Organizing photos never ends. I ran across a few today and nostalgia set in. I miss the days of film, and deadlines. And newspapers. The newspaper business is long dead; photographers are a dime a dozen and any writer can take a usable photo for a story. A newspaper will use an iPhone shot in a pinch and Twitter and Facebook scoop a story before an editor can get someone on the scene.
There was a lot of glamour and prestige back in the day when you hauled around 30 pounds of camera equipment and hung a press pass around your neck. The seas parted when you walked into an assignment; mostly all doors were wide open for you, even if they didn't want you. Freedom of the press and the 4th estate trumped everything.
I miss the entire process of taking photos, rushing them back to the darkroom, developing the film, and printing it to my satisfaction. Sometimes there was time, sometimes not so much, like one evening when I had an important sports assignment. The game, 2 hours away, didn't start until 8pm. I had roughly 5 minutes to get a photo that would please a sport's editor (very hard people to please), break speed limits to rush it back to the newspaper, develop, print, and dry, before handing it over for the 11pm deadline (daily newspapers have much earlier deadlines today). I had just taken the film out of the canister when the sports editor ran in, gave me the evil eye, and grabbed the wet film from my hands. In my defense, I still had 4 minutes on the clock.
I also miss the grainy look to photos that came from sometimes "pushing" your film to perform past its speed. In the black and white days no one cared about the grain because no matter what kind of photo you took it would take on the grain of the newspaper. Needless to say, we all pushed our films to avoid using a flash.
Last but not least, I enjoyed a manual camera. It allowed the photographer to be in control of everything. A million things went through your head before you clicked the shutter. Today's cameras are junk. I have 3 Nikons and a dozen lenses and used them well in my last 4 years before retirement, but never once was I as happy as I was when I birthed a photo from start to finish. And no matter what kind of camera you use now, nothing can ever compare to a well-printed black and white photo, no matter what your expertise with Adobe. There is something magical about black and white that pulls you into a photo. I think color photos are nothing more than eye-candy; no one every looks below the surface for the soul of the photo while a black/white photo bears its soul with no apology.
Let me end my trip down memory lane with a few grainy photos from old assignments.
So many emails. So little time. Even with the pandemic we have been busy. Seriously. You know artists are going to stay busy, no matter what.The below is just a sleepy pair caught off guard at the airport.
It has been almost a year since I posted. Looks like the pandemic would have allowed for more computer time. Nope. Besides our work, we have kept on the go, getting out as much as possible, wearing masks, and staying safe, of course.
A lot of items on this site have been sold and I have been derelict in marking them as such. Our emails have piled up. Oh my, have they. In the next few weeks I will start at one end and work my way to the other. If you have been waiting for a reply you may want to try again in case I get backlogged.
Gotta love this stuff.
We have spent a lot of time enjoying the great outdoors. Target shooting is always fun. No, we don't hunt. Einstein said, "Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." You gotta love Einstein. Right?
Cameras Ahoy! Aurence cut off my feet. A no-no in photography.
And of course, watching the seasons change from our back deck is always a treat. So no pandemic blues here.
It's that time of year when novice photographers take to the outdoors to capture nature. Please be respectful of wildlife's space. Never go near their homes. The below photo of a baby osprey was taken with a very long lens. I was spied, for sure, but I did not encroach into their space. Many states have laws againts disturbing the homes of certain species.
Some of my favorite photographs were taken when I stopped the car to take photos of strangers. Many were taken on the way to or returning from assignments, but some were taken on holiday or going to some unimportant place, reason long lost to time. Being a people person, I can never pass up an interesting face, and I have found that 99% of the people I cold-walk up to are willing subjects.
The below photo was taken in West Virginia. I saw the man sitting on a curb and had to double back. He told me stories of a time when he worked for the railroad. Fascinating.
I have enjoyed meeting many people from all walks of life and listening to their stories. Even though I am retired, I still look forward to the next stranger and the next story.
He died in June of 2017, at the age of ninety-five. His funeral was attended by his large family, friends, and his adoring fans, of which he had many. His name was Art Daniels, but those who knew and loved him called him, "Daddy Art."
Daddy Art spent his life on the water as an oysterman and crabber but he is best known for his participation in the annual Skipjack races that take place on his tiny island. Until his illness, he never missed a race in over 50 years. To his credit, he won 9 races and placed in many more.
I was privileged to ride along on his Skipjack during races on several occasions for the purpose of taking photos. He called me his, "Georgia Peach," and though dozens of members of the press and photographers, as well as accomplished 'hobby' sailors, begged to be onboard his boat during the annual races, he never declined me a seat.
His boat was a patchwork of bits and pieces of wood and was long overdue for a new coat of paint. One marina owner told me Daddy Art would fish out pieces of wood he would see floating in the water and save them for his, "boat patching."
When I first met him at his dock he beckoned me to follow him down a rickety plank that had so many missing and rotten boards, I had to tiptoe around them while he floated over them like a ballet dancer, taking amusement in my landlubber status.
I was always humbled in Daddy Art's presence. He was legendary long before I met him. Now that he's gone, I know his legend will live on for generations to come, not only on his island but spread around the world by the many people who met and loved him.
I was never one for favoring any one photo. I have met and photographed many famous people, and the only photo I have separated from any of my newspaper assignments is the one of Daddy Art holding a photo of his younger self. I gave him a copy and he signed my copy, which I proudly had framed and still display today.
Daddy Art lived such a good life there is no doubt he is happily sailing again in heaven, and hopefully, he has been furnished with a brand new Skipjack, although if I think about it, that would never do. I'm sure he has requested and received an exact replica of his old boat.
Happy sailing, Daddy Art. Be sure and save a seat for me. I'm not planning on coming anytime soon, but I know you will remember your Georgia Peach when she arrives.
Fall is a great time of year to bring your cameras out of the closet. Put down your camera phones and have a little fun with color. Since retiring, I have been lazy in using my cameras in the summer months. Too hot to carry around a lot of gear when my iPhone can capture a moment, which is about all I can say for them. Don't get me wrong. I use my camera phone all the time these days but they can never match a good digital and never come close to a good photo taken with a manual camera.
I will always be of the belief that no digital camera can capture a photo like a manual camera, and nothing can replace the actual darkroom work of a professional. Darkroom work, to me, was a chance to play and paint with light; it was my favorite thing about photography. Now, I pop a photo in Adobe Photo and Done!
So if you have a "real" camera, dust it off and play with the fun colors of fall. And if you don't have a digital or manual sitting around, let your eyes be the judge of a good light and use your camera phone.
This post may be obsolete in a few years because camera phones are going to get better but us old-timers will still insist that a negative from a manual camera, developed and printed in a dark room by the artist will always be superior to any machine.
Tip: Always shoot with the sun behind you. Look for a good blue sky. Puffy white clouds make for a good accent.
It seems everyone has been watching Ken Burns 'Vietnam War,' a stunning look at the war so many try to forget. Forget, we must never do. And we must never forget the brave souls who put their lives on the line in any war. The Vietnam War is a war that tore America apart. No series can ever repair that but it can aid in the healing, which is a life-long process for combat veterans.
Aurence keeps in touch with some Marines who served with him in combat. From time to time, others pop in and out of our lives. Brave souls, all. Keeping in touch is sometimes hard, even in this day and age, and though many veterans can remember nick-names (everyone had them in Vietnam) it is sometimes hard to recall a first name. If you served with the MAG 16 at Marble Mt or Dong Ha 66-67 Aurence, who served as air crew doorgunner, would love to hear from you.
We pulled Aurence's Book of Records, a military book-of-sorts that lists your every step from your induction to the day you received your discharge papers, an interesting read. It also lists all of your "official" combat missions by dates.. If you don't have your DD214, it is also included. Some veterans have lost their DD214's and/or misplaced their medals. Your DD214 lists your medals and the government will make a one-time life replacement.
Above is a list of Aurence's medals. Aurence flew in many combat missions and his Book of Records list them all. He received the Combat Action Ribbon and Combat Aircrew Insignia with 3*s. So proud of my man.
I encourage all to write the military personnel office and request your BOR. I can't
emphasize enough how important it is to get and preserve your records and medals for your children. Aurence will be proud to pass his on to our son and grandson.
Veterans can write to:
NPRC Mailing Address:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
Be sure and include your service # (or social security number if you can't remember), birth-date, birth state, full name, what branch you served in, dates your served, and any other information that can help them identify you. Rather than take a chance at getting a letter requesting more info, give them whatever you think they might need to identify you. And do not forget to sign the letter of request.
Oh, and be sure to state that you want not only your DD214 and replacement medals as well as your Book of Records, along with medical records. Remember, they will only replace your medals once, so put them in safe keeping.
At one point we were helping veterans who wanted their service records and duplicate medals. I remember it took anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks, sometimes longer, before they received their packets. Be patient, but don't forget to do it. Your children will be glad you did.
Your cell phone photos might look good on your screen and as small prints, but blow them up to an 8x10 or larger and you will be disappointed unless you shot in a perfect light. Believe me, there are precious few 'perfect lights' in life and when you come across one, it can be gone faster than you can find your phone.
A good camera and a zoom lens may be your best bet if you are interested in taking some lasting photos. You can always find a good deal on used cameras and the Internet is full of free photography lessons.
The moral of the story first: Always have an arsenal of camera gear in your passenger seat and your press pass around your neck. I was stopped for doing 55 in a 35 after this officer shot me with radar. Also, I was not wearing a seatbelt. After he properly scolded me, he handed me a warning. He was a real sport when I asked him to hold up the radar gun so I could get it in the photo. Kudos to the good cops out there.