Sunday Morning Coming Down.

It is just barely 8.30 AM on a late December Sunday and I am crunching over snow in damp leather boots, wearing the same clothes from the night before. Here, in quiet rolling rural Pennsylvania, the snow and the ice and the silence and the cold have settled into the land and the air. However, today it has started to warm up, in a freak accident of winter, and the fields and the horizon are thick with white fog. Black trees divide fallow fields into loose grids and here, the fog floats at knee level as the snow and the ice dissipate into the atmosphere. My camera is ten miles away, nestled in it's bag on a chair, and I am cursing myself as I head toward 147 at 40mph.

Oh, this this this and that would be such a good picture. Oh god look at the color and the lines. I need to photograph out here. Over and over again, until the NPR station I have blaring* fades into nothing but static as a I get closer to town, which I find strange.

Everything is slick and wet and car tires make that noise, that amazing noise that car tires make over wet, smooth asphalt on highways. The rolling hills are white and patchy and that fog floats at the perfect height so that one can see the top and the bottom of whatever is in sight: mountains, houses, cows, cars.

I absorb the bits and pieces of what I see, watching the way the angles of the landscape change as my car moves forward. Steadily, slowly I am thinking "I love this place I love this place I love this place This place is who I am This place is who I am" over and over until the words loose meaning.

I often neglect to talk about moments here when they aren't punctuated or illustrated with photographs. That recent Sunday morning was a moment I remembered that I love talking and writing about landscape and memory and place as much as I love to photograph it. It was reminder that just because I don't have images to share doesn't mean I don't have anything to bring to you, Gentle Reader.

* I am that person that listens to NPR so loudly you can hear it with my car doors closed.


Texture of Place.

South Fourth Street.

South Center Street.

Werewolf Season.

I really like taking photographs like this and it's been awhile since I have. That middle and the werewolf, oh, they get me good.


I'm Wandering, A Loser Down these Tracks.

Former Right of Way.

Former Right of Way, South Second Street, Sunbury

I've been thinking, as much as I can think about non-work related...things, about the railroad. The steel rails that criss-cross this country have worked their way into my perception of space, understanding of transportation and the movement of freight. At night, I can hear the low, haunting whine of freight trains that rumble through the industrial park half a mile from where I lay my head. As I've mentioned before, I have really started to pay attention to the space that they occupy and the place that the right of way passes through. I find the terminology related to railroading to be quite interesting.

I had these ideas in the back of my head as I circled downtown Sunbury on Thanksgiving morning. As I've written about before, the train tracks in Sunbury run through town, slicing the town into two uneven parts. It was quiet and cold with the sun perpetually disappearing behind the clouds.

After I circled around town a few times, I parked my car next to the former Augusta House restaurant and started to walk.

Judy's Cafe.

Judy's Cafe

I have a loose rule about photographing in towns, which I like to think allows me to see a bit more than driving around aimlessly. I walk 2 to 3 blocks away from my car, 2-3 blocks over and then walk back, forming a square or rectangle. I allow myself to wonder around and within that blocked off area, as a way to get a taste of the place I am. This way, I can return to a town again and again and in theory, I have a way to see the whole thing in bits and pieces. A place seems less daunting in blocks and numbers.

Back Alley. For Sale.

The south side of Sunbury is scarred with the past. The greying South Second Street leads out of town but not before passing silent school houses, worn houses, and remnants of industry. The train tracks run along on South Center Street, which is where I found myself towards the end of my exploratory morning. Taking long steps across the ties, I passed houses so close to the tracks that their front yards were thick gravel.

South Center Street.

Hiding on South Center Street

I hadn't ever really seen this space before and I was struck by the staggered and strange juxtaposition of the houses on the left side of the tracks versus the right. Respectively, one side was dilapidated, with chipped paint and neglect while the other was well-kept and lawn-ornamented. I walked along the ties with the same strange step until I came to the last cross street in town. Here, the tracks passes behind the Weis Distribution center and in front of a groomed cemetery.

Wrong Side of the Tracks.

Wrong Side of the Tracks, South Center Street.

Here, that cross street marks the elusive edge of town. There are buildings, some houses, and a gas station beyond this point but the tracks follow the Susquehanna and then head out into farm land and mountains thick with trees. Edge of town: this demarcation seems loaded, heavy with potential and well, to be Springsteenian about it, darkness.

I didn't get very far beyond the cross street. I crossed it but didn't get much further, though I wanted to keep walking. I had been gone for much longer than I anticipated and hot mashed potatoes and gravy were waiting back at the house. As always, I made a mental note to return for another day.


From Coal Hunkie.

Florescent Jesus.

Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church, Shamokin PA. 2007.


Food & Books.

Traveler's Restaurant

Traveler's Restaurant, near the CT/MA border on I-84.

Holiday tradition, since 2006 has involved driving from Boston, MA to Allentown, PA. The six hour drive was punctuated by all of the familiar landmarks and stops. It got to the point that from any given place along the route that I traveled, I knew approximately how long it would be until I got home, within ten minutes or so.

This year, that holiday tradition was (thankfully) broken, as I've moved back to the place I really call home. It felt weird not to set off Wednesday morning from the outskirts of Boston, pointed southwest, my car's wheels coasting over the cold asphalt at 70mph. Thanksgiving this year was a mere hour drive, along curving back roads with high beams guiding my way.

I found this one on my harddrive, along with some other ignored goodies, and I really like it. The repeating pastoral scene on the wallpaper border is something full of brilliance, given the landscape is punctuated with John Deere tractors. I took it on a trip to Lebanon, CT with A. Kilton and her polaroid in tow, for Easter dinner at her aunt's house. That trip is yet another series of directions and sights and smells and experiences that composed a holiday tradition that became my own. It will be broken this year; after all, I moved home and back into traditions that were only ever partially mine to begin with.


Linkage, for Lack of Real Content.

Between working 40+ hours a week, making new friends and sleeping, I haven't had much time for picture making. This weekend and Thanksgiving, hopefully, will change that. I am determined to make new images, dammit.

In the mean time, here's a few random links that I am really into right now.

First, if you haven't heard by now, Women in Photography shows amazing work done by, well, women. The put up new work every other Tuesday. I get so excited when I see it's title bolded in my Google Reader.

I also love image archives or any archive, really. I find myself hugely inspired by Documenting America and get lost in it's e-pages often. Imagine my chagrin when I read Google has joined up with LIFE to put up an archive of images from the magazine. Check it out and marvel at all the LIFE-photo goodness.

Totally unrelated to photography but directly related to art and design is Amy Lau's Dexter-inspired blood spattered dining room. Given my love of the show (and Michael C. Hall, thanks), I burst out laughing at the blood spattered plates and the dismembered silverware. If you have the cash, you can buy chairs, glasses and the a fore mentioned silverware at spring3d.net. What I wouldn't give for a chair. Or several. Or the wine glasses!


Dear United States of America

God Bless

This is a beautiful fucking moment. I am happy to be witnessing a milestone in the history of the country that I have always had a deep, quiet burning love for.

I cried like a child last election, too. That was out of fear; this is out of joy and disbelief.

Thank you.




Outside Lies Magic.

Waiting Corn Stalks.

Waiting Corn Stalks, Ruppsville Road.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading John Stilgoe's Outside Lies Magic, book that encourages exploration of the everyday landscape to find the beauty and history that lies mostly ignored next to shopping malls, beyond the interstate and buried deep in the woods. I love Stilgoe's writing. I hold a deep wonder at the everyday, seemingly mundane world around me and to read someone else's thoughts and ideas, which have been thoroughly researched, is so exciting and inspires me to no end. I have been fingering and turning over the ideas he presents in Outside since I finished reading it at the beginning of the month, pondering over electrical lines and smiling to myself about the rails that crisscross and snake through the area around my house.

Stilgoe points to Sundays, the day of rest, as a good day for exploration. I woke up this past Sunday from a nap after a exciting weekend, filled with visits from much-loved people in my life, around 5.30pm. The air was brisk despite the warm weather. It was filled with the sharpness of autumn, with wood smoke. I glanced around the suburban neighborhood that I live in, listening to the quiet with the interstate out in the distance. That sound, that lovely sounds of dried leaves blowing, scraping along asphalt came with the stir of the breeze. I walked out past the neat houses, past the planned, curving roads to an intersection I know well. I caught the bus there my first two years of high school. When I first started the type of exploration that colors my life, there was a barn across the wide rural road. It sat behind a large oak tree. I often found myself inside this barn, walking along the cross beams, since the second floor had fallen in. The photographs I took on a particular, gorgeous snowy day hang in my parents' house now, the only records I have of the space.

Former Barn Location.

Ruppsville Road, West Allentown.

The land was cleared for a development that was never built my senior year of high school. The land still stands empty and is currently used as a place for growing trees by a local nursery. I've watched 10 year old tress being pulled out of the ground, like an infected molar, from this field. On this day, however, there was no witness save for a fox, bounding across the road, pausing to watch me before disappearing into dead stalks of corn.

The houses along this stretch of road are, for the most part, older. Their history stretches back to when the area was wide, open cornfields and farms. They have witnessed the selling off of the land, to massive companies who put distribution centers that are miles long. Lightening rods extend just beyond the chimneys.

I Love this House.

The House with the Rooster.

I Love These Houses.

The houses and their arrangement are the opposite of the place that I live in, less than a mile away. They sit close to the road. They are worn and small. I like to picture myself living in house like those that dot Ruppsville Road, tending a garden in the summer and holed up against the cold in winter. The cold that I am quietly excited for, as it means big sweaters and boots and the way snow makes the world still. For now I watch the leaves fall from trees and pull warm socks up to my knees.

Aerotech Auto Repair.

The light was fading, disappearing behind the lip of the earth. Walking along the white line that marks the road, I lingered at corners, meandered onto the grass that lines the side of the road. I took everything in, letting the details settle into my head. A dog barked as I started off the road, toward the bright empty parking lot of one of those enormous distribution centers.

Distribution Center III.

I was dumbfounded by the immense, dead space and the "nothingness" of the building, sitting so close to so many places with personal, quiet history. The massive structure was impersonal and so boring compared to the places I had just been admiring. So, I walked away and onward, eying the shining rails across the street.



I started really seeing railroads and the space around them after I watched The Station Agent, a gorgeous movie that follows a train-enthusiast and his story of moving to a small rural New Jersey town to live in an old train station. I started thinking about them because of Mr. Stilgoe, who has done quite a bit of work on them. I also started seeing them because of the surprisingly large amount of train enthusiasts who's photographs I print at work; their passion and consistency in which they obsessively photograph trains warms my picture-making, exploring heart. I find myself thinking about the rails after I bump over them in my car. As I scrambled up the fat gravel and stepped over the rails, I looked down the tracks in both directions, coming and going. I couldn't stop thinking about the small bits and pieces of railroad history that I've retained. The rails gleamed in the dying light as walked in step across the ties.

I headed home in the dark, my pace quickening. I stopped looking around and started moving quickly along the side of the road, glancing behind to watch for cars, since I stupidly wore a dark sweatshirt. Racing across the street to the development, I pondered dinner and Monday morning.


Celtic Classic 2008 II.

Scythian Scythian
Scythian Scythian

Scythian, Sunday Afternoon, Celtic Classic 2008.

These guys are amazing. Despite the miserable weather, they played a high-energy and fun set. Also, I dig fiddle players.


The Town Pants.

The Town Pants

The Town Pants

The Town Pants at the Grand Pavilion. Saturday, Celtic Classic 2008.

Two weekends ago (I know, my ass is dragging), I photographed at Celticfest, a three day festival of all things, well, Celtic. Given my disinterest in photographing people I don't know, I spent most of my time photographing the two bands I really dug, one of which is The Town Pants.

While I am not one for band photography, since I find most of it is pretty standard issue, with shutter drag, I feel sort of weird posting these. I think they're alright shots.

I also am, apparently, pretty enamored with the fiddler player.


Deliciously Disposable Earth.

DDE Catalogue I DDE Catalogue II DDE Catalogue III DDE Catalogue IV DDE Catalogue V DDE Catalogue VI DDE Catalogue VII

Way back in January, 10 images from my portfolio Coal Hunkie and a large lump of anthracite coal were selected to be featured in a collection of work that deals with the effects of mining in contemporary life. In March, funding was provided to put together a catalogue of the show. I was honored to find out that my first show was going to published in a catalogue. I am excited to finally get some pages up here, considering I got the books way back in July.


Working in a Coal Mine.

Mining the Mammoth Vein, Girard Coal Company, Girardville PA.

Mining the Mammoth Vein, Girard Coal Company, Girardville PA.

Reclaimed Strip Mine, Girard Coal Company, Girardville PA.

Reclaimed Strip Mine, Girard Coal Company, Girardville PA.



Seaweed General Store Window I
Lobster Traps and Rope Tide Pool in Granite

In and Around Port Clyde Maine.

My brief time spent in Maine last summer affected my senses so deeply that I find myself longing to go back more often than I expected. I loved the smell of the air and the great rocky beaches and the lobster boats bobbing in the harbors and the way the pine trees hung over the cliffs into the ocean. I, apparently, was pretty consumed with the textures and surfaces of the place.


Public Art?

Clairian Bar & Hotel, St. Clair PA.

The Clairon Bar & Hotel, St. Clair PA.

Gum Tree!

Across the Street, St. Clair PA.


I Dream a Highway Back to You.

Thunderbird on Main Street, Shamokin PA.

Thunderbird on Main Street, Shamokin PA.



Pray for Us.

Our Lady of the Presentation, Brighton Ma.

Crushed Pontiac.

Mid 70's Pontiac, Brighton Ma.



Gymnasium/Auditorium, CW Rice Middle School, Northumberland.

Gymnasium/Auditorium at CW Rice Middle School, Northumberland PA from We Are What We Are.

I can tell you how sneakers sounded on that gym floor, what the smell of the stage was under the lights. I could tell you stories about chipped front teeth, humiliating gym classes, and awkward middle school dances. But you, dear reader, can fill in the details for yourself.

The next couple of days will be dedicated to some older work that's been floating around on my harddrive and stuff from Coal Hunkie that I'd like to get posted. It's stuff that I love and still go "Oh shit! I totally made that photo" when I look at it.

The Lone Ranger?

Apparently, there's a road in California that has grooves in it, carved by Honda, to reproduce the Lone Ranger theme song when driven on at 55mph.



From Last Summer.

Lobster Rolls for Sale.

Lobster Rolls for Sale.

Lobster Rolls for Sale, Over 25 Served. Port Clyde, Maine.


Lost but Not Forgotten, from the Dark Heart of a Dream.

Estate of Ivan Engle

Front Room and Kitchen of 200 Broadway, Sunbury.

Estate sales are strange. The act of dragging out a deceased relatives belongings onto the lawn and letting perfect strangers bid on objects that someone lived their entire lives with and, in some ways, through is a weird thing to witness.

Estate of Ivan Engle.

Backyard of 200 Broadway, Sunbury.

My aunt's (technically my mom's cousin but it's a minor detail of being from a small town) father passed away last month and they had a houseful of a two lives fully lived in one place to take care of. After taking what they (her herself and her sisters) wanted from the house, they called in an auction company to organize and clean out everything that was left.

Estate of Ivan Engle.

Driveway of 200 Broadway, Sunbury.

I pointed myself and my car north and westward on Saturday morning and arrived in Sunbury at 11.15 or so. My main goal of the morning was to bid on a silver 50's dinette set in immaculate condition with all 6 chairs, which was successful. I spent the late morning and early afternoon chatting with people I haven't seen since I was 9 or so, eating hot dogs from a church vendor and listening to the chatter of the auctioneer.

Estate of Ivan Engle

Front Door of 200 Broadway, Sunbury PA.

I hadn't been in the house since I was probably 4 and I have only small, vague memories of it. While I've been in houses that are totally empty before, I was struck by how vacant the spaces felt. The carpet in the living room was faded around where furniture sat, the floor worn was down in the upstairs hallway. Closet doors hung open, pillows and clothes lay in corners. Dust shone in the sunlight and despite the backyard being full of people, the upstairs was silent.

Estate of Ivan Engle Estate of Ivan Engle

Front Bedroom, Upstairs Hallway of 200 Broadway, Sunbury PA.

These photographs ended up being edited as darker than I expected, especially since they are digital. I always find myself making all of my photos darker than I shot them (even though I underexpose them by 1/2 a stop), especially interiors, because I like how aggressive the colors become. I especially enjoy it when the little bit of light in the interiors glows.