America for Americans

This letter is from the archives of the Seattle municipality. Dated November 16th, 1937, it’s addressed to the city council and written by the Chief of Staff of the Ku Klux Klan. Complete with a depiction of a burning cross and hooded night riders at the top, the letterhead features the motto “Communism Will Not Be Tolerated” emblazoned in the footer.

It is easy to forget, in our day and age, that the Klan was once a fairly mainstream organization in the United States. Their chilling self-characterization as “All Americans” who salute only “the Stars and Stripes” prefigures the American Right of today.

Ku Klux Klan letter, 1937

Belieber in Bike Helmet


Here’s a scan from the latest roll of Kodak BW400CN.

This was one of my first shots with a portrait lens (a Canon FD 135mm 1:3.5 purchased through eBay).

The subject said “the background is all blurry,” and I said “it’s supposed to be.”

Everybody’s a critic.


droplets 2 of 3

In 1973, my mother gave me a Canon FTb 35mm camera. It was my introduction to seeing things differently. I had little idea of what I was doing, but learned enough from trial and error (and chats with other photographers) to eventually get fairly good at taking candid shots at family gatherings, pictures of local buildings, landscapes and such. I didn’t have a flash, so I learned to use available light, and was drawn toward films that could be “pushed” (Kodak Tri-X for black and white prints and Ektachrome slide film for color). To this day even with a digital point and shoot camera I nearly always turn the flash off and shoot with the light that’s there.

Eventually the old FTb sat collecting dust, having been abandoned in favor of cheap film cameras that were easier to carry, and then digital cameras as that technology arrived. A few years ago I sent it in for cleaning and light meter repair, but even after that, it sat in the attic or on a closet shelf, patiently awaiting the day when someone would again be delighted with what it can do.

I’m a smarter photographer now, meaning that I understand a lot more about composition, light, lens, film and exposure. I believe that I’m finally able to begin exploring with my old FTb in a manner that befits its capabilities. I’m also ready to grow with it beyond the single 50MM lens and available light.

I’ll be posting some scans here from time to time. The first roll of 24 (Kodak BW400CN) turned out alright, with about a third of the shots being decent enough to share. You can find them (along with any future black and white scans) on this Flickr set. Please be kind in your criticism, as I’m still learning. Also, yes – I am aware that my scanner platen needs to be cleaned. :)

The photo above is one of a series I took last evening of raindrops on various windows in our house. I’m fairly pleased with three of them, which might eventually become a triptych of some sort.

I would be interested in feedback, particularly from other film photographers. Pointers to interesting images and websites would also be welcome.

The great depression-era photojournalist Dorothea Lange once said “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” I hope to learn a great bit more about how to see during the last decades of my life.

The Barbecue Idea

Somewhere on this Weblog there will eventually be an essay about barbecue. It won’t be about how to barbecue. It will be about why grilling over coals or wood is important to some people, or at least to me.

You have been forewarned, and now I must go light the charcoal chimney.


I’ve created an entire site dedicated to grilling pursuits. Head on over to Grilling With Noebie for essays, recipes, tips, tricks, techniques, photos and more. There are only a few articles up at the moment, but I’ll be adding to it every week.

We’re Still at War: A Memorial Day Reminder

While Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have lost their lives in service to the United States, we should also remember that Americans are still at war in Afghanistan. Every weekday since June of 2009, Mother Jones has posted photos of those serving in the U.S. military as a reminder that we’re still at war. On this Memorial Day, they’re sharing a slideshow with images from thus far in 2012.

My thoughts and prayers remain with those who serve.

View the full slideshow: We’re Still at War: A Memorial Day Reminder. [Mother Jones]

Go Cards

With our move to Kankakee rapidly approaching, I was more than a little concerned about the fact that we’ll no longer have the St. Louis sports channels in our Cable lineup.

Problem solved. Thanks, MLB.TV.

I’m looking forward to another great season of baseball from the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Give Us This Day

I’ve baked my share of soda bread and corn bread over the years. I’ve also occasionally made my own pizza dough, and lately I’ve been baking some with a bread machine, but I’ve never turned out anything like this – until today.

My wife had a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and I picked it up the other evening and after reading only a few pages became very excited at the prospect of delicious home baked bread with so little effort. The only question in my mind was whether or not their approach would actually work.

It does.

A Simple Reminder

We are still at war.

U.S. Soldiers with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Afghan National Army, and members of the Community Based Security Solutions police organization, climb a steep path above Pata Tili village, on January 29th, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Bill Steele, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment