Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Arched doorway - Vicksburg, Mississippi 

Summer Reading

Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans - 2009

Looking In was published to accompany an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Robert Frank's The Americans. This large, 500 page book offers an in-depth examination of Frank's seminal work. Of particular interest are the 83 pages of contact sheets from the 760 rolls of film Frank exposed for this project, which give a close-up look at the editing process that resulted in The Americans.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Serenity Floral - Vicksburg, Mississippi 

I recently returned from a trip to Vicksburg. The only morning that I got out to photograph, I left the house at 6:30 am and by 9:00 it was too hot to continue. I couldn't see the viewfinder for the sweat running down in my eyes.

Vicksburg is a tourist destination--nobody pays much attention to a person taking pictures. That was nice. I was standing on the yellow line in the middle of the street taking a picture when a policeman came around the corner. He just smiled and waved.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dr. Pepper - Gordonsville, Virginia

Busbee's Store, built in 1884, is one of only two pre-1916 commercial buildings still standing along Gordonsville's South Main Street. A devastating fire in 1916 destroyed every wooden building on this block. The brick buttresses visible in this photo beneath the Dr. Pepper sign were added to reinforce the north wall,  which was weakened by the fire.

This building, with its rounded arch windows and bracketed Italianate cornices, is one of the most ornate buildings in the commercial section of town. The wooden storefront is, if not original, very early. A friend of mine remembers going to Busbee's Store when he was a boy, but I do not know when it went out of business.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Coca-Cola - Orange, Virginia

This Coca-Cola sign in the town of Orange is in remarkably good condition, but I do not know how old it is. Perhaps because of my background in printing and the graphic arts, I particularly enjoy photographing signs. And since I also like to photograph old buildings, signs on old buildings are one of my favorite subjects.

The juxtaposition of graphic and architectural elements often give signs painted on buildings an unexpected twist, like the window which is carefully worked into the design of this Coca-Cola sign.  Even though it seems to contribute nothing to the message, the window is perfectly at home in this sign. "Take some home today" simply wouldn't be the same without it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dyke Road - Greene County, Virginia 

Summer reading . . .

Clear Springs: A Memoir by Bobbie Ann Mason

Clear Springs is an autobiographical account of novelist Bobbie Ann Mason's growing up on a rural Kentucky farm. The book traces her own journey, leaving home and eventually returning. Along the way she paints a moving portrait of her parents who are firmly rooted in place.

She writes about her Kentucky home without a trace of the condescension that so often mars the work of writers who romanticize rural life while being utterly contemptuous of the values of the people who live there.

There is a small section of family photographs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smith's Garage - Madison, Virginia 

The era of the small town/neighborhood garage is nearly over. Today, cars are appliance-like, reliable and relatively maintenance free. But there was a time when owning a car was not so easy, and a good garage was a necessity. Flat tires, dead batteries, engines that lost power or wouldn't start, electrical failures, rattles and strange gasping sounds were common. The radio never worked, there was no air conditioning and the heater leaked and made a bad smell.

We put up with all of this in exchange for the promise of the road.  We traveled the two-lane highways with toolbox and spare parts in the trunk, self-sufficient and free. And each small town we passed through had a garage.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Greene County, Virginia

An absolute
Trees stand
up to their knees in
fog. The fog
slowly flows
cobwebs, the grass 
leaning where deer 
have looked for apples.
The woods
from brook to where
the top of the hill looks
over the fog, send up
not one bird.
So absolute, it is
no other than
happiness itself, a breathing
too quiet to hear. 

          The Breathing - Denise Levertov

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mattawoman Creek - Indian Head, Maryland 

Mattawoman Creek is across the Potomac River from where I grew up in Virginia. The name is derived from the Algonquin meaning "where one goes pleasantly."

The Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center is located on the northern side of Mattawoman Creek. When I was a teenager, it was known as the Naval Ordnance Station and was actively testing munitions. The explosions shook the dishes in our kitchen. Sirens at the mouth of the creek warned boaters of impending tests.

Indian Head is now an engineering and technical center, and all is quiet. The Mattawoman estuary is one of the most productive wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay system. This photo was taken from the southern bank of Mattawoman looking toward Indian Head.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church - Madison County, Virginia

Mt. Olivet was organized in 1848 by the first Methodist preacher to preach in this area near Syria. The congregation first met in an arbor of beech trees near the place where the church now stands. This meeting place was called Beech Grove, but later, after the church was built, it came to be known as Mt. Olivet.

Click here to see last Sunday's church

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Newly planted field - Madison County, Virginia

Web Notes

✎  Dear George
A recent post on The Online Photographer is attracting a lot of attention around the web. Mike Johnston's "Letter to George" is a clever satire, but if you have ever been caught up in shopping for camera equipment, Mike's letter to the fictional George may hit pretty close to home.

✎  Find a place is a searchable database of places throughout the United States. Broken down by state and county, it lists famous places, not so famous places and places that you probably have never heard of. Browsing through the place names listed for the county where I live, I discovered several places of interest that I did not know about. A map and location details are provided.