A Visit to The George Eastman House

George Eastman's HouseFor someone who likes photography and old cameras, visiting the George Eastman House is a welcomed opportunity. It’s not only the house that George Eastman (the maker of Kodak) built and lived in during his lifetime, but also a gallery and museum surrounded by many beautiful gardens.

From the outside the stone walls of the house appear gorgeous. The house itself is a work of art. At the front of the house there’s a patio, or sitting area, with two chairs. The door leads into a large foyer with a grand staircase straight ahead.

Inside the house it appears as if time has stood still. Some of the paintings, and I believe fixtures, are exact replicas, but everything is still as it would’ve been if Eastman himself was still living. From the crystal chandlers to the dishes to the bedrooms to the clothing hanging in the closet and the bathroom products sitting in the medicine cabinet, a tour through the house feels like stepping into the past.

The gardens on the property are full of flowers as well as lush, green grass and bushes. Some have stone, or slate, paths while others have paths laid in brick. One garden had lattice with grape vines growing. Another had a small pond in the center with fish and lily pads.

At the back of the house sits the gallery which is currently showing the work of Eugene Richards. It’s titled: Eugene Richards: The Run-On Time. His work explores large, complex social topics. While the photos are engaging, some may be difficult and uncomfortable to look at. Still, this exhibition is worth seeing.

Besides the gallery, the museum is also the home of many old cameras. They’re all gathered in one room and placed in multiply glass cases. They range from wooden cameras with wet plates to the camera of the 90s and, I believe, early digital. Along with the cameras are pictures lining the walls. In the same room are color and black and white photographs by famous photographers.

Whether it’s photography, cameras, a beautiful garden to walk through or even a little bit of history, I believe there’s something for everyone here.

To see more photos please check out my site by clicking here.

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Something About the Ocean

The sound of crashing waves echoed through the night. The ocean churned, rushing for the shore and touching the sand before being pulled back out to sea. It kept up it’s constant rhythmic breathing all through the night and into the early morning.

HeavenlyAs the sun rose the ocean waves continued to crash. In the light of day the rolling, tossing sea could be seen. The water curled, crashed, whitewash spraying as it advanced toward the shore. And the ocean never stopped breathing. No matter the time of day the soothing sound of the ocean could be heard.

The hotel sat on the boardwalk, facing the ocean. Every night I fell asleep to the crashing waves and every morning I woke to them. The salty sea air blew in through the open screen door and some mornings I was torn between staying in bed and getting up. But the ocean always called me, pulled me, and I wanted nothing more then to be down on that beach before it became crowed with the day’s beach-goers. So, really, there was never a choice to be made.

Every morning I walked the beach with my camera. I took pictures and collected shells. The water was so rough that it was difficult to find one that wasn’t broken, but even the broken and chipped ones were beautiful. I walked under the pier, continued along the shoreline and dragged by toes in my water that would rush up and over my feet. There were only a few times where I walked in deep. (Once I walked in up to my knees and a wave came and pushed water up my shorts. I laughed, not really caring, and knowing Sand, Shells and Stonesthat my pockets were already full of sand from the shells I had picked up.)

There was a place on that beach where it seemed all the shells would wash up. Some were broken, some were shattered, some were in one piece. I had never seen anything like it, but where there should be sand there was a stretch of shells. They laid on the beach like a blanket. There was no way around them so I had to walk on them. I didn’t mind. I was looking for shells. Plus, the way the sun was bouncing off the surface made the shells look like they were glistening.

One day, I went down with my camera, but instead of walking along the water’s edge like all the other mornings, I climbed into a lifeguard stand and simply watch and listened. There’s something about the ocean. Time stops. The crashing waves wash away all worries, if only for a moment. Waves barrel and rush toward the shore, keeping the sound of rhythmic breathing. The smell of saltwater and the gentle sea breeze while the sun warms your skin is wonderful. It pulls me, like two opposite ends of a magnet coming together. Much like the ocean always find the shore, I can’t resist the ocean. There’s something about the ocean and I wonder, even though I’ve written about it many times, if there’s any words to truly do it justice.

And I can’t forget about the boardwalk with it’s many shops and eateries. I love the soft pretzels and how their always warm, the funnel cake and all its confectionery sugar and I think I found one of the best pizza places the boardwalk has to offer. One place I always go is the taffy shop. I’ve tried a lot of different taffy in my lifetime, but Ocean City, NJ has Evening Wavesthe best. (They also have really good chocolate.) There’s also two arcades and two or three amusement parks, one which has been around since 1929. For shopping, there’s even more stores in town which are worth exploring.

The ocean is one of my favorite places in the world. To me, the ocean is many things – feisty, calming, dangerous, strong, beautiful, alive. It’s one of the places I want to go to find peace. The reasons are almost indescribable, but it’s natural, like the rushing of waves to the shore. I also believe the ocean is one of the purest places on earth.

To see more pictures from Ocean City, NJ please check out my photo page by clicking here.

Crossroads

Life is not only made up of moments, but a series of choices. And maybe it’s our choices that help define these moments. It’s like the Domino Effect – each choice affects the possibilities of the next choice and so on.

Recently, I had to make a tough decision. I had to decide if I was going to stay at my day job or leave to pursue my passion. There were so many reasons to stay, but an equal number of reasons to leave. In the end, my gut told me leaving was the right choice, but in the back of my mind I still felt like I was, somehow, letting people down and leaving people behind. In the time I had been there, I made friends and built bonds. And it was the little things I always did that I thought of when I put myself in the shoes of those I felt like I was leaving behind, disappointing, because it’s those little things that are noticed once they’re not done any longer. I’m not only talking about the work related things, but also the jokes I would tell, my silly ways when people were having a bad day, being there for people to talk to or vent to, being a cheerleader for some, the laughs – simply being there. But it wasn’t just the things I did for other – it’s the things others did for me. (Maybe, sometimes, without even realizing it.)

No one said life was going to be easy. (Although, I have a theory on this – maybe life is easy and we, as human beings, complicate things.) There’s no manual, no easy button, no hints or clues on how to live life. It’s something we all figure out as we go.

I always thought, and still do, that the people who are my friends and who truly care about me will follow. That is, I’ve always thought that those are the ones who will stay in touch. Sure, it might take a little extra effort, but, really, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll admit that things may be a little different, but I’m still me and I’m not going anywhere. All I’m doing is following my passion.

So here’s what it comes down to – don’t ever be afraid to follow your passion. It might seem scary, the road may seem unsure, but don’t ever be afraid to pursue what you love. Don’t be afraid of leaving people behind or disappointing them because those who care about you will always support you.

Being Human

one heart
dances rhythmically
in our chest
pumping blood
through a series of canals
veins
pulse with life
fragile
hearts may break
elusive
dreams may shatter
saltwater
may flood our eyes
love
is patient
unconditional
fickle
intoxicating
moments
intertwine
becoming the past
present
future
as we march on
we rise and fall
and rise again
like a Phoenix from the ashes
we are
resilient

Changing Tides

Sunset on Moonlight Beach II

we love like the ocean
in waves
fierce
beautiful
tender
fearless
always reaching for one another
gripping
slipping
rolling tides
constantly searching for the shore

Rise and Fall

all shooting stars fall to earth
most angels fall from grace
all leaves fall with changing seasons
most sinners fall at the end of their days

there’s heaven in your eyes
and pleasure on your face
the devil lives inside
these twisted games you play

memories arise
some things can’t be erased
the past is left in dust
some things can’t be changed

broken wings can’t fly
and broken words falter
mind and soul contradict
our heart’s true desire

Pictorial History

Photographs of old buildings that were once busy factories, populated schools, adored homes and so much more hang on the wall. These buildings now sit abandoned, left to decay and be taken over by nature. Some of them are partially collapsed while others have been demolished since the photos were taken and now there’s nothing left but an empty lot or the looks of what used to be the foundation.

These are the Hudson Valley Ruins, a photography exhibit currently on display at the New York State Museum. (And I do recommend going to see this instillation.)

The photos are beautiful. From an artistic standpoint I loved the use of lighting, attention to detail, the textures and angles at which the pictures were taken. They capture the essence of the buildings – still beautiful with it’s boarded up doors, partially collapsed walls, broken windows, torn wallpaper, peeling paint and overall abandonment.

Each photo leads to a sense of wonder and, possibly, nostalgia. As I stood in the museum looking at these photos I found myself envisioning what they looked like in their prime – busy, bustling schools and factories, lavish homes.

Historically the photos capture a place that once was a prominent and important piece of the past. These buildings once produced goods, educated children and housed families among other things. Some of the buildings were repurposed before being abandoned while others were forgotten long ago.

I think that’s the sad thing about these places. While still beautiful in their own way, they’ve been forgotten and left to the forces of nature to destroy what once was grand. A lack of care has turned these buildings into so-called “eye sores.” I don’t believe they’re ugly sights to be seen. Instead, I think they’re interesting pieces of history. They’re meant to be preserved as best as possible so we can learn from them.

Any photograph, if we look closely enough, can be a learning tool. Every picture tells a story. They depict specifics about a person – their clothing, their personality, their inner being. Pictures capture a lifestyle. Photographs freeze the horror and/or the beauty of a moment. They’re a window to the past and hope for the future.

It’s said, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Maybe the saying is a bit cliched, but I believe there’s truth in those words. We can learn a lot from a photograph, if we’re willing to listen, look carefully with our eyes.