Air Mobility Command Museum

Last weekend I traveled south to my states capital, Dover Delaware, the home of Dover Air Force Base. Just past the center of town is the Air Mobility Command Museum. This is one of my favorite museums locally. The free museum and grounds are home to a number of no longer operational airplanes from military transport aircraft to old presidential passenger planes! On certain occasions you can actually climb up inside these planes and get a view of the cockpit, interior and passenger galleys. I have been three times so far to this museum mostly because I am fascinated by these old planes, aviation in general, and awe-inspiring memories they must hold.

A few snapshots from my visit …


Street Photography - Back to where it started

The internet is chock full of articles on street photography. Everything from getting over your fear of taking photographs on the street to how to over expose your images using flash - for that ‘real’ feel. For me street photography began a long time ago and was my introduction into the world of photographing things that were multi-dimensional. What I mean by that is I was learning how to capture images of moving objects, changing landscapes and most importantly real life moments while exploring city streets and the public that filled them.

Sadly during those days I was mostly shooting weddings, I never had as many chances as I would have liked to hit the streets again with just my camera and the sense of adventure. As I look back today and review a lot of my work from years ago I cant help but feel excited to get back to where it began for me which is exploring New York City with my camera in hand.

Street photography is not for everyone. It can get ‘real’ - very quickly. I’ve found that the best part about it is the adventure in itself. You never know what you are going to encounter out on the streets of NYC, or any city for that matter. I’ve hoofed it around Philadelphia, Rome, Los Angeles, DC, Munich and other great cities, yet ultimately the love of street photography (for me) originated in New York.

I am looking forward to getting back out there this summer to see what stories may come.

I saw Vincent today

It’s not everyday you see masters of their craft. Artist’s so memorable crowds clamor anxiously together in wood laden galleries stopping at the restriction ropes with eyes wide open and mouths drooping in awe. Count me part of that collective today, both in awe and jubilation I finally managed to view the work of one of my favorite painters - Vincent Van Gogh.

Rain pounded the windows of my bedroom this morning as I looked out at another grey sky day, all but normal landscapes along the northeast corridor from October to March. I decided I needed a change of that landscape today and set out with the goal to be inspired. On my to-do list for years I make the short trek up to center city Philadelphia to visit the Barnes Foundation. I managed to get there fairly early before the crowds began to simmer, allowing myself some quiet time with The Postman - possibly my favorite painting - and admittedly the primary purpose and motivation for my visit to the museum today.

As I strolled thru the gallery rooms I couldn’t help but notice the building inspiration in myself as an artist. Both as a photographer, sometimes painter, cook & writer. Viewing the works of Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Degas, Monet, Gauguin & other brilliant artists of their time only fuels the creative fire in anyone that holds a breath in their body.

I plan to return to the Barnes Foundation soon. It is truly a gift to have this in my backyard. Not surprising, I also plan to paint more.

The ball dropped

The ball dropped, again. Here we sit, now in 2019. Another start to a new year. New possibilities, new adventures and hopefully good things to come. I decided to try and take a different approach to 2019 as I did last year. Without getting into too much drawn out detail, 2018 was a difficult year. General consensus across the twitterverse and social media platforms confirms the same. For some reason - (choose any of your liking), 2018 seemed to have a cloud hovering above us, constantly drizzling rain down upon us while blotting out the bright sunshine. Dreary indeed. And no, I am not referring to anything political. If you follow my blog in this dedicated space than you’ve realized I do not discuss politics and do not intend to. Leave that to all the pundits.

So, back to the task at hand - 2019.

This year I want to turn the tides. Travel more. Document more. Write more. Experience more. I hope to do just that.

This year I hope to continue my photographic project of New York City - documenting as much of the city as possible. I’ve created a dedicated space on my website to keep track of the images and experiences from the project.

Thanks for following along in 2018 and here’s wishing you an awesome and incredible 2019 filled with travel and beautiful experiences along the way!

Much love,

-Ben

Enzo Ferrari Demo Day - Simeone Automobile Foundation

Today I was so fortunate enough to attend the Enzo Ferrari Demo Day at the Simeone Foundation auto museum in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. This was the first time I have visited the museum and was astonished at this wonderful auto collection of classic cars, including some of the most world renowned racing cars of the past.

Today was a special day as the museum hosted the author of the new book ‘Enzo Ferrari’ biography which is considered the foremost accurate and detailed account of the automakers incredible life.

As a budding car enthusiast I couldn’t believe I have this amazing car collection practically in my backyard! I will be visiting this museum again very soon!

Yankees vs. Orioles - 9/22/18

I finally made it the ‘new’ Yankee stadium this past weekend to see the Yankees clinch a playoff chance with a win over the Orioles!

1950 Olivetti Lettera 22 - Typewriter

Over the last few years I have gained an affinity for reading and writing. In particular, the classic 'Mediterranean Noir' mystery and detective stories which really hold my attention. I don't have much time to read these days but I have tried to set aside time to take in a good detective story on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Last year I began writing my own little novella titled "The Reach of the Wicked".  Writing one's first book I found is something of a love/hate relationship, always pushing towards the end but ultimately finding something along the way that needed changing or amending.

I suppose that is the nature of writing. 

While I make no claims that my first novella is actually any good, or worthy of reading - I am proud I managed to finish the work. I've read it over a few times and it's become a nice little enjoyable reminder of the days when I was in the midst of writing the story line and developing the plot lines. Writing I believe is becoming a nice little outlet for me outside of photography, having experienced the joys and frustrations of both now. 

I remember growing up we had a large, bulky brown typewriter sitting atop a desk where occasionally I would hear my mother tapping away at the keys. I never realized back then that thirty years later I would go out seeking my own little piece of nostalgia to write on. 

Alas, this past week I found myself miracously coming across a beautiful piece of classic Italian design.

The internet - a vast and cavernous array of all things "sell- able". 

Needless to say once I saw this beauty I snagged it immediately from the willing buyer. That night I sat back admiring my newly acquired piece of history from 1950, adorned with just the right amount of nostalgia and intrigue one hopes to expect from something 78 years old.

I thought to myself .. "what stories this machine has told over the years" ...

Now being the owner of such a fantastic machine - I must be careful.

I might actually think of myself as a writer one day.

Art Loop Wilmington 2018

Today is the start of Art Loop Wilmington 2018. Last night I finished organizing and setting up the Roma Show photo exhibition which is now available for viewing. The exhibition's 'official' opening will commence on 6/16 at the studio with a great evening of friends, wine and appetizers and the formal showing. 

The work will be on display until the end of July. Details below!

http://artloopwilmington.org/

http://www.studioonmarket.com

#romashow

ROMA - A love letter to Italy - Photo Exhibition 6/16

I am excited to announce my upcoming photo exhibition titled 'ROMA - A Love letter to Italy'.  The small exhibition will feature select work from my time in Rome, focusing mostly on black and white images presented in a variety of print sizes and formats. 

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The exhibition is being held at 'STUDIO ON MARKET' in the LOMO section of Downtown Wilmington Delaware.  The event is open for anyone to visit and will include wine and appetizers. All of the prints will be available for sale during the exhibition along with a 240 page hardbound photo book titled "ROMA'. 

Weekly updates can be found on my facebook page- link below. 

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=623426040

 

 

 

 

ROMA - {PHOTOBOOK}

It is finally finished! A true labor of love - the ROMA hardbound photo book! This book took a long time to put together, a number of revisions and changes, countless layout switches, and more to get it just the way I wanted to have it presented. I am super proud to announce that this 240 page hardbound and image wrapped book is now available for sale thru the SHOP link on my homepage as well as in person at my upcoming photo exhibition! 

The book is available for preview and purchase at the following link:

http://www.blurb.com/b/8625491-roma

eat cookbook & the reach of the wicked novella

This past year I have had a number of creative projects all seemingly going on at the same time. Some get finished or amount to nothing while others grow teeth and get finished.

Two of those creative endeavors in 2017 are coming to the finish line over the next couple weeks. 

eat - the cookbook

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It's safe to say food is a big part of my life. I don't necessarily mean eating it - but cooking it. My teenage years were spent slinging hash on a grill, making subs for impatient customers and eventually busing and waiting tables while in college. The culinary world to anyone who has ever worked within its ever changing walls knows that food in itself is something special - more importantly the desire to learn how to cook it. This cookbook explores foods I make on a regular basis, many that others may not have ever tried or are familiar with. The book is filled with great food photography and easy to follow recipes - not just lists of ingredients. Each recipe I believe is worthwhile giving a shot at in your kitchen and the book is organized in a way that is fun and engaging. Today cookbooks are not just about the recipes but about the photographs and stories behind what's on the pages. I believe 'eat' tells a number of engaging stories while providing fun recipes for new or experienced home cooks. 

 

The Reach of the Wicked

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Over the past year I have found that writing ones first novel is quite difficult. From plot lines to proper verb usage, I had more than one uncomfortable flashback to middle school grammar class while drafting this manuscript! Alas, my first novel has been completed and is in the process of being published. After an exhaustive effort submitting my manuscript to throngs of literary agents with no success, I decided I would self publish the novel to bring it to its completion. 'Reach' follows an inept detective from southern Italy tasked with solving a series of brutal crimes that are sweeping the eternal city of Rome. He is partnered with a painfully beautiful cohort, Isabella, who happens to be the commissioners granddaughter. The pair discover that not everything is as it seems as they weave their way thru a deceptive narrative, culminating in a classic Mediterranean Noir style end. The Reach of the Wicked is available in paperback and kindle version beginning in April. 

A few words for a neglected blog

It's been a while since I posted anything to my blog.

The last few months have been incredibly busy with a handful of things I have been working on - all seemingly coming to fruition at once. 

While the temperature outside would contradict it, Spring has arrived and my excitement for the warmer weather is steadily increasing. Spring is a time of renewal so it's only appropriate I start off by mentioning the upcoming Sakura Sunday celebration in Philadelphia. Details can be found at the link below for this years festival. Last year I managed to snap some photos of the brilliant performers and the Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia used a couple of my images on their website:

You can check out the images from last year's festival here:

http://subarucherryblossom.org/media-room/media-room-2017/

Next I'll mention my ongoing project of acquiring Italian citizenship via Jure Sanguinis. I have spent nearly 2 years working on my citizenship package and countless hours researching my family history back to Italy. As you can imagine this is a very personal endeavor and my hopes are to eventually acquire full Italian citizenship - thus giving me dual citizenship with USA and Italy. My appointment with the Italian consulate is quickly approaching and I hope to provide further updates later down the road. 

It's noteworthy (for me anyway) to mention that my first book is nearly finished and ready for purchase! I am in the very final stages now of self publishing. After an exhaustive attempt at submitting my work to dozens of literary agents with no success I have decided to just self publish the novel. The Reach of the Wicked is a crime & mystery fiction that I am super proud of and think is a worth a read. It's fun and captivating and I like to think that it holds the reader's attention from start to finish. The print copy of the book will be available for purchase by the end of April. Stay tuned for details! 

Lastly I'll mention the reopening of my business RED BELL PHOTO. I wanted to keep the business going part time as I routinely have to turn down photo jobs. I still enjoy the business and the awesome clients I get to meet so I decided to reopen the business, now only offering engagement and couple sessions. I no longer have the time to photograph weddings unfortunately. You can check out my all new website here:

www.redbellphoto.com

So that's it for now. Lots going on! 

-Ben

Nothing beats Medium Format

This past weekend I found a gem of a medium format square camera at my local film shop. Needless to say I am a huge fan of medium format film cameras, box cameras or 'Square format' cameras.  I love how they set up the frame so perfectly once you have them dialed in. But I digress ...

I used to get asked the question 'What type of camera do you use' all the time when shooting weddings or events. People would inevitably come up to you and ask you about your gear. Chalk it up to curiosity or just another budding photographer interested in making small talk, the questions always ended up with 'Do you ever shoot in film?"

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I love film photography. Personally I think every photographer should learn on a film camera first before even picking up a D-SLR. (If only that happened!). I have dozens of cameras in my collection from old Brownie box cameras to the work horse of the 1970's & 1980's such as the Canon AE-1 and the Nikon FG. I love working with all of them because with film, unlike with digital photography, there is no room (or little to speak of) for error. If you shoot an entire roll of film out of focus or with the speed wrong - well then you're just fucked arent ya!? With a D-SLR it's a no brainer every time, perhaps the massive draw and shift to digital years ago. 

Back to my point, I picked up a Bronica Zenza SQ-A this past weekend for $500.  No doubt I overpaid for it (maybe not?) but I saw it and had to have it. It's not everyday you see these gems in person and are able to inspect it before buying it. I am not a fan of buying film cameras online because you never really now what you're going to get! So the Bronica was added to the collection and I've already gone thru a few rolls of 120 film! I hope to update this post shortly with a list of all my cameras and some examples of the first photos I have taken with my new SQ-A! 


Classic Italian Cinema

The holiday season always seems like an overly stressful time of year for me, for a multitude of reasons. Lately however I've been actively limiting the amount of social media I engage in during the week and on the weekends I make sure to pretty much stay off of Instagram, Twitter, etc. 

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A lot of my time spent these past few months (in reality - this last year) has been working tirelessly towards my dual citizenship appointment in April. I've also been working with a private tudor to learn the Italian language. So between work during the week, research and document preparation, and my language studies - my time has been limited to say the least.  

Recently however I have focused my down time on a particular aspect of culture that I absolutely love - which is classic Italian cinema.  Sure I've seen La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday and the big hits of cinema in the past but today I've really gotten into all of the classic Italian movies from the 40's, 50's, & 60's. 

It has opened up another world for me seeing some of these great Italian films from so long ago.  Maybe one could chalk it up to be being a naturally nostalgiac person or one who longs for the past - perhaps much simpler days. Call it what you will but I've recently dived deep into classic Italian cinema as a fully fledged fan and collector! 

While one should be shopping for others during this time of year, this past week I managed to add 10 classic Italian movies to my collection.

leri Oggi E Domani, La dolce vita, Fellini's Roma, L'avventura, Cinema Paradiso, Blow Up, La Notte, Riso amaro, 8 1/2, and Ladri di bicicletta. 

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There are many more on my list to acquire of course but I am thrilled to have these classics in my new collection. The classic cinema of Italy during this era is like no other in my opinion. I've become a huge fan of Italian film in general (with the help of Netflix) and highly recommend checking out Terraferma, The Wonders, I am Love, Fire at Sea, etc. 

Call me dated or old fashioned but the modern hit movies made today, even with all the fancy CGI effects, pulse pounding music and over the top dramatics - just don't interest me as much as the classically shot film from the bygone error.  

For me, the classic black/white films shot on the streets of 1940's post-war Rome with crackly sound effects and dramatic story lines are comforting little glimpses into a time long since past but still remembered by Italian film enthusiasts such as myself. 

Ciao for now,

-Ben