Sunflower Loyalty

Sunflower Greetings

Sunflower Greetings

When I first heard Thomas Moore’s “Believe me, if all those endearing young charms” at the age of 14, I was struck by the last lines: “As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets / The same look which she turned when he rose.”  Those lines made the sunflower into a symbol of loyalty for me, a notion that has stayed with me ever since. I identify with the sunflowers, for their loyalty if not for their beauty — sometimes I can be loyal to a fault.

Sunflowers and The Tree

Sunflowers and The Tree

And sure enough, year after year the sunflowers come up. Toward the end of summer, whether on the famous farm in Griswold, Connecticut, or here in the cornfield outside New Paltz, New York, or in so many other places, the sunflowers smile and wave at you as you walk or drive by and sometimes serve, as in the image above, as a guard of honor for this venerable tree.

Smiling Sunflower

Smiling Sunflower


Praying Sunflower

Praying Sunflower







These are new images, taken within the last two weeks, to add to my sunflower collection. I hope you enjoy them. And please, think of Thomas Moore’s wonderful poem.

Some thoughtful neighbor has planted lots of sunflowers outside his home across the street from the Cottage Place Gallery in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where my first major solo show is now hanging. (No sunflower images, but there is one of a lighthouse.)  The reception is Sunday, September 14, 2 to 5 pm, at 113 Cottage Place. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in to say hello.

To purchase any of the sunflower pictures, or just to see how they look larger and in different formats, please click on each image and you’ll be whisked straight to my site.

Gritty Gloucester — You Must See It!

OK, it’s stretching things a bit to say that Rockport, Massachusetts, about which I’ve blogged earlier, and Gloucester, its neighbor to the west, are opposites, but these two jewels of Cape Anne are quite different from each other. Rockport is much smaller – you can walk it very easily – and so its charm and character are more evident. Gloucester is larger, more bustling, and definitely – in spots – grittier. Its famous harbor is a working harbor, and the relatively recently completed Harbor Walk (explanatory map brochures are available) takes you on the most delightful tour of everything from the piers to the beaches as well as to the erstwhile home of 19th-century Luminist painter Fitz Henry Lane. Lane’s home, perched on a promontory overlooking the harbor, features a lifelike sculpture of him with a sketchbook in his hands, sketching the nearby Ten Pound Lighthouse.

Virgilio's Italian Bakery offers delicious Finnish nisu bread!

Virgilio’s Italian Bakery offers delicious Finnish nisu bread!

Gloucester (pronounced “Glosta” if you’re in the know) boasts an eventful 400-year history across whose stage have marched everyone from intrepid fishermen to artists of all kinds (the Cape Ann Museum on Pleasant Street houses the largest collection of Lane’s works in the world, but Winslow Homer and William Morris Hunt have also painted here). If you’ve ever eaten Gorton’s Seafood products, guess what? It’s here in Gloucester.  Walk up the hill from the harbor to Main Street and you’ll find signs of an Italian district, including a superb Italian bakery/deli that, somewhat puzzlingly and ironically, sells the most delicious nisu bread, a cardamom-flavored Finnish delicacy that in taste and consistency almost approaches a pastry rather than bread. This extraordinary building, which appears to be standing right in the middle of the harbor, is the historic Tarr and Wonson Paint DSC-0024 blManufactory. Dating from 1874, this factory was known for developing a special kind of paint to prevent the formation of barnacles on the bottoms of boats. As of summer 2013 the building serves as headquarters of the Ocean Alliance, a nonprofit organization that researches ocean pollution. “You can almost smell the water!” Here is a sample of Ed DSC -0048 blGloucester’s fishing fleet. At the end of June Gloucester celebrates the feast of St. Peter — who was, after all, a fisherman — with various festivities, including a contest for climbing a greased pole. The platform for this is in the harbor off Pavilion Beach. Someone told me that in order to compete, you have to be Italian and a fisherman. DSC-0037 blAnother sign of Gloucester’s connection with fishing.  I walked out onto a pier from which to photograph Ten Pound Lighthouse, one of three lighthouses in Gloucester Harbor. (Gloucester’s other and perhaps most famous lighthouse is Annisquam Light, located on Gloucester’s north shore on Ipswich Bay.) I didn’t get a particularly good shot of the lighthouse, but I did notice this nice fisherman’s shack. Here is another of Gloucester Harbor’s most prominent and most intriguing buildings, Cape Pond Ice. They bill themselves, not surprisingly, as “The Coolest GuysEd DSC -0051 bl Around.” They really do sell ice and ice-related products, and they have a “‘cool’ gift shop” and offer historic tours. Well, I hardly need say more to convince you that Gloucester is well worth a visit–oh, but just one more thing. When you’re tired from all that walking and looking and want a place to eat, you can’t do better than the Topside Grill & Pub. Great food, wonderful friendly service. It’s on Rogers Street. Some of these photos are for sale. Just click on the photo to reach the page on my website. UPCOMING EVENTS: For those of you in or traveling to the Catskills region: Saturday July 26 at 2 pm: I’m giving a talk about my book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour at the Golden Notebook bookshop in historic Woodstock. Meanwhile, the Golden Notebook is housing an exhibit of my photography which is up now through at least the end of the month. All prints are for sale. Sunday August 3 from 2 to 4 pm: Opening reception for my photo exhibit  at the Mountain Top Historical Society Headquarters in Haines Falls. The show will run until after Labor Day. I look forward to seeing you!

“The Old Barn” Scores at Windham Art Fest

On Saturday I was fortunate to be able to participate in the annual Art Fest in beautiful, bucolic Windham, NY — a friendly, wonderful community of artists (painters, photographers, woodworkers, pottery makers) displaying their artworks for sale and enjoyment. For me it was an interesting lesson in taking risks: at the last moment I decided to include two photos among my fine art cards, thinking that no one would buy them, but, to my surprise, they were the first ones that sold — all the copies!  Here they are:

Cold Spring Resort, Tannersville, NY

Cold Spring Resort, Tannersville, NY

Mountain Top Historical Society HQ, Haines Falls, NY

Mountain Top Historical Society HQ, Haines Falls, NY









Each participating artist was asked to donate one piece to the Silent Auction. My donation was a wood-framed, matted 11 x 14 titled Adirondack Barn, here renamed The Old Barn because I was afraid people wouldn’t be interested if they realized it wasn’t from the immediate area. It’s true, people like to buy local subjects. But not only did I sell two cards of it — it was also (in the organizer’s words) “the hit of the auction”! More tickets in my box than in any other. I’m so glad that someone is now enjoying The Old Barn, which is a personal favorite among my pictures. Here it is. If you’d like to purchase it for yourself, click the photo to get to my website.

The Old Barn

The Old Barn

My summer is crammed with more events — exhibitions and talks featuring my book Historic Hudson Valley. More about that in my next blog.

ROCKport and Gritty Ol’ Bearskin Neck

In my last blog post introducing Rockport, Massachusetts, I mentioned that settlers were initially drawn to the area by two things: fishing and timber. Then, in the 18th century, came the quarries. It’s interesting, given Rockport’s proximity to The Granite State (New Hampshire), that this little nearby village in Massachusetts should have had the reputation for rocks – which is, a lifelong resident pointed out to me, where the name came from – but that’s how it is.

By the beginning of the 19th century, the first granite quarries were developed, and by the 1830s, Rockport granite was being shipped to cities and towns throughout the East Coast of the United States. The Industrial Revolution was on, and Rockport became a major source of the high-grade granite that was now in demand.

DSC-0108 cr - 2 blThe remnants of one of the major quarries can be seen at Halibut Point State Park. The northernmost point of Rockport, Halibut Point is a lovely day (or half-day) outing. I was blessed with great weather the day I visited — the sky and thus the water, as well, were deep blue, and the calm winds allowed me to get this reflection.

You absolutely can’t walk through Rockport village without coming to (and continuing through) Bearskin Neck. Bearskin Neck is indeed a neck that juts out into Rockport Harbor, and it gets its name (so the commemorative sign tells us) from a bear that was caught by the tide in 1700 and killed. For Rockport’s first 150 years, Bearskin Neck was its commercial and shipbuilding center. During the War of 1812 it also had a stone fort to protect against invasion.

I like to think of Bearskin Neck as the “gritty” part of Rockport. It’s where you find fishing shacks (including Motif no. 1) and rows upon rows of very old buildings, now repurposed into interesting shops and restaurants. Here are some of my photos.

These vintage bottles sat in the basement (the windows were just above ground level) of a historic old building in Bearskin Neck.

These vintage bottles sat in the basement (the windows were just above ground level) of a historic old building in Bearskin Neck.

When I photographed the Harbormaster's little boat, it sat just under Motif no. 1.

When I photographed the Harbormaster’s little boat, it sat just under Motif no. 1.


To purchase any of the photos in this post, just click on the photo and it will take you through to my site. Thank you!

This fishing shack occupies the pier next to Motif no. 1.

This fishing shack occupies the pier next to Motif no. 1.

Recovering My Nautical Roots

In our home town we say, “I have Long Beach sand in my shoes”—in other words, you can move many miles away from your nautical beginnings (as I did), but figuratively speaking that sand will remain in your shoes, and the salt water in your blood.

Those of you who know my work know that I photograph frequently in Rhode Island, where the lure of historic buildings and quaint towns joins the Ocean State’s beautiful, windy coast to ensure that photographic subjects are never lacking. But for a serious recovery of my nautical roots I recently chose Cape Ann, on the North Shore of Massachusetts, because a friend once gave me a collection of card-sized prints of paintings by Edward Hopper for my birthday, and I treasure these as inspirations for what can result when Art and The Nautical meet.

Rockport was my base, where I stayed at the wonderful Eagle House Motel – within easy walking distance to just about everything in this delightfully charming village.

Over the next few blog posts I’ll be presenting some of my photos of Rockport and Gloucester and telling you something about these history-drenched places. I’ll be including Portsmouth, New Hampshire because the proximity of the Granite State’s only coastal city made it irresistible. But let’s start, appropriately, with Rockport and with Motif No. 1.

In the late 17th century two things drew people to Rockport—fishing and timber. In the 18th century came the quarries—more about that in a future post. Like much of New England—again one thinks of Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island, with its beaches in Newport and what is now Middletown—Cape Ann, including Rockport, attracted many artists beginning in the 19th century. One of the favorite subjects of the artists who flocked to Rockport was a fishing shack located on Bradley’s Wharf in the Bearskin Neck section of the village. The fishing shack was built in the 1840s, and its red color, position on the wharf, and the way the light strikes it at certain times of day made it a “must” for the painters, and later, as well, for photographers. It was likely the artist Lester Hornby who first called it “Motif No. 1,” referring to its probable identity as “the most painted building in America.

So beloved is Motif No. 1 that when it was destroyed by the Blizzard of 1978, it was promptly—very promptly rebuilt. Rockport even celebrates an annual “Motif No. 1 Day,” which this year happened, coincidentally, to be yesterday, May 17.

I arrived in Rockport knowing only that I wanted to photograph nautical subjects. Boats, beaches, reflections in water, maybe a lighthouse or two. I knew nothing of Motif No. 1. But when I ventured onto Bradley’s Wharf  and saw this red nautically themed building during my initial exploration of Rockport, I knew I had to photograph it. Here are a few of my “finished” products.

DSC 0073 Wmth Bril - bl


The light was perfect and the reflections and sky worked. If you want to see a version partially processed in B&W, check this out.

DSC--0211 bl


My friends in the New England Photography Guild were discussing whether it’s possible to find a new way to photograph something that’s been done 12 million times. I don’t know, but here is my attempt:

DSC--0076 bl

Thank you for looking! More on other parts of beautiful Rockport later.

The Power of Visuals

Anton on the Diamond Notch trail. Photo by Reiko

Anton on the Diamond Notch trail. Photo by Reiko

The reaction of my friend and author Fr. William Graham to this story encouraged me to share it in a blog post. It began yesterday morning when my son, Anton, phoned me and casually mentioned that there had been an accident involving the commuter bus he sometimes rides from Kingston, NY to New York City but not to worry, he was OK. Well, OK. It wasn’t easy to hear him – it sounded as if there was all this wind blowing around him – surely he could have made the call from inside his office building.

Only gradually did the enormity of the situation reveal itself. The accident had happened at Ramsey in Northern New Jersey, and the bus had left Kingston at 6 am; Anton and nearly fifty other people were still standing outside on Route 17 waiting either for medical/emergency services or a relief bus to take them the rest of the way to the city, choose whichever is appropriate. A tire from a car traveling north on 17 had loosened and gone sailing into the bus’s windscreen, hit the driver, then bounced farther back to hit more people.

Happens I work in Mahwah, just north of Ramsey, three days a week, and was in the office today. Most of the colleagues had heard about the accident or even passed it en route to work yesterday. When I mentioned that my son had been on the bus, one colleague fetched today’s Bergen Record from her car and showed me the photo on front page and the article with more photos elsewhere in the paper. “It’s a good think you didn’t see this before,” she said.  That’s for sure. There was an enormous gaping hole in the windscreen just about level with where the driver’s head would have been.  Had he not quickly ducked when he saw the tire coming, he’d have literally lost his head and fifty people on that bus could have been killed. Despite being injured, he had the presence of mind to maneuver the bus across two or three lanes of traffic and pull over on the side of the road. As it was, the person behind the driver got the worst of it; the medevac took him to the Trauma Center in Paterson, where he was in critical condition. Anton was sitting four rows away from him.

Rosendale Farm Market

Rosendale Farm Market

It was when I saw the photo of the passenger strapped on a stretcher and being moved into an emergency vehicle that I freaked out. Anton had said that someone four rows away from him had been hurt and was in very critical condition, and of course I felt bad, thinking about how some poor family member was going to get a phone call…. But what is it about a visual that really throws a situation in your face? Or is it just me, being a photographer and all? There’s something about a visual that particularizes a situation. It’s no longer a general “fifty passengers,” it’s this particular person very seriously injured. A man from Rosendale, the next stop after Kingston on this bus route. Beautiful Rosendale with its rolling hills and farmers market — I have a magnet about the Rosendale farmers market on my refrigerator, from the day a couple of years ago when I stopped, bought a few things, and (of course) took some photos.

Same thing when 9/11 happened. Again, I first heard about it from Anton. He was in the office his firm then occupied in a penthouse on Lower Broadway and he saw both planes go into the towers. For the rest of the day, everyone watched in horror as the events unfolded. But what really brought it home to me was seeing photos of people jumping out of the office windows and you could see the details of the men’s ties flying upward while their bodies were hurtling inexorably downward. And I thought about how they had put those ties on earlier that morning, never thinking that it would be the last time they’d ever have to choose a tie to go to work.

There’s just something about certain visuals that particularizes a general situation and affects you more deeply than all the lists or statistics in the world.

Have you ever had that experience?

Here’s a link to the article about the bus accident. Needless to say, my son managed to take a photo of the scene with his cellphone that incorporated the green “Lake St. Ramsey” road sign, thereby establishing a sense of place.  As I opened this post, so I close it with thanks to my author Fr. Graham, for his prayers.



Learning to See – Again


This is one of the best blog posts on photography I’ve ever read. Especially in this day when so many photographers are practicing their art on a part-time basis and thus may feel rushed when we’re out there with our cameras, we need to keep these words of wisdom in mind.

Originally posted on In Flow:

En blå himmel over Oscarsborg festning

It’s quite obvious that being able to see is an indispensable quality for any photographer who wants to create engaging images and surprise the viewer with startling visions. Anybody can see, you might object, but fact is it takes more than merely observing to see beyond the obvious. Seeing – in the finest and broadest sense – means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions. It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.

Usually we don’t really see the world as it truly is. Instead we switch our mind to automatic mode, let our subconscious take over and impose previous learned concepts of the world onto the world actually surrounding us. We don’t see anymore, but make abstractions of what our eyes have registered. In most cases our seeing is hindered by…

View original 1,043 more words