Nov 252011

Thanksgiving has passed as Thanksgiving usually does with football, films, or should I say movies, and turkey with all the trimmings slotted somewhere in between.

With an American wife born in Texas, the turkey takes on a Southern style with a peach glaze and an accompaniment of corn dressing, spicy green beans, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries. The addition of a dash of port to the latter is an English modification.

The centrepiece of the desserts was homemade pumpkin turtle pie, topped with Cool Whip to gain Weightwatchers approval and a drizzle of caramel, pronounced “carmel” in America for some strange reason.

We watched most of the Green Bay Packers win, which saw off the challenge of the rejuvenated Detroit Lions. The turkey dinner was served before the game ended and finished in time for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Not the best of games but it ended with the right result as far as our household was concerned, a 20-19 victory for the Cowboys.

The choice of film was provided by my stepdaughter – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The film concluded the Harry Potter journey. Some of the films were seen at the cinema, of late the concluding episodes have been watched on Blue-Ray.

I have enjoyed the Harry Potter films. For a start, I like the idea of witches and wizards; goblins and pixies. I also enjoyed seeing favourite British actors of mine taking the leading roles in a British production, as well as the British locations. You can take the boy out of Britain but you cannot take Britain out of the boy. The use of “boy” is of course poetic license.

But mostly, it is English being spoken with English/British accents that endears the film to me. I have a thing about voices. For some unknown reason they stick in my memory. When I lived in the UK, my ability to recognize the actors doing voiceovers in British television adverts was uncanny. If I was unable to give the actor’s name, I could always give the TV drama or comedy they regularly appeared in.

The Harry Potter films have featured one of my favourite English voices, namely the one belonging to Alan Rickman. His diction and cadence is such that his voice immediately commands respect; the mellow tone exudes authority. His voice is the epitome of an Englishman, ranking alongside the voices of Jack Hawkins and James Mason in that respect.

I would love to have a voice similar to any one of those three actors. Unfortunately, my voice has the register of Tony Hancock and the accent of Les Dawson. The fact that they were both comedians probably signifies an awful lot. My voice does not play easy on the ear and I wince every time I hear a recorded version of it. I feel sorry for those who have to listen to me. It may account for why very few people do.

I wonder if other people have favourite voices. Feel free to comment,

I will close with a shot taken on South College Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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Nov 182011

My time at the moment is being spent going through countless images I have shot to select suitable one for submission to various photographic contests. It is an arduous task. I have great difficulty in narrowing the selection to just a few photographs and also trying to second guess just what it is the judges are looking for.

A lot of shots have had to be discounted from one of the contests because the rules state that I must have a model release for anyone who is recognizable. I wonder if Henri Cartier-Bresson obtained model releases for all his subjects photographed on the street that have since become classic examples of street photography.

The following shots were taken in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am not saying any of them are worth submitting but they are all disbarred. I have no model releases for any of the persons depicted.

Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

I guess the organizers are just covering their backs, probably a wise precaution in the litigious land that is the United States. And maybe I am getting old and forgetting that back in my newspaper days, any photographs used for publication had to have a caption bearing the names of the people appearing in the image, unless it was a generic crowd shot.

Back to selecting images. Having seen some of those already submitted by other photographers, I fear I am probably wasting my time. Their images are so damned good. They are Barcelona to my Stoke City. Still, England did beat world champions Spain, albeit in a friendly match. I get the distinct impression that the competition in these photography contests is unlikely to be friendly.

I shall adopt the Olympic spirit — “The important thing is not to win, but to take part”.

With the holiday season coming up and Christmas just a few weeks away, the prints for sale at Calvin Palmer Photography would make ideal presents. Click on the link at the top of this page.

Nov 102011

I spent a couple of days in Charlotte last week. I had better rephrase that. I spent a couple of days visiting Charlotte, North Carolina, last week. The fall colours seemed more striking than those in Florida. Or maybe it was just my imagination.

Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

So I was walking along W 4th Street in downtown Charlotte minding my own business. I had my camera bag slung from my shoulder and my Canon 40D hanging from my neck read to be brought up to my eye at a moment’s notice if I happened to see something worth capturing.

The building to my right caught my interest. It was a two-storey building that dated from the late 19th century or early 20th century at a guess. It was one of the few old buildings to have survived Charlotte’s renaissance in the 1970s to become the second largest financial centre in the United States. Many fine old buildings were torn down to make way for the towers of concrete, steel and glass, the cathedrals dedicated to the worship of Mammon.

This surviving old building had a colonnade façade, with large Georgian-style windows in between the rectangular columns. The repeated pattern had obvious photographic possibilities.

I walked on and wondered what the building’s function was. As I approached the gated entrance with a security booth, I noticed a sign that said “US Government Property.”

I had just passed by the security booth when a voice called out, “Excuse me, sir!”

I stopped and turned in the direction of the voice and saw a burly African-American man dressed in a blue blazer, shirt and tie, and grey slacks.

“What are you doing?” the man asked.

“Walking along this street,” I replied.

“What’s with the camera?” he enquired.

With an exasperated look, I said “Has it come to the point where a person with a camera can no longer walk along a street without being stopped.”

“This a federal court building,” he said.

That explanation may have struck a chord with an American but it was lost on me.

“What are you doing?” he said for the second time.

“I am just walking around looking for things to photograph. I was quite taken by this building but when I saw it was US Government Property, I thought it was probably a good idea not to take a photograph.”

“Could I see some photo ID?”

“You know you have no right to ask that. I am on a public street.”

The man smiled benignly but the smile did not mask a look of insistence.

I reached inside my jacket pocket for my wallet and opened it up.

“I tell you what,” I said. “You can have my business card instead. Perhaps you would like to buy a couple of my photographs.”

He studied my card, the one that appears at the top right-hand side of this page.

“Okay, Mr Palmer. Have a nice day.”

“I will try,” I said laconically and walked away. By this time something had caught my eye on the other side of the road and I crossed to take the shot.

Some hours later back at my hotel, I told my wife about the incident. She said that photographing outside federal court buildings was prohibited. At least it was up until October 2010 when, following a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the federal government recognized the public’s right to take photographs and record videos in public spaces outside federal courthouses throughout the nation.

The ruling also applies to all federal buildings throughout the nation.

Obviously, it takes longer than 12 months for news of legal rulings to get from Brooklyn to Charlotte.

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