Suwannee River, White Springs, Florida, 2013
The Suwannee River lives in American folklore as the locale for Stephen Foster’s 1851 minstrel show song beginning with the famous words “Way down upon the Swanee River.” (Foster intentionally misspelled the river’s name to fit the melody of the song.) The Suwannee River is romanticized in that song, officially known as “Old Folks at Home.” (Foster never saw the Suwannee, and never visited Florida. He lived in Pittsburgh.) Although Foster’s lyrics used an archaic slave dialect that now seems to romanticize slavery and are often interpreted as racism against Black Americans, the Suwannee River itself will forever be linked to Foster and his world-famous song. I did not want to photograph the Suwannee River descriptively. It looks just like any other Southern river. Rather, I turn to reflection to speak of the mysteries that seem to flow within its currents. By abstracting this image, I cause those currents to turn trees into abstract wiggly probes, and vegetation into a green palette floating upon silvery powder. The name Suwannee lives only in the context – while the image itself lives entirely in the imagination.
Lighting up, Palm Springs, California, 2013
Smoking in public is now a no-no in most places in the US, but not at this California cigar store. It has even placed a smoker’s table and chairs on its sidewalk, and this fellow, cigar in hand, has made himself right at home. The window behind him offers context, and one of its panels reflects the moment to double the pleasure. Because he has removed his shoes and uses another chair as a footrest, we can see his sock echoing the upward thrust of his fingers in the reflection as well. As I photographed him from across the street, he said something to a by-stander standing just out of the frame, energizing the image with his facial expression
Art Museum, Scottsdale Civic Center, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2011
The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art features reflective signage mirroring the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which stands just across the sidewalk. The reflection changes the appearance of the desert plantings that line that sidewalk, creating a work of abstract art by merging two artistic institutions into one.
St. Michael’s Monastery of the Golden Domes, Kiev, Ukraine, 2009
This church, the headquarters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was built only eight years ago. The original monasteries on this spot, were built from the 12th century on – the last of them was completely destroyed by Stalin 1937. It remained an empty lot until the Ukranian president ordered this reconstruction in 2001. I wanted to make the shiny new church seem more of an ancient vision, and less of a picture postcard. It had rained heavily the day before, and a drying puddle caught its reflection nicely. I photographed the reflection so that the building was cut off by paving stones at the top, and then turned it upside down to make the building seem to rise out of those stones and into a textured sky. A tire track arches across that sky, creating a stylized rainbow over the reflected golden domes. The monasteries of old seem reborn here.
Flags, Montreal, Canada, 2009
I use reflection in a store window here to abstract a set of international flags flying over a nearby restaurant. The early morning light passes through the flags, creating translucence and vivid coloration. The wavy surface of the glass in this old store distorts the flags and molds the translucent color into repeating patterns.
Convention Centers, Vancouver, Canada, 2009
The series of iconic “sails” that distinguish Vancouver’s old convention center at Canada Place reflects here in the windows of city’s new convention center, just across the way. The new building has yet to open, but already it seems to be intimately connected to its predecessor.
The Royal York, Toronto, Canada, 2009
Three centuries of architecture come together in this image. A 21st century office building reflects an ethereal visage of the early 20th century, green turreted Royal York Hotel, while a late 19th century office building provides contrast at left. I integrate the scene by including a spray of leaves at right, which point at the old office structure and overlap the reflected image.
Gilded reflection, Toronto, Canada, 2009
The Royal Bank of Canada’s headquarters building in Toronto has more than 1,400 windows, all of them coated with a layer of 24-carat gold. The gilding, intended as an insulating material, added $70 to the cost of each window, an expense of more than a million dollars. The golden windows reflect adjoining banking institutions that make Toronto the financial center of Canada. This image offers just such a gilded reflection -- albeit somewhat bent out of shape -- an appropriate symbol for those who make (or lose) money with money in these troubled times.
Historical harmony, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 2009
A figure out of Ipswich history is painted on the side of this building, once used as a mill by General Electric. His head is cocked, as if he is listening to voices from the past. Next to him, old window glass reflects a distorted view of another old building in the town. I honed down the image to just these two elements. Together they achieve a sense of historical harmony.
Chihuly Bridge of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, 2009
This 500 foot long bridge links downtown Tacoma to its waterway. Conceived by Tacoma artist Dale Chihuly, the bridge features more than 2,000 glass objects placed on a plate glass ceiling. I aimed my lens up at the objects, which are illuminated by natural light. The plate glass ceiling reflects the walkway below it, along with two people viewing the art. My reflected image makes the people part of the art, and that echoes Chihuly’s point in conceiving the bridge.
Ghosts, Jacksonville, Oregon, 2009
Jacksonville is an amazingly well preserved Victorian town. Its streets are lined with 19th century buildings, including this old structure which stands on a side street like an old ghost. I noticed two clouds hanging directly over the building. The sky and pair of clouds that begin at the top of the frame seem to continue via reflections within the pair of windows at the bottom of the frame. This image makes the building seem to be transparent, and even more ghostly than it is.
A city abstracted, Phoenix, Arizona, 2009
Eight windows, each of them reflecting a different aspect of the building across the street. No two reflections are alike here – the window materials color them, distort them, and retain them. There were dozens of such windows, but I choose only eight here to create a simplified matrix of the mysterious.