New York harbor, nighttime, the Staten Island ferry, it’s all for free. Yup, no fare, it’s free. And it goes right by the Statue of Liberty. And you get a nice view of lower Manhattan. You see the new Freedom Tower. For all of this you simply cannot beat the ride. The bonus is the night ride which gives you the lights of the city. It’s pretty special. Just get on the boat.
I love the bright lights of the carnival at night. Before digital photography these were very hard shots to get. Now it’s pretty easy. And even for moving objects, you have sufficient speed to stop the action. Ferris wheels are fun. They are assembled on site. I like getting the view.
Street photography – you don’t aim or compose, you just press the shutter. The idea is to catch spontaneity. It’s mostly because you are afraid or shy to ask to take a picture. Or you are afraid to have an angry objection. And if you are in a foreign place it is wise to be discrete. Auto focus! It works. Aim in the general direction of your subject. Hope for the best. At night I use auto ISO and shutter speed 1/125. Otherwise things will be blurred. They tend to be. So I try to lessen the error.
I had an errand to do in the old city. It’s September and still hot as blazes. The humidity is high. And still, it does not rain. You go out only at night. Daytime is instant meltdown. I live in A/C. My villa has never seen the A/C off in four years. Power outages are very rare. Once it lasted for more than an hour and my friend left to go to a hotel. He did not tolerate heat. Wuss! Well, me too. But for some reason we were on different circuits and my power was on. No, he did not want to stay in my messy villa. As soon as I exited the air conditioned car my camera lens fogged up. I did not realize it. So for a moment, until I checked, everything was fogged. It was an interesting effect. And the shot I could not get… the man in the chair had sweat dripping from the tip of his nose. Sorry. Couldn’t get that. It’s street photography! There are shots I saw that will ever be on my mind. I missed it. But I saw it. If you didn’t get it, you didn’t see it. But I did. Like the eggs. Some days you are in the right place at the right moment. And just a bit later on, you miss. Yes, a drop of sweat, right on the tip of his nose. “Plain as the tip of your nose.” Missed!
I love this shot! Every once in a while the shot is good and the story is second place. Isn’t this a great graphical image. Night shot! This was near to impossible before digital. Now it’s easy. High fashion shoes and abayas don’t seem to be congruent. What does one wear out? And what goes with an abaya? Folks mostly wear sneakers or sandals. Sandals are great because it’s so damn hot. Sneakers are hot.
Oh! Another aside. “Oud or agarwood is one of the most popular scents on the market today. Oud is said to be the most expensive wood in the world; oud oil’s value is estimated to be 1.5 times the value of gold, and it is sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’.” My nurse told me about this scent. Everyone smells to high heaven. What with the “built in sauna” wearing an abaya, you do need a lot of scent.
High fashion shoes under an abaya? Pearls before swine? Sorry. No pork here. But you get my drift? Which reminds me… one of our nurses was stopped from entering with marzipan. She had brought it in and it contains like .001% alcohol! The Saudi customs officer stopped her triumphantly! She refused to give up her stuff. She argued and cried. Her husband left her. He was standing next to her with a block of Serrano ham in his bag…
So? What shoes do you wear under an abaya? Anything you like I’d guess. Incongruent? It’s not like you are solving a geometry theorem.
I only saw this once. Apparently the police are not allowing such a display to occur again. That year there was vandalism to many shops along the avenue. Too bad. There was such enthusiasm and spirit. A woman asked to take a picture! Really! I pointed the camera at her. She put up her hand and rolled her window up. She wanted me to take a picture of her car. Some things remain the same!
Maybe everyone knew to come by social media alerts. But then again, I have never seen a gathering like this. Cars lined the avenue and just sat. No one cared about moving along. They sat – “ Car proud” – banners waving, costumed, enthusiastic.
They waved at me to take pictures as though I were a news journalist. And so I did. I got worried because one guy grabbed the camera from my hand and did a group shot. I’m trusting but wary. You never know about a crowd. But… it was all a happy day.
There is a genre – street photography. I’m shy. And I dislike encounters. And I don’t want to ask. And I don’t want a pose. And I don’t want to be giving someone money to take a picture. You may not like it, but in America, anyone on the street is fair game. Commercial use is a different story. But for personal use, it’s all good. Here’s what you do. It’s simple. (Somehow people don’t object as much to iPhone. But I use a camera.) Use your camera on wide angle, set the shutter speed to about 1/125. Then do what it says – point and shoot. Don’t look. There is the flavor of an imperfectly composed shot. It works. You hit. You miss. Sometimes you win. If you are unsure shoot more than one. Don’t stop moving. And don’t let anyone catch on that you are taking pictures. Slices of life, unposed, unpretentious, natural…it’s more for me to have a flavor of life to recall. In Jeddah the heat of the day has everyone indoors. Some shops are open. But at night the whole tenor changes and the streets of the old city are teaming with activity. The heat of the day is lowered to simply unbearable as opposed to daytime hell. And digital allows you to take images I could never do with film. There’s a vibrancy to night life in the city.
Push carts abound. Vendors will sell any kind of produce. The big supermarkets – nope – people buy, sell, and bargain – probably illegally. But there is definite supply and demand.
Sugar cane – it’s crushed and the liquid is served up as a drink. It’s bland. Almost yuck! You need to add lime and ginger when you crush it. That’s a drink! Jules and I learned this in Zanzibar. She drank the whole thing and left me a taste. So I know from that small sample how to fix this. But nope, not in Jeddah.
Sticks – there is vendor in this spot, his spot. And now there are a couple of others – competition. They cut them and bundle them. They are to rub your teeth – like a toothbrush. No Crest, Colgate, or Tom’s of Maine. Buy a bundle. Share them or use them yourself.
Sewing – the tailors use a fairly unsophisticated machine to do their magic. If you are native, you wear a thobe and someone has to make them. It looks like he has made lots. And overwhelmingly they are white. And, abayas are black. Who’s the biggest loser?
Life in the city. It all happens at night. There are huge super malls. But what’s new there? Everyone has seen a mall by now? Online shopping! Walmart is scared! Amazon rules? Imagine the next big thing….
Shisha – it’s what they smoke. I know it as a water pipe. Hookah, another name. It connotes smoking through water. I read that the dose of toxic nicotine is equivalent to hundreds of cigarettes in a single session of smoking shisha. Don’t do it! It’s bad for you.
It started when I passed a store that sells water pipes. It was the tip of the iceberg. Around Jeddah there are stores which will sell you custom made thobes. The stores are congregated in a few places. There might be a dozen or more shops side by side competing for business. There is another location for honey and another for olive oil, dates, and so forth. It’s silly economics. All the prices must be comparable.
The water pipe stores are on a narrow street. And then, much to my surprise, an artisan was right there. He was working away in an open shop with horrible fluorescent lighting. I paused, he looked up, and I did something I never do; I asked if he minded if I took his picture. And he was okay with it. And I got a couple. I did not try to overstay my welcome. Yay! It’s street photography and ordinarily I just shoot and look like I’m doing something else. But we were eye to eye. There was no hiding intent. And he was gracious and I said thanks. We had our moment and I moved on. I’d buy one. They sell his product next door. But, I don’t smoke. So, no…
Happy 4th of July. No fireworks for me to shoot. I guess I will have to make do with another day of diving….
Crab, lobster, and shrimp all love to hide. Not love, survival. They naturally don’t want to be eaten. And it’s true, because I don’t see them much on the reef. On this dive I was queasy. Bad pizza or current pushing me around, who knows? But I was thinking ahead to dry land and settling my stomach. My dive buddy pointed. And usually it’s obvious – the subject. He was wide angle and helpless to shoot this. The crab was in a hole. This means that the focus was going to be hell. The camera focuses on the closest nearest subject. No face recognition here! And then if you point your camera into the hole, your strobe will not fit too. I need a ring flash here. They do not make one underwater. Serendipity! Luck! Lots of it! Persistence! And time! The crab and I played peek a boo. I’d shine the light. He’d move. So I shined in one spot and waited for him to move into the field of my camera and strobe. It worked…till he caught on and moved away and under another coral to be lost to this poor photographer. Bye! I wasn’t going to eat you…promise!… heart crossed and hope to die….
Airbnb rocks. Despite what you may hear from the hotel trade, there are some finds. I’ve stayed in hotels whenever I went to a meeting. The designated meeting hotel in each city is about the most expensive after you get discount. The plain flat has a bed and a bath. Been there done that.
And then I discovered Airbnb about two years ago. This time around we took an apartment in Chicago. The strategy is to stay in walking distance to the convention center or one of the meeting hotels. The hotel bus to the convention center is free. I shouldn’t tell this secret. Everyone will rent out space before I do. The apartment was on the 32nd floor. And the view? The downtown landmarks – see them? And it was the whole place including kitchen. I did not need the amenities of a hotel. The only downside was there was no closet space so we hung our clothes on the back of a door. With the view you see here, that’s a small downside. Oh, Chicago’s called the windy city. From up here it definitely was. I think you’d agree that the view at dawn is spectacular. Why? ‘Cause my time zones are still a mess coming from the Middle East. And, ‘cause neurosurgeons like to get up real early to meet in the morning.
Prayer time and everything comes to a halt. The open air market is no exception. The shops close their doors. The outdoor vendors mostly follow suit. Not all, but they mostly do. So I headed for a seat. I had sat out the thirty minute hiatus here a few nights ago. The bench was full. But I’m brave. It’s like the Egyptians at the cornice right? Go for it. I sat next to the two old guys. Hey, I’m old too! And they left after a bit.
And across from me was a photo op. Gee, even sitting down and cooling my heels, I get to take pictures. So while checking on what I had, I also shot images too. The last one was the keeper. And I promptly quit. No waves, please.
Well, it was quitting time for me. I was headed to the car and wandering the streets to make my way back. I was going up and down random streets and walking toward lights. There was a late café serving a classic dish. It is like burgers and fries. The dough is pulled into a square. Then, a sheet of dough is added, liquid looking egg batter, and another layered sheet is added. It is folded into a square. Grilled, it is served hot to a waiting group sitting at tables inside.
I got a single shot, it’s not great or even fully understandable till I explain. It’s a barber. His dad is holding the kid down.
And I guess it is not an exactly cooperative kid getting his hair cut. Lastly, I passed one more place. Somehow I was brave, made eye contact, and shot a few images. I heard someone in the café behind me say, “Camera.” That was my cue to beat it. It’s grilled flatbread and quite popular by the looks of it.
The end of my evening was the start for someone else. I chanced to pass this very active social night scene. My first pass was a failure. The camera had reset itself and the exposure was blurred. It was interesting. But I considered it a failure. In a rare moment for me I turned around and made a second pass. I was not quite as invisible but did get a better shot.
No women! The men were talking and drinking coffee and playing dominoes. Night life! No alcohol. No women. Oh boy! Well, a sports bar it ain’t. And the waiters are not dressed like Hooter girls either.
I have virtually no inside shots. I’m not willing to set foot inside. This mosque in the old city was renovated in the past several years. Mostly things are in construction forever. To my surprise it was finished and I could peer inside. I do. And on this night I was able to see people. Even better. The crowd in the area made me feel safe enough. But you need to be aware that street lighting was not a priority in the old city. I have never felt unsafe. But one more word to the wise. Beware.
Yes, he’s a friendly guy too. He went out of his way to show me that he works on teeth and makes replacements. False teeth! Gold and other materials. And the tools of the trade over his shoulder. I could not ask about anesthesia. It was a nice encounter that made shudder nonetheless. His own teeth are not the best, and don’t enlarge this image if you are squeamish.
The circuit around the old city gets crowded. So the powers that be cordon off the street into a single path. You walk in one direction. You can bail out but you may not walk against traffic. This is really pretty funny since cars are going the wrong way on one way streets all the time. But here, everyone walks in the same direction. And they enforce it! So the first time around I got a shot. And the second time too, because I was not sure the first worked. You don’t want to be too obvious and check. And you cannot go back unless you go around again. Well, I did.
What did I just say a day ago? There are concrete benches along the corniche. About six foot in length I do what everyone does, I sit in the middle and basically transmit body language, go away, this is my turf. Three Egyptian guys eyed me. Then they sat on either side with the third guy standing to my left. They proceeded to have a conversation around me talking right to left and left to right passing their phone back and forth. I was virtually engaged unwillingly. Anyone else might have risen but I was in my own phone messaging in a conversation 6000 miles away to home. I was oblivious to the Arabic conversation and they could not read my texts. They bought seeds from a vendor and proceeded to munch. Eventually, one guy offered me some seeds. I declined. And then, they asked where I was from. This led to the guy on my left pulling his phone and asking me to listen to a recorded phone call from Canada. He had been contacted about immigrating to Canada. He spoke no English and wanted me to tell him what it meant. Well, this bordered on the absurd since I speak little Arabic. He showed me an internet ad promising immigration for $70 – scam! I was able to shake my head and warn them. Who, I mean really, who, records their phone conversations. You get a call. It doesn’t say, “We are the Canadian embassy.” But you record it? Anyway the three guys were done siting. They left but not before one asked me to take his picture. Ok. Done. What am I supposed to do with the picture? The other two declined to join. Odd. I realize I don’t understand the culture. But this was odd in almost any way I look at it. I’m sitting in the middle of the bench. I’m from New York. Back off! This is my space. Yeah, it was pretty funny.
I confess I’m too shy to stop and ask to take a picture. There are those who say the spontaneous moment is lost as soon as someone poses. I’m shy. So just point and shoot. Remember, shutter 1/100. Wide angle setting and the autofocus will save you, mostly. You end up with lots of duds. And then there are interesting keepers. Here and there you take a little time to compose. Not much time, remember, I’m shy and I don’t want a confrontation. Interestingly I stand out as a foreigner. And I am ignored. I walk invisibly and observe a foreign culture and am largely ignored. Nighttime is when the market is hopping. Smartphones are pretty much everywhere.
Wallet? I think that my wallets are all from street vendors – under $10 – my price.
As to legality, you are legally an unwilling target whenever you are in public. However, you do not want to be confrontational. The caveat, don’t be noticed, and don’t invite controversy.
Ah, an interesting question for the young. I know and I suppose it’s not too much of a mystery if you are of a certain age. I guess that I have not been in a store looking for such a device in a very long time. The last I remember was as a kid, we kept one in the garage. Then I didn’t have a garage for about fifty years. So, it’s entirely possible you don’t know this thing. It is an aerosol sprayer. Add insecticide and spray away whatever, mosquitoes, I guess. What happened to the cans of Raid. And while I’m on the subject, it is very popular to come through my compound with a fog spray device and bomb the bushes and trees. Once again this is for mosquitoes. Is it dangerous? I would not breathe the stuff. Apparently the workers don’t think to much of breathing the stuff. But it is toxic, otherwise why use is on bugs. Dose dependent? And toxic. They spray pretty regularly. No water? No mosquitoes. But apparently there is enough standing water to be a problem. I like the brand – “Lucky.” Oh yeah!
This is a technical point to make about shooting. And it is probably not relevant to the smart phone/iPhone crowd because you don’t have a real camera. Noise is what the purists complain about when the ISO is too high and the image is grainy. And I say, you could not even hope to get an image before digital was in wide use. Right now the cameras are able to get a decent image in virtual darkness. What latitude and opportunity! This image is at ISO 6400. Don’t bother if you don’t know what ISO means. It’s an old film term. And then I let the camera pick its settings. All I did was set the parameter that the minimum shutter speed needed to be at least 1/100 sec. And then I enlarged the image. Yeah, pretty neat! Sometimes I surprise myself. So this image in virtual darkness will not make purists happy. Sure zoom and shoot with flash and so forth. Street photography in the dark is an art. And this cat was not waiting around for me to set up things. Right tool right place, cameras rule!
I got a brand new spiffy underwater camera. I told you a few posts back. It’s a Canon G7X. I needed it. Right! Camera envy and the need to just play with some new gear that will tax my learning curve. Meanwhile there is no ocean handy so I am forced to test the camera against dry land subjects. Here’s something my film and camera could never match. Shooting the moonrise in the dark on a cloudy evening. Nothing is in focus so the trees provided the necessary sharpness with which to judge the image.
Tech: 1/20 sec f2.8 ISO 1000
I didn’t do it. The camera did it all on Program which is basically I pointed and the processor did the magic. Those little gnomes in there do really nice work. I’d never have tried this with film. And you could not have either. Well, no image, no post. So please be suitably impressed. I sure am.
After dark, and it’s really dark when you camp, there’s not much to do except tell camp stories. Really! So Jules whipped out this game. She and Jeff camp and they have a portable version. Catan, you may know it.
I have never played. I beat her pants off. She was chagrined. It is a dice based turn game. And I had the lucky dice. She did not let me win. I would have let her win, but the dice were the dice. Her dice….no pants.
Parrot fish are hard to photograph. They see me coming and head away. But at night, I have been told they sleep. Fish sleep? Eyes open? But they weave a membrane around themselves under the coral. A bubble – I was told. Well it seems that there is a membrane. It’s incomplete. What I understand is that is you touch the membrane the fish will move. I decided to let sleeping fish lie. He did not respond to the flash of light. Both of us were happy.
I think that I have been involved with the recent ones through sheer luck. This was the last supermoon that occurred recently.I just happened to be home. And where I am in there are no clouds. Lots of haze is about. But there are no clouds mostly.
The humidity is so high that my lens fogged immediately. Ah! But the object is not to complain but to adapt and adjust. The sliver of the moon was fast disappearing. Get a shot. I did! It’s not the best. But it is. What I needed is a tripod. Instead I used a garbage can (it was the nearest available) and propped my camera. It’s far from perfect. But ingenuity. I used a long exposure and high ISO. The image is fuzzy. I adjusted my settings and got something. Digital is amazing. I could get something my eye could see but ordinary film would never record. It’s not much but I would not have a backstory with an image, eh?It’s always good to get something. It’s better than nothing. Right? Yup!The start of it all. I don’t get the ending because the sunrise coincided with my work day. But what do you know? I got shots. Not good but they are better than a blank sky. Sorry you missed this. There won’t be another till 2033.
This was the house I remember fondly from my childhood. I lived in a lot of places. By my count we lived in nine places by the time I was eighteen. So the story I told was that my father was a bank robber and we had to move a lot. Actually, my mom liked to live in a nice house and my father liked to change jobs. But the bank robber thing stopped people from asking too many questions. They just knew I was not giving straight answers.
Three bedrooms, and a large mud room behind the garage, the house was small but well laid out. It was a brick house with a hip roof. Not cool, it’s just what the style is called. It’s special different because it’s more labor intensive to construct. We had one car garage because my father was holding down cost. My mother never let him forget his error. The green door was white and original until about a year ago. I’m surprised that the trees are not more mature. The windows are the same. And the electric meter on the right side – I used to race it around the house to see if I could go round before it spun once.
The night shot is the first view I had of the house as we got to Elkins. Fifty years plus later, I found out you can go back. It was so similar and so not.