This image is disconnected from my story again. Yes, sentimental again. It just keeps happening. Personal. What is clear is that folks like a happy ending. Go to the movies? It’s always a happy ending. Mostly. Really. Think about it? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? I never watch the last scene. Too sad. I know how it ends. They die. I don’t need the reminder. Nor the visual. Be careful about talking about sadness or sentiment. Folks want uplifting stories.
Did you see “Saving Private Ryan?” Tom Hanks says to Matt Damon (paraphrasing), “Nope, that is my private memory. Mine. I don’t share that with anyone else. It’s mine.” (That movie also ended badly.)
Here’s an image that would never ordinarily make this blog. It’s plants – coral. Boring. Who likes pictures of green leaved trees? But fall foliage, ah, a different kettle of fish entirely. Is humor (mine) obvious? I’m more in your face. Did you understand the reference to the ‘kettle of fish?’ No? Sorry. Someone might.
It’s nice when someone gets it. I like to whistle (while I work) – “If I only had a brain” from the Wizard of Oz. Once, just once, another surgeon got it. Did you? Ok. I’ll give you a hint. I do brain surgery as my day job. Duh?
It’s been a hell of a month. Big doings going on my way. Decisions, pondering, rearranging my life. That’s about as much as you get. But a couple years back I had another life altering encounter. So, yes, this is another special day. I suppose I could backtrack and recall lots of great days. Birthday, Christmas, on and on….
It’s very interesting. In this digital photography age my images are all numbered. The numbers repeat after 9999. So there are many images with the same numbers since I went digital in 2004. I do a search and all the 2345 images come up. It’s interesting to see what they show. Images come so fast now. I hardly remember except to look it up.
(An aside: the rhododendron sat on our deck for about thirty years in a container and survived everything that brutal winter and summer in NYC could bring. It would bloom on David’s birthday in April. When we moved, we took it. It’s transplanted in the yard on Long Island. Retired… and hopefully happy.)
Still, there are some special days. Two years ago, this was a very special day for me. Sorry, I ain’t sharing. You will have to settle for this image that does not match the story. I was just wondering how I’d work in this orphan coral image into a post somewhere.
I’m sentimental. You might not know this. Or if you know me, well, who knows? But I’m admitting it. Hey! It’s my blog. I’ve posted this pic recently. It was not staged, not Photoshopped. It was a spontaneous capture. I rose over the crest of a coral ridge. For an instant these two fish came together. It was not a kiss. Fish don’t kiss. Silly! We interpret what we see in our own contextual lives. It was but an instant. And I’d have just as easily missed this shot. But my camera was ready and I got exactly this single image. It’s a special day today. It’s an anniversary of sorts. That’s about all I’ll mention. The rest of the story is a memory private for me. It’s not that I won’t or don’t share. It’s just that some days are special and deserve a place in my heart. You might have one too. It’s nice to secretly share something in the public domain and yet keep privacy. Too often we shout from the top of any place and ask for applause and acclamation. I’m not. I’m just letting you know that this is a special day for me. And … you know who you are. Shhhhh.
The Olympics are on. Remember “Cool Runnings?” It’s about the Jamaican bobsled team. “You dead, Sanka?”
Do fish sleep? I don’t know. I’ve asked if they have eyelids. Do you know? Can you actually sleep without eyelids? Humans must sleep. It’s a fact. What do fish do? At night some become dormant. But do they sleep? No blanket?
I thought this guy was dead. Or sick? It’s unnatural. You don’t really see horses lying around on their sides. Dogs, and yes, my cats sleep. A lot! I got a few shots. And then to my relief he righted himself and swam off. Sorry to wake you from your nap. You ok?
Pure white is rare to see in the sea. See it below. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Homonyms must be so confusing to non-English speakers. Reading it is easier. But it’s fun to hear. So, I passed this white coral. Pure white. So white, that my camera would not expose properly. Too much dynamic range. I bet you care? The brightness exceeded the camera’s ability to expose properly. There, I bet you were wondering. Well, the point of it all is that I wanted to shoot white. Shoot? Remember? Everything has this gray green cast. Lots of dead stuff. Like the floor of the forest. It’s brown drab. Fall leaves are such a good photo op. Afterwards there is nothing much photogenic in brown leaves. White is not natural. Dirt, grime, all that stuff you know, there’s no reason to remain pure white. Entropy! Chaos! Randomness!
Ok? So I was concentrating and adjusting the focus and exposure. I never did get the good shot I envisioned. It was the end of the dive. We were in our decompression stop – three minutes. Hover. And turn off your mind and camera till you are done and emerge. As I shot my camera was bumped. Not once, twice, and again. There! A fish decided to have a “human encounter.” Really! Yup. It was a dream photo op! And I had all the wrong settings. I was shooting “white!” Dammit! He came around again. It’s always a “he” when they are curious and aggressive? Eggs? Young? Nope. But we had an encounter. I was too close! Can’t focus in close. I back pedaled. Yeah, fins and all, I was backing off. Gotcha! If you don’t understand how rare this is and how hard it was too get, it’s ok. I’m telling you. Ho hum, just another interesting encounter. But it was five star in my book. Never turn off your camera until you are out of the water.
Macro. It’s what they call it. Macro means large to me. It is counterintuitive to me. But the art or style is to get the details. And believe me the details are often not obvious on first look.
Red coral has hair – like the fine hair on your arm. Not obvious. I don’t know what the purpose is. I don’t see the hairs on most coral.
Horns – rhinopores. The yellow orange are pretty obvious. And the serrations are a new discovery since I now get magnified views with my super macro lens. The black and white – gee! – I didn’t know there were rhinopores for three years. There is a front and back! Damn! Starfish – fine details – it was out because the water was so murky the starfish was fooled into thinking it was dark. This is stuff that I simply never appreciated till I started macro photography. Neat!
I’m getting new glasses. My dive buddy has super vision. He gestured, pointed, and then swiped my camera. He saw this not once but twice. Gee! The fish is tiny! It is simply hard to see without magnification. Ok! And then look! Yeah, I mean you have to enlarge this. There is a parasite. That’s what he called it. It’s got a head and a couple protrusions hanging off the fish. Yes! Really. You should be suitably impressed. I am a photographer. Amateur! It’s great to learn new tricks. I kind of think that glasses will not improve my observation. I bow to super-vision.
There is no reference scale for comparison. The eye would be about twice the size of the period at the end of this sentence. How’s that? Small? So the parasite? Well, my buddy told me it was there. And my computer sees it. Up until that moment, I could not see it. Yeah, tiny!
Look closely! It’s a fish!
We actually went to the aquarium. It was newly opened and Jules was game. Dolphin show! We don’t see them in the Red Sea too much. And so far I have not had a personal shark encounter in the Red Sea. The aquarium is just fine with me. Sometimes I just take a picture. Ha! I take lots. But usually I have a reason and purpose. This image was colorful. Graphic, bold colors, I shot the image. It was to me a bright colorful coral in the tank. Later, I mean much later, and definitely in retrospect, I realize I took a picture of a frog fish. Yes, that’s what it’s called. But really, I took the image and never realized. And now that I tell you, I think you suddenly see the eye and the mouth. I’m told that this fish is very easily missed in the sea. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen one. Ha! But I’d like to…
I like the dolphin show. I think it’s neat to work with them. And I am amazed they are so strong and agile. And now I’m thinking that their freedom has been taken. They are safe and fed regularly. Is it a reasonable trade? No. What about the shark. He swims in a recreated reef environment. Better?
Blennies like to hide in holes. In this case the hideout is an abandoned pipe. He’s brave in the tube. He boldly challenged us when we moved in for a shot. Amr shot the profile and I moved in from the front.You can see the teeth in his shots!
My shots would not focus. I don’t know why. It is a function of the diver and his gear. That would be me. I did get a serviceable shot. But the deal it to get a good shot. How is it that the good shot is usually the last one you shoot? In this case, no, I never did get the shot I wanted. When you dive with a buddy you are at the mercy of his patience. Amr is patient. But I’m OCD. Sometime you have to settle. I’m better than I once was and not as good as I’m gonna be…
It’s been a while since I did fish. The past couple weekends the waves were too rough to safely enter the water to dive. And everyone agrees, safety first.
Magical! There are a few events in this very exclusive category. David had just learned to dive. Jules had just joined us. We were pretty much alone underwater. Weekdays here are empty. Just the three of us and the fishies. Omar from the last time, had shown us a nice cleft in the coral. It was idyllic and picturesque like swimming into a canyon. And with nothing but bubbles to hear, it was so calm and peaceful. Jules went into the gap first. Dave was middle and I followed. It’s like snow skiing. You keep the new guy in the middle and I watch for trouble. Jules, the one in front, blazes that path.
Suddenly Jules pulled up straight as though she’d hit a wall. Dave veered to the side. There! Right in front of us! A turtle just sort of sitting on the coral. Really! It was as though it was sunning itself. Yeah, it was a special moment We all got pictures, And Dave got video. And to this day I do not know if we all realize how special a moment we shared together. It had passed so quickly. Bittersweet. I can savor it in retrospect. It can never be repeated.
The kids never got along too well as they got older. But they stick together when they are nervous. After all, family is family. Holding hands? I thought it was touching. Jules was assuring Dave that he would be safe from me. I had and have a tendency to underestimate danger. Everyone still has their limbs…. But there was this sign at the ski resort that warned – “Are you an expert? You’d better be!” – as the kids skied under it. Good thing Jules was too small to read and comprehend till much later. But no, I’m mostly safe…. This image was daytime. I persuaded them to go on a night dive. Shhhhh..Dave had not even gotten his open water card. Yes, that was also touching to see both kids swimming, holding hands tight, and swinging their flashlights everywhere to see and ward off sea monsters. It was exhilarating but probably too much to ask my kids at that time. But hell! It was pretty magical too!
I dive to see the fish (in the sea). I take pictures. Hey! It’s what I do for fun now. Some people like watching paint dry. I don’t watch golf. I played tennis. They told me there are golf courses in Jeddah. Imagine that?! Too hot!
The flip side – go to a fish market and they have displays with untold numbers of squid and octopus. It’s a very big part of the seven fishes feast at Christmas for Italian Americans. I heard about this for years from Ginny.
I will insert an aside – non sequitur – but sort of related. When I was a kid, my dad came home with a live carp. How? He, like many Chinese, love fresh fish. How? He brought it home from the market in paper and it was still alive. How? He put it into the bathtub and it swam. Ah! No more baths for me…ever! I tell you, that was exactly my thought process in that moment. A bit later he slaughtered that fish. Yes, he cut off its head and I saw blood and the tail flopping. I was changed forever. And that memory sits burning brightly. I also realized that baths would resume shortly after.
When I learned to dive, I quickly found out that seeing octopi is rare. They do not congregate. They are very shy and solitary. Which translates – they are hard to see and harder to photograph – if you see them in the first place.
Ah! I was early to the resort. I was meeting some other divers. There are tourists in the water. And! Whoa! One caught an octopus bare handed. I moved in for a photograph. No problem. Then… he strangled it in his bare hands! It turned all colors and tried to camouflage itself till it died and reverted to plain brown. The killer left it in the Styrofoam cooler with life juices on the bottom while he sought other prey.
Yeah, I was stunned. If I had to slaughter my own cow, for sure I’d be a vegetarian… It was pretty graphic to watch him kill dinner in front of me.