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Archive for June, 2014

Puglia’s

IMG_4510Here’s a memory from long ago. During my residency in neurosurgery someone organized a dinner in Little Italy at Puglia’s. It had plastic red checked tablecloths thrown over picnic tables. There were candles stuck into empty wine bottles. And there was a “fat lady” who walked about with a microphone and portable speaker singing from table to table. The red and white wine on the table was mixed together to make rose whenever the wine got low. Get it? Funky, but it was just right for a bunch of residents on a budget. There were at least eight of us who piled into my little Honda Accord to go back uptown. This was the early small model built for four. Fortunately one of our group was tiny Stella Tsai, a neurology resident. She lay across the lap of several in the back. Somehow I remember Lisa was there as well. We were seriously overcrowded. But we made it home.

As for dinner, I remember there was an appetizer – “Sheepshead, half or whole.” It was $2.50 or $5.00. I thought for a moment and then said to myself, “I’ll pay to see that.” When the half head arrived it indeed was a half sheep head cut saggitally and our half included the pituitary gland (for anyone who cares). It stayed where it lay on the table until the end of the meal. Then the waiter without any bidding wrapped it up and gave us the brown bag. Obviously none of us were taking it home so … we dropped it off in the secretaries’ refrigerator in the department office. A day or so later I was told there was a loud scream when someone opened that brown bag. For those who do eat sheep’s head I apologize for being so squeamish. And it looks like the restaurant got an upgrade since we ate there decades ago.


Crazy

IMG_8235I have to admit that I’m in a quandary. Sometimes you look at something … and then it’s like you really ‘look’ or you just discover you’re seeing it for the first time. I did try to notice when Lisa cut her hair. It’s very annoying even dangerous (for me) when she changes things and I don’t take note.

My Canon G12 was acting a bit funny. Don’t ask; we don’t have enough space here. Canon’s repair website feedback was no help. They just sent back a series of generic answers. No prob, what could they really do? My paranoia is worse because this was purchased as a used camera. The images were soft almost unfocused. It was not consistently bad. But it was noticeable when we rode and saw the Pepsi sign.

IMG_8738The example provided here shows that the center of the image is in focus with definite blurring at the edges. I panicked. This is my primary dive camera. And if it’s broken, I have no way to conveniently or reliably get it repaired or replaced here in Saudi. Then I wondered if I was simply crazy. Was this just a function of the camera and lens? You can also see wide angle distortion at close focus as well. To cut to the chase, I took the G12, S100 and my trusty Nikon D200 to the field – soccer practice with Farid’s kids. I shot comparable images. What I can say: the Nikon has better images. Larger and better glass (lens) appears to win every time. The G12 is okay at the center but it was definitely soft on the edges. My problem is that I am shooting wide angle and close up while diving. Shutter speed is slow and the f stop is wide open, not a good combination. (I did have reasonable shots underwater in California, before I noticed the problem.) The S100 is actually pretty good with reasonable edge to edge sharpness.

Has the Canon G12 been like this all along and is it only now that I noticed the edge blurring?

IMG_8132Solving my problem is not going to be simple or easy. I’m locked into the G12 because I have the underwater housing and don’t really want to upgrade and get (spend for) another housing. So I made a compromise and got another used G12 from a reputable camera store. I’ll try to see whether the first camera is really broken. I can go back to the S100 but the battery life is terrible – too small battery for multiple dives. I don’t want to change batteries and risk getting the camera wet/fried.

And then logistically, this all happened just before I returned to Saudi. Now the trick is getting the newly acquired G12 into my hands in Jeddah. Mail it? A US postal package can take more than a month. And Saudi customs is very much a problem. They x-ray and examine everything for contraband. Things like bibles are illegal and confiscated. I have been told that someone with a magic marker blots out magazine pictures with inappropriate pictures. (Maybe not.) Someone has told me that the customs people may take what they want and a camera is certainly something that can be easily “lost in transit.” Insurance is no consolation. I also had medication renewals that did not arrive before I left. A perusal of the website states that medication cannot be sent without obtaining some certificate from the Saudi government. Good luck. The good old internet is no particular help; there is too much conflicting info.

In a wild/frantic/hopeful series of emails, I tracked down my neighbor Wissam, a neurologist, who had casually mentioned he would be in Pennsylvania this week. Great! I found him! He graciously agreed to carry camera and meds with his hand luggage back to Saudi. David FedEx’ed the package. David did me a big favor to find and go to FedEx just as he was headed out the door on an evening out. We needed delivery the next day. I had to send it to a hotel. I double checked and made sure Wissam was a registered guest and that the hotel would accept a FedEx package in his name. As I write, the final story is not complete but it does look like I’ve got a solution going. I had no past problems with medication coming into Jeddah. I’d hate for Wissam to be in trouble.


Take It Out, Use It

IMG_5285Guilty! There are folks who have expensive cameras, (not too many any longer), who have them stored in that camera bag or camera case until the moment comes for taking that ‘picture.’ Not so many bags any more, but I do see people walking around with lens caps on their camera lenses. In the time it takes to get the camera ready, the ‘moment’ is often gone. Digital has freed us. We don’t have to sparingly conserve film. And the smartphone, iPhone, has made it pretty convenient to shoot an image, and video too. I don’t shoot much video. With all the video I’ve shot, it’s now on DVD’s and no one much looks at them. So I’m comfortably sticking to images.

But my point, IMG_8495Grandpa Bill had some pretty nice camera stuff. And he kept it in pristine condition. The used camera market would list the stuff 9+, almost new condition. And Uncle Pete (Bill’s brother), was the same way. He kept a lot of treasures in pristine condition and well protected. IMG_5282Pete’s old Exakta was given to me in a large leather case along with its accessories. Nowadays film is dead and these old cameras are ‘art.’ It doesn’t make sense to have art and not be able to see it. So they are out now rather than wait for the kids or grand kids to discover the dusty cases. And my old Nikon SLR bodies are out on the shelf collecting dust. I look at them and realize that as I moved up through the Nikon line with better and better camera bodies, I never went back much and shot again with the old bodies. The kids did a few times. It’s kind of like feeling guilty about old girl friends I never stayed in touch with. I do have regrets but the future and history shows I was pushed forward._DSC7274 As for my cameras, DSLR, point and shoots, iTouch, and now iPhone, all are in readiness for action at the ‘drop of the hat.’ I carry one in my pants pocket. I hang a camera on my neck riding a bicycle. I went to Iguazu waterfalls in the pouring rain (umbrella blowing) and soaked myself and my Nikon DSLR. We both survived. I have not been bulletproof and I did fry a couple of Nikons (one film, one digital). Hey, it’s ‘living.’ You can live sheltered and never take a chance, or, you can ‘go for it.’ Everyone has a line where they think they won’t cross, a risk benefit continuum so to speak. Meanwhile all my cameras sit out getting dusty and ready to shoot.


Nick and Nannette

103-0350_IMG_2Today it’s about the story of some other dear friends. I’d say ‘old friends’ but you might take it the wrong way. It was a celebration at their place and I didn’t get a single focused shot. Light was great but the digital camera failed me. And I didn’t look at the screen. The good news is… no wrinkles, anywhere. Fuzzy is okay, I can make-up the details myself. Sometimes it’s possible you don’t want to remember all the details. We’ve been friends since the kids were in preschool. That’s a lot of years ago. 103-0349_IMG_2

 


Make Lemonade

105-0545_IMGI traveled to Hamilton College to watch one of Jules’ track meets and it was canceled. So we went to the Erie Canal instead. That was pretty neat. The canal slides are somewhere else and I haven’t digitized them yet. The film camera is long gone, relegated to the display shelf. I actually wore out that Domke bag. Judging from the straps hanging out, I was carrying more than one camera. 105-0554_IMGI like things old and ‘beaten’ but I finally broke down and asked Santa for a new black one. This is an early ‘selfie’ before anyone thought to call them selfies. That’s my dog Nellie. The biggest difference in my camera bag, i don’t need all that space to carry film. So I carry snacks and candy.


Lunar Eclipse

109-0944_IMGI got this one in digital with the Canon G3. It sure helps when the image can be checked immediately instead of guessing without feedback. Yes, you must use a tripod. And there are all sorts of technical details about night shooting. But the easiest part is in knowing you’ve got something for your efforts. And, no, I did not delete all the other shots. Did I mention that all my digital files are in a hard drive the size of a brick? 109-0919_IMGAnd did I tell you that I currently have about twelve bricks with redundant backups of my image files…and there was only one drive that had my G3 images… these images that I have posted today. Things can sure get confusing sometimes. Susan swears by Carbonite and ‘the cloud.’ I say, what happens if they go away. Companies can fold and your stuff is lost. Of course it also helps if your stuff is stored in multiple sites, which mine isn’t. 108-0891_IMGBack to my topic, mounting your camera to a tripod also allows you to do night shots. Bright lights will actually let you get a decent shot handheld. And I do his all the time when I don’t have a tripod handy. Still…