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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Archive for December, 2009
by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 On this last day of the year we want to offer some suggestions for taking digital (or film) pictures of significant events on New Year’s morning, such as taking in a parade, like the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Since these are a one time opportunity for photographing the parade, you need to be prepared, both mentally and equipment-wise. We present both general tips and some specific tips for your convenience. Have a great day watching history go by with each float, band, equestrian group, or other participant.  GLB


“Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.”
— John Naisbitt

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”
— G. K. Chesterton

“Campaign behavior for wives: Always be on time. Do as little talking as humanly possible. Lean back in the parade car so everybody can see the president.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Group conformity scares the pants off me because it’s so often a prelude to cruelty towards anyone who doesn’t want to — or can’t — join the Big Parade.”
— Bette Midler

“Most of life is routine – dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration you’ll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street.”
— Ben Nicholas

“The Times reported that an estimated 700,000 people attended this year’s Rose Parade. That figure is obviously false, so I’m wondering why The Times continues to report false attendance figures year after year.”
— LA Times

“When I do something directly political, even if [an audience] doesn’t agree with it, if it’s funny and true, they gotta give it up. . . . Stand-up is more personal; a monologue is standing on the corner watching the parade go by and making wisecracks about it.”
— Bill Maher

“Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealously, and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.”
— Og Mandino

The quotes included in this posting were taken from the public quotation site. This blog makes every attempt to comply with the legal rights of copyright holders.

This posting is intended for the educational use of photographers and photography students and complies with the “educational fair use” provisions of copyright law. For readers who might wish to reuse some of these images should check out their compliance with copyright limitations that might apply to that use.



Parade and Festival Photography Tips

For many of us in southern California, New Year’s morning means getting up, bundling up in warm blankets around the TV, maybe starting some logs in the fireplace, and, above all else, tuning the TV into the Rose Parade. Yes, we have occasionally made treks to Pasadena to see the parade live, but spending the night on the parade route is an activity for the young or the “newbie” amongst us.

TOR_New_Orleans_float If we go to the parade ourselves or if we go to Pasadena in the days after the parade to view the de-peopled floats, we will no doubt have our digital cameras with us. But how do we get some of those “immortal” images from this experience? By careful planning and preparation (equipment-wise and mentally) for the opportunities that will present themselves. But just remember, if you get one “WOW” images out of 100 snapshots, you’re lucky!

Take a look at this article below to help you prepare for your parade (or festival) experience. And above all, enjoy the sights, sounds, and the general experience of being at the parade.

The Rose Parade

The Tournament of Roses Parade, better known as the Rose Parade, is the “America’s New Year Celebration”, a festival of flowers, music and equestrians and a college football game on New Year’s Day, produced by the non-profit Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.

The annual parade was first held January 1, 1890 in Pasadena, California. Today, the Rose Parade is watched in person by hundreds of thousands of spectators on the parade route, and is broadcast on multiple television networks in the United States. It is seen by millions more on television worldwide in more than 200 international territories and countries. The Rose Bowl college football game was added in 1902 to help fund the cost of staging the parade.

Tips from Russ Burden has posted a good general guide for taking photographs of parades, including the people involved. We include it here for your convenience, but we encourage you to visit this web site to explore this and other information. The author, Russ Burden, also has a book on photography available both online and local Borders or Barnes and Nobles stores (see the end of article). Enjoy this posting:

A small town parade or festival can provide more opportunities than a grand scale one such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in that the restrictions to gain access to the participants aren’t as rigid. Check the events sections of your local paper to see when one is scheduled and give it a whirl.

parade_festival_tips1 © 2006 Russ Burden

People Shots: Knowing how to work with people is equally as important as knowing how to work the camera. If you see an interesting face, don’t be afraid to approach that person and ask if he or she wouldn’t mind being photographed. More often than not you’ll get a positive response. When you begin to make your photographs, direct the person as to where to look or place their hands. If the background is cluttered or distracting, take a look around the area to find a better shooting location and ask if the person if he or she wouldn’t mind moving. Be friendly while you’re engaged in your image making by simply talking about the event. Look for that special moment of emotion that completes the time spent with your subject. Don’t be discouraged if the first time you try this it doesn’t pan out. The more you make the attempt, the more natural it feels.

Equipment: The equipment you bring has a direct correlation to the types of images you capture. My parade and festival kit consists of two zoom lenses, a back up camera body, flash, compact flash cards, and extra batteries. All this fits very compactly in a small camera bag as one of the lenses is on the body I carry. I use a wide angle zoom when working in tight quarters and my intent is to include a lot of subject matter. If I want to get face shots or isolate a small portion of the action, I use my telephoto zoom. Regardless of the lens I use, what I look for is the decisive moment of emotion from my subject.

parade_festival_tips2 © 2006 Russ Burden

Fill Flash: To control the harsh contrast of sunlit events, I use fill flash. This allows me to put light where it doesn’t exist. The result is a much more evenly lit image. Deep shadows in eye sockets, under the nose, and beneath the chin are very distracting. By adding light from my flash that is balanced with the light from the sun, these troublesome areas now reveal detail yielding a pleasing image. Dependent upon the strength of the sun, I’ll dial in anywhere from minus one and two third stops of light to no compensation at all. The stronger the sun, the less I compensate. For instance, if the sun is subdued by a passing cloud, the amount of fill I use is normally minus one and two thirds. If the sun is directly overhead in the middle of the summer, I dial in no compensation.

parade_festival_tips3 © 2006 Russ Burden

Schedule: Don’t arrive just when the festival starts and plan on leaving at its end as you’ll miss many great opportunities to get memorable images. A lot of good shooting moments occur as people are getting ready, fine tuning their make up, and going through the motions of the day. Additionally, this is a great time to get up close and personal shots of the participants. Concentrate on getting face shots and close ups of the costumes. During the parade, these shots are not available so take advantage of this situation. The same goes for after the parade. Things may be a bit more hectic, but this is a great time to capture photo journalistic images. 

parade_festival_tips4 © 2006 Russ Burden

To learn more about this topic, join me on one of my Photographic Nature Tours. Visit and click on the NATURE TOURS button for more information. Also, pick up a copy of my new book, Amphoto’s Complete Book of Photography. You can purchase a signed copy directly from me or visit your local book store or Amazon. Contact me at to order your signed copy.

Practical Tips

Digital Parade Photography Help and Tips includes seven specific tips for getting better parade photos with your digital camera. These include:

#1: Don’t Neglect the Background
Zoom out so your parade photos can tell a story.

#2: Get Near a Corner
Consider situating yourself at a corner when taking digital photos of parades.

#3: Ensure you Have Enough Power
Don’t let empty batteries spoil your digital parade photography.

#4: Don’t Neglect the Bystanders
A parade audience may provide lots of unique photo-taking opportunities.

#5: Shoot Quicker Without Refocusing
Don’t waste time refocusing between shots during a parade.

#6: Get There Early
Two reasons why arriving early is vital when shooting digital photos of parades.

#7: Scout out a Location Beforehand
A little preparation before a parade may result in spectacular digital photo

To these tips, I would suggest two others — set your digital camera to “Aperture Priority” (often indicated as Av) and set the aperture to f/8 and when getting ready to “shoot”, hold you shutter release button down half-way (this sets the focus in most cameras). With these settings you can concentrate on getting a good picture in your viewfinder and/or preview screen. Then take the image. Don’t spend time previewing the image in detail, but get ready to make the next image! You may shoot a lot of images, but you will probably find some real gems from your experience.

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Tournament of Roses Parade can be found at…

Also see… Parade and Festival Photography Tips Digital Parade Photography Help and Tips

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we take a look at a long-time tradition of New Year’s Eve: the Party! This time of the year gives us an excuse to buy “tooters” and hats and just get crazy. It is a time to celebrate the transition fromone year to the next with our friends, or in public celebrations like concerts, hotel parties, and other gatherings. The stroke of midnight brings on noisemakers, singing “Auld Lang Syne” and maybe even watching the Times Square celebration on TV, including the dropping of the ball at midnight.   GLB


“The new year begins in a snow-storm of white vows.”
— George William Curtis

“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.  Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.”
— Brooks Atkinson

“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”
— Oscar Wilde

“New Year’s Eve, where auld acquaintance be forgot.  Unless, of course, those tests come back positive.”
— Jay Leno

“New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
— Mark Twain

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.”
— Author Unknown

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
— Edith Lovejoy Pierce

“Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath.  Today, we are a pious and exemplary community.  Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.”
— Mark Twain


The New Year’s Eve Party

NYE2009 For many of us, New Year’s Eve signals thoughts about getting together with friends. While Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. are generally gatherings of family, the New Year’s Eve party is often a gathering of friends. It is a time to “let your hair down” and have fun. In years past, much of the focus was around drinking, but today the trend is toward the sharing a time with those we enjoy at the transition from one year to another. This may be public or private. Let’s look at a couple sets of suggestions for celebrating this day.

Public Celebrations and Parties

Vanity Fair, on its web site, recently published an article on “The Best New Year’s Eve Parties around the World.” We include it here for your convenience:

With the decade drawing to a close, the pressure is on hot spots around the planet to attract crowds to their lavish New Year’s Eve parties, and the hype can be overwhelming for even the most discerning partygoer. To help you sort through your options, VF Daily categorized the world’s best events and venues.

If you’re looking to get up close and personal with your favorite musical act, New Year’s Eve might just be your chance to do it—every nightclub in the world seems to be signing up high-profile acts. The hottest ticket is for the throwdown at Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel, which has recruited Lady Gaga to play poolside, accompanied by D.J. David Berrie and Jus Ske. (Tickets start at $425.) And D.J. Jesse Marco will be spinning inside Liv at the Fountainbleau. In Las Vegas, 50 Cent will be appearing at Pure, where Marshall Barnes will be on the turntables (tickets start at $100), while the Black Eyed Peas will take over LAX (tickets start at $100). Those heading to Atlantic City will find themselves torn between hearing Devin Lucien in the D.J. booth and Leighton Meester performing at Caesars Palace Dusk Club (how very un-Blair Waldorf!), for $100 a head, or checking out the Borgata’s all-star roster that includes Samantha Ronson, Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, and John Legend (tickets range from $25 to $699).

With New York City still cleaning up after its first major snowstorm (and bracing for more on the way), pool parties have an alluring cachet. Miami’s Gansevoort South is using its rooftop, including the bar and 110-foot-long pool, for what will surely be a wild party. (Tickets start at $225.) Across the pond, the W Barcelona is going all out with an “après ski on the beach” approach: guests can lounge deck-side (with fleece blankets) and sip on hot rum punch while enjoying midnight fireworks. (Tickets start at €50.)

When planning a monster evening, you might want to play it safe by securing a place to crash in case things get crazy. Boston’s Liberty Hotel created a deluxe package with just this in mind. Guests staying up late at the “On Top of Liberty” event can book a luxury room and enjoy a two p.m. check-out (plus Molton Brown recovery eye cream) if they’re worse for wear come January 1. (Hotel packages start at $425.) For a night of old–New York glamour, head to the Pierre Hotel. Savor champagne at the Two E bar late night and then ring in the New Year with a morning walk through Central Park. (Tickets start at $75.)

And then there are the New Year’s revelers for whom gastronomy supersedes intoxication. For them, the lure of prix-fixe meals at big-city restaurants calls. Hotel Griffou, in New York City, supplements its gourmet offerings with a special performance by Nathan Lee Graham. (Tickets are $150.) Over at the members-only Soho House, if the Roaring 20s theme isn’t enough of a draw, the three-course set menu ($65 and $85) likely will be. And for a bit of whimsy, London’s East Room will be the site of a lavish Snow Queen–inspired White Dinner: six courses accompanied by white-peach Bellinis and topped off with Mont Blanc meringue (£100).


Some Suggestions for a Typical NYE Party, that ubiquitous web site that has information on just about everything, has a number of suggestions for your New Year’s Eve Party. It is reproduced here for your convenience. If you follow the link below to this page, you can also get information about the menu and how to prepare each item. They suggest:

It’s the end of the holiday season and the last day of the year. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling kind of tired. I want to welcome in the New Year while sharing a few laughs and good food with friends, but I also want to relax and feel cozy this New Year’s Eve. I’m going to plan an easy New Year’s Eve party, and I’m going to show you how you can too.

Setting the Stage
  • Tell your guests that dress will be casual. I plan to wear nothing that requires more than two inch heels. If guests want to dress up, that’s fine too. They should party in the style that makes them feel comfortable.
  • Eliminate the stress of finding a babysitter. Let your friends know that the kids can join the party. Warm up a VCR in a separate room from the grownups for any kids that choose to vegetate with a good video. They’ve worked hard all year, too, and deserve to relax that night. Provide a few kid-friendly snacks for when they choose to check out what the grown-ups are doing for fun.
  • And what should the grownups be doing? Prepare a selection of favorite music for relaxing and dancing. Dig out the board games to challenge the competitive members of the group. And keep the food and drinks flowing.
  • Decorate the party rooms with lots of cozy candlelight. Use red poinsettia plants as table accents since their color will add to the warm ambience.
  • With all of the high-quality, festive party goods on the market, I see no reason to use any dinnerware that requires more clean-up than a good toss at the trash can.
  • And while purchasing your party goods, remember to add the traditional New Year’s Eve props such as party hats, tiaras, and noisemakers. Just because this party will be cozy, doesn’t mean it has to be sleepy. In fact, I predict that with everyone feeling comfortable and cozy, this will be one of the more festive parties of the year.
Planning the Menu
  • Plan a simple menu this year. I only plan to serve my two favorite courses, appetizers and dessert. Select recipes that include your personal comfort foods, whether it’s cheese, chocolate or caviar.
  • If guests offer to bring something, don’t hesitate to say YES!
  • Prepare your dishes in advance, aside from a last minute trip to the oven.
  • Take advantage of pre-made specialty foods. There are so many wonderful prepared dishes now available in supermarkets and specialty food stores. I’m lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s close to my home. They always have a fun assortment of traditional and exotic specialty foods from which to choose for both of my courses.
  • I plan to include an elegant cheese board as an easy and comforting addition to my appetizer selection.
  • Serve fondue at this party. You could prepare two pots – one with a cheese fondue as an appetizer and one with a chocolate fondue for dessert. This is the essence of cozy and easy wrapped up in bubbling pots of goodness.
  • If you’ve participated in a holiday cookie exchange, you will have an easy plate of goodies to add to your dessert table, no extra work required. And even if you didn’t, shop at your favorite bakery for a festive assortment of cookies.
  • Candy-covered mixed nuts always add to the fun nibbles on a dessert table.
  • I plan to give chocolate a prominent place among the other dessert selections. But if some other dessert makes you feel cozy and nurtured, by all means make sure you have it available on this last and first night of the year!


So, enjoy yourselves this evening. Have a good time, but remember, if you drink, DON’T DRIVE. This is hoping all of you will be around for tomorrow’s postings!


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

New Year’s Eve can be found at…

Also see: Web Site: A Cozy New Year’s Eve Party

Vanity Fair Web Site: The Best New Year’s Eve Parties around the globe”…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 As we come to this final day of 2009, we look back on our beginnings. When the Pilgrims and Puritans arrived in the Mayflower in 1620, one of their leaders was the minister, John Winthrop. He served as governor of the colony and was responsible for deriving the phrase, “City on a Hill” from the Sermon on the Mount. This phrase became popular with recent presidents like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Today we explore John Winthrop and other elements that have helped to create our nation in this great land.  GLB


“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
— Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16

“America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.
— George W. Bush, in an address to the nation on September 11, 2001

“Wherever you go, you carry a message of hope – a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘To the captives, "come out," and to those in darkness, ‘be free’.
— George W. Bush, in a message to the troops

“[As Ronald Reagan emphasized that] America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.
— Michael Reagan, in “The City on A Hill: Fulfilling Ronald Reagan’s Vision For America”

“The destiny of the American People is to subdue the continent, to unite the world in one social family. … Divine task! Immortal mission! America leads the host of nations as they ascend to this order of civilization. …the industrial conquest of the world.
— William Gilpin, Governor of Colorado Territory, 1846

“For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. Soe that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.
— John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony

“If we should change from a mixed aristocracy to mere democracy, first we should have no warrant in scripture for it: for there was no such government in Israel … A democracy is, amongst civil nations, accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government.  [To allow it would be] a manifest breach of the 5th Commandment.”
— John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony

“ ‘I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.’
— Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address


“City upon a Hill” Speeches

Ronald Reagan was fond of this phrase. He used it in speeches in 1974 while Governor of California, in 1984 in his acceptance speech at the Republican Party Nominating Convention, and in 1989 in his farewell speech to the American people at the end of his presidency. It had also been used by John F. Kennedy in a speech to the ‘Joint Convention of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ on January 9, 1961. But where did this phrase come from?

WinthropJohn03One of the more obscure figures in American history, John Winthrop may be one of the least famous people every American should know something about. Winthrop was instrumental in shaping what came to be known as the "puritan" attitude in American culture and politics. For better or for worse, this attitude or inclination has remained with us in various forms and will probably continue to do so through the foreseeable future.

City upon a hill is a phrase derived from the metaphor of Salt and Light in the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus given in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 5:14 states "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."

This phrase entered the American lexicon early in its history, with John Winthrop’s sermon "A Model of Christian Charity," given in 1630. Winthrop warned the Puritan colonists of New England who were to found the Massachusetts Bay Colony that their new community would be a "city upon a hill," watched by the world:

Unbeknownst to many, there was successfully a City upon a Hill in 1578, but the city was so large and the hill so small that they all fell off. Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man.

We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body.

So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that of New England."

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a (I like pie!) by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.

And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. "Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil," in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life,that we and our seed may live, by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity.

The speech is believed to have been given while the company was still aboard the ship Arbella not long before landing in New England.

John Winthrop

John Winthrop (12 January 1587/8– 26 March 1649 obtained a royal charter, along with other wealthy Puritans, from King Charles for the Massachusetts Bay Company and led a group of English Puritans to the New World in 1630. He was elected the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony the year before. Between 1639 and 1648, he was voted out of the governorship and then re-elected a total of 12 times. Although Winthrop was a respected political figure, he was criticized for his obstinacy regarding the formation of a general assembly in 1634, and he clashed repeatedly with other Puritan leaders like Thomas Dudley, Rev. Peter Hobart and others.

Mayflower Harbor For Puritans like Winthrop, the church in Old England was incompletely reformed: Anglicanism continued in rituals and theological ideas seen as too greatly indebted to Catholic practice. Unlike the Separatists–who held that the only hope was to leave the English church and begin anew–Puritans at first remained a part of the Anglican church, meaning to purify it from within. Once in the New World, they could create an attractive, alternative, more fully Protestant community, one more greatly reformed than it had been under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Elizabeth I or James I/VI.

In understanding this task as a vocational charge upon the community, Puritan leaders, writers and speakers developed literary and theological parallels with the tasks laid upon the people of Israel, forged around the Exodus agreement with God to go into an unknown place and live out a call they believed to have been prophetically placed upon them. Winthrop’s charge to the group about to land on the North American coast is an early example of this sense of visionary self-definition.

Plymouth Houses The early sense of a ‘special ordination’ to a covenant with God, to which Winthrop’s speech alludes, was further developed by the community’s early leaders; maintaining a coherent social order informed by well-thought out principles and Scriptural tenets was an essential part of the task. By leaving Old England, the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Puritans effected a geographic separation, and soon became more and more like the Plymouth Separatists (the correct name for the Plimoth/Plymouth Pilgrims), with whom they often interacted. Known finally as Congregationalists, their ecclesial vision offered a model for behavior and a source of identity that strengthened civil society in New England.

Winthrop’s developed imagery of a visible beacon also points out something that is often misunderstood: early Puritans, quite conscious of their goals, never claimed to be seeking religious toleration. In fact, until very late in the 17th century, this was not a goal for many individuals, groups, or rulers. Their interest in creating an exemplary community in the Massachusetts Bay Colony had led them to purchase all the stock in their company, and to bring their charter with them; those who arrived were expected to follow theocentric laws for established gatherings, consistent with the task of keeping that single light burning clearly.

They may well seem to latter-day analysts to have wanted for charity towards other religious persuasions, but they were not hypocritical in this regard, merely following the cuius regio, eius religio (whoever governs determines the inhabitants’ religion) practice of their day, just as rulers elsewhere in Old England and Europe determined their citizens’ religious affiliation.

Attributing Winthrop’s charge to his hearers as taking place just before disembarkation also echoes Moses’ sermon to the gathered Hebrews, about to cross over into Caanan. Each gives purpose, defines religious identity, offers prophetic meaning and confers communal responsibility at an important historical moment in the life of a nascent community.

Legacy of John Winthrop

Winthrop is most famous for his "City upon a Hill" sermon (as it is known popularly, its real title being A Model of Christian Charity) in which he declared that the Puritan colonists emigrating to the New World were part of a special pact with God to create a holy community. This speech is often seen as a forerunner to the concept of American exceptionalism. The speech is also well known for arguing that the wealthy had a holy duty to look after the poor.

Recent history has shown, however, that the speech was not given much attention at the time of its delivery. Rather than coining these concepts, Winthrop was merely repeating what were widely held Puritan beliefs in his day. The work was not actually published until the nineteenth century, although it was known and circulated in manuscript before that time. Winthrop did publish The Humble Request of His Majesties Loyal Subjects (London, 1630), which defended the emigrants’ physical separation from England and reaffirmed their loyalty to the Crown and Church of England. This work was republished by Joshua Scottow in the 1696 compilation MASSACHUSETTS: or The first Planters of New-England, The End and Manner of their coming thither, and Abode there: In several EPISTLES.

Official_Portrait_of_President_Reagan_1981 Modern American politicians, like Ronald Reagan, continue to cite Winthrop as a source of inspiration. However, those who praise Winthrop fail to note his strident anti-democratic political tendencies. Winthrop stated, for example, "If we should change from a mixed aristocracy to mere democracy, first we should have no warrant in scripture for it: for there was no such government in Israel … A democracy is, amongst civil nations, accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government. [To allow it would be] a manifest breach of the 5th Commandment."

Modern Usage

President Ronald Reagan used the phrase on January 11, 1989, in his farewell speech to the nation:

And that’s about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thing. The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the "shining city upon a hill." The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.


Other Events on this Day
  • In 1879…
    Thomas Edison gives the first public demonstration of his incandescent lightbulbs by lighting up a street in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

  • In 1907…
    A giant ball is first dropped in Times Square to bring in the New Year.

  • In 1929…
    In New York City, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians introduce Americans to the custom of playing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve.

  • In 1935…
    Charles Darrow of Pennsylvania patents the board game Monopoly.

  • In 1999…
    The U.S. transfers full control of the Panama Canal to Panama.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

City on a Hill Sermon (John Winthrop) can be found at…

John Winthrop can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we are looking at the type of photographs you might be taking on New Year’s Eve. These photos will typically be taken in available light of the streets, but may also be supplemented with the use of flash. In any case, you will probably want to use a tripod, since you will need longer exposures on all but the top-of-the-class SLR (Single Lens Reflect) cameras. We hope that these tips will help you capture some great photos!  GLB


“Photography is the beauty of life, captured.”
— Tara Chisholm

“I didn’t choose photography. Photography chose me.”
— Gerardo Suter

“Imagine a world without photography, one could only imagine.”
— Berenice Abbott

“Just remember one of Farace Laws of photography: Sucess is hard, failure is easy.”
— Joe Farace

“Photography is only intuition, a perpetual interrogation – everything except a stage set.”
— Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Photography is like making cheese. It takes a hell of a lot of milk to make a small amount of cheese just like it takes a hell of a lot of photos to get a good one.”
— Robert Gillis

“I photograph continuously, often without a good idea or strong feelings. During this time the photos are nearly all poor, but I believe they develop my seeing and help later on in other photos. I do believe strongly in photography and hope by following it intuitively that when the photographs are looked at they will touch the spirit in people.”
Harry Callahan

“To speak technically photography is the art of writing with light. But if I want to think about it more philosophically, I can say that photography is the art of writing with time. When you capture an image you capture not only a piece of space, you also capture a piece of time. So you have this piece of specific time in your square or rectangle. In that sense I find that photography has more to do with time than with light.”
— Gerardo Suter

The quotes included in this posting were taken from the public quotation site,, which does not indicate that they are covered by any special copyright restrictions. Likewise, the images included in this posting were obtained under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License from the web site. This blog makes every attempt to comply with the legal rights of copyright holders.

This posting is intended for the educational use of photographers and photography students and complies with the “educational fair use” provisions of copyright law. For readers who might wish to reuse some of these images should check out their compliance with copyright limitations that might apply to that use.



Night Photography Tips

Ferris Wheel at Night Night photography refers to photographs taken outdoors between dusk and dawn. Night photographers generally have a choice between using artificial light or using a long exposure, exposing the scene for seconds or even minutes, in order to give the film enough time to capture a usable image, and to compensate for reciprocity failure. With the progress of high-speed films, higher-sensitivity digital image sensors, wide-aperture lenses, and the ever-greater power of urban lights, night photography is increasingly possible using available light.

In the early 1900s, a few notable photographers, Alfred Stieglitz and William Fraser, began working at night. The first photographers known to have produced large bodies of work at night were Brassai and Bill Brandt. In 1932, Brassai published Paris de Nuit, a book of black-and-white photographs of the streets of Paris at night. During World War II, British photographer Brandt took advantage of the black-out conditions to photograph the streets of London by moonlight.

i43 By the 1990s, British-born photographer Michael Kenna had established himself as the most commercially successful night photographer. His black-and-white landscapes were most often set between dusk and dawn in locations that included San Francisco, Japan, France, and England. Some of his most memorable projects depict the Ford Motor Company’s Rogue River plant, the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station in northern England, and many of the Nazi concentration camps scattered across Germany, France, Belgium, Poland and Austria.

During the beginning of the 21st century, the popularity of digital cameras made it much easier for beginning photographers to understand the complexities of photographing at night. Today, there are hundreds of websites dedicated to night photography.

Long Exposure Multiple Flash Photographic Technique

Cathedral nightThe long exposure multiple flash technique is a method of night or low light photography which use a mobile flash unit to expose various parts of a building or interior using a long exposure time.

Long exposure means that the shutter of the camera is kept open for longer, allowing more light to be exposed to the images sensor or film of the camera. This causes the photograph to be lighter, and is good for night and dark photos.

This technique is often combined with using coloured gels in front of the flash unit to provide different colours in order to illuminate the subject in different ways. It is also common to flash the unit several times during the exposure while swapping the colours of the gels around to mix colours on the final photo. This requires some skill and a lot of imagination since it is not possible to see how the effects will turn out until the exposure is complete. By using this technique, the photographer can illuminate specific parts of the subject in different colours creating shadows in ways which would not normally be possible.

Light Painting

The camera shutter is opened. A person carries a torch around the scene using it to illuminate all the desired objects in the scene, then the shutter is closed. The result is a lit scene featuring lots of visible light trails. The person working the light is not visible in the photograph.


First, you must take into account what exactly you are taking a photo of, and what you want the resulting image to be. Do you want to see the subject exactly as is appears at night or low light conditions, show motion, or enhance the natural lighting? Determining how to shoot these different situations can usually be done by first answering a few simple questions:

  • Is the subject either producing its own light or reflecting light?
  • Is the subject already in motion? (and if so, do I want to capture the motion or not?)
  • Is the subject going to move out of the frame?
  • Do I have a tripod or other method to enhance stability?

db_moschee1 After addressing these questions, it becomes less a matter of guesswork and more a matter of setting the camera according to the ambient conditions. If the object is producing its own light, or has been illuminated but an outside light source, depending on its brightness, a faster shutter speed is probably more appropriate. The aperture setting then can be set to have more or less of the frame be ‘in focus’ depending on your desires for the resulting image. Using a speed that is too slow can allow too much light in, and results in a completely white image. Conversely, if the subject is not illuminated or giving off light, (stars and planets are an exception) then a much slower shutter speed is desirable, and can extend into minutes if the subject is very faint. Beware of ambient light, as it can become overpowering if the shutter is left open too long.

Long Exposure Night Photography: Step By Step Guide

Adam Currie, in his blog: Night Photography & Stuff offers the following suggestions for night photography

800px-Subhash_Marg_in_Indore,_India In this article I am going to show you how to use a technique called Long Exposure. Say good bye to harsh lighting and dark backgrounds. Sort of. This article will show you how to take pictures of night scenes with no moving objects. Night photos of people I will show you later on in another article as that is another kettle of fish.

Firstly, let’s pick a subject. For this article our subject will be a lake. That is easy, it doesn’t get too much more difficult. I promise. Now you have your subject, you’ll need to get your equipment setup. For this article, I’ll use my equipment to show you what is needed.

Equipment Required

The following list links to the equipment that I recommend and use. You can buy the items from these links.

  • Digital camera
  • Tripod
  • Remote shutter release
  • Something to do while exposing your shot

Now let’s get down to business. First, set your tripod up at the desired height, to save you any trouble later on make sure your tripod is level. You will thank me. Now, mount the camera on the tripod making sure it’s secure.

Setting Up Your Shot

db_jp421 Switch your camera to manual. OK, you’ve got this far it’s going good, time to set up the shot. Don’t bother composing your shot just yet as we have to sort some other things out first. Set your camera to auto-focus or AF. This may not work depending on the conditions but most of the time it will work just fine. Zoom in all the way and find a light source or light area that is the same distance away as the subject you want in focus, press the shutter half way down. Once the camera has focused on the light source or light area zoom all the way out (or however far out you want when you compose the shot, you can zoom in or out as far as you like it will always stay in focus) and make sure, without touching the shutter or the focus ring switch back to manual focus. Be sure you’re not touching the focus ring when you compose.

Now you have the camera focused you can proceed to compose the shot. This is something that no tutorial can tell you how to do, this is in the eye of the photographer. Be creative and show off your creative eye.

Tip: Wide angles create a bigger impact than longer focal lengths.

Setting The Correct Exposure

000067 You’re almost there, the next major part is getting the exposure right, this is easy if you know how. The best way to expose your shot manually is to use your camera’s built in light meter as a rough guide, but not as a precise judge. When you first start you will need to follow it tightly but as you gain more and more experience you won’t need the meter at all.

Change the camera to AV mode(Aperture priority) Now, set the ISO to 1600. As a rough guide I recommend you stop down the aperture to f/8 to achieve maximum sharpness when using the Canon 18-55mm kit lens but you may need to keep it at f/3.5 depending on the conditions. Now, press the shutter half way and you will see the light meter, it’s a line with a small arrow, this will move around as you change the aperture. Adjust aperture accordingly so it makes the line stay in the middle. Once it is in the middle, press the shutter down half way. The camera will give you the shutter speed that you require, make sure you remember this number as you will need it to work out how long your final exposure will be.

i43 For this next part you may need a calculator, depending on how good your mental arithmetic is. In my case I usually need to use the calculator on my phone, maths is not a strong point for me. Now we need to calculate how long we need to keep the shutter open for. As an example we will say the camera gave you a shutter speed of 10 seconds when we used the light meter, keep this number in your head. Now set the ISO to 100. Take your number (In this example 10 seconds) and multiply that number by 16. This gives us 160 seconds, Divide this by 60, this gives us about 3 minutes.

Now plug in your remote shutter release, set the camera to BULB mode (move the shutter down past 30 seconds). Get a timing device (Phone, stop watch or similar) and get it prepared to begin. Press the remote shutter release and lock it on. Start the timer.

If you want to be certain of good exposure then you can round it up to the nearest minute (In our case 3 minutes). Once you have reached the target time, unlock the remote shutter release and wait for the camera to proceed with noise reduction.

The end result will be a nicely exposed picture. The things I haven’t covered in this article are white balance and shooting in RAW format. I will be writing articles for this later on.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Night Photography can be found at…

Night Shots can be found at…

Also see…

Night Photography & Stuff by Adam Currie can be found at… Night Photography Tips Night Photography Tips on Photography

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today, we continue our exploration of the New Year’s Eve celebration by looking at the traditional celebration at Times Square in New York City. This celebration revolves around the dropping of a crystal ball at the stroke of midnight to ignite the gaiety of the crowd in the streets. Other cities also have celebrations where objects are dropped or the streets are closed for partying. In many of these celebrations, fireworks are also included. GLB


“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”
— Charles Lamb

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.”
— Bill Vaughan

“New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.”
— James Agate

“New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.”
— Mark Twain

“The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year’s Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you’re married to.”
— P. J. O’Rourke

“Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average… which means, you have met your New Year’s resolution.”
— Jay Leno

“Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.”
— Eric Zorn

“Happiness is too many things these days for anyone to wish it on anyone lightly. So let’s just wish each other a bile-less New Year and leave it at that.”
— Judith Crist


New Year’s Eve Celebrations: Times Square

2000_times_square_ball_at_waterfordNew Year’s Eve or Old Year’s Night is on December 31, the final day of the Gregorian year, and the day before New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Eve is a separate observance from the observance of New Year’s Day. In modern Western practice, New Year’s Eve is celebrated with parties and social gatherings spanning the transition of the year at midnight.

Many cultures use fireworks and other forms of noise making in part of the celebration. But in New York City has added something new to the celebration: Times Square and the falling Crystal Ball at Midnight!

Each year during the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square in Manhattan, New York City, a time ball made of crystal and electric lights is raised to the top of a pole on the One Times Square building and then lowered to mark the coming of the New Year. The Ball descends 77 feet (23 m) over the course of a minute, coming to rest at the bottom of its pole at 12:00 am. Toshiba’s Times Square billboard directly below the Ball counts down to midnight as well.

Every year up to one million people gather in Times Square to watch the Ball drop, and an estimated 1 billion watch video of the event, 100 million of them in the United States.

The Weather

The average temperature at midnight in New York City since the ball dropping tradition began in 1907 is 33.7 °F (1 °C).

The coldest event was in 1917 when the temperature was just 1 °F (-17 °C), the second coldest was 11 °F (-12 °C) in 1962. The warmest ball drop was 58 °F (14 °C) in both 1965 and 1972. It has snowed during the ball drop just six times out of 103 events, 1926, 1934, 1948, 1952, 1961, 1967 and it has rained multiple times. During the most recent ball drop, 2009, the temperature was 18 °F (-7 °C) and 2 °F (-16 °C) factoring in wind chill, which is well below the average.

Crowd control

Times Square_green_chairs_jeh Up to one million people go to watch the ball drop each year. Therefore, New York Police Department (NYPD) exert strict control over the crowd so as to prevent crushes and stampedes. The technique used by NYPD is to divide Times Square up into sections, commonly referred to as "pens." As people arrive, usually in the afternoon, they are directed into the pens. NYPD starts with the pens closest to 43rd Street, and as those pens get full, closes them to further people and works their way back toward Central Park. Once inside the pen, people may leave, but will not be able to reenter the pen.

Also, access to Times Square is extremely limited during the course of the celebration. Those staying in hotels in the area need to prove to NYPD that they are in fact guests at those hotels. Also, no alcoholic beverages are permitted (as per NYC’s open container laws), and there are no portable public restrooms available.


Several networks have aired coverage of the Times Square Ball Drop; as the event is held in the public square there is no rights or exclusive coverage. Most notable is ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, hosted for 35 years by Dick Clark and recently joined by Ryan Seacrest after Clark suffered a stroke in 2004, as well as a West Coast segment hosted by singer Fergie.

NBC also has coverage of the events under the name New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly, hosted in recent years by Carson Daly; previously a special edition of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (and before that, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson) would air in this slot, but Leno has since ceded hosting duties to Daly, who hosts more conventional coverage.

FOX also has its own coverage of the New Year’s Eve event, New Year’s Eve Live, which started in 2004–05 in an attempt to capitalize on Clark’s stroke. Ryan Seacrest hosted the first year; in 2005–06, Regis Philbin (who had filled in for Clark on ABC the year prior) took over as Seacrest went to ABC. Fox’s coverage is currently hosted by Spike Feresten; he was joined by Cat Deeley in 2007-08 and Mark Thompson in 2008-09. Fox complements the Times Square coverage with U Party With Fox News, which airs live in all time zones on sister network Fox News Channel and is hosted by Fox News anchors.

Times_Square_ball The Centennial version of the ball
as seen at Macy*s in Herald Square
in preparation for the 2008 drop.

For many years CBS was known for its coverage of the ball drop featuring Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians band (he had done so on CBS Radio Network since 1928 and on TV since 1956), live from The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and featuring the now famous rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Lombardo died in November 1977; the Royal Canadians did the show with Victor Lombardo substituting for his late older brother for 1977-78 but would disband after that. The broadcasts continued under the name Happy New Year, America beginning in 1978-79, still live from the Waldorf-Astoria (with taped segments added from Billy Bob’s in Texas and Walt Disney World), with various guest hosts (among them Andy Williams, Brent Musburger, Gladys Knight, Christie Brinkley, Natalie Cole, Kermit the Frog and Lily Tomlin in character as "Ernestine the Telephone Lady"). The last broadcast was in 1995–96 and featured Montel Williams as host; in 1996, Disney pulled out of producing the program (and several other CBS holiday specials) when it bought ABC, and CBS decided to discontinue its New Year’s coverage. CBS no longer covers the ball drop and instead opts for reruns of Late Show with David Letterman. Some CBS affiliates show local ball drops instead.

CNN and MTV have also carried coverage of the festivities. CNN’s coverage, also named New Year’s Eve Live, has most recently been hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.

Other ball drops

The Times Square ball drop has inspired many other New Year’s Eve "drops" of balls and other symbols in the United States and elsewhere.

Times_Square_Evening Lights and advertising at the
southern end of Times Square

The claim to the second-largest ball drop in the U.S. is the Atlanta Peach Drop in Underground Atlanta. The drop has over 100,000 spectators each year and is televised across the country on America One, WATL and in synchronized split screen with New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on WSB-TV.

The claim to the third-largest ball drop in the country is held by the Buffalo Ball Drop (formerly the 97 Rock Ball Drop) of Buffalo, New York. This ball drop began in 1988 and has since become a Buffalo tradition. An estimated 40,000 spectators watch the ball drop live from the Electric Building on Roosevelt Square in Buffalo, and the event has been telecast annually in synchronized split screen with New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on WKBW-TV since its inception.

In addition to Atlanta’s and Buffalo’s celebrations, other smaller towns have conducted drops, or raisings, of objects on New Year’s Eve. The act is particularly popular in Pennsylvania.

Times Square today

The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of animated neon and LED signs have long made them one of New York’s iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with zoning ordinances requiring building owners to display illuminated signs. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals that of Las Vegas. Officially, signs in Times Square are called "spectaculars", and the largest of them are called "jumbotrons."

NYC_(3)traffic_on_times_square Traffic at Times Square

In 1992, the Times Square Alliance (formerly the Times Square Business Improvement District, or "BID" for short), a coalition of city government and local businesses dedicated to improving the quality of commerce and cleanliness in the district, started operations in the area. Times Square now boasts attractions such as ABC’s Times Square Studios, where Good Morning America is broadcast live, an elaborate Toys "Я" Us store, and competing Hershey’s and M&M’s stores across the street from each other, as well as restaurants such as Ruby Foo’s (Chinese food), the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (seafood), Planet Hollywood Restaurant and Bar (theme restaurant) and Carmine’s (Italian) along with a number of multiplex movie theaters. It has also attracted a number of large financial, publishing, and media firms to set up headquarters in the area. A larger presence of police has improved the safety of the area.

Notable signage includes the Toshiba billboard directly under the NYE ball drop and the curved seven-story NASDAQ sign at the NASDAQ MarketSite at 4 Times Square on 43rd Street and the curved Coca-Cola sign located underneath another large LED display owned and operated by Samsung. Both the Coca-Cola sign and Samsung LED displays were built by LED display manufacturer Daktronics.

In 2002, New York City’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani, gave the oath of office to the city’s next mayor, Michael Bloomberg, at Times Square after midnight on January 1 as part of the 2001–2002 New Year’s celebration. Approximately 500,000 revelers attended. Security was high following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with more than 7,000 New York City police on duty in the Square, twice the number for an ordinary year.

Timesquare Skyscrapers of Times Square

On the morning of March 6, 2008 a small bomb in the area by the military recruiting station caused minor damage but no reported injuries.

Time Square’s first environmentally friendly billboard powered by wind and solar energy was first lit on December 4, 2008.

On February 26, 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that traffic lanes along Broadway from 42nd Street to 47th Street would be de-mapped starting Memorial Day 2009 and transformed into pedestrian plazas until at least the end of the year as a trial. The same was done from 33rd to 35th Street. The goal is to ease traffic congestion throughout the Midtown grid. The results will be closely monitored to determine if the project works and should be extended." Bloomberg also stated " he believes the street shutdown will make New York more livable by reducing pollution, cutting down on pedestrian accidents and helping traffic flow more smoothly."


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

New Year’s Eve can be found at…

Time Square Ball can be found at…

Time Square can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Today we look to Abraham Lincoln for inspiration. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln put forth many of the concepts of “One Nation, Under God” that would guide the reconstruction (which continues to this day). Take heart in the progress that we have made and remember that we still have a “Road Less Traveled” ahead of us.  GLB


“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“With charity for all, with firmness in the right”

Lincoln_second President Dwight D. Eisenhower offered the following words to the nation during the Christmas season of 1956. His closing quote, “with charity for all, with firmness in the right,” comes from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, during his inauguration at the start of his second term as President of the United States. At a time when victory over the secessionists in the American Civil War was within days and slavery was near an end, Lincoln did not speak of happiness, but of sadness. Some see this speech as a defense of his pragmatic approach to Reconstruction, in which he sought to avoid harsh treatment of the defeated South by reminding his listeners of how wrong both sides had been in imagining what lay before them when the war began four years earlier. Lincoln balanced that rejection of triumphalism, however, with a recognition of the unmistakable evil of slavery, which he described in the most concrete terms possible. Unbeknownst to him, John Wilkes Booth, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Lewis Paine, John Surratt and Edmund Spangler, a few of the conspirators involved with his assassination were present in the crowd at the inauguration. It is inscribed, along with the Gettysburg Address, in the Lincoln Memorial.

The main text of this address were:

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war–seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

Abraham_Lincoln_seated,_Feb_9,_1864_534pxOne-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”


The words “wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces” are an allusion to the Fall of Man in the book of Genesis. As a result of Adam’s sin, God tells Adam that henceforth “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19, King James Version).

Lincoln’s phrase, “but let us judge not, that we be not judged,” is an allusion to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1, which in the King James Version reads, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Lincoln quotes another of the sayings of Jesus: “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” Lincoln’s quoted language comes from Matthew 18:7; a similar discourse by Jesus appears in Luke 17:1.

The quotation ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’ is from Psalm 19:9 in the King James Bible.

Lincoln’s points, that God’s purposes are not directly knowable to humans, represent a theme that Lincoln had expressed earlier. After Lincoln’s death, his secretaries found among his papers an undated manuscript now generally known as the “Meditations on the Divine Will”. In that manuscript, Lincoln wrote:

The will of God prevails — In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is somewhat different from the purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect this.

Lincoln’s sense that the divine will was unknowable stood in marked contrast to sentiments popular at the time. In the popular mind, both sides of the Civil War assumed that they could read God’s will and assumed his favor in their opposing causes. Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic expressed sentiments common among the supporters of the Union cause, that the Union was waging a righteous war that served God’s purposes. Similarly, the Confederacy chose Deo vindice as its motto, often translated as “God will vindicate us.” Lincoln, responding to compliments from Thurlow Weed on the speech, said that “… I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them.”

President Barack Obama referred to Lincoln’s sentiments in his remarks at the memorial service after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting:

But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next…. We’re a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses. And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln’s words, and always pray to be on the side of God.
— Barack Obama


Other Events on this Day
  • In 1853…
    James Gadsden, minister to Mexico, signs the Gadsden Purchase, in which the United States buys nearly 30,000 square miles of land from Mexico.
  • In 1862…
    The ironclad USS Monitor sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
  • In 1924…
    Astronomer Edwin Hubble announces evidence of the existence of a galaxy outside our own.
  • In 1940…
    Claifornia opens its first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway, connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena.
  • In 1951…
    The TV western The Roy Rogers Show debuts.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address can be found at…

Text of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


Tom Millea, a leading practitioner of platinum printing in the darkroom, has produced a body of work that is truly art. He has shunned the traditional roles of the photographer as photojournalist, documentarian, fashion photographer, etc., for the role of artist with light. His works are incredible in their capture of tonalities in his prints; these prints can stand up to most classic artwork in other media.  GLB


“His platinum-palladium prints demand full participation from the viewer, and they repay this attention a hundredfold.”
— Gallery Observer

“Collectors tend to become confused when I do anything outside platinum, so the color prints I make are just for myself.”
— Tom Millea

“It’s a complicated subject. My work and views have changed drastically over the years.”
— Tom Millea

“I have called myself a hermit because I’ve mostly lived alone in my life. I didn’t want it that way; it just turned out that way. I am not terribly social but I’m not antisocial either.”
— Tom Millea

“I have devoted 40 years of my life to art and hope what I have learned and accomplished are worthy of the people viewing the images.”
— Tom Millea

“Look at the photographs, and feel what you must. Recently several people have said my photographs are a marriage of vision and craft, and that the final image goes beyond seeing and into poetry. It’s up to others to decide what is true for them.”
— Tom Millea

“It [a trip to France for a project] was a great gift, a commission, to photograph one woman for two solid weeks. It was a unique experience to have that amount of time to work with one person. We explored many facets of her personality, and I was able to make photographs unlike I had done before.”
— Tom Millea

“There is a substantive difference between silver, platinum and palladium prints. Platinum is a generic term for both. The major difference is that platinum is rather blue and palladium prints are a warmer brown. Silver prints deal with surface. They look at me but do not try to enter me-saying, ‘Stay away and look.’ Platinum prints invite the viewer to enter the picture space and delve below the surface.”
— Tom Millea

“All of my work is done as an artist. Some women do not like the moody images I make of them, and I became tired of people being unhappy with my work and decided to make portraits for myself and galleries only. In 40 years I have done only three commissions, but that was enough to teach me that making photographs for other people was not for me. I do love to photograph women, and I have only recently begun to photograph men.”
— Tom Millea

“My work is about life and death, how we live and die. How death follows us and allows life to be lived fully because death is always present, palatable, always seeking to embrace, if not take. To go to the edge is always terrifying. To be embraced by angels is as terrifying as seeing one’s own death. But Lorca’s obsession with death is not something negative. It is a cry for life and love. We live to love, to connect with others and share the highest forces… of art… everything. The only truth in an image is the truth the artist brings to it.”
— Tom Millea

“After my association with Paul, I was director of photography at a photographic workshop in Connecticut, but I had no following as a photographer. I left that job to move to Carmel, CA, because I heard it was a photographic art center and a small beautiful town. I was completely out of money, but I stayed because Carmel was an incredibly active place at the time.”
— Tom Millea

“No one told me what to do, they just gave me a movie camera and sent me out into the world. I made a film of a farm with cattle waving their tails to classical music, and a film of single framed pages of books to test viewer’s attention to subliminal information. During this time I realized I wanted to be a still photographer. Pictures I could hang and study had more power for me.”
— Tom Millea

“In college I knew I wanted to be an artist, but I had no idea in what discipline. I tried drama, writing, painting, sculpture and the lot. I really wanted to be on stage, but the faculty at Western Connecticut State University discouraged me. After leaving the English department, the professor saw a photograph I did and sent me to another professor who happened to be a friend of Paul Strand’s. He looked at my photographs, encouraged me, and I began working at camera stores and anywhere I could learn. One camera store customer who saw my photographs on display happened to be Paul Caponigro, and I ended up studying with him from 1967 to 1973 when I moved to California.
— Tom Millea


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Tom Millea

Tom_Millea_portrait Most photographers are known because of their placement of images in publications, magazines, and/or galleries. They tend to be very public people who explore the world around them for appropriate photo opportunities. Tom Millea is not one of these photographers!

Millea tends to be a very private person who creates much of his work in his studio. He did receive early recognition for his series on the Carmel coast (where he lives) and Death Valley. While successful, these experiences were outside of his “comfort zone.” Likewise, he had “unpleasant” experiences with several early commissions and generally declined to accept these assignments throughout most of his career.

He is a expert practitioner of the darkroom techniques of platinum and palladium printing. He has taught classes using these techniques, for which he has achieved much acclaim. With the increased difficulty in obtaining the materials and chemistry for these processes has led Millea to migrate to digital photography and high-end digital printing. He is now producing printed output that approximates the tonalities generally only obtained in the traditional darkroom.

Published Overview of Tom Millea and His Work

ArtWorks Magazine has made the following observations about Millea’s photography practices:

tom millea 1001 Tom Millea has always lived on the edge: on the fringe of society, close to the imaginary line between genius and a darker place, and always re-defining the boundaries of his own art. His photographs, especially those of women, are hauntingly beautiful. They draw the viewer in slowly, sensually, almost hypnotically. It is a tempting offer but one that the viewer knows, instinctively, will come with a price. The world of Tom Millea is not always a happy-go- lucky place. To understand the artist and his art requires an investment in time, intelligence and trust that it all comes with payoff. It does, but it takes an emotional commitment…

When it comes to photography, Millea doesn’t like words like “capture” or “take,” he thinks they are too aggressive. He sees photography in a different light. It’s all about creating magic, and the magic for him comes from what he calls the “dance of creation.” The dance consists of three parts: the photographer, the camera and the subject. “When all work in harmony and balance, each contributes an aspect, which is essential to the finished image,” Millea explains, “When the dance is performed in its purest form the photographer and the subject are transformed into something beyond what either could have imagine beforehand.”

tom millea_woman's face Millea’s first major body of work was the Carmel Valley Series, but it was his two years spent in Death Valley that put him on the photography world’s radar screen. Millea says he went to Death Valley to test himself and his ability to photograph—nothing. The 800 images created during this period (1980-1982) turned Millea into a rising star, but he didn’t like the heat and soon dropped out and returned to creating in solitude. Millea has always worked in sets (several photographs meant to be seen together) and series; The Carmel Valley Series, The Death Valley Series, Fallen Roses, an unusual landscape series and The Jennifer Desmond Series, an edgy, urban look at kids on the edge, are just a few of Millea’s photographic collections. Although there are many individual photographs in between, the series add parameters to Millea’s body of work and are worthy indicators of the man and his mindset along the way. His latest is The Sue Lauwers Series. Millea calls it a portrait of a relationship. A relationship that continues to have a profound impact on Millea’s work…

tom millea 1002 Millea spends just about every penny he makes on his photographs. He is well known around the world, and sells fairly consistently off his website, but he is neither rich nor famous. He loves the Central Coast but may soon leave because of the high cost of living. Although his work is in close to 30 well-respected museums, including the Getty Museum in Southern California, MOMA in New York and The National Gallery of American Art at the Smithsonian, he has a hard time finding galleries to take his work. He says most gallery owners don’t see value in what he does but perhaps the real reason for his difficult relationship with galleries is more complicated. His work is provocative and always pushes the envelope…

Photo.Box, in its reporting on the style of Millea’s work, observes:

The making of both types, platinum and palladium, is a contact-printing process. Hand-coated paper is dried, placed in a printing frame with the negative, and exposed to sunlight. After a period of time, often hours, the paper is developed in a potassium oxalate bath and then cleared in three separate acid baths where all the ferrous materials wash out and leave only platinum and palladium. After washing, these prints are the longest lasting of any photographic process…

Tom realized he was in the right milieu. He was acquainted with Minor White, Wynn Bullock, Edward Steichen and Ansel Adams. He had met them and others in photography when he directed The Underground Gallery in New York City…

Occasionally major photographers showed up including André Kertész, Garry Winogrand, Ralph Gibson, Lee Witkin (the famous photography dealer), John Szarkowski (then photography curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art) and many more. Through a mélange of visual and verbal experiences, Tom became the creator of images that inspire wonder and slow exploration…

Many of the images you see on Tom’s web site are haunting. Such as ethereal landscapes, portraits of women who may seem detached, and sensual nudes, all in glowing black and white…

Tom Millea_Reclining Nude Tom’s nude images show particularly intriguing drama. His sense of design, posing and lighting involve viewer emotions. They are beautiful nudes but completely opposite of what you see in Playboy. He sculpts women, often on black backgrounds, with visual plasticity like a modern Rodin…

“Is a powerful statement of duende. Federico García Lorca spoke about duende along with Edward Hirsch in his terrific book, The Demon and the Angel. This I discovered when I downloaded a detailed essay on the duende by García Lorca. Separately I found duende (a term that comes from southern Spain) described as ‘inspiration, magic, fire, a ghost, a demon, a spirit, charm and magnetism.’ I also read that duende ‘is a power and not a behavior; it is a struggle and not a concept.’ ”

Millea’s transition to digital techniques is dealt with in the January/February issue of Photo Techniques Magazine. They observe:

tom millea 1004 Tom has been teaching workshops across the country for years, sharing his expertise on the subject of quality platinum printing with all who are eager to learn. However, the portfolio and accompanying article in the upcoming issue explore Millea’s latest photographic ventures, sans platinum.

When the specific chemistry, papers and film that he had used for decades were discontinued one by one, Millea made a firm decision to stand up for his artistic ambitions and explore new avenues. In addition to his initial unfamiliarity with digital processes, Millea also had to deal with the scrutiny of fellow film photographers who saw little or no value in the digital translation of the medium…


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Tom Millea Web Site

Photo Techniques Magazine: Tom Millea Tom Millea

ArtWorks Magazine, A Voice for the Arts: Tom Millea

by Gerald Boerner


In this installment, we will examine how New Year’s Eve is practiced in some of the Western European countries. Many traditions have grown up around a combination of religious and native customs. Many of these celebrations include fireworks displays. In coming days, we will continue to explore various aspects of these celebrations.  GLB


“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”
— Charles Lamb

“Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it’s twice as onerous a duty.”
— John Selden

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve.  Middle age is when you’re forced to.”
— Bill Vaughn

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”
— Bill Vaughan

“Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.”
— Author Unknown

“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”
— Author Unknown

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.  It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left.  It is the nativity of our common Adam.”
— Charles Lamb


New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Réveillon_na_Paulista_2008-2009 New Year’s Eve or Old Year’s Night is on December 31, the final day of the Gregorian year, and the day before New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Eve is a separate observance from the observance of New Year’s Day. In modern Western practice, New Year’s Eve is celebrated with parties and social gatherings spanning the transition of the year at midnight.

Many cultures use fireworks and other forms of noise making in part of the celebration. Religious communities often incorporate their doctrinal beliefs into the celebrations as indicated by the following observation of Mikkelson, Barbara in "Watch Night” (December 14, 2006):

Many religious communities have a tradition of New Year’s Eve being known as "Watch Night". The faithful of the community congregate in worship services commencing New Year’s Eve night and continuing past midnight into the new year. The Watch Night is a time for giving thanks for the blessings of the outgoing year and praying for divine favor during the upcoming year. Though held by some to have begun in the African American community, watch night can actually be traced back to a sect of Christians known as the Moravians who held the first Watchnight Service in Herrnhut, Saxony, in 1732. The practice was later adopted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Watch Night did take on special significance to African Americans on New Year’s Eve 1862, however, as slaves eagerly awaited the arrival of January 1, 1863—the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation. This particular New Year’s Eve became known as "Freedom’s Eve."

Selected Localized Celebrations

United States… In the United States, New Year’s Eve is a major social holiday. One of the top destination cities for New Year’s Eve from 2003 to 2006 has been New York. Las Vegas’s America’s Party‎ is also attracting a large number of New Year’s Eve party goers with the famous Las Vegas Strip being closed to vehicles and fireworks launched from numerous rooftops.

Day122ccountdownbb Countdown 2006 in NYC

In the past 100 years the "ball dropping" on top of One Times Square in New York City, broadcast to all of America (and rebroadcast in many other countries), is a major component of the New Year celebration. The 11,875-pound (5,386 kg), 12-foot (3.7 m) diameter Waterford crystal ball located high above Times Square is lowered, starting at 11:59:00pm and reaching the bottom of its tower 60 seconds later, at the stroke of midnight (12:00:00am). This is repeated in many towns and cities across the United States. From 1981 to 1988, New York City dropped an enlarged apple in recognition of its nickname. It is sometimes referred to as "the big apple" like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors.

From 1972 through 2007 (except in 1999), Dick Clark hosted televised coverage of the event called Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, shown on ABC, and now renamed Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest for the arrival of 2009. The show did not air for the arrival of 2000 as it was preempted by ABC 2000 Today. From 1956 to 1976 on CBS, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians serenaded the United States from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City. The Royal Canadians continued on CBS until 1978, and Happy New Year, America replaced it in 1979, continuing until 1995. The song Auld Lang Syne has become a popular song to sing at midnight on New Year’s Eve, with the Lombardo version being the standard. NBC also has hosted New Year’s coverage; traditionally, the networks’ late night hosts have hosted special editions of their regular shows (including a special Central Time Zone-specific countdown on Late Night with Conan O’Brien), but since 2005, the network has opted for a special entitled New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly. Fox, CNN, and Fox News Channel also have their own New Year’s specials.

Canada… In Canada, New Year’s traditions and celebrations vary from region to region. Generally, New Year’s Eve (also known as New Year’s Eve Day) in Canada is a social holiday. In major metropolitan areas such as Toronto and Montreal, major celebrations with music and fireworks are often held at Midnight. Other common New Year’s Eve celebrations such as late-night partying are also major events in these cities and other places around Canada. In some areas, such as in rural Quebec, people ice fish and drink with their friends until the early hours of January 1.

On television, the sketch comedy troupe Royal Canadian Air Farce had been known for their New Year’s Eve specials on CBC, which in addition before the start of their weekly television series, was one of their first forays into television after years on radio. Consequentially, the series finale of their television series was a New Year’s Eve special on December 31, 2008, although due to their popularity, the CBC requested that they return for a New Year’s Eve special for 2009.

France… The French call New Year’s Eve "la Saint-Sylvestre". It is usually celebrated with a feast called le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre. This feast customarily includes special dishes like foie gras and drinks like champagne. The celebration can be a simple, intimate dinner with friends and family or a much fancier ball (une soirée dansante).

Tour_eiffel_feu_artificeNew Year’s Eve
fireworks in Paris

On le Jour de l’An (New Year’s Day), friends and family exchange New Year’s resolutions and sometimes gifts. Some people eat heart or log shaped desserts, sometimes made of ice cream

The holiday period ends on January 6 for the Epiphany. On this day, they traditionally enjoy a type of cake that varies depending on where you are in France, resembling king cake in the United States.

Germany… Germans call New Year’s Eve Silvester. Since 1972, each New Year’s Eve, several German television stations broadcast a short English theatrical performance titled Dinner for One. A punch line from the comedy sketch, "same procedure as every year", has become a catch phrase in Germany. Every year Berlin hosts one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in all of Europe which is attended by over a million people. The focal point is the Brandenburg Gate and the fireworks at midnight centered around that location. Germans have a reputation of spending large amounts of money on firecrackers and fireworks.

Spain… Spanish New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja or Fin de Año in Spanish, Cap d’Any in Catalan, Cabo d’Anyo in Aragonese) celebrations usually begin with a family dinner, traditionally including shrimp and lamb or turkey. Spanish tradition says that wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. The actual countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid. It is traditional to eat twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock. This tradition has its origins in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante thought of it as a way to cut down on the large production surplus they had had that year.

Nochevieja_puertadelsol_2006 The Puerta Del Sol in 2005
New Year’s Eve

Nowadays, the tradition is followed by almost every Spaniard, and the twelve grapes have become synonymous with the New Year. After the clock has finished striking twelve, people greet each other and toast with sparkling wine such as cava or champagne, or alternatively with cider.

After the family dinner and the grapes, many young people attend New Year parties at pubs, discothèques and similar places (these parties are called cotillones de nochevieja, after the Spanish word cotillón, which refers to party supplies like confetti, party blowers, party hats, etc.). Parties usually last until the next morning and range from small, personal celebrations at local bars to huge parties with guests numbering the thousands at hotel convention rooms. Early next morning, party attendees usually gather to have the traditional winter breakfast of chocolate con churros (hot chocolate and fried pastry).

Mexico… Mexicans down a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the New Year countdown, while making a wish with each one. On New Year’s Eve, those who want to find love in the new year wear red underwear and yellow if they want money.

Other traditions include sweeping the dirt out, taking luggage outside as a symbol of future trips, hanging sheep dolls (mainly made out of wool) in the doorknob for prosperity, among others.

The celebrations are very similar to those of Spain. They make dolls out of old clothes.

United Kingdom… London’s firework celebrations centre around the London Eye. At the start of 2005, fireworks were launched from the wheel itself for the first time. The timing of the new year is usually indicated by the chimes on Big Ben.

London_fireworks Fireworks marking the
New Year in London

The celebrations have been televised from London over the last few years by the BBC in England & Wales. BBC Scotland broadcast the celebrations in Edinburgh to a Scottish audience, with the UK-wide BBC occasionally simulcasting. ITV covers the New Year celebrations worldwide, with STV additionally providing coverage in Scotland of events going on around the country.

Hogmanay_Party Hogmanay Fireworks
in Edinburgh

In Edinburgh the cannon is fired at Edinburgh Castle at the stroke of midnight and is followed by a large fireworks display.

Scotland celebrates New Year as Hogmanay. Other cities in Britain such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester, Aberdeen, Newcastle upon Tyne and Birmingham all have celebrations during the evening.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

New Year’s Eve can be found at…

Quotations courtesy of “The Quote Garden”…

by Gerald Boerner


The “Arsenal of Democracy” chat given by FDR on this date in 1940 set the agenda for the U.S. in the pre-World War II involvement. We needed to support our British and Soviet allies during the heat of battle in the early years of the war. FDR called upon America’s auto industry (among other industries) to bring their production capabilities into play in support of freedom and democratic ideas. Without these resources, the world today may have looked very different!  GLB


“Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as now…”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“We must be the great arsenal of democracy. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all of mankind.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“In a democratic nation, power must be linked with responsibility, and obliged to defend and justify itself within the framework of the general good.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world, at peace.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Arsenal of Democracy

fdr_fireside chatThe Arsenal of Democracy” is one of the 30 fireside chats broadcast on the radio by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was read on December 29, 1940, during World War II, at a time when Nazi Germany had occupied much of Europe and threatened Britain.

Nazi Germany was allied with Italy and Japan (the Axis powers). At the time Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union remained allied under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and had jointly invaded Poland in 1939, an alliance that remained until the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Roosevelt referred to Detroit, Michigan as “the great arsenal of democracy” because of the rapid conversion of much of the Detroit-area automotive industry to produce armaments during World War II. The speech was “a call to arm and support” the Allies in Europe, and to a lesser extent in Asia, in their struggles against totalitarian regimes.

Origins of the phrase

482079449_432994d56d_o The phrase originated from the American playwright Robert Emmet Sherwood, who was quoted in the May 12, 1940 New York Times as saying “this country is already, in effect, an arsenal for the democratic Allies.” Although the French economist Jean Monnet had used the phrase later in 1940, he was urged not to use it again so Roosevelt could make use of it in his speeches. Franklin Roosevelt has since been credited with the phrase. After the speech, the city of Detroit, Michigan adopted the phrase as a nickname. The phrase was suggested by top Roosevelt advisor Harry Hopkins.


Much of the ending of the speech attempted to remove a sense of complacency. Roosevelt laid out the situation clearly, and then pointed out the flaws in that argument. He mentioned that “Some of us like to believe that even if Great Britain falls, we are still safe, because of the broad expanse of the Atlantic and of the Pacific.” He refuted this saying that modern technology had effectively reduced the distances across those oceans, allowing even for “planes that could fly from the British Isles to New England and back again without refueling.”

aodposter After establishing the danger, the president then proceeded to request action from the people. He acknowledged a telegram he had received. He refuted its message, which he summarized as “Please, Mr. President, don’t frighten us by telling us the facts.” The central fact Americans must grasp was, “If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the high seas—and they will be in a position to bring enormous military and naval resources against this hemisphere.”

He then continued to describe the situation in Europe, punctuating his remarks with warnings how the Nazis would use the same tactics in the Western Hemisphere, and giving vivid imagery such as “The fate of these nations [occupied by force by the Nazis] tells us what it means to live at the point of a Nazi gun.” Roosevelt attacked the British prewar policy of “appeasement,” calling it ineffective. Listing prior examples given by European countries, he said it was futile.

The only solution was to assist Britain (“the spearhead of resistance to world conquest”) while it was still possible.

II_fisher_ad While not explicitly pledging to stay out of the war, he stated that “our national policy is not directed toward war,” and argued that helping Britain now would save Americans from having to fight. “You can, therefore, nail–nail any talk about sending armies to Europe as deliberate untruth.” Europe does “not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war, the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters which will enable them to fight for their liberty and for our security. Emphatically we must get these weapons to them, get them to them in sufficient volume and quickly enough, so that we and our children will be saved the agony and suffering of war which others have had to endure.”

He urged this to change, all the while stressing that open war would not hurt the country: “the strength of this nation shall not be diluted by the failure of the Government to protect the economic well-being of its citizens.” He focused on that theme of “splendid cooperation between the Government and industry and labor” for several paragraphs, cited how American labor will make an impact in the combat zones, and noted how important the manufacture of weapons and vehicles is to being strong as a nation.

II_DeSoto He warned against labor disputes, saying, “The nation expects our defense industries to continue operation without interruption by strikes or lockouts. It expects and insists that management and workers will reconcile their differences by voluntary or legal means.”

Roosevelt stressed that it was not the American government but the American people who had the power to turn the tide of the war. It is here that he uses the phrase “arsenal of democracy”: “We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.” Finally he reassured the American people: “I believe that the Axis powers are not going to win this war.”


Franklin Roosevelt_chat The speech reflected the American approach to entry into World War II. It marked the decline of the isolationist and non-interventionist doctrine that had dominated interwar U.S. foreign policy since the United States’ involvement in World War I. At the time, while the United States Navy appeared strong and was widely thought to guarantee the Western Hemisphere safe from invasion, there were only 458,365 non-Coast Guard military personnel on active duty—259,028 in the Army, 160,997 in the Navy, and 28,345 in the Marine Corps. By the next year, that number had nearly quadrupled, with 1,801,101 total military personnel—1,462,315 in the Army, 284,437 in the Navy, and 54,359 in the Marine Corps.

Previous policies such as the Neutrality Acts had already begun to be replaced by intensified assistance to the Allies, including the cash and carry policy in 1939 and Destroyers for Bases Agreement in September 1940. The Lend-Lease program began in March 1941, several months after the Arsenal of Democracy address. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941—less than a year after the Arsenal of Democracy address—the United States entered the war.

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1808…
    Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth U.S. president, is born in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • In 1845…
    Texas becomes the twenty-eighth state.
  • In 1851…
    The first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in the United States is organized in Boston.
  • In 1890…
    The U.S. Calvary massacres up to 300 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
  • In 1913…
    Filming begins on The Squaw Man, about a British officer’s adventures in the American West, reputedly the first feature-length movie made in Hollywood.
  • In 1940…
    FDR calls on the United States to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Arsenal of Democracy can be found at…

American Rhetoric: Text of “Arsenal of Democracy” Chat by FDR

by Gerald Boerner


Marty Forscher, while in the field of photography, was not a photographer, as such. What was he? A technical wizard that could repair almost any type of photographic equipment or modify a lens to mount on a camera for which it was not intended. Today is a tribute to his genius. Even though he retired in 1987, he was still available with answers for the problems of some of the top professional photographers.  GLB


“Marty Forscher, whose New York City camera repair shop was the stomping ground of the city’s top photographers and who donated his services to photographers of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, has died at age 87.”
PDN Online Article

“When the cameras would get soaked down by police hoses or beaten up, we’d fix them and send them back south…”
— Marty Forscher, in a 2001 New York Times interview

“[Forscher’s store on W. 47th Street represented] our little piece of heaven on earth. That place where you met all the photographers whose work you grew up with…”
— Eric Meola

“The attitude was that these photojournalists are the ones that have to stick their heads up out of that foxhole to get the pictures, so their cameras damn well better work. So every camera we fixed was with that attitude.”
— Noah Schwartz

“Without batting an eye, this impish, graying, stoop-shouldered guy looks at my face, looks at the camera and says: ‘Lemme guess. The diodes flicker in the finder and jump all over the place when you meter.’ ”
— A posting to The Online Photographer, a photo-news site

“I remember going to his always crowded camera repair shop when I was young and green and shooting with an old Pentax, and he paid me just as much attention as he did to the famous guy who was trying to push in front of me with a bag full of Nikons.”
— Susan McCartney

“Marty was the guy who took care of us and had soul and, like the guys in those almost mythical gas stations we pulled up to back then, was there to pump the gas and wipe our lenses clean.  He was so, so cool.  And I miss him.”
— Eric Meola

“To the supplicants who thronged his counter, and the others who placed frantic calls from obscure corners of the world at obscure hours of the night, Mr. Forscher was equal parts detective, diagnostician, conjurer and psychotherapist. Many photographers referred to him as the Savior. The more concision-minded simply called him God.”
The New York Times


The quotes included in this posting were taken from the articles about the present photographer. This blog makes every attempt to comply with the legal rights of copyright holders.

This posting is intended for the educational use of photographers and photography students and complies with the “educational fair use” provisions of copyright law. For readers who might wish to reuse some of these images should check out their compliance with copyright limitations that might apply to that use.



Marty Forscher

forscher_head shot Marty Forscher, whose intimate knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the camera — and of the myriad ways in which photographers can unsettle them — made him for decades the most sought-after camera repairman in the country. For more than 40 years, Mr. Forscher ran Professional Camera Repair Service in Midtown Manhattan. Founded in 1946, the shop was a Mecca for generations of camera owners, from the world’s most celebrated fashion, advertising and news photographers to wedding portraitists, threadbare students, bejeweled celebrities and anxious tourists.

In World War II, Mr. Forscher worked in Washington as a repairman for the Navy photographic unit run by the eminent photographer Edward Steichen. After the war, he opened Professional Camera Repair Service. Originally at 480 Lexington Avenue in Midtown, the shop was located for many years afterward at 37 West 47th Street.

In the early 1960s, Mr. Forscher began begging discarded cameras from magazines, fixing them and sending them South. There, members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee used them to document the civil rights movement in images published in newspapers and magazines around the world. Some were of signal events, like Bloody Sunday — March 7, 1965 — when state troopers beat black marchers in Selma, Ala. Others captured small daily victories, like a black child learning to read at a Mississippi Freedom School.

His Camera Repair Magic

When the cameras were dashed to the ground or drenched by police fire hoses, Mr. Forscher repaired them and sent them back again.

Among the shop’s well-known clients were the photographers Richard Avedon, Joel Meyerowitz, Annie Leibovitz and Mary Ellen Mark.

Though renowned as a repairman, Mr. Forscher was perhaps best described as an armorer. For if news photographers were foot soldiers in the fight for social justice, as he long maintained, then he was intent on equipping them soundly. As a result, many of the seminal events of mid-20th-century history — World War II, the American civil rights movement, the Vietnam War — were recorded in part by cameras he had repaired, donated or adapted.

To the supplicants who thronged his counter, and the others who placed frantic calls from obscure corners of the world at obscure hours of the night, Mr. Forscher was equal parts detective, diagnostician, conjurer and psychotherapist. Many photographers referred to him as the Savior. The more concision-minded simply called him God.

Whether one’s camera had plunged into the sea, fallen from a skyscraper, been smashed in a riot or been otherwise sorely treated, Mr. Forscher could almost always find a solution. He knew, for instance, when to give a camera a bath (after an unplanned ocean dip, to flush out the saltwater), when to take it to the gas station (after the curative freshwater bath, to blow out the residue with the compressed-air hose), and when to bake it in the oven (after returning from the gas station, to dry out any lingering moisture).

Presiding over a staff of specialists — Nikon men, Leica men, Hasselblad men, movie-camera men — Mr. Forscher, in his red apron, was a learned generalist. An accomplished inventor, he adapted equipment so his clients could capture better pictures atop tall buildings, beneath the sea, on the battlefield and inside the human body.

His best-known invention, patented in 1982, was the Pro-Back, a Polaroid attachment for a 35-millimeter camera that gave photographers an immediate proof print, letting them test a shot without having to wait for the film to be developed. He also created an early compact motor drive for still cameras and was well known for "armoring" cameras for dangerous work, including for war photojournalists.

In World War II, Forscher worked in Washington as a repairman for the Navy photographic unit run by Edward Steichen. After the war, he opened Professional Camera Repair Service.

Beginning in 1990, the Marty Forscher Fellowship has been awarded to students and young professionals specializing in humanistic documentary photography. The fellowship is given annually by Photo District News and Parsons New School for Design.


Background and biographical information is from articles on:

The New York Times: “Marty Forscher, Who Tended Cameras and Owners, Dies at 87”

PDN Online News: “Marty Forscher, Inventor and Camera Repair Guru, Dies at 87”

PhotoCentral: “Marty Forscher, Camera Repairman, Passes Away In Pittsfield At 87”