Posts Tagged heroes

DC at night

Some might claim that Washington, DC, is in a permanent state of night following the last month’s odd goings on, but this is a little different.

I attended a conference in DC in November and my friend Phil came down for a couple days of sightseeing and photography after the conference.

When I go to DC I always go to The Wall and pay my respects to a few friends and shipmates. After that I wander The Mall and then head back to the hotel. Phil wanted to do some night photography and that sounded like a good idea. Since this is a big city, we weren’t about to see many stars, so that left the monuments and the surprising crowd around them, even in the dark. I had a little Platypod, a small metal plate that serves as a tripod substitute if I’m too lazy to carry the real thing. From that I got a couple interesting images. With a tripod I might have had a few different angles, but what I got worked pretty well.

There was a young man on a bicycle with multicolored lights at the ends of the spokes, so, of course, a longish exposure might just capture some interesting motion. I suppose if I had kept the shutter open even longer, the streak of color would have been wider, but this is not too bad (click on the images for a better view):

 

Lights on the spokes

Lights on the spokes

 

I just read an article that reported on a survey done of political science professors in having them rate the Presidents of the United States based on several different factors. Of course, the top two were Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. It makes sense, therefore, that they have monuments built to them on the Mall and that they are well-lit and well-visited at night. Here they are:

 

Lincoln Memorial:

 

Lincoln Memorial at night

Lincoln Memorial at night

 

Washington Monument:

 

Washington Monument at night

Washington Monument at night

 

Yes, our Nation’s Capitol is quite a treat even at night.

More to follow

Bob

 

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Sometimes it Rains

I remember parts of a song we used to sing when we floated the Green River a few decades ago:

Sometimes it rains, and 
Sometimes it rains, and
Sometimes it rains…

We also used to say uncomplimentary things about Ma Nature at the time. I won’t repeat them here, but they’re still true.

If you follow the blog, you know I had a few days off a while back and went to the Oregon coast looking for a geological and spiritual feature my friend Rick Sammon told me about: Minor White’s Wall.

It was a sort of pilgrimage, because White was a mystic as well as photographer and wrote some interesting thoughts on photography. Some of his ideas really strike home with me and because of that, I have a lot of respect for Minor. One of my favorite quotes from White regards the obsessive need some photographers have to document everything about making an image. Minor said, “For technical detail, the camera was faithfully used.” That’s enough for me. Besides, my camera records all the data anyway. Back in the olden days, I wrote down f/stop, shutter speed, film type, processing information and sometimes even some ideas about how to print the image (no blogs in those days). I guess I’ve gotten lazy in my old age, and Minor’s statement suited me to a tee.

A couple more quotes from Minor: [The ecstasy in photography is the] “Insight, vision, moments of revelation. During those rare moments something  overtakes the man and he becomes the tool of a greater Force; the servant of, willing or unwilling depending on the degree of awakeness. The photograph, then, is a message more than a mirror, and the man a messenger who happens to be a photographer.”  He added, “I believe, that, like Alice Through the Looking Glass, with the camera one comes so close to the real that one goes beyond it and into the reality of the dream.”

I’ve read a little about psychologist Carl Jung, too. He had the idea that every human being shares common memories. Memories buried so deep that we can’t call them up willingly. They’re buried in our unconscious (note, he doesn’t use the Freudian terminology, “subconscious”). That means we have a shared unconscious or, as Jung named it, the Collective Unconscious. American philosopher John Dewey said that artists (and, yes, photographers are artists) are popular and important because their images remind the viewer of something. That must be something deep, something buried in the unconscious. Something mystical (see, I got back around to Minor!).

Pretty heady stuff, and awfully deep. What I take from all that is that photography is more than just tripping the shutter and uploading the image. Much more. Minor gives us a hint when he tells us that when we photographers look at a subject, we should look until we see what else it is. That ‘what else’ is what makes a great photograph. I don’t mean dressing a cat up in an Abe Lincoln hat and posing him in a big chair in a memorial. I mean that there’s a lot more in nature than appears on the surface. And it’s the photographer’s duty so find that ‘what else.’ And to be able to show it.

So I traveled through the rain to do homage to Minor. Finally found Minor White’s Wall and in a brief respite between the storms, I found some features that were worthy of capturing. Are they the ‘what else?’ I’ll let you decide.

Click on the images to see the true colors and proper lighting (there’s something mystical about the way you have to take a second look, I suppose).

See if you can see the “What else?”.

 

Eroded Sandstone, Minor White Wall

Eroded Sandstone, Minor White Wall

 

Erosion Pattern 2, Minor White Wall

Erosion Pattern 2, Minor White Wall

 

Sandstone inclusion, Minor White Wall

Sandstone inclusion, Minor White Wall

 

I originally titled these with the “what else,” but then decided not to guide you to a conclusion. After all, it’s in our collective unconscious, so you should be able to see what they are.

More to follow,

Bob

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Buy! Buy! Buy!

I dunno, I seem to have missed the boat somewhere along the line. That is, I guess I forgot what Memorial Day is all about. I thought it was supposed to be a day of remembrance, a day to quietly pay tribute to those who payed the highest price one can to protect our country.

But one look at the media and it’s obvious I was wrong.

Memorial Day is nothing more than a long weekend where we can go to the mountains, the beach, or, more importantly, to the mall.

BIG MEMORIAL DAY SALE!!! Go to the mall early and stay late. The more you spend the more you save!! Buy, buy, buy! We don’t need to do anything to remember the ones who made our trip to the mall possible and safe as long as we buy something with an American Flag on it. That way, we will be able to convince ourselves that throwing money at the big box stores is the right thing to do. (By the way, the marketers don’t want you to figure this out, but it is actually the case that the more you avoid spending the more you save. Just thought you might like to know.)

It seems that the marketers have decided we need to shift our priorities. Memorial day is no longer about quiet reflection and thanksgiving for fallen heroes, it’s now a party day. A day to shop until we drop! A day to enhance the bottom line for corporate America. A day to show our patriotism by waving the flag, chanting USA! USA! and spending money.

Don’t get me wrong: Waving the flag and chanting are good things to do. They should just be done in the right way at the right time. Flag Day, Independence Day, Armed Forces Day, those are days for celebrating and shouting out our patriotic chants, not a day set aside for reflection and remembrance: Not Memorial Day. Remember: the proper way to display the flag on Memorial Day is to fly it at half mast (raise it to the top of the flagpole, then drop it to half mast. At the end of the day, raise the flag to the top, then lower it and fold it for tomorrow’s use).

Not many of us would walk into a cathedral, a synagog or a cemetery, crack open a beer and start charring steaks while cheering for our favorite team or race car driver. Most people wouldn’t bring their laptop to a funeral and order a new pair of shoes or a new camera (not even me).

I’ve been taught that Memorial Day is an observance much like a funeral. A time to mourn the heroes who gave everything on behalf of the rest of us and a time to be thankful that they had the courage to stand between us and an enemy who was trying to change our country irrevocably and permanently. Yes, it’s even a time to celebrate the fact that they lived among us. But some celebrations are more solemn than the noisy car race, the endless ball games or the weekly sale of the century. Some actions are better saluted quietly.

More to follow

Bob

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Why you should always carry your camera

You’ve undoubtedly heard the foto gurus say you should always carry your camera with you. It probably sounds like a good idea, but you may not think that’s for everyone. Well, here’s a little image I made on the way to work one morning. I walked past it, looked, took about two more steps, then realized I needed to record the image. Here it is.

Sunflower

Sunflower © R. L. Wolverton

This could also be titled, “Un Hommage to Paul Caponigro.” Caponigro is one of the most influential photographers for me, and he did a series of sunflower photos. I’ve tried a few and never came close to Caponigro’s beautiful images. It may be that I was standing on a busy sidewalk hand-holding my camera and didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself. (I have another ‘hommage’ in my files somewhere. I’ll dig it out and share it with you. In the meantime, look Caponigro up and see some of his photos. You’ll be glad you did.)

I’ll keep working on the sunflowers and see if I can come within arm’s reach of Caponigro. You should start carrying your camera with you. You never know what you’ll come across.

BTW, I’ve been pretty slow in blogging through July. I’ll see if I can pick it up in August.

More to follow.

Bob

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