Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo Booth Redux

Once again, we couldn't resist mugging for a photo booth camera. Here I am with Ben, making faces. I've always enjoyed photo booths - although wasn't allowed to spend the money on them as a child. If you're a fan of the movie Amelie - one of my absolute favorites - you'll also understand how that film underscored the retro and romantic appeals of the photo booth.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

West Village Halloween

Last weekend we enjoyed a bit of Halloween fun with the West Village Halloween Festival, held annual at Bleecker Playground. Then the kids trick-or-treated along Hudson and Bleecker Streets, with businesses handing out generous amounts of candy. Tomorrow they'll have a big Halloween parade at their school and in the evening my boys will trick-or-treat in the neighborhood and in our building. I'm always amazed at the amount of candy they receive - far more than I ever got as a child! But like most parents we ration it out carefully and most of the time they lose interest in it after a week or two.

This year both of them - oddly - decided to dress up as Darth Vader. We're still not really sure why, but I suspect it was because of the light sabers. I suggested to Sam that he trade the saber for his guitar and go as "Garth" Vader - but I don't think many people would get the joke. By tomorrow evening we'll be locked away at home to avoid the hordes who flock to the neighborhood for the infamous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

St. Vincent Ferrer Church

I've featured images from this church before . . . St. Vincent Ferrer on the upper East Side, Third Ave. at 65th St. Although I'm not Catholic and don't subscribe to their unique form of Marian veneration, I do like this statue of Mary. There are always flowers tucked into her hands and this little garden offers a quiet little respite from the noise of Third Avenue. As for the autumn wreath adorning one of the side doors of the church, one can't help but notice the incongruity between the wreath and the fallout shelter sign.

There's a similar sign outside my office, directing people to the basement for - ostensibly - protection. Did civil defense "experts" honestly think such spaces would offer any real protection in the event of nuclear holocaust. I suspect that they were meant more as visible symbols of reassurance to calm a nervous public, rather than as actual safe havens. (And I have no idea about the canine symbolism in that last image. It's not ringing any bells in terms of Catholic iconography. Perhaps Franciscan?)

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Waiting to Be Judged

Just finished this painting yesterday. I based this on an image I had snapped at the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival at the end of May. These ewes were waiting to be judged in the 4H livestock competition.

The image started as a pencil sketch and then a study in oil pastels that I quickly abandoned because the results just weren't satisfactory. Finally, I came back to it a couple of weeks ago, trying a new sketch. This time the painting went well and I spent much of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights working. As always, I'm unhappy with the quality of the scan, especially in the way it treated the weathered white fencing. 9"x12", watercolor and pencil, on Fabriano 140 lb. paper.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vermont, Part V: Scott Farm Textures

Here are a few more sepia shots from Scott Farm in Putney. With weathered barns and rusting metal, the farm offers a great study in contrasts that regular color photos just don't capture.

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Kip the Wonder Dog

This is our buddy, Kip, who herds the sheep on Scott Farm in Vermont. He has to be one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met, and like most border collies, super smart. Plus he follows directions better than my children. We usually call him Kip the Wonder Dog, but about a month ago he wandered off for about 24 hours. Now he's Kip the Wander Dog.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vermont, Part IV: Sheep

While in Vermont we spent Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, and Monday afternoon on Scott Farm - picking apples, wandering between the barns, and watching the sheep. The boys always enjoy helping with the feeding and watering. But our favorite activity is playing with Kip, the border collie, as he moves the sheep between different fields. I love the perspective in the second photo. Kip has set himself directly in the path of these ewes, blocking their progress. As I've mentioned before, he's a sweetheart of a dog, but is happiest when he's running the sheep.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vermont, Part III: Church of Our Savior

The beautiful little Episcopal church is just off Route 4, east of Killington. We had seen it from the main road for years, tucked behind the trees on the north side of a mountain stream. Although we had always pointed it out when passing, we never stopped. I decided to change that on Monday, detouring onto the gravel road for a closer look. What a reward! And it was open! Consecrated in 1895, the Church of Our Savior reminds me of stone village churches scattered throughout England. All it lacks is the clocks that usually adorns the English churches. The stained glass was simple, but beautiful, and the woodwork of the church's interior was stunning (especially the tongue-and-groove arched ceiling). It represented a sharp contrast to the white clapboard congregational churches that dot the New England landscape. In the end, my wife was sorry we hadn't stopped in for services on Sunday.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vermont: Part II, Fall Colors

First of the fall colors, with a set of close-up images using the macro setting on my digital. Pretty good results in terms of sharpness. I'm curious to see how these images compare to those taken with 120-size film. At standard snapshot or 5x7" size, I doubt there's any discernible difference. However, I'm guessing that with successive enlargements, up to 11x17" for example, the film image would prove better, thanks to that big negative.

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Vermont: Part I

I was in Vermont over the last four days, enjoying the scenery, hiking the mountains, eating lots of food that's yummy but far removed from my diet, and taking pictures - lots of pictures. With the digital camera alone I took over 300. I'm not sure how many I took with the four film cameras I toted from place to place. So consider this a random selection that forms the "tip of the iceberg." No, these sepia images from Scott Farm in Putney don't convey the variety of autumn colors that draw so many tourists to Vermont. Don't worry; the foliage pictures are coming. I'm still sifting through downloaded files.

As always, I'm torn in my feelings between Vermont and New York City. I love both and each place satisfies a different part of my personality. Although we talk about picking up and moving north, I doubt we could leave the city permanently. Moreover, I also doubt we could become full-time Vermonters, fighting against the lengthy winters. In the end, I suspect we'll have to reach a compromise . . . perhaps a vacation home in Vermont. For now, enjoy the pictures.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008


This is my latest, completed just last night. It's the second in a three-part series on once ubiquitous but now obsolete objects. I saw this old manual typewriter in a shop window in the Village. My office still has an IBM Selectric tucked away, saved for filling out the occasional form. A few months ago my younger son was at the office and puzzled over the machine. So I had to give him a little history lesson about typewriters and how computers quickly replaced them in the 1980s. I remember learning to type on a similar IBM machine during my senior year in high school. Friends couldn't understand why I would take a typing class. But I knew the skill would come in handy in college and beyond. In retrospect, taking that class was one of the smartest school choices I ever made. During my freshman year at VMI, as my classmates and I encountered the first generation of IMB PC's, most of my peers were engaging in the one- and two-fingered "hunt and peck" style of typing as they tried to learn their way around the keyboard at the same time they were learning new software. At least I felt comfortable at the keyboard! (5" x 7", watercolor, pen and ink, on Fabriano paper)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Palin Bumpersticker

If I lived in the 'burbs and drove a car regularly, this bumper sticker would be on my car. Leave it to the "religious right" to spin this into a political asset for Palin.

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This is Laudi, a very sweet cat we met last Friday while at a party in an 1880s Soho loft. She's reputed to be an expert mouser, keeping the old building's rodent population in check. Laudi's also considered an accomplished watcher of pigeons on the fire escapes. However, she's obviously an expert eater too, because she is definitely on the plus size. Laudi was very affectionate and exceedingly patient with the large dinner crowd, a group that included my boys and a bunch of noisy friends.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

"Stitch and Pitch"

Last week we went to see a Mets game - a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Cubs - before they choked several days later and found themselves eliminated from the playoffs by the Marlins for the second straight year. The occasion was the annual "Stitch and Pitch," featuring New York area knitters at the game. (The occasion was started by knitters in Seattle, who regularly sell several thousand tickets for their annual "stitch and pitch" event.) My wife is an avid knitter and active member of the local "fiber arts" community, so naturally we had to go. Besides, you can't beat $10 tickets to a game, even if the seats are in the upper deck!

This photo shows our good friend Lily Chin, one of the primary organizers of the event. Lily is a leading knitwear designer and instructor in knitting and crocheting. She also possesses a fun and flamboyant personality. Note that everything she's wearing in this photo was hand-knit, including the hat, glove, and ball. It was definitely an attention-grabber at the game!

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