Word and Image

Archive for February, 2015

Close Up


At the Corniche there are sculptures which I see and am unaware of their significance. Then I am reminded that magazines and newspapers show a single image to go along with the story. So here is my close up out of context to the whole sculpture and showing a neat graphic and color. For fun, sometimes you just take a shot for the sheer fun of it.

Ok, ok the full magilla.


Spotted Eel

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I had a pretty special dive a while back. Most dives you have a moment. It is the opportunity in the dive when you have a subject that is perfect. The lighting is good. The fish is lined up correctly. You actually see the subject. Most of the time you catch a glimpse but cannot get close or you see nothing at all. This was my second dive of the day. I had no expectation. The first dive was a bust and I was resigned that today would be a wash. Some days you just don’t see a fish worth a photo. And then… in the space of less than an hour, there was fish after fish after fish. Different types and all worth a picture, I was in aquarium heaven.


The spotted eel is pretty rare. I have seen a glimpse once and then a view. But this time we had one in open water and it was keeping in sight for me to photograph and even get a short movie. I chased it. It slithered and tried to hide. My die buddy stuck around. He ran out of air afterward… I got the shots. It is a weird looking creature with a mouth no one would want to kiss. And there are gills behind the ears. Do fish have ears?




I have had a group of friends who have met up for more than a quarter century. That is a long time. We had very disparate view on many things. Political discussion was forbidden in the name of friendship. But some things are unfathomable. For instance, I had no idea Alex bowled. He brought his own ball to one of our gatherings. The things you learn. Hmmm…


And then there was the walk to the breakwater lighthouse in Rockland. We did that walk more than once – just for the fun of it. It was fun I think.




_DSC1158This is the modern area newly renovated for the public along the sea. There are few public spaces. Mostly the sea real estate has private estates. Sculpture and art are there. Across the way is a former king’s palace replete with a staff of a thousand or so and no one to serve. I like the splash of color among the black. It’s a pleasant walk.


A Challenge


Small and skittish fish are hard to photograph. Breathing underwater is surprisingly loud noisy. I learned this listening to the sound track of the movies from my camera. And I am a big thing in a black dive suit. Indeed this must be intimidating to a small fish. The spot on the dorsal fin is to distract and mislead the eye into thinking the fish is headed in a different direction or larger than it is. Sometimes you sneak up and get the shot. Or else we would not be looking at this image. It helps to not blow bubbles as you sneak.

Colgate Sign


This is an iconic sign in New Jersey across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It will likely remain a reminder of the past. No one seems to mind it staying. With all that is torn down and built over top, it seems that this sign will continue to be visible for the time being. In the same view you can catch the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. So this sign shares space with other icons in the Manhattan skyline.


Featherduster Worms


A pair! It is so unusual to see one. Here’s a pair. They look like feather dusters. And they close up as soon as you threaten them. Pink ones are quite rare to see. The unusual is usual. At least you take this image and say to yourself it’s nice. I say it is something you rarely see and appreciate that this is a special moment.



This is the fireplace on Long Island. But it is more or less representative of many fires I have known. The image recalls ski trips to Vermont. There was always a fireplace. It was part of the ambiance.

When I met Lisa she didn’t know the first thing about lighting a fireplace. Now I am permitted to do nothing.

And there was a fireplace in the Ventana Inn where we stayed just before Jules was born. I recall fires cheerfully burning at the Egremont Inn in the Berkshires. The kids raked leaves that weekend.


Warm cheery meant cold windy outside. Perhaps with snow or not – there were so many fires I have known. All are pretty uniformly associated with nice memories. Friends and family were usually in the picture. I recall a last ski trip that Jules and I made to Vermont. We skied and had a fireplace to ourselves. That I recall is the last fire we made together. Yes, I can recall many a fire with many a good memory to go with them.



Get in close. My early pictures were less so. I got brave. So far I have not been injured. Rule: don’t touch anything. Corollary: Don’t let anything touch you. Stonefish are supposed to be poisonous and dangerous. Myth or truth? Don’t touch anything. So familiarity breeds…. and I am braver and getting closer all the time. I’m not seeing any teeth and the fish is quite docile. It just sits there and stares at me staring at it. So far so good.


Flash Experiment


Ghost images made by multiple flash exposure. I did it once. I have not had the need to do it again. It was an experiment in using my flash settings. I would have to read the manual to remember the technique. There are many things you try. I forget more than I remember. The things you use everyday get 99% of your images. It is still useful to experiment. Sometimes you do get to use a long lost skill.


But flash photography and I have had a long relationship in which I controlled very little in our image making. I am a reluctant user of flash and prefer available light. So this was my one and only multiple exposure foray. Thanks Dave.

Spiny Balloonfish and Orange Striped Trigger Fish


I got this image under a coral ledge. I used the flash to my advantage. It reminds me of two fish conferring. I am sure that this is not the case. Fish can’t talk right?



Who they are does not matter as much as the sentiment. I think someone will know them instantly. The image is of deep friendship. Two buddies sharing a moment – not too many moments like these come around. I wish it were not so. And the moment is gone in an instant before you realize it. I just happened to be there this time when the instant was in view.


Eggs In A Basket


Here’s something that I can only point out. We were able to see this behavior several times in a couple dives. This fish is carrying eggs in its mouth. I have heard male fish do this sometimes. Male or female you decide here. But it kept its mouth open and looked like it had marbles bulging its lower jaw. I was surprised too that the fish kept to its spot and did not give ground as I swam closer to get a picture.

NYC Aerial


This was my neighborhood for a long time. It is Manhattan. Charlie and I were returning from Rhinebeck. Ordinarily I would be handling the controls. But this time I was the photographer. I still have my nose pressed to the window of a passenger jet whenever I pass over NYC. But this one time we were over Manhattan and I had a perfect view.


I admit to three fantasies. Flying, diving, and jumping from an airplane with a parachute. The third is not an option any longer. I have finally decided to act my age and will pass. However both my kids jumped from an airplane in a tandem jump in different countries on different hemispheres within a week of one another unbeknownst that the other was doing it. Does the apple fall far…?

Old School


This was a goof picture based on the ever popular selfies. I simply used Photoshop. Yes, I readily admit to doing this. We each took a shot and I was able to match the images well enough to clone in two people. The interesting thing is that we really were classmates with desks just like this. So this is not New York but it was West Virginia where I grew up. The desks were in a Shaker Village schoolroom. And somehow I remember them being a lot larger. Yes there were inkwells. But there was no ink by the time I attended.

In Charge


As a general principle I dive with more experienced divers. I have reached the rank of rescue diver master diver. That would place me just below an instructor level. I don’t particularly care to lead or to watch over less experienced divers. I have had many an adventure with novices who have dived with me. A master diver hooked up with me and my assistant. I should have refused. I was going to have my eyes glued to my assistant and another diver was just too much. He was good. Off with his regulator and he posed for a picture with Nemo.

IMG_4442I was taking some shots of my own. A blue spotted ray presented itself for me. Not too shabby, the day was going well until the second dive. The water was a little rough and there was a current. My assistant had buoyancy issues.


Looking at his profile it is easy to see he is not completely comfortable in the water. If you cannot tell then you have not dived enough. I had already added weight to him but he had a tendency to float up. And at the end of our dive he was unable to remain down.


No big deal except for the surface waves and then there was the random up and down motion to make instant sea sickness. He threw up. Not good at any time and especially when you are underwater with a regulator in your mouth. Nasty! So here I was in the rescue mode holding the poor guy by his regulator and bringing him in to the shore. There was another diver away who watched intently as I did the rescue thing. And our companion master diver grinned at me and said, “At least we came back – three.” There is no doubt some humor here somewhere. As for me, a little more up and down and I would have been sick too. I am wondering if it was such a good idea to get rescue diver status.



My dog Nellie was always anxious whenever anyone was out. She would sit by the door just dozing. And the moment there was noise in the driveway, her head would raise and she would perk up to see if the missing member of our family was home yet. Somehow it was easier when Nellie worried. She did enough worrying for both of us.



And this is the screen saver on my phone. My kids were unhappy when I told them I loved my dog more than them. I was kidding of course. Nellie had a knack for blinking whenever the flash fired. It was quite a trick. But she could do it consistently. How the heck do you distract a dog?




I take it for granted that you can easily see the fish in this picture. So I was surprised when Farid’s kids did not see this stonefish immediately. Right there!! It so easy. His kids are 6 and 4. Kelly the younger was not able to see the fish till we pointed it out. I was interested to realize that her eye is different than what I see so easily. I use the eye as my point of photographic focus.


From a different perspective, I guess I realize that stone fish are not easy to see in the wild. I easily do not see them because the blend to well with the coral background. Sometimes it’s nice to realize a different viewpoint.

Safe Landing


The pilots at the Rhinebeck air show are very experienced. Some, as in this case, are flying their own planes. The easy part is the flying. The interesting moments occur upon take off and landing. As I said the airfield is by no means smooth. So it requires a bit of skill and concentration to return safely. From a certain viewpoint it seems the planes are about to crash. But so far so good.


Fairy Basslets


IMG_4958They are bright orange and in abundance on the reef here. They are hard to photograph. They never stay still long enough and are not large enough to really focus upon. So I just let the autofocus get lucky. Background is helpful to make them more appealing.


The stuff to the left is fire coral. It is not red and not particularly dangerous looking. Do not touch it! I brushed against it once upon a time when I was inexperienced. Repeat! Do not touch. In fact do not touch anything. I had blisters form instantly where I touched this coral. Impressive! Oh yeah! And in two minutes before I left the water, the blisters were gone. Impressive too! But the rash and the itch at the site left me miserable for weeks afterward. Yup! Do not touch.

Spine Surgery


Blood attracts attention. This is basic carpentry. There is not too much finesse in play here. The spinal canal was decompressed. Large screws, rods and a cross link were inserted to stabilize the spine. The problem with photographing spine surgery is that all the field is red and the anatomy does not show well at all. You cannot appreciate the screws; just their tops are in view. It all looks intimidating. It is. This system was inserted about ten years ago. The technology is old already. We have moved on to variable head screws. Just like the anatomy, the picture tells me much more than it can the casual viewer.


And this is cable. One professor of mine exclaimed he would never use it. For some problems this is the way to go. Braided cable is softer to work with and is less dangerous to use for certain conditions. So I did. It is much akin to the right tool for the right job. Knowing what is available helps in finding the best solution.

Pretty Nice

IMG_4947 You might think it’s easy. But, it is not easy to find the same spot every time you dive. There are some landmarks. But largely I do not find the same things twice in a row. In this instance I found the same giant clam two days in a row. And while editing my images I was still struck by its beauty and color. At least I am consistent. If you would ask me to return it would be an even bet that I will not remember the location and will not find it again. Yes, this is not the same clam. Close but no cigar.IMG_4953



I love the googles. This old biplane did not go more than a few feet off the ground. It was too delicate to fly. So every week or so someone took the plane, taxied to one end of the field and flew a few feet off the ground for about ten seconds. It felt like Kittyhawk.

Great Barracuda


Lately there has been a group of barracuda swimming around the reef. They showed up. They seem to have gone. Meanwhile I was under the impression that they are dangerous. They swim away from me as fast as I approach them. The book calls them “Great.” They certainly do not appear threatening. I follow the rule – do not touch the wildlife.



Another tip I was told is that single fish are hunting and a school or group are not. You looking at singles here…