Thursday, January 28, 2010

Woolrich Horse Skin Hunting Gloves

I am a dreamer. The ideas and stories behind clothes are always more pure and unspoiled than the physical incarnation of a product. For example, I am really drawn to L.L. Beans' outdoor history and their loyalty to Leon's original vision, but I don't own a pair of Bean boots. With that said, every so often, I find a product that I am drawn to like a 13 year old to Twilight.

A few weeks ago, my friend Bethany sent me these vintage Woolrich Horse Skin Hunting Gloves. Designed for hunting, the horse leather flap on the right hand flips back enabling trigger control. I fell in love with the gloves as soon as I unwrapped them.

Judging by the stitching and the worn tag, these gloves could be from the 40's or earlier.

After decades of use, the virgin wool is surprisingly supple and smooth. I love the black and red stripes and the crossover around the wrist.

More importantly than their fine craftsmanship and beautiful design, these gloves fit perfectly into my romanticized world of Ice Shacks in Maine, Hikes in the Snow in the Cascades, Drives throughout frozen New England, and Campfires at Sunset. The slit in the right hand could just as easily drop the shutter of my 5d Mark II as open a Swiss Army Knife or fire a six-gun. I always identified with Flannery O'Conner's 1955 title to her short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Well a good glove is hard to find too, and I have found mine.

Here are some more links,
My Woolrich Horse Skin Gloves (Picasa),
My Own Private New England (ART),
Ice Fishing Shacks in Maine (ART),
A Campfire at Sunset (ART).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Own Private New England

In four months to the day, I will pack up my belongings and move away from New England for the foreseeable future. Three years ago, I arrived at Boston International Airport, naive, unsuspecting and excited to spend four years at a tiny college nestled in the Maine woods. It wasn't until my junior year that my curiosity drove me out of the walls of my college and I started appreciating the history and texture of the area around me. As the shadow of moving away from New England edges closer, I find myself looking for excuses to explore bumpy side roads that connect the forests and fields of Northern New England.

Crates in a lumber yard near Unity, Maine.
Convenience store near Decker Corner, Maine.

Locomotive breath near Detroit, Maine.
Jeep delivery truck near Dodge Corner, Maine. I wish it was mine.

A country road near the New Hampshire and Maine border.

A pair of weathered barns near Burnham, Maine.

A lone tree in a field near Shoreham, Vermont.

Aimlessly, I wander the cracked roads, listening to songs on repeat and measuring my trips in time, not miles traveled. I drive alone. Stopping often, I leave the car running as I skip across the road and into the snow. Through the lens of my camera, I try to capture my own private New England.

Here are some more links,
My Last Four Months in New England (Picasa),
Side of the Road (ART).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ice Fishing Shacks in Maine

Starting in December, the lakes of Maine ice up and thousands of outdoor enthusiasts take to the frozen playgrounds on snowmobiles and pickup trucks in search of fish. Basing their operations out of small shacks, the fishermen walk around the frozen landscape periodically, checking traps, breaking up ice buildups and drilling new holes. Bundled up like Randy Parker from The Christmas Story, they approach their fishing responsibilities as a defiant right of passage. Each inadvertent slip on the ice or splashing of water proves to themselves and their buddies, warming their stomachs with cheap beer in nearby shacks, that not even sub-zero winters can bar them from enjoying the great Maine outdoors.

Driving by lakes throughout New England, I am always on the lookout for ice shacks and their dedicated proprietors. On Sunday, I looked at a map of central Maine for unfamiliar roads, towns and lakes and headed northwest with my camera sitting shotgun. Near Canaan I spotted a lone ice shack standing tall and pulled to the side of the road. A dozen more shacks came into view as I rounded a small point and for the next hour and half I walked around exploring the landscape and looking at the structures.

Utensils for cooking fish and breaking ice.
Scott Peterman's photos of architecture and ice shacks have had a major influence on my photography and overall aesthetic.

The bright colors of the ice shacks juxtapose the bleak Maine winter, making both more pronounced and impressive.

A thermometer on the door handle of his shack reminds Mr. Bickford of the gelid nature of ice fishing.

Anchored to the ice.

Truck, snowmobile and foot prints on the ice, the highway of ice fishing.
Thawing and freezing cements footprints in the ice until the spring storms of April and early May.

Take Note.

Yellow and Red.
Time passed as the wind whipped up loose snow and the drone of snowmobiles oscillated in the distance like a snooze alarm in a nearby room. I slid my feet on the ice towards the shore and the warmth of my car.

Here are some more links,
Ice Shacks in Maine (Picasa),
Fishing with John: Willem Dafoe in Maine,
Scott Peterman (Photographer),

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Three years of long, dark and uneventful winters in Central Maine led me to start taking pictures, intern at Rogues Gallery, start a blog, and most recently watch semi-professional wrestling in a nearby civic center. A flyer tipped my roommates and me off to the night of blows, body slams and pile drivers. I entertained the idea of actually attending the wrestling matches with the same fervor as promising a high school friend to watch the Lord of the Rings Trilogy back to back. As Tuesday turned to Thursday, my alternatives quickly evaporated and the imminence of watching fake tanned men hop around on a glorified trampoline grew from that of a conversation piece with acquaintances to a planned rendezvous with a group of close friends.

Inspired by famous wrestler-turned-politician, Jesse "The Body" Ventura and the granddaddy of Hulkamaniacs, Hulk Hogan, these wrestlers travel around New England on weekends battling it out in bars, civic centers and high school gymnasiums.

Arranged on folding tables surrounding the ring, memorabilia such as these vintage figures, posters and DVD's acted a reminder to the foundations of the sport and a reference point for the character of all of the wrestlers and the attitude of the fans. I am interested in what inspires people, regardless of my personal preferences. The process of inspiration to create is universal, with no specific inputs or outputs but with a transformation as the only consistent part of the equation.

This is Pro Wrestling in Maine!

Pile Driver.

I was surprised by the contrasts between the brightness and optimism of the foundation of the sport and the reality of wrestling now. Wrestlers of old wore bright colors, had goofy hair cuts and had larger than life personas. Today many wrestlers look like they are auditioning for a horror movie.
A close line in the making.

For two and a half hours a dozen men assumed various aliases and romped in front of some 50 or so Mainers. They worked the crowd and screamed.

The last jump of the match.

Here are some more links,
Another One Bites the Dust (Picasa).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Once In a Blue Moon

On my last night in the Northwest, I made the routine drive back from Portland to the Gorge under the cover of an almost full moon. A 30 mile per hour east wind shook the car from side to side as I listened to Rebellion by the Arcade Fire on my iPhone. Staring out of the window at the scenery illuminated by the vibrant light of the moon, I realized that December was a Blue Moon. I slammed on the brakes, hopped out of the car, opened my trunk, grabbed my tripod and 5d Mark II, and set the shutter for long exposures.

The near full moon's light illuminated the landscape and provided surprising contrasts and colors.

Every few minutes, headlights appeared down the road and I released the shutter to avoid over exposures. Baffled by the by concept of being outside of their heat seats and radios, the drivers sped on.

The harsh wind and cold temperature only increased the solitude of the night. I guess it's my contrarian nature, but the longer I stayed outside numbing my ears and fingertips, the better I felt about standing alone and enjoying the night.

The harsh wind shook the tree's limbs and tall grass, blurring edges in this 30-second exposure.

Protected from the biting cold and gusting wind by my Filson Mackinaw Cruiser, I danced to the Arcade Fire as as my camera stood close, capturing the night on its tripod. Like a silhouette from an iPod commercial, I bounced around inspired by the night's beauty and the possibilities of youth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Most Interesting Three Weeks of My Life

One of my favorite high school teachers would always quote Socrates, "The unexamined life is not worth living." At the time I thought little of this pedantic morsel and often responded with a quote from a most excellent movie, "you mean So-crates?" Despite my D in sophomore English, most likely a function of smart ass comments and failed vocabulary tests, the lesson of introspection and evaluation resonates more and more as I grow up.
On the morning of Sunday, December 13th, I packed up four shirts, two pairs of jeans, a handful of underwear and socks into a backpack and headed towards the wild blue yonder. I split the next three weeks between Boston, New York and the Portland, Oregon area, my toothbrush and iPhone with me at all times. For three weeks, I went to bed early, I went on walks by myself, I saw old friends, I roughhoused with my brother, I played with my dog, I ate my mom's food and more than anything, I thought.

Our campfire at sunset.

Emma in Central Park.

Sunrise in the Columbia River Gorge from a window in my mom's house.

Acrylic Paint in Soho.
Alice and Bob's Maine Cooncat in the West Village. In the summer he has a lion cut.

Tim overlooking the Columbia River Gorge on a foggy day.

Liberated by my freedom of mobility and lack of obligations, I traveled light, snapping photos with my iPhone as I went. Each photo connects an image to a thought like news clippings on a refrigerator. I know it's not what my sophomore English teacher envisioned some six years ago, but thank you "So-crates."

All of these photos were taken on my iPhone 3GS and the Colorcross Camerabag Filter.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Hike in the Snow

On Christmas Eve, my brother, dad and I set out on an adventure into the Silver Star Mountains. A drive up gravel roads to inspect the previous night's snowfall quickly turned into a hike when my dad pulled his 4runner to the side of the road and asked if I had ample footwear for a hike. I looked down at the red laces on my Danner Mountain Light II's on my feet and responded with an unequivocal "Yes."

For the next three hours, we slowly gained altitude tromping around the Silver Star range, overlooking Portland, the foothills of the Cascades and the Columbia River Gorge. We trudged through six inches of snow on the old logging roads that dissect the hills like trails of ants on a kitchen floor as clouds flew past east to west.

My dad, and dedicated proofreader, on the left and my brother Tim on the right. For reference my dad is 6'0".

Frozen leaves on the side of the trail.

The north face of Mt. Hood overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and the foothills of the Cascades. Snow highlights the clear cuts. As a teenager I spent most of my winters snowboarding on Mt Hood's east face.

The sun started sinking below the hills as we made our way back towards the car. Snow trapped around my foot seeped down into my socks like water in a flowerpot. The breeze picked up, numbing my hands as I cradled my camera. My brother and dad charged on ahead as I lingered behind taking photos and listening to the post-storm tranquility. I trudged on smiling ear to ear.

Here are some more links,
A Hike on Christmas Eve (Picasa),
Outdoors (ART).