Word and Image


Photography: The story behind the image




Look closely. There are tubular structures on the side of an octopus’s head. They expand and I assume this has some respiratory function. It surely isn’t the mouth. That would be a single structure. I think most animals have one mouth and two nostrils. Hey, maybe I’m wrong and there’s one nose and one mouth. But fish have gills and they are paired. Right? Well, the point is for you to look. I sure did. I have too many octopus pictures to put in another post. Except, I’m fascinated.


This guy has his tentacles in his mouth and nose? Both sides and I count six tentacles. For me this is a first. I don’t know the behavior but I can tell you that I have never seen a girl admit to or pick her nose in public. It’s a boy octopus.

Snowflake Moray Eel


I can’t tell you how many times I have taken an image and missed another. That is to say, a fish I would love to have a picture is chased while an equally great fish is there in the periphery. I saw a trunkfish. They are extremely shy. And they are wary. So I pretty much never get a shot. While chasing down this fellow I pretty much stumbled upon a snowflake moray.


No trunkfish today, the moray is much more rare. I’ve only seen one once for an instance. Off on a quest, and this guy was on the move. I chased him up and under and around coral. I caught the attention of my buddy who joined in. But I had the inside edge. I got a few headshots. Yellow nostrils, ugly, just like the picture in my book. Right about that moment my dive guru returns and checks on the two of us and discovers we are in decompression mode….

End of the Dive


I made a mistake diving. It did not end in catastrophe. I was with an instructor and I mistakenly depended upon him to keep me out of trouble. We ended the dive in decompression mode and I sat for 18 minutes and he for 24 minutes at 10 feet. It’s a long story but I do not yet understand the conservative algorithm for my new dive computer. I knew it was warning me. I failed to go to the dive ceiling point and the computer penalized me. No big deal. I was out of air. I am not a fish in water. The usual dive buddy, also an instructor, saved us with a spare tank and we cooled our heels at ten feet. The water was relatively cold. Everyone around here has been staying away because it’s January. And of course, I set a personal record for time underwater, in the cold (shivering) at 101 minutes. It’s a lesson I shall not forget. Please don’t worry. We were smart enough to listen to the warning eventually and were never in true danger. Nonetheless, I question the physiology of the difference ten feet will make on nitrogen desaturation. I may question but I still follow the rule. Oh, the shot I have is the last shot I took before I headed to the decompression area, like the penalty box in hockey. Yup, I had to cool my heels. And brother, it was cold sitting around that extra time.

Three Two One…


Well actually it’s a countdown. This featherduster worm is pink to my eye underwater. I was surprised that it is not so brilliantly pink with a strobe. What you don’t see and I never show is that these worms react and will shrink up when threatened. No, I did not threaten this one. I can’t curse underwater. But the sequence is here to see. I never got a sequence as the worm closed up. Dumb luck, diver, not worm.



Electric Ray


It’s a decent image. But the point here is that the image represents a story. After time spent in the old city I detour to the Red Sea again. I dove at Christmas. And though I am an accomplished amateur diver there is much to learn. I was given the opportunity to dive with a nitrox mix in my tank. This was a 38% mix of oxygen. It allows you to stay down at depth for longer than with room air 21%. I have two dive computers. The second one was not set for nitrox and it was bleeping unhappily for a couple days afterward. Fortunately my spiffy new dive computer was accurate and kept me safe. It’s a Suunto – made in Finland – and widely in use around here. It has a computer cable to hook up and download the dive memory to your computer. It doesn’t work on a Macintosh. (Just a bit of public rebuke for Suunto who has thus far been clueless on how to solve this problem. Hint: I’m still waiting for an answer and am pissed.). Meanwhile I’m more than nervous about a nitrox dive. It’s a new experience. You don’t mess around underwater. Safety! I was warned my bottom was 85 feet. Do not go below 85 feet! You won’t explode but the enriched oxygen is not good for safety below your bottom limit. And…. this electric ray was at 89 feet! I drifted down and shot a few images and then was scolded and sent higher. Nothing happened; the sky did not fall. And I got a shot. In medicine we use high concentrations of oxygen to treat medical problems. But I am not familiar with underwater concentrations and how they affect physiology. Some late night reading…




Solar Flare


Back in 2011 David and I visited Governor’s Island. It was newly available to the public and was a free ferry ride from Manhattan. We rode our bicycles. It’s not a large park. We got around the space easily.


In the course of our wandering we came upon a group of telescope enthusiasts. Well, I suppose astronomers was more apt. What the heck! It’s broad daylight. Ah! Solar flares. And they were happening now. And with special filters you could see them.


And so I put my trusty Canon point and shoot against the ocular and shot a few images. I learned this trick from Jules who had shown me how to photograph hippos in Africa shooting through a pair of binoculars. Hey, you never know when a trick will be handy.

IMG_8025These are pictures of the sun and solar flares. Well, you will have no trouble seeing the disc of the sun. But as for flares…. Why now? This post is out of sequence to the usual. It’s because someone told me about seeing snow flakes by using a magnifying lens while the flakes fell on black construction paper. Cold paper! And then I speculated on photographing the flakes and how to magnify them to get an image. Yup, that’s my story…



I have virtually no inside shots. I’m not willing to set foot inside. This mosque in the old city was renovated in the past several years. Mostly things are in construction forever. To my surprise it was finished and I could peer inside. I do. And on this night I was able to see people. Even better. The crowd in the area made me feel safe enough. But you need to be aware that street lighting was not a priority in the old city. I have never felt unsafe. But one more word to the wise. Beware.




Yes, he’s a friendly guy too. He went out of his way to show me that he works on teeth and makes replacements. False teeth! Gold and other materials. And the tools of the trade over his shoulder. I could not ask about anesthesia. It was a nice encounter that made shudder nonetheless. His own teeth are not the best, and don’t enlarge this image if you are squeamish.



The circuit around the old city gets crowded. So the powers that be cordon off the street into a single path. You walk in one direction. You can bail out but you may not walk against traffic. This is really pretty funny since cars are going the wrong way on one way streets all the time. But here, everyone walks in the same direction. And they enforce it! So the first time around I got a shot. And the second time too, because I was not sure the first worked. You don’t want to be too obvious and check. And you cannot go back unless you go around again. Well, I did.IMG_4502


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