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In Braddock, a number spray painted on a building indicates that it is to be taken down.

Last year while in Braddock I watched a WTAE crew of two interviewed a man for a documentary they were working on.  He had lived in Braddock for many years but moved away, so I believe that they were getting some history from him.

As the two walked away to discuss something I approached and spoke with him.  During our conversation I noted the flowered panels placed in some of the windows of the house in back of us and wondered who owned the house.  He told me that that was in house in which he had grown up.

I have visited Fanwood, NJ, where I spent the first dozen years of my life, and the neighborhood incredibly looks very similar to how I remembered it from fifty year ago (of course, everything appeared larger when I was there).  It is not possible for me to imagine living in a house and returning many years later to see it abandoned, ready to be taken down.

This image was printed on Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper with homemade AZO silver gelatin emulsion.

P.S.  I would like to know what happened to that documentary – I do not live near Pittsburgh so I never had an opportunity to see it.  The crew interviewed me because I have been working on my Braddock Project for years and I would like to know if any of that was used or if it just fell on the cutting room floor.

Posted in Alternative Process, Braddock, Silver Gelatin | 2 Comments

They Come Out At Night

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At times the images pile up like slices of bread, some put on a plate to consume now, some stuck in a bag for later, and some crammed in the freezer to be either eaten later or forgot about until the freezer is finally cleaned out.

As a Music Theory and Composition major for part of my college years it has always irked me that writing music was something that had to sit on the sideline during my working career. It is all about choices and one of them was to devote a fair amount of my energies to photography. Not a particularly fast writer, I knew that if I did try to compose music it would be sub-par due to a lack of time. I am finding that my retirement has given me additional time, but there are still only 24 hours in a day. Funny how that works.

But music has always been of high importance to me and I have been working on a few things. This is why I listened with great interest to many of the submissions in the weekly challenge at Disquiet.com. I realized that participating in this would be one way to ease back into composition.

As I was putting together my submission for Junto Project 0246, images started to come into my head and the most prevalent was of a zone plate image that I had created called They Come Out At Night. This piece even got a mention in the Baltimore Sun a couple of years ago but for some reason I had never gotten around to adding it to the blog. I can now consider it added.

Posted in Infrared, Konica, Lensless, Zone Plate | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

To Climb Or To Fly

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When I think about the numerous mistakes I’ve made I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had made a different choice. Looking back and figuring out what the mistakes were is a simple matter, but changing the consequences does not always mean that a more beneficial outcome would have resulted.

While playing with my granddaughter in the town center in Rockville yesterday I got into a conversation with someone who showed a bit of wonder at the fact that I was able to quit smoking. Smoking jumps out as one of the stupidest things I ever did (I smoked for eight and a half years, through high school, college, and a bit thereafter).

I had tried to quit several times without success but when the price of cigarettes jumped to 60 cents a pack affordability became a real problem. At the time I was only able to find a 20 hour a week job making minimum wage, which was $1.65 per hour at the time, so doing the math shows that I was really having problems making ends meet.

Quitting was the hardest thing I ever did and after I had not smoked for two weeks I knew that I finally had the habit licked, as I continually told myself that if I ever smoked another cigarette then the previous two weeks would have been for naught.

Obviously, never having started would have been the smart thing and if I were to go back then that would be the case. However, knowing at the time that I had done something that so many others had tried and failed gave me a real sense of accomplishment, and I felt that if I could do that then I could do many other things, a feeling that I had never experienced to that extent in the past.

This print is part of the Braddock Abstract series and was made on Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper with handmade silver gelatin emulsion (AZO formula).

Posted in Alternative Process, Braddock, Silver Gelatin | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

What Is And What Was

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In David Campany’s Between the Snapshot and Staged Photography he writes, “A single photograph might be described as narrative if it suggests a situation or scene that extends beyond its spatial and temporal frame.”  Many of the abstracts that were photographed in Braddock fit this description, some more obviously than others.

This image works primarily on the temporal aspect of the definition, as we look at a building where its past overwhelms the present.

This image was printed on Stathmore Bristol Smooth paper with AZO grade 3 silver gelatin emulsion.

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The Worker

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There was a time when the steel mill in Braddock was working full force.  This is no longer the case and employment is difficult to find.  There is no question that the city is slowly coming back, but there is no quick fix and something that will take time.

This is part of a series of abstract images that I have collected within Braddock, PA and have printed on homemade silver gelatin paper.  This print was made using the AZO grade 3 formula on Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper.

Posted in Alternative Process, Braddock, Silver Gelatin | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Pears For Sale

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One other image that stuck in my mind as the water rushed through Ellicott City was a small box of pears in front of Yates. I seriously doubt that this small store made any money selling the items they placed in front of the store, but I believe that they decided to use this valuable property as a reminder of the historic nature of the city.

A week after the flood residents have finally been allowed to return home. The rebuilding effort moves on and hopefully this place will recover.

This print was made on homemade silver gelatin paper (AZO formula) accompanied by a sepia toner.

Posted in Silver Gelatin | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The American Dream

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Sixteen years ago when my wife and I were looking for a house, our first choice was to find a place in Ellicott City. After looking at fifteen to twenty houses none matched what we were looking for so we found a place in Columbia, not far away. We did visit Ellicott City a number of times to enjoy the historic district, which had similarities to Annapolis, where I lived for a decade.

Last week flooding destroyed Ellicott City, which is still closed off and in the process of recovery. It will be quite some time before the town is accessible once again.

I looked through the many images I photographed during my trips there and selected a couple that I felt captured the essence of the place. The first one (as well as the second one) was taken outside of Yates, a small grocery store that has been around since 1885.

On a stool was a box of books for sale, with Dan Rather’s The American Dream on top. This quite well summed things up with little more for me to say.

This print was made on homemade silver gelatin paper (AZO formula) and finished with sepia toner.

Posted in Alternative Process, Silver Gelatin | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Lines and Curves

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I have started a side project, working on abstracts that were photographed in Braddock. The idea of these images is not to make one try to guess what they are seeing, in pretty much all cases that will not be a problem, but to obfuscate the full context in order to suggest a new meaning.

The images are printed on homemade silver gelatin paper, for now using the AZO formula (grade 2).  I have tried a number of different papers and have been surprised how well this emulsion works on all of them.  This particular image was printed on Strathmore Multimedia paper.

Beginning photographers learn the importance of things such as lines and curves. In this image not only do lines and curves work together, but the curves in the upper right and lower left suggest vertical lines. Motion is implied from upper left to lower right by the openings to those areas and the lines and curves in the lower middle third of the image.

I would be remiss in not offering a shout-out to Denise Ross for helping me over a bump in the road.

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Albany Courthouse

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While photographing in Albany I needed to use a restroom. I found a Starbucks, but in cities they generally restrict restrooms to customers, and buying a cup of coffee would pretty much defeat the purpose.

I looked around and found the courthouse, deciding that that would be a reasonable alternative. Upon entering the building I was required to remove my belt and all metal on my person, including my plastic camera. I was told that cameras were not allowed. I negotiated with them and they allowed me to leave my belongings with them, use the bathroom, and then return for my items.

I needed to get back to my parking spot, as time was expiring. I did not have a chance to ask them the questions I would have liked, namely, “Do you allow cell phones? Cell phones with cameras? But not plastic film cameras?”


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Fly Me To The Moon

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I just got back from my Baseball vacation and am in the process of working on some of the images from that trip. On this sort of vacation I go to as many Minor League games as I can and take a panoramic during the game.  That image then gets placed on my website.

I currently have 75 different ballparks (some which no longer exist) and will be able to add 6 new ones within the next several days.

While watching the game I noted the moon showing itself rather nicely, and looking to its left realized that there was about to be a convergence.  Quickly moving over several rows I was able to capture this, which can be seen if one expands the image on this page fully.


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