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Pictures from Home/ The Harvest and the Coffee

August 28, 2014

Back porch harvest

Tomato and garlic harvest.

I’ve been spending time in Ashfield getting ready for the coming semester. Vivian is hard at work with the garden. We lined our blighted tomatoes along the porch screens to save what we could (which was about 10%). Garlic is on the floor on the sleds.

Onions drying

Our yellow and red onions almost covered the porch floor.

One favorite aspect of the harvest is the fermentation. So far this year’s highlight is our first batch of kimchee made from garden fresh Chinese cabbage. Better than the local stuff from the Korean market. 

This big green head is bound for our first batch of sauerkraut.

This big green head is bound for our first batch of sauerkraut.

I just realized that I don’t have a picture of our pickles. My first choice are the half sour brine pickles that ferment for about a week. We’ve got a batch in the fridge now with a couple of more crocks still fermenting. Vivian also makes jars of dill pickles. Below is one of her pictures.

Pickles on the woodstove

Waiting for the dill jars to seal.

She sure makes a good picture of pickles. I should get her an iPhone tripod for the indoor shots. Although it is just fuzzy on one side. Fixing it looks like a job for Instagram.  

Machine apart

My Espresso passion, in pieces.

If Vivian’s passion is the garden, mine is the coffee, specifically espresso.

Broken espresso

The Nouva Simonelli Premier S in non-working order.

Actually, my be-at-home passion is wrapped up in the totality of espresso– from bean to cup. Above is a 20 year old machine that I got from Melissa, the professional coffee roaster and barista at The Elbow Room in beautiful downtown Williamsburg. I got it out of her cellar in March and I dismantled it in April.

Dismantled Espresso Machine

The Premier apart and mostly in labelled bags on the porch.

I was a complete novice to espresso machine restoration. I always like to take things apart, though.

Pipes and things.

I needed to make order out of chaos.

The Premier sat around in pieces for a month while I descaled it and decided which parts needed replacing.

Espresso mandala

Patterns emerged as I familiarized myself with the complexity of my previously 80 pound machine.

When May came I began to think that I wasn’t going to get it back together again. There was one ace-in-the-hole. I had meticulously photographed every step of the take-down with my iPhone. I just had to follow the pictures in reverse.

Coming together

The copper and chrome skeleton begins to reassemble itself with the help of many wrenches and lots of teflon tape.

Next, the testing came. My mass of pipes and gaskets was not making coffee, or pumping water. The machine sat there for another month.

The Cafe

The coffee room.

It became an 80 pound conversation piece. Meanwhile, I had my coffee scene together– Hottop coffee roaster on the left, Pharos hand grinder to its right, next the Mazzer Mini electric grinder and then the LaPavoni Professional lever machine. I was making great espresso, but there was an elephant…

Coffee Corner

Overview of Frank’s Cafe

No matter how I looked at the Premier, it didn’t make me feel like a successful barista. It needed a rebuilt water pump and who knew what else. 

Espresso machine rebuilt

Success! The NS Premier S rises to pour another espresso, and steam some latte.

I extracted my first espresso from the Premier on July 4th. The rebuild took me almost 4 months. I still only have one brew group working, but I needed to pause and enjoy some great coffee. You can see the rubber band on the left brew group. I use that to hold a thermometer to take its temperature. Coffee likes to be brewed a bit below boiling.

So now you know what I do when I am not teaching or running around the world making pictures., Kickstarter, and a Life in Photography

August 8, 2014

Installing plate glass in Siberia, 2010

I thought my construction picture from Siberia would be a good lead for my friend and colleague Glenn Ruga, who is reworking with fresh ideas and a fresh design. Saturday, August 9, 2014 is the last day of the SDN Kickstarter campaign. There is still time to jump on board. A pledge of $100 or more will even get you a print by Frank Ward (me). Check out SDN on Kickstarter and help us out. I say “us” because I have the pleasure of being on the SDN board. Your pledge doesn’t support anyone on the board. It will help support documentary photography and photographers worldwide.

Isfara, Tajikistan classroom

My photo class in Isfara, Tajikistan, 2012

Every day that I teach photography I realize that documentary work, and all creative photography, needs our support. I look into the faces of my students knowing that traditional careers in photography are few.  A successful life in photography is now more likely to be marked by a strong web presence than a portfolio of tearsheets from magazines and newspapers.

Khorog, Tajikistan

Classroom, Pamirs, Tajikistan, 2009

The old saying that a photographer is best served by a good pair of shoes still holds true. I will also add that some alchemical combination of ego and personality will serve you better than the best combination of camera and lens. An easily bruised ego and an introverted personality won’t get you far in the photo world. But, a delicate ego or an introverted nature is no problem on their own. Richard Avedon used to sit in disguise where he was having an exhibit primarily to satisfy his ego. Introverts make great photographers, but you have to make the outside contact to get the assignment or sell the picture.

Swimmer, Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal, Siberia, 2008

So it comes down to a willingness to bare your soul. I’ve had projects that have left me in tears (Bosnian refugee camps), or swearing that I’d never go back (New England Barrooms). And that brings me to the primary requirement for a life in photography. You have to do it because it is what you are driven to do. You keep on going back no matter how miserable it makes you feel or how broke you are. A job on the side may help if you are too broke, but a photographer is never too broke-down to make the picture.

Pictures from the Former Soviet Union

January 26, 2014

Cafe, Vladivostok, Russian Far East

During the month of February, I will be exhibiting pictures from The Drunken Bicycle- Travels in the Former Soviet Union at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. On February 19th at 7:00, I will do a presentation with Vivian Leskes, author of Lost in Siberia. –CALL FOR ENTRIES

September 10, 2013


“Using the power of photography to promote global awareness” is the tagline for a photo contest that goes beyond the standard parameters of most picture competitions. SDN‘s annual Call for Entries is an open invitation to advance your career as a documentary photographer. Two Grand Prize winners will be awarded $4000 each and each will spend up to two weeks documenting the global health projects of Management Sciences for Health. Yes, instead of relying on the usual network of photography agencies to hire talented picture professionals, MSH wants to give the opportunity to members of the community. A $35 fee will allow you to join SDN, upload a portfolio, and be entered for the Call for Entries. Your portfolio will be available for viewing to anyone who visits

There is a $1000 cash Documentary Award for a third winner and a New York City exhibition that will include 2-3 honorable mentions as well as the 3 winners. The deadline is September 28, 2013. Check out more information and details here and here.

In addition to this annual Call for Entries, SDN offers a monthly award of $200 for the best portfolio uploaded that month. I had the opportunity to vote on this month’s winning entry. In support of full disclosure, I am on the Advisory Board for SocialDocumentary.Net. I am not on the selection committee for the current Call for Entries.


Photos by Frank Ward.

The above pictures are from two not-so-recent projects. The top image of an elephant bathing in the water supply of a village in South India was created when I was part of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange photographing health issues in India (1999). The lower picture of a young boy was made from a military vehicle while embedded with the U.S. forces stationed in Kosovo. I was there under the auspices of the Center for Balkan Development bringing aid to help rebuild Kosovo (2000).

New Found Lands

August 29, 2013


Gros Morne, Newfoundland, Canada. All photographs 2013 by Frank Ward.

It is time to fire up The Coruscating Camera blog and begin a semester of photo work. This post is illustrated with pictures from a recent journey to Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland.


Bedsprings, Viking Trail, Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland.

According to my MacBook dictionary, the word ‘coruscating’ means “sparkling, flashing and brilliant in content or style.” When I am photographing and feeling ‘in the zone’, I recognize the world as coruscating with energy.

ImagePleasant Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

The most immediate energy available to the photographer is light. Recognizing the most favorable light invites us into the realm of coruscation.  This picture and the next were taken in sequence one evening along the Cabot Trail.


Volunteer Fire Department, Cape Breton.

The first view is just to the left of where I made the second photograph. Actually, there was a very nice picture (below) in between the two pictures above.


Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton.

The master color photographer Jay Maisel told me to take lots of pictures of the same stuff, and to bracket my camera settings. I never really know what I will be attracted to after the initial exposures.

Jay also says to photograph before 10 AM and after 4 PM. The light is best in the early morning and early evening. I still photograph anytime day or night, but he is right. The light is best when it is low and sweeping across the world.


Codroy Valley, Newfoundland.

Sunset is a great time to photograph, except that I’m not too interested in sunset pictures. I was attracted to the light reflecting off the white painted surface of this outbuilding along the Cabot Strait.


Western Brook Pond, Newfoundland.

Here is the morning mist on a former fjord in Gros Morne National Park.

I like inclement weather. The pictures above and below were made just after a rain.

Let’s integrate the conditions of the outer world into our inner world of perceptions and preferences.

Recognize the potential in the world around you, and Allow it to become your perception.

ImageBoat dock, Western Brook Pond.

I am referring to the acronym RAIN, suggested by Tara Brach, a teacher of present moment awareness. Her first step is to Recognize what is going on in any moment. You don’t need a camera to do this. The next step is to Allow what arises to simply happen without judgement.


Port Saunders, Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland.

Tara then asks us to Investigate, this is where a camera can come in handy. With or without a camera, investigation can lead to insight.


Port aux-Basques, Newfoundland

The last letter in our acronym is for Non-attachment.  This is the most important factor for both the person and the photographer. Attachment to our current situation leads to any number of contentious issues.  You can get frustrated because you are not getting the results (pictures) you want. Or you can project into the future about the huge rewards you will receive for the brilliant work you are making. My ‘N‘ in RAIN is also for Now. Too many thoughts can get in the way of experiencing what is in front of me and my camera. If thinking takes me away from Recognizing, Allowing and Investigating what is in front of me, I bring awareness back to the Now. A clear mind makes clear pictures.

Frank Ward in Exposure 2013 at the PRC in Boston

June 6, 2013

Frank Ward at Exposure 2013 at the PRC in Boston Now

The 18th Annual Photographic Resource Center Juried Exhibition opens June 6, 6:30-8:00. That is tonight at 832 Comminwealth Avenue, Boston, MA. This Accordion Player is on the high pastures of Central Asia off a road heading from Osh, Kyrgyzstan to Kashgar, China. There will be a half dozen of my pictures from The Drunken Bicycle series at the PRC with seven other selected photographers.


Neither of the above pictures are in the exhibit. You will have to go to see what is included.

Claire’s Footprint

March 10, 2013


My daughter Tobey was telling me about tiny houses. These alternative homes are often no bigger than 500 square feet and are an attractive option for those with the intention to live with a smaller footprint. That’s Tobey and Porgy in the picture above as we walk to Claire’s house, about a mile down a mud road.


Here are Claire’s feet as we stand in her kitchen. She painted the floor with leftover house paint.


Tobey admires the kitchen. The house is off the grid. Claire has solar power backed up by a generator. Her stove is a combination of wood and gas and her refrigerator is propane powered.


Claire’s water system is solar powered. She says she has to drain the pipes if she is away overnight in the winter.


This is Cinderella, she got her at FAO Schwartz in New York when she was a child.


The house is beautiful and well swept.


It could be a museum.


The pictures on the walls are amazing, and she does her own wallpapering.


I don’t mean to give you the idea that Claire lives as if in an earlier century. She has a laptop and today’s New York Times.


Claire doesn’t even have a tiny house. She simply has a small footprint. Her choice of life style reminds me about intention. We all live with intention. We simply don’t ask ourselves what our intentions are. When you think about your intentions, dive past the layers and daily reasons for doing what you do. Look into your root aspirations and you may find that your deepest intentions should not be overlooked.


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