Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Evening Skyscape

An image from 2005 proving that not everything on the old writog.com site was ugly. If I recall correctly, this was the cloud that briefly provided an unusual display: lightning flashed down its left side, on the edge of the cloud, but didn’t reach the ground. I didn’t capture that event. And the cloud didn’t cooperate by giving a repeat performance.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Diaper Watch 2005

I had to take this one out of the archives. It was stinking up the place.

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Fri., Aug. 5, 2005 5:30 PM

Margaret St., Near Downtown

This diaper has been lying around for at least three days. I should know -- I've almost run over it with my bicycle that many times.

Could someone find a good home for this poor stray diaper? It's fossilizing in the hot summer sun.

Update: Aug. 11, 2005

As of 5:35 PM today that diaper is still there as you can see from the above photo. I wonder if the driver who owns the car next to it doesn't mind stepping over that nasty nappy to get in and out of his vehicle.

Is this diaper going for the record? Years ago a Plattsburgh mayor stated in the newspaper that he was playing a "game" with a diaper left on the Bridge St. bridge. Every day he checked to see if anyone was going to pick it up. If I remember correctly, he said it had been there for a week. Well, this crusty clump of cloth is now starting week #2.

Update: Aug. 17, 2005


It's still there! It did move about a couple of feet. Apparently the driver of the car that keeps parking in the same spot got tired of stepping over it and kicked it back. How can I feel any civic pride after TWO WEEKS of this poopy perturbation sitting there?

Update: Aug. 18, 2005

It's gone! Did public works finally adopt it? Or did a civic minded person? My guess is that the diaper's core reached critical mass in the hot summer sun and spontaneously disintegrated.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Photography And The Black & White Factor 2

Here’s another post from the old writog.com site dealing with my pursuit of photography and certain police officers who question said pursuit. This also dates back to 2006.

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It's 12:15 AM. Do you know where your writog is?

When I was a kid a TV station used to run this public service announcement:

It's 10:00 PM. Do you know where your children are?

Of course, some parents were glad that they didn't know where their kids were as long as they were out of the house. At the same time, an unsupervised pre-teen wandering around late at night should cause one to wonder, especially when they're only ten or younger.

As an adult, it should be OK to wander around at night, assuming that you're not up to no good. But it seems that even an adult can cause others to wonder when said adult is engaging in an activity that supposedly is only conducted at certain hours at specific locations.

What do I mean? Last night I walked down the street, the main drag, to the corner gas station with my SLR film camera, lens, and tripod. The station is open 24/7 and is brightly illuminated. It's so well lit that a brain surgeon could work under those lights. There's not a plethora of shadowy areas to lurk in. I was interested in photographing the gas station because of the colorful designs on the pumps, and also to document for future generations not only what a gas station was, but also what it charged for a gallon of gas.

During the day the station would be busier, making it harder to stay out of the way and shoot. Late at night the station is fairly quiet. Also, the colors are different, more intense, when it's dark out.

So here I am in plain sight, large SLR camera atop my tripod, taking a shot of the pumps. I made sure to work quickly, being aware of cars coming and going -- basically, staying the hell out of the way so that I didn't interfere with business.

I was looking through my viewfinder when a city police car stopped next to me. The driver asked me what I was doing. He had seen me before in a different location on the sidewalk when he drove in. Before leaving he decided to check me out.

I asked him if I was in the way. He said no, but still wondered why I was photographing the pumps. I explained why, the color and detail. He replied: "Well, it's unusual for someone to be taking photographs of a gas station at 12:15 AM."

I said I photograph all sorts of things at night around town, even at later hours.

Seeing that I was coherent and not a drooling madman, he went on his way.

So remember: don't do photography near a public business when it's after midnight. You might fit a profile.

I wonder what I would document if I photograph a doughnut shop during the late shift? (Gee, I'm profiling, ain't I?)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Photography And The Black & White Factor

That’s black and white as in police cars.

As I documented over at my blog, I had another encounter with the Plattsburgh PD while taking photos. This has been an occasional but persistent problem. Reaching back into the dusty archives, I found this piece that details the first major encounter.

It all depends upon the officer. Sometimes a police car will stop, the officer will chat a bit with me, and he just drives on. No problem.

Then are other officers who go into paranoid control-freak mode. For example, this article from three years ago…

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Land Of The Free?

Police + Photographer = Problem

Variation On A Theme

When they came for the writers, I said nothing.

When they came for the photographers, I said nothing.

And when they came for me, for some reason there was no record of it.

Land Of The Free (Just Don’t Take Photos)

Saturday night. August 5, 2006. Approximately 10 PM. I’m hanging around a downtown coffeehouse when I noticed some activity across the street in the parking lot. So I walk over, just wondering what is going on. I stand on the sidewalk, out of the way, while the EMTs and city police do their jobs.

I had my small digital camera with me. I decided to take a few shots. I didn’t use flash (it was too weak to be useful from where I was standing.)

Suddenly an officer of the Plattsburgh Police Department came over and asked to see my photographs on my camera’s LCD screen. I changed the subject, replying that I didn’t know there was a law preventing me from taking any pictures. The officer replied that there wasn’t any law, but someone had been injured and that person wouldn’t want a photograph taken. Blocking my view of the injured person being loaded into the ambulance, he ordered me to move along.

"Who's that citizen with a camera?"

"Let me talk to that citizen with a camera."

So what’s the problem? Do any of the crappy images accompanying this essay undermine the investigation? If I had been working for the local newspaper, would I be treated the same way? Does a reporter have more rights than an average citizen?

This is the fourth time I’ve been hassled by the city police when taking photographs at night. On the other occasions I was just shooting scenery, one shot spotlighting an American flag.

What is the Plattsburgh PD afraid of? An amateur photographer with a small point-and-shoot digital camera is a threat?