Category Archives: Photo Essay

Glacier National Park, 2014

I’m afraid there isn’t much “essay” to this photo essay. This summer I went halfway across the country with some photo-shy punks.

I used to hate the National Park system. It tokenizes nature… it lets the federal government say “look, we have nature!” while gutting the rest of public lands. It still does those things and I still hate it for that. But there’s no denying the beauty of these places, and I appreciate the work that they put into making such beauty accessible to people while (usually) attempting to minimize the impact humans have on the area. Hell, if they weren’t in the process of destroying the rest of the undeveloped areas of the country, I could even applaud them for getting humans into specific chosen pretty areas so that the rest of the areas are left alone.

Of course, that’s not what’s happening.

But Glacier is beautiful, even if its namesake glaciers are almost gone. See them while there are any left to see, I suppose.
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More tintypes!

tintype portrait

One of these days I will post something other than tintypes. Today is not that day. This time we set up in my friends’ apartment against a white greenish-white wall instead of a red one, and augmented my 16-CFL-litebulb light with two seriously-high-wattage CFLs for a fill. We dropped the exposure times down to around 30 seconds (one minute for some of the exposures). The rest of the shoot (a total of 10 plates) after the cut. Some are mildly NSFW.

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After many sessions that have left me frustrated and angry and failed, I’ve finally started to have some success shooting tintypes. I’ll hopefully be blogging about my equipment and setup in the near future once I get it a bit better nailed down, but I’m happy with what I’ve got thus far.

The amazing thing about shooting tintypes is that they were the polaroid photos of their day. Photographers (who were considered craftsmen and not artists) would set up on the streets and shoot people’s portraits, creating the film, exposing it, and developing it all in one sitting. I go from a blank piece of metal to an image in about 10 minutes.

Scanning doesn’t do these photos credit. I’ll have to start shooting photos of them instead. The varnish I use gets dust in it that you don’t see with your eye but that the scanner picks up.

Anyhow, I moved to an interior light setup and I love what I’ve been getting.


But I’ve gotten a few decent ones from direct sunlight:


the whole set is on my Flickr

Jake von Slatt’s Steampunk Workshop

Electrolytic etching

Martha Swetzoff is currently shooting a documentary on steampunk, and about a month ago she interviewed me and Jake von Slatt for the project. Which meant I got to go on a tour of Jake’s steampunk workshop, which is pretty sweet. The whole place is filled with junk from floor to ceiling and he’s got a stroh violin! This is also the first time I’m trying this new flickr plugin. I’m not convinced I like it, but my old one is broken.

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Acadia National Park sits off the coast of Maine in all its frozen glory. Lakes, carriage trails, weird-ass yuppie-looking towns that are probably actually really nice to live in, and a coast that finally makes the American Atlantic have something worth saying to the Pacific. Also my friend brought a horn the likes of which you don’t really get to blow when you’re in civilization. But frozen lakes, on the other hand…

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That other Portland

read motherfucking books all damn day

The other Portland is actually really beautiful! (Yes, yes, I know it’s older than the one in Oregon, but having spent many years of my life living in the West Coast one, Maine has “the other Portland.”)

Any how, we walked around and I patiently listened to my friends extolling the virtues of eating the flesh of slaughtered sea creatures. And I liked this sticker so much because I was in the middle of reading REAMDE and kinda not-so-secretly just wanted to be reading. But okay seriously Portland was pretty and the weather was cold but lovely.

We also went by Occupy Maine and I met a silly counter-protester all by his lonesome who was sad that someone had burned the flag. What I really love about this guy is that he totally groks the aesthetic of bad-grammar signs on cardboard. This fellow is missing an article.

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Peabody-Essex Museum

jewelry from pacific islands

We left Boston to head up to Maine and decided to stop in Salem, MA. Most of the museums seemed pretty kitschy, but the Peadbody-Essex Museum is the oldest longest-running museum in the US, or so they claim. It was half a proper art museum and half an old sailors drinking hall, with rooms full of old “hey look at this weird shit we found in our colonialist explorations!” knick knacks. Pretty interesting. Particularly, from my point of view, the displays of really old books.

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abandoned bear cages

I hadn’t been to Boston since 2004. Last time I was here, someone called the terrorist tipline on me and I was bumrushed on the street by plainclothes cops from DC. Because I was wearing a skirt. Awesome.

Anyhow, this last trip has gone much better, all told. I’ve been hanging out with cool anarcho folks and gotten to explore abandoned bear cages for what would have been a zoo but is now a park. Also, my friend makes awesome handicrafts and I took photos of them. The needleworks are about mountaintop-removal coal mining.

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