Campus on the Eve of an Un-Rainy Commencement

Threatening storm clouds gathered over campus on the eve of Commencement this year, forcing the event inside… Only for the weather to be sunny and mild the next day. Even access to flying robots can’t fix the chaos of weather prediction.

Campus on the Eve of an Un-Rainy Commencement

Buffalo Aftermath

Driving through Buffalo in the snow-entombed aftermath of the recent blizzard meant sliding our car between snow drifts and abandoned vehicles, all brutally carved out of the way by earthmoving equipment. Though I’m used to seeing a cut in an earthen hillside, it’s quite different to see cuts as necessary to open a snowy highway. Given the way this storm will stick in folks’ minds, I like the idea of a fuzed, muted scene that already seems placed in memory.

Buffalo Aftermath

Time-Space Material

I’ve posted before on the strange properties of Berkeley and the Bay Area: the condensation of nature and suburb and weird architecture and intensity urbanity that compresses human interest and life into a tiny area. This high-density material seems to deform the very fabric of space a time, and make the distance of a few miles seem like a light year and the time of a decade seem mere moments. This photograph captures the folding and crinkling as it happens: crunch clouds, sharp trees, an array of buildings from multiple Berkeley colleges within the University, the stretch of Telegraph Ave. and the tiny shapes of Oakland (at the far right) in the distance.

Time-Space Material

Pink Sky at Night…

What is “honesty” in photography? My goal as a photographer is to capture what I saw—the subjective experience of being in a single moment. I want to capture a “truth.” The process of taking a picture is projecting the reality around us onto a sensor and through myriad digital processes to create the photograph you see in front of you now. Every photographer has, in their pursuit of truth in imaging, some lines in terms of image manipulation that they will and won’t cross. HDR, for instance, is viewed as a “cheat” by some, and as a better approach to getting the true dynamic range of the human eye by others.

A less dramatic case, however, is the use of color in an image. Last night, the sky over Canton was this incredible, surreal, and otherworldly pink-orange color that was completely overwhelming and astonishing. When I noticed it out the window, I sprinted outside with my camera and captured the final, fleeting moments. I was in that moment. Nearly the same effect, however, could have been achieved with a simply pink photo filter. To me, this raises two issues:

  1. Trust: You have to trust me, as the photographer, to portray the experience I was having when I captured the image.
  2. Subjective reality: When I process a photo, what techniques are enhancing my ability to convey my subjective experience to you? Which techniques are just “cheating?”

Pink Sky at Night...

Snow Porch

During the blazing August heat, looking back to winter pictures leads to the oddest “time machine effect.” As you can see from the rapidly filling tire tracks in the driveway, we barely made it home ahead of what turned out to be a fierce storm. The comfort of “I don’t have to go out there” is so amplified when standing on a perfect porch, next to the door to a cozy house, and seeing the frozen, dark contrast in the graveyard across the way.

Snow Porch

Seaplanes on Long Lake

The seaplanes dotting the shores of Long Lake offer amazing views and transportation to visitors to the aptly-named Long Lake. On this rainy Sunday afternoon, however, they were quietly bobbing by their docks. The 1960s-era motels, the float planes, the miniature beaches and vacation homes: driving through Adirondack Park is like taking a step back in time. (The complete absence of cell reception furthers the effect.)

Seaplanes on Long Lake

Train and Storm

Chicago’s suburbs are filled with older train stations like this one. In an area where quaint, older homes are often knocked down to make way for McMansions, these stations are sometimes an area’s only link with the past. (Luckily, Hinsdale is better than most areas in this respect.) On a particularly dramatic and thunderstorm-ready afternoon, this particular train platform feels like it could be unstuck in time.

Hinsdale_12_16x9

Hillside Paddock

Out in rural Vermont, down the road from where I took this photo, is the farm of Vermont Ponies. Though they have a bit of barn space, the majority of the farm is paddocks on grassy hillsides like the one you see here. When a storm is brewing (as it was on this muggy June afternoon) or snow is fall (as it definitely wasn’t), the ponies have run-in sheds like the one on the left side of the picture, where they can find some shelter from the weather. (And of course, some food, too.)

Hillside Paddock