cat thrasher photography

The snow, the warehouse, and Fifeville

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Two days ago, we woke up to heavy rain and then snow, coming down in buckets, barrels, to the point where, when we went on a walk with the dog, we cursed not bringing an umbrella. I had learned, back in Seattle last fall, to always take pictures in bad weather. Always, always. Bad weather causes dreaminess and dreaminess breeds blankets, tea, and toe rubbing. But before that, you must get dirty in it, go outside and get wet and muddy. You come back with pictures that people don’t normally take, because people don’t normally bring their cameras out in tumultuous downpours. Then you can go back home, get dry, and look at pictures that not many people have.

The studio, amidst the downpour:

The whole warehouse on West Main, with Random Row Books next door (a killer used bookstore – a must-visit):

Main Street Market, Jim, and Cochise:

The entryway to Fifeville, our neighborhood:

Jim, Cochise, our two coffees, and the inspirational mosaic on the way into Fifeville, by Isaiah Zagar:

One thing wonderful about Fifeville are the power-lines. They remind you that the neighborhood is old and comes with stories.

Many of the houses in Fifeville were built by African Americans with no blueprints, just strong hands and good Virginia heart pine.

One of the most aesthetically fascinating parts of eastern Fifeville: the intersection of 5th and Dice:


Written by catthrasher

December 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Boxes and identities

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I am on the lookout for boxes! I have been in and out of many a store in Charlottesville and Alexandria, and cannot seem to find exactly what I’m looking for – if it’s within the price range, it’s too cheesy for me. If it’s exactly what I want, it’s too expensive.

Why am I looking for boxes? One of the take-home messages of the recent photography workshop I attended was that a photographer should deliver a product that reflects who they are, what their style is, their point of view. Seems obvious, right? Not exactly: when you’re in the midst of running an operation that is part business and part creation, things like this can get lost in the fray.

Therefore, I have begun to re-think many things I’m doing, including my manner of photograph presentation – and I need boxes!

Below are a few that are very close to perfect. If you know anyone local to Virginia who makes containers similar to those below, please let me know!

I love these for the color and the butterfly/bird emblem  in the center. If I could just find a bag of charms similar t0 that, I’d be good to go.

These are more than vintage – they’re antique! The price tag was $85 each – but I’d love to find them newer, cleaner, and a little less pricey. So far, the only place I’ve found that makes these en mass is in China…and I’d really prefer to stay local with this endeavor. Let me know if you can help!

Written by catthrasher

November 29, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving at Joshua Wilton House

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This Thanksgiving, my family decided to do something most-unusual for us, and go out to eat! The place of choice was Joshua Wilton House, a fancy inn and restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia. Harrisonburg is full of Victorian buildings such as the Joshua Wilton House, but so often you look at the outside and beg a god of some sort to come down and instantly renovate it back to its original grandeur. This is not one of those places: every cosmetic detail on this house is perfect. The moulding! The colors! Loved every bit of it!

I took these photos of the fam while waiting to sit down. Enjoy!

(Jim took this one.)

Written by catthrasher

November 27, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Arlington Cemetery in the Rain

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A long-time friend of mine did me the honor of asking me to photograph her grandfather’s internment at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. This is actually the second  burial I’ve photographed there, and both times have been rather challenging. The place is gorgeous: rolling hills, perfectly placed headstones, magnificent trees and marble buildings. Yet when I think of capturing all of that in a photograph, I look around and wonder…is there a helicopter around here I can borrow?

Alas, it was a rainy day. The trees were dark, the mist rose slowly, and the soldiers wore raincoats. The mood was solemn but full of awe and wonder about the Captain: when the trumpet sounds and the guns fire, it makes you stop and imagine what his life must have been like, and what the lives were like of soldiers who died before him – what their families must have felt, and the impact that they made.

Written by catthrasher

November 25, 2009 at 7:56 am

Viewing pictures of loved ones reduces perceived pain

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If you view a photograph of your partner while in physical pain, it reduces your perception of that pain! In a recent study conducted by Sarah Master and colleagues at UCLA (A Picture’s Worth), 25 females in long-term relationships were presented with aversive thermal stimulation on their forearm while being shown photographs of either their male partner, a stranger male, a chair (neutral object), or no picture. Subjects reported less pain while viewing a photograph of their partner compared to the other conditions! Amazing! The authors conclude that “seeing photographs of loved ones may prime associated mental representations of being loved and supported, which may be sufficient to attenuate the pain experience.”

One more reason that family portraits are so important in our lives!!

The authors also repeated a procedure used for an earlier study of hand-holding, in which subjects held the hand of their partner, a stranger-male or no one’s hand, resulting in very similar effects: perceived pain was less during partner hand-holding! As luck would have it, my own partner, Jim Coan, who is at UVa., completed a hand holding study in 2006 and found similar results. In this earlier study (Lending a Hand), Coan found that when women held the hand of their husband, the areas of their brain that normally responded to threat were significantly less active when subjects were put under threat of electric shock, which Coan characterized as a possible “out-sourcing” of the threat response. Even more interesting: the quality of their relationship affected the benefit of hand holdinghigher relationship satisfaction ratings correlated with a greater reduction in threat responses in the brain during the partner hand-holding condition.

This possible “out-sourcing” of threat response, along with many other studies done with rats and critters, has prompted Coan to develop something called the Social Baseline theory. This theory posits that the “baseline” condition for humans is to be around other people, not to be alone. This has implications for many levels of science. For example, by not assuming that an individual alone in a room is in their “normal” state during a research study or medical procedure, but is in fact in a possibly distressing state of “without others,” we might more fully understand how the brain copes with potential dangers in its environment. The stress of being without others needs to be taken into account when doing research, treatment, or simply in approaching life. In this vein, the UCLA study is kind of poetic: to think that we only need to view a picture of a loved one to get the same social support as having them physically present.

The study by Master and colleagues does a great job of expanding Coan’s original hand-holding procedure with picture-viewing and is exciting support for the Social Baseline theory!

Written by catthrasher

November 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

Posted in Science

Mexico in November

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I just got back from a life-changing photographic workshop in Mexico! Run by Jose Villa with guest photographer Jessica Claire, it was 3 days of discussion on photography workflow and and event strategy with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Passing comments blew my mind, such as Jessica saying “why would you spend a lot of time post-processing? If you want a computer job, go get a computer job.” As much as certain concepts seem obvious, it’s so easy to get caught up in details when you’re busy running a business. This workshop helped me to step back and look at the big picture, both in terms of my general business practices and the way I spend my life!

All of this, while enjoying three meals a day of amazing Mexican food!!

Here are a few photos of the Hacienda Del Carmen, where we stayed:

Written by catthrasher

November 23, 2009 at 5:49 am

Posted in Landscapes, Mexico, Travel

Delaney at 7 days

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It was an honor to shoot this little gal, born to an old high school friend of mine (who we always knew was going to be a dad!) and his lovely wife. Congratulations!!






Written by catthrasher

November 10, 2009 at 9:02 am