Marble Arch

Marble Arch

This is Marble Arch

Marble Arch is a white Carrara-marble monument at the junction of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and Edgware Road, almost directly opposite Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park in London, England. The arch is on a large traffic island, which also includes a very small park, in the midst of swirling traffic. The traffic island is directly across from the Marble Arch tube station.

The name “Marble Arch” also refers to the locality in west London where the arch is situated, particularly, the southern portion of Edgware Road. Historically, only members of the royal family and the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, have been allowed to pass through the arch in ceremonial procession.

Lightbox version

New Herman Leonard Book – Jazz

photograph © Herman Leonard –1 Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington at the Downbeat Club

I’ve always loved this photo, especially Duke Ellington’s expression of unmitigated joy…

Duke Ellington sits at the piano in a blackened theater, a brilliant shaft of light casting him in heroic silhouette.

Billie Holiday (sic – actually this is Ella Fitzgerald) stands before the microphone, lips slightly parted – as if in mid-phrase – smoke billowing softly behind her.

Oscar Peterson performs in close quarters with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis, Peterson’s hands a blur above the keys of his piano.

The black-and-white images could be the work of only one man, Herman Leonard, perhaps the most revered jazz photographer of the 20th Century and the subject of an exquisitely produced new book, “Jazz ” (Bloomsbury, $65). Though not the first, and probably not the last, published collection of Leonard’s photographs, “Jazz” captures the textural sumptuousness of Leonard’s photography, while crystallizing his personal philosophy about the music.

Leonard, in other words, chose to celebrate the jazz life, rather than demonize it. While many jazz lensmen sensationalized the dark side of jazz – as in those ghastly photos of a drug-ravaged Chet Baker toward the end of his life – Leonard went in the opposite direction. To him, jazz musicians were to be admired, not scorned or pitied. He saw poetry where others saw melodrama; he portrayed romance where others focused on decay.

(click to continue reading A new collection of Herman Leonard’s photography, ‘Jazz,’ portrays the music in a heroic light –

  1. Tribune typo labeled this woman as Billie Holiday []

I Dreamt of Sanctimonious Mountains

I Dreamt of Sanctimonious Mountains

A little while of Terra Paradise
I dreamed, of autumn rivers, silvas green,
Of sanctimonious mountains high in snow,
But in that dream a heavy difference
Kept waking and a mournful sense sought out,
In vain, life’s season or death’s element.
—Wallace Stevens, 1879-1955

Wallace Stevens

Photo of downtown buildings, Chicago Loop, cross-processed in Photoshop.

When I Wake Up

When I Wake Up
When I Wake Up, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

first real snow of the season, a little later than normal. Photo better when viewed in Lightbox.

Winter finally arrived in Chicago (today’s high is below freezing, so the snow is still visible in most places.)

Been Waiting on the Bus All Day Part Two

Been Waiting on the Bus All Day part two

I got my brown paper bag and my take-home pay

View On Black

In re: nothing in particular, this photo taken while a passenger in a car, slowly creeping up Lawrence Avenue a few summers ago. Modified in Photoshop using Kodak T-Max p3200 emulation.

I know this isn’t a technically masterful photo, but I like something ineffable about it. Maybe it is the “fuck you” look, maybe the slight blur. Maybe the Dentist neon behind the dude in wife-beater wear.

A Notion I Cannot Forget

A notion I cannot forget


Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone

Lens: Salvador 84

Flash: Off

Film: DreamCanvas

Self portrait, taken in the bathroom mirror1

I’m going to use this on the back cover of my third album.

Title borrowed from Al Green, by way of David Byrne and/or the Talking Heads

  1. no jokes please []

Dream caused by the flight of a bee near Presidential Towers

Dream caused by the flight of a bee near Presidential Towers

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone

Lens: Salvador 84

Flash: Cadet Blue Gel

Film: DreamCanvas

Lightbox version for your viewing pleasure.

Title stolen from Salvador Dali’s painting: Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, 1944

Evening rush of dreams

Evening rush of dreams

New Hipstamatic add-ons include a multi-exposure lens called Salvador 841, and a film called DreamCanvas which adds a bit of texture and some weird edges to photos. I like them both a lot.

This photo is of the evening commute on Randolph Street, in a hail/sleet storm, the first frozen particulates of the season, and always worth celebrating.

Lightbox version.

  1. i.e., Salvador Dali, duh []

No Sense Of Time

No Sense of Time

Better in Lightbox

Both Metra and Amtrak use these rails to link to Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center so they are quite active with trains. Shot with my Nikon 18mm-200mm lens, and converted to black and white in Photoshop using the Alien Skin Exposure 3 plugin. If this area of the West Loop wasn’t so fouled with diesel smoke, I’d set up a tripod here, and get a better, long exposure shot, maybe even a photo that included a CTA train in the track in the upper right of the frame, but it is, and I’m impatient anyway.