...on blue spaghetti

Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted on Sunday, January 31, 2010


Charlie Poole sang:
I want to go west, got the Milwaukee blues",
Old Bill Jones said before he died, "Fix the roads so the folks can ride"

Well, they did back in 2008 and after driving over, under and across it too many times to mention, I began to notice a certain aesthetic to the sweeping forms and juxtapositions of the Marquette Interchange, Milwauke's spaghetti junction.

I was reminded at once of both past and future. The prefab concrete pillars recall the 70's while the accent lighting and maze of roadways has a real sci-fi feel to it.

At a cost of $810m, it sure is one expensive (but practical) piece of art!

...on abstractions

Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted on Sunday, January 24, 2010


Photographic abstraction art is varies as much as any other style of photography, but in all it's represented forms the essence is to avoid the like depiction of the subject, in preference of producing images which are borne from, but exist to a greater (or lesser) degree, apart from, the finite visual reference.

In many cases contemporary photographers internalize their images and no orientation to the true form is provided. Eliciting a reaction from the viewer, devoid of a tangible reference, they are guided only by shape & tone. James Wellings' series Degradé or his New Abstractions series are examples of this style.

In these images I don't push the boundary so far. The first image (above) is likely recognizable as water, a tangible point of reference, however, it is offered symbolically to be viewed in conjunction with the polar elements of the image's tonal presentation. The viewer must interpret the intention of the image and place it adjacent to their own experiences.

In the subtraction above I removed all elements other than those required to convey the intended representation. Taken from Santiago Calatrava's Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, these tension cables recall a sentimental abstract inference to the string art forms popular in the late 70's. A great art piece both in it's architectural design and as a photographic abstract.

..on the washing

Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2010


Deep into creases,
behind sagging folds,
under once filled flaps,
over blue webs,
between bunion buttons,
and round gaseous mounds
go the sponges of
the wistful washers.

comically inspired by a mis-typed handy man ad which I saw a while back - it was offering widow washing sevices :)

(...Kath - eeughhh!! :)

...on cyberspace

Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted on Sunday, January 17, 2010


I've (just about) completed an update to my website . The project started as a way to make it all just a little simpler - for me and for site visitors. I wanted more integration with my work flow to ease the burden of keeping site content updated. And I really wanted to make it simple to view my images. I've visited a lot of elaborately designed photography sites and came away with the impression - "that was a cool site!". Not at all what I want to achieve! well actually it is, but more importantly I want those who visit to be focused on the images, so a simple, clean, interface was my key objective.

Please stop by - your comments and feedback is very much apprecaited.



... on the fallen

Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I try to take in all that's going on around me, to slow down and let the world by. I gaze up at buildings, out over the countryside and left or right at people scurrying past, but often I forget to look down - it never ceases to amaze me though how something as simple as a fallen leaf can make you completely stop.

..low over highlands

Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted in , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, January 08, 2010


Ruthven Barracks, Scotland

If you get a chance to take in some of the Scottish Highlands do it! but be prepared for a wee bit o'a breeze (read: blowing a gale) and a wee drizzle (read: lashing it down) and a wee bit sun (a strange yellow object sometimes known to appear in a late July sky) along with generous helpings of good old-fashioned warm and friendly hospitality in one of the many welcoming abodes (but pick one that has a roof!)

One of things I love most about Scotland is the remoteness,
 but be aware, sometimes the facilities may leave a little to be desired!

Lecht Mine
Back in the 30's, the 1730's, this was (and remains) the largest manganese mine ever worked in Scotland. It employed over 60 men & boys and produced over 50,000 tons per annum! It's located on the Glenlivet Estate so I imagine a wee dram or two would have flown quite freely - just to keep the chill off of course!

Girdleness Lighthouse, Aberdeen


Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted on Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I was recently introduced to the work of an English photographer, Nick Brandt, whose images of Africa are described as an 'elegy to a vanishing world' and it made me take pause, not only because of their harrowing narrative but also because of the way the images communicate the plight of this wondrous landscape and it's inhabitants. In particular I was mesmerized by the nobility of a resting lion shown, in profile, sitting up against the fore-breeze of a coming storm.

 (due to copyright restrictions I can't show the image but please have a look!)

The 'in-camera' photographic technique used by Nick produces an unusual selective focus drawing attention to the subject and, in the image linked above, it creates an angular dynamic through the frame forming a unique and mesmerizing portrait.

Now I had a little more humble setting in which to photograph the King of the Beasts, the Milwaukee Zoo - but it was a fun outing and a great place to visit!.

Nick's selective focus technique inspired to me to revisit some of the images I shot during that trip and present them in a way that diffuses the setting and attracts the eye to the key element of the image.

Here we are left in no doubt he is king of his domian!

on... New Year 2010!

Posted by Mark A. Johnson | Posted in | Posted on Sunday, January 03, 2010


Happy New Year - 2010!
Hi and welcome to my first blog of the new decade (actually my first blog ever).

This is the time of year where we reflect on the previous twelve months and set out our good intentions for the next twelve, so I thought we might start by looking at how some brave (read slightly crazy) Cream City citizens started their 2010 - The Polar Bear Plunge.

On New Years Day while many in Scotland would be welded to the sofa suffering from the effects of the previous night's generously sized whiskey's (and even though they are six hours ahead of Milwaukee - they probably still were), resolving, as is the tradition, "to not drink any more"... mind you they never said they would drink any less either! - a few (quite a few actually) wild and barely dressed lads & lassies opted to washout their hangover in a little different manner.

Gathered along Milwaukee's Lake Michigan shore front at Bradford Beach were all sorts of colorfull charachters (I still find it unusual to see snow on a sandy beach, I have to keep telling myself it's a lake!), some dressed in costumes, some in sleeping bags, others in 'man-kinis' and all looking just a little pale. I was quite colorful myself, bright yellow snow jacket, black snow pants, thick orange socks and, as I'm from Scotland, even with all my winter layers - the obligatory pale blue skin!

They were all there to take the plunge into the near freezing waters of the lake. Some do it to raise money for a good cause, others to wash out the past years' 'ghosts' and others... well, just because they can! .

It's always a fun event and a great place to catch the slightly off kilter side of the community, here's a couple more shots - enjoy!!

The air tempertaure was around 14F (about minus 10c) brrr!!!