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Puffin Experience

_DSC5539I was fortunate enough to make it onto an island full of puffins. I’d do it again. The problem is that it would be a very arduous trip. So for now, once was enough. It’s not just the birds. There is fog and lupines. _DSC2190

_DSC2283You need the whole experience. The shot one sees on the post card is of the lovable bird statically positioned. You can’t point your camera and not capture a zillion of these shots. So what is unique? Pondering, I fell back on my sports experience (tennis, Manny) and realized that “flying” was the ticket. Ninety percent of the time the puffins are standing around. The last bit is flying. There’s plenty but it is not easy to have the focus, focal length, and composition all working simultaneously for a bird in flight. On this one I had no lessons or advice. I just relied on experience and imagination. It was a one shot deal. There are other things I might do since I am more experienced now. It’s great that things change and make you want to get better.2008 07 5908 Puffin landing a


Marathon 2008

2008 11 5646 BridgeThis post ties in with other discussions on this blog. J recently ran the LA Marathon. I met Charlie and we flew in his Bell 47 helicopter. I shot with Manny, from Sport’s Illustrated. Manny told me of the quintessential shot of the NY Marathon in which the image is made of the runners cresting the Verrazano Bridge. Well, I was in the position to try for this image. The shot had been described but I had never seen it. It was crystal clear blue sky day as Charlie and I hovered in his ship over the bridge. It also helped that he had been a former NYC Police helicopter pilot. We were not chased away from the venue. All that remained was to get that “shot.” You can go wide or tele. I know I didn’t quite get it right. I got a lot of images but the “one” got away. I still count myself lucky to have been there. A lot of stars came together for me to have the chance.

2008 11 5886 Runners bridge


Patriot’s Day

_DSC6766 aBoston is very different from New York. There are the Yankees and Red Sox, and the Jets and the Patriots (sports team adversaries). And then Boston, the start of the Revolutionary War, has its tradition of Patriot’s Day. Maine, almost an annex of Massachusetts, has a day off for Patriot’s Day. No such thing happens in New York. Nope! The significance is that this is a photo op. The day is devoted to re-enacting the early skirmishes of the Revolutionary War. I attended twice.  Two acts of random kindness were bestowed upon me. I held a musket while the owner shot me (photograph, of course). And in the second, I got an up close and personal look at what it must have felt like to be the target of a British dragoon. One needs to remember that everyone here is American, just dressed in period costume.

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_DSC7041The accuracy of the long musket was surprising…bad. I thought the long barrel made it a deadly accurate weapon. In fact firing the weapon was a challenge. There was smoke and fire. And, you were blinded for a few moments after the weapon discharged. Note here that everyone had their eyes closed upon firing. No one wanted to be injured in the making of this image. I discovered the key to the image was the smoke and fire.


Lobster Dip

2008 01 4597 Striped shirtsWhile I’m on the subject of the ocean, I thought I’d mention the annual Lobster Dip in Maine. New Year’s Day at around noon a hardy group of folks gather and make a run into the ocean. This particular day was cloudy gray and colddddd! You can see snow in the background. For all its hype and build-up, it happens rather quickly. Everyone runs into the surf and right out again. No frolicking! There are divers on standby waiting to rescue anyone who flounders. No one does much more than get their ankles wet. Me, I was dressed in layers and in full winter gear except for my camera. Yeah it was as cool as it looked. This was the only time I was in the right place to attend, once and done.2008 01 4628 Crowd


Nemo

IMG_7161 copy 2You can hardly dive in these waters and not see lots of clownfish. They are in symbiosis with the anemone. Each protects the other. The colorful fish are aggressive if you approach the anemone. It’s always worth a shot. Sometimes you don’t see the fish well, there’s to much backscatter, focus is off, and loads of other issues. As time goes by, there is no lack of clownfish images from which to choose. Some are better than others. I just keep waiting for a quintessential image. In my head, I hear my wife’s voice saying, “You have an image, why do you need another?” To which I say, “Because…”


Flatfish

IMG_7088 copy 2I saw a couple flatfish when I started diving and since then did not see a single one again till now. Of course the camouflage is designed to make it hard to see them. Looking closely toward the back you can see whisker-like extensions. We saw this guy right at the stairway where we enter the water. I had a hard time because the waves were pushing me around so a steady camera platform was hard to maintain. In every dive there is a moment when you see something special, extraordinary, that makes a signature moment. This was that moment on this dive. The fish is spooky looking to me, giving an almost prehistoric appearance. It didn’t stay around long… too much traffic.


Cleaning Service

IMG_7029 copy 2I took a month or so off from diving. Then I talked Farid into a trip. We actually had an unexpected simultaneous hole in the schedule at the hospital. So we took off to the Red Sea on a moment’s notice. How many people can just pick up and be diving in about 45 minutes? Cool! Farid led so we were at 150 feet when I looked at my dive computer. At this depth the colors are blunted, less saturated, less vibrant. This is a cleaning station. The little guy is cleaning. It’s a practical symbiosis. Where else can you get your back scratched (cleaned) especially if you have no hands to scratch yourself. Larger fish stop by and the little ones take care of business. Who figures these things out? But this is what I have read so it must be so, if it’s in print. I’ve actually seen little fish swim in and out of the mouth of moray eels. Brave aren’t they? 150 feet, this would be the limit of my dive depth for amateurs. It doesn’t feel different, just the colors are blunted.


Demolition Derby

_DSC0887In my memory of sporting events, I recall watching demolition derby. That was many years ago when TV was black and white and ABC’s Wide World of Sports would show demolition derby. More curiosity than real sport, I enjoyed the mayhem.

It was decades later that I discovered that they do this at the county fairs in Maine. The fire department is deployed. The cars struggle along trying to disable one another. The crowd cheers. Someone wins. There’s little room to maneuver so there is not too much bone jarring crashes. You just can’t rev up and have a go from a good enough distance. It does draw a big local crowd.

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Another Air Show

_DSC8524Portland Airport. It was not the jet runway but close enough. They advertised an air show. With little else to do that day I went to see what’s up. There were some vintage planes. There was no flying show. It was a walk around of the gathered planes. Nice?!

_DSC8526I’m always torn between getting the whole plane or just a detail as an image. Yeah, with digital, just shoot away. I still have to pick one. You go to these events and never know what you’ll find. It wasn’t that much, judging from the sparse crowd.


Haystack

_DSC1727Some of it is for feed and some for bedding. If you ask me the difference, it beats me. These bales sat in the field for months after they were made, so I assume they are for bedding. I just drive by and take a shot as I travel past on my journeys to somewhere else. I admit to having a soft spot for images of haystacks.


Local Lighthouse, Portland

_DSC1034There is a distinct advantage to having a local lighthouse to visit. While I was in Maine I took advantage of the less than sunny days to visit the Portland lighthouse. Fog, snow, and rain became part of the inventory of interesting images. I always saw tourists in a hurry, drive up, photograph the lighthouse, hop in the car, and drive away again. I never even had the chance to point out the best show was at their feet in the reflections of the tidal pools on the rocks below. On the days when the reflection was sharp because the wind was still, you got that signature shot everyone looks to get.

_DSC1019I’m not one to camp out and wait for sunset, or to wait hours upon hours for the clouds to arrange themselves for my image. And I’m not a fan of changing things in Photoshop. I prefer drive by shooting. Hey, it works for me. I can appreciate some images that were made by others who toiled and waited…. just not me.

_DSC1021If you just look down at the tidal pools, there’s a reflection to reward you. On a sunny day a polarizing filter will get you a more distinct image. Either way try to break out of the typical tourist mode and get something different.


Woodsman Day

_DSC0783The county fairs in Maine had woodsman day. Excuse me, ‘women’ day also. The best group was ‘Chicks with Axes’ well at least the name. In one place they put a Coke can (full) in the bullseye for the axe to hit. Sawing, chopping and other assorted timber skills were contested. The loudest were the chainsaw events. Cut down a tree, yes, there was a contest for that as well. For the participants this was really serious stuff. The trees were erected like telephone poles. It’s the last event. The trunks are trimmed to  the same diameter. Bring a sharp axe and wear a shin guard. No bleeding this time.

_DSC0486Beard is optional. But there are some folks who don’t seem to get out too much into the world.

_DSC0505What would a competition be without a two man hand saw event? You need rhythm and a good partner on the other end.

_DSC0646But it’s the chainsaw that has made all the difference. They even compete in souped up chainsaws to cut the block in the fewest seconds. It’s way too loud. They actually hand out ear plugs among the audience.

_DSC0697There are always the old ways and you compete here by chopping this block as you stand upon it. Watch the axe. Don’t cut yourself.

_DSC0472Remember I mentioned Chicks With Axes? They had their own T shirts. Aim and fire away.

_DSC0484At one point they put a Coke can in the bullseye so the reward of a soda spray resulted if you were accurate.


Blue Angels, Portland

_DSC0205Another day, another airshow…. If you keep scanning the internet, actually, I’m not sure how I got the news of this show. So you experiment, long tele or wide angle, I keep thinking that the detailed close-up is a better shot. But then you don’t get the whole picture. I was there. But it took cruising my archive to remember the event. Nothing too photographically memorable that day…_DSC0285

_DSC0299I got some shots in formation. The jets fly low and the noise is impressively loud. The government budget for airshows was already being cut back. I read that this was the last show that would occur in Portland.


Air Show

_DSC8351Red Bull. San Diego. The series. They happened to be staging the air races, a series, in San Diego. Lucky me. Looking at the series of images, this was a documented event but I didn’t really have the eye to catch a signature image. If I did it over again, I’d try some different things. I certainly keep evolving my photographic eye. It’s what’s fun. You’re always changing things.


San Diego Zoo

_DSC7227It’s world famous! Until I had been to Africa, this was pretty good. Now that I’ve had a completely different experience in the wild, this zoo is and interesting series of images in retrospect. If you isolate the animal and the background, you might convince yourself you are in the African veldt._DSC7315 It’s like going to the aquarium. You can get a shot but you know it was from behind the glass in a tank._DSC7171


Tijuana

_DSC6945If you’re in San Diego, you can easily enter Tijuana, Mexico. David joined me traveling from Los Angeles, USC. There’s a train that takes you to the border. You can then walk over without ever being stopped. Getting back into the USA is more complicated. The customs service will definitely want to see a passport. But walking is pretty easy since there’s not much place to put contraband. So you pass through with minimum waiting. _DSC6901

The native folks headed to Mexico all seemed to be carrying large bundles of toilet paper. Really! And once you are in Mexico, everyone seems to be bringing back prescription medication. There are big signs and many (hundreds) of pharmacies close-by to the border crossing. _DSC6873

We just wanted to say we were in Mexico. We wandered around and had tacos. That’s it. No need for drugs, legal or illegal. I would have brought some toilet paper if I had known it was in demand._DSC6986You also have to be impressed by the traffic jam back into the USA.


Tennis

_DSC4888It was pretty cool! Justin Henin, Belgium, Svetlana Kuznetsova, US Open Tennis 2007 finals… Manny Milan, a well-known Sports Illustrated photographer, invited me as his assistant. I got to access the venue from as close as you can get. It was exciting! And it was an education in shooting sports. Manny told me the shots that the photographers were trying to capture. Then I had the opportunity to get them myself. Lighting is artificial because the finals are in the evening. Most photographers prefer daylight. Everyone tries to capture the moment when the champion collapses in joy on the court.

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The preferred action shot always has the tennis ball and a look of total concentration. Where you’re stationed in the stadium determines whether you are trying wide angle or telephoto images. The cameras are fast and the lenses fast and heavy. The preference is overwhelmingly Canon. The “glass” ranges to the biggest fastest lenses, which are more than a handful. You don’t carry them as much as you “lug” them. Thanks Manny.

In thousands of images there is only a small fraction, which get the player, the expression, and the ball in the same frame. And after all of that, the editors take only a few to illustrate the story of the event.

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Even the award ceremony is scripted. Photographers are assigned positions from which to shoot the champions. It helps if you have connections.


Harness Racing

_DSC6105You bet?! It’s a big money maker for the organizers. The riders are coming from far and away to compete. The advantage for me is that no one seemed to know what to do with me. I just wandered all over, along the rail, in the infield, in the paddock and was never really prevented from getting up close. Everyone ignored me. Later I found out you can’t do any of this. No one from the audience is allowed in the staging area. But a big camera and looking like you belong can go a long way. I had a great time all along the rail in the infield. With all this freedom to roam, I was stuck trying to get the best action shot. You do your best. Unlike stock cars, there were no crashes, at least while I watched.


Greased Pig

_DSC6160It’s another event I came across at one of the Maine County Fairs. Throw a series of pigs into a pen and let kids try to catch one. Each kid gets a bag and the mission is to put a piglet into the bag. It’s pretty chaotic. Everybody wins. There are enough piglets, one for each kid. Cute? This is a lot of piglets all crowded around to feed from mama. They make their money/profit on the lottery to pick which kids get into the pen. I’ve heard of greased pig contests ….


Bellydancing – Go With It

_DSC6514I’ve been two years in the Middle East and I’ve not seen belly dancing. Where? Maine again… those county fairs have some crazy entertainment. There is a class put on by an authentic instructor. They did a few exhibitions. And I took the opportunity to get some images when I saw the demo class on the schedule. I can’t say I knew what to expect so it’s impossible to be critical. After you grab the usual group photos, you look for something more. What else? … a belly!_DSC6448I am told that this is one of the most religiously  conservative cultures here. So unless you get behind the curtains (as in Victorian England) you ain’t gonna be seeing any bellies anytime soon. There are no illicit drugs and no alcohol. (so I’m told, again) A  pre-op patient nervously told me he was an alcoholic. How many? …. two glasses of wine a night. Yeah! So far no sighting of any belly dancing round these parts in the Middle East.

One more story – we were recently cautioned about examining female patients inappropriately. This would be routine physical examination. To be sure we could do this by remote control or perhaps have the patients draw pictures for us. It was suggested that we don’t touch them. And when I operate on their back (ass right below, but discretely covered) should I keep my eyes covered as well. These are some laughable moments. But I certainly do not want to a guest of the local constabulary.

When I work out in the gym and pool at the hospital, the men’s locker room is constantly filled with women (all covered in abayas) traipsing through to wash hands or adjust some facial problem. Hey! It’s a men’s locker room! The standards do not swing both ways.

There’s also a medical school not far from here with two buildings labeled ‘men’ and ‘women.’ I imagine that the education is highly restricted and probably comical. But once again… go for it!

 


Bullriding

_DSC6592http://rodeo.about.com/od/bullridingfaq/f/bullbucking.htm

Nothing is done to intentionally hurt the bucking stock.
This includes binding of testicles (a popular lie spread by certain groups against rodeo), drugging, beating, burning, etc.

It’s written in “bold” on the website. Where did I see this? In Maine in the autumn of 2007 at a county fair… It was a serious competition for points. It was not a mega event. It occurred on a very chilly evening in the dark, a highlight of the evening’s activity.

I arrived early to ‘scope out the venue and pick the best place from which to get photographs. I brought a flash expecting to need the extra light. I was really to far away to be in an ideal position. At the earlier hour of sunset the bulls were peacefully standing in the coral, perfectly docile and crowded together. To look at the bulls you would never consider them to be a ton of angry bucking muscle.

_DSC6594If you look closely there are two ropes. The first is for the rider to hold dearly hoping to make 8 seconds and get a score for a ride. The rope wrapped around the bull behind the rider is (not?) attached to the testicles (remember it’s bulls not cows). Whatever the rope does it certainly gets the bull’s attention. Riders are thrown and they are injured. This means an ambulance is on standby. Some of the riders now wear flak vests and crash helmets. It’s not too western looking but it’s a bit more protective. Stomping usually doesn’t involve head injury, mostly broken bones. I make this assumption because, by my estimation, access to a competent neurosurgeon is not high on the priority list. But please keep in mind no animals were hurt in the making of these images.

 


Gracious Home

_DSC0728If I had my choice of home styles this home would be right up there. it’s in Harrison Maine nearby to the Camp Pinecliffe that J attended. We passed the house on a backroad and then I never saw it again until I passed by in my random wandering one day. It was unexpected that I would find it again. But then again there aren’t too many ways in and out of the area. I like the roofline. At this point I think that there aren’t enough windows and sunlight. The stone wall is a great touch. Overall it’s a memorable home architecturally.

As time has gone by there have been many homes I have admired. I suppose there are the memories of the car ride to Maine and the bittersweet goodbye to your kid for the summer. Lisa explained sending the kids to camp would make it easier when it was time for them to leave home for college. It worked too well. They left and lived in Africa and South America for a while. I missed them then and did when they were a continent away.


Right Place… Right Moment

Patient__2014-02-17-14-54-05-577This is an intraoperative image taken through the operating microscope. The scale of magnification would be to look at your thumbnail and imagine this is the field of view. It’s small and you can’t do this without high magnification and sufficient light. The titanium clip has taken the aneurysm out of the circulation. In the view (right to left) are the optic nerve, carotid artery, clip, aneurysm, and third nerve. We saw the other critical structures necessary to be sure the aneurysm was gone and no vascular compromise had occurred.

Emergencies have a way of occurring at odd times. I was busy on another project and was called by my clinic nurse. One of the clinic nurses, very well known and well regarded by the staff, had collapsed with a sudden ictus. She was immediately resuscitated and taken to the CCU. The diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage from a cerebral aneurysm was made after a series of examinations. She was in coma. Her vital signs were extremely labile with the blood pressure so high as to invite another hemorrhage. The prognosis was grim. Nurses and fellow surgeons expressed concern to me about her condition. While everyone hoovered as a supportive audience no one else could really help me in the decision-making and the surgery. I kept to the plan I formulated as information became known. I facilitated and supervised the diagnostic tests. Two operations were performed. The second was a craniotomy in which the aneurysm was isolated and the cerebral circulation protected. The danger lay in finding out if the aneurysm was so weak after the initial rupture that it would let go again during surgery and the patient could bleed to death in the operating room. The operation turned out well from the technical standpoint. It was performed without any exciting intracranial events. For now prognosis for her eventual recovery from the stroke is unknown. It will be many months before we will see the extent of the recovery.

The collapse occurred in front of medical staff who saved her life by timely resuscitation. Otherwise I doubt she would have survived the initial insult. For that I’m thankful. It was the right place and from that moment the right treatment has at least saved her life. Everything fell into place on this particular day in order for this to happen.


Small Plane, Why You Tell The Truth

1120 09 JuliaThis reminds me that traveling with a pregnant woman and a toddler from island to island can be a story by itself. We were in Honolulu transferring to an airplane for Kauai. I expected a twin-engine passenger jet, you know, the big one. As we pulled up to the airport they asked for our weight, which should have been the big clue. I told them mine and thought nothing more until we boarded a small twin engine airplane (12 passengers). Lisa was sweating profusely and clearly agitated. I thought that this was the pregnancy and corralling J. No, she tearfully cried as the doors closed, “I lied about my weight!” “So what it’s only a few pounds,” I said reassuringly. She wailed it was wrong by a whole lot more than …. Well, we weren’t done. The plane taxied behind a big ass regular passenger jet on the take off line. I could look out the forward window along with the pilots.  They were conferring and then taxied back to the gate for some repair. I thought we would switch planes (bigger) and the weight thing would be solved. Nope. We got on board the same plane, this time without the co-pilot (what did he know and why did he leave? maybe Lisa’s weight?). Oh great! I was sitting close enough to see the gauges – including gas, the only one I could understand. We were at 1/8 in one tank and less in the other. It’s ok in a car but I thought it was a bit reckless in a plane. We took off into a rain storm, struggled to maintain heading and altitude, and landed by diving out of the clouds descending abruptly to the tarmac. The pilot waited till the luggage was off and then took off again without refueling. I’m glad I wasn’t on the return flight and out of gas. At the car rental counter I asked for directions to the hotel and was told to go out and turn right. Ha ha! The hotel was steps to the right of the airport entrance.1115 33 Sunset


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