Word and Image

Archive for September, 2012

Balloon Sunset

After the ride the pilot filled his balloon in the glow of sunset. The flame filling the balloon is in the lower left. The moon is there on your right. It’s more memorable for me because I was in the chase car that pursued my wife and friends as they went on a once in a lifetime ride. I wasn’t chicken. I’ve been in a helicopter, so that was a hard experience to top.

Hunter Rye

Every once in a while a bit of history is uncovered in New York. During the construction of another skyscraper, the demolition uncovered the wall seen here. It is an old advertisement covered for many years now revealed for a brief period until the new building was erected. The sign will then hide until the building is demolished to make way for the new. I don’t think that we will see this bit of history again.



Costa Rica. We were on the last leg of the trip and found a beach where iguanas were everywhere. How could I know? They were about on the walks, walls, and on the grass, posing for my camera. What fun! I got my share of photo ops.


Someone, a good buddy Jack, told me the name of this fish. He’s seen them in Hawaii. They don’t have the same color but it’s the same fish. I knew someone would help me with the name. Image one and then fourteen frames later you can see the color balance at depth and in the shallows. I came up shooting and didn’t realize that the color had changed with the sun penetrating the shallow water and reds were preserved. I suppose I could try RAW next – stubborn. It’s a hobby, not a living. So whether the shot is on target is up to me. I’d like to control things from the camera side of things rather than Photoshop. But shooting RAW means you don’t have to struggle with color balance?

Clam – Reality Check

Somewhere around my blog there is a photo of a clam in which the center is brilliant neon blue. In my new color space/balance the blue clam is muted but the surrounding coral appears more natural. We were not deep, less than 15 feet. At the end what is reality? Would it be the color on dry land, 15 feet, or deeper down? Using flash would add another variable. To me it becomes what I like the best. Too much obsessing will make you paralyzed from shooting an image. I do like that neon blue that I remember.



Since underwater has no real up down or sideways, this shot was made 90 degrees clockwise. It just looks better to the senses as a vertical 90 degrees up. I’ve not changed the color balance that the camera made. Yeah, yeah, RAW image but I’d really like to get the camera’s computer to do it first. I have to say that the color’s good. The detail could be better but it’s 1/160 sec. The water was pretty clear. Maybe flash would have stopped the motion better? It’s still a work in progress.

Octopus, Octopi

Just a blob

Well, to be honest I didn’t really see/find this one. Farid found a coral encrusted pipe and went back to poke at a hole in the coral. I wasn’t sure that was such a wise idea. Then the octopus started moving. Ah! So that’s what it is. I was having diving gear malfunction. My BCD was making me float upward so it that it was hard to get in close. The octopus has not much color, shape, or contrast. Focus was a problem. Actually everything was a problem – light, shutter speed, white balance, flash – too many variables to juggle. In this series you see the blob of two octopi that Farid poked and prodded. Finally a splash of ink and it disappeared. It’s as close as we got and it was the best I could do.

Ink. It surprised us and escaped.

Don’t poke things with a stick

Yes, sure, I knew it was an octopus all along

Same stick again, different octopus

Go. Swim away.






I digress for a few days. I haven’t dived since Ramadan. It’s experiment day. White balance is a nightmare underwater. My dive instructor took some nice shots and was using the same equipment without flash. He white balanced from a white clipboard. The shots were pretty good. I’ve used flash but a lot of shots were overexposed. Underwater setting produced too much blue green tint. The problem is hard because the color changes as you go deeper. It kind of takes away the spontaneity of the moment. And with fish it’s a 3D world with camera, photographer, and fish in motion at the same time. I used custom white balance and utilized the white underwater flash card on the camera. The main problem is the shutter speed tends to be too slow to stop motion. There are lots of other variables. The lionfish wasn’t moving so that helped here in this image. The color is not quite what I had hoped for. And the original image was upside down because that’s how the fish hoovers. It’s not bad but could use some punch in the color. Flash might have helped. We were moving along too quickly to take more than one or two images.

Bell’s Palsy and Scuba Diving

I’ve had Bell’s palsy and though the condition resolved, I still notice some residual symptoms. It would bear to keep this in mind especially when diving.

When I first developed the condition, I was surprised to speak to so many people who volunteered that they had suffered this problem and recovered without any outward signs. Briefly the condition is a facial weakness/paralysis that comes on spontaneously. The cause is really unknown. In my case it occurred on a weekend and for a moment I entertained the thought of a stroke. After some tense weeks the facial weakness resolved. At this point my motor strength is full and the face is symmetrical except when I am fatigued. Then there is enough residual to notice an asymmetry.

As to diving, I began lessons and qualified as an advanced open water diver in the PADI course over the summer. As I became more experienced I noticed that there were problems clearing/equalizing my left ear. Presently I hold my nose and after the right side opens, I quickly swallow and the left side then opens up. After the dive, I have the feeling of fullness and increased bone conduction which subtly affects my hearing. I have puzzled over this and cleaned my ears to no avail. Finally I looked up the anatomy and realize that the Eustachian tube opens by a muscle. That same muscle is controlled by the facial nerve (Bell’s palsy). So it is the mild subtle residual weakness in the nerve which makes the left side equalize more slowly.

A word to all divers who have had Bell’s palsy, perhaps this will reassure and allow you to compensate better. It took a while for me to reach this “aha!!” moment.

Arenal Volcano

You can actually get a hotel room on the mountain with a splendid view of the volcano spewing glowing rock at night. We didn’t… budget… or choice. We had pretty nice accommodations. Julia stayed much more rustic when she visited with her youth group. I had a bunch of volcano shots and picked this one. It’s an editorial decision. So many shots and this is the one I chose. Another day another time, I might pick another. It was a pretty nice view so close to an active volcano.


It’s called bokeh. Ah, they make up terms for everything. I understand depth of field and blurring the background to male it pleasingly out of focus in order to complement the foreground. It’s all summed up in ‘bokeh.’ Yup, Costa Rica. I had to look it up, the place. Oh, it’s a bird of paradise, the flower, that is.

Red Tree Frog

Red is danger? We’re hiking the rain forest in Costa Rica and our guide points out this red tree frog. All I remember is that brightly colored frogs in the rain forest are poisonous. This little guy wouldn’t poison me. Would he?


Bird on a Wire

The title was also a movie with Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson. Driving along in Costa Rica, the road was bumpy and dusty. Our driver suddenly stopped and beckoned. How he knew I was a photographer, or whether he was working for a better tip, I won’t know. But I got this nice shot and won’t forget his kindness.


I’m parked on the side of the road looking over a march along Seven Lakes drive in Bear Mountain. I didn’t even get out of the car. I just slid across to the passenger side and rolled down the window to shoot. As I was just about to roll the window, I looked down and snapped this shot. Serendipity.

Bear Mountain

I spent a lot of time it the fall in Bear Mountain. I used to drive back and forth to med school through the park on the way upstate New York. Recently my memories are more vivid than my slides and images. But here’s one on the connecting road from the Palisades to Route 17. I think it’s called Route 6. The cars whiz by at 60+ mph. Standing at the guard rail you feel the breeze from the cars as people speed to their destinations. I’m glad I had a chance to stop and see the beauty.


Here’s a slide image that’s comparable to the digital image I have somewhere posted. The colors are almost surreally brilliant. It could be the film, camera, or scanner. It’s not been Photoshopped. I don’t remember the image so brilliantly colored but the end result is pretty nice. Sometimes I get more from the process than I expected.

Mountain Sunset

I saw a picture someone took of the Blue Ridge Mountains and I remember a car ride in those mountains as a kid (without a camera). I take these shots whenever the opportunity allows. It’s the same trip to drop David off at Putney. We’re still hanging out with separation anxiety (mom). And wouldn’t you know it, there is my layered mountain scenic. It’s never the same shot I remember from childhood. That shot will be ever romantically embellished. But here’s a close second.

Chipmunk Run

If you follow photo critical (see sidebar), I comment on photo technique. We had just dropped David off at Putney School for a summer art program. This is panning. I caught the little guy running across. It ain’t perfect. But then it doesn’t always need to be. And I remember where I was when I took this shot. Dave had a great time and made a girlfriend (maybe the first, sorry Dave) while he was there. And this is what I remember when I look at this shot.

Study Table

It’s a party rental table the day after Julia’s junior prom. No furniture, we had just taken possession of the upstairs after the renovation. The walls are freshly painted and the art is waiting to be hung. It was perfect. We filled the room with party tables for the pre-prom gathering and pictures. Afterwards, homework waits for no prom queen. David was meditating. He does that a lot.

Another Anniversary

Each year since 9/11 they have installed a light tribute utilizing spotlights to commemorate and represent the lost towers. A new tower will be completed soon. The memorial pools opened this year. In the vast canyon of tall buildings that surround the site, it is amazingly quiet. There is still a hustle and bustle. Travelers and tourists are all about. Families picnic along Hudson park. Workers labor to complete the projects. Life has returned but will never be the same. I’m in the Middle East this year. I don’t expect much remembrance here. Last year I spent the day with cousin Amy and we rode bicycles around, had dinner looking at the Statue of Liberty, and were just in time to catch the spotlights. With all the new construction taking up the available land, the lights were installed on the roof of the municipal parking garage.


Artistry comes from Lisa’s side. She decorated this cake in honor of Nick and Nannette’s anniversary. The picture is edible. Computer technology is wonderful. Stacking a layer cake so it doesn’t collapse is done with dowels in the cake to support the upper layers. ‘bet you didn’t know that? As to the decorative art, I leave it at that. Impressive! Oh, they’re still married.


Julia is more like her Dad. I ran and swam in high school. So did Julia. I gave up swimming (no team) in college and continued to run. So did Julia. I won the low hurdles in the Manhattan borough championship and it was mentioned in the New York Times. I was pretty full of myself until the NYC championships when the 9 foot tall kids from Boys and Girls High in Brooklyn beat me like I was walking. Julia had great success in the high school track championships and brought home trophies and the championship for the school. She was part of a core of successful team members and there’s a banner to commemorate the championship hanging in the school gym. Yeah, this is one proud papa.

Fiord and Man

And if you look, there are houses on the mountain. What beauty. With a good internet connection, you could let the world come to you. Otherwise you are a long way from civilization.


Fiords are what make Norway famous. I imagined deep glacial valleys with high cliffs on either side. This is not too bad. I can’t say that this is what I had imagined but it’s a pretty special view.