By agreement I refer to Jules by the nickname her friends use. Too many of her students stalked her name searching the web. She thought it was weird. I guess I agree. But here we are again, another birthday. She always had a celebration that began at the end of the school year with her classmates. This was well before August. Then, the excuse was everyone would be on summer vacation. Then, we were on vacation, the Tyler Place. This called for a second celebration, cake, party, the whole works. And then there was the extended family of cousins, and grandparents at home. And on her actual birthday we had a family celebration. So it became a summer long party. For a kid who seemed deprived because of her August birthday, Jules would be about 100 by now if each party counted. And for the birthday wish, I wish her happiness. I think she is. Happy birthday kid.
I recently made a connection, or perhaps a reconnection from West Virginia. Colleen, a girl from my grade school class in a very convoluted way found me again. Once a woman marries her identity is virtually impossible to trace. There was another girl, one of my secretaries tracked down. She refused to talk even though she remembered me. This (photo) encounter, email only, came about via circumstantial detective work, only to fizzle for a few more years until, Marty another mutual acquaintance linked us again. Lisa had a similar experience with her grade school class and reunion. Lisa and I had attended the same school but at different times. I had been long gone to West Virginia by the time Lisa attended. And Colleen, my new contact and I have never met in person. Confusing, try this. I did it without Facebook.
More street photography – I got a second chance. Well okay. This time I wasn’t under pressure. If I got a shot or not, there was already one in my archive. So now the goal is to get a better one. Smile, get eye contact, and shoot.
Someone I know, knows all about second chances. This really isn’t. You have already seen two shots on a recent post. This time with nothing to lose, I relaxed, smiled at the kid, made eye contact, and got him to engage with my camera. Instead of a distracted look, I got a smile. Like many of my street photography subjects, this kid will grow up. But for this instance I have preserved his youth forever.
Scotland again. Before they were called selfies, here’s one we did. I was not shy to use a mirror. The only thing was that the result wouldn’t be known for quite some time. There were no retakes. At most I might shoot two frames. This was the better of the two and barely passable on technical merit. But it reflects the time and place. Another shot from the archives that I bet Lisa hasn’t seen or remembers. I look back at the early work. Film was pretty restrictive and unforgiving. But there were enough shots that came out to make for some great memories.
I would have done more but then I overdid it. Make sense? Lisa wasn’t a great photographic subject. She suffered my enthusiasm and didn’t want to be a subject at all. I wanted to shoot and shoot. Nope. Here and there I have some pretty nice images. She’d disagree. I don’t know. I married her and had my own cockeyed opinion of how well she looked. To say she’s beautiful she would accuse me of unbridled bias.
We were in Brussels. I take pictures of silly things like mailboxes. The first shot was devoid of people. Then to my surprise a kid came and posed. In those days I just took a single shot. Today it would have been a series of clicks. But this was it, the one and only. Cute. Spontaneous. Memorable.
I wish I was smarter but hindsight …. I took lots of pictures when we were on vacation. It was to document the sights and monuments. When we traveled in England I got a lot of churches. Somewhere along the way, I realized it didn’t matter how many churches I’d been in and photographed. The pictures that count are the ones of family and friends. The complication begins where Lisa was never happy with her pictures. She would see the flaws rather than the love. So I took plenty of pictures but it was with reluctance on her part. She did have perfect teeth, no orthodontics, just great genes. I was the polar opposite having had dental problems from a very early age. Opposites attract? You get two types of pictures. Pictures with loved ones too small to make out any detail and then there are the close up portrait type. With digital you have the memory card capacity to do both. With film you were a lot more parsimonious. Sure I’d do it differently now.
I shoot other people when they get married. No problem. It’s considered okay. You are in public and considered a fair target. Harsh? My kids get embarrassed when I whip out my camera and shoot. I’m not in the wedding or anything like that. I just like the formality and the fact that this is a special day for someone. We were walking along the new Brooklyn promenade below the Brooklyn Bridge. And the view of the Manhattan skyline is “free!!!” Great backdrop!
New York City occasionally does something nice. They took an abandoned section of elevated rail line and converted it into an elevated park/recreation/hiking space. It revitalized the neighborhood. So Dave and I walked it when we headed downtown. It’s a pleasant walk. You can see lots of pictures of the project elsewhere. Here we found a space that just lent itself to silliness and a bit of Photoshop.
A few posts ago, I gave a long rambling recitation of detective work or early dementia. I have been having a recent series of camera mishaps. Briefly, I lost one and then another camera (due to stupidity). I’m usually OCD, but lately…. Well, (don’t ask), I’ve been experimenting. I have decided that, of my two used Canon G12 cameras, that I have tested, the newer is fine and that the older (first) is now having some serious focus issues. I told you Canon service said, “Send the camera, pay $189, and we’ll tell you what’s wrong, fix it, and charge you more as we decide what’s wrong. It’s not a very good deal. I figured to send the first camera in anyway. But the logistics of getting it to and from the US is a problem. Canon has a repair center here in Jeddah. It is not too inspiring. I’ve been there. It shares space as a luggage company. And if they can’t get parts…. I gave it a try. What can you lose? It doesn’t work already. I have the other camera to compare and the broken one is ‘broke.’
Then for some silly reason, I took an image after I got a hair cut. They say, “Be careful what you wish for.” On one image (and it is reproducible), there is a single line of pixel errors (see vertical line; medial right eyeglasses). It is on the image/sensor. It doesn’t show on every image depending on the subject , but the defect is definitely real. This is a problem for me, especially as it is my primary dive camera. There is a workaround. I use Photoshop and heal the pixel defect – press ‘shift’ and then draw down the repair brush. Voila! The damage I magically repaired. The repair guy said it might be possible to repair this problem also, or maybe not. Or maybe you need a new optical (expensive) system. But if you saw the squid, the newer Canon G12 is sharp! I’m thinking I’ll wait a while. I’d rather have mostly sharply captured images than to introduce another variable. When I finally get all the troubles solved I will be so happy to just worry about technically getting a properly exposed image. Anyway, having a backup plan is always good.
I think the joke about dementia goes, “You make new friends everyday.” I apologize to those who are afflicted and who might be offended by a politically incorrect joke. The nature of much humor is that it’s not to some. But here I am browsing my Canon G3 images and look what turned up. In fact the images were lost for a while because I neglected to get them onto my backup, backup drives. I am redundantly backed up. Luckily! I actually lost track and almost couldn’t find the backup. Ah well, I did find them didn’t I? Here’s a shot taken by Lisa at Carolyn’s Bat Mitzvah. It’s not technically perfectly composed. But boy does it bring back memories I’d long forgotten. Obviously I have seen this picture? Well at least I think I have. I’ll have to check with J but a lot of folks called her “Jules” when she was young and in school, which may be less confusing than calling her “J.” I doubt her students will look her up on the ‘net with that search term.And this picture’s for Harry and Debbie, old friends, who famously avoided using camera where I was obsessed with documenting things I can’t remember now.
You can’t go back. I know my kids grow older. They change. It’s a fact. We had a red maple tree in the front yard on Long Island. I didn’t think I would outlive that tree. It was a wonderful background for fall portraits. The tree’s gone now and the kids grew up. Thankfully I got this great shot. It’s a bittersweet memory preserved.
For a long time the screensaver on my phone was my dog Nellie. I would tell everyone I loved that dog more than any of the family. She would always come, lick my hand when I got home, and never had an attitude. More recently this is the shot on my iTouch. No, I have no iPhone. It’s cropped vertically. It’s an image on the day of Lisa’s surprise party and David’s return from Argentina. Yes this was a very good memory.
As the kids got older my opportunity to get a shot of them together diminished. For while they didn’t like each other too much. And then they lived in different countries. But back at this point they were ok. We were in the Virgin Islands and the kids sat on these steps and let me shoot. This image stayed on my computer desktop for a long time.
What to they have in common? David spent time in both universities. And that’s where I spent my money. It’s funny because I got essentially the same shot in different years. I got the task of dropping him off freshman year. He had a room that was painted cinder block with high windows and reminded me of prison more than a dorm. His roommate first semester never appeared (probably made bail). David got straight A’s and departed a year later. I know that I thought he looked pretty alone when I left him in his Spartan dorm room. Two things I will add. We shopped for some furniture and we managed to wrestle a recliner into the rental car. And the other chair was a webbed rocking lawn chair. I don’t think he was really lonesome. We had lunch in a diner the first day he arrived. Our waitress sat down in our booth. She was a sophomore and gave David her number if he needed help. After she left he whispered, “Dad, She was in our space.” I got a laugh out of that.
The most terrifying conversation I overheard: “David. You have to graduate (this June).” His mother said this to him about a month before graduation. Thank goodness he finished in four years. Ouch! It cost enough as is.
I went through a big photographic journey starting in 2009, which coincided with my kids’ journeys. Lisa and I were invited to wedding in Peru. Lisa decided to invite the kids along but not to the wedding. David had graduated and had not found a job in about a year at home. Julia and David were soon added to the wedding guests. And then David dropped his bomb. He would stay in South America, travel around, and then find a job in Argentina. Lisa nearly fainted with the news. I wasn’t sure he’d last there. And besides there are bandits and they kidnap Americans. Ha ha! It was nerve wracking when we left David in Lima and left to return to New York. Within a year Julia was on her African adventure teaching in Namibia for a year. I like to say that my kids were not on the same continent nor were they even in the same hemisphere for a while. The derivative was that we had to visit both kids and I ended up traveling to South America and Africa. Lisa did a stint in a children’s village in Tanzania. This ultimately left me with the realization that if you only live once, take life and live it, hence my journey to the Middle East.
We had a maple in the front yard of the house. Lisa hung a rope swing and we had many a photo-op with the kids in that swing. Years later, not too many, Lisa got a gardener/landscaper who came along and trimmed the tree. He took down that branch. We never spoke about it again. I didn’t mention it because I’m sure Lisa knew what memories he took with that branch. What can you say; it’s been done. Of course, we never told him to cut down that branch. Still, I got a lot of memories of that swing. We’ve hung the swing again in the back yard. But no one ever sits on it. Somehow it was in the front yard with cars going by on the country lane that made this swing special in its location.
The kids loved to dress up. They loved to play act. Me, I never did this as a kid. A couple of times they painted themselves and set up a priceless photo opportunity. This was the first time. I got this shot with the kids looking into the upstairs bathroom mirror with the overhead can lights casting perfect lighting for their faces. Sometimes it pays to know the lighting and its possibilities in your house. Yes, a little flash would have added catch lights to the eyes… but hey.
I know that I’ve taken some good photos over the years. I had this one in my office and one of my colleagues Frank Loh admired it. Frank was a childhood friend to my younger brother. This shot was taken while we were on a trip to the Berkshires in the autumn. It’s funny that sometimes you can take a shot and know it’s special. But in most instances, I would take a shot and realize it was iconic after I developed and mounted the slide. And that was often months later. Digital it’s not.
Not to be derogatory, this man was offering camel rides to the passersby. And on this busload of eager nurses I heard one exclaim, “It’s been my dream to ride a camel before I’m thirty.” So I guess this was her lucky day. What can I say? When the light is right shoot away. I could have used some fill flash and maybe composed a bit more off center. But this was a constantly changing target rich photo shoot and I was clicking away as fast as I could go.
Every year as a kid, Julia had birthday celebrations that began at the end of the school year so her school friends could be there. Then there would be the immediate family. Then there would be the extended family. Then there would be the friends we would vacation with annually at her birthday. So by now you must guess she’s well past forty. But to look at her she’s still my favorite daughter. (Note: only daughter.) Well this year, this summer has been exciting because she’s moving to California to teach for a year. I just hope she doesn’t find a boy friend and settle there…kidding. Anyway, good luck. I expect that I’ll see you visiting the Middle East again before too long.
When we finally arrived in Taif, we were lost. I was traveling with 28 nurses, two husbands and our Arabic driver. What with the different languages, I was not privy to the fact that we didn’t know where to go. We just drove up and down like we didn’t know where to go. So, at one stop I turned around. My companions liked to have their picture taken. Everyone was awake and they all smiled… so I took the picture. It’s not supposed to work out this well in an enclosed space at least 15-20 feet in depth. The depth of field on my camera is not that great and everyone keeps saying that the lens isn’t that wonderful. I would have to say that luck played a role. Not bad… not bad at all.
I made this shot back in December when Farid and I took his kids to the Red Bull Flutag event in Jeddah. His brother had special passes and we were in the VIP section. It meant no crowding. And the kids got a hat. I’ve done some group shots of Farid and the kids. I recently loaded them on a CD and he took them with him when he visited the family in Lebanon. When he returned he had this shot on his iPhone and told me that everyone in the family was making prints and framing the shot. I made this shot without any special effort. It’s just the photo sense that I have developed with experience. I’m glad that I did not have pressure to produce a money shot. Anyway it’s flattering to know that someone is appreciative of your work. This photo will be in their family forever, my gift as a friend.