Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An extra day to walk the dogs...

Leap Year 2012
"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend."  ~ Corey Ford

Next Leap Year, 2016.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Survival quotes
 “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope” ~  author unknown, good guess - Hal Lindsey

I have taken my share of disparaging photos. In doing so, I quickly learned how many people lived on hope. Millions of people with little food or shelter, shelter  we would consider cruel for an outside dog, live lives unimaginable to most of us. But hope keeps them going. It puts temporary smiles on their faces, rising laughs in their throats - it is the fuel that sees them into the next sunrise. Sometimes life changes for the better; sometimes for the worse.

The above photo was taken in the "home" of this man. In just one powerful photo, I captured his bath, bedroom, living room, kitchen, floor, roof, and walls. Photos have the ability to make us think beyond the subject.

I was recently talking to a writer friend of mine about Ham radios. The talked turned to how I, as a photographer, would document the end of the world. Naturally, writers will have a much easier time. He joked that when his ink ran out there would be plenty of charcoal.

I have always been envious of writers. They don't have to lug around a ton of equipment. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a few well-chosen words by the right writer can paint a lovely photo (Jack Kerouac comes to mind).

While looking at this photo, recently re-created from one of my sheets of negatives developed over the years, my mind went back to the conversation with my friend. What might the end of world look like? Did I have a preview in my hands? Would I one day be brushing my teeth in a similar manner, among rubble? Digging deeper into my massive collection of Third-World negatives, I realized the "end" could look pretty much like this.

I am optimistic by nature, but in this day and age, being optimistic won't save your life. Being prepared will give you a better chance at survival in the worst of times. We are prepared, and in fact, have a safe house far from Crisfield. Also, having worked in surroundings like the one shown in the photograph, I have learned a few things about survival.

Our safe-house has pretty much everything we would need to survive whatever may come our way, but as I was looking at the above photo, I realized that, as a news photographer, I would feel compelled to risk life and limb to document. That may counteract my thoughts of survival, but if a news photographer can't document, what else is there?

With zombie shows, the 2012 end-of-time date nearing, talk of Rapture, nuclear warfare, dirty bombs, EMPs, pandemics, faulty nuclear reactors, financial collapse, and government-this and government-that talk, along with Internet sites and TV shows preaching a hoard of other evils creeping our way, I realized I had forgotten an important aspect of surviving a world collapse. If the collapse lasted long enough, I would not be able to document.

New beginnings will call for old testaments. If the worst comes, hope, like food and shelter, will be one of my mainstays. Hope not for "hopes" sake, but  hope for a brighter, more peaceful world that will surely follow chaos.

Documenting would be easy in the "plentiful" days of stored fuel, but what if the "fall" outlasted the fuel? Digital cameras require power.

Lucky for me, I am old-school. I still have an old Nikon that I can manually shutter, and I'm sure I could rig my digital to take photos without batteries, if need be, or at least break it up into parts. I know how to make a make-shift camera, and with the proper chemicals and supplies, I could create a type of film or coated glass to create images. So preparations are under way to stock up on supplies needed for creating, developing, and printing photos, all without electricity. The list is extensive, so I won't elaborate. Many common household items can also be used in helping to create photos. Beware, mixing the wrong chemicals without adequate ventilation can kill you faster than the fall you may be trying to document.

In this day and age, we take too much for granted. The roof over our heads, our clothes, our cars, our pantries stuffed with food, fresh water, our computers, our Direct-TVs (my choice), cell phones, iPads, Xboxes,  electricity - they will always be there for us. Forever. Or will they?

Though I am prepared to bug-out, so to speak, in the event of a disaster on a mass scale, and to stay safe, warm, fed, and watered, I took for granted my cameras. It took a conversation with a friend, and this photo, to make me realize I was not as prepared as I thought I was.

I feel for many of the electronic-age photographers who would not know a tray of fixer from a tray of developer, much less be able to mix them. I know some pretty good photographers who have never rolled a roll of film or mixed chemicals. On the flip side, a lot of creative photography students enjoy experimenting in the "old-style." Unfortunately, many students of modern-photography come away with only digital knowledge. If they can throw up some umbrella lights and a screen, they're done.

The only things many people with the pretty cameras know is how to work the bells and whistles on their cameras and how to throw a photo into Adobe Photo. Unplug this new breed of photographer from their power source, and they become stilled robots who can neither speak nor move. 

Funny how powerful a photo can be. I have looked at the one in this post, and others like it, many times, each time with thoughts of what happened to the person or people in the photos, and always with thoughts of the millions who go to sleep each night with no food in their stomachs, the only roof over their heads, made with what they could gather. I think about our individual selfishness, and how, if we all gave up just a little, tried a little harder, or cared a little more for each other, I would not even be thinking about how to document the end-of-time.

John Bradford, sometimes during his imprisonment in the Tower of London, 1553-1555 (Mary Tudor reign),  said of a group of prisoners who were on their way to execution, "There, but for the grace of God goes John Bradford."  His words, if they were his words, and not written into the record after his death,  are always in my thoughts whenever I look at similar photos or slides and negatives taken on assignments.  Indeed, John Bradford. Indeed.

Many people use Bradford's phrase with the "I" attached to it when seeing someone less fortunate.  I am among them, but I never forget that, though Bradford spent 2 years in the tower and had a momentary stay of execution, he was eventually burned at the stake. 

That is where my optimism mixes with caution. I enjoy what I have, I give what I can, but I never forget that Bradford, in his early years enjoying a fellowship at Pembroke Hall, and looking forward to a life of serving people, never saw "Bloody Mary" Tudor coming. And so it is with life. Being prepared, but not obsessive, is a good motto.

I have created quite a recipe in this post: A little history, a pinch of personal info, a  photography lesson, a small amount of take-the-viewer-out-of-their-comfort-zone talk, some philosophical thoughts thrown in, a little doom, a dash of gloom, mixed with a  hint of gourmet food-for-thought, and stirred with hope. Always hope. Ah, yes, and the power of a photograph - the icing on the cake.


Footnote: We have been "preppers" for some time, more on the scale of surviving a total collapse, with the end results of helping to rebuild a better country. We are not in the "crazy" category that you sometimes see portrayed on TV.  Our "prepping" is certainly not a daily lifestylejust a lifestyle that we can fall back on in the event of any type of emergency, be it a hurricane that washes Crisfield away or...pick any doomsday scenario. 

Unlike us, in the case of a disaster, most people will not have the means to leave their homes. The CDC recommends that everyone have emergency rations for at least two weeks. Most households have enough canned goods and dry mixes to survive a short disaster. Water, of course, is your most important commodity. Always keep a few extra cases on hand. And remember, dry goods like pasta and rice require water. 

For a complete list of recommendations visit the CDC web site. A well-prepared community is your best defense in the time of emergency. Get your neighbors involved. Two weeks of food,  water, and medical supplies takes little space, so even the smallest dwellings should beef up their survival inventories.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gas prices in Maryland on February 27, 2012

In 1958, the average price of gas was $.24. In 1987, it had gone all the way up to $.95 cents.
Lets see, gas went up $.71 in 29 years. Math is not my strong point, but something is fishy in the oil barrel. 

Average price of gas as of this posting at 12:01 am on 2/27/2012 is...

Now, travel back in time to two weeks ago. Don't forget to check out the March, 2012 prices by clicking on above link.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wash and Dry

Turkey Buzzard photo
"If I were reincarnated, I'd want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything."  ~ William Faulkner

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Where the wild things grow...

Henry Peach Robinson quotes
"It is only by loving nature, and going to her for everything, that good work can be done; but then we must look to her for the materials for pictures, not for pictures themselves. It is nature filtered through the mind and fingers of the artist that produces art, and the quality of the pictures depends on the fineness of that filter." ~ Henry Peach Robinson

filtered photo taken in Somerset County, MD

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flash rain in Princess Anne...February 24, 2012

Rain in Princess Anne, Maryland, UMES students
“The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

They said it was coming. In fact, the weather reports were flashing tornado alerts all afternoon. It was, after all, in the mid-seventies today. In my home-state of Georgia, we are used to seventy-degree weather in February. OK. So, it's almost March, but tornadoes in Maryland in "almost" March?

Anyway, we went to Get'n Grounded coffee shop in Princess Anne this afternoon, a place we go to relax, play with our iPads, and enjoy cappuccino and cake (a great little sandwich shop, too), and as we were leaving, the bottom fell out of the skies, catching these three young UMES students so off-guard, they had no time to open their umbrellas. I had no time to check my exposure, either. Had I done so, I would have missed the shots. This is a brake, grab camera, and shoot photo-essay.

They were so close to the buildings, they decided to make a run for it. I would have done the same.
Luckily, we had no tornadoes. Once we arrived back in Crisfield, we had a couple of flash rains, and then the skies cleared. Some areas on the Eastern Shore suffered from wind damage.

Seventy-five today...forty-eight tomorrow. These are strange weather-times.

I used to love to get caught in the rain. Still do, sans camera, of course.

Check out Get'n Grounded in Princess Anne. You will love the atmosphere.

Oh, the people we meet

Desmond Tutu
"A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons." ~ Desmond Tutu

News photographers get to meet a lot of interesting people. Some photographers never get over the giddy feeling that comes over them when meeting famous people (those photographers annoy not only the working stiffs among us but the subjects). But for the professionals, the more famous people we meet, from presidents to entetainers, the more they become assignments with deadlines. But I have had my favorites. Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu is one of them.

The famous-people names that have stuck with me over the years have been those who dared change the world. While running through a box of negatives and slides, I found a sheet of Archbishop Desmond Tutu negatives, and ran one through my scanner. Tutu heads the top of my short list of favorite world-changers. Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, among other prestigious human rights awards, and holds honorary degrees from over one-hundred and thirty universities, including Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Emory, and Harvard, where this photo was taken.  You can read more about Tutu at Wikipedia.

Age has not slowed Tutu down. At eighty, he is still changing the world.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chincoteague, VA oysters

Chincoteague, VA oysters
“He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating of oysters.” ~ James I, from Thomas Fuller's ‘Worthies of England’

 Chincoteague oysters are extremely tasty.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Landscapes shape...

 Nevada landscape, Lawrence Durrell quotes
“We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behavior and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it” ~ Lawrence Durrell

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring on the way?

Spring quote
"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush."  ~ Doug Larson

We had a veil of light snow on the ground on Sunday, but it quickly melted. We have a couple of days of warm weather coming up, perfect for outdoor activities, so pick a project and make plans for some outdoor time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What is the "donate" button?

Donate to a photographer
Update: I got an email from a viewer who saw the humor in an item on my list. He said I should have listed my reasons for donations as a top-ten list. I originally had 9. So here ya go. The top ten reasons I added a "donate" button to my site:

10. I hope a few people appreciate my photos enough to contribute. Other sites are using donate buttons that allow them time to pursue their interests and share with others. 

9. It takes a lot of work. Photos do not magically jump from my camera to your computer screen.

8. Like your car, equipment must be maintained, and Nikon charges an arm and a leg for cleaning and repairs.

7. You either have to have a job or a trust fund to keep Nikon gear up to par. I am a member of Nikon Professional Services, and only Nikon touches my gear, and that includes cleaning. I do not clean my own cameras. 

6. Last year’s care and repairs, around $1,600, and I consider that a cheap year.

5. Professional news journalists are rough on camera gear. Equipment can be replaced and repaired; a missed photo is forever gone.

4. I have lens caps, diffusers, and other small parts scattered across the country. Someone once got a nice Nikon strobe. Even tiny Nikon replacements are pricey. 

3. I have so many photos on Blogger, I now have to pay for extra space. 11,000 + to date.

2. I have original photos, 4 megs in size, stored on a remote server. The more photos I add, the more I pay.

1. My cat charges for sitting fees.

No, your deduction can not be used as a tax-break. Please use your dollars wisely, and give to organizations who you feel best serve the public as a whole. There are so many people who need help. I know. In my career, I have photographed the homeless, the incarcerated, the hungry, the politically oppressed, and the sick. I don't need any help. And with what I have seen in my career, I feel a little selfish putting a donation button on my site.  If you don't already give to needy, reputable, organizations, please do not give to me. I have my own charity organizations that I contribute to. If you feel you have served your civic duty by giving to an organization or organizations that make life better for people, and have a buck or two sitting around, I would be delighted to put it in my Nikon piggy bank. And if you have not given to a charity lately, check out this site, do your research, and pick one.

Again, let me thank everyone who has given to my camera fund. It is greatly appreciated, and what fun to know that so many people enjoy my photos! And thanks to George in Saginaw, Michigan for suggesting the top-ten list.

Sun art

Sun art
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This is for my friends who always leave the light on...
filtered sun photo

Saturday, February 18, 2012

NOAA Weather Calls for Snow, January 18-19, 2012

NOAA weather snow in Crisfield
I pulled a file photo to match the weather forecast (if you follow my blog, you will recognize the house in the background-it has since been torn down)...

Mostly Cloudy
Lo 38 °F
Rain/Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 100%

Hi 42 °F

Rain/Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 100%

Lo 35 °F

Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Hi 45 °F

Mostly Clear
Lo 28 °F
Mostly Sunny
Hi 49 °F

Mostly Cloudy
Lo 44 °F
Partly Sunny
Hi 54 °F

Chance Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 44 °F

Will I be photographing in the snow? Let's see? Retired. Warm inside. Cold outside. No editors expecting photos.  I just don't know yet.

Princess Anne, Maryland wildlife

Princess Anne, Maryland wildlife
“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such” ~ Henry Miller

Friday, February 17, 2012

The few, the proud, the Marines...

The few, the proud, the Marines...
"Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share." ~ Ned Dolan


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Land Rover: Best and Worst car...

Land Rover: Best and Worst car
At least in my opinion...

I ran across this photo of my old Land Rover parked in our son's driveway in Bel Air. This is a car I had a love/hate relationship with. The love part I still feel any time I see a similarly-designed Land Rover. This style is romantic by nature, and owners of these cars usually have a bag for each season packed, and ready to go. The newer Land Rovers just look like car-cars to me.

The hate part comes from it eating a hole in my wallet. It was always in the shop, mostly for oil leaks. One Land Rover dealer finally told me all Land Rovers leaked. What? Anyway, I finally sold the car that, ever time I got into, made me feel like an adventure was straight ahead. Many times it was, and many times it was just another trip to the repair shop.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Clown vs Politicians?

Charlie Chaplin quotes
"I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician." ~ Charlie Chaplin 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Oscar Wilde quotes on love
"Who, being loved, is poor?"  ~ Oscar Wilde

Patty Hancock copyright

Monday, February 13, 2012

The eye of the photographer...

Elliott Erwitt photography quotes
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt

 filtered photo, kind of

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The color of individuality

Photography quotes by William Klein
“Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.” ~ William Klein

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gas: Twenty-four cents a gallon

Pocomoke, Maryland Discover Center
For a look back at the good old days, visit the Discover Center in Pocomoke, Maryland. No, you can't buy gas there for the price shown on the pump, but you can remember...

I am not picking on Valero. I just snapped this photo on Monday while shopping in Salisbury, and it was handy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Now serving...

Fiery drinks
“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise” ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Yes, those are real drinks.

One shot...

Thailand photo
"There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever."   ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fun with friends...

Famous toasts by Alexander Pope
"Mingle with the friendly bowl,
    The feast of reason and the flow of the soul."  ~ Alexander Pope

The perils of the profession

The perils of the profession
I was recently grumbling about some of the obstacles that news photographers have to overcome on a daily basis, most of them due to human, yet understandable ignorance of the hows and whys of cameras and the way light works (no, we can't shoot through 9 foot floral arrangements placed around podiums, nor do we have time to erase a microphone sticking in someone's eye; we can't magically make someone's face appear from behind a table arrangement, or get the photo you want for your news if you have your tables mashed up against walls, and we hate it when you hold an outdoor event that puts the sun directly to your back - so do the people who have to view the event in the blinding sun). 

If I had a yearning to come out of retirement, I think I could make a fine living teaching businesses,  corporations, and individuals how to get the best bang out of their news photos. 

I have a list of about 100 things that absolutely irritate professional photographers, and not all of them are due to human ignorance, as evidenced by this filtered photo.  Only cable, electrical, and phone-line installers realize how many lines cross the skies. And, of course, photographers. No, I can't teach any one about that, but there are still 99 other things on my list, and well over half are avoidable.

After note: I received a lot of emails telling me how to remove overhead lines. Yep, I know how to do that; I have Adobe Photo CS5 Premium, along with a host of other bells and whistles programs. This photo was more of a lesson. And when working for a newspaper on those tight deadlines, sometimes there was no time to pretty up a photo, especially when shooting from the field. And, in the old days, what you shot on film was what you sent to the editor, unless it was for some sort of illustration, which meant it had to go through various processes out of the photographer's reach. Also, even today, there are newspapers that frown on editing a photo by removing anything from it. Naturally, switching lenses and changing your viewpoint can yield different results, but there have been many times that I had no choice except to shoot those ugly lines-in-the-sky.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A study in black and white

Photos of Crisfield, Maryland
"Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today."  ~ Edward Abbey