Sunday, October 13, 2013

Not in Kansas anymore...

  ...from a photographer's notebook

Detail from "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas  anymore" ©2013 Steve Ember

Of  late, I’ve been enjoying opportunities to delve into many boxes of slides and sleeves of negs, re-discovering some long neglected images and reliving some most pleasant travel experiences.
One such fun experience was discovering the colorful trams of Mannheim, Germany in the winter of 2008. I found their vivid palettes an inviting motif as part of the Mannheim cityscape. This trip was actually the first outing for my first “serious” digital camera, but, naturally, the film cameras were along as well. I did lots of tram shots with the D-SLR, but also captured some on film as we roamed the cobble-stoned streets of the city.

Last night, I thought I’d scan some of the color film from that shoot. There was one neg that I really liked, but, try as I might, I just could not come up with a good enough scan from it.

But that image really appealed to me – I liked the position of the gal with the stroller and her juxtaposition with the happy faces in the advertising for an amusement park that covered the long articulated tram. And I didn’t have a digital image with that same composition.

So, I summoned up my Digital Genie. “Liebe Genie,” I said to her as she emerged from her bottle, for in this case, she must be German, nicht wahr?

“Genie-Liebchen, what if that tornado that picked up Dorothy and Toto in Kansas was so powerful that it swooshed them across the Atlantic and plopped them down, seventy years later, in Mannheim…but in a "parallel universe" Mannheim where everything was in a kind of noir-ish graphic novel black and white…everything, that is, but those very colorful Mannheim trams?”

“Lieber Steve,” she purred, her soft German tinged voice sounding like…like…yes, Cornell Borchers, “you are truly strange, but I do like the way you think.”

And so, we went to work, Genie and me. As you’ll see, Dorothy is indeed wearing her red slippers. Call it artistic license, but in this particular Land of Oz, Toto gets to ride in a carriage. My hunch is Dorothy finds the Tin Man getting oiled in a Mannheim bar, the Munchkins out for a day-trip on the tram, with the Wizard at the controls. The scarecrow finds gainful employment guarding the produce stands in Mannheim’s market square.

The Wicked Witch? She gets dispatched most appropriately - While making a menacing low pass, her broomstick gets tangled in the tram’s pantograph, slamming her into the 600 volt DC overhead line.

Oh, the Cowardly Lion? He just couldn’t take it anymore and split for Heidelberg

“Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” will soon be available in gallery prints and as a custom printed note card. The card (you may see its actual design here) can be ordered with the red “Toto, I've a feeling...” message either on the front or on the inside.

To reserve yours in time for the holidays, or request more information, click your heels together three times and contact me at emberphoto(at)hotmail(dot)com.

OK, I’m sane now, Auntie Em. (well, everything’s relative, after all…)

©2013 Steve Ember

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...from a photographer's notebook

Heidelberg Impression No.1  ©2013 Steve Ember

The little beer drinking elves in Schloss Mewer, aided by some appropriate music celebrating hops, romantic cobble-stoned byways, and other Mittel-Europa stimuli, have created a new impression of a favorite view overlooking Heidelberg and the River Neckar in the late afternoon sunshine of a winter day.

Heidelberg Impression No.1 will be available in gallery prints and as a new note card on Museo Art stock.

The cards are custom printed to order, so please order early to ensure arrival in time for holiday use and/or gifting.

If you would like to view the image in higher definition, please follow this link

And if you would like more information, on this or other newly announced designs, please contact the elves at emberphoto(at)hotmail(dot)com.

©2013 Steve Ember


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sänk ju for träweling wis Deutsche Bahn!

   ...from a photographer's notebook

Disclaimer: In several visits to Germany, I personally have never had less than a first-rate experience while traveling on Deutsche Bahn trains, whether ICE, EC, or Regionals. And that goes for courtesy of crews and condition of equipment.

But, in going through some images taken in the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof upon arrival on an ICE from Interlaken in 2011, this photo just somehow hit the irreverent button.

Most good humor starts out with a nugget or two of fact. All railroads that carry passengers can, and will, have their run of misfortunes. And, true, I do not ride D-B on my daily commute.

One may also say, “We kid because we love.”

And with that bit of explanation, may I share with you something deliciously wicked ;-)

Ladies und Chentlemen, aus Deutschland, Wise Guys! See their live performance in second video.

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When an early autumn walks the land...

   ...from a photographer's notebook

Detail from "Autumn Idyllic"    Ektachrome ©Steve Ember       

I promised, in an earlier post, to celebrate my favorite season each week with a “new” image. And that has given me a good excuse to jump back into some boxes of slides…or sleeves of negs…or digital captures not yet presented…and perhaps take you along on some choice autumn travel experiences.

First, about that title…

If you are a musical kindred spirit, I’m certain you will have recognized that line from the superb lyric Johnny Mercer wrote to the Ralph Burns composition “Early Autumn.”

I’ve written before about how the ol’ Gray Matter Gramophone that sits behind this photographer’s eyes and between his ears fires up so easily when out and about with the cameras. Yes, “Early Autumn” was playing on the GMG as I shot this image, both Marlene VerPlanck’s dreamy vocal and, of course, the classic Woody Herman instrumental. If you know the song, and those two recordings…and you certainly know me from reading these posts, you’ll understand what a perfect fit they were, here on the shore of the Brienzersee (Lake Brienz) in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland. Yes, I know the lyric is at odds with my lifelong joy in experiencing autumn, its colors, the air...but, heck, Mercer's poetry is genius, and the Ralph Burns melody ain't too shabby.

I often enjoy the sentimental journey (to evoke yet another favorite tune) of returning to a spot I may have shot many years ago, sometimes to shoot it in a different season, sometimes just to spend more time at a place that appealed.

I first enjoyed the inviting vistas of the Brienzersee, on an afternoon lake cruise on my very first visit to Switzerland in the autumn of 1988. 

On my most recent trip to Switzerland, in 2011, I was fortunate to experience a lovely stretch of superb autumn weather, and decided to include a return visit to the Jungfrau Region. Even stayed at my favorite hotel in Interlaken, which I’d discovered quite serendipitously on that first visit. Once again, the charming Hotel du Lac was my base for re-discovering some of the region’s delights.

I remembered some Kodachromes I had shot in ‘88 from the ship as we approached the dock at the village of Iseltwald. It looked to be a very inviting spot in the late afternoon sunlight…hotel with dining terrace…peaceful cove with pleasure boats…so I thought I’d target Iseltwald for an afternoon in the autumn sunshine.

This time, I decided to visit by Post Bus via the road that meanders from the Interlaken-Ost railroad station along the south shore of the lake.

After making friends with a local kitty – obligatory experience when in Swiss villages! – I made my way to the lake shore, plopped down on a bench, and soaked in the Alpine sunshine and the boats cruising the lake, before arming the cameras and getting down to “business.”

No Kodachrome in the Canon this time (those days are sadly past), but I was pleased with how the palette of my Extra-Saturated Ektachrome-100 captured both the vivid colors of the early autumn trees and the soft pastels of the afternoon autumn haze in the more distant reaches of my shots. The one up top, “Autumn Idyllic” is making its first appearance. To fit the format of the wee bloggie and allow a large enough rendition to show some detail, I cropped the image, but you may see the entire original by following this link to its presentation on Foto-Community.

“Autumn Idyllic” is a new Photo Note Card design. It is also available in archival gallery prints. If you’d like more information, please contact me at emberphoto(at)hotmail(dot)com.

And, as you view the image, please join me in delighting in the lyrical magic of Johnny Mercer, the timeless melody of Ralph Burns, and the delicious, intimate performance of song stylist Marlene VerPlanck.

Happy Early Autumn!

©2013 Steve Ember

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Err, which way is the...

   ...from a photographer's notebook

Just in time for your Holiday entertaining!

No longer need your guests "ask the question" - or get lost in Aunt Tillie's chintz-covered bedroom or other forbidden territory - on their way to the powder room. This "silent sentinel" discreetly points the way, better even than the nav device in your car...

I shot this little wood-carved key-keeper during a sojourn in the Swiss Alps a couple of years ago. He performed his valuable service in a sunny meadow in the shadow of Calanda in the Graubünden Alps. (The bright Alpine sunshine had faded his sign somewhat, so I decided to play with the colors and intensity.)

And now, he can perform that very same service in your home, restaurant, or other business establishment.

"This Way" measures approximately 9 x 7.5 inches and can be ordered as a glossy print for framing or mounted on either foam core or, for a particularly elegant appearance, in acrylic.

For details, please be in touch at emberphoto(at)hotmail(dot)com.

©2013 Steve Ember

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Monday, October 7, 2013

A New Dreamscape, gov'

    ...from a photographer's notebook

While in London last November, I explored with, great relish, the south London borough of Southwark. Perhaps you've seen some of my "literal" images on my Foto-Community pages or in my recent exhibit at Piola.

But my "darker side" led me to summon my Digital Genie from her bottle late one night and "Southwark Dreamscape No.1 - The Rose & Crown" was the result.

It will be available (without the black border) as a custom printed note card, singly and in boxes of ten) and in archival giclée gallery prints. The cards will be printed on Museo art stock and I am now taking orders for delivery in time for the Holidays. If you'd like to see it in higher definition, please follow this link to its page on Foto-Community. While there, you may sample my "literal London" images by navigating the London folder.


©2013 Steve Ember

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

An ode to hedonism

   ...from a photographer's notebook

What have we here inside this bucket?

Might it be something good to eat?

(Smells like maybe...antelope meat)

But if my sniffer should be wrong

And there is nothing much within

Then it’s wasted effort, so why jump in?

On the other hand, a nice jaw-scratchin’

Would be so pleasurable

Indeed, hedonistically unmeasurable

So, feline-wise, I should intuit,

Get ready jaws, if it feels good, do it!

Yes, another product from a nocturnal "prowl" through slide boxes long unopened, and I thought it might make for another new note card design - just in time for the holidays (he commercially opined). So, for those whose taste runs more toward big kitties than steam locomotives, here's one just for you. Custom printed, so please order early. Scratch 'n' Sniff antelope meat patch for your little kitty is extra. Bad poetry inside is optional ;-)

For more information, rub your jaws on my e-mail address: emberphoto(at)hotmail(dot)com.

©2013 Steve Ember

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A new note card in time for the holidays...

    ...from a photographer's notebook

It's a scene likely to play out as long as steam locomotives, little boys, little girls, and their parents cohabit the planet...and one I know I shall never tire of capturing.

Once upon a time, Pacific-Class locomotive 1238 pulled excursion trains on the Allegheny Central Railroad, over former Western Maryland Railway tracks from Cumberland to Frostburg in western Maryland.

If she looks familiar, it may be because you saw her in the BBC mini series "Nancy" chronicling the life of Nancy Astor.

The desire to illustrate an earlier post (about diesels "dreaming" of their iron horse forebears) sent me on a search through boxes of long-unviewed slides. While this one was not the one I ended up using in the story, I found it charming in its own very special way, and decided to work it up as a new card design.

"Wonderment" - available singly and in boxes of 10 - will be custom printed to order. If you'd like to reserve a box, or order a single card, please be in touch at emberphoto(at)hotmail(dot)com.

©2013 Steve Ember

Thursday, October 3, 2013

On getting up close and personal with a fire boat...or how do YOU like being hosed?

   ...from a photographer's notebook

Nozzle, No.1 - Detail from an Alexandria Fire Boat    ©2013 Steve Ember

Of course, you’d never have guessed from the title that this entry was being written by a furloughed government employee. Nahhh…

But here I am on the third day of the experience, and with my customary belief in whuppin’ up that lemonade when life is dealing you lemons, I’ve decided to put the experience to good use, like catching up with my laundry, reading my junk mail, clipping grocery coupons that I know I’ll forget to redeem...  

Oh, yes, and scanning some recently shot film images.

Couple weeks ago, on a perfect early autumn afternoon, I had occasion to be in Old Town Alexandria to pick up and leave some photos at the gallery where I exhibit.

I had a camera along, and as the weather was so inviting, I decided to spend some time at Founders Park along the Potomac, and watch people feeding the geese or rowing on the river, or…

I’ve often reflected on how being a photographer has made me a keener – and more inquisitive – observer of the world around me. Well, there, bathed in the golden late afternoon sunlight as it sat at a dock along the river, was Alexandria Fire Department Fire Boat No.201, looking pretty spiffy in her bright red paint.

How do you spell Relief? A-F-D                                         ©2013 Steve Ember

I’ll often get up close and personal in shooting details of machines that interest me (locomotives come to mind), but this was my first close encounter with a fire boat.

To be honest, I’ve never really followed fire boats. I mean, you’ll see them in the harbor of any city on a river, and they are very important in their line of duty. News footage might show these nozzle-bristling waterborne fire engines battling a warehouse fire…or shooting great plumes of water across the bow of a new ship, or in other festive events.I just hadn't yet been inspired to add them to my shooting list.

But this particular fire boat was close at hand, and it was just a lot of fun to aim my "new"  Canon Elan-7 wearing the EF 35-135mm lens at some of the interesting details on No.201.

My favorite capture, on this (freezer-stashed) roll of Agfacolor, was the one up top. I liked all the sturdy detail, but it wasn’t until I opened the scan I’d made in my editing program, that I realized the apparatus just happened to look like a happy little red robot with a genuinely “can-do” attitude represented by the black gloved “hand” on the arm coming out of his right “shoulder.”

I hope Mr Nozzle makes you smile, too.

As for now, I’m going to drink me some lemonade. The laundry can wait.

©2013 Steve Ember

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