Monday, December 26, 2011

Photos Reminiscent of The Night Circus

I received the novel The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for Christmas. It's not exactly a mystery novel, and normally I like seemingly magical acts to have logical explanations, but I can't seem to put this book down.

The night circus of the title begins at nightfall and ends at dawn. The circus takes place underneath a spectacular clock, and all the mysterious performers are costumed exclusively in black and white.

Below are four of my photos that remind me of the magic of the book.

A friend of mine in a grove of trees in southern California.

The clock tower of Big Ben, with a gargoyle in the foreground.  

A clock on St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Looking out into the world from a close in Edinburgh.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Gargoyle Girl in the New Year

I've been trying to figure out what I'd like to do with the Gargoyle Girl photography blog in the new year. I started the blog one year ago, in January of 2011, with the intention of posting mysterious photographs (mostly gargoyles) every Monday. A public blog was my way of committing to sorting through my binders full of old negatives from before I switched to digital photography. If I didn't publicly promise to post new photos every Monday, I knew those negatives would sit untouched just as they had for the past several years since I stopped going to the Harvey Milk Photo Center darkroom in San Francisco.

In addition to organizing thousands of old photos, I was also planning new travels that would include new gargoyle and other mysterious photographs. But halfway through the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which disrupted my plans (including making it necessary to cancel a July trip to New York—a gargoyle mecca!). I'm doing really well, which I'll be posting more about on my blog that's not dedicated to photography. But I'm still not going to be able to travel until at least the middle of 2012, which means I only have old gargoyle photographs until then.

To keep things interesting, I was thinking about possibly posting a serialized mystery short story I wrote that features a gargoyle. What do you think? I still have many more sheets of 35mm film to sort through, but I thought that some additional mystery-related fun might be in order before I'm able to get back out into the mysterious world. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject!

For now I'll leave you with a gargoyle I found in Boston. I haven't spent much time in Boston so I don't have any other mysterious Boston photos to post along with him. But he's got enough character to stand on his own.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Juxtapositions of Old and New

Below, a gargoyle, a cool old building, and a castle are juxtaposed with bits of the modern world.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Having Some Fun with the Famous NYC Gargoyle

Last week I posted some photos of a famous New York gargoyle who's one of my favorites. I've been a fan of this stone fellow for many years. I recently came across one of my old art school assignments in which I used him as an inspiration to design a label for a bottle of wine.

I had gone on a trip wine tasting in the Napa Valley and toured a winery with a cave-like area where they stored their wine barrels. It was very atmospheric, and gave me the idea to create a wine label called Cave Dweller, with the NYC gargoyle as its mascot. 

Last year I was writing a mystery short story that took place at a winery. I knew exactly what I'd name my fictional winery: Cave Dweller. The locked-room mystery story "The Hindi Houdini" was accepted into the second Sisters in Crime Guppies chapter anthology, so hopefully you'll be able to read more about the Cave Dweller winery in the near future.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Famous Gargoyle of New York

If you're a fan of gargoyles, chances are you recognize the fellow below. He's on an apartment building in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan.

I never lived in New York, so I never had the experience of living in a building with a gargoyle outside. But that's okay. My bookshelves are covered with them instead.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Gargoyles of the Doors and Windows of New York

I was supposed to go on a trip to to New York City a few months ago, and I was looking forward to walking through Manhattan looking for gargoyles. My cancer diagnosis made it necessary to cancel that trip, but I'm still planning to make it back there next year once I'm well. In the meantime I've been looking through some of my old NYC photos. Last week I found a couple photos of a writer gargoyle, and now I've found some of my favorite stone carvings that adorn apartment buildings in New York. There are so many gargoyles on the most random buildings in the city that there are dedicated gargoyle walking tours. If you're walking down a residential street in New York, look up and you might just see something like this:


Monday, November 7, 2011

National Novel Writing Month and a Literary Gargoyle

November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, that time of year when crazy people such as myself sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.

Here's a New York City gargoyle who's a writer himself. Holding a quill pen and with a mischievous grin on his face, this gargoyle sits just above the first floor of the Britannia apartment building in New York.

And here are a couple NaNoWriMo-inspired shots.

p.s. Those are Juliet Blackwell's mystery novels Sherlock Snoopy is walking in front of. If you haven't read her books, you're missing out. 


Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween & NaNoWriMo Eve

When I lived in a small apartment in the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, I had a view of a striking hill outside my living room window. Shortly after moving into the apartment, it was time for National Novel Writing Month, which begins the day after Halloween. That year, I experienced my most successful NaNoWriMo. I think my creative ideas were due in part to that hill. The apartment was small enough that I didn't have my own office in which to write, so I brought my laptop to the window seat overlooking the hill. I didn't know the name of it at the time (it's Grand View Park) so we christened it "Druid Hill." Quite fitting, I think. It was often covered in fog or lit up by a dramatic sky. I much prefer my current study, but I miss that hill.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock had it right. Birds can be amazingly creepy.

The University of Washington did a study a few years ago that stuck with me. It didn't surprise me to learn that crows are the most intelligent bird. But what did surprise me was that they're intelligent enough to hold grudges against people they recognize--and that they can share their knowledge about bad people with other crows. Perhaps there's something to the fact that a group of crows is called a Murder of Crows....

Below are some of my favorite shots of birds going their creepy thing: crows on a mausoleum at Brompton cemetery in London and in a tree Bandelier national park in New Mexico, an unknown bird along the coast of the Arabian Sea, and a surly pigeon high on a sky scraper in New York.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Gargoyle Halloween Masks

Several years ago I found a Halloween mask of one of the famous gargoyle of Notre Dame, pictured here.

I spotted the gargoyle mask at a second-hand store in Bath, England, where I was studying one semester during graduate school. I remember the Oxfam shop clearly, because Bath, with its winding cobblestone streets and medieval buildings, is the perfect kind of place to celebrate Halloween.

That fall, I was in a program that had students from all over the world. Some of them hadn't previously celebrated Halloween, so a few of us decided to plan both a pumpkin-carving party and also a Halloween party. We were students without a lot of money, so our main decoration was replacing the lights in the flat with red light bulbs to create "hell." The party was a hit. After all, Halloween just needs is a bit of imagination.

I haven't stumbled across a gargoyle mask since then, but it got me thinking about which gargoyles would make a good mask. Below are some gargoyles that I think would translate into fun Halloween masks.

Hampton Court Palace

Oxford (I think! But I must find my original negative to be sure... Please let me know if you recognize this fellow and know where he's from.)

Westminster Abbey


The Brooklyn Museum's Sculpture Garden


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness, a giant lake in the Highlands of Scotland, is the largest freshwater lake in Britain. The loch is almost a thousand feet deep in places, making it the perfect place for a monster to hide. Taking a boat out on Loch Ness, you can see the strong currents and mysterious ripples in the water. It's easy to imagine the legend of the monster is true.

Sure, the most famous photo of the monster has been debunked. But it's still fun to imagine the possibilities in that deep, dark loch...

The ruins of Urquhart Castle at the shore of Loch Ness.

A postcard of "Nessie" the Loch Ness Monster.

The village of Drumnadrochit has a Loch Ness Monster exhibit, including a fake monster that moves along the surface of this mini lake. I first visited the loch and exhibit as a kid, but it's great fun regardless of your age.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Foggy Oxford

Kicking off Halloween month, aka October, here's some spooky fog. As someone who loves a good mystery, I love how fog creates a wonderfully mysterious atmosphere. It's one of my favorite things about living in the Bay Area, and it was one of my favorite things about living in the UK. Here are some images of Oxford, England, in the fog. Cobblestone streets are definitely more fun as the fog rolls over you.

Oxford makes a great setting for a mystery novel, which is probably why so many mysteries have been set there. One of my favorites from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Mountain View Cemetery Angels Through the Seasons

Mountain View Cemetery is a beautiful cemetery in Oakland, California. Sharing a similar ethos to London's Abney Park Cemetery, Mountain View was created with the vision of being balanced with nature.

The cemetery park gardens were designed in the 1860s by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of New York City's Central Park), who created twisting walkways lined with trees. You can't help but feel peaceful wandering along those paths on the sloping hillside.

My favorite angel at Mountain View cemetery in autumn.

Views of the angel in spring.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Cemeteries of London: Stone Angels of Abney Park Cemetery Part II

While beautiful, the placement of a few of the stone angels at Abney Park Cemetery in London feels rather ominous. Maybe it was just the type of day that it was when I visited, without a soul in sight and with the clouds rolling by above. But if you're a fan of Doctor Who, you might find the photo below reminiscent of the "Blink" episode with stone angels that aren't quite what they seem.

Below, a Celtic cross and a closeup of the details on the cross.