April 24, 2014

The Valley Bakery, Cathkin Park

It’s a simple place, mostly. There’s the black & white tile floor, the kids play area, the picnic-like tables and forgettable chairs. The walls hold gray on the outside; barely-visible monkeys swing from the trees across the lot behind an electric fence. Inside, canvasses cover the place. The bathrooms, cutouts in the corner, are somehow pretty. Then you try the doughnuts and learn where they’re hiding the masterpiece. Art is edible.
The Valley Bakery, Cathkin Park
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April 23, 2014

Late in the garden

To me, it’s weird to leave a residence in South Africa at night. It’s like you slide into an abyss. Every garden surrounds a home; a wall outlines every garden. The walls are topped with electric fencing. Inside the wall you’re on an oasis of calm. Lights from the house and the lanterns illuminate the foliage in colors you understand. When you venture out the streetlights feel foreign and cold. As you pass through the gate the shadows shift. Or do they move?
Late in the garden
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April 22, 2014

Vortex revisited

This probably shouldn’t be called “revisited,” because it’s the first photo I’ve posted from either of the two polar vortex events in Chicago this winter. This is the second massive dip in temperatures from February. I had 45 minutes in eight-degree weather to wander a beach on the north side of the city and ended up in waist-deep snow. After finding my way along a wall protruding up just above the drift, jumping from section to section across four-foot divides, I ended up along this ledge. Here, the lake separated from the ice, and a half-dozen ducks swam in the water. The wind gusted, justifying the -8 windchill.

I didn’t post this for a while, because it seemed like a thousand vortex photos floated around from various photographers at the time. I had no motivation. Now that it’s spring, it’s nice to know how far things have come. The temps climbed up over 70 degrees the past couple of days, and yet I still strolled past a parking lot with a pile of snow in the corner just ten days ago.
Vortex revisited

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April 20, 2014

Umhlanga before a storm

It rained through the night into the morning, and we escaped the deluge shortly before it hit the beach. I spent most of the rest of the night driving around looking for food, then eating what was scrounged up. No complaints, though, as it was quite the adventure. Security is so tight in places that they really give you a grilling – even when you’re an obvious American tourist. I spent the rest of my time on the balcony, as I had early when snapping this, watching the sky change.
Umhlanga before a storm
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April 19, 2014

A wide open conversation

I shot a lot of photos driving by at 50 or 60 mph on this trip. This is another one. You see it coming, you line it up how it will be when you get to that point ahead of you in a few seconds, you anticipate it falling together, click. The shot comes together in an instant, five seconds before it happens, and it’s all in your head. For me, it’s like taking photos through that childhood toy – the View-Master. You know how you put the wheel in and pull the trigger to slide the next scene into the binocular-like view finder? That’s the shot – it comes from the edge and slides into the frame, and it’s gone. I both love and hate shooting this way. There’s that element of the challenge and getting what you think you’ll be seeing. There’s that distance, however, as you’ll never enter the subject’s space.
A wide open conversation
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April 18, 2014

Don’t want to change you

What are we gonna do?
Don't want to change you
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April 17, 2014

On with the washing and the shopping

I guess once you’ve been in a place for a few days – maybe a week – it starts looking “normal,” especially if you’ve visited before. I think it takes about this much time to find routine or become more immune to difference. Then the changes seem more subtle and pop up like little surprises. It’s funny how disconnected you can feel just watching things happen around you.
On with the washing and the shopping
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April 16, 2014

Dings on the wings

When I started this blog I promised myself to keep it current and varied. I’m posting way too many skies of late, and I know this. It seems that every time I find something with a touch of energy it’s because of the atmosphere coming from the image. I’ve gone through so many phases of creative block producing this blog it’s a miracle that suddenly I don’t feel like I’m redoing what I’ve done – save for a few too many skies in the past couple of handful of entries.

The Airbus 380′s wings are so gigantic it has this warping-of-the-earth effect with everything that scrapes across the horizon. Johannesburg’s control tower fell victim along with several substantial aircraft tails that were dwarfed upon our arrival.
Dings on the wings
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April 15, 2014

Blood on the clouds

I considered waking at 3 a.m. to see the Blood Moon last night, but this satisfied my sky gazing a few minutes after midnight. A ton of pink clouds against midnight blue? Sure thing.
Blood on the clouds
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April 14, 2014

Hooter on thatch

We went to a bird show in the mountains. It was fabulous, even if it didn’t go very well for the handler. A few of his birds didn’t follow directions on this day, including “Hooter,” the owl. Hooter took off, ignored every call and sat on the thatch roof of a nearby building – staying there for a good ten minutes. No amount of pleading earned his attention until the handler walked across the lawn, through the crowd, and offered up a massive chunk of red meat. The handler went on with three or four more birds, vocally discouraged by their performance despite the audience’s ignorance on the matter. At the end, he said we could all come for free next time. A few patrons were saying it seemed like bad business, knowing visitors wouldn’t be visiting a second time, but we still had a fun time.
Hooter on thatch
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