I’m shy. Yeah, don’t laugh. I don’t ask people to pose. Only occasionally. As in hardly ever at all. Ever! The kids would have a sleepover periodically. This time it was a pool party. It was our habit to make a challenging stack of rafts, climb on top, and then accidentally on purpose fall off. After all it is a pool! Stability was never an issue. But on this one occasion and in this one single shot, I got a keeper. It was hidden away this many years. I don’t think I could have posed it better. Everyone looks good. The composition is good. Wow, I’m better than I think sometimes.
The whole purpose of this exercise is to stay on it. It’s like a bucking bronco. You last for a mere few seconds. More than one cannot coordinate the delicate balancing act… even if you know them like good friends. The splash is worth a thousand laughs for all.
It’s a euphemistic way of discussing death. Back in May 1998 we had a fairly typical family gathering for David’s birthday. The immediate family was close enough (geographically and otherwise) for everyone to come. It’s twenty years later and most everyone who was old then is no longer in this world. The means and methods were varying. As I edited this event I was sobered by the fact that I am old now. It’s like most things. You don’t think about it. But you know life is not infinite. I appreciate each moment as much as I can. I think about the departed, miss them, and hope I will be remembered when I am gone. Remembered fondly would be a plus.
I have a double whammy. I was born here in the USA. My parents immigrated and then changed their names to English names. They picked their own names. Great! But how do you find ancestors when you don’t speak the native language (Chinese) of your forebears and they lived in a different country. I got a free crack at Ancestry.com. I put in my mom. She was one of seven children from Shanghai, China. The last three children were daughters and she was the middle daughter. Fu Ching is the aunt seen here. She was the youngest and kept her Chinese name. No matter, I know where she came from – Shanghai by way of Hong Kong. Inserting my mother’s name, I got a listing that says she arrived in San Francisco around 1947. And my dad arrived in the same port in 1948. He arrived with a woman named Fanny. Ha ha. We have an Aunt Fanny. For real. Not the woman my dad came with. Who was she? Don’t know. That’s a mystery for another story. I’ve told you I don’t know my mom’s age. She lied on my birth certificate. The eldest aunt told her to do so. And what does it matter? At this point in life the fact is a curiosity. I think everyone would like to lie about their age at some point.
Nellie & Horse
History? History – looking back. This was among my first efforts at Photoshop experimentation. There are experts who are light years beyond my expertise. I simply removed the bars of the fence. It’s not too good. But it is enough to fool the viewer (mostly). I’m lazy. These days I don’t do too much image manipulation. Mostly, what comes out of the camera is what I use and post. I have gotten a bit better at preprocessing my image. But, one must know what can be done. It’s part of the toolbox. It’s way better to point and shoot. My laziness comes from my dread of time spent processing in Photoshop. Lightroom? I will ‘develop’ as long as it takes for my attention to wane… not long at all. But then again… everyone has to edit and cull.
Dave started on a bike with training wheels out on Long Island. If I would list the places since that he has ridden – Taiwan, Canada, Mexico, Germany and so on, you might be impressed. He rode cross country – yep – more than 3000 miles – Delaware to LA. It all started here. He first rode with his (training) wheels here. To say that I am proud would be an understatement. Who knew what he would accomplish. I rode as a mean of getting around when I was a kid. I was a reluctant participant in riding as an adult. Then I rode for fitness. I should do so again. I get a good workout without too much wear and tear on the joints. I enjoy knowing that my son has surpassed me. The most I ever made in a day was 96 miles. I just couldn’t find the energy to make it to the “Century.” And yes, that’s Scales and Tails there in the background. Don’t you love the symmetry?
Scales and Tails
This place has long been out of business. It’s a small seafood and bake shop. The owner’s wife was the baker. She made fresh croissants each morning. And there were chicken pot pies that were heavenly. How heavenly? I still think of them with longing and fondness. Great longing… The crust was an absolute marvel – probably a ton of butter. I’ve been ‘round the country sampling other offerings. No to Bob Evans. There ain’t no chicken pot pie like the one at Scales and Tails. She elevated comfort food to the sublime. I haven’t had one like hers since then. I hope she’s still making them somewhere.
How did I know this image would work? It was Paris and the Eiffel Tower at night. Night shots are devilishly hard. They are surprisingly easy. Lighting is tungsten (mostly). Film is balanced for daylight. Light bulbs throw off enough light that they mimic daylight levels of light. The lighting difference from foreground to background is tough to compensate and balance. It’s still slide film at this point. Digital can handle the situation much more easily. My archive? I was able to locate the original slide I posted before without too much pain. Gee! It’s good/lucky to be organized (somewhat). For most the eye/brain is fooled and compensates for daylight and tungsten differences. But the reality of print leaves a distinct discernible difference. Did any of this make sense? Someone I know keeps asking me this. And… I get it.
I am so fascinated that I got this image. Actually, there are two. The other slide was a wider angle view of this painter at dusk. He was on a bridge (duh) and I was on a tour boat on the Seine. Yes, the lighting was near impossible. And I did not ever see the painting until I developed the slide. Voila! You might think this as an out of focus shot. I’m impressed that I got anything at all. See in the dark digital cameras might well to better now. To me this was a one of a kind image that I had no right to get and I got it by sheer luck. There was some skill. I was there. I pressed the shutter. Hey! I can smile and talk about it all this time later.
Digital? Now? Yes, this shot would be way easier. And then again it would challenge most people. Not too many people would try it. Even fewer would have noticed this shot. To be honest I had no idea what I would get. Serendipity.
Mix together: kids + carousel = fun. Paris. That’s fun right there! But innocence is so fleeting. It’s an unguarded moment that makes me smile. Not too much more time went by and the oldest kids would be teenagers. I liked them at this age. But, everyone gets old. I’m still thankful that they didn’t have “shooter” drills in school. They do now. Jules teaches. She’s aware that she’s unprotected in her private school. Fortunately, she’s teaching elementary school. Her first job in the Bronx public school presented her with an eight-year old who walked around the class threatening to kill his fellow students. She taught with an arm bar around his neck. That would no play well in Peoria these days.
If you’re ever in Paris do stop at Angelina’s. Maybe it’s still there? It was in the guide book. I don’t read guide books. Someone else in our group had this place on the “to do” list. It is the home of the “Mont Blanc.” That would be a meringue cookie over a chestnut cream covered in chocolate or maybe it’s the other way ‘round. But the total package is worth the trip. I still dream about it. There is nothing like it in America. Chestnuts generally are not considered too much except roasted in NYC in the winter in Central Park. I’ve had a connection to chestnuts since I grew up in West Virginia and my mother used them in chestnut stuffing of her own concoction. I still make my stuffing that way. I’ve got the recipe (Mont Blanc) but it’s something you dream about but never get around to making yourself. I shall continue to pine. I hope Angelina is still there.
The second image is an extra. My edit came across the contents of the hotel safe in Paris. What would you keep safe? Stuffed animals and framed prints. Of course! My kids?
How do baby birds learn to fly? There were four in the nest. They basically crowded the nest until there was no space left. And one day we saw them flying about. It’s darned hard to capture a bird in flight. Yes, sure, we see Nat Geo specials all the time. I am your basic amateur. Gotcha! I got this shot on my iPhone! Yes, my kids have taught me well. I looked for the shot on my Canon point and shoot. It wasn’t there. I found it on my iPhone. I’m better than I thought. If only I could remember where the car keys went.
You might laugh? Maybe not. My cats live in fear. Spice does somersaults. Well, I make her do them. Actually, I toss her. She’s not a fan. I go way back. I had two brothers. We were pretty typical. We were rough and tumble. Maybe this is why Jules was so good in sports and stuff. I started her tumbling about at an early age. But, she did have a lot of motion sickness, especially in the car. Who knows? What I can say is that if I don’t sit still and neither did/does she.
Who is the dominant force in the relationship? It started as always. The eldest. Close closely, he followed his older sister and all of her instructions and games. I first noticed the schism when Jules wore black and Dave wouldn’t. It all grew “testy.” He could drive his sister mad with frustration. Men! Lately there is an armed truce. They are separated by east and west coast. They are similar yet won’t admit it. I watch and observe. At this stage one can’t interfere or repair or do anything. Was I this way when I was younger? It’s always been my game. I guess I have never looked to myself to see. How much responsibility do I bear? We counted the number of Xmas presents to be sure there was equality. I simply watch myself to not stir up jealousies now. It’s fascinating. I don’t know how this will end.
I know this now. But then? Detail. Zoom in more than you think you might. The image has more impact. I do this now. Then? Not so much. Here’s an example. I was more frugal. Film costs. Digital doesn’t. So, experiment. Get in close and go big. iPhone. Too many times the angle is bad and so is the image. I notice a lot of people shoot vertical with the iPhone. It’s because that’s the easiest way to hold it? I shoot 99% horizontal with digital these days. It’s because my computer screen is panoramic horizontal. Ha! All the blank (vertical) space on the side is boring. Back then? I would say that 30-50% of my images were vertical. You can make it work. I still shoot horizontal most of the time. But now? I put my main subject off center. It works. Change. Evolve.
Ten years. Shutterfly keeps sending me reminders of what I did ten years ago. Look? Meanwhile, I had just dreamed I was back in Saudi working. I had a hole in my grey slacks. Imagine the trivial details your mind makes up in dreams. Another school shooting yesterday. It must have weighed in my dream too. I dreamed of a car load of weapons. I don’t shoot. Meanwhile (again), it was Dave’s graduation. Tuition done! I paid. It was a ton of money. He used his degree? I get his periodic USC news magazines. I don’t want them. The best thing of the day? His cousin’s (future) husband arranged for us to have a sushi celebration dinner at a high end LA restaurant. He’s an actor (starving, of course). I don’t eat fish let alone raw. It was sublime! – as in the best I’ve ever had (the one and only time I’ve ever had). Yes, that was the first and last time. If you could bottle a perfect memory that sushi was the quintessential perfect memory. So, there’s no point in ever being disappointed in the future. Lila used to tell me that she remembered many a memorable meal and where she ate it. I don’t “live to eat.” But, sometimes I think of what she said once upon a time.
Spin is where you take the facts and make them fit your narrative. Facts are facts aren’t they? What’s news? What’s honest reporting? How do you interpret the news? Are you republican? How do you interpret this stuff? It’s not true because the sources are lying to you? Have you been reading this stuff? You decide what’s truth. I’ve got my own opinion. There is a great disconnect when our dear leader says he’s more popular than Lincoln. I don’t think so. As PT Barnum famously never said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The above image is the current NY Times page. What are you?
I’ve been scanning old slides. Paris. All the iconic buildings are there in my collection. I can’t name most of the buildings now. I took pictures of the hotel room. Don’t’ laugh. And people? The kids? Family? A small percentage. What’s valuable this many (decades) later? Answer: The kids and family and friends. But not the trite pictures of standing in front of a monument to document – “Look ma, see where I am, wish you were here too. “No, it’s the intimate moments. I didn’t get too many. I’ve been blitz scanning after leaving off in 2013. So far, 2000+. Yes, it’s a long slow painful process that no one modern (digital) will ever have to do. The upshot? Too few of the slides are really keepers. Sad. I took a lot of documentary pictures of not much value now. The pics that make me smile are the ones of the kids when they were…that little?
It’s about the bag?
Paris fashion? Paris in the springtime – it was a song. “I love….” There are a few photos of me going back in my archives. It’s interesting to see me before I was gray haired. It’s fairly obvious that I handed over my camera to document myself. That grey Domke bag was actually used completely. You know? Like I actually wore it to death. There’s something to be said to wearing your jeans until they wear out instead of having been manufactured “worn out.” I wore my signature khaki pants and fleece jacket. Not much has changed except that now I use a black camera bag and have gray hair. Me worry? Nah!
It must have been a warm day. I have no hat. We’d ski and try to do some death defying jumps. Actually, they were just bumps. That would be me. Don’t laugh. The last time I remember skiing was with Julia in Sunday River. Or, maybe it was Hunter with the kids and uncle Eric. Either way, it’s been a few years. I guess, like tennis, and golf, my best days are behind me. I can still do it. There’s not too much incentive. And, it’s flat!!…here in Delaware.
I must admit that I lack sympathy. I am in agreement. The big baby Trump blimp is quite appropriate. I’m passing this photo along. This is my means of telling the world. I am not proud of this man. He does not represent anything good. He has supporters. I do not understand how they can stand with him. Their time is limited and the end is near. The world is onto him now. We also have an electorate that gets it. The minority will not prevail when the wheel turns around once more. Thank you London, England.
What’s in this shot?
Nostalgic. Was I ever this messy? Was I ever this disorganized? Was it this chaotic? Jules is in my seat. Old cracked leather chair? There is the last bulk slide loader – not the current one I own. There is the original Apple laptop. And there is a Mac desktop. And I see at least two external storage drives. The materials no longer exist. A floppy drive? Floppy discs. The grandkids wouldn’t have a clue. Books!? Paper!? Slide carousels and boxes. The drawers behind Jules’ shoulder are the custom made drawers that held the first 40,000 or so slides. Who’d have thought I’d run out of space. I still have those drawers – they need to be remounted/hung. There is a bulk loader for a slide scanner. Ah! A picture that told a thousand stories. And, no, I’m still a mess. Don’t laugh! I don’t throw things away.
One a day
I have lots of thoughts. I post once per day. Jules long ago complained TMI when I posted too frequently. Right. She was right. My kids advise me wisely – often. So, you will never see hundreds of thousands of images. Good! Good? Lately, I have so many, too numerous to count. But…my thought?
Well, I started in film. I have faded pictures of which I posted recently. My paranoia? Lost slides – by way of really lost, fading, mold, damage, fire, dust… Storage? Not much choice, they have to be physically stored. Environment – temp, humidity, dust, mold? It plays on your mind. I had friends in college who were totally obsessed with dust on their film and their lenses. Peter Hong comes to mind. Imagine that? Poor Peter? Well, I think his name was Peter? We had a freshman Quantitative Chem class. You weighed things out to the 4th decimal. You know? – .0001 gm – that would be very light weight. And, any error – just dust – could throw off your result. We were obsessive about washing the lab glassware! Madness. That lesson has not stuck – not one bit. I have spots and stuff on my lenses. Mostly, I refrain from using my shirttail to wipe the glass. Thank God!
The post today is more than 20 maybe, closer to 30 years old. It has stood the test of time stored relatively well and kept in the dark. No loss of color. I know. I know. This is all disjointed. But when I recently scanned this slide it jumped out for some reason. That crisp winter day is still like it was when we were there. The colors did not fade. The scanner technology got rid of most of the dust without me doing a thing. Shooting through a fence with auto focus is hard. Somehow the camera behaved perfectly. All sort of memories blend seeing my kids playing platform tennis. They probably never played again. That’s bittersweet too.
One that got away
There is the story of the fisherman and the biggest fish you ever saw…. In one day recently, I saw a vulture – 3 foot wing spread – sunning and drying its wings in a field – and a pair of cute kids walking in the mist under an umbrella. You won’t get to see those shots. I missed them. Sorry, I see things but don’t always get a shot. Darn!
Here’s another from the archives of way back. We (four couples and my kids) used to rent a ski house. This one time we unexpectedly had a hot tub for which no one was prepared to play in. Undaunted and armed for any (wardrobe) possibility two ladies went in anyway. They were surprised by the guys. It was a big laugh, except one of them was only partially robed. I got there too late with the camera. It was already G-rated and tame by the time Jules summoned me.
Yeah, yeah, it’s early for Xmas. But then I might be late. These pictures were taken about two decades ago. Yup, little kids. Huh? I just got to scanning my old slide collection. I stopped in 2013 and just picked it up again. Thankfully, I’m still alive to do it. Digital is the only thing that will survive. No one’s gonna want to pull out and look at 100, 000 or so slides. Hey! I still have a projector. Yes! A slide projector! And a screen! Oh well, no one much cares. But then again… it was a tradition. Tradition? Yup. On Xmas night the kids started sleeping by the tree. They’d gather their blankets and stuffed animals and the latest Xmas book and… Nellie, the dog. They’d sleep through the night with the Xmas tree lit. Then they stopped doing it? I miss the old times, sometimes.