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Photo: Kagin’s
A detail from a 4×5-inch photo depicting Billy the Kid, left, playing croquet in 1878. Worth millions of dollars, the picture was found in a junk shop and bought for $2.

When I was growing up, kids regularly played games of “cowboys and Indians.” My brother and I had cowboy and cowgirl outfits and toy guns, “six-shooters.”

How times change! Today I am much more aware of the injustices done to tribes, and my preoccupation with better gun laws makes kids running around and shooting seem uncool.

But for sure, back then we thought cowboys were great: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy — and the real Wild West holy terror, Billy the Kid.

I hadn’t thought about these guys for years, and then my husband pointed me to this article on a Billy the Kid photo.

Peter Walker writes at the Guardian, “Henry McCarty, known in Wild West lore as Billy the Kid, lived a brief and violent life, stealing and killing before his death in a gunfight aged 21. He lived with a gun in his hand – and sometimes, it seems, a croquet mallet.

“In a surprising historical twist, the second photo of McCarty ever to be authenticated shows him and his posse, the Regulators, playing the sport in New Mexico in 1878.

“The faded image was among a pile of photos inside a cardboard box at a junk shop in Fresno, California, unearthed by a collector in 2010. Randy Guijarro paid $2 for the image, which is now estimated to be worth millions of dollars. The only other confirmed photo of Billy the Kid, from 1880, sold for $2.3m in 2011.

“The photo was authenticated by a San Francisco-based Americana company, Kagin’s, which identified Billy the Kid along with several members of the Regulators, as well as friends and family. It was taken after a wedding in the summer of 1878, just a month after the gang took part in the brutal Lincoln County war.

“When the photo was first brought to the company, its experts were ‘understandably skeptical,’ said David McCarthy from Kagin’s. ‘An original Billy the Kid photo is the holy grail of Western Americana.

“ ‘We had to be certain that we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken. Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this – a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to ensure that nothing was out of place.’

“The team spent a year investigating the photo, and even found the location where it was taken, in Chaves County, New Mexico. There they unearthed the remains of the building shown. …

“Liz Larsson, from the UK’s Croquet Association, said the series of photos from the scene left little doubt what game was being played: ‘It’s clearly croquet. You can see the hoops, the balls, the mallet, the centre peg. They’re all there. It’s a fascinating picture.’

“The first croquet club in England was founded in 1865, the same year the game was immortalised in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Larsson said. …

“[It was] not a game for the masses. … Things were, however, slightly different in the US, where companies making croquet gear created a smaller-scale version of the sport, which could be played on rougher turf, using cheaper, lightweight equipment. …

“All types of Americans played. In 1867, General George Custer wrote to his wife, Elizabeth, from his frontier fort in Kansas, asking her to ‘bring a set of field-croquet’ when she next visited. Thom Ross, a US artist specialising in historic scenes, has previously painted both Native Americans and cowboys playing croquet, saying this is based on extensive historical research.”

More here.

My brother’s cowboy hat.

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Transitions. In September, the meadow along the Sudbury River was green. Last week it was ice.

As kids, John and Suzanne used to skate on the meadow as soon as the river’s overflow ice was strong enough. Perhaps the wooden posts have something to do with a new generation planning to play there. Nowadays, John puts up a backyard rink in winter — just the thing for his family of skaters.

The next photo was taken by my sister in New York City. She says it’s unusual for Riverside Park to have icy puddles like that — one more example of the weather we’ve been experiencing in the Northeast. In my town, Thursday’s deluge came on top of melting snow and ice, and kept my husband bailing out the basement all day.

Next, you see our neighborhood before dawn and after dark, at sunrise and at sunset, in light and in shadow.

I had to include some lovely fungus, of course, and a message in stone that persons unknown left at a pocket park downtown.

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My new photography resolution, which I hope to stick to through the winter, is to capture shadows whenever the sun is out. Apart from the fact that I really like sunlight and shadow, I know I can find examples even in months when the photographic attractions of flowers and sailboats are not in evidence.

Today’s photo collection includes Massachusetts fall color, decorations for Halloween (I particularly liked that there were three witches, as in Shakespeare), curiosities from the MIT Museum (I loved Arthur Ganson‘s walking wishbone — and all his kinetic sculptures), and a graffiti warning in a Central Square alley.

“Come away, O human child!
“To the waters and the wild
“With a faery, hand in hand,
“For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

Read the rest of the W.B. Yeats poem here.

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There’s been a bit of a drought in my picture taking. I got so tired of winter, and now in spring I’m reluctant to shoot the same photos I shoot every year. Although when you think about it, it’s kind of beautiful that the same crocus, hellabore, and winter aconite pop up over the same creative neighbor’s stonewall year after year.

We’ve finally had some spring in New England. The very best sign of that was a lemonade stand I saw yesterday.

Two young girls were selling lemonade and flavored iced tea ($.75, mint leaves optional) and Rice Krispies Treats ($.25) while playing duets on the clarinet and violin. They told me they were raising money for a charity that provides instruments and music lessons to children in Haiti.

They were adorable. One girl pointed out their homemade signs. She said, “We didn’t have any big cardboard to make signs, so we got pizza for dinner last night.” The pizza box provided the needed cardboard.

The other pictures are pretty self-explanatory. The crocus flowers peeked up just before we had one of our numerous late snowstorms. The gorgeous architecture and shadows are thanks to the preservation ethos in Providence.

I was thrilled to see the opportunistic pansy poking through a stone curb. And the trout lilies. I had to take two shots of the trout lilies, the only wildflowers that still flourish after I took a walking class in local conservation lands 25 years ago.

(No worries: I didn’t steal flowers from the woods but was able to buy several varieties of wildflowers at a plant sale. Sometimes a solitary May Apple shows up near the trout lilies in my yard, but it is sad and lonely. The trillium never had a prayer as it is fussy about soil and likes to hang with a group. Perhaps the wild geraniums will bloom this year.)

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When you don’t have to travel, ice and snow are not the burden they are to a driver. You can wander a little outside your home and take pictures, bake banana bread, put out carrots for the bunny that appears at dawn, feed the birds, make ice lanterns.

The ice lanterns above were made by John’s children, and the photo was taken by my daughter-in-law. I love the smoky, swirly, mysterious aura that she captured.

My own 2018 ice lantern is below. My husband was critical to the enterprise. If you want to make an ice lantern yourself, check out an earlier post, here. You need a really cold day.

Right before Christmas, I took several photos of ice on trees and bushes because it looked so pretty. I know it’s not good for plants, though.

Sandra M. Kelly is the photographer behind the two photos of frozen bodies of water in New Shoreham — water that hardly ever freezes. It didn’t stay frozen long enough for her to get shots of ice boat racing, however. New England is swinging too quickly from deep freeze to balmy.

The big snow January 4th produced the mountain I noticed in a parking lot and the deceptive cushions on Suzanne’s porch furniture.

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Today’s Bonus Tidbit

Suzanne will be showing Luna & Stella antique lockets Fridays at noon (Eastern Standard Time) through December 22 on Instagram Live. Go to @Lunaandstella .

You can also see these one-of-a-kind lockets on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/lunaandstella/. Suzanne will size and place a photo of your loved one in the locket of your choice. A few of the antique lockets are shown below.

Suzanne’s Mom

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I’ll start with the parrot.

Do you ever think about how a slight change of routine can lead to something interesting? When I was commuting every day, I often missed my train, so I would tell myself maybe it’s OK. Maybe this means I’ll run into an old friend or make a new one or see something amazing out the window that I would have missed otherwise.

Last week, I walked home from an errand on a different side of the street because it was shadier, and I’m pretty sure I would have missed the parrot if I had stuck with routine. Such a small change! The owner returned as I was taking pictures and told me it was an Amazon Parrot. I was impressed that it hadn’t tried to exit the open window.

The next photos are of a local community garden. I tried to find out if the food bank could do gleaning there as I know the original donor wanted the land to feed the poor. Still researching that. It looked like a lot was going to waste there.

Next comes Verrill Farm, with flowers in pots and flowers you can pick yourself — under amazing skies. That farm seems to have especially wonderful skies. I also liked the sky over the church steeple.

The tree, of course, has a face. I don’t know if it’s an Ent. I hope so, but it wasn’t talking.

The next shot shows the early morning sun over Minuteman Park. Then you have some dancing ladies near the deciduous holly. And a photo of the parrot looking at me indignantly.

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