Travel Images

A timeless Parisian pasttime . . .

A timeless Parisian pasttime . . .

I was blessed to spend the Christmas and New Years holidays in Paris. In looking over the photos taken during the course of that trip, it became apparent that, more often than not, my travel photography is focussed more on capturing interesting images or emotional moments than on making a record of the voyage. Put another way, any slideshow presentation of my trip would come across a series of unconnected (but hopefully engaging) images and not as a cohesive series of photos memorializing the passing days of the trip. The questions become: Why then do I take the pictures? For whom? What will I do with them? (By the way, this is true of virtually all my “travel” photography.)

To start to find an answer to these questions, I’ve tried to determine if there is any commonality to the images I’ve chosen to capture and I’ve identified five (5) themes or possible reasons, if you will, of what drew me to take the shot. For some, it was the subject matter itself (in the case of Paris, the architecture or the historical significance ofthe place I was visiting). For some, it was more that I was trying to capture a long past moment in time evoked by my surroundings.

A view evoking a time past

Others it seems were in response to a tug to make a photojournalistic record of the current moment, a beggar or unusual

Paris 2012-185

At the gates of Notre Dame de Paris

event for example. Then, too, there are those that echo a theme of isolation . . . something that apparently shows up in my non-travel photography as well. Finally, I’m aware that I took some of the shots with the conscious thought to proffering them as fine art photos.

Paris 2012-198-Edit

A painter’s View

As to the questions of for whom do I capture these images and what is to be done with them, they remain open.  The images I captured of Terezin gave me the impetus to create a cohesive “work” which I intended and hoped would convey to others the emotional awareness of that place, a concentration camp.  Since then, I’ve yet to be moved to focus in that manner again. (Heck, look at how long it is between posts on this blog!) However, perhaps now having identified what may be inspiring me a the moment of capture, I can stir those Muses to inspire me to do something worthwhile with them.



Composites = Still Lifes?


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Magic Moon

The image above is a composite of two images (the moon and all the rest) and was taken around 9 a.m. on a blue-skyed day in January – two image manipulations that have created a scene that could have taken place but didn’t . . . at least at that moment.  When I pointed this out to my small cadre of photo critics – all friends – some thought it clever and at least one or two good-naturedly called it cheating.  Not surprisingly, I was happy with the former reaction and disturbed by the latter.

The more I thought about the mild cry of “foul”, the following struck me:

(1) Any adjustment to the image as it comes out of the camera immediately separates it from the reality that existed at the moment the picture was taken.  That includes changes in exposure, white balance, contrast, brightness and clearly in this case the change from color to black and white and darkening the scene to evoke dawn-like light.  Interestingly, such changes (other than perhaps the apparent time of day) typically do not elicit cries of protest.

(2) Creating a composite – in this case, adding the moon – seems to be another story.  Here one is creating a new reality that encompasses objects that, at the time the picture is taken, did not exist at the same time in the same place.  Should that be more offensive?  If so, how does that differ than the compositions created by an artist when painting a still-life?  Generally, I’ve never been made aware of objection being made to an artist contriving a particular still-life subject matter, for example creating a tableau of fruits and flower with object chosen for their textures or hues.  I don’t think there’s a difference UNLESS (and that’s a big “unless”) the image is being presented as a factual representation of what actually existed at the time the shutter was tripped. There is a material and significant difference between creating an image that is intended to evoke a mood, a reflection or memory of feeling versus presenting an image as a record or evidence of a physical reality that didn’t exist or occur.

For me, then, the above image, reflecting the type of melancholy that permeated my heart at the time is an “honest” picture albeit of my mood and perception of the moment.  And, when I offer it to be viewed, my intention is to share that mood and not as historical record of the moon appearing in the dawn sky over the harbor at New London on a particular winter’s morning.  If you feel differently, have other thoughts, or wish to add your view, please feel free to comment.


This is a cropped version of the image I took recently on a wonderful hike on some trails in West Simsbury, Connecticut.  The hike took us up and down hills, along ridges, stream beds and up to a peak with a fantastic view of the valleys and hills that make up the topography of this part of Connecticut.  Most of Nature’s hues have congregated to the browns and grays, though the prevalence of moss this year, due to an incredibly wet  fall, splashed a bright and engaging green throughout the woods.

As we made our way along the trails, at several spots we crossed a flowing stream creating little waterfalls, rivulets and eddies.  I was shooting an Olympus E-P3 (which I have to admit was much easier to carry than either of my Canon 7D or 5D DSLRs) and decided to try capturing an image of the flowing water at a slow enough shutter speed that the water would appear smokey or foamy.  This image shows that I achieved a bit of success in that regard, for which I’m pleased.  But once you’ve captured the shot and have uploaded the image to your computer, the call on your creative nature doesn’t stop.  Looking at this scene, I needed to decide what elements were important and how best to convey them.  Was it the pattern and hues of the colors that drew me to the shot?  What emotions did the subject elicit in me that made me take the picture?  Does the presence of color add or diminish that attractive element and should I make this monochrome?  What about the composition?  Did I leave too much in the frame and, if so, how much and what should I cut out?  In this case, while I like the color version, I though that a black and white treatment would bring out more of the mystical element that the “smokey” water reflected. Here’s the first version –

Here’s the second –

Of the two, the first lends itself to a panoramic mounting in addition to (in my mind) conveying a darker mood.  The one directly above, again to my mind, conveys a more “open” and less ominous mood due to its more “open” crop.

Of course, each of us will have a different view as to which of the 3 images works for him/her.  I have friends who automatically will prefer the color version because they can’t “connect” with most black and white images or because they generally assume all black and white images are intended to convey sad or morose moods.  In the end, it will depend on your intended viewer and it behooves you to understand where they are coming from when they view pictures.  With the advent of digital photography, it’s not difficult to prepare, preserve and offer multiple interpretations of images that your have captured.  The nice thing is that you can change your mind as often as you like as to which one captures the essence of your experience of the subject.  Today, for example, I’m in a black and white mood and feeling expansive towards life.  Therefore, the second image touches me more as I view it.  Cheers.

Another Season of Protest


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An "elevated" soapbox in front of the White House invites any and all to speak his or her mind.

Another voice to turn away from war . . .

I am now an adult in the sixth decade of his life (oh well, fine, I’m sixty), but I am a child of the Sixties and a member of the Woodstock Generation.  During my college years, I protested (peacefully and with no dishonoring of those who served) the Vietnam War, participated in the first Earth Day, first learned of the word “ecology”, witnessed the growth of the Women’s Movement and felt the tensions of racial turmoil, watched the moon landing on a black& white TV and railed against the “Establishment” (of which I am now a well-entrenched member.) These days my musical tastes run a much wider gamut (Led Zep to Eminem and Mozart to Bennett); I still rail against the Establishment . . . at least that quadrant of it comprising people from my generation who apparently have lost their way and who now value financial wealth at the expense of the well-being of their fellow beings and Mother Earth.  That said, I harbor no one ill will and try to find room in my heart for all of us bozos (a/k/a human beings).  Ah, but I digress . . .

A mixed message - jobs or race?A timeless theme - End War Now!


A lone protestor declaring his concerns . . .A theme for all times . . . End War Now!Another voice for peace, not war.An "Occupy Now" campsite in the middle of D.C., a city that has seen so many tent cities in its day.












On a recent trip to D.C. for a work-related conference, my eyes fell upon tableaus that could easily have been seen throughout that city in the 60s/70s (and probably represent part of the fabric of Washington life since the founding of the Republic.  Walking the streets with a colleague of younger generation, it struck me that for him these images were awe inspiring, in the sense of being an eyewitness to history.  For me, they evoked nostalgia for a time when people of my generation seemed to actually care for more than themselves and, indeed, focussed their voices to address key threats to humankind’s continued existence (war, poverty, the environment, equality).

This year’s crop of protestors, including the so-called “Occupy Now” movement, seem untethered to any unifying cause.  To this admittedly jaundiced eye, the participants seem unorganized and not singing from the same song book.  Like the iPod generation, they each are marching to their own drummers, probably as earnest as we were but not likely to achieve any particular ends for lack of cohesiveness.  To me, they dissipate their power by their fractured goals.  Who knows, I’m probably completely wrong.

These images could have been taken in the 60s/70s front of Nixon’s White House. I couldn’t afford to participate then and today I’m more wistful than angry.  So it goes.

Occupy Now - D.C. Like so many tent cities before . . .

Acadia (Bar Harbor, Maine) Photography Workshop

Last weekend I participated a wonderful three day photography workshop in Bar Harbor, Maine.   Part of the Mentor Series and hosted by Worldwide Photgography Treks, it brought together a group of beginner to advanced photographers and two professional photography “mentors” in one of America’s most beautiful natural landscapes encompassing Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park.  Our mentors, Layne Kennedy ( and Daniel J. Cox (, both extensively published (photographic) artists, infused the group with their enthusiasm for the art of capturing images, providing insight on both technique and composition.  


Reminding us all that life doesn’t always unfold in the way we plan and hope, but often in ways that teach and help us grow, the weather did not quite cooperate with the established agenda. Landscapes often were seen only through guazey curtains of haze, islands were shrouded in foggy cloaks of invisibility.  Nature thus called on us to rise to the challenge and to find inspired images in unanticipated contexts and in environments we originally might have viewed as undesirable.

One of the funniest moments of the weekend occurred during an early evening shoot on the streets of Bar Harbor.  Seeing our gaggle of photographers, bristling with professional level cameras, long lenses and tripods, townsfolk and tourists alike assumed we were there to shoot an arriving celebrity or dignitary.  They came up to us to ask who we were anticipating and some refused to believe we were just a bunch of aspiring photographers practicing shooting at dusk.  Some hung around for a bit to see if we were lying.  All great fun.


I did manage to capture a few images which I’ve added to my portfolios on my website (  If you have the time or inclination, wander over there and take a peek.  They’re primarily in “Sea and Water”, “Cityscapes” and there’s one in “Nature and Landscapes.”  You’ll find them on the last pages of the portfolios.

Newport Expedition

Visited Newport (RI) yesterday on an image expedition.  While the skies were pretty much nondescript, the flora along the Cliff Walk was popping in under the hazy overcast. One denizen of the brambles was particularly colorful and very kindly posed for me, offering a variety of profiles.  I can’t decide which one I like the best.  Some (but probably not all) of these will end up in my web portfolios.

There are a couple of newcomers to my portfolios.  You’ll notice that these are in color and that I didn’t give in to my temptation to convert the world to black & white. Though the one with the sailboats racing would lend itself nicely to being treated to look vintage – a variation which I might still apply – the image would have failed to convey how clear blue the sky was. Turning to the confrontation among the birds, color is required first to convey the brilliance of their plumage and second to distinguish them from a fairly busy/detailed background.  Otherwise, without the careful use of filters, a monochromatic treatment would cause the image to look “flat”,  the varied hues undifferentiated and the birds lost in the background. Finally, with respect to the Intrepid block, the rusted bolt ends form a interesting “blossom” of color against the cold black rubber and stainless steel of this sailing hardware . . . a poor imitation of Nature, but having a beauty of its own nonetheless.



Color vs B/W

I’m predisposed towards monochromatic images . . . they seem to evoke more of the emotional qualities, the soul, of the photo’s subject.  That said, I recognize that some subjects scream out to be reflected in all their resplendent color – flowers for instance (though, even they lend themselves to b/w, where their “veins” and textures alone convey the amazing artistry of Nature’s hand.)  And, just like with everything else in life, there are subjects that are indifferent to being captured in either mode. For example, this little guy could easily be enjoyed in b/w, but I liked the green on the pier and the muted rusty reds of the bulwark behind him. (I wonder if he ever figured out what he was looking at . . . )



Just finished . . .

moving my website from an Apple hosting site to Zenfolio.  I wasn’t able to maintain the same design but I think the new one showcases the images a bit better. (Perhaps it’s the high contrast black background.)  The Terezin Gallery is now much easier to read (it’s a PDF) and I’ve set up a separate portfolio for a few, select images from the camp.

This past weekend I sailed as crew on “Intrepid”, the 1967 and 1972 defender of the America’s Cup, in a regatta sponsored by Mystic Seaport Museum.  We raced (and I mean truly “raced”) against 4 other yachts, each of them famous and beautiful in their own right: American Eagle, Nefertiti, Weatherly and Columbia.  Intrepid is particularly famous for the fact that she was the last wooden-hulled 12 meter (and thus the last of the “old” era 12 meters) but the first to have a split fin keel with trim tabs (and thus the first of the modern era boats.)  20 knot winds, rail to the water and sunshine galore – a beautiful day and wonderful experience.  The best part?  Taking the helm for a short spell.