Film Noir: Five photos given the Horror-movie treatment

It hasn’t been a good year for photo field trips for myriad reasons, but I was able to explore (as much as my broken limb would allow) an empty campground this weekend — a prime spot to capture a few images of desolation and edit in a horror-movie cue or two.

Here are five favorites, captioned with film dialogue for good measure.

Marty: It was the pioneer days. People had to make their own interrogation rooms. ~ The Cabin in the Woods, 2011
“There’s a legend around here. A killer buried, but not dead. A curse on Crystal Lake; a death curse.” ~ Friday the 13th, part VII, 1988
Noah: I can’t imagine being stuck down a well all alone like that. How long could you survive?
Rachel: Seven days. ~ The Ring, 2002
Amelia: Well, I’m not scared.
Samuel: You will be when it creeps into your room at night. ~ The Babadook, 2014
Louis: That morning I was not yet a vampire, and I saw my last sunrise. I remember it completely, and yet I can’t recall any sunrise before it. I watched the whole magnificence of the dawn for the last time as if it were the first. And then I said farewell to sunlight, and set out to become what I became. ~ Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, 1994

Photos taken at Camp Bonnie Brae, the nation’s longest continuously operating Girl Scout Camp, in East Otis, Mass.

Blogtoberfest Guest Post: The Tattooed Ladies of the Mohawk Trail, by Ralph Brill



*In 2014, about four-in-ten females aged 18 to 29 years old have tattoos. This Look-At-Me phenomenon along The Mohawk Trail was not in place in 1914. Lots of other things have thankfully changed as well for these ladies over these past 100 years: Women were allowed to vote for Presidents, Women were allowed to study at Williams College, Minority Women were allowed to enjoy the resorts in the Berkshires, Women were allowed to buy their own cars, etc.Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 3.24.12 PMMost of the Five Nations Confederacy Chiefs of the Iroquois including the Mohawks were Tattooed as were the Chiefs of the various Atlantic Tribes. It was like their personal signatures. The above is a detail of Mohawk Chief Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow’s portrait by John Verelst painted in 1710. Some Native American women were also Tattooed. For the first time in American history, in 2014, more women than men along The Mohawk Trail are Tattooed. Our Tattooed Ladies are a connection to this historical art form along The Mohawk Trail.

The Mohawk Trail started out as an important Indian Trail connecting the Atlantic Tribes around Boston with those in Upstate New York. In 1799, the Massachusetts Legislature established a toll road along this Path – officially known as The Fifth. Eventually, cattle were driven from Western New England Farms to the Boston Markets along this Path as were wagon loads of various goods. Horse coaches brought visitors from Boston to the Berkshires via The Fifth.

In the early 1900s, as more families owned Model T Fords and wanted to take long country drives, The Fifth began to become known as the scenic road to explore. In 1914, The Fifth was widened to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles and was officially designated as the Mohawk Trail by the State in that year.

Ralph Brill owns the Brill Gallery in North Adams, Mass. Have a Blogtoberfest Guest Post you want to submit? Email it to writerjax – at – gmail – dot – com.

A New England Autumn Wedding and tips for ‘Guest Photography’

We attended a fall wedding this weekend, one of my favorite things to do!

I’m a sucker for any wedding, but as autumn is my favorite season and October my favorite month, weddings this time of year are sort of a nuptial hat trick.

This ceremony and reception were held in two different Berkshire towns — the ceremony by a small private pond in Hinsdale and the reception at the quaint and totally New Englandy Morgan House in Lee.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

In addition to posting some shots from the big day, I thought I’d share a few of my guest-at-the-wedding photo tips in the process. Most of us are armed with the cameras on our smartphones these days, and guests taking photos at weddings is a ubiquitous affair. Throughout every moment of the ceremony and reception, guests will be glued to their devices at varying times, snapping photos, editing them, and posting them online faster than you can say ‘cheese.’

The very first rule of ‘guest photography’ is to be a guest first, and a photographer second. The professional who’s been hired to capture images that day will thank you, too…go ahead and have fun, and if taking photos and video is part of the fun (it is for me), snap away. Just make sure that, when your nose is two inches from the cake as you try to take an artful shot of the rosettes on top, the professional photographer isn’t behind you trying to do the same thing.

That leads me to tip number two: not all of your photos need to be perfect. The urge to delete that picture obscured by Uncle Bill’s giant noggin immediately is great, when the little trashcan icon on your camera is right there egging you on.

But don’t delete. Not only can you edit photos later, the moment is more important than the composition when it comes to guest wedding photos. The professional photographer is in charge of capturing the money shots… you’re in charge of capturing memories for yourself and the couple. There’s nothing visually special about this picture I snapped of the ring bearer, for example, but the bottle behind him — and the little hand in the right of the frame — serves as a reminder of the babies in attendance that day.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

Because of the over abundance of the aforementioned smartphones and other gadgets, it also bears mentioning that a lot of your photos might end up being pictures of people taking pictures. That’s fine … I call them paparazzi shots, and in a few years, it will be interesting to see what kinds of phones and cameras we were using.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

It’s also an interesting angle to take a family photo from behind another person taking the same photo:

Emily and Jay's Wedding

Things the bride and groom aren’t likely to see while they’re bustling around in their own wedding haze are great things to look for when taking pictures… guests arriving, the ceremony space before it’s filled with people, candids of the people around you, etc. Not only will these be pictures they’ll want to see later, they’ll stand out once the barrage of photos from every guest begins to flood the social networks, and help to create a full, detailed timeline of the day.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

There’s something to be said for snapping pictures of little touches at the ceremony and reception. Chances are, the couple put a good amount of thought into their colors, decorations, and location; a snapshot of the flowers at your table, for instance, is not just a burst of color in your set of photos but also a great marker of the season.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

Share your photo tips in the comments!

More Reading:

Getting Social with Wedding Planners

Nice Day for a White Wedding – Carrie and Kevin

The Art of the October Wedding – Rob and Sara

Shooting from the Hip with Lou Jones – Travel photography tips

Shooting from the Hip with Legend Lou Jones

Photographer Lou Jones has photographed the sloping roofs of Japanese homes as well as inmates on Death Row. He’s trekked to the top of a Hawaiian hotel with his mother, 86-years-old at the time, in tow, so he could show her what he does for a living.

He’s been to Cuba as a journalist twice, dodged bullets in a Guatemalan civil war, and has spent time in thirteen international jails, all in the name of getting the perfect shot.
His latest speaking tour, planned around his new book Travel and Photography: Off the Charts, walks audiences through a slew of Jones’ photographs from locales across the globe – the Iowa State Fair followed by the City of the Dead in Cairo; Paris, France to Paris, Maine; the opulent shores of Waikiki to the dregs of Jamaica.

Just getting a glimpse at these amazing photos would have been enough. Every one of them is bursting with color and shot with a deep depth of field that still lets the subject pop, a talent I envy greatly. They’re also striking and strikingly accurate accounts of destinations all over the world, depicting people, places, and things. That proves that Jones is not only one of the best and most prolific photographers on the planet, he is also an accomplished documentarian of the human experience.

But beyond exhibiting his work, Jones offered some insight into the art of travel photography as well, and I was all ears – grasshopper ready to learn from the master.

• First, Jones says when in doubt, start with architecture. Look for details and interesting points of view, and use available light when possible. He said dawn and dusk are two of his favorite times to shoot, calling the light those periods provide ‘the gloaming.’ In addition, Jones advises:

• Walk. Jones says the best shots are found while wandering, and he’s worn out plenty a pair by doing just that.

• Respect the culture in which you’re immersed. That doesn’t mean you must learn every single turn of a phrase and cultural anomaly, but Jones says do the best you can. Research before you go, ask questions when you get there, and tread lightly when you’re unsure … that’s how he was able to get such images as a religious ceremony in Singapore – he remembered to slip off his shoes in the church – and of a Jamaican fisherman on his boat – he remembered to ask permission to shoot what was likely the man’s most prized possession. And in the case of a net weaver in the same country, he remembered to have a few bucks in his pocket in this impoverished region.

• Listen to your mentors. Jones recalled a time when a French teacher brought him to Paris and suggested a few shots of the Eiffel Tower – Jones refused, thinking it was too generic a subject. Upon returning to the states, he was inundated with requests for images of the tower. “Listen to the lessons,” he says.

• Wait. Some of the best travel photos come after minutes or hours of standing in the same place. Among Jones’ own examples are an image of a little girl running past the jetties of Martha’s Vineyard and of a private conversation in Cuba, both of which resulted from patience.

There were other lessons and many included in his book, which I bought without a second thought. But perhaps the best aspect of learning from Lou Jones was his readiness to teach, and to listen to others himself. He seemed genuinely interested when I talked to him a little but about my own travel assignments, and when I got home, I peeled back the cover of Off the Charts to read what he’d inscribed in my book, praying it would be one more nugget of knowledge and experience.

I wasn’t disappointed.

“Take small steps at first, Jaclyn,” he wrote. “Then, all will be revealed.”

Published: Thursday, 7 December 2006