Word and Image

New York

Do not pass go

Some days, not many, are a complete “no go.” It’s not often it snows in New York City enough to stop traffic and business. It’s fascinating to watch the usual routine grind to a halt. For a few days things are way different. Then the snow melts and it’s messy dirty. Oh well, there are a lot of people who trudge through the snow. I’ve never not been able to go. I even did a major brain aneurysm operation in the aftermath of a major snowstorm. Ok, I’m not bragging. It’s just that there was never “no go” for me. This past winter changed that. It’s not that I got old and became a wimp. I just couldn’t go. The snow was literally too much for us to drive. We walked. We did not go far. I was lucky. “Retired” means there is no where you actually have to go. Still, it was a strange feeling to be limited. It’ll snow again in NYC. I won’t be there. I won’t go.

Yes. Every big storm brings out someone who thinks it’s cool to cross country ski down the street or in Central Park. It’s a common spectacle now. I actually considered snow shoes or cross country skis after the last winter storm. The bang for your buck is too small.


9/11

9/11 is synonymous now with the attack on the World Trade Center. I was at home just getting ready to head to work. I would have driven right past the WTC on my route to work. Instead right out my kitchen window I saw smoke. It was downtown. Not too far by my estimation. I was wrong it was from the WTC. I climbed to my roof and started taking pictures. I called the NY Times to offer the pics. Ha! There were a million pics by the end of the day. I watched it. In retrospect I can see the event unfold.

The second building was struck and new flames shot out. At first, I thought the fire from the first building had jumped to the second. Then, I realized the buildings are separated by nearly ¼ mile. No chance. Then the first building fell, collapsed leaving a cloud of smoke. It was unbelievable. I fully expected the building to reemerge when the fire was controlled. Nope! And then the second building fell.

Unbelievable! No no! It can’t be. The buildings are more than 100 stories tall. There’s no way they would simply collapse. No way. The smoke cleared. The buildings were gone. I knew people who perished. I knew relatives of some of the victims. History was changed.

2856 14 David Jackie

My home as many others became a refuge. My son brought home two classmates who were stranded. My niece showed up. My wife charged out to try to help the survivors. Unfortunately, there were no wounded. Jules was on a school trip. The bus did not return the kids out of caution. So many years have gone by. I have seen the new building rise from the ruin and ashes. Everyone can tell a story of remembrance. This was mine.


Beach

2747 17 Beach

Bright sunny day! Most beach shots are boring. It’s a horizontal view with some people and the waves breaking behind them. That would be my average. A bikini keeps the interest. But otherwise it’s not too exciting. The water in the Atlantic is cold! – for me! I’m spoiled. I’ve been in the Red Sea. I’ve been in the Caribbean and Hawaii. I’m not dropping names and destinations. I’m just comparing an ice bath to a nice warm one. I choose the warm waters. So, this is Long Island. It’s beautiful. The sand beaches are wide and the best I’ve ever seen. The rest of the world has narrow beaches. Really! But I stopped going in the water shortly after “Jaws” came out. And the cold keeps me out. Nowadays I am a great admirer of the beach. Just give me warm waters to float in. Better yet, give me a good dive spot.


What a mess!

2744 36 5B

I’m not neat! Nope. Nada. We were in the throes of a gut renovation on the apartment. (circa 2000) We decided to live in the other half. So everything on the 6th floor moved to the 5th or it was tossed. You can see we saved a lot of stuff. We tossed a lot – sinks, appliances, and so much wood and more. We hung our artworks willy-nilly. There are lots of clothes strewn about. No, I don’t think those are panties… I’m set up on an ironing board to mount slides into cardboard mounts. Remember, I did it all myself – developing and mounting. There’s a Mac laptop, an iron, the slide scanner – old old LS 1000, another TV with VHS player, printer, and multiple boxes containing mounted slides. That large batik on the wall was an original artwork from an artist we chased down in Hawaii decades ago.  Yeah! It was an utter disaster. I don’t know how the family put up with my clutter. It was temporary. Sure! But I apologize looking back at the chaos I photographed. It’s like food. You can’t appreciate the utter mess in a single picture. Sorry, guys.


Balance

Years(decades) have gone by since I took these slides. Perspective. So many choices. So little time. Huh? You got all the time you want. Take as many images as you want. Wide, tele, vertical, horizontal… you can’t even complain you don’t know what you have because the review button is right at hand. Why do I have so many duds? And why am I surprised by my success? I could excuse my lack of ability when I shot slides. I shot. I developed months later. I reviewed. I regretted the shot that got away. Now? Well, the cats don’t pose. So, I either get it or I don’t. Life and time is one way. There are scarce if ever do overs. I have a few pictures that I missed. I just try to keep it fewer. The regret is that I see things and am not technically able to get the image. And I am still surprised by some of the images I capture. I admit that the first 30 years was 100k slides. The past decade is more than 350k. I’m not bragging. I’m amazed that cost and ease has diminished so that I can get many more misses without more guilt. Ha ha, look at the sailors on the yardarms. They do look like they are posing in a circus high wire act. You saw that, right? Or, in this parade everyone stands still while you pass by.


Amelia

2723 19 Amelia baby

Back in 1994 before I knew what would happen, Jules named a dove who nested in her window box, Amelia. No ready water for plants, the window box had long been abandoned and was facing the street. We had plenty of pigeons. No doves. Amelia was fearless. She seemed to know the glass was protective against the humans on the other side. That little bird hatched clutch after clutch. Maybe it wasn’t the same bird, but, how do you argue with a ten-year old girl? I can only say that multiple births of one or more babies occurred across multiple years. My kids were careful to severely admonish me against scaring or annoying the birds. They stared back at me through the glass and never budged. She merely hatched another brood.

And then one day in August, 2006, the doves had a family reunion on our deck. The multiple generations gathered for that one time and quietly roosted anywhere and everywhere. There were more than twenty? Obviously, they remembered. I never saw them gather again. But on that one day, the doves that met reconnected with a memory of their birthplace. I was lucky enough to be there when it happened. It was an honor. I commend my kids for being so conscientious and caring. There are moments when you are proud of their kind and gentle souls.

Not that anyone will look, but, I posted this idea back in November 2011. Since I scanned my slides once more, I still think that this is a touching story. It bears repeating.


The Park

Central Park. Is there any other? In the middle of the “City” amongst a million people, a park was created to preserve open space. When you consider that every other inch is covered with developers scheming to construct a high rise something, it is pretty remarkable that someone didn’t pave over and build on this park. I took the kids to school many days. And in the fall, I could see and gauge the autumn color as it developed. Not enough, but a few times I would venture into the park and get some fall shots. I got lots of leaves in color, but, not so much of the city and park in peak fall foliage. In the midst of it all there is serenity to be found. I didn’t realize how crowded it was. Now I live where there are mere thousands (population). I have to drive for a while to find traffic. A car going by on my street after dark is unusual. The beach is crowded. I might have to cruise for five whole minutes to get a parking spot. I live with someone who worries about parking. She was lucky to see a car near her once a day. Geez! She worries about parking all the time.


Perspective

2736 25 Tall ships

The Tour de France is a bicycle race of 2000 miles in three weeks. I have no desire to photograph it. Some people wait/camp along the route for weeks before the bikers pass. Then 100 riders go by at 28 miles an hour and it’s over. Too little bang for your buck. A British royal wedding? I’m not related. So, I would be among millions lining a street for a glimpse. If I lived there overlooking the parade route… My good buddy, Charlie (Bell 47 helicopter), loves the whole picture. Get the whole thing (ship). But, if you include the whole ship (helicopter) with its rotors, you lose detail.

There are times when detail (close-up) is better. It means you were there. You saw the finer details. And the whole (ship) can be discerned from its part. It’s a fine point. And, it’s an opinion. When film was limited, I shot frugally. I did not shoot well. Now that digital is plentiful, I shoot lots. I still don’t always shoot well. More is not more. Nor is more less. I find that I shoot more. I shoot wide angle and telephoto. It takes a second. But, lately I find that zooming in I utilize the camera’s capability to fulfill my vision better. No, Photoshop will not save you if you are lazy. You can crop the hell out of a poor image and get something. How about getting it without thinking you have a ready crutch to fall upon. I like to mix metaphors. Get the point?

2737 36 Tall ships

An image is two dimensional on the page. Telephoto perspective can crowd what you see by its depth of field. Perspective is something that has many meanings. It all depends on you. Technical or philosophical?

 


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.


Day, Year, Decade, Century, Millennium

In retrospect it passed quietly. There was little fanfare in my family. We lived within blocks of Times Square. We were there on the afternoon of: to have a look around before the crowd was stifling. We were out on Long Island earlier in the day. The kids did homework. David made a snowman. Jules did a puzzle. The night came and went without incident and the Y2K fear never came to pass. Where were you? It’s a memory. I was there at the turn of the clock. It’s nearly two decades later. It’s a better world today?