Thursday, June 30, 2011

along the river

Just four miles from my house the Ohio River passes by on its way from Pittsburgh to Cairo and a rendezvous with Twain's mighty Mississippi.  I've photographed up & down the river for years - telling stories of wine makers, gardeners, ferrymen, fishermen & shop keepers.  But, lately I've been thinking about river towns - the kind that appear around the bend in the road and are gone just as quickly.  They occupy a space in my mind that is always summer - hot & humid July afternoons with the banjo of John Hartford off in the distance.  To capture that feeling, I've decided to work a little different - slower and more deliberate.  One camera, one lens and now, one image of Patriot, Indiana.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the pony in the garage

Among vintage car enthusiasts there is always the story of the mythic car stashed away in a barn, down a gravel road - unseen for years.  Told around campfires, this "Cobra in the barn" tale grows more incredible with each telling.  The owner was usually a soldier killed in Vietnam who never came home to claim his classic roadster or a disgruntled ex-wife who hid the treasure away after a nasty divorce.
Well, my neighbor Fuzzy knows a little about cars like this.  A mechanic since he was a boy, Fuzz has restored three 1960's era Ford Mustangs and is now working on his 4th - one that was hidden in a barn, down a gravel road and originally belonged to a soldier from the Vietnam era (he didn't die).  Beaten and tired, this old car has risen from the dead in the hands of Fuzzy and his body man, Wayne.  In less than 2 months they have chromed, painted, wired, carpeted, tuned & polished every part of this 1969 fastback Mustang GT.  Soon, the new wheels & tires will arrive and this caged pony will be ready to run again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

pete & the smith girls

The man, home from the hills, hitting his stride.

al & sam

A life shared, a poem passed on.

& the band played on

I'm in the middle of editing photos from Sam's wedding and I couldn't resist posting this image.  So, Samantha & Lucas...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the night was young

My 'third' daughter Samantha got married last Saturday night in Waterville, Ohio and although I've just begun to edit the photos (Maggie & I backed up Brian) I came across one that caught my eye.  Taken as I was leaving the wedding tent and wandering up the hill, it was one of those "just one more photo" moments.  Knowing this routine quite well, my wife Elise fanned away the mosquitos as I auditioned possible tripods (upside down trash can, stump and finally a chair).  Before I go further, let me say a word about the Maumee Valley mosquitos - they are a magnificent breed, as big as small birds & able to sustain multiple beatings and even though our host claimed they went 'away' when the sun went down, we came to the conclusion that this was a myth and marveled at their tenacity. After firing off a few shaky frames I finally got what I was looking for and hurried off to the car. And the wedding?  A simple and wonderful affair, with more photos to come...

Monday, June 13, 2011

massimo, the door & the road

Massimo Vitali was a complete unknown to me.  I was worried that we would have to weather another debacle like Gilles Peress (Magnum photographer from France) two years ago.  He used up 45 minutes of his allotted 2 hours with one word answers to all questions except for his final memorable quote (as if we couldn't guess) - "I let my pictures speak for me."  Your photos can talk all they want - just give me back my money.  But this time it was different.  Massimo is a talkative Italian - full of quips, insights, stories and years of experience.  He was another breath of fresh air (after Antonin) in the sometimes polluted atmosphere of 'photographers as artists'.  His beach photos contain incredible amounts of detail (thanks to his 8x10 view camera) and thousands of ongoing stories.  Sadly, the end of his talk signaled the end of my Festival, so it was out the door and on the road.

ashley & the prom

I've come to the conclusion (along with Barbara) that the Master's Talks (held from 11-1) are some of the best presentations of the Festival.  From Ashley Gilbertson's powerful "Bedrooms of the Fallen" (bedrooms of soldiers killed in Iraq & Afghanistan) to the film "Prom" by Mary Ellen Mark and her husband Martin Bell, the power of the image (whether still or motion) is on full display in C-ville.  And thanks, once again, to the 'voice' of the Festival, NatGeo photographer Vince Musi - a good eye & a quick mind.

some good work

The galleries in C-ville are exploding with great photographs - from the Insight Exhibits of Antonin Kratochvil, Massimo Vitali and Nan Goldin to the Pictures of the Year & World Press Photos (Moises Saman's Haiti).  And, as always there are some hidden gems in small spaces - like Bill Mauzy's "Knee Deep" water photos.  


Knowing that I would be leaving Look3 a little early this year and not seeing all of the presentations, I was looking forward to Antonin Kratochvil's Insight Talk on Thursday night. Although not really familiar with much of his work I had heard several good things about him from my former student Brian, who interned at VII (photo co-op in NYC) where Antonin is a member.  He specializes in 'conflict photography' and shoots mostly in black & white.  Although a very serious guy, doing serious work, my favorite quote of the night came when he was asked about his style.  "You seem to have a lot of things happening around the edges of the frame in your photos.  Do you have heightened peripheral vision?" After a long pause, Antonin answered, "no, I learned a long time ago that if I had subjects near the edges of the frame art directors were more likely to run my photos as double trucks in the magazine.  Also, I leave empty space in the center for the gutter."  So much for artistic vision.  At his signing, I photographed Antonin, making sure my students Jesse & Nicole would make the left page of the double spread and he would avoid the gutter.

low light, low tech

Decided to sit in on David Alan Harvey's workshop, "high mind, low light" at the Vinegar Hill Theater. As a long time admirer of DAH's work (he has shot for NatGeo for 40 years), I was looking forward to his take on the use of flash.  I first struggled with the concept of 'fill flash' more than 25 years ago when I added a Vivitar 283 flash to my working kit.  Now, we are blessed with TTL flashes that think for us  & I put these little light wonders to work constantly.  David's perspective is a little different than mine - he approaches the technology from a 'feel' point of view, mine is more pragmatic.  I was a little disappointed (well, more than a little) with the session, but it didn't change my opinion of David - he is a marvelous photographer and mentor to young shooters.  Other than that, I think I'll take the "no comment, high road" route.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

more wine, bbq & air

Started the day with a visit to our friend Jinx's Pitstop - home to real hickory smoked tender, juicy pork (no slaw necessary) BBQ and the best cucumber salad (use apple cider vinegar).  Then down a gravel road to Virginia Wineworks (vintner Michael Shaps) and a great tasting with Jean.  Who would believe wine in a box could taste this good?  Last wine stop of the day was at the Jefferson Vineyards on grounds originally owned by the man himself.  Academic inspiration in each sip.  Ended the day in the air with National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz.  Aerial photos of every desert in the world and an iPad Ap to boot.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

& after wine

Pizza.  Crozet Pizza.  Portobella mushrooms & sun-dried tomatoes on my half.  

dave matthew's wine

Southeast of C-ville on historic Carter's Mountain Blenheim Vineyards produces some very good wines. How do I know that?  Well, along with my friends Jim & Rocky, I spent the afternoon sampling their Chardonnay, Viognier, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  Owned by musician Dave Matthews, Blenheim has 10 acres under vine and we had the good fortune to have 'wine server' Allie Kelly as our hostess.  Allie is originally from Madison, Indiana and now lives with her 'honey' Red in a house along the James River, "off the grid" - no electricity, internet or city water.  Red is a stone mason by trade and was building a granite wall along the walking path while we were tasting.  So, here's to Virginia earth and what it yields - grapes, stone and good conversation.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Athens to Pomeroy, West Virginia to Virginia - the miles fly by.  Stopped at Jorma Kaukonen's (of Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna fame) Fur Peace Guitar Ranch in southern Ohio - but only the squirrels were home. Lunch at Sam's Famous Hot Dogs in Charleston, WV and on into Charlottesville where Look3 will begin in 2 days. George Steinmetz's incredible aerial photography is first up on Wednesday night.

on the road

Ohio University, Athens Ohio.  I shot a photo of a Lady Bobcat runner here 15 years ago for a story on Route 33 (which runs through Athens) that ran in OHIO Magazine - back when it used to be a 'real' magazine.  She is gone, and so is the track.

getting ready

Leaving in a couple of days to attend the Look3 Photo Festival in Virginia, so all of my posts for the next week will be 'from the road.'  But in prep, I shot a couple of tests using my 4x5 digital camera - really my D3, in 5/4 format, Barry Andersen's 35mm Nikkor and a Nikon Soft 1 filter.  I think I'm going to shoot a photo essay on river towns with this technique.  The book, in the second photo, is by Charlottesville poet John Casteen, who I struck up an email conversation with a couple of years ago.  He used to make tables from reclaimed barn siding and I was hoping to buy one - but he went back to writing and sold all of his woodworking tools.  Ah, the power of the written word.