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Archive for September, 2015

Drive In Movie

_DSC1898The clouds you see are a harbinger of things to come. Our destination was the drive in movie. _DSC1914You have to wait till dark. Duh?! We were there to see Minions. I’ve been under a rock. Jules has seen them before. I’m clueless. It’s what happens. You blink and you are old! And? It rained! Oh brother! It was hot in the car. San Luis Obispo, it’s a town. And there is a drive in movie. Not many are left in the world. I was last in one in Maine and before that in Syracuse, New York. The sound is locally broadcast over the FM radio station. _DSC1946The have a concession stand. Family movie, no kissing required. Do people still try to smuggle others into the place in the trunk?




Generally any portrait is focused on the eyes. With fish it is not too much different. But there are times when the fish would prefer anonymity.IMG_8478

So here is a flatfish. The eyes are on one side and barely visible. In fact the whole fish would rather wish you to never seem him at all. I usually have a dive buddy spy him first. So the camouflage works for me.


Then there is the technical problem of color balance. I was lucky enough to shoot this subject on two different dives.


Same set up and same strobe gave me two different results. I could not seem to expose and get out the green tint. The green is more natural to what I actually saw underwater. The first set is more natural color to my eye. Ether way the fish is just trying to avoid my plate.


Side view – regal angelfish – yes, they eye matters. You’d never accept a tail view. Head on is better. But the fish generally avoids a big air bubble blowing diver. This is more a catalog shot for ID. Ok, the mouth open gives some interest.


Goatfish. Don’t ask. I don’t know why the name. The eyes are wide. The pattern of them resting on the bottom is not too common for me. They were just holding there. I swam up slowly and got a couple shots. It was the behavior that struck me. …all nice and calm resting on the bottom. Fish rest?


Supermoon Eclipse

_DSC4486aOk! Live and in color! The supermoon and lunar eclipse. Got it? Have you been under a rock? It occurs rarely. _DSC4361a

I think that I have been involved with the recent ones through sheer luck. This was the last supermoon that occurred recently.I just happened to be home. And where I am in there are no clouds. Lots of haze is about. But there are no clouds mostly.

_DSC4436aThe humidity is so high that my lens fogged immediately. Ah! But the object is not to complain but to adapt and adjust. The sliver of the moon was fast disappearing. _DSC4440aGet a shot. I did! It’s not the best. But it is. What I needed is a tripod. Instead I used a garbage can (it was the nearest available) and propped my camera. It’s far from perfect. But ingenuity. I used a long exposure and high ISO. _DSC4481aThe image is fuzzy. I adjusted my settings and got something. Digital is amazing. I could get something my eye could see but ordinary film would never record. It’s not much but I would not have a backstory with an image, eh?_DSC4494aIt’s always good to get something. It’s better than nothing. Right? Yup!_DSC4418aThe start of it all. I don’t get the ending because the sunrise coincided with my work day. But what do you know? I got shots. Not good but they are better than a blank sky. Sorry you missed this. There won’t be another till 2033.

The View


El Capitan camp ground. North of Santa Barbara and it’s a wedding destination Jules and Jeff found and arranged.


The lower campground has a large firepit and tables that will be set up for eating. There will be a dance floor. The nice thing is that the guests will arrive and stay for two nights. So the party will go on and on.


The ceremony will be at the top of the hill with the ocean as background. Yes, that would be the Pacific Ocean over Jules’ shoulder. There will be a bus to ferry guests up the hill. It was a nice walk from the bottom but you don’t want to make the guests do any work.

Glamping – yes it’s a term


Jules is getting married next year. It’s called glamping, which she tells me is glamorous camping. Ok! Three styles for your approval. A cabin, it’s cute and has a bed and loft.


The tents have wooden floors and are pretty civilized. And then there are yurts which are round and larger than the tents. They look pretty good to me. And there are amenities – pool, gift shop, grocery, and café. Choose wisely. It sure looks like fun.


The kicker is that camping is communal showers. I like things like floor and ceiling. So it’s the cabin for me.

Starfish In The Sea


There are several types that I see. This one is a pebbled sea star. The other is a Ghardaqa sea star. Arabic does not follow the convention of “u” after ‘q” so it is disconcerting to type, especially names.


Nice. Cute. Solitary. Frequently found under coral. They aren’t too special to me since I have seen lots of starfish in the aquariums I have frequented. But I’m still having fun finding them during a dive.


Natural light does not make the background fade. It gives an overall tint of green with reds washed out. Digital white balance can compensate. Flash gives a more natural look. But then again, why are the animals red at all. At depth the natural color fades and red is not really seen. Or it is dull. So why then be red? There’s a question here somewhere. If you can’t see red are you invisible. Or, does sea life adapt anyway and not see red? Or are fish color blind? I’m not wiki so I will let you look this fun fact up.

Santa Barbara Beach Art


Sunny California. There’s a drought on. So yes, it’s sunny. We were on a tight schedule. No time to dawdle. So we got to the beach and had to get a move on. The reason is that we had to get to the drive-in movie by dark. Wow! So I got a couple pictures. Hey, I live on the Red Sea. So the lack of time at the beach was not too terrible. Of course you don’t see artwork on the beach where I am.


From abaya to nude art, that’s a pretty big leap from where I am. Ah, there’s plenty of sand in the dessert but no naked mermaids in the sand. They have to be here already, right?

Boxer Shrimp


Night dive. Told you, they are fun. These colorful guys are attractive snacks so they stay hidden. Well I wouldn’t know. They seem to be all shell to me. But they are impressive. Of course the veteran divers are pretty blasé about it. To me they are still a thrill. But I’ve shot a lot of them too. Still, I’m excited because they are not easy to spot and hard enough to shoot. No, they are not snack material for me.


I couldn’t resist another shot posted. There’s a lot of color and the antennae are striking. My ability to get a close up does not permit an eyeball view. I live within the limits of my gear. It’s pretty neat anyway.

Chocolate Maya World


Santa Barbara. It’s a beautiful city. California coast. Wealthy. Lovely downtown. Lots of shops. There was a full blown protest march in progress on the sidewalk. Live and let live. The protesters mingled peacefully with the shoppers. We were on for a short stroll before heading up the coast. Down near the beach we passed a little mall. I noticed this store. I see Godiva and walk by. But somehow this store had the right appeal.


I’m also a sucker for toffee lately. Don’t read the recipe. It’s full of sugar and butter. It’s definitely bad for you. But moderation… I keep saying moderation. And then I eat another BLT. Well dark chocolate is my other sin. And the combination was too much temptation. We bought and ate some on the spot and then got a bag to go.


We worried that bag and hoarded it all the way to the end of the trip. No sharing. It was our secret. Good to the last melted piece. It was a car trip. Sure, it was gonna melt.

Twin Chromodorid Nudibranch – How Nice!


Each dive brings something interesting. And on night dives, which happen infrequently usually something spectacular happens. After a while you get used to the unusual. No big deal. I’ve done more than 250 dives. That would be a lot for someone who only dives on vacation. But there are divers with more than 5000 dives. It was during Ramadan. People don’t dive much during the day because they are fasting. So this group showed up to dive at night. How wonderful! We did two this night. That is unheard of. We only do a single night dive. But they came to dive and were doing two. They were gracious as they broke their fast. I was invited to pot luck dinner. Everyone brought stuff and I shared.

Two photographers I knew well. The other two were new to me. And then the last guy showed up late. He arrived as we were ready to go into the water. All the others ribbed him but we all waited patiently. He smoked a cigarette and then we were off. Down around 70 feet we found this nudibranch. It’s relatively bigger than what I am used to seeing. And everyone got shots and video and …. One guy hovered and video lights blazed for a good 15 minutes. And two guys wandered off in the other direction, got separated, and missed this subject entirely. It’s big! I have not seen one since and never before. It was special. And here we are. A single shot among many I made. One. Pick one. I refrain from showing all the other nice images. But then among them, I had to choose one…oh the agony. I look at this one image and the memory of that spectacular dive comes back. It was pretty special that night.


Topanga Canyon


Everyone knows this place. Jules did not mention it. Have I been under a rock. No. It”s a funny and very twisty winding road to the top. And Jules was prepared. She brought some non alcoholic ginger beer to calm her stomach because she got dizzy. She was the driver! We shared the beer. No alcohol for me either.


No. I am not going to show you the canyon. I missed all the shots. My camera was not ready. This was a chance encounter when Jules headed up the twisting winding canyon road to avoid traffic. I missed all the hippie artwork and village. I got some very straight evergreens. And finally we made the 101. Up the road and she had smartphone in hand. Right? Jules refused to go back down on the way back.

Picasso Trigger Fish


There are certain fish you just wait to photograph. Which is to say, you see them but you can never get a shot. Too shy, too fast, too far away, whatever the reason, you just don’t ever get a shot. There are one or two fish that also do this to me. The Picasso trigger fish is one such guy. They are often in a group of four or so. They have tiny side fins for maneuvering. So they look slow enough to swim after. But they never let me get near. I have tried. Patience is not big for me. So mostly I see them and don’t try too hard. Eventually the opportunity presents itself. Patience! I have learned to take the shot when it is available. There are more in my head but not on my memory card yet. Well, there’s also that redhead….

More Than A Mouthful


Colorful mouth. Look closely.


See? It’s easy. Huh? Well, I didn’t see it. The group of divers I was with went nuts. Everyone was taking pictures. I thought is was because he had his mouth open this is unusual behavior by itself. I did not know the fish has inside lips that are colorful. Neat!


Whoa! I mean, whoa!! On my computer screen there is a fish inside. He ate him whole. Why did he swallow him head first. I guess tail first is not as tasty. But it would have been a nicer picture. Meanwhile the fish never moved as he attempted to swallow his meal whole. Would that be like hook, line, and sinker?



I think that this is an eel. Snakes do not breath underwater. I missed this too. It was hardly moving and appeared to be a branch. Certainly it is colorless and featureless. It is hardly moving. It was more or less just drifting along. This was another first on the reef for me.


I know that this does not look like much. But really, the fun here is to see something entirely different. I’m a veteran diver. Sort of….and there is still the wonder of finding something new. And this qualifies as fascinating and new. So… pardon my enthusiasm!



Another stonefish here, it illustrates the point. I did not see this guy either.

IMG_7649 a

The fish was buried and the buddy I was with had a certain talent for picking up the eyes from the sand. Really, this is hard for me and I knew what they were pointing to.


In fact the fish is hardly photogenic. I am sure that I would have missed this fish if I was swimming alone.




This is unlike any stonefish I ever encountered before. My dive buddy saw it. This is a diver I have never been under with. It’s nice to have a fresh pair of eyes. He apparently knew what to look for. I came up to where he was pointing and saw nothing. He started waving his hand and raising the sand. Then the lump revealed itself.


The tiny eyes on the top of the head were really all that had been showing. How the heck did he see this! I’d never have spied this at all. And he was fast. As soon as he scurried and settled onto a new patch of sand he quickly buried himself. I doubt I will see this fish again.


Moray Eel


Doesn’t he look fierce? The object is to get a head on mouth open shot. Both eyes and teeth are preferable for me. Mouth open is second on my wish list. These guys are shy. I have heard their bite is terrible. I have not been in danger. But then again I’m not sure I would know. I got in close popped the flash and got the image.


Easy as it may seem, there is a lag from when you depress the shutter and when the camera fires. I was timing my images to shoot when it’s mouth was closed. Thank goodness digital allowed me so many tries.



It is because my dive photography guru tells me it is a nudibranch. Sometimes he dives without his camera. I guess it is a different perspective. Me, I dive with a camera. It’s a prerequisite. I have not seen this before and it’s not in my book. Don’t worry, the guys who photographed the wildlife have not seen this either. But it is not a new species or anything. It’s just luck. At least I am not so vain as to believe that I have discovered anything new. The other guys were not too impressed. So it would appear that this is just another native species.


Me? I’m just glad I saw something new.

Dancing Shrimp


Really! That’s what they are named in the book. You see them on night dives. I am learning. My dive instructor was really impressed by my find. But then again we are relative amateurs to some of the expert photographers who are about.


No one tells you. They like to hide among the urchins not far from the shore. So there are not to hard to find. But they are hard to photograph. And because everyone wants to swim deep the shrimp are not easy because you get a minute or two to find and shoot them right about near the end of the dive.


They don’t like bright light (flashlights – duh!) so it they scurry when you shine on them. And the urchins are deadly dangerous. The spines go through gloves and wet suits like nothing. So do not touch the urchins. I know this because I did once upon a time. Trust me. You don’t want to touch an urchin. Otherwise the best way to see shrimp is to shine your light and it will reflect off their eyes. Red eye underwater!!! And that’s how you locate them. Then you sidle up without shining too much. Otherwise they scurry away. And then you try for a shot. I’m still working at it. It is, as they say, a proverbial work in progress. As for the dancing part, you go figure. They don’t.

WTC Memorial


Call it what you will, the site is still the World Trade Center to me. This was my first and maybe last visit (for a long time) to the memorial fountain. It is open now. You can walk right up. It had just rained. Appropriate symbolism for tears and hope with blue sky in abundance. And I took the opportunity to use the reflection to mirror tower two, which will never be. There were twin towers once.


The names are there. The hole is symbolic. There is the noise of water but there is also a silence offered by the tall buildings that surround the site and it makes a hum and roar that drowns voices. It is not the reverent silence of the forest but of a city that continues and heals. The scar remains.


I think of Pearl Harbor and WW II. In time folks who were here will be gone and memory will fade. Meanwhile this fountain endures. The city is never truly silent. Neither too will memory every fade completely. I wonder if there can ever really be closure.


Freedom Tower


WTC one or Freedom Tower is done. It is finally topped and there is no more construction on the outside. A few years back they lit the inside with construction lights in red white and blue.


There is still a feeling of unfinished business as surrounding buildings are completed. There is still a traffic snarl. Business is busy. Plenty of tourists crowd the street. The cross is made of the wreckage and ruin. It’s symbolic defiance of terrorism. It’s a cross and that opens a host of thoughtful speculation. We are a land of many cultures and religion. But…


St Paul’s Chapel


By it’s proximity to the WTC site this chapel was used for many things in the days after 9/11. Now it is open for visitor.


A cellist plays and it is about as mournful as it can be. Silence and solemnity are all around you. I was choked up. This many years later…I visited last year. My last. I’m out of NYC for now. I don’t plan to return anytime soon. Been there done that… All around are tributes – stuffed animals, firemen’s hats, pictures, and mementos left for the dead. …remembrance of a very sad sudden shocking event that still invokes the deep pain, I did not personally know any of the victims. It’s a miracle. But there were many whom I did know who lost loved ones. So in a first degree of separation relationship I knew someone who… Profound loss… It did not help a whit that they found and killed Bin Laden. It was not closure. I don’t think that retribution can ever be considered the same.



Sometimes I get what I wish for. I have been hoping to see another one. It is my second and on a night dive too. I had camera issues the last time and barely got a decent shot. Now I can say I got a shot and it was very confusing. The camouflage is so good that it obscures features that allow you to actually see something is there. But… it’s the eyes, always the eyes. So a head on view works. It is a bit spooky. Like octopus and squid these guys change colors. And he squirted ink at me twice. I could not demo this on film. A movie would have been sweet. But then again I was shooting with a strobe. And the other divers had lost interest and had abandoned me. So I had to go…. he was glad I went too.


Odd Creature


This creature is not in my book. It has a face full of tentacles. It is soft and boneless. Snake, worm, um, I don’t know. I’ve seen nothing like it before. It’s scary ugly. We found this on a night dive. Of course, I have never seen anything like this. I think it has a face only a mother could love. Which is to say, in my opinion, it’s butt ugly. … and squishy.