Acorn Park, Silver Spring, Maryland

•August 29, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Earlier this summer I was staying in Silver Spring in Maryland for the first time in a couple of years. The weather being nice I  took a walk around. Since the turn of the century Silver Spring has seen huge changes; much of the old character has been lost and sleek modern buildings have replaced what had previously been barren waste ground, or car parks or low-rise shopping and housing.

As far as I know Acorn Park has remained largely unchanged over the years (though I gather from the internet that renovation is planned, see https://www.montgomeryparks. org/projects/directory/acorn-urban-park/). However, I have to admit that I’d never really noticed it much before – it’s a very compact triangle of greenish space on East West Highway at the intersection of several main routes, and I’d generally just walked past on my way from Georgia Avenue to Summit Hills. But on this occasion, the weather being hot and sunny, I decided to spend a bit of time there and to take some pictures.

I’m not sure I’d really describe it as a “park”, at least not in the British sense, though Wikipedia mentions that a park may have grassy areas, rocks, soil and trees and may have artifacts such as monuments. Acorn Park indeed does have all of these things, more or less:



It’s a quiet and cool place to rest and cogitate, though and to sit and watch the world pass by; well, the cars pass by, really, as not a lot of people seem to walk round here.

But although it’s just a tiny triangle it’s of central importance to Silver Spring, gave the community its name and its “creation myth”:


The stone wall, with steps down, kind of conjoured up fantasies of a Roman bathing pool, or bathing in a harem; Cleopatra and vestal virgins? The alcove, which I assume is the spring, is a kind of niche or altar – offerings to the gods of Mica might be made here. The rock opposite is neolithic; a miniature Stonehenge whose volume has been turned down from 11 to 1! So this tiny park is characterful and atmospheric and just a tiny bit eery.

I noticed, for the first time, the delightful and colourful “framed” murals by Mame Cohalon (I don’t know much about her but there’s more here: Here they are, with their narrative:

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Silver Spring Mural 2




Silver Spring Mural 3




Silver Spring Mural 4




Silver Spring Mural 5



Also on the site is a gazebo, described (here: as “arguably the only giant acorn-shaped gazebo in the world”. I certainly hope so: sentimentality aside, it’s possibly the ugliest acorn-shaped gazebo in the world.


As an aside, it’s also very difficult to get a decent photo of the gazebo. Despite the gazebo which, I suppose does need to be there, all in all Acorn Park is a really worthwhile triangle to spend some in when visiting Silver Spring.

A map showing the location of the park is here:




Variations on Barbara Kruger’s Forget [Everything] from “Belief and Doubt”

•May 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Belief and Doubt is an immersive (is that the right description?) exhibition on display at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. I thought the messages in the exhibition were powerful and the simple use of colour (or monochrome) effective.

Museums such as the Hirshhorn and others in Washington are great sources of images. One of the wonders of Washington DC is that visitors to the museums with cameras  are almost actively encouraged to take photos of the exhibits. Such a contrast, say, with Tate Modern in London where you risk ejection if photographing. I guess it might be about  copyright and other rights issues, or perhaps insurance.

There have also recently been Barbara Kruger exhibitions on at the National Gallery of Art , also on the National Mall; and having already visited both exhibitions in Washington on my return to UK I was then surprised to find a similar exhibition of her work on at Modern Art Oxford (MAO) so I saw quite a bit of Barbara Kruger in 2014. By the way, it’s usually possible to take photos at MAO – I did! Bought the T shirt, too.

Here is the original (cropped from a bigger photograph as I couldn’t get “Everything” in the frame – but I think its meaning remains clear); again, taken as square-on as possible. I might have altered the perspective slightly  in PS Elements – I forget, as the photo was taken several years ago (although, to be honest according to the metadata this actual photo was taken only a year ago, in 2017; it was actually November 2016).

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And here are the variations (I left the reflection in and didn’t bother too much about getting a purer white – perhaps another time – but cropped and straightened):

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(Blur was added in PS Elements rather than the deliberate blurring and zooming I’ve been doing when taking recent photos, such as  ).

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I think one of the problems with Elements filters is that they tend to lend themselves towards producing 1960s style psychedelic, trippy images – ultimately rather limiting unless one is aiming at producing totally original images (and I’m not too good with using layers). In then end I’ll revert to just basic processing, but I still have some more of these experiments to upload!


Variations on Thomas Downing’s “Grid #8” 3

•May 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

And finally (again, the original first):

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Variations on Thomas Downing’s “Grid #8” 2

•May 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

And here are some more, the original first:

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Variations on Thomas Downing’s “Grid #8” 1

•May 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Thomas Downing’s “Grid #8” is displayed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. A  year or so ago I took a flashless, fairly low shutter-speed, hand held photo. An entirely acceptable photo resulted, not especially vibrant, more or less in focus, light falling away at the corners (vignetting?) but I liked the colours and I liked the symmetry and I liked the idea of slightly cropping the photo (which was taken square-on so that there was no perspective, with minimum perspective manipulation in PS Elements, so the corners were square with the symmetry) inside the natural frame of the original artwork as my own slightly ironic comment on the fact that it was a photo of a picture of a grid of circles/dots. I felt that it looked pretty, albeit slightly trippy, and put it up on my Flickr site. Here’s my original photo:

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And then the other day, after years of ignoring all the bells and whistles in PS Elements in favour of merely altering levels and cropping or improving perspective, I started experimenting with the Filters, mainly Distortion and Sketch filters. I’m finding the effects a bit repetitive and routine now – the result obviously dependent on the original image – the more abstract and less complicated seem to work better. Here are some of the results using the above image, first tranche (more, more detailed images can be found on my Flickr page , ):

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Variations on Mark di Suvero’s “Are Years What? (for Marianne Moore)” 4

•May 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The original:

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Photoshop Elements variations, mainly using Distort filters such as Wave and occasionally Liquify or the Smudge tool:

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Variations on Mark di Suvero’s “Are Years What? (for Marianne Moore)” 3

•May 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The original:

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Variations processed using PS Elements (better detailed images can be seen on my Flickr page):

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