0211: Notes From Florence

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Ten days into our thirty day stay in Florence and I’m beginning to think it’s not enough time to explore everything on my list. Thanks to my very dear friends at the Museum of Natural History I have been able to immerse myself in the natural sciences…

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…already shooting fossils (from the Paleontological Section)…

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…butterflies and beetles (from the Entomology Department)…

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artifacts from James Cook’s third and final voyage through the Pacific (from the Anthropology Section), and a host of others soon to be addressed.

This is just a quick, early edit. In the meantime, though, here are some shots from the street – not the usual travel photos! Some of my favorite street art exists in Italy. And Florence has plenty of wonderful examples:

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And finally, a couple more from the street. The first is a boy in the local park returning from the latest Star Wars Movie.

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Our evenings are not complete until our after dinner stroll for gelato when we pass under the watchful eye of Dante, standing over Piazza Santa Croce.

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Thanks for the visit.

More to come!

0129: Busy Packing

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Today’s opening image is from a small park in Florence, directly across the street from where Cindy and I will be spending the month of February. So I am busy wrapping up loose ends, packing, and studying up on all things related to this newest adventure. I don’t know yet if I will be posting regularly – it will probably be sporadic at best. But I am sure that I will be returning with a trove of images.

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One of the things I am wrapping up is the further breakdown of the rock from the stone fence that I displayed last week. As I expected, there was much more to it once I broke it down further. Picture 3 (below) is of a gastropod I very carefully uncovered. It is two inches in diameter and was originally covered by a segment of rock (the area upper-left in blue). Picture 2 (above) shows the impression of the gastropod that I peeled away.

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And here are a couple more views. I can often be “all thumbs” when I try to extract something of such interest. But this time patience ruled the day and I had something particularly good to show for it!

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As I said, these coarse sandstones are often full of interesting fossils. And this one did not let me down.

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We managed a quick visit to NYC to see some museum shows that will be down by the time we get back. A great surprise was our first visit to the new Whitney Museum. It was an absolute delight. The architecture is spectacular and gives many opportunities to uniquely display large works and also give museum visitors wonderful views of the city.

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I had forgotten that so many of my very favorite works of art are part of their permanent collection. So it was like visiting old friends to see the likes of Philip Guston, George Tooker, and Arshile Gorky at their very best.

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This painting, “The Artist and His Mother” by Gorky always brings tears to my eyes – as sensitive as any painting I know! If you haven’t visited the new Whitney Museum yet please try to find the time.

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I’ll leave you with a view of Ponte Vecchio taken on our last trip to Florence. Thanks for the visit. I’ll try to be back soon.

0121: Walking Stone Fences

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A morning break for me often involves a walk down the quiet country road that runs past my studio. Like many of the small country roads around here there are stone fences that run parallel. Farmers clearing their fields for planting set the stones at the periphery and they eventually grew into field dividers, property lines, etc.

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Every once in a while, as I eye the rocks as I walk past them, something anomalous jumps out and I stop for a closer look. The other day I found this rock sitting atop the fence down the road. (The table it sits on is 18″x24″ and the rock is 14-15″ deep). It is a decent sized piece of coarse sandstone that must have been moved to this field by some natural event thousands or millions of years ago.

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I knew immediately that it would be full of fossils – marine invertebrate fossils – from the bed of an inland sea that occupied this location some 387 million years ago.

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It did not disappoint!

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I only had time for a few solid hits to my chisel and the early results were great. Cephalopods, brachiopods, coral appeared with each new hit.

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Plenty more to dig into on this rock when time permits.

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A little further down the road that same fence line yielded another encounter with lichen that covered many of the exposed rocks on top.

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These are a few more images from that folder.

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Thanks for the visit. And stay warm!

0114_Old Neighbors, Old Markings

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As I began to explain last week, my local quarry has, at least for me, two significant parts to it – the bulk of it is shale that breaks down rather easily (Rarely a fossil here, but great for the colors I’ve been shooting lately). Above that is a ledge of different stone that contains the fossils I find.

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Today I have images from each section – starting with some brachiopods found in the ledge and capstone. The first few I find to be rather gnarly. They seem to have a strong look of the primordial while the last two seem to have a bit more grace about them.

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All are from the same time period – roughly 385 to 387 million years ago. All are brachiopods – in part or whole.

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It is estimated that there were more than 12,000 recognized types, a small number of which still exist today.

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Amazing since the earliest brachiopods first appeared over 500 million years ago.

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And now, from the other section, here are more images of the riot of color produced by the chemical weathering of the shale.

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Thanks for the visit.

I’ll leave you with an image of Christmas 2015 in Catskill NY.

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0107: A Fine Find

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We had a few uncommonly warm days right before Christmas that got me back to the local quarry. Bonus days as I like to think of them. Even better, I discovered that the quarry owner had recently uncovered a fresh wall of shale – one that was thoroughly stained by various minerals – iron among others.

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The variety of patterns and color combinations brought me back for several days of shooting. As grateful as I was to have those warm days it needs to be mentioned that, during that brief period, there were times when the temperature at the North Pole was higher than the temperature in parts of Texas! And, while I was able to take advantage of the circumstances, those circumstances were were not something to be happy about.

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In this part of the quarry the rocks break apart easily, often crumbling in your hands as you pick them up. Exposure to the elements further speeds their breakup.

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More precisely, as I am just now researching, oxidation is a type of chemical weathering that weakens and causes the subsequent disintegrating of rock:

Oxidation is the reaction of rock minerals with oxygen, thus changing the mineral composition of the rock. When minerals in rock oxidize, they become less resistant to weathering. Iron, a commonly known mineral, becomes red or rust colored when oxidized.

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Eventually it all  becomes crushed shale, good for driveways and construction fill. The color just gets broken into the mix and disappears into the gray/black pile. But until that happens…

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Rarely do I ever find fossils in this rock. So it was a nice surprise to run across this group of crinoid stem segments.

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Each are an inch to two inches long. The individual rocks were found very close together.

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Of course I went back several times to search the same area but no more were to be found.

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Winter did finally arrive and it seemed like all color had completely vanished. Color may have left but interesting forms and shapes continue to appear. These two images are taken from my tire tracks in the driveway.

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Thanks for the visit.

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1217: Year End 2015

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I can hardly believe that another year has already come and gone. The clocks tick at the same pace as always. The earth seems to rotate at the same speed (although I read somewhere recently that the increasing liquification of the world’s glaciers is having a measurable effect on that!).

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As is customary for me, this last post for the year revisits certain favorites of mine (out of the 600 to 700 fresh new images) that have appeared over this past year. While I have left out a lot, these seem to represent some of the directions and diversity that have occupied my time and efforts. They range from fossils and geology to the mushrooms and wallpaper images of recent months, as well as various other miscellany.

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Thank you for the visit today and thank you as always for your continued viewership. I’ll be back again after the first of the year. Please have a safe and happy holiday break.

1210: A Second Look

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Some of this week’s images might seem familiar to the regular viewer. Sometimes the fossils deserve a second look. Sometimes a different mood or a different light might bring out different features. Even these first two images show how a slight difference in framing yields decision making issues – so rather than show one today I am showing both.

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This one I can photograph ten different ways and it always seems to satisfy.

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These last three brachiopods each have their own particular character – from the partial impression above…

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…to this crisp little one hiding under moss…

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…to this rock with its brachs and their other assorted Devonian brethren.

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My good friend and Renaissance man of High Falls Road, Harry Matthews, adorns his property with these wonderful rock sculptures (actually his entire property is one massive art project). So it’s always fun to stop by with camera. The image above is a straight view of the work. I mention this because the next two are the result of some camera trickery.

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These two, part of a series of (intentional) happy accidents, result from an misapplication of the camera’s panorama mode. Fast camera motion forces the camera software to fill in where information was poorly captured – thus the distortions.

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Experimenting is good.

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These two images are the result of yesterday’s walk. The flat rocks that top off a neighboring stone fence were covered with all kinds of lichen. Each image contains one lichen-covered rock sitting on another larger lichen-covered rock. Maybe I’ll start shooting lichen (and give the mushrooms a break!)

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I’ll close out with another visit to a recent group of images. Here again, somewhat different versions carry with them a different charm than the earlier ones shown.

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I found this next one on Facebook (sorry I have no attribution). I thought that, with the way things are these days, we need to remind ourselves:

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Thanks for the visit.