Tuesday, February 4, 2020

February 2020: Asylum Dutch Door

The asylum in Traverse City was an unusual place to shoot. Not just because of the history, but because of the physical environment. Specifically the lighting. Bear with me, as this is going to be geared more for the experienced photographers among you.
These are abandoned buildings. They have no electrical power, so the only light available  is via windows or what you bring with you. Conditions were in some cases total and complete darkness. This photo depicts conditions about as good as they got as fat as light goes. Plenty of ambient sunlight coming through (mostly broken) windows.
The fascinating thing for me in going through the asylum was not the challenge of light however.
It was the incredible variation in color.

We were in some rooms that were painted all blue, or orange, or peach. But even the rooms which were painted white, as this one was, reflected colors from the surrounding rooms, or from the outdoors.

This shot is interesting to me because you have the green in the background, which is light reflected off leaves in the trees outside the window, the blue in the foreground, which is reflected off a tarp hung over a window off to the right, and the red/yellow hue in between, which is the dingy, faded yellowing white paint of the actual walls. It is a surreal version of a color wheel, all in one photo.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

January 2020: Hiding Frog

When my kids were little, one of their favorite games whenever they were near a pond was "Find the Frog". We'd quietly walk up on a pond and they would try to find the frogs before they would spook and jump into the water to hide.
This shot of a green frog always reminds me of those times, and makes me smile.
As we enter yet another new year, I hope that it is one of smiles for you. Or at least of times which make you smile later on.

Monday, December 2, 2019

December 2019: Recursion

Christmas trees have Christmas trees.
Who knew?!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

November 2019: Room 211

Another photo from this summer's Asylum shoot. This was a door to a patient's room/cell. Like most of the paint in the buildings, the paint on the door was peeling off. There were a few things which drew me to this particular door however. It was one of the few which still had the number on it in such good condition, for one. And then I noticed that the numbers were hand-painted. (How long has it been since that was done in any state facility, let alone one operating in the mental health field?) But what really got me about this door is that something had been stuck to the door above the number. It would have been something personal to the patient whose room it was. A photo perhaps. Maybe just a name on a card. But something, and something to identify that specific person. In an institutional setting, especially for a patient struggling with issues of identity, whatever was there on that door was important. Possibly even a physical anchor which grounded that person as to who they even were, beyond just being "the patient in room 211".

I don't know what was on the door, or who lived in that room. But it was a person with a name and a life. And that was worth remembering as I clambered over the crumbling ceiling plaster and around piles of wood looking for the next shot.

Monday, September 30, 2019

October 2019: Asylum Revisited

Folks are demanding more photos from the asylum in Traverse City, so here you are.
If there is one photo I took that day which means more to me than any other it is this one.
The ideas which it communicates: temporality and eternity, brokenness and structure, isolation and community, warmth and coldness, freedom and confinement, conformity and incongruity, are as clear as can be.
Going through the asylum was a pretty difficult thing for me even while using my professional detachment as a shield. There were plenty of things which could simply not be ignored, and which reminded me that there were real people who used to live there under less than positive circumstances.
I am looking forward to returning to the asylum in the future, but it is going to be hard to come away with a photo that communicates everything the way this one does for me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September 2019: Amazon Tree Boa

Haven't posted a snake in a long while. I have always liked snakes for some reason, and don't generally have the natural and common revulsion for them that most people do. I am careful near them of course, but enjoy contact with them and have even had them as pets. They make great photographic subjects, and are some of my favorite animals to shoot.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

August 2019: The House Where Nobody Lives

I was driving through Michigan's Upper Peninsula the other day and saw this old house. There are numerous such structures in the U.P., not all of them unoccupied. This one in particular reminded me of a Tom Waits song so much that I had to turn around and go back to capture it.

The song is called "House Where Nobody Lives", and the end of it reads as follows:

"What makes a house grand ain't the roof or the doors.
If there's love in a house it's a palace for sure.
Without love, it ain't nothing but a house...a house where nobody lives."

Having just finished spending four days in a one-room rustic cabin full of some amazing and abundant love, it was pretty powerful. So although not technically a very good photo, it may end up being my favorite shot of the summer.