Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Archive for January 2017

The Cat I Really Came to See

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Not long ago I posted a couple of photographs of a pair of bobcats at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. I noted in that post that the cat canyon is one of my favorite exhibits at the museum near Tucson.

But the wildcats were not necessarily the kitties that I really wanted to see.

The cat I coveted was an ocelot. It can be found in the Sonora Desert, but there probably are not many of them in Arizona.

On its website, the museum reports that although ocelots have been documented in Arizona, the state is the northern limit of their range. An endangered species, the loss of habitat may limit how many there are in Arizona.

On the day that I visited the museum’s cat canyon, the ocelot was barely visible. I used my longest focal length lens to make the image that accompanies this post.

I was hoping that the ocelot would get up and move around so I could get better photographs of it. But despite three visits to the cat canyon during my time at the museum I had no such luck. This was as good as I got. Maybe next time.

Written by csanders429

January 31, 2017 at 8:36 am

By the Light of an Arizona Moon

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I was in Arizona to attend the wedding of my niece. The ceremony was held outside on a Friday night and by coincidence there was a full moon that night.

Arizona has a lot of clear skies so seeing it wasn’t an issue. I haven’t had much success in trying to photograph a full moon.

I don’t have a lens with enough focal length to zoom in on the moon and I’ve found having a tripod is helpful when making moon shots.

But I didn’t have my tripod on this day so I had to make a hand-held image.

Nonetheless, I was somewhat pleased with what I was able to do in making this hand-held image with my longest focal length lens.

Written by csanders429

January 30, 2017 at 8:55 am

Signs of Their Times

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Mantua, Ohio, is a village of just over 1,000 in Portage County, Ohio, that is probably as typical as any town of its size in America.

There is still life there, but it is hardly a growing place and that reality is unlikely to change anytime soon, if ever.

Small towns like Mantua are rich in history, much of which can be found in the central business district.

Downtown Mantua is a mixture of blight and prosperity with some vacant store fronts and viable businesses sitting side-by-side. I’ve seen much more advance stages of decay in other places.

I recently had lunch with a member of the local Rotary Club as part of my serving as a consultant for a project the club is undertaking to put up signs to tell the history of the Erie Railroad line that once went through town.

The rail line has been abandoned and is now a hike and bike trail. While in Mantua I also took the opportunity to photograph some faded signs that link to another era.

The one that most intrigued me sits atop this post. It from a storefront with a window that shows that the business was founded in the 1850s, but part of the lettering has been scraped away.

It probably will always be a mystery to me as to what was founded there in 1856.

Unlike the other signs, this one is still in relatively good shape. Whoever owns this property has sought to keep it up by painting it. The bright trim against the gray siding looks sharp.

Written by csanders429

January 28, 2017 at 9:19 am

As Mary Richards, Mary Tyler Moore Gave Me a Window Into Urban Professional Life

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The cast of the Mary Tyler Moore Show during the final episode, which aired in 1977.

The death this week of actress Mary Tyler Moore brought back pleasant memories of nights spent watching her on television.

I first watched her in the Dick Van Dyke Show, which aired on Wednesdays in the 1960s. It came on at 8 p.m. (central time) so I was able to see it just ahead of my mandated bedtime.

Like so many programs of the 1960s, it was light comedy of which I remember only bits and pieces. It was just something to watch.

That was not the case, though, with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which began airing in 1970 when I was in high school and starting to look ahead to adult life.

Many have observed that Moore’s character, Mary Richards, personified the 30-something modern woman of the time but what I identified with was the urban professional lifestyle that she led.

I grew up in a small town in east central Illinois and wanted to leave there for the big city.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show was my window into what life was like or could be like in the city for a young professional.

Although I had an interest in journalism and worked as a reporter for my college newspaper during a portion of the run of the show, journalism was not my career goal for most of the years that I watched the program.

Critics have widely praised The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was listed by the Writers Guild of America as No. 6 on the list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.

Some facets of the show were cartoonish, but it was, after all, a comedy. The writers of the show were not shy about taking on life issues in a serious way.

I appreciated the realistic view that not all conflicts and adverse situations end with people living happily ever after nor are all life issues resolved if they are ever resolved at all.

This mirrored the real life that I was beginning to see in which relationships break apart, dreams are crushed and limitations never exceeded.

Mary Richards had a pragmatic streak that was personified in the opening sequence in which she looks at the price of an item in a grocery store, gets a look of disgust on her face, and then throws it into her cart, giving in to her desire to have it while wishing it didn’t cost so much.

Variety noted that despite its willingness to wade into social issues, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was not as overtly political or socially conscious as other shows of the era.

The creators of the show also had to make changes, including dropping their plan for Mary to be coming off a divorce. They opted for a back story of Mary having been dumped by her former boyfriend.

Nonetheless, I found The Mary Tyler Moore Show to be refreshing and even inspiring in its own way.

I also noted the shift in the lyrics of the theme song that opened the program. It went from “you might just make it” to “you’re gonna make it after all.”

It was the sort of optimistic view that a young adult needs during a time of uncertainty mixed with the blind optimism of youth.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired for the final time in 1977 and I watched that last episode, curious as to how it would all end. Even that last show had an unexpected twist with Mary introducing the cast during a curtain call shown as the ending credits rolled across the screen.

By then I had settled into being a newspaper reporter in my Illinois hometown. I wasn’t living the urban professional lifestyle portrayed in The Mary Tyler Moore show, but getting to the city remained my goal.

Ed Asner, the actor who portrayed Mary’s boss, Lou Grant, would that year begin his own TV show in which he portrayed the city editor of a Los Angeles newspaper.

I would watch Lou Grant as religiously as I had The Mary Tyler Moore Show and for many of the same reasons. It was a window into a life that I longed to have.

The Cloud Line

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I don’t consider myself a clouds photographer, but I do find clouds to be interesting. Aside from them being illuminated by the colors of the rising or setting sun, I also have an interest in the edges of clouds, particularly when that edge is straight and shows that a front is moving in or out.

I find the back edge of a cloud pattern to be a sign of optimism. It means that clearer skies and sunlight are in store even if there won’t be much of the latter because sunset is near.

This view was made from my hotel room in Seattle during a May 2014 overnight stay. It had been cloudy all day and although I was done being out and about for the day, It still felt good to see the edge of the clouds and some late day sunlight.

Sunset Over JFK

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It is Dec. 7, 1982, and I am in the boarding lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport. I’ll be boarding a Pan American World Airways flight to New Orleans.

That is probably  my plane in the foreground because my flight log shows that I flew on a Boeing 727.

It had not been all that long since the U.S. government had allowed Pan Am to fly domestic routes. For many years, Pan Am could only carry passengers headed overseas.

The sun is setting and I’m captivated by the sight. I see some possibilities, namely framing aircraft at the gate and the setting sun.

This image is one of several I made, trying different settings and framing. It is my favorite of the batch.

Feeling Good About the Return of Kodak Slide Film if Only for a Few Fleeting Moments

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It almost sounds too good to be true, but there is hope that Kodak Alaris might bring back Kodachrome slide film.

kodachromeReports have surfaced on photography websites that Kodak is considering resurrecting what is, arguably, one of its most famous products.

In the wake of an announcement made earlier this month that Ektachrome would return to the market later this year, Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Steve Overman responded to questions about whether Kodachrome might be  next.

“We get asked all the time by filmmakers and photographers alike, ‘are you gonna bring back some of these iconic film stocks like Kodachrome . . . , ” Overman said earlier this month during CES, a global consumer electronics and technology show. “I will say, we are investigating Kodachrome, looking at what it would take to bring that back . . . Ektachrome is a lot easier and faster to bring back to market . . . but people love Kodak’s heritage products and I feel, personally, that we have a responsibility to deliver on that love.”

Aside from Ektachrome, Kodak is also bringing back the Super 8 camera.

Some would argue quite strenuously that its rich colors made Kodachrome the best color film. Period.

But it was also a complex film to process and the cost of doing that was a major contributor to the film’s demise in 2011 when the last lab in the country to process Kodachrome processed its last roll. Kodak had ceased manufacturing Kodachrome in 2009.

There was a time when Kodachrome and Ektachrome were a major part of my photography life. I was particularly fond of Kodachrome 200 because I had a slow lens on my Canon Rebel G film camera. After it went away, I began shooting a lot of Ektachrome 200 although I also frequently bought Fuji slide film, most notably Velvia and Provia.

Sometimes the film I bought depended on what the camera store that I patronized had in stock when I came in to buy film.

Film has its advantages, but cost is not one of them. Many who have posted on photography sites about the return of Ektachrome spoke about the high cost of buying and processing film, which can average around a dollar a slide.

If you want to show your slides to the world, you just about have to digitize them because there are few opportunities to see slides projected on a screen or wall. Social media is a digital world.

Aside from the fond memories of thousands — and maybe millions — of photographers who used Kodachrome, there are some who still have rolls of Kodachrome film, some of it exposed but never processed, stashed away on shelves or in freezers.

If Kodachrome does make a comeback, look for a lot of film cameras to come out of the closet as the novelty factor kicks in.

Kodak said there has been increasing interest in analog photography and sales of film products are on the rise. I get the impression, though, that film remains a niche market heavily populated by professionals and serious amateurs who are invested in digital and film alike.

Although I grew up in a film world and most of my photography career has been in film, I sold my Rebel G a year after going digital in July 2011 and there is a zero chance that I’ll go back to film. The advantages of digital photography are just too many.

Emotional attachment and reaction is at the heart of photography. The return of Ektachrome and the potential return of Kodachrome is like hearing from a friend you haven’t been in touch with for several years who was once a big part of your life.

Even if the renewal of the friendship is fleeting, it feels good to know that he is alive and well even if living a diminished life.