David was born in the middle of the night. I was scheduled to perform a delicate and difficult (vertebral artery) aneurysm surgery beginning at 8AM. Cancelled – postponed, change of plans. I mollified the patient by telling him that I had named my new born after him. The patient arrived a year later and asked how his boy ‘Vincent’ was doing. I had to do a quick recovery to respond. The obstetrician was a serious woman named Ida. My wife had used an obstetric group so she was the ‘oncall’ ob. “Ida! I always wanted to name my kid, Ida,” I told her as she gave me a puzzled frown. First name followed by last name, you figure it out. (There’s not much humor at 4AM). And poor dear Aunt Audrey, she had volunteered to watch J if we were in the hospital. so she was called in the night as well. This many years later, David has turned out rather well. I do my best to embarrass him and he tolerates my companionship.
We did quite a lot recently when I was in NYC. His sister is working in LA. And mom was busy at school. It seems we made a five borough tour walking and on bikes.
It was another series of magical moments for the memory bank. I am now introduced to the word ‘selfies.’ But sometimes good old-fashioned Photoshop works too. Happy Birthday, David.
This is another favorite location for movie producers. The boathouse is so named for remote control boats that ply the pond. There are rental boats. Or if you are hardcore, you bring your own. The picture is all about New York City.
If you go, this fountain is one that sits close by to the boat basin from which folks rent rowboats on a nice day. There are now gondoliers (Venice Italy) who can take you out. It’s not the same as Venice. The fountain is a popular NYC location in the movies so even if you haven’t been there, you’ve probably seen this fountain. I got this shot on one of my bike trips through the park. I bike and I always have a camera. Then you get to combine all the things you like to do…multitasking.
Down on the lower Westside the landfill development that came from the excavation of the original World Trade Center is still going strong. There is a marina behind which the new Freedom Tower can be seen. The tower is now topped and nearing completion. The development of the park allows for walkers, runners, and bikers to enjoy the waterfront. It’s a far cry from when this waterfront was for far seedier activity. I like the view. the Freedom Tower is done. So this construction picture is one that can never be repeated.
It was the Fulton Fish Market and largely ignored and shunned until it was renovated. The actual fish market and its pungent smells have moved away. Shops, stores, restaurants, and a wooden deck made the area inviting for tourists. It’s still nice but foot traffic is less and the area is still trying to invent itself. There are a few ships to tour. And there are events held. It’s just not a hub of cultural activity. I passed by a few days ago and noticed the whole of the boardwalk is being torn up. It seems that the wood does not last too long in the water when exposed to the sea life.
It’s always been in my life in New York. You take if for granted. It is a means of getting from point A to B. I have commuted over the bridge for many years on the way to work. I have biked over the bridge on the five borough bike tour. I have walked and biked the bridge just touring. And I have stood on Brooklyn Heights and at the South St Seaport. It’s an old friend that you sometimes forget, taking it for granted.
I am not a fan of tripods. I have one and use it very infrequently. I suppose I should use it more. However, it does have its moments and uses especially on long night shots. I used a slow tele and long exposure (seconds). Times Square is well lit and colorful. But it is still a challenge to get a properly exposed image. Still, there is a certain charm to a well exposed night shot of the city.
Got this shot? We rode the dinner cruise on World Yacht. One buys tickets and signs on for dinner. The route takes you down the Hudson River past the “Lady.” The challenge is that the boat is moving and the shutter speeds are slow. But you can do it. Just shoot a few extra shots to be sure one comes out sharp. Alternatively you can take the Staten Island ferry for free. Yup, free. And you pass close enough to the Statue of Liberty to get the shot also. You could even bring a sandwich.
The bridges of the lower East River provide the backdrop for some pretty quintessential shots of New York City at night. Digital cameras make this a pretty easy task. I don’t do much more than point and shoot. Of course a little compositional planning helps.
The Shinnecock Indians hold an annual Powwow on Labor Day weekend out in Southampton Long Island. I’ve been going when I can. It’s very colorful with native American costumes and pageantry. Anxiety? You go there hoping to see everything and to not miss anything. The key is to isolate the subject and to avoid modern life. So someone wearing tinted lenses does not make it. Most shots are close ups to focus on the face or costume excluding distracting elements. Contestant numbers are the most annoying things that spoil shots. This event is a recurring one and I have attended more than once. There are even a few participants I recognize from previous years. Imagine that?!
With all the ethnic groups represented in New York City, there is probably a festival or parade just about every weekend. There is a cluster of Brazilian shops and restaurants over in the 40’s just west of 5th Avenue. The crowd is enthusiastic. Green and yellow are the colors. And everyone is having a good time.
Being based in the Middle East, the day almost got by me. When I traveled to the US recently, the Saudi movie censors put blurred spots on all the crosses in the cemetary scene in Sherlock Holmes. No other religious signs are permitted except traditional Muslim. So my last Easter Parade in NYC was back in 2012. To be honest it’s not a parade. They close off Fifth Avenue in front of St Patrick’s Cathedral and people mill around seeking attention. There are the traditional and the strange all mixed together. If you wear it, I will photograph it.
I studied the internet and got info on the venue and the parade route. I knew it would be crowded and rowdy. I arrived hours early by subway to scope out the venue and to pick a place to shoot. As I walked the empty parade route, I encountered these three young ladies. They immediately posed shyly and let me take a few images. I took many more shots that day, hundreds and hundreds. I managed to get into the middle of the parade route and walked along side the marchers getting intimately close. But after all that, this is one of the best images and memories of the day. Who knew it would be one of the first shots. … I could have gone home early…
Halloween 2011, Columbia University, Baker Field, Yale vs Columbia. At least I didn’t travel far. It was snowing hard before kick-off and it never let up the whole game. Yale won. Yay! Snow is wet. I had an umbrella and my trusty long lens 80-400mm. I shot. I tried to keep my gear dry. I shot anyway. Alex remembers this game fondly. I remember being wet and cold. I’m used to cold when I ski. But when you are sitting and just moving your finger on the shutter, fun has an entirely different context. His Elis won and I got some shots. Everyone was happy.
I admit to being a photo opportunist. Alex wanted to follow his beloved Yalies to the ECAC Hockey Championships. It was held in AC, Atlantic City. It’s hilarious because Alex and I don’t gamble. The venue was where they used to hold the Miss America pageant. And no camera; I was stopped as soon as they saw my serious camera gear. I think it was the 80-400mm lens that really scared them. Other people got in with medium teles. So I fell back on my Canon G11 point and shoot. Now that’s a real challenge. There’s a shutter lag, you shoot, and a few milliseconds go by before the image is captured. At that lag, how in the whole wide world do you capture the action. Lighting is horrible and everything is moving to say nothing of the glass that surrounds the rink. You might as well not turn on the camera. So I just sat there and experimented. As with anything, I figured you have to follow the action. That means the puck is where the action is. Yup! I got a few with the puck headed past the goalie. Not great but not bad. You have to look close but that puck is in the frame.
I was fortunate enough to make it onto an island full of puffins. I’d do it again. The problem is that it would be a very arduous trip. So for now, once was enough. It’s not just the birds. There is fog and lupines.
You need the whole experience. The shot one sees on the post card is of the lovable bird statically positioned. You can’t point your camera and not capture a zillion of these shots. So what is unique? Pondering, I fell back on my sports experience (tennis, Manny) and realized that “flying” was the ticket. Ninety percent of the time the puffins are standing around. The last bit is flying. There’s plenty but it is not easy to have the focus, focal length, and composition all working simultaneously for a bird in flight. On this one I had no lessons or advice. I just relied on experience and imagination. It was a one shot deal. There are other things I might do since I am more experienced now. It’s great that things change and make you want to get better.
This post ties in with other discussions on this blog. J recently ran the LA Marathon. I met Charlie and we flew in his Bell 47 helicopter. I shot with Manny, from Sport’s Illustrated. Manny told me of the quintessential shot of the NY Marathon in which the image is made of the runners cresting the Verrazano Bridge. Well, I was in the position to try for this image. The shot had been described but I had never seen it. It was crystal clear blue sky day as Charlie and I hovered in his ship over the bridge. It also helped that he had been a former NYC Police helicopter pilot. We were not chased away from the venue. All that remained was to get that “shot.” You can go wide or tele. I know I didn’t quite get it right. I got a lot of images but the “one” got away. I still count myself lucky to have been there. A lot of stars came together for me to have the chance.
Boston is very different from New York. There are the Yankees and Red Sox, and the Jets and the Patriots (sports team adversaries). And then Boston, the start of the Revolutionary War, has its tradition of Patriot’s Day. Maine, almost an annex of Massachusetts, has a day off for Patriot’s Day. No such thing happens in New York. Nope! The significance is that this is a photo op. The day is devoted to re-enacting the early skirmishes of the Revolutionary War. I attended twice. Two acts of random kindness were bestowed upon me. I held a musket while the owner shot me (photograph, of course). And in the second, I got an up close and personal look at what it must have felt like to be the target of a British dragoon. One needs to remember that everyone here is American, just dressed in period costume.
The accuracy of the long musket was surprising…bad. I thought the long barrel made it a deadly accurate weapon. In fact firing the weapon was a challenge. There was smoke and fire. And, you were blinded for a few moments after the weapon discharged. Note here that everyone had their eyes closed upon firing. No one wanted to be injured in the making of this image. I discovered the key to the image was the smoke and fire.
While I’m on the subject of the ocean, I thought I’d mention the annual Lobster Dip in Maine. New Year’s Day at around noon a hardy group of folks gather and make a run into the ocean. This particular day was cloudy gray and colddddd! You can see snow in the background. For all its hype and build-up, it happens rather quickly. Everyone runs into the surf and right out again. No frolicking! There are divers on standby waiting to rescue anyone who flounders. No one does much more than get their ankles wet. Me, I was dressed in layers and in full winter gear except for my camera. Yeah it was as cool as it looked. This was the only time I was in the right place to attend, once and done.
You can hardly dive in these waters and not see lots of clownfish. They are in symbiosis with the anemone. Each protects the other. The colorful fish are aggressive if you approach the anemone. It’s always worth a shot. Sometimes you don’t see the fish well, there’s to much backscatter, focus is off, and loads of other issues. As time goes by, there is no lack of clownfish images from which to choose. Some are better than others. I just keep waiting for a quintessential image. In my head, I hear my wife’s voice saying, “You have an image, why do you need another?” To which I say, “Because…”
I saw a couple flatfish when I started diving and since then did not see a single one again till now. Of course the camouflage is designed to make it hard to see them. Looking closely toward the back you can see whisker-like extensions. We saw this guy right at the stairway where we enter the water. I had a hard time because the waves were pushing me around so a steady camera platform was hard to maintain. In every dive there is a moment when you see something special, extraordinary, that makes a signature moment. This was that moment on this dive. The fish is spooky looking to me, giving an almost prehistoric appearance. It didn’t stay around long… too much traffic.
I took a month or so off from diving. Then I talked Farid into a trip. We actually had an unexpected simultaneous hole in the schedule at the hospital. So we took off to the Red Sea on a moment’s notice. How many people can just pick up and be diving in about 45 minutes? Cool! Farid led so we were at 150 feet when I looked at my dive computer. At this depth the colors are blunted, less saturated, less vibrant. This is a cleaning station. The little guy is cleaning. It’s a practical symbiosis. Where else can you get your back scratched (cleaned) especially if you have no hands to scratch yourself. Larger fish stop by and the little ones take care of business. Who figures these things out? But this is what I have read so it must be so, if it’s in print. I’ve actually seen little fish swim in and out of the mouth of moray eels. Brave aren’t they? 150 feet, this would be the limit of my dive depth for amateurs. It doesn’t feel different, just the colors are blunted.
In my memory of sporting events, I recall watching demolition derby. That was many years ago when TV was black and white and ABC’s Wide World of Sports would show demolition derby. More curiosity than real sport, I enjoyed the mayhem.
It was decades later that I discovered that they do this at the county fairs in Maine. The fire department is deployed. The cars struggle along trying to disable one another. The crowd cheers. Someone wins. There’s little room to maneuver so there is not too much bone jarring crashes. You just can’t rev up and have a go from a good enough distance. It does draw a big local crowd.
Portland Airport. It was not the jet runway but close enough. They advertised an air show. With little else to do that day I went to see what’s up. There were some vintage planes. There was no flying show. It was a walk around of the gathered planes. Nice?!
I’m always torn between getting the whole plane or just a detail as an image. Yeah, with digital, just shoot away. I still have to pick one. You go to these events and never know what you’ll find. It wasn’t that much, judging from the sparse crowd.