Word and Image

Archive for September, 2013


IMG_5321 copyThis is a very broad category of soft-bodied marine gastropod mollusks. I got one, then two. The identification is somewhat suspect since they come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. So I show some things tiny and colorful which may or may not actually be a nudibranch. At least one has been seen on the appropriate web page of examples. This colorful tasty morsel without an exoskeleton just seems to be saying, ‘eat me!?’ Wow! Two together… mating?

IMG_5191 b copyTo look at this pair, they resemble any other hard coral on the reef. but if you go near, they disappear into a hole in the coral surrounding them.

IMG_5185 a copyThey can retract fast… really fast. But if you sneak up, you can get some great shots. They are just so small that it’s hard to get the details and focus accurately. And I’m wondering who came up with this name? I was lucky to come upon some examples as I perused the web pages for identification. As i have said before it’s taking your ‘own’ picture that challenges me, not the ‘seeing’ in a book.

Spike Pufferfish

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Here’s one that I haven’t seen before. My last night dive was so much fun I couldn’t wait to do it again. This pufferfish has been a unique find. I now know there are three kinds – pufferfish, masked, and spiked. This one looks the most unusual, almost bizarre and cartoonish. I imagine the spikes to be like thorns on a tree. And then I wonder why nature evolved this way.

Wrong! Reading helps. This is a porcupine fish also called blowfish but apparently are related to but are not pufferfish. It turns out that the spike erect as the fish blows up. So far I have only seen this fish with its spikes up. As a puffer or blow fish, I had imagined them inflated like a balloon with its spikes out on all sides. Wrong again, I guess.IMG_1959


IMG_4508 copy 2I don’t think that it is one. But it sure reminds me of tuna. At least this guy is sleek and built for speed as opposed to the puffer fish, who looks an ungainly truck. I’m running auto white balance, using on camera flash with a diffuser, and in macro setting. You get your share of misses. But when you hit, it’s pretty special. Thank goodness for digital. You shoot several hundred images to get 10 or 20 to keep.IMG_4515 copy 2

Step Right Up

IMG_4505 copy 2Or, rather swim right up. Swinging my flashlight like a madman, I was looking under every rock for something hiding. It seems to me that fish have a very large iris opening. But you can’t see at night because it’s just plain dark. Who would want to swim in the dark and run into sharp coral? I found this one under a rock and moved in with my light. It blinded him and he stayed perfectly still for me to get some great close-ups. Then, Farid scared him away.

Puffer Fish

IMG_4483 copy 2There were several out and about on the floor of the sea that night we dove. When I found this guy and the next, they didn’t swim away from me. They just sort of stood there… ok, lay there. Later on I figured it out. Anytime any of my dive companions shined their flashlight in my face, the bright light was all I could see. I couldn’t see the diver behind the light. So it works that way for the fish. IMG_4489 copy 2The light beam blinds them and they stay still because they don’t sense a threat. As a result I got to shoot in macro right up close. Even the camera flash didn’t not cause them to stir much. It’s a neat observation. But, there aren’t too many fish out at night. I was really struggling to keep the camera and the flashlight in sync. It’s kind of like getting dressed in the dark. You need to be familiar with the buttons and settings, because they don’t glow in the dark to help you see your way.

Stonefish Platter

IMG_4475 copy 2Here’s something unexpected. We found this stonefish sitting pretty on a coral platter. I expect that he was just waiting for dinner to arrive rather than he was posing for dinner himself. But, at night the fish traffic is way down. I would think that the odds of surprising an unsuspecting fish would be better during the day. It seems that if you ever see a stonefish it is sitting perfectly still and doesn’t move until it’s ready to strike. So I got in pretty close with the camera again. An I even got to swim around to the other side. Perhaps I would have done more, but the dive group had moved on… and you never leave your wingman.

This one is my third stonefish. They’re rare to see. Julia and I saw two on one dive (posted on 4/22/2013). She recalls that they’re also called scorpionfish. They are considered the most venomous of fish. There have been a few reported deaths. Mostly it’s because an unsuspecting swimmer steps on one or pick it up. I already know to avoid touching anything. Even the coral can be irritating. I’m still itching from my brush up with some coral that I didn’t mean to get near.

Sea Urchins

IMG_4452 copy 2On the night dive I had one kick ass flashlight that my dive master made me buy. It was too bright for photography. I actually had to hold the light to the side. Autofocus took over and everything was flashed. You hold the light in one hand and the camera in the other. It’s good that all you use are your legs and fins to get around. Well, I saw three types of urchins. IMG_4532 copy 2The classic very spiny and not so colorful brown ones are not my favorite. By the way you’re looking at the ass end. Of course, the mouth is down and eating the algae. IMG_4487 copy 2And the other thicker spined one is none to photogenic either. It was the blue and orange ones, that I believe are urchins, which are the most interesting and colorful. I had posted back in August that I thought this might be a starfish. I’m still not sure. They come out at night. With all the spines, I don’t see what anyone would want to mess with at anytime, even daytime. But during the day you’ll be lucky if you chance upon an urchin.IMG_4462 copy 2

But boy, do they come at night. So I can’t find a similar picture on the ‘net. And my choices are starfish or urchin?? Now more information suggests maybe – nudibranch – a type of slug. But honest I found a picture vaguely like this on the ‘net. Someone will correct me, I hope.IMG_4469 copy 2


IMG_4416 copy 2We went on another boat dive in early August. It was supposed to be a cave dive and a night dive. The water was too dangerous (stormy) to go for a cave dive, so we settled for a wreck dive and a night dive. Now that I’m experienced (a little bit more), I’m also less timid. So these close-ups of the stingray would have been with the ‘tele’ setting a year ago. Right now I approach with the ‘macro’ setting. It cuts down on the murkiness. The stingrays can be dangerous. I just get in and float over slowly. They are pretty tolerant and don’t swim away immediately. I’m still getting accustomed to the settings. IMG_4290 copy 2The rays have round eye balls that I assume will swivel. I’d love to know what image their brain is processing. It’s not forward so it’s probably not binocular and so I assume it’s about threat. And then I remember the adage – ‘things in the mirror may be closer than they appear.’IMG_4291 copy 2As with many things in life, I have had great early success underwater. And then you step back and look over your progress and realize there’s a lot to learn. I’m strictly amateur in underwater photography. The hardcore people take down $7,000+ worth of gear and lights. To be honest, I’ve fried a couple of camera when I first tried underwater photography. They were point and shoots so the pain in $ was not so bad. I remain an opportunist diver rather than pursue subjects to the end of the seas. So for me it’s ‘what did you see when you went diving today.’ I don’t have the pressure to produce a money image. At the same time there is great satisfaction in learning a new skill. It’s even nice to shoot the coral even if it doesn’t move.IMG_4179 copy


IMG_4232 copy 2Someone said it was guarding the coral. I say resting. This guy drifted underneath the coral and just sat there. I got a front view. I got a side view. I might have been able to get right up into his face. In fact his fin appears to be waving at me. He and I were just having a great time. I didn’t know what to do, I had so much time to get a shot. I’m glad they came out. I shot a bunch of the octopus the other day and only one shot came out in focus. Sometimes you win…IMG_4234 copy 2

Yellow Fish

IMG_4208 a copy 2This is probably another angelfish. Once again I spend most of my time trying into the right position to get the shot. If the circumstances are perfect then you get a decent shot. I’d have liked some highlights in the eyes. But I’m very happy with what I have. There are a lot of things to keep track of while diving… such as where your buddy is swimming. Safety first. So it’s like traveling with the family. You have one eye on everything else. And with what’s left, you try to get some good shots.

Blue Fish

IMG_4214 copy 2Ok. It’s just the color. It’s possibly an angelfish. In my quest to photograph it’s problematic with the lighting. I don’t use flash… too many hot spots. If the lighting is right you get good color. And if you’re backlit, you don’t. I can’t really ask the fish to pose. Generally they are wary and don’t let me maneuver too much. If you’re too far away, the color balance is off, or the water is too murky. So I have a lot of pictures, but you don’t always get shots this clear.


IMG_4078 copy 2The dive master found a coral encrusted eyeglass case on the bottom. He picked it up and opened it in time for a fish to swim right into position. We figure the fish was thinking that there might be a meal inside the case. I was lucky to be in the right place for the shot.IMG_4079 copy 2

Puffer Fish

IMG_4069 copy 2The little blue fish seems to be cleaning him. I’ve been seeing puffers pretty regularly too. They appear ungainly and with those little side fins, I imagine that I could out-swim them. Ha! No way. Those little fins get going and they just swim away like I was at a dead stop. These guys are also dangerous. I don’t go near them and they swim from me. It’s a deal.


IMG_3960 copy 2I encounter them regularly. Each time I photograph them. They are really pretty unique. I’m less intimidated by their danger now. They don’t move fast. And they seem to feel that they have the right of way. So I give them their space and they pose for me. I’ve improved my buoyancy so I can drift up close to get a better shot. It works.

Looking At You

IMG_3930 copy 2I have accumulated more dive shots than days for posting. So my posts are from events that happened some weeks ago in July. You take a lot of shots. Most are discarded. Some are in my mind and I look for the opportunity. We were in shallow (snorkeling) water. Farid says that they were attacking him. I think they were just curious. Either way they lined up to challenge us as we headed out to deeper water on the reef. I have lots of profile shots now. Julia got some head on shots and I’ve been trying to do the same since she was here.

San Francisco Cable Car

2100 02 San Fran cable car copy

Motion blur and tilted shot, this was an iconic image for me. I shot, tilting the camera to make the cable car horizontal. But the perspective says that we’re on the uphill side. And the motion blur makes you feel like you’re moving right along. I’ve done this shot since. But this was the first. And tilting the camera is a technique that I use frequently now. After all the years I spent telling Lisa to keep her horizon straight, I feel guilty breaking the rule so much these days. But since the advent of cell phone photography, it’s pretty common to see tilted horizons. The trick is in making it work for the image. Lately I especially like the technique for food photography.

Summer Rain

2095 29 Julia David pool rain  copy

Never mind the focus. It suits the mood. We were having a torrential summer rain. It was so heavy that the pool overflowed. The kids couldn’t stand to be inside and ran out to play on the deck. When you’re in the pool, you’re already wet. So a little more water wasn’t going to make much difference. Yes, I do believe that they were having a great time. I’d like to think it was a magical childhood moment for them.

Christmas Lights

2025 14 Julia xmas lights copy

We’re in transition. The kids are grown but not yet married. There are no grandkids. Lisa’s tired of all the Christmas decorating (and especially the take down). So last year was a minimal year with presents exchanged and a Christmas tree visited at my brother’s house. But back when the kids were small…. We spent a few Christmases at the Westhampton house. No matter where, the kids were all excited about the tree decorating. Julia loved to read and I had hooked her into reading the Nancy Drew series. Meanwhile I had to test the strings of lights to see if they were working. As soon I tested the lights, Lisa would put them on the tree. She didn’t think I could do the lights quite right. And here’s Julia all set to go, right in the middle of it all. Yes, it’s a fond memory.


2008 32 Julia reads swing copy

We had a maple in the front yard of the house. Lisa hung a rope swing and we had many a photo-op with the kids in that swing. Years later, not too many, Lisa got a gardener/landscaper who came along and trimmed the tree. He took down that branch. We never spoke about it again. I didn’t mention it because I’m sure Lisa knew what memories he took with that branch. What can you say; it’s been done. Of course, we never told him to cut down that branch. Still, I got a lot of memories of that swing. We’ve hung the swing again in the back yard. But no one ever sits on it. Somehow it was in the front yard with cars going by on the country lane that made this swing special in its location. 2002 28 Julia David swing copy


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Until this day, I remember the assasination of JFK as the sentinel historical tragic event in my life. This is the second. 9/11/82 happens to be our (Lisa and me) anniversary. This many years later 9/11/01 still makes me silent with the pain and the loss. A couple years ago Charlie and I were in the Bell 47 over lower Manhattan making a scouting run for a photo shoot he was to do a few months later. The ‘tower’ can be seen under construction but not yet above the surrounding skyline.

_DSC8627 copyI got an aerial of the memorial fountain. It has since been completed.

_DSC8065 copyThe damaged globe is in Battery Park and waiting for disposition. It’s not supposed to be permanent in this present location. The flags were memorial flags for the 10th Anniversary of the disaster. The victims’ names are printed on them.

_DSC8098 copyAnd I include the “Lady” because I took this image on the eve of the 10th Anniversary, when I walked through the area with cousin Amy. Hope. And of all things, it happens to be my anniversary. But I married on that date long before it was infamous.


1967 25 David bowls copy

The secret to this image is that David is left-handed. Looking at it in that context; the image and position of the hands makes sense. Otherwise it looks like he’s backwards and dropped the ball rather than bowled it. That right hand, I swear, is in a primed position but out of position. David swore he was doing it right. What can you say? There are bumpers in the gutters. I don’t know how many years ago it was and I don’t know if he’s a better bowler today. This was our once and only trip to the Port Authority bowling alley… so far.


1962 02 Forsythia Westhampton copy

This plant is really ugly most of the year. It’s gangly and unkempt. But, for a brief period in the spring, this bush really shines. So the trick is to get a shot that does it justice. The flower itself is not particularly photogenic. It’s really about the color. You don’t want to get too close. There are too many imperfections. The plant needs a pairing, hence the white picket fence. I’ve taken a lot of forsythia shots over the years. I’m still waiting for a better shot. But this will do, to illustrate my struggle.


1956 29 Tulips on tile copy

This an iconic view for me. We have a white tile floor in the kitchen in Westhampton. It’s spring and it’s tulip season. I’m trying for a shot of the tulips that is different from the usual. So I went for this graphic composition. You can see my shoes at the bottom. I’ve done this with other flowers in other seasons since this image. But this was the first shot like this for me.

Window Pane

1950 21 Julia window pane copy

I’ve posted this picture in this blog somewhere else. But I was in this folder and consider the image and its memory iconic to me. We were on one of the ski trips that we took with our friends affectionately known as the ‘Tyler Place group.’ We all met while we had vacationed with our families at, you guessed it, the Tyler Place in Vermont. So about once each winter we skied together. My recollection is that this was a rental house near Okemo. Just as we were packing to leave on Sunday, I got this image of Julia at the window. She was dressed in black so it was a perfect image to isolate her face and hands. Yeah, you get lucky like that sometimes. I’m just glad that I walk around looking for opportunities and that I’m lucky enough to have a camera handy when the shot presents itself. As with most of my images this was not posed but it was taking advantage the moment.