Blast Furnace B

Interior of Blast Furnace B

I'm really, super excited about the experience of photographing Bethlehem Steel. It was fantastic and interesting and overwhelming. I want to talk about it more in detail but I wanted to post this because I think I'm in love with it. I have two others that I like and plan on sharing in the nearish future but I think this one is going in the steel frame for class.

I'd really really love to continue photographing there and examining the space as it changes and morphs into it's future. I think documenting that process is probably as important as photographing it as it was. To document as the site steps out of it's former self is really interesting. I am excited to do something with that idea, to make it into pictures.

Also, since I shot square for so long, my mind is blown at the way a panoramic can convey space, obviously. I feel like this format can (and probably will) be used to inform and expand Coal Hunkie even further, since I feel it was one of the things missing from the project. There's probably a thin line with the format between really interesting and hokey. I'd like to think I have a better eye than to make it hokey.


My Yearly Easter Time Trek to Connecticut.

Bob's Big Boy's New Home.
Bob's Big Boy with a Christmas light necklace, Windham CT.

And it went a little something like this.

Aunt Gina's House

Kevin & Corey Get Their Drink On. Somewhere in CT.

Go Fly a F*cking Kite.

Go Fly a Fucking Kite.

El Gato.

El Gato.

Set Table.

Set Table for Easter Dinner.


Oh! Lookit!

I've been throughly distracted trying to find a good panoramic stitching program that's not going to cost me any money (read: stolen) and working on packets to send out to galleries. I've got 3 lengthy posts up my sleeve (Alvira! Bethlehem Steel! Connecticut!) but until then, I've got The Town That Was to share. I really really want to see it but unfortunately, It doesn't seem to have distribution so Netflix will not help me.


And I Walk the Same Dirty Streets Where I Was Born.

Store Front

Store Front, Market Street, Sunbury PA. See the others here.

I went back to where I came from, back to the mountains of Central Pennsylvania to be reminded of the subtleties of place. I made my usual stops at Jasminaire boutique, the local head shop for incense and moccasins and at the Squeeze-In for a hot dog with everything.

I parked my car on a Sunday morning (the hot dog and head shop was taken care of the night before on my way to my aunt's, who lives outside of town) while everyone was in church and walked the streets of downtown. There are small changes in buildings, their occupants and ownership changing hands only a bit since I last called it home. There are more vacancies, signs in the windows reading "Available for Rent"; the store windows soaped or covered in newspaper.

Train tracks run through Sunbury, parallel to the Susquehanna River and the flood wall along Front street, like two scars along the back of a hand. Stand on the tracks there, that run along Third street and you can see from one end of town to the other.

Freight Train on Market Street II

I had forgotten about the trains, about the long pauses in traffic as they chug through town at 30 miles an hour. Walking along the tracks, I could hear the whistle as the train came to cross streets, long and steady. when it met up with me between Woodlawn and Market, the whistle was so loud I could feel it my feet and in my chest as my brain rattled at the noise. I watched the cars slip by me, listening to the rhythm of the wheels on the rails. I had forgotten about this mostly daily occurrence, of the sound of a train headed into town and then back out again.


The Union Forever?

Metal Shop at Massart

MassArt Metal Shop, March 5th.

I spent 2 hours last night at the forge. There is something ridiculously satisfying in heating up a piece of metal and banging the shit out of it to make an object. I spent an hour bent over a table with a TIG welding gun in one hand and filler wire in the other, running beads over 1/16" pieces of steel. I didn't really make anything interesting or nice to look at but I made metal stick together, I shaped steel into a spiral. Making photographic prints seemingly pales in comparison to bending steel, to moving a puddle of liquid metal along a seam to bond them. Perhaps because I haven't made prints of my own photographs for a long time or perhaps because welding is a shitload of fun.

Since I've found I am not absolutely terrible at arc welding, I've been kicking around the idea of actually going to welding school and/or becoming an apprentice. I like the idea of being a highly skilled trade worker, of being in a union, of working with metal. I want to be able to walk away from a day of work, having made something, having a physical object to show that I did something that day. I am less confident in my art schooling and my skills in networking as a means to get a job or make money; I suspect the only reason I went was to learn how to think. I love to make photographs, I love to think and talk but as someone who comes from a working class background, it feels absurd to think that I can do something so rife with privilege, that requires the type of money that I doubt that I will ever see.

That said, I've been considering this the way I consider most things: doing lots of research and thinking. Excited by possibility, I launched into a week-long research project about welding, what you can do with it, where you can go to learn and so on and so forth. There is an organization out of Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood of Boston, called Women in the Building Trades. WIBT is an organization that is "devoted to helping women pursue careers in the skilled trades". They have a introduction to the trades class for women and offer a pre-apprenticeship class that includes such things as math for construction, strength training and hands-on projects. In a similar vein, Tradeswomen Now and Tomorrow is a national coalition of tradeswomen's organizations and advocates and is a fabulous resource. There is also a welding school in the Lehigh Valley, PA, Welder Training and Testing Institute where one can obtain welding skills and certificates.

What I am caught up on, what I trip over is of having a non-traditional career for a female. It's daunting to think about being in a primarily male-dominated job place and all of the shit that comes along with that. I like the idea of not having to put on female-ness in the morning in the form of clothes and make up, of getting to wear boots and a hard hat. It is one part empowering and one part nerve wracking.



Possessed is a short documentary film about 3 different horders in England. It's quite touching. Check it out here.


November 5th 2005

November 5 2005

Pottsgrove, PA. Aunt Amy's Driveway. From we are what we are.

I'm headed home on Wednesday and I am excited.


They Don't Rule the Blood; The Blood Rules Them.

Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus

Subconsciously, I have been steeping myself in a wide range of representations of the South for as long as I can remember. Recently, I've become aware of the progression between the Old and the New South and how they exist and intermingle today. Two weeks ago, I watched A Street Car Named Desire and then obsessively gathered information about the play, the movie and Tennessee Williams. It lead me back in time to Gone with the Wind which, despite it's epic running time of 238 minutes, was a gorgeous trip into Hollywood's Antebellum South. I realize Hollywood isn't the best way to absorb and learn about history but the best fiction is most always based on fact.

In the vein of the both of the films mentioned above, Monday evening, I had the pleasure of viewing Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Released in 2003, it is a road trip guided by Jim White and a 1970 Chevy Impalla. It is part documentary, part music video, part loosely constructed narrative about the elusive and fascinating culture of the South. We meet the writer Harry Crews along a dirt road and he leans into the back the Impalla, his head hovering right inside the car. I wouldn't call it a documentary movie, per say. It's more like a guided tour.

There aren't enough words for me to express my awe and adoration of this film. Visually, it knocked me off my feet. The photography and direction in this movie is precise and beautiful; it sucks you further into the landscape, into the story that's being told so quietly you don't notice until the movie is over that you're sitting on a couch in New England.

Musically, it features an extremely talented spattering of musicians. I'm just going to suggest that one should definately peruse the music section of the website. I've had it on repeat since I downloaded the soundtrack the same night I watched the movie.

Conceptually, it is smart. It doesn't point any one thing to define the "Southern experience" or try to explain what it means to be "Southern". Jim and the cameras take you to a junkyard, a coal mine, a juke joint on a Saturday night, a passionate Pentecostal Sunday church service, a restaurant that serves fried catfish and redemption and a mountain gospel church. In every place that you're introduced to, the movie goes "look at this. look at these people and listen to what they have to say." The film not only examines the South but also honors it. While there are some stereotypes represented in the film, it feels more of a way to acknowledge them as real people and not the nasty, classist representations that are normally seen of them.

I know the reasons that I am drawn to this film are because it is a perfect demonstration of what I want to do with my work. It examines a place that is unique and rich in culture, despite the world-at-large saying "what you experience and your life and your art and your music isn't culture". It is both dark and beautiful, ugly and fascinating.


I've Got Those "I Don't Know What the Fuck I'm Doing" Blues.

Dentist Office, Winter Hill

So, I've been trying to make myself go out and take some real photographs with my digital camera. These few are, unsurprisingly, vertical and have a relatively similar composition. Upon closer inspection, they'd be really great cropped into a square but I feel dirty trying to make them into something they aren't. I've also been trying to figure out the color; a digital photograph will never replicate the intensity of chrome film. I'm trying to figure out how I want the color of these to look, as right now they're leaning towards pretty generic. With film, I worked at establishing a color palate that I really like and was also used to working with, as far as processing and printing goes. More, less saturated?

Cataldo Funeral Home, Winter Hill

I think I need to avoid using the lens at 18mm. It makes everything feel tiny and I am not a big fan of the vignetting.

In other digital picture news, I ordered one a Panosaurus Tripod Head for experimentation. My problem with shooting digital is that it's so immediate and instant that it doesn't feel like it takes a lot of work. I know, that at the end of the day, I'm still using the same eye and sense of composition to make the pictures, regardless of the camera. I want to sort of challenge that expectation and work on using the medium to stretch not only it but the way I work.

Foss Park, Winter Hill

In so many words, I'm starting all over again because I'm using an entirely different camera and thus medium. It's a bit like stumbling around in the dark in a room that you're not familiar with and stubbing your toe on the leg of a table. That said, I still think these feel very much like "my" pictures.