Word and Image

Archive for July, 2012


One more lionfish picture… well in fact there were two lionfish. We were on our first advanced open water lesson and the instructor was busy with my classmate. So I was loose to shoot. Hey, it rhymes… sort of. I had the camera because I hesitated to leave it on shore. I was paying attention to the lesson. But in an unguarded moment, I got to shoot two lionfish. Neat! A moment later, my instructor was there beside me with his camera firing away with his setup… flattery.

Direction of the hair

I’m still excited about diving so I’ll keep posting another day or so here on this blog. Then I continue on ImagedEvent (see sidebar). I shot this image upside down, because the camera was strapped to my right wrist. For now I’m shooting wide angle and letting the camera do its ‘auto’ thing. I hold it and very roughly compose. I shot this poor image to commemorate my deepest dive yet, which is required for advanced open water qualification. We were down at 40 meters. That’s more than 100 feet. I learned: 1. There’s light (albeit monotone). 2. It doesn’t feel much different than 20 feet. 3. I didn’t get nitrogen narcosis. Having done it, I probably won’t be at this depth very often. If I compare it to flying in a helicopter, judging depth is a challenge. You go up and down and really don’t realize the change except for the pressure in your ear as you descend in deeper water. Of course you don’t want to be deep for longer than allowed by the dive calculations, which is why it’s important to know what the limits of safety are.

It’s a Cinder Block

Yup. That’s me. I’m swimming with a cinder block! This was the last exercise and lesson in my advanced open water qualification. It was search and recovery. The instructor swam off with the cinder block. I had to find it using a search pattern, tie on a rope, inflate the bag, and then tow it back to the underwater platform. He’s strong. He swam off to hide it without the bag inflated. The visibility was pretty murky, hence the picture quality. The tide was up and the waves were rough, so it was a challenge to even get on and off the stairs to make the dives. I would compare it to a ski lift. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. I looked pretty comical stumbling about in fins like a drunken penguin the first time… a really really drunk penguin! Anyway, as in skiing, it’s all about mileage now. As I log more time in the water, I will gain experience. And there are so many photo-ops where ever you look.

Two Feet of Water

I have to admit that some of the best fish photos were in two feet of water. As we swam back to the stairs there were dozens of these fish as you see on the left. They did not shy away. They were colorful and perfect size to fill my frame. Perfect. My dive buddy thought I was crazy when I didn’t come out of the water. There I was snorkeling in full dive gear in two feet of water and having a blast… just another crazy photographer and a great photo-op.


This pair of fish is mated. You always see two together. I have some doubt because it has been shown that nature is not generally monogamous. But it’s a nice story and indeed where ever there was one. The other was close by. So I believe it until someone tells me differently.


I learned that clown fish in pairs are usually guarding this coral anemone species. Or the other way round as they hide among its tentacles, which are protective. I found out the fish are protectors because most of the fish swam away from me. But these little guys swam toward my mask. I actually had to back away in order to focus. They come in pairs. And when you wave your hand over the anemones, the tentacles spread to show a brilliant color beneath.

Spotted Ray

This would be a ray in the class of flat fish. And after further casual search online, it would be a spotted ray. Duh? We found this guy under a rock. Ha! And since I have seen rays on National Geographic special, I knew the general class. But colorful and with spots, that was special.  He didn’t flee. So I was able to get a few shots. Unlike a zoo that has everything all neatly labeled, a coral reef is always full of surprises. This is the only time so far that I have seen a ray.

By the way, my dive instruction has gotten me to the point of advanced open water diver. Mainly that means I have been down to 40 meters and not panicked from nitrogen narcosis. To commemorate the event I took a self portrait with my camera. Having the strap in my right hand I simply shot the image upside down rather than switch hands. On the surface my dive master accused me of confusion. But it wasn’t narcosis, just my usual crazy way of doing things. Upside down comes right side up easily enough in Photoshop.

Rorschach Test

I had to check the spelling. Sometimes I amaze myself. I mean most of the time I am happy to have some images that are good. My family thinks that it’s because I shoot and shoot. By sheer volume of images you have to get one or two. Right? Or, “even a blind squirrel gets a nut sometimes.” Underwater photography is the newest venture. I think I have, family, landscapes, street photography and so forth, going pretty well. Underwater, it’s a completely different deal. It’s like being back in BxW. You have to visualize and then see what you have on the negative. I don’t check the LCD while shooting. No time, too lazy, not interested, who knows. I just don’t really look until the shoot is over. So about 6 hours after the dive and when I could finally sit down and see the day’s shoot…. wow! This is my second shoot and I’m still in total experimental mode. It used to be that film cameras held 36 shots and then you were done. Digital has made everyone an underwater photographer. Coral is not so much a challenge. It doesn’t move. Fish, that’s an entirely new learning curve. They move. You move. There’s color and focus issues to work through.

Lionfish on a coral wall swimming upside down. I got enough problems of my own swimming right side up. Fortunately it swims slowly. No need to hurry. It’s dangerous to get close. Color was absolutely miserable last week. Everything was monotone blue green. No amount of Photoshop made much out of anything. My best shots were in 2 feet of water. Ha! You don’t need scuba gear for that. This week I turned on the flash, hooked up the flash diffuser (’cause it came with the housing), prayed the water would not fry my Canon G11, and started shooting from the hip at wide angle. There’s really no practical way for me to compose at this point in the learning. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to get this coral color using the flash. At this depth everything had the blue green monotone. Even Mr Lionfish was monotone. So I could say I knew it all along. But here’s one more instance in which I got very lucky. If it’s any help the motto from my training days as a neurosurgery resident is, “It’s better to be lucky than good.” It’s not always brain surgery that I do.

Nothing Wild

This is a rather impressive display of wildflowers. It’s somewhere out on Long Island, Southampton, I believe. What you have here are native species, which is to say that the plants are indigenous to the location. However, to say that this is a matter of scattering a few seeds is hardly fair. There’s a lot of hard work to get this impressive garden to come together. It’s not really wild at all.



The exposure is long and the slide blurred to protect the innocent. MA, to know her is to love her. She has a certain innocence that is frozen in time. It’s like everyone is in on the joke and MA doesn’t have a clue. And you wonder how she got through life without knowing certain things. Lisa and Susan were floating in the pool. MA somehow falls off her float. What did you expect? And the consequence is that everyone else must get wet. Even adults get silly sometimes. Alas, Susan’s curly hair can’t get any more (curly) even when it’s wet.

Egret Central Park

There is a large lake upon which row boats are rented. People are constantly strolling the edges or picnicking along the banks. So, it’s a surprise to see an egret along the edge. If you can make it in New York, you’re tough. So this guy and I had a stare down. He didn’t back off. It’s a New York kind of attitude.

Central Park Painting

Look around and art is all around us. I love to see painters at work. Surprisingly there aren’t too many who sit and work in public places. Maybe I just don’t hang where there is a lot of inspiration. So it’s a pleasant encounter whenever I stumble across an artist at work.

Central Park Statue

I am reminded of an old joke that starts with: A male and a female statue were given the gift of life. They promptly disappeared into the bushes. Emerging, the male said to the female, “Again?” And she replied, “Yes, …but this time you hold it while I shit on it.” And, yes, even in Saudi Arabia, there are plenty of pigeons.




This is a real company. (I thought it was a comic book.) It is an entertainment company. The wall sign is tucked in a small space on 9th Avenue. For years I passed this sign and never really noticed it until one day my son David piped up from the backseat to ask what it meant. It takes a young kid to wake you up sometime. It’s for real. Its significance to my consciousness is in the fact that my son looked at this sign from the backseat for so long before he asked. And until that moment I had no curiosity whatsoever. Not that I have much interest now, but it was enough for me to wake to that fact that I had been oblivious to certain mysteries in my son’s childhood.

Old Folks

At the annual 9th Avenue Festival, ostensibly it is about food. Over the years the fair has morphed from local merchants and food to professional food fair vendors and purveyors as varied as women’s underwear to sheets and pillowcases. Of course local merchants remain a part of the mix. I just didn’t know that there were so many gyro stands all run by the same parent company. This man and woman would have been more likely to be in Europe. It’s not a great shot. I grabbed the shot as is because I was too shy to ask them to pose.

Chauvinist pig

Its significance is unknown to me. I don’t frequent bars. Somehow this pig has the air of male chauvinism. It is trotted out on it’s dolly and chained as though someone would take it. I say, “Take it!” 9th Avenue on the Westside has become a real happening place with scores of upscale bars and restaurants opening recently. This throwback still has a crowd on most nights.

Early Spring Dip

We uncover the pool in April. It’s still way too cold to swim. But the cover is removed because the pool looks so much better and the grass border needs time to grow again. When you’re young you’re bullet proof. And, apparently that includes being impervious to the cold. No matter the temperature of the air or water, my kids would always find some way to fall into the pool within hours after arriving at the house. I mean it’s cold enough to take your breath away and there they go jumping in!

Dogwood Blossoms

We have a back yard with flowering trees. The early morning fog softly muted the pink and white dogwood flowers. Near enough to the ocean we often have fog present into mid morning before the sun finally breaks through. There’s something soothing to awaken to muted colors.

Central Park

Each spring the blossoms put on quite a show. Some years are better than others. I have an especially soft spot for bright deep blue sky. And with this background the blossoms are just that much more dramatic.


New Orleans. This kid was mesmerized by the trumpet. The performer and audience were in the zone but perhaps not the same zone. I don’t know. It’s the lack of eye contact that got me.

Street Performers

Street performers in New Orleans. Here’s a couple of performers who leave you with many questions. Are they working the same corner together? Do they even know each other? Or are they just ignoring one another while plying their craft. I vote for the kid. Everyone has a soft spot for kids.

History (Un)Covered

There are always things changing in New York City. Old buildings give way to new construction. We really have very little old architecture. Unlike Europe with buildings hundreds of years old, America is young and barely anything in New York is much more than one hundred. Every once in a while demolition occurs and just before they rebuild there is an old wall revealed. You get to see some very old advertisements for a brief period until the new construction covers it for a hundred years. Look while you can. It won’t come around again for a very long time.


I did a couple of shots of grown-up (my cousins and me) jumping last year. This is shot of the offspring of the cousins (my kids, Wendy’s, john’s). Not only are they smart (but of course) but they are much more coordinated than their hapless parents (that would include me!). It’s a sad shot nonetheless. I had gathered the kids away from my dear aunt who was ill in order that they be shielded a bit from a situation. Still it was a spontaneous act and a good photo. It just conjures up a different memory.

Empire State Building

It’s a pretty distinguishable landmark. After all King Kong clung to the top at one point. I actually have a picture of that somewhere. It was a balloon replica of the king that was inflated to commemorate one anniversary or another of the movie. Anyway this view is from the east looking west to the Hudson River and New Jersey. If you look near the bottom, the round building is Madison Sq Garden. Once again, it’s a shot from the Bell 47 helicopter.