Healthy Drinking–Springwater Is The Best

A few days ago Roger and I were out sort of cruising in the country, waiting on the sun to get a bit lower before we photographed a really old cemetery near Siler City. I asked Roger if we hadn’t been there before, he looked around and exclaimed,“Why Yes,, this is Mount Vernon Springs.” Came to find out that these springs are both still running since Colonial Times. The name came to be when John Washington, a descendant of George Washington, built a home nearby so that he could regularly visit and gain the health yielding benefits of both drinking and bathing in the spring water. People came from far and wide to do the same thing. There was a hotel nearby for some time. It is gone now. Many people visit and fill up jugs of spring water to take home. They try to drink it as much as they can rather than tap water. Most swear by it. All say that they can taste a difference. Having had a well for the thirteen years I lived in the mountains, I also attest to the difference between spring water and city water

The springs are on the National Register of historic places, they are located near Bonlee, NC just off of Old Highway 421.

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Recent Losses in Photography: Three Prominent Photographers are Gone





Lewis Baltz

In recent weeks and months three monumental photographers have died. They have all passed on quietly, but there are certainly those who mourn their loss. No doubt but what they had many collectors and admirers as well as many students who respected and in many cases loved these individuals for their dedication to perfection, knowledge, and advancing the practice of photography.

Lewis Baltz died on November 22, 2014 in Paris, France. He was known for his formally composed images of somewhat mundane and municipal scenes. Many of these were in the highly influential exhibition, “New Topographics:  Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape.” This was presented at the George Eastman House in 1975. Baltz grew up in Southern California, was educated at the San Francisco Art Institute graduating in 1969. He received his MFA from Claremont Graduate School in 1971.

He moved to Europe in the late 1980s and taught for many years in Switzerland and Italy. His work always seemed to contain the thread of skepticism that he held about the photographic medium—or at least the art-photography world. According to his obituary in the NY Times Baltz once said in an interview, “I think being a photographer is a little like being a whore,” with his characteristic bone-dry wit. “If you’re really, really good at it, nobody will call you that.”

On Nov ember 10, 2014 David Stoecklein, Master Photographer of the West passed away in the hospital. He was 65 years old. He had a lifetime of photography just in the assignments from many companies as well as magazines. In addition to this body of work he published 28 books, produced and sold cards, calendars, and posters through his web site. He was a superb teacher and would talk enthusiastically to students about his work and approach to photography as long as they would listen. Recognized and presented awards as the “Master Photographer of the West,” Dave and his enthusiastic imagery will be sorely missed.

Dave also taught many workshops at his ranch in McKay, Idaho. All of his students had positive things to say about their experience. These students will sadly feel this loss.

Ray K. Metzker in October 2014. He had been in poor health for several years. He was born in 1931, earned a degree at Beloit and then attended the Institute of Design in Chicago in the mid-fifties. There Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind influenced him. According to Laurence Miller, Ray’s gallerist, “Ray had a relentless pursuit of personal growth as an artist.”

Continuing Miller added, “What Callahan and Siskind gave to Ray was the belief that you could pursue a lifetime of making pictures, that it was worth doing, rather than being a journalist, or fashion photographer, or commercial photographer as most others did.”

Miller says. “Ray chose to live a humble life and make pictures. His work wasn’t on the cover of Vogue. He didn’t need to scream out, I’m great. He did it very quietly.”


Metzker’s death was the subject of a recent post, this jut contained wonderful comments by Mr. Miller.



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Ray Metzker Modernist Photographer Dies

Ray K. Metzker died the other day. He was 83. He was a master photographer who pursued his art with great intensity. He studied at the Chicago Institute of Design a school that was descended from the Bauhaus. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy developed the photography program, thus Metzker was heir to this modernist influence. Others who studied and taught at this institution were Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Both were Metzker’s mentors while he was in graduate school at the Institute of Design. Ray Metzker repeatedly pursued an idea or a style discovering its limits and its potential. With the conclusion of each of these forays to the edge, he felt as if he had exhausted that topic, and would change his photographic style to something new and different.
His different series represent his artistic vision that merged modern life’s realities with the expressive characteristics intrinsic to photography. He also did a lot of work making composites of multiple photographs. He was also known for his high key black and white images He continuously pushed photography to its limits, much the same way Harry Callahan pursued his photographic art. Both were more concerned with photographic expression than they were just making a nice picture.

metzker_1105 Window1965detail



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Water Pictures? Five of ‘Em?

“Sittin’ On the Dock of The Bay”


Your assignment this month is to make five (5) good photographs that involve water in some way or another. Let’s think about water-essential for life, becoming less available each year, being polluted by corporate interests (think fracking and coal ash), refreshing, beautiful, and restorative. Nothing beats a good swim or a nice relaxing shower. In the battle between humans and water, it is inevitable that water will win. It already owns 70% of the planet’s surface! According to writer Tom Robbins water only needs humans for one thing-water uses humans as a container to transport itself from one place to another. So how about five photos? Look how water changes the color and texture of the river bottom!



Let’s see—one or two waterfalls, a good reflection, several droplets on leaves or flowers, perhaps a fountain which can be a source of all sorts of images-frozen or flowing in white flumes and foam, either way or in between, there seems no limit to what can be done with water. Remember Frankie Laine singing the song written by Bob Nolan?

All day I’ve faced the barren waste,
Without the taste of water:
Cool water. (Water.)
Old Dan and I, with throats burned dry,
An’ souls that cry for water: (Water.)
Cool, (Water.)
Clear, (Water.)
Water. (Water.)

Water exists in three states (or more): solid-ice, gas-steam, liquid-water. It can be distilled, de-ionized, and de-salinized; and, best of all, made into good Scotch whisky. It separates the continents. Water seems to have a mind of its own. It has debarked from California leaving a drought behind. It has moved to the mid-west where there is flooding. Rain can be a metaphor for disaster- as a flood, it kills. It can also be beautiful creating rainbows, making grass and other plants greener and standing taller. In the song “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival John Fogerty sings a song about the difficult times facing the band because of its internal dissension and its impending breakup. One line asks, “I want to know – have you ever seen the rain comin’ down on a sunny day?” That question has followed me about most of my life. But it is a good question because sometimes a sunny day is just the ticket, other times a rainy day is the answer to a problem., and at times they do occur simultaneously, we just may not see it at the time.

Walker Evans gave some advice to Ben Shahn just before he left for the South Seas. Shahn was begging for just something, anything to better understand photography. Evans said, “Well, it’s very easy, Ben. F9 on the sunny side of the street, F4.5 on the shady side of the street. For a twentieth of a second hold your camera steady,” and that was all. This might serve us equally well in photographing water. There’s not much else to say.




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“You Will Go Blind If You Keep Doing That!”

“You’ll go blind if you keep doing that,” my mother used to yell at me. This when I was tucked into my bed, sitting up fully covered over, and reading a book with my flashlight! I would have to give her my flashlight, promise to not sit up in the bed, and try to go to sleep. I would then simply move my pillow to the foot of the bed, rearrange the covers, and then lie with my book on the floor in the shaft of light coming through the crack of the door. I was so fascinated by books and reading that I was not gong to be denied. I now have a Kindle and I can read in total darkness! Now that’s a scientific miracle I appreciate.

It’s a good thing because about all I read are the free books I can download from a blog. These are much easier to read, less complex, and yet sort of entertaining. There are also many classics that are available for free download.I can knock one out in a night and finish over breakfast the next AM. I have always liked to get engrossed in a book and read it until I am to tired to go on or until I have completed it. This entails staying up late, sometimes to near daybreak if the story is really gripping. But, then I can sleep all morning if I want to. This has been the biggest retirement benefit for me: being able to stay up late, and then sleep late the next morning. After a few of the free kindle books, I begin to feel like I imagine those who only read Romance Paperbacks must feel. I need some stimulation and some challenge beyond will he bed her or not? Will she get the job? Will the serial killer be stopped by the rehabbed ex cop? I begin to need a book that might permeate the dermis of my brain and actually intrigue my soul. Something that can sink in and be there for me to reflect on.

That means that it is time to make a trek to the library. Once in my life it meant I needed to surf on over to Amazon but eventually my wife and our accountant told me we are beginning to have more books than money, so get a library card. I will interject here that with some creative talk and willingness to buy used, ABE is a good and less costly place to find excellent books. This provides a gentle withdrawal from Amazon, but eventually you just have to go cold turkey—library it is. I made a final deal as I got my library card-$25 to belong to “Friends of the Library.” This sounded like a noble thing to do to all concerned. I quickly volunteered to sort books for the semi-annual book sale. It was like going off the wagon without danger, sort of like that alcohol free beer. I got to handle tons of nearly new books, many of them very good. I could spend time carefully looking at them under the guise of being accurate with the classification. I found that there were certain categories that I could not help with-certain people had been doing that category and display for years and it was guarded zealously. They in effect “owned” it. I did “Fiction” which was fine. Mainly had to cull out the mysteries and murder stories for that sub class of fiction. I also found some biographies and political screeds in the fiction. I put them in their own group although I thought much of that likely was fiction.

One of the benefits of doing this is that the volunteers are given a book at the end of their day’s work-not a bad deal. Some of the old timers at doing this said they did not take a book, they left it for the sale. I noted that amongst the younger or newer sorters there was less altruism. I came home with an earlier DeLillo novel in nearly new condition. Thursday, the big day of the sale, I was a cashier. That was the morning the used book dealers came. I always had a mixed feeling about them getting ahead of the people who just wanted a couple of good bargains.That day I changed my mind after talking to the dealers.Most of them loved books as much as I did.They also paid large sums of cash for the books and that all went into the new book fund for the library. I got another book for this work-older but in great shape, “The Piano Tuner” by David Mason. Fascinating, well written story, I am already re-reading it.

Friday was Book Sale Sale Day! All sale prices reduced another 50%. I called my son who likes to read, and off we went. A good chance to buy a book! An act from my past that I had sorely missed. There is just something about the transaction that makes you feel excited, stimulated and happy. We each got our Harris-Teeter grocery bag and headed into the room where the decimated stacks were. I got several novels I wanted to read—working on the Kite Runner at present, a couple of political books-Game Change and a treatise on the early part of FDR’s presidency; and a terrific book about Alfred Stieglitz at the family farm in upstate New York.

All in all, a good few days contributing to my community, looking at tons of books, talking to book lovers from all over, and being rewarded with several nice books for my still growing personal library. I have figured out that if it grows slowly my wife will just slowly accept the little piles of books scattered in most of the rooms of the house. With two library sales events a year, that will be enough to satisfy my book jones, and maintain the peace. After all this is definitely better than all those wrecked BMWs and Porsche 914s I had in the back yard of our house in Virginia!

Stack o' art books

Stack o’ art books

Another couple of stacks

Another couple of stacks

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