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Jason Crane Posts

Trying my hand at street photography

I love taking photographs. That’s been true for a lot of my life, and particularly since we all started walking around with decent cameras (aka phones) in our pockets. I’ve also always enjoyed looking at street photography, though I’ve never been particularly serious or studious about it, and most of my own photography has been more about nature and the places I travel and the shows I go to.

Recently I started getting inspired to dig deeper, both as a student and as a practitioner. I don’t own a camera, other than the one in my phone. But everybody keeps saying the best camera is the one you have, so that’s what I’m using.

I try to take a daily walk, and this week I started incorporating intentional street photography into those walks. The first set of photos (above) was taken yesterday on a walk through the Victorian town of Bellefonte, PA. I took these photos while looking at the images on the phone screen, a point that will come back in another batch of photos below.

I mentioned online that I’m getting into street photography and I tagged photographer Reuben Radding, who shared my post. That led to folks recommending documentaries for me to watch. Last night I watched Finding Vivian Maier, a film about a street photographer whose work was unknown during her lifetime. It was complicated and moving. This afternoon I watched Everybody Street, which served as a great overview of many different photographers. Other docs that people have recommended but that I haven’t yet seen are Everything Is Photographable, about Garry Winogrand, and Elliott Erwitt: Silence Sounds Good. Before this, the only documentary about a photographer I’d seen was the wonderful Bill Cunnningham New York.

Today I walked around downtown State College with my phone set in camera mode and held to my chest. I used the volume button to snap photos as I walked, and I didn’t see the results until I got back to my van.

I have a tendency to get really into things for a while and then move on. But I’ve been taking photographs nearly every day for years, so this is less about adding a completely new practice than about refining a practice I already have.

Yesterday I had this exchange with saxophonist and photographer Bryan Murray:

As I said to Bryan, I don’t know what I’m doing yet and I don’t have the critical faculties yet to really plan a photo or tell after the fact whether it’s good or bad and why. But that’s what practice is for. I signed up for a Udemy course on street photography, and at some point I’ll save up the money to take one of Reuben’s classes. Meanwhile I’ll just keep walking around and clicking the fake shutter on my 1s and 0s camera and I’ll see where that takes me.

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POEM: Needles


There’s a big needle on the TV show I’m watching.
I never realized how many needles there were
in all the shows and movies until I met you.
You hated needles. “Nope,” you’d say
and quickly look away when one appeared.
After hearing all the stories about your mom
having to hold you down at the doctor’s office,
I went with you to get your blood work done.
The nurse was so friendly, and the three of us
spent the whole time laughing and telling stories.
And you did so well. There was a basket of stickers
on the wall of the exam room and you got one
from the nurse on the way out. Star Wars I think.
Today I saw the needle on the sci-fi show,
and I thought I’d give a lot to stand there
next to your chair in the exam room.
To watch you overcome your fears.
To hold your hand and laugh together.
Then to walk back out into the sunlight.

/ / /

4 December 2022
State College PA

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Sagittarius new moon tarot reading

A reading for the Sagittarius new moon. It’s actually tomorrow but I felt like I was in a good space to do the reading tonight. Thanks as always to for the spread.

1. What medicine does the Sagittarius new moon offer? (Nine of Wands, reversed) Upright, this card is about testing faith; and reversed it’s about inner resources. Both of those feel very applicable to what I’m doing right now, which is trying to follow a career path for the first time ever and receiving very little response from my efforts. I really do feel like now is the time to dig in and to keep going.

2. What visions should I follow and not ignore? (Five of Pentacles, reversed) Reversed this suggests recovery from financial loss. Again, very applicable to the state in which I find myself. As has been the case for the past two years, my goal these days is to get to a place of stability. I haven’t felt safe in a long time.

3. How can I connect with the element of fire to help me manifest my new moon intentions over the next 28 days? (Seven of Wands) The main concept that jumps out to me here is perseverance. I’ve set myself a year-end deadline (of a sort) and I need to continue to do the things that are mostly likely to lead to my goal. The next 28 days will take me almost to the end of the year.

4. Where should I look for inspiration when I don’t feel passionate or lack the motivation to follow my dreams? (Temperance, reversed) This carries a message of realignment and self-healing. I sure am trying. In one sense I’m finally working to align my life plan with my skills. And I’m looking for a stable place to be that will help me continue the very slow healing I’ve been doing over the past two years.

5. What type of higher learning or self-development should I pursue in the new year to help me expand spiritually? (Knight of Pentacles, reversed) The guide I consulted for this reading used this phrase as part of its description of this knight: “He is in no hurry, preferring to assess and plan his path ahead before taking action.” Again I think this speaks to the need to stay on the road I’ve mapped out. Yes the map is vague in some ways, but the destination is clear. For me it would be a major achievement to plan something and carry it out. That’s not how I normally operate these days.

6. Message from the ancestors. (The Emperor, reversed) This is a warning about both lack of discipline and inflexibility. I think that’s helpful. The discipline is to keep pointing myself toward my goal, but I need flexibility to deal with a path to that goal that I might not expect.

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POEM: Young Boy Blues

Young Boy Blues

Digging through an online directory
I came across a copy of Jon Cleary
singing “Young Boy Blues” on
Harry Shearer’s radio show back in the day
and I think this is the first time
I’ve heard it since I lost you
and so I’m sitting in the
fucking grocery store of all places
and trying not to cry because
the college kids eating their sushi
and the parents trying to get their kids
to sit down for a few minutes to eat pizza
wouldn’t appreciate a middle-aged man
being reduced to tears with his headphones on
and anyway I’m not sure 49 is really middle-aged
because the current life expectancy for a white male
is 77 and that means the middle of life would be 39
and my current age is nearly two-thirds of the way
to the part where I won’t be able to listen
to Jon Cleary sing “Young Boy Blues” anymore anyway.

/ / /

22 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: Digging Bill Evans

Digging Bill Evans

I was 21, driving a used car,
no money in the bank, a job
as a waiter in my uncle’s restaurant
awaiting me in the desert.
I moved into a studio apartment:
a bed, a small sofa, a scuffed old
round table from the restaurant.
I had my stereo from back east;
the library across the street
had CDs. I’d sign them out
then sit on the floor, head
between the speakers, trying to
find my way into the music.
Now I have a 20-year-old son.
I can’t afford a studio apartment.
I don’t have a job waiting for me.
I’m still trying to find my way
into whatever story the music is telling.

/ / /

21 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: Bound


Tramping through a snowy wood
a few feet behind her,
he remembers all the times
they’ve been here before.
Not these particular woods,
but alone together on a walk,
talking about books or movies
or music, pointedly not talking about
the other people who might wonder
where they are, and with whom.
Their boots crunch in a broken rhythm.
Occasionally a branch whips back;
she looks to make sure he’s OK.
Rust said: Time is a flat circle.
She’s never seen that show.
But she’d get it. And she knows
where they are on that particular arc.
Cars go by through the trees ahead.
The real world is always close at hand,
however muffled by the snow.

/ / /

18 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: A Winter Poem

A Winter Poem

Winter is more insidious than summer.
The low-angled sun is a dull blade,
sheathed in bitter grey.

In winter I play old music.
The music my grandparents listened to
as they took me to Friendly’s or to

a clarinet lesson in the next town over.
It’s the music of nostalgia and longing
and emptiness. Winter music.

Winter creeps into my thoughts,
warns of the approaching holidays,
sets a single place at the table.

In these months my fingers are always cold.
I sit hunched, arms crossed,
conserving what little heat I can muster.

Not every place has a winter.
At least not the way I mean it.
I’ve spent Christmases by the pool,

New Year’s Eves under warm, soft skies.
A friend says, “You’re a real New Englander.”
I say, “Only in disposition.”

/ / /

14 November 2022
State College PA

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haiku: 11 November 2022 (and a break)

a million droplets
a million pixels
van life in the rain

/ / /

11 November 2022
State College PA

Day 600 of the haiku notebook project. I’m going to take a break from this project. I’m doing that for two reasons: I’d like to focus on longer poems, and I noticed that forcing myself to write a haiku every day means I sometimes write when I don’t have very much to say. I really like the form, but I’d like to take a little pause from it.

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POEM: I Get Sad At Planet Fitness

I Get Sad At Planet Fitness

I always get sad in the shower at Planet Fitness.
I miss the little things: sharing a bathroom,
going grocery shopping, holding hands on a car trip
to see your parents. I miss them, too.
Don’t you think life was better when we had each other?
I mean I know the answer to that question.
But finding out the answer is no is like discovering
I’ve been misunderstanding the lyrics to a song.
I looked at us and saw our future.
You looked at us and saw your past.

/ / /

10 November 2022
State College PA

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haiku: 10 November 2022

up before the sun
talking into the ether
the window is a black rectangle

/ / /

10 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: A Supermarket In Pennsylvania

A Supermarket In Pennsylvania

I call this my supermarket period.
I’ve mostly been living
in grocery store cafes since April.
Over time you get to know the rhythms.
You recognize the regulars;
fellow drifters or room renters
or nomads or the unhoused.
I assume the workers know my face,
although I never speak to them
and they never speak to me.
I wonder what stories they might imagine
to explain those of us who are here
every day. Probably they don’t
invent a story at all, because
why would they?
We’re phantoms, passing through
the walls but somehow not
falling through the floors.
Eventually each of our
supermarket periods will end.
We’ll move on or find housing
or get arrested or die.
The hours and hours we’ve piled up
in these identical seats
will dissolve into the ether,
leaving the occasional ring
on a tabletop, soon wiped away.

/ / /

7 November 2022
State College PA

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haiku: 7 November 2022

“tell others
what you have seen today”
OK: two squirrels & lawn mower

/ / /

7 November 2022
State College PA

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