Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Here, in the presence of Washington and Lincoln...a photo for Veterans Day

...from a photographer's notebook

Honoring Those Who Served, No.2    ©Steve Ember

Depending on your screen resolution and the size at which the photo displays, you may not make out all the words. So let me set them out below.


If you are not familiar with the setting of the World War Two Memorial, the first line of the inscription refers to its location in line with the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument rises on the National Mall behind and across 17th Street from the photographer.

In the right lighting, and with the fountains that rise from the pool alive, the Memorial is a stunning sight, whether by day or, my favorite time, from twilight to nightfall. But, no matter the lighting, when one considers the heroism and sacrifice this place between Washington and Jefferson honors and symbolizes, it is never anything less than inspiring.

Cody, a photographer friend, had kindly loaned me the very highly regarded Zeiss Biogon T* f/2.8 21mm wide angle lens to try out on my “new” Contax G2 rangefinder camera.

The “mission” I had set out for myself was to shoot some rolls of film using motifs that would favor the things a very wide angle lens is best at doing. Aside from certain techniques of perspective that such lenses can do, there is also the extremely long depth of focus that can be attained with such optics.

So, on this day, with a roll of Ilford Pan F+50 in the G2, I chose my subjects accordingly.

In this case, the challenge was to see if, positioned immediately in front of the dedication tablet at the entrance to the Memorial, the lens could maintain both it and the distant Lincoln Memorial, as well as everything in between, in sharp focus.

On this particular wintry afternoon, in January 2013, the factors that would make for a photographer’s delight were not present.  The sky was rather flat and, as a result of a technical issue, the fountains were not in operation. But that was all right, as those conditions led me toward a composition that hopefully allows the eloquence of the inscription to set off the rest of the frame's content.

If you’d like to see the photo in higher definition, as well as another photograph at the World War Two Memorial, please click here

To those who've served, my respects on this Veterans Day.

And thank you, Cody, for introducing me to this exquisite lens.

©2014 Steve Ember

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Peer Award for Podcasts from Thunderflakes...

Ensconced in his subterranean Cave, Thunderflakes' scribe (and sometimes voice) finalizes production of blog podcast

Last night at the National Press Club was a very special evening for the scribe (and, sometimes, voice) of this wee bloggie.

Each year, TIVA/DC (The Television, Internet, and Video Association of DC) presents its Peer Awards, honoring "The Best and Brightest of Washington, DC." These prestigious honors recognize "the professionals of the Metropolitan Washington (and mid-Atlantic) media community who have demonstrated excellence in their work, as judged by their peers."

The Peer Awards are presented every November at a lovely gala at the National Press Club, and it means so very much to be honored by one's professional peers on this special night.

When the winners in the Audio Narration – Male category were being announced I mused at how the title of one of those efforts so recognized might just have sounded, oh shall we say,  a bit “curious.”

Podcasts from Thunderflakes?
Mug shot Saturday before fingerprinting and dessert

Of course, the descriptive documentation I had provided explained that Thunderflakes is my wee bloggie and explained what those podcasts are all about; however, the title line allows only for a few words.

And “Thunderflakes” doesn’t have quite the name recognition value as, say, “Eyewitness News” or “Dragnet” or “I Love Lucy” (don’t I just love dating myself!)

But that’s all right, for we know what that idiosyncratic name is all about, do we not, Dear Reader.

And there was that delicious frisson of a secret handshake or a great cosmic wink that had me smiling as I walked up to accept my Peer Award (one of two – more on the second, later).

Whither Podcasts from Thunderflakes?

The idea occurred about a year before I split from the day job. 

If you’ve followed the blog for the past few years, or viewed my photography, you know how much I enjoy sharing travel adventures and associated photography, sometimes with musical tangents.

There were two moments, during a trip to New York in June 2013 when this podcast idea really started to gel.

One had to do with the long-iconic fleet of handsome yellow Ford Crown Victoria taxicabs, now threatened with extinction by boxy (and far less comfortable) hybrids.

The other was inspired by a tall building in lower Manhattan that unexpectedly brought forth vivid memories of a great song I hadn’t heard for probably more than twenty years.
As I looked over my draft for the “Crown Vic” story, I (quite naturally, I suppose) could hear myself voicing it and producing with some music.

 Not surprisingly, the story about photographing the (window-less!) lower Manhattan skyscraper and learning the reasons for it being without windows, suggested another such voice-over production.

As neither would have fit in the realities of the former day job, or would have been subject to de-personalization and other strictures I would have found counter-creative, well, thought I, why not just put them out there as podcasts?

As an English-teaching broadcaster for so many years, I also envisioned these podcasts as possibly being useful to more advanced English learners as read-and-listen exercises.

But the biggest reason is simply another way of taking you along…and, in the process, sharing my enthusiasm for various travel experiences/adventures and the photography they have brought forth - as well as those various and sundry musical tangents relating to the ol’ “Gray Matter Gramophone” residing somewhere behind my eyes and between my ears while out shooting or later while editing my images.

When a cat adopts you...my little  Swiss friend Miezekatze
As honored as I am at having this relatively new body of voicing/production recognized in this year’s Peer Awards, these podcasts would be as the proverbial tree falling in the forest, absent your ears and your time spent in listening.

With all the “stuff” with which we are besieged in this cyber universe, it means so much to receive your comments or just to know you chose to spend some of your time with me on the wee bloggie. And I so appreciate those occasions when you’ve enjoyed a bit of my bloggery enough to share a story or podcast with others.

In search of the "PizzeriaronPhillimoreWalk"
For my Peer Awards submission, I created a montage of Podcasts from Thunderflakes. If you’ve discovered these podcasts recently, you may have missed some that led to this award recognition (owing to the eligibility period for the 2014 Peers). So, here is a condensed version of my montage “reel.” If any should strike your fancy, the links below will take you to the seven podcasts sampled in the audio. These podcasts can also be found on my SoundCloud pages.

Her name is Victoria, and she's a proud  old gal

Miezekatze (my Swiss kitty friend)

Ahh, Film 

That windowless building in lower Manhattan

In search of a "PizzeriaronPhillimoreWalk"

On Bagels

Toto and Trams

And, if you'd like to discover some new (or more recent) ones, just scroll down the previous posts. Those with podcasts are easy to find, as they incorporate a SoundCloud audio player near the top, usually just under the header photo. 

Meantime, thanks for visiting and allowing me to share.

©2014 Steve Ember

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