Back in 2011 David and I visited Governor’s Island. It was newly available to the public and was a free ferry ride from Manhattan. We rode our bicycles. It’s not a large park. We got around the space easily.
In the course of our wandering we came upon a group of telescope enthusiasts. Well, I suppose astronomers was more apt. What the heck! It’s broad daylight. Ah! Solar flares. And they were happening now. And with special filters you could see them.
And so I put my trusty Canon point and shoot against the ocular and shot a few images. I learned this trick from Jules who had shown me how to photograph hippos in Africa shooting through a pair of binoculars. Hey, you never know when a trick will be handy.
These are pictures of the sun and solar flares. Well, you will have no trouble seeing the disc of the sun. But as for flares…. Why now? This post is out of sequence to the usual. It’s because someone told me about seeing snow flakes by using a magnifying lens while the flakes fell on black construction paper. Cold paper! And then I speculated on photographing the flakes and how to magnify them to get an image. Yup, that’s my story…
I have virtually no inside shots. I’m not willing to set foot inside. This mosque in the old city was renovated in the past several years. Mostly things are in construction forever. To my surprise it was finished and I could peer inside. I do. And on this night I was able to see people. Even better. The crowd in the area made me feel safe enough. But you need to be aware that street lighting was not a priority in the old city. I have never felt unsafe. But one more word to the wise. Beware.
Yes, he’s a friendly guy too. He went out of his way to show me that he works on teeth and makes replacements. False teeth! Gold and other materials. And the tools of the trade over his shoulder. I could not ask about anesthesia. It was a nice encounter that made shudder nonetheless. His own teeth are not the best, and don’t enlarge this image if you are squeamish.
The circuit around the old city gets crowded. So the powers that be cordon off the street into a single path. You walk in one direction. You can bail out but you may not walk against traffic. This is really pretty funny since cars are going the wrong way on one way streets all the time. But here, everyone walks in the same direction. And they enforce it! So the first time around I got a shot. And the second time too, because I was not sure the first worked. You don’t want to be too obvious and check. And you cannot go back unless you go around again. Well, I did.
Then there are encounters in which you are invited to take photos. Do so. Just don’t make a big deal over it. Therefore, no flash please. I was in the old city – Balad – and it was heritage time. The area is lit and has been renovated and people are invited to see old Arabic life before cell phones. This group was having a loud animated conversation. Hey, it’s why I went over. It looked like a fight. But they were just having a friendly loud discussion and the intent was to draw attention to themselves. The guy in the middle has an old iron, you know, the kind they heat – no electricity. It was animated and made for a good photo op. You settle for less than ideal exposure. And no, a movie would not have added anything. The acting wasn’t that good.
What did I just say a day ago? There are concrete benches along the corniche. About six foot in length I do what everyone does, I sit in the middle and basically transmit body language, go away, this is my turf. Three Egyptian guys eyed me. Then they sat on either side with the third guy standing to my left. They proceeded to have a conversation around me talking right to left and left to right passing their phone back and forth. I was virtually engaged unwillingly. Anyone else might have risen but I was in my own phone messaging in a conversation 6000 miles away to home. I was oblivious to the Arabic conversation and they could not read my texts. They bought seeds from a vendor and proceeded to munch. Eventually, one guy offered me some seeds. I declined. And then, they asked where I was from. This led to the guy on my left pulling his phone and asking me to listen to a recorded phone call from Canada. He had been contacted about immigrating to Canada. He spoke no English and wanted me to tell him what it meant. Well, this bordered on the absurd since I speak little Arabic. He showed me an internet ad promising immigration for $70 – scam! I was able to shake my head and warn them. Who, I mean really, who, records their phone conversations. You get a call. It doesn’t say, “We are the Canadian embassy.” But you record it? Anyway the three guys were done siting. They left but not before one asked me to take his picture. Ok. Done. What am I supposed to do with the picture? The other two declined to join. Odd. I realize I don’t understand the culture. But this was odd in almost any way I look at it. I’m sitting in the middle of the bench. I’m from New York. Back off! This is my space. Yeah, it was pretty funny.
I confess I’m too shy to stop and ask to take a picture. There are those who say the spontaneous moment is lost as soon as someone poses. I’m shy. So just point and shoot. Remember, shutter 1/100. Wide angle setting and the autofocus will save you, mostly. You end up with lots of duds. And then there are interesting keepers. Here and there you take a little time to compose. Not much time, remember, I’m shy and I don’t want a confrontation. Interestingly I stand out as a foreigner. And I am ignored. I walk invisibly and observe a foreign culture and am largely ignored. Nighttime is when the market is hopping. Smartphones are pretty much everywhere.
Wallet? I think that my wallets are all from street vendors – under $10 – my price.
As to legality, you are legally an unwilling target whenever you are in public. However, you do not want to be confrontational. The caveat, don’t be noticed, and don’t invite controversy.
Ah, an interesting question for the young. I know and I suppose it’s not too much of a mystery if you are of a certain age. I guess that I have not been in a store looking for such a device in a very long time. The last I remember was as a kid, we kept one in the garage. Then I didn’t have a garage for about fifty years. So, it’s entirely possible you don’t know this thing. It is an aerosol sprayer. Add insecticide and spray away whatever, mosquitoes, I guess. What happened to the cans of Raid. And while I’m on the subject, it is very popular to come through my compound with a fog spray device and bomb the bushes and trees. Once again this is for mosquitoes. Is it dangerous? I would not breathe the stuff. Apparently the workers don’t think to much of breathing the stuff. But it is toxic, otherwise why use is on bugs. Dose dependent? And toxic. They spray pretty regularly. No water? No mosquitoes. But apparently there is enough standing water to be a problem. I like the brand – “Lucky.” Oh yeah!
The cornice is very popular. It’s a strip of sea front park that has been renovated and made people friendly with grass and walkways. I was surprised that it was pretty empty on a weekend afternoon. The place in the background is a royal construction and the tower behind it is said to be for six star guests of the kingdom. I was told that it means that mortals are not welcome. There is a lot of foot traffic in the park, so much so that there is virtually no grass, hence the brown dirt surface.
And there are rugs laid out in different spots. And periodically people gather to pray. They are aiming east. But, it looks so incongruous. People march about. Men pray.
Women may not be near. They stay to themselves. And everyone looks to me to be praying to the god of traffic parking spots.
Concrete or dirt? It’s like the question paper or plastic in the grocery. In Jeddah it is all plastic (bags). But where to sit? Concrete or dirt. …or a little of each?
Old and New
Hoverboard is a term and phenomenon that exploded into my consciousness recently. It was a mythical device shown in the movie Back to the Future. Kids are now on it all over the place. Where have I been? Under a rock, obviously…. And they are dangerous, lots of orthopedic fractures have resulted. There’s video where they explode – unintended of course. But, I digress. I’m catching the sunset at the cornice and there are two guys (yeah, large kids ride these things sometimes) in my frame complete with sunset afterglow and the world’s tallest fountain. Yes, an interesting commentary starts. Old vs new, make way for the modern. Two cultures are clashing, each oblivious to the other. Smart phone in hand, it’s another way of showing that you are cool and ignore the world around you. Sunsets are a dime a dozen. The guys are looking in different directions. The old and the new, someday oil will be exhausted and then what? Yeah, then what? Meanwhile, kids are short because the fall to the ground off a hoverboard is less. I guess I’m too old for this. Or, it’s a long way to fall…
This is a technical point to make about shooting. And it is probably not relevant to the smart phone/iPhone crowd because you don’t have a real camera. Noise is what the purists complain about when the ISO is too high and the image is grainy. And I say, you could not even hope to get an image before digital was in wide use. Right now the cameras are able to get a decent image in virtual darkness. What latitude and opportunity! This image is at ISO 6400. Don’t bother if you don’t know what ISO means. It’s an old film term. And then I let the camera pick its settings. All I did was set the parameter that the minimum shutter speed needed to be at least 1/100 sec. And then I enlarged the image. Yeah, pretty neat! Sometimes I surprise myself. So this image in virtual darkness will not make purists happy. Sure zoom and shoot with flash and so forth. Street photography in the dark is an art. And this cat was not waiting around for me to set up things. Right tool right place, cameras rule!
A long continuous awning…It’s for the heat of the day. At night they turn on the lights. Women sit on blankets and sell wares. Tiny shops line this alley. During the day you need the shade. At night this is just a throughway.
There’s plenty of action. But as far as traditional stores this is far from organized. But the real reason for the images is that at night the lighting is conducive to get a decent exposure. During the day shade is deep and lighting is poor.
Seen In The Marketplace
Sticks, I gotta ask. I have no idea. They sell bundles. Can’t you just get sticks in the bushes and make your own. Not toothpicks. Not walking sticks. Not firewood. Sorry, I shouldn’t post something I have not researched. Hey, it’s a photography blog. I’m not a historian. While we’re on the subject…tomatoes. How’d we switch to tomatoes? …because it’s my blog and I have a picture of tomatoes for sale.
They are not good tomatoes. It’s a neatly stacked pile. They are orange. They are hard. They are tasteless. And while I watched a bunch of them dropped to the ground. They picked them up and continued business. People buy them up. And how would you ever know they hit the ground?
Here’s an image that is at once interesting and controversial. She was crawling up the street. She’s not Saudi – the dress is not Saudi. And she’s crippled. She has a spinal deformity. And it appears there are contractures. Sorry, this may not be a PC image. However, something I often do is observe gait and then try to guess the disease. People go by with cervical collars. Are they recovering from and accident or from surgery? So this poor young woman is suffering from a chronic ailment and has no access to healthcare. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to offer free care. Yeah, it’s sad. People cleared a space around her as she crawled. They otherwise ignored her. Invisible, how very sad.
The art of street photography is interesting. Your camera is taking photos as you walk. You are not composing the shot. What you get is what you get. There are lots of duds. The setting is wide angle and on automatic. And at night the exposure is more challenging. But digital is so forgiving. So, just point and shoot in the general direction of your subject. I’m pretty good. There is not much cropping for me anymore. Apples are the sort of photo that Jules would like. There is plenty of action. It’s mundane. You don’t need much more to convey the frenzy of the market transactions.
The meat is sold without being under plastic Styrofoam. It is cut to order and chopped or prepped on the spot. That part was pretty fascinating. These guys have pretty good knife skills. And, their knives are sharp. I’m watching my head!
The old city known as Al Balad is teeming at night, especially now when the evening weather is cool. People set up right in the middle of anywhere and plop. Yup, plop. It’s interesting. You would think that the interlopers are ruining business for the shopkeepers. No one minds.
Produce can be procured from tiny shops. The shops sell all manner of wares. The super grocery, which I prefer, is no competition for the thriving local market. No one seems to question the origin of the food. There sure doesn’t seem to be any question about organic or GM free. It’s just local ecomomics. Local.
Kids At The Corniche
I love watching kids. They start pretty clueless. This one is shooting a bubble gun at his opponent. Yeah, sorry, you can barely see the bubbles. He’s standing close by because he is downwind. Get it? You need to be upwind in order really shoot bubbles. This kid was having a blast anyway. It just wasn’t an effective exchange.
The same kid and his sister had a kite each. It was neat. The father launched the kites. They stayed in the air a mere few seconds until the string got all tangled. The string was across the walkway so that unwary passersby would be caught up. That worked out really well, hence, the bubble guns. I think even that was too complicated. At least I got entertained too.
People At The Corniche
There is a commerce of sorts that thrives at the Corniche. Ladies sell wares. Mostly they peddle kids stuff. You see plastic toys all over. They don’t cost much. It’s a diversion for the kids.
Then there was woman worth a picture who was wearing her wares on her head. You don’t see that too much. As for the people who come, they sit anywhere. Plop down on the grass. There’s little enough of it. Most of it is brown dirt.
You sit in the shade of a palm tree. Hint, there’s not much shade. Otherwise, people just plop on the concrete. It surely is not comfortable looking or idyllic. There are a lot of people and few park spaces. It shows.
Sunset At The Corniche
Every night is not excellent. So you go with what nature gives. You need to be on the spot. But clouds are not always cooperative. But as with many things, it is location, location, location.
Then you just have to make lemonade if you are given lemons. I’ve shown you the fountain before. It’s a jet engine and touted to be the world’s tallest fountain. I take pictures of it ‘cause it’s there. Like Everest baby, like Erverest.
Yes, my eyes were seeing a fur! It was not cold but by relative standards I suppose it was comparatively cold. Usually it’s one hundred so if the temp drops to seventy that’s pretty close to winter freezing. I don’t make this stuff up. If its sixty and the temp drops to thirty, that’s cold. So I have more questions.
You wear a fur to show off wealth and style. You wear it over your abaya. Huh? I mean, huh? I can’t see you. But everyone knows you. Like that sunglass commercial for whatever brand and everyone looks good incognito. Oh yeah baby. Well this was a first for me. A fur at the beach, imagine that! And last… it makes no sense to wear it under the abaya. That would just make you look fat, right?
Some folks are out on the Corniche to impress. Walkin’ and stylin’ – coolness. Since marriage is arranged, who are you impressing? Hey, you look good though.
No silly. It’s two animals. Did I mislead you? I’ll switch back to land soon. I’m just posting stuff I’ve seen recently and catching up. So you land folks, there’s a change coming soon. I caught a turtle. It’s probably because the water is cooler and the animal was lethargic. We saw it and I took off to get a photo. I was actually about a foot away. No, I did not grab it or play with it. And it still swam faster than me. I was surprised to catch up. Maybe it’s my spiffy split fins that helped?
And then someone pointed out a ray. This was one of the deep water ones. You see them swimming up and down the reef. I was too far away to get anything but a taste. Someday…. Meanwhile, I have this poor image. But it’s an image…
The limit for recreational divers is 40 meters or about 120 feet. There is danger in that the nitrogen that dissolves in the blood will cause clouding of mentation. Everything is blue. Red color (light) has long been filtered out. That would mean – getting stupid – in a very bad place. They demonstrate this by asking you to write numbers and letters on a board while at this level. My numbers and penmanship was definitely not too good. I’ve been down here a few times. No ill effects. But I realized that swimming behind my buddy is not a good idea. If I get stupid he’s not watching me. So nowadays I swim along side. So far so good. I might add the water is not that much colder when you are deep.
But for tropical fish it is cold enough to make them lethargic. So we chanced upon this puffer and he reluctantly moved off as we approached. At 120 feet we calculate about 9 minutes of safe time to be at this depth. The fish have no timer. How do they know when to go up? I’ve been told it is quieter at this depth. I just see it as too blue and not too colorful for images unless you have a strobe. Good thing I have a strobe now. …it’s more fun.