Philadelphia, PA

December 9, 2011

This trip had been on the planning table for over a year.  It was last October when Dave Cohen & I said goodbye to our friend Alan Simmons in Ricketts Glen.   We vowed to get together somewhere closer to Alan’s digs near Washington next spring –that would be this past spring by now.  Since making that pact, Alan has been practically around the world and we’ve been around the block a few times ourselves, but never together.  Once our destination crosshairs zeroed in on Philadelphia, which is closer to Washington, we had to find a mutually acceptable date.  Well, we accepted a few dates, but for one reason or another had to cancel each as it approached, and this was the day it all finally came together. 

I first met Alan in a parking lot at Ricketts Glen in 2009.  He just finished shooting Adams Falls.  Alan, like Dave, is one of those guys with whom I just click, as they say.  Since then we kept in touch and he has been up to Ricketts twice shooting with Dave & me.  Our rendezvous in Philly was to begin at The Museum Of Art then take in some of Fairmont Park and wherever else the collective muse would lead us.  The plan was loose: whoever gets there first, look for some place to park and call the other to guide them in. 

Dave, having once attended school in Philly, knew his way around very well and got us a spot right in front of the museum.  While we had Alan on speaker phone as he put our coordinates in his GPS I pulled out the tripod and attached the 16-35.  Apparently we were all craving the thrill of photographing something because we spent quite a bit of time in and around the steps of the museum.   It usually happens when two or more of us gather to snap shutters that when one is “done” he sees the other engrossed in a subject; so, while he waits, the best thing to do is take another photo.   Then, of course, when the second one is finally done he sees the other now engrossed in a subject and the cycle continues.  Eventually we broke free from the pattern and headed to the back of the museum to repeat the process. 

Eventually when I was “done” with the gazebo area I walked back up to photograph a door I saw on the way down, photo 49.  As I set up my tripod to shoot it, I could sense someone in uniform walking toward me.  I couldn’t see him but heard him and could feel by the intention in his step that he must be wearing a uniform.  I composed through the viewfinder and heard him say, “Don’t hate me,” as he approached.  I cringed at the thought of such involvement with this stranger, dismissed the possibility, and said with nothing but love in my heart, “Why?  We can’t photograph this door, right?”  I looked up and saw “Security” embroidered into many parts of his clothing, confirming the uniform I sensed.

“It’s okay if you lose this,” he said sheepishly pointing at the tripod.  He was a friendly man with a wonderfully warm spirit.  He explained that he knew we weren’t professionals (not sure how he knew… maybe we were having too much fun to be professionals), but his Security-Employee Guide Book says if we have tripods, we are professionals.  He wouldn’t normally mind but this day his big boss was here and he needed his job.  While we chatted about other things I kept a sullen face in case the boss was looking, and he allowed me to click off four exposures.  I asked him if he’d like to grab the back of my shirt neck to cart me away to show his boss he means business.  He laughed and we both wished we could hang out more often. 

More often than not I would lug around a big backpack with all of the lenses, lights and stuff, and not use any of it.  To treat my back with the respect that something its age deserves I decided to just wear my winter jacket's liner which has what I call Captain Kangaroo pockets, although most readers would be clueless as to the reference --but I'm shure y'all no wut eye meen.  I carried the tripod with a lens and remote release attached; two other lenses and the rocket blaster were in the pockets.  In all I had the 16-35mm, the 17mm tilt/shift and the 24-105, and they each got plenty of use.  As you can see I planned a mostly wide-angle day. 
Dave & Alan each had backpacks and used a wide assortment of lenses.  Although they shared many of their magnificent compositions with me during the day (and I snuck peeks of a few more), I can't wait to see their final products.  I've mentioned elsewhere in this blahg how Dave and I can setup so close to each other that our tripod legs entangle, yet we come away with photos that seem to be of totally different places.  On the other hand, we've made very similar photos of the same place when we each visited it at different times.  That's cool, and the same can be said about Alan.  We each have our own way, and I really learn a lot from both of them.

Because of the choice of lenses many photos in the gallery show architectural deformities the builder never intended, nor likely could have achieved, for that matter.  Some were "straightened" in Photoshop, some were left with an implied asterisk of artistic license, and each has the EXIF displayed at the bottom of its page.  Photo 52 is the only one taken with the Olympus PEN.  We left our gear in the car when we grabbed something to eat.  Then we returned to carry what we each had earlier and walk around town under Dave's guidance. 

We spent a lot of time at Carpenters' Hall where there was rarely more than each other to populate our photos with people.  Photos 53 thru 65 are from that area.  Photos 64 & 65 were obviously at the same spot, but it may not be so obvious that they were taken just 32 seconds apart.   That's how long it took to figure out my tripod shadow was in the shot and I needed to shift it away; bad news is a strong gust of wind blew away the leaf and a cloud came between the cool streak of sunlight and the Sun during that time.  When we got to Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell none of us took a shot.  Maybe we really didn't want to populate our photos with people, and I was just being facetious earlier, because there were a lot more folks there than there were at Carpenters' Hall.

After a wide search for the best perch for photographing the Christmas lights on the boat houses we gave up and returned to our original parking lot.  After many night shots from that point (and I finally used the 70-200), we said goodbye.  Dave had some amazing exposures where he moved his focal length during the shot, and Alan actually stayed a bit longer to duplicate the process in his own compositions.  I can't wait to see both, and I can't wait to see both of them again.  Well, I'll likely see Dave over at Charlie's house for a jam tonight, but you know what I mean.*

*artistic licesnse