A Few Pretty Pictures

My photos tend to be mostly of things, not people. Occasionally I break out of this restriction, but not often enough. Here are a few of my favorites which I had on hand while the scanner hummed nearby. Mostly night shots, mostly long exposures. Let me know what you think of them, by dropping me a line in email! -Charles

This are pretty small representations of much larger pictures. To see something up-close (around 1024x768 or so), just click on the smaller photo and a larger one will load.

I took this one in February of 1982. My brother and I took a trip to Berlin for Spring Break. Not exactly the tropical hot-spot of Europe, this was still one heck of an interesting trip. Germany was still divided then, and the train-ride through East Germany to get to Berlin was a little scary. For those who don't speak English, the sign in the foreground states "Attention - You are now leaving West Berlin", under which someone has spray painted what can be loosely translated as "Oh yeah, how?"

Another night shot. This is in St. Paul, Minnesota during the summer of 1983. Fresh outta high school with no full-time job, I was quite fond of wandering around at night looking for anything interesting to catch with a tripod and a cable-release. The lights were in "late-night" mode, blinking yellow to one direction and red to the other, so they appear to have been caught in mid-switch, but this is actually about a 3 minute exposure. There is something about the mix of colors which appeals to me.

This was taken in the summer of 1996, during my family's visit to the East Coast. We arrived in Niagara Falls dead tired and just looking for a place to sleep, but took the time to check out the falls for about an hour before collapsing like the dead in a cheap motel nearby. Even with all the glitz and hype surrounding the area of the falls, this is still something breathtaking to behold. The light-show wasn't as obtrusive as you might think - the colors slowly fluxing and changing only added a touch of something to the already-impressive sense of HUGENESS one gets from standing next to the water.

In the summer of 1986, I think, I got to road-trip with my friend Bill to my other friend Tim's cabin in Montana. Located across the North Fork river from Glacier National Park, it's miles from nowhere and a wonderful place to get away. This view is looking Northeast across the river into Glacier - it's about Midnight, if I recall correctly, and you can see the clouds drifting over the mountain tops, as well as the blur of the stars as the earth rotates.
Another time-delay shot. This is looking straight up at the North Star. I would guess this is about a 10-minute exposure, but I suppose an expert could check the size of the arcs the stars are making and get an exact number. The arcs should be a full circle after 24 hours...
Ah, back to 1980 for this one. Arriving to school at Minneapolis Central High, I got out of the bus, looked up and thought "wow"!. Happily, I had a key to the roof (I don't remember exactly how), so I scooted up to the top floor, out onto the roof, and caught this beautiful sunrise over South Minneapolis before heading to my first 7:15am class.
This is a souvenier from my trip to Orlando, Florida. It was late February 1998, and I was lying awake in my hotel room listening to a thunderstorm. I finally got up and tried to brace my camera on the (round) railing of the porch to get a shot. Feeling silly standing out there in my underwear, there was a sudden FLASHBOOM and a chorus of "ooooh" from the other balconies in the hotel. I didn't feel so out-of-place after that. This same evening, tornadoes ripped through Orlando and wrecked a lot of property. I guess our hotel was spared because we were right next to Disneyworld, and who would dare mess with THAT?!?

I wish I could take credit for this one. This is a photo taken by a friend of mine, Sally Gustafson, with whom I used to work at the Guthrie Theater. She brought a stack of photos into work one day and I was absolutely captivated by this image. I paid her for an 8x10 enlargement, and it's been up on my wall ever since. Take the time to click on this one to see the larger image. No rain, no hail, no pea-green sky. Just a tornado working it's way across a field somewhere in (I believe) Minnesota.

Here's the full story from Sally (Sept 2003):

"I shot this in May 1980 somewhere in the middle of South Dakota, maybe an hour or two east of Pierre.

There wasn't much of a storm, which is why there is so much contrast between the sky and the tornado. We saw the tornado forming while we were still outside of the town, so we high-tailed it into the town while sirens were blaring and the tornado crept closer to the ground.

Once we got to town, we found others calmly watching the progress of the funnel, so we stood among them where we could quickly run for shelter.

This shot is facing east, and once the funnel reached the ground, it moved north to south on the town's perimeter. (It was not coming toward me, although the shot suggests it.)

It was interesting to watch--once the funnel reached earth and started to pick up debris, two darker lines formed inside the cone and grew from the ground up to the cloud. Once those lines got to the cloud, then the entire funnel turned dark from the ground up to the cloud. The whole funnel was twisted during this time--not a straight line from the cloud to the ground, but would form an S, for instance.

There was no rain and I don't recall feeling a strong wind. I also can't say whether I could hear the tornado, because we were standing right by the station issuing the siren.

It eventually slowed down until you could see the dirt spinning in the funnel, and then became a cloud of dirt that gently blew south. It did not just become a cloud of dirt that fell straight to earth, surprising to me. One of the townspeople we were standing among then said, "Well, that was the longest lasting tornado I've ever seen." Maybe they were so calm because they experienced it often?

From the time we saw a cone forming in the cloud until it was that cloud of dirt was, maybe, 45 minutes although my sense of time is pretty unreliable at this point.

I happened to drive back through that town the following winter. I stopped at a cafe and asked if anyone remembered that tornado, and the waitress thought she knew which one it was. She said it just went through a field and picked up a lot of dirt--no injuries or destruction, thank goodness."