Word and Image

Festival

How many

You would think I am obsessed with numbers.

At an event, my attention is upon the action. I try to capture the event as it unfolds. I do not know the order or what will come next. I am alert to random movements and out of the ordinary motion. I am looking at color and composition putting it all together to try to capture a “winner” “keeper” of an image. Editing comes later. Which one? We love all of our children. Eh?

How many is enough? And, “you already have that shot….” Subtle differences. One shot would have been enough. Sure! But, which one?

Digital memory has given me so many options. I could certainly afford all the film I needed. But these days digital memory is so easy. Yes, there is some skill involved in knowing when to press the shutter. I am happy to say that I consider myself above average. Not great. Not bad. Does it matter? It’s for me. And my most adoring audience, my muse – Colleen – loves my posts.


Balloons

Once upon a time I attended a balloon festival. The one I have longed to see is in Albuquerque. I’ll settle. Not knowing how it worked never having been at the venue it was a challenge to be in the right place at the right time. And yet, there were more than ample photo ops. Color. Action. Spectacle. Patterns. It was about as much fun as you could have with your clothes on.


Photo op

When there is no rain, there are a lot of opportunities for images. Look!? Place to place, there are images everywhere. I have realized that I must focus. Camera focus is automatic. No, I must concentrate upon the subject and the content of my image. Keep to one thing – color, pageantry, motion, detail….

It was a privilege to be at the event. We learn new things each time we attend. You cannot be everywhere at once. I wanted to feel like I got the essence of the event. I’m shy. At this event I was permitted to photograph, free to capture images uniquely showing people celebrating their heritage and culture.

I think I smiled the whole day. While I enjoyed my day job (neurosurgeon) and its challenges, I think I might have been a photographer if circumstances were otherwise. For me, this was a fun day.


Raindrops

I hate it when Colleen is right. She’s always predicting weather based on the weather report. When is the weatherman correct? Drat! Rain was predicted to fall right as the festivities began on Day 2.

And it did! Right on schedule. Right as predicted. When is the weatherman right?!

Uncanny! We went for pizza. Yes, we left. And, came back. The opening flag ceremony was just beginning. Few dancers were in attendance. Or, they were getting Chinese food? But the rains resumed – poured! There was a stampede to the exit.

Yup, raindrops… no one is getting their feathers wet. Do you wear your finest clothes in the rain? And, there was no audience.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

I am glad we were gifted with a spectacular Day 1.


1916

My personal record of images shot in one day. It’s not bragging. It is wonder to me. It would translate to roughly 52 rolls of slide film shot in one day. That would amount to nearly one half year’s worth of film shot for me before I converted to digital. I would take about 40 rolls of film on a major trip (two weeks) to Europe. I am amazed that life has progressed for me in this way.

Things turn out so different from what I had ever imagined. One picture. Two picture… it was not video or movie. I don’t shoot video. I never look at it. I resolved a long time ago to stop shooting video. There is plenty of video shot and saved from when the kids were young. Now, it’s for me. I shoot digital and embrace the technology but not too much. Digital tech changes – in order to sell more cameras. I am too old for “camera lust.” New technology?, is something to get me better images or to get images impossible to get any other way…..  shhhh, ha ha, a telescope (inside joke).

1916 images in one day, it was a record I did not set out to make. I am otherwise in awe of technology that would allow me this feat within the budget I set.

Explanations: Yes, the waiter was giving me horns. All day, 1916 pictures, and, only 4 selfies. “They” Colleen pronounced it a “they.” Astute! I was not paying attention but it had a full set of armpit hairs and a man’s face. Transition or unsure? Color and pageantry! Action! Cute! Kids! Birds! That hornbill was catching a grape mid-air. The vulture was stalking. Yes, they do.


powwow

Pageantry, color, people, costumes, politicians…. Colleen laughs and joins me reluctantly. I am drawn to the photo opportunity. We go. We learn. Images are everywhere.

Senator Carper showed up. I have not seen him for several years. Shocked. We were stunned by how old he looked. Stooped gait and cracking voice he had seriously aged since we saw him last time. Sad.

Color and pageantry were all around. Fun! We learned about dance, drums, and song. It was a grand day. I feel so fortunate to have attended.


North

Colleen and I were puzzled. We giggled. Women! The women in my life all are directionally challenged. Jules had her Garmin GPS device upside down on her dashboard because she was driving south. Ditto, her mother, who holds a map upside down because we were driving south.

So it was with the Aztec dancers from Philly at the Indian powwow. They consistently pointed in the wrong direction as they paid homage to the four winds – NSEW. Oh my! It was comical. It was solemn. Are you still blessed if you are looking the wrong way?


A sheep is a sheep is a…

I am now educated. When I first became reacquainted with Colleen, a sheep was a sheep. Colleen weaves; she spins. Now, we chase particular breeds – border Leicester, Corriedale, Polworth, Merino, Lincoln…. I know a llama when I see one (now). I am hooked on auctions. It is the closest thing to gambling that I am willing to risk. I have an “enterprising” gene somewhere buried deep. I have to stay away! Otherwise, we are gonna have a sheep, soon.


Do over… again

We have been on an extended road trip. I chased fall color and cover bridges. Colleen chased fiber. Fiber? As in wool and fleece from sheep. Sheep? Yes, there are a myriad of rare sheep with fleeces she covets. ?? Polworth? Teeswater? It’s an endangered breed in the US. TMI!! We made it to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Fair. It went on as scheduled despite Covid. Yes, we got big rain. There were prizes at the auction – another spinning wheel! Ha ha. (I/Colleen won one.) There was the fleece barn, Colleen’s candy store. Llama, pajama, an interloper! Yarn?! Tons. It was more knitter’s fair than weaver/spinner. There was a line (out the door!!!) to purchase this year’s (yarn) color. There was the one room school (revisited). We – Colleen and I – almost went to one. We did sit in this style school desk in elementary school. So, why not – recreate the image of where we met. Again. And, yes, it is my regret – I wish she’d have grabbed on and held me close those many years ago. What a difference fate could have dealt. Such a good time, too many pictures, wistful, and hoping for a do over – life.


Motion… close enough

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!


Pick a few… more

On 9/11 this year, we found ourselves at an Indian powwow. Symbolically? Symbolically, a flag had been raised over the venue – hanging six stories up from a hook and ladder fire truck. We remember…. Pageantry was mixed in with somber remembrance. I shot 3000 images that day. (Hmmm, another symbolic number.) Whoa! What an edit! Why? Photo ops were everywhere. I was not always in a good position to shoot what I wanted. I made do. The venue was loose and the crowd did not stay glued to their seats. I moved about with some freedom to get the shots I wanted. I listened to a photographer, a retiree now, describe how he shot in RAW and post processed in Lightroom, to a woman who did not know what RAW was and who had proudly proclaimed she just found her camera yesterday to shoot images of her grandchild. Disconnected?

In this case I did a rough edit randomly gathering a few representative images to illustrate the day. There was joy and movement. The regalia was colorful and symbolic. Kids and adults participated. No sunglasses please, I was trying for authenticity. Surprisingly, there was a lot of plastic in the costumes I saw. I had not attended a powwow since 2014. It was nice to see another once more with Colleen. The price? … dinner out.


Three bake sales and an art show

The same weekend: three bake sales and one art craft sale. There were two bake sales in two churches. One church was selling specialty knives in addition to baked goods. We got knives. Why? Don’t know. The second church sold books and baked goods. We got books. Six grandchildren all read. We don’t need books. But who can resist a book sale. The art was Delaware by hand and displayed the wares of craftsman from the area. We looked and admired. As expected, the price of handmade craft was expensive. In between we hit a yard sale. That was priceless. There was junk. Someone sold a Kitchen Aid mixer (not junk). Her neighbor dutifully handed over cash and the sale was done before our eyes. We bought a vintage baby buggy from the very same neighbor. Ok! I got another project to fix up. The last stop was the AARP scholarship show – craft, baked goods, and a farmer’s market with corn straight from Georgia. It was a packed day.


Loser is lunch

I actually had to pull these images off my iPhone. Per usual, I shoot an image with my camera. But I forgot…

Have I mentioned the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival? It’s huge. Folks from far and wide come. Who knew? It’s like a cult. There are a lot of people who love sheep and wool. And they spin and weave and knit and…. I’m a bystander through association. I have a big camera and it seems not too many (big cameras) are in attendance. Sheep are photogenic? There is a building devoted to photography and there are prizes for your best sheep portrait. I’ll pass. But here we are. And I suddenly needed something to send to the kids. If you know my sense of humor… the sheep contest. The judge waxed poetic about fleece, bone structure, roundness, squareness and so many other attributes. Sorry. To me, a sheep is a sheep and they all look the same. Heresy!! Shoot me at dawn. All around me they sell sheep – meat – lamb and mutton. Gyros! You can’t have a proper one without lamb. The folks selling did not look Greek. I didn’t buy any. But I can’t help wondering what happens to the losers? My kids thought the joke was horrible. They have their mother’s sensibility in them.


Lincoln Center

Old photos. I came across this. It’s about 2002, Lincoln Center. Barbara Cook – quite the diva. She’s starring. I didn’t know her at the time. About a decade later I discovered the American songbook. She’s a big part of it. Who knew? Lots of folks. I was late to the party. There was a craft fair that day I took this slide. Now that’s a full circle for me. Look! Sheep! A sheep shearing demo. Considering what I know about weaving, it’s odd to see that this image is in my files and I only just ran across it. How significant insignificant things seem on second look. History’s a funny thing.


Tall Ships

Sailing vessels paraded along the Hudson River in 1976, 1986, and in 2000. That’s my memory. In 1976 I was a newly minted surgery intern at Albert Einstein Medical School rotating out of the Lincoln Hospital ER. We were 24 hours on, 24 hours off. I started on July 1 – day off. That made July 4th my second day off. I was exhausted. Dead on my feet so to speak. The hours of an intern are severely restricted nowadays. Better or worse? I have an opinion. It doesn’t matter. I managed to drag myself to the Hudson that day with girlfriend and camera. Slide film. I had plenty with me. Someone standing next to me offered/asked to buy film when they ran out. Nothing doing. I needed/brought everything I had. This was historic. It was a once in a lifetime parade. So, of course, it wasn’t. As if NYC ever needed more tourists, they did it (tall ships) again and again. By 2000, I was a better photographer with more sleep and better (different) equipment. I was not on a ship but my lenses reached better. As summer days in NYC go, it was hazy. But I was part of history again that day. I’ve been fortunate that way. I could have been working July 4th, 1976 and missed it all. I wasn’t. I saw it from a front row spot. Lucky me. That year my vacation was the month of August. You had to take it when you were assigned. Lucky me. Nothing left to live for for the rest of the year. We went to Italy on a tour. I remember that too.


Graphic

You take pictures of cats? Same principle – sheep. Eyes, it’s in the eyes. Focus. I’m tying up loose ends here. I just readjusted my DSLR camera to focus as I would like it to be. And it was largely more successful. These days I am so used to the point and shoot cameras that I don’t look in the view finder as much. It’s not laziness. I’ve gotten used to holding the camera at the level of my subject. This means that instead of bending I simply hold the camera lower and press the shutter. In a pen, this means I can get closer to the sheep without climbing in. if you recall, everything is related. Only the subjects change. The technique crosses over. So, I have been asked, how many pictures of sheep do I need. I’ve got one already. It’s like why I go to the movies. I’ve seen one already?


At least it’s not fish

No, I’m not OCD. Am I? No matter. Here’s something you don’t see every day: Spinning in the park. Or, bobbin lace. It’s a craft not in much popularity. It’s intricate and fascinating. The artist said take all the pictures you want, just none of me. The sheep are trimmed and groomed for show. Why? The fleece is reduced to short fiber. The sheep sure look better. But then again maybe I forgot, they are destined to be eaten. Lamb burger? Gyro?


Hammer Dulcimer

I just met this instrument again for the first time at a Celtic concert at our library. I have seen Maggie and her step puppets before. This time the instrument made more sense and had more meaning. It’s just time, experience, and a little percolation. It’s all cool. Maggie’s gadget synchronizes the step puppets to her music. Yup, she literally steps on a board and the puppet move to the time of her dulcimer.


Kilt

What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt? That is a classic question. More to the point is that it’s not natural for guys (to wear skirts). I’m not being sexist. This poor guy wears pants in normal life. His legs are naturally splayed. It’s a guy thing. Unfortunately, there was ample indication of what was under the kilt. A lady would never show. So I guess that part is sexist. I really don’t want to know the answer to this question. Nope, don’t. Please don’t tell me.


Felt

What’s felt? Well you have probably felt felt. It’s a soft material. The definition is more like: take some raw wool and put it under pressure and rub; the fibers will lock and form a sheet of material. Or you may use a needle to lock the material into shapes. How about a giraffe, or a dragon, or a heron? Yup, she did all of that and more. It was enormous 9as in more then 15 feet in size) and she demurred on how long it took to do the giraffe. I’d have lost interest long before the neck ever got done. Hey, it’s art! My (felt) hat’s off to you.


Yar(w)n

In order to get yarn you start with a sheared fleece. The fleece is washed. It’s turned into roving. Then, it’s spun. After that you knit or weave. If you skip the spinning, you can felt. Felt? The would be pressing the fibers together until they form a sheet of fiber all on their own. Like art, this is the raw material for creating a myriad of things. I’m more interested in the process than in creating art. People like came to buy the raw materials. Sometimes it’s the journey more than the destination. It’s all here. If you know fiber – ie spin and weave or knit – then you recognized the various states I mention. Otherwise, enjoy the patterns and color.


Cast of characters

There is an odd mix of craft that is accepted for entry at the fair. It’s not just sheep. Brooms, wood turning, music, there were vendors of all sorts from source to finished products. You could get elaborate finished wool and fresh off the lamb fleece. There was an odd booth which had products made from old silverware. Nice. The craftsman cut off the handles of spoons and forks and made napkin rings. We were short (only got six last year) and able to get the four more we needed. This year he made a one fingered salute of a pickle fork. Yeah, it kind of reflects the mood of the country right now. Use your imagination; this one doesn’t have a picture to explain. Just hold up your middle finger and look in the mirror.


MSW – lamb?

I told you there was a crowd. Cars covered the hillside. Get there late and you have a hike to the entrance. We got there early and found folks tailgating just like a football game. What was the rush? Aside from the sheep, there were llamas. And, there were angora rabbits. You can spin your yarn right off the rabbit. It’s just a neat trick to do that. Owner and rabbit were having a ‘chill’ moment.


Baaa…

Maryland Sheep and Wool – Festival. Say it and it’s an instant party. There was a huge crowd. The ominous weather forecast did nothing to lessen the attendance. Folks are a bit quirky. I don’t see knitting and sheep tattoos every day. Who spins in a dinosaur costume? Look closely. Bring your kids. The poor kid in the wagon was shivering. It’s a whole lot easier to carry your kid. There was no room to maneuver a stroller. Yes, it was that crowded.