And… I’m back

Blog Note

So progress continues on the projects and I hope to have some work to show here soon. In the meantime, there’s no harm in continuing to document my peregrinations around Farnham and the occasional foray further afield. But I think we’ll start up with just 1 post a day, rather than the 3 I’ve been managing for the last 10 years or so…

Farnham, Surrey, UK

I was struck by the light shining through my recycling bin-liner.

Blog Note

As my photography grows more deliberate and less what-I-happen-to-see-passing-by-in-the-street, there will probably be less of it. At the moment, for instance, I have no new images to share.

On the one hand, I’m sad not to be maintaining my practice of frequent, daily posting, based on my deliberate habit of carrying my camera in hand almost everywhere I went; on the other, I look forward to producing much more intentional work. Stay tuned. As the current semester takes off I’ll be posting progress here.

The Lightbox

Blog Note

My MFA class has an exhibition at The Lightbox in Woking running now and I have a couple of images from my Meadowlands series in it. I traveled there last Sunday to see it. If you’re in the UK, please come by and see it, thru February 5th. Click any image above to see them all enlarged.

Elegy in a Country Churchyard

St Andrew’s Church, Farnham

It’s hard not to think of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard on a chilly late Autumn afternoon when you see your shadow on a tombstone. Equally hard to forget Mencken’s gloss on it: “There are no mute, inglorious Miltons, save in the hallucinations of poets. The one sound test of Milton is that he functions as a Milton.”

Lightbox Show

Exciting news if you’re in England – my MFA course will be exhibiting at the Lightbox in Woking next month (I will have a couple of images in the show). There’s a lot of interesting and exciting work to see from a talented gathering of serious post-graduate students so, if you can get to Woking, come see the Gathering.

poster design by Kangyue Zhang

Blog Note

It’s been a busy week for travel. Friday we took the train to Waterloo, then the tube to St Pancras, the EuroStar to Paris, and 2 Metros and a short walk to the hotel for Paris Photo. Walked about 8 miles around Paris before the Expo opened Saturday afternoon then wandered through the glorious (exhaustive and exhausting) expanse of it, along the way picking up a copy of Justine Kurland’s Girl Pictures (the 2020 Aperture edition not the one at the link) and meeting her when she signed the book. Sunday walked another 8 miles around Paris including a stop at the Musée d’Art Moderne and the Zoe Leonard exhibit. Then took the 2 Metros back to Gare du Nord to get the EuroStar back to St Pancras, the tube to Paddington and the train to Bristol, then a short cab ride to the hotel for Monday’s collage workshop with Justine Kurland at the Martin Parr Foundation. The Workshop was an all day session with about 12 students. Justine was fantastic – very engaging, discursive, open, collaborative, erudite and discussions with her have really forced me to re-evaluate what I’m doing in photography and how I can better strive to achieve the level of artistic mastery that she displays in her work. In particular I think it is pushing me to start using film in medium or large format again and get serious about more deliberate photographic subjects. Martin Parr wandered in now and again and was truly charming, one of the few male photographers to reach out positively to Justine about her SCUMB Manifesto (which I had previously bought as a gift for my collaging daughter). In the evening she gave a talk to a packed house which walked through several of her projects and was again, insightful, engaging and inspiring.

The next morning the cab to the train station never arrived, the rain was dashing down as we trundled our suitcase to the bus stop, getting drenched, then sat in Bristol traffic and passed the train station where construction has closed the bus stop and walked back through the rain and puddles to Bristol’s Temple Meads train station, hustled to the ticket window to upgrade our tickets for an earlier train we needed to catch to Paddington. Then the tube to Waterloo and the train back to Farnham where, panting, I just made it to my lecture on Queer Theory. Alas, rain had seeped into one of our bags and badly damaged the cover of Girl Pictures although, at least, none of the pages or images seems to have been harmed.

All this by way of excuse for not posting. More pictures to process and post soon.

Blog Note: End of an Era

The last post will be my last shot from New York for a while. At the end of August I “retired” from life in the corporate world and in the middle of September I moved to England where I’m pursuing an MFA in Photography.

Needless to say, this will have an impact on the pictures I’m taking and presenting but I’m not sure yet what it will be. Starting tomorrow I’ll be posting some of the touristy snapshots I took in my first couple of weeks here as I got to know Farnham a bit. Where I’ll go from there, I don’t yet know. Stay tuned.

Now it can be told…

Well, I’ve been missing from these pages for a while but I think I’m back. For those interested, here’s what’s been going on with my health. For those not interested, wait a few hours and there’ll be a picture again!

4 weeks ago, I was working at my desk when I realized I felt a little woozy. Not dizzy and not light-headed, just a little woozy. I waited for it to pass but it didn’t. Then I made the classic mistake of looking up wooziness online. The first couple of possibilities were clearly not relevant: dehydration and low blood sugar. I’d had my usual 2 mugs of coffee, a bowl of fruit salad and had gotten through my 3/4 liter seltzer bottle already. The next 2 possibilities were a little more frightening: heart attack or stroke. I was advised not to ignore it but to seek medical attention.

Under the guise of making doctoring more convenient, I now reach my doctor via an app where I can leave him messages and he can write back, anytime, from anywhere. In reality, this means I don’t hear for, typically, 24 hours.

So eventually, after not hearing back, and not wishing to risk a stroke, I decided I’d toddle off to an Urgent Care facility around the corner from me that afternoon, run by Mt Sinai Hospital. My wife accompanied me but, due to Covid restrictions, had to wait in the outer waiting room. I was feeling a bit worse but still nothing really serious. Blood was drawn, an EKG taken and a gentle nasal swab administered. Nothing was found but I’ve reached that age where the young doctors say to me, “if you were my father…” I’d definitely go to the Emergency Room of the hospital (A&E for you Brits). First they gave me an anti-dizziness pill.

So a cab ride to the Mt Sinai ER (really the old St Lukes) and I was triaged, once again leaving my wife on her own to return home. They refused to look at the test results and EKG from the Urgent Care facility and re-administered the blood-work, the EKG, a CAT scan, a chest x-ray, and another gentle nasal swab in between which I sat in a chair in a bay of the ER until after midnight. The anti-dizziness pill had kicked in and I felt fine, if a bit hungry. At this point they wanted to admit me for overnight observation and to get an MRI.

Around 1:00 am a nurse took pity on me and got me some pretzels, a fig newton and 2 containers of applesauce (without spoon). I slept through the night except for the obligatory 4:00 am bp check and the groans of my roommate. Woke to not a bad breakfast and, eventually an MRI. After the MRI I had a quite good lunch (not what I’d ordered when asked, but close) and eventually 2 doctors showed up to discuss my condition with me. All the tests were negative. No Covid, no heart attack, no stroke, no sign that anything untoward had ever occurred. I was advised to follow up with my personal physician and discharged. In the meantime he’d written back to suggest I wait for it to pass, inquired how I was feeling now and suggested I come in for a check-up in 2 weeks. I said to the doctors in the hospital, since you didn’t find anything that means I don’t have to worry if this happens again, right? “No, no, no,” they said, “you must come back to the ER immediately if you feel this again.”

So I took a cab ride home and went about my business. The Urgent Care facility called to say their Covid test came back negative. I continued to feel a bit low, tired, and other kinds of peripheral symptoms of a cold, but nothing serious. No congestion, no sore throat, no coughing or sneezing, just a general malaise and slight disorientation. I started sleeping a lot, in between zoom calls for work and all night. I tried to get an earlier appointment with my GP but no slots were available. A week after returning home I went back to the ER because these annoying symptoms weren’t getting better or going away. Again I was triaged and in a short while another young doctor came and asked me a series of questions. She then left to review my test results from the previous week and returned to say I should go home and see my GP for a follow-up.

I languished for another week, feeling weaker and tireder all the time. Finally, 2½ weeks after it all began the day came to see the Primary Care Physician. I was feeling a little better. I took a cab over, and he interviewed me about what I’d been feeling. He discussed several possibilities and a program of testing to narrow down the possibilities. He had already reviewed all the hospital test results and ruled out anything wrong with my heart, or brain, tumors and neuro-degenerative diseases. He thought the most likely case was a flu, probably Covid. Blood was taken and a painful nasal swab – the kind where you worry about being lobotomized. I was sent home to await results.

Next day, Friday, the Dr called to tell me I had Covid, had had it since the beginning, was no longer contagious, and had passed the 10-day period for isolating or quarantining. and, although my wife had never suffered at all (other than helping me about), she was now past the period of needing to isolate after being in contact with someone testing positive. “How could the Urgent Care and ER have missed that,” I asked. 2 false negatives at 2 facilities seemed statistically unlikely. Probably didn’t really push up there high enough, the Dr replied.

The following Monday, contact tracers from the NY Health and Hospitals called me and my wife and, in the course of long discussions on the whole tale, they informed me of all kinds of benefits available to me and that I was past the point of being contagious or needing to isolate.

That was a week ago. In the meantime I’m mostly recovered. the mystery is how I got it in the first place. Since the pandemic started I seldom go anywhere and am very careful when I do. In fact, there are only 3 possibilities:

  • My wife and I had a timed appointment to visit Fotografiska a few weeks before (see my earlier post). All the other visitors wore masks but I do remember thinking some were closer than I was absolutely comfortable with.
  • Since the beginning of January, my building management have sought to fix a leak in our 90-year old plumbing, embedded in concrete in the floors. A small stream of masked workers have entered our apartment daily, marched to the back room where they have, behind closed doors, removed almost all of our bathrooms and, slowly, started to reconstruct them.
  • A week before I fell ill, the contractor on this job, drove us to a tile warehouse in Queens to choose tiles for re-doing the full bathroom. He tends to wear his mask below his nose, as did many of the workers at the tile warehouse.

So, beware – if your Covid test swab doesn’t make you want to scream, that negative result may be false and not only may you be sick, you may be contagious. Insist on being hurt!

Blog Note

I’m in the throes of some long overdue updates but things may be a tad disoriented for a little while. I am attempting to provide a slightly more integrated experience between my blog, obBLOGato, and my main web site. So I have cross connected the links to various pages and changed to a WordPress theme that mimics (somewhat) the left-side menu navigation of my Zenfolio site. I will, over time, slowly integrate them better and, eventually, actually move the others site onto my domain, Until then, patience…

Blog Note

Nothing to post right now but some changes coming. I’m hard at work on a relaunch of my Zenfolio site and, in attempting to integrate it more tightly with obBLOGato there will be some changes around here. Probably a new theme and a new menu on the left. Still playing around in the sandbox but coming soon… you have been warned!

Blog Note

For those interested in books, I have just updated the list on the Books page with several new entries of books of photographs from the years since I first posted the books page and added a new feature at the top, a listing of all books I have been reading, that I can remember, from the last few years, according to Libby, Nook, Kindle and Google Play with a few actual, honest-to-God physical books from my shelf.

Blog Note

Well, I hadn’t intended to change the look and feel of the place for 2020 but WordPress posted notice of a new theme for 2020 and I thought I’d give it a whirl. Only I hit the wrong button and instead of testing it in the sandbox I activated it. But I really didn’t like it (some of you may have seen it there for an hour or so, all cream colored with red-wine highlights).

Then I couldn’t remember or find the old theme so I had to go through them all to find one I liked. Then I discovered it hadn’t kept track of my randomized header images so I had to select and crop and test a bunch of new header images and randomize them. And finally I took advantage of the imbroglio to update some of the widgets and menus.

Welcome to obBLOGato’s new look for 2020!

Mother and Son Show

Had great fun (and not a little work) this weekend hosting a Pop-up Gallery show of my photographs and my mother’s paintings at Contra Studios in Chelsea. the pivot of the show was a set of 4 images you can see if you look quickly in the video (around the 20-second mark): a snowy photo of mine and my mother’s painting of it and a painting my mother did of some marsh grass in New Jersey and a photograph I took without knowing about hers, which nevertheless has a striking resemblance.

Also in attendance was a large group of my former classmates from PS 198’s class of 1968. I brought our middle school yearbooks, our class photo and set up a screen running a continuous loop of images I shot for the yearbooks back then, our 50th reunion get-together and some random shots around New York in those days. Most of the pictures here are of these friends and were shot by Peter Calvert, a professional artist and/or his wife Suzanne who is a stained glass artist – many thanks Peter and Suzanne!

I also set up an iMac to run loops of slide shows of my street photography set to music which you can see very briefly right at the end of the video (and hear in the background).

Also appearing, a surprise visit from my workshop friend Markus John from Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb‘s Finding Your Vision workshop last Spring, in NY on a brief trip from Germany.

(Click any picture to see them all enlarged and a few captions.)

I’d also like to thank numerous other friends who stopped by: Frank Burrows, Joe Silver, Gary Shoemaker and Kathleen Chan, Laura Tietjen and Steve Moore, Wayne Parsons and others and my mothers friends from her painting class, her quilting group and her neighbors who were very gracious in their appraisal of the show.

Exhibit Update

Important news! The gallery show previously announced has moved! We’ll still be opening on Friday evening (25-Oct-2019) at 6:30 pm and on Saturday the 26th from 11:00 to 5:00 but the new location is:

Contra Studios
122 West 26th Street, 7th floor
New York, NY 10001

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be participating in a pop-up gallery show next month. On the evening of Friday, October 25th and during the day on Saturday, the 26th you can see some of my work at Mother & Son an exhibition of my mother’s paintings (S F Stern) with my photographs.

Pop-Up Show

[UPDATE] – We’ve just had a location change (dates and times unchanged). We’ll now be at:

Contra Studios,
122 West 26th Street, 7th floor
New York, NY 10001

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be participating in a pop-up gallery show next month. On the evening of Friday, October 25th and during the day on Saturday, the 26th you can see some of my work at Mother & Son an exhibition of my mother’s paintings (S F Stern) with my photographs.

Mailing-Brochure v2

for more information, don’t hesitate to contact me:

Subway Candid Portrait

Times Square subway station, New York

I seem to be getting some kind of ghastly greenish-yellow bands under certain shooting conditions. I try to do some light correction but it’s pretty hard to get it right. Time to take a chance on Fujifilm repair again? I recently sent in my X-T1 to get an estimate on an annoying but operable command dial that needed cleaning. With the repair cost approaching the value of the camera I declined the repair but the camera came back with the shutter speed dial locked in Automatic making the camera something less than functional. Or time for an X-T3 or X-H1?