Saturday, December 28, 2013

Call me pathological (or, Lest we forget)...

Sorry, but I just couldn't decide what to call this end-of-year ramble, but as years' ends draw close, my nostalgia synapses begin firing off at a passionately high voltage, so I think either title should work...

Many years ago, in a distant universe, I did a music program called "Ember at Large." 

For one of my shows, I interviewed the brilliant songwriter and jazz performer Dave Frishberg. We were discussing the inspiration for some of his wickedly witty and sometimes wistful lyrics.   

I think we might have been talking about his song “The Dear Departed Past.”  It could have been “Van Lingle Mungo” or “Do You Miss New York?” Doesn’t matter. What I most remember was his telling me he had “this pathological fondness for the past.”

Oh, yes, he had a twinkle in his eye when he said that, but if you listen to his songs (or even just read a lyric), you’ll realize he takes some serious rapier-like jabs at some of what’s gone wrong with present day culture.  And if there was a lot wrong with said culture in 1986 when I recorded that interview…

So I guess the end of another year is not an altogether inopportune time to lift a glass to “the dear departed past,” and recognize some of its worth, lest the dizzying progression of dehumanizing technology chuck more of it into the great cosmic dumpster.
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Monday, December 16, 2013


       ...from a photographer's notebook

  Carluccio's restaurant in Kensington was the destination for a cinematic pilgrimage in November   

I like for my photographic shooting – especially when traveling – to be as spontaneous and guided by opportunity as possible.

But sometimes, I’ll give myself an “assignment” or two, often occasioned by cinematic moments I have enjoyed. During two nights of my November trip to London, I enjoyed – amidst the unplanned discoveries – carrying out two of these (admittedly quirky) assignments.

Common link: Michael Caine. Well at least two of my favorites of his films. Films that have seen me through countless movie-enhanced dinners. See, when a movie gets on my A-list, two things happen: I must buy a copy and I am likely to watch it repeatedly.

The following evening, I went off in search of a spot filmed in the Frederick Forsyth espionage adventure “The Fourth Protocol,” which the author and Caine co-produced in 1987.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

In search of the "Critchley Hotel"...

   ...from a photographer's notebook

An homage to "Blue Ice"

Trains at night can create a mysterious, often ominous and foreboding mood, don't you think?

Something about those lighted windows against the pitch black of the night sky, vivid sparks from interrupted contacts with third rail or overhead catenary. There is also the sound aspect – the formidable crescendo of rumble and clatter and screech of wheels as the train approaches and flashes past.

And if that train happens to be on an overpass, hurtling past old buildings of dark brick illuminated by the occasional street lamp…

It’s a challenging motif to photograph, as the lighting is almost always tricky, but the results can be quite rewarding when it all comes together right, as happened on a recent November night in London.
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tall Ship in MFA "Small Wonders" Show

...from a photographer's notebook

"Tall Ship, Chesapeake Bay" receives Honorable Mention in MFA "Small Wonders" Show
Over the summer, I renewed my affiliation with the Maryland Federation of Art, and have been honored to have two of my Chesapeake Bay images selected for recent MFA exhibits at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland.

In August, one of my recent photographs of the Bay Bridge, "Chesapeake Bay Bridge No.4" was selected for inclusion in the MFA "American Landscapes" Show.

"Tall Ship, Chesapeake Bay" actually began life as an Ektachrome transparency, but I came to feel the motif was better realized in a toned black and white rendition.

Linda Simmons, curator Corcoran College of Art, selected 113 small works in several media, all of which are 11" or less on their longest dimension (mine measures 8x10 inch framed size), so lots of nice holiday gift ideas. The show is on view through December 29 at the Circle Gallery on State Circle, just across from the Maryland State House.

The MFA has created an attractive on-line gallery, which includes a convenient purchase-on-line feature. The accepted artists and their works are in alphabetical order. You can find "Tall Ship" at No.31. Click on the image to see it full screen.

"Tall Ship, Chesapeake Bay" can also be ordered in larger prints by contacting me directly.

"On the Chesapeake" ©Steve Ember
And speaking of tall ships on the Bay, a reminder that "On the Chesapeake," an impression from the same afternoon on the Bay is available in gallery prints and as a custom printed note card on Crane Museo art stock.

If you'd like to see it in higher definition, please follow this link to its page on Foto-Community. 

A small print will also be on display through December at the Art League Gallery in Alexandria.

For more information, please contact me at emberphoto (at) hotmail (dot) com.

©2013 Steve Ember

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