Monday, April 13, 2009

End of the Line

Today begins a week of paid vacation for me and everyone else at Adobe. The company decided to have everyone draw down their accumulated vacation hours for a week rather than laying people off and I'm grateful for that. The last six months have been really lousy for all kinds of businesses and other companies have responded by taking a more savage tack than Adobe. The economy seems to be recovering at the moment, so Adobe's benevolent maneuver looks like a wise one.

It's been quite a while since I was inspired to write a blog entry and I have to admit that I'm not particularly inspired now. Over the past few months I've started a few items, including a little memorial about a fine example of fathering I witnessed from the sidelines of a Little League game, but I'm not up to committing any of that to the public record just yet.

A few months ago, in February, I visited Beaver Pennsylvania for my nephew's wedding. It was overcast and cold and the weather made good on the threat of a light snow a few times. One morning I galumphed around in the cold with my camera, to see if I could capture a good picture of the winter. There's an old railroad on the edge of town that bridges the Ohio on crumbling concrete and shadows and rust. It disappears into the Pennsylvania woods near there, only to emerge a little later, tracing the highway and the banks of the river. Even vandals don't seem to bother wandering around among the tracks and shadows, it's a place that looks forgotten. From my point of view, just after a snow, it's quiet and it feels a little bit like a cemetery for the laborers and engineers who left their moldering mark on the landscape, exactly one hundred years ago.

A good photograph should first appeal to your reptilian sense; it should catch your attention with color and light. After that it should draw you in with a scene that requires a little effort to parse, all the better if the effort begins with a few failed attempts. And then it should tell a story. I definitely have fun playing with the camera, but I never manage to get all of the elements of a good photograph right, even when I can see them. Even the basic craft of taking a picture that's focused and exposed properly nearly always escapes me.

I thought this was my best attempt from that morning near the old railroad. I think there's a little story here and maybe you have to look carefully to see it. Not too carefully. If you play some music the effect works a little better, try playing Gary Jule's cover of "Mad World". That song could impart an air of mystery and sadness to a picture of the pavement.


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