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Tuesday, 02 June 2020


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I envy your evening walk. I live in St. Paul, MN and my photos over the last couple nights were of boarded up store fronts.

Your walk also reminded me a bit of the driftless area of Wisconsin where my parents grew up and my relatives still live. A beautiful part of Wisconsin with hills and valleys and nothing like the rest of the midwest that surrounds it.

Photos of skies are mostly a memory device for me to look at during rainy stretches or winter. I like taking them because I have no expectation of taking something better than what I actually experience.

Nice Mitsubishi, Mike. Over here there are more Skodas and Volkswagens. I drive VW camper bus.
Take care, Robert :-)

That was great fun. You should do it more often. Gives me a feeling of where you live.

This is what it’s all about

Thanks. I enjoyed the walk.

"By the way, this is one of those pictures that I hoped would be something but isn't. That's something that's been happening to me all my life. You'd think we'd have a word for it."

I call those "near misses." Sometimes they are not so near!

We used to have a redwing blackbird nest near my house in the Chicago suburbs when I was a kid. They used to dive bomb me when I cut the grass!

This should be a weekly post, just a simple collection of pictures documenting an event, and it doesn’t need to be any special event, a simple walk is a good source of material. I do enjoy a lot just seeing some photographs with some context, a simple pleasure, and I think it’s fair to say that photo-watching is something we all enjoy here.
From all the photos, the one with the bird and the moon stands out. I think it would also make a really good B&W image, which leads me to the question of why don’t you show more B&W images, even if snapshots if it’s your preferred medium?

"By the way, this is one of those pictures that I hoped would be something but isn't."

I thought it was funny reading this sentence right after I said to myself, "boy, that's one of the best shots I've seen Mike post."

It is really great to see your surroundings and to hear your descriptions. The house I grew up in, just part of a Ryan Homes subdivision in Western PA, happened to be within easy range of some fields and small farmlands, opposite in direction from most of my family's suburban activity. I remember when, as a kid, I first learned it was probably okay for me to climb that mile or so uphill by bike to that area on my own, telling no one. The setting felt like another time and place, before everyone came to grab their quarter acre. The work it took to get there, little guy on too big of a bike, made me think that only I could get to it, that it was a secret place and that my bike was a time machine.

I was lucky to do it, undisturbed and safe.

Many of my photo walks, and photo bikes and photo drives, have been that same escape ride. Going through the pictures I've taken on each just reminds me that I need continue do them for myself, when I can, and to find other seemingly hidden places. Those trips are always self-restoration for return, and I have been grateful to have had them. They've had a profound effect on my actual life, many times over.

Your photos remind me quite a bit of that Brush Run, and they take me back. Thank you for sharing them.

Outside of our own spheres and inner lives, we see that photography and documentation is so important in how it witnesses and reveals things, seemingly hidden things to some, that for others arrived (or were always) in plain sight, though as if from another reality. It is important to share what we see. If those images are confusing, or somehow unclear, it is important to struggle to find words to address and to interpret what the camera has recorded, and also why and how the images came to be. When those words and those pictures fail us, we need to work harder still.

I appreciate the work you do to help us reflect on our hobby in so many different ways. Even when you are just demonstrating the reflective nature of taking a walk with a camera, trying some shots, it can mean quite a bit to your readers. It reminded me to just keep trying, among many other things.

So this is how the artist in you flourishes: adding words to the pictures and pictures to the words ! Two talents, one story. Love it - makes me feel good. (Ten of those stories and you’d have a book!) Thank you.

You'd almost think you'd never heard of skateboards.

Nice writing Mike. Felt that I was with you on that walk.

Thank you, Mike, for a soothing and pleasant stroll. It's a wonderful sequence; and as individual pictures I really like the last shot of the house, the dog, Honeybee Dave's house and the first "no trespassing" sign. Something painterly about those, especially the last two I mentioned. And of course the priest's house reminds me of Magritte.

These photos may not have literally captured the feel and scent of the air, but they succeeded in stirring up those memories.

No one asked me, but I think "Skies" could be a good, challenging theme for a Baker's Dozen.

That was very nice. I felt like I was walking inside a Robert Frost Poem. Thanks.

Thanks, Mike, needed a calm walk today. You really can feel the sunlight.

Documenting my walks is what most of my photography is about. So I enjoyed this post.

I walk in the Apennines and my problem too was coming downhill.

I solved it with a hiking pole, which is like a lightweight walking stick. The pole takes the weight of your knees. Good ones are lightweight and a loop makes them easy to carry.

They are sold in pairs as they are used mostly for Norwegian walking which uses both.

It made a big difference.

Mike, that was a very pleasant walk, indeed. The type of thing that all of us particularly need right now. Cheers.

520 feet in a mile means an average 10 percent grade, which is quite steep. Major highways, interstates, are usually no steeper than 6 percent, that's the sort of hill where you'd see those signs telling trucks to use a lower gear. So your hill is steeper than our hills in CO, but some of them go on for 7 or 8 miles. (quiz time - an 8 mile hill at 5 percent would rise how many feet? My dad was a civil engineer by way of an excuse for this)

FWIW if I had to determine the pick of the litter I would definitely pick the sky/clouds.

I know what you mean about those Stieglitz photos; I have a meh reaction to them also.

But I think sky photos can be quite rich. That snap you took there, with a different time/different evening with a little color and maybe a more interesting ground/trees edge and it could move up from pick of the litter to be a wonderful photo.

Again, FWIW, but then this is a forum so most all of it is FWIW.

Regarding the bus in Switzerland, back in 1991 on one of the first of our many journeys through Latin America, my wife and I took the bus from Lima to Arequipa in Peru along the Pan American "Highway" (I'm pretty sure it wasn't even a sealed road still in parts at that time). Looking out the window in some places, we could occasionally see the front wheel of the bus going beyond the road and into thin air with hundreds of metres drop into the Pacific Ocean below. The road was barely wide enough for two buses to pass which made matters worse and my wife was terrified for most of the journey. At the time, as I had no control over the matter, I just relaxed and trusted that the driver had done the trip many times before, ignoring the fact that the cliff edge had no railings and was interrupted regularly with crosses indicating where vehicles had gone over the edge!

Lovely images of a walk I’d love to take right now, Mike. As I write this my home is locked into a security zone in downtown Chicago like I’ve never experienced. After three months of pandemic quarantine this is beginning to drive my bolts a bit loose. So your wonderful afternoon images of such a beautiful rural setting hit me way harder than I would have expected.

Thank you for sharing these.

p.s. I could not care less about what camera / lens you used. 😑

Thanks Mike. I did feel that I had a little visit with you. I appreciate you describing the feel of the air, I felt I was really there for a moment. And you didn’t even tell us which camera you used ;)
David Drake

What a great story about your walk up the hill with some nice pictures to go along with it.

I remember when the great Yellow Father ruled the shelves at the local photo store. What a pity those times are gone.

Anyway thanks for sharing!

Liked the Gothic Revival house shot with the cross and human-like shadow. Spooky eh?

That looks like a lovely walk. Walking is how I get most of my exercise these days too.

And there is nothing wrong with taking bird pictures with a `short' lens (in my opinion, but what do I know).

equivalents ... wasn't that Minor White?

Re: skies. The total absence of vapour trails (contrails) is quite a revelation in our new dystopia. Especially where I live in the UK, close to Heathrow and Gatwick airports

Lovely. Thanks for giving us a look at your neighborhood.

What a nice read. Thank you for sharing.

About the picture that looks good to your eye but fails as a photograph, can we call it mind's eye photo? I get a lot of those.

"By the way, this is one of those pictures that I hoped would be something but isn't."
Actually - it is !

"skies generally are not good subjects for photographs"
Wrong again :-)

I really enjoyed going on that walk with you, thank you. These are the sort of photos I have been taking over our lockdown in the UK, together with countless small domestic images. None of them are great or worthy photos, but somehow they mean a great deal to me. Taking photos has certainly helped me so much during this time.

It was relaxing despite all those troubles. Surfed on to your site by a circuitous route, namely looking for information on whether my father in law’s 50mm f 1.4 Pentax Talkumar lens would be good for astrophotography. One link led to another and here I am.Great photos and a civilised stroll; thank you.


"...and skies generally are not good subjects for photographs, something Stieglitz taught me with his snooty "Equivalents," all of which are not-very-good pictures."

Hoo-boy! That's a lulu! Tell you what though: I love these casual shots of yours on your blog. Generally, I couldn't care less about snaps like this. Somehow, here, they are very evocative, and it seems like they possess a hint of melancholic spice.

About your picture that you “hoped would be something but isn't”, in that famous 1962 interview with Francois Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock tells a lovely story about a man who has writter’s block.
Night after night he dreams amazing stories but he wakes up in the morning and gets frustrated because he can’t remember them. He knows they were great novels, but he simply can’t remember.
One night before going to bed he leaves a tiny notepad on his nightstand, so he wakes up in the middle of the night and writes what he just dreamed.
The next morning, instead of trying to remember, he goes to straight to the notepad.
It simply says “a man falls in love with a woman”.

[I took courses in college from Jay Parini, who has gone on to be quite an accomplished author. He also wanted to record his nighttime epiphanies, so he too employed a pad of paper and pen by his bedside. What he found was that few of his supposedly profound nighttime thoughts translated to daytime. He finally gave up the practice when he woke up to find the following scribbled on his mid-night note pad: "it's cold in here." --Mike]

I really enjoyed your walk Mike. "Skies generally don't make good photographs". I beg to differ. In any case I don't think I have ever seen clouds quite like those in britain, so fascinating to see.

Nice walk, and nice pictures. I am a big fan of simple documentary pictures of one's life. It is one of the ways photographs can make your life more enjoyable. Simple pictures can help evoke vivid and pleasant memories of life's mundane and tiny adventures. Like the crisp evening air and the vivid greens of your walk.
I find them almost therapeutic, a place to 'go' , relax , and remember.
Over time they can take on considerably more personal value.
I built my current home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania 35 years ago.
I purchased a few acres of what had been slightly hilly farmland at the top of a hill. There was not a single stick on the property save the row of osage orange trees along the road at the back of the property.
Today it is a forrest of full sized trees, clearings and other mostly native landscaping. Every one sited by us, and most of them planted with our own hands. Having a document of that progress is now a treasure.
So good work on the walk, I could almost smell the air.

Nice interlude, Mike. Timely, considering what is happening in many urban areas.

That cloud formation: its unusual and I think only common in the Northeast? (I grew up near Boston). I cannot remember seeing it during my forty years living in the Southeast. If one is going to photograph clouds, the rare/unusual formations are worth the effort.

Stay well and keep walking.

A nice post Mike!
It's a bit like hearing from an old friend, which I guess you are although we haven't yet met.

Nice day. Thanks for taking us along.

This was enjoyable, Mike. Please continue in "picture-taking mode." You live in a beautiful and historic region.

"I often take pictures of the sky just for the joy of it."
I do too - and trees, and frost patterns. I rarely get anything that recreates the impression of what I saw, except for frost patterns. With these, the camera can reveal intricate designs and fascinating abstracts resulting from the interplay of form, colour, and light - things you don't usually see with the naked eye.
Couldn't agree more about Stieglitz's Equivalents. They are very ordinary images with little impact on their own. Only verbiage and the photographer's pre-existing reputation has raised them to the level of "art."

I've given up on the idea that I'll take such and such camera and lens out with me and "make art." It has never worked for me. What has worked in the occasional stumble onto a picture I'd like to work on. Those I then print and frame. There are very few.

I think it was in the Phillips, I wandered into the narrow gallery containing a set of Stieglitz "Equivalents." Just clouds, and nothing noteworthy about them. Meh. I said to my wife as we left, "Stieglitz sucks."

Knees hurt going downhill? Sounds what I had, before total knee replacement. I can sympathize.

Night time note pads are no good. Cassette recorders are the thing. Ask Keef.


Thank you for all the donations you have publicly announced you are giving to. One thing that has bothered me since your 5/27/20 post titled, "And Six Things I Did Right" quoting from your posting:

"That was where I got one of my favorite compliments—the late shift entrance guard at the Jefferson Annex was a big friendly black guy who I often chatted with on the way out."

Why must you identify the guard as a "black guy," and not just a guy? The context of your sentence does not require a race or a cultural identification unless entrance guards need to be identified as being black. This is racism.

[No it isn't. It's accuracy. He was a black guy. What, do you think there's something wrong with being black? How about friendly? I identified him as friendly, didn't I? I said he was big. Would that tag me as someone who's bigoted about height? Writers describe as a way of "conjuring," as Stephen King puts it...you paint a picture for the reader, so the reader can imagine herself there. You can't give every detail, so you give some of them. I said he was a guy, too. How dare I? I guess that makes me sexist. --Mike]

About your silo picture, the dog is looking out of the frame. This does have good potential, just needs a bit of TLC. I did like going through the walk with you. Each photo had a little more meaning as a result.

Some scenes are so big and so alive and so dramatic that the picture will almost always pale in comparison. For those moments, a good picture can at best serve to repaint a memory in our mind’s eye. Perhaps we don’t need a descriptor for the photo that missed the mark but instead a word for the magnificence of those life moments when all our senses are piqued.

Regardiing the doggie in the farm silo photo: that is what Luminosity Masking in Capture One 20 is for.

Shalom Mike,
I recently upgraded some Photoshop plug-ins and was looking for something to practice on.

So I took 2 of your recent blog pictures and tried "to enhance" them.

Had the hardest time with the dog-and-silos photo. Wasn't sure what you intended to emphasize, so made 3 different versions.

Yes, I know WordPress jpg's are greatly reduced in size and quality, but this was just an exercise.

Stan Greenberg, Kibbutz Kabri, Western Galilee, Israel

PS IMHO your columns are one of the most valuable photography assets on the Internet. Have recently begun to donate via Patreon. Kiddo you don't have anything to regret about your career choice - just keep the columns coming.

Sorry forgot to include a link to the "enhanced" photos. Here it is:


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