped their picture. They were giggling but didn’t seem inclined to fill me in, so I resumed my thinking pose and ambled off.
Later I began to think about how great it would be for a child to have a parent that could be so able to support some “make believe time.”
The images above will open in a window when clicked
Not very long after the first mountain bikes began to be sold in Charlottesville, I bought one. At first, they were California conceived downhill bikes with overly long and heavy frames. I had one of those, which was soon replaced with a new one of a different design. And so on for many years. Now I have one with larger wheels and no rear shocks. No matter, they were all able to ride the winding trails through the shadows, down the crazy drop or dip. I do some trail running to help keep the bones up, but it is the bike, with its wonderful sense of motion, moving through all the patches of sun and shade, that continues to be the real fun. Almost all of this happens on one or another part of the Rivanna Trail, which at least attempts to circumnavigate Charlottesville. For a description of the Rivanna Trails, David Maurer’s article can’t be beat: http://rivanna.avenue.org/maurer0502.htm
The section that I’ve most recently been riding more is probably one of the oldest sections of trail. It goes along the flood plain (an area where building is now forbidden, for the simple reason that it’s all flat and not too many feet above the river, as it goes through one of its most wandering sections). The soil is rich from the constant overflows of silt and the forest canopy is thick. There aren’t a lot of larger trees, but the population of small and mid size trees crowd around and do their best to intercept whatever light makes it through. The trail here follows the river, so one good turn deserves another. It demands attention, and rewards that with an exciting, winding, ride.
I’ve included two photos here, one of the trail, which is a good example of the lighting, and another of a flood channel that was newly cut. The water cuts both ways doing a torrent, so it breaks its way down to the river to get organized, and then it gets giddy and floods everything. That would fairly well describe the roguish quality of live itself. We think of “opportunism” as negative, but how else would you treat an opportunity.
The Rivanna Trail Foundation volunteers have to repair the various small wooden walk bridges that the trail passes over, after each larger flood. Sometimes they have to look for them downstream.
The farm that used to stretch through this section was Dunlora, and there was a wonderful, old farmhouse located there when I first moved to Charlottesville. I went to a few parties there, and it was right on a small hill above the river. The stone gates are still in a wooded area not far from the trail. Dunlora is now the name of a modern housing area safely above the flood plain.
To get to this section of the trail: Google “Pen Park directions charlottesville” and when driving in, take the left at the tennis courts, which is the first part of Pen Park you encounter. Drive by the tennis courts and park anywhere near the picnic shelters. Follow the signs behind the picnic shelters. Eventually the trail will split to the left and right by a chain fence. The left will take you up river, which is the best walking/riding. The fork to the right is best for runners, because there is an old dirt road by the river in that direction.
I have an addition to the Rivanna trail story. At this link you can find stories from the history of the Rivanna River.
The image above will open in a window when clicked
This is a found negative, and I don’t know who took it. It was in a box of 4X5 photographs, but the others were close ups of wood. They were obviously being used to document some work.
I love this photograph. I doubt you could fault the composition, and your eye gets drawn to the woman dressed in black. The rather surprising sculpted railings lead your eye in a wandering path back to the woman. The tonal range is great, holding a nearly white value in the hanging mist over the falls.
To see a larger, full screen version of the photo, click on the photo above.
Our backyard is full of Jack in the pulpit plants, or Arisaema Triphyllum. Almost all of them produced the trademark flowers simultaneously. I find them somewhat creepy, so I’m not inclined to celebrate the flowering.
I thought it might be fun to do a time exposure and paint one of the plants with light. If you haven’t seen this written up elsewhere on this blog, here’s how it goes. In complete, or near complete, darkness, the shutter is opened and locked open. Then, a small flashlight, which has been modified with some black opaque paper to narrow the beam, is used to selectively illuminate the subject. Usually I move the flashlight beam back and forth over the subject, which is a bit like painting. The light brightness I modulate by closing my hands over the front, muting the light selectively.
Many exposures are taken because the results are somewhat unpredictable. Hopefully one of those exposures will produce a desirable image or you end up doing it again. I’ve gotten better over time doing these images, because eventually you learn to modulate and move the flashlight to produce what you want.
I took twelve exposures and chose the one above. Evidently the plant is entirely poisonous,and it looks like it.
It’s never too late to accessorize!Dead? Don’t let that hold you back. You look a bit ashen. How about a nice urn, traditional? We got slightly transparent urns too. Show ‘em what you’re made of!
The above photo is of Heritage Memorials, which used to be a store front attached to a Jeffersonian style gas station.
This being Charlottesville, it will likely be replaced with a much larger Jeffersonian style business of some sort. (Update: All gone now. Restless development swept Heritage Memorial aside.) Rest in pieces.
While writing this, I discovered that there are digital memorials now. You’ll need to bring your laptop to the gravesite.
This is in a graveyard on the shore side of the Outer Banks, in Avon, North Carolina. It’s a set of family graves, a short walk from the sound side road, in a grove of live oaks. This one was for a waterman, although I don’t know the story. This did not appear to have a stone, just this marker. The stones in back have been there for many years. The boots have been there for about three years, but the cross and pirates flag were the newest addition.
The gum boots are for the work boats, which will have an inch or two of water aboard, cycling with the waves.
This graveyard stretches from the road through three clearings in the dense, sound-side, foliage. Each one might be a family area. A old church is only a short distance down the road, but it has been closed down for many years.
Spring Snow here. . . Walking down the tracks below C-vlle, I came across this stark shrub against the graffiti on the coal tower. Some pics are best in black and white.
The coal tower could very well be an icon for the Charlottesville Downtown. Some businesses have used the image of it from time to time. It’s a wonderful piece of funk, with a somewhat dark history, not the sort of notion that would encourage using it as a brand. It still exists probably because of the difficulty of removing it. It has occasionally been used as an art piece. There’s about 15 foot tall tower of steel cross members on the top. Someone made a huge dress and hung it there. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
Yesterday I was wandering through Maplewood Cemetery in Charlottesville. It’s one of the oldest, and it has a sense of decay that is entirely appropriate. Nature is doing what it does best, which is to patiently turn everything back into soil. There are a few “stones” there that are a bit more ambitious. One is an angel (perhaps the model was a girl of 15?). It’s really well done as far as features and gestures are concerned. I noticed that someone had tied onion grass around her hand so it looked like a thin green bracelet. See photo above.
I ended up taking quite a few shots which I'll post here in the next few days. The City of Charlottesville has had a particularly good web site, and their page on Maplewood Cemetary is a good source of history for Maplewood.
For a few days this last week, I noticed that the moon had swung around by early morning and was shining through the bathroom window. This was about 4 a.m., and that’s one of the few places I visit at that time of night. It was shining through the slats of the blinds, on the “loo,” you know, in the “water closet.” I find the most amazing lighting happens in unusual places. Eventually physicists will discover that light travels faster in bathrooms, alley ways, although it slows under the bed, thus allowing dust to luxuriate.
I think of this office as a barometer of the economy of the last year or two. About two months after the market panic the front rooms just had a chair or two in them, and, at one point, a sofa was left on the curb. Then the two front offices were just bare for some time. About a month back I noticed the front offices were leased (I’m guessing these are rental offices) and the plants looked healthy. Things are looking up, or at least, it looks like up to me.
This is a time exposure, and the stoplight on the corner cast added the red lighting from the right side. 120 color film, an old Plaubel Makina Proshift
Click the photo above for a larger image . . . This photo was made under somewhat difficult circumstances. I had a single lens reflex with a role of ektachrome and a 500mm mirror lens. No tripod. We had found that the only seats were in the balcony of Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia. I took a second-long exposure with the lens pushed down on the rail at the edge. One player became quite an abstraction due to his motion, but the rest of the stage setting was sharp. The result is sort of a cubist blur of the player and his horn. It was an incredible concert. Much of the first part was an aggressive wall of sound. Lester Bowie wore a white lab coat, which he favored for most of his appearances at the time. After the wall of sound there was a very sparse and quiet piece. There are some other photos of the concert here.
Twelve hours of driving from Virginia to Maine, and we were road zombies, with a set of parallel white lines jammed into our heads. Hungry, angry, we’d seen all the bumpers we wanted to see, and many more. We were booked into the only reasonably priced motel in the area, and it turned out to be 50’s vintage, restored, and with all the details still in place (small coffee makers built into the wall) and perfectly in order. I shot a detail on Tri-X film.