Word and Image

Archive for May, 2015

Feather Duster Worm

IMG_6300This is another tough subject to photograph. It is fairly rare to see on the reef. And the first times I saw it I was struck by how hard it was to get a focused image.

IMG_6012There is very poor contrast. And the color is muted. Flash definitely helped in both categories. The worm looks like the open end of a feather duster. It also disappears when provoked. And though I saw it several times in two days my previous encounters were very few.IMG_6293


IMG_5588Okay, here’s my first dividend with the new flash. This little guy is elusive. I have very few good shots. And I only got a single frame this time. He is shy. Which is to say, that every time I encounter one, it is headed away and hides under the nearest coral. So this was a grab shot. It was not even ideally exposed. But it was good enough to see the texture of the black spots and the green and blue color, which I have struggled to show in the past. Yes this was a good shot. Not great, that will come later.



I have seen these fish once last summer. They are large and swim gracefully. I thought they were shy. But here they are under the platform teeming with beginner divers.

IMG_6380 You know you are on the right track when an instructor is shooting along side you. I am told these fish have been here a while. I got my spiffy flash working. There is a difference between macro and wide-angle work. Here I am more wide and the lighting is flash and ambient light. But my images are sharp. Horray! The fish are large but drab. The point is that they are sharp and focused too.IMG_6368



It might be Willow. The two cats are brothers and they look alike to me. The point of this picture is that it represents a new change for me in underwater photography. Willow actually likes water. But this is not a series about cats swimming underwater. I bit the bullet and got a dive strobe. This is a considerable expense and a big step up in commitment. It is one more piece of equipment to potentially ruin with salt water. My recent trip home was so busy that I did not experiment for four days. Then I got the thing working in about ten minutes and in about 10 wasted frames. Now I needed a willing subject. Aha! The cats – and off I went. They were pretty tolerant. A bright light flashing is no fun. Nellie, my dog, invariably blinked and I would get closed eyes more than 90% of the time. Go figure.

Okay! I got this whole thing figured out. I was pretty smug. When I got back to Jeddah I experimented again. In all I shot about two hundred images and pretty much knew what to do. It’s like swimming on dry land. You need to be in the water.

The first problem I encountered was the batteries were in wrong. Somehow a pair slipped and were backwards going into the flash head. Dive one – a bust. No flash. Dive two – there was water in my housing. Once the camera is exposed to water (it was not wet) the flash stops working. No flash again. Third dive – a charm – I switched cameras and all went according to plan. Finally! Fourth dive – an orgy – we did four that day – it was a night dive!! And the flash and the camera were in sync and I got some good shots. There were no great subjects. But the thing worked as I had practiced. There is still a steep learning curve to get comfortable. But at least I am getting images now. It’s all good from here.


2286 07 Family copy

This is a typical poor snapshot photograph of the family. The exposure is hardly worthy. But there is a sentimental value in its remembrance. We are gathered for dim sum at a restaurnat in Flushing. Periodically I would organize an outing. It seems we had food in common though my kids did not like the fare. My in laws, my brothers, my aunt and the assorted kids would all come. My aunt would come early to stake out a table – no reservations. We would eat ourselves silly. The restaurant is long gone. And we no longer gather in this grouping. Times change. Nostalgia is a funny thing. The photo is more valuable for the stories that have changed with the years.



The lighthouse became a special setting. It sort of represents quintessential Maine. The first thought I have of Maine is the sea and the coast and then of the lighthouses I have visited. So when I traveled there with Colleen we visited all the lighthouses I remembered. Of the ones we saw this was the one she thought called to her. There is a certain point of view that most photographers miss. The reflection of the lighthouse in the pool is the special shot of this location. We spent an afternoon just sitting and smelling the “coffee” (actually the sea). In that time I watched a parade of photographers, some with tripods and serious gear, traipse up and down the rocks never looking at the image waiting patiently before them.


I set up this shot. No, I did not use a tripod. And yes, I used Photoshop. I more or less estimated the perspective and distance. I kept the focal length the same. Post production put us both in the image. Hey, it worked.




I have visited the Shaker villages – Canterbury in NH and Sabbathday Lake ME. I think most folks in the USA are familiar with Shakers and their crafts.

“Tis a gift to be simple. Tis a gift to be free.”


So much of what I have run across did not really sink into my consciousness. The Shakers are celibate. So their group has dwindled to only three current members. No new Shakers means that this group will soon be gone and so too will a rich history and heritage. There has been a great deal of historical preservation. But soon it appears as though the Shakers will be lost and culturally extinct.

Boothbay Harbor Bridge House


It’s a fairly famous location. And it has been for sale for a while. It still had a sign when I passed most recently. The house sits in the middle of a footbridge in Boothbay Harbor. It retails for $700k+. I suppose the terms and price are negotiable. You would of course be living in a goldfish bowl. One buyer bemoaned the fact that you could not park and unload your car conveniently. Me? I like walking around in my underwear at home. This would be a real issue here.


Cape Newagen


It’s a ride down from Boothbay Harbor. There’s a lighthouse and I have had some nice experiences here in the past. We hit it as sunset was in full swing. The first image is 24mm with my spiffy new 24-70mm lens. And the second was wider 18mm with an older 18-35mm lens. As with any high contrast scene the meter and sensor were limited in capability to capture what the eye sees. There are options. But I prefer to keep it simple. There are times that call for a super wide angle. It’s subtle but definite. Your choice but I’d go with the 18mm image.


Sunset – Heaven and Earth


Boothbay Harbor, autumn, and, sunset a great combination I think. Take your pick. I saw the clouds and the sunset. Then I noticed the cove and the reflection. Some days are just magical. The light was fading fast. I got the images. HDR might have been more dramatic. I’m okay without extra manipulation. My roots are slide film. So the inability to meter the entire scene is not a problem for me. I like the natural feel. It’s funny because Jules always could tell film from digital. I wonder how she’d feel about these images.


Penobscot Bridge


2120 foot cable stayed bridge. It is like the Boston Bunker Hill Bridge in that it is single cable. It is rather distinctive. There’s a place by the roadside to get a shot. But the graphic I sought was of the cables on the bridge span. It took two tries. Actually the first time was the better.


The second time through my copilot shot and she was not as good as her first effort. In deference I cannot be sure if I shot the better image. But it’s on my memory card. So in this instance I/we got the shot I sought.




I lived in Maine for several years. I always marveled at the abandoned vehicles in the yards of the natives. Yes, I am ridiculing the habit. Tell me? Why? Are they there for parts, as a monument, some totem of significance or just that the vehicle died and is left to rot. Okay. Sorry. I do not mean to insult. But you folks have some ways that we flatlanders do not understand. Eye sore. Proud?



The bridge to Campobello Island is from Maine to Canada. The island is Canadian while the access is via Lubec, Maine. So you need a passport. Yup. They don’t much check going into Canada. But the Americans are a pain. They stop you and ask whether you are a smuggler. Of course the reason you go is to see the Roosevelt house. FDR summered there. And there is a nice lighthouse.


Now I would not mention smuggling except that my former office manager, no name please, was with me once. We traveled over and stopped by to pick up a six pack of Canadian beer. Coming into the US a very nice border guard asked if we had anything to declare. She quickly answered no. I glanced back at the six pack sticking up from my jacket making a rather obvious bulge from the back seat. As we departed the gate, she turned to me and said, “I’d have drunk that six pack right there rather then pay any duty.” Oh, the life of an amateur smuggler….




I like to see artists at work. It is human curiosity to just be nosy. As I looked over their shoulders I was puzzled. There were three artists at work. It was in the middle of chaos at the Cape Neddick lighthouse. They are not, and I repeat, they are not looking at the light nor the ocean. They were facing the parking lot. So I am puzzled. I guess I might even go so far as to say they are working on imagination or it might as well be a photograph. The middle of a parking lot? I grant that there was a lot of traffic. I don’t get it.



I guess I might best describe this as the center grass of a round about. The cars circle and you get the benefit of all the fumes. Peace and quiet it’s not.



Artist At The Bridge


She was hard at work at dusk painting the scene. It is Maine and I suppose it is quintessential. At least there were some boats off in the distance acting as inspiration. The view below is more or less about the view my naked eye had for the rowboats. So detail was not so important. The boats and the place were the inspiration.


Snot What You Think


We were passing through Portsmouth and in a novelty craft sort of store… Guess what? It took me a moment to get it. Yes. The said object is for tissues. And yes it was funny for about a second. And no. I did not purchase said item as a joke. It was funny only once.

Don’t Try This


Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge – part of the big dig – it is a landmark when you enter Boston these days. I happened to do so by accident. I had intended to bypass Boston entirely. Instead I was downtown. Taking pictures is a rather interesting task. I shot through the car window holding my trusty camera as I drove through on a rainy day. You can look through the view finder and still drive or you can just point and shoot. I did. And sometimes you get a shot and sometimes you don’t. If you don’t try you get nothing.




The world’s tallest flagpole has a very large flag.


The flagpole is 170 meters high, breaking the previous record held by Dushanbe Flagpole in Tajikistan, which is 165 meters tall.[2] Previous record holders included the 162 m (531 ft) National Flagpole in Azerbaijan, the 160 m (525 ft) Panmunjeom Flagpole of Kijŏng-dong in North Korea, and the 133 m (436 ft) Ashgabat Flagpole in Turkmenistan. The flag weighs 570 kg and is 49.5 meters long and 33 meters wide.[3] Wikipedia


Hey, there is the world’s tallest fountain nearby too! Once in a while the flag disappears. I don’t know why. Maybe it goes for cleaning. I’d like to know where you have a washer than can handle that load. But here you are. The flag is at half-mast. I am told that the flag is never lowered unlike the USA where the flag is lowered for somber occasions. So I figure this photo is showing the flag going out for cleaning. Maybe the pigeons got it. Either way this image is not often one to capture. And as you can see I was speeding around the traffic circle with my iPhone in hand. No! I am not more crazy than the others whizzing around.

Pan Jan


This was the first place I tried and the last place for this review series. I was racking my mind for another place to try. There are Chinese buffets. And there is an oriental one off a main street near to Pizzeria Uno. I don’t remember the name and don’t fancy the drive and traffic. And last year during the world cup there was a special running at Tuesday’s. But it was suspended during the match. And Tuesday does not appeal to me right now.



Here’s a place that I just found when I was wandering around. I had eaten from their menu at a school dinner which Pan Jan catered. I simply could not find the restaurant until now. It is Asian fusion style. They offer nuts – two kinds – sweet and hot. The lunch special is a series of choices. I chose Mongolian beef, vegetable fried rice, and chicken gyoza. A drink is complementary. The lunch arrives in a Bento box and is very attractively presented.


There is a salad, of course. And the dessert is spectacular. It was fried banana with two dipping sauces and vanilla ice cream. Anything is better with chocolate dipping sauce.


The manager stopped to ask if everything was good. It is a very nice habit and touch. The staff is nice and efficient. I would definitely return and make my way through more of the offerings.



There are at least two restaurants. The one I tried was near the Stars Mall. It is a lunch special that was crowded. I eat in the singles area and it was completely full. I had the chicken special. There were several choices to be considered. This is the one that struck me. A large salad bowl was filled with iceberg lettuce of course.


There was a corn soup – warm – tasty. And there was a garlic baguette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table.


The chicken was covered in cheese and marinara. The four cheese penne was swimming in its sauce with some raw green leaves torn over it. Skip the leaves and soak the sauce with bread. The penne was not memorable but quite edible. The chicken was fine. It was actually not too dry. Too sweet iced tea accompanies. And dessert is any flavor gelato. I could not think of any flavors so I asked for and got hazelnut and chocolate in a waffle cup.


Ambience was silly. I sat a few feet from an oversized fountain. But anyone who knows me also knows that I joke about fountains. The noise of running water either makes you want to relieve yourself or makes you serene. Go figure.


This place was very good value at 59SAR and I would return.

Chez Paul


I actually have a small following here in Jeddah. So the news of specials at restaurants is news. And there are a few who follow up and eat there. I recently discovered that this is a hidden gem of lunch. You get a pretty good spread for less than full price. A bargain! Keep in mind that he prices are generally less than what I expect in the US. But hey!


Here’s a classic French Bistro. There is a founding branch in Paris. At least there is a promotional video that says that it is from France. The baked goods are pretty French but lack true pizzazz. But hey! It is a decent menu and I have enjoyed many a Croque Monsieur there. The hot chocolate is very different. It is thick and almost like drinking a liquid chocolate bar. It’s good!


Lunch specials are 48SAR and are varied by the day of the week. So when I appeared on Thursday the special was a grilled chicken burger. This was a grilled piece of chicken in a very nice roll with lettuce and tomato and pickle. The chicken was dry. The best thing was the roll. I will applaud the baker. A wimpy lettuce salad was forgettable. No drink but coffee and dessert were included. The coffee wired me. it was expresso and I was definitely wide awake. The pastry was a mille feuille and was filled with custard that was overly sweet so that the sugar was the dominant taste. Of course the pastry shell was tasty.


Service was subdued. This is a nice restaurant at different times. Late afternoon lunch was not special and I don’t have much interest in the other offerings. I would return for the a la carte menu.




There has been a banner for a long time at this Outback on Thalia St. It offers a business lunch special starting at 33SAR. That would be for chicken strips. I was more or less set to have a piece of meat – steak? The setting has outdoor seating in an air conditioned mall with a high glass ceiling. It is exceptionally quiet and not exposed to road traffic noise. So I give the place high marks for ambience.


The steak special includes steak and I chose one with pepper corn sauce. I asked for it to be red – medium rare. Around these parts, everyone eats well done. Unfortunately the style of meat is also very lean. So there is no way to be really flavorful and tender. This steak was definitely way lean.


Salad, cream of onion soup, bread, and bottomless iced tea were included for 59SAR. This was a nice meal. The good news is portion control so you do not leave overly full. I’d try this again. But I am still looking for a tender tasty steak.


Capo Grillo


In no particular order I am writing about a custom here in Jeddah. It is the so called business lunch. I sort of found it by chance when eating at a place called Rossopomodoro. It is an Italian restaurant chain. The location in Stars Mall has gone to another location which means it is likely out of business. I described the place in my blog a year ago. It offered a very nice meal – salad, soup, pizza, and main course with beverage. These special menus are available during lunch hours usually from 1pm till late afternoon.


Capo Grillo is Italian on Thalia St and has a large banner sign so it will be a permanent go to place. There are two lunch offerings at 40 and 50SAR. The 40SAR was lasagna and I had a sudden craving for pasta so I went with it. The 50SAR was a chicken main course. Salad and soup accompanied my choice of soft drink. It seems that restaurants like ice berg lettuce a lot. Otherwise the salad had lots of slivered carrots. The lasagna was quite a large generous portion served in a casserole dish. It was enough for two. But I was hungry and pushed myself to eat it all.


I think the place is very quiet. The service was decent. And the food was okay. I would like to try the chicken but otherwise I am not putting this restaurant on my regular rotation.


No One Was Hurt


I attended a karate match. Brown belts, they were among the best students. You score for landing a punch or a kick on the pads in the front or on the side. You are not allowed to strike high or low. As I said there were no injuries during this match. It just looks like something happened. Ouch!