NOW IT’S A SUPER HIGHWAY by Jerry Taylor

Outside Salatiga, Indonesia Nikon D700 f/10 @70mm @1/400 ISO 200

(Originally Published 2017) I recently heard from Sid Thornton in Indonesia and he sent me a photo to remind me of our day out “shooting” in the countryside. It was November 1, 2012; it was my birthday. It was foggy and warm. His reminder caused me to look back into my own digital image files and I found a similar image that I had processed. Sid told me that the site of this particular image is now a super highway. The image took me back to all the activities of that day. Earlier that morning (4am) Sid and I climbed an extinct volcano and from our lofty height we were able to see other volcanic mountains at a distance; some just dormant and not extinct. Mount Merbabu

Later, that day, I remember jumping from a high wall that surrounded a cemetery; I fell hard with bloody results. A scrapped left hand, bloody knees and ripped holes in the knees of my pants; I was embarrassed. But, Sid, who had jumped successfully before me, stood there clapping as I held my camera high in the air — safe and sound — with the right hand that didn’t hit the pavement.

It was a day, I have told him many times, that I will never forget.

Tranquility, adventure, and another year older. Yet, it was just another memory and story that was in fact — stopped in time. But, progress, it seems, never stops.

BTW — Thank you Lisa Richardson — you were the reason we were there in the first place.

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THE GREAT BROWN DUNDERHEAD by Dave Gigliotti

(Original Post 2017) I admit it – I am a leaf peeper, and foliage fanatic. Camera in hand, I will search for fiery seasonal spices like cayenne red and saffron yellow to add to my color palette. Usually, the dangers faced in these pursuits are limited to the occasional acorn falling on my head, or missing dinner and the last hunk of pumpkin pie. Darn!

Last fall, things got scarier. It was a sunny morning with a cool breeze. Needing some shots, and being afflicted with autumn wanderlust, I donned my brown fleece jacket, grabbed my D90, and headed to a new shoot location. Once there, I spied good vantage points downstream. All I had to do was walk a path that turned to jungle, scooch and butt-slide over big boulders, watch out for copperheads, and not fall in. What could go wrong?

Those of you who have traipsed through the woods with me know that I will blaze my own trail. Some might say I don’t even follow a trail, but just blunder like a graceless wildebeest through muck, briars, and all manner of obstacles. I neither confirm nor deny those claims, but in the story I impart to you now, they seem more true than false.

I made it but realized the view would be better from the middle of the river. Thus, began the leapfrogging. Still, all went well. I got the shots and began heading to shore. Somehow, the trip back suddenly looked more dangerous. I must have jinxed myself with those thoughts because on the next jump I hit a slick rock and fell backward into the cold torrent.

I won’t call what I did next swimming because it wasn’t that pretty, but I did manage to heave my bruised carcass onto a big rock and catch my breath. Eventually, I made my way to the car, but I learned a valuable lesson – D90s can’t swim! After a few weeks of drying out, it came back to life – kind of. Like its owner, it has its share of odd quirks.

That led me to another valuable lesson – if you ever need a new camera, just accidentally “fall” into the next body of water you come across. Your wife will be so happy that you’re okay, that she’ll let you get a new camera. (Assuming she doesn’t read this story!) I went with the D750. The subject photo always reminds me that anyone who saw me slosh out of the river that day probably recalls their encounter with the great brown dunderhead and his leaky camera. It was a soggy memory; a story caught in time.

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DECISIVE MOMENT by Jerry Taylor

Myanmar (Burma) 2/17/15 Nikon D750 f/10 1/500sec 2 24mm

(Originally posted in 2017) We visited the Thailand/Myanmar border on a previous trip to Thailand in October of 2011, but were restricted from crossing over into Myanmar. However, a short four years later we spent a month (February 2015) in Myanmar. We visited in a girl’s school helping with the English language; we visited with Counselors, Teachers, and Professors; our interactions were about Marriage and Family Therapy. We were restricted to the city of Yangon for most of our time, but what a time it was. To be in a place that was cut off from most of the Western World for many years was challenging. The people were gracious. I learned for the first time to really use chop-sticks. We stayed in the local hotels and ate at the local restaurants. As we always do – we had a jar of Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter as back-up.

Now, about the image. In our travels, mostly by taxi, I was always ready to “grab the shot” of anything interesting. The roads were crowded and traffic stopped frequently. (One of my other favorite images from that trip was a traffic jam of buses, cars, trucks, and Trishaws – but that’s another story.) For this image – we were going about 2 mph; the window is rolled down and my camera lens is sticking out of the window just to capture anything. Ahead of us I saw two Buddhist Monks cross the street. When the taxi got closer to them they were walking up some steps. I clicked the shutter, probably a couple of times. I didn’t see the full-sized image until we got home and I downloaded them onto my desktop. Amazing, I had caught a “Decisive Moment,” the term attributed to Henri Cartier-Bresson in images like this one. The monks were climbing the steps and each one had a foot up in the air. I recolored the image, in Lightroom, to keep the colorful saffron robes and desaturated (took the color out) the background. I wanted the Monks to be the focal point. A philosophical question arose from my colorization. Are they walking into darkness or bringing light?

 

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NYPD BLUE by Steve Sattler

The year was 1996 and I was enrolled in a B/W darkroom class at a local community college. Our subject assignment that week was street photography, so I decided to take a day off from work for a New York City adventure.

Destiny that day led me to a decision to park in New Jersey and train it into the city. After climbing the steps out of the subway, I was soon immersed in something I hadn’t expected. Before my eyes were many police cars, fire engines and ambulances. I thought I was witnessing an active crime scene. Policemen were everywhere and people were moving around at a very fast pace.

I walked into the scene as fast as I could, and of course out came my camera ready to capture the action. I soon learned my first impression was wrong. I had not walked into a crime scene. I had walked into the filming of “NYPD Blue”, one of the most popular television shows that year.

I took many shots that day but this image continues to resonate with me, and haunts me at the same time. The person on the left is not an actor. He is a real-life fireman. The person on the right is the actress Kim Delaney, who had begun her role on NYPD Blue the year before, and who went on to win an Emmy for her role in the series.

This image resonates with me because I see a very young man with his eyes sparkling, with a beautiful actresses’ hand on his shoulder, and with a glow of happiness written all over his face.

The image haunts me. Five years in the future would be 9/11, and if this young man was still with the fire department, based on where we were that day, he surely would have been sent to the towers. I’m haunted in wanting to know if he was involved with 9/11. I wonder if he lost his life that day. In a strange way taking this picture gives me a connection to a story stopped in time, but forever living on!

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ANGEL DOGWOOD by Jerry Taylor

Pylesville, Maryland Pentax K-1000 Kodak Tri-X 400 50mm at f/2.

The memory is pretty vague; the year was 1976 or 1977. I know it was a very rainy week when the Dogwood trees bloom in the early Spring. I liked to go out when the sun was just rising. We lived on six and one-half acres and had just built the house for our young family. Our dog Max would go on my little adventures as I walked the property with my new toy – the Pentax K-1000; my first real camera with interchangeable lenses.

Photographically, I was looking for deep contrast for my Tri-X 400 film. Looking for that brightness against the dark background. Dogwoods were everywhere. This one was different. I have seen diagrams of the cherubim, the angels that were on the Ark of the Covenant, of Old Testament history. The Ark that carried the tablets of the Law of Moses. To my artistic eye, the arch of this Dogwood flower reminded me of the angel’s wings. I had never seen a Dogwood bloom like this one before; not even a photo or print or painting. It was alone at the end of the branch. The sun was rising above it. The translucence of the petals and the leaves were nothing like I had ever seen before; the light shining a thin line on the branch. It was a moment it time. I have searched for another Dogwood bloom like this for decades; I’ve never found one.  As you can see this image is soft. The great Bokha was created from the sun and the leafy trees behind the bloom. Even though it is not sharp it is a favorite image of mine and hangs on our living room wall, stopped in time.

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A FUZZY PHOTO – A SOLID THOUGHT by Jerry Taylor

Nikon CoolPix P900 f/3.5 0.8sec ISO 800

If you were walking through the second floor of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and you saw this face – what would you think? If you said “Rabbi” or “Jewish Ancestry,” in the context of the environment, I would agree. The place was crowded, as it is every time we’ve gone, lots of school age children, people bumping and squeezing past each other. At first, I saw him at a distance, and yes, I bumped and squeezed to get closer; I finally reached out and touched his shoulder to get his attention. He wasn’t startled. He was a short man compared to my six feet something frame. I asked if I could ask him a few questions and take his photograph. He hesitated. I said a few more words of introduction; he said, “Okay.” followed by, “It was the beard wasn’t it?”  “Yes, and the glasses.” I replied. (I didn’t say what I was thinking earlier.) He said, “Don’t see that many wavy full beards here in the East, do you?” As it turned out he is from Washington State. “I know people in Wenatchee, WA.” I said. “Yea, I occasionally drive through Wenatchee. I am a long-haul truck driver.” At the instant I took this photo someone pushed by me, thus, it’s not a great photo, but hopefully, you see what I saw and why I wanted the photo.

We were in Wenatchee, WA on what we call our “34 Days Across America” . We visited one of our former Marriage and Family Therapists, Tim Van Rheenen and his wife Tiffany. It would be a hoot if the bearded guy, I never got his name, had said, “Oh, I know Tim.”

The point of the story. We can pass interesting people everyday and we do. What would make you want to stop and talk for a couple of minutes? Share? Ask questions? Are you willing to try? Or, would it be too pushy?  Maybe, you’ll discover your fabled six degrees of separation. (One day I will tell a Six Degree story from Thailand.)

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JUST A PIECE OF PAPER by Jerry Taylor

“Flight” Nikon D700 f/5.6 1/40sec ISO 100 70mm

It was just a piece of paper! One of twelve given out at the Eighth Annual Joseph Miller Abstract Photography Exhibit in Gainesville, Virginia. There were 396 entries from a worldwide entry pool and only 123 entries were accepted into the show. To be accepted was the first recognition; the second was an award. The final potential is one of those twelve will be chosen as “Best of Show.” (The show ends May 31, 2018.)

“I personally consider abstract photography to be modern art. …the camera can produce art if the photographer will take the time and make the effort to see beyond the obvious.” J Miller

Yes, as you can guess, I did receive one of those twelve pieces of paper for the image above. But, I began to think about the event on the two-hour drive home, “Why is a piece of paper so important?” Most of the time the paper is about accomplishment. Think about all the awards you received from schools – beginning in Elementary all the way through High School, Community College, Technical Schools, College, Graduate School, etc. Each time you received that piece of paper it proved an accomplishment of some kind. Classes passed. Once you have “That Particular Piece of Paper” it symbolizes advancement into another world. Why is it that some of us still pursue another piece of paper? I think we still want praise, recognition, and a seal of approval for what we accomplish in the rest of our life. We are still in “Accomplishment Mode.” My suggestion – Never leave it!

“Work and creativity should be its own reward.” is quoted by many. For work, we get a pay check; for creativity, we often get praise. However, when praise comes in the form of “Award” written on a piece of paper – Wow, we get all “twitterpated,” at least I do. We fall in love all over again with our favorite pursuit. There is an excitement when a Judge (brilliant or not) has chosen your image for an award. But, it’s still just a piece of paper.

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WHERE IS SHE NOW? by Jerry Taylor

Thailand Refugee Camp February 2010 on the Burma Border – Canon PowerShot G10 f/4.5 30mm ISO 200

Have you ever taken an image of someone you don’t know? Was that image taken a long time ago? And when you look at that image again do you ask yourself, “I wonder where she is now? Is she still alive?” That’s the story of this image. She was in a refugee camp in NW Thailand, February 2010. When I look at the image it propels me back; it seems like yesterday. Young, innocent, and beautiful in a big place that was not. Her eyes were soulful with a hint of apprehension and curiosity. My young girl is not the “Afghan Girl” made famous by Steve McCurry and National Geographic (here), but she is none the less real.

We were there to bring gifts, hope, and knowledge. We were restricted in what we could bring into the camp. It seemed as if, “Just someone to talk with from the outside.” was a welcomed treat. I was humbled that regardless of what meager food they had – we were expected to eat something; we did.

The “decoration” on her face is decoration, but much more than that. The product is Thanakha, a pounded paste from tree pulp wood. Thanakha is used to cool and refresh the skin. It’s used as sunscreen and we were told it repels insects. It is worn mostly by children of both sexes and then by adult women. Since they wear Thanakha for protection they also make it decorative.

I hate to say, this image was a hit and run, “No cameras allowed in the refugee camp!” I had, at the time, a big Nikon D200 body and lenses with me that stayed in the truck. My small backup camera was a Canon Power Shot G10. I felt somewhat guilty about breaking the rules, but not enough — I got the images I wanted.

We still have a connection with a missionary that lives in Thailand. He still visits the camps. He does not keep a record of the specific people he sees; he does not know where this little girl has gone or if she is alive. I hope she is. I recently had a solo photography show at the Liriodendron Manson in Bel Air, Maryland – Here – a photographer friend of mine, Dave Gigliotti, asked if he could take a photo of me next to one of my favorite images. Here This was the image I chose. When you are touched by a young, innocent, beauty – your soul is connected by a Memory, a Story, Stopped in Time.

Up to Date Info on the Refugee Camp. HERE

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A SILENT MEMORIAL AGAINST WAR by Walt Polley

This image is part of my life. 1) I participated in a year of study at Hamburg University in Germany starting in 1971. My brother (a musician) suggested that I attend a worship service in the Saint Mary Church. When our study group took a trip to Lübeck one Saturday, in early September, to learn about the city and its artistic and cultural treasures, I stayed overnight to attend worship service Sunday morning at Saint Mary Church. 2) After graduating from college I was drafted into the Army. Because my college major was physics, the Army felt that my military specialty should be planning for nuclear and chemical warfare – ultimate destruction.  3) During the study group trip to Lübeck that Saturday in 1971, while in Saint Mary Church standing near this memorial, I met the young lady who would later become my wife – the exact date we met that year was September 11.

Saint Mary’s Church in Lübeck, Germany was built between 1250 and 1350; located on the highest point of the island that forms the central heart of Lübeck. During World War II, Lübeck was the first German city to be attacked by the Royal Air Force. The bombing attack on the night of March 28, 1942 created a firestorm that destroyed three of the main churches in the city center. The bells of Saint Mary’s Church hung in the South Tower in a bell loft over 200 feet above the ground. The strong updraft feeding the flames after the bombing raid caused the bells to ring one last time and they crashed to the ground. The oldest bell dated to 1508, weighed 4,400 pounds and had been rung for 434 years. The tenor bell dated to 1669, weighed 15,700 pounds and pealed for 273 years.

The heat and intensity of the fire partially melted these two bells. They fell from the burning tower in the early morning hours after the bombing raid. Since that day the two bells remain in the south tower as a silent memorial warning against war and violence.

You can read more history about Saint Mary Church HERE

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IN THE DARKNESS — LIGHT by Jerry Taylor

Mathare Valley Slum Classroom in Nairobi, Kenya East Africa – Nikon Coolpix P900 f/4 85mm 1/200 sec ISO 100

We were on a humanitarian mission, in Mathare Valley, Nairobi, teaching about Marriage and Family Therapy for a month: to teachers, social works, discipleship officers, and other leaders. The date is September 15, 2016. The memory represents our second trip to Mathare Valley for Missions of Hope International. The slums of Nairobi, Kenya, rank in the top five of the biggest slums in the world. Nearly a million people live in the Mathare slum alone, an area of less than one square mile. The school has exploded from a humble beginning of fifty students in one location to now over 12,000 students and 20 schools. You can visit the school websites here and here. Their story is too big for 500 words or less, so, I hope you will read the links or visit a YouTube video about the Valley, of which there are many. Now, on to the image that is stopped in time.

During our month, we visited all the schools and heard the stories of leaders, students, and families. We are in the Bondeni school; the room was stuffy and hot. The corrugated sheet metal walls vibrate noise and radiate the heat from outside. The teacher is asking questions and in this image, you can see a hand is raised in front of the girl with the blue top. At first, I thought, “Ah, a hand in the way. It just ruined the photo.” but, it is part of the whole action going on in the class room. I am the distraction. There are a couple of pair of eyes looking at me; a couple of eyes looking away. I was amazed, when I processed the image, that the P900 captured both the inside and the outside of this image so well for a jpeg. Information is posted on the right-hand side of the image about the class rules. Outside there is a “Exhauster” truck for collecting and carrying human excreta; the truck is a rare sight. There are very, very few lavatory facilities in Mathare Valley. Sewage runs in most streets. The tin-roofed shacks are a mixture of homes, “Hotels,” and other businesses. A “Hotel” is really a place to eat and not to stay; the menu is usually rice and beans. The brilliant colors are everywhere. The image in the lower center pane of the window is a figure of a man who symbolizes a barber works here. The bare footed woman on the left is typical of no foot ware and her smile is characteristic of most people you meet in the valley. If you are reminded of the raised fist as a symbol of black power, in the past, think of this raised fist as assent to knowledge which is real power. People adapt and live their lives; hopefully, some of the children in this image will escape the Valley.

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