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Friday, 07 June 2013


Rings a bell....almost a year ago to the day:

I have the opposite problem. Dominion Power has spent the last six months repairing streetlights where I live. Since I like to take pictures of buildings shrouded in darkness, this is a source of much angst.

When I had some money to travel I'd always (inexplicably) put off visiting the Berlin Wall- after all, if there was anything that wasn't going anywhere in my life time... I got to see the remaining crumbs that summer- not quite the same.

As one whose primary subject matter these days is "urban decay," I run into this situation all the time. If it's not a streetlight being removed, it's a street being repaved or a building being repainted (or many instances, torn down or -- gasp! -- even falling down.)

On the positive side, though, this means my collection of photos potentially has some historical value, provided that I expend the effort to keep track of what I'm photographing, where it's located, and when I photographed it, all of which is a bit of a nuisance compared to taking photos solely "for fun" and as "art." That said, though, it nevertheless seems like the right thing to do...

The natural world is in constant change. Places where there used to be a great view of the snow capped peak are now blocked by trees which have grown over the years. A volcano blows its top clean off. The stream with all the beautiful trees next to it now is in a clear-cut. We need to make the images when we see them because we can't be sure they will be there tomorrow.

So right. I still kick myself over not taking a picture of an older house next to mine that had a graffiti from the 80s reading "Free Afghanistan, Russians go home!". I walked by that wall every day of the week for months, and every time I thought "I must take a picture of this. I will do it tomorrow". Alas, after a lot of tomorrows, one today the building was demolished and the opportunity was gone. Live and learn, as they say. At least you got a superb photograph before the street light was gone.

Hike Mike,
Let's hope it's to replace it with one that does not spill light towards the sky as much.
I became aware of this problem when a group started to replace all public and private outside lights with ones that does not pollute the sky as much in the Eastern Townships county here. http://www.astrolab-parc-national-mont-megantic.org/en/light-pollution.htm

"Here today, gone tomorrow" is David Plowden's mantra. We are better for it.

As for orange cones:


"Photograph what you want to while you can—you never know how long anything is going to be there. And value the photographs you have of things once familiar—someday it may be all that is left of that thing."

Exhibit B

November, 2010

April, 2013

Exhibit C

September, 2011

May, 2013

So heed Mike's suggestion. Gather ye photos while ye may!

Sandy Hook NJ has been my best local "shooting range" and it has been changed in many areas by hurricane Sandy. It just reopened, and my most productive beach appears to be gone. The Google maps satellite photos don't show the changes, so I also need to explore new paths.

This isn't all bad - we are forced into new paths and MAY find great new things. I finally found a way into some mysterious bunkers that I found only by satellite. I need to revisit at lowest tide, and see what may have been uncovered on the beaches.

Tell me 'bout it. I shoot street art, an artform there is almost no permanence to. Usually a mural faints away over time if the paint is bad, or it simply gets painted over, eighter by vandals or other graffiti artists (the vandals here being men in overalls being paid by the municipality to ruin art).

But, I must say tearing down the entire building was a bit un-called for: http://skognatt.blogspot.no/2011/10/rubble.html
Two giant murals by renowned artists Blu and EricIlcane was turned to rubble to make way for apartments.

Point is: The pictures are all that is left after time has passed.

Hi Mike,
Noting your nostalgic piece about the streetlight, and adding the story of the bigger house, I dare to intrude a bit into your private life, and state, what for me is the obvious:
You should move to some nice place, with sub tropical climate , and close to the sea. There are places like this in the US I guess - California, Florida, even New Mexico or the Hawaii. Your son is big enough by now to cope on his own, he probably wouldn't mind at all.
I have lived most of my life inland, and it has been a progression towards the sun: 19 years in Poland, 3 years in the UK, 30 years in the north of Italy, and finally, since 4 years in Monaco. You would not believe, what a difference it makes to live in a place, with 315 days of sun a year, and average temperatures in January about 10 C, and July about 27C. It never freezes here, although only 50 km away you get snow covered mountains, where you can ski. Walking in the sun, sitting out in the caffe's, swimming in the sea, wearing light clothes, eating fresh vegetables, fruits and fish and having plenty of nice light for your photos will make all the difference in the world. Get your bum on the move... here, you will find lots of scientific information about longevity and quality of life till the very end, and it all boils down to the same things: move, meet friends, eat fresh local unprocessed foods, keep yourself busy, be optimistic.


All much easier to do if you live in a good climate, where people meet for a ride on the bike and a coffee, rather than to eat the Big Mac and drink beer in smoke filled places. You only live once Mike, give it a spin...

BTW - have you tried the 5:2 diet yet? I have lost 5 kilos in 2 months and feel great. It works.

Take care

A good lesson to learn. Of course our photographs are also evanescent. They may last longer than the apple, but at some time in the future they too will be gone.

In their times too, the photograph, the photographer and all who remember either will no longer exist.

Without the passing of the old, there is not room for the new.

Attachment to the past, and future (My "Year"), hold hostage experience and enjoyment of life in the present.

Memories are part of being human. Nostalgia tends to occur when a bittersweet sense of loss feels better than a sense of emptiness, dissatisfaction in the present; a belief that it is insufficient. Too much, and the past may replace the present.

A zombie is someone who has left the present for the past, physically alive, but otherwise dead, as lack of change, movement, is a form of death.

They are already rotting away, without noticing. They want to take you with them, eating away at your brain with attachment to what was.

Enjoy the lamp post while it is there. When it is gone, it is an invitation to look around and see what else is here now.

Ecclesiastes Moose

Mike, this even applies in the short term. Has this ever happened to you? You are driving somewhere and see something worth photographing and say to yourself, "I'll stop on the way back," but when you return it is never the same. It's gone, the light has changed or something else has happened. You want to kick yourself for not stopping. I learned that lesson years ago and now stop immediately when I see something worthy of photographing. It took a while for me to learn that lesson, but I finally did.

[Not only that, but often the picture is not there except from the middle of the road at the height you sit when you're driving in your car! This is something that Edward Weston noticed on his Guggenheim trip across the U.S.—he got someone else to drive so he could look for pictures, but he found again and again that when he made the driver stop so he could get out of the car, the picture he'd seen was never quite there. It was not a very productive trip. --Mike]

A picture is always a moment in time. As soon as the shutter is closed, it is already history. I am attracted to taking pictures of transient situations like a half demolished building. It is also why I like to take pictures of stores and services that look like they won't be in business for much longer.
As for the street lamp, when you get nostalgic, you can always bring out your picture.

Sad indeed. Your lesson is valuable but I have the same reasoning with light. Why is it magical light always happens in the middle of a meal ? There's a limit to what the family will endure ;)

Off-topic, what a great picure ! Have you had it printed ?

This house was demolished the day after I made this photograph. The dress was in the attic when I found it, I did not put it there. I'm glad I stopped that day to explore this place; it is one of my favorite photos and one of my best sellers!

In the words of Shakespears Prospero "we are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep" so everything keeps changing or in the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus "Panta Rhei" or everything flows. But in those days flow was usually for the better. Today I wonder.

Greets, Ed.

P.S. Mike thats why I bike. More in accordence to the way you take pictures. I hate photography from cars especially if I'm the driver.

P.P.S. Thanks Paul for the Shakespear quote, never forgot it.

I tend to use the type of transformation you discuss as an opportunity. One reason I return to photograph familiar places time and again is that nothing ever seems quite the same. Even when there aren't radical changes such as structure removal, the light changes, objects age, people enter, trees grow, etc. And I change, too, in the way I may see things. I've thought a lot about turning some of these ventures into book projects.

Another glass half full observation: your very nice picture (that you both took and made) just became more special, and pricey.

I really liked Ed Hawco's photo that you excerpted, but you didn't include any link back to his site or the source of the photo. I dug it up with a little Googling for anyone else who's interested:

The photo is:

He has a few other "ghost houses" in his feed, though that one is probably the best.

One of the drive-in theater owners I met last year had a problem with a streetlight, the intense sodium-vapor light from it was ruining the picture on his screen. He told me that he'd tried to talk to the city officials, to change the location so it could do its supposed function without interfering with his show: they blew him off. I won't say where this was of course, but he told me he kept shooting the light out with a BB gun, and they just keep replacing it. Your government/citizen interface at work.


This is a bit off-topic but current, I think.

How to post pictures and links in TOP Comments

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Here's the simplest HTML tag ("code") to insert an image:

(1) <img src="URL">

Where URL is the web address of the image. That's it. Be sure, though, to enclose URL with double quotes.

What I do to extract the URL of the picture I want to insert in a comment is, as follows:
(a) Open the picture in a new tab in my browser,
(b) Right click on the picture and select "Copy image URL" from the pop-up menu,
(c) Paste the copied URL in between the twin double quotes in the image tag as shown in (1) above, which I will have typed already in the appropriate line of my comment entry.

For example:

The East sand bar of Kalanggaman island. Here's an undated aerial photo of the island before the West sand bar disappeared.

To avoid using long and awkward URLs in a Comment, use the link tag. The HTML tag for a link is, as follows:

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You may have noticed that sometimes, Comments to a TOP post suddenly become all italicized. That's usually because a reader forgot to put a "/" before the "i" in the closing tag of an italicized word or phrase in his or her Comment. The closing tag should be written as: </i>. (The typepad template is partly to blame for this because it gives examples of the opening tags only for bold, italic, unordered list (<ul>). The closing tags are, respectively: </b>, </i> and </ul>.

The <img> tag, which requires no closing tag, is an exception to this rule.

How to right-size a picture to fit TOP's Comments template

Even if you got the image tag syntax right, typepad will truncate your picture if its width exceeds 470 pixels.

When I want to post a picture with my comment, what I do is to re-size, re-export and rename the picture I want to post from my catalogue. In the (Lightroom) export form, I specify 470 (pixels) and "long edge" in the image sizing boxes. Then I post the picture to my web album (Picasa) or my blog (in a draft post) so I can extract its URL.

If you think a larger image of the picture you posted is called for, you can provide a link to a larger version. For example:

Click for a larger image of Kalanggaman island.

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Finally, I almost always Preview before deciding to post a Comment, especially if I have inserted a picture. This is the one way to find out whether your image tag is correct. If a broken image icon instead of a picture turns out (or if a link is broken), then there's something wrong with your HTML syntax.

So very true. I was as walking downtown Austin yesterday and noticed some very artistic graffiti that I photographed not long ago has been repainted. It made for a great shot with a tall building peeking over the art covered wall. Gone forever except on my FB page lol

Heraclitus : "You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you." It is not only that the world changes, we also change. It is then important to make picture of the same subjects not only as a document but also as a record of our changing vision of the world.

Mike, go take another pic of that house, in the day and without the lamp. Do a print sale of them as a diptych. (I just bought the Universe Next Door. Thanks.)

The post focuses on natural and urban environment, but how about social environment?
The context that surrounds our social life and the people that come and go.

As said, we tend to take for granted the present but that can change, and sooner or later it will.
The best friend that is now here, tomorrow might move on to another place; become engaged and drift away.
Even if the people is the same, sometimes the attitudes aren't.
And there's the case, of someone passing away.

I always take snaps of my daily life -usually with the cameraphone- and have some memories condensed.

Back on topic, I am someone who usually tends to observe the environment he goes on daily... I do a long commute with the same landscape, yet everyday I see some change. Other people (friends) have become bored or either don't understand it the same way.

Also, I'm very keen on documenting and, to me, this is a main goal for photography.

Didn't they say "Tempus fugit, Carpe diem"?

I'm busy working through a lot of old photographs, including a lot which I took as a child. Over the years I've focused more and more on landscapes. Somewhere in the collection will be some old transparencies of Mukorob (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mukurob), taken on a student trip through what was then called South West Africa. I'm hoping to find something printable.

You are driving somewhere and see something worth photographing and say to yourself, "I'll stop on the way back," but when you return it is never the same.

Very very true. I'm at a point now where I need to stop more and take more pictures.

My problem is often a twist on that old cliche. Instead of "here today, gone tomorrow," it's been "not there yesterday, here today." One example: I have a favorite shot of then-new Toronto City Hall that I took in 1969. I've gone back several times and tried new angles, different lenses, and times of day, but during those subsequent sessions, there's been a mid-rise building on the left imposing itself in my background. The only photo that doesn't have it, and therefore my only photo with a clean background, is that 1969 shot. No matter how much I "improve" other aspects of my original photo, I always have that annoying building in the background.

I guess it happens to all of us, we see beauty in the world and capture it only to find it gone in the blind of an eye.

I've had this happen several times lately and in the past. Most predominant one from memory, A large Royal Poinciana tree in someones front yard was flowering brilliant red all over, I told myself I must make a photo. I put it off and put it off and by the time (many weeks later) when I forced myself to return the season had changed and the tree was leafless like a twisted evil halfling of the original.

Nonetheless I took a photo. Not 2 days later I drove past again and there was a bobcat and workers cutting it down and taking away the pieces. So glad I have a photo of that, so annoyed I didn't get one when it was in full colour.

I guess in some sense. this is why we take photos.

Sadly, it happens. When I went to Rome last year, I was desperate to try and improve on this photo I'd taken a few years earlier. Alas, it was not to be :(.

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