A Year in Photos

Photography, fiction, and personal essays form my three primary creative outlets. For this blog's first 18 months, I used it primarily for photography. As I've returned to creative writing, I'll use this blog for fiction, too. Sometimes, when reality needs to be discussed more than truth, I write personal essays.

This blog will continue to showcase as many above-average photos as I can muster. Hopefully my written work will be as good or better than the visual. Whichever drew you here -- photographs or fiction, I hope you enjoy both.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Found Photos Friday: 1960s Americana 1

Back in January, I picked up a box of more than 300 slides and some 8mm videos. I had the videos digitized (they're what's in this post) and found I recognized some of the places in them. Surely enough, these movies I had bought at an antique store here, literally two miles from my home, had partially been filmed in Chicagoland. Though I had not been to the specific places in them, I found I recognized them like a reader recognizes a new word in his native tongue or a musician recognizes the notes and melodies in a different key system.

As I write this, I haven't yet figured out which Chicago suburb the movies and family called home. I have figured out it was Illinois and I have a list of possible cities narrowed down to about five, but I'm not certain enough yet. I don't know why I'm captivated by these, other than the fact they shows my native city from the late 1940s to mid 1960s. In this 15-year span, the videos and photos show the same people growing from children into adults and moving from Chicago to Tucson to Walnut Creek, California.

For this first installment, I'll post a few videos. The first is a newsreel from 1937. It's startlingly prescient about World War II. The latter are just home movies. I've wondered, in digitizing the slides, editing the images, and watching the videos a couple of times, whose estate sale these same from.

Dunes 1951. The video of the damages property is pretty fascinating. I knew of a places called The Dunes near Zion, Illinois, and there are other places around Lake Michigan called The Dunes. I'm not certain if this is one of them or somewhere else, perhaps in Florida.

Two of the videos take place in Florida. This is one of them and I like it because of the old car at 1:30 and the monkeys at 2:30. Also, there's a sign for Spook Hill, at 1:30, and you can see the car appearing to roll up a hill. Spook Hill is one of those places like The Mystery Spot at Wisconsin Dells or The Mystery Spot in San Jose, California. It's in Lake Wales, I think, and since it was around in at least 1952, it must be one of the older 'attractions' in Florida.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Saturday Special -- Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii

When I wrote this week's preview post, I forgot about yesterday's Found Photos Friday. So my digital shots from Byodo-In Temple near Kaneohe, Hawaii, had to be pushed back 24 hours. In a couple of weeks or less, I'll have the day's film shots. I also brought my K1000 to Byodo-In.

The temple itself.

I thought this was a super-great, original, creative, and unique photo. Then I looked up the temple on Panoramio (I'm quite active on Panoramio with almost 1,000 photos accepted in Google Earth as of this post's writing) and like eight other people had taken basically this same photo. And mine isn't even the best.

Behind the temple is a small bamboo patch. When I was there the wind knocked the bamboo together and it sounded like being inside an out-of-tune marimba. All around the bamboo shoots struck against each other and each time struck two notes. Sometimes they made a chord and other times they made dissonance. Mostly, though, it was a very peaceful setting (except for the mosquitoes.)

A small shrine by a pond

A small out building by a waterfall

Spitting frog statue

Carp and a waterfall and a long exposure. Shots like this made me glad I brought my tripod.

True story-- One of the temple's care takers asked me if I was using my photos for personal use (I have some gear that looks professional-grade.) I replied that I was and had no commercial intentions. Which is true; none of these photos are on my website. She let me be and later was the person who invited me to partake in the tea ceremony.

Lighting incense

Look, the bird and fish feed was a dollar. Of course I'm going to feed the birds and fishes. Their gentleness surprised me a lot. Not a one of them even brushed my fingers with its beak. I had expected to get a few pinches.

Tea ceremony -- washing the cup

Tea ceremony -- washing the brush

Tea Ceremony -- folding the napkin

Tea Ceremony -- the brush

And on a last note, just a reminder that Luch hearts Shelly. I have no idea who these people are.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Found Photos Friday: Larger than Life

About a year ago I found some 4X5 film. I haven't actually digitized all of it yet. This was in a big lot of stuff that I sold for an acquaintance. I wish I could have kept most of it. But, the negatives she let me keep (I decided to develop them) and back then I wasn't interested in doing something like Found Photos Friday. Not, it's going to be an almost-weekly staple in my blog this year. With luck, I'll be able to keep this feature going for a long time.

Anyway, for a long time, I did not like ANY of the photos I found that this guy had done. But, after shooting 4X5 myself, I've come to see what he was seeing in them and I quite like some of these shots. In fact, some I wish I could say were mine.

I dig it a bit, but I think ht has a bit too much tilt.

This must have been an incredibly tough exposure to get. I mean, shadows on the lower right, bright spots in the middle. It's a likable shot with just fantastic technical accuracy. I can't get my 4X5 shots to turn out like this.

Simply stunning. There's a glitch about 1/3 of the way down from the top where Photoshop made a mistake pasting the image together, but wow is this an impressive photo.

I like the whole building more than this detail.

I think this is aligned correctly, but I'm not sure.

This one I do not get.

It's interesting to me how different photographic methods -- cameras, formats, and media -- change one's approach to and taste in photographic subjects. A year ago I disliked all of these and found them boring. A year on, after dabbling in large format photography, I've grown to appreciate these and really like some of them. In the coming months, I'll finish digitizing the negatives (four or eight color negatives remain) and will share those, too.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Giant Golf Balls

I took in dinner at Gordon Biersch one evening in Honolulu. The outdoor seating was nice (until it rained) and I got to watch them drive cars off a Matson freighter docked nearby. Before dinner, a little anole popped up on a nearby rock wall. 

It was super cute, and I like anoles -- left overs from having three as pets as a kid. And for a bit it looked like we were going to have a moment.

But instead, I think he just didn't want me around.

But, when it rained I headed inside. I did catch a nice silhouette shot, though.

After dinner, I snagged a couple of shots of the Matson freighter and a much more interesting ship covered with giant golf balls.

The Pacific Tracker

This ship has had an interesting and diverse life. If you'd like to read more, here's a really good article about this ship's history. And here is the ship's listing on Shipspotting.com.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Honolulu at Ground Level

On my second night walking around Honolulu, I decided to focus on the public art scene (and only take a few building photos.) So today, since there are 21 images below, the post will be just photos and only a few notes.

One Waterfront Tower Mauka and One Waterfront Tower Makai

Monday, August 12, 2013

Honolulu Skyscrapers

My third or fourth day in Hawaii, I had some time to walk around Honolulu by myself. I took an evening stroll with my K-7 and 31mm FA Limited lens to get some building shots during the golden hour. I'm very picky about skies when I photograph buildings. I like dramatic skies with a few clouds. So some of these shots fit the bill. Other did not. And the sky kept changing every few minutes, making shots difficult to anticipate and meaning that sometimes lighting conditions changed halfway through taking the individual images I planned to stitch into one final shot. 

The Hokua at 1288 and Nauru Tower.

I have no idea what this little guy's name is.

Hawaii Prince Hotel, lit amber by the sunset. (The buildings are actually white.) In this case, changing and unpredictable light really worked in my favor.

A residential tower by the Ala Moana mall. I'm trying to re-stitch this photo again because I'm really unhappy with this result.

Xialoa. Actually, it's not a building, but I like kayaks and similar boats.

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