Poetry By Dead Men

In “full confession” mode, I’m here to tell you I have nothing new to offer. I have not made a single image since the Before Times. That’s more than three years without loading the camera, finding the scenes, composing the image, and tripping the shutter. It is a dissatisfying mental place to be, but I just haven’t wanted to create any images.

So from this melancholic zone, I’m reaching into my box of treasures to offer you some images from those whose work has inspired me, and from whom we will be seeing no new images. I’ll try to have some new images for y’all next time around. Continue reading

Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

One of my favorite spots to photograph wildlife in South Florida is at Shark Valley, a unit of  Everglades National Park. The area was originally developed by Humble Oil, and there is a 15 mile loop road (for trams and bikes), largely bordered by water created when they “borrowed” material to make the roadbeds. It is great habitat for American Alligators and many species of large birds, often close enough for photography with conventional stereo cameras.  The birds spend most of their time on the OTHER side of the canal, but visit the near side often for brief photo ops.The land proved useless for oil drilling , so was donated to the US government. Fuji Provia 100 i n TL-120

ANHINGA PAIR   This  image shows two Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga is the scientific name, one of my favorites.) They are excellent underwater swimmers due to lack of oil waterproofing on their feathers; afterward, they need to spread their wings out to dry in an iconic pose.

GATOR CAMO  This American Alligator is peaking out from under the floating vegetation as it swims down the canal.

GREAT BLUE HERON AT SHARK VALLEY. This heron is posing at the edge of the canal.


CYPRESS AND BROMELIADS: This was taken in a nearby area, part of the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Cypress trees are conifers but deciduous, dropping their needle-like leaves in the winter, greening up again in the spring. The Cardinal Plant with its bright red bracts is a type of bromeliad (aka pineapple family)

Air Power

Photographed at a New York Pinup Club event at the American Air Power museum in Farmingdale NY. TL-120 with Vivitar 285H fill flash. Ilford Pan F processed with DR5. DR5 recommended rating the Pan-F at ISO 25. I believe this was a half-second exposure at f16. It’s challenging to get sharp portraits at the long shutter speeds these low ISOs require.


Photographed at the 2022 Coney Island Mermaid Parade. TL-120 with Vivitar 285H fill-flash. I was happy to see this event happen again after its two year absence, it’s a portrait photographer’s paradise.

The Built Environment – Architecture and Machines

Ages ago, I shot this view of the (then) new UVA Hospital with a Hasselblad, maybe two of them on a bar – in any case this is a cha-cha to obtain the necessary stereobase, which was probably around a foot, judging from the parallax in the image. I imagine the exposure was around 30 seconds. Extra credit for the astronomers in the group that can identify the stars in the sky:

UVA Hospital, Charlottesville, VA

My “day job” is technical illustration. My clients are engineers at the University of Virginia, mostly. One day I went to visit a lab, and discovered this gigantic machine. Impossibly complex in its construction, for all I knew it could have been a time machine. So I started calling it the “time machine,” whenever I mentioned to my engineer client, and that I’d like to come in some day to photograph it. The title of the image that I finally made says about the same thing. For real, this is a Directed Vapor Deposition machine. A big electron gun hits one material, vaporizes it, and the vapors are deposited onto another material. Believe it or not, it is not a custom made machine. You buy these things retail. Cost? about $1M:

Temporal Continuum Distortion Analyzer (Posterior Aspect)

In or around 2012, I had the opportunity to photograph inside a retired coal-fired power plant not far from where I live. This plant, in Bremo Bluff, VA, was the first “automatic” coal fired power plant built in USA. “Automatic” meant in those days that most of the valves, flaps, conveyor belts, and other machinery was centrally controlled. Which means, there was a central control room, where through the use of electrical switches, one could remotely actuate any of the hundreds of valves in the plant – as these were electrically actuated. I’m sure there was a measure of fear or distrust in the system early on, as plant operators were instead used to shouting control commands at a team of plant workers, on whom one could surely better rely to get the job done than the new-fangled electric motors.

I worked on three separate days in the plant to make photographs, using with great pleasure John Thurston’s custom TL-120-55 for the wide angle views. I am forever indebted to John for his generous loan of the camera to me that year. In this view we have my old friend Chuck Holzner up there on another level (see the white hard-hat?) taking some of his own pictures. Along the left side of the view, rising up through the various levels, is one of the four burners in the plant. These are 100 foot tall furnaces (not counting the smokestack outside the building!), that included Ash removal apparatus at the very bottom, a furnace chamber 1/3 of the way up including hundreds of pipes for heat exchange (i.e. for boiling water, making steam), and at the top a variety of filters to capture particulates in the exhaust. I’ll guess this was a three seconds exposure:

Bremo B 418 Main Room

Elsewhere in the plant, I captured this view of just a tiny fraction of the pipes and plumbing that, along with grated floors and vast spaces, characterized the place. Probably a thirty seconds exposure in this dark spot:

Bremo C 515 “Pipefitter’s Nightmare”

I’ll close with an image obtained in or around 2014 at the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, DC, where I fell in love with the “Jungle” greenhouse that is central to the place. In this three-stories tall greenhouse, one can commune with a variety of lush tropical plants, even in the deep of winter, and witness the slow motion battle between the built environment and the imprisoned flora. This picture was taken with a Sputnik, a good bit after sunset – I like the interplay of just a little natural light in the background, with artificial lights in the foreground. I imagine about a ten or twenty second exposure.


Beetle at the Night Market, Oaxaca, Mexico

This was another part of Oaxaca that I wanted to shoot at night. The market was very nearby, and the nightlife carried out into the streets. I really wanted to capture a Beetle while I was there as well, since they are such a part of Mexican culture and are common throughout. Needless to say, I was happy to see one pull up and park near where I standing while taking a different photo down the street. So happy that my ‘other’ Sputnik has sharp matching lenses, it really helps to get the shot right! Shot on Fuji Provia 100f film.

Nighttime Zocalo, Oaxaca, Mexico

I wanted to get a shot of the zocalo (or center of town) at night. There was a lot of activity in Oaxaca at nighttime, and it is such a large part of the overall culture of Mexico. It felt very safe to walk around with a tripod and camera. Not many people paid any attention to me, which was exactly what I wanted. The wind was doing me a favor in making this image a bit more interesting. Shot on my Sputnik, with Fuji Provia 100f film.

‘Chillin’ in the shade’ – Monte Alban, Mexico

Just outside of Oaxaca is Monte Alban. They are Aztec ruins, said to be over 2,000 years old. Very neat place to go and very easy to visit while in Oaxaca. I came across this gentleman hanging out under the shade of one of the few trees within the grounds. Thought that it captured the overall sense of the heat that day. Hit at least into the 90’s, but coming from cloudy Seattle, it was a welcoming sun exposure for me. Shot on my Sputnik, Provia 100f film.

Botanical Gardens, Oaxaca, Mexico

I recently went on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Such a lovely place to visit, and I can see why it is such a popular destination. This was my first out-of-the-country trip since Covid hit in 2020. I brought along my ‘other’ Sputnik, the one that I usually would leave at home as a backup. My main Sputnik never could focus properly after two attempts of repair, and started to eat film for breakfast. So, needless to say, I was pleased with the overall quality of the pictures I got with the other camera. I just feel that I could have exposed a little better, too bright for my taste. Maybe I need some ND filters next time? This is the backside of the church of Santo Domingo, located in the botanical gardens in the heart of Oaxaca. Nice place to visit if you are ever there. Shot on my Sputnik, on Fuji Provia 100f.