Nat King Cole sang: There Will Never Be Another You
Ray and Nutley joined our family on July 3, 2018. Kittens. A nest of baby swallows were just learning to fly. Ray was named after Colleen’s cousin Mike. They were our sixth and seventh cats. We calculated that Mike (Ray is his real name) would not mind so much feeding a namesake when we were away. Ray came with the worst URI (upper respiratory infection – cold) ever! Soon seven – count ‘em! – seven cats were sneezing. Imagine a cat sneezing without covering their mouth. Appetizing!?!? Everyone recovered from their cold. We have not recovered from Ray’s loss. He was such a part of all of our lives. Even my other cats are empathic. They cannot communicate verbally. But, their actions – reaction to Colleen’s sad crying – reflect an understanding and empathy of profound loss. Me? I simply did not realize how much Ray was integrated into our daily life and routines. He was involved, tangled, in every activity. He had an outsize personality – a strong silent leading cat. Colleen recalled a long list of antics that humored us endlessly. He was a true loyal cat whom we loved and who loved us. I know I am inadequate to impress you with words how much we are missing him. Too soon, too soon, you left us.
Once upon a time Amelia, the dove, hatched a clutch of eggs in Jule”s window box. Several more generations of eggs followed and hatched. Imagine, it was 5 floor up in NYC, hardly the place to raise a family of doves. Several years later there was a reunion of the extended dove family on my 6th floor deck – one time only. It was poignant and priceless!
I have seen Gates, a one-time art installation in Central Park. I flew over the Verraznno Bridge during the NYC Marathon. I got to shoot at the US Open. I have been to Patriot Day in Boston. Why did the turkey(s) cross the road? Um, I don’t know either. Puffins??! Cute?! I got seasick three times unsuccessfully never seeing the birds, before I got this shot. The dragon – New Orleans – mardi gras, I was there to see the warehouse housing the trappings of the celebration. Walter Mitty had nothing on me.
A revisit to Rockland got me to the only tree of color (so far). The lighthouse was off in the distance. A heron posed. Raindrops adorned the geranium. And, we reflected on a rainy day. Colleen shopped the farmer’s market. Some days are just made for quiet contemplation away from chaos. Is this the reason Maine calls to Colleen? Me? … all go and more go…. Hey! I was (came from) in NYC.
Tech alert: I shot the lighthouse from far away with a tiny point and shoot – Sony RX100 VI. The zoom is as good as my large heavy Nikon 80-400mm zoom. There is no comparison in weight. I think heavily (pun) on whether to carry the big lens for only a few telephoto zoom shots.
Can you live with it? We are adults, after all. Can you say lobster shooter? It is lobster with butter and garlic in a shot glass. Drizzle a little lemon over the top. Colleen talked about that since she had one three years ago. Three years! The restaurant has the silly lobster cutout. It was closed for the season! No hired help. All this waiting, and all Colleen got was a stupid picture in a lobster cutout!
Andre, the seal. He’s an institution. He originated in Rockport. Yay! Jen says we can bring him home and keep him in the pond.
One tree. Yeah, it’s pitiful so far. One fall tree. So, work the scene!
And, a cormorant took flight for me!
To finish? Sunset and spectacular clouds in Pemaquid. Colleen was mad – at me. It’s not the lobster shooter – three years of waiting. But, of the fact, that I dragged her out of the library to see the view at the lighthouse – for the 3rd!!! time this week. I’d say it was worth it. I endured the wrath. I know she will still love me in the morning.
One could hardly say that about the Portland Headlight. However, there is a mansion that has fallen into ruin. Colleen has to read and look at every single plaque. She reads them all. I am about the photo op. I have seen the ruins. They were im-memorable. So, who got to see the ruins?! Again? The reflection? You have to peer over the fence and look down to the tidal puddle below. No one, of the myriad of bus tourists, ever sees this picture. They never peer. After all, you only have a moment, otherwise you miss your bus ride. Though I have been here many times, it’s always different. Today, it was about the wildflowers. Working the scene, it takes a moment to find the right vantage. Eh?
The shot of the day? Colleen spotted it. I just shot the picture. But! She spotted it! Wow!
Colleen is a good sport. We went back to the powwow for more… shots, and, a better vantage point (… and to roast once more). Our position on the day before was less than ideal. I got shots but… let us say that the second time around I was satisfied with our vantage (close enough to touch); it was blazingly hot. The crowd got to participate. Politicians made a cameo. Eastern war dancers (one) from Shinnecock got called out. The chief dancer has appeared in the same regalia in other pics in other years. Hoop dancers? … new to me. As I tried to absorb it, I captured some of the energy and motion. We even got a bird show. I am glad we went back.
The price? Dinner out. I got off easy. It was pizza. We were entertained (enlarge the image) with a wedding party – extra large – in the park across the way. Colleen, eagle eye, noticed the party. And, to finish? A “Bud” mug in the antique store. Priceless!
Right after I lamented yesterday, it seems that I have a hole in my posts. Today was open. Nada. Nothing. …. good thing I checked. Travel! We made it to Maine. They canceled the Common Ground Fair and Pumpknfest amid concern for Covid. Boo! So, make lemonade. We are: Outdoor dining. Bakery for breakfast. Touring. Getting lost. Lost earring. Old Revolutionary war era home. There’s a lot you can do. Masks and not. I worked the duck scene. I did not quite get it right. But, there it is. Too much potential, not enough patience, wrong lens? How lovely! … on the road again. Lost earring? We bought a pair and (Colleen) lost one constantly donning a mask. Returning to the store, we found out they could track the artist and get a replacement or another crafted. That is a happy ending!
I’m lucky… lucky to have images that jog my memory. Pelicans? Dave was here (at the beach), with sunflowers? Jumping, I’ve been asking people to jump as an icebreaker. Philippe Halsman – look him up – was a master photographer of the “jump shot.” It always makes me smile. Photo-bombing? It’s a new term. Emma! Rory has the weight of the world on her mind. So young, you ain’t seen nutin’ yet! The summer flowers are fading. I spun the catalog to a random page. It was quite a day(back then)!
1. relating to or belonging to a profession.
2. engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.
Strictly amateur, though I might have pursued photography more seriously, it was never my day job. I chose something a bit more exclusive – brain surgery. Ha ha. Who knew? I quit surgery and am still doing photography. Hmmmm… Photography (for me) is random and unrestricted without any mandate to get “the shot.” It is (continues) a negative cash flow as I buy new camera equipment. Rewarding can be altruistic as many family members appreciate my efforts. Colleen can be (is) such a kind audience. No pressure! I am quite content to let luck be my guide. The neurosurgery department motto (my residency) was: “Better to be lucky than good.” This more or less refers to a miraculous save during surgery that transcended the basic skill of the surgeon. Of course, it helps to be both.
Bearded blue heron? That’s what Jess called it. I had a ringside view. Unfortunately, I did not get the money shot when it took flight. Hey! You cannot get everything you want. But, I guess I did get a few ‘good’ shots! Wonderful. I think so. Are these good? I think they merit a “Whoa!”
Two meanings. 1. Return on another trip. 2. Do it again.
Same, different? Ummmm, we got/experienced these places together. Luck. It was as though they just up and bit us. They say you can’t go back. This was a return trip to Maine. And, this time we visited Canada too. I would say it was about as magical as our first trip together. Little did we know there would be no return trip for a while. Covid stopped us last year. This year we are planning to return. New photo-ops. It’s never the same. It’s always (more) fun.
Way back in the beginning… back in 2011, I started this blog. It was free. Free is for me! I’m not selling anything. No $ either way, in either direction. Not true, I pay a fee for extra memory (on the site) nowadays. There are ads, a few, not my doing, not mine (ads). Essentially, free. Followers, a lot of commercial WordPress sites these days, fishing for business. Followers, a few, to whom I imparted the blog address. There are few enough followers who have found me from around the world. But indeed, there have been visitors from around the world. Ah, the power of the internet! I do not seek fame. I merely share thoughts and photos. I’m better than average and less than great. I am not the best in my family but better than most. My own kids have produced 5 star pics on their iPhones! It’s not common, so, the body of my work is technically better. But, then art was never about quantity. Quality can show up in a single image. Colleen’s kids – Emma has more photography experience. But, even Jess and Ian have shown that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Even though I take great shots, it’s just not every day. But every day, I take shots.
As Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I have a few….” The last time I made a major camera purchase was in 2014. We went to the mecca of camera stores (B&H) and I got a brand new spiffy Nikon D610. A month later the D700 followed by the D750 came out. (About the same price, better features!) Bad timing. Of course, no one tells you in advance so they can dump old inventory at max price. This time around I got a Nikon Macro 105mm lens to go with the Nikon Z5. This stuff ain’t cheap! And! Déjà vu! A month later, the new Z mount macro lens was announced. You don’t care. You didn’t get gypped again! I could buy/sell/trade my way to the new model lens. Nah! The old lens is fine; it’s just more weight (older lens). And, I have already gotten my money’s worth of macro photography even before the new lens has been released for sale. But(t), as with many things in life, timing is everything. My (timing) was perfect again. Then again, gear is not the definition of a photographer; anyone who buys great gear is not guaranteed success. Good tools make things go better. This mix of photos is with different cameras and lenses – right tool in the right moment, or, the tool at hand in the moment. The humming bird was fortuitous (lucky!!): I was holding the 105mm macro. This lens worked at the critical moment.
Macro? you ask? This one wuzza puzzler. Two bees humping? I thought they worked with a queen. No humpin’ allowed. It’s not an expected behavior?! This was right tool (lens) in the moment.
The blue heron stood long enough for me to get shots. And, I could see him gather up to take flight. My timing was off by just a little. So, instead of a great shot, I got an ordinary slightly out of focus slightly blurred shot. Almost. Not bad though, I had asked the camera, lens, and shutter to do an impossible job from a long way off. We are having a discussion because I managed to get something. If it had been a great shot, I would not have to apologize for the miss. I’m mortal. And, this is not my day job.
Not my best effort – yet. There are two hummingbirds. The black head is a mature ruby throated hummingbird. You can see the ruby when it stretches its neck. The other bird with the tan neck is a juvenile. How do I know? Colleen looked it up. Ha! The hummingbird feeder has paid dividends within days after I hung it. I hope to get more shots and with more detail. No complaints. So far so good. Thank you, Jess!
What’s yours? The limit of enlarging an image is multi-factorial. The quality of the source image counts. This is dependent upon camera, lens, and focus. There’s more but it would be boring to get too much more technical. Meanwhile, the red wing blackbird in flight was fortuitous. I could have done better. But the moment came and went. I did not have the right equipment. But you can see the color of the bird in flight. To me, it looks orange in my picture. But in other views, we saw the characteristic red color. At the end of the day, the image ain’t perfect. But otherwise, we’d have nothing to talk about. I got the dang bird in flight!
I have cameras. They are smaller than spinning wheels. And, they (cameras) are smaller than looms and great wheels. This does not mean that I don’t have a lot (of cameras). It just means they are more discrete. I have a series (of cameras) that I rotate in use. Each has its own characteristics, and therefore, its use in certain situations. It would be boring to wax poetic over each (camera’s) special or general use. Suffice to say that Colleen’s picture illustrates one “signature” spinning wheel, one loom, and two great wheels, all of which take up (all) the available space in our (her) living room. Three cameras take up a portion of one table that does not have fiber upon it. Which is to say, that the missing camera (I took this photo with it) is my new spiffy Nikon Z5. Yes, one must always keep up with tech. It is the replacement to my trusty Nikon D610, that I purchased when Colleen and I first met. I will not be replacing Colleen anytime soon. I say this upon pain of death. Ha ha. (KIDDING!).
This new camera does take great shots. I’ve been waiting to get the red wing blackbird with its red chevron – only to find, it is orange – and shot with my Sony RX100 VI. The swallow? A crow decimated their nest last spring. I hope they have returned to nest once more. Mix and match, each instrument for its purpose. When you you need a hammer, a screw driver might do if nothing else is at hand. Macro? The right lens is definitely a plus – helpful! But you can do it with or without. I love to learn new tricks. A new camera? A new lens? Is it an excuse? Or, is it inspiration to explore new possibilities? Whatever! I rotate and I use whatever is at hand that will achieve what I imagine. Sometimes it works. Do we need all those spinning wheels? Ha ha. I would not presume to answer that question. But I do know, it’s a whole lot of fun to have the tools you need at hand. … now to talk Colleen into needing a Tesla.
Would you believe this? It’s not as good as the last one I got. It’s unexpected (again). Twice? Bird in flight! Neat! Yes, this is not the first time you have seen a bird in flight. There are many more pics of birds in flight and many better than mine. But this is my shot. It’s rare; it ain’t easy to get; and I was lucky enough to do it twice. Well, I can recall others I have shot. But this is still hard to do, and rare. I could say it was all intentional and the shutter speed was set to get the wings in a blur…. but, no, it was just luck. Struck by lightning – twice!
How lucky can you be? Sometimes, I think I close my eyes, press the shutter, and hope for the best. It works sometimes. Hey hey! Even a blind squirrel gets a nut – sometimes. Our squirrel is back, but, that’s another story. And what do you know?! I got the cardinal in flight – and in focus! That is terrific in my book! I’m tickled even if you have seen birds in flight before. It ain’t easy! And, to be honest, I was pressing the shutter as he took flight. Pure luck!
Ok I’ve lost it. Is this really worth a post? Pigeons? If you live in New York City… There are so many better things to speak of and to illustrate. Pigeons in the country? They were out of place on the roof with the solar panels. Suburbia! Pigeon? They were out of place in my neighborhood and Colleen exclaimed when she saw them sauntering on the roof next door. Lost, they were far from home. Fly away.
Pine siskin, pine warbler, and house finch are in the neighborhood. Hey! It’s neat to see birds we don’t see every day. In fact, I did not know they were natives around here. Ha ha. They have been here longer than I have. Colleen looked them up in our trusty bird guide. We matched the pictures to the names. That’s our story and we are stickin’ with it. Nutley, though he would like, does not get to romp with the birds.
I have nothing against squirrels. They gotta eat too. I was tired of the fact that the squirrels were a bit piggish about hogging all the bird food. Colleen was brilliant. Move the feeders. Duh! They are on the front balcony. They squirrels can’t climb there. Bird TV returns!
I was keeping to posting one picture a day. Now, I cheat. I can get around my own rule by making a collage layout. Hey! I have too many images and so little time! The bird feeder is shared by one and all. The birds, a few, eat. The cats have Cat TV. The squirrels disrupt the whole show. (Hey! Squirrels gotta eat too.) My cat Nutley has now been trained (by me!) to go chase the squirrel and then return to the home so I don’t have to get cold on the deck. Ha! (I have to chase Nutley inside, instead.) And, the bonus, I get to take pictures of the proceedings. Colleen has to cajole me daily to go feed the birds. Who knew this could be so much work (fun?)?
How many outstanding pictures do I have? How many stories are there? At one picture a day…. one story at a time? I’ve been at it for nearly 10 years. It must be quite a collection spanning a decade of change. People come and go. Changes large and small occur. Relationships change. 2011, I was in NY working in NJ. I had rediscovered a long lost cousin, Amy. John had fallen ill. I had been in touch with Colleen to lose her again until 2014. I had never traveled to the Middle East. Scuba diving was on my bucket list. One great shot – there are so many, or, so few – or would it be an essay story of illustrations? Hey! I never work with a plan. I’m just trying to get from here to there. Where? Dunno!? I’m more of, make lemonade if you get lemons, kind of guy. Story or the image. Image or the story. It’s all good right now, in this place.