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Opening of New Exhibition

I’m happy to announce the start of an exhibition of my work at the Westborough (Massachusetts) Public Library, “Constructing Quabbin.”

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Tbe exhibition reflects my latest thinking about the experience of working at the Quabbin and the difficulty of reconciling all of the feelings that one experiences there.  The Quabbin is not just a beautiful location.  It raises quite issues that are relevant to all of us.  I’ve been thinking more about what it takes to make a society work, and in particular the sacrifices that you find whenever you scratch the surface.  The Quabbin area we know now represents a marvel of engineering and design, an incredible natural comeback going far beyond what anyone human could accomplish, a wonderful and amazingly cheap source of water, a carbon sink sucking up CO2 and spewing forth oxygen, a home for wildlife, a place for spiritual contemplation and even healing and at the same time a symbol of enormous imposed loss and sacrifice.   The individual and collective collided. Some good came of it, and some bad.  Too much to deal with it seems but I feel drawn to try. Simply put, the exhibition is about now and then with a focus on observable artifacts and experiences.  The observer will have to draw their own conclusions.

Westborough Public Library is located on Route 30, just south of the Westborough rotary. Unfortunately during much of the day the exhibition space is not supervised and as such the librarians may lock the door.  If you visit, just go to the main library desk.  The folks who work there are extremely nice and they’ll let you in. The Library is closed on Sundays.

On August 28, beginning at 6:30, I’ll be giving a slide show and talk about the images, their history and my experience of photographing at the Quabbin.  Refreshments of the non-alcoholic kind will be available, so if you’re interested and in the area, please stop by.

I want to thank the Westborough Public LIbrary and the Art and Frame Emporium, located in Westborough, for their support.

 

After the Storm

It’s been dry here in my part of New England the past few days, but we had quite a few storms early in the week.  Weather makes for great photography and the passing of those storms was no exception.  For those who like cloud shots, here’s a panorama from one retreating thunderstorm.  I wwas struck by the overlay of cloud types and their potential as metaphor. I decided to let this one stay big, 2000 pixels across, so feel free to click and look around, or download is you’d like.  This was made from five shots, out my studio window, with the D810.

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New Bird in Town – D810 Comments

I’ve blogged here on numerous occasions about urban wildlife such as the blue heron’s that frequent Elm Park.  (Elm Park is located in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts).  Today, however, we found ourselves confronted with a heron of a different color, white.

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I did a bit of quick research upon returning home, looking at questions such as “what is the difference between a heron and an egret?” and “what is the range of the white egret, or heron?”  Alas, my efforts were somewhat frustrated.   According to Wikipedia the difference between heron and egret is largely terminological rather than biological.  Egrets tend to be white.  If you google the two terms and check on images, you’ll see the same kinds of images.  My bottom line question really was:  are they new in town?  Memory tells me yes.  They are very common in the mid-Atlantic and further south, but I don’t recall seeing too many in New England.  Someone educate me if my memory is off, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Photographing these birds is relatively easy.  You can get quite close if are are respectful and quiet. After all, this was in a downtown park, not exactly the middle of the marsh.  Herons also don’t seem to be easily distracted from their work, which is fishing.  Unfortunately for this fair specimen, he was having little luck.  We watched him for quite some time and he was coming up empty beaked, every time.  Herons are usually better at their jobs than that.  This one may need to step up his game.  The best shot is often one with them flying in or out, or exhibiting their catch.  This guy stood there and though his forays into the water were very graceful, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

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It was tough to get another interesting shot until a well timed flock of geese flew across the scene.  He was actually startled for a second, but the incident did give me some background that was badly needed.

 

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It will be interesting to see if his presence in the Park is a trend or an outlier.  Or, as I mentioned above, is only of interest because of my failing memory.  Regardless, I do wish him good luck fishing.  He needs it.

Tech Note:

Much as I dislike the kind of photographic gear discussions that take place on the internet, I did want to mention that these shots were taken with Nikon’s newest DSLR, the D810.  I’ve been a Nikon user for many years, and really enjoyed the image output from the D800.  If you print large for exhibitions, all those pixels are useful.  Plus, the D800 has incredible dynamic range, very useful for nature work.  However, it always felt to me like it was really a studio, tripod camera, and handled more like the medium format cameras it has been replacing.  I also like to shot more spontaneously from time to time.  The D810 now makes that possible.  In many different ways, Nikon fixed things that weren’t broken, but made it hard to really relax with the D800.  The grip is better, the shutter is much quieter, the shutter mechanism does not create vibrations that undermine the high resolution power of the images, the video features are improved, etc.  In this case, all those pixels allowed me to crop heavily into the image.  These are all the equivalent of a 100% crop.  Obviously I should have had a longer lens, but alas, I did not.  I could go on and on, but others are doing a much better job of actually reviewing this piece of gear.  If you have a D800 though, it may not look like a worthwhile upgrade.  It actually may be for some people, particularly those desiring to make the D800 a real “go to” camera.  Again, I dislike tribal gear discussions.  All cameras these days are quite good.  It really boils down to trying to find the one that does the job you need, and with which you can be most comfortable.  That is likely to vary from person to person.

Mysteries of Manteo – Updated

I have already posted several images from my most recent trip to Manteo, earlier this summer. Manteo lies in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina.  It’s a wonderful place and we had the benefit of wonderful company throughout. We had more time to explore the area and to think, and both those two “t’s”, time and thinking, often make for better photography.  I’m happy to report the release of a new book, in hard copy (on fine art paper) or e-book form that includes over twenty of those images is now available from Blurb.  You can see a preview if you look to your right.  If you are on a mobile device and don’t see anything to your right, then you can click on the link here:

Mysteries of Manteo

Here’s some background for those interested.  I’m a huge proponent of project oriented photography, an approach most clearly articulated perhaps by Brooks Jenson, publisher of Lenswork, my favorite photography magazine.  I”ll do a lousy job of trying to paraphrase him here, but in essence, projects emerge from the photographer’s collection of assets that are subsequently grouped together around some kind of theme.  You may go out on an assignment to collect a particular kind of image, built around your own vision for a particular output.  But sometimes, things come together after the fact as well, when you’re looking at a body of work from a particular location.

Such was the case for me in relation to my Manteo work.  After three weeks I had lots of images, some of which I liked.  But I didn’t see the theme.  I knew I wanted to pull them together in some type of organized output, but wasn’t sure how.  Manteo is on Roanoke Island and as such is surrounded by water.  Now there is a unique theme.  Is that really what it’s all about?  Then as I looked at the images I found myself drawn to the most mysterious ones, ones that seem to ask rather than answer questions.  The reason became clear to me over time.

I was deeply moved by the story of The Lost Colony, one of the great mysteries of the English invasion of the continent. I’m from Virginia originally and often have some fun with New Englanders by reminding them that “we got here first.”  (Actually, we, meaning Virginians, were not even close to being first.  There were of course the Native Americans, who really were first.  Then probably some Vikings.  Then of course the Spanish, and who knows who else.)  But actually there had been a previous attempt at establishing a permanent English colony in North America earlier in the 1580’s.  That attempt took place in what is now Manteo.

It did not go well as I mentioned in earlier blogs, but the fact is that we don’t know what went wrong, to this day.  Clearly, the colonists who presumably died there were (a) pawns in a larger geopolitical dialing match; (b) left to fend for themselves by greedy privateers; (c) victimized by climate forces that they could not understand nor influence; (d) beset with their own hubris, thinking that they were well prepared to farm when they really weren’t; and we could go on.  The notion that they ran into a lethal conflict with the local Native America population has not been proven either, and in fact, the opposite could also have happened.  They may have been befriended by those who really did get there first.  Archeologists and other scientists are truly stumped.  I won’t go into the details, but if you like a good mystery and particularly if you like scientific puzzles, I’d highly recommend further exploration.

That set of events, for which the play was subsequently named, is called The Lost Colony. (Click on the link if you want more background.)  So while Manteo is a charming and quite friendly town surrounded by water on three sides , I will always think about the mystery that permeates the water and marshes.  The new book, Mysteries of Manteo, is the result.  It is printed by Blurb, which may give some pause.  I now find Blurb to be doing a pretty good job, much better than in the past. The book is printed on fine art paper and the color management is quite effective.  The images are a good representation of what I was trying to invoke.  Again, if you’re interested, you can view the book in the widget to your right, purchase a soft cover addition, or at a greatly reduced price, the pdf.  The later of course is NOT printed on fine art paper, but  then you know that.

Thanks to Al, Donna, Maya and Chester, our wonderful hosts.

Tech Note:  The book was created using Lightroom’s book function.  I was overall pleased with how well the function worked, though it is not InDesign.  Try it to create your own PDF’s.