The other event I shot recently was the karate class demonstration. It’s in a fluorescent lit space. There’s no room to maneuver. Getting an angle of view and shooting the action is a challenge. I suppose video would demonstrate the skills better. But as time has gone by, I find that I look at my still images. I have many hours of video of the kids but hardly ever pull it out. Action… you have to anticipate. I’m using direct flash so there are shadows. I don’t know the routine so to catch a kick in midair is tough. And how do you catch the grace of the kata and the tension of the exercise routine?
All of the sudden I have become an unofficial photographer for local events. There aren’t too many and I’ll return to fish soon…. David, one of the managers of the Purchasing Dept organized a Fitness Competition. For the first time I got to see how the other half lives. We have a couple of fitness groups that run at different times and I guess they have become competitive. My group is very strenuous but does not emphasize weight lifting. However, there are some hard core ‘lifters around. Three teams gathered poolside and competed in several two-man team events. I’m working with a DSLR and in-camera flash. The flash recycles slowly so motor drive is not in play. You simply have to get the ‘moment.’ And then there’s the angle. Shirt off… because there was a swimming portion of the meet and everything was timed. So I got low… angled and I popped the flash. It’s not flattering but it captured the essence of competitive testosterone.
The secret to this image is that David is left-handed. Looking at it in that context; the image and position of the hands makes sense. Otherwise it looks like he’s backwards and dropped the ball rather than bowled it. That right hand, I swear, is in a primed position but out of position. David swore he was doing it right. What can you say? There are bumpers in the gutters. I don’t know how many years ago it was and I don’t know if he’s a better bowler today. This was our once and only trip to the Port Authority bowling alley… so far.
Prince and Sensei Tony are two of the instructors. During the exhibition part of student graduation, Prince demonstrated what a master can do. It’s not an easy thing to capture the critical moment. First I was using the on-camera flash on my Nikon D200. You don’t motor drive as Manny taught me. Besides there is a lag after the flash fires before it’s ready to shoot again – similar to shutter lag on a point and shoot. So you get one shot, and you’d better be on time for the image capture. Wow! Even I have to admit I got the shot. Not having seen the move before, it was hard to know where to be standing. Prince only did it once. I’d have changed spots but that was it – one shot – only – the peak moment. Hurray!
Wow, look at the water, freeze framed! I was asked to shoot a child’s swim meet. It was the culmination of a year’s worth of lessons and an incentive to continue. Everyone had a great time and all the kids got a medal. Kelley, four years old, was a winner. I just let the camera go on auto and shot for composition and cropping. At 1/320 sec, I got this great water freezing shot. Periodically, I question my own skill and wonder if I’m just lucky or I’m really good. Maybe there’s a little of both in play. Anyway I’m flattered that the family group in my compound think highly enough that they called me especially for this photo op. One father commented on my D200 and asked, “Is that a canon?” He had noticed the 18-200mm lens zoomed all the way out and asked if it was a weapon not the brand (Canon). I only got the joke later.
There is something fascinating about playing ball with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. I say again that shutter lag is a pain with a point and shoot. It means you need some patience to get the ball in your frame. It’s still a heck of view out to center field.
I never played basketball with Julia. I wasn’t even aware she had game. Here she is, abaya and all, dribbling and putting in a lay-up. It was pretty hot and she did this just once just to show me a thing about her skill. Neat!
I attended a judo match. The kid to the right is Nicholas, Farid’s son. Farid had arranged for the school to hold an exhibition/competition in the hospital. Our CEO had just arrived about midway through the program. So they asked the kids to put on an exhibition. The kids went at it enthusiastically. Both kids were throwing back kicks and then, in the blink of an eye, Nicholas was in full layout position headed for the floor. He landed on his chest followed by his chin. From five feet away I could hear the sickening thud. Little kids are pretty tough. Nicholas bounced up and got into a fighting stance, sobbing, and trying to catch his breath. It seems that this happened so quickly that even Farid missed the fall. The poor kid needed a timeout and a hug from his mom. This is the shot. A moment, really a millisecond later and I’d have had his chin bouncing off the floor. It’s a mixed emotion. His dad missed seeing the fall. I saw it but missed the critical moment.
As I said, I am a photo opportunist. My friend Alex suggested that we go to the ECAC Hockey Championship in Atlantic City a few years back. He’s a fan. I’m casual, as in I would not go unless otherwise asked to attend to support a friend’s interest. I tried to bring in my big old 80-400mm camera lens and was turned away at the entry. So I shot three days with a point and shoot. There are issues. First you can’t zoom nearly close enough. And then there is the issue of shutter lag. You press the button and a moment later the image is captured. Hockey is otherwise pretty straightforward. They move up and down the ice. You can’t get anything decent when the action is at the other end. And then the object of the game is have the puck in photograph at a critical moment, such as when you are about to score. Lighting is poor and shutter speed is usually going to be too slow. With all of that you still get a few shots. In this case it wasn’t Alex’s team (Yale). But hey, he liked to watch the whole series and I was challenged to get that puck in the shot.
Boogie boards and big smiles go together. David and his buddy Josh remain close friends to this day. It’s nice to look back and see the origins of this fast friendship. All in all I have to say that they had a great childhood. It’s everything that you want for your kids as a Dad.
Kids think up some crazy things. I looked up to see that they had taken sleeping bags and pillows to engage in a sumo match. It was a pretty funny sight. What can you say to children at play with imagination? It would take more than a paragraph to describe what a single slide can show you.
I learned to ski as an adult. My kids learned to ski when they could barely walk. Last winter we skied together for the first time in about ten years. They are better than me. At least I wasn’t about to go down K27 at Hunter and they did. It was icy and had hard moguls the size of ‘Volkswagens.’ Get it? We never really did have much chance to ski in powder. Occasionally out ‘West’ you would find some powder. The problem was that we were so used to ice, that it was really hard to figure out what to do with soft snow. But we never hesitated to go off trail. Dumb but fun, the kids spent so much time rolling in the snow, that when we skied together recently they mentioned that they felt so much warmer. I reminded them that they were still dry for a change. And me, I still ski with a camera. At least there is video in the camera so I don’t have to carry two devices. David shot with his iPhone and uploaded to the ‘cloud’ on the mountain, so his shots were open on his laptop by the time he got home. That’s too cool.
For a few years while the kids were in grammar school, we visited Mohonk Mountain House with a bunch of other families. It was an opportunity for the kids to hang out and not be constantly supervised by a hovering parent. It was a fairly relaxed few days where we could hike, cross country ski, skate, snow tube, or just lounge around. The kids had a great time with a little freedom. They weren’t being escorted and watched every moment. And we enjoyed seeing them be kids.
Well the kids were in camp and we had just returned from a long bike ride. We were hot and the thing to do was jump into the pool. So here’s the abstract photo to commemorate the moment. Digital could do so much better. But then again the mood of this shot was perfect. And if it were any better I wouldn’t be posting it. This one is about the memory. I often wonder about the things we forget and would never recall without some aid to jog us. Yes, it is a weird picture that is hard to interpret, but it was all done in camera without any fancy aids.
This was an activity conceived and executed by my wife. She passed this place to rent kayaks and off we went somewhere out east on Long Island. We’re there in the kayaks paddling along enjoying the exercise. I don’t remember which kid fell out first. But I was certainly surprised that the water was so shallow. Really, you can’t see the bottom, so I assumed it would be deep. Otherwise why did we need the kayaks? And why did the kids not stay inside them?
I learned to play golf with these guys. Actually, I just play with them about once a year. Well, to be honest it’s not even that often lately. We’ve sort of split. Bob and Kathy split. He lost the ladies and so we see Kathy but haven’t seen Bob lately. Remember that movie with Carol Burnett and Sandy Dennis…. I learned to play golf in the most casual way. Who carries a camera around on the golf cart? I usually just spend most of the time in the woods wandering around looking for my ball. I don’t find it but there’s usually someone else as errant so I always come away with a ball even if it’s not mine. To be honest I’m secretly better. I hit it mostly straight. And when necessary, I tee it up from the rough and even the fairway to gain a greater advantage. Hey, I’m not too serious. Alex is way serious since he learned (about the same time as I started). He’s pretty good but sometimes Bob and Kevin tease him. They always ask if I’ve been playing and then shake their heads when I tell them it’s once a year.
We were about to embark on the annual Bear Mountain trip. My brother Eric decided that we should go fishing first. So off to the industrial park with fishing gear and bait we went. Hence the wool hat, football, and the hiking boots an outfit that would otherwise seem mismatched. They had just been throwing the football. It was going to be a bit chilly in Bear Mountain. And you need hiking boots to hike. Of course catching a fish… priceless.
Asphalt Green is a city converted building on the Eastside. It’s now a swim complex. This was I believe a big citywide championship meet. No, the Spence guy is not with them. Anyway, you sit and wait around for your event. The lighting is fluorescent, terrible. So I setup with a tripod and waited. From across the way, the kids have a way of knowing where their parents proudly watch. How it is that all these buddies were looking my way? Telepathy.
I was born in Astoria, New York City. The park has been a part of my life, as a child, teenager, and adult. This track was not here when I grew up. It was truly ‘cinder.’ Someone at some point made it a synthetic track. There’s a gigantic city pool, where I swam with my brothers on hot summer days. One of my first dates with my wife was in the park nearby. She and I did the five borough bike ride and rode over the Triborough Bridge above. And now there’s Julia coming full circle. I ran in junior high here. She’s here for a prep school meet. I can say that I haven’t been in this park in many years. But I’ve never left either.
Julia is more like her Dad. I ran and swam in high school. So did Julia. I gave up swimming (no team) in college and continued to run. So did Julia. I won the low hurdles in the Manhattan borough championship and it was mentioned in the New York Times. I was pretty full of myself until the NYC championships when the 9 foot tall kids from Boys and Girls High in Brooklyn beat me like I was walking. Julia had great success in the high school track championships and brought home trophies and the championship for the school. She was part of a core of successful team members and there’s a banner to commemorate the championship hanging in the school gym. Yeah, this is one proud papa.
We uncover the pool in April. It’s still way too cold to swim. But the cover is removed because the pool looks so much better and the grass border needs time to grow again. When you’re young you’re bullet proof. And, apparently that includes being impervious to the cold. No matter the temperature of the air or water, my kids would always find some way to fall into the pool within hours after arriving at the house. I mean it’s cold enough to take your breath away and there they go jumping in!
At one point my brother owned a powerboat. We went up the Hudson River near West Point. He called it ‘ski Bob’ and it was a banana type floatation device that you rode behind the boat. This was the only time we did this. The kids climbed on board and we towed them at high speed. To their credit they stayed on the ski Bob and didn’t fall. I had a little concern for pollution. GE had been cleaning PCB’s from the river somewhere up here. But no real harm was in play. It’s another time and memory, which I didn’t know we would never revisit. As I have said elsewhere, it’s not the best of pictures, but it’s a precious anchor for a cherished memory. We all had a great time that day.
Under the George Washington Bridge. On my last day in New York, the kids and I rode our bikes to the GW Bridge. It was my last outdoor bike ride for now. As part of our ongoing silliness project, the kids ‘jumped’ in front of the Little Red Lighthouse. It took a few tries to get this one. I had a Canon G11 with the usual fractional timed shutter delay. You’d be surprised but a jump doesn’t last but a moment and to get both kids in the air was more challenging than I expected. Anyway, I got the shot. Since then I have gone to the other side of the globe and Julia will land in Africa in a couple hours. This is a memorable moment on many planes.
Here’s a dragon boat. They are long and thin and carry no outriggers. And in the foreground, here’s a dragon boat that just sank. There was no particular mistake on the part of the crew. I think it does take some team discipline to sit calmly lined up in the boat as other teams pass you by. It’s good that the lake is very shallow. Everyone had their life vest. Oh, and notice the dragon at the prow of every boat. It’s why they call them dragon boats.