Monthly Archives: July 2011

Tingley Twilight

Tingley Beach Park, Albuquerque, NM

We reach once again into the archives today (having a visitor is delightful but can sometimes lead to a reduced production of new material). This photograph is from Tingley Beach Park, in Albuquerque, four years ago; I was there with my sister and niece and it was definitely the magic hour. You can see two other pictures from the same visit here and here.

A Year Ago: Homage to Magritte

So many different kinds of light!When I looked out my bathroom window, the sky was blazing with orange and red…
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One of those ideas that, once realized, seems obvious and inevitable. But coming up with it for the first time? Genius.

I love how what looks like litter comes to life in an unexpected and delightful way.

A Year Ago: Face to Face

A young man I met at the fountain in Silver SpringHe came straight to me, close in, straining against his mother’s hand.…
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Furniture, person, and art on the courtyard at the Phillips Collection

Sometimes the things I like the best about a photograph are on the periphery. What is that metal laticework protruding in from the right? Where is the rest of that bench? Whose legs are those? I like the stark geometry and the sun-stressed color palette of this image. It needs to be seen really large, but the best I can do for you is the gallery version.

Sculpture by A. Balasubramaniam at the Phillips Colllection courtyard.

Here’s another look at that odd item from the picture above. It’s a detail of a sculpture, on exhibit at the Phillips Collection, by A. Balasubramaniam. (You can learn more about the show here, and Bob has pictures that show the whole thing.)

Stairway at the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

In this rather plain interior photograph of the stairway in the Goh Annex of the Phillips Collection, it’s the back of the chair, the air vent, the bit of wire sculpture, and the small slice of bare wood on the stairs that keep the image lively for me.

Beyond the Dancing Plastic Bag

I have mentioned before how the dancing plastic bag scene from American Beauty resonates with me. In this video you will see that observed gesture turned into an astonishingly beautiful work of art.

A Year Ago: The Best Photograph I Ever Took

Last Wednesday’s post about shooting at night without a tripod brought back a potent memory for me.

Those of you who know me from other contexts may not be aware that, many careers/years ago, I took photographs for a living. I look back on the time in my life with the sort of indulgent fondness that you would have for a cute puppy that has no idea what heavy doggy responsibilities are soon to come.…
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Jacob’s Ladder

Flowering vine climbs to lamp.

Climbing up and down between the earth and the light.

A Year Ago: Look, Ma, No Tripod!

Rear of the Washington National CathedralI’m showing you these pictures not because I think they have any special aesthetic merit, but because they exist at all
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E Pluribus? [Warning: Political Content]

Dry fountain on Roosevelt Island.

E pluribus unum.

That’s our national motto, and it’s stood us in pretty good stead for most of our history. But I’m afraid that, like this fountain on Roosevelt Island, these days it seems to have pretty much run dry.

I’m appalled at the level of partisan brinksmanship being displayed by my government as our country faces potentially disastrous economic consequences from an impending default. It is beyond countenancing that the question has become who to blame rather than how to minimize the damage from this mess.

To those who subscribe to the “Good, let it burn!” school of thought on this one: I cannot imagine any more irresponsible attitude. Household economics does not scale to national and international economics. This is a huge and complicated system we’re dealing with here. You don’t just throw the off-switch thinking you can flip it back on in a few minutes or let the tank run down to empty as you coast into the gas station.

Hostage-taking is no way to run a nation. In addition to being morally repugnant, it is highly inefficient and squanders the very resources that are being haggled over. It makes sensible planning and budgeting impossible, both for the government and for the private sector.

Balance and moderation and, yes, compromise are essential to good government. This era of shut-downs, filibusters, and down-to-the-wire holdouts is an embarrassment to a mature society. History will not judge it kindly.

100º in the Shade

Bethesda alley in the summer heat.

What with all the pictures of perky-looking flowers and lush greenery and bustling insects around here lately, you’d think being outdoors was actually nice.


It’s been mercilessly hot and humid. These are the days when I’m grateful that utilities are included in my rent and I actually run my air-conditioner without guilt or apology. (Until I moved to DC, I had never lived in a dwelling that had such a luxury. In Boston and Rochester we just gritted our teeth and suffered on those occasions when the heat settled in.)

On those few occasions when it has been necessary for me to sally forth, I have done so under protest and as briefly as possible. I took this picture on one of my unavoidable outings. I don’t know that it adequately conveys the suffocating, brain-addling, eye-dazzling nature of the weather.

Perhaps I need to apply some photo fx, like so:

Bethesda alleyway in the heat.

Which one says make it stop, Lord to you?

A Year Ago: Summer Storm

[Video.] It suddenly got several stops darker in my living room. Out my window, the sky lowered and a heavy dark mass of cloud began racing across the horizon.…
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Imperfect View

White butterfly on flower.

A more skilled photographer would have noticed the blurred twigs impinging on the image as it was taken, and perhaps shifted to get them out of frame.

But, by then, the butterfly would have flown. I am content to have this imperfect image rather than none at all.

A Year Ago: Embrace The Stone

Tree roots form a natural bezel for a rock.Some obstacles are obdurate…
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Kinds of Green

Trees, grass, bushes.

Waxy Pods

Taro plant.

Leaves, buds, seeds.

Water plant.

Papery pods in tree.

On a day when the heat index soars into the triple digits, let us pause and give thanks for the green in our lives.

A Year Ago: Sundial

Late afternoon light between buildings.It’s twilight o’clock…
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Made of Meat

Horizontal slice of MRI brain scan

Profile view of MRI brain scan

I had my brain scanned via MRI. It’s not a lot of fun, but it doesn’t hurt or anything. It’s definitely one of those situations where the moment they tell you to hold veewwy, veewwy still you immediately feel that you must twitch or you will die!!!!. I gather that for people with claustrophobia, the old-fangled MRIs are unpleasant, but it doesn’t bother me much.

What any medical imaging technology will do—if you let it—is remind you that you are made of meat. “Flesh and blood” is not just an idiom, it is a plain and accurate description of the fact of the matter. Knowing that I am well-and-truly carnal is one of the things which contributes to my vegetarian leaning. It was not so long ago that human beings were as much prey as predator; we are meatly creatures and no doubt good eaten’ for some. It is out of acknowledgement for that closeness of relation, our shared nature, that I refrain from munching on my fellow mammals (and birds too).

So, we are made of meat, but we are not mere meat. (Nor do I think other creatures are mere meat either, I hasten to add.) It is improbable and astonishing that the squishy grey stuff in these images, which looks like nothing so much as skull intestines, is capable of digesting sensory data and producing prose, knitting, textile design, bad puns, out of tune singing, and curiosity about the world—in addition to managing all its bodily concerns.

And yes: my nose is crooked.

A Year Ago: Through A Glass

Tabletop at twilight.…literally…
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