Inessential Stuff

a personal photoblog

Friday, September 7, 2012

Vacation 2012, Part IV: Buffalo

Specifically, Buffalo’s Niagara Square.  We were just driving through Niagara Square (a circular park surrounded by a roundabout, ironically) and I said to my driver (i.e., my dad), “Whoa, can we pull over?”  We went around several blocks (navigation wasn’t that easy) and found ourselves back in the Square/Circle, where Marcus and I jumped out and got some photographs of the pretty cool buildings.  The tall block one above is Buffalo’s City Hall, and it’s pretty darn impressive.  The glass building below is Buffalo’s Federal Courthouse, and the brick building behind that is the Statler Tower (what used to be a hotel).

This gallery of photographs is pretty much just those buildings, over and over.  I really liked them.  The first photograph I thought was cool because the street looked surprisingly empty at that moment for rush-hour.  The second photograph probably shouldn’t have been included, except that I was kind of proud that it turned out so well, given that it was taken while in a moving car, by holding my camera out the window and up above the car roof and blindly shooting.  (That was, you might have guessed, right before I asked to pull over).  Enjoy!


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posted by Larry at 2:34 pm  

This post is in: Travel

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vacation 2012, Part III: The Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park

We had scheduled three days for the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Ends up, we really only needed two.  So that gave us an extra day.  What to do?  What to do?

With Marcus holding an extra vote, we elected to go to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Museum, home to the USS The Sullivans, the USS Little Rock, and  the USS Croaker (btw, I think I’d refuse to go to sea in a vessel called “The Croaker”).

I’m not one of those guys who loves military museums, and parts of the ships (and submarine) were positively claustrophobic, and the visit gave me another 500 or so reasons why I’d never do well in the military; however, all that said, I really enjoyed the visit.  In part, because there are so many great surfaces and lines that make interesting photographic compositions.  So here is a gallery of some of my favorite shots from our visit.

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posted by Larry at 5:25 pm  

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vacation 2012, Part II: Toronto

Second stop, after Niagara Falls, was Toronto, and we did our first baseball activity–a game at Skydome (I refuse to call it “Rogers Center”).  Two great things:  one, the best catch I’ve ever seen in person, and two, free Blue Jays hats on Hat Day!  (I LOVE Hat Day).  Here’s one of my favorite pictures of Marcus sporting his new hat.

Click here to see the photographs from Toronto (itty bitty captions at the bottom left), including a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the CN Tower, and plenty of Toronto buildings.

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posted by Larry at 1:30 pm  

This post is in: Travel

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vacation 2012, Part I: Niagara Falls

In what is becoming a tradition, Marcus, my dad, and I went on a baseball vacation this summer.  In 2010 we hit New York and Philadelphia.  In 2011 we went to Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh.  This year . . . well, you’ll have to see the photos, which will include a heavy dose of Marcus.  But, based on the title of this post, you are safe in guessing we started our trip in Niagara Falls.  Click here to see the photographs (watch for the tiny captions at the lower left).

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posted by Larry at 1:23 pm  

This post is in: Travel

Thursday, July 19, 2012



Maybe some of you read about it in the paper, or saw it on the news.  The report of the man who had been inner tubing on the Spokane River on Monday, who had gone off his raft and been swept into the water.  Search teams found his body the next day.

The news reports first only identified him as a “21-year old man from Spokane.”  I didn’t know him well, but he was my girlfriend’s little brother.  And that word “man”  isn’t quite right, because in some ways he was just a kid, who didn’t know how swift and dangerous the river could be.

He was a complex kid, described by his favorite teacher as “profound.”  Someone who asked big questions and sought to understand the world.  Someone still learning to navigate the world and find his place in it.  Someone who enjoyed solitude.  Who took photos of landscapes, and of his dog, whom he took on long walks, and of his ferret.  He was so sensitive, he never killed insects; he would move them outside from the house.

When he climbed into the river that day, with his best friend, in a spot where the water was particularly calm, under a hot summer sun, surrounded by evergreen trees and bird sounds, he left his backpack on the shore with his stuff in it.  It was returned to the family the next day.

And with the family’s gracious permission, I took a photograph of the contents.

A pair of shoes, socks carefully tucked inside.  Phone.  Wallet.  An Applause Guitar user’s manual, and guitar picks.  A knit hat that he almost always wore, even in the summer.  Some coins.  A Weider hand grip.  Three AAA batteries.  A well-used general science book.  A pen.  Scraps of paper, some probably important to him, a few that he may have picked up to throw away (he hated litter).

Some of the papers are hard to see.  A page with a simple note, “PLEASE BRING MY BAG & GUITAR”:

A fortune from a cookie:

A scrap of paper with lyrics on it:

Kyeffer Scott Scrap of Paper

A list with numbers:

Also in his wallet was a piece of paper with pi printed out to 260 decimal places:

A packet of guitar picks:

There was something banal and bland about the news, the description of a 21-year old man from Spokane.

This was the stuff he had with him.  His stuff.  They are something less than a portrait.  But these fragments, taken together, give a glimpse of the person Kyeffer Scott was.

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posted by Larry at 12:32 pm  

This post is in: Portraits

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Spectacular Sunset, Monuments at Night and the Metro


So our visit to Washington, DC included The Great Eastern Earthquake of 2011, and we left town right as the city braced itself for Hurricane Irene.  It was all just  a little calamitous.  Fortunately, Irene didn’t hit DC too hard, and it did create for a really magical few moments.  On our last day, right after we had boarded a tour bus for a visit to the monuments at night, storm clouds started to blow in.  They were high, wispy, relatively thin clouds, and they came along right at dusk.  As the bus rolled out from Union Station, the sky began to turn pink.  Not moderately pink, but spectacular pink and gray. Unfortunately, I was stuck on the bus, so I couldn’t get any shot I wanted.  Fortunately, the bus drove slowed down by the Capitol and I could squeeze off a few shots.  By the time we turned the corner and went down to the Jefferson Memorial, it was mostly over.  But it was really something to see.

The monuments at night were cool, too (Marcus decided that while Lincoln is his favorite president, the Jefferson Memorial is his favorite monument).  And then we hopped the metro for the second-to-last-time and headed to the hotel.  One word about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit system:  phenomenal.  And I really loved the combination of curved and straight lines created by the tubular metro stations.  When we rode them the next morning to the airport to go from one Washington to the other, it was sad to say goodbye to DC.

The photographs from the final day in Washington, DC are here, and, as before, itty-bitty captions are at the bottom left.

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posted by Larry at 1:05 pm  

This post is in: Travel

Monday, August 29, 2011

Curvy Lines at the Capitol


Our second day was spent in DC, taking in the Capitol, Union Station and the Spy Museum.  We had planned on more, but then the Big Eastern Earthquake of 2011 hit, and all of the federal monuments and museums shut down. So . . . we decided to head back to Nationals Park for another baseball game.  (By the way, being jostled by an earthquake while touring the interactive International Spy Museum, which breeds suspicion and paranoia, is a fascinating experience).

The next day, it was on to Pittsburgh to check out PNC Park, home of the Pirates, and now my favorite baseball stadium.  It has spectacular views of downtown Pittsburgh and the Roberto Clemente Bridge (which is closed to traffic on game days). We drove back to DC that night, so it was a long day, but totally worth it. If you want, check out the photographs here, or stick around for a word about lenses:

The first day in DC, I took all my main lenses with me:  a 24-70 mm, a 70-200 mm, a 12-24 mm wide-angle, and a fisheye wide-angle 12 mm.  The result was I was ready for anything, and my back was killing me.  It was really heavy.  So after that, I took just the extremely versatile 24-70 and the fisheye.  The advantage of the fisheye?  Well, it is my newest lens, and it’s my smallest.

The disadvantage of the fisheye is that it causes vertical and horizontal lines at the edges of the frame to bend in distortion.  So instead of a straight line, you get curvy lines.  I thought it might be fun to play around with that effect.  But the thing is, it really ought to be used conservatively, especially with architecture with straight lines (say, capitol buildings and bridges).  Anyway, you’ll see a lot of curvy lines here.  On the plus side, the lens is great for round shapes, like capitol domes or the circle of a baseball stadium.

As usual, look for itty-bitty captions at the bottom left.

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posted by Larry at 5:15 pm  

This post is in: Travel

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