an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

urban

Streets of North Side, Pittsburgh

Galveston Street, North Side, Pittsburgh
Galveston Street, North Side, Pittsburgh

Galveston Street, North Side, Pittsburgh

Part of the “Mexican War Streets”, this neighborhood is a Pittsburgh original, once the destination for the city’s most wealthy, then in the way city neighborhoods often decline and rise again, a good bit of it fell to ruins but is now being revived, as the buildings themselves just waited for their time to come around again.

Galveston Street, North Side, Pittsburgh, another view

Galveston Street, North Side, Pittsburgh, another view

This neighborhood is one of the oldest in Pittsburgh, and was at one time a separate municipality from Pittsburgh named Allegheny, laid out in 1788 and incorporated in 1828, featuring orderly brick streets and a mix of Victorian-era row houses, middle-class family homes and stately mansions softened by street trees.

Originally, lots and homes were awarded to Revolutionary War veterans. As the century wore on, this sophisticated and attractive urban metropolis became the first home to Pittsburgh’s millionaire industrialists. After the Mexican War, General William Robinson subdivided his plot of land and named all the streets after battles in the Mexican War, attracting even more wealthy homeowners; this photo is a section of the Mexican War Streets, sections of which are on the National Record of Historic Places.

West North Avenue, North Side, Pittsburgh

West North Avenue, North Side, Pittsburgh

Along with many other industries that found a home along the Allegheny River near the Point in Pittsburgh, the original H. J. Heinz factory built its home in Allegheny and employed generations of people in creating the “Heinz 57” varieties of pickled vegetables, relishes and chutneys, and many other condiments.

And who grew up in Allegheny City, or North Side? Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein, Martha Graham, Kate Harrington, George Washington Harris, John Pitcairn and Art Rooney, to name a few. And who else lived there? Mary Roberts Rinehart, Henry Phipps, H.J. Heinz, Andrew Carnegie, Henry O Tanner, Colonel James Anderson, William Thaw, Jr., Lois Weber and William Penn Snyder. And, of course, Andrew Carnegie built a library here. It must have been a hotbed of creative talent in those early days to have nurtured the likes of those people and attracted so many others. And lots of money.

It merged with the City of Pittsburgh in 1907 but maintained its small-town feel until “urban renewal” in the 1960s took out the original town center and replaced it with a mall and hotel, another portion was removed for highways and overpasses, and “old” sections of neighborhoods were removed because they were “old” and replaced with “new” multi-story modern style brick buildings, removing just enough of various neighborhoods to destroy their cohesion. The mansions of Millionaire’s Row on Ridge Avenue were largely incorporated into Community College of Allegheny County.

But you’ve got to call it the “Nor’side” now, even if it is becoming quite gentrified.

You can see more photos of the North Side, or “Allegheny City”, in this archive.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Main Street at Twilight

Main Street at Twilight
Main Street at Twilight

Main Street at Twilight

The first block of East Main Street in Carnegie, PA at dusk.

I have no idea how my little hand-held digital metered the colors like this, but I heartily approve! Honestly, this is not touched up in any way, even though the sky looks as if I either added from another photo, I adjusted the color in that area or I just painted in another sky. The whole thing looks like a movie set.

The time of day was twilight, after the sun dropped below the horizon but still reflected on the sky and the thin overcast of clouds. I know I pointed my focus spot on the darkest area in the scene, way down at the other end of Main Street, the building that is actually on a hill in the next community, and that would have influenced the internal metering especially since the scene looks very bright although it’s only the street lights that provide illumination. I can assure you they are not that bright.

And likely the yellow lights also pushed the complementary blue of the sky a little brighter than it actually was. However it happened, I approve.

This was taken with my little Lumix point and shoot where I have very little control, but the other settings that would have influenced this outcome are two I’ve always set on these little cameras. First, I turn the stabilizer mode, which will help to eliminate blurriness in low-light conditions, to “off” because in these small cameras it simply changes the ASA setting to a higher number. This results in a photo that looks great in your view screen, but when you open it up on your computer it’s completely grainy. I use a tripod, or, as in this case, I find something to set the camera on or press it against and set the shutter for a 2-second timed delay so that everything is as still as it’s going to get when the shutter finally opens.

Second, I set the EV, or exposure value, setting two or three steps below the middle. Most cameras shoot light so that as much light as possible gets into the lens, but you also lose detail in the highlights and I find it doesn’t meter well for images with a lot of contrast, which is usually what attracts me.

So, I guess that’s how this one turned out like this.

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Purchase a canvas or a print of this image

canvas print of main street

Canvas print of “Main Street at Twilight”

Canvas print

This 16″ x 32″ canvas print is beautifully printed in archival inks on artist canvas and gallery wrapped around 1″ stretchers. Sides are finished in black. You can find it in my Etsy shop.

I can also prepare a digital print in a variety of styles and sizes.

 

. . . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Poem for Saturday: Bridal Wreath

bridal wreath
bridal wreath

Bridal Wreath

The bridal wreath is blooming around so many of the older houses in town. Bridal wreath is an old-fashioned shrub, blooming briefly around Memorial Day in waves of snowy white blossoms, then to return to a nice, quiet dark green bush.

I read this poem initially at my 2009 poetry reading, “Change of Season”, soon after I’d written it. I read it again at “In This Valley”, my poetry reading to celebrate Carnegie’s 120th birthday, since I felt it was one of those poems that had described life in this town for many, both those mentioned in the poem, and especially my memories of the neighborhoods when I was little. Every house had bridal wreath spirea growing in front, and everyone was immensely proud of it when it bloomed. Cuttings and small shrubs for planting were given to young married couples who’d purchased a new house. As I read, I was surprised to see heads nodding in agreement and smiles. It was familiar to us all.

This poem was inspired by an actual home, more on that after the poem. Because the bridal wreath blooms at this time of year and because the lives of the couple I mention are deeply touched by wars, I keep this poem for Memorial Day.

Bridal Wreath

Blooming in drifts so dense and tall they hide the entire porch
The bridal wreath greets the May bride
Though she first crossed the threshold decades ago when the shrubs were new,
And placed a vase of the blossoms on her first dinner table,
Has since raised her children,
Lost her son in Viet Nam
And her husband to cancer,
Her daughters moved out
And she has held her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Through it all the bridal wreath unfailingly welcomed her in the morning every May
In the neighborhood lined with large, neat family homes.
Now the paint is peeling,
Drawn window shades hang in tatters
The bride herself is gone,
Her home the only one remaining on this dusty deserted block
Yet the bridal wreath blooms as fervently as ever this May
Remembering her.

Bridal Wreath ©2009 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Below is the actual home that inspired this poem. Nothing special about it except that it is the only family home left in what had been a block of these homes, and it’s fenced off because it was shortly thereafter bulldozed for the CVS that now stands there.

House with bridal wreath.

House with bridal wreath.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

 


poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Urban Renewal

door with tree
door with tree

Urban Renewal

Nature has a little input in beautification of an old, worn, industrial area.

The audacity of nature never ceases to amaze me, putting down roots beneath a concrete slab and thriving on hope. adding beauty where none thought it possible.

Lovely selection of colors.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Monongahela Fog

Monongahela Fog

Monongahela Fog

It could have been a scene from a century ago at the J&L Steel plant along the Monongahela River, but it’s just a foggy October morning.

A spectacularly foggy morning, the type that only autumn provides. This is a bend in the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, the bit of a bridge you see is the Birmingham Bridge from the South Side Flats to the Boulevard of the Allies in the Lower Hill/Uptown/South Oakland. The steam rises from a concrete plant on Second Avenue, on the river’s edge, where the J&L Plant once stood; in the distance you see the first of the buildings in Oakland leading to Carlow University, Chatham University, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. In this fog, this could have been taken decades ago, representing the smog from the mills. The mills are gone, the air and the rivers are relatively clean, but the colleges, the neighborhoods, the essence of Pittsburgh is still there in the rolling fog of an October morning.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. 


Statement in Aqua

aqua wall
aqua wall

A Statement in Aqua

 

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Sidewalk Sunflower

tar and spraypaint on sidewalk
tar and spraypaint on sidewalk

Sidewalk Sunflower

It’s about the only thing blooming around here!

Perhaps they are learning from my neighbor children with their sidewalk chalk. Usually the utility workers with their spray cans are not so artistic. This is apparently a gas line access, since the gas company uses school bus yellow to mark their utility lines. Instead of the usual “X” or “+” depending on your perspective, this person added an extra crossbar. When slight depression left for the access plate was filled in with asphalt, the gritty, grainy black looked like sunflower seeds crowding the center of a sunflower, making the yellow crossbars look like petals.


Passing Storm

storm clouds over a victorian house
storm clouds over a victorian house

Passing Storm

Billowing clouds parted as the storm hurried on to other destinations leaving this Queen Anne style home soaked and silhouetted; East Liberty, Pittsburgh.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Traffic

bokeh traffic lights
bokeh traffic lights

Traffic

Traffic, at night in the rain.

I managed not to be hit by any cars though I was standing on the double yellow line in a construction area.

I love night photos and rain photos. Just for fun, you could go to my old website and look at a gallery entitled “At Night in the Rain”.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


The Vertical Neighborhood

Polish Hill, Pittsburgh
Polish Hill, Pittsburgh

Polish Hill, Pittsburgh

Polish Hill has long called itself “Pittsburgh’s most vertical neighborhood” and you can see that you are on the edge of a very steep street, and with the descending roofs of the buildings on the left this street is at least one example of that designation. They are all pretty steep, many just as steep as this one, and all dominated by Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church where mass is still said daily in Polish, the industrial and warehouse district of Pittsburgh beyond, and the Allegheny River and the 31st Street Bridge beyond that. It has its share of immigrants and descendants of immigrants and working people and young people, all clinging to the hillside.

Below is another shot I found interesting because I liked the bike parked by the rail at the top of the hill, and still the church over all; these buildings are the backs of the ones seen in the photo above. But it was a dark snowy day and there was an ambulance behind me so I had no time to get out of my car to get the photo. One of these days I’ll go back.

photo of city street

A bike at the top of the hill.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Pittsburgh Autumn Bridge

pittsburgh hills in autumn and bridge
pittsburgh hills in autumn and bridge

Pittsburgh Autumn Bridge

Well, I was stuck in traffic on a lovely autumn day, so I took a photo through the windshield. But it’s typical Pittsburgh, a suspension bridge, a steep hill covered with trees and peppered with houses, a few churches in various denominations mixed in, incredible clouds and a lovely blue above, plus you know there’s a river in there somewhere. Pittsburgh is a lovely city but on a day like yesterday it’s breathtaking.

I wish my travels had allowed me to safely take a few other photos, but you can’t just stop in the middle of traffic, let the camera focus and click a few times without some difficulty in traffic flow. I passed no fewer than five major universities and an international teaching hospital, probably a dozen or more national historic sites and the headweaters of the Ohio River, to name a few things, plus dozens of distinct neighborhoods.

I just wonder who got up there and painted the dinosaurs on the rigging.

It’s the 10th Street Bridge that connects downtown Pittsburgh with the South Side.


Monongahela Fog

foggy morning
foggy morning

Monongahela Fog

It could have been a scene from a century ago at the J&L Steel plant along the Monongahela River, but it’s just a foggy October morning.

A spectacularly foggy morning, the type that only autumn provides. This is a bend in the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, the bit of a bridge you see is the Birmingham Bridge from the South Side Flats to the Boulevard of the Allies in the Lower Hill/Uptown/South Oakland. The steam rises from a concrete plant on Second Avenue, on the river’s edge, where the J&L Plant once stood; in the distance you see the first of the buildings in Oakland leading to Carlow University, Chatham University, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. In this fog, this could have been taken decades ago, representing the smog from the mills. The mills are gone, the air and the rivers are relatively clean, but the colleges, the neighborhoods, the essence of Pittsburgh is still there in the rolling fog of an October morning.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Main Street at Twilight

main street in carnegie at twilight
main street in carnegie at twilight

Main Street at Twilight

The first block of East Main Street in Carnegie, PA at dusk.

I have no idea how my little hand-held digital metered the colors like this, but I heartily approve! Honestly, this is not touched up in any way, even though the sky looks as if I either added from another photo, I adjusted the color in that area or I just painted in another sky. The whole thing looks like a movie set.

The time of day was twilight, after the sun dropped below the horizon but still reflected on the sky and the thin overcast of clouds. I know I pointed my focus spot on the darkest area in the scene, way down at the other end of Main Street, the building that is actually on a hill in the next community, and that would have influenced the internal metering especially since the scene looks very bright although it’s only the street lights that provide illumination. I can assure you they are not that bright.

And likely the yellow lights also pushed the complementary blue of the sky a little brighter than it actually was. However it happened, I approve.

This was taken with my little Lumix point and shoot where I have very little control, but the other settings that would have influenced this outcome are two I’ve always set on these little cameras. First, I turn the stabilizer mode, which will help to eliminate blurriness in low-light conditions, to “off” because in these small cameras it simply changes the ASA setting to a higher number. This results in a photo that looks great in your view screen, but when you open it up on your computer it’s completely grainy. I use a tripod, or, as in this case, I find something to set the camera on or press it against and set the shutter for a 2-second timed delay so that everything is as still as it’s going to get when the shutter finally opens.

Second, I set the EV, or exposure value, setting two or three steps below the middle. Most cameras shoot light so that as much light as possible gets into the lens, but you also lose detail in the highlights and I find it doesn’t meter well for images with a lot of contrast, which is usually what attracts me.

So, I guess that’s how this one turned out like this.

. . . . . . .

Purchase a canvas or a print of this image

canvas print of main street

Canvas print of “Main Street at Twilight”

Canvas print

This 16″ x 32″ canvas print is beautifully printed in archival inks on artist canvas and gallery wrapped around 1″ stretchers. Sides are finished in black. You can find it in my Etsy shop.

I can also prepare a print in a variety of styles and sizes.

This photo is also available as a print in my gallery on Fine Art America.


Alley Taken Over by Morning Glories, 2011

purple morning glories
purple morning glories

Morning Glories

I walked to my destinations today, and always find the most interesting photo subjects when on foot; I’m lucky I got to where I was going.

This alley backs buildings that are mostly older homes made into ill-kept rentals; landscaping is not maintained, nor are fences, garages, back porches, etc. I often find the detritus of everyday life interesting strewn around in the tall grass of an uncut back yard, piles of stuff can amount to modern sculpture and a leaning twisted gate is always an interesting subject from any angle.

But this September the good old-fashioned purple morning glories that spring up seemingly from nowhere decided to decorate the place, and up and down the alley they had twined on fences, trees, tall weeds, parked vehicles, bicycles, everything that had stood still for at least three weeks was festooned in dense garlands of heart-shaped green leaves and twirling, reaching stems sending out individual questing purple trumpets until finally, today, they bloomed in earnest.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Ladies’ Dresses

ladies dresses
ladies dresses

Ladies’ Dresses

Lots and lots of ladies’ dresses hanging in, of all places, the Strip District in Pittsburgh. Do we strip and try them on? No, it’s just the original strip of wholesale warehouses for all sorts of produce and dry goods. And ladies’ dresses.

I applied the “poster edges” filter to achieve the vibrance and contrast from the original scene; I had to take the photo through my car window.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Little Free Library

little free library
box with books in front yard

Little Free Library

Imagine having a little free lending library in your front yard, the one below is in front of the Animal Nature pet supply store, both in Regent Square, in Pittsburgh. Stock it with books, encourage others to borrow one and return it when they’re done, just like a regular lending library but no library cards and all built on trust. Find a steward and purchase one of the little shelters, then add books. Read more at Little Free Library.

little free library

Little Free Library


Three Victorian Buildings, South Side, Pittsburgh

Three Victorian Buildings

Three Victorian Buildings

Nicely restored and kept, on Pittsburgh’s South Side.


Gomer Street, Pittsburgh

Gomer Street, Pittsburgh
Gomer Street, Pittsburgh

Gomer Street, Pittsburgh

Where your sidewalk is a long set of steps.


A Sunday Morning Trip to the Grocery Store

The Goose Family

The Goose Family

I fabricated the need to go to the grocery story, on my bicycle, with my camera and art materials. It meant I didn’t have time for a day on the trail, but I had a real need to ride my bike and do some art and just kind of poke around and find what was interesting in my town. I did take a roundabout way to the store and waded in the creek and did a few paintings and followed a great blue heron and photographed wildflowers and saw both lovely neighborhoods and well-used alleys. Here’s a slideshow of the events in order.

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Sidewalk Sunflower

tar and spraypaint on sidewalk
tar and spraypaint on sidewalk

Sidewalk Sunflower

It’s about the only thing blooming around here!

Perhaps they are learning from my neighbor children with their sidewalk chalk. Usually the utility workers with their spray cans are not so artistic. This is apparently a gas line access, since the gas company uses school bus yellow to mark their utility lines. Instead of the usual “X” or “+” depending on your perspective, this person added an extra crossbar. When slight depression left for the access plate was filled in with asphalt, the gritty, grainy black looked like sunflower seeds crowding the center of a sunflower, making the yellow crossbars look like petals.


Orange

pieces of orange glass
pieces of orange glass

Orange

You just never know what you’ll find when the snow melts and the sun shines. This color was so intense and the glass so interesting I actually saw it from far down the street on the edge of a gravel parking lot. It’s very thick and oddly shaped and I really can’t figure out what the original object was unless it was a clear glass object or sculpture. In any case, it’s in interesting composition on it own, and a sight for sore eyes this time of the year.


Meanwhile Last Year: Illuminated Blossoms

illuminated pear trees
illuminated pear trees

Illuminated blossoms.

The pear trees were blooming on Main Street on this day last year! Not a sign of any pear trees or magnolia, and even the daffodils are hesitating.


Brick Street

brick street
brick street

Brick Street

On a sunny day like today this pale yellow brick street is nearly blinding.


Old and New

buildings
buildings

Allegheny county Jail

What’s this medieval-looking fortress in the midst of modern buildings?

It’s the Allegheny County Jail in downtown Pittsburgh. What else does one do when sitting in traffic on a perfectly clear sunny day?

It’s an interesting contrast, especially seen from behind when it actually is a wall that makes it look like a fortress.