Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, 2009

Okay, a New Year is upon us. 
We've already learned that "One voice can change the world."
We can participate with drums or dance.
What is your pleasure?

Siesta Key Drum Circle

My second day of birthday celebration (see below) started as the sun began to make its descent. Every Sunday on Siesta Beach, crowds begin to gather and form a large, open circle. People bring chairs, drums, maracas and beverages. Soon there is standing room only around the periphery of the circle. 

As the drummers start beating their rhythms, children are first to enter the circle.

A regular dancer begins a ritual that invites others into the circle for the dance. 
This was a great opportunity to test my new lens from across the drum circle.

The big drums beat a rhythm that is enhanced by smaller drums and maracas.

Children, and the young at heart, are eager to join the dance.

For more drum circle, see Drum Circle II, below.

Drum Circle II

When the drumming gets hot and the sun cools near the horizon, 
children join the hula hoop dancers to the delight the audience.

As the sun approached the horizon, more people entered the drum circle to dance.

Smiling faces were the rule both inside and outside of the circle.

This is my last birthday shot at the beach. A few clouds add texture to the blue sky, a con trail sweeps toward the setting sun, and Venus (or is that Mars?) seems to bid us adieu.

Two Day Birthday Party

Don't let anybody tell you a two day birthday isn't possible. 
I had one this year. Or is it two?

To celebrate my full 69  years, we started at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden here in Sarasota. Naturally, the Orchid house with its glass roof and rain forest moist air was the prime site for our seeing.

Pam and Adrian quickly got lost amongst the orchids and ferns.
It's that kind of a place: full of jaw dropping visions.

The Orchid house is lot like the world in microcosm.
Many a pretty face to distract the casual observer.
Here is a pretty face with a deadly grin.
Glad I'm not a fly.

These guys are playing coy and looking a lot like the bi-racial world we live in.

Pam and Adrian.
Perfect companions for a birthday celebration.
 Perfect companions for an old man,
whose real age is 44  years
according to Facebook.

Counting my blessings. Day one of another fine birthday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunset Times

A timeless draw on animal instincts. 
A time when most creatures seek the safety of their nightly shelter.
A time for reflection. 
An attraction that draws on religious feelings throughout the world.

The sun rises, the sun downs. 
Who doesn't care to ask
What has the passage of light and day wrought?

Who can resist the unimaginable? The beauty of Light?
Who does not care to witness?

Endings and Sunsets

I like to be alone with my thoughts, especially at year's end. It seems a good time for personal measurements, a good time to reflect.
I found a few painterly sunsets on file that pretty much describe the mood I'm in.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merrimac Santa

We seldom receive any snow in Florida, but that doesn't stop Santa from dropping into our neighborhood on Merrimac Drive. This Santa belongs to Jerry, the biggest little kid in the neighborhood. Around Christmas time our neighborhood is full of big kids. Many of them love to play by erecting Santas and Pooh Bears and colored lights.

When darkness falls in December I can find my way home by following the lights Jerry has installed on his corner lot. Come back here again in the next few weeks and I'll show you more of my neighborhood.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hurricane Dennis

Florida's Gulf Coast tends toward quiet most of the year; there are few surf boards on our beaches. The most exciting time to visit the beach is during the movement of a hurricane through the warm shallow Gulf waters.

I caught this scene of frothy seaweed and stormy sky as Hurricane Dennis approached the coast a few years ago. The intensity of low barometric pressure and wind awakes the senses and subdues the ego.

Charmed in Savannah

Out of all the walls I have photographed this year,
 I like this view of botanical walls from Savannah the best. 

These snakey walls are visually and historically interesting to me. The charming iron fence holds the formal gardens apart from the rest of the world. Within this front yard paradise, paths and plantings tell old stories of social rectitude and the civilization of nature in the Old South. It's an old-fashioned view these days, but an attractive one, if not only for the sense of peace involved in reveries and nostalgia.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Above the Abyss

From POOL WORK, a photographic theme begun a few years ago after my wife started chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.

The reflection of light through the prism of moving water is most exciting and yet strangely calming to me. It fans the role of light in revealing form. Light is alive, absorbed interactions, and it seems to make everyone aware how life is tenuous and delicate.

Working in the pool presented a perfect metaphor for the condition that Pam faced. It was precisely what we needed. Here was a liquid environment where gravity was altered and daily pressures relieved after chemotherapy sessions. Here we were, hanging onto a thin noodle, barely suspended above an abyss of eternal darkness. Yet, as I saw her, the grace of her limbs and the strong curve of her beautiful, bald head made me believe she would live forever.

JBT Heart Quilt

Photograph of a heart quilt that my wife, Pam, made for me earlier this year.

I was recalling some of the high and low points of the year when I suddenly saw myself in the quilted frame of the heart. Me, I'm the small, blue stream. She is the bountiful earth pictured on either bank of the stream. The creative wife, the best friend. Lucky Ger! 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Savannah Selves

Here's a self-portrait of Grandpa Goose.
Savannah is such a fun place to visit.

Self-portrait of Pa Penguin.
These ceramic children are blind. Too bad.

And back at Savannah's Jepson again, I  surround myself with art and artifact.
What better grouping to hang out with ?

Self Portrait ~ Swarm

I wish I could draw as easily as Craig Reynold's mathematical program "Swarm" paints me.  All I  had to do was position myself, blindly aim my trusty Kodak, and fire off a burst of light that places a halo in the middle of my noggin. 

In this Savannah Jepson Art Museum installation the live sensors move across the screen like a swarm of birds flying one way then another. Raking through the picture screen, the scanners finally paint the scene below them.

Cool Tessellations

Here's a cool self portrait taken at the Jepson Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia thanks to Daniel Shiffman. 

That's a mosaic of my reflection with my handy dandy little red Kodak camera. A mathematical algorithm drives the mathematics behind this Voronoi diagram. The diagram moves continually as you do move beneath the screen. The longer you stand still the more of your reflected image comes into focus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another flower shot

Yes, it's another flower shot and what makes such photos so repellant to some photographers is that flowers are too easy; the natural beauty of the subject can overwhelm the senses and misguide judgment. Yet the mesmerizing thing about a still photograph is that you can return to it again and again to study it in greater detail.

After viewing this noisy red bromeliad for awhile I began to see the mandala. The flower took on other qualities: long green leaves became protective arms and the red flower burst forth like a child of the greenery. A closer look reminds us that natural beauty is never perfect. Nor does it have to be.

I can only strive to accept the imperfections of all flowerings, the dried leaves blowing in from elsewhere, the drops of water not yet consumed, and the tips of earlier flowerings already turning to green. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Landscape textures from Edvard Grieg Estate, Norway

While walking through the Edvard Grieg Estate outside of Bergen, Norway this past September, the sensual subtleties of rock and grass and ferns and lichens made me think of countless urban walls in need of some greenery. 

It's easy to see how these visual textures soothed the composer's mind and, in so doing, contributed to the creation of Norwegian music. The love of nature is something that seems to attend each and every Norwegian soul. 

So, I captured a few close views of the environment along the paths where the sea meets the rocky shore. These views now grace the man-made walls of my home, reminding me with every glance that nature lies on the other side of my door.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dusk over the Gulf of Mexico

Florida sunsets can be spectacular; they can also fizzle out over a cloudless Gulf of Mexico. Spectators arrive at the Siesta Key Beach every night for the sun downing. They stand or stroll the beach as the several species of birds cruise the strand line in search of their last snack of the day. As soon as the yellow orb dips below the horizon, most spectators rush for the parking lot and the familiarity of their automobiles.

I love twilight, dusk, the point in time and in your soul where you feel the buzzing of the primitive homing instinct. Dust and particulate matter turn the sky orange. The clouds illuminate the land, casting soft shadows in the dwindling light, as a curtain of darkness rises up from the horizon. The birds settle down for the night. 

It's an easy moment to remember you are a child of this earth. 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Walls of Savannah

Walls make me think of Plato's cave. 

The lucky souls who traveled outside of Plato's cave were attracted by Light. Those who left the cave and experienced the world of light came back to tell stories about the outside world. 

They were the first photographers; they chased after Light like hounds. Now, we are all hounds for light; we tell our stories on electronic walls as JPGs. 

 So, I chose Walls as an on-going theme for a photographic study because walls are plentiful and varied. Of course, some are more interesting than others. But I have been surprised by looking closely before and I'm sure it will happen again. 

Walls have the power to divide, protect, support, limit and restrain us. Any and all of those forces are available to walls. So how does one approach a wall?

I'm interested in what a Wall tell me about myself? I come to grok walls, not to bury them. Like a great number of other photographic themes, Walls can become useful measures for mapping interior space. 

What is your motive for grabbing views of the physical world?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Popi and the New Digital Camera

Popi is our five year old Bengal pussy cat. She's noisy and beautiful and demanding and she has a cat door. She's spayed and is primarily an outdoor, nocturnally active cat. She maintains the population of fruit rats and mice in the neighborhood. We are attuned to each other's state of being.

We bought a new digital camera, our first DSLR. Film is now the repository of our past lives. This is the electronic age, the age of electronic eyes and ears.

Look on this electronic stage for more portraits of Popi in the future.

In Site of inSight.

Trained as a Geographer, I have long been interested in mapping the spatial relationship of things. That interest has fueled much of my photographic work. That's why I made self portraits while the doctor was cutting on my ear last week.

This morning I was sitting in the doctor's examination room by myself, waiting for a follow-up exam, reading Frederick Forsyth's The Afghan. I was lost in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar with Colonel Razak when the Doctor's assistant, a pretty young lady enters the room.

"I want to see your site," she says.

Youth excites me; I get confused. I'm not sure if she's asking about a geographical SITE, such as the Qissa Khawani Bazaar, or the SIGHT of her smooth bronze skin and laughing brown eyes, or the latent SIGHT held inside the camera in the small pouch on my belt.

I ask her which site/sight she's interested in. She points to my ear; the medical SITE of a recent basal cell surgery. OK, that was easy. Now I know where I am.

But I am also here flirting with overlapping concepts in the theme of my blog. I am considering the possibilities of  "Ears that see and eyes that hear".  And I am wondering if the site/sight confusion this morning wasn't a tiny spark of cosmic light that allowed me to step inside this metaphor.