Death Valley Days

Here are some panoramas of Death Valley; be sure to click on them to enlarge to full-screen for the full effect. Each has been stitched together for several shots:

Zabriskie Serenade, 1974–2011

 

Edge of the Dunes, Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2011

 

Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2011                                                                                                                     Panamint Range, left; Grapevine & Funeral mountains of the Amargosa Range, right

Photographing Death Valley, 2011

Dust Storm, Mesquite Flats, Death Valley, 2010

Alsace, 1991

Pietà a fenestre
Pietà dans la fenêtre

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Hunawihr

From the archives—slides scanned from my first trip to France, 1991:

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Hotel/Restaurant aux Trois Chateaux

After a drive through the Vosges mountains, we arrived in picturesque Ribeauvillé. Diane went to see about a room at the Hotel aux Trois Chateaux while I waited outside, surveying the hills  above the village for the three castles. It’s not easy to see all three from town; the crenelated tower of Haut-Ribeaupierre is barely visible as it peeks above the trees just over the highest ridge.

Fr91-Ribeauvillé044wNames  Since there was no room at the hotel, we decided to explore . . .Fr91-Ribeauvillé019

A few blocks from the hotel, we came upon a chambres/zimmer that was available.

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The “room” turned out to be a suite with a large kitchen, dining area and full bathroom for 5 Francs a night (about $25). We made it our base for the rest of the week and set out to explore Alsace.

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Over the centuries, the fealty of this region west of the Rhine has been tossed back and forth between the French and the Germans, and both languages are spoken by many inhabitants—thus, the bilingual sign outside our lodging.

The area is the essence of quaint—buildings dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, beautifully maintained, exquisite workmanship everywhere.

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The Butchers’ Tower (Tour des Bouchers), named for the abattoir and the butchers’ stalls that used to be beside it. The bottom of the tower, built in 1290, was raised 90 feet in 1536. The tower sits above the main gate in the medieval wall that separates the upper village from the medieval village. It is also Ribeauvillé’s clock tower. The castles of Ste. Ulrich and Haut-Ribeaupierre flank the tower on the horizon.

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The castles in the Vosges foothills above Ribeauvillé were built by the lords of Ribeaupierre (German, Rappoltstein) during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. They are about an hour’s hike from town. Fr91-Ribeauvillé051-ChateauSteUlrich

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Originally called Ribeaupierre, from the 11th to the 15th century this castle was the primary residence of the powerful lords of Ribeaupierre. In 1287, Anselm II Ribeaupierre won a siege against Rudolph, the Habsburg King of Germany, and in 1293 against King Adolphe, Rudolph’s successor. In 1507, a famous criminal, Lady Cunegonde of Hungerstein, was held in the dungeon and tried to escape with the help of her guard. Fine example of medieval Alsatian military architecture: 1. 12th century keep 2. 12th century room with fireplace 3. Residential Tower 4. Lower Court 5. 13th century hall of the knights with nine Romanesque windows 6. 13th century chapel consecrated to St. Ulrich, 10th-century bishop of Augsburg 7. Fortification for well protection (g)

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Five of the nine Romanesque triple-arches that graced the Knights’ Hall.

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The arched windows of the Knights’ Hall of Chateau Ste. Ulrich look out over Ribeauvillé.

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…peeking through an arch at our chambres in the village below.

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Chateau Ste. Ulrich was literally crawling with children…

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…on a school field trip for the day.

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A couple artists’ renditions of Chateau Ste. Ulrich:

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A French railroad tour poster.

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Chateau Ste. Ulrich by Domenico Quaglio, c.1825

 

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Giersberg viewed from Ste. Ulrich.

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Giersberg—the Rock.

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The lords of Ribeaupierre erected this castle, first called Stein (the rock), in the 13th century and rebuilt it after a fire caused by lightning in 1288. In 1304, they gave the fief to the vassals, the knights of Girsberg, whence it took the name. The knights of Girsberg kept it until their extinction in the 15th century. Abandoned in the 17th century . 1. Keep pentagonal 2. Logis 3. Lower Court

   

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Scarecrow gurading a garden plot outside Riquewihr.

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Backstreet, Hunawihr.

     

Shape-shifting

Each month the Carnegie Museum of the Arts Hillman Photography Initiative invites response to an interesting, sometime provocative image.

The image for March, 2015 is Sara Cwynar’s Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals), 2013, accompanied by this question, “How has photography’s shift affected you? This month’s photo, Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals), shows an uncertain history of manipulation or data loss. Look closely. Its digital blur suggests what happens when photography straddles two worlds. How has the dramatic shift from print to digital impacted you? What does this image say about the gains and losses of this transition? Respond to this picture and our questions with text, photos, videos, or audio files, and we’ll feature your response on our website.”

Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals)

Sara Cwynar’s “Girl from Contact Sheet 2 (Darkroom Manuals),” 2013. Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, NY

My immediate, almost visceral, non-verbal response was to post a copy of The Wave of the Future, a 1983 poster that struck me at the time as a brilliant depiction of the digital revolution about to sweep society.

The poster pictures Katsushika Hokusai’s 19th-century Great Wave off Kanagawa, its surf breaking into pixels that, in turn, transform into a digital map of an even larger wave. The image reads like a historical scroll; it was prescient.

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Judy Kirpich, a creator of The Wave of the Future tells the story of how it came to be. Ironically, the startlingly perceptive vision of the future of digital imaging was actually produced entirely by hand. Digital image-mapping was prohibitively expensive in 1981; there was no Photoshop or Illustrator. A team of designers and illustrators spent days creating six separate overlays, hand-coloring each little square on acetates spread over the original lithograph and inking in each line of the digital wave.

The poster was published right around the time I acquired my first personal computer, a Kaypro “luggable” that had a nine-inch, green monochrome screen whose display relied entirely on keyboard (ASCII) characters. While a clever programmer could do some amazing things with such a palette, it would be almost a decade before I would have a computer with a truly graphical interface. However, I had gotten hints of the graphic potential of digital imaging a few years earlier.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Bell Labs was doing research into human perception, computer vision and graphics that underlies today’s high-definition computer and video graphics. In 1973, Leon Harmon, a leading researcher of mental/neural processing of what we see, published “The Recognition of Faces,” the cover story in the November issue of Scientific American.SA-Nov73cvr

In his research, Harmon overlaid a 16 x 16 grid of squares on the portrait of  Lincoln etched on the US five-dollar bill, the uniform color of each square averaging the color of all the points within it.$5Lincoln-oval-maskedAbe-Harmon

The result is an image that up-close resembles a black and white Piet Mondrian print, but from across the room looks like a blurry image of Honest Abe. It went as “viral” as an image could in those analog days.

Within a year, Salvador Dali incorporated not only Harmon’s photo-mosaic technique but the Lincoln image itself into a painting of his wife—Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko).

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Lincoln in Dalivision

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Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea, which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)

The painting was displayed at the Guggenheim in New York during the US Bicentennial in 1976. That same year, Dali published a slightly different version of the image as a lithograph edition of 1240: Lincoln in Dalivision. Within three years, both Harmon’s and Dali’s images had gone around the world.

These analog images illustrate a photo-mosaic presentation of visual information that would become fundamental to digital graphics—from arrangement of photon sensors and interpretation of their signals in our cameras to the pixels of color on HD TVs, computer screens and patterns of ink spots printed on photo paper.

 

 

 

 

To be continued…