Dave Higgins Photography

Looking at life through nano-coated lenses

Last week I had the chance to meet some of the residents of Albany Rural Cemetery. No, I wasn’t at a seance or anything else paranormal. I was instead taking a tour of a part of the cemetery during which cast members at various grave markers told us about their lives and how they wound up where they are. The event was put on by The Historical Society of the Town of Colonie. It was a fascinating experience that offered a tangible dimension that would have been missing from a simple tour with a dry presentation about who was buried where.

I’d brought my infrared camera with the idea of taking pictures of some of the markers. But I wound up creating infrared images of the presenters in their period costumes. I really like the effect – everything seems more ethereal and timeless. You’ll find them below, along with the brief bios provided to us by the Historical Society. In the end I gained a greater appreciation of how much history is rooted in the Capital Region – especially in Albany Rural Cemetery.

(Per the ARC website: “Among the many historic people interred in ARC are: the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur; 34 members of Congress; eight presidential Cabinet members; five New York State governors; and 55 mayors of the City of Albany since it founding.” There are also over 1,000 Civil War soldiers buried there, including a handful of confederate soldiers.)

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Charles Fort

Charles Fort: author of several books on unexplained phenomena; beings on Mars controlling events on earth; a sinister civilization extant at the South Pole. Fort said he didn’t believe anything he had ever written. Portrayed by Ed Bablin.

Joseph K Emmet

Joseph K. Emmet: comedic stage actor, best known for his depiction of a character in the play “Our Cousin German.” Emmet Street in North Albany is named for him. The original Wolfert’s Roost was built be “Fritz” Emmet. Portrayed by Sean Owens.

Emily Weed Barnes

Emily Weed Barnes: daughter of Albany Evening Journal editor Thurlow Weed. Became wife of William Barnes, who took over as editor of Albany Evening Journal. During the Civil War, Emily helped establish the Albany Relief Bazaar to raise money for sick and wounded soldiers of the War of the Rebellion. Portrayed by Lori Dollard.

Fredrick Cleveland

Fredrick Cleveland: founder of the Cleveland Baking Powder Company. Cleveland lost two young children with fever, which was later found to be from contaminated water in the home well. His mansion on Van Rensselaer Blvd. was called “Greyledge.” Portrayed by Brian Dollard.

Daniel Manning and his second wife

Daniel Manning: businessman, journalist, and politician. Became editor and owner of Albany Argus. Most notable for having served as the 37th United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Grover Cleveland. Manning Boulevard is named in his honor. Portrayed by Peter Crouse.

Louis Menand

Louis Menand: born in France, came to America and became an authority on horticulture and botanical subjects. Established his business north of Albany near Albany Rural Cemetery. The Village of Menands is named for Louis Menand. Portrayed by Eric Washburn.

Brig. Gen. Adolph Von Steinwehr

Brig. Gen. Adolph Von Steinwehr: born in Germany, his father was a major in the ducal service, grandfather was Lt. Gen. in Prussian Army. Educated at a military academy in Germany, he became a brigadier general in the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. Steinwehr Avenue in Gettysburg is named for him. Portrayed by Robert Mulligan.

Capt. John Cooke

Capt. John Cooke: born in England, emigrated to America. Joined local militia company. Fought in Mexican War and Civil War, where he was wounded in action at Port Hudson, LA. Was a messenger at State Attorney General’s office until his death in 1875. Portrayed by Will Trevor.

Mary McPherson

Mary McPherson: born in Scotland in 1804, moved to Albany in 1819. Had a bronze statue atop a rose-coloered Scottish granite of famed Scottish poet Robert Burns erected in Washington Park at her bequest. Sculptor was Albany native Charles Calverly. Portrayed by Diane Doring.

Stephen Van Rensselaer III

Stephen Van Rensselaer III: married to Margaret Schuyler, daughter of Revolutionary War Gen. Philip Schuyler. During War of 1812, led unsuccessful attack on Queenston Heights. Later became active in politics as NYS Assemblyman & Senator and US Congressman. Founder of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Portrayed by Bill Douglas.

Col. Michael K. Bryan

Col. Michael K. Bryan: born in Ireland, moved to America and settled in Albany. Proprietor of restaurant and hotel in Albany. Active in local militia, becoming Captain. Promoted to Colonel of 175th NY Infantry during Civil War. Killed in battle at Port Hudson, LA. Portrayed by Jim Verhagen.

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All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2018; all rights reserved.

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Across the United States today there were hundreds of rallies opposing the Trump administration’s dreadful and unpopular immigration policies. The name of many of these rallies – “Families Belong Together” – drew particular attention to the egregious Trump policy of separating children from their parents. These photos are from the Albany, NY rally, in which hundreds braved the oppressive heat and humidity to voice their opposition to Donald Trump and his terrible policies. Beyond the creative signs and inspiring speeches, one message stood out: people need to register to vote, and then to vote in November.

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(Clicking on any image will open a slide show.)

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All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2018; all rights reserved.

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I was walking across the Joshua High School parking lot a year ago when I noticed paintings on some of the parking spaces.  They were something I’d never seen before; parking spaces as canvases for folk art.  Cool!  Judging by an Internet search they’re something of a novelty; the only locations I found information for were West Orange High School in Florida and James Bowie High School in Texas.  Looking at the Joshua artwork, I knew I’d want to photograph them sometime.

Joshua High School parking lot, from Google Maps satellite view. (At least a year old, as some of the art has changed.)

I finally got my chance a week ago, when I went over to the school early Saturday morning.  At first the novelty of the subject presented a challenge: how to photograph them?  What actually was the subject and what did I want to convey about it?  I started off taking photos that mainly featured the art work, but which offered a sliver of the surrounding environment to provide perspective and context.  However, as I became familiar with them I started to notice relationships between some spaces, involving subject matter, technique or simply colors.  And so I started to explore some of those relationships.

This wound up being a really fun project that I’ll have to revisit in the future.  I hope you have as much fun viewing these images as I had working with them.  And thanks to the creative students of Joshua High for creating such wonderful artwork!

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(Clicking on any image will open a slide show.)

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All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2018; all rights reserved.

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Albany’s West Capital Park hosted the second annual March For Science today. While the weather and wildly various forecasts may have put a dent in attendance numbers this year, at least we didn’t have any sleet or freezing rain. For those who did attend, there were many booths with fun science displays, creative and entertaining signs, and stirring speeches by some local scientists and officials. Here are some photos from the day.

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(Clicking on any image will open a slide show.)

 

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All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2018; all rights reserved.

 

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Stella at f/0.95

I bought my first “real” camera in the summer of 1973. It was a Minolta SRT-101 with a 50mm f/1.7 lens. When I brought it home I loaded it with 35mm black & white film, aimed it at one of the family cats, and snapped the shutter. When I got the prints off that first roll back from the drug store, I was amazed at how sharp and detailed the image was. It was a far cry from the Kodak Instamatic photos I was used to. With that shot, I was hooked on “real” photography.

Ever since I got back into serious photography in 2008, I have maintained a tradition. Whenever I acquire a new camera or lens, I always start off with some shots of my cat Stella. It’s not so much a superstition as a fun tradition. Besides, with her fur and range of colors, Stella makes a great test subject for a camera or lens.

This week I acquired a Mikaton Speedmaster 35mm f/0.95 Mark II lens for my Fuji XT-2. Without getting into lots of photo jargon, I’ll just say the lens offers a field of view comparable to that old 50mm Minolta lens, but its considerably larger aperture lets in much more light and makes the depth of field (what’s in focus) much shallower. From the lens’ specifications, and from reviews I’d found online, I thought it might offer the chance to make some fun and unique images.

Naturally, as soon as I received the lens, I put it on my camera and started photographing Stella and random other things. Judging by this photo of Stella, I think this lens is going to be a lot of fun!

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All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2018; all rights reserved.

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