Archive for December 2011

Photographer Favorites, 2011   10 comments

It seems that there is no shortage of “best of” lists each year-end.  So here is my own personal contribution to that dubious phenomenon.  My favorites are almost always influenced by knowing the “back story” to a photo — people in the photo who I talked with, how many miles I walked to get the image, and so forth.  That’s why my wife occasionally says, “Really?  That one?”.  But that’s okay.  It was a good year, and a year when I actually conquered my reluctance to photograph people — and made a few new friends in the process.

And so a big thank you to all who followed my photo blog this year, and to those who ended up in my viewfinder, knowingly or not!  Peace and happiness to you in 2012.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  The first subjects I ever approached and asked if it was okay to take their pictures.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  At a “Stop the Violence” rally, sadly held for a city murder victim.  Kids like this deserve safer streets.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  A boy and his dog (named “Bumpers”) at the same “Stop the Violence” rally.

(Above) Location: Cape May, New Jersey. (Artist rendering / digitally manipulated).  Five minutes after we arrived in Cape May this past Easter weekend, I had my first “keeper” photo.

(Above) Location: Cape May, New Jersey.  Easter weekend in Cape May, NJ.  I call this one “Angel Wings”.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  At a block party on Queen Street.  Melanie immediately dubbed this one “The Kings of Queen Street”.  Perfect title.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  At the same Queen Street block party.  Man, there’s a story in those hands.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  Not a situation where I expected to hear classical music, but classical it was.  Another lesson in not judging.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  The dog’s intense stare makes the photo, in my opinion.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania. (Artist rendering / digitally manipulated).  I was so pleased with the photos that I bought this young man a coffee.  Good music, too.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  Kids are rarely camera-shy.  Add pastel dresses and pigtails and you’ve got an instant “keeper”.

(Above) Location: Lancaster city, Pennsylvania.  The local newspaper ran an article on the rundown condition of the train station.  I went to check it out and found symmetry and great architecture, too.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast, Ghana.  The guide took us to the “door of no return” through which slaves bound for the west were led in chains.  Everyone else was photographing the door.  I photographed this man.  It was a no-brainer.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast, Ghana.  Beauty and poverty converge at an African beach.

(Above) Location: Paris, France.  Most people go to the Louvre to look at the world’s greatest single collection of art.  This guy read a book instead.

(Above) Location: Paris, France.  The clock was nice from the outside, but magnificent from the inside.  All it took was waiting for the right subject to silhouette.

(Above) Location: Versailles Palace, near Paris, France.  I’ve always been drawn to repeating geometric shapes, like columns or arches.  The tile floor sealed the deal.

(Above) Location: Versailles Palace, near Paris, France. (Artist rendering / digitally manipulated).  Loved the shapes, but the December colors were muted.  So I cranked up the color saturation and diffused the background.  As my son said, “That’s not the kind of photo you usually take.”

(Above) Location: Paris, France. (Artist rendering / digitally manipulated).  Nice photo as taken, but I like it better as a desaturated black and white with a slight pastel addition.

(Above) Location: Paris, France.  We arrived at the cathedral too late to photograph it, but the street lamps made fine subjects.

Posted December 29, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

University of Ghana / M’adamfo Pa Orphanage   1 comment

If you have read my recent posts here you will know that our daughter, Hannah, spent the last 4+ months as a student at the University of Ghana in Legon, a suburb of the capitol city of Accra.  You will also know that Melanie and I flew there within the past two weeks to see the school and country, and to bring Hannah back home with us.  We had the opportunity to stay in the guest quarters on campus, to make several trips into Accra (a city of nearly 2 million people), and to travel to the seaside city of Cape Coast.

One of the highlights of the trip for me, however, was when we took a taxi and a couple of Tro-Tros* to visit the orphanage where Hannah was a volunteer teacher once a week.  To see the children run down the street to greet Hannah, and to personally be on the receiving end of so many spontaneous hugs, was an emotional high.  I was so taken with one little girl there that I googled Ghana’s adoption policies when we returned to the US.  Fortunately, Ghana has a requirement that you must be under 50 to adopt a Ghanaian child, saving me from impulsively going all Angelina Jolie with my emotions.

We’re proud of what Hannah did over there.  And to be honest, I’m glad that I didn’t find out exactly what she was doing until the very end of her stay there.  You’ll know what I mean when you see the photo of the neighborhood that she walked through on the way to the orphanage.  I’m still a Dad after all.

* Tro-Tros are small buses or large passenger vans.  They are privately owned and a primary mode of cheap transportation.  The operator of each Tro-Tro will drive past and yell out the destination.  If it is where you are going you simply hop on board and pay for the ride — usually between 20 and 50 Pesewas, or approximately 15 to 35 cents US.

(Above) Location: University of Ghana.  The library which served as the center of campus.  The university was founded in 1948 and has approximately 30,000 students according to its website.

(Above) Location: University of Ghana.  Two students walk past the International Student Hostel (ISH).  Taken from Hannah’s and Bella’s balcony.  Some of the campus roads were paved and others were not.  Everyone there had red feet from walking through the red, dusty soil.

(Above) Location: University of Ghana.  International Student Hostel (Hannah’s dorm).  If you look closely you can see the razor wire between the first and second floors that totally encircled the building.  It is difficult to see, but those are uniformed guards on the right of the vestibule / entrance to the dorm.  Although I’m 90% convinced that these were more or less precautionary steps, you can chalk this up to something I’m glad I did not know about until the end of her stay.

(Above) Location: University of Ghana.  I liken Ghana to Florida in August (without the air conditioning).  It was in the 90’s and humid.  Shade, shade, shade . . . and plenty of water is a must!

(Above) Location:  Outskirts of Accra.  Hannah and Melanie walk through the neighborhood on the way to visit M’adamfo Pa Orphanage.  While snapping the photo I heard a child yell, “Mama, obroni!” (white people).  Several people came out to look at us, and then returned my wave.

So yeah, this was part of Hannah’s weekly trek to the orphanage.  I’m proud of her.  I’m also glad I was oblivious to it for most of the semester.

(Above) Location: M’adamfo Pa Orphanage, outskirts of Accra.  Hannah and children from the orphanage.  Fati, the director of the orphanage (and an amazing woman), is in the back row with head scarf.  Kelice, the little girl who stole my heart, is front and center in the green-checked blouse.

Posted December 27, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People, Travel Photography

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Obroni in Ghana   4 comments

Obroni (oh-BRO-nee):  A Ghanaian term for a foreigner; a white person.

Five days in Ghana (it should have been six — thanks a lot United Airlines) does not qualify me as an expert on much of anything.  Our December 2011 trip to this west-African nation was only a glimpse, augmented by my wife’s always-astute observations, and by my daughter’s much more relevant four-plus months of travel and study in Ghana.  However, one thing was certain — our status as obroni did not allow us to blend in.  We were constantly observed, in a friendly but obvious sort of way.  Unfortunately, the result was that there was little chance of capturing photos of everyday life on the streets.  We were too obvious.  My camera was too obvious.  At times I wasn’t even comfortable pulling it out of the bag.

So much for the preamble.  Here are some of my better photos from Cape Coast in Ghana.  I will save the photos from Cape Coast Castle (slave trading fort) and from our visit to the orphanage where Hannah worked for later, separate posts:

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Cape Coast Castle wall on left.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Fishing boats.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Girl selling water sachets.  In Ghana, no one drinks tap water.  Bags of water (called sachets) are purchased instead.  Considering that Ghana is very close to the equator, constant hydration is a must.  Women and children most often are the sellers, here on the beach and along most roads.  These water bags, as you can imagine, are not refrigerated or iced.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Fishing boats and nets being readied.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Old man mending fishing nets.  See my earlier post for the black and white version of this photo.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Fishing boats at the base of Cape Coast Castle wall.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Town and beach.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  A more quiet beach on the opposite side of the castle.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Although Ghana is in the top third of African countries based on GDP, there is a good deal of poverty.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  The “7 Jesus”.  Ghana is primarily Christian and very devout.  However, there is a strange (by our standards) convergence of religion and commerce.  Some of the other business names that I wrote down during our travels: “King of Glory Bakery” and the “Death and Judgment Taxi”.  How the taxi ever gets any fares is beyond me.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.  Fishing boat under sail.  The sails are a patchwork of whatever cloth material each boat can find.  The result is economical and colorful.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.

(Above) Location: Cape Coast.

Posted December 26, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Travel Photography

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Parking de Paris   Leave a comment

I bet someone thought that buying a Daimler Smart car would make parking easier.  Good luck getting out of that space . . .

Posted December 24, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Europe, Street, Travel Photography

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Mending Nets, Ghana   2 comments

I spent the last several weeks overseas.  Roughly one week in Ghana and one week in Paris.  I’ve begun the process of sorting through the more than 900 photos that I took over that span.  I also need to wrap my head around how I can describe the dichotomy of beauty and stark poverty that I saw in Ghana.  Until I have that figured out, here is one photo that I had been anxious to work on from the moment I clicked the shutter.  This man was mending nets outside of Cape Coast Castle along the west African coastline.  The original is a color image, but I knew I would work with it in black and white.

Posted December 22, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People, Travel Photography

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What’s Inside?   1 comment

The front of this warehouse faces Prince Street, across from Clipper Stadium.  This view is from the alley behind the building.  Although it’s a real fixer-upper, I love the old brick and the arched windows.  No one would build a warehouse today with such architectural beauty and attention to detail.  But what really draws me to the building is the thought of what may be inside.  Maybe it’s an empty shell with little more than pigeons and cross beams.  Perhaps something more.  I’d love to find out . . .

Posted December 6, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

Reflections   4 comments

I’ve always been drawn to reflected images.  Lancaster City was full of reflections this morning thanks to a bright blue sky and bright — but not harsh — sunlight.

(Above) Former Academy of Music building — now part of Millersville University.

(Above) Building on Prince Street with reflection of Prince Street Parking Garage sign and blue sky.

(Above) A shop on Prince Street.  The red objects are reflections of tents set up in the Occupy Lancaster encampment.

Posted December 4, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Street

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Market Dog   Leave a comment

The hitching posts outside of Central Market were used for Amish buggies once upon a time.  Now they are more typically used for bikes and dogs.  This guy, with his one floppy ear, was curious about the sound of my camera.

Posted December 3, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

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Artist At Work   1 comment

Sitting (slacking?) outside of the Prince Street Cafe a few weeks ago while drinking a coffee, I watched as an art student sat down at a nearby table and started sketching.  Always in awe of someone who can draw or paint (I can’t, that’s why I’m a photographer), I was impressed by how she rapidly created a drawing of the buildings across the street.  The photographer in me couldn’t resist taking a few photographs of her hands as she sketched.  Those black, red, and silver colors, a strong image themselves, were too good to pass up.

Posted December 1, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People

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