The Last Day It Snowed

It was coming down in a torrent of frying pan flakes. The air was heating up even as the earth was on its way to the dark side. We were fixed at the window watching it pile up on the back deck. I put out a fancy blue T square ruler which metered the rising drift edging to thirteen inches. This was the fifth day of cold and snow, and it turned out that the fifth was the last. Five days was enough. I had to get out.

Even though it was warming up, the snow was still cold and dry. People wandered the streets in a general state of marvel. A tiny parade of two marched down the middle of 29th street a few blocks from home. A young woman in a bright red hat under a Seattle Times golf umbrella, holding a bright blue insulated mug was shouting, “This hasn’t happened since nineteen thirty two!” She led a young man step for step while he formed a snowball behind her. He was silent, but amused, and he glanced toward me with a smile.

It’s true this sort of weather is rare enough around here to warrant such a startled cry of amazement. To them, young and probably new to the city, this really was news.

The story of snow in the Pacific Northwest made headlines around the world, but it is melting away. But now the story is of mud and the threat of landslides across the whole of Puget Sound, and that has not happened here, at that scale, since nineteen thirty two.

Making A Snowball With A Wry Glance, Tacoma, On The Last Day It Snowed, February 2019

Making A Snowball With A Wry Glance, Tacoma, On The Last Day It Snowed, February 2019

An Early Winter Afternoon and Girls At The Spar Cafe

On an early winter afternoon a low sun lit the window of the Spar Cafe and the long table next to it. Three school girls were at the table in constant motion. One waved hello, the others too noticed me.

It was a look at the next generation coming to the plate, full of life, and happy about it. Let’s hope they remain free to do good, treasuring one another as the great prize, the exceedingly rare true friend.

I was happy they felt free to say hello, on that fine early winter afternoon.

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The Young Woman and the Question Remained.

We traversed stairs, turnstiles and hallways to arrive here, and we stood on the platform for the F train to Brooklyn.

Those tunnels are a deep dark hole, but the light and the tiles on the platform held back the darkness. I saw a tableau playing out in the greasy noise across the open tracks down there.

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Four squares of light were framed by steel columns holding up the tunnel, and under those four proscenium arches people hesitated or stopped, or moved on quickly.

One person stayed and engaged men somehow, getting them to stop while she listened, and then they would move away, seeming to go about their business without a second thought.

And the question remained, what did she ask them?

Call for Entry: Self Portrait

Some photographers can’t resist the temptation to turn the camera on themselves. I’ve photographed myself many times over the years. I like a plain, straight photograph generally, and this holds true for pictures I take of me just as well as for pictures I take of others.

Here is my current response to the call for Self Portraits from PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont.

Shadow In and Shadow Out, 2018 ©Christopher Petrich

Shadow In and Shadow Out, 2018 ©Christopher Petrich

Photographer Before The Lights, 1973

Photographer Before The Lights, 1973

White HaIr; Black Rims, 2018

White HaIr; Black Rims, 2018

Towelled Male Torso, Late Afternoon, 1996

Towelled Male Torso, Late Afternoon, 1996

We photographers long for an audience for our photographs, and across the imaging landscape there are hundreds of Calls For Entry, I look for calls from the PhotoPlace Gallery. They understand photography and a photographer’s desire to publish, and they are particularly good at choosing curators who know a good picture when they see one. I’ve had success showing there; they make it fun.

Care for ICE with your drink?

Just east of downtown Tacoma, over the famed black steel bridge above the Thea Foss Waterway, the streets fan out past warehouses, abandoned industrial sites, petroleum staging plants, and the Northwest Detention Center.

©2018 Christopher Petrich

©2018 Christopher Petrich

The NWDC holds undocumented people rounded up by ICE for deportation. It is a private prison on port land keeping the sorrows and disappointments of the imprisoned hidden there. But feelings about this clearly show on a junk rail car close by the prison.

Dozens of pallets with their payloads wrapped in plastic lay next to the car. These bundles together look like ice flows jammed up against a frozen shore.

Y asi se va

And so it goes.

Fred Meets Therese

One of my photographs was featured on yourdailyphotograph.com, a site published by the Duncan Miller Gallery in Santa Monica.  Duncan Miller is one of two prestigious photography galleries on the west coast, the other being The Fraenkel Gallery To make the cut for that day my photograph was selected from several thousand submissions.

Fred Meets Therese - I Love Lucy was a regular rerun when my daughter was ten and a small black and white set was all we had for entertainment.  William Frawley played Fred Mertz, an irascible character and foil to his wife Ethel, played by Vivian Vantz.

Fred Meets Therese - I Love Lucy was a regular rerun when my daughter was ten and a small black and white set was all we had for entertainment.  William Frawley played Fred Mertz, an irascible character and foil to his wife Ethel, played by Vivian Vantz.

Title: Fred Meets Therese
Artist: Christopher Petrich
Date of image: 1996
Size: 8x10 inches (20x25 cm)
Format: silver gelatin
Features: signed on back, edition of 5
Price: $625
Sale Price: $575*
(*next 24 hours only, until Aug 26, 9:00 am PST)

The Big Badlands Last Year

August in the badlands is hot. The dead prairie grasses are yellow, but where there is water, green trees. The land is old, and it is barren. It is so dry that the mineral colors of the eras show clearly. Pinks, browns, yellows, and blue gray stripe the distant eroded buttes and canyons. Any organic material, any loam for example has long ago dried to dust.

The scene is millennia before our very eyes because this was the bed of a vast inland sea and we see the layers of earth in cross section there. The layers accumulated over hundreds of millions of years, an incessant rain of dust and death descending to the sea bottom for all that time.

Now the sea lies bone-dry under empty skies in summer and winter.

Big Badlands, South Dakota, 2017

Big Badlands, South Dakota, 2017

Missouri Photo Workshop Submission 2018

Bob And Jay's Ass, 1974

Bob And Jay's Ass, 1974

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Ramona - Cradling Daddy, June 23

Ramona - Cradling Daddy 2018

Ramona - Cradling Daddy 2018

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

A Boy On Skates, June 21

This boy coasted up and down the sidewalk on skates behind his sleek young dog, his hand tight on the dog's leash. And when the boy stopped he seemed to puzzle over the right way to tie the dog to a pole. But the dog stood still without the leash, tethered by his gaze on the distracted master.

A Boy On Skates, 2018

A Boy On Skates, 2018

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Ramona - Toddler in ivan's arms, June 20

Ramona was tired, but she insisted, forcefully, "grilla for me! stop it!"

Ivan's is a sad story.  Born in Africa, he was taken from his family and was kept as a curiosity in South Tacoma at a discount mall called The B&I Circus Store. His place was an empty concrete room. I saw him once, sitting in a corner with his back to the wall, not moving, pitiable. Then he moved to Atlanta, where he prospered.

Here, he has a red flower in his hand, and a toddler in his arms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYYL2LxotA8

Ramona - In Ivans Arms 2018

Ramona - In Ivans Arms 2018

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Ramona - Toddler At The Door, June 15

She's always pushing buttons; she knows the IPhone Home Button works with only my finger. She knows these things.

Ramona - Toddler At The Door, 2018

Ramona - Toddler At The Door, 2018

I've gotten a bunch of requests for technical info on my pictures of the day.
Camera: Leica M9
Lens: Leica 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M ASPH
Exposure: 180/f9.5 (ISO 320)
Post processing: Adobe Photoshop Version: 13.0.1 (13.0.1.3 20131024.r.34 2013/10/24:21:00:00) x64
Operating System: Windows NT, Version: 6.2
System architecture: Intel CPU Family:6, Model:15, Stepping:2 with MMX, SSE Integer, SSE FP, SSE2, SSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Couple In The Gulch - One In Pink, Photo Of The Day, June 13

Cutting through the ancient beds of glacial till Puget Gulch is the channel for fresh water to the Sound. Over the years the people around it pulled out trash, old cars, tires, needles, mountains of junk to allow stands of alder, maple, fir, cottonwood to grow a thick canopy above it. The trees cool Puget Creek so that the salmon can spawn there again. 

Down the gulch people walk to the sea.

Couple In The Gulch - One In Pink, 2018

Couple In The Gulch - One In Pink, 2018

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Crane On the East Tower of the New Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Vintage Photo Of The Day, June 11

The New Tacoma Narrows Bridge was added just to the south of the existing bridge, which was itself built to replace the famous "Galloping Gertie" that was blown to oblivion in 1940. The wreckage of that old bridge on the bottom of the strait is home to the enormous Giant Pacific Octopus. The New Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened in 2007.

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/TNBhistory/Connections/connections1.htm#wf2

Vintage print, $625

Crane On the East Tower of the New Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 2006

Crane On the East Tower of the New Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 2006

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Daisy Shadows And A Small Boy, Photo Of The Day, June 12

Visions pass swiftly sometimes, like bits swept downstream in a flood.

Liz Standing Shadow, With Daisy Over Lit, and Me At The Floral Table Top 2018

Liz Standing Shadow, With Daisy Over Lit, and Me At The Floral Table Top 2018

Small Boy In Dad's Arms In The Rain 2018

Small Boy In Dad's Arms In The Rain 2018

We were looking at the hummingbird grazing in the jasmine at the garden gate in early evening. Our jasmine overflows at the gate and climbs to the top of an overgrown juniper hedge near it. This vision passed slowly allowing us to follow the tiny bird flying to tiny pink blossoms, stopped in a frenzy before a sprint to the next.

And so some visions drift slowly. But the sight of the boy was almost too fast. We left a shop, nearly colliding with a young father whose arm was coiled about his baby's waist like a rope, the baby suspended and holding tight to some new toy.

They passed quickly and were gone, just like that.

 

 

 

 

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Girls Evening Play At The Beach, Vintage Photo Of The Day, June 10

In early August on Puget Sound, the long evening twilight and warm incoming tide invite children down to the beach.

Girls Evening Play At The Beach, Fox Island

Girls Evening Play At The Beach, Fox Island

This Fox Island beach is situated well for summer evenings because it faces due west and so the houses, bulkheads, and drift logs are burnished a lovely golden yellow by the setting sun.

Currents have long left enormous logs on the beach in front of our cabin. Whether these logs escaped the great rafts towed slowly to the mills or fell into the sound in the end, they became for us something to climb on and to photograph.

These children are the third generation of our family on this particular beach and as it happens they were the last of our family to enjoy summer there.

We do miss it.

Vintage print, $625

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.

Cambodian Girl Dancers Peeking From Backstage, Vintage Photo Of The Day, June 9

When we were a young family we would go to church meetings and gather with our friends on weekends.  Sometimes we went to festivals for Faith and Life. 

Cambodian Girl Dancers Peeking From Backstage, 1980

Cambodian Girl Dancers Peeking From Backstage, 1980

Cambodian Girl Sitting On A TV

Cambodian Girl Sitting On A TV

During one of those festivals in the early eighties, there was a traditional dance on the big festival night given by a family from Cambodia. The girl below danced with four others.

Faith and Life brought us together with the handicapped, some severely affected. We were all very glad to be with them for they were all dear friends. The handicapped, and I know we all are, but the severely handicapped cannot hide who they are. They become our most honest people with little to hide and little reason to do so. It means that I found myself closer to truth, unsettling, honest, and joyful.

It was hard for Cambodians back then.  The war there was brutal and many fled. But that festival night was charming, and so, who could resist the utter charm of it, the young girl in traditional dress, unsure a bit and sitting on a television?

Vintage print, $625

I created large format silver photographs of my home town for 20 years from 1990 through 2010. These are rich, beautifully crafted silver images processed for permanence. Vintage prints are made within a year of the photograph create date. My usual practice was to print within a few days or weeks of exposure. There are at most six prints per image; most images have three or fewer prints.