We spent a bit of time in the Berkshires. This was a Shaker farm. The kids had some very pleasant fall outings. We rode bikes around. The kids raked leaves. We looked for a second home here. Real estate price being what they were, we bid on a couple places and eventually but too late the bids were accepted. We changed directions and looked on Long Island.This is the round barn at the Shaker village.
Boston is very different from New York. There are the Yankees and Red Sox, and the Jets and the Patriots (sports team adversaries). And then Boston, the start of the Revolutionary War, has its tradition of Patriot’s Day. Maine, almost an annex of Massachusetts, has a day off for Patriot’s Day. No such thing happens in New York. Nope! The significance is that this is a photo op. The day is devoted to re-enacting the early skirmishes of the Revolutionary War. I attended twice. Two acts of random kindness were bestowed upon me. I held a musket while the owner shot me (photograph, of course). And in the second, I got an up close and personal look at what it must have felt like to be the target of a British dragoon. One needs to remember that everyone here is American, just dressed in period costume.
The accuracy of the long musket was surprising…bad. I thought the long barrel made it a deadly accurate weapon. In fact firing the weapon was a challenge. There was smoke and fire. And, you were blinded for a few moments after the weapon discharged. Note here that everyone had their eyes closed upon firing. No one wanted to be injured in the making of this image. I discovered the key to the image was the smoke and fire.
The photo was taken in Ashburnham, Massachusetts on a lake in the fall. It was an early morning with a still wind. The reflection is self-explanatory except that it’s turned on its side. No, no Photoshop. It actually was the real deal. You don’t get this too often. But the story is of four couples, friends for many years (too many to say here) who would gather periodically to hangout and do whatever. In this case it was getting on a pontoon boat for a little early morning cruise. Sorry, if you don’t look your best early in the morning before coffee and tea. The guys were cooking breakfast.
We went on another boat dive in early August. It was supposed to be a cave dive and a night dive. The water was too dangerous (stormy) to go for a cave dive, so we settled for a wreck dive and a night dive. Now that I’m experienced (a little bit more), I’m also less timid. So these close-ups of the stingray would have been with the ‘tele’ setting a year ago. Right now I approach with the ‘macro’ setting. It cuts down on the murkiness. The stingrays can be dangerous. I just get in and float over slowly. They are pretty tolerant and don’t swim away immediately. I’m still getting accustomed to the settings. The rays have round eye balls that I assume will swivel. I’d love to know what image their brain is processing. It’s not forward so it’s probably not binocular and so I assume it’s about threat. And then I remember the adage – ‘things in the mirror may be closer than they appear.’As with many things in life, I have had great early success underwater. And then you step back and look over your progress and realize there’s a lot to learn. I’m strictly amateur in underwater photography. The hardcore people take down $7,000+ worth of gear and lights. To be honest, I’ve fried a couple of camera when I first tried underwater photography. They were point and shoots so the pain in $ was not so bad. I remain an opportunist diver rather than pursue subjects to the end of the seas. So for me it’s ‘what did you see when you went diving today.’ I don’t have the pressure to produce a money image. At the same time there is great satisfaction in learning a new skill. It’s even nice to shoot the coral even if it doesn’t move.
I know that I’ve taken some good photos over the years. I had this one in my office and one of my colleagues Frank Loh admired it. Frank was a childhood friend to my younger brother. This shot was taken while we were on a trip to the Berkshires in the autumn. It’s funny that sometimes you can take a shot and know it’s special. But in most instances, I would take a shot and realize it was iconic after I developed and mounted the slide. And that was often months later. Digital it’s not.
Back around 1980, Lisa and I were taking a timeout. We were sort of broken up. So she went to Eluthera to vacation. I wandered up to Boston to visit an OR nurse Ann (Sweeney) Levy. She was married to a GI specialist. She had been the Neuro OR coordinator while I was a resident at NYU. Her mom had had a brain tumor and I had assisted the Chief in her surgery, which turned out well. Leaving Boston, I drove to Cape Cod on a Sunday evening in October. All the traffic on the road was headed away from Cape Cod, bumper to bumper. I felt like I was going against the evacuating tide of traffic in my lone car headed to Providence. Wandering the dunes the next day, I chanced upon this house and got these images of the dunes with the autumn storm clouds. The house is gone now, changed forever into a non-picturesque photo-op some years back. It took me about 30 years to return to this spot. Things change. But, back then, when I took these images, they are iconic in my memory and can never be repeated. Like time it’s a one way trip. I could have done better with the composition. The house is a bit too centered. My father in law, Bill, offered to crop it when he framed the photo. But I decided to keep it as I shot it.
I learned to play golf with these guys. Actually, I just play with them about once a year. Well, to be honest it’s not even that often lately. We’ve sort of split. Bob and Kathy split. He lost the ladies and so we see Kathy but haven’t seen Bob lately. Remember that movie with Carol Burnett and Sandy Dennis…. I learned to play golf in the most casual way. Who carries a camera around on the golf cart? I usually just spend most of the time in the woods wandering around looking for my ball. I don’t find it but there’s usually someone else as errant so I always come away with a ball even if it’s not mine. To be honest I’m secretly better. I hit it mostly straight. And when necessary, I tee it up from the rough and even the fairway to gain a greater advantage. Hey, I’m not too serious. Alex is way serious since he learned (about the same time as I started). He’s pretty good but sometimes Bob and Kevin tease him. They always ask if I’ve been playing and then shake their heads when I tell them it’s once a year.
We visited Alex and MaryAnne in Ashburnham and stayed at their house on the lake. The early morning was still and there was a wonderful opportunity to get a fall reflection. Of course when you develop and mount your own slides abstraction is more obvious. Hence the turned slide that makes an entirely different statement.
This is one of among many business signs that I photograph as a collection. I’ve never gone back and actually collected the slides and images in one place. But I keep shooting signs that I like. Someday…. I think it began for me in the early ‘80s with a trip to Hawaii. But who knows? So I continue to shoot signs. Susan shoots flags. To tie in this non sequitur, I believe this shot was in Newburyport, a town that Susan introduced to Lisa and where Lisa then led me on a photo op. Get it?
We were on one of our annual fall trips in the Berkshires. The kids were riding bikes and we stopped by the roadside to play around on the haystacks. The kids clambered up and I shot some great pictures. We made this trip several times and often coordinated the trip with a real estate hunt. We almost settled on a couple homes but ultimately chose Long Island. These trips were memorable for me. I hope the kids had as good a time as I did.