365/365: Stick a fork in him...

Cause I'm done. Not the most inspired shot I could have crafted, but I'm bringing this thing in for a landing with no fuel and busted landing gear, and I'm setting her down in one piece, Hell or high water.  Special thanks to my good friends Sol, Kun, and Ryan for the hand modelling, and Joe for taking this picture for me. I'd also like to thank my beautiful wife for helping me more than anyone else, all year, and understanding me when I'm being real D-Bag.

Wow, that was a measurement of a year that I haven't experienced before. I'd love to craft a nice essay on what I've learned, mistakes I've made, successes, etc. but I am exhausted from filming last night, and about to do it again tonight. I didn't quite accomplish all that I set out to this year, and I left some questions unanswered about certain recurring characters, but dammitall, I did it, and I have to tell ya, it feels good. And of course, this isn't the end by any measure. I'm done posting everyday (like I even did that), but I will be making some changes to the blog and adding some features soon enough, and there may be bound paper in my future...once the New Year is in full swing. But for now, I will rest, or rather, tomorrow.

Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you, thank you, thank you for all the support, comments, forwards, questions, yada yada. Much love, and happiness, to all of you. Please drop a quick comment if you've been following along at any point during the year.


364/365: Bookend Band.

My very first shot on the blog, January 1st, was of the Avett Brothers, playing New Year's Eve of 2009/2010. I'm at the Asheville Civic Center again this year, but mainly shooting timelapse footage this time. Two days ago, the boys played a show at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, to a sold-out crowd. It was a great, great show, and I was able to shoot stills all night. Thought this would be an appropriate second-to-last shot for the blog.

Plus one extra:


363/365: Discount Furniture, Durham.

Walking around town the other day, I was poking my head into the windows of old, interesting buildings, and this caught my eye.


362/365: Snow on the Chowan.

Not often that Eastern North Carolina gets 10 inches of snow in 24 hours. Christmas Day at 11:15 pm, we saw the first flakes by the bonfire. This shot is two days later, as we got our sled on in the only hills that the coastal plains can offer, the slow slump from farmland down to the river. B-E-A-utiful! Click the pano to view a larger version in a new window.


354/365: A Game of Chance.

The Meeting of Raven and Coyote was tense, at first anyway, and I thought there would be some serious scrappin' to be seen. My instincts weren't off...but I'm getting ahead of myself. Hit the jump to see the whole story.

It happened on the eve of the Winter Solstice. Raven and Coyote, face to face once again, after untold years; Raven out for blood, and Coyote on the defensive. Instead of a fight, they set up a table and pull out...a backgammon board. I guess the rules of engagement between our animalistic demigods dictate something less climactic than all-out war. Well, it made sense, actually. A Gentleman's Game, on the Winter Solstice, under a full moon? I can see how these two old pagans would be into that, but still. Watching the game, I was hoping for more action, and soon found myself bored to tears.

355/365: A Clear Victory.

But as I watched, I witnessed nothing less than the total annihilation of Raven, by Coyote. The dog was kicking the bird's ass. Victory was close at hand, and I started to think that with the defeat, Raven would have to be on his merry way, and I'd be stuck with Coyote till spring break, at least. Crazy, never knew Coyote could play so well, but then again, it's really just how the dice roll, right?

356/365: Cheaters Never Win.

Whoops. I spoke too soon. Apparently Coyote, that old Trickster, can't help but cheat if he thinks he can get away with it. Not sure if it was animal spirit magic, or just a pair of loaded dice, but Raven called him out on it before the game was over by abruptly tossing the whole board in his face, and standing up to reveal that he was indeed packing some heat. His sword was out in a flash of moonlight...wait, the moon. The moon seems to be darkening on us...

357/365: Sword of Raven.

Holy shit! Raven pulls out this freaking blade and starts slicing the air like the Samurai Chef. After this quick warmup, he starts moving in on his opponent. I back way up, certain that we're about to have a headless Coyote on our hands. Note to self: don't cheat against Raven.

358/365: A Good Defense.

Again, I spoke too soon. Where he kept them till that moment, I do not know, but all of a sudden Coyote is wielding some shit straight out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Dogs. Is this how they used to roll? Feels more like feudal Japan than ancient North America. Ok, now we have some action on our hands...but damn, something is going on here, it's getting darker and the light is turning funny. I'm starting to get the creeps.

359/365: Battle Royale.

What started as a simple game of backgammon has now escalated into an all-out ninja slicefest. I'm watching this transpire, my mouth agape, looking around for some other witness to start placing bets with. The night has turned bloody red, the moon darker and darker...

360/365: Locked in Embrace.

Raven came down on Coyote like a lighting bolt. Throwing up an x-block to stop his skull from being cloven in two, it sounded like thunder as they clashed. He stopped the killing blow, but Raven was bearing down, and had the high ground...and then, just as and it was looking like Coyote was about to break, and it would be ended, they finally saw what they had missed as the battle ensued...

361/365: A Rare Event.

The eclipse had reached it's peak, as had the battle, and as both the demigods saw it and knew it for what it was, they released their death lock and dropped their weapons. Call us old-fashioned, but like me, they apparently believe in omens. There hasn't been a full lunar eclipse on the Northern Winter Solstice since 1638 AD, and they both were around for that one. Seeing it, they instantly knew that they were not meant to come together to spill each other's blood, not this night. They stood and watched the ruddy glow till it began to lighten again, then they walked together, into the forest, without another word. Since that night, I haven't seen them, and we had a party the next day, and they never showed up. Very strange though, I think I can hear music coming from deep in the woods...no, that's gotta be the wind. Right?


353/365: Face Off.

Well, they finally come face to face, once again. I say 'once again,' because Raven and Coyote have a history, surely. Both tricksters in various mythologies around the world, they've played many a practical joke on each other over the years, even teamed up on more a few. I hear they once even had a band together, but I don't think there's any bootleg demos left floating around. Now, like John and Paul, the animosity appears to be too great for reconciliation...Raven is here for blood.


352/365: As the Crow Flies.

Looks like Raven finally has a bead on Coyote. With all the swiftness that 750cc's can bring, he's on his way. To my house, I guess. Man, this better not get ugly. I've been minding my own shit, and now I got a war coming to me. I don't even know, is he staying over? Do I have to entertain my coming guest? What's a Raven drink, anyway? Probably...Guinness.


351/365: Bird on a Roof.

Not sure if Coyote knows what's coming, but I'd get the hell outta dodge if I were him. The very sky seems to be darkening with Raven's approach. Oh, wait, the sun just went down. My bad. I always forget how early it gets dark this time of year.


345/365: Wintery Mix #1.

We had ourselves a wintery mix in NC last night and today, and it gave me the opportunity to catch up here with a little series of shots. Hope you like.

346/365: Wintery Mix #2.

347/365: Wintery Mix #3.

348/365: Wintery Mix #4.

349/365: Wintery Mix #5.

350/365: Wintery Mix #6.

344/365: Wrath of Raven.

I knew Coyote's antics would bring down the pain somehow. Of course it would be his old frenemy, Raven, who may indeed be the original Trickster, depending on who's mythology you subscribe to. He may have even created the world, or freed mankind from a clamshell, or at least given us the sun. Yes, I think that was it, he stole the sun and gave it to Man, or something to that effect...Whatever his original claim to fame, it must have been a mighty long time ago, because his aspirations seem a little less lofty nowadays. These days, he's content to ride a fell Nordic wind around the earth, or maybe an old Triumph, looking to right minor wrongs as he encounters them. Drought got your crops limp? Raven brings the rain-pain. Stop light on the fritz downtown? Old Crow directs traffic till they get'er working again. Splinter in your foot? Jesus, man, the guy can only be in one place at a time. Quit whining.

But it looks like Coyote has ruffled the feathers of Raven with an old .22 and an overly aggressive sense of Fowlitcide. Now, like Washington, he's coming. I know as animal spirits and  fellow denizens of the shadow world, they have a certain responsibility to be cordial with one another, and indeed, they have been friends before.  But all past loyalties aside, Coyote seems to have really pissed off the Bird, and it looks cloudy on the horizon, not a good sign. Demigod versus demigod in a...what, fight to the death? I dunno, never seen how these cats roll. Huh, cats. I guess that's one thing they'd probably agree on...that I shouldn't refer to them as cats.


343/365: A Murder of Crows.

Ever since Coyote came back around, he seems different. No major pranks or playful antics. He just sits around, eating all the cookies, drinking all my beer, and shooting at the birds in the backyard. Used to be that Coyote would maybe take down a buzzard once in a while, maybe steal a chicken for lunch, but he always took only what he needed. The past two days, he's been racking up a big kill count, and barely ate half a pigeon. There's a lot of birds passing through on their way South too; doves, wrens, jays, geese, cardinals, crows.

I think prison may have warped him a little. I'd talk to him, but he's drunk.  Don't approach a drunk Coyote wielding a weapon. But this new bloodlust,  this drunken buffoonery, is making me a little nervous. I fear that all this pointless bloodshed, especially at the hand of a Spirit of Nature like our canine friend, will incur a wrath in turn. It's not like Coyote is the only elemental animal spirit out there...


342/365: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Really? REALLY?!? I guess the Trickster got out on good behavior...wait, no chance. More likely, Coyote pulled a Cool Hand Luke, just kept shakin' that bush, Boss...#$%!. Now he's back. In my house. And so close to the end of the year, dammitall. Maybe he's only stopping by on his way thru...either way, I can't refuse him, it's bad luck to turn down a demi-god, not to mention a REALLY bad idea to piss off the Father of All Tricksters. Hopefully, it'll stay calm around here.

But probably not.


341/365: A Familiar Shadow Approaches...

Now who could that be at the door this late?


340/365: My Loves.

I try to be a good editor when culling photos for the blog, but I know it's a discipline I often fail at. I try not to select images that might have emotional merit only for myself, but how could I resist this one, my two girls sitting patiently, waiting to play a opening gig for Buzzround, at the best bar in Boone, Klondike. I recall the night fondly, we rocked, Buzzround rocked, and there was a exquisitely drunk fellow that couldn't believe that a girl could play drums as well as Bri can (in her sleep.) With our Editor Hat on, we are supposed to evaluate a picture based on it's potential weight to the unfamiliar eye; we cannot allow  the memory of the experiences that brought forth the image to weigh in our estimation of a photograph's strength.  This one does have enough raw information going for it I think, the lines, the vacant off-camera look on Bri and Rita's faces... But that's also a Magic Hat #9, more than likely my own Magic Hat #9, on the table, and that settles it. So much love in one shot...Consider it posted.


339/365: Return to the Storm.

Been going thru my random unkempt piles of film the last two days, scanning everything that looks like it has potential. Found a few gems in there, including this Diana shot of a location I've shot many times before, my go-to spot down the road whenever the weather looks interesting.


338/365: The Sunken House.

This old house lies hidden, in a small patch of woods, that sits isolated in a field of corn, somewhere along the country roads I drive every day. Didn't know it was there till I ventured in looking for a photograph one afternoon.


337/365: Tin Violin.

I'm in an analogue mood today, so I'm gonna hit you with some non-digitals. Some weeks ago I attended an awesome workshop, hosted at my friend Leah Sobsey's house, lead by Tim Telkamp, on wet plate photography. I won't get into too much detail on how it works, because I was barely able to grasp it over the course of the day, but suffice it to say, the process is as unlike digital photography as it can be. This is the grandfather of modern photography, the same process used by Civil War photographers and others before flexible film came along. In a nutshell, you create a layer of photo-sensitive chemicals on a piece of glass or metal, load the plate into a modified film holder, expose the plate, then develop and fix the exposed layer of collodion, similar to a paper print in the darkroom. 

First, you prepare the shot. Still-life or live human, you set up your camera (we were using large format 4x5 and 8x10) and your subject before turning to the dirty work, because it becomes a time-sensitive process once the chemical bottles are open. You don't want to start thinking about your composition and trying to nail the focus on the back of the ground glass once you've poured the plate. Once the shot is set up, you head into the darkroom and pour collodion onto your plate. This part seems easy, but is not. It takes practice to get the thick syrupy fluid on the plate evenly, and all the way from edge to edge. It's easy to screw it up, and you get one chance at it. Once coated, you soak the plate in a silver bath for a determined time, 3-5 minutes, which makes the plate light-sensitive. Still under the safelight in the darkroom, you load this plate into a film holder that's been modified to fit the thickness of a plate of glass or tin. Once sealed in the light-tight film holder, you can go back outside and make the picture. And when I say outside, I mean that literally. The light-sensitivity of a wet plate is marginal compared to film; in full sun at wide open apertures we were still using gestimate shutter speeds in the one-second range (situations where I would routinely use shutter speeds over 1/2000 sec, at ISO 400). After the anti-climax of the exposure itself, you take the film plate back inside the darkroom and must now apply developer, another complicated pouring move that seems to require a helluva a lot of practice to get right. If the fluid pools and lingers in one spot for more than a second it will develop inconsistently. It's ridiculous how much of the process is based on  estimation, manual dexterity, and luck. It makes you appreciate the skill and hours of practice the masters of the medium needed to have.

Once developed, you soak the plate in a fixer, either Sodium Thiosulfate or Cyanide. Yes, both deadly poisons.  Fun times! Now you have a plate of glass with a gunky crude on it that forms an image. There's some washing in water and a drying period as well. With all that's involved, I had to hustle all day to create  a whopping eight plates with my partner, four apiece. And all but one of my four outright sucked, for one reason or another, one flub or another, in the many opportunities for flubbery in this most un-digital of processes. That's the violin shot above. It was a really fun process though, and fascinating to learn about. A nearly dead art only a few years ago, there's been a resurgence of interest in it, and so the necessary chemicals and supplies are easier to find than ever before, though I would remind you, not for the faint of heart!

My last shot of the day almost came out good, but then somehow I ended up with the plate face-down in the final water-bath tray, which rubbed off some of the supple collodion layer. Like I said, lots of opportunities for flubbery. Other than being scanned in, these shots have not been manipulated. It takes a lot of work to make a digital photograph look this awesome in photoshop!


336/365: Herringbone.

Testing out the lighting for some shots that I used in this year's holiday cards. Fill light is a flash in a large shoot-thru umbrella directly behind the camera, about 1.5 stops under-exposed. Main light is a medium softbox directly above and slightly forward of me, the subject. Rim lights are about 45º  to each side and behind me. The card will be revealed later, just sent them off for print today. They have a creepiness this year that I really like...


335/365: Music From Within.

To be honest, this photo is in no small part inspired by the cover of one of my photography books, The Elements of Photography, with my own personal take on it. Placed a flash in a shoot-thru umbrella behind and above the camera, and another flash inside my old guitar, on full power. Click thru to read more:

The texture comes from some random photographs I've taken of concrete surfaces and other patina-laden elements I've encountered. I recently finished the artwork and design for The And Company's upcoming release, Look Up, and I used these textures in some of the album packaging, so I thought I'd play with them some more. The artwork came out nice, the band is very happy with it, and I'm excited to have been able to create the compositions entirely from my own library of images, with an interesting combination of urban and landscape photos throughout, many of which I've posted here before. Here's the cover and back panel:


The rest of the artwork, inside panels and booklet, doesn't necessarily follow this theme, at least not overtly, but we are all happy with how it still all works together.


334/365: Orange, Leather and Box.

Man. Been staring at this computer screen WAY too much today. No more than usual, actually, but my eyes are really starting to get tired. Glad I could get a post up today!

Got this old Polaroid off eBay for $25 bucks. It may be one of the most awesome camera designs EVER. Leather exterior, folds up into a little purse-looking device with a leather handle, which feels like you could whack someone across the noggin with pretty good. Folded open, it has this old-school size and weight that just makes modern DSLRs feel like disposable cameras. Unfortunately, Polaroid doesn't make the film for this camera anymore, and unlike the pack film for my old 104 Land Camera, Fuji doesn't make a replacement either. So this camera could be just for decoration, a conversation piece on the mantle. However, I have found a hack online, which can, using man's greatest invention, convert this old clunker into a wide-format 120 film camera. That's right, I'm talking about LEGOS. At some point, I'll pull the trigger and do the hack, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Picture above taken with a disposable Canon 5D Mark2, 1/160 sec shutter, f/8, ISO 800, 70mm. Lit with a Canon 580ex2 in an Orbis Ringflash Adaptor.