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.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

July 2019: Fish Out of Water

Although I have done virtually every type of photography there is, with a few exceptions, my main interest has always been nature photography. Landscapes, wildlife, that sort of thing. But when the opportunity arose for me to photograph the "abandoned" sections of the old insane asylum in Traverse City, MI, I figured a stretch outside my normal comfort zone was definitely in order.
It was an amazing experience, one which I hope to repeat at some point as every time I turned my head there was another shot waiting to be taken. This is one, a view looking down one of the steam tunnels which run between all the buildings, was particularly compelling.

I will undoubtedly be tossing more of these into the monthly blog entries as the year passes, so keep coming back or just sign up to be alerted whenever it updates by entering your email address at the bottom of the page. (I don't do email marketing, so you won't get any email except to let you know that a new photo has been posted.)

In the meantime, do something this summer that takes you out of your own comfort zone. You might be glad that you did!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

June 2019: Hommage a Monet

OK, so I bumped the saturation up a little on this one. Sue me. I think the end result was worth it.
I've never been a huge fan of French Impressionism, but when you happen across a scene like this when the conditions are perfect you simply have to go with it.  Sadly, there was no little red foot bridge.

Later this month one of my long-time accomplices and I will be photographing the old insane asylum in Traverse City, MI.  It will be an interesting diversion from my usual nature work, and I am quite looking forward to it.  Hopefully they will let us out when we are finished. :)

Sunday, May 5, 2019

May 2019: Tree Moss

I have no idea what kind of moss this is, but it is completely covering the bark of this maple tree. The patterns and shapes, the combination of dripping leaves and powdery texture, and the pale green color make it look like something from another planet.
Interestingly, the tree itself appears to be otherwise quite normal and healthy.

Monday, April 1, 2019

April 2019: One from the Archives

Been dealing with some painful back issues which have kept me from getting out and about as much as I'd like. So we are going back into the archives from April/May of 2011 for this shot of a woodcock chick.  Also known as "timberdoodles", these are some pretty unique birds, both in appearance and behavior.

Friday, March 1, 2019

March 2019: Compact Only

A bit of a two-fer with this shot. It caught my eye because of the lighting and ready-made composition, but it also made me laugh because with that pillar there even a motorcycle would have a hard time fitting into that space, let alone a compact car. The unusual lighting was caused by nearby white pines, whose long needles filter and diffuse sunlight beautifully.

I've never done a lot of urban or street photography, as I prefer being in rural and wilderness areas, so this is kind of a rare diversion for me.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

February 2019: Frozen in Time

This old locomotive is an apt analogy to what the weather has done to this part of the world for the last week.  Cold steel, frozen in time, stuck in place, immobile and dead...but always inspiring to view. 

********Excerpt from my notes for the month**********
Dear Nikon,
Here's a new feature idea for future products: Internal heating elements for your camera bodies. I have noticed that cameras don't like to work well at temperatures below -20F or so, nor do photographer's hands. Particularly photographers who are over "a certain age". Miniature internal heating strips could run off the regular camera battery, and keep the internals warm as well as the photographer's hands, enabling continued use in extreme low temperatures. Such a feature would be very welcome for the tens of thousands of photographers working in non-tropical zones, and would undoubtedly open an opportunity for you to make a pretty substantial amount of money!  Don't worry, I am not going to ask you for a percentage for my idea. It is yours for the using, free and clear. However, as a dedicated Nikon shooter for the last 35+ years, making me a gift of one would certainly be appreciated. Preferably before next winter gets here.
Thanks as always,

Thursday, January 3, 2019

January 2019: Winter Apples

Saw this orchard on my way home the other day, and was struck by how many apples were left rotting on the branches. The contrast against the gray sky and snowy ground was striking, so I thought to accentuate that by making the whole image black and white except the apples. The result almost makes them look like Christmas tree ornaments. :)