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Archive for May, 2012

Chinese Dragons

On the subject of dragons, this is the year of the dragon. If you are born this year, it is auspiciously lucky. Then again, there is something nice to be said for every year in the Chinese zodiac. There is a fair amount of superstition associated with tradition. Some number sequences are unlucky. Red is a very good color. There are many other lucky things too numerous to mention. Dragons will help to cure whatever ails you. They give hope for a new beginning.


Dragon Boat Down

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.

Dragon Boat Races

Annually in Flushing Meadow Park, the Dragon boat races occur. There is a linear boat course marked out for teams of paddlers. The dragon boat teams are quite spirited and everyone has good time. This group had a lot of energy. Dragons are good luck. And the noise is to ward off or scare away bad spirits. It was very noisy. It works.

Peruvian Dancer

We were visiting Cusco, Peru. Purely by luck we happened upon a religious festival. I was in the thick of it. We were all wandering around separately and planned to meet in the early afternoon. So here I was on my own and face to face with a masked man. I have wondered but do not know the details of the costumes and the masks. There were many different groups dressed and marching. It wasn’t a parade. The groups converged upon the main square from different directions. It is quite an event. And, best of all, I had just wandered into it all. Unlike New York, I did not have to arrive hours early, jockey for position, or get chased from the route by police. How nice!


We went through a jump period in my family. The Christmas before Julia left for Africa to teach for a year, she introduced me to jumping. The new digital point and shoot she had would take a sequence of shots. The playback was hysterically funny. We did this a few times. So here, high on a hill top in Tanzania, Julia jumped. I’m pretty sure she had sandals on. If you’re happy and you know it…

Banana Boat

This is a special shot and was my screen saver for a long time. It was late summer on Lake Champlain. We were staying at a family resort. The group decided to do the banana boat ride. This time it was kids. The boat was in motion and I juggled a film camera and a video camera, alternating shots. Both boat were in motion and any attempt at a close up, the motion was even worse. So by all rights I had no business getting this shot. If I had scripted this shot, I couldn’t have pulled it off. There is my daughter, leaning into the turn, a little extra lean, and with a yellow vest at that! If you had wanted the perfect shot with the perfect pose in full on motion… Well, I was pretty amazed myself. You can’t do it better with digital. Looking at the LCD screen can’t save you. All the kids had to be perfectly positioned. And to think I just shot one image and brought the film home to develop. The video by the way is very dizzying. Too close and the camera is moving too much. Too far and the figures are too small to make out. What luck with the film camera! Since I do this kind of thing periodically, my family tends to think nothing of it. But I can still say it was a pretty good shot.

There are a few times when Lisa and I agree – on a photo. You didn’t really wonder if we agree, did you? This one was an instant hit. Once again it wasn’t a technically perfect shot. It was a slide capture of son David, a grab shot at a hot summer birthday party for his cousins. I didn’t have a chance to correct the horizon. The background is pleasantly out of focus. It all came together in that moment. Automatic settings, no fumbling with focus or exposure, just shoot. It was my favorite for a long time. It still is a favorite. I just have many more now.

Julia Laura Val

Profile photo opportunity, photo op, fortuitous, luck. You call it. I got this shot on the sidelines of a high school soccer game. It’s not a technically good shot. I can’t really make it better in Photoshop. I got this one and only one shot. The three girls lined up for a moment and I just happened to pointing the camera in their direction. I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I wish I could’ve gotten it better. Would’ve, should’ve…..


Youth Mural

David did volunteer work on a youth mural in Brownsville, Brooklyn one summer. He spent time as an assistant helping to paint and to coordinate a group of kids in painting the wall of a day school. He got to paint his hand in the background. I like the vibrant intense colors. It reminds me of the Caribbean.

Times Square Drummer

You can almost feel the sweat flying off this drummer. It’s motion and emotion playing for the passing crowd. Sometimes you make some money. Sometimes people pass you by without so much as a glance. You only hope you win more than you lose.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

If there were a summer beach scene this would be pretty typical. It’s not the beach. But all around resorts in all the beach communities around the world, this is quite common. Everyone walks around town in what would qualify for underwear elsewhere. We were traveling through Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I think Granite State, Mount Washington, not beach. There is a tiny bit coast line in New Hampshire. There is a summer community. And they walk around like it’s the French Riviera.


There’s a lot to talk about in this photo. It was the summer Lisa was riding all over Long Island. She was exercising and training diligently. I hadn’t caught the passion yet. She would ride all different routes and explore roads one might not ordinarily wander. She found a small body of water. I don’t quite know what to call it, river, lake, cove, inlet or what.

We piled the kids into the Volvo wagon with an inflatable raft stuffed into the back. We brought the dog and some fishing poles. No bait – more about that later. I launched the kids in the raft and let things play out. Ok, not exactly poles, the gear had spinning reels and bobbers. I think we probably had them from my brother John, the real fisherman in the family. Who knows if there were any fish? For bait I made an executive decision. I could have dug around for worms. Who knows? I could have found some in our rock garden. But then who’s going to put the squirming worm on the hook? And, if the kids catch a fish, then what? We weren’t going to be eating the catch. Hence, no bait. Funny?

Well the kids didn’t notice and didn’t mind one tiny bit. It wasn’t about catching fish for them either. The whole deal is about nature, camaraderie, peace, and solitude on a summer day that stretches lazily forever. Of all the things I did with my kids this was one photo of a memory that I cherish. We never did go back to that spot. There are times when a special moment has come and gone before you know it. Like I said before, I have been lucky to have preserve the memory of some of those moments.

Ice Cream

An old-fashioned country store is the setting. It’s just down the road from my daughter’s summer campground. I saw the happy kids with their ice cream and wondered whether my daughter would ever be stopping by during her camp days. No, everything is included in the camp fees. No off campus ride to the local country store for her – too bad.



Driving down the road heading east at sunrise. It could be that my wife was driving but in the corner of my memory, I don’t think so. Anyway, I say this because it’s easy to shoot going forward in a moving car. You can actually see where you’re going as you hold the camera to your eye. It’s a bit tougher shooting to the side. Of course with point and shoot, auto focus digital, this is not too much of a trick any more. Well, this shot is about sunrise, glare and powerlines. I shot through the windshield to avoid getting shot by my wife if I stopped once again.

Maine Scare Woman

I have been over many of the back roads again since our bike trip. I have not come across this image again. The woman is probably gone by now, ravaged by time and weather. But it was sure fun to pull up and get it during this particular bike trip. I can’t go back, but would if I knew where it was located.


Schoodic Point

I love this shot. My wife took it. She’s really good, but just doesn’t want to shoot often. Here’s a winner. She took it of me while we were on our unguided bike tour in Maine. At Schoodic Point the waves were breaking and the fog thick. Nice atmosphere. Yes it was wet and misty. You can’t take this picture if the camera is protected in your bag.


My daughter went to camp in Maine for a number of years. The jump off point was Portland where we would stay the night before dropping her off. One of the lighthouses was always on my list to visit. If you’ve been there once, ‘no need to see it again’, was one of my wife’s pragmatic views. Indeed this shot was taken during one of the early trips to Maine and camp. I have been back to this park many times but I have not seen as nice a display of flowers on the hill as on this one occasion. Maybe you can’t go back. It’s another precious moment passed before you know it and not to be repeated.

Rainbow Hilton

Kona, Hawaii, the ‘big island’ as it’s called, is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands. Surprised? The Hawaiians also pronounce every letter. Did you know that? Try it. They really do sound every letter. Kona is a big game fish center. Each day at the dock toward dusk, all the boats return with the days catch to be weighed and then stuffed as trophies. They caught some big fish in those days. One might think that all the big fish have been caught by now. But it’s a big ocean.  I’m talking 500 pounds of marlin. It’s big. I once caught one of 80 pounds and 6 feet length. It was catch and release. That’s another story.

Anyway back to this picture. We visited in 1984. Standing on the dock at about 4PM I could look across to the Rainbow Hilton. Yup, they called it that name. Why, you ask? Ah! Because of the rainbow that’s there. Everyday at about this time, it rains. And, standing on the dock, you get a great rainbow that lands right on the Hilton. Pretty neat trick if you ask me. You can also get a full rainbow, but this picture makes the point. Neat isn’t it?

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here’s an old slide I pulled as I was scanning old slides to digital files. It’s not substantially different from today. Maybe the clothing has changed a bit. Are you looking? I mean looking at the picture of the building. Then, of course, you saw the stones piled atop the columns. If you didn’t already know this, now you do. Huh? Well, when they built the building, they planned on statuary to be commissioned and installed. They couldn’t decide on who or what to do. So to this day the blocks are there to hold the space. Hey they’re still building St John’s Cathedral uptown. And they don’t expect to finish the cathedral for another one hundred years. Some things are priorities and others are not. But I think you could do better than blocks on an art museum?

Patriot’s Day 2008

Don’t put your face too close. This is a shot from 2008. I close this series with a reminder. The spark and smoke will blind and sting. Many of the soldiers turned their heads and closed their eyes. I guess there was indeed an art to hitting the target. When you are shooting game you try for one shot. Otherwise your potential dinner is gone. You do have to reload in order to get a second shot. It means that you didn’t shoot dinner each and every time. The animals at least had a chance.

I got this shot and a few others like this through sheer good luck. I had no idea about the schedule and the events. I was pretty much in the right place a few times by coincidence. The reenactment was about the same this year. It still didn’t help that I had been here once before. The schedule was only approximate. Overall it was good fun to see these actors working so hard.

Close Range

“Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes” comes to mind in this image. If so, then it is hard to understand how everyone wasn’t killed during this battle. Both sides were in very close proximity. And with a long rifle it’s hard to miss. I kept asking and I was always told that the weapons were mostly effective in volleys. A single lead ball was not perfectly round and the barrels of the rifles were not grooved to spin the shot and fire it straight. It’s a good thing, I think. History says that there were few dead in this battle, which was indeed surprising.


Good Shots

Maybe, but I can’t be sure, the British are better disciplined. When the commander says fire, they did. Coordinated and in sync, this group looks like they have been practicing. Their headdress suggests that they were elite troops. Practice!

Group Shot

This gives new meaning to me when I think of a group shot. One muzzle blast, two flintlock blasts, and some early smoke. Whoa, I got some great action here. After the commander said, ‘Fire’ everyone was a little different in their timing. You don’t know how hard this is to catch until you edit and find one shot like this in more than 1000 images. The commander said, ‘Fire.’ and everyone did, just not at the same time – not even me.

Lucky Shot

It wasn’t until late afternoon that the patriots were close enough to photograph. They had been in the woods, behind trees, rocks, and fences. I was rewarded with a muzzle blast. There is also the issue of a lot of smoke right after the group fires. So this early shot was lucky for me.