Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween, Dr. Snider

This morning I told Juli that it's Halloween and yet I wasn't in the mood to post a creepy photo. Naturally she was concerned. Later I decided that sometimes life is duty, not just following one's inclinations--so for you, reader, I have chosen to post a Halloween-worthy photo.

Note to Steven Taylor: No, you are NOT permitted to ask how one can tell the difference between my Halloween and non-Halloween photos.

I've posted two photos because I strongly sense that one of them--I'll let you guess which one--may be removed at the, ahem, "request" of my wife. Now to her credit, there are only 3-4 photos that I've posted that she really desired that I didn't post. But this photo may make the list. Now my own sense of these photos is that the first one is cute and silly, and the second one is just campy. Weird but not truly disturbing. Right? Right?? More campy than scary, right reader? (Back me up here, please.)

I did ask my zombie child whether I had permission to post this photo. She being she, she likes it and gave me the green light.

I dedicate this photo to my colleague, Dr. Christy Snider, who will survive the zombie attack. In contrast to Dr. Snider, I will survive for nine minutes tops and perhaps not that long if whimpering is an even less effective zombie deterrent than I'm banking on.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Return of the magic table

To my newer readers:

My sis-in-law owns two picnic benches that they've painted this color. They inspire me, these picnic tables. It's virtually impossible not to take a fabulous shot of anything on them. It's not me. It's the tables.

I love love love these tables.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Flying like a bat out of Cleveland!

Cleveland is a bizarre city, just a most unusual city.

For one thing, boy is it gray. Just lousy with grayness.

For another, it's a city of cultural oases situated in a broader desert of industrial wasteland. Holy crap, it's an ugly city. Except where it isn't, and those parts are lovely--parks and shores and bridges and a nice downtown and whatnot.

Or consider it this way. Think of a lovely part of the body, say the eyeball. Now think of a nasty part, whatever that may be; I'll let you decide for yourself. Now think of lots of little eyeballs surrounded by that nasty part.

Guh, that's the single worst and, if one is to judge by the image now indelibly imprinted on my mind, the single-most disgusting analogy ever. Reader, forget I brought it up.

What I was trying to get at is this. I loved Cleveland. It's an underrated city. It just also happens to be a dump. (It's like human nature that way.) So naturally I wanted to take some pictures of the nastiness of Cleveland for my blog. But I kept forgetting to pull off the side of the road to get the vista of gray smokestacks, gray industrial plants, gray smoke, and the gray gray freakin' gray sky gray grayness. I forgot, that is, until we were leaving the city. Then in a heroic attempt to capture the arm-pittedness of it all, I was clicking away on the highway while driving. Unfortunately traffic and other obstructions prevented me from taking a decent photo of the nastiness. I noticed however that the passengers in this car to my left were upset with me. I don't know why. Excuse me to pieces. It's not my fault they were in the way of my camera. Chill out, fellas, is what I said. Except I didn't say that, I just slunk down in my chair until I looked like a little old grandma barely peering over the dash.

And you know what they did? They trailed us for several exits. That's what they did, the cowards, these living examples of Clevelanders. Typical.

My new exit strategy was to play cheerful music and visibly snap my fingers to the music. No one can threaten a man snapping his fingers to cheerful music, right?

You: "You are correct, sir."

Thank you for agreeing with me.

And in time they left me.

Victory was mine.

You're welcome.

See! They're staring me down. ME: DUDE!!! I Want to take a picture of your crap city that I love, not you. Calm down!!

The Rodins and the Museum Guard

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Dear World--

This photo is from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in gray Cleveland, Ohio. I know this is not my best effort. And certainly it revisits a recurring motif in my collection. But all motifs are recurring, right? That's what makes them motifs.

So please don't hate me and my lack of originality. And please don't hate me and my mediocrity.

I'm tired.



Thursday, October 22, 2009


Cleveland pier. This was the grayest freakin' day you could imagine. Bizarrely, oppressively, unsettlingly gray. Man it was gray. And, as my family would readily attest, I made note of this fact, ahem, "several" times.

So gray.

To capture the spirit of the day, I turned these photos into black and white photos. Both are depressing, I think, but one is more bleak than the other and better captures the spirit of the weather. What I'm interested in is whether we agree. The only difference in the two photos is the field of focus.

Tell me: Which is the more depressing of the two photos, top or bottom?

Let a brother know.

My answer: My answer is that I'm a complete bozo. I have the artistic convictions of a roulette wheel. I spin round and round and what you get depends upon where I've landed at the moment. So when I originally posted these, I thought the bottom photo was significantly more depressing. However, when I looked at them again the next day, my feelings had shifted. Originally the "chainness" of the lower picture was defining, and as such it simply connoted restrictions for me. However, after a day, that image has a far more abstract, less literal, feel to it to me, and now it's just a composition. The top photo, in contrast, originally did point my eye further out, opening up the space. But Julie L has influenced me here. I do now see the horizon line on the bottom photo as an escape, whereas the top photo completely tethers the viewer to all this damnable grayness. So when I posed the question, bottom. But now, top.

Don't hate me. At least for this.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shiva about to suffer a royal smackdown from the Prince of Peace

My lovely daughters

Who's says I'm not sentimental!! BTW, none of these pictures has been digitially touched. Such beauty cannot be enhanced. The weird distortions were created by funhouse-like mirrors at a science museum's kid section. The bottom photo was taken with Nora behind an aquarium glass.

Oh, I'm a bad bad man. So bad.

So very very bad.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A home to the creepy. And sad. And weird. And...

Have you played Apples to Apples before? The goal is to win cards, and each card features a single adjective. After the end of the game, it’s fun to read out loud all of one’s cards with the fun conceit that together the cards that you’ve collected describe you as a person—i.e. “dazzling,” “rich,” “pretty,” “wretched” and “stinky.”

Here I’ve decided to find out what kind of person I am by examining how people discover my blog. Most people come to my blog directly—typically because they’ve “favorited” it—but some people stumble on the blog through a web search using a search engine. One of the fancy capabilities my blog offers is the ability to discover the word searches that people use to find my blog.

I thought that in the spirit of Apples to Apples it might be fun to look back over the two years I’ve activated this feature on my blog to see how people discover me (or my blog). If my blog reflects in part who I am, it might be interesting to find out what kinds of words people use to discover my blog. (And only now can I truly find self-understanding. Had Socrates only had a search engine, he could have done away with all those pesky face-to-face dialogues.)

Hundreds, and probably thousands, of people have come to my blog via a web engine search on a variant of “eyeball.” Most common among these searches are “eyeball pics” and “eyeball photos.” No surprise there. But that doesn’t exhaust the list. Folks have stumbled onto my blog in pursuit of, among many other searches, “evil eyeballs,” “eyeball burn,” “weedwhacking eyeball,” “vegetable eyeballs,” “pig eyeball,” “eyeball chair” and “magical eyeball pictures.” I like that, and I can get behind these searches.

After eyeballs and its variations, the most common way people found my blog is not, as you might have guessed, with searches for hands or bees.

No. That would be lovely were it so.

Instead it by searching for “extenze,” the, ahem, “revolutionary herbal pill” that leads to “all natural enhancement.” Folks have discovered my blog with these words searches (among many others): “extenze photos,” “extenze results photos,” and “extenze before and after photos.” Search engines direct the extenze-curious to my blog because the spirit of my blog is so expansive it naturally adds size to its viewers. Either that or because I once posted this: If you are thinking there might be a third (unmentioned) reason that my blog is associated with extenze, you’d be wrong.

Spectacularly wrong.

Once one gets past eyeballs and extenze, viewers’ word searches cover a remarkable range of moods. Mostly ranging from sad to sadder. Certainly death is a good way to find my blog, and in particular if you search for dead roses as lots of people apparently do. (By the way, I leave all the word searches just as they were written; I don’t correct spelling or grammar.) Here are some searches that apparently just scream out my blog.

“Dead rose photos”
“Dead rose pics”
“rose stems died”
“Dead rose pictures”
“Dead rose stems”

But looking for dead pigs will also land you to my blog:

“dead pig photo”
“photo of dead pig in water”
“pictures of dead pigs”

I don’t know whether “waterfall pig” is living or dead, but I suspect it is dead.

There is a disturbing amount of interest out there in decapitation, and virtually anyone searching for it ends up at my blog. I will spare you the worst (and most disturbing) searches. But these certainly give you a flavor:

“She is partially decapitated”
“decapitated head pics”

My blog is apparently a home for those who are crushed with anguish:

“Hand holding family no match for tornado”

It’s a safe haven for the pessimistic:

“All things solid melt into thin air”
“and then I thought this: the robots will definitely win”

And it opens its arms to the bleak:

“art is too long and life is too short”

And to the paranoid:

“attack of the fly”

And to the defensive:

“unusually small feet”
“shoot blanks”
“I photograph because I can’t paint”

There’s no getting around it. I’m a hero to creepy types:

“underneath the bathtub scratching”
“Where’s me stone”
“bleached skull”
“blood red balloons”
“cannibalism safe”
“chefs feet”
“the crystal skeleton”
“feet for a man”
“placenta images art”
“photos of sad 8 year old”

Some searches I can’t help but take personally:

“middlebrow art”
“recover mojo”
“sissy boy photos”
“grand central weirdo”
“Calvinism symbolism and photographs”

Apparently if you are searching for the unclassifiable or the ineffable, search engines direct you automatically to my blog:

“Camera in mouth”
“Petticoat Duel”
“barbershop reggae”
“less pain and Freud”
“vitruvian girl”
“cool dolls”
“clever water”
“vegetable pumpkin carriage creation”
“Michelangelo Buddha”
Michelle Pfeiffer Suntrust Bank Acount”

One word search was a pill of bitter irony for me:

“zucchini powder”

Oh, evil web searcher, you may have found me this time, but you are henceforth and forever banned from my site.

The following welcome visitor, in contrast, may not quite understand grammar properly, but he or she expresses something quite truthfully and profoundly:

“here comes the sun james taylor ruined”

I think the following person found my blog by mistake. Justcurious, in contrast, would surely say that this searcher found the perfect site:

“nobody puts baby in the corner pictures”

And to sum it all up, this woman (surely it was a very attractive woman) thought of me in this way:

“stud dude”


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A swing of, well, ummm....yeah.

The humans are dead!!!

"The world is quite different ever since the robotic uprising of the late '90s."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

left behind

You can practically feel N's yearning to join her big (swimmer) sisters out there in the middle of the creek.

We've all been there before. On the bank of the creek as life--and all the fun--flows by.

Friday, October 09, 2009

vase and vase fail

The Shroud of Turin has been in the news lately, been then again when is it not in the news? In any case, I decided to make a shroud-like ghastly image of the vase. Oh boy, I just can't pull it off. Black and white, yes., not really.

Photo fail.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jeff, Susan, Julia and Jake

Though this is not great a photo--I should have used the flash--and though it doesn't capture any of these good looking folks at their best, it so nicely captures a happy family moment that it's worth remembering and sharing.

Jeff and Susan. And Juli. And my hand.

Monday, October 05, 2009

reflection of girls and clouds in water

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

James 4:14

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Grooviness of Aviary Netting

What do you get when you take



a camera


a slow-moving "birds of prey" show


aviary netting with an interesting pattern


digital photo software?

Answer: Grooviness.

the narrow path

So much better than the self-portrait below. But it's too late to delete that one, drat it all.


So...let's talk photo ethics for a second. Okay, time's up.

Yes, I do take photos of strangers such as the two dudes above. How brazen I am about it turns almost entirely on my intuition--my gut feelings--rather than how well the situation meets an established pre-articulated code of photo ethics. My intuitions may, in fact, unconsciously respond to an ethic, but I've never thought through what it might be, exactly. My former practice used to be to ask virtually anyone I took a picture of whether I had their permission to do so, and I also gave them permission to delete the photos if they didn't like them. Now I just shoot and click. I may ask someone permission, but that's because I want them to pose for me. And then I'll let them delete the photo if they don't like it.

What's interesting (to me) about this photo is that this photo ranks right near the top, if not at the top, of the discomfort I felt while taking it. I sensed a real sense of intimacy between these two young men. (Father and son? Brothers? Friends?) Best as I can tell, they weren't speaking but I sensed it was a moment designed to be private, alone, away from it all, and my lens was an intrusion, albeit one to which they were oblivious.

Put differently, insofar this photo captures a sense of intimacy, it's done its job.

So dudes, thanks for the photo. Hope you don't mind.

Bees shortage? Yeah, I don't think so.

Not here, anyway.

Saturday, October 03, 2009