Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

September 27, 2012

4th AVENUE (OOPS)

WITTNAUER FESTIVAL-STEINER 45MM-EKTACHROME-ISO 80*
... downtown anchorage, alaska, circa 1959-60* ... "4th avenue" looking west (not "5th," a mistake i just discovered), this was it, the very center of the "modern" civilization that was beginning to become more and more an integral part of alaskan culture ... here you see cars, gaudy neon lights, even a new high-rise building blocking the view of the mountains rising from the edge of the city limits ... not visible are some of pa's pals who had staked out eighty acres, constructed one-room log cabins with dimensions of at least twelve by fourteen feet, and settled down in the rugged wilderness to establish their legal claims to land under the homestead act ... i can recall that the skyline of the city was visible  from at least a few of these simple homes ... we lived at the base of the mountains ... now all housing developments, then the pristine slopes were the edge of a primeval forest so deep and dark that after a friend of our family entered it to hunt bear and failed to return, all the searchers found of him was  one of his gi issue boots ... of course, our never-failing-to-be-out-of-control imaginations, fueled by the hushed conversations of adults, filled in the rest of the picture ...

... one evening mike and i were walking with pa along 5th avenue, probably keeping him company while he was completing one of his "this for that" transactions ... moose antlers for box of film, an obscure mechanical car thingy for another equally obscure thingy, the sort of wheelin' and dealin' for which he was famous, at least in our minds ... a couple of drunks staggered out of one of the bars and turned right into us ... i immediately moved into pa's shadow, like an infantryman tucking up behind a mighty sherman tank, but mike never budged from his path ... one of the inebriates stepped off the curb to get around us, but the other shot out his arm to shove my brother ... to this day i remain amazed that i've no "replay" to analyze ... in one frame of my little mental movie i am moving to use pa as a blocker, i can even see that i'm reaching out trying to yank my stupid brother to safety, in the next frame we've walked by a grown man who seems to be trying to put his face through a wall ... the absolute weirdest part of is that pa never let go of whatever it was that he was holding, and mike seemed to quite casually accept the event as being boringly routine ... for me, bumping into lampposts and cars as i tagged along with my head turned so i could look backwards, it was yet another proof that i'd no need for comic book heroes, super or otherwise ...

*car fans, of course, are free to apply their identification skills towards refining this date

... a postscript ... much of what you see here was destroyed by the good friday earthquake of 1964 ... with a magnitude of 9.2 the cataclysmic event remains the second most powerful measured earthquake in recorded history ...

U.S. ARMY PHOTOGRAPH
... an even more fascinating postscript ... here is the exact spot from which pa took the picture at the beginning of this entry ...


September 20, 2012

MY SUNSET


OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT

... is it possible, in a single breath, to say both "thank you" and "you're welcome" ...

THE GUITAR MAN

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT

"Who draws the crowd and plays so loud,
Baby it's the guitar man
Who's gonna steal the show, you know
Baby it's the guitar man."

"He can make you love, he can make you cry
He will bring you down, then he'll get you high.
Somethin' keeps him goin', miles and miles a day
To find another place to play."

"Night after night who treats you right,
Baby it's the guitar man
Who's on the radio, you go listen
To the guitar man."

"Then he comes to town, and you see his face,
And you think you might like to take his place.
Somethin' keeps him driftin' miles and miles away
Searchin' for the songs to play."

"Then you listen to the music and you like to sing along,
You want to get the meaning out of each and ev'ry song.
Then you find yourself a message and some words to call your own
And take them home."

"He can make you love, he can make you high
He will bring you down, then he'll make you cry.
Somethin' keeps him movin', but know one seems to know
What it is that makes him go."

"Then the lights begin to flicker and the sound is getting dim
The voice begins to falter and the crowds are getting thin
But he never seems to notice he's just got to find
Another place to play."

"Either way,
Got to play,
Either way,
Got to play."

DAVID GATES

September 16, 2012

SISTERS


NIKON F3-NIKKOR 24MM-F8-1/125th-KODACHROME 64
... from the infinity that isn't a part the infinity we call time and space, heaven or nirvana to some, the hereafter, elysium fields, valhalla to others, what are the odds these two would end up sisters ... infinitesimal, i believe, at best, to such an unbelievably minute degree as to be just that, unbelievable, so a long time ago i came to the much more logical conclusion, that they always have been sisters, are sisters, and will forever be sisters ... this most elegant symmetry counters both chaos and entropy, providing perfect proof that there is, indeed, wonderful sense to the universe ...


NIKON F3-NIKKOR 50MM-F8-1/125th-KODACHROME 64
"It's hard to be responsible, adult and sensible all the time.
How good it is to have a sister whose heart is as young as your own."
PAM BROWN

September 15, 2012

FISHING IN ALASKA


WITTNAUER FESTIVAL-STEINER 45MM-EKTACHROME-ISO 80*
... 1958 ... we'd arrived in alaska during its last few days as a territory, everyone was counting down the hours until it officially became the 49th state ... ship creek, which drained the marshes and bogs that wandered across the northeastern section of the city of anchorage, served to delineate the border between the city proper on its southern bank and government hill and the huge military installations looking down from the steep northern side ...

... all the dads would take us fishing ... we'd watch as they stood on the rocks, for hours pulling salmon from the cascading current ... as kids we were assigned a multitude of tasks ... bringing the huge fish up to put in ice chests so large that they barely fit into the trunks of the cars, that was great fun considering that some of the salmon were almost as long as we were tall ... delivering to the dads cans of beer, or, in the case of our own pa a refill of iced tea, was a delightful duty ... it was physically impossible to negotiate the rocky descent to the river's edge without spilling a small amount of beer, and, for some, early on was learned that instead of actually splashing the sudsy liquid along the trail it was equally possible to select a can, puncture it open, then, after carefully calculating the volume of beer that was likely to be lost, sip that amount before beginning to walk ... i, for one, stuck to ice tea, but i've an older sibling i believe perfected this exercise in three dimensional computation ... (i'm sure that years later, when he got his nasa scholarship, little did they suspect the source of his whiz kid ability) ...

... the bears would stay on one side of the river, we the other ... at times the furry creatures would be meal gathering within a short forty or fifty feet of our dads doing their own fishing ... we knew not to get too close, and, probably having been informed that our pa was packin' his treasured 1911 colt, the bears were also very careful to allow us a respectful separation ...

... here, however, a juvinile ursus arctos has treaded across the rocks into turf already staked out by our dads, a foolish mistake since adult homo sapiens sapiens are the one animal a young grizzly needs learn to fear ... luckily for this creature we children were up near the cars, thus some of pa's rather dramatic instincts were not triggered ... rather than drawing his trusty ol' hip cannon, which would've been the prudent course of action considering how close this bear appears to be, pa instead used the little german camera he seemed always to have hanging from his neck, thus allowing the bear more days within which to never ponder how close he had come to becoming a rug ...

*pa developed these himself, i just think they look better in a real kodak slide mount rather than the generic grayish ones he used ...as for the chemical stains, well, we all know he was much better at fishing and hunting than he was at colour transparency processing ...


September 11, 2012

A STROLL ABOUT TOWN - 9.11.12


OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... the news was talking of the events of september 11, 2001 ... "we'll never forget" seemed the theme, as it was all day in postings on my facebook page and in the editorials presented to me by my google news search ... i decided to go for a walk, in my mind the thought, "of course we will" ... forget, that is ... in my stroll i noticed no evidence this was anything other'n a normal day, one perched at the edge of summer, the coolness in the breeze and hint of yellow and red in the leaves providing that in new england's seasonal story it is a page in autumn's prequel ... you might remember, perhaps even i, too, but, over time, we will forget ... we always do ... we must, if for no other reason than we've only so much room for our emotions, and the future requires its own space ... this is the anniversary of the first battle of the marne, by the way, a short week during which over 1/2-million soldiers died ... this is not a political comment, rather, simply that once again, as always, it is time to begin letting go of the summer ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... i walked on, down along front street with the city perched on one side of me and the dark water of the kennebec river silently drifting by the other ... the evening light can be magical here, filtered through the western mountains, winding its way through forest and farm and across our lives, eventually finding rest in the deep damp misty blackness of the gulf of maine night ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... i strolled on, thinking about that other september day ... in the greater scope of human history, i suppose, this tragedy will probably be of far less note than presently we're capable of accepting, being that reverberating in our ears are still not yet faint echoes of cell phone conversations and crashing steel ... like that awful boo-boo as children we all suffered, the one which frightened us into the protective arms of our loved ones, the wound we thought would never stop hurting, only to one day suddenly notice the pain was gone, and that we'd no memory of the exact moment when it had left us ... the same will happen with this big, gigantic boo-boo, too, and, because of our promise to never forget, we'll feel guilty ... for awhile ... i hope that when this happens we will remember how, for a fleeting moment, it really wasn't all the bad that we seemed to find such great comfort in walking a tiny bit closer to one another ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... and, if we have drifted, our paths diverged, each of us to the other seemingly lost in a different journey, we must remind ourselves that a conversation shared is of far less consequence as to its content as it is important because it was just that, shared ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... no matter what, i hope that out of a great tragedy can a bit more be collectively realized that while history is always about the past, no matter the direction of our gaze the paths upon which we travel lead always in the direction of the future ... even as the night descends, and darkness begins to fall upon us, if we take the time to look closely the last spark of this day seems always a way of illuminating the promise of the next ...

"Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream."
KHALIL GIBRAN




September 9, 2012

PHOTOGRAPHERS AND TIME

NICEPHORE NIEPCE - 1826
... in 1826, having experimented for years with photogravure etching and the heliograph process, niepce took the first photograph from the window of his estate, Le Gras ... using a pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea, he made an eight-hour exposure of the view of the courtyard and distant countryside ... by any standard it is an unusual photograph, compressing almost a third of a day into a single image, to the point that the movement of the sun during the long exposure illuminated the walls of the buildings on both sides of the courtyard ...

LOUIS DAGUERRE - 1838
... after niepce's death, his partner, louis daguerre, continued experimenting with photography, eventually perfecting a true chemical process using silver iodide for image making, the daguerreotype ... here, in 1838, you see the first photographically recorded image of human beings ... since the exposure was over ten minutes, moving objects such as strolling people, horses, the like, did not register on the film ... in the lower left of the photograph, however, a man has stopped to have his shoes shined ... he can be seen with his foot propped up on the bootblack's box, and also visible is the silhouette* of the bootblack ...
*ironic, perhaps, how that process was made obsolete by photography

EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE - 1878
... in 1878, to scientifically prove the "unsupported transit" hypothesis of how a horse trotted and galloped, with high-speed sequential photography eadweard muybrige showed that the traditional artistic rendition of a the position of a horse's legs was incorrect ...

HAROLD EDGERTON  - 1957
... at m.i.t. beginning in the 1930s, harold edgerton, partnered with gjon mili, perfected the photographic slicing of time into smaller and smaller pieces, illuminating a previously unknown universe ...

HAROLD EDGERTON  - EARLY 1950s
... until, eventually, using cameras capable of isolating 1/10,000,000,000th of a second of existence, dr. edgerton was able to capture a nuclear explosion only 3/1,000th of a second old ... as dramatic as this seems, take my word that there are other pictures, photographs not available the the public, which in comparison cause even this to seem like a normal snapshot ...

... from its very beginnings photography has fascinated itself with an ability to "stop" time, to see into an existence not accessible to unaided human eyes ... but ...

... but, as intriguing as all this is, and, as well, as valid, the photographer should never forget that while the camera's shutter is superbly effective at almost instantaneously opening and closing, as in the time of niecpe and daugerre it is also equally capable of remaining open for periods of time long enough to capture more than just light ...

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT

"No photographer is as good as the simplest camera."
EDWARD STEICHEN




September 8, 2012

DANCIN' BY THE KENNEBEC

[A RATHER EMBARRASSING NOTE:  SOMEHOW I'VE BEEN USING "E-PL1,"
WHEN MY LITTLE CAMERA IS ACTUALLY AN "E-P1" ... OOOOPS]

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... after posting the entry about my new shirts i decided to putter around in the kitchen to see if i could find something for supper ... calculated that the lasagna in the freezer was too heavy for the lateness of the evening, that the greenish-purple spots on the leftover chicken in the refrigerator were a bit of a hint that i probably should've eaten it before i left for a week, and that canned soup is a wintertime meal and thus ineligible for consideration ... that left cheeze-its and diet cream soda, as far as i'm concerned close enough to gourmet food to end the selection process ... after filling a small bowl with the scrumptious little crackers (in my "mature wisdom" time i never take the box to the table), i added another bowl of cut carrots, if not because i actually like them then at least to shut up the little voice in my head ...

... while i trying to decide what movie to watch with my meal i heard the rhythm of drums drifting up main street from down near the opera house ... curious, and, i admit, with the tiniest of thoughts that perhaps this might be a time for serendipitous happenings, i donned one of the brand-new shirts (the pretty blue one), grabbed my little camera, and headed out in search of the music ...

... a short walk to the head-of-the-falls and i discovered that the waterville main street people (and other groups, too, i believe) had sponsored a band ... as the darkening sky slowly built its threat of rain, i watched and listened and enjoyed the music ...


OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT (2 IMAGE MERGE)

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT


OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT

OLYMPUS E-P1 PROJECT
... i know if i'd had someone to dance with i wouldn't have taken any of these pictures ... does that say something about artists and art, or music, or, perhaps, just me ... i don't know, and, i think, this may be the type question that if not honestly, at least not fully can one ever answer of one's self ... for sure i do know that i'm still having great fun with my little project ...

"Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand."
MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE

SAGACIOUS SARTORIAL SUCCESSORS


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... the day after our trip to sherbrooke, partly as a reaction to the fact that while purchasing a new shirt at a canadian walmart she had heard me comment, "i need to replace some of my worn-out and stained ones," adrien said to me, "do you want to go someplace else, maybe over to conway to do some shopping" ... i wasn't in much of either a driving or shopping mood, so my response was, "nah, i'd rather watch movies with you ... i'll just order some online sometime" ...

... "well, dad, you know that they're on sale at j.c. pennys" ... i didn't, not a surprise considering that the only time i go into that store is when i need a fancy dress shirt, and, even than, it's usually elizabeth has to put me in restraints and drag me through the doors ...

... so, after getting back from evergreen valley, unloading all my stuff, and getting the air in the apartment flowing again, i took a little detour on my way to park the car and wandered to elm plaza on upper main street ... above is the result of my little excursion ... several points of note:

... first, thank you very much, my dearest daughter, adrien ...

... second, my other dearest daughter, liz, you can now be proud that your ol' pops was able to conquer his fear, aversion, and loathing of clothing stores and stroll into a j.c. pennys unescorted ... (okay, so i did have to stand at the door for several minutes doing deep breathing exercises, but, still, i made it) ...

... third, also for liz, you may now stop remarking, "you know, dad, 100% cotton won't as easily hold a stain as synthetics," that sort of thing ...

... fourth, for my pretty-much-daughter-status dearest alison, who while settling into my little "closet/guest room," found the pile of "bad" shirts which with great effort–and more than a few tears–i had managed discard, and then so very thoughtfully moved them to my dirty laundry basket ... upon taking my laundry from the dryer and discovering this, i interpreted it as a sign from the g*d/s that no matter their appearance, the shirts were not yet ready to die ... alison, for now, at least, you can save that "you're hopeless" look for something else, perhaps the shower curtain ...

... fifth, to all the other women in my life who may've noticed that i sometimes appeared to be dressing myself out of the rag bin, but who, unlike previously mentioned females, were either reticent or too polite to editorialize as to my habits, you may now say to me, "oh, patrick, what a nice shirt you're wearing" ... (examine closely, however, before the flattery, since a few of my old shirts have attained "classic" status, thus i cannot bear even the thought of parting; and, for sure, it won't be all that long before i'll somehow manage to bring a few of these to less-than-new status) ...

... sixth, to all the men in my life, you've no say in the matter ... truth is, either you never noticed, don't care, or, possibly, are wondering if perhaps you, too, should make a little expedition to j.c. pennys ...

... p.s. ... for those who're interested, that's exactly $70, including tax and the fact that one of the shirts was not on sale, but was, as the sweet salesgirl advised me, "a new brand that is much nicer material" ... i decided to give one a try, not so much that she was sweet, as that i heard my little voice saying, "what the hey, life's to short to not take a shot at something new" ...

... also, seventh, anyone needs some nice rags, just drop me a note ...

September 5, 2012

DANCING IN THE MOUNTAINS


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... adrien and i made a day trip to sherbrooke, quebec, for an early supper and just to have an outing ... on the route up we stopped in grafton notch to view screw auger falls ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... no support, just sort of hanging over the fence, i'm getting pretty good at holding the little olympus steady as well as learning to trust in the anti-shake mechanism built into the camera ...

... in sherbrooke we were saddened to learn that an old favorite was no longer eligible for inclusion on our "best places to eat" list, but were pleased to find a new victualer who is tops for rotisserie chicken ... we met the former mayor of sherebrooke, discovered that one of the candidates for the job is being painted as a nazi, and, on the way home, at fifty miles-per-hour came very, very close to adding a giant owl as a hood ornament to the car ... crossing the border back into the united states we were reminded that there are, indeed, those for whom wearing uniforms and carrying weapons is sufficient reason to transform themselves into total d---wads ... "so, why do you have the three wooden stools in your trunk" ... ohhhhh, i'm sure the real terrorists are trembling ... i was seriously irritated, not so much for the unnecessary interogation, but in that i strongly believe an immigration/customs agent should conclude their task by addressing a citizen of this country, "welcome to the united states, welcome home" ...


NIKON D200-SIGMA 100-300@280mm-F7.1-1/250TH-ISO 200
... during the evenings adrien and i have been driving down to the bog along the shell pond road to watch the moose ... since we've seen none of those big critters (other'n a few who wandered out of the darkness along the road coming back from canada), we settled for feeding twigs and potato chip crumbs to the frogs ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... this evening, as we enjoyed the marsh's quiet calm, i strolled with the olympus, reminding myself that the purpose of my little project is to share ... instead of looking up to the glorious sky and the backdrop of tree-covered hills, i decided to look down and and around, and bring to you some of the little things that are so easily overlooked ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... no tripod ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... no "close focusing" macro lens ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... neither fill-flash ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... nor folding light reflector ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... just me, alone ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... with my little light tight box ...


OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... and my eyes ...

OLYMPUS E-PL1 PROJECT
... and, most important, the excitement of the thinking i might have finally mastered at least a few of the steps necessary for waltzing ever so softly with the light ...

"Some photographers take reality ... and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit.  Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation."
ANSEL ADAMS