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Archive for November, 2011

For Fun

How cold was it? Fun? Competitive? Team spirit? Well, Julia’s team played in the frigid cold upon the wet soggy field. Then there was nowhere to go while waiting for the next round robin match. What do you do? Shop. There was a table set up to sell jerseys from famous teams like the New Zealand ‘All Blacks.’ This team famously does a haka Maori challenge dance in front of the other team before its matches. So here we are standing on the sidelines and huddled for warmth. I don’t think that you could be truly warm. But, no one was going to be sitting in a warm car. Oh, by the way, Julia’s team did win her college division championship. That, made the long ride home a warm pleasure.

Pick it up

In case you wondered, there were also an equal number of women’s teams playing rugby. Yes, it seems that temporary insanity is not limited to the Y chromosome. Women are just as welcome to frolic in the frigid temperature and water hazards. Clearly, outnumbered, this member of my daughter’s team should have thought twice about picking this ball up. What we do for fun….

Water Bath

Well, you cannot smell the food on the Cooking Channel. And, you cannot feel how cold that water was. Rugby is not played on manicured fields or synthetic turf. There was also wind chill and temperatures were low enough to freeze the water. Then you take a bath and wander up and down the field chasing that darn ball.

Gorilla story

Email from cousin Vicki in response to my post of 11/25/11

Hi Victor.  Your blog reminded me of this picture.  I’ve attached it and hope you can get it.  My friend Greg worked at the Bronx Zoo for a few years and he worked with the silverbacks.  After being gone for 5 years he returned to take his daughter to the zoo.  At the exhibition she stood by the glass to see the gorillas.  One of the silverbacks, Julia no less,  recognized him and came to the glass to see him.  I love this shot because it looks like both his girls are standing together looking at him.
Hope this works.
What a story! I never thought that there could be such a connection. Six degrees of separation.


‘Mudders,’ that’s how I would describe dedicated rugby players. It’s not a popular sport in the USA. But else where, there is quite a world following. The recent Rugby World Cup concluded in New Zealand. My daughter and some of her friends would catch some of the matches in the late evening hours. If I didn’t mention before, Julia was captain of her college team. Anyway, it seems that there is nothing ‘prissy’ about rugby. If you are down and dirty, you were playing it right. I attended a gathering of college teams in Batavia, NY. That is halfway to nowhere but close enough to Niagara falls to wish that I had gone there as well. The picture was taken on a frigid spring day.


I’ve been to Africa now. But I did not see a tiger. It’s not their habitat. Years ago at the Bronx Zoo, I got this shot. I had decided to make the trip without children. You never get enough time to wait for the right moment to take the picture. The kids were always off in another direction. If you are thinking of taking kids to the zoo… take pictures of the kids looking at the animals. With the day to myself, I mounted the big lens and shot the tiger. They (zoo) don’t let you get close. And the tigers are not exactly posing for a photo op, so there’s some patience necessary to get the right opportunity.


A new gorilla exhibit was installed at the Bronx Zoo and for a little extra fee you could enter and observe. The gorillas were separated from human contact by heavy glass. There were babies, juveniles, and adults. The interaction was fascinating to watch. One habit that was unique to captivity was one older female I observed. She would eat, chew, regurgitate, swallow, and chew again. It was something that gorillas were seen to do in captivity but not in the wild.

Six degrees of separation: My cousin knows a guy who knows this gorilla – Layla. How about that!! (See the comments)

Amelia’s descendents

My daughter had a window box for flowers in her bedroom on the fifth floor in bright sunlight. (quite a string of prepositions) Needless to say we never had any plants because we could never remember to water. One spring day Julia opened her shade to find ‘Amelia’ dove sitting in the box with a nest and two eggs. Julia had a penchant for naming her stuffed animals, etc. Amelia and her mate hatched at least one or two more broods that spring. We tried not to disturb the doves. But they didn’t seem to mind David’s and Julia’s curious faces on the other side of the window glass. Somehow Amelia knew her nest was safe. Well, who knew? Early one morning a few years later, there on the roof top deck, was a family reunion of doves. I would estimate about twenty or more doves peacefully standing, sitting, roosting about on the fence, table, and chairs. It was pretty amazing to see them all just hanging out.


Hong Kong Phone Booth

This is a very long post in which the story is summarized in a picture that doesn’t do justice to the drama. After all, when is a telephone booth dramatic. They are almost all gone anyway.

Back in 1997, I traveled to Hong Kong and China for a business trip. It was ostensibly to give some talks at my partner’s medical school in Guangzhou, China. So we were there at New Year’s ( American, January 1). I landed in Hong Kong after a sixteen hour flight from New York via Tokyo.

That was pretty interesting. The jet doors closed and the pilot said, “Next stop, Tokyo in 16 hours.” Had I read my itinerary wrong? Nope. Sixteen straight hours in an aisle seat and I did it without an iPod or any other digital device for entertainment. Imagine that! The guy in the middle must have been sedated. He got up once, maybe twice, tops, and otherwise was unconscious the rest of the time.

I reached my hotel after walking a couple blocks with my suitcase. The taxi driver was lost and left me to wander the last blocks on foot. It was toward midnight on a Saturday as I recall. I wanted to call home and report my safe arrival. (more…)

Westside Train Yard

This is an edgy shot through the chain link fence over the Westside rail yard. Someday there will be high-rise apartments and office buildings here. The rail yard will remain but covered forever by the planned construction. The New York Jets football stadium was planned for this space, but the idea was stopped by city and state planners.


Ethereal. Don’t ask how I got this shot. Maybe the ghost just jumped onto the image sensor. Sometimes I don’t have any idea what the camera did to produce the image capture and especially what I have in this photo. It was one of the Village Halloween Parades. Mist, motion blur, halogen lighting, and a ghostly figure to the left are all that I see. How it came together is spooky. My best guess, rear curtain sync flash with a depleted charge on the battery.

Visual Dellusion

My first time at the Village Hallween Parade, I was cramped along the restraining rails. My elbows were pressed closely together as I tried to maneuver my camera for each shot. As the participants passed, most folks were looking forward and not at the spectators. To my surprise the crowd of marchers parted and for a moment, my subject turned toward my camera and I fired off a shot. I thought I had taken a picture of a naked woman. Please understand that it was dark. And the moment passed in a second. While the scene was brilliantly by my flash, it was a fraction of a second. Then we were in street darkness again. It wasn’t until I sat down to edit the images, that I realized what I had on the memory card. I didn’t know. What? Was it a body suit, just body paint, or what? Was it a woman? Was she Frankenstein’s wife? Oh boy, was I surprised to see his shot. Talk about gender issues!


Same parade, different time, there I stood waiting. On the sidewalk behind me along comes this would be parade marcher. “Borat!!” Ok, I’ve been living under a rock. I did not know the character. Sacha Baron Cohen, aka, Borat, is fairly well known. And now I know him too. But at that moment when I snapped this image, I thought that this man was just another demented New Yorker. Placate, don’t look them straight in the eye, and above all, keep something between you.


I did a spinal fusion operation upon this woman. I won’t be mentioning names. I had already performed a neck operation upon her that turned out successfully. After the second spinal operation, she disappeared. She never returned for a post-operative visit. Six months went by and one Tuesday, she’s back on my office schedule. When she came in I said,  “Where have you been?! We did a major spinal operation and you disappeared. I’m supposed to follow up with you until the healing is complete. Where were you!”

Her sheepish reply, “Doc, I lost my insurance. I was embarrassed to come back because I couldn’t pay.”

My response, “Once I’ve done an operation, my responsibility is to take care of you until you recover, no matter what happens. It’s just the fair thing to do.”

“Well, I didn’t want to tell you, but, I did something,” she responded.

“Oh brother! What? Did she injure herself and the implants all fell apart?” I thought of all kinds of dire possibilities as she continued.

“Well, you see. After the surgery I felt so good. I was walking around and soooo happy. I went out and did something.” And with that she raised her right pant leg up above her ankle.

Yup, those are my initials. I don’t think I would have picked roses, but the initials are mine. “What?! What did you do?” I stammered and thought of her husband whom I had met some time ago and who was about a foot taller and one hundred pounds heavier than me. Just what I need, a jealous husband as if I don’t have enough on my mind.

“Oh, don’t worry Doc. My husband’s seen it and he loves it!”

I almost didn’t get a picture of this tattoo, as she didn’t return for many months. But the next time, she returned I got my shot. Some of this stuff you just can’t make up. And, the picture is the proof. After all the years of asking patients to name their kid after me, this is what I have to show.

A Wild and Crazy Night (Pt 1)

I live on a quiet street off the avenue. Well not too quiet. My friend Kevin can never sleep when he’s here because of the noise outside the windows. He’s from Marblehead, a really quiet town north of Boston. This evening the sirens blared, fire truck or ambulance, coming ever closer until the noise was directly below my 6th floor apartment window. Stepping out onto the deck in 40 degree cold, I saw flashing lights outside a five-story walk up building. No flames, no smoke could be seen. Two, count them, two hook and ladder trucks came up from either end of the block. There’s no such thing as one-way street during as fire. Minutes later Part 2 occurred. (See post below.)

Gallery/Slideshow follows


A Wild and Crazy Night (Part 2)


While the bright lights of the fire trucks were still spinning, thunder began. Lisa looked up and asked if it had started to rain. The sky was cloudless. That could only mean fireworks. Cutting back through the apartment I found fireworks being set off over the Intrepid Air Space Museum on the Hudson River. No time for a tripod, I got some shots bracing my camera against the fence. All of this happened within a twenty-minute span. Some things you can’t make up.

Gallery/Slideshow follows


Penn Station

Busy, what could be busier than Penn Station, a crossroads for four different train services. I also talk about this in my other blog. This shot was done with a point and shoot Canon G11. I follow a rule that you can’t take a picture if you don’t have a camera with you. The motion blur, fluorescent lighting, it all just flows with action, hustle and bustle.


It’s back to nature. I like flowers. I was an avid container gardener on my rooftop deck garden for many years. Often the most color you will run across is in cut flower bunches. But the image may appear too busy without something that directs the viewer’s eye. Close ups will help to block distraction. Here the center of the bloom makes a nice pattern against the bright yellow background.

Mixed Flower Bunch

Mixed flower bunches are a riot of color but where does the eye look? Here the light and shadow add another element that directs the eye diagonally across the image. That works for me.

This is the early genesis of a new idea for me that led to my postings in the PhotoCritical blog (see sidebar).


I’m not much of a macro lens person. Based on my very limited sports experience, the best action shot would be to get the bee just as it was landing/taking off. Failing that, I cropped the image and put the bee in a position following the rule of thirds. A macro lens might have pulled in more detail.


A few weeks ago, I had been wakened by several early morning phone calls – hospital stuff. Abandoning the thought of sleeping till daylight, I found myself looking up to see a spectacular dawn breaking. The orange hues lasted mere minutes and I had bonus rainbow! This light is very precious, it occurs so infrequently. Maybe it’s because I am asleep at dawn most days, but I think not.

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Gallery follows: (more…)



Decatur, Illinois. Some time back I posted flamingoes. Well, whatddaya know? This set is for a more noble cause. They are pink for the fight against breast cancer. I can see that and can support it. I just didn’t expect to see them on an early morning drive across town.

Washington DC

When I go to an oft photographed national monument, I get the tourist shot and then I look for something unique. It’s not always possible, but I prefer not to recycle someone else’s idea. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. The really great shots come from planning and opportunity. Certainly living in the city gives you better access. I was not on hand for the cherry blossoms. But, walking around I did get some shots that I liked. The Vietnam Memorial Wall was emotionally moving in a way that is hard to describe in words. The images really say it all.

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Detroit. I had the opportunity to shoot this image as I took off from the Detroit airport. The clouds and sunset were pretty spectacular that evening. The image that I regret I missed was on another flight to somewhere. I had been asleep. Opening my eyes, from the middle seat position, I saw two thunderclouds sticking up from a continuous layer of cumulus clouds. In bright sunlight these clouds were hundreds of feet high. My description doesn’t do them justice and my regret is not reaching for my camera. I have never seen a cloud formation to match since then.