Lesson learned. It’s a roundabout story today. Years ago I was gifted an opportunity to shoot at the US Open by a Sports Illustrated photographer who took me along. I had full-fledged press credentials to wander and shoot all over the stadium. Imagine that!
Celebrities were in abundance as well as the tennis stars of the day. It’s not hard to see who won the men’s final by the look of triumph in his face. The key to shooting: get the ball coming into or off the racket in the same frame. Spectacular!
Lesson: This came a bit later. I was posting photos to a shared website. The site also let you rate other photographer’s photos with stars 1 to 5. I went thru and rated a bunch of photos. They were mostly 3’s – average. No big deal, not great, not poor. Afterward I was inundated with vituperative comments and 1 star ratings and comments on my own uploaded (tennis) photos. “How dare I rate their photos so poorly!!!”
It was a lesson well learned. To this day, I stay off the internet in any capacity that might make me a target again. There is so much said about social media and influencers now. There is good and bad. Most of the billions of people are unaffected and socialize in peace, while a few ….
And, on a similar note: Lopsided? Her left breast is clearly disproportionately larger relative to its mate in that dress. Huh? Nice trick. How’d that happen? Or why? Am I just being picky?
Oh! Oops! Trick photography? Or stupid mistake? It is a fundamental lesson learned very early on. A wide angle lens distorts facial features. In this case … it was an unintentional error. Well, then, you simply delete the image from your memory card … instead of taking credit below the photo. Argh!!! Dumb!! Poor Jimmy!?
Like Pandora’s box, I fear the Internet is larger than any of us despite Elon Musk’s pending purchase of Twitter. Or, as singers and poets tell us – “you can’t go back.” Oh! Ooops! He’s backing out… does that make him the asshole he seems to be?
Lotta of water under the bridge… After posting my images from my other catalog – 1, 10, 100 …. I thought maybe I would look at… So, it starts with my Canon G3, my first digital camera and hence the first digital images. and, it goes more or less until 2016. Aha! There was madness to the method. My other catalog is titled 2016 images and beyond. My database is far more reliable and logical.
1, 10: Naturally, the first images out of the Canon G3 were of the family at hand, Dave and Lisa. Jules was in college.
100: Easter followed shortly thereafter. I must have shot film and digital together.
1000: Jules and Lila, my favorite daughter and her grandma, naturally, I will say it was Dave’s graduation, or, Thanksgiving. I could look it up…
10,000: Rugby! Jules quit track to captain the college rugby team. The Australians think nothing of pulling hair. (They wear leather helmets to cover their ears.) Lisa screamed at the TV, “But Jules has a long ponytail!!”
100,000: Damarascotta, Colleen’s favorite town in Maine! It was fall during my “Maine days.”
200,000: Saudi. Jeddah. I was making a late-night meal in Subway. (Yeah, they got one there.) Three guys saw me, posed, and I took their pic.
300,000: Wedding day. Still married. Two kids. My favorite son is still footloose.
400,000: It’s Xmas and Colleen is with her favorite daughter. Well… she’s the one she’s with. Talk about ambiguous use of pronouns…
End: And me. Ummm… the more or less end of the catalog. 2003 to 2016. 2016 to 2022 would see my next catalog easily exceed 400k images too. The exact total of all digital images is in doubt. Slides? The count is more or less 117k.
In this time I have used 17 digital cameras at least. There were several versions of iPhone. The workhorse cameras began with Nikon D70 and D200. Canon G7X and Sony RX100 were mainstay point and shoot digital cameras for me. And now, I am on to the Nikon Z5. It’s been a heck of journey… so far.
You just don’t stop suddenly. Suddenly, I stopped – taking slides, pictures with film. I transitioned over a period of about a year after receiving a Canon G3 digital camera from Lisa. The DSLR digital cameras were thousands of $, upwards of $5 to $10K! Too expensive! I was wealthy enough, sure. But….
And then, the Nikon D70 arrived just about, right about this time of day/month/year in 2004. It came as David’s graduation commenced. And, I never shot another slide afterwards, just like that! …I eventually threw away a lot of slide film from my freezer.
These were some of the last shots from my film camera. We lived in a nice house, apartment, in Manhattan. I was with Jules at one of her last track meets; she want over to rugby soon after. I was still documenting. I was curious as to the last shots I took with slide film.
I still have my film cameras. My lenses, too, are still functionally fit for my digital cameras. Nikon finally changed the F mount to the Z, but there is an adapter. While the rest of the world shoots iPhone, I happily shoot digital (camera). The cost of a digital image pro-rated over the cost of a 256gb memory card makes digital nearly free when compared to the cost and development of film! That works just fine for me.
… not really. I’m not professional, strictly amateur, as far as photography is concerned. I have sold an image or two. It was a mix of surprise and curiosity that I was contacted via my blog for use of an image. The request came via an unused link from an unused blog I had many years ago. I was suspicious of a scam. But, it turned out to be a legitimate request. The image in question was cropped from the original and used strictly in an internal memo. So, what the hell, they got it for free. Dumb, maybe. I got a credit for the use. Consider it a charitable donation. The image? It was the NYC Marathon Sunday crossing the Verrazano Bridge.
Hunter Mountain. It’s in upstate NY. We skied there the last time I skied with my kids. As in, it was the last time we skied together. Period. It’s a sad happy memory forwarded to my email courtesy of Shutterfly. K27. It’s the name of an infamous trail on the mountain for experts only. Skiing in upstate NY has challenges. It’s eastern skiing, therefore be prepared for ice. The moguls were the size of Volkswagen beetles. I am older and wiser which is to say I wanted to live to ski another run. Eric and Dave went first and fell. Eric exploded. Jules was more cautious and picked her way around the moguls to ski out the bottom. Good for her! As I say this memory was bittersweet. Who knew what the future would bring and how our lives all changed so.
(Shhhhh….don’t tell mom) I let Lisa do most of the child raising. Mostly because she was way more OCD about it. And partly because I was not home as much as I’d like to have thought. One thing I did do with the kids was ski. Lisa was afraid to fall so she never got good. I learned just a little bit ahead of my kids. I got good fast. They got good and never knew it. They skied black diamond trails before they could read. You know you’re nuts when other people would take pictures of your kids on the slopes because they were so little and skiing on steep blue trails out west. When Julia could finally read she queried me, “But Dad, that’s a black diamond trail.” as we skied past the sign. I told her, “Shut up. Just ski.” And they did. This would be a happy ending. Then, one day they got better than me. I suppose it’s the goal of every parent to see their kids better than them. I’m proud. Mom can’t ski (well), so what happens on the trail, stays on the ski trail.
Choosing a bike seat is like choosing a pillow. You may wax poetic. Or not. I don’t much mind. I did have some worry about a narrow unpadded seat. But I got used to it. Really! Someone else I know has a great deal of problems choosing – seats and pillows. The closet overflows with failed experiments in foam pillows. Tender, firm, hard, or soft, no matter. We constantly switch back and forth, in and out. It’s dizzying. Seat? Bicycle seat? Princess and the Pea? We go through seats every time we see a new model. Wide enough? Or not? It doesn’t matter. It’s a quest! The holy (grail) seat! Ah! This time I found one. No complaints for at least 8 rides. I got my fingers crossed…. toes too! Yes! We have settled upon a pillow too. Oh happy day!!! We have closets overflowing with pillows and by my last count there are at least five spare seats. Oh!… I exaggerate! Not!
Dave started on a bike with training wheels out on Long Island. If I would list the places since that he has ridden – Taiwan, Canada, Mexico, Germany and so on, you might be impressed. He rode cross country – yep – more than 3000 miles – Delaware to LA. It all started here. He first rode with his (training) wheels here. To say that I am proud would be an understatement. Who knew what he would accomplish. I rode as a mean of getting around when I was a kid. I was a reluctant participant in riding as an adult. Then I rode for fitness. I should do so again. I get a good workout without too much wear and tear on the joints. I enjoy knowing that my son has surpassed me. The most I ever made in a day was 96 miles. I just couldn’t find the energy to make it to the “Century.” And yes, that’s Scales and Tails there in the background. Don’t you love the symmetry?
You might laugh? Maybe not. My cats live in fear. Spice does somersaults. Well, I make her do them. Actually, I toss her. She’s not a fan. I go way back. I had two brothers. We were pretty typical. We were rough and tumble. Maybe this is why Jules was so good in sports and stuff. I started her tumbling about at an early age. But, she did have a lot of motion sickness, especially in the car. Who knows? What I can say is that if I don’t sit still and neither did/does she.
It must have been a warm day. I have no hat. We’d ski and try to do some death defying jumps. Actually, they were just bumps. That would be me. Don’t laugh. The last time I remember skiing was with Julia in Sunday River. Or, maybe it was Hunter with the kids and uncle Eric. Either way, it’s been a few years. I guess, like tennis, and golf, my best days are behind me. I can still do it. There’s not too much incentive. And, it’s flat!!…here in Delaware.
I have lots of thoughts. I post once per day. Jules long ago complained TMI when I posted too frequently. Right. She was right. My kids advise me wisely – often. So, you will never see hundreds of thousands of images. Good! Good? Lately, I have so many, too numerous to count. But…my thought?
Well, I started in film. I have faded pictures of which I posted recently. My paranoia? Lost slides – by way of really lost, fading, mold, damage, fire, dust… Storage? Not much choice, they have to be physically stored. Environment – temp, humidity, dust, mold? It plays on your mind. I had friends in college who were totally obsessed with dust on their film and their lenses. Peter Hong comes to mind. Imagine that? Poor Peter? Well, I think his name was Peter? We had a freshman Quantitative Chem class. You weighed things out to the 4th decimal. You know? – .0001 gm – that would be very light weight. And, any error – just dust – could throw off your result. We were obsessive about washing the lab glassware! Madness. That lesson has not stuck – not one bit. I have spots and stuff on my lenses. Mostly, I refrain from using my shirttail to wipe the glass. Thank God!
The post today is more than 20 maybe, closer to 30 years old. It has stood the test of time stored relatively well and kept in the dark. No loss of color. I know. I know. This is all disjointed. But when I recently scanned this slide it jumped out for some reason. That crisp winter day is still like it was when we were there. The colors did not fade. The scanner technology got rid of most of the dust without me doing a thing. Shooting through a fence with auto focus is hard. Somehow the camera behaved perfectly. All sort of memories blend seeing my kids playing platform tennis. They probably never played again. That’s bittersweet too.
I missed the jumping. We wandered into a college competition late. It’s a sport with which I’m unfamiliar. Seriously, there are folks who dress the part and then participate. I’m afraid I’m not sympathetic. Certainly the competitors are serious. I’m struggling to make sense of it myself. Sorry, I suppose there is beauty in training a horse to perform on command. It’s called training and art for the sake of mastery. Oh boy. I’m just poking fun at their expense. Not fair. I was an intruder in a foreign culture. There are purists and elitists out there who will defend the sport. I’m not one. One more pound and you don’t button that last one. Watch out!
Yup. That’s me with Mike. Who? Mike Singletary of the Chicago Bears, Super Bowl Champs of 1985. Yeah, it’s like when were there four Beatles? Who? Who were the Beatles? Old. Me. Yup. The Bears won that year with a marvelous defense. The Giants – my beloved NY team won the following year. The Bears wupped their butts (Giants) on the way to their championship. Too much history? Mike came to speak at our national meeting. Last year it was Peyton Manning. Is there a theme? At least it wasn’t Ben Carson again. Get it? I’m a neurosurgeon and he came out during our last meeting. Not Mike, Ben. Too confusing?
Well, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meets once a year. And there are invited speakers. We are a very conservative lot. Not me. Them. Maybe there are a few progressives and even some Democrats among us. I, for one, don’t care to have my politics mixed with business. And, no, I don’t wear striped underwear or boxers. Bet you wanted to know that too.
We had Bush – you know – GW – give the Cushing oration. Cushing, he was the modern godfather of neurosurgery. In fact, Cushing trained Davidoff; Davidoff trained Ransahoff; and Ransahoff tranined me. So I am pedigreed. I digress. Mike was invited to speak and the NFL came. Everyone did a little PC dance and no one said, “Don’t do it!” And we heard a discussion about chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE. Mama, don’t let your kids grow up to be Cowboys (Dallas) and don’t let them play football. Mike claims he only had a concussion twice. Lucky! He’s still sharp. Once was William “Refrigerator” Perry. I bet that was a boatload of fun. Meanwhile I got a picture at our opening reception. He’s a sports hero of sorts. I have many. But boy was it fun! Yes! Mike and me.
Oh! Bush? The security was so tight that they did not announce he was coming until the meeting started. There was no obvious secret service presence. However, bags were checked and it was strictly no photographs. Some secretly used their cellphones. I’m way too cool for that! W actually spoke coherently. To listen to him one could understand that his TV demeanor was hardly like his real life thinking. Nice guy?! Hey, don’t tell. I voted for him once.
The second election was scheduled just after our fall meeting. Gorbachev was the speaker. Remember him? The room was packed. A member of our national leadership rose and spoke – I thought to introduce Gorbachev. Nope. He said, “Bush will sign medical malpractice reform if it passes congress. Kerry and Edwards will not.” He sat. The room was silent. And the implication was clear. Though I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell medmal reform would pass I voted special interest. It was the one and only time I have ever voted for a presidential winner. Yeah, twice I voted for anarchy and Ross Perot. Don’t shoot me, ma? Please.
I attended a karate match. Brown belts, they were among the best students. You score for landing a punch or a kick on the pads in the front or on the side. You are not allowed to strike high or low. As I said there were no injuries during this match. It just looks like something happened. Ouch!
Jen doesn’t swim. She doesn’t have a driver’s license. She had never been on a quad. And if I recall correctly, she doesn’t know how to ride a bike. So she’s getting a quick lesson on riding and operating a quad. Gee, I did not know the thing had brakes for the first 30 minutes I was riding. Just turn uphill and you stop, like snow skiing. And she wanted to ride on back of someone. No! We made here do it herself. Darned if she did it. It’s kind of funny because all the quads they gave our group were green except for the black one I rode. Odd man out again, I ended up on it. I was not the leader but I had the odd bike anyway.
This intrepid group was on a mission. They were determined to go on quads in the desert. Some had never been on a quad. Others admitted they did not know how to ride a bike. And there were a couple who could not drive a car nor swim. Well, I guess swimming is not a fair prerequisite for using a quad. Talk about sheltered lives, but they sure had a good time. There was no hope to get this group to jump so I would settle for making them raise their hands. Even that was not easy to coordinate.
There was a point when David took up the sport to test his skill. He could ski pretty well. He wanted to snowboard but his mother required him to don a helmet. So he opted to skateboard. She did not know he needed a helmet for this too. I have to admit that David got the hang of it and could do some nice tricks. Basic things, but he was skilled enough for me to be impressed. And of course I was around to get some images. Look ma, no feet (on the board).
I got a call one night. I was home in NY and on call. Lisa was on Long Island. It was twilight and she was breathless. She’d found a bridge and rode over it. She was still a long way from home but the view was breathtaking and she was exhilarated. It is a very long tall bridge in a spot you would never expect. Despite the long uphill ride, it’s not too strenuous. We’ve done it many times together since she discovered it. As impressive and hard as one might expect from its look, I’ve never been physically challenged as I thought. Every time we ride it I smile.
Halloween 2011, Columbia University, Baker Field, Yale vs Columbia. At least I didn’t travel far. It was snowing hard before kick-off and it never let up the whole game. Yale won. Yay! Snow is wet. I had an umbrella and my trusty long lens 80-400mm. I shot. I tried to keep my gear dry. I shot anyway. Alex remembers this game fondly. I remember being wet and cold. I’m used to cold when I ski. But when you are sitting and just moving your finger on the shutter, fun has an entirely different context. His Elis won and I got some shots. Everyone was happy.
I admit to being a photo opportunist. Alex wanted to follow his beloved Yalies to the ECAC Hockey Championships. It was held in AC, Atlantic City. It’s hilarious because Alex and I don’t gamble. The venue was where they used to hold the Miss America pageant. And no camera; I was stopped as soon as they saw my serious camera gear. I think it was the 80-400mm lens that really scared them. Other people got in with medium teles. So I fell back on my Canon G11 point and shoot. Now that’s a real challenge. There’s a shutter lag, you shoot, and a few milliseconds go by before the image is captured. At that lag, how in the whole wide world do you capture the action. Lighting is horrible and everything is moving to say nothing of the glass that surrounds the rink. You might as well not turn on the camera. So I just sat there and experimented. As with anything, I figured you have to follow the action. That means the puck is where the action is. Yup! I got a few with the puck headed past the goalie. Not great but not bad. You have to look close but that puck is in the frame.
This post ties in with other discussions on this blog. J recently ran the LA Marathon. I met Charlie and we flew in his Bell 47 helicopter. I shot with Manny, from Sport’s Illustrated. Manny told me of the quintessential shot of the NY Marathon in which the image is made of the runners cresting the Verrazano Bridge. Well, I was in the position to try for this image. The shot had been described but I had never seen it. It was crystal clear blue sky day as Charlie and I hovered in his ship over the bridge. It also helped that he had been a former NYC Police helicopter pilot. We were not chased away from the venue. All that remained was to get that “shot.” You can go wide or tele. I know I didn’t quite get it right. I got a lot of images but the “one” got away. I still count myself lucky to have been there. A lot of stars came together for me to have the chance.
The county fairs in Maine had woodsman day. Excuse me, ‘women’ day also. The best group was ‘Chicks with Axes’ well at least the name. In one place they put a Coke can (full) in the bullseye for the axe to hit. Sawing, chopping and other assorted timber skills were contested. The loudest were the chainsaw events. Cut down a tree, yes, there was a contest for that as well. For the participants this was really serious stuff. The trees were erected like telephone poles. It’s the last event. The trunks are trimmed to the same diameter. Bring a sharp axe and wear a shin guard. No bleeding this time.
But it’s the chainsaw that has made all the difference. They even compete in souped up chainsaws to cut the block in the fewest seconds. It’s way too loud. They actually hand out ear plugs among the audience.
It was pretty cool! Justin Henin, Belgium, Svetlana Kuznetsova, US Open Tennis 2007 finals… Manny Milan, a well-known Sports Illustrated photographer, invited me as his assistant. I got to access the venue from as close as you can get. It was exciting! And it was an education in shooting sports. Manny told me the shots that the photographers were trying to capture. Then I had the opportunity to get them myself. Lighting is artificial because the finals are in the evening. Most photographers prefer daylight. Everyone tries to capture the moment when the champion collapses in joy on the court.
The preferred action shot always has the tennis ball and a look of total concentration. Where you’re stationed in the stadium determines whether you are trying wide angle or telephoto images. The cameras are fast and the lenses fast and heavy. The preference is overwhelmingly Canon. The “glass” ranges to the biggest fastest lenses, which are more than a handful. You don’t carry them as much as you “lug” them. Thanks Manny.
In thousands of images there is only a small fraction, which get the player, the expression, and the ball in the same frame. And after all of that, the editors take only a few to illustrate the story of the event.
Even the award ceremony is scripted. Photographers are assigned positions from which to shoot the champions. It helps if you have connections.
To this I say to my kids, “Thank goodness you mother never had you in ballet class.” I was, and also in tap dancing. It didn’t last long. And the tennis lessons lasted for a few weeks one summer. But for Manny my Sports Illustrated mentor, here’s where I got my start. The key in tennis photography as Manny taught me is to get the ball, the racquet, and the players expression in the same frame especially as the ball is on the racquet. It was a few lessons later (about 20 years) that I got my call to the US Open Tennis Championship. Ready? You bet!
Like Walter Mitty, I had two magical experiences as a Sports Illustrated photographer (credentialed!) shooting the semis and the finals. Wow! And thanks Manny!