Word and Image

Archive for January, 2015

German Chocolate Cake


Traditions. There are some I remember. Lisa could make a German chocolate cake better than any other I have had. Scratch. Yup. She made this from scratch. Even the icing was made from scratch. It was as good to eat as to photograph. The candles mean that this was a special order for someone’s birthday.

Catfish Eel


This is the second time I have seen these fish swarming during the day. Heretofore I have seen them on night dives. They are pretty spooky to see in the dark. The writhing mass moves slowly across the coral floor. On this dive the fish were under a ledge but in the open. I used flash anyway to bring out detail and color. They are still spooky during the day. They don’t seem to like me much either.




In order to maintain authenticity the biplane show at Rhinebeck used a grass field. It was sort of flat. At one end there was a nasty dip. And there was an uphill. From the other perspective it was a downhill made to help you gain takeoff speed. All in all it was not so even and a challenge to takeoff and land. I am told there have been accidents. But in all my visits there were only a few close calls.



I’m almost ready to commit to a more reliable external flash. This would be major money and more to try to keep dry and safe. My on-camera flash is helpful. It certainly works during a night dive. I can get very sharp images in available light. There is a definite boost to the color when flash is in play. My question? How do fish see? You may notice the fish eye bulge to the lens of the eye. And the pupil is dilated to catch all available light. But is the color spectrum of the fish eye the same as mine. In other words are colors drab and muted underwater or are the fish perceiving the bright brilliant riot of color I capture in the flash image? Help! I need a fish translator. I suppose it would not help to ask if some fish are colorblind.


Marshall Point Light


This was the first time I was here. I have visited many times since. It was as I recall a foggy day as we traveled to Port Clyde to have breakfast with the Tyler Place friends. Bob drove and stopped here while Kevin and Alex waited. I got my shots. We had a grand breakfast. I remember the first.

Christmas Tree Worm


You know, perhaps you don’t, or you weren’t paying attention… did I mention the first lesson I learned in med school is that at any given time only 25% of the audience is listening. In that case repeat yourself… repeat yourself… if you are paying attention I apologize for repeating. I did a post right after Christmas. They are tiny and fold away in an instant. So for me to get one with detail is not easy. We look everyday at images and think nothing of it. The Nat Geo guys shoot sharks breaching like it is easy to see and easy to photograph. Well, it ain’t. You spend a ton of time hoping and waiting. I have said it before, I am glad this is not my day job. Meanwhile I hope that you appreciate that this is pretty and damn hard to do.




A Maine institution in Wiscasett. Lisa and I used to laugh over how to pronounce the name of the town. Red’s sits at the bottom of a hill just before a bridge crossing. It is a given that traffic in both directions is moving slowly at any and all hours of the day. There is always a line waiting to order. I have peered at the menu time and time again. I have not been able to see anything special that would induce me to wait interminably. I’m from NYC. No one waits. There are simply too many choices. Red’s remains a landmark and is depicted in many many shots of Maine. This shot was from ten years ago. Not too much has changes – just the faces on the line. A true Maine native agreed with me. She told me that the place across the street if cheaper and faster and better. Fine dining it ain’t.

Took A Year



I saw this fish last year. Yes, I saw it last about a year ago at this same time. It was swimming quickly away and I got a few shots after a lot of chasing. This time around, it was swimming in a tight circle around me. I got lots of shots just by spinning around in place. Gotcha! I still don’t know what species. It has a tail that is disproportionately long. Disproportion is a long word too. Obfuscate is too. It’s the word I use to make you forget I don’t know the name of this fish.



(multiple values) Flash manual bounce 1/80 SB800

Warning. Don’t try this at home. And if you do keep in mind that double chin can be the result. It is another early flash experiment. The bounce flash gives fairly even lighting. But the image needs some more front light and a catch light for the eyes. Anyway, it seems easy enough to mess up the shot. For all my past subjects, I grimace at the mistakes you had to endure.

(multiple values) Auto SB800 direct and bounce

If you get it right then you can avoid the unflattering images. But the learning curve is always interesting. My Nikon D70 had a center focus point. It neatly did exactly that and got the bookcase perfectly focused. Later I found the Nikon D200 allowed for closest subject focus. After learning that, the images all focused on the near subject without the annoying out of focus errors.


Autofocus does work well when you plan. The manual focus of my youth does not surpass the focus on the eyes here. And it helps if you have catch lights.DSC_0030-2



This guy was kind enough to confront me. Most of the time they swim away. And I am very good at getting a good bye shot. But if you swim enough dives, once in a while a grouper will turn on you. Then you take your shot. I have come to appreciate how rare that is. What I wonder is about the other heavy duty photographers. They are rarely chasing down fish on the move. It seems that a fast moving subject is not any fun. Well there were the barracuda.. but mostly they stick to the non moving subjects. I still like to swim around and chase. Of course a little chasing around keeps you warm too.




I did a lot of container gardening for a while. This is a small sample in mid summer bloom. There were many plants and a riot of color. Different flowers and crowd them together, I was told. The metallic figure front and center was a gift from Lila to our garden. When we moved a few months ago it was left behind as a gift to the new owners. It was a few years since I have gardened and the most recent planting was drab. But once upon a time there were lots of plants and color. And it was as though a private backyard was there in Manhattan.


Giant Clam


Gorgeous. There are some things you run across with such rich color and texture and… Giant clams are pretty plentiful. The other day I saw one mating. How? Well they discharge the genetic material into the sea. It looks like a cloud. On the image it looks like dirt fogging the picture. So it does not amount to an image. And mostly they clam up when I approach. Ha, yes, humor, sometimes you gotta laugh. But some of the big guys don’t close all the way. And others just let you shoot. I have not heard if they are good to eat. But personally I avoid blue food. How giant? About a hand spread – hmmm maybe more – say 12 inches wide.

Have you wondered how the images are so sharp and color so brilliant? Good. Even with the water there, the image is better with careful white balance and being very close to your subject.

Group Shot


A long time ago in a galaxy far away…. This is an archived photo of the Tyler Place group back about ten years ago. I daresay a lot has happened in ten years. Grand kids are running all over. Relationships have changed. Well… lots have happened. I am the one in the outrageous Hawaiian shirt. Everyone else has pastel shades and it is actually kind of staid. Ordinarily I am pretty conservative in my wardrobe choices. This was the last time I wore this shirt. It was never seen again. I was told that my stuff was put away and if I did not look for it within a year, it was disappeared. Gee, I miss that shirt.

Bubble Coral and Fish


I have to admit that David showed me that the Canon G10 images could really be enlarged and still hold detail. For the most part this is true. At the moment I shoot at max wide angle and shove the camera as close as I dare to the subject. In this case I did so. But this tiny fish is barely visible on the coral. And to get the fish and eyes so focused sharp, well it is blind luck. There is no way I could ever handhold and focus this shot. So my hat is off to the engineers who set this autofocus up. I do indeed point and shoot. It turns out my efforts get me a reasonably high percentage of good images. And the best news is that it is all for fun. I have a day job that is less random and demands perfection. I can do that too.

Ivory Sculpture


I took care of a physician who had a rather extensive art collection. I did not know the value of the things he had. He offered me a choice of some things in his collection and this ivory figure struck me. Carol hated the thing. And Lisa loved it. Somewhere along it was explained that this figure was used in physician’s offices. Women would point on the figure to explain where their symptoms were bothering them. This avoided the embarrassment of directly touching herself for the woman. And as I reconsider, it is possible to point and make yourself understood. Not only that but the figure has some style rather better than pointing to a chart. But in order to examine the patient there is going to be some touching somewhere.

Color Change


Duh!? It finally dawned on me. I’ve been photographing stone fish regularly for three years. The come in different colors. There was one bright pink one I saw for a while. He did not blend with the surrounding coral. The again, what is the color of the stone fish supposed to be? Underwater things are tricky with light and color. Colors change with depth. Reds become muted.IMG_5222

And then the stone fish I see are sedentary. They don’t move. They are said to be dangerous with poisonous spines. The teeth and bite are not poisonous. The stone fish attacks in a few milliseconds and eats its unsuspecting prey by creating a vacuum that sucks the fish into its mouth. Well and good, but I did not realize the fish change color. Octopus and cuttle fish change. So too do the stone fish. I actually found this guy myself. After a couple shots, it got skittish. Usually they stay perfectly still. I can move in close for a shot. I admit I have been bold. I get right up in their face. This guy was nervous. He moved away. And then he took off again. The camera was not his buddy or he was camera shy. Maybe … well he did not bite. Reviewing my images it finally dawned on me.


The color changes were not due to the depth. The fish was trying to blend with the coral. Octopi act this way. They don’t change immediately. It takes a few seconds. Voila. Lightbulb! Aha!

Night Fog


This was a hand held shot. With fog I am not sure a tripod would have added much more detail. Digital is so forgiving. You can get a shot at night with the ISO freely adjusted. Noise starts to become an issue. There is more fuzziness. But if you are not too nuts the fuzziness works. This shot would not have been easy with film. Here the immediate feedback allows for adjustments. That is a big plus and increases the chance your image will be satisfactory

Willey’s Dorid – Nudibranch


Nudibranch. I was diving with some heavy duty photographers. They all had big rig cameras and lights over $5k. I had my point and shoot Canon. No camera envy. I got the most out of my camera and won’t have heartache if there is water that gets inside my housing. It will hurt but I will not have a heart attack. Down at around 80 feet there were two. Same species and they were big. The subject doesn’t move fast so you have plenty of time to get a shot. What you try to illustrate is the tuft and the horns. Looking closely it is easy to see them.


Meanwhile there was some very expensive glass shooting while I stuck my Canon into the fray. Knowing your gear is a key to getting a shot. At this depth I utilized flash to get more natural color. Do I have camera envy? In this case, yes. But the price is prohibitive. Note to self – the price is prohibitive.


African Daisy


Color, pattern, and detail – all are important to making this image. it is not commonly grown in NYC. I found it in a nursery and grew it in a container garden on the deck. Then I moved in for a graphic macro shot. Since I first saw this flower in the nursery, I see it quite commonly. They were in abundance in California when I visited last year. It seems I am not the only one who likes different.

Trunkfish – Shy



After diving for almost three years, I am beginning to understand habits of the marine life a bit more. The tiny trunkfish is shy and very observant for predators. I know to hold my breath and not blow big noisy bubbles as I swim after it. The fish has angular features and this is because the skeleton is a firm boxy bony structure. The coloration fairly cries, “Eat me!” So I can understand the shyness. I find it very hard to catch the subtle coloration. It has a green top. And the sides are blue spotted. Yes very colorful. Ordinarily that should mean – go ahead make my day, eat me and die of some poison in my skin. But as far as I can tell, this guy swims away for his life every time we meet.


Self Portrait 2004


I had this spiffy new Nikon D70 and I was experimenting with images and lighting. I was using natural light and flash. Anyone who wandered into my path got in on the experimenting. This was bounce flash. It has even lighting and there are catch lights in the eyes.

Once I mastered the basics I tried to get some family group shots.

DSC_0044We never did get that special shot. You know the one the professionals get. Retrospectively just to get the four of us in a single frame was special.

Crab Dinner


Here’s a reversal. Farid pointed this scene out. We were peering over the rail to a rock below us on the pier. I cannot quite grasp how this fish was caught. The crab was deformed and missing a claw and legs. But it had supper and was intent on consuming its meal completely. We dove and the meal was still in progress more than an hour later. It all doesn’t seem to add up. The fish should never have been prey to a crab. The crab was at a disadvantage with missing claw and legs. The scene was unexpected.

Fish Supper


This is different. All the diving I have done rarely affords me the opportunity to see one fish eat another. This grouper had more than a mouthful and was determined to swallow its prey. There are other shots of fish with pieces bitten away. And somewhere I have a shot of a fish missing part of its head. Ordinarily this type of grouper is shy and swims away as soon as it sees me. Not today, this guy was awkwardly swimming but could not escape the camera. Maybe it was worried I wanted a bite. Either way I got a few shots and the grouper got supper.




It is a rare event to see a turtle. My last encounter was magical. It was about a year ago when the kids were here and we swam with one. This time around Farid spied it. He hunted as a kid. His eye is trained in a way that mine is not. He sees things all the time that I miss. The turtle is old. The shell is all worn. Farid first saw it in the open water and we swam after the turtle to no avail. Then it swept behind the coral a coral outcropping. We approached from the right and left. The turtle didn’t know which way to flee. Farid held it. I got video and stills. Sorry kids, we played with the wildlife again.


No turtle soup, it wriggled free and swam away. No video here in this post. Farid’s kids will love the movie. But the shots I have posted are the trophy of our encounter.