University of Pittsburgh

The Cathedral of Learning is easy to take for granted if you live in Pittsburgh. We drive by it all the time but familiarity makes it no less spectacular or beautiful. Think about it. It is the tallest educational structure in the USA and third in the world.It is also one of the few built in an art deco style. Next time you cruise by take a moment for appreciation.

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Cathedral of Learning

Chichen Itza One of The Wonders of the Modern World

I have been to only two of the wonders of the modern world. Unlike The Roman Coliseum, Chichen Itza is really a collection of wonders. Of course the the famous pyramid is the centerpiece. However, the ball field, observatory and smaller pyramids are all fascinating and worth seeing in their own right. Truly a remarkable experience.

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Chichen Itza

The observatory

Mayan Perspective

Autumn Reflections

I am of a firm belief that good photographs tell a story, reveal a mystery or in some way createan emotional response. I do record scenes just because they are pretty but rarely offer them for sale or publish them, I identify more with Henri Cartier-Bresson than Ansel Adams. Sure I could have just take a picture of this colorful foliage. However, the story for me is how the reflections of the trees change the nature of the swampy wetland.

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Autumn Reflections

An Autumn Walk In The Woods

Pennsylvania is really special in the Autumn. It ranks highest of all the states for seasonal color. Color itself is not enough to make a good photograph. In my opinion, every picture needs to tell a story. Without my old buddy Deuce walking in front of me its just a pretty scene. He adds the excitement of being on a walk and creates a colorful moment. A slice in time, a memory.

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Deuce on The Hunt.

Zombie Nights Halloween Special Sale

Starting on October 27, Zombie Nights Kindle Edition will be on sale for just 99 Cents. That right under a dollar. Hopefully this will encourage you to later purchase the print editions with almost 50 plate style behind the scenes images from Dawn of The Dead. The sale will end on November 3rd.

To read a preview and order your copy on Amazon, click here!

Zombie Nights

Ligonier—The Song Remains The Same

I had not visited Ligonier in over 40 years. Last time I was there on a fashion shoot for a Pittsburgh model. I remembered it as a quaint picturesque small Pennsylvania town, We actually didn’t take any pictures there. We opted instead for the Greensburg train station where I took this image and many others.

A Deserted Station

This time however we photographed the town which was pretty much the way I remembered it on a fall day long ago.

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Tales from The Oaks #2–American Graffiti

Episode Two…American Graffiti

In 1972 George Lucas released his classic American Graffiti. We couldn’t wait for the movie to get to The Oaks which was largely a second run movie house and saw it at another theater. However, a couple of weeks later the movie finally made it to our theater. As usual it opened on a Friday night and the owners were being real idiots in dealing with the projectionists. It was always something. They threated to fire us if we joined the Projectionists Union. They didn’t want to pay us as a union projectionist. The Union wanted us to quit or go on strike.

Because of the constant harassment, once again, I was in a dark mood. And once again I turned to the stack of records to make my statement. Weeks earlier during my last matinee I had notice that among the Sousa march albums, was nestled a gem from Pink Floyd. People who liked American Graffiti should like the Floyd, right?

So, on to the turntable went A Saucerful of Secrets. First, I kept the volume low luring patrons into their seats.  The place was very crowded, and people wanted to get the best seats. As the theater filled up, I gradually turned up the volume to bleeding ear level. Many people exited back to the lobby. Since the owners had some sort of party at their yacht club nothing could interrupt my lunacy. I looked out into the theater and saw some hippies really grooving to the sound of The Floyd. God it was loud.

Well here we go, lights down, movie start, and volume finally reduced. It was hysterical watching people running to their seats, crawling over each other. Some even shook their fists at the projection booth. Ain’t I a stinker? Everyone calmed down during the previews and were wonderfully entertained by a magnificent movie. Still I exited the booth carefully only after the theater had emptied.

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The Oaks Theatre

Autumn in Western Pennsylvania

Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Pennsylvania. This is promising to be another banner year for autumn color. These were taken in previous years.

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Pittsburgh Autumn

Autumn Reflections

Pocono Wetlands

Pocono Wetlands

Tales from The Oaks #1–Matinees

Background
In 1971 I married my soulmate and next year we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. In 1972 I lost my job as a credit manager and needed to reinvent myself. I decided to pursue my dreams and bought my first Nikon F camera. While learning my new craft I still needed to earn money. So in addition to becoming a teamster and driving a Yellow Cab, I began working as a projectionist at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont Pennsylvania.

With another projectionist we worked like doctors, three days on and three days off. It was fun and awful at the same time. Enjoyable to see new movies every week but also physically strenuous work. In that era movies were exhibited using 35mm film and the light source were Simplex carbon arcs projectors. An average movie had four to seven reels. Each reel weighed about 20 pounds. As the first reel got close to the end you would fire up the carbon arc on projector 2 and changeover from projector one to projector two. Then physically mount reel #3 on the first projector and manually rewind the first reel for the next show. After two years my right arm looked like Popeye The Sailor.

One of the owners was a colossal officious jerk. He was kind of like Ted Knight in Caddyshack. Sometimes his added stress would trigger us into some nasty pranks. We had no cell phones, TV or radio. There were no laptop computers so well we invented our own humor.

Episode One…The Matinee

We hated when they decided to have Saturday matinees. The person who pulled Saturday would essentially pull a double shift. Movies would normally start on Friday’s. We had no idea what would be waiting for us, so we had to arrive early on Fridays to carry the heavy containers up the stairs. We had to inspect the movies to make sure they were intact. Sometimes they weren’t rewound, and we had to rewind them.

The worst feeling was arriving Friday night and seeing 9 film cans rather than the normal 4 or 5. It mean there was a matinee on Saturday. Eventually we convinced our idiot bosses to provide a schedule but even so you could do nothing but groan when you saw all those heavy film cases.

There was a turntable and records in the booth so we could play music through the large Voice of The Theater Speakers before the show. Our boss insisted on playing Frank Sinatra before the Kids movies on Saturday. “No sense getting them all worked up” he said with his Ted Knight smile.

So, there I was on my third Saturday in a month, my partner was on vacation. I was pissed at missing another Saturday night anyhow and certainly aggravated that I had to be there on a beautiful fall afternoon. I locked the projection booth door and put on Frank Sinatra, yah don’t want to get them worked up. Hey wait, it occurred to me, I’m up here and idiot boss is down there…hmm fuck Frank Sinatra. I began to look through the albums. Hmm the United States Military Academy Band playing John Sousa’s marches. The kids should like this, right? It’s amazing how loud those big Voice of The Theater Speakers’ can get. As the theatre filled up, I cranked up the volume. I really didn’t hear the knocking on the door. Honestly, I didn’t. I was too busy watching the manager chase after the kids that were literally jumping on and over the seats. Oh well, it’s show time, I quickly dim the lights start the projector and lastly turn down the march music.

I didn’t work many matinees after that.

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The Oaks Theatre

My Virtual Vacation Day 18—Roma

We had hoped in retirement to travel the world. So far we have done a pretty good job with trips to Mexico, Hawaii, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and The Czech Republic. However the pandemic has stopped all of that for a while. So while waiting for Africa, Alaska and Scandinavia, our current travel is going to have to be virtual. Today’s stop is The Eternal City, Rome.

Rome is too big for one post so there may be others. We spent 5 days there and it was not nearly enough time. We used the “City Hopper” bus to get around but still walked close to five miles each day.

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Roman Fountains

Roman Fountains