A Photographer's Coda


Art, Craft and Discovery

Easter Sunday 1957 – Brooklyn, Ohio

My Mom made this photograph with the family Kodak Hawkeye Brownie camera. They had the Flash Kit version. Indoors a couple of Easter’s later shows the sharp shadows from the flash bulb, behind me and my brothers.

Handheld because the camera had no tripod socket. It had a single shutter speed of about 1/30th of a second or Bulb aka Long, as long you held it open. The lens was a fixed focus meniscus. The manual said everything from 5ft to Infinity would be in focus, so selfies were mercifully, not possible. The Hawkeye aperture was also fixed at about f16. What she knew to do was get us outside in bright sun aka the “Sunny 16 Rule”. The film box explained it. Same with the flash attachment indoors.

Film size was 616 so most of the prints were simply contact prints. Fill out the envelope at the local drug store, keep the receipt part and drop it in the bin. They sent it out and a few day later, you picked up the prints and negatives. Sixty six years later, I scanned it, edited the now digital version in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop and made the version you’re seeing.

The six year old you see has been discovering the world ever since. The last dozen years, with photography. I’d write “with a camera” but that’s almost the least of it. And it became time to stop and reflect and write. It takes time to really see a thing

This Menu Category is going to be sort a working draft of what may become a book. It begins with Art, the Why. Craft is the How and enables Art. Discovery, that’s the journey. The teacher in me would like to share what I’ve found, before mine ends.

Sunday Story

I’m pretty sure I made photographs of the first event at the newly renovated Cary Arts Center. It was Sunday. A “Wet Paint” sign was taped to the stage riser and the Brussels Chamber Music Orchestra, jet lagged, were trying to figure out the space

The last time, I’m pretty sure I made photographs there was the Cary Ballet “Nutcracker”, 2021. In my usual place, next to the video guy, behind my tripod and just left of a pillar in the last row of the theater, I’d done my check and re-check of gear. A guy came up and plopped down in a seat near me and somehow, we started talking. As usual, I bragged on the Cary Ballet Company dancers. And told him how I “lost” some every year to ballet company contracts. He grinned and said , I know, I’m taking one with me.

We exchanged cards. His said “Nick Mullikin, Associate Artistic Director, Nashville Ballet”. And then I was telling him about “La Vie En Rose” and Marie Konrad and Paris and this heart breaking performance I’d found by Rhiannon Giddens. And he grinned again and explained about spending months on the road with Rhiannon, working on choreography for Spoleto. Where I lived in Charleston for the very first. It is, a very small world. And she is wonderful.

Bramble Rose

Abandoned Garden – East Garner Road, Wake County, North Carolina 1 June 2014

Driving home, I kept seeing splashes of color in an empty lot. Surrendering to curiosity, I made this one late afternoon. My guess is, it was someones garden. Abandoned, the rose spread yards in all directions. Since, sedge and scrub pine have taken over and the color is no more. Maybe it was something similar that Tift Merrit saw from her apartment window in Raleigh


Midway Amusement Ride – North Carolina State Fair 23 Oct 2009

In late 2007 a Parisian pickpocket “liberated” my Point & Shoot camera from a jacket hung on the back of a Bistro chair. Back home, I decided to treat myself to a new DSLR, the Digital version of the 1970’s Film SLR I’d had long ago. It took no time at all to realize how little I never knew about the craft of photography. Especially all the new whiz bang, digital stuff.

So I read. And it was sort of “Back To The Future”. Soon, the camera mode was on “M”, the meter ignored and I could ballpark “Sunny 16”. It was my first step from “camera owner” to “photographer”. I could tell the story I wanted vs camera automation.

Moment With No Name #1

Cary Ballet Company “Cinderella” Dress Rehearsal

31 March 2011 Green Hope High School Auditorium

La Vie en Rose

Place Ste. Catherine – Paris 24 Sept 2016

It’s not the Camera. But it is. Sort of

Paris – 8 Oct. 2007

Sunday Morning 3 AM – A Brief Essay of Bewilderment

At anchor aboard MV Aurora Explorer – Bute Inlet, British Columbia – 2 Sept 2009

From curiosity driven by the latest news, I made a first time visit to “Twitter”. And I don’t get it. So here is more than 280 characters of explanation.

I grew up with emergent technology. Navy Electronic schools were brutally difficult and equipped beyond what any civilian college could afford. As an Enlisted Submariner, I taught young contract engineers at Electric Boat, with BSEE Degrees, how to use an Oscilloscope and read complex schematics. Before they hurt themselves or the Boat.

My resume is littered with the Darwinian graveyard of once envied IT companies: Control Data Corporation, Digital Equipment Corporation and the IBM Personal System Group. My job title for the last 11 year of my corporate career was I/T Architect.

Having just wrapped up an encore career enabled by the wonderful capabilities of digital cameras, I’ve been pondering current popular culture. And what worries me is the preoccupation with meaningless and artificial urgency to the detriment of human relationships. And sense of self, of self awareness. And the disconnect from the world we inhabit, vs hokum.

I freely confess to being a bit of news junkie. So my day starts with a good 90 minutes of coffee and reading news. It is a luxury of being in the last part of my life. Mostly it’s WRAL, Associated Press, Washington Post and New York Times. I learned to read long ago and have no need for anyone to explain or interpret it so the TV is mostly off. Cut cable long ago.

Establishing my tech cred’s, I’ve too many Desktops (photography needs real horsepower), a Laptop and a Chromebook and a home network that’s secure. I do have a mobile phone. Being cheap, its Android. I can make and receive phone calls, browse, texts, etc – all that stuff. It’s mostly turned off. I keep it in the truck in case I need to call AAA. But I’m not going to answer it while driving. Or having dinner with someone. Or making a portrait. Or teaching. It’ll wait. And I find it’s a bit of pain to keep up with. I’m not anti tech. It can be a wonderful servant. But as much as I loved my Labrador Retriever, I never gave the gun to the dog.

So what bothers me so is the sense of losing humanity. Of the disconnect between human beings driven by a collective, cultural inertia of some marketing nonsense.

And of course, I’m sharing this to Facebook where my main goal was to show my photographs to my extended Cary Ballet family. There was a profit motive but it was never really about money. I/T bucks are way easier.

My FB friends grew to include family family and others I hold dear. Sort of a community campfire. A comfortable place for confident introverts like me. And a way to let some some thoughtful caring folks know I’m okay, after loss.

Which brings me back to Twitter. I think it is a silly thing. Like Pet Rocks. Just noise. And I think, like the folks I see texting while driving, a poor excuse for being in touch with ourselves and the people around them.

It’s been bothering me and writing it out helps. Like looking in the mirror and seeing what’s there. So be kind to yourself and the folks around you. Listen to yourself and them. That, I believe, matters.

The current version of the carney hucksters, not so much. They’re mostly air, like the “Palmetto Bug” you mash on the sidewalk at night, South of Broad, in Charleston. So that’s 688 words and 3882 characters or 13.6 Tweets. I’ve no desire to be a Twit.

Moon & Memory

I made this photograph in a cold, late evening, with the company of an old dog who explored the events of the day with his nose. Had just learned how the Moon faced the Earth the same way, regardless of orbits. I thought of the Lunar connection to a friend in Japan and a young Officer of Marines in Afghanistan. And how many times, when he was an infant, I read to him, out loud, “Goodnight Moon”.

Photographed from Seabrook Ave, Cary, North Carolina, U.S.A. – 26 November 2012

Last Frame

With no hesitation, she said chocolate was not optional.

Maddie Zisk – Cary Ballet Conservatory – 9 Oct. 2022

Still In Marais

Musee Orangerie in Paris has wonderful Monet work. A private museum, Musée Marmottan Monet, is also well worth the Metro ride and walk. But Giverny is a a whole ‘nuther SNCF ride. Draw a line from Normandy to Paris and you’ll understand why the local church was shot up and and not long ago restored.

A friend asked me to make a canvas of this and I hope it shows up okay

I made some other images I haven’t been been confident to show


Now, I’m Gonna Rest Awhile

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