Welcome to Timeline Photos. A few years back I started peeking around my archives in search of some of the first photographs I had taken. Here records my quest into better understanding my long term love of camera and experiencing the world with it in hand. All photos appear in chronological order hopefully revealing an evolution of how I see and what moves me to speak with light.

Images are licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-SA. You are welcome to share an image given that you credit me, Irene Kato, as photographer with mention of my blog link, 'irenekatophotos.blogspot.com'.

Contact irenekatophotos@gmail.com for information about prints, permissions, and on-site assignments. Thank you!!

(Photo credit Phil Monahan of Orvis)

Friday, January 27, 2012

A moment for Nathan Crowson

I waited at the Ghost Bike memorial for the Critical Mass cyclists riding in honor of Nathan Crowson, killed by a drunk driver while cycling on January 21, and his riding partner, Danny Morris, recovering with severe injuries in the hospital.  353 cyclists took to the streets from LSU's Clock Tower to ride than night.  Before their arrival I was alone at the memorial watching the cars speed by.  There was a different feel than during my visit earlier in the day keeping in mind that the accident did occur at night, feeling the speed of the cars more as their lights zoomed by.     

Slowly people arrived.  First the local media, then some college students, and a few older women who ended up being family.  A young couple tightly held each other after placing something in the collection of flowers and notes covering the 'ghost bike'.  As a group of blinking lights in the distance approached the site, we all stopped and watched.  The first in the group rode by ringing their bells, then some started to stop or walk their bikes up onto the wet and muddy grass.  They talked quietly, some placed items by the bike, while others walked by thoughtfully towards an area behind us where they'd all meet before moving on.  The cars on the busy road had to move into the middle lane in order to pass by, and while a few seemed supportive there were obnoxious shouts from open windows, too.  I felt the emotional weight of it all as I stood near the bike taking pictures and watching all pass by.

Towards the end of the pack of riders,  there was one cyclist that stood in front of the bike for more than a moment of silence and reflection.  In the midst of it all, the lights, the media, the cars, the people,  he stood.  From the other side of the bike I took a deep breath in and felt like he stopped time.  The hurt of Nathan's death, to his family, friends, and the community, was with us, and we were all looking to heal, needing to heal.  There were no sides to this, it was something affecting all of us.  

As the group of cyclists decided to move from their corner meeting point just beyond the ghost bike to another location, one rider went into the road to make sure all was clear.  It was, he called them out, and the pack started to move.  That's when the few of us who lingered behind heard the speeding cars coming down the road.  We turned in a flash and saw two cars racing right towards the group.  The scream couldn't come out of my mouth as others motioned and waved for them to stop.  I saw another tragedy happening, and by some crazy miracle the cars swerved away and slowed down.  Not all saw from our perspective, but I had to step back to the bike, lean on the pole with the red painted flowers, and weep silently over the avoided terror.  It really was too much, too close, as if the city and those gathered needed another reminder about the risks of riding on roads with dangerous drivers.  The photo of the women holding each other in the set below captures the minutes after the scare.

Somewhere in the mix of this experience with just a few of us left behind, I met Nathan's friend who had painted the heart and stenciled art on the road.  I didn't ask if she had done the flowers on the pole, too, but when she saw that I was genuinely interested, she let me know that she created the stencils from Nathan's art as something meaningful for his friends.  I let her know that I was touched by them too when I first saw them earlier that day without even knowing their background story.  Now when I look they say something more about Nathan's presence in their lives.

So where do I leave this?  With continued thoughts for Nathan's family, friends and daughter.  With our community affected by the tragedy.  With Nathan's friend that rode with him that night as he continues to recover from severe injuries.  With the driver of that car and his family.  It's been suggested that we put more energy into improving the safety infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists than anger towards the drunk driver.  It's a very challenging thing to do, but it will move us out of the tragic time of Nathan's death and loss and into moments for Nathan and our community where we'll work together for change.

His bike was red

Nathan Crowson was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge at 8:45 PM on January 21, 2012. He died instantly, and Danny Morris, the friend he rode with, was in an induced coma in critical condition as of this afternoon.  Nathan was an experienced cyclist and commuted to work on bike for years.  He was known as a friend, good father, and talented artist.

I visited his Ghost Bike memorial set up at the location where he died.  There's a white bike covered in mementos, flowers, notes.  Spray-painted red flowers on the base of nearby poles.  A stenciled heart in the road near the bike.  A little stuffed animal sits behind the large votive candle, and a note his 5 year old daughter wrote laid on the ground near the front wheel.  The little girl attends my Unitarian church, and that was my initial connection to this accident after learning about it through a Facebook post on my church's page.  Then it unraveled so much more in me that I felt compelled to visit, to photograph, and share the story with others.

When I first moved to Baton Rouge 7 years ago with my husband and then 2 year old daughter, I met a woman and her also two year old at a local children's activity.  We became friends, and one day she shared with me the horrible story of losing her husband in a cycling accident on a River Road, an area known for cyclist training sessions.  A driver drove into the team and killed him and a teen rider.  Their son was born soon after and named after the father.  It's a heartbreaking story, and that feeling returned once I learned about Nathan and the daughter he leaves behind.

Her story, Nathan's, Danny's along with the thousands of cyclists in Baton Rouge who struggle everyday to ride safely, need to be shared and talked about to move ourselves and the city to action to improve the roads for pedestrians and riders.  We're designed to transport cars, and that's about it.  Drivers brains are wired to rule the road and get to where they have to go, not share the road with others who choose a different means of getting around.  It's very frustrating, to say the least, to be living in a city, the capital city no less, where such a physical and mental structure exists.

You find hope though when you meet someone like Matt Love.  He came out from a nearby office while I was visiting the memorial.  He asked what I was doing, and I told him that I wanted to blog about what happened in hopes that people will learn and want to improve the city's conditions for cyclists.  It ends up that he was a cyclist himself, and we talked a bit about the accident and city's situation.  We shared similar concerns, but his from the experience as a cyclist.  I found out that he actually rides quite a distance everyday to work, and that he's found a way to avoid busy roads.  It ends up that he crosses the farm property that I visit nearly everyday, and while that's something I smiled about, that's also what has to change for cyclists like Matt.

I also learned about a few advocacy organizations from him. http://ghostbikes.org/, BRASS - Baton Rouge Advocates for Safer Streets and The Baton Rouge Bike Club, as well as an informational letter written by the bike club's president, Tom Clement.  I'll definitely visit the sites, and I recommend a read of his well written letter here.  You'll be floored by our city's statistics when it comes to safety for cyclists, and hopefully moved to get involved and become proactive in moving progress along.  

Thank you, Matt Love, for stepping out there to speak with me and spend a bit of time.  I really appreciate it.

And Nathan's bike.  It was red.  Something that seems so trivial in light of the tragedy, but I learned about it while checking out the Critical Mass bike ride info tonight (which I will write about, too).  For some reason I found his bike color and the photo of the red flowers stencil resonated with me the most.  Maybe it's just that something in me knowing him a bit more and wanting to do something to help.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Thoreau Connection

There's a book with a collection of Thoreau reflections in my daughter's school that I enjoy picking up during morning reading time.  It's called "New Suns Will Arise: From the Journals of Henry David Thoreau" and it includes accompanying photographs by John Dugdale.  Today a photo of hay bundles caught me attention and took me to these Thoreau words:

"I sometimes walk across a field with unexpected expansion and long-missed content, as if there were a field worthy of me.  The usual daily boundaries of life are dispersed, and I see in what fields I stand." 
- August 23, 1845

Oh my goodness, am I connecting to some element that Thoreau speaks of in my visits to the farm property?  "...The usual daily boundaries of life are dispersed..."  All I can see is myself passing through the entry, as I call it, by the tree and looking across the field towards the big tree and its surrounding and feeling free and open.  Did Thoreau also feel that release of burdens?  

These images are from my last visit on January 7.  It was a long and wonderful one with just me and Sparkle at home.  I selected these three because they relate to my entry into the field, the big tree I first see, and the openness I cross.  I tinted them to be similar to the cynatype photos of John Dugdale's.  Even though not the same process, they will remind of the favor I have for the collection of words and images in the book.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Gift

 This morning I planned to go to the local lake to see the visiting pelicans.  A friend had let me borrow his 
f 2.8 70-200mm lens, and I wanted to try some captures with the birds in motion.  Of course I peeked down the street and into the farm fields to gauge what was happening with the sun.  The day before there had been tremendous, and like a magnet, the potential with the fog and rising sun to create something fantastic was there.  I drove by in my car, and sat looking in from the new streets of the development.  Once the sun started breaking through, and this time in full force, the field became a glowing orb of orange gold.  The surrounding trees stayed blue and ready, but within the area came alive with color.

I have images with just the large tree and the sun, but it is this one giving a sense of the expansion that says more.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I ran back to the tree line with the moss when I saw the splinter of orange light coming through the clouds and fog.  I moved back and forth to prepare, to look, and absorb the look of the Spanish moss in the tree limbs.  I was preparing for something, knew to look and go towards it. When the sun burst through I was spellbound by the light being held by the air, and as it became brighter I put my arms out wide like the trees and breathed.  I heard one of my father's favorite sayings, "I'm high on life!", that he exclaimed during special moments.  Actually I should say I felt the words as the sun continued to light up the sky and everything amped up the beauty around me.  I cried, too, because the feelings were so strong and the scene so powerful.

Somehow in a state of awe I photographed a collection of images I call "Worship".  The trees limbs reach up like arms to the sky as if celebrating.  I didn't see the effects of placing the sun behind the center trunk until viewing them at home with the center tree trunk in the darkest shadow and the limbs in the light.  The first image is shared because it is the burst of light that first illuminated the space.  I selected the second because the sky and intricacies of the trees are visible, as well as a feeling of the fog in the air.  I have others that I'm still brewing on, and these could all possibly switch around.  Right now, these two represent the moment with the sun.

On the farm's edge


I had been looking for this image in my files, and was surprised to find it tonight in with the "Worship" image.  Looking back through what I saw that morning, I had to cover my mouth in shock.  Really, all in one morning I was surrounded by so many incredible scenes?  I'm more than fortunate, and I tell ya, if I'm ever feeling blue, I can just pull up the photos from January 7 to be reminded of the good things I've experienced in life.  Let's hope that they're internalized to the point that I'm already giving it back somehow.

This little shed sits along the back edge of the farm property, and belongs to the home which corners into the field.  I always smile when I see it imagining what it would be like to wake to such a beautiful scene every morning.  The owners must be cherishing the days before the construction expands into this part of the farm.  I wish that it didn't have to be. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The beginning

It was a work day for me, and I was up early with some "extra" time.  Sparkle wanted to walk, and I usually need to delay taking her out on one until my return home.  This day we head out, and when I looked down the street to see fog mixed with purple and pinks, I worried about getting back in time for my day.  We trekked in for a bit, and approached very slowly as to soak in what was happening in front of us.  The colors were brilliant and beautiful, and the feeling sacred.

Unfortunately my kit lens had totally become dysfunctional while away during the holidays, but I had figured out how to use the full range of wide angle by putting the camera into video mode.  Sure, focusing was hit or miss through the backing screen, but it was good to be able to use something to record the image.  I found it very frustrating, but reminded myself that it was good to have something.

On this day the construction workers were arriving as I exited through the area being developed, and I stopped one more time to turn around and look at the scene.  The sun still hadn't broken through, but it showed glimmers of itself through the clouds and fog.  I was so excited about this that I must have been making a fool of myself.  They watched me probably wondering what the heck I was doing, so I held out my arms to the scene and shared my excitement.  One of these days I'll be brave enough to go over to them to take a few pictures because they're part of this story, too.

Monday, January 2, 2012

And the pelicans came

I took my daughters out to the local lake towards the end of the day to see the visiting pelicans.  It had been two years since they spent some time there during this season, so their presence has been causing excitement.  Friends have been saying that they've seen hundreds, and my husband reported in after his rides to work that there were many gathered in the sky or diving for fish.

When we arrived, there were about 20 or so floating with the wind across the water, while a few found resting spots within the lake to preen themselves.  Exciting to see them again, but not worth the commotion people have been talking about.  My girls took off for the sandy area on the lake, and I stayed as close as I could watching the pelicans still interested in the amount of preening going on.

That's when it happened.  In the distance from the west, I saw a group of about 30 or more birds flying towards us.  With the golden orange sky behind them their silhouettes became larger and nearer as they circled overhead and back towards the lake to land.  "Wow!  That was amazing!!"  My little one ran off again, and I stood there with my older daughter smiling.  "Momma, more!!!!"  I looked back to the west, and there they were again, another grouping flying our way.  This time they came closer showing us the sun touching their bottom feathers as they flew into the water.  "Oh my goodness!!!" We were beside ourselves in amazement, and my daughter's smile and eyes gleamed.  "Momma, again!!!!"  Another wave took off from the west and came in once again.  The pelicans settled in on the water after that floating about different sections of the lake with that original few still preening themselves in the dark.

We stayed with them, and when we finally made ourselves go, we decided that we'll remember and talk the experience for our lifetimes.  It really was an amazing show.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome new light


I owe a personal thank you to the airline attendant who helped us work out a seating nightmare by making multiple changes and hooking us up with a pair of seats on the east side of the plane.  My husband and older daughter had a pair on the west side, and I happily scooted into our two seater row with my youngest by the window.  The nicest thing about flying above the clouds at 6 AM is that you can always count on a sunrise.  This one was going to be special since it was the first one of 2012, so even before I saw anything I was excited.

I took plenty of photos, and was most excited by the subtle catch light on the wing of the plane.  I was having troubles with my lens again with it not functioning under certain focal lengths, so I used the trick of shooting in video mode.  For whatever reason my lens will work at all focal lengths under that setting.  Taken I don't have the same controls and the resolution isn't as high, but I could work around that in order to capture a few images.

I'm guessing that I stopped taking pictures, to the relief of the young man sitting behind us, after about an hour.  After that time I was paying more attention to the emergency medical situation of the woman in front of me who couldn't breathe properly without an oxygen tank, but that I will save for another post and set of documentary photos.

So here are a handful + from the many.

The coming of the sun on New Year's morning 2012.