Thursday, June 23, 2011

Going To California

Fallow land, outside Mendota, California, aerial shot, June 2010

Next week, I'll be continuing work on my pictorial essay on the San Joaquin Valley in California.

Click on this image.  What you see is not land that has gone fallow because of the prudent agricultural practice of crop rotation, but land that has been fallow for years -- and perhaps, for evermore -- because of misguided, so-called "environmentalists" in the Federal government who are sacrificing the nation's most fertile farmland to the ravages of soil erosion, in the name of allegedly saving a tiny fish called the "Delta Smelt."  

Never mind that the Delta Smelt is in more danger from urban users upstream near Sacramento, who overwhelm Northern California's waterways with millions of gallons of untreated sewage every single day, what is more important is that the Beautiful People -- the upscale yuppies who need only "care" for the environment -- have more numbers than "Those People," the farmers and Mexican laborers downstream who are among this nation's best stewards of farming land (in all my travels through the Central Valley, I've maybe seen ten or twelve tanks of anhydrous ammonia in total, versus a dozen -- to scores -- in every farming town in Minnesota, where I currently reside).  

Who cares that there is 40% unemployment in the heart of America's farming paradise?  Not the important people.  Important people think that food grows in the produce section of their local Whole Foods or Safeway.  The "important" people upstream could care less whether food comes from their own home state, or China, or South America.  They don't have to live with the people who are watching the American Dream going down the sewer: People who came to this country out of the hope of making better lives for themselves and their children, and now are watching that hope slip away from them as their numbers become casualties to the scourge or drugs, alcohol, dropping out of school, and crime.

The Left turns their backs on the people who do the real work in this country, because they're just a bunch of gauche hicks after all, clinging to their guns and religion, while the Right turns their backs on their fellow American farmers because they hired workers of somewhat darker complexion who committed the unpardonable sin of wanting to bust their humps for a pittance of a wage.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Out of the Box: Rediscovered Photographs

Barber Shop, Hyde Park
Boston, Massachusetts, September 2000


So, I ask the two barbers if I can snap a photograph of them in their shop.  No problem. 

The client has a problem.  "Well, you can cover your face if you don't want anyone to recognize you," I offer.

Problem solved!

Friday, June 17, 2011

One Lonely Night

U.S. Route 522, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, October 1989

I found this photograph, eerily reminiscent of Hitchcock's Psycho on many levels, in a box while unpacking. (As prior military, I still haven't unpacked everything yet; there are about thirty boxes yet to open).  Ah, to be 24 again, armed with a Ricoh KR-5 and Agfapan 100.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Concrete Cathedrals

Grain Elevator
U.S. Route 150, Fithian, Illinois, June 2011

I saw this beautiful example of an early-20th century granary in rural Illinois, when I felt the pang of regret that I hadn't brought my Rolleiflex SL-66 medium format camera, my traditional tool for capturing these specimens of what photographer Chris Faust calls "commercial archaeology."

But then I remembered:  I had a medium format camera with me, a Polaroid Super Colorpack 108-format instant camera, loaded with color 669 film.  Thanks to Photoshop, I was able to tweak this into something silver halide.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Garish: The Next Generation

Unger Store, State Highway 13, Unger, West Virginia, May 2011

Some times, as a photographer, I luck out:  Unger's General Store closed down about four years ago, and I missed the opportunity to photograph this old country store, which had played such a crucial part of my teenaged years: I would often ride my old Team Raleigh ten-speed from my house outside of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, to rural Frederick County, Virginia.  Sitting atop the ridgeline after a steep climb of many miles, Unger's store was just about the point when my bike bottle went dry.  Though there was no air conditioning in the store, just dunking my hand into the pop cooler to grab a glass bottle of Coca-Cola immediately reinvigorated me.  They made Coke with real sugar back then.  Today, you have to find a place that carries Mexican Coca-Cola to experience Coke as it ought to taste.  


My bicycle journeys took place some thirty years ago, but driving up Route 13 and finding the place still intact made it seem like yesterday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Garish: The Next Generation

Mid-1970s Sebring Vanguard Citi Car SV-48
U.S. Route 136, near Brownsburg, Indiana, June 2011

Who killed the electric car?  Just stabbing in the dark here, but my guess is it was the guy who designed this "unsafe at any speed" micro econobox.  This loser was dead on arrival.  

I don't know what the industrial designer's previous resume items were, but I'm thinking set designer or propmaster for Woody Allen's 1973 futuristic comedy, Sleeper.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Garish: The Next Generation

Waffle House Restaurant, Arlington Road, Brookville, Ohio
June 2011

This is not a "Poladroid."  This is not something I tweaked in Photoshop or Lightroom, to make it look like a Polaroid print.  No, this is a Polaroid print, taken on 669 film with my Super Colorpack camera (which I bought on eBay for $3.50; may the Colorpack III rest in peace) just this week.

And, this beautifully stylized Waffle House restaurant -- which appears right out of the 1950s, with its lush landscaping -- looks simply stunning on real Polaroid film, a nice stash of which I keep stored in my Frigidaire.  You see, while Polaroid film will most often render washed-out looking skies (as it does in this print), it was engineered to also produce heavily-saturated colors (also evident here), something the techno-geeks at Poladroid didn't exactly factor into their bit crunching.  Like Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell sang, when music was also made in the analog format by artists who could read music and play instruments, "Ain't nothing like the real thing."

Baby.

Summer is here!