I’m sentimental. You might not know this. Or if you know me, well, who knows? But I’m admitting it. Hey! It’s my blog. I’ve posted this pic recently. It was not staged, not Photoshopped. It was a spontaneous capture. I rose over the crest of a coral ridge. For an instant these two fish came together. It was not a kiss. Fish don’t kiss. Silly! We interpret what we see in our own contextual lives. It was but an instant. And I’d have just as easily missed this shot. But my camera was ready and I got exactly this single image. It’s a special day today. It’s an anniversary of sorts. That’s about all I’ll mention. The rest of the story is a memory private for me. It’s not that I won’t or don’t share. It’s just that some days are special and deserve a place in my heart. You might have one too. It’s nice to secretly share something in the public domain and yet keep privacy. Too often we shout from the top of any place and ask for applause and acclamation. I’m not. I’m just letting you know that this is a special day for me. And … you know who you are. Shhhhh.
The last time I saw snow was….mmmm… 2012. Anyway, it was a while ago. Skiing was one of my first passions as a full grown adult. I took the kids. David was so small on the mountain, people turned to photograph him on the steep blue/black trails in Utah. I’m not proud. I was an idiot for getting a kid who could barely walk straight up on a pair of skis. Laid back! David was so laid back he fell asleep on the chair lift. Nap time was nap time. He would just pass out. Oh! I started first by skiing with them between my legs. Jules and then Dave would be in front – I would ski slowly while holding them back with my ski pole. Yes, nuts too. Dave would lean over the pole like a cat arms just resting there. He snores! In the quiet shushing over the snow Jules and I heard him snoring away. Yes, nap time!
On this occasion Jules finally got her wish to try a “board.” Her cousins and brother had tried. She’s the only girl on my side of the next generation. The cousins are not too skilled. Dave can handle himself. And Jules spent an hour tumbling and falling. She sprained her wrist, gave in, and went back to a sensible pair of skis. Smart!
You don’t get to many selfies with your kids. But I guess it happens more than before. Low light, bad focus, poor composition, wide angle distortion matters not. Hey! It better than nothing. As I paused in editing I realize that these imperfect pictures mean the most.
The Olympics are on. Remember “Cool Runnings?” It’s about the Jamaican bobsled team. “You dead, Sanka?”
Do fish sleep? I don’t know. I’ve asked if they have eyelids. Do you know? Can you actually sleep without eyelids? Humans must sleep. It’s a fact. What do fish do? At night some become dormant. But do they sleep? No blanket?
I thought this guy was dead. Or sick? It’s unnatural. You don’t really see horses lying around on their sides. Dogs, and yes, my cats sleep. A lot! I got a few shots. And then to my relief he righted himself and swam off. Sorry to wake you from your nap. You ok?
Pure white is rare to see in the sea. See it below. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Homonyms must be so confusing to non-English speakers. Reading it is easier. But it’s fun to hear. So, I passed this white coral. Pure white. So white, that my camera would not expose properly. Too much dynamic range. I bet you care? The brightness exceeded the camera’s ability to expose properly. There, I bet you were wondering. Well, the point of it all is that I wanted to shoot white. Shoot? Remember? Everything has this gray green cast. Lots of dead stuff. Like the floor of the forest. It’s brown drab. Fall leaves are such a good photo op. Afterwards there is nothing much photogenic in brown leaves. White is not natural. Dirt, grime, all that stuff you know, there’s no reason to remain pure white. Entropy! Chaos! Randomness!
Ok? So I was concentrating and adjusting the focus and exposure. I never did get the good shot I envisioned. It was the end of the dive. We were in our decompression stop – three minutes. Hover. And turn off your mind and camera till you are done and emerge. As I shot my camera was bumped. Not once, twice, and again. There! A fish decided to have a “human encounter.” Really! Yup. It was a dream photo op! And I had all the wrong settings. I was shooting “white!” Dammit! He came around again. It’s always a “he” when they are curious and aggressive? Eggs? Young? Nope. But we had an encounter. I was too close! Can’t focus in close. I back pedaled. Yeah, fins and all, I was backing off. Gotcha! If you don’t understand how rare this is and how hard it was too get, it’s ok. I’m telling you. Ho hum, just another interesting encounter. But it was five star in my book. Never turn off your camera until you are out of the water.
A long long time ago… I was in Peru. Recently, I remembered this image. I shot it for the graphics and color. We were visiting a llama farm. Native women were costumed and weaving. I shot the color and not the technique or style, or loom. Sorry. It was not important to me then. I suppose more detail and the hands would have been a nice touch too. But one image must suffice. It illustrates all. A single image is always an incomplete story. I can recall the trip and the place we were in. The image is an anchor. I remember much of the day. David had llama for lunch later. I would tell you it tasted like chicken, but no, it was more lean and stringy like beef. And in the big picture, we were in Peru because we had attended a wedding in Lima. This leg of the trip was to Cusco and on to Machu Picchu. I took a lot of pictures throughout the trip. This was my weaving photo. One image, a lot of memories….
I’m on a roll. Ok, I give up. American slang can be pretty confusing. A “roll?” – like a biscuit? – something you eat? And why would I be on it? Yeah, it’s confusing. But just “roll” with it. Eh? It’s why I illustrate my point.
Another non sequitur, poor Casi has a scratch across her nose courtesy of Lulu. I just noticed it. She’s the beta to Lulu’s alpha. But she’s tough. Someone is gonna complain about my use of unlinked pronouns. Which “she?” You just gotta “roll” with it. Ha!
Slow news day, so go for the easy subject. Shoot your cat. Well, my cat, and, no! I did not shoot my cats. And you should not shoot your cats either. I got some grab shots. Yeah, grab! I guess it’s ‘cause I grabbed my camera and shot them. …with the camera! – not a gun! Oh please, maybe I’m a bit punchy? Or would that be punchie? Yes, my daughter will complain again. No cats were harmed making…. They play. They tease. They destroy.
My lovable cat likes to get on my desk and stretch out fully, legs extended, and pushes off all the desktop contents. That would be my external hard drives! Yikes! Fortunately, no hard drives were injured either. Casi is smart. She can smell the black string after she bit on it. She traced it to two different drawers. And she did not understand the concept but did manage to pry the drawers open. She opened my corner kitchen lazy Susan cabinet. She got inside. The trick is getting back out. That is not so easy. She got stuck in there! Meanwhile, she likes string. And I like to get pics. So we had a session. Everyone got something. Humor? If you are here for the jokes, it’s not me. I’m a very serious kind of guy… Shoot! If Casi had destroyed my external hard drive I would not be in good humor at all. Gee, English can be so ambiguous.
There are questions that have no safe answer. Try, “Do I look fat in this dress, honey?” Try to answer, ‘Yes (you are),” or “No (you were, but not now).” Get my drift? I realize that there are a lot of people in my audience who are not attuned to American humor. In fact maybe I don’t have humor at all. Do you see the glass “half empty?” or “half full?”
I shot a moose once. (Yes, it’s obvious. I photographed it.) And someone in the audience asked me if I had really “shot” it. Seriously, he was very impressed (that I shot it)! No, dopey! I don’t shoot animals. I photograph, but I do not shoot. Actually, I shoot whatever is there. Get it? Well, try to understand that I am not working with a full deck and American slang humor can sail right over your head. Sorry.
As long as we are on the subject (vaguely) I was called out by my daughter. “Did you play with the puffer?” Caught! She immediately knew that the puffer was only puffed because I had provoked it. Smart cookie, that kid of mine. I deny that any fish were injured in the making of this photo. However, she contends that I have shortened its life by scaring it. Go figure!
With the very long preamble, I ask, “Do you like your photo portrait with direct or indirect gaze?” Subtle, but definitely different, it’s a matter of choice or taste. For me, I like a direct view straight on. But it’s definitely disconcerting to look straight away into someone’s eyes. It’s much more intimate. Hey! It’s a cat. Lulu’s my cat at the moment I don’t exactly ask her to look at me. I try to get her to look in my general direction and then get my camera into her face. She’s tolerant. She doesn’t get it. But she is occasionally in one place long enough for me to get a couple shots. The portrait is a success based on dead on focus on the eyes. After that composition and the rest are up to you. There are so many bad pics out there. Try harder. And it is affirmative, “a good fish photo has the eye looking toward you!” Mooses too!
Shisha – it’s what they smoke. I know it as a water pipe. Hookah, another name. It connotes smoking through water. I read that the dose of toxic nicotine is equivalent to hundreds of cigarettes in a single session of smoking shisha. Don’t do it! It’s bad for you.
It started when I passed a store that sells water pipes. It was the tip of the iceberg. Around Jeddah there are stores which will sell you custom made thobes. The stores are congregated in a few places. There might be a dozen or more shops side by side competing for business. There is another location for honey and another for olive oil, dates, and so forth. It’s silly economics. All the prices must be comparable.
The water pipe stores are on a narrow street. And then, much to my surprise, an artisan was right there. He was working away in an open shop with horrible fluorescent lighting. I paused, he looked up, and I did something I never do; I asked if he minded if I took his picture. And he was okay with it. And I got a couple. I did not try to overstay my welcome. Yay! It’s street photography and ordinarily I just shoot and look like I’m doing something else. But we were eye to eye. There was no hiding intent. And he was gracious and I said thanks. We had our moment and I moved on. I’d buy one. They sell his product next door. But, I don’t smoke. So, no…
Macro. It’s what they call it. Macro means large to me. It is counterintuitive to me. But the art or style is to get the details. And believe me the details are often not obvious on first look.
Red coral has hair – like the fine hair on your arm. Not obvious. I don’t know what the purpose is. I don’t see the hairs on most coral.
Horns – rhinopores. The yellow orange are pretty obvious. And the serrations are a new discovery since I now get magnified views with my super macro lens. The black and white – gee! – I didn’t know there were rhinopores for three years. There is a front and back! Damn! Starfish – fine details – it was out because the water was so murky the starfish was fooled into thinking it was dark. This is stuff that I simply never appreciated till I started macro photography. Neat!