Throwback Thursday...

Well, this is not a very deep throw, but it does go back..

I rarely go anywhere without a camera, and often carry several of them. While it’s true that if you have a phone you have a camera, in my backpack I generally have one digital camera, and two or more film cameras of varying formats. I imagine as I get older and the bags get heavier, I will pare back, but until then, I trundle on…


There are many types of distracted drivers. Some are daydreamers, some (most?!) are using their phones, some might be lost and looking for directions, and others may be more interested in conversations with other passengers then to give proper attention to what is happening on the road in front of them.

I am none of these. I am distracted searching for photo ops.

So it was while flying north up Route 70 near Durham, NC that I came upon the scene above. Hardly believing what I was seeing, I slammed on the brakes and pulled off the road as quickly as I could. Plowing through the underbrush I worked my was as close to the scene as I could. If I had taken the time I might have noticed the service road nearby and made my way more easily. But that would not have been nearly so dramatic. Or as much fun.

If I have the time, I like to spend some time looking around and trying to visualize what I think I would like the final image to look like. Other times, I like to play around just to see what I might discover. This was one of those in-between situations. I had some time, but not a lot as I suspected the scene would change quickly as the crew went about the work of removing the crane from the baby’s forehead.

I made several versions of this but this is the one I like the best. I have a closeup of the baby’s face which illustrates the damage the crane has done, and the baby’s obvious displeasure, but I think the panoramic version tells more of the story. We see the surroundings, the tipped over crane and the damage it’s caused. We also see the workmen along the side of the crane which gives everything a sense of scale.

All-in-all, we have all the components to tell an interesting story.

Throwback Thursday...

Here is another favorite of mine, and not just because the Sabres won the game.

This image was made on April 14, 1996. I know this because I still have the ticket stub! The game was between the Buffalo Sabres and the Hartford Whalers and was the last game they would ever play in the old Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. Otherwise known as: “The Aud.”

Buffalo Sabres vs. Hartford Whalers April 14, 1996

The great thing about images like this are that they have the ability to immediately take you back to that moment in time. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, or even if I did, but I look at this photo and can instantly remember everything about that night. Thinking about how many games I had attended with my dad. How excited we were when Buffalo finally got an NHL team. Listening to the games on my transistor radio while hiding under the covers in my bed, long after I should have been asleep.

Even going back to the days of the Buffalo Bisons, our AHL team. The Pepsi logo on the old jerseys. How dark and scary the old building seemed as young boy. Crushing soda cups to make them “pop”. The sound as it echoed throughout the building. I can still hear it today. And the pick up hockey games with other kids as we kicked the cups around in the hallways between periods. A large slice of my childhood, encapsulated in a single photograph. Such is the power of photography.

Prior to the game, I had called the department at city hall responsible for the maintenance of the building and politely inquired as to the possibility of having a bucket filled with Zamboni ice. After a long stunned silence, the man on the other end of the phone gave me the name of the person to ask for. So immediately after the game, I ran back to my car, returning with a five gallon pickle bucket. I made my way down to the basement where the Zamboni’s were parked and assuring the maintenance crew that I had the appropriate permissions, requested that I be able to fill my bucket with ice from the Zamboni.

Another long stunned silence ensued, this time accompanied by an incredulous stare. After several awkward moments, the older man in charge directed a younger man to fill my bucket for me. I wouldn’t be insured if there happened to be an accident, he explained. How nice that there was someone to do the work for him, I thought, as I watched my bucket being filled with ice. After a short time my bucket was filled, and thanking the crew profusely, i was on my way, delighted with my souvenir, their quizzical eyes following me as I exited the building.

Over time, all relationships evolve and change, and the ways we, as viewers or keepers of memories relate to images, are no different. While the memories come flooding back, how we respond to those memories will often change over time. What I could never have anticipated at the time this image was made, was how it would change for me.

The following season, the Hartford Whalers would move south to Raleigh, North Carolina and become the Carolina Hurricanes.

Several years later, although for far different reasons, I would follow.

Who knew?

For the technically minded, this image was made with a swing-lens panorama camera much like the one I used for the church image from a few weeks age. It just uses a larger film format. The distortion and curvature in the image is a result of the changing distance of the foreground and middle view and that of the view to the edges. As the lens rotates, the distance to each element of the view is changing. The edges are further away than the middle, so therefore it looks closer. Our eyes correct for this but the camera lens cannot. And the distortion is made worse by me tilting the camera down to include all of the ice surface. So I’m really messing with with all the optical planes here. Oh well,..

So while there are many technical ‘problems” with this image, I still like it a lot. It tells a story of a time and place that is extremely important to me. And in that, it’s perfect…

Throwback Thursday

This is one of my favorite photographs, and also a great example of what you can capture when opportunity meets preparedness.

Kids at Play

This photo was taken in the Black Rock section of my hometown, Buffalo, NY. during one of my many walk about’s. Unfortunately, the business is no longer extant.

When I’m out on one of my photo walks, typically I will take a meter reading and set the camera aperture and shutter speed to my preference. Depending on how bright the day is, I’ll use either an f8 or f11 and set the shutter accordingly.

Then, I pre-focus the camera using the depth-of-field scale to as close as possible with infinity as the farthest distance. And off I go. This is my version of “Point and Shoot”. I still use this method with my film cameras today. Mostly because I’m still using them! Modern digital cameras with the auto everything’s require far less pre-planning. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

When I look back at some of my older work, I often wonder what the place is like, where the people are and what they’re doing today. This photo was made sometime around the fall of 1978. That would mean the girls would be entering middle age. And that’s one of the greatest things about photography. In this photo, they’re kids forever…

Throwback Thursday

This image was made with a 35mm Widelux panorama camera. With this type of camera the lens rotates in front of the film plane exposing the film as it turns. If I remember correctly, you only get 24 images on a roll of 36 exposure film. It’s really cool. This image is from the first roll of film I ever shot with a pan camera. I use them all the time today.

St Louis Church, Buffalo, NY

St Louis Church, Buffalo, NY

I was wandering the streets near my studio looking for something to photograph with the camera when I passed by the church. The doors were open and I could see the light streaming through the windows. I went inside to take a closer look and was met at the door by the custodian who was preparing to lock up for the day.

“Just one shot!” I said as I ran past him.

Before he could object I had the camera on the tripod and ready to shoot. I didn’t have time to fish the exposure meter from my bag, so I made a quick calculation and took the shot. I may have lied to him and actually taken two. But after the second exposure I picked up my gear, thanked the custodian for his indulgence and left as quickly as I had come, praying all the way back to the studio that I would be forgiven for the lie, and that the exposure would be correct.

Both prayers seem to have been answered as the film came out great and the negative prints beautifully.

Can I get an “Amen!” somebody…?

Throwback Thursday...

Looking forward, looking back. something from the archives…

Flag sale, July 4th

Throwback Thursday, July 4th edition. Shot on the 4th of July ca. 1978’79.

Photographed while wandering through the neighborhood as I often did in those days. The girl was sitting outside a diner selling balloons and American flags. Back in the day, it was a very popular place, well known for their meatloaf. My dad would take my mom there back when they were dating. It’s still there, although I can no longer vouch for the quality of the meatloaf.