Monday, June 30, 2008


June 2008

My iTunes: La Fiera di Venezia - Vi Sono Sposo E Amante by Cecilia Bartoli

I've had the idea for this shot in my head for a while, but never got around to shooting it until tonight. I'll probably play around with more shots like this in future, but I'm happy with how this one turned out. It was hard to tell on the camera's LCD screen, but the original shot was terribly overexposed. Thank goodness for Photoshop! Sometimes I wonder if I rely on it a little too much for making the image just right.

I've spent most of the day in my room, working on theory again. I read through nearly another chapter and will finish off the problem set tomorrow morning. I stopped by the library on my way home from church today and picked up a few movies to watch this week while I get work done. I watched The Sun Also Rises tonight, and am not sure what my final verdict is. I tend to like movies with strong resolution, and generally those with happy endings. But I liked the cinematography (there were some great skyline shots of Paris), and I admittedly did not give it my full attention. Does anyone else have an opinion?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

special note

Special Note
June 2008

My iTunes: Love Song by Sara Bareilles

I've recently swapped two of my lamps so that one with a warmer light is within reach of my bed, and I've wanted to take a few shots of the mood lighting. (Don't think the bedside table is always clean, though -- I just shoved the clutter out of sight!) I wanted to put something in the lamp light and use the lighting to accent the subject, but I wasn't sure what I wanted. Then as I was sorting through the pile of "important papers" from right before I went to Philadelphia, I found this note.

It's special because is it from someone who is very dear to me. I usually keep it in my "Joy Box", a box with little things in it to bring me joy on days I'm feeling down, but somehow it escaped. Now it's back where it belongs, safe and sound, but only after the photo shoot!

Anyway, I hope you like the little (and not-so-little) changes I've made to the blog layout! I would still love to hear your comments!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

suddenly I see

Suddenly I See
June 2008

My iTunes: Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall

Over the past few days, I've been doing some photography-related things as study breaks. Several people noticed that I changed my header, then I added a little something below it. I've done a few things today as well that I thought I'd share.

I've been playing around with ideas for logos. I wanted to design one that reflected my photographic style, was classy/classic, and one that wasn't too overtly feminine. (I don't simply want to market my photography to half the population!) :) I think I finally settled on this one:

And this slightly modified version I'm using as a watermark (in white or black as necessary):

What do you think? I'd love to read your comments!

I hesitate to set up my own website before I start making some sort of profit on my photography because of the financial investment it would require. But all the recent excitement about "going pro" in Blogland made me want to put together something that looks more professional. We shall see what the future brings!

I thought this song was appropriate for this post as well. It's one of my new favorites (and it's not classical or opera -- shocking!). I had heard it before, but really came to love it when Courtney, one of the girls I lived with in Philadelphia, played it in the mornings as we were getting ready.

Friday, June 27, 2008

18 candles

18 Candles
June 2008

My iTunes: Ninety-Nine Red Balloons by Countdown

These were what was left from the conflagration that was my brother's birthday cake (the cake itself, cherry chocolate with chocolate icing, is long gone!). But despite the challenge presented before him, he had no trouble blowing them all out in one breath. (If you see the picture I posted on his birthday, you can see why!) We'll see if he gets his wish!

I spent most of yesterday researching, but not the type of researching I've been doing for the past few weeks. Yesterday I was researching graduate schools. Because I disliked the search for colleges so much, I've not been looking forward to beginning this search. But my experience in Philadelphia inspired me to begin. That, and the fact that deadlines will be coming all too soon. My first discovery was that there are a LOT of graduate schools. I can start the work of narrowing them down, but I look forward to having my voice teacher's input. The two that have caught my eye so far were James Madison University and University of Maryland. We'll see what the next few months will bring.

And thanks for all the kind comments about switching my blog header from "Through the Amateur's Lens" to "Christy Thomas Photography"! I still feel like an amateur, but many people have commented to the contrary.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

you defy explanation

You Defy Explanation
June 2008

My iTunes: Miracles Happen by Myra from The Princess Diaries soundtrack

One look at this card and I knew it was perfect for my brother. "You defy explanation." The picture is of a little boy dressed up as a superhero (I decided not to post an image of the whole card incase that would be copyright infringment).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

happy 18th birthday

Happy 18th Birthday
June 2008

My iTunes: Vogue by Madonna

"Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Ross, Happy Birthday to you!"

Today is one of my "little" brother's birthdays -- Ross is 18 today. Neither of my brothers are "little" though -- they're both taller than me now (not a hard feat to accomplish). I told him he would be the star of my blog today. He (or at least his picnic party) might end up being the star for the week. I got a bunch of good shots.

While I'm wishing Happy Birthday's, it is also two of my really close friends' birthday as well -- Happy Birthday Ava and Happy Birthday Ellen! One is no longer a teenager and the other, well, let's just say a dyslexic person will not confuse her age for the next year... :)
In other news, I'm starting to look at graduate schools... it's rather overwhelming. I should get back to that.

p.s. Perhaps I should add a disclaimer about the music I'm listening to on iTunes -- it's from The Devil Wears Prada soundtrack. It's not the best chick-flick in the world, but I was in the mood to watch it today, then realized I had the soundtrack on my computer thanks to the public library. (I pay taxes, therefore I pay for the music, right?)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

old window

Old Window
June 2008

My iTunes: Dirty Dancing Soundtrack

I'm trying to sort through pictures from Italy tonight, so it's going to be yet another short post. Tomorrow is my "little" brother's 18th birthday and I'm taking him out for breakfast, so I'll be up early...

Monday, June 23, 2008

along the wall

Along the Wall
June 2008

My iTunes: Tu che le vanita conoscesti by Kiri Te Kanawa

This is a section of the interior of the surrounding wall of Eastern State Penitentiary.

I am now back in Baltimore -- so long, Philly! I had a great time, even though I never saw the Liberty Bell or had a Philly cheesesteak. Those will just have to be things to look forward to next time.

The drive wore me out, so it's time for bed...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

bicycle wheel

Bicycle Wheel
June 2008

My iTunes: Waters of the Earth by the Ravel Trio and Kyle Engler

I am so tired I'm nearly falling asleep as I type! Time for bed...

Saturday, June 21, 2008


June 2008

My iTunes: Spend My Life with You by Phil Keaggy

I was told today that peoples' creations reflect one's character and mood. I tried to pick an image tonight that reflected my mood. Today was the last day of the seminar. We all left each other today. I can echo what someone said today: I came into this expecting something intellectual, and I didn't expect to become to attached to everyone. I have never felt so sad upon closing a chapter or leaving a place. I really miss my girlfriends. They are some wonderful women who I am proud to have had in my life. I miss them terribly.

Friday, June 20, 2008

SHEAR Mellon 2008

SHEAR Mellon 2008
June 2008

My iTunes: In Uomini, In Soldati by W.A. Mozart

Although the seminar is not officially over, it feels like we're all done. The last of the presentations were this morning, we have happy hour this evening, and brunch tomorrow to celebrate. We wanted to surprise the group leaders with a photo of all of the fellows. They're being printed as I type.

My presentation went amazingly well -- the professors kept coming up to me afterward and saying what a wonderful job I did presenting. The professor who is usually the most critical was the first to respond to my presentation and all he could do was suggest a secondary source and say how eloquently and articulately I spoke. The professor who I've most connected with (not my own, incidentally, which is sad because I can't bring her back with me) kept making eye contact with me and grinning ear to ear. Afterward she said she was just trying not to cry and how proud of me she was, and she felt like she had two students at the conference. And the best part -- I didn't prepare for the presentation at all. Some days I'm just lucky, I guess!

I've really enjoyed my time here -- having a chance to be in the archives and get to know other students and professors from across the country has been so rewarding. I really hope to keep in touch with them.

I'll see what I can do about recording tomorrow's performance and posting it somehow so people can hear it. I guess that means figuring out youtube...

Thursday, June 19, 2008


June 2008

My iTunes: Star-Spangled Banner by Yours Truly :)

This is still an image from the Eastern State Penitentiary series, but no, she is not an inmate -- meet Whitney, my friend from Texas, who is here studying the sacred spaces of Quakers. After we finished our tour of the penitentiary, she was sitting across the street and I thought she looked quite picturesque, so I started playing paparazzi. I think it turned out quite nicely, don't you?

The prospectus is finally handed in! I asked one of the advisors to look over it one last time after I'd edited it, then I sent it in. Presentations begin tomorrow morning at 9:30, and I'll be presenting Friday at 10:30.

Today I went to lunch with my friend Courtney and her advisor, Stacey. I really enjoyed our time. The relationships between students and their advisors in this group seem to be pretty close, but I'm not particularly close with my advisor, especially in comparison to how close I am with my voice teacher. Seeing Courtney and Stacy interact made me really miss my voice teacher and our lessons. I'm counting down the days until my next lesson!

I just finished recording a version of our national anthem -- for the farewell brunch on Saturday morning, my friend Amanda and I will be putting on a musical performance. Ever since Tamara (who is one of the two professors running our program) found out that Amanda and I are musical, she has been hoping that we would perform a little something. Amanda is studying musical nationalism, so I will be accompanying her as she sings Shenandoah and My Country 'Tis of Thee, she will accompany me as I sing Dans Un Delire Extreme, I will sing and play (I think) The Mermaid Song, and we will lead everyone in The Star-Spangled Banner. It should be quite the production. We're not entirely sure if we'll have access to a piano, though, so we may have to record our accompaniment and try to acquire loud speakers instead...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

door at the wall

Door at the Wall
June 2008

My iTunes: Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi

Several of my faithful readers (whom I very much appreciate -- every day I look forward to reading your comments!) have mentioned how much they've enjoyed this little series I've been doing of images from Eastern State Penitentiary. I must say, I do agree -- they've been some really fun images to work with.

Something that made me laugh really hard yesterday: read Robert's comment! Maybe it's because I've been so tired these past few days that everything seems inordinately funnier. Check out his blog as well -- I love it when he posts pictures of his daughter, Lily! And I'm thoroughly enjoying the music now as well -- it is keeping me awake as I edit my prospectus (hopefully for a final time).

I'm coming down the home stretch with my research. Tomorrow is the last full day in the archives, and then Thursday and Friday mornings we will present our prospectuses before a panel of 12 professors from across the country, 2 PhD candidates, and the other 9 undergraduate fellows. It sounds quite intimidating, but right now I think I'm too sleepy to care...

OH, but today's most exciting new: Lacey Lichi (I have a link to her blog under "my favorite photographers") has finished her photography website, which we have all been greatly anticipating! Check it out, and tell her what you think!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

through the windows

Through the Windows
June 2008

My iTunes: Nessun Dorma by Paul Potts

Quick post -- I got back my first prospectus draft with four versions of comments last night and have to finish editing it before my meeting later this morning. I was up working on it until almost 2:00 this morning, then up at 6:30 to continue... I needed a break so I thought I'd post this. But now, back to work.

Tidbit of the day: the Eastern State Penitentiary is being structurally stabilized so that it will remain in its decayed state for the public to see a a National Historic Landmark. It was the first penitentiary of its kind.

Monday, June 16, 2008

at the corners

At the Corners
June 2008

My iTunes: Freschi Luoghi, Prati Aulenti by Stephano Donaudy

Another shot from Eastern State, and yet again this will have to be a short post -- I'm leaving to go to the American Philosophical Society to do research today and have to pick up breakfast on the way out.

Today's random factoid: the two youngest inmates of Eastern State Penitentiary were 12 years old, convicted of arson and second degree murder, respectively.

I'm glad everyone has been enjoying these pictures -- it's been fun working with them!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

broken doors

Broken Doors
June 2008

My iTunes: Overture from Mozart's Don Giovanni

This will have to be a short post because I need to finish my prospectus by 5:00 p.m. I will talk more about Eastern State Penitentiary later, though! (If you go to their website, you can take a virtual tour.)

Here is one tidbit about ESP: only one man ever escaped and avoided recapture. He would be around 100 years old now if he were still alive. I hope he's come back for the tour.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


June 2008

My iTunes: Nel furor delle tempeste from Bellini's Il Pirata

I went to jail today. Eastern State Penitentiary to be precise. It was built in the early 1800's and was a working penitentiary until it was closed in the 1970's. So, no, I was not convicted of a crime (unless the crime is spending too much time in the archives); I just did my usual thing and spent my free time doing something educational. At least I got to take picture.

My friend Stephanie who went with me called over to me as I was taking a macro shot of a door (to be unveiled later this week): "Christy, take your blog photos later!" It made me smile to know that I'm known as the photographer.

I like the lighting in this one: "Go towards the light!" This is one of the corridors where they kept prisoners. In the interest of reforming the inmates so that they might become helpful members of society, the penitentiary was designed to produce penitent prisoners -- even the skylights were designed so that the inmates felt that though they spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, God was always looking down upon them.

If I had the time, I would share more of the interesting history, but I have to write my prospectus tonight. I didn't get to it yesterday, so I'm writing tonight and tomorrow. I also have to pick one of the many pieces of sheet music from the nineteenth century to perform for everyone at the end of this fellowship program. I promise to give you more details about the penitentiary over the next few days, because I took a lot of pictures. The one interesting tidbit I will share is that at different times, this penitentiary held Al Capone and a Black Labrador. Now don't you want to hear more about it?

Friday, June 13, 2008

built for speed

Built for Speed

My iTunes: Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli

Apparently no one minded that I posted for Project Blue a day late. Not that I'm surprised -- all my wonderful readers are so supportive!

Today is black and white again. I'm really enjoying my black and white photography lately. That and red, as always! I wanted to play around with some of the other pictures I took, and this is what I came up with. Photoshop has been a nice break for my brain this evening.

Thank goodness for scheduled posts again, although I won't be using the rest of my evening for sleep -- I need to outline my prospectus. Perhaps once I have the final draft completed, I'll post it (in edited form) on my other blog for anyone who is interested.

In the meantime, I need to stop procrastinating and start brainstorming and writing!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

hi-speed line

Hi-Speed Line
June 2008

My iTunes: Vienna by Billy Joel

I promised that I would post something for Project Blue -- does it matter that I'm posting a day after the challenge is closed? If it can't count posthumously for Project Blue, it can be another edition of my red pictures, and it certainly counts as a Philadelphia picture.

Yesterday I took 552 pictures. 548 of them I can't show you because I took them in the Archives. I spent 11 1/2 hours at the archives yesterday and skipped lunch. I got there as they opened and left when they were turning the lights off. We've been joking about giving "awards" at the end of our time here, and I think I have a pretty good chance at the "hard-core" award, wouldn't you say? This morning we're discussing the art or science of history based on several articles, then it's off to the archives again.

My archives projects for the rest of the week: 1) looking through about 130 pieces of sheet music relating to opera published in Philadelphia from the years 1800 to 1861, and 2) transcribing the first two or three volumes of a seven volume work entitled "Grand Opera in Philadelphia" by John Curtis.

For anyone who is thinking about leaving information for posterity to study, please do all that you can to make it full-text searchable...

But since I'm probably skipping lunch again (after wasting the whole morning in discussion rather than being in the archives...), I'm going to treat myself to Starbucks for breakfast (that, and there's no food in the apartment)...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

tickling the ivories

Tickling the Ivories
June 2008

My iTunes: Non so piu cosa son, cosa faccio from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro

Sorry for missing the last two days of posting! My time in the archives is limited, so in my non-archives time I try to get as much work done on my computer as I can in order to be ready for the next day. As my research topic solidifies, I'm realizing that basically I need to survey a lot of different documents and look for trends, which means I have to spend a lot of time on interpretation after my time in the archives. To give you an example of one thing I'm working on, last night I spent a couple hours filling out call slips (in research libraries like the one I've been "living" in, you have to write a call slip for each thing you want to look at and the librarian retrieves it for you) for every piece of sheet music relating to opera printed in Philadelphia between 1800 and 1861 that this particular archive has. Then I developed my own cataloging system for the characteristics I'll be looking for when I see the music. Today I'll be sending the poor librarian (who is worth her weight in gold!) running to retrieve them all for me. So I'll spend quite a bit of time cataloging and taking research photographs.

So, with all that business, not only have I not had time to post, I've not had time to shoot, either. But I thought this image would be appropriate. I took it in Philadelphia, even though it's not the sort of shot you can only take in Philadelphia, so I think I can post with impunity. Besides, it relates to what I've been working on for the past two days!

But lest any of my concerned readers think I'm spending miserable hour after miserable hour working away, I'm actually enjoying myself. Surprisingly, I'm happy as a clam in the archives -- I can even listen to opera as I work! And yesterday I spent some time being pleasantly distracted by Moi's commenting on my posts -- every two minutes or so, I would get an email saying that I had a new comment! It was great! :) (Check out her blog here!)

Well, I'm off to finish the last of my prep-work before catching the metro down to the archives...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

book nook

Book Nook
June 2008

My iTunes: The Mermaid's Song by Haydn

Busy day, and still have lots to get done. Finish a paper and presentation, work through some more music theory, and sleep...

But I had to post this picture of one of the "book nooks" in the Fine Arts Library on the University of Pennsylvania's campus. Imagine having an entire library dedicated to the fine arts...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

black and white skyline

Black and White Skyline
June 2008

My iTunes: Birds in Flight by The Ravel Trio and Kyle Engler

I seem to be posting several images of the Philadelphia skyline -- living in a high rise gives me the opportunity to get some unique angles on the city, so I'm exploiting it for all its worth. This is a shot I took at dusk from the 25th floor (the "pent house") a couple evenings ago. Since I've been posting a lot of red lately, I thought I would abandon color completely and go black and white.

In other news, I've given up on frying pan tea and purchased a hot pot. I love it -- making tea is so much easier now!

But now I really need to get some work done. I've been bumming around all morning and now it's already 1:30!

Friday, June 6, 2008

lamp and brickwork

Lamp and Brickwork
June 2008

My iTunes: Goodmorning, Baltimore from Hairspray

Hmm, the red is continuing... but this time it was unintentional. I snapped this shot, along with several others, at one of the buildings where I've been conducting my research. I wish I had more time for photography, but perhaps that will come. For now, I've just been focusing on my research.

Today I found something very exciting -- a scrapbook full of information about opera in Philadelphia from 1800-1860! It is in four volumes, so I will be spending considerable time transcribing it over the next week or so. For the rest of the weekend, my project is to examine the group of sheet music from the Library Company's collection and see what trends I can find: which composers were popular, how many publishers there were in Philadelphia, what years were important in music publishing, what languages were popular, what operas were represented, etc. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to find business records from some of the music publishers and find complete lists of their inventory. That might be too much to hope for, however...

And happy birthday (a day late) to Anna!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

in the stacks

In the Stacks
June 2008

My iTunes: Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall

One good red shot deserves another. I spent most of today in the stacks researching. My favorite find today was a playbill from the Academy of Music's production of Don Giovanni on April 13, 1857. I got to take research pictures, but had to sign something saying I won't publish them on the web (or anywhere else). Another interesting thing I found was a broadside from the Arch Street Theatre in the 1850's -- in the list of prices, it had a separate (more expensive) price for "coloured people." They had to pay 12 1/2 cents extra for the equivalent seats a white patron would use. While that seems a little ridiculous, it shows that members from different strata of the black community in Philadelphia not only attended theatrical productions but could afford to pay to go. I wonder what I'll find tomorrow...

I need to set up a research plan for myself, so I'm going to cut the post short.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

red phone

Red Phone
June 2008

My iTunes: Preludio from Verdi's Aida

I know that "the color" is blue right now (a la Anna's photo blog), but I thought red would be my theme today. I stopped by one of the libraries on campus and explored a little. I found this great red phone and I had to take a picture of it.

The other bit of "red" in my life today is the new pair of reading glasses I picked up -- they have red ear pieces. Since I'll be spending so much time reading over the next few weeks in Philly and I forgot my reading glasses, I figured I should invest so I wouldn't give myself massive headaches. Maybe I'll take a picture of them later.

Today's interesting occurrence -- making tea in a frying pan. Yes, a frying pan. Would you believe that our apartment has a freezer, refrigerator, oven, and stove, but no microwave? The only way to heat water is the frying pan. It seems to work, but it makes me laugh. Oh, the life of a student...

Speaking of reading, I have a TON of research ahead of me and I should get started. I'm spending most of tomorrow at the Library Company and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and I need to research what items I'd like to call while I'm there. Thank goodness for online catalogs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

philadelphia panoramic

Philadelphia Panoramic
June 2008

My iTunes: Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Since I did a nightscape yesterday, I thought I would take advantage of the profusion of windows and post a panoramic today. This is not a large panoramic -- I typically use about 60 pictures for a full 360* view, but this only includes 15 pictures. It's hard to appreciate when it's so small, so I suggest clicking on it to see it in the widest possible form your browser screen will allow.

Tonight a bunch of us girls went up to the top floor a little before sunset. We found a piano (which was severely out of tune) and sang through the book for Phantom of the Opera. It was quite fun -- I fell in the love with the music years before I started taking voice lessons, and it's neat to see how I've progressed from hardly being able to hit the notes to being able to land all of them comfortably. All due to my amazing voice teacher (must give credit where it's due)!

And now I need to do a bit of research, read a few chapters of one of my books, send a few emails, study music theory, and get things together for tomorrow. (Thank goodness for the new blogger feature of scheduled postings -- It's only 9:55 as I write this, but I can set it to be tomorrow's post!)

Monday, June 2, 2008

bright lights, big city

Bright Lights, Big City
June 2008

My iTunes: Goodmorning, Baltimore from Hairspray

Greetings from the 13th floor! Yes, this building actually has a 13th floor -- it doesn't go 10 - 11 - 12 - 14 - 15. I'm not sure what that means for the rest of my stay in Philadelphia, but thankfully I'm not superstitious. (Thank goodness, because I even graduated high school on Friday, May 13!)

Anyway, I made it safely to Philadelphia. Driving in the city reminded me of Baltimore, so I thought I'd listen to the soundtrack from Hairspray. I finally got the internet to work and was going to curl up with a big mug of tea -- my voice teacher gave me a gift certificate to her favorite tea place, Upton Teas, when I had surgery because she knows I love tea and I brought my new teas with me -- but wouldn't you know we don't have a microwave? We have a refrigerator, freezer, oven, and stove, but no microwave. I feel like I'm living in the 40's. I tried hot water from the tap, but the tea just doesn't steep like it's supposed to. Perhaps tomorrow I'll invest in a kettle. Between studying and being in the archives, I hope I'll have some opportunities for picture-taking, so stay tuned for more from Philly!

Well, I'm off to ice my back and take my meds -- I seem to be having an adverse reaction to my sutures and my incision was slightly infected. One just fell out, so I probably should clean up the incision. Perhaps I'll skim through one of my books on American Opera before hitting the sack.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

fallen leaf

Fallen Leaf
June 2008

My iTunes: Il Barcaiolo by Cecilia Bartoli

I seem to have missed posting on the last day of May. Yesterday (Saturday) was a full day -- physical therapy, a cook out in Baltimore, then packing for Philadelphia. I think I'm finally done packing. Normally, I follow the motto of "pack light" to the extreme (think two weeks in Europe with only a carry-on suitcase), but I'm breaking my habit. I'm taking the carry-on suitcase, but also have a mini-crate of shoes and such, a backpack full of books and articles (I have to bring these), a bag of bedding, a laptop bag, and my keyboard and stand. I feel like I'm over-packing!

Even though you might think I took this picture in the fall, I took it last Sunday. I thought I would continue with another picture from our pier. And I thought I would do a black-and-white picture today, inspired by the usual black-and-white images by Richard and because Anoop requested more black-and-white photos a few weeks ago, but I didn't get around to it.

Well, it's now 1:00 in the morning and I'm exhausted. Time to hit the sack. Perhaps tomorrow I'll have a Philly photo to share, but no promises, because I don't know how the day will go...