Reflections – Thursday, July 21, 2016

Carol A. Hand

Day ten, the final day of the WordPress photography course I’ve been taking.

Architecture — Go Monochrome

There are a lot of interesting historic buildings and upscale homes in my city, even in my neighborhood. I have often wished that I had time and a camera with me to take photos. This assignment was my chance!

But I’ve learned how much lighting matters from this course. By the time I travel, even in my neighborhood, the light will not be ideal. In fact, it will be glaring on this intensely sunny day when an “excessive heat warning” has been issued. (That means it will be a humid 90-plus F, or 32 C. Not hot compared to most places, but in this northern clime it raises concerns.)

Anticipating less than ideal conditions, I took some shots of my house and neighborhood yesterday evening. “How boring,” I thought, “but at least I know a little about the history of these buildings.” This morning, I realized how much history matters when I consider architecture.

Mansions built by railroad, shipping, banker, and timber barons. Churches built with gold and silver at the expense of millions murdered and enslaved. Yes, the buildings may be physically beautiful. But I see them as monuments of hubris built in the context of oppression, poverty and starvation of many. With no negative judgment of the artists who envisioned majesty and beauty and craftspeople who gave their visions life, I can’t ignore the stench and stain of the exploitive and brutal histories of many architectural wonders.

So today, my lens is focused on what is close and ordinary, the house where I live now and the building across the street. I only know pieces of their histories, but it’s enough to know that they aren’t monuments to exploitation and hubris.

WP architecture 1

WP architecture 2











My home.

I bought my home in October 2011 from Ingrid, a widow who was then 91. She lived here most of her life. The home was built by her father, a Swedish American. It’s where she and her husband raised their two daughters. Her father used materials he could afford, but his creation has so far stood the tests of time and weather.

WP architecture 4

I think the little shed in the front yard was built later by Ingrid’s husband. Their shared Swedish ancestry remained important to them. Ingrid told me that what I refer to as a “garden shed” replicates a building they saw on a trip to Sweden. To Ingrid, it was a workshop for one of her daughters who was a stained-glass artist. It carries the poignant memories of a beloved daughter who died young.

WP architecture 6

This is the front of the house when I bought it.

WP architecture 7






WP architecture 8

This is what it looks like now. I do like the way “grayscale” hides some of the work that still needs to be done.

Just across the street, there’s a different architectural view, an apartment building that opened in 1972 to provide affordable housing for elders 62 and older. It was built in an era when there was some government funding to construct housing for people with lower incomes. Clearly, utilitarian functionality and accessibility underscore its design. It’s not a testament to wealth amassed at the expense of taxpayers. But it does provide safe and affordable housing for some of my dear friends.

WP architecture 10

I’m sad to end this photography course. It’s given me an enjoyable opportunity to learn something new and experiment with perspective, a welcome respite from editing a book manuscript. But I’ve just gotten feedback from one of my reviewers. It’s worth continuing. So if my WP visits are sporadic again, that’s why. I only have 300 more pages of editing to go!

I want to thank all of you for following me on this journey. I appreciate your feedback, encouragement and support.


I want to extend a special thank you to Bob at Palliser Pass for his thoughtful comments on an earlier post.

“Hi Carol, loved the poem and photos. He sure looks like a good dog and why shouldn’t he demand respect. Been enjoying your photos. If you don’t mind I will share my observation. You are a documentary photographer, you want to share and tell a story with the photograph. I consider myself the same kind of photographer. The story or showing is more important than anything else. Keep up the good work. Bob”

Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Bob. You helped me realize I do use photographs to tell a story. Your words inspired me to tell this one. 🙂

I encourage you all to visit Bob’s site. He’s a gifted photographer and storyteller.


Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

23 thoughts on “Reflections – Thursday, July 21, 2016

    1. Thank you for sharing this resource, Ken.

      I’m not sure I’m ready to go tinier than my house at this point, but the shed is cute. In a different location the shed might work. Unfortunately, it’s just a foot inside of the property line, and a foot lower than my neighbor’s yard. The carpeted floor held in the moisture for decades, rotting and warping the floor boards. Last year my grandson helped me tear up the wooden floor, but it’s still waiting for some solutions to make it usable even as a shed. Maybe fall or next year…


  1. Loved ALL your pictures Carol and you seem to have gained from the course. The last series of shots were really grand…I love monochrome and the subject of ‘Affordable Housing’ is close to my heart and a strong source of dislike (being polite there !!) of the UK’s present far right government and there policies around housing …. look forward to seeing more of your photographs in your already magnificent posts ….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness Carol. I was reading and enjoying your post when I was surprised by seeing my name! I am pleased my comment meant something to you. Stories, history and documenting are important. Stories are life, it’s the small things that make us laugh and cry. It’s the things we know but can’t explain. You are able to tell those stories, to make sense of those moments. I read through your comments and how you touch people. That’s a gift Carol. Take care. Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you again, Bob, for your always kind feedback, and for the every day wonders and challenges you highlight in your engaging stories and photos. ❤


  3. As silly as it might sound, Carol, I post allot on Instagram and love the filter features. I tend to migrate toward a vivid high contrast approach. Black and white, I think it is brave to go monochrome. I like the effect but there is this little voice that’s leads me back to clarity and color. I like your pictures and the cabin looks quaint:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to hear from you, Ray. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. I don’t know much about photography, and the cameras and software I have made it challenging – especially macro shots and monochrome. But I enjoyed the course on WP and learned something new.


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