Word and Image


Photography: The story behind the image



IMG_0638I had the good fortune to dive with some serious underwater photographers. If the equipment is an indicator, they used some very costly stuff. The DSLR body, lens, close up lens, lights, modeling light, monster pod, waterproof case with air leak indicator… well it’s enough to make me feel completely inadequate. Say it must be about $10k worth of gear. Seawater is unforgiving. I have fried two cameras in the past. Fortunately it was not expensive gear. But it hurt to lose a camera. Well I was on a reef safari with four photographers, one with video, and all with external strobes. For a gearhead comparison think Volkswagen compared to Porsche. I had the VW. This group had varying tastes in subject matter. Some things I never pass by and I always photograph, seemed not to interest them.


So it was with interest as one found an anemone floating free at about 80 feet. Color is an issue at this depth. Red is almost gone. A flash would definitely help. I didn’t use one – just white balanced and let my camera go on autopilot. And so there were four photographers clustered around this fairly nondescript subject. It must be special but I have no real frame of reference. I hung on the edges having taken my shots. Then I decided that the quintessential shot here would be the gear in play. I sure don’t do any set up this complicated in life on the land. Trust me this is some seriously expensive gear. I will admit to being strictly amateur. I have a different level of interest here.





This story has been told but I will tell it once more. As I spun my archives this picture is before me with the story behind it. Jules wanted a tattoo. “No!” was the emphatic reply. I agreed with her mother. It’s rather a permanent thing and you will live with it when it gets wrinkled in old age as well. Okay – resolved.

We were on a cave walk in Belize. You wore battery operated headlights. The guide was one light short. He went without a light. Lisa and Jules got ahead. I fell behind to the end of the line. The cave was hot! I was sweating profusely, and cursing quite a bit under my breath. There was another older tourist who should not be here. He was out of shape, overweight and had labored breathing. I thought he was going to collapse at any moment. We were deep into the cave now. And I calculated whether we would carry him back or forward; it depended on the halfway point. So I labored on and wondered if we could actually carry this heavy man anywhere.

Suddenly a scream pierced the darkness – “Victor, your daughter!” What? She fell. She got injured. I’m still at the back of the line in rescue mode._DSC9342

“She has a tattoo!” came the voice of my wife out of the darkness. What? Well as you see, they were walking single file and as Jules bent her head, there high on her neck under her ponytail was a tattoo,

When I finally caught up to them she explained. My favorite aunt had been asked to provide Jules with a Chinese name. She made a phonetic Chinese character, which translated to early spring lily. Jules explained that the tattoo was a lily in remembrance of my aunt. Okay, that takes care of that. How do you say anything else.

Sleeping Fish

IMG_8398The parrotfish on the reef during the day is a hard fish to photograph. It is always aware and swimming away from me. I was surprised to find this one in the coral crevice and seemingly sleeping. Then someone told me that it weaves a bubble around itself. If anything touches it, the fish will awake and swim away. I don’t know but I am sleepy before I am fully alert upon waking. I don’t see any bubble.


_DSC3754 copyI was headed home. The ride from Camden is along back roads. I passed this field. I took two images. I guess I should have spent a little more time in the waning light to be sure I had a satisfactory shot. I did not linger. I was hurrying home. Don’t know why the hurry? Reminder to self: slow down and smell the heather.

Feather Duster Worm

IMG_8101This pink color is not commonly seen. They don’t move but contract in an instant until danger passes. So you sneak up on it and if you are lucky it will let you get in a couple shots. I get the idea of a feather duster. But a worm?


_DSC3705 copyPumpkin on the doorstep, Jules loved this and framed it also. It’s almost a natural monochrome. You can’t make this stuff up. A little color and it was right out of the car door as I exited. I was in Rockport to check on a craft show. The photo was right there. Never turn down a golden opportunity. I have to thank the owner for setting up this little tableau.


IMG_7994This little fish is another one that is uncommon to see. I sneak upon it and sometimes I get a shot. So far I have had more luck with this guy. He will pause for a close up. But as with most fish they don’t like cameras pointed at them.


_DSC3693 copyCamden. A white picket fence and dusty rose colored hydrangea; is there anything more to be said?



This trunkfish is another shy denizen of the reef. I swim up on them and then have to chase as they dart in and out of the coral. Invariably I am with a buddy who is moving onward. So it is only for second that I can try for a shot. You wait and wait but it is often just fortuitous. I have learned patience. Eventually you get a fish that will cooperate.IMG_7934


_DSC3624 copyFor Colleen, she’s a new buddy. I told her about Camden. At some point I hope she’ll see this post and know it is in follow up to a conversation about Maine we once had. It’s the harbor. The fall colors are not peaked yet. I am not OCD. So I shot what was available. I did not make a return trip to do better.


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