Word and Image

Archive for August, 2013

Face Paint

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The kids loved to dress up. They loved to play act. Me, I never did this as a kid. A couple of times they painted themselves and set up a priceless photo opportunity. This was the first time. I got this shot with the kids looking into the upstairs bathroom mirror with the overhead can lights casting perfect lighting for their faces. Sometimes it pays to know the lighting and its possibilities in your house. Yes, a little flash would have added catch lights to the eyes… but hey.

Julia Daisy

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I know that I’ve taken some good photos over the years. I had this one in my office and one of my colleagues Frank Loh admired it. Frank was a childhood friend to my younger brother. This shot was taken while we were on a trip to the Berkshires in the autumn. It’s funny that sometimes you can take a shot and know it’s special. But in most instances, I would take a shot and realize it was iconic after I developed and mounted the slide. And that was often months later. Digital it’s not.

Hot Tub

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Lisa would never let me take a picture of her naked… We’re at the Ventana Inn in Big Sur on the Pacific Coast Highway in May 1984. Anyway that’s how I remember it. Lisa had been told by her friend, Eileen,  to be sure to stay there. No one told us that a reservation was absolutely a must. So Lisa pleaded (by telephone from Los Angeles two days earlier) that we were coming on this once in a lifetime trip and couldn’t they please make some room. She didn’t even tell them she was pregnant. Yup, right beneath the water is her gravid belly holding Julia who would arrive in August. I couldn’t help wonder whether Julia was getting cooked. Well, the Inn was full! But….! There was a cabin in the mountain and the hot tub was broken, so we could stay there since no one was staying there until repairs were complete. It was up on the mountain, completely secluded, with a view of the Pacific (and the sunset). It had the hot tub, which, mysteriously, was working just fine. Idyllic! And lucky! You just have to assume that the Gods were smiling. And Julia was there too. But I’m not sure if that counts.

Cape Cod


Back around 1980, Lisa and I were taking a timeout. We were sort of broken up. So she went to Eluthera to vacation. I wandered up to Boston to visit an OR nurse Ann (Sweeney) Levy. She was married to a GI specialist. She had been the Neuro OR coordinator while I was a resident at NYU. Her mom had had a brain tumor and I had assisted the Chief in her surgery, which turned out well. Leaving Boston, I drove to Cape Cod on a Sunday evening in October. All the traffic on the road was headed away from Cape Cod, bumper to bumper. I felt like I was going against the evacuating tide of traffic in my lone car headed to Providence. Wandering the dunes the next day, I chanced upon this house and got these images of the dunes with the autumn storm clouds. The house is gone now, changed forever into a non-picturesque photo-op some years back. It took me about 30 years to return to this spot. Things change. But, back then, when I took these images, they are iconic in my memory and can never be repeated. Like time it’s a one way trip. I could have done better with the composition. The house is a bit too centered. My father in law, Bill, offered to crop it when he framed the photo. But I decided to keep it as I shot it.



Carousel Horse

0232 31 Carosel horse copyI took this picture in one of our early trips to Disney. I think it was Florida. It’s just an outstanding close up. I have shot this image again and again over the years… different horses in different places. But this was the first and remains the one I remember best…one of a kind once upon a time.

London Street Photography


I’m starting a series of iconic images in my life and will continue for a few weeks in my posts. This blonde headed kid is one of my first street photography images. It was taken back in the ‘70’s. I’m kind of shy, really! So it’s not my first inclination to put my camera into someone’s face and shoot. We were at a street fair and this kid just presented himself, isolated in the crowd, just him and me. He’s got to be in his forties now. I wonder what he’s doing. This was one of the earliest street images for me. The other great source of images was New York City’s  street fairs, which were just beginning in the ‘70’s. Nowadays there’s a street fair every weekend and most times in multiple locations. Back then, it was a local merchants fair. But, London was among my earliest experiences.



IMG_3875 copyThese guys remain a favorite when I dive. I usually see them in very shallow water. I was surprised to see them down at 30 feet. Hey, it’s allowed. I was just thinking with all that neon color, it’s like an advertisement, “Dinner is served.”

Checking up on the name, it appears that surgeonfish are so named because they have sharp protrusions that are used for defense and can inflict severe cuts on an unwary diver. So… handle with care. Ha! They’re not exactly hanging about waiting for me to grab one… not too much danger for me.

Moray Eel

IMG_3854 copyI’ve seen several moray eels this dive season. Actually, we saw two enormous ones. I mean big enough that I might have been considered a meal even at my size. The problem is scale. Size is relative. And there’s not much for reference. But believe me when I say I’ve seen some big fish. This one was about average. I actually found him myself. Head poking out, he was opening his mouth. Hey, aside from the sharp front teeth, he doesn’t look all that intimidating. Really?!

Black and White

IMG_3759 a copyI don’t know why they are black and white, half and half. What’s particularly tough is that they are small and skittish. They’re usually seen hanging out and hiding around coral for protection from predators. And usually the lighting doesn’t get you a good highlight around the eyes. So here I got lucky. Even for fish photography, it’s all in the eyes.


IMG_3764 copyThere are a few fish who pose and pretty much ask to have their photo taken. Julia and I found this out when we were diving. This particular guy and all his cousins are very accommodating. They just sit on the reef and let you drift right up and shoot away. Thanks.


IMG_3659 copyOctopi are shy. They hide under rocks. I don’t look too much under the coral for photo ops. So it’s been my dive buddies who see these great things. Farid spotted this one. Heretofore I had kept back and away. I thought they were dangerous. Octopi also have an almost instant color changing ability to camouflage themselves within the surrounding coral. They blend in beautifully, so much so that they are really easy to miss. The small ones are not able to harm a much larger diver. So with cautious courage I went ahead and poked this one with a gloved finger. Sorry, I wanted a better photo op than a non-descript blob. My camera has shutter lag. So it was no simple trick to get a shot. I decided to make a grab. No dice. The octopus shot out ink and startled me. It made good it’s escape. No harm to either octopus or diver. Anyway it was a very interesting octopus encounter. And you can almost see the suckers on the tentacles. If the next one doesn’t intimidate me, I promise to get a better shot.

Fan Coral

IMG_3565 copyWith all the coral in the deep blue sea, I don’t run across fan coral often. Though I’m still working on my technique, I can recognize a good photo opportunity. I’m glad no one else came along to tear off a piece. This coral is in a well-trafficked area at one of the resorts. Hopefully, the other divers will continue to respect its beauty.


IMG_3545 copyMy divemaster said that it’s a starfish. I have to take his word. I wasn’t willing to pull it out from under the rock. The spikes are pretty impressive. Anyway a quick look-up on the internet says that starfish don’t have spikes. So these are spines. I didn’t have any other comparable pictures. From where I was this was a creature that said, “Leave me alone.” And I did. And…. well, I’ve just returned from night dive. My divemaster showed me a sea urchin at night. And in about a month or so I’ll post some dramatic night images. But the one on top is probably a sea urchin. They come out at night. Then again, maybe the starfish come out at night also. So far I didn’t find anything comparable on the ‘net. By the time this post finally is published maybe the answer will be a little more clear. There is another contender – nudibranch – a kind of ocean slug. There’s quite a lot of variation and some suggestion that urchin and starfish are the wrong answer….IMG_3811 copy

Overheard at Iftar



Iftar (Arabic: إفطار‎ ifār  “breakfast”), refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan

You all know that I am not Muslim. It’s Ramadan and I was invited to an iftar dinner. I live in a compound of physicians and so it was a group of ‘docs’ who got together. I am also not conversant in Arabic. During the course of conversation everyone was laughing. One internist’s husband had a first name – Jihad. He was I guess 30 to 40 years old. At the time he was born it was not an inflammatory name. Other cultures name their children Jesus, Angel, or Neveah (heaven spelled backwards).


Definition of JIHAD

1 : a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty; also

: a personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline

2 : a crusade for a principle or belief

But the laughter was over a story of Jihad being stopped at airport security. It turns out that he (Jihad) works for the Bin Laden group. Really! So anytime he travels he’s marked as “Jihad” who works for “Bin Laden.” And his wife added he was once asked by a customs official if, …”he’d named his son Osama?” There is a Bin Laden Hospital nearby to where I live. And it is a popular name – Osama.

I guess there are worse things to be named. And there are some things you just can’t make up.

Astoria Park

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There was a recent article in the NY Times about the park. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/nyregion/pool-built-for-the-people-6200-at-a-time.html

I swam here as a kid in 1967. It cost .25 cents. We went nearly everyday in the summer to cool off. I was 16 and took John 11 years old. I don’t remember if Eric came along or not, he was probably too little. We were allowed to wander around unescorted. There were no cell phones, and we could have been snatched. But those were days before Etan Patz and no one thought anything about letting kids run loose. After the 50 cents to get in, I probably didn’t have a dime. No ID, nothing… it was truly a time of innocence.

Your mom and I had a very early date here. We spent the afternoon in the park. She had just cut her hair really really short. And I got a picture where she put a pencil under her nose as a joke. It didn’t matter. She was beautiful then, as she is now. 0452 36 Lisa pencil copy

We (your mom and I) rode past the park when we did the five borough bike tour. There’s a picture of me with the Hellgate Bridge in the background holding my bike over my head that your mom took. The bike that I’m holding was lost by David’s friends when he loaned it to them (without my permission).

I lived in Astoria twice. I was born here and then we moved back in 1967-68. The Olympic trials were held in this pool around 1964 and my dad was around to swim with the Olympic hopefuls. He was fast enough for them to take notice… so he said.

Julia ran a big track meet here. I was there to take pictures of her under the Triborough Bridge. The Columbia Grammar Team won the relay. Julia was the starter of the relay, like I often was when I ran track. Go girl, get the lead and let the rest of the team bring it on home.
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Your mom and I rode over the same Triborough Bridge during the 5 borough bike tour. I’d been to the park hundreds of times and driven over the bridge too many times to count. But I only rode over it on a bike once.

Yeah, there are a lot of memories wrapped up around this park.

You Can Run…

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We were diving on a reef about fifteen miles out in the Red Sea. Maybe the other little ones have been captured for the aquarium shops. They hung close to the coral and beat it as soon as I approached. I’ve decided that a fish tank can’t do justice to real live nature.

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Playful Coral

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I dive and look for things that are different. Fish are, so I’m always chasing them. The coral don’t move so it’s like photographing a tree. They don’t move away. So, there’s not too much challenge. The trick is to get something that’s not the usual fare. Close-ups help. Here are a few fanciful specimens.

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I found this one in a hole under the coral. Honest. I found it all by myself for a change. It’s not as intensely colorful as some others that I have seen. It’s dangerous nonetheless. They swim lethargically. I suppose they know that no one wants to touch them.


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The reason you float and don’t touch the coral is not to protect the coral. That’s what my dive instructor told me. It’s to prevent you from getting hurt from touching something best left alone. This guy was just sitting there on the bottom. Farid saw it. Geez! I never see this stuff. But now that we have a close up you can easily see it. It’s not good to get stung by a stone fish. I’ll practice floating better. I promise, Julia.

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IMG_3176 copySometimes the water is so clear it seems like it’s not there. Really! Even I surprise myself. Coral and starfish are not supposed to be natural friends. I haven’t seen many starfish. I hope that’s a good thing for the reef.


IMG_3181 copyThe little fish hide among the coral to avoid becoming someone else’s dinner/snack. Since Julia got me to be more patient, I drift up to the coral and get some macro shots before they all hide from me. I guess I must look intimidating with a big air tank blowing bubbles and looking generally menacing.

Giant Clams

IMG_3127 copyWell, they’re not quite the Jules Verne size that will eat you. But they are more than two hands wide. I’m used to opening the shell completely but that’s not the case. They open this wide and have a mouth to feed. What’s interesting is that they come in so many colors.

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You usually don’t see two together. I’m partial to the blue ones.

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Depending on the age, some look worse for wear.

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And they get embedded/surrounded by coral so it’s hard to see how there’s room to move.


IMG_3130 copySo dive season started. The water is 84 degrees. Really, it’s just under bath temperature. I finally begin to appreciate Julia’s comment, “The coral in the Red Sea is soooo nice!” I’ve decided that I like the soft coral. And I’ve begun to pay attention to the background colors and to use a little more macro focus. So I’m still learning as I go. Oh boy, oh boy.IMG_3131 copy

Camel Ride

_DSC2290 copyYou don’t get many opportunities to shoot the local people. At this tourist stop it’s part of the deal. So I took the shot. It gets tricky as the light gets low. But on a gut level, you know when you like a shot. I could post process and crop and … but I just like it as is.