Word and Image

Archive for September 14, 2011

Moose Family: Father and Son

I was not too happy with this shot. No, I did not shoot the moose with a rifle or gun. Someone seriously asked me about this after seeing my shots. Rather, I should say photos. Previously, I had some poor photos of the rescued injured moose in the wildlife park and they were lame. Meandering through Baxter State Park in northern Maine in the fall, I stopped where cars had parked by the roadside. Entering the woods, I saw a photographer in red hunter attire. There in front and among the trees was an enormous bull moose with a magnificent antler rack. The moose gets larger every time I tell the story. My camera was out and I was rapidly clicking while I expected the moose to leave at any moment. Uphill past the moose another tourist was coming downhill toward the moose. I say tourist for two reasons. He had a simple point and shoot camera. I know, this is a bit snobby of me. And, he had no clue that the moose could turn on him and kill him – definitely tourist ignorance! So I turned to my hunter/photographer acquaintance and asked what his exit strategy might be. We were both standing behind a tree for protection. I knew enough from native Mainers to know that a pissed moose is nothing to trifle with. His reply startled me. “Don’t worry about the one in front of you. It’s the three behind you that you need to be careful about.” Sure enough there were three, count ‘em, three moose, a giant bull with antlers 6 feet across, and a momma and baby. Oh boy, the last thing I wanted to do was to get between momma and her baby moose.  Well, there’s momma and son in this photo. Maybe it’s not the best shot but there it is.

The follow up to the story is that the hunter was an amateur just up from somewhere else to take a photo course on how to shoot moose. Here I had been looking all over to shoot a moose for a couple years. Beginner’s luck! Now it makes sense to me. His wife came to stand next to me while I got the photo of momma and babe. And my hunter friend is standing behind his wife and me as he started to make what sounded like moose mating calls. No, I don’t know what sound that is and neither did he. But immediately my exit strategy changed. In the event the moose charged over, I would push his wife out from behind the tree. The wife was pretty nice but not too photo savvy. I lent her my big 400mm lens and she asked me to take some photos using her camera. I reset her camera, which I hope she later changed back. Meanwhile, I kept thinking that the exercise was to take your own pictures. It was about your shot and your vision. Otherwise just open National Geographic and cut out a moose picture.

Puffin, Atlantic Ocean

Puffins. The Atlantic puffins, specifically, live on islands off shore and are protected from intrusion from man. A few islands allow tourists to visit. One closer to the mainland and nearer to Massachusetts, only allows you to see the birds from a boat from afar. As in, you will see a dot in the air or water and tell yourself that was a puffin. I did that once. It was not memorable. So three times, I got up at 3AM and shot over to the Maine coast up near Canada. Hence, the side trip, I made to Campobello Island. And twice, I failed to get any closer than before. The last trip, and it was going to be the last, I tried and was successfully able to get onto the island in perfect position to get the shots of my life. Of course, this was the occasion when I forgot my big long close up lens in New York!! So, I made do with an older zoom 300mm lens. Well, in the blind, we were close enough to almost touch the birds when you peeked out. I didn’t get a classic shot of a puffin holding fresh caught fish in its mouth. So I settled for the next best thing, a puffin in flight. After standing in the blind for nearly an hour, I was struggling to find a different shot. Then Manny, my Sports Illustrated friend, inspired me to think of action. Flying is action and it took some doing to get the hang of catching the birds in motion. The perspective from looking out the small ports in the blind did not let you anticipate the action very well. Still this was one of the better action photos.

Lupins, Maine

Following up on the nature theme and too early for winter, this is a field of lupins in Maine. I want to say Campobello Island. It was quite impressive to see so many flowers in bloom and to see such a variety of color. As I recall this was one of my failed trips to see the puffins. I failed because the ocean swells did not cooperate and I did not get onto the island, so therefore no pictures of puffins. So I had to settle for lupins.

Field of Grass, Maine

I just love this shot. It was in Maine in the fall. I was driving across east to west on a small road near dusk. Off to the right was a field of grass, which I want to call heather. It probably wasn’t. The muted colors were wonderful in the evening light. I don’t know whether this field was intentional but it sure was special to find.

Wildflowers, Maine

This is one of Julia’s favorites. She had me print it and then she had it framed. That was very flattering. I got this shot in Rockland, Maine. I met Bob and Kathy with granddaughter Molly. Bob wanted to go to the Coast Guard PX. As we walked across a parking lot, there was this image with bright color and the white wildflowers. It was a good graphic. I see color now. This was an instant grab shot for me. I wish I had some of my black and white vision. Still, this works for me. And thanks, Julia, for appreciating it.

Indian Powwow

The Shinnecock Indian Powwow occurs each year on Labor Day weekend in Southampton. My wife Lisa introduced me to the event years ago and I make an effort to get there when I can. The kids steal the show. This young lady was so poised. She gave me some really professional poses when she saw my camera was trained upon her. The stage is elevated and allows for excellent viewing and photography of all the colorful costumes. Initially I thought that the singers and drummers were recorded. They were loud but, I attributed this to the sound system. No, they are all to the back of the stage and very real. It’s just not possible to get a good shot. But gathered around their big drums, they can sure get the crowd going. This year for the first time, the music included a two step dance, just to lighten the mood. It was fun, although, having been a folk dancer in my elementary school years, they didn’t exactly do a real two step.

The Vatican

The Vatican, Rome, Italy. This has been a fun slide for me. I like the beam of light falling across the column. It gives the shot a heavenly feel. And the kid reminds me of innocence. Another soft shot, but at the time, I probably was using ASA 100 slide film. Inside the Vatican, it was dark. Without changing over to faster film, my shutter speed was soooo slow. I still got a good handheld shot. I probably still had my f1.4 50mm lens.

Vatican Prayer

Rome, Italy, the Vatican. I know that this is a soft image and slightly out of focus. I love the light and how it falls upon the nun as she prays. I think that the soft focus somehow works. It is an early slide. Today, my digital camera would crank up the ISO and I’d probably have an entirely different mood. I’m not against progress, but there are some qualities about film that are hard to replace. But, I haven’t shot another frame of film since I picked up my first digital DSLR.

English child

London, England. It was a long time ago. This kid is an adult with a beard and perhaps balding. But, who would disagree that this was an adorable child. I took this at a street fair completely random. It has remained a favorite of mine. Just another grab shot as they say.

Cape Cod House

This is one of two iconic images I took in Cape Cod in October of the late 1970’s. The clouds were so foreboding. Lisa vacationed in the Caribbean and swam with with a barracuda. I traveled to visit one of my OR nurses in Boston. After leaving her family I traveled to Provincetown and found myself immersed in the local culture when I entered a men only restaurant for dinner. This house out on the seashore is gone now. It had already been abandoned when I took this shot on slide film. It’s been transformed into a public use building. Alas, the image can not be reproduced with digital imaging. When my father in law, Grandpa Bill, framed this photo he commented that the house was too centered. The proper cropping should be off to the side. I kept it this way but years later I wish to say that he was right. The framed photo in our house has faded somewhat.

Cape Cod Dunes

The location for this slide like the house was out on the dunes of Cape Cod. I will admit that the scan could be tweaked, but you certainly get the idea. It was one of those crazy days when the elements were all lined up and waiting for the camera. At least this time I got the composition right. I returned to this same area when I visited Cape Cod a few years back. The skies were gray but no where near what I had experienced the first time so many decades before. Sometimes, you can’t go back.

Haystacks and Storm Clouds

For travel photography, this is an iconic photo for me. We, that is Lisa and I, were traveling in Italy. I could be wrong about the location but that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Anyway, if I had my way we would be stopping every 50 feet to photograph something or other. And we would wait about 10 minutes while whatever stray element left the scene so I could get a pristine unencumbered shot. You get the picture, eh. So of course we were always tearing along the highway from one town to another. And, there was no way I could justify stopping again. So, with my point and shoot Olympus set on infinity, I just stuck the camera out the side of the driver’s side window as I drove at about 60 miles an hour. There was no way this shot should have come out. There should have been blur to beat the band. For heavens sake even the horizon was straight, In fact with all the scans I have made of this slide, they all are grainy and I can only enlarge to about 5X7. Still, what a shot it was. I wish I had known. We would have stopped to record this scene properly. Luck, serendipity, …whatever. I still keep in mind that you won’t have an image if your camera is not at hand. For the kids… don’t drive and photograph.