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Thursday, October 26, 2006


Smoke Break

This photo is a tribute to Dave Beckerman, whose online journal was quite an inspiration to me a few years ago as I was considering getting back into photography.

Dave's journal was the Mother Of All PhotoBlogs - it was in essence a blog before there was such a thing.

Dave is a great B&W photographer and a great street photographer. I never shoot B&W any more and only seldom convert one of my digital images to B&W. But over the past few weeks, as I walk the final block on my way to work, I've been seeing small groups of smokers sitting on the window ledges of the Candler Building along Pratt Street. If I walk very close to the building, I would often just see a few pairs of legs, a hand or two, and puffs of smoke, backlit by the early-moning sun.

Those little street scenarios started to strike me as very "compositional," and Black-and-White-y. Well, yesterday, I had a What Would Dave Do (WWDD?) moment; I finally snapped a few shots, with B&W in mind as the final product.

I rather like it, and hope you do, too. I'm curious to see what Dave thinks.


Economic Miracle?... (yawn)

Yesterday morning, I filled up the tank on the way to work for $1.999/gallon, the first time I've paid under $2/gallon since... I can't remember. I was so excited that afterwards, I parked my car nearby and walked back to document the sign.

This morning, as I passed that same intersection, I noticed that one of the three gas stations was still at $1.999, while the one on the other side of the street now advertised $1.998.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after breaking its old 1999 record and punching through 12,000 last week, continues to advance. At work, it seems as if new people are being hired at high-paying jobs every week, and in downtown Baltimore, skyscraping buildings are going up everywhere.

Now maybe I don't live in Detroit or Cleveland, but in these parts, the economy sure looks good and seems to be getting better.

And yet, all you hear about is people complaining about how bad the economy is.

I have a theory about that, and it goes like this:

For some time now, even as we've been getting wealthier and raising our standard of living, there have been structural changes in the economy, inlcuding the "social compact" between employers and employees, all of which have introduced opportunities, for sure, but also a measure of risk and uncertainty for workers.

Much of this is the change to a global economy. It's a good-news/bad-news sort of thing (or, if you're more optimistic like me, a bad-news/good-news thing.)

Way back int the mid-90's, President Clinton told us, like a latter-day Bob Dylan, that the times they were a-changin'. It wasn't a bad thing, he said, but rather an opportunity. But it meant that people would have to take more responsibility for their lives and be more self-directed. Above all, he emphasized the need for lifelong learning, in order to stay competitive in the job market. He predicted, quite rightly, that the days of working for a single company for an entire career were past, and that people needed to become prepared and flexible in the changing workplace.

The popularity and proliferation of 401K programs, a great opportunity for employees, came at the same time that many companies no longer offered traditional, defined-benefit pension plans. In other words, the companies weren't going to look out for you, you would have to look out for yourself.

Now 401K's proved to be a classic good-news/bad-news thing. Good in the 90's as the stock market ran up incredible gains, but then bad from 2000 on as the bubble burst and trillions went up in smoke. But now good news again, as the market has recovered nicely, this time, with gains coming much more slowly, but built on real value, rather than smoke and mirrors as in the late '90s.

Oil prices began to surge by 2005. Now this was definitely a bad-news/good-news thing, but few could see (or were willing to see) what it was all about. The chatter in the public square was all about consipracies and price-gouging, but in fact, what was behing the price rise was, if you care about the human rights and the condition of the Third World, good news. No, wonderful news.

And that was that a few hundred million people in India and a few hundred million more in China had, thanks to the new global economy and (gulp!) capitalism moved from abject poverty to middle-class lives. And guess what, those five or six or seven hundred million new middle-classers have left their oxcarts and bicycles behind and are now consuming... gasoline!

And as we know, nobody, not even Stalin nor Mao, has ever figured out how to repeal the Law of Supply and Demand, so oil prices went up.

Since then, the higher oil prices encourgaged companies to explore for and drill for more oil and build more refinery capacity, and what do you know... the price of gas has come back down. Fallen like a lead brick, is more like it.

The conventional wisdom during this election season is that the economy is in bad shape, but I, for one, don't buy it.

The real issue is that those of us who work for a living are now faced with new issues and realities that introduce more economic risk into our lives. To put it in simple terms, we're not getting poorer, we may even be getting richer, but we're definitely getting more nervous.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Father & Daughter

Flugtag Baltimore - Father & DaughterIt's good to be a father!

This is a lucky shot I caught at the tail end of Baltimore Flugtag.

I had been taking photos during the event with my Canon Digital Rebel and 70-300mm zoom, racked out to 300mm to get pictures of the "aircraft" plunging into the harbor.

Luckily, I still had the long lens on the camera when I spotted this young father with his baby girl battened snugly inside his coat.

The second I saw the two of them, I thought of the rear cover of Paul McCartney's first solo album. Paul had that "It's good to be a father!" expression on his face, too.


Flugtag Baltimore!

Ungefähr 70.000 Zuschauer verfolgten begeistert die 23 Teams, das mit seinen tollkühnen Fluggeräten, von der 10 Meter hohen Startrampe ins Baltimore Hafen Wasser gefallen ist.

Ok, I cribbed that German, with appropriate modifications, from a web article about the Köln Flugtag last month. I must admit, my German is pretty non-existant. I usually fall asleep before I get to the verb.

Anyway, Flugtag Baltimore this past Saturday was awesome - it far exceeded my expectations of spectacle and fun. Sandy and I both went and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

I won't go into the details - you can see that at the Baltimore Flugtag webiste here. Achtung! Office warning! ... there is a video that starts up right away on this page (you can click the "pause" button to shut it up) so wait until you get home to take a look.

Flugtag Baltimore - 'Victims of Soi-cumstance'Here's first-place winner, Victims of Soi-cumstance, right at takeoff. Like many of pushers, this one is taking the plunge, sans aircraft.

Flugtag Baltimore - Dumbo Rolls for TakeoffHere, Team Dumbo is getting up a good head of steam as they head for the end of the ramp...

Flugtag Baltimore - Dumbo Crashes on Takeoff... but unfortunately, Dumbo's undercarriage collapses just before takeoff - they had to unceremoniously push poor Dumbo into the drink

Flugtag Baltimore - Flying Purple People EaterIt was a One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater! Unfortunatley, I'm old enough to remember having heard this song first-hand in 1958. This team's design was a real beauty, and it even delivered a puff of smoke from the horn right at takeoff!

Flugtag Baltimore - Max's Maryland FlyerMax's Maryland Flyer included a bicylce-pedal-driven propeller and really looked like it could fly across the Inner Harbor. Unfortunately, it didn't perform any better than the Flying Fireman's Hat. A wonderful design, nevertheless. Better luck next year, Max & Company!

Flugtag Baltimore - 'Oscar Flyer'
Flugtag Batlimore - 'Oscar Flyer'The Oscar Flyer came complete with a removable hot dog bun. For a hot dog, it flew pretty well, too.

Flugtag Baltimore - Indiana Jones Getting a Push
Flugtag Baltimore - Indiana Jones FliesThe Indian Jones team came complete with floatplane and Hovitos warriors in loincloth and battle paint, and of course, Indy himself in his tradmark fedora.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Morgen ist den Flugtag!

Red Bull Flugtag in BaltimoreFlugtag in Baltimore is tomorrow, Saturday October 21st. I'll be there, along with my DSLR and long lens, so I hope to have some decent photos to post this weekend.

I scouted out the venue this morning, adjacent to the Maryland Science Center. While I was wandering around, I ran into some of the crews, getting their "aircraft" put together. A nice bunch of people - I wished them luck.


Two-Bit Hearts

Two-Bit HeartsCandy hearts in a "bubble-gum machine" at the Inner Harbor.

What do you actually call these machines, anyway?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


More Reflections...

Once again, no Photoshop filters used here, just light, wind, and water plus normal use of the Photoshop Levels diaglog to properly display the scene contrast.

These photos were also taken last Friday, along with the one in my post this past Sunday. The top one, like that last photo, was taken from the footbridge over Pier 5.

For the lower photo, I was standing on the footbridge over Pier 4, close to the end by the Aquarium. The red is from part of the Aquarium wall, and the nice blue color is the reflection of the clear moning sky.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Sunlight and Wind

Last Friday morning was quite a bit breezier than before, and the additional wind made for some really interesting reflections.

I shot this one once again near the old Power Plant building, but from the other side, standing on a bridge that links the Aquarium area to Pier Six.

I think it has an Impressionist feel to it - but other than the Levels adjustment in Photoshop, there was no digital manipulation of the image - it's all sunlight and wind.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Dockside Fantasy

This scene keeps drawing me back - it's the old BGE Pratt Street Power Plant and, alongside, the USCG Tanney. On clear mornings, once the sun gets high enough in the sky to clear some buildings to the east, you get fantastic reflections in the water adjacent to the Power Plant.

The upper photo is the full frame of the original exposure I took Monday morning. In the second photo, I decided to crop out everything that isn't a reflection, then rotated the image 180 degrees and flipped it horizontally. This is closer to what I had in mind when looked out across the dock area Monday morning.


Eight O'Clock Shadow

8 O'Clock Shadow

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