Studio News: Water Main Break

Water Main Break: 6th & Bainbridge Streets. Philadelphia


Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

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Water Main Break

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In the early hours of Sunday, July 25th a 100+ year old cast iron thirty inch water main broke at the intersection of 6th & Bainbridge Streets in Philadelphia, causing a massive flood of epic proportions. Water department  officials on the ground at the epicenter claimed that it was the largest main break they had ever seen.

At approximately 2:00AM a resident of The Ward Studio was awakened by a large crash of water breaking glass on a floor below her bedroom prompted her to get up to see what was going on.  The resident, a close friend of the Ward family, had the presence of mind to immediately begin videotaping the wall of water descending onto the property. 

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LIWEI VIDEO

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Within minutes all of the below grade rooms including; lounge area, kitchen, dressing room, darkroom suite, editing room, workshop and bathroom were all under approximately 24 inches of water.

There was extensive damage done to the property, including  thousands of vintage black and white and color negatives that I was preparing to review in anticipation of an upcoming exhibition in the fall.  

The city of Philadelphia has stepped in to mitigate the damage while my family sorts out the damage and loss.  Mitigation efforts are currently underway to save as many negatives as possible. All activities including studio and darkroom rentals have been suspended until further notice.

Bob Shell: On Photography

Photo by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

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On Photography

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Someone asked me recently why I wasn’t posting much about photography anymore. Before my conviction in August of 2007, I was ‘a renowned photographer with a long-established reputation,’ to quote Federal Judge Glenn Conrad. I’d been doing photography/cinematography since my teens in the early 1960s, following in the footsteps of my father, who was an avid photographer/cinematographer. He had numerous cameras and lenses, still and 16 mm movie cameras, and a nice darkroom in the basement of our house in Roanoke, Virginia. 

The first time I saw an image I’d photographed magically appear on a blank sheet of photo paper when I dunked it into the developer, I was hooked. 

People today who grow up using digital photography on smartphones never experience that magic moment. I find that sad. 

Over the years I’ve been in prison I’ve watched traditional photography die. First one, then another, then one by one, all of the photography magazines have died. At its peak, there were dozens of photography magazines. I’d get seven or eight a month. Popular Photography had over a million subscribers at its peak. 

Today, I get two photography magazines, Nature Photographer (www.naturephotographermag.com) and Professional Photographer, the magazine of the Professional Photographers of America, to which I belonged for many years. If others have survived as print magazines, I’m not aware of them. 

Even Digital Camera, the magazine I worked for after Shutterbug, is now gone. My favorite of all, and one I wrote many articles for, Rangefinder, is history. 

I also get Digital Imaging Reporter, today’s incarnation of Photo Industry Reporter, a trade publication I used to write for, but it’s published erratically these days. 

Of course, there are some Internet photography magazines, but, so far as I know, nobody has been able to make any real money from an Internet photography magazine, and if a magazine can’t make real money, it can’t attract, pay, and keep good editors and writers, who have to support themselves and their families. 

The once-popular hobby of photography has seriously declined. Any hobbyist who wants to own the finest film cameras ever made can do so for pennies on the dollar, although if they need service, finding someone who can repair them may not be easy. Friends of mine have bought Hasselblad, Mamiya, Bronica, Rollei, Contax, Leica, Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, etc., outfits very cheaply. Darkroom equipment is even cheaper. 

Although the selection is limited, film is still readily available, but you may be unable to buy it locally. In fact, increased demand has even induced Kodak to put one version of Ektachrome back into production. 

I’ve tried to keep up with photographic technology, despite the fact that I haven’t so much as touched a camera in over fourteen years, and have yet to even see one of the mirrorless cameras that are fast taking over for SLRs. 

My cameras, lenses, and other photographic equipment is all in storage, and will remain until my release. Hopefully I won’t be too decrepit by then to rebuild my studio and life as a photographer. 

I used many different cameras over my years in photography. During two different periods I owned camera shops, first for several years in the 1970s, then from 1980 until 1990. The cameras that were my workhorses in 35 mm were Canon, and continued to be until my career was ended in 2007. I wrote several books about Canon, including ‘Canon Compendium,’ the official history of the Canon Camera Company. 

In medium format, I used Bronica S2a cameras with their superb Nikkor lenses before switching to Rollei SL66 in the mid-1970s. I continued with Rollei, using their advanced 6000 series up to my last Rollei, the 6008i, an amazingly capable camera. 

In large format I used a Toyo 4 X 5 monorail view camera with several Schneider-Kreuznach lenses in my studio, and a Zone VI field camera outdoors with those same lenses. 

In the rare instances when a client wanted 8 X 10, I had an old Eastman 2D camera made in 1918 that I used. It still worked fine. I fitted it with a Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 300 mm lens in a Compur Electronic shutter, matching old to new. 

When Polaroid made 8 X 10 film, I shot quite a bit of it in that camera using a borrowed Polaroid processor. 

I was an early adopter of digital photography, though, and was doing most of my work with Canon and Nikon digital SLRs by 2002, but the speed at which traditional photography collapsed was a total surprise, and shock, to me and most of the industry. Luckily, I was able to sell most of my medium format pro cameras before the bottom completely dropped out of the market, using the money to pay lawyers, several of whom said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll never spend a day in prison.’ Here I sit, fourteen years later, still in prison for something that never happened. It is ridiculously difficult to get a false conviction overturned in today’s American legal system.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/hidden-truth_ufos-pentagon/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Bob Shell: Hidden Truth About the Pentagon’s UFO Report

UFO citing by Military Aircraft

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

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Hidden Truth About the Pentagon’s UFO Report

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Like most UFO investigators, my first reaction to the Pentagon’s UFO report released in late June, was disappointment. I suspect the report was carefully crafted to produce that response in people knowledgeable about the UFO phenomenon at first reading. The Pentagon would like for us to just go away. 

But deeper digging shows the report actually is a very important contribution to our knowledge of what the Pentagon calls UAPs, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Importantly, it could be summed up as ‘Yes, they’re real, but we don’t know what the hell they are.’ 

The study was restricted to 144 credible reports by military personnel. In those 144 encounters the report rules out four categories; one, a secret technology from one of our adversaries, two, our own classified technology, three, airborne clutter such as balloons, and natural atmospheric phenomena. This leaves a fourth category they call ‘Other.’ That’s where the meat of the report lies. 

Very importantly, 80 of the encounters classified as ‘Other’ ‘involved observation with multiple sensors,’ in other words, they could not be observer error by human observers. The report concludes those 80 encounters were with actual physical objects. That’s the grains of wheat among all the chaff in the report. More than half of the encounters were with real physical objects. Unknown real physical objects. 

Of those 80 encounters with actual physical objects, 18 manifested seriously anomalous behavior. This includes instant changes in direction, moving at speeds impossible for aircraft of any sort, and no observable means of propulsion. So these are actual physical objects using technology we don’t have, and we’re sure no other country on Earth has.

As usual the ‘scientific’ brigade came out to debunk. Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb said the encounters probably have ‘mundane explanations.’ ‘Mundane explanations?’ What ‘mundane explanations?’ Are we back to swamp gas, swarms of fireflies, and other imbecilic explanations thrown at us in the past? I hope not. 

Someone named David Axe wrote in TheDailyBeast.com that we may not know what these objects are, but ‘we can say with reasonable certainty what they’re not.’ That’s space aliens, he says, and asks why extraterrestrials would travel ‘galactic distances’ just to fool around with military pilots and make no effort to communicate. 

Remember in Star Trek they had a ‘Prime Directive’ not to interfere in developing civilizations? Maybe the beings visiting us have such a rule. It’s quite logical to let civilizations develop on their own, each going in a different direction. Our own cultural anthropologists try to interfere as little as possible with the primitive cultures they study. 

Maybe, from their perspective, communicating with would have as much use as us communicating with beavers! 

Besides that, Mr. Axe’s argument has a fatal flaw. He assumes aliens would have to travel ‘galactic distances’ to get here. That’s an obviously false assumption. They’re already here and have been here a long time. 

Anyone who has studied the subject deeply, as I have, knows that whatever UFOs are, they’ve been here a very long time. There are reports from ancient Rome, medieval reports, reports from every period in written history. The Biblical report of Ezekiel’s encounter, if converted to modern language, is a classic ‘Close Encounter of the Third Kind.’ 

When I interviewed an elderly member of an isolated indigenous tribe in New Mexico in 1996, I learned from her that her people had a very old oral tradition of encounters, and considered seeing a UFO to be a very bad omen. This was not something they normally talked to white men about, but a relative who’d left the reservation to work construction in big cities heard me interviewed on Art Bell’s radio program, contacted me, and convinced her to talk to me by telling her that my great grandmother was Cherokee (true). 

Human encounters with this ‘Other’ is not a recent phenomenon! 

In the 70s Jefferson Starship, that great old band, asked, “What I would really like to know … what are they watching us for?’ We don’t have an answer to Paul Kantner’s question — yet. The truth is still out there somewhere.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/nudes-in-state-parks/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

 

Bob Shell: ‘Alien’ Artifacts and Fungus on Mars

Artwork by Dean Rosenzweig. Copyright 2021

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

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‘Alien’ Artifacts

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Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he heard for decades that Lockheed Martin, the aerospace giant, was in possession of ‘retrieved materials’ from crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft. Reid, now 81, says ‘they’ would not approve it when he requested access to the material. I have read credible reports that there are levels of secrecy that not even the President can access. 

I have to wonder just who ‘they’ are who can deny a prominent Senate leader’s request. 

The late Senator Barry Goldwater told a somewhat similar story. On a visit to Wright-Patterson Airforce Base, Goldwater asked his old friend General Curtis LeMay, who was in command of the base, to see the alien materials kept in the ‘Blue Room’ there. The general became angry and told Goldwater that even he could not see it, and said he would never speak to his old friend Goldwater again if he ever raised the issue again. 

Why this extreme reaction to simple requests from prominent senators? 

Another question I’ve always asked is this; if some spacefaring intelligence could create the technology to travel many light years to visit our humble abode, why would they be crashing once they got here? We’ve managed to land delicate rovers on Mars with our ‘primitive’ technology. It just doesn’t make sense that beings with the technology to travel billions of miles through space would come here only to crash in our deserts. Something is very wrong with that picture. 

Now for the latest news: 

An independent government watchdog is now investigating the Pentagon’s actions on UFOs following complaints by leaders of Congress. 

Luis Lue Elizondo, a former Pentagon official who headed the Pentagon’s program investigating what they call UAPs, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, has come forward, comparing the Pentagon’s dealing with the UAPs to the intelligence failure before 9/11. This would imply to me that he believes UAPs pose a threat to national security. 

The new investigation will seek to determine the extent of the DOD’s actions regarding UAPs. 

The investigation became public with the release of a letter signed by Randolph R. Stone, Assistant Inspector General for Evaluation of Space Intelligence Engineering, to heads of military agencies and government departments giving them five days to provide a point of contact to answer the Inspector General’s questions. Hopefully, this signals a big chink in the wall of official secrecy. 

The IG’s investigation is separate from a mandated federal report to be released before the end of June about UAPs. 

Elizondo headed the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program from 2010 to 2017. He says he tried to get the government to take action on the reality of UAPs once he realized they were real. “It was a holy sh** moment,” he says. “Oh my gosh, it’s real! Well crap, now we have to do something about it.”

But, when he tried to get the government to take action, he says all he got were evasions and roadblocks, leading him to believe the government doesn’t want to acknowledge the reality of UAPs because of “religious objections,” or the fear of public panic. He eventually resigned because of this stonewalling. 

He speaks of credible reports he saw of objects going 11,000 miles per hour, making right angle turns at speed, instantly reversing direction, submerging in water with no loss of performance, etc.. 

Our fastest airplanes can barely exceed 2,000 miles an hour, and can make none of the other maneuvers these things have been observed making. The implication is of technology hundreds of years more advanced than ours. 

Now that the cat is out of the bag, Elizondo says, it would be like putting toothpaste back in the tube to cover it all up again. 

My comment is that I believe it is time to knock down the wall of secrecy surrounding UAPs, UFOs, and tell us what our government knows. 

It is our right as citizens of the USA, nay, as citizens of the World, to know what our governments know, even if it scares the hell out of us.

SCIENTISTS SAY ROVERS HAVE FOUND FUNGI ON MARS 

Dr Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, Dr. Xinli Wei, and Dr. Rudolph Schild, have said they see signs of life in Mars photos. Wei is with the Chinese Academy of Science and Schild is with the Harvard-Smithsonian Observatory, while Joseph runs the brainmind.com website. 

NASA says what the three are seeing are just rocks. Scientific skeptics agreed with NASA. 

The images are certainly odd, photos taken one day showing only a scattering of nine of what looks like puffballs, those taken three days later showing twelve more. Rocks that grow? 

https://www.daily mail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9546225/scientists-claim-evidence-FUNGI-Red-Planet.html

In certain conditions rocks can do strange things, witness the area in Death Valley where rock crawl at night, leaving trails in the smooth sand. Or rocks in one area in New Jersey that ring like bells when struck with hammers. But rocks growing out of barren Martian soil in three days? I’m not sure what to think of that. 

I very firmly believe there was life on mars billions of years ago when the planet was warmer and wetter. Even today there are areas on Mars that have 40° F daytime highs and only -9° F nighttime lows. Places in Antarctica have similar temperatures and support bacterial and fungal life. 

The big question: is anything still alive there today. Since it took billions of years for the planet to cool off and dry up, life had plenty of time to adapt. Will our rovers find it? I somewhat doubt it because I think life would have retreated underground, and our rovers can’t dig deep. I hope I’m wrong, though, and there is some life on the surface. 

Just as with UFOs, resistance is largely religious, the ridiculous idea that this planet is somehow special, not just one of many. The Church burned Giordino Bruno at the stake for saying there were other worlds with life on them, and made the executioner a saint. Far too many still think that way.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-226-or-anything-you-want-it-to-be/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Abby Harris: Get Vaccinated!

Get Vaccinated. Photo: Abby Harris, Copyright 2021
 

Photography and Text by Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

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Get Vaccinated!

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As the world slowly opens and things improve each day I wanted to highlight vaccination and the pandemic on campus. As we pass the one year mark of the pandemic impacting everyone’s lives, getting vaccinated is a simple way to protect yourself and help life return to normal. The joy and relief that come with being vaccinated is an effervescent feeling. I almost cried out of happiness and exhaustion when I received my first dose. Not only did I want to spread a message about getting vaccinated I also wanted to show off the happiness people experience once they are vaccinated.

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Get Vaccinated. Photo: Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

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Simple portraits outside with just my friends and their vaccination cards felt like the best way to display these feelings. The pandemic has been difficult to navigate while being away at college for all of us, but we have persevered and are hopefully close to the end. Being at college during the pandemic has been very isolating and lonely. We spend all day in our dorms on zoom and see each other only occasionally. This is why I chose to shoot each of my friends individually.

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Get Vaccinated. Photo: Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

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When I took these photographs I didn’t direct my friends at all besides asking them to hold the card. I think it is very powerful that in each person’s eyes you can see them smiling while holding their card proudly. Even though this past year has been horrible we are on track to being okay again. My friends and I are very lucky to be vaccinated. I hope everyone who is eligible right now goes out and gets vaccinated. The weight that gets lifted off your shoulders once you are vaccinated is enormous. Vaccines should be the least scary part of the entire pandemic, they save lives and help protect yourself and others. The sooner everyone gets vaccinated the sooner life can resume. 

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Self Portrait by Abby Harris, Copyright 2021

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About The Author: Abby Harris is a sophomore enrolled at Bryn Mawr College, Class of 2023. To access additional articles by Abby Harris, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/happier_than_ever/