Archives for Photography



Tomorrow, I’ll be starting August Break. It’s meant to be a rest for bloggers, in that all it requires of you is to post one picture every day for the month. For me, it will be more of an acceleration, given my lackadaisical posting schedule.

I did do Project 365 back in 2007, but, although I took a picture every day, most of those pictures never made it onto the Internet in any form. It’s probably a good thing. They were, to say the least, not spectacular, but my plan in doing Project 365 was to improve, and I think the ones I took in December were better than the ones that I took in January, so mission accomplished.

Actually, maybe in addition to the new ones I take for August Break, I will also post some of my ancient Project 365 photos. I do enjoy making things harder for myself, and it might be an interesting contrast. Unless I haven’t improved as much as I think I have. Then it will just be embarrassing…

A few months ago, I went with Ag Works for a private tour of Carrie Furnace. I’m still not sure how to describe the experience. It was hot, humid, fraught with poison ivy, crumbling floors, and spiderwebs bigger than my entire torso. I loved it.

Silver Eye is doing a show for pictures taken there, so of course I’m submitting – along with half the city I’d imagine. It’s an incredibly popular subject for photos, and it’s easy to see why. It’s not just the rust, the crumbling walls, the trees growing from rooftops. There is an air of –

–brief pause while I get up to pace and try to find the word I want–

–magic. That’s the only word that comes close.

Here are the pictures I sent to Silver Eye, and if you want to submit as well, there’s more information here.






2013-06-21 21.04.00

Two nights go, I saw Saturn’s rings for the first time. Not on television. Not in a picture or a text book, or on Astronomy Pic of the Day. I saw them with my own eyes through a 13 inch telescope at the Allegheny Observatory.

It was the summer solstice. We’d gone to the observatory for a lecture, and it was still bright as day afterward, but we went up to the telescope** anyway. For a long time, as the sky went from pale blue to slate, there was nothing to see. R, who works there and shows people around on lecture nights when he’s not doing important astronomy things***, showed us the moon, which he said was too bright and gibbous to be very interesting. I have seldom known a man to be wronger in my life. The moon, gibbous or not, was amazing.

shooting for the moon

shooting for the moon

You could see mountains. You could see mountains on the moon. I know he gets to look at this stuff all the time, but holy crap, in what world is that not amazing?

We could also see the impact crater Copernicus, and in looking at pictures of it online, I can see his point re: brightness and gibbous…ness. Gibosity. Whatever. Because it was so bright, there was no shadow to define the edges of the things, and a lot of the detail was blasted away.

2013-06-21 20.50.14

this is R being wrong about how the amazing the moon is

So we looked at the totally boring gibbous moon for a while, and then he found Saturn (on a star chart! So cool!). If you looked through the finder telescope (the little white one), you could see it, just the vague shape of it and its rings. When you looked in the big one, you could not only see the rings, you could see the color striations on the planet. I am overusing italics and I don’t care. I feel like I should be putting this part in the 72pt type; that is how excited I am about it.

And THEN, he was like, all casually. “Oh, yeah, and you might be able to see one of the moons, too.” I saw one of Saturn’s moons! Possibly two! One was definitely Titan (the largest), he said, and wasn’t sure which the other one might be.

He tried to show us the point of light in the sky that was Saturn without the telescope. He could clearly see it, could point to it, tried to give us instructions on how to find it. But for the longest time, none of us could see it. When it finally slid into focus for me, I realized that it wasn’t a matter of looking at the right part of the sky, it was a matter of depth. The light was faint, and we weren’t looking out far enough.

* The Old Astronomer to his Pupil

**The 13 inch is their smallest, built in 1861. At the time, it was the third largest in the world. (Its lens was considered so valuable that it was stolen and held for ransom in 1872, which makes you wonder what their security was like back then. It’s as not as if you can tuck a 13″ chunk of glass in your pocket and stroll out of the building.)

***I have literally no idea what he does, but he clearly knows a LOT, so I’m going to assume it’s important.

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