Word and Image

Archive for December, 2015


IMG_2129Why not? It’s New Year’s. And I still get to swim the Red Sea. It’s too cold at home. Although I admit being on the beach – Atlantic and Pacific at Thanksgiving and I watched people in the water. The water here is near to 80F.

Under the coral and shy as anything we barely saw this comet before it backed up and under the coral ledge out of sight. One shot, yup, one shot. The image was underexposed. But recovery was good. I got a decent image salvaged from nothing. I have not seen this fish before. Sometimes I wonder if I were not diving this reef so often, would I miss so much were I just here on vacation for a few dives. Convoluted? What is the difference between luck and skill? Is it related to the number of opportunities you get? Go figure. …I told you I don’t make these names up. Comet? Wasn’t he one of Santa’s reindeer? They sort of celebrate New Year’s and they don’t. The Arabic calendar is different. It’s like Christmas. The rest of the world does and so there are quiet celebrations here and there. Dubai is spectacular. But mostly there is no big deal like Times Square, NY.

Snowflake Moray Eel


I don’t make the names up. Honest! They are in my book. Unfortunately the pictures are not always an exact match. But it looks close enough. Close is for horseshoes, eh? Anyway, we were pretty excited to find this guy. Hey! I found him. Rare for me, actually I swam over him and saw the movement from the corner of my eye. …this old guys still has some use. But an image was not easy. Morays are said to be dangerous. Don’t ask me. It’s lore. Which old wives tale I don’t know but I’m not taking any chances.


Anyway a couple of mouthbreathing divers make a lot of noise and this moray was having none of it. I got a few shots and that was it. He hid very well under the coral. How well? …good!

Multibar Pipefish


Ok, so I dive with a buddy whose camera flash is messed up at the moment. He’s using a Gopro. It’s definitely not as much fun in my opinion. He’s been my fish finder. He finds stuff and I photograph. It’s not quite fair. I hope he fixes his flash and can image again soon. Meanwhile I had a very nice experience trailing him and shooting when he found stuff. He’s using a flashlight during the daylight dives. I laughed. But he shines his light into holes in the coral and well… here you are. Unfortunately, there was only one image. One! This pipefish was definitely skittish. I saw it. I glimpsed it. But I could not maneuver and get a shot. So here is the only image. Decent! Not enough to satisfy my image library. But I came away with something and that’s what counts. You definitely don’t get to see one of these every day. Add one more to my catalog of the unusual and rare.

Yellow Boxfish


New camera! I returned with a new camera. New gear! Yay! Like a kid. You know…boys and their toys. Really! This is gonna make a difference. Actually, it’s not the gear, it’s the photographer. And it’s not the photographer but the luck of being in the right place. If you can be in the right place with the right gear, and, then, get the shot…well that’s what makes it all so special. Sorry! Am I sounding a bit enthusiastic? Simply put, you need the right gear, the right circumstances, and the reflexes to set up your camera efficiently in order to shoot what you see. A great fish story is even better with an image to back you up. They keep making fun of the fact that I see a mermaid pretty regularly.


Nice preamble. I wanted the new gear ‘cause I wanted new gear. All the rationalizing doesn’t change a thing. I got good shots with the old set up. But at a certain point you want to get better good shots. See? …it’s a guy thing. Funny, ‘cause I don’t see to many women with big rig camera setups. Don’t get me wrong there are some terrific women. I know one in particular…


Options, the big deal about digital is that you can shoot and shoot. And now I can shoot more and worry less about exposure. It’s technical. But what I can to is concentrate on composition and the lighting takes care of itself more better. Yes, the English is fractured and that’s my point. If you worry about grammar you will miss the story. In the days when you shot a film roll of 36 pictures, you were done after the roll. You would have to emerge and reload your camera. It’s a logistical nightmare to endure. Now I shoot a couple hundred images per dive and never think twice. Spoiled? You bet! So, I ended up with three decent head on images of the yellow box fish. It’s nice to have choices. Unfortunately only one image will be chosen. Therein lies the agony. What do you do with the other perfectly fine images? So many images, no where to put them…

Bubble Coral Shrimp


This shrimp fascinates me. My dive buddy has great vision and points them out. I can’t see them for beans. I try. Oh, and I mean to point out the juvenile fish nearby. You don’t get that everyday either.


Nope, My eyes just don’t see them. This set of images is magnified significantly. It you point it out to me it looks like a speck of dust in the water. So be appreciative it’s not easy to see.


And I’ve got a series of images now. So it’s not big novelty any more. But, the fish and the shrimp together, that’s different. I know special pictures are made all the time. We take it for granted.


For me, I still get a thrill to see something nearly invisible to my eye. It’s part of what makes you dive again and again.

Spotted Eel


Spotted eel. It’s an ugly thing. Look at the head. I’m still working on exposure for things on the move and farther away. Consider it s a work in progress. I hope there will be another chance and I come away with a better shot. For now, I’m learning habits of the wildlife. It’s not so random as I thought. I’m told this eel lives here and is seen periodically slipping in and out of the coral. I keep looking but he’s a shy thing. I remain ever the optimist.

Xmas Shopping


What do you get for someone who has everything? And I do have everything I can think that I need. Don’t try to think of anything. I have left many a person in despair. But this is about my recent Xmas excursion. The past few years I have been an Amazon shopper. Delivery and done. No lines, no stores, no pondering, no waiting for a great gift idea to fall upon you as you wearily trudge into another store for inspiration.


This year, along the way, I managed to Christmas shop in an actual store. I modeled. It’s not for me. The coat went to my brother Eric. The hat was for Dave. Where I am, the last thing I need is warm clothes. But the boys work and live in cold weather. So the warm gear will be welcome. What you don’t see and will not get to see, is the long underwear. Everyone got a pair. When Jules marries in March, it will be an outdoor wedding. No coat, suit and tie, in cool California weather, psst, a hint to the wise, dress warm. The party’s outdoors too. So long underwear will be our little secret. No one should be cold if forewarned.



You hang out in antique and junk stores and things jump out and bite you. This is a typewriter. It is not any typewriter. And for the tech savvy it is not anything you might have ever used. But this model, this exact model was the same one I used as a kid. My college papers were typed out on this. No mistakes, double space, erase once or twice, occasional whiteout, but more than one mistake and start over…. I took typing lessons as a kid in junior high. I took the class during the summer at the local college – Davis and Elkins. I never typed fast. But I did learn – The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. And only in the past year or so have I learned to text and so thereby type fast and now I can text with my thumb and forefinger. Oh the wonderful things I have learned. But right here, right in this very picture is the typewriter model that started it all for me. It works, it has a ribbon, the keys are all punching up letters and numbers. It’s clunky and the keys stick. Oh the memories, and the horrors. Late night paper due and one mistake and you start the paper over. I went to science and medicine just to avoid having to type out English reports. Yeah, there are a lot of memories tied up in this image. So… I bought the damn thing. Heaven knows someone someday will have to trash this thing. But for now I can run my fingers over the keys and gloat that I will never use whiteout or erase another mistake. Hit the “Delete” key. Yes, “Delete.”


Blackwater Falls


This is the fulfillment of a childhood desire. Once, I almost visited Niagara Falls too. We were only 40 miles away during a rugby tournament with Jules. She refused to go. It was too far. We were headed back to Hamilton College in the other direction. Oh well, at least half my dream has come true. I had seen pictures as a kid. I had always wanted to visit. And until now my travels did not bring me here. Amazingly a day after Thanksgiving the parking lot was full of cars from many states away – as far as Michigan and beyond. I find it fascinating to imagine that one would find themselves in the middle of West Virginia at this time. Tech: to get an image where the water is silky smooth, use a long shutter exposure. I’m lazy and don’t travel with a tripod. Handheld I still managed a decent image, good enough to post even if it’s not exhibition quality. The image I remember seeing is in winter with bright blue sky and the ice formed and partially covering the falls. I am an opportunist and will not wait until the snow and ice form. So, for now this is my trophy memory. I’ve now been there and another wish fulfilled.

Surfer Girls


I forgot to tell you that Jules surfs. She told me and I thought Jeff had just taught her. But no, wrong, jules knows how to surf from being in Mexico with Laura. They are not great, but they can both get up and go. I admit the waves were a bit small, as in nonexistent, this day. They tried a tandem which had disaster written all over it. No, they were not serious.


Yes, they had a lot of fun in the frigid waters of the Pacific. Hey, Hawaii’s in the Pacific. That’s the warm water I remember. Yesterday – that was the Atlantic. Coast to coast and across continents, I’ve seen the Red Sea, Atlantic, Pacific, and flown over the Mediterranean in the past couple weeks. My sleep pattern is so discombobulated.

Beach – Atlantic side


Two days after Thanksgiving I was on the beach. Come to think of it I was on the Pacific side beach a week before. But it was 70 degrees. The clouds and evening sun were gorgeous. Surfers were in the water. The internet said the temp was 60 degrees in the water. I dive in 80 degree water. Nope, this was cold water. Nonetheless people were enjoying the surf and sand. There ain’t no global warming. Nope, I have to hand it to the Tea Party and the Republicans who made this fairy tale real. Oh? Do I sound political. Hey! How about Trump? Let’s not go there…


Second Thanksgiving


Amy is taking an iPhone shot of my next bird. It’s a bit more browned. Better oven and more experience. Hey, you get better with practice. My soup sure did get better. (see previous post) And we made another breast (wings included) because there were 23 people scheduled to show. Note: about a pound a person – we did not need the extra breast. Other note: when all is said and done, it is the trimmings that make the meal.


So the dishes that surrounded the meal and that were contributed by the guests really made it all great. I learned a new tradition – sauerkraut over mashed potatoes. (Hint: I could have done without ever knowing that.) I did stuffing on the outside – too heavy to transport a stuffed bird to a second location. It worked. I’m a crockpot (stuffing) fan now – not a crackpot. More family showed up and a good time was had by all. Dinner was scheduled for 6PM. We arrived at 6:08 and were the last ones in the joint. Do you think everyone was hungry? More family, more friends, more stuffing, success again!

The Boys

Dad_Album_03_055_aImages are little memories. The graphic is like Le Petite Madeleine, Proust. Memories. A time past and but forgotten except for the image to call forth a memory forgotten till that moment you see the image again. Photographic memory? By my age I have so many images collected that they all seem new again. But…this image was taken in the 60’s at 15 Southgate Road. It was a brick house my mom had built. Three little pigs – remember? Not us silly….brick is stronger and lasts. The house is still there. Only two owners have lived there since mom built it. So it did last and has been cherished. The neighborhood is way different. It’s still suburban middle class. But it looks so tiny and small now. Well, the three boys grew up. I’m the oldest. John has the other bowtie. And Eric is the infant who nowadays has a ponytail. Happy birthday John. I don’t know. There are very few pictures from this time. I actually got this copy from my cousin. On the other hand I have thousands of images of my kids. They are archived and passed along to them. Better?

Disaster Strikes – But I saw it coming…


No, this is not the second Thanksgiving. Wait patiently; it’s coming in a few days time. This is the annual chestnut cake. I’ve not made it myself. So I had to improvise. The food mill was a cheap piece and barely was serviceable. Caveat: get a good tool if it is important to your project. Yeah, yeah. Hey, it’s a nice looking cake! And I got someone else to do the whipped cream. Yes, I’ve whipped it into butter once upon a time. But that is not the disaster. For a change but not extraordinarily, I don’t have an actual picture. Nice cake huh?


It starts with the making. We prepared the soup near midnight the evening before. The next day was a full day’s ride to Elkins, WV. The soup was secure in the rear of the SUV in a pot with the lid taped shut. Insufficient for the task I might interject. You can see the disaster happening in slow motion already? In the dark, as I opened the hatch and moved the cooler, the pot beneath was precariously leaning on the edge and went on over. About two cups remained in the partially overturned pot. The rest was on my shoe, the bumper, and the driveway. (Note: see spot.) Salvage was not an option. Folks would have noticed road dirt not pepper in their soup. Off to the market on Thanksgiving eve. Yeah, it was a beat market. No, butternut squash, and then hours of cooking that I did not count on was a heartbreaking prospect. Acorn squash to substitute, until… light bulb – pumpkin! Yes, pumpkin puree for pie; it works. Substitution! And with the right seasoning….the soup was a success! Really, and not out of sympathy; I made it again, same formula and it was a smashing success two days later. And I will appreciate it if you don’t tell Jules about my improv soup recipe caper.


First Thanksgiving


‘Cause there are two. Be patient I’m only doing one post at a time. Two – count ‘em two. I’m a gluten. Punishment? The first was staged in a kitchen then moved to a second kitchen and meanwhile I stayed at an inn far from the kitchen. Get it? I got it! – as in shot. That’s the next post. This one was about the kitchen in which the turkey was baked. And it was fully stuffed too. So think of a small galley kitchen. And then you don’t know the ingredients, spices, pantry, pots, pans, knives, or anything of how temperamental the oven might be. Think disaster. Nope, didn’t happen. Wait for the next post. This one is about how tiny the kitchen was. I’ve cooked in small kitchens. And maybe I told you about the Thanksgiving dinner in 2006 where as we sat to eat, a set of wild turkeys crossed the yard in front of the window before us. Magical! No, this was about the things people will do if you ask. We were talking about jump photos and Richard Avedon who popularized them in his portrait work. Yup, Lee jumped. The secret for someone who can’t jump is to fold your knees. You look so much more athletic! No, I did not think this up myself. My kids told me. They were embarrassed at how bad I looked in their pictures. Humbling, ain’t it?


How small? I had to park the turkey out of the oven on the washer. No space. Someone was doing apple pie in a toaster oven. I’ve never seen that before and Jane admitted it she’d never tried it either. The pie was gone on the first round of dessert.

Moonrise In The Dark


I got a brand new spiffy underwater camera. I told you a few posts back. It’s a Canon G7X. I needed it. Right! Camera envy and the need to just play with some new gear that will tax my learning curve. Meanwhile there is no ocean handy so I am forced to test the camera against dry land subjects. Here’s something my film and camera could never match. Shooting the moonrise in the dark on a cloudy evening. Nothing is in focus so the trees provided the necessary sharpness with which to judge the image.

Tech: 1/20 sec f2.8 ISO 1000

I didn’t do it. The camera did it all on Program which is basically I pointed and the processor did the magic. Those little gnomes in there do really nice work. I’d never have tried this with film. And you could not have either. Well, no image, no post. So please be suitably impressed. I sure am.

I Don’t Drink Coffee


Never have! Don’t. Nada. No. Nope. It’s not coffee. It’s an eggnog latte. I don’t do latte either! Well, there are exceptions. This is exceptionally good stuff. First you need a good latte machine. Who knew? I’m stuck at Mr. Coffee. But you do things right and with good coffee and good ingredients…. A friend Margaret Whalen introduced me to Kona coffee decades ago. It’s from Hawaii – Kona and expensive as all get out. But that is the start. And then, what’s not to like about eggnog? It tastes good therefore it’s bad for you. Forgo the barrista designs. I’m in it for the taste and mouth feel. Ah! A new sin to repent.


Sadly the machine suddenly quit. I’m contrite and swear to repent, now! The machine went to the coffee repair man with the hope it will recover and produce latte again soon. Meanwhile there is sadness on the counter. An empty space waits to be filled again.

Cats – Elle


This one’s name is Elle. She’s extraordinarily shy. In fact I knew about her but had never seen her.


Then I saw her but only for a second at a time. Then I discovered she did not like cameras.


Fish don’t like cameras. I assume a big thing swimming toward them with big bubbles blowing is off putting. But how does a cat know to be inherently skittish.


Nonetheless I find Elle running whenever I approach with a camera. Persistence! And volume! I shoot lots.


Eventually you get a few images. Voila! Gotcha.


Oh, she’s come ‘round. Elle will even nudge me to pet her now. But no photos please! She still runs when I pull the camera out.

Compliments to the Photographer


So a night later Laura came to visit and we did the sunset again. She’s Julia’s best friend.


And Laura was introduced to the reflection sunset in the glass to which she commented, “That’s a Victor picture.” Her family pays enough attention to acknowledge my cunning use of photographic technique to get different rather than mundane. I didn’t know they noticed. And since Laura’s dad is pretty good with a camera, that is high praise.


There were four of us to watch the sunset, so the mystery fifth is a bonus. Perhaps it was the good fairy of sunset photography going by with a smile.




Your kid gets married. You don’t choose the in laws. They are forced upon you. You can only hope your kid has some taste. I met the new in law – father of the groom. How’s this?

“I’ve been given a list of forbidden subjects during our first meeting. How about Trump?”

Needless to say we had an extraordinary breakfast. Oh? Yeah, nice guy. His wife is a Fox news believer. This is gonna be a problem for the mother in laws. I think it would be entertaining to watch. Glad I won’t have a dog in that fight.

An Old Dog Learns

IMG_0154Sunset Pacific Ocean – due west.


Here’s a new variation on an old subject. Jules and I walked the beach and the sun sets due west. I was watching the afterglow and noticed the window reflection. Voila! A new perspective and it was an unexpectedly extraordinary find. It’s neat to find something you have never seen before in a scene you have shot so many times. Yup, an old dog learns.

Spotted Shrimpfish


What the heck! I’m known by some to curse colorfully, but this is a polite blog. I keep seeing things that I have never seen before. And who makes up these names?

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It’s the same reef dive after dive. And often I see the same fish. Sure, I expect it. Here we were swimming along minding our own business and whoa! Spotted shrimp fish. Really! And a group of them!


And they look like feathers floating in the current. And even as little and slow as you think they are, they still swim faster than me. And they are hard to image. The camera just has trouble focusing.


I chased. They moved away gracefully. Finally, I caught up with them. Like feathers, long and thin, paper thin bodies, they are so odd. They swim vertically. Evolution did this? Why?


Oh, so there are the tiniest fins along the side that let them propel themselves. Too small to be a meal? I mean like sharks are built to eat. Who knows? Nature is pretty cool sometimes.

Symbiotic and Hard to Shoot


Neat. The names for these guys are like their symbiosis. They are name linked. Shrimp goby – Goby shrimp. How imaginative! The photo is a hard one to get. The shrimp is very very shy. The goby is the look out.


Anything that spooks it and the goby ducks into the hole and there they hide for a good long time. The shrimp digs the hole. The shrimp is almost translucent. The exposure against the sand is hard to gain contrast. Flash works but you are not close. The shrimp will not tolerate a close approach. There are red spots. I didn’t notice till the book named it.


There is also an asymmetry to the claws. Left handed? The left is larger. Anyway, the shrimp digs and the goby stands guard. Getting the shot is the challenge.

Open Mouth

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Don’t chew with your mouth open. It just happens I have a series recently in which the fish have their mouth open. No too radical. But they are open. Is this another rule like don’t eat with your elbows on the table. I don’t understand that one either. Anyway, open mouth. Hungry?