Word and Image


Rorschach Fall Reflection

Rorschach Test. Ashburnham, Massachusetts. In response to some comments on Runaround Pond, I posted this photo. Some years ago we visited Alex and Maryanne at their home. The lake was still in the early morning. The water reflection of the leaves was almost perfect. This was a slide capture. Turning the slide on its side I got a real abstraction. Otherwise the vertical capture is not as riveting. I could also tweak this in photoshop but the overall abstraction does not require perfection.

Pemaquid Lighthouse

I like this spot. It is a bit out of the way. You need to keep an eye on the map and travel down a peninsula to the end. The lighthouse sits up on a bluff. There is a long rock ledge that leads down to the sea. It’s popular so there are always folks climbing around. Photos are taken from every angle. Once again, I suspect that most people miss the reflection in the pools that collect. When the wind is calm it is always nice to catch the reflections. It is very helpful to enhance the contrast with a polarizing lens filter.

Fall Fog, Runaround Pond

It’s autumn in Maine at one of my favorite spots, Runaround Pond. Just before dusk I was headed west on my way back from somewhere else. Evening fog was just settling in as the light was fading. There were several other people taking photos. I didn’t have a tripod but still managed some good shots. There could have been a little more detail in the sky. I like the saturation of the leaves as the fog settles over the lake/pond.


Burnin’ Rubber

For all you race car fans, this is the Oxford racetrack drag strip. In Maine they drag race snowmobiles. Yup, they do. It makes a heck of a sound with those engines revving down the track. There is also a competition for the family vehicle. Yes again, the family car can enter to race. Imagine your old family Chevy chugging down the track. They pair up the cars roughly to allow for some sense. However, I saw a tractor-trailer cab race a small car. It wasn’t a contest. Coming up to the start line all the serious racers would burn rubber to get better traction. The car isn’t going anywhere, not even starting. It makes a heck of a noise and looks impressive. All that and nothing happened.


Somewhere near Shelter Island, Long Island. We were riding bicycles and passed this scene. The graphics, the color, and the composition just make this a fun shot. I like riding a bicycle. It’s faster than walking so the scenery changes frequently. But unlike a car you can stop frequently. I think I would have easily missed this picture if we were whizzing by in a car.

Hot Air Balloon

This is my first shot at hot air ballooning. Lisa gets the credit for taking us to the Long Island air show at Brookhaven airport. She had acquired a vicious case of poison ivy. How bad? She was dipping her affected arms in the barrels of iced sodas. Balloon launches are in the evening and early morning when the winds are more favorably calm. The blast of flaming hot gas is necessary to fill the balloons. It is all the more impressive that everything nearby is so flammable.

Plumbing Issues, Hotel Medici

The Medici Hotel, Rome. Traveling through Europe, we arrived late into Rome. Lisa and I had started about two weeks earlier in Barcelona. Right at the beginning in a diner, I left my wallet behind. That meant all the credit cards were lost. No one tried to use them so if I could remember the restaurant, they are probably still holding my wallet. Well we traveled with traveler’s checks and were just about out of money. Don’t believe the saying that American Express will replace your card easily. It wasn’t until the end of the trip in Rome a few days after our fateful stay with the Medici Hotel that I finally found an American Express office. Lisa didn’t drive and she didn’t have a credit card. We were pretty low on cash. I will admit that a late night arrival in a strange city is no way to scout accommodations. In the dark the Hotel Medici was about the right price. We took a room without a bathroom. It had a sink in the room and the shower/tub was down the hall. The next morning as I sat on the bed repacking my camera gear, Lisa was propped up on the sink putting on make-up. I heard a crack and a thump as the sink came away from the wall to land on the carpet. There was no support beneath the sink. Lisa screamed. (more…)

Pumpkin Boat Races

The farmers in Maine take great pride in growing enormous champion pumpkins. They are displayed proudly with ribbons for the largest and most beautiful. Afterward, what happens to the losers and what do you do with a 600 pound pumpkin after Halloween? Well, several alternatives include the trash heap, painting the surface, or hollowing out the pumpkin and turning it into a boat. The initial race was not too well planned. Pumpkins when hollowed out are not inherently stable. The first race resulted in most of the participants taking a dip in the cold Maine waters. By the next year, a bit of Yankee ingenuity took over. There were outriggers and pontoons, which vastly stabilized these oversized gourds. I was disappointed to find that no one went swimming. The competitors were spirited and the boats were decorated with all manner of imagination. A good time was had by the entire crowd on hand in Damariscotta.

At Bat

Central Park. I would try to attend after school activities for the kids as often as possible. I’m assuming that Lisa documented this embarrassing moment. Look carefully. My swing is so smooth. The follow up looks so relaxed. And, at the bottom of the frame by my left knee is the baseball. Yeah, I swung high at a low fastball. I’d have to guess we were playing slow pitch so that this was a terrible miss. I still laugh looking at this shot.

Martin’s Store, Highgate Springs

Each summer when we traveled to the Tyler Place in Vermont, we would see Martin’s store as we pulled onto the road departing the resort. And as I recall, many a Saturday departure was accompanied by rain. This was perfect since we were leaving. It’s very rural. We had little need to purchase any goods since the Tyler Place is all-inclusive. But they do have things like beef jerky and Spam… a whole ‘nother story. This day in the pouring rain, the old Chevy makes the photo timeless.


We had dropped David off at the Putney School for Art. I was hanging out waiting for Lisa. This chipmunk shot past me. I swung the camera up and shot as he scooted out of the frame. The motion-blur works for me. It’s not perfectly focused nor is the slide cropped ideally. And I could make a few other criticisms. But I still like this shot. My friends Kevin and Maryanne have a hate relationship with chipmunks whom they claim can damage your house. This cute guy was at someone else’s house.

Medical Photography

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Here’s a subtle way to slip in the fact that my day job is brain surgery. As in, I am not a photographer but really the neurosurgeon. But, beginning in high school, I was a photographer first! Medical teaching was often done with a Kodak Carousel slide projector. Hence, there was a need to get visual aid materials. I started medical photography with a Nikon film camera. I shot slide film with a very limited exposure latitude. Print film does not go into a projector. Sometimes we would be able to catch frames from the operating microscope via an adapter. (more…)

San Francisco Cable Car


When I was in San Francisco many years ago, I shot this image of the iconic cable car. The Powell Mason line runs from Market over Nob Hill to Fisherman’s Wharf. The hill is steep! I have taken many photos of the cable cars all along the route. I shot this on slide film. There is no record of the camera settings. This image shows two techniques. The first is panning. The car is moving and I am moving the camera and keeping the car in focus. The effect will blur the background. The shutter speed has to be just slow enough in order to get the blur. The second technique is tilting the horizon. It adds a dynamic feel of motion. This goes against the rule that you should always keep the horizon straight. Tilting is a street photography technique that gives an edge to the image. Depending on your choice tilting right or left will give the image a different feel. Often one of them doesn’t work as an effect. You can take a straight shot a bit wide angled and then crop/tilt in post processing. Or, with digital simply experiment and shoot three images – straight, right tilt and left tilt. In addition, I have kept the area of interest in the lower third following the rule of thirds. With slide film everything has to be perfect in the frame – exposure, shutter, f-stop, blur, framing and rule of thirds. That’s a lot to juggle.

Bullfight, Seville

The last bullfight in Barcelona occurred this past weekend. The old style stadium resembles the coliseum. It was a rounded structure with multiple tiers with steep vertical seating. It was reported that there was a record crowd. But, the closure is business, because bullfighting attendance has dropped off in recent years. Jose Tomas, one of the most famous Spanish bullfighters, performed. And animal rights protesters clashed with other fans attending. Picadors prepare the bull by putting a lance in the bull’s neck to fatigue the bull and to make its head drop. Hence, the blood over the shoulders is typical. Furthermore, the bullfighter is often awarded the bull’s ears after a good exhibition. They showed this picture in the NY Times article. I wonder if the bull gets the ears of the matador if the bull should prevail. I attended a bullfight in Seville, Spain in September 1978. I bought a ticket through the front desk at the hotel. The stadium was not nearly as grandly appointed as Barcelona nor was it as well attended. There was a group of US servicemen sitting alone among the cheap seats in the bright sun. Over there you could rent a cushion to pad the hard seating. While bullfighting will no longer occur in Barcelona, the sport still continues. It remains the ultimate reality show.


Fall leaf


Maine, fall 2008. I make it a point to seek the fall foliage each year. In Maine I thought that I would find spectacular vistas and new opportunities. Traveling the state, I sought out mountains, and hillsides. I explored potential photo ops at dawn and dusk. Rain and fog added to the intensity of color. The hard part is the timing. Where and when would the color peak? It was still a guess and really no different than it has always been. The way to find out was to constantly explore and subtly you will find the drop off in image colors. This was the year I got my moose pictures. Here, I got this detail shot. The water and leaf leave little doubt as to the season. And it appeals to me as a peaceful moment rather than the end of a season.

Evolution of reflection

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This is linked to the following post, which should have been first. This is an evolution of an observation on reflections cast by polished marble on my kitchen counter. The lighting is tricky because the sidelight needs to be balanced to evenly reflect the tomatoes, as a mirror would do. The early morning light had to increase to the point where the mirror effect was achieved. Just a little photoshop was used to adjust. I couldn’t wait around till the sun was fully shining. Again I photographed at an angle. The slide show gives you alternatives. Lisa suggested that the pear was a distraction and that tomatoes might look like they were hanging on the wall otherwise. In reality I had already eaten the pear and two tomatoes.

Gallery follows



Still life. I saw this image as I walked past the kitchen counter. Lisa had stacked the tomatoes against the backsplash. I never see her do this. The early morning light was stormy and indirect. I had bought the pear a few days before and was waiting for it to ripen. Neither tripod, nor flash, nor photoshop was used. The only things harmed in this picture were the fruits, which were eaten after the photo was taken. It’s too bad because I could have done this shot better. One discarded image had the five tomatoes draped around the tomato like the fingers of a hand. The pear was out of focus. I let the camera rest on the marble countertop because it was a slow shutter. I could have dialed up the ISO but didn’t. What’s neat is the texture of the marble was not really seen in the reflection of the fruit. I like the oblique angle. It’s an image that makes one pause to look closer. I’m waiting for another stacking to shoot this better. Maybe it will become a series.

River Seine, Paris

March 1998 on the River Seine. It was spring break and we traveled with another family to visit Paris. We were on a boat ride near dusk. I shot this photo of the bridges. Little did I know that the film would capture the painted standing in the twilight and that exposure would light his canvas. I have scanned this slide and processed it in photoshop and lightroom for the best rendition. I always kept the original in case my technique improves. I still am pleased at how the image shows painting and painter on that bridge. I was lucky to capture this shot from a moving boat in low light.

Angelina, Paris

I have often spoken of a dessert that we had at Angelina’s in Paris. Debbie found it in the guidebook and there we were one fine chilly afternoon. David, of course is jumping. Julia and Lisa are in silhouette. I know the photo is slightly out of focus but you can make out the shop. They serve dessert and tea. The dessert of which I reminisce is mont blanc. It’s complicated. But, my mother loved chestnuts. I spent a lot of time peeling them as a kid. The mont blanc was heavenly. It was a meringue-covered delicacy filled with chestnut puree. I still think of it.

Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway. In the summer of 2000, a colleague, Harald Fodstadt asked if I would attend his 65th birthday party. My reply was, “I’d be delighted Harald. Anything for you.” He lived in Manhattan at the time but his response was, “Great! It’s in Norway in September.” So there I was on a plane to Norway in September 2000. Harald had a house in Unset in the north. Arriving at about 8AM I approached the Hertz rental counter and afterward asked for directions thinking Unset was a city. The agent said turn right and drive north. My first realization, that Norway was quaint, was upon exiting the airport and discovering the road was two ways and not divided. Unset was indeed to the north about seven hours drive. The back of the entering sign read leaving Unset. There was a single store that was closed by 5PM. I followed a passing bus and figured it would bring me to town. Alas the driver went 200 yards up the road and parked at his house. A motorist who spoke Norwegian finally understood and escorted me to Harald’s house. What an adventure! After leaving Unset, I drove to the coast to Bergen to explore the fiords. At dawn the fog had not yet lifted over the picturesque harbor.

Wildflowers, Norway

Naturally I did a lot of driving. The countryside was beautiful. I came across this field of wildflowers. The house is typical of the area and is set alone against the mountains.

Mountain Houses and Fiord, Norway

The terrain is foreboding. It looks like civilization is wrested from nature. Driving along the fiords I could see many towns with their colorful palette of walls and similar architechture. You can see snow already in the mountains above.

Haystacks, Norway

Driving south from Unset I returned to this hay field that I had seen when I came from Oslo. I’m glad I went out of my way. Each region has its own style and I found this stacking to be worth a picture.

David – Mira Flores Park Hotel -Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru. We had just had the last supper with David. In the restaurant our mood was good humored and we all made guinea pig faces. Maybe, I’ll post these pictures later. His mother and I would not see him again for about a year. And his sister, well, that’s another story entirely. In the meantime he would survive long grueling bus rides and at least two robberies. What an adventure he had making his way through many South American countries, finding his way alone, and growing up on life’s experiences. Here, just before we parted, David posed in the Mira Flores Park Hotel lobby. He looked confident and ready for his big adventure. No one, neither his mother nor David showed any of the concerns that they would later admit feeling. It turns out no one wanted to admit they were terrified of his leaving and his striking out on an unknown adventure. The only thing that I can say is, “Thank goodness for the internet and Skype!” And when David called home explaining that the youth hostel owner had given him a free phone call home, his mother inquired, “Are you in jail?”