Walk the ancient stones

buildings on the banks of the river in Girona, Spain
Apartments buildings on the banks of the Riu Onyar in Girona, Spain

In early may we took a trip to Barcelona, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal; along the way we made some day trips to other cities nearby. Here are a few selects from our day in Girona, Spain. These images are of the monastery, the cathedral, and the remains of the medieval wall that once girdled the city.

What’s missing from these are the charming streets, squares, and arcades of shops and restaurants that add to the reasons for a visit to this beautiful city of rivers and hills. I wasn’t so much focused on photographing those aspects as much as simply enjoying them.

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Time Travel: Girona

A corner around the corder from the cathedral in Girona, Spain

Weeks after the adventure,
I return to Girona,
Walled medieval city
with all the ease of
modernity

And blue skies,
sangria in a gentle square,
and a pocket device
so I can time-travel

See the ancient stones,
feel the cobbles underfoot,
Study shadows and
find secrets that

I missed
the first time.

Shifting shadows and dusk in Barcelona

Barcelona cathedral in black and white
Barcelona cathedral in black and white from our first morning wandering around.
photo of an old document with drawings of a "procession for a good death"
An old document spied in a window in the Gothic Quarter— “procession for a good death”
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Another city of seven hills: Lisbon

The blue church and trolley wires at the edge of the Baixa neighborhood
The blue church and trolley wires at the edge of the Baixa neighborhood

Having spent some hours scanning through my photographs from my recent trip to Barcelona and Lisbon, with side trips to Gerona and Sintra; gathering selects, retouching, etc, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I’m not interested in creating some kind of narrative or linear story of our trip, as it wasn’t linear, and the narrative changed constantly.

So I’ve decided to start with some high-chroma and steep (naturally) scenes from Lisbon, in the Baixa-Shiado and Alfama neighborhoods, and a couple farther afield. The Alfama ones were from our Castelo Sao Jorge day— it was a grand afternoon of meandering and taking things slowly. We also met some peacocks, but that’ll keep til another day.

For now just take in the angles, colors, and alleyways and feel the sun on your face and the cobbles under your feet.

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Where there are quiet streets and loud colors

Old building in the French Quarter, NOLA
church and sunset in the Marigny, NOLA
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The calm monochrome that follows the feast days

an abandoned sidewalk xmas tree— set out to the street before xmas fully dressed (b&w photo)

These days following the winter feasts bring a quiet with them, not necessarily unwelcome. Often grey and a little lonely, or too-quiet for some, yet there is a gentleness to them that eases the emotional tumult forced by the calendar shift into a new year.

the giant pine in the yard upstate, blocking snowfall on the yard liek an umbrella (b&w photo)

When I was younger, I longed for the new year to turn at Springtide, or during the full heat of Summer. As I’ve got older, the shift has felt more accustomed and proper happening in the dead of winter— it allows a moment, at least, for reflection which those other times wouldn’t afford.

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The skills of observation are the same, whether painted or photographed

Edwardian portrait of a mother and child

Here is my other treasure from the Antiquarian Book Fair (which was fairly well-stocked with so-called Ephemera, that I obv adore)— a stellar and skilled portrait, the likes of this level I’ve rarely seen in my years of collecting Cabinet Card pictures as they’re called when mounted and ‘framed’ on cards like this.

This is a true photographic portrait; staged and lighted with an astute level of skill for the age of early photographs. Lighting and composition are informed by both Dutch and Renaissance masters, that much is clear. Mother was surely holding her breath (as well as her babe) to allow for such a sharp portrait. I’d wager they may have been situated near a window with a cheesecloth or similar scrim to diffuse the available light. Beautifully executed. A+

The floating city; a mirage in the heat of a summer day

lower Manhattan as viewed from Governors Island

My brother came to visit for a few days. We had an adventure-filled weekend, and I’m thankful for his visit, as I was when my older brother and his family were here earlier in the month. Not only to have spent time with them, but also because visitors ensure you get out and do things. Jon and I crammed a lot of summer into three days.

Above is the view of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island. Seen this way, it seems less an island than a mirage or some kind of magic allowing myriad structures to float upon the surface of the water.

Houses on Governors IslandChurch on Governors IslandView of the city from Governors Island

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How life makes failures of us all with sunshine, and the gentle rapid passing of time*

wires on BaltimoreAnd, at long last, here, I write something again.

Don’t think I haven’t longed for it; time without writing makes a ruin of me. A mere responder rather than a decided adventurer. Time— without time to think, to write— renders me a to-do list, at best. Ugh.

And I’ve been feeling a right failure of Summer, honestly, Having had not a single true beach day at the ocean; nor any long rides on my bike to farther-afield neighborhoods. It’s made me have some misgivings about this new job, despite that I rather love it.

It’s down to habit and expectations, I suppose. I spent a lotta’ years being a sole proprietor (my own damn boss), and as a result, have certain expectations of Summer, you know. Lots, in fact.

garden in Butcher's Hill, Baltimore

But what I’ve come to realize (again) is that everything’s a trade-off. I enjoyed many years of beaching mid-week; of cycling all round town whenever I chose. And now the focus has shifted. It’s good, and just what I needed, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

It was a choice, and one I don’t regret. And now, after a long weekend in B’more with one of my dearest friends, my brother and his family are going to be in Brooklyn this weekend. So you see, Summer happens after all 🙂 And it’s wonderful.

Closing note: I have so much more I intended to write about, but it’ll keep. Summer pushes certain things to the wayside.

(Autumn has other promises, where rain is appropriate and welcome.)

 

*We haven’t failed! It only feels like that sometimes, when pressures lead us to think in term of expectations. Personally, I’ve decided to say fuckall to prior patterns, and allow new ones to form. That’s adaptation 🙂

Superpowers

b&w photograph of people in a quiet sunny green parkObserving and Listening have become almost superpowers in the contemporary world. Such pursuits are almost the opposite of (though are often mistaken for) ‘consuming’, because to truly see and/or hear takes as much patience and skill as any act of creation. They are the wells that feed creation. Processes —both of observation and research— culminate in the process of making, which is, always, one of translation.

.   .   .

The above was born of a comment left on another artist’s blog; I’ve adapted it to a more generalized sentiment, as I find it to be true.

Apologies for the longer stretches between posts, lately. I’m in need of a schedule to stay on track here, as I re-learn living, and balance with the full time gig/ I’d rather expected more time for writing while I was upstate, but lots of family goings-on took precedence. Happy Summer, and thanks for reading and looking!