Lloyd Allen, a farmworker for Johnny Appleseed’s Farm in Ellington, raises dust as he plows a field on Pinney Road in preparation for planting corn in the next few weeks. The lack of rain has made the dirt appear to be a pile of dust. Will it ever rain? The weather folks say tomorrow.
With no rain for the past month in Old Lyme, Linda Kelly, the owner of Old Lyme Landscape, creates her own as she waters some of the several thousand geraniums in their greenhouses in preparation for the upcoming Mother’s Day and Memorial Day holidays. Kelly says Mother’s Day is the biggest holiday for selling hanging baskets. “You don’t have to wrap it and it has a handle,” she said.
Gathering my equipment from the back of my car in the New Britain High School parking lot recently, I could hear the strains of good old-fashioned rock n’ roll emanating from the cafeteria. As I made my way in, an elderly woman, dressed for a dance, was heading the wrong way. “It’s too loud. I can’t stay in there,” she said and walked toward her car in a huff. Not sure what to expect, I walked through the doors. It was like stepping back in time. The band was rocking out, playing doo-wop from the 50′s and 60′s. Some men wore tuxedos, others wore jackets and ties. The women wore dresses and some wore poodle skirts, Bobby socks and white Keds. On closer inspection, the scene looked like something from a Diane Arbus photo project. These folks may have been senior citizens but they were acting like high school seniors. And they were having a ball. So I got to work documenting the scene and when I was done, I had a lot of new friends.
More than 320 senior citizens attended the 15th Annual “Senior Prom” in the New Britain High School cafeteria that Thursday night. The annual Intergenerational Senior Prom was sponsored by New Britain TRIAD, a city partnership between law enforcement, support services and seniors. The theme was “rock ‘n roll” and the seniors danced the night away to the music of The Sharades.
The New Britain Museum of American Art may be on to something. The security guard that is on duty at the front entrance to the galleries works 24/7, requires no sleep, no food and no pay. The guard, of course, is actually a work of art, a hyper-realistic sculpture by artist Marc Sijan. Museum patrons do double-takes all day long as they enter the glass doors to the galleries under the watchful eye of the “Security Guard.” The sculpture is so realistic that many are inclined to reach out and touch it but they are strongly, and loudly, advised against doing that by the staff manning the front desk. The polyresin sculpture, from 2006, uses layers of acrylics, acids and oil paints to create the life-like look.
Don Coughlin of Bethel does a double-take as he enters the New Britain Museum of American Art as he passes a very life-like security guard which is actually a work of art and on display in the museum’s entry hall. The polyresin sculpture was created by artist Marc Sijan in 2006 and is referred to as Hyper-realistic. Coughlin works at a golf course and spends his five month off-season visiting art museums every week.
Pat McKernan of Farmington, left, and Gina Koppel of West Hartford, get a closer look at a very life-like security guard which is actually a work of art and on display in the the New Britain Museum of American Art entry hall.
Having covered many hurricanes, blizzards and natural disasters for decades, I was ready for Sandy but I was still nervous. The hype was incredible.
“This is the largest threat to human life that our state has experienced in anyone’s lifetime,” said Gov. Malloy.
Whoa, that’s enough to make anyone nervous. While everyone in the state prepared and headed home to hunker down, the Courant photo staff headed out to their assignments along the shoreline. I was assigned to New London and got photos of the powerful storm surge by late afternoon. Once it was dark, I tried to hunker down at my hotel but then the power went off there so I headed out to try and document the storm as it happened. Not an easy task. The next morning, the devastation was huge in certain areas of the state and our photogs in Milford, Fairfield and Old Saybrook made incredible images. This was not the killer storm of our lifetime, however. Not by a long shot.
Talk about a double-take. I was heading to an assignment downtown in the pouring rain when I saw two women pole dancing inside a glass-walled box truck. Say what? I just had to shoot this. It felt kind of creepy, to be honest, when I started shooting but I thought that maybe I could make a publishable weather photo out of this. But then it just got weirder and weirder when some men got kind of close to the window. It turned out that this was a first-time use of this truck as a promotional tool for an exotic dancer men’s club nearby. While the photos were a hit in the 4 o’clock news meeting, it was decided not to publish. Good decision. We don’t need to be promoting this club. It did make some pretty odd photos though.
Go Hartford. So proud.
This was a can’t miss photo assignment. A half-million full grown sunflowers growing in a tightly packed field. We shoot it every year but this year I assigned it to myself. Years ago, Duane and Kim Button grew one acre of sunflowers to give their ice cream customers something to look at. They started selling the flowers for charity shortly after and the fields grew to 15 acres. Last year, the Make-a-Wish foundation received $100,000 from the event.
The key to making this photo work is to get up high to show the vast expanse of flowers. I found a hill nearby that was perfect. Then I had to wait for people to be in my photo. It did not take long. As morning turned to afternoon, the parking lot filled and streams of spectators marveled at the giant flowers as they posed for photos and ate ice cream. As I said, a can’t miss situation.
It’s that time of year again when photojournalists throughout the country have to cover high school and college graduations. While the big day is huge for the graduates and their families, photographers cringe when they remember that they may be shooting two or three of these events per night. The problem is that they all look the same after awhile and our job is to create original, creative photographs for the next day’s paper and web galleries.
Here is a checklist for all photographers who are about to cover a graduation:
1. Park your car in an area where you can make a quick retreat.
2. Take a deep breath and try to pump yourself up thinking creative thoughts before getting out of the car. Sometimes just getting out of the car is the most difficult moment.
3. Get to the event early. This is the only time you will be able to make photographs and get names of the subjects. This is also the time to get the best photos of students getting excited and helping each other get ready.
4. Scout out the location of the ceremony and get in position to make a creative shot of the graduates marching into the venue.
5. Avoid the speeches. These are boring. (Why can’t commencement speakers get a clue and actually say something the graduates might remember?)
6. Panic. Where is the picture? It’s got to be out there somewhere. Wait. There it is. The perfect shot.
6. Time to go. Transmit your photos.
7. Arrive at the next graduation.
8. Begin again. Breathe…
The interchange for I-91 and I-95 in New Haven has been a mess for a long time. It seems like the area has been under construction for our entire lives. Making my way to the top of one of the concrete piers allowed me to get an idea of what is actually happening there. The climb inside the narrow column was difficult but the when I emerged from the top, the view was worth it. Looking at the new “Q” bridge, the old bridge and the city of New Haven from 75 feet brought the massive project into focus. Now it makes sense. The new bridge is nearing completion and traffic should be routed onto it by this summer. Then the old bridge will be demolished in stages and another bridge matching the new one will be built in it’s place creating ultimately ten lanes of traffic in both directions. Traffic has to continue flowing during the years of construction making the construction a complex puzzle. The entire project should be completed by 2015.
One year ago, there was still a foot of snow on the ground and more on the way. It was the killer winter that would never end. January 2011 was the snowiest month ever for Connecticut, breaking the record set in 1945 with 45 inches. Last January we had already had 59.8 inches on the ground. In contrast, the snow total for Hartford so far this year is a paltry 2.” For those of us who work outdoors, this has been the best winter ever. For skiers and lovers of snow, this may be the most boring winter ever.
PRO TIP- When I spotted the bright red robin atop the tall, budding tree, I realized that I did not have the long lenses I would need to make the shot. I dug into my camera bag of tricks and came up with a 2X extender which doubled the focal length of my zoom lens. These extenders tend to be less sharp than a good quality long lens but it was better than nothing. My tip? Never give up on a shot. Try something and hope it works.
by Stephen Dunn
Maturo has been at the center of a controversy since WPIX-TV reporter Mario Diaz asked him what he was going to do for East Haven’s Latino community in the wake of the arrest of four police officers on harassment and intimidation charges.
“I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not quite sure yet,” he said.
The media and the public jumped on his “flippant” statement and the public relations firestorm began for the mayor. Soon the arrests of four of his police officers who were arrested Tuesday after a long federal investigation, were all but forgotten. They were charged with crimes against members of the town’s Latino community ranging from beating handcuffed suspects to obstructing justice.
Mayor Joseph Maturo insisted he would not resign on Thursday, even while an immigration reform group brought 500 tacos to his office in response to his comment.
When I met the mayor in his office Wednesday, he seemed like a very nice guy who likes to tell jokes and kid around. I think from now on, he may have to pre-edit what comes out of his mouth.
This is the photo that told the story on the front page on Thursday.
PRO TIP: Keep your head down and do your job. The mayor invited us into his office to read a statement of apology. He planned on standing behind his lecturn and reading his notes. This, of course, is boring for photos. My job is to subtley photograph the mayor anywhere but the lecturn and hope to capture a “real” moment, not a rehearsed one.