0226: Revisiting the Peabody

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By “revisiting” I mean looking over images in my library from my visit a while back. Two days shooting at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History left me with too many “selects!” – a problem one likes to have. Actually, it’s hard to miss when the subjects are so impressive. It was a  wonderful experience. The fossils were certainly a wider array than I am familiar with (from Devonian crinoids to Jurassic shrimp).

Browsing through that  picture library also led me to a group of moody images from a quiet day in the Tuscan hills.These images proved to be a fine escape from the cold and snow and allowed me to explore some different techniques – while at the same time offering a glimmer of hope that Spring arrive soon!

Enjoy the pics and stay warm.

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Thanks for the visit.

0219: Space

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When I first set eyes on this structure I saw it as a true monument – with a primal, “Stonehenge” sort of presence – one that spoke to the significant steps we, as a species, took heading off into space. These two images are from a story I shot years ago (pre-digital) at the Kennedy Space Center: The first is a cannibalized gantry and the other an outbuilding from which some of the earliest manned space flights originated. The condition of these abandoned buildings reflect the reality of America’s current lack of substantial involvement in space (and all the tangential discoveries lost as well).

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What brought that to mind was a notice I saw the other day about a large photography auction From the Earth to the Moon: Vintage NASA Photographs . Hundreds of wonderful prints, many never seen publicly, show the brilliance of the achievement.

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I pulled these two images from the downloadable PDF, a treasure trove for anyone interested, with descriptions accompanying each print in the auction. And while I marveled at the events they gave witness to I felt a bit of nostalgia. Perhaps nostalgic for a time when science was respected and accepted for its role and value in a culture. And for the pursuit of knowledge. All for the greater good.

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I’ve written before about the anti-science crowd, the cheaply transparent “I’m not a scientist but…” politicians, et al. And I hate to belabor it. But these are some of the same people who, as we saw last week with current leader of the pack presidential contender, Scott Walker, can’t quite say if he believes in evolution! (This is the same Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, who plans to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state education funds.) There are consequences when zealots and charlatans gain hold of the reins of power.

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They might even question the age of these fossils I wish to share with you today – all Devonian marine invertebrates approximately 387 million years old. Its a strange and interesting world we earthlings inhabit! Enjoy it and enjoy this invertebrate mix.

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Thanks for the visit.

0212: A Museum Experience

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I have two groups of new images today. One is part of my ongoing exploration of the marine invertebrate fossils abundant in the immediate area. The other is a bit of rule-breaking – shooting where conditions don’t normally allow. As often can happen when disregarding the rules, interesting visual possibilities arise.

So let’s start with this mix of gastropods, brachiopods and coral:

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I had a conversation recently with a friend and fellow photographer about what catches one’s eye, that demands you pick up the camera and explore. Oftentimes, it’s not the brilliant or the grandiose that is most compelling, but rather that which is nearby, sometimes even underfoot (That’s how I got started with the fossils – I kept tripping over them!). An inquisitive mind open to one’s surroundings, whatever they might be, can yield up some interesting (and fun) results.

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In this case, it was time to kill at a museum one day that led to this set of images. Wildlife dioramas, too dimly lit to shoot normally, suggested intentional blurring. Digital screens give immediate feedback. So, each capture can easily suggest the next one and the next one, etc. In my case, this  turns into a kind of intuitive choreography that develops in real time. To me the results in several of these images tend to suggest an almost feral mystery.

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I ran across this in an old folder – 1992 – That’s me on set working with the Muppets!

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Thanks for the visit.

0205: More From the Vaults

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Greetings from the snow covered upper Hudson Valley. The wind is howling as I write this today, giving life to the multitude of chimes I have hanging all around outside my studio. The cacophony of bright, crisp sounds provides a pleasant backdrop to today’s tasks.

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I have chosen once again to dive back into the vaults seeking overlooked images. And this time I settled into my images from Paris. First is a group from one of my favorite museums, the Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy. The gigantic ammonite seen above hung in a stairway landing – an odd place for it I thought, but striking nonetheless.

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Next an arachnid, I think, from a time unknown to me (Take me out of the world of marine invertebrates and I am lost!).

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And the last fossil for today – a pterodactyl.

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Aside from the wonderful collections housed in this museum, the building itself is worth a visit alone. Built for the Paris Exposition of 1900, it has wonderful detailing at every turn, such as these three examples of the “natural history” architectural embellishments.

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And then there are the stairwells.

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Earlier posts captured this museum much more fully. For anyone interested, here are those links:

https://artandfossils.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/back-from-paris/

https://artandfossils.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/the-paris-natural-history-museum/

https://artandfossils.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/the-gallery-of-paleontology-and-comparative-anatomy-paris/

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These last few are some random favorites, a somewhat odd mix. The first is a view of the Seine taken from the top of Notre Dame. Speaking of stairs, there are 387 steps to the bell tower and another 147 to the very top (where I shot this picture). And, as I stood there trying desperately to catch my breath, I looked across at the 300′ tall spire – only to see three workers climbing to the top!

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Gare d’Austerlitz

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An odd but favorite image of mine – Voltaire’s tomb in the basement of the Paris Pantheon. His shadow watches over.

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One last image from Paris for today. The wonderfully inscrutable work of one of my favorite artists, Cy Twombly, at the Pompidou.

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A couple of final notes. This Saturday, February 7, two of my images will hang in juried openings:

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“Madonna Erotica” will appear at the Woodstock Artist Association and Museum in the Small Works Show – 4-6pm.

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And this work from my Devonian Drawer series will appear at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg NY. That opening will run from 2-4pm. If you are in either area please stop by.

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Thanks for the visit.

0129: Winter Work

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I know, I know – it’s winter and it’s supposed to be cold! I know too that every moment of one’s life is to be cherished. Make the most of every day, etc., etc. But 20 degrees warmer certainly would help!! Thankfully, the studio is warm and there is plenty to keep me comfortably busy.

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Two groups of images today, all from browsing my libraries this past week. The first  is a selection of various fossils I dug up within a mile or two of my studio. It’s a bit more diverse than usual. I hope I have identified them properly. Please let me know if I am in error.

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Leptaena

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Brachiopod and Trilobite Eye

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Shard from Rugose Coral

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Brachiopod and Gastropod

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Rostroconch (?)

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Next, an odd mix of images from Rome not your typical vacation pics – a handful of faces, (an erotic Madonna followed by three dead guys), and a couple of puzzlers that seem to hold my attention. (The first is a store window and the other a fountain in the Trastavere section of the city.)

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One last one from Rome – I can’t believe I’m actually posting a “cat” picture. What the hell – if he can ride that moped he’s ok with me!

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Thanks for the visit.

0122: Back to Gilboa

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Early mornings have been cold up here lately. The cold wakes you up in a hurry. The air is clear and crisp. If you dress properly for it, it can be a joy to behold. It can also reward with sights like the opening image – dawn light touching the eastern edge of the Catskills.

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Too cold to be out digging in the quarry! So, as I usually do this time of year, I dive into my photo libraries, viewing old images anew, particularly those I skipped over originally. The image above is a brachiopod sitting atop a few junkyard props.

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This next group was the result of several trips to Gilboa in the year following Hurricane Irene. The flooding churned up creek beds, yielding all kinds of wonders – not least of which was my very own encounter with a Gilboa tree stump!

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What follows are rocks containing tree root and branch fossils, as well as various trace fossils and other patterning and colors. In size, they range from one to four feet across. I hope you enjoy them.

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Last – a pic from a trip the other day to the town of Narrowsburg NY, dropping off for a show next month.

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Thanks for the visit. Stay warm!

 

 

 

 

 

SciFi and Science

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I’ve always been a bit of a sci-fi fan – growing up reading Tom Swift, watching with excitement all the early rockets blast off or blow up in the Sputnik Era. The thought of adventure and exploration beyond the bounds of Earth just mede my head spin! Unfortunately, any reading time now for me is usually art or science related. The thought of fiction just seemed too luxurious a way to spend time – at least until now.

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What an escape I have found in RED MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson – the perfect solution for me on those dreary sunless days of winter! Part One of a trilogy, RED MARS chronicles the first settlement on Mars. It’s a great story, well researched, filled with technological wonders, aesthetic and environmental concerns, etc. No surprise I’m enjoying it, given all the wonderful extended descriptions of the geology and landscape.

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Did you know that many scientists today, particularly the younger ones, were influenced into their career paths thanks to science fiction that dared to challenge young minds? There are plenty of “closet” trekkies at NASA, I am sure.

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I read the news today, oh boy. It was announced that climate change denier Sen. Ted Cruz has been appointed to lead the Senate Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee. As professor Michio Kaku said,”It’s like having the fox guard the chicken coop.” And while Cruz will make inspired speeches about space flight, keep in mind that one of NASA’s most important roles is to look back at our planet, keeping an eye on climate change. I wonder where the budgets will be cut?

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At the same time Senator Marco “I’m not a scientist but…” Rubio was named chair of the subcommittee on Oceans,Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

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And, of course, there is Senator James Inhofe, who believes climate change is a “hoax,” has now taken over as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (which oversees the EPA)

Bill Moyers has an excellent rundown on what the last election has wrought. Take a look:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/28/gop-takes-senate-climate-change-deniers-will-control-key-committees/

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This handful of images shows the variety of appearances made by brachiopods – all from the same site, all the same age. Of the thousands of brachiopod types these are but a few.

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Last is part of a gastropod, just for a little change. These particular fossils  are roughly 385 million years old. And, as species, they lasted millions and millions of years. I oftentimes wonder how it will work out for us.

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One final note. A thanks to all of you who visit this site. I have always been more concerned about turning out something worthy of your time, rather than engaging in publicizing the blog. So I was gratified to see the annual data info WordPress sent recently that showed a very nice jump in viewership – a 33% increase in 2014 over the previous year – 8800 unique visits from 69 countries.

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Thank you again for this visit.