Posts Tagged ‘photo


The first time I told this story

The Last Time Ever, originally uploaded by neocles.

this is what I said:

“We were getting into our bunks when this strange light seemed to come down from the sky, and there was this rumbling noise and the camper swayed a little. It got really loud, then suddenly–very quiet. And we felt this pressure, and then I blacked out. When I woke up, I was alone.”


a poem for our times

The Coil and the Supplicant

The Coil and the Supplicant, originally uploaded by neocles.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats


Small Town Centennial

Shock Waves

When we first moved to Albany, I thought of it as a decent, reasonably safe place in the east bay that’s close enough to SF, which is, of course, the center of the universe. There is plenty of stuff within walking distance, including Solano Ave shopping and dining. Berkeley culture is just a few blocks away. And I could garden to my heart’s content.

But after being here for a couple years, it came to seem a little too sleepy, a little too cool and foggy for kick-ass tomatoes (and other fruits), a bit too far away for genuinely impromptu trips into the City, and at the back end of the some of the worst traffic in the Bay Area. Not only that, but most of the shops and restaurants seemed a far cry from the hip joints found in neighborhoods like Rockridge, Elmwood, and even 4th St, much less places in the City. It seemed like a sort of overpriced suburb.

Maybe it just takes time, maybe it takes having a kid, or maybe it just takes a change of perspective, but I think I have come to see that the most valuable quality of this place is the sense of community, and in fact, the actual community. It sounds kinda hokey, but going to community events and seeing so many friendly faces really gives one a sense of place and stability. There is always something going on, like July 4th pancake breakfasts at the Veterans Memorial Building, parades of soccer kids and high school bands, Santa Claus visiting on a fire engine, a month of music in the park, and on and on. The latest event to bring everyone together was a dinner to celebrate Albany’s centennial. The entire town was invited to come down to Solano Ave for dinner, music and dancing in the street. It was an absolute blast. And there are not too many places around here where you can put a couple thousand people together in the street with loud music and alcohol and have it all come off without trouble.

Before it starts to sound too much like a Norman Rockwell cover, consider that many of the everyday folks who live here are recent transplants from the SF or other nearby cities looking for a safe place to raise their kids. The place is chock full of interesting people. So it turns out the likelihood of meeting a parent who is either a punk musician, artist, surgeon, web programmer, scientist, landscape architect, or [fill in the blank] ready to pound a few beers and dance in the street is really very high. A conversation ranges from avant garde music to research on climate change, to bluegrass, to growing apricots, and of course to progressive politics. So, I am loving my community. I am sorry I doubted you.

More photos of Albany events!


Love Seat Commute Diversion

Love Seat Diversion, originally uploaded by neocles.

Thursday is bike to work day, and that seems to be setting the tone for the week. My friend David wonders why anyone would live the automotive life after witnessing Seattle’s hellish cross-town traffic from the speediness, if not safety, of the bike lane.

I have been back in the saddle biking to work for a couple weeks now. I can definitively say the exercise has improved my disposition tremendously. But that’s not all. The opportunities for amusement are boundless, especially if you live in a place like Berkeley. This morning I found this enticing rest stop at one of Berkeley’s famously infuriating traffic diverters. Everybody I know hates these things designed to keep you on the slow crawl main arteries. But I love, I mean LOVE, riding through them on my bike.

I came across this a few minutes after coming across a medium-bad car accident just a couple blocks from my house, where a couple of Honda’s fought over the right-of-way through an intersection. (Sorry, no pics of that.) That’ll wreck your commute.

Of course, KQED’s morning news and traffic reports have been making much of how light the commute is becoming and attributing it to gas prices. I can certainly confirm the relative emptiness of the roads. It’s even making biking to work easier.


Turning Points


 Vintage Car and Topiary #3, originally uploaded by neocles.


I had decided early in 2007 that I really wanted to get back into photography and that I wanted a decent DSLR for the family trip to Greece. So in spring I got the Nikon D40x and started trying to learn it and get used to seeing my world through the viewfinder.

I got a fair amount of practice in before the trip and took over 700 shots while there. That was a lot of shots to curate and process, so I slowed up on shooting for a couple weeks. Of course, I threw hundreds away. And there were few that were any good at all.

It didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere very fast trying to improve my photographic skills, at least not insofar as satisfying myself with the results went. But then in October I took some shots around the neighborhood and also landed on a post-processing approach that resulted in a look I really liked a lot. It was a turning point of sorts.

I guess what is going on in these photos is this. Sarah and I have been into vintage “everything” for a long time—deco, 50s, space-age, etc.—ever since our punk/new wave days in the early 80s. My middle-aged nostalgia has ramped this up lately. And obviously I am not alone in this as there is a pretty huge retro scene that has moved from the underground into the mainstream.

And of course, flickr provides a great forum for people interested in documenting the cars, buildings, furniture, signs, graphics, and ephemera of the last century. In terms of photography, I enjoy documenting this disappearing world. I try to photograph it in the wild, as it were. In other words, I don’t seek out shows or conventions where stuff is on display. Rather, I am interested in things in their natural context of use.

This leads to the second part of the turning point, which is the processing of the image to look more like an old photograph of a “new car” than like a pristine digital shot of an “old car”. But not quite. There’s a juxtaposition of old and new together in the image that I can’t quite articulate, but that is part of what I am trying to get to. If I were reading more about art and photography, I would have a ready-made description of the approach I am struggling here to describe.

Chimpin' ain't easy

Another important influence is my co-worker Joe Reifer. Talking with Joe and going out together for a lunchtime stroll to shoot has taught me lots. Joe is a great photographer and has been very generous with his knowledge of photography, on everything from taping up a Holga to the business of selling usage rights for one’s work. I can’t thank him enough. And this shot of Joe and the Travelall was really popular among flickrfolk!



shorTCar, originally uploaded by neocles.

Last evening I attended for the first time the sf flickr group meeting. It was really nice to meet everyone and have a chance to shoot at the Palace of Fine Arts as the sun went down. A quick review of the download didn’t reveal any particularly great photos. Perhaps with some post-processing, something interesting will come into view.

One of the interesting things that happened was there there was a person their interviewing folks for a magazine story about flickr and the digital revolution in photography. I was so amped up from driving like a maniac to get there on time that I ran my mouth off about this, that, and the other thing. Talking about it did help to clarify some of my thoughts about more about what I think I am doing with photography. [I’ll talk more about that in this space later.]

In any case, after walking around the POF for awhile we retired to the Grove Cafe (?) for food, drink, and conversation. A great group of people and all around good time.



Chevy Shadow

Chevy Shadow, originally uploaded by neocles.

It is sort of odd. I have always been interested in photography, and used to shoot with an old Canon FTb back before going away to grad school. I used to shoot mostly slide film for my little multi-media pieces for which I also composed weird electronic music. But somehow the passion did not come back after I finished school. Even after working at a photo lab for the last several years now, I didn’t really go beyond the usual point-n-shoot photo ops.

Then last year the passion came back strong. I have been having a blast, first with my Nikon D40x, and then also with a Diana+ and a Holga. Now I am obsessed. I almost always have a camera of some sort with me. In fact, THAT is about the only way for me to really take pictures because there is rarely, uh never, time enough in my week to go out on a dedicated shoot. So, if I’m gonna shoot, it is gonna be while I’m commuting, eating, working, etc.

Of course, Flickr has had a big role in feeding the obsession as well. The way this occurred was made much clearer to me last night while attending a BayCHI meeting where the topic of one of the talks was how to effectively build elements of game-playing into social network Web sites. (More on the BayCHI talk later.)

None of this is to say that I have been particularly successful at the “gaming”, or advanced my photography skills very quickly. Nonetheless, I still pretty damn excited about taking pictures, so here is the first of many photo posts to come.