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Thursday, September 28, 2006


Live Free or Die Hard - Bruce Willis in Baltimore

Filming Bruce Willis in Baltimore Sep 28 2006Bruce Willis and company are in Baltimore this week to film scenes for his new movie, Live Free or Die Hard. If this title is too hard to remember, just think of it as Die Hard 4.

While some commuters griped, us gawkers and kibbitzers happily hung around the scene-shooting a few blocks from where I work.

Once again, Mr. Willis plays former police officer John McClane in a save-the-world scenario (I happen to very much like this series, by the way.) This one involves a plot to destroy America via the Internet, with actress Maggie Q as the Evil Hacker and Justin Long as the Good-Guy Hacker who helps McClane foil the cyber-terrorists.
Len Wiseman Directs Bruce Willis - Baltimore Sep 28, 2006I didn't know about all this action going on in downtown Baltimore until this morning, so I missed yesterday's filming, which included a dump truck slamming into a bus (damn!) The story in the Baltimore Sun identified today's shooting location as just around the corner from my favorite Chinese food take-out place, so about 3PM, I got myself and my Canon A620 over there, in front of the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse on Calvert Street. The twenty-second scene they were shooting takes place inside a car, which in reality was on a small flatbed trailer surrounded by scaffolding holding lights, baffles, reflectors, cameras, and other film-stuff.

Calvert Street at this location divides on either side of a park-like traffic island, the site of the Battle Monument. At one point, I crossed over to the island and shot a few closer-up frames. I could just make out a bald-headed guy behind the wheel of the Ford, whom I assumed was Mr. Willis (it was, I later saw.) After I got home, downloaded and processed the images from the camera, I realized that the second photo here shows director Len Wiseman working with the cameraman.

Len Wiseman Directs Bruce Willis - Baltimore Sep 28, 2006The third photo is a blowup of the upper right corner of the second - take my word for it, tht's Mr. Willis in the monitor - the smaller figure in the background with his hand on the steering wheel. Mr. Wiseman looks seriously director-ish here, doesn't he?

Maggie Q, Len Wiseman, Bruce Willis, Justin LongThe last photo was indeed my last shot as I crossed Calvert Street to head back to he office. The scene now over, Mr. Willis relaxes momentarily with (left to right) Maggie Q, Len Wiseman, and Justin Long.

I was very impressed as to just how much work and how many people were involved in this one scene. One of my fellow gawkers told me that she had been there for more than an hour, and the actors had been in the car all that time, while dozens of others lit, adjusted, catered, shlepped or otherwise contributed to making the scene possible.

Mr. Willis is, I think, a fine, hard-working, and underappreciated actor. I've been a fan of his ever since Moonlighting over twenty years ago. We recently watched two of his more recent films, 16 Blocks and Lucky Number Slevin, and I very much recommend them both.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Lightship Reflections

Lightship 'Chesapeake' (WLV-116) Reflection - BaltimoreMore photos this evening of the lightship Chesapeake (WLV-116) - well actually, mostly not of the lightship itself, but of its sublime late-afternoon reflection in the waters of the Inner Harbor.

I took these just before 6 PM today, as the sun, low in the western sky but not too low, gave the Chesapeake's starboard hull a full blast of reddish light. Combined with the red-painted hull, the result was a really red reflection in the otherwise murky waters of the Inner Harbor.
Lightship 'Chesapeake' (WLV-116) Reflection - Baltimore
Electric Boat - Harborplace - Baltimore, MDFor some reason, maybe today's very clear sky, the bits of water that weren't red were a really nice blue.

And Boat Number 22? This is one of several small electrically-powered boats you can rent to skim around the Inner Harbor - no pedaling required!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


National Aquarium at Night

National Aquarium - Baltimore, MarylandI stayed later at work tonight and found myself walking through Harborplace about 7:30 PM. Having my Canon A620 in my backpack, I took a few minutes to get some photos of the new Australian Exhibit wing of the National Aquarium.

There was a fortuituosly handy, solid three-sided post where I stood to take this picture. One side was oriented just right so that when I pressed the flat bottom of my camera against it, the lens pointed just where I wanted it to.

From this angle, you get a great view of the spectacular new wing as well as one of my favorite photo subjects, the lightship Chesapeake, which lent its string of lights and flashing beacon to the composition.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Philly Boy

Ben Rosenbach - Philly BoyThis photo is out of order, it's actually from this past Saturday, when we drove our baby boy Ben to Philadelphia. But that's because we were just too tired Sunday, after the monumental move to Ben's new home while he's attending Drexel University.

The Big Move involved the whole family, with Sandy (Mom) and sister Leah all pitching in. Ben's stuff needed a rental van, stuffed to the gills, as well as the entire cargo space of Sandy's Hyunda Tuscon. Of course, I took every opportunity Saturday to remind Ben that "...when I went to school, I had one suitcase." But then, in the Paleolithic Age, we didn't need as much because most of the "student essentials" just didn't exist back then.

Ben will start classes next Monday as a "pre-Junior" in Information Sciences. Like his old man, he grew up in the suburbs, but he definitely likes being in a big city (Drexel is a stone's throw from downtown Philly) so I think he'll be very much at home in the City of Brotherly Love.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Inner Harbor Evening Stroll

Hard Rock Reflection - Baltimore Inner HarborI headed home from work yesterday evening at about 6:30 PM and, as usual, walked along the Inner Harbor towards the Camden Yards Light Rail station. Not being in a particular hurry, I stopped to take a bunch of photos of the vivid reflections of the old Power Plant in the glass wall of the National Aqaurium.

The old buildings, which now house a Hard Rock Café and a Barnes & Nobel, were fully "lit up" by the sun, hanging low in the Western sky. Exposure was a bit of a problem - 1/25th second using a telephoto zoom setting, but I was able to push the flat bottom of my Canon A620 against the wall of the Aquarium's ticket building to stabilize the camera.

I took about 20 shots this way, waiting each time for passerby to lend some scale and interest to the scene. The slow shutter speed emphasized the movement of all but the slowest walkers. This young family was my favorite.

Dockside Chairs - Baltimore Inner HarborWalking on a little further, I noticed an opportunity to combine two of my favorite Inner Harbor subjects - the elegant steel-wire chairs and the lightship Chesapeake, both features of the area in front of the National Aquarium. OK, so maybe you can't tell it's the Chesapeake - take my word for it. It's handsome red hull served as a fine background to show off the nice lines of the chairs.

Thursday, September 14, 2006



Lightship 'Chesapeake' - Baltimore Inner HarborTwo views of the Lightship "Chesapeake," which now is moored at the Baltimore Inner Harbor as part of its Maritime Museum.
Lightship 'Chesapeake' - Baltimore Inner Harbor

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Green Day

Another photo from last week's perfect morning light. This one took me about 15 minutes to produce - I had to wait until someone came along to give the photo some context and scale. A dozen or more people walked, ran, or biked near or in back of this large green wall, but it took a long time until these National Aquarium workers finally returned from a coffee run before I had my picture.

Monday, September 11, 2006


By The Dawn's Perfect Light

USS Constellation, Baltimore MD
OK, it wasn't quite dawn, more like 8:00 AM last Thursday and Friday, but the light was pretty much as good as it gets on my morning stroll to work. The subject matter is the same as photos I've shot many times since I've been working downtown, but the lighting was just better those two days than I remember in quite a long time. In this first photo of the USS Constellation, for example, I've been trying for months to get an image that shows off the green hull bottom as well as the nice green reflection. This time, it worked out fine, and I got some great reflections from across the harbor as well. As a bonus, the western sky in the background was still dark enough not to show up as a washed-out nothingness, as it has in many of my earlier photos.

Pigeon Convention - Baltimore Inner HarborThis next photo, Pigeon Convention, is partly a result of planning and partly luck. The planning involved me keeping a baggie of oatmeal in my backpack. There were already a lot of pigeons out and about that day, and throwing a handful of Quaker's on the ground in front of me brought a squadron of them right to me. The luck part was getting that symmetrical arrangement of my feathered friends. It took a number of handfuls of oatmeal, coupled with the quick response of my Canon A620, to get this shot.

Dragons in the Morning - Baltimore Inner HarborThis set of "dragons", paddleboats actually, are my favorite regular subject at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. But this particular day, the early-morning lighting really brings out the shapes and the colors. I must have hundreds of photos of these boats, taken since April 2004 - but the ones I took last week are definitely the best.

The thing that really made the differnce here, as with the next photo of the "regular" paddleboats, is shooting with the rising sun to my back. I ventured out on the paddleboat rental dock to shoot these images from a perspective different from most of the other ones I've taken.

Paddleboats - Baltimore Inner HarborI like the anthropomorphic look of this last image. Yeah, it's a cliché, but it works in this context. What I really was going for was the colorful boats, but I thought adding a "human" subject would be a nice touch.

I have some more from last week, but I'll leave them for another day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Urban Reflections

Push to CrossThis morning, I got a bit of photo-inspiration from contemplating one of the oldest metaphysical mysteries of all time, one that has puzzled humanity from the ancient Greeks to modern times:
If I push the Push To Cross button, will the light change any more quickly?
And as I stood by the Push to Cross station at Light Street and Market Place and meditated on that timeless enigma, I suddenly noticed, for the first time, that The Button was a nice little fisheye reflector. A little scratched, maybe, but servicable.

So here it is, for your edification. My Mission In Life now is to see if the City of Baltimore might have installed a nice, new, free-of-scratches one somewhere downtown. If I find one, you'll see it, I promise.

Meanwhile, I'll keep my eye peeled for any eye-catching mirrored surfaces downtown - maybe I can make a whole "Urban Reflections" series out of them.

Camden Yards Light Rail Mirror - Baltimore
Meanwhile, waiting for the Light Rail to go home this afternoon, I still had mirrors on my mind. I've shot these Light Rail "fisheye" mirrors before, but not this one at the Camden Yards station.

This southbound mirror has a nice, longish perspective view of both the tracks and the Camden Yards Warehouse (the longest building on the East Coast.) That's the Bromo Seltzer Tower way in the background, at the vanishing point of the overhead lines. Also, one of my favorite Baltimore buildings, 250 W. Pratt Street, is reflected at left.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Ernesto Blows Through Annapolis

Here's what City Dock looked like Saturday morning, post-Ernesto.

Something you don't see everyday, but not even close to the flooding from Isabelle three years ago. Normally, that yellow tombstone-shaped object is at the edge of the dock. Fortunately, Alex Haley and his listeners remained high and dry.

Of course, after seeing Katrina last year, nothing else looks all that bad.

There really wasn't much damage, just a lot of cleanup around the City Dock area. Some of the dock at the far end was damaged - in some cases, there is a pronounced sag - but nothing collapsed.


Gingko Leaves

OK, summer photo slump is now officiallly over for me.

As Tropical Depression Ernesto blew towards Baltimore Friday, it brought rain and wind. But being that I had planned to go out for Chinese food for lunch, I wasn't deterred. On the way back, I noticed that there were Gingko leaves all over - I love their elegant fan shape and their colors.

The place with the Gingko trees had some outdoor cafe tables that I used to "pose" the leaves for the first three photos.

The last photo is actually a Gingko leaf in the gutter with water flowing over it.

All taken with my Canon A620 "walk-around" digicam.

Hope you like them!

Gingko Bullseye
Gingko Green & Yellow

Gingko Upside Down

Gingko - Go With the Flow

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