Thoughts and Images of Back to School

Earlier this week, kids everywhere went back to school. In our area, Monday was the first day of school. I took pictures of my kids on Sunday, just to document them at the beginning of 3rd and 5th grade. There are certain moments that just require documenting, and back to school is one of them. I even saw a dad with a video camera on a tripod walking away from a local elementary school on the the first day of school. A tripod seems a bit much. I posted on Twitter that handheld video was probably okay for junior’s first day of kindergarten.

When I realized that many others were also documenting their kids on the first day of school, I went searching on flickr for tagged photos. Below is a slide show of photos tagged “first day of school.” I have no idea who any these of kids are, but they are all going back to school.

I even have a friend, Whit, who wrote a poem to document his son’s first day of school:

Second grade with Mrs. Gustafson?
I hope it will be lots of fun.
I think no classmate of yours will be a newt.

So recently you were just a larva.
And now you have become a marva-
Lous young man. What a hoot!

Storm Windows

Storm Windows

Frequently I drive down the road and spot something that I want to take a picture of. It might not be very compelling, and might not even make a very good picture, but it strikes me. More often than not, I don’t have my camera with me, so the shot remains untaken. If it somewhere nearby, or some place I drive by frequently, I put it on my mental check list to go back and shoot some time.

Well, today I drove by this old looking sign that said Storm Windows and I thought it would make a good black and white picture. I had my camera with me, so after finding what I was looking to shoot (a solar house), I came back and shot the above picture. It came out about as expected. Not earth-shattering, but solid.

Photos Recreated in Lego

I had recently planned a post called iconic photographs, but I was thinking about photos that I have taken over the years, especially of my kids. My point was that certain photographs capture a moment, and the photograph is what you remember, rather than the moment itself. With photos I take, I choose the best ones and, in old days frame them, and now post them online. Those are the photos that represent certain times in my kids’ lives, but that is because I have seen the images so many times. The same is true with classic, or iconic, photos made famous by publication in magazines such as Life. They become icons because of their association with a time or event, and because of the repetition of our seeing them again and again.

These are the types of photos recreated in Lego by amateur photographer Mike Stimpson, as seen on I chose to post the photo above because the mystery sailor is my stepdad. He never revealed his identity when photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was alive, because he did not want to embarrass him and disclose details about his most famous image. He was concerned that people would be disappointed to learn that this photograph that symbolized the end of World War II was a just kid from Perth Amboy, NJ in a sea scout uniform (a part of the Boy Scouts) who thought it would be cool to go to Times Square and kiss nurses.

A Couple of Cool Photo Sites

Here are a couple of links thanks to JPG Magazine:

Life Goes On in Tehran: A personal monthly photo blog by a former Los Angeles resident who recently moved to Tehran. Featuring photos taken using a camera phone. It’s very cool that each month scrolls horizontally with vertically framed pictures. This makes you look at each picture just a little differently than if you were scrolling down. Rollover your mouse on the photos to see additional shots.

Stranger Photos Have Happened (The Plug): A disposable camera was tied to bench with a note to take photos. The resulting photos are surprisingly engaging.

Sets of Zombie Photos

I haven’t really had the chance to write about my experience as an extra in a Zombie movie called Fistful of Brains (, which was shooting this past weekend in Smithfield, NC. I have, however, posted the pictures. Scroll down for the links.

Zombie Stare

Here are the links to Flickr slide shows (in 3 sets):

Western Town called Shadowhawk
Behind the Scenes of the Shoot

More Demolitions Photos

Rubble and Building

A couple weeks ago I took some pictures of a fraternity house near UNC in the throws of demolition. My timing was perfect. Parts of the building were still standing and there were great piles of rubble. Before I posted those photos, I tried to find out why the building was being torn down and what was coming to that spot. I couldn’t find anything.

Well, now my timing was perfect once again, and I have taken pictures of a second fraternity house coming down. Here is a link to the Flickr slide show.

And I have found out why they were being torn down. The passage below is from the minutes of the January 2007 UNC Board of Trustess meeting.

Disposition by Severance of the Finley Golf Course Road Fraternities to remove by demolition the vacant fraternity houses located at 200, 204 and 216 Finley Golf Course Road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Demolition is recommended in order to mitigate potential nuisance issues. Additionally, it has been determined that the cost to renovate and upfit existing structures to ADA and regulatory codes would exceed the value of buildings in their current conditions and that a greater value and higher use can be realized by the demolition

This tells me why they are being torn down, but not why the fraternity houses were empty to begin with. I probably just need to ask a UNC student.

Old Chapel Hill Cemetery

Old Chapel HIll Cemetery

On a recent weekend afternoon, I went to the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery to take some pictures. I had not been to the website linked above, and therefore did not yet know anything about its history or layout. I only knew there was a cemetery located in the middle of UNC’s campus. I had driven by numerous times, but had never been inside.

I entered the grounds at one end and began walking. It was much larger than I imagined. Here was a large chunk of land in the middle of a large state university that was, and still is, an historic cemetery. Since I did not have a good sense of the place, I wanted to walk around and scope out some shots before just clicking away. I knew I would be changing the photos to black and white, so I was focusing on composition, not color. I had some ideas in my head, but didn’t know what I would find.

I discovered that one cannot walk through a cemetery without being affected, or even overwhelmed. The history of the Chapel Hill campus is told through the gravestones, but there is also family history and personal history. There are stones for University leaders, influential families and their wives and children. It was the markers of children that affected me the most. Many had carvings of lambs on the gravestones. There was even one with the epitaph, only sleeping. And one very short life, only 2 days, was marked with a stone that indicated her passing date was my birthday, in 1922.

I was there to take pictures of things that were old, and wound up thinking of people they honored. They walked these paths and the roamed these buildings. It is hard to dismiss their contribution to the community and their families. As I write this, I also think of Eve Carson, the UNC Student Body President, murdered this past week in an apparent act of random violence. She too is a leader who will be remembered as people walk through this place and think of how the past meets the future.

There is something about the air in a cemetery, and that even on warm sunny days, it carries a chill. On this winter’s day it seemed to get colder the longer I was there. The clouds got a little heavier. The wind picked up just ever so slightly, and I knew it was time to go.

Here is a link to the Flickr Slide Show of these pictures.

Old Chapel HIll Cemetery