Jack’s Urban Meeting Place


For years we in Boise have been witnessing some rather incredible goings-on in the middle of downtown.  A large block of what had been an open field used as parking for decades was finally being built up.  As the new construction began to take shape, passersby started to take notice: this was not going to be one’s normal edifice.  The contours of the new building gradually evolved and it appeared it was going to resemble nothing less than a collection of spatial recognition objects from a geometry class. What’s going on here?

The conglomerate of shapes was given a name:  JUMP, or Jack’s Urban Meeting Place.  Jack was Jack Simplot, a legend in Boise and in Idaho.  As a young man he had an idea about potatoes and turned it (and them) into billions.  He and his wife, Esther, have been generous with their good fortune and the community has benefited greatly. In 2008, J.R. died at the age of 99 and one of his last boons to the city turned out to be JUMP, or Jack’s Urban Meeting Place.


Jump is finally beginning to show its stuff, although not quite ready for a full-fledged launch.  It calls itself an “interactive creative center and community gathering place designed to spark new interests and uncover talents people may not even know they have.”  

I think it will end up being that and much more once it really starts to hum.

As you can see here, I was fortunate enough to tag along on a tour recently and I must admit I was excited at the prospect of finally seeing what was going on inside.  It turns out that plenty is going on, especially in terms of light and design.  When it is geared up and running who knows what will start percolating?  For now, I was given the freedom to roam and take pictures, and I had a lot of fun doing it.


Doors to enter and steps to climb

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Plenty of seating available too.


Simplot’s World HQ is Going Up Across the Plaza




The kitchen is going to be a busy place – it’s in the lobby!

JUMP2_061There’s still lots of work to be done but meanwhile you might consider scheduling a tour – you just might get an idea or two.  The website:  Jack’s Urban Meeting Place 


Leave a comment

Filed under Architecture, Idaho

The Western Idaho Fair

Photographing a county or state fair anywhere can be a challenge, especially if  you want to avoid the clichés.  If you agree with that notion, then perhaps you should try it my way:  embrace the clichés and get them out of the way.  Just take lots of pictures and have fun.  Push yourself to see them in new ways.  Who knows?  You may end up with the best cliché ever!

A view of the fair from a carousel

What are ferris wheels for anyway?

The Western Idaho Fair is kind of a hybrid: not quite a state fair but more than a county fair, which means it pulls in a lot of folks from all the counties around Ada, the seat of Idaho’s capital, Boise. The fairgrounds are only about a mile away from my house so it’s an easy bike ride for us when it comes to town in August.  Nonetheless, we live very busy lives and often just can’t make it for more than an hour or two on the closing night.  That’s a shame because I really enjoy those old-time fair attractions that involve animals, apple pies, and art, the kinds of things that get started when the gates open in the mornings. Even so, with just an hour or two I usually manage to come away with some good ones.

A girl with her horse

A Girl and Her Horse

A young boy watching a horse competition

A Young Cowboy watches the Horse Show

A Girl and Her Corn

A Girl and Her Corn

Horse's eye

Blue Eyes

Close up of mural

Kids on a ride


I out clichéd myself

I out clichéd myself

The big cone

The big cone



For all it’s tackiness and expensive beer and outrageously contrived culinary horror bombs, I’ll  continue going to and enjoying the fair as long as I have a camera!


Leave a comment

September 13, 2015 · 9:24 pm

Ride ’em, Csikos!

Several years ago, we visited a ranch in Hungary’s Puszta, “the barren land”, and discovered a way of life we had no idea existed.  The Puszta, or great Hungarian plain, covers over 50,000 square miles and takes up most of the eastern part of the country.  Although it is mostly dedicated to farming now, there are a number of working cattle ranches scattered about so it’s only natural that there are also a bunch of cowboys punching those cows.  Out here they’re called “csikos” (pronounced “chicos”) and they have a reputation for being excellent  horsemen.

One of those ranches puts on a show of the csikos’ talents periodically and we caught it.  It wouldn’t surprise me that an Idaho cowboy would find plenty in common with these guys.

Riding herd on some Hungarian Gray or "Steppe" cattle

Riding herd on some Hungarian Gray or “Steppe” cattle

csikos riding and cracking a bull whip

Some csikos prefer a bull whip to move things along

These guys are also adept at standing up while working:

Csikos riding horse while standing

a csikos riding two horses wile standing








I suppose if you must ride two  horses at the same time while guiding a couple of others, standing up is the way to do it!

Csikos riding two horses standing up









Portrait of a young csikos

A young csikos


A csikos with bull whip

An old csikos


Csikos at the door of a barn

Hungary, A "Chicos" playing a zither at a farm in the "Puszta", near Kalocsa

The Hungarian zither!

No guitars and singing cowboys here.  Listen below to hear the sound of the citera:

1 Comment

Filed under cowboys, csikos, Hungary, photography, travel

The Dynamic Range of Nampa, Idaho

A couple of weeks ago I was hired to shoot a commercial property in a town called Nampa just to the southwest of Boise.  Now we in Idaho know it’s more than a town; in fact, Nampa is the second largest city in the state.  But when you’re downtown Nampa you can still get a fair idea of how it looked when it was still just dreaming of being a city.

On the job I took the required blue sky shots and then found myself with about two hours down time before finishing up with the twilight shots.  I decided to visit one of my favorite book stores located right in the middle of downtown Nampa, the Yesteryear Shoppe.  By that time the sky had turned gray and foreboding and everything was looking a bit dull so it hadn’t occurred to me to take any pix at all.

Until it did.

I had parked the car a half block away from the old train depot and noticing it when I returned knew there was no way I was going to leave without photographing it.  After that I decided to continue walking around the small downtown area and practice doing some hand held HDR (high dynamic range).

Nampa Train Depot Museum

The old Oregon Short Line Depot (1903) is now a museum

I had assumed that the Union Pacific had built it but I was only partly right.  The Oregon Short Line, one I had never heard of, was one of those trunk railroads that was built by Union Pacific to extend their connection with the shortest route between Wyoming and Oregon.  It drove across the rich farmlands of southern Idaho and planted a station at the little town of Nampa.  Eventually the Short Line went away and it’s senior, the Union Pacific, took over the station and the yard.  There’s actually quite a bit more rail activity in Nampa now than in Boise, which becomes obvious when one peers behind this little example of Old West Gothic architecture.


A Union Pacific Locomotive

Just  around the corner, heading back into the downtown area, there’s one of those typical, nondescript small town bars that seem to be pretty much the same no matter where one goes in America.  This one apparently makes the claim of being here since 1918.

1918 lounge

Just to stay in the mood, I checked out a nearby alley.

Color. . .

Color. . .

alley in Nampa Idaho

. . . or black and white?

downtown nampa

A feeling of Autumn in Downtown Nampa

This surprising photo (to me anyway) gave me a “painterly” feeling so I used a Photoshop filter I’ve never even considered before, the “paintbrush”, to push it over the edge:

two trees on the street

Shooting with broad strokes

(Have I no shame?!)

Look Out toy store

The Lookout Toy Store on 13th Ave. So.

Do you ever look at your photos later and wish you had gone deeper?  That’s the way I feel about this one.  That little andoid/robot thing at the entrance was begging for more attention.

After this shot it was time for me to head back to the job site and get ready for my twilight shots (no HDR), so I took one last shot of downtown Nampa:

downtown nampa, idaho

Looking west on 1st St, South

Although my client was very pleased with my shoot of his strip mall, these were the real success of the day for me!


Leave a comment

Filed under Architecture, Black and white, HDR, high dynamic range, Idaho

George Holton – Travel Photographer

When I began life as a photographer, it became clear that not every type of photography was for me.  That was OK, all I really wanted to be was a “travel” photographer.   As simple as that may sound, I soon realized that if I could gain expertise in other types of photography like portraiture, sports, journalistic, and landscape, to name a few,  the better travel photographer I would be.

good photography magazine cover

So I devoured the photo magazines like Popular Photography,  American Photographer,  and Modern Photography, and really nearly every other magazine I could lay  my hands on, trying to figure out how the photos I liked were created.  I studied a lot of pictures!

After a while, the work of several photographers really began to impress me, photographers such as Pete Turner, Jay Maisel, and George Holton.

You’ll notice there is no link to the last one’s website.  And that’s a shame.

I was instantly attracted to the work of George Holton.  I looked at his photos and said to myself “that’s what I want to do!”  He became sort of a role model for me; he was the master whose work epitomized where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my life.  And so I set out to absorb his way of seeing things and make it part of my own creative efforts.

I learned that he was staff photographer for Lindblad Expeditions during those years, a job that I could only dream of.  Lindblad traveled the world, looking for the rarest and most unique destinations for those travelers who wanted to really experience the ultimate in travel.

Bamiléké dancers, Cameroon

Bamiléké dancers, Cameroon

There were other photographers during those days who also produced vivid, exciting images, especially Turner and Maisel, but Holton was the pure travel photographer and perhaps the last of his breed.

Alas, things were changing rapidly in the travel business and I took my shot at it just when the classic era of travel photography was winding down.  The days when major airlines, navigation companies, and magazines kept photographers on staff were quickly receding into the past, but stubborn me persisted anyway.

I learned that Holton kept both a home in Manhattan (where the work was) and on the shores of Lake Atitlán, a fantastically beautiful place in the mountains of Guatemala.  I was fortunate enough to visit Atitlán and its surrounding villages several times and two of those times I attempted to visit him at  home but both times he was off traveling somewhere else.  I never did get to meet him and it was a disappointment that has endured.


A family of Tzutuhil Maya near Holton’s home on Lake Atitlan

The part that really bothers me however is that so little of his work has made its way to the web and so few of today’s travel photographers have even heard of him.  It’s not hard to see why:  searching for his work on the web, indeed searching for any information about him, yields very little.  The photos I did manage to find and include here are just the tip of a wonderfully huge body of work that still deserves to be seen.

photo booth in turkey

A photo booth in Turkey

In my search for information about his life, I’ve tried to contact others from those days who might have known him.  I discovered that his son, Thomas Holton,  is also a very fine photographer and intends to someday go through his father’s work and publish it online.  He was gracious enough to provide a few scanned images for my post.

I once heard that George Holton had photographed in every country of the world, including places that were really off limits in those days, such as Albania, the Soviet Union, and China.  I don’t know how true that was and I guess I don’t really care.  As far as I’m concerned, he was the most widely traveled photographer ever and, in my view, the best.

three men in spain

Three men and a net, Spain

Eskimo hunting in Canada

Eskimo in camouflage hunting in Canada

peruvian girl

Portrait of a Peruvian girl

bull elephant seals

Bull Elephant Seals

japanese mannequins

Mannequins, Japan

home and man in kenya

Portrait of a home owner in Kenya

Guatemalan couple

A Mayan couple on an early postcard by Holton

Remember that in those days a photographer usually traveled with major quantities of film, at least 100 rolls at a time, and getting those rolls through the newly installed high powered X-ray machines was a constant battle of wits, bravado, and diplomacy.  As well, we had to wait until we got home and have it processed before we even knew for sure what we had.  Those of us who worked like that truly understand and appreciate the blessings of today’s digital environment!

I don’t recall ever having seen most of these photos posted  here so they were a delightful discovery for me.  Many are especially unique because the world has changed so that much of what existed then is just gone forever.

I don’t know if others can see his influence in my work, but I sure can.  If you did, perhaps you might anticipate the re-discovery of Holton and his travel photography as much as I do!

(George Holton died in China of a heart attack in 1979.)


Now for some other travel photography from the olden days!


Filed under Uncategorized

Redondo Beach

In the last post, which I’m sure is indelibly engraved in the deepest neural pathways of your cerebellum, I focused on a few  hours I spent shooting Miami.  Well, since then I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of visiting a little town in the South Bay of L.A. County, clear on the other side of the  hemisphere:  Redondo Beach, California.   The purpose of my visit,  a class reunion in my home town of El Segundo just up the coast, kept me pretty occupied but I still had much more leisure time than I did in Miami.

CA_Redondo_140This is the essential Redondo Beach.  Although I grew up just three beach towns to the north, my youthful parochialism never encouraged me to explore the towns to the south as much as my adult self thinks I should have, so this was a welcome chance.

Most of my activity on this recent visit was confined to a very local area around the Redondo Pier and the beach you see above.  After all, it is Redondo Beach!

Crab House Restaurant on the Pier

Crab House Restaurant on the Pier

Man Reading a book on the beach

Redondo Pier

The Pier

Sea Gull


Redondo Pier


Palm Trees

The ever-present palms

I know these tall palms require maintenance but I’ve never been around when the dead branches are clipped. Does that really happen or do they just fall, perhaps causing a painful chance encounter below?

A cup of chocolate

A cup of chocolate

Deco Building of the MA Center

The MA Center, one of the oldest buildings in Redondo

There is an old California beach style of architecture that is becoming more rare as land values increase.  Walking through the old neighborhoods is still rewarded however with discoveries of remnants of those past days.  This beautiful deco building is not an example of that style but certainly belongs in the family.

There were few better places to be in the ’30s, ’40s, and yes even the ’50s than these little towns!

The Old Library

This old building was the original library. And that must be the original tree too!

Woman sitting under umbrella on beach

Back to the beach!

Pacific Sunset

Never saw one I could resist

Manhattan and Hermosa you’re next!

(Dedicated to ESHS Class of ’64)


BIG NOTE: Please follow this blog by clicking the blue bar in the upper right corner – it really helps a lot!


Filed under Architecture, HDR, photography, travel

A Miami Moment

I must confess that up until a couple of Februarys ago I had never been in Miami, except for some stop-overs on longer journies.  Last year however, I did finally have the opportunity to get into town for a few hours.  I was there on other business, which pretty much consumed the entire three days.  Nonetheless, with a little finagling I was  able to put together about three hours of shooting time.

It has always been a frustrating experience for me to find myself in a place I have always wanted to shoot but then have just a few hours to do it.   My usual approach, if I don’t have specific destinations in mind, is to just start traipsing around in the most likely spots.  Before hand I try to check out the picture postcards on sale in the lobby for what those spots might be.  My aim is to get at least one “iconic” photo of the locale if possible,  but in the end I’ll be happy with whatever I can get.

This time I was there in the season of clouds and rain, although the temperature stayed in the benign mid-80s.  The absence of blue skies is not what one usually associates with the typical Miami photo.

So here’s what happened:


The Atrium of the Grand Hotel and Condominium

This was the view from my floor of the establishment in which I stayed.  I’m off to a good start when I can grab something right out the door (or window) of my room!

The Grand Hotel and Condominiums

The Neighbors

View of North Bay, Miami

View towards North Bay, Miami

Now I start my walk:

Miami River

The Miami River

When walking around downtown Miami, the architecture is definitely what imposes itself upon you.  The image below was the view just to the right of where I took the one above.

Rear entrance to a condo

Rear entrance to a condo


Downtown Miami Architecture

Downtown, Looking Up

Decorum (detail of "Male Torso, by  Colombian sculptor Fernando Boltero

Decorum (detail of “Male Torso, by Colombian sculptor Fernando Boltero)

An office window on Biscayne Blvd

An office window on Biscayne Blvd

Most cities, if not all, have a certain prevailing “feel”  in almost everything that is built within their borders that reflects their character.  Miami certainly does and what it is could be summed up in big, bold, solid color.

Most of the photos above were taken in a two-hour window we  had before getting back to the airport.  No matter what your time constraints are, just grab your camera, open your eyes, and go for a walk!

View of sunset and clouds from 32,000 feet

35,000 Feet

I still had some digits left in the camera for this spectacular sunset, somewhere over and between Florida and Texas.


Leave a comment

Filed under Architecture, HDR, photography, special effects, travel

Hugh Mangum – Itinerant Photographer

In my early days as a photographer my very very first business card described me as an “itinerant photographer”, or “fotógrafo ambulante” for my Spanish speaking clientele.  (It doesn’t quite have the same meaning, but it was close enough.)  The crude card was a product of my own limited design skills but it did tell people what I endeavored to be.  (I recently found that card and did it bring back memories!)

I certainly wasn’t the first to describe myself this way.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were photographers who realized that settling down in one town would probably not give them enough business upon which to thrive.   Taking their services from town to town, however, just might.  Then again, maybe some of them just had an itch to see what was around the next bend.

Hugh Mangum was one such photographer.

Hugh Mangum self-portrait

Hugh Mangum’s Selfie (1890s?)

I have recently stumbled across his entire known collection of portraits, which is archived at Duke University.  You can find it at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.  All photos by Mangum shown here are used with their permission.  I’ve culled some of my favorites but there are plenty more to see at the above link, over 600 more as a matter of fact.

Mangum worked mainly in Virginia and North Carolina, making portraits of anyone who wanted one and could afford his sitting fee.  He was equally welcome and popular in both white and black communities, which made him a bit of a rare bird.  And for that reason his work is especially valuable.  That part  of the country was still very segregated but it didn’t seem to matter to him. Many  African Americans were anxious to expose themselves (so to speak) to the greater community as well as have photos for their family albums.  They found their man in Mangum!

Black girl posing

Working through the poses!


The Century Penny Picture Camera

One recurring theme one sees in Mangum’s work is the series of poses he would suggest to his subjects.  You can see each photo in the series because he often used a novelty camera called the “Penny Picture” camera.  It would actually expose a series of up to 30 photos on one glass negative, which allowed him to develop that many in one pass, rather than each photo individually.  This saved the photographer hours of labor in the dark room and allowed him to crank out the work in a profitable manner.  One result of this is that we can often see each and every pose he would request of his client, whether it worked or not.  One in particular that stands out to me is his “hands-behind-the- head-leaning-back” pose.  This invariably caused a relaxed smile and must have been a winner, especially to his subjects.

From a "Penny Photo" camera

From a “Penny Picture” Negative

When you browse through his work, you immediately realize that he was a master at putting people at ease in a situation that was often rife with stiff formality.  People had fun with him, but he  could also capture them at their most serious and dignified.

Three girls

The Stacked Heads Pose (I’m going to try this one!)

Three girls posing with cigarettes

Brazen Hussies!

I’d give a lot to be in the same room with these three  (although I might not last long)!  Mangum captures a spirit of fun and vivacity in this picture that was seldom seen in those days.  Heaven only knows what their moms thought about it.

Two young kids


Sister and brother? For as much as we want to know more about these people, we simply can’t.  Their names have all been lost.  This is in itself a tragedy but we still have the photos, and that’s no small thing.  I’ll bet some of these original prints still exist in an album somewhere, with the IDs and dates penciled in on their backs.

Two boys dressed up

Two Young Gentlemen (at least for today)

A Picture for his Gal?

A Picture for his Gal?


"OK, girls - bite the finters!"

“OK, girls – bite the fingers!”

Mangum was born in Durham, North Carolina, in 1877, into what was reputedly a very talented family.  When his family moved out into the quiet of the country Hugh, a lad of 16, took his camera and started taking pictures in the surrounding towns.  He would get on a train and keep going and working until he ran out of money.  In some towns he would establish a space in some store or building that he could use for his studio or darkroom and eventually built up a sizable clientele in both the white and black communities.

Hugh Mangum

Hugh Mangum

Perusing his images it becomes clear that he had a way with the women and it seems they had a good time with him too.  He is reported to have taken over a hundred nudes but they have apparently been lost.  This little known tragedy may rank with the burning of the library in Alexandria.

In 1906, he married Annie Carden, whom most folks considered the prettiest girl in East Radford, NC.  He continued his successful career until 1922 when he was struck down by the great influenza epidemic that swept the country.  The only treatment available at the time was whisky, which he turned down on principle.  They survived and he didn’t.

To read see more of his work:  Duke University Library Digital Collection

There’s also a good biography of him at the Eno River Association

Leave a comment

Filed under Black and white, history, People, photography, Portraits


You say it “Booda Pesht”.  Live with it.

(Another hint:  go to the bottom of this post and click on the YouTube music link and enjoy the Hungarian Rhapsody while viewing this post!)

A phenomenon that occurs quite regularly with me when I’m traveling is one that I might call “the last is first” syndrome:  the last city I visited becomes my favorite.  It doesn’t always happen but it does happen with regularity.

Budapest is one of my favorite cities.  But so is London and Paris and San Francisco and Mexico City and Stockholm and Jaipur and Boise.   And a bunch of others too.

But now I’m going to sing the paeans of Hungary’s capital, Budapest.

Like many, or even most of Europe’s capitals, it was devastated by World War II.  And like many cities in Eastern Europe, this one wasn’t really given the chance to rebuild itself, to express itself, until communism was pushed back into what we had hoped was history’s trash can.   But it has rebuilt itself and is truly an expression of the best of the Hungarian people.

Hungary, Budapesst, Frieze on Building showing Heroic Sailors

A memory of the Cold War on the entrance to an office building became my first picture taken in Hungary

A while ago I landed one of those “plum” assignments that photographers like me live for.  I was given the opportunity to photograph the itinerary of a Danube River cruise for Viking River Cruises.   The cruise started in Budapest and followed the Danube to the Black Sea.

It just so happened that we arrived in Budapest on August 17th, just three days before my birthday.   It was also three days before St.  Stephen’s birthday, the first King of Hungary, so the weekend was taken up by endless celebration on the most important holiday in Hungary.  There was a lot going on and we were very fortunate to have caught it.

The beginnings of this trip were not that auspicious, however.  The night before we left Boise, I fell out of our attic over the garage and fractured my right heel.  I forewent seeing a doctor (how could I?) and just lived with it, hobbling to the airport about six  hours later.

The excitement of being in a city I had wanted to visit for so  many years was incentive enough, and I was able to keep off my feet for the next ten hours or so in the air.  In any case,  I spent the next three days limping around as much of the city as I could.  As most photographers will tell you, the pain goes away when there are photos to be taken.  It is in between the photos when the cursing comes back.

 Szabad Sajto Street, budapest

Szabad Sajto Street, Pest


Being in this romantic and classic old-world capital was a dream come true for me and being there during such an exciting time made it even more of a blessing.



The Takarekpenztar (Savings Bank) building on Kosuth Lajos Street (1909-1911)

The Takarekpenztar (Savings Bank) building was built in 1909


How does one even begin to do a portrait of a big city in just three days?  Well, in my case, I just limped down every street I could and took everything that tickled my fancy.


Naturally there were plenty of people to shoot and most were in a festive mood.  It was after all, a very important holiday.

Hungarian man, budapest, hungary

This fellow was glad to be here.

woman in budapest, hungary

Girl in a parade staging area, more pensive than festive

girl in parade staging area, budapest, hungary

man with mustache, budapest, hungary


Breitling jet team, budapest, hungary

The Breitling jet team making a pass over the Danube

Hungarian parliament, budapest

View of Parliament in Pest taken from the Buda side

silk scarves, budapest, hungary

Silk Scarves at a shop on Vaci Street

Cave church, budapest hungary

The Cave Church at St. Ivan’s Cave, on the Buda side of the Danube

Hungary, Budapest, Corvinus University of Budapest (New Building), Entrance

The new Corvinus University

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Budapest, Hungary

St. Stephen’s Cathedral








manhole cover, budapest, hungary

Manhole Cover

Is this not the classiest manhole cover you’ve ever seen?

A toast to Budapest!

Hungary, Budapest (Pest), a glass of Dreher Beer


Play this!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Doctor Pepper

Red Bell Pepper

OK, it’s still a working title.  I’ll improve on it soon.

My original idea for this post was to show a selection of my favorite produce photos.  Upon gathering many of them together however, I realized that I had enough pepper pix alone for a colorful and fun post.

Habaneros at LaMerced, Mexico City

Habaneros at La Merced, Mexico City

As anyone with any sense at all knows, a public market is a gold mine of beautiful photos.  The central market of Mexico City, La Merced,  certainly must be one of the largest in the world where you can see actual mountains of fruit and vegetables piled high.  You can’t leave without filling your bag, even if you hadn’t meant to spend a centavo.

bell peppers

Sliced bells

Every time I’ve tried to grow bells of any color, I have ended up with a small bush and just three, maybe four, peppers.  But they sure were good!

red chiles

Chiles in a Chinatown Market, Singapore

Do you think these weren’t red hot chili peppers?


A variety of chiles

I had fun gathering these from the markets on Clement Street near my apartment in San Francisco.  The wax-like skins of peppers produce such brilliant and solid colors!

Red Bell Petter

A Bell in the Clouds

One day, while visiting the local fruit stand I found this bell.  It was so beautiful that when I got home I spent the next  hour photographing it!


One of these posts soon I’ll follow through with the rest of my produce shots.  Until then, however, cope with these:



Leave a comment

Filed under Food