I used to think that a photo silhouette was some photographer’s mistake. An underexposed photograph. A good scene ruined. How wrong I was. I find a photo silhouette to be more attractive than a non-silhouette in many cases. The silhouette is dramatic. It is mysterious. It is sterile because in the case of the photos in this blog, “Oil Refinery” (U.S. c.1940) the photos can be used to symbolize any and all refineries. The lesson here is not to dismiss a silhouette out of hand as it may prove to be a truly fine, artistic photograph containing subtle meanings never intended.
As a garage sale junkie myself I thought that I would share this experience with you. I have been to countless garage sales over many decades. I have entered basements chocked full of items where you had to enter at your own risk. They could have charged admission just to see the place. Today’s yard sale presented here ranks up with the best of them in terms of square yards of junk, junk and more junk. As it happens I know the seller of this sale. Not a friend of mine, but I know him from the neighborhood. The ultimate hoarder without question. Now at the end of his life it is time to sell. But his prices today were ridiculous and in keeping with his normal way of doing business. Now, I don’t try to chisel at yard sales. I like a good bargain like everyone else, but I also don’t mind paying a fair price. His prices were as high if not higher than they would be at a fashionable antique store. Lots of junk, in my opinion, lots of lookers but most folks just walked away. It will all wind up in multiple dumpsters soon enough. Email me at email@example.com for more details.
“Babylon Garage Sale“; Babylon, N. Y. (August 27, 2022)
A good photo is one that tells a story. A great photo haunts the mind much, much longer. There is a story here is this photo “A Walk in the Woods“. We may never know that story but its existence is undeniable. We think that it belongs in the latter category.
This past Saturday morning I opened my front door to fetch the morning newspaper and was greeted by three swans. I am assuming that this was the mother swan and her two juvenile offspring although I was unable to determine the sex of any of them. We do live somewhat near a lake perhaps it is about 1/2 mile from our home. I have never seen swans on our lawn in the decades we have lived here. The swans were right at our front door as if they were our pets. If I had encouraged them I think that they would have come indoors, that is how tame they were. Beautiful birds with huge, black webbed feet. I gave them some bread to eat and they seemed satisfied as I guess that they were not afraid of humans and used to people feeding them. I took all of this as a sign of good luck, that somehow my family was blessed. All in all it was a pretty good day as it turned out. The swans moved away from the front door and stayed for a few hours. All that remained was to clean up their poop from my front lawn so as not to step in any of it. Maye not quite so lucky after all. Be kind to animals.
“The Swans Who Came For Breakfast“; North Babylon, N. Y. (August 20, 2022)
I would imagine that this photo does not look like much to most of you but not to me. Such a simple concept to shoot from the rear seat of an automobile. Most importantly a photo needs to tell a story and I believe that this one does exactly that. When a photo has multiple points of interest it becomes vastly more powerful. In such photos the human eye unconsciously scans the photo looking to make sense of it. What is going on here? Most photos have a weakly defined point of interest or simply one strong point. Not many have more than one, and this photo has a number of such points. Where to look first? Is it the woman walking down the side of the road? The road sign? The dashboard emblem? The man in the fedora in the back seat? His female companion? The driver? The telephone poles? So many points of interest. The eye and brain try to make sense of it all. We are looking 180 degrees behind in the rear view mirror and simultaneously 180 degrees ahead. Our assessment is that this is a 1939 Buick 5 window business coupe. We also believe that the man in the back seat taking the photo is using an Argus camera. I know this is really a stretch, but after viewing tens of thousands of photos over many years we are able to make such assessments.
“Rear View Mirror“; U. S. c.1939
I have first hand memories of George C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park. As a young man I remember a day’s outing at Steeplechase with my friends. The original Steeplechase had burned down decades earlier. The main attraction for me was the electric horse race. Six carousel horses mounted on rails, the bell went off and the race began. Two riders to each horse. The race was fixed. The horse on the inside rail of the track won every time. All was not well on this trip. The giant sliding pond! Approximately 4 or 5 stories high it reached near the roof of the building as I recall. You were supposed to push off and ride the slide to the bottom. As I pushed off I instinctively put my arms out to slow my decent only to burn the skin off my left elbow. The infection lasted a several weeks. We also took a ride on the Bobsled which was not at Steeplechase, but was a famous attraction at Coney Island. The result was vomiting for the next hour after the conclusion of the ride. The Wonder Wheel (ferris wheel) proved to be mild by comparison. I was not about to try my luck on the parachute jump. So ended my fun day at Steeplechase Park and Coney Island.
“Steeplechase at Coney Island“; Brooklyn, N. Y. c.1939
This photo is for all shrimp lovers. Unedited and in the original sepia is “Shrimp Boats at Charleston“; South Carolina c.1948. The Lady Luck is seen at dockside while another shrimp boat is outward bound. Oh, yes, and then there is the fisherman. The more you look the more you see. Man in the background standing on the dock and a worker on a boat in the far background with the netting. All in all just a wonderful moment for anyone who loves shrimp.
Two explorers on a journey into the “Heart of Darkness”, not likely. Adventurers maybe. They do not seem to have enough provisions on board for a long trip. In most cases there are some clues hidden in plain sight that help us to identify time and location. This photo presents some challenges. We date the photo to approximately 1923. But, location…location…location? The raft is made of bamboo. That narrows things to the tropic areas of the earth as they are in common use at that latitude virtually worldwide. We assess that these adventurers are Brits. Still, if you examine the extent of the British Empire in 1923 the task is quite difficult. This map shows the historic extent of the British Empire over time.
Using the process of elimination our assessment is that the location is the state of Kerala in India. Tours are still given today using bamboo rafts in Kerala.
“The Explorers“, c.1923
“No, the defense is wrong!!” I have definitely been watching too many movies. The connection just seemed to be so obvious. Just high school graduation revelers in this case having too much fun. So much for my quiet neighborhood.
“My Cousin Vinny“; North Babylon, N. Y. (June 25, 2022).
I entered a 50% card store the other day in order to purchase a greeting card. The greeting cards are actually a front for a gambling den. Virtually everyone who enters buys lottery tickets. A dollar and a dream. More accurately $2.00, inflation and all, for a scratch off. I watched as a patron asked for a scratch off. The proprietor said which one? I interjected, “preferably a winning one”. It was not to be. Perhaps it would be understandable to try your luck for a couple of dollars on occasion, but most of the patrons were asking for multiple tickets and also playing the daily numbers. It was obvious that these were committed gamblers. Would not they have been better off to have invested their money over time in taking a course on computer coding for example? Human nature, I guess.
“Lottery Ticket“; (June 18, 2022) West Babylon, N. Y.