lots of snow

February 6, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

1st entry – pittsburgh 2010

The picture was taken Saturday morning. I’m shooting from the alley-way across the street.

Snow 064

All day Friday, the news media was hyping everyone up with their predictions of snowmageddon. Rick, Sarah and I had a previous date to go to Joan Brindle’s gallery opening and we ignored the hysteria and went to the opening. I drove home proud of having made it from the east-end, via Wilkinsburg, Squirrel Hill, Oakland and to the North Side. The roads were snow-covered and given that the media had scared everyone home, there were very few other cars to navigate or be careful of.

I went to bed thinking that I’d get up early and go take pictures. At 4:00 in the morning I realize that my alarm clock is off and that there’s a chill. I get up and check things and figure out that the electrical had gone off at 11:30 last night. The dogs were not happy in the darkness. A couple of hours later, I get up, make espresso and have breakfast, but still no heat or electricity.

I open the back door to let the dogs out and find that they yard is covered in almost 3 feet of snow. The dogs jump in only to sink and get all snow covered. After the shock of sinking, they begin to eat the snow. They love to eat the stuff. After a lot of shouting I round them up and bring them in only to spend the next half-hour drying them off.


February 7, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

2nd entry – pittsburgh 2010

This was the headline in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And given that 21 inches of snow fell in 14 hours, and that we were without electricity and heat for 17 hours, the title seems to fit. (A state of emergency was declared throughout Pennsylvania.) I’m using an image shot yesterday. It conveys the amount of snow without the filth of sand and melt.

Snow 073

Yesterday morning everyone was in a great mood. Taylor Avenue was filled with people we all laughed and talked about the fact that none of us had power. Here we were, Pittsburgh’s urban pioneers enjoying a beautiful snow-drenched morning. The sun and snow made it easy to forget that we had no heat and no electricity. That discomfort didn’t set in until sundown and the house was cold and dark.

In the afternoon, I went out and sat in my car for a half hour charging my iPhone and Kindle. (I don’t believe I’ve been alive long enough for such an admission to make sense and to not be embarrassed by this comment.) My neighbors went to a coffee shop in the neighborhood to charge all their peripherals.

The electricity came back this morning at 4:00 – seventeen hours after going off.

shock to the system

March 30, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

3rd entry – pittsburgh 2010

The other day my D90 gave me an error message and then shut down. I removed the battery and it started up again only to shut down again. Went online and started reading blogs and several postings talked about this particular problem. It was described as an electrical problem in the body of the D90.

Next, I called Nikon and they said the same thing and that I had to ship the camera in for repair – shock to the system. I packed it all up and went down to UPS. I was without a familiar camera. Even though, I recently purchased a D700 when offered a “pick-yourself-out-a-gift” offer. But I was intimidated by the fancy, new camera and had not yet used it.

March10 006

On my way down to UPS, I decided to take the plunge and use the D700 in Auto mode. (I know, I know this could get me drummed out of the “club.”) But then it wouldn’t be the first club I got thrown out of. I read the manual, switched it to Auto and walked out the door.

My neighbor’s kids were playing and I asked them if I could take their picture. (As if they were going to say no.) Here’s one of my favorites.

I agonized over buying the D700 – it’s considered a professional camera and I’m nowhere near that level of proficiency. And never mind the price, even if it was a gift – a gift that was offered back in January. It took me three months before I called and order it and then it sat on my dining room table for the next two weeks. I kept telling myself that I didn’t have time to learn it. It’s funny how things work out. Nothing like necessity to force us to do things we’re afraid of. (At one point, I considered going back to my office and getting my old D60. After all I knew how to use that one and I was already in the car. A short trip to downtown would be easy.)

If I remember correctly, I did the same thing with my first camera – put it on auto and concentrated on composition. It has taken me two and a half years to get to a point where I know my way through the technology to shoot in manual. I hope it’ll be a shorter time with this new, fancy camera.

reflections in glass

March 31, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

4th entry – pittsburgh 2010

I was out in Westmoreland County, the sun was out and I decided to drive out to St. Vincent College to shoot with the D700.

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The doors to the abbey were open so I made a bee-line to the entrance. When I got there, behind the massive wooden doors were two sets of glass doors, and there staring at me was a reflection in a reflection. I couldn’t pass it up.

Now to try and explain the layers – the gold statue is behind me, and its reflection is in the first set of doors. The rolling hills are the western ridge of the Appalachians. My larger reflection is also in the first set of doors. The smaller, full-body reflection is in the second set – the interior doors. The floating, vertical rectangle with the insignia is on the interior doors. The shield is the College’s logo.

Inside, I shot the empty, sterile church of Holy Week. By Sunday it will be festooned in lilies and filled with Halleluiahs. Outside, I found the pond for the old grist mill. (At one time the monks grew wheat, ground it in the mill and made great bread. But those days are gone.) The pond is home to some of the largest gold-fish/carp. And, a group of gold-fish was huddled under rotting leaves. The bright red was in contrast to the browns and dirty-greens of the old autumn leaves.

BTW, I learned that I don’t have the D700 set up correctly. I guess ‘auto’ is a selective feature, not an all encompassing one.

monet in a pond at st. vincent’s

April 2, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

5th entry – pittsburgh 2010

The old gristmill at St. Vincent still has the pond that for years dammed the water that turned the wheel that ground the wheat that became the monks’ bread. Today the mill houses the College’s maintenance and the pond is a nice place to visit on a spring day.

St-Vincent 0101d

I was standing there shooting the grounds and looked down into the green water and saw all these carp, some of them huge. Farther out, under old leaves and other winter debris was a small group of fish all red and golden. I aimed the lens and shot. The dirty-grey winter leaves, the red carp, the reflected tree-limbs all floating in the cold-green water created an image that reminded me of Monet’s Water Lilies.

old roads

June 20, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

6th entry – pittsburgh 2010

My two high-end cameras are in the shop. And after 3 tries it looks like the problem is the batteries. Nikon has my D90, D700, my 18-200 lens and 4 batteries. (I suspect they may finally be on the right track, because the 18-200 lens is not a problem with the D60.) Also, today was my first day without travel, prom, travel and graduation on my plate. I could finally go out and shoot.

Sewickley 021My first outing was to Sewickley hoping to find some interesting things to shoot, but didn’t. What I did find were some great windows for reflections.

This is my first trip shooting in the area in quite a while. I’m troubled, because I want my two cameras back; I really want to shoot with the D700; the picture quality is great. However, I am shooting with my favorite lens – Nikkor 12-24. And regardless, it’s through the lens that I zone out and make pictures.

I walked the main street and was disappointed to find it was deserted and not very interesting. Most of the shops are directed at women and all were closed and shuttered. It doesn’t matter the goal was to get back out there and make pictures.

The picture on the left is fun. There I am in the middle of barrels, candy, fluorescences, ads and a Sewickley frame-house. The ad in the bottom right of the all-American child in the same image as the old immigrant is my sense of fun. I turned the camera to myself out of boredom. Fancy Sewickley had nothing worth shooting.


old roads #2

June 20, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

G-Angel 015

S-Angel 038

After my disappointing trip to Sewickley, I decided to revisit my two favorite angles in Homewood Cemetery.

I was hoping to find them dripping in evening light. The smaller angel on the left, was in shadow but the large majestic one on the right, holding a bouquet of poppies, still stood in twilight.


The Gulentz Angel on the left is the smaller of the two and has a whimsical quality. Her outstretched arm giving her both a melancholy stance and a breadth that encompasses the entire sarcophagus.

The Schoonmaker Angel is elegant and grand. She stands holding poppies in one hand and resting her left hand gently on the sarcophagus, soothing a sleeping child. She is herald, she is mother.

after the rain

June 23, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

7th entry – pittsburgh 2010

I have all my cameras back. And tomorrow I should have the Canon point-and-shoot. I’ve wanted something that I can have with me all the time and the PowerShot G11 was highly recommended.

July2010 001

There’s no way of knowing if the problem has really been fixed, however this time the techies seemed to attack it more comprehensively. The support manager in California that I’ve been dealing with got the technical manager in New York to work the case. It was the New York person that asked for the lens and batteries. What they found was that two of my four batteries were defective. Also the battery chamber on the D90 had cracked and that got repaired. The battery problems seem right. I already threw away one of the non-Nikon batteries, because it would not keep a charge. But it never occurred to me that what I was buying at a chain camera shop would be defective. I’ve ended up buying and throwing away 3 batteries.

The image on the left was shot with the D700 after a thunderstorm. I put together the D700 with my favorite lens – Nikkor 12-24 – and went out to the back yard. I really like the images from the D700.

The other thing that I did tonight was hang 6 pictures of flower photographs that I shot. (Last fall in Maine, Mac mentioned that he rotated the pictures in his house. There’s what I could do with my photographs – print them, frame them and hang them on a rotating basis.) I gave my friend Scott six flower images that I really liked. He Photoshopped them, printed them and framed them. I know nothing about printing, and I suspect that I will have to learn something about it.

silos in westmoreland

October 19, 2010 diario/journal, pittsburgh

last entry – pittsburgh 2010

Fall10 001

Our fall-foliage trip took us through Westmoreland County. I’ve traveled the turnpike for years, but have never gone exploring the country roads that surround it.

What made the shoot at this furniture store was the tile silo and the blue-blue sky. I haven’t had the opportunity to aim at the blue vastness and the white clouds in the while. The fields that bordered the landscape were gold with cut-wheat and cut-corn. The soybeans dried tan and added a haze to the horizon.

Other silos that I’ve shot have been skeletons – white-washed, cracked and empty – of bygone days. This one near Pleasant Unity, Pennsylvania was made of shiny tiles that were in great shape and it sported a weathervane on its copper cap. The bottom tiles still held their original burnt-red tint. I suspect this section was originally buried and uncovered when digging for the parking lot; or during the renovation when the barn was converted into a furniture store. The tiles on the tall section are shiny black, probably stained by the coal-soot that filled the skies of Western Pennsylvania in the long ago.

But Saturday the ebony silo, the golden fields and the marshmallow clouds filled the indigo skies – what joy.