Category Archives: Photography

The Bluebirds of Ultra-violence

Sorry to bum y’all out again about the joys of spring, but…

You remember my post the other day about the green bird at our feeder? Down in the comments, I shared a beautiful bluebird photo from Jim Greene up in Virginia, who has a much better camera than my iPhone.

Well, in an email over the weekend, Jim shared some less-lovely images from bluebirddom.

Above, you see a couple of males engaged in combat. Down below, you see something more unusual — a fight between two females.

The good news is that Jim says there appeared to be no injuries. More of a harmless bluebirds-will-be-bluebirds matter. But it’s not always that way. A couple of weeks back, my wife was shocked to see images on a South Carolina birding Facebook page of a fight to the death between two males. It kind of darkened her perception of a beloved species.

Have they always been like this? Jim said he’d never seen bluebirds acting this way, despite his years of nature photography — and now he has documentation of both males and females mixing it up! Is this evidence of a recent breakdown in bluebird culture?

What could have caused this increase of bitter polarization among the members of this handsome species? Social media? Probably. Yeah, let’s go with that. Remember, you read it here first…

America finally has its long-awaited mug shot

From the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

Well, here it is.

Note that after the NYT reported that his cohorts were smiling brightly in theirs, Trump rejected that sissy notion, opting to go full surly thug. By comparison, Al Capone was Mr. Sunshine.

No orange jumpsuit, but a mug shot.

See what I meant about Trump knowing how to upstage a dumb ol’ debate?

Sure, the internet leads us to some pretty amazing things…

I have to remind myself of that after the last couple of weeks of my life.

First there was the week when I could only occasionally get any wifi coverage up to the laptop in my home office. The extender had a great signal, but no internet. The main connection came and went, so it took me several extra hours to get any work done that week. So I switched from AT&T to Spectrum. And I’m now on my fourth Spectrum router, and still don’t have a signal that reaches everything in the house. Something I’ll have to work on today, as I’ve had to do every day for a fortnight.

So this is a good moment to remind myself that as frustrating as connecting to the internet can be, once it’s working, it brings you wonderful things. Such as this…

Y’all know I do communications work for the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, one of many ADCO clients. Which can be fun for me, with my interest in military history. I’ve also told you recently about the impressive new Vietnam exhibit that opened on Veterans Day. If you haven’t checked it out, you should.

One of the things you will see there is the combat fatigues of Col. Myron Harrington, USMC, retired. Well, Col. Harrington himself was the featured speaker Friday at one of the museum’s Lunch and Learn lectures. And at the last minute, we realized we couldn’t lay hands on the PowerPoint presentation from his last talk at the museum, so I undertook to put one together for him.

Of course, my main tool for that was Google Image Search. And there are quite a few images involving Col. Harrington there, as his is a fascinating story. At the start of 1968, then-Capt. Harrington was in Vietnam, but as part of a supply battalion. Finally, he got the transfer every young Marine captain wants, to command of a combat company.

Two weeks later, when he had barely learned the names of his platoon leaders, the Tet Offensive began, and his company was thrown into perhaps the most intense part of that fight — the Battle of Huế. There, he would receive the Navy Cross for what he and his men accomplished.

Back to the internet… So I find various images from Huế, some of them featuring Harrington. One of them I hadn’t seen before. The colonel was familiar with it, but hadn’t seen it in years, and was surprised I turned it up. It gave him an additional anecdote to tell on Friday.

The image is above. In the foreground you see an apparent combat-weary Marine. But actually, it’s Sir Donald McCullin, perhaps the most famous war photographer of his generation — later knighted by the Queen. You may have seen some of his work on display in another museum — The Tate in London. Behind him in the photo you see Capt. Harrington. This photo was the cover of The London Times magazine back in the late ’90s.

Turns out, the captain had contacted McCullin to tip him that he’d better come along to Huế, because he was really going to find some extraordinary images there. (Harrington had little use for the “war correspondents” who did their reporting from Saigon. But he respected McCullin, who came out and stayed and truly reported the war.) And McCullin did. One of them was the one you see below, which you’ve probably seen many times, especially if you read about PTSD.

As it turns out, not only was the photo taken during the Battle of Huế, but the Marine with the classic “thousand-yard stare” was one of Harrington’s own Marines, a member of Company D, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division. And no, Harrington can’t name him today (that story in the Times magazine was about trying to identify him), but he can tell us this was a veteran who had seen a lot of action before this battle. And now he had finally seen enough, and everyone could see it, so he was soon evacuated.

Anyway, it’s another one of those fascinating connections that crop up unexpectedly on the Web. Today, I’ll learn something else — if I can keep the blasted wifi working…

Jupiter and Venus, with the exposure just right

I was looking at my phone, and decided I’d share this photo I took a couple of nights ago, when I was doing the last part of my 10,000 steps a day.

No, it’s not as good as a high-end SLR with the right lens on it — Jupiter and Venus aren’t as sharp as they could be, and the house a tad blurry — but it’s really good for an iPhone.

In bright daylight, on a shot that doesn’t require any specialized focusing, these phones seem every bit as good as a camera, if you don’t look too closely. But this kind of situation can be problematic.

Try to shoot something like this, and the phone thinks about it a little too hard, throwing off the exposure in one direction or the other.

But this one exposed just right, on the first try, without any attempts to compensate. This is exactly the way it looked with the naked eye. The planets — Venus is the lower, brighter one — the lit-up house, the remaining glow of the setting sun lingering on the horizon… all just right.

That was satisfying, so I thought I’d share it. I’ve enjoyed seeing Jupiter and Venus so close together and so sharp and bright at this time on recent nights. This was at 7:03 p.m. Sunday…

If only they were trees or something

Sunsets are supposed to be beautiful, colorful — and, you know, natural, right?

But I liked this view I saw last night, when I was walking across the Dominion right-of-way that runs through Quail Hollow — can you imagine a less romantic setting than that” — and saw the symmetrical pattern the huge concrete electrical towers formed against the setting sun.

Sorry they’re not trees or something inherently, traditionally beautiful. But I kind of liked the pattern…

Film processing: It might be easier to find an alchemist

It's still in great shape -- but it uses this stuff called FILM...

It’s still in great shape — but it uses this stuff called FILM…

Anybody out there still shooting film? If so, what are you doing with it?

Yeah, I know it’s an odd question in the Year of Our Lord 2021. Our phones long ago started shooting pictures with resolution that greatly exceed the quality we got from most 35 mm film. My mother, who’s 90, still prefers prints on paper, while I run in the opposite direction — I’m constantly borrowing those prints from her so I can digitize them, and use them on the family tree.

But here’s the thing: Back in the 90s, about a decade before anyone saw digital photography as anything other than a low-quality thing to play with, I made the greatest investment I’ve ever made in a long career as a photo hobbyist and semi-pro (ever since I was a reporter more than 40 years ago, I was as likely to shoot my own art as to take a photog along). I bought a Nikon N8008s, the best 35 mm SLR you could buy short of the F professional series. In fact, some of the full-time pros I knew used 8008s because they were lighter and more convenient.

And up to about, oh, 2005, I used that almost exclusively. That, or under circumstances in which a heavy camera (yes, lighter than than the F series, but if you’re used to digital cameras, I’ll warn you before handing you this, because you’ll be shocked at the weight) would be awkward, a little rangefinder job. For instance, I borrowed my wife’s little sureshot to take with me to New York when I covered the 2004 GOP Convention there, and shot several rolls just in case the paper wanted art with something I wrote. I even offered what I shot to the newsroom (an unusual case) in case they wanted it — we had little room for photos on our pages.

Here’s how that worked, just to remind you. Wherever I’d been — Madison Square Garden or wherever — on the way back I’d drop the film off at a Duane Reade drug store near my hotel. (It was one of Leona Helmsley’s places, on the Park. In fact, she lived in the top of this one.) As you may know, like Starbucks, Duane Reade pretty much has a location on every block — or did back then. Anyway, I’d go back an hour later and pick up my negatives and a disc with my scanned images on it. Very, very convenient.

But a year after that, I’d pretty much shifted to using a digital Canon because of my blog — both for stills and video. (Which was great in 2005, but it was pretty lame compared to what my iPhone can do now.)

Anyway, my 8008, still in beautiful condition because I’d always been so careful with it, went into a drawer and has mostly stayed there.

And while there are many things I used to do with that that I can’t do with my phone, I’ve never seriously considered buying a good digital SLR. The reason is — I already have a perfectly good camera, and I’m attached to it, and I can’t see spending all that money on another.

So… three or four years ago, I put some film on my Amazon wish list — some Tri-X, and also some color negative film. And my kids gave it to me, and every once in awhile — Christmas, or another big family occasion — I take a roll out of the refrigerator and shoot away. And then I take the exposed roll out of the camera and put it back in the fridge for safekeeping. The idea is that I’ll buy some chemicals to process the Tri-X at home once it’s all shot — as I’ve always done —  and I’ll send the color stuff off… somewhere.

But I don’t know where.

All I want is a deal like what was always available at Duane Reade — and loads of places closer to home, such as CVS and Walgreen’s and Walmart. Drop it off and get my developed negatives back with some scanned jpg files. I used to also get prints, but I don’t care about that. I don’t care all that much about the jpgs, either, but my good scanner that scans film has crapped out on me, and until I invest in a new one it’s nice to have the jpgs.

But the main thing is, I want my developed film back.

And I’ve discovered a shocking thing: Some of these places that will still process film won’t give you back your negatives. I suppose they throw them away, as horrifying as that sounds (to me, anyway). I guess they’re catering to folks who think of a print as the finished product, as all they’ll ever want. Which I can’t imagine.

Anyway, this evening I tried to send off one 36-exposure roll of the color film at Walmart. Here’s how it went:

I went to the electronics department where they used to have that desk set up just for dropping off film. Finding nothing of the kind, I did that thing I seldom get desperate enough to try at Walmart — I asked a clerk.

She didn’t even try to decipher what I was asking, but called out to a young man who looked like he’d be comfortable working on the Geek Squad at another big-box. I nodded at her decision, because based on stereotyping alone, I’d have asked him first if I’d seen him.

As he approached with a questioning look, I held up the roll, and said, “Do y’all still handle film processing?” Hearing only “film” I suppose, he led me to an aisle where such anachronisms were to be found — several rolls of Fuji that I assume had been there for years and not refrigerated.

The roll I took to Walmart.

The roll I took to Walmart.

I tried to set him straight, and had some success: I held up the roll again, and explained that I was seeking a service rather than a product: film processing. Then, I decided to use a more mainstream word for the arcane art: “I want to get it developed…”

He nodded with understanding, and beckoned me to the back wall of the store, and led me to the other side of that wall, toward the back restrooms. And there, sitting looking very forlorn in that abandoned place, was a table with a box on it. And the box had a slot in it for inserting envelopes with your film in it.

This is where it gets good. The young man told me that I had missed this month’s shipment, but at some point in September they’ll be sending off another batch, and the developed pictures will come back 10 days or so after that. So I should be sure to put my info on the envelope so they can let me know when it’s ready.

There was no pen on the table, so I asked for one. He went behind a nearby counter to find one, and as he did I asked when in September the film would be set off. He pulled a thick, tattered ring binder from behind the counter and looked it up before telling me, “September 5th.”

I thanked him and told him I’d like to just take the envelope with me and see if I could find a quicker deal before I sent it off. He said that was fine.

Oh, yeah. Having heard the horrible news that another chain didn’t send back your negatives, I asked about that. He said it was his understanding that I would be get my negatives back.

After I got home and dropped everything on the kitchen table, my wife asked what was up with the envelope. I explained, and said if I didn’t find a better deal somewhere else, I’d send the roll — just one roll, until I saw how it went — off through Walmart. I said all I really wanted was my negatives back and the digitized images.

She said, “They don’t give you your negatives back.” I said, “Oh yes, they do…” She pointed to the envelope, where it said, quite clearly in decent-sized type, “Your negatives will NOT be returned.” Yeah, they had even put the “NOT” in all caps.

So… I’m Googling around, looking for some esoteric, discrete professional organization to run this roll through the C-41 process and give me back my frickin’ negatives.

Yeah, I know people don’t shoot film any more. Hey, I don’t shoot film anymore, either. But I have this great camera, and I just want to use it once in awhile. Get some nice old-school pics of my grandchildren, just so I could say I did it.

But I’m beginning to think it would be easier to persuade Walter White to cook me up some meth. Or find someone schooled in alchemy to turn my film into gold.

And I thought I’d ask whether any of y’all do film, and see if you have any suggestions…

See? They even put the "NOT" in all caps...

See? They even put the “NOT” in all caps…

Turns out ‘Bungalow Bill’ has a good eye for natural beauty


That is, assuming this bit of Beatles trivia I found on Quora is accurate…

Normally I ignore most of the unsolicited emails I get from various social media outlets, but I bit on the one headlined, “Who is Bungalow Bill in that Beatles song?.” An excerpt:

The real life inspiration for Bungalow Bill was a 27-year-old American man named Richard A. Cooke III (known as “Rik” for short). In 1968, Rik was in Rishikesh visiting his mother, Nancy Cooke de Herrera, a publicist for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. As the Maharishi’s publicist, Nancy would also serve as a liaison between the Maharishi and the Beatles, while the Beatles were learning Transcendental Meditation…

Anyway, he ends up going on a hunt and killing a tiger, and his mother is along, and when some criticized the kill, his mother objects that it was them or the tiger, all of which will sound familiar to you from the song.

As it happens in this telling, Cooke almost immediately felt bad about killing the tiger, and never hunted again. Wikipedia supports this version of events.

In face, “he chose to honor the natural world by working for 40 years as a photographer for National Geographic.

He took the amazing image you see above.

He’s not my favorite National Geographic photog. That would be my old friend Joel Sartore, of the famous Photo Ark.

But it looks like Cooke’s pretty good, too. And I don’t think we should hold the tiger thing against him, after all these years. I’m not entirely sure I trust Lennon’s version of events.

Hey, guys! A frozen moment from the campaign…


Don’t know if you’ve seen the above image, one of the headers I recently added to the randomized rotation.

It wouldn’t mean a thing to you, but it made me smile when I saw it pop up just now.

There you have four of the main political operatives of the Smith/Norrell campaign, at a tense moment: They’re watching the first debate, in Florence on Oct. 17. We’re in our green room backstage. There’s nothing they can do at this point but watch and listen intently. There they are:

  • Phil Chambers, the bright young guy we had stolen away from the state party about halfway through my time on the campaign — he had set up all the logistics for the debate, to the smallest detail. (He’s the guy who, a week after the election, was out west working toward 2020.)
  • Kendall Corley, our political director. He and I shared an office at headquarters, but he wasn’t there all that much — mainly out in the field — and when he was in the office he spent all his time making phone calls or poring over maps, talking about how to deploy resources. But right now, he could do nothing.
  • Scott Harriford, deputy political director and James’ “body man” — the driver, the guy who experienced everything James did, going everywhere he went, taking care of details, shooting photos and video and texting them back to me. The first campaign staffer hired, he’d been doing all that since June 2017. But right now he could only watch.
  • Scott Hogan, the campaign manager, a guy I learned a lot from. He joined the campaign almost a month after I did. He was the pro from Dover, and I didn’t know how he’d react to a nonprofessional like me, but we ended up having a great working relationship. Don’t know what he’s worrying about there, maybe one of my Tweets.

I’m at the center of the room, between them and the TV monitor. I’m the one guy with something to do at this moment, with far too much to do, cranking out dozens of Tweets and making adjustments to the press release that I’ll put out within a minute or two of the debate’s end, working simultaneously with laptop, iPad and phone. I’m as busy as Butch and Sundance in that last scene where they’re shooting it out with the Bolivian Army.

But still, I take a moment to stand up in front of my table (you can see it in the uncropped version below) and look back at my comrades arrayed behind me, and feeling the need to record the moment, snap a quick exposure before sitting back down to my work and resuming the furious typing.

And the picture makes me smile now. Don’t know why. Maybe because things are going so well at that moment. James is clearly winning the debate, but there’s still that tension because there are 13 minutes left in the debate (photo taken at 7:47), and Something Can Always Go Wrong.

Maybe it makes me feel like Faulkner’s 14-year-old Southern boy, and we’re in the moments before Pickett’s Charge, and It’s Still Possible to Win, despite the odds.

And maybe I miss the intensity, the exhaustion tempered by the sense of mission, the excitement of this one-time experience, the feeling of doing all we can and leaving it on the field.

I don’t know. But while it’s no great masterpiece of photographic composition, it made me smile…

uncropped Florence green room

Joel Sartore photographs his 8,000th species

The Pyrenean desman, which on Friday became the 8,000 species photographed for the Photo Ark.

The Pyrenean desman, which on Friday became the 8,000 species photographed for the Photo Ark.

Y’all remember my old friend and colleague Joel Sartore, the National Geographic photographer who for more than a decade has been trying to photograph every animal species currently in captivity before they can disappear?

Well, in the last few days he added his 8,000th species to his Photo Ark!

And he’s celebrating that putting forth a special offer:

As announced Friday, the Pyrenean desman marked the 8,000 species for the Photo Ark.

To celebrate this momentous milestone, this week I am giving away eight, signed 8×10 prints, one print of each milestone species that brought the Photo Ark to 8,000.

Four winners will be chosen from Instagram and four will be chosen from Facebook.

Each person may only win once per platform. Due to the limited number of prints, selection and winners will be chosen at random.

Winners will be announced on my Instagram story and my Facebook page Wednesday, May 9th.

How To Enter:

Follow me on Instagram @joelsartore or on Facebook at Joel Sartore, Photographer.
Tag three friends on my Monday contest post on Instagram or Facebook.

Good luck!

Take him up on the offer, and help promote the Photo Ark…

This Persian leopard at the Budapest Zoo was the 5,000th animal on the Photo Ark.

This Persian leopard at the Budapest Zoo was the 5,000th animal on the Photo Ark.

Remembering ‘American Girl in Italy’


The girl in the famous photograph became an old woman, and died this week at the age of 90.

I just thought I’d post the picture and see if y’all wanted to discuss it. I hope this will be seen within the bounds of Fair Use, because I can’t afford to buy rights to photos.

It should stir all sorts of reactions based in all sorts of worldviews. At one end of the spectrum is the attitude of the woman herself, who “said the image represented nothing more than admiration and curiosity and was ‘a symbol of a woman having an absolutely wonderful time.'” She elaborated:

“Women look at that picture and feel indignant, angry,” she told the Times. “They say, ‘That poor woman. We should be able to walk wherever we want to and not be threatened.’ As gently as I can, I explain I was not feeling fear. There was no danger because it was a far different time.”

On the other end of the spectrum is the whole #metoo movement, and the notion that what the photo depicts is barely distinguishable from sexual assault.

As for me, I’m somewhere in between. I personally would never behave like the men in the picture, and yes, some of that is a matter of character — a gentleman does not act that way. But maybe I’m just less honest than those guys. Also, I’m not Italian and I wasn’t alive in 1951.

My wife backpacked around Europe with another girl the summer before we met, and in Italy she experienced worse than what is depicted here. Which, needless to say, displeases me and makes me feel protective. But it happened before I knew her, and she came through it OK, and, generally, seems to have done OK taking care of herself without me.

My reaction to that picture lies somewhere between a wry smile at human nature and a contemptuous “look at those a__holes….”

Sex, and the way people are about sex, are complicated things. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand it with regard to myself, much less other people. This picture remains iconic because it depicts the power of sex both as a creative and destructive force.

What does it say to you?

‘Breakers’ above Columbia


I’m having a busy day with little time for blogging, so I just thought I’d share a picture that I like.

This is what I saw from my table at breakfast Monday morning. They were left over from the Capital City Club’s Easter dinner the day before.

They struck me particularly because the night before, we had started to watch a new Netflix movie called “Tulip Fever.” It’s about the market bubble in tulips that drove Europe, and particularly the Netherlands, mad in the 1630s, before the inevitable collapse.

We didn’t make it all the way through — it started to devolve into one of those tiresome plots in which bad things happen because of mistaken identity. But I watched enough to learn that multicolored tulips like the ones above were called “breakers,” and were particularly highly prized. Or at least, that’s the way this film told it.

Of course, right after I took this picture, I moved the flowers so I could pull down the blinds so the sunlight wouldn’t blind me while I read the papers on my iPad.

Beautiful vistas are sometimes wasted on me…

An image from the film, "Tulip Fever."

An image from the film, “Tulip Fever.”


One place I did not expect to find cheesy artificial diversity


Original photography is expensive. So website designers on a budget often opt for stock photography.

If you choose well, you find some that goes well with your site, enhancing your message or the image of your organization without distracting.

But if you choose poorly, you can come across as cheesy and artificial.

One thing stock photo providers offer businesses and organizations is the chance to project “diversity,” which may be desirable to the client. This can work, but like anything it can look out of place or contrived, and not only because the viewer is likely to ask, “How does a photographer find a group of people who not only represent every race under the sun, but are all wholesomely good-looking?”

stockAnyway, I ran across that kind of photo today in the unlikeliest of places: the website of the Secessionist Party of South Carolina.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Party chair James Bessenger has been trying hard to demonstrate that his organization is not racist, most laughably notably by pushing for recognition of basically nonexistent black Confederate soldiers.

But, come on. Surely we’re not to think that this is the aftermath of a Secessionist Party board meeting. These kids look like they just collapsed in exhaustion on that hilltop after too many takes of singing “I’d like to teach the world to sing…

Anyway, it was a bit… incongruous….

Random images I shot and sort of like…

I Tweeted this out with the words, "Warm light of the setting sun falls on the heart of downtown Columbia -- seen from @CapCityClubCola."

I Tweeted this out with the words, “Warm light of the setting sun falls on the heart of downtown Columbia — seen from @CapCityClubCola.”

First, I’m not claiming these images I shot yesterday are great. I did not set out to take great images. I did not set out to shoot any images. It’s just that, when you have an iPhone, you shoot things like these as you go along. I do, anyway.

I took this still life on the bar at the Cap City Club, a moment before the shot above.

I took this still life on the bar at the Cap City Club, a moment before the shot above.

I’d like them better if they were of higher resolution. I wish I could have shot them with a high-end SLR, a digital version of the Nikon 8008s that sits in a drawer in my bedroom, and has for years, because it uses film. But I don’t have one of those.

But that doesn’t bother me much, because you don’t get trivial, serendipitous photos if you wait until you’re lugging a camera around. A virtue of this (relatively) new world of photography is that you’re always ready to shoot, limited only by the length of time it takes to whip out your phone (not long for me, since I’m one of those geeks who keeps it in a holster on his belt).

Anyway, they’re not much, but I thought I’d share…

This was a disappointment. The sight of workers backed by the big, blue sky was way better IRL.

This was a disappointment. The sight of workers backed by the big, blue sky was way more striking IRL.

Check out program about Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark! Now!


Dang! I had meant to tell y’all about this in advance:

But it’s on right now! It’s the first of three episodes.

I’ve told y’all about Joel and his amazing project before. He and I worked together at the Wichita paper back in the ’80s, and he’s been a photographer for National Geographic for the past 25 years.

For the last 11 of those years, he’s been working on his magnum opus, the Photo Ark: He has undertaken to photograph every endangered species on the planet. He figures it will take the rest of his life. May he live far more than long enough to accomplish it…

It’s official, and here’s the portrait to prove it

Going by that window in the background, this looks like it was actually taken at the White House, so I guess she dropped by for a visit:

Apparently, this photo is generating a lot of buzz on social media. I’m not interested in that. What the photo says to me is, See? It’s official. This is the first lady. And you know what that means, in terms of who the president actually is…

So, you know, it’s time to start hyperventilating, if by some weird circumstance you have failed to do so yet…

Hear Joel Sartore and Photo Ark tonight at Harbison Theater


I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented people over the course of my career, and no one fits that description better than Joel Sartore.


Joel Sartore

Joel was a photographer at The Wichita Eagle-Beacon back when I was news editor there, and I knew he was something special then. Part of my job involved deciding what went on the front page, and I had the privilege of using his work a lot. The times I spent with him at the light table peering at negatives through magnifying glasses and discussing them persuaded me that here was an all-around fine journalist, far more than just another shooter.

And he had an incredible eye for exactly the right shot. I’ll post a couple of prints he gave me back in the day when I’m at home. Amazing stuff.

Well, he’s not in Kansas anymore. Not long after my stint in Wichita, Joel started working for National Geographic, and he’s been with them ever since.

Lately, he’s been working on a monumental project called the Photo Ark, which The State described thusly in their story about his appearance in our community tonight:

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is trying to save the planet with his camera….

The project is called Photo Ark, and his goal is to take studio photographs of the roughly 12,000 species in captivity.

“My job, my passion, or what I’m trying to explore and share is the fact that we are throwing away the ark,” Sartore said, adding that he wants “to document as many of the world’s captive species as I can before I die.”

In the past 11 years, he has photographed about 6,500 of these animals. He estimates it will take another 15 years or so to photograph the rest….

So, you know, a herculean task. But Joel’s up to it, I assure you.

He’ll be talking about his work tonight at 7:30 at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College.

I hope to see you there…


I love this picture from the Canadian border

From The Washington Post: Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police help a family from Somalia on Feb. 17, 2017 along the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Quebec. (The Canadian Press/AP)

From The Washington Post: Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police help a family from Somalia on Feb. 17, 2017 along the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Quebec. (The Canadian Press/AP)

I hope The Canadian Press (or the AP, which transmitted it) doesn’t mind my showing this photo, but my post would make little sense without it. It goes with this story this morning in The Washington Post:

OTTAWA — As desperate asylum seekers continue to flee the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown by crossing into Canada, concern is growing here over whether the country will be able to cope if the number of migrants keeps growing.

Stories of migrants hauling children and suitcases across frozen fields and snow-covered ditches into Canada have become headline news. The asylum seekers, who are fleeing President Trump’s travel and refugee bans as well as stepped-up arrests of undocumented immigrants, have received warm welcomes. But opposition politicians are criticizing the government of Justin Trudeau for being too harsh or too lax in its approach….

I just love that expression on the Mountie’s face as he lifts that child up from the snow. You go, Dudley Do-Right!

It’s particularly meaningful to me because our church sponsored a Somali Bantu family — a widowed mother and several children — in Columbia a few years back, and my wife played a leadership role in that, sometimes spending practically as much time with them, helping them negotiate American life, as she did at home. Or so it seemed to me, but I’m not complaining. She found the mother a job and helped her get settled in it, tutored one of the kids (using our old copies of The Wall Street Journal to help with his English skills), and all sorts of stuff like that. (My own involvement hardly extended beyond storing donated furniture in our garage before they arrived.)

Eventually, our Bantu family moved to Buffalo, where a lot of others like them had ended up. Also right on the Canadian border, you’ll note — although the picture taken above was far from there.

Of course, as I say, I love the picture. Despite the fact that it saddens me greatly that any of these folks would feel so unwelcome in this country that they would set out on such hazardous (and to them especially, horrendously cold) terrain in search of solace and safety…

Rhonda, the submachine-gunner (talkin’ about the girl)

OK, this is my second attempt in as many days to get some Warren Zevon going.

This was pretty much a failure yesterday, drawing only one “favorite” on Twitter. Of course, it was about Flynn:

And if you don’t get it, here’s the song.

Today, I was sort of bowled over by this picture, with this story in The Washington Post:


With her Nordic beauty — the icy blue eyes and the blonde pigtails — and of course her automatic weapon slung across her belly, she seemed the perfect female counterpart of Roland the Thompson Gunner, Norway’s bravest son. Except, you know, she has a head.

Yeah, I know “submachine” doesn’t work as a substitute for “Thompson” — it doesn’t scan right, or the metre’s wrong, or something. (I’ve long ago forgotten exactly what those terms mean, although I remember that “outfielder” is a dactyl. That’s not from school, though; it’s from Herman Wouk’s novel City Boy.) In any case, too many syllables.

Go ahead, sneer at my poetry. I just thought I’d share. And I hope that Boris Roessler and the European Pressphoto Agency don’t mind my showing you their photo of the lovely, well-armed cop…

Ladies who lunch: Real-life Rosie the Riveter and friends


Women employed as wipers in the roundhouse eat their lunch in the break room of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad in Clinton, Iowa, in April 1943. (Jack Delano/Library of Congress/Courtesy of Taschen)

As you know, some of the more creative ways FDR tried to get the economy going again were pretty cool.

We’re all familiar with at least some of the work done by photographers under the auspices of the Resettlement Administration, such as Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.”

Well, there were color photos, too, and they’re all stored at the Library of Congress.

The Washington Post brought some of them to our attention this morning, with this explanation:

A new book by Peter Walther, called “New Deal Photography. USA 1935-1943 (Taschen, 2016) brings together a comprehensive survey of the work done by the FSA, including that more rarely seen color work. From street scenes to pictures of field laborers and train yards, these images show us what the United States looked like in a bygone era, one rife with economic struggle. Here are a few of the incredible images produced by photographers Marion Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, John Vachon, Fenno Jacobs and Russell Lee.

Be sure to go check them out.

The “Rosie the Riveter” photo above was to me the most striking of the lot. It’s just so perfect — the women’s work clothes being right out of a poster — it seems staged. But I don’t think it was…

Great images of Lynn’s Mama back during the war

Says Lynn: "Here is my mother (2nd from right) dressed in a way that would have suited General Patton."

Says Lynn: “Here is my mother (2nd from right) dressed in a way that would have suited General Patton.”

This is certainly the most awesome thing you’ll see on this blog this week.

Back on Friday when I took note of the 72nd anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Bulge, mentioning my late father-in-law’s experience then and there (being deployed on the front line at the very center of the overwhelming German assault, he would be captured and spend the rest of the war in a POW camp), Lynn mentioned her mother’s experience thusly:

My mother was a nurse with the 95th General Hospital during the Battle of the Bulge, and was a member of Veterans of the B of the B until her death. She had some very sad stories, among them soldiers with terrible injuries from frostbite, along with the other wounds of war. She managed to be personally chewed out by Patton twice. Once was for not wearing a helmet, apparently a common event. The other was for being among the unit officers after they managed to get lost behind German lines for three days. I can’t imagine that anyone trusted my mother with a map. Very bright woman, hopeless with a map.

We were all glad that she shared that, and I asked her for pictures. Today, she obliged. Here’s her narration, slightly edited:

Lt. Tommie Dukes

Lt. Tommie Dukes

Just caught up with the blog and saw your request for photos. I have a few photos of my mother during the war… One [right] is a regular portrait photo that I’m pretty sure was made soon after she became an Army nurse. [Below] is one of my personal favorites — Mama and two of her friends on the Champs-Élysées the day of the parade for the liberation of Paris. A French shopkeeper came out and suggested that she might want to try on some frivolous things after all her time in uniform, and this is the result. As you can see, it is in uniform, plus. She had leave, but wasn’t actually supposed to be in Paris. She and her two friends couldn’t stand not being in the city for the big event and hitched a ride from the hospital. They tried to be inconspicuous, but a French general saw them and pushed them into the parade, so they ended up marching down the Champs-Élysées in front of the tanks.

What great stories, and even greater pictures!

Y’all know how I feel I was born in the wrong time, having missed the titanic events that shaped the world I grew up in. So now I’m jealous of Lynn’s Mom, who was There When It All Happened. (And yes, ere my antiwar friends tell me that these fun pictures are not what the war was about, I know that. I just wish I’d had the chance to Do My Bit when it truly mattered — I feel like a freeloader not having done so.)

Envious as I am, I wish I could have met her and thanked her for her service…