Black And White To The Rescue

As much as I enjoy color photography, the best way to rescue a mediocre picture is by changing it to black and white.

There was nothing pretty about this cold day last March but I really appreciated these structures that are close together in the Morgan County, Ohio countryside.

I think black and white saved the day!

Six Years And A Day

Six years and one day. That’s how long World War II lasted. It started in 1939 and ended on August 15, 1945 when Japan fell.

Friday was the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.

May 8, 1945 – a day that most Americans don’t remember but that is still widely celebrated across Europe. Those celebrations and remembrances looked different this year as we are all fighting a different kind of enemy right now.

When we talk about the war we tend to stick to the big picture – the war in numbers, pictures from concentration camps, images of aircraft, general ideas about a time long ago.

But I would like to pause a moment to remind us all that these were real people who suffered and struggled, who lived and died.

People in the country, in some ways, were better off because they were able to grow gardens or raise chickens for eggs or cows for milk. People in cities like London lived in constant fear of bombing and starvation.

They all lived in terror of the enemy and of freezing to death in their own homes. They blacked out even the tiniest sliver of light every night because the smallest ray of light could betray them.

Families packed up their children and put them on trains, sending them far from their city homes to family or strangers in the countryside. Some children were too small to even remember their parents. No one was guaranteed to see their families ever again.

Women did war work on the home front, driving trucks and ambulances, farming and working in factories. Able bodied men served in the military. Everyone else had responsibilities to the war effort or maybe just to keeping themselves alive.

You can see the relief and joy on the faces of those people pictured above. They were among the lucky who survived.

It’s hard to get a handle on how many people died because of World War II but that number is upward of 70 million. That’s soldiers and civilians, including those who died of war related disease and famine or in concentration camps.

It’s hard to fathom.

It’s also helpful for creating some perspective in these current challenging times.

People are struggling right now. The money problems are real. Issues with supply chains are causing anxiety. People are tired of being at home. They’re struggling to educate their kids on topics they themselves don’t understand. They’re struggling to access technology for school and work – a basic utility for some but a luxury for many.

Misinformation is spreading like wildfire and my newsfeed is filled with posts from individuals doing little more than inciting panic over an already terrible situation.

Life is hard right now but it has only been a problem in this country for a couple of months and these issues won’t last for six years and one day. Even if it feels like it already has been that long.

Those people fought with all their might to survive that war. Perhaps we would be better off if we use where we come from to help better understand where we are. It certainly makes me feel better about my own circumstances to compare today to what our friends in Europe endured 75 years ago.

You Never Know

This image appeared in Life Magazine on this day in 1945. Photographer Ed Clark drove all night from his Nashville home to Warm Springs, Georgia where President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died. Clark wanted to be there when Roosevelt’s casket was escorted out of the home, bound for the railroad station and a long journey back to Washington.

Unfortunately, Clark found himself corralled behind barriers with scores of other reporters. Disappointed, he wondered how he would ever capture an image that would be different than everyone else’s.

And then he heard music. It was this man, Chief Petty Officer Graham Jackson, who often played for Presidential parties.

Clark took just one small 35 mm camera with him when he slipped away from the press pool, hoping for others not to notice the scene unfolding behind them. He took just a couple of quick shots, capturing this emotional scene and freezing in time a moment when a sailor mourned his President.

This is one of my favorite images. It’s also a gentle reminder to turn around and look at what’s behind you. If everyone has their camera trained in the same direction, they will all have the same shot. Aim in a different direction and capture the thing that no one else sees.

You never know what you might capture.

Sneezer’s Snack Shop

Diners hold a special place in my heart alongside random vintage black and white pictures. This image was on Pinterest and is credited to Frank Bauman who made it for a 1960 Look Magazine assignment.

Other people like the photo because it features the infamous Vince Lombardi who was a Green Bay Packers coach. He was a regular here, often stopping on his way to the stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

But it holds so much more than a famous sports figure. First of all, that’s a rather unfortunate name for a restaurant. It would not do well in our 2020 germ nervous world of COVID-19. But look a little closer. Notice the menu overhead? It gives some insight into what people were eating and what it cost.

There’s a Kellogg’s display filled with single serve boxes of cereals you can still buy. Classics never go out of style. A Pepsi sign reminds us to please pay the cashier while the pie case is nearly empty. You can see the pattern of the countertop and style of dishes they were using in 1960. In fact, it’s all pretty familiar as I’ve been in a number of diners that resemble this one.

While the black and white is amazing, I’d love to see all this in color. Better yet, it might be fun to step into the picture and spend a little time.

Mt Zion Church In Black And White

Saturday’s adventure was hampered by the clouds which moved in and settled over the area for much of the day.

I used the gloom to my advantage for some black and white photos at this old church.

It is no longer used and there’s a window broken out. White curtains flutter in the breeze.

This is how they protected the glass on most windows. I like it.

It has a well maintained cemetery and I recognized many names as I wandered through. Here’s another view.

You can see here that the sky was a bit moody – not great for happy adventures but nice for some dark photography!

Devil’s Tower, Black and White, and Stall Tactics

Weeding phone pictures is a task that I am unapologetically bad at until warnings start popping up about full storage.

I don’t carry a camera most days and instead rely on my iPhone for walking around pictures. That means there are fun pictures of cool things collected here. There are also funny memes, images of recipes and pictures of things to remember. Products in the store and their barcodes save time later but they also accumulate until cleaning house is forced.

At this moment, photo weeding is supposed to be a priority. Instead I’m reliving adventures and converting some western vacation pictures from last summer to black and white.

Who needs productivity when you can have art?

Here’s a scene from Lusk, Wyoming. Classic and western, right?

And this is Devil’s Tower.

It’s sacred ground and it is monolithic. To call it impressive would be an understatement.

Here’s the view from the trail.

It was here that I saw my first Prairie Dogs and, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but that was a trip highlight. Cute little guys, those prairie dogs, but they’re prone to carrying disease so don’t try to pet them!

So that’s enough stalling. Time to resume photo weeding and back up. Tell me I’m not the only person who postpones organizing phone pictures until it’s an absolute requirement!