I have told you J learned to ride on LI. David learned on the same street a little while later. At that point, we were a family who could ride. So… we rode together. The kids just never liked it that much. Still in later years David did a triathlon and J took off with Lisa’s old heavy bike to LA – retro is in. But for a while we would ride as a family.
That’s what Eric called it. He had a boat. We used ski-bob on the Hudson River up by Bear Mountain. We did it twice only. Here’s the memory. It was a nice day on the water. The kids had a ball. Great days come and go so quickly in a twinkle of the eye.
While it’s still winter where I came from, I’d like to post some ski pictures. Old ones… The kids liked it. At least they went along without any grumbling. After a while Lisa kind of dropped out. She was too timid to really enjoy the hair-raising wind in your face skiing that the kids and I did. Ok, she was a lot happier and it was a break for her if we went off for a while.
Jumping is something that is a challenge. You catch air and it’s a different skill. Just don’t panic and it’s easy. I realize this isn’t much of a jump and not much air. The kids didn’t know it and they didn’t care. Fun is fun.
I suppose I have to revisit my trips to the US Tennis Open. I store my slide collection in a set of custom-made drawers. I have more than 100k. That would be a lot of drawers. Anyway we had a party and Manny Milan, a senior Sports Illustrated photographer, was there with his wife. Our wives worked together. Mine mentioned that I had a lot of slides and Manny was pretty impressed by my storage solution. This led to an invitation from Manny for me to attend the US Open. I had a Sports Illustrated ID and wandered the grounds shooting the ‘semis’ and ‘finals.’ I learned a lot. First of all most all of the serious sports guys are shooting Canon. Nikon is in the minority. Forget equipment. It ‘s about getting the shot. That is generally defined as getting that image where the ball, racquet, and player are in the same frame. And it’s even better if it’s just the players face, racquet, and ball. Try this a few times. You think motor drive will do it. No! You will miss just about every time. Things are just moving too fast. And try to focus. So I learned to pre-focus and to time when to press the shutter. (Go ahead, get the ball just coming off the racquet!) And for all that you only got the image a small percentage of the time. And then there are the classic positions. Shooting from the baseline you want a face on view with the ball in the frame. From the sideline there is another goal. And the same can be said for being high in the stands with a full view of both players and the entire court. Time of day…. And so it goes. With digital cameras the images are taken off the memory cards and uploaded online even as the match is being played. Then there are the images that will not show up anywhere in the media. I will be discrete and not name names. At the baseline there is the ‘dugout.’ It is an area at the level of the players’ feet where photographers sit and shoot. The assigned seating is like a pecking order of importance. I got a back row view. I’m nobody. The male photographer in front of me nudged his female colleague as he showed her his LCD. She gave him a disgusted look. I couldn’t see the near court player nor could I see his image. I just stuck my camera up and out, fired off a couple images, and took a look at what there was to see. I have to laugh. It’s almost pornographic. A thong, and the pants are pretty much transparent (presumably sweat). But what puzzled me were the suspenders holding up the thong. Anyway this image would never get published. It no doubt falls in the outtake bin. By the way she’s still playing.
I came to the sport late in life. I had skied once in college. I nearly froze some precious anatomy that day. I tried again when I was a grown-up and about froze that same anatomy. But this time it stuck. It then became my mission to teach the family. There was the time Lisa threw her skis in my direction. She swore I was trying to kill her as she stalked across the mountain to safety. Nothing is more frustrating than to carry your gear and struggle with your kids’ gear. It doesn’t matter that kids gear is small. It’s still awkward and cumbersome. You always think you need a couple more arms. And just when you get to where you’re about to put their skis on, someone says, “Dad. I gotta go.”
This brings me to another point. If you teach you kids when they’re young, they know no fear. They are too low to the ground to really get hurt if they fall. The next thing was to ski out west. So we soon were in Deer Valley, Utah. After a week of doing A’s on the baby hill, the kids objected to more lessons. I readily agreed but told them they would have to ski with me. I wasn’t great but I was on the blue trails. Out west the blues are equal to eastern blacks. They are equally steep just wider out west. I know I was nuts because people kept taking pictures of the kids, especially David, because they were so small. Really, when I think of it David was just barely walking.
One last anecdote – Lisa decided on one President’s day that we should go skiing. We went to Shawnee a small hill in Pennsylvania. How small? …Small enough that the parking lot was at the top of the hill. We got the last pairs of kids rentals. They were so beat up the plastic was all peeling. And on the mountain other kids were whizzing out of control and grabbing the nearest adult in order to stop. It was chaos. The finale was that David took a tumble down the metal staircase of the lodge. It was about 8 steps and a fair sized fall. I watched him tumble head over heel. He landed at the bottom and didn’t move. No harm, he had been dressed in so many layers the padding had completely protected him. I was horrified. We’ve never talked about it. I just picked him up relieved that he was not damaged and not even crying.
I skied with the kids a year ago. They are both better than me now. It does make me proud. I had better sense than to challenge K27 at Hunter when it was just a series of icy moguls. They both (survived) did it. No one told mom.
I was corresponding about skateboard photos recently. My own experience as usual was opportunistic. David went through a phase where he tried to master the board. Naturally I took the pictures. No broken bones… either of us. He’s actually pretty good in this picture. I was really not much of a stop action sports photographer yet. That would come when I had a chance to shoot the US Tennis Open a few years later. Meanwhile I had the awareness to try to catch the critical moment. I’d probably try for a different shot now. Still, this wasn’t too bad. David gave up the sport shortly afterward.
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.