Tuesday, February 28, 2023

March 2023: Yellow Iris


I would say spring is in the air here, but the power companies have not yet finished restoring power from the ice storms this week.  It won't be long though, I know that. Only two weeks from now the blackbirds will return, and then spring will be in the air. 

In the meantime, enjoy this yellow iris. :)

I just realized that I had sent a version of this image to my friend Kevin McCollister which was much more (way over) saturated. So Kevin, if you are seeing this now and wondering why your version looks so crappy, it is because I had not given it the attention it needed yet. Plants are so demanding...more even than cats, tbh. :D

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

February 2023: Hibernation Mode


It is February, and I am in hibernation mode once again. So here is another shot from this summer's trip to the abandoned asylum. 

Oh what the heck, let's make it two. :)

That should tide us over until March, don't you think?
Hope your winter (or summer for those of you south of the equator) is going well!

Saturday, December 31, 2022

January 2023: Doitsu Kujaku Hirenaga


There are over 3000 different varieties of koi, which is itself a type of carp.  In this case, the first word, doitsu, means "partially scaled". Some koi have no scales some are fully scaled, and some are partially scaled. The word kujaku refers to the specific color pattern this fish has. And hirenaga refers to the long fins, which are the result of breeding traditional Japanese koi with Indonesian koi.

As we head in to another new year, I encourage you to not wait for things to change. Actively overfill your own life with beauty, share it with those you love, and encourage them to do the same. Do that, and 2023 will be joyful not just for you, but for those around you as well!

Housekeeping notes:

I have added "Share" buttons to each monthly post, so feel free to use them to share my posts to your preferred social media.

And although the email subscription to notify you when I have updated the blog has been eliminated, you can still add the blog to your newsfeed and get update notices that way.  Or just check in at the beginning of each month, as I seem to be pretty consistently on schedule lately. :)

Friday, December 2, 2022

December 2022: Door and Vents


Been having some challenges here this month. Discovered that my monitor has been dying and not rendering colors correctly for some time. So I have got a new monitor now and am in the process of calibrating and verifying correct calibration with my print services. It is a long ordeal, as I am a bit persnickety when it comes to this sort of thing.

What I dread is that once I get the calibration confirmed I will go back and find that many of the images I have been sharing with you have not been what I intended! If it end up being the case I will fix them all and replace them with accurate images, but so far it seems that until very recently the colors have at least been close.

We shall see.

This month's image is another one from the old "asylum" in Traverse City.
It is a really telling image, especially from a temporal perspective.
Bricks, covered with cement, covered with plaster, covered with multiple layers of paint.
Doorknobs set low enough so that people in wheelchairs can access them easily.
Gorgeous ventilation covers still bearing the "cheerful" colored paint.
All of these things bearing witness to the human beings who lived here, and to their struggles.

It really is a privilege to be able to go into this place and capture these images, so that these places can be remembered for what they were, and the people who lived there can consequently be remembered for who they were as well.

Monday, October 31, 2022

November 2022: Foliage x2


First up, deciduous foliage. More specifically, northern Michigan forest in autumn. There are few places on the planet which can rival this display of beautiful foliage. This photo was taken at Boyne Mountain Resort, and the bridge you see above the chairlift is the newly opened Skybridge.  At 1200 feet long, it is the longest timber-constructed suspension bridge in the world. And at only 5 feet wide, it is an interesting walk when the wind is up...suspension bridges sway!  I will undoubtedly post some more photos from this shoot in the future, as the colors this year were fantastic!

To contrast plants which shed their foliage, here is one of the many Echeveria species. It is a succulent, and does not shed its leaves in the fall. Rather, it cycles through them much as we humans cycle through hair strands, although these leaves serve a much different purpose. Similar to cacti, succulents store water in their leaves in order to survive the long periods of drought where they are found naturally. Succulents are no less beautiful than the deciduous plants, but in a much different way and on a much smaller scale. 

A lesson in humility and humanity can be found in this comparison. One which should give us all comfort.

I would be remiss if I did not give a shout-out to "Mr. Boyne Mountain" himself, Dan Mills, for providing not just tons of useful information about the Resort and the Skybridge, but for taking the time to make us all feel so warmly welcomed. His love for the place is abundant and genuine, and that is really the entire difference between someone who is a true asset and someone who is just another employee. Ultimately, that is the difference between craft and art. Something I appreciate very much. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

October 2022: Double Doors


This is another photograph taken at the old Traverse City State Hospital. It is two identical doors leading into the same room. I have no idea why an architect would do this, but here it is. 

For whatever reason, this particular view is one that I am drawn to every time I go through this building. Maybe it is the metaphors it presents which I am attracted to: two different options leading to the same conclusion, things which are not as alike or (as different) as they initially seem...or maybe it is just that the lighting is always really interesting here. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

September 2022 v2: Moss is blooming


Wow...3 images from me in one month??? Yeah, I know. :)

No, that is not the remnants of a green carpet. That is moss. That means that the wood floor is like a sponge. Step on it, and you would be three floors down before you even knew what happened.

Abandoned places are really fantastic for photographers. But they are inherently very dangerous. Having a guide, an official guide, is invaluable. 

Christian VanAntwerpen has been my guide the last few times through the old Traverse City State Hospital, and I just can't say enough good things about him. Professional, accommodating, knowledgeable, and friendly. Abandoned buildings are rife with hazards, and they are constantly changing. Chris knows the issues each building presents at any given time, and makes sure that everyone remains safe while also making sure we get the shots we want. 

I have been doing photography for 40 years, and Chris is one of the best guides I have ever met. 

Addenda, 9/26/22:
I have been asked to provide more information on the location of this photo.
This is what was termed a "sun room", though the windows don't exactly lend themselves to the description. It was realistically what we would call a "social gathering area" for the patients on the 3rd floor of this building. It would have had chairs and perhaps a couple sofas, and small tables. The place I was standing in when I took this shot was a doorway of what was a nurses station overlooking the sunroom. Originally this was a tuberculosis ward, but eventually it evolved into the children's ward. In either case, this room is as close to "outside" most of the people who lived here ever got.

There are a lot of things that you have to pay attention to when you are going through these buildings, as this floor illustrates. If you put your foot in the wrong place, you could die. You want to get the good shots, and you are paying attention to all of the elements which go into that, but you also have to pay attention to your surroundings. That is one of the reasons for my glowing praise for Chris as a guide. He understands the complexities of these structures as they are used by photographers, and he is very careful to make sure that we remember to pay attention to safety first, and aesthetics second. At the same time though, the whole reason that this is such a poignant photographic subject in the first place is because of its history, and because of the very real people who lived...and died...in these rooms. You never want to lose sight of that either, because even though people have not lived here in almost half a century, those people are still ultimately the subject of every last one of the photographs taken here, by me or anyone else. I consider them to be portraits in that sense, even though they do not visually have anyone as a visible subject. The subject is always (for me at least) the people who lived here. The people, in this case, who sat in this now dangerously decayed gathering area enjoying each other's company and the scant but precious sunlight for a few hours before having to go back to the isolation and darkness of their rooms.