So, why photography? Technical? Science? Documentation and photojournalism. I was struck by the desire to document life in my family. I was not too good at doing so. I have sporadic pictures from my own childhood. My kids have a fairly comprehensive documentation of theirs. I hope they will document their own families. I was pretty good doing their childhood. I got a whole lot better. Lately, I’m the one who shoots the family photos at gatherings. I can’t be everywhere. And I still see lots of mediocre shots get passed around. Hell, I take a great number of them myself. But when I’m good, I am. And there are shots for the ages in and among my work. I’m better than I was and not as good as I will be someday.
The best part of Christmas? The after party. We kind of overdid it in the gift department. Conspicuous consumption. Guilty. Sorry. It was overcompensation for a childhood in which we each got exactly one present each year. The consequence of it all was that there was actually some serious cleanup required. Sometimes it was not as seriously undertaken as I might have wanted. Why bother with presents when the wrapping could provide so much entertainment?
These shots were taken while I clowned around in front of the Xmas tree. I did a handstand that went bad. I flipped over into the tree. I was forever reminded how the tree had been painstakingly decorated ornament by popcorn garland by…on and on. I have yet to receive forgiveness. My memory is long too. The crime was not worth the punishment. Get a grip.
Yeah, yeah, it’s early for Xmas. But then I might be late. These pictures were taken about two decades ago. Yup, little kids. Huh? I just got to scanning my old slide collection. I stopped in 2013 and just picked it up again. Thankfully, I’m still alive to do it. Digital is the only thing that will survive. No one’s gonna want to pull out and look at 100, 000 or so slides. Hey! I still have a projector. Yes! A slide projector! And a screen! Oh well, no one much cares. But then again… it was a tradition. Tradition? Yup. On Xmas night the kids started sleeping by the tree. They’d gather their blankets and stuffed animals and the latest Xmas book and… Nellie, the dog. They’d sleep through the night with the Xmas tree lit. Then they stopped doing it? I miss the old times, sometimes.
Manhattan Beach does their annual firework display at Xmas. They don’t compete with the neighboring beach community that does it in July. It’s a very large beach. You have to get a good seat. And so we did. The traffic was horrible. But we were already parked. I guess that was the limiting factor.
We sat alone with no one nearby and had the best seats in the house. It was chilly! And I got fireworks! Next July I’ll look for fireworks images. For now we got some great ones. How do you know he’s going up? He was. I suggested it would be easier to pull than push. But the image? It could be more likely he’s going downhill with the stroller…except he’s not.
On the technical side: I shot the fireworks handheld. This meant I could not use an extended exposure. Ideally: Use a tripod. Set the shutter speed to 3-4 seconds. Adjust your ISO and aperture accordingly. You get sharp trails of light and even multiple bursts. Handheld? Hey, it works too if you set up correctly. It’s what I did when I started. It’s not what I’d do now. But one adapts to the conditions provided. No, it’s not worth buying a tripod special for this occasion. I’m not OCD. Ha!
Manhattan Beach dresses for Christmas. They have festive lights. The pier is lit. We arrived on the perfect weekend. We didn’t even notice there was no snow.
Is this worth a post? Well, here’s the thought process. We came upon this scene at dusk. The lights and sunset, the trail of lights out along the long pier, my surprise and delight at finding this scene was visceral. We stayed for several days, three nights. And, in that time I tried to get a quintessential image. I knew the scene was special in terms of its graphics and color and potential as a night shot. Heretofore I would not have been able to capture anything of the essence. Film was simply not very good to do this task. Digital and the spiffy camera computer processor gives me something to work with. I never got exactly what I wanted. Wait around? Try again? Do something! Nah! Time moves on and my companions don’t want to stand around forever while I explore options. My modus operandi is to catch what I catch on the fly. It works and it doesn’t. Sometimes you are the bug and sometimes you are the windshield. Huh?
I know. But I had a post for Xmas. So, I’m squeezing this in at New Year. Happy! I’ve been in a lot of stores around Thanksgiving. Santa shows up before turkey. Turkey is for eating. You sell Santa for the holiday. Happy! … that would be all the holidays. This new year will be different… and better.
I have switched hard drives (not enough storage space) so many times I did not know what I would get when I did a search for brother John. It’s been a few years now. I try to remember on his birthday. This one image popped up. I didn’t take it. Ha! It’s an early iteration of my Manhattan apartment before many renovations. We all had mustaches. That’s funny (to me). I kept mine all these years, Eric and John were more casual. Their significant others did not insist… It’s Christmas. We had an almost uncanny knack of duplicating presents. This was the year of the overcoat/raincoat. Everyone got one. “Like minds think alike?” It happened way more than this one time. Yeah, Cabbage patch and pound puppies and tickle me Elmo, but overcoats? Gimme a break.
Great ideas! At Christmas each family comes and distributes their gifts into the waiting basket with your name on it. There are a bunch of variations on the scheme but it makes chaos so much more organized.
And for an even better scheme – use ribbon. String the ribbon from a central point and let the recipient follow his/her color to their gifts. You can put a few in the interim and make it even more fun. Either way, it’s a good idea. Too late for this year and there are a lot fewer kids around these days. But keep this in mind if you still entertain hoards for the holiday.
What do you get for someone who has everything? And I do have everything I can think that I need. Don’t try to think of anything. I have left many a person in despair. But this is about my recent Xmas excursion. The past few years I have been an Amazon shopper. Delivery and done. No lines, no stores, no pondering, no waiting for a great gift idea to fall upon you as you wearily trudge into another store for inspiration.
This year, along the way, I managed to Christmas shop in an actual store. I modeled. It’s not for me. The coat went to my brother Eric. The hat was for Dave. Where I am, the last thing I need is warm clothes. But the boys work and live in cold weather. So the warm gear will be welcome. What you don’t see and will not get to see, is the long underwear. Everyone got a pair. When Jules marries in March, it will be an outdoor wedding. No coat, suit and tie, in cool California weather, psst, a hint to the wise, dress warm. The party’s outdoors too. So long underwear will be our little secret. No one should be cold if forewarned.