culture

Grave Offerings

As I wander through cemeteries, I am always struck by the variety of offerings to the dead that I encounter. Sometimes they are simple: a flower; a photo; a favorite toy; bottles of soda or alcohol; a statuette… In other cases, they can be quite elaborate. I am most intrigued by those things left behind that imply an element of ritual, and I wonder if they are meant to appease a potentially restless spirit or an angry god/God. For one who believes the spirits of the dead are wandering around in the ether or that God demands appeasement rather than having a character of love, I suppose these gifts serve both a symbolic and a functional or practical purpose. I am intrigued by how they are often indicative of a broader culture or faith while simultaneously revealing the very individualized and personal ways we employ to cope with the death of a loved one.

"Grave Offerings" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/25 sec., 85mm

“Grave Offerings” Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/25 sec., 85mm
Click here to view a larger size.

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Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

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When the bagpipe sings…

When you meet Lewis Bartlett, his energy and enthusiasm for life is contagious. You can’t help but find a smile growing on your face as you talk about whatever it is you happen to talk about with Lewis; he just has that type of personality. When you learn Lewis plays the bagpipes – if you know anything about bagpipes – it seems a proper instrument for him: it stands out in a crowd, it’s loud and commanding, and it is an instrument that evokes great feeling crossing a vast range of emotions in its listeners. People tend to either love the bagpipe or hate it – there is no in-between.

Some men there are love not a gaping pig; some, that are mad if they behold a cat; and others, when the bagpipe sings…cannot contain their urine.
– William Shakespeare

Nikon D300, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f/5, 70 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f/5, 70 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f/5, 70 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f/7.1, 18 mm

A piper with a good instructor learns the following piece of advice – passed down through the ages among pipers – pretty early on:

“When you’re being run out of town, stay just far enough ahead of the crowd to make it look like a parade.”

Call for Pipers: Are you a piper in the Salt Lake City area who would like to model in exchange for photos? Please contact me.

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Weaving A Tale Of Patience

I’ve never been able to master patience. For me, “waiting patiently” typically amounts to an exercise in finding ways to avoid spontaneous internal combustion. Sudoku is a good remedy, as can be reading or getting lost in a song.

At the Salt Lake City Living Traditions Festival this past weekend, watching this young woman weave intricate patterns into a length of cloth – one fine row of thread at a time – made me impatient. She was so “in the zone” that I’m pretty sure she had lost track of where she was and how long she’d been there. This, to me, seemed a merciful condition.

Nikon D300, ISO 200, 1/50 sec at f/3.2, 50mm, SB-700 fill flash

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Salt Lake City Street Art

You don’t have to go to a museum to see a city’s art. The works that best represent a particular locale are often, quite literally, right under your feet. I photographed the artwork pictured here within a single downtown Salt Lake City block, representing styles ranging from crude to accomplished.

Simply because these works aren’t hanging in a museum or framed on a wall makes them less likely to get recognized as art. How come a painting on a sidewalk instead of a canvas automatically gets demoted from “art” to “nuisance graffiti” in the minds of the majority?

Like it or not, your city is a canvas. It is a place where seemingly unrelated movements, elements, shapes and colors come together to form a tangible image – a picture of its inhabitants. Some choose to add to this canvas knowing that their contribution will be as transient and temporary as the inhabitants are themselves.

Nikon D300, ISO 200, f/22 at 1/60 sec, 78 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 200, f/20 at 1/40 sec, 98mm

Nikon D300, ISO 200, f/14 at 1/60 sec, 30 mm

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