I went walking up the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail today with the intent of getting more black & white photo material, and I soon discovered that farms made excellent b&w subjects. Here are today's best shots.
Some stuff taken during the week. The first is a high key treatment of a mossy rock in the Dykeman Wetlands; I liked the way thr treatment brought out not only the green of the moss but also the rusty brown on that bit of metal sticking up in the middle. The second shot is my newest self-portrait; I'm still exploring the process of making b&w shots, and the beard is almost back to where it used to be.
And before I go, a nod to a historic birthday - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I'm not a big fan of his music (in fact I'm not big on the whole Classical era; my CD collection pretty much goes right from the Baroque to the Romantic and skips the Classical entirely), but I'll admit that there are some Mozart pieces I actually like - his Requiem and this piece, Ave Verum Corpus. If you were ever a choral singer (I was, bass section) you know this piece well; it's practically required repertoire!
I finally got my personal altar set up. I'd been wondering what room to put it in, especially in light of the lack of space up here on the second floor, the "private" part as opposed to the "public" space of the living room and kitchen on the first floor. It finally dawned on me that I wasn't using the bedroom dresser top, except for the mirror from time to time. And of course I never plan something out without taking photographic angles into consideration, and that mirror posed some interesting things along that line. So here are two shots of the altar now, one general and one inevitable "arty" macro detail.
We got about 3" (7.62 cm) of snow Friday night and Saturday morning. I got some pictures on the way to work Saturday and yesterday; I had to wait until yesterday to get that snowy shot of South Mountain because you couldn't see it for the clouds and falling snow on Saturday morning.
The sad news is in - Etta James finally lost to her multitude of ailments and passed away at the age of 73. Etta was up there in my pantheon of favorite singers, and I had the privilege of seeing her live several times - two or three times in Newport at the Rhythm & Blues Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival, and one memorable occasion at the original House of Blues in Cambridge, MA. I thought I'd include a couple of my favorites for this tribute - her version of Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me to Do" and her big hit "I'd Rather Go Blind"; when she did this one at the House of Blues they damned near tore the roof off the place! Go in peace, Etta. We'll miss you!
Since I now live right on Shippensburg's main drag - King St. - going downtown means stepping out my front door. These shots are from a brief walk up the street this morning.
If you know me at all you know I had to dig up Petula Clarke's classic song "Downtown" from 1964. Of course, her downtown (Tony Hatch, who wrote the song, was inspired by a trip to New York City) was a bit more lively than Shippensburg's ever gets.
Scenes from today's walk. If anything, these shots emphasize the need for snow, and lots of it, to liven up the landscape. Not only is it boring to look at, but I'm told it's the reason why there are no birds visiting my feeder station; since the ground is unfrozen and uncovered, there's still plenty of natural food around to keep the birdies fat and happy. So please, Mama Gaia, bring on the snow!
The back side of Orange St.
Another view of the back side of Shippensburg, from Ripple Field.
"People should not be afraid of their government; the government should be afraid of the people." - V For Vendetta
I had thought to join today's anti SOPA/PIPA protest by blacking out my own blog. But I decided I'd be damned if I'd let a pack of corporate jackals silence my own creativity today. So this is my protest post, and the next post above is my photography post for the day. And in case you're wondering, I have communicated with my Congressional Representative and Senators to register my opposition to this idiotic legislation, and I've also signed several petitions being presented to both houses of Congress.
I was casting about for ideas for a post celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when I remembered the Locust Grove Cemetery up on Queen St. here in Shippensburg. From its establishment in 1842 until the 1970s or so it was the only place an African-American could be buried in these parts. So I wandered up there this morning to get some atmospheric shots.
And here's one of Dr. King's favorite hymns sung by his favorite singer; it's often sung at African-American church funerals.
Scenes from a brief walk in Spring Hill Cemetery the other day. I included that last one because it's the perfect example of the monumental style in Art Deco. Walk through a city with lots of public/government buildings from the 1930s and you'll see a lot of this style, but this is the first time I've ever seen it used on a cemetery monument.
I've been playing with black & white a lot throughout my time as a digital photographer. For a long time, though, I restricted it to buildings and cityscapes, portraits, and indoor objects, and reserved color for my nature and available light shots. That's changed over the last few years, and I've been getting braver and applying the technique to Nature; not just landscapes, but macros, too. As Ansel Adams showed so well, you can photograph anything in black and white and make it as beautiful and interesting as anything in color. And as a photographer friend told me decades ago, the proof of a photographer's skill is the quality of his or her b&w shots.
So last night I started fooling around with some of my best shots in color and re-processed them in b&w. In many ways I think the b&w shots work better. Those of you who have been following my work here may recognize these from when I first posted them. Ignore those originals; for all intents and purposes these shots exist on their own, are their own unique entities. Look at them with new eyes!
"Complexity is the prodigy of the world. Simplicity is the sensation of the universe. Behind complexity, there is always simplicity to be revealed. Inside simplicity, there is always complexity to be discovered." - Gang Yu
I got up this morning wondering what I was going to do today. I'd already determined that I was going to wander down to the Dykeman Wetlands and Nature Trail and shoot in black and white. Part of my morning computer routine is to open a dashboard widget called "Maya Cards", which gives you a quotation. The above was today's. I also have a dashboard widget version of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies, a collection of commands or phrases meant to point you in a new direction when stuck in any creative endeavor. This morning's Oblique Strategy said "water". The following photographs were inspired by that confluence of ideas.
And I found a piece of music which emphasizes both the simplicity/complexity dichotomy and water: hammered dulcimer performer Malcolm Dalglish's "Swimming Rocks" from his 1985 album Jogging the Memory. Enjoy!
You know you're in Central Pennsylvania when you see this:
I saw some squirrels climbing around on my new bird feeder station the other day, so I bought a squirrel baffle to put on the pole beneath the feeders. Apparently it works; I found this fella picking disconsolately through the grass under the feeder. Heh, heh!
Still no birds visiting my feeder station, and I wasn't in the mood to wander. So I was looking at the gazebo in the little park across the street and got some ideas on creating shots that looked like faded book illustrations. It sorta worked. But I still like the results.
I used some of my Christmas money to set up a feeding station in camera range of my kitchen window, and I put it up yesterday. Here it is today, after we had a light overnight snow:
Besides the cedar feeder full of seed there on the right, there's a seed cake with fruit and nuts beloved by Cardinals and Chickadees, etc. there on the upper left, and a suet feeder in the lower center because I want to attract Nuthatches and Woodpeckers. I'll have to go buy replacements when the seed cake and suet cake are done, but I have some back-up for the feeder just inside the back door:
That oughta last awhile! Now the birds have to discover the station and spread the news to their friends; so far the station hasn't had any visitors.
And of course I have to include that classic from the 1964 movie Mary Poppins: "Feed the Birds". Yup, that's what I'll be doing!
There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao.
It flows through all things, inside and outside, and returns to the origin of all things.
The Tao is great. The universe is great. Earth is great. Man is great. These are the four great powers.
Man follows the earth. Earth follows the universe. The universe follows the Tao. The Tao follows only itself.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25 Translation by Stephen Mitchell