Saturday, January 17, 2015

Photography Park Project Begun

Just as an update, I have begun my photography park project. The web site will be up shortly. I was in downtown Atlanta twice last week, learning about non-profit organizations, how to find grants and write proposals. The Twitter account is up. As is the Flickr account. I'm still trying to puzzle out how I'm going to arrange all the pieces and whether or not I have to come up with yet another email address. Or two. I've got ThePhotographyPark at gmail and at yahoo but I hope to have a single address at our own domain name so don't worry about updating your address book just yet.

If any of you care to "follow" us on Flickr or Twitter, your support would be most welcome. But more than anything, just mention the idea to your photographer friends at the next cocktail party. I'm sure this is going to be a years-long project so we have time for word-of-mouth to work its magic.

I still hesitate to close the door on this blog. Perhaps I should. But for now I won't. I had a friend, just last night, trying to lure me back into the mix by telling me what the Operational Error rate was these days. I admit, I was sorely tempted, but I've resisted and here I am writing about a photography park. And I was out this morning, taking ugly pictures to make my point.

I'm searching for a way to make people understand that pictures like this are never taken by serious photographers (both amateur and professional). It's a perfectly beautiful moment, but with the utility wires and street lights, most photographers (including me) would never pull the camera out of the bag. There's only so much you can fix with Photoshop. I want a place where you can capture these moments. The fact that it would generate a lot of economic activity (I believe) just makes it easier for me to sell the idea. (If you want to get an idea about the economic side, take a look the the "favorites" I'm collecting on Flickr. Add up the cost of the photography equipment you see in each picture and see if you think this is a demographic worth pursuing.)

Y'all be careful out there.

Don Brown
January 17, 2015

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Waiting for Patty -- The Process

For my long-time readers, this will be something new. But I have a different idea and a lot of pictures for which I have no other use. There's a lot of thinking that goes into some kinds of picture taking. As a matter of fact, it's more picture making. So, if you're not interested in the process behind making a picture, it's time to change the channel.

To be honest, I started taking pictures of The Chair because I was bored. I'd taken a picture of a really nice sunrise to post to my photography friends on Facebook -- with my phone -- and it included my camera sitting on my tripod. I noticed that the tripod/camera silhouette made the picture a lot more interesting. That got me thinking (hat tip to Galen Rowell and his "mature subject" explanation) about what object I could use in my photographs to add interest. I thought an artist's easel would be a good idea. Perhaps it might be a little too literal -- sort of like screaming "See! It's art! Photography can be art!". But I'm a literal kind of guy and I didn't have a problem with that. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I couldn't find a used easel. But I did find a used chair. Cheap. I named the first picture "I Grew Weary of the Wait". Coincidently, I had listened to a podcast about how much of our lives are spent waiting (like waiting for a pretty sunrise) and then it became kind of a thing. All "The Chair" pictures had to have a "waiting" title.

I Grew Weary of the Wait

Are you following along? Do you see how one thing just leads to another? I'd already been floating things in the lake so it wasn't a real leap of inspiration to float the chair. I decided to build a prettier raft but that was about it.

And then I started noticing how people reacted to the various images. Most of the images were just rehashing the same pictures I'd taken before "The Chair". But then I got a crazy idea and posted this one:

Waiting on Direction

That one got a lot of reaction. And it surprised me. Think about it. There's nothing there. No horizon. No color (I love color). It's a chair, lost in the fog. And that's when it hit me. It's not just about what I put in a picture, it's what the viewer puts into it.

They probably teach this in Art 101 but I've never delved into the art world before. I just like photographing pretty things, not making art. And all this led me to thinking about how I react to other's art. And that led me to Patty. Nobody's art on Flickr makes me "feel" like Patty's. The odd thing is, I don't know what it makes me feel. Again, it's probably just that lack of art school thing but there it is. And now it intrigues me. So, of course, I started to dissect it. I'm not sure that's the smart thing to do but I've been not smart before.

To make this long story shorter, let me use some pictures.

The first thing that ought to hit you about that picture is that it's square. As are most of Patty's. I'd been looking at her work for over a year and I had been so wrapped up in the "feel" of it that I'd never even noticed that all her pictures are square(ish). It's amazing what you learn when you try to duplicate something.

I also noticed she used a lot of leading lines so I tried that.

Close but no cigar. I love the dark and moody skies in much of her work, so I tried that.

I liked it (even if I did use fill flash) but it still didn't capture the "magic". So, this morning, when the swans flew through the frame, I decided enough was enough.

If I can't capture the magic with a square format, moody skies, a red wig and flying swans, Patty has something that I don't have and I'll just have to learn to live with it. No, I can't explain why I didn't go with the flying swans. You just have to trust your instincts and hope for some magic.

Don Brown
December 20, 2014

Funny How the Internet Works

I'm switching gears these days in a lot of areas so I'm changing a lot of internet accounts around. So, just in case you see some stuff that no longer makes sense, you'll know why. For instance, if you scroll down on this blog's homepage, you know see a tweet I made from another account (and posted here) that has someone else's name on it. He's the guy that took over for me as the Party Chairman. I've also noticed that a few pictures on this site are now missing. That's probably because I've been changing permissions on some old accounts. Whatever.

I have some new accounts I've created from my photography park project and I'll be deleting some old accounts. Expect more oddness as I discover how the internet works. The hard way.

Don Brown
December 20, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Double Bubble

What??? You mean you haven't been keeping up with my Flickr page? The link is sitting right over there on the right side of the page.

Unlike here, I post something over there almost every day. But I don't mind if you come here first.

Knock Me Over With a Bubble

Don Brown
December 14, 2014

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Sick Leave Soliloquy

Well, seeing as I can't do anything else, I might as well blog. It's odd, I really don't remember the last time I was sick. And I'm not very sick at the moment. Just fuzzy-headed enough that I don't need to be driving -- or out in the cold weather. Oh well. Your loss.

I started the day off sleeping in. Something I never do. Then I started in on the internet. (Something I always do.) I so wish I could leave Facebook. But it's almost like saying I wish I could leave reality. I had a good time taking my time on Twitter today. I think I'm missing out a little on the Twitter experience in that internet coverage is so spotty down here. But I learn so much more from my Twitter feed than I do from my Facebook page. Well, at least about the stuff I want to learn about. Remembering somebody's birthday is nice. Seeing vacation pictures is nice. But I could live without the cat videos and most of what normal people consider "fun" about Facebook. Of course, as soon as I find something interesting on Twitter I go share it on Facebook. Sigh.

One of the things that got me fired up today was reading an article from John Cassidy ‏at The New Yorker.

Should the Democrats Give Up on the South?

"In an anguished and pointed column on the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky, the liberal journalist, says the Party should “dump Dixie” and concentrate its electoral efforts on other parts of the country."

Fortunately, Mr. Cassidy didn't sip that Kool-Aid.
"For a number of reasons, I think that would be going much too far. If the Democratic Party wants to be a national party of government, it needs to retain and expand its presence in the South, rather than neglecting it."

I had read Tomasky's article. I'd basically blown it off. But, evidently, others had paid attention. I agree with John Cassidy. They shouldn't have taken Tomasky's article to heart.

(For those that have forgotten, I was drafted into the position of Chairman of the Democratic Party of Pike County, Georgia a couple of years ago. That's sort of like being Jim Bowie at the Alamo. You might get famous but you'll most likely lose.)

When Tomasky talks about writing off Democrats in the South, he's talking about abandoning me. Unsurprisingly, I'm not real keen on the idea. But more to the point, it's stupid. There are smart political operators out there that will tell you it's politically smart. They're being stupid too. There are people down here that are dying for a real Democratic party to show up. Despite what seems to be the common wisdom about the South -- that liberal Democrats will have to soften their message to play in the South -- there are plenty of Southerns that wish the real Democrats would actually show up down here.

For instance, take Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter. Both had name recognition from their daddies. I wasn't real keen on that but, okay, the smart political people said it would play. They both ran away from Obama. Again, the smart money said that was the smart play. How'd that work out? Now, look at it from my perspective -- a somewhat liberal white guy in a very red county. What am I left to deal with? The only Democrat I have to fight for me is a President the rest of you ran away from.

I'm not a smart man. But even I could see it was stupid to run away from our own President. Win, Lose or Draw. It was stupid.

Here's a thought. If you want me to hold onto the Alamo at least let me take a shot at Santa Anna. If I'm going to die defending this place at least make the fight about something more important than a man (or a woman.) How about an important idea? Or a set of ideas? Do you think everybody in the South is against a minimum wage? Do you think everyone working in the new car factories down here is anti-union? More importantly, do you think they'll stay that way after working in an anti-union factory for a few years? Do you think everybody down here is racist?

Or can you grasp the idea that a supposed racist from the South rammed the Civil Rights Act through Congress? Can you grasp the fact that the largest strike ever to occur in America was in the South? Have you forgotten that our greatest Civil Rights leader was a Southerner? Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Is that the South Mr. Tomasky wants to write off?

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Take a look a the trends and the numbers. Check out farming.

Agriculture is still Georgia's largest industry. Farms are less "family" all the time. They're getting bigger. Who might be working these bigger, not-so-family farms (some smart guy, somewhere, might ask)? That's right. Less rednecks and more Hispanics. The internet parlor trick I leaned today was tracking population by counties on Google. Rural county's populations have flatlined in Georgia. Some (like mine) are even shrinking slightly. Try to keep up. The reddest counties in Georgia aren't growing. The bluest ones are.

Fulton and DeKalb are the Democratic base of Atlanta. Bibb County is Macon, GA, one of the mid-size cities in Georgia. All the counties on the bottom are among the reddest in the State -- each voting 80+% Republican in the 2012 (Presidential) election. Everybody that lives in Georgia understands that Atlanta is slowly consuming the State but no Republican wants to see the obvious: The "red" part of the State is withering away. It's only the "blue" parts that are generating growth.

Only stupid people would seriously consider pulling the Democratic Party out of the South. I understand Mr. Tomasky's depression. I live it. I forgive him. And I thank Mr. Cassidy for writing a reality check.

(Helpful tip: Jameson's does NOT make the best hot toddy. And I'm out of B&B. Curses!)

With that subtle segue let me bring you up to date on my life. My term as Party Chairman is ending in a few days. In searching for a political message that will sell in a rural, 80+% Republican county, I came up with the idea of parks. (Thank you Robert Moses/Robert Caro.) Specifically, a photography park. I intend to concentrate on turning that idea into a reality starting January 1st. That does not bode well for my blogging here.

I'll make no promises or close any doors. This blog will remain up and available for the foreseeable future. But I will be moving on. For those that have followed me all these years, I hope you can see the path I have taken. I am so far from where I began, yet the power of ideas still guides me -- even to places unexplored. An insider's belief in the good of government, a 40-year-old book, and a job that nobody wants has led me a unique idea. An idea that I hope will employ some people in good jobs, show citizens how government can work towards the common good and make the world a slightly more beautiful place.

See you around.

Don Brown
December 9, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Barrel Racing in Concord

I need to figure out a better way of doing this. I need a non-business card. I don't want to print a card because I'm not selling anything. But I have so many people that want to see my pictures that I need a card with a web address. On the other hand, why should I send anybody to Flickr instead of my own web page? This free stuff is difficult. Oh well, Enjoy the pictures. It usually takes about 2-3 days to get them all up on my Flickr page.

From the barrel races at the Shadow Rock Arena near Concord, Georgia.

Don Brown
November 22, 2014

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A Nice Sunday

As you can see from the picture below, this Sunday started off in a nice way for me. I'm not sure how many of you have been following "The Chair" series on Flickr, but this morning was kind of extraordinary in that about four (maybe five) different flocks of geese overflew the scene while the sun was coming up. (You can't get lucky unless you show up.)

I had to pack up my cameras earlier than I wanted to in order to make it to church on time. Yeah, I'm retired now so I actually have time to make church a habit. (You can have good habits or you can have bad habits...but you *will* have habits.) I noticed a visiting priest hanging around but I hadn't been paying attention so I didn't know who she was. Turns out, she's the Vicar of ATL -- Reverend Donna Mote. That's right, she's the Chaplain at Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta International Airport.

It was interesting in that I had just noticed her on Facebook and "friended" her. The next thing I know she's at my church. I don't know if that was divine intervention or an algorithm on Facebook. Who knows, they could be one and the same thing for all I know. Anyway, it wouldn't hurt you to have an extra friend at ATL. Be sure to say hello if you see her. You can follow her on Twitter too if you'd like.

I was reminded the New York Times had run a story on her back in March. (In case you thought you had an idea what an airport chaplain at a place the size of ATL does. You don't.)

I'll be flying out of ATL tomorrow to spend a week with a controller friend that's been sick for a while. She is on the road to recovery now and this should be a fun week in the sun. Just because I'm not a controller anymore doesn't mean I don't toss up a prayer every once in a while. I have become more grateful for the ones -- both big and small -- that have been answered.

Don Brown
October 5, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Great Chicago Fire

Yes, I'm around and I've been trying to keep up with the fire at ZAU (Chicago ARTCC). I just can't seem to get loose. It's Saturday at 5 PM and I haven't even had a nap yet. This life of retirement is tough, I'm telling you.

Seriously, I've said it all before I think. I've been gone too long to have any new relevance (I think). A new generation will learn how important it is for the system to "fail gracefully" in air traffic control. A new generation will learn how important it is to understand the fundamentals of air traffic control and the fact that a pencil and piece of paper have a reliability that can't be matched by a computer (yet).

My generation rose to the challenge. This one will too.

If you need any help, I'm here. You have my address. After the crisis is over and you decide you'd like to brush up on the basics, I can't do much better than the series I wrote for AvWeb. Yes, I wrote it for pilots but it's the short course on the fundamentals of air traffic control. If you need a glimpse into the past -- on how we survived with less technology -- you will find it there.

Be well. Do good. Remember who you're serving.

Don Brown
September 27, 2014