Grasp The Moment Photography

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So I Had This Laptop…

The conversation could have gone like this:

“Chuck, I have a laptop problem, can you look at it?”
“Sure dude, I’ll be right over.”

Chuck would have come in, carrying 11 month old Charlie asleep in the car seat, and Chuck would have gone to work fixing my laptop. See, everyone thinks I’m some sort of all knowing PC genius, but I’m not, I just have a few really really really smart friends.

That’s not the way it went down though. Instead I texted Chuck yesterday and told him I had some time, some photos in mind, and needed him to help. He showed up, carrying 11 month old Charlie asleep in the car seat, and didn’t blink when I gave him a laptop and various tools of destruction.

Now before we go any further, no, I didn’t hit the lotto and have money to burn on disposable laptops, it wasn’t working as was headed for the scrap heap anyway. So I figured why not have some fun with it first.

I also looking at it as therapy for Chuck. See Chuck fixes PCs for a living, give him a call if you’re in Queens, and he’s used to the gentle touch and exact hand it takes when repairing a PC. So I know there’s that part in his brain that is just screaming to a take a hammer to the damn thing.

So I handed him one. It’s a shame Charlie woke up before we got to the blow torch. Maybe next time.

All of the photos of mass destruction can be seen here…

The rest of the photos of mass destruction can be seen here…

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Freedom’s Shield and Hope.

Happy Flag Day


That piece of red, white and blue bunting means five thousand years of struggle upwards. It is the full-grown flower of ages of fighting for liberty. It is the century plant of human hope in bloom. ~Alvin Owsley

The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history. ~Woodrow Wilson

‘Twas red with the blood of freemen and white
With the fear of the foe;
And the stars that fit in their courses ‘gainst
Tyrants its symbols knows.
– Julia Ward Howe

Have not I myself known five hundred living soldiers sabred into crows’ meat for a piece of glazed cotton, which they call their flag. – Thomas Carlyle

We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity, representing our liberty. – George Washington

We have room in this country for but one flag, the Stars and Stripes…. We have room for but one loyalty, loyalty to the United States…. – Theodore Roosevelt.

Our flag is our national ensign, pure and simple, behold it! Listen to it! Every star has a tongue, every stripe is articulate.— Robert C. Winthrop


The Rainbow She Carried

I don’t collect old cameras, I collect old cameras that mean something to me.

It began with a Kodak Vest Pocket Model 8 which came from an old friend who thought I might like it. He gave it to me in return for taking photos of his turtles. It was in perfect condition and it looked neat on my entertainment center. A few months later my dad found his Aunt Catherine’s Polaroid Model 80A in the basement. It was a pretty popular model in the late 50’s and early 60’s, it was the same model camera used by Mary Moorman who captured some of the photos of the Kennedy assassination.

Then came my grandfather’s Crown Graphic, a camera that was not only beautiful but had immeasurable meaning to me. This was the camera he held, that he learned on, that he shot with.

Kim suggested one day we put up shelves for the cameras. We could add some old photos of our grandparents, and this great one I have of my mother and father on a snowmobile. They were young and happy – a time I wouldn’t know, not because of their happiness but because of their youth. When we were done, it looked great except for the one piece I felt was missing.

So finally, one day, I asked my mother for her old camera.

I can’t think of a time I knew my mother without her camera. She carried it to every function, every trip, every day at the beach, or zoo, or whatever museum we were going to explore. It was always right there in her “Kenya bag”.

What I remember most though, was not being able to touch it. Partially out of fear of breaking it – but mostly because mom said not to. Her camera was always there and always just out of my reach. I did however lay my fingers on the strap. It always seemed to swing in the breeze when she wasn’t using it, off the picnic table or from the edge of the breakfront in the dining room while we all ate Thanksgiving dinner. Printed along the length of the strap was a rainbow, a playful nod to my mother’s hippie days perhaps.

And when that strap wasn’t dangling in the air where I could touch it before mom saw it me, it was around her neck and that camera was to her eye.

Through that camera came not only amazing images, but also the photographic record of my family. All of my sister’s dance recitals, my brother’s football games, trips, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, and everything else that fills page after page of our albums.

So now a simple old Canon AE-1 sits comfortably on my shelf, in quiet, restful retirement.

Enjoy your retirement little guy … you and that rainbow strap earned it.


Sunday

Just another Sunday in New York City. Unseasonably hot, yet Kim and I ventured into Manhattan for a stroll, and of course a stop at our favorite bar on planet earth.

We wandered through a street fair in SoHo, taking in the sights, sounds and all that is Manhattan.

I got to play with my new toy, the MB-D80 Battery Grip which is why I realized all my shots are portrait. I spent the afternoon playing with the new shutter button.

Nothing special, but that’s what makes Sundays like this so special. Being in the place you love with the person you love doing what you love…. and a cold a beer.

Fruit

Tassels

Glasses

NYC Fire Escape

Cold Beer On A Hot Day


Palisades

I’ve often thought that Bruce Springsteen, my brother and Fort Lee are some of the only redeemable parts of New Jersey. Anyone who knows me knows I’m only half joking. My first trip to Fort Lee was in High School with the short lived Msgr McClancy Hiking Club. We took the subways north, walked across the George Washington Bridge and into the park. We trekked back, made it home but never scheduled another trip. None the less, that one adventure left a permanent mark in my memories and I always found myself glancing to the cliffs to the left as I drove across the GWB.

This was my weekend with my kids and as I drove to work Friday morning I thought about what we could do to keep us all out of trouble. James was sick and staying with his mother so it was just me and Jack. Always up for something, he was excited when we left Queens and headed north.

Fort Lee Historic Park is located at the original site of the American encampment during the Revolutionary War. Brave men stood their ground against overwhelming British forces in 1776 and allowed George Washington & his army to escape the area. It helped set the scene for the famous crossing of the Delaware a few years later, and eventually, the British surrendering. A Hundred and Fifty some odd years later they built the massive George Washington Bridge right next to it.

Jack and I walked across the bridge, tossing pennies off the side to see how long they’d take to hit the water. The enormity of the whole thing left Jack awestruck and he enjoyed being so high in the air until he realized the shaking he felt was caused by the traffic rumbling by. He suggested we walk back to the car and go to that wooded place I had told him about earlier.

The park was pretty much the way I remembered, made even more stunning in the beautiful fall colors. Jack played with a remote control truck he brought and I took some photos. We wandered along the paths and overlooks and reached the batteries which were once built by the soldiers defending these cliffs. Jack abandoned the car and found a way to scramble up to the top of them. I tried to explain why they were here but Jack wasn’t hearing it, until I mentioned George Washington.

“That’s his bridge!” Jack exclaimed. “Sure is.” I responded and tried to explain the harsh conditions that Washington and those early patriots faced to keep their dream of our freedom alive. Jack went along playing, leaping from embankment to embankment.
“This place is awesome!” He yelled to me. “Its just like I’m in poptropica!”

Poptropica is the online game that my son is currently addicted to. He and I spend hours together guiding his character through complex puzzles as he leaps and jumps along from building to building, over trees and rocks and whatever else gets in his way.

I looked around as Jack continued bringing his online universe to life. The beauty of this small slice of mother nature nestled on the cliffs over looking the George Washington Bridge was amazing. I wondered what it looked like through eyes two hundred and thirty years ago. I tried to imagine the conditions they faced. I thought about their bravery to lie their lives on the line for just the idea of freedom.

“What’s next dad!” Jack called out, bringing me back to present day. He ran off into the woods, and grabbed my camera and followed.

George Washingtone Bridge

Throwing Pebbles Off The George Washington Bridge

A Puddle

Deep In The Tall Grass

Splash Of Color

George Washingtone Bridge From Fort Lee

Red Leaves


Have Fun. Be Free.

That’s what Fred says at the end of every conversation. She says it in her one of a kind accent with an inflection that shows you that it’s not a forced comment, rather her accepted mission statement. If you’ve ever met Fred, you know this already though.

It’s pretty hard to have fun and be free. The pressures of daily life, your responsibilities, and the desire for a paycheck seem to hold you back most times. Then of course there’s the opinion of others which we tend to let steer our decisions. That, at times, is the biggest anchor around our neck.

But, as Poppy reminded me the other day, “It’s ok to compromise on issues. It’s not ok to compromise on Who You Are” In fact, be proud of who you are.

For the past two years, I’ve attended New York City’s annual Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Pride Parade. I don’t think a stronger display of pride and accomplishment could be found anywhere than along 5th Avenue on this Sunday in June. As I watched and photographed the participants, the sheer joy shown through their faces. They were so happy, so free. This past year, I left the parade route and walked through the city to get to the street festival being held in SoHo. It was hot out, in fact hot as hell, and as typically happens on a day like this in NYC, a wild thunderstorm broke out, raining like it was the apocalypse for thirty minutes, then returning to clear skies as quickly as it came. As I took shelter from the rain under an awning, I thought of the wild and beautiful costumes back at the parade route and I realized many of them would be wrecked in the storm. I felt sad because of the time and the work that went into them, but I realized that nothing could damper the feelings of those who wore them. Even with ruined make up or soaked feathers, the joy and pride that I saw before the rain would still be there.

I’ve been packing my apartment this week, getting ready to move, and finding things that I had forgotten I had. I came across a pile of DVDs, all unlabeled, and checked the contents before tossing them. Most was garbage, but one was a back up of photos that I had done before I lost a hard drive. Among them were the shots I took at the 2007 Pride Parade. Happy to have them again, I backed them up, so I wouldn’t loose them a second time. I went back to packing, and eventually looked up at my wall, covered with 8x10s of some of my work. I considered taking them down, wrapping them up, and getting them ready to move as well, but I’m here for a few more days, and that would leave me here staring at bare walls. More than that though, they’re not just photos I took, they’re photos I’m most proud of.

I think I’ll take them down last.

Go off now… go do something… and if you’re not sure what do, and how to do it, call Fred. She’ll tell you.

Here are some of the shots I took at the 2007 & 2008 NYC Gay, Lesbian & Transgender Parades.

NYC Pride Parade 2008

NYC Pride Parade 2008

20070624-DSC_4322-E

Dancer

Slide show of the images of the 2008 Parade can be found Here

Slide show of the images of the 2008 Parade can be found Here


What Am I Going To Do In 2009?

Well, now that 2008 is over, and good riddance, it’s time to get my big ole butt in gear.

2008 was a year of personal challenges, and I’m really hoping to avoid that kinda crap in the new year. (Yeah, I know, let’s just pretend, ok?) That will leave me plenty of time to focus on my professional life. While my number one priority will remain to find a day job, there are a number things I want to accomplish in my hobby of photography. As the ball dropped the other night I reflected on them, and thought I should write them down, maybe writing them down would force me to accomplish them. But then I found the loophole that if I lost the paper I wrote them on…. which is why I’m here posting a non-photography related post on a PhotoBlog .. how ghastly!!! I mean what’s the chances of my losing the entire internet, right?

So, this is what I want to do this year….

Resolution # 1 – Sell – I never wanted to make a million dollars off my work, and I never want to do it professionally, but I’ve got all these images sitting around, and maybe there’s a little old lady in Kansas who would love a photo a graffiti covered staircase in her living room. I’m going to use sites like Ebay and RedBubble to sell a print here or there. I’m also gonna actually listen to my sister, and try to find out about art fairs. Might not sell a damn thing, but I’ve got learn that for myself. I’ve got to learn the fine art of tagging my photos and I’m currently brokering a deal with a brilliant mind that will be paid in slices from Carlos. Wish me luck.

Resolution # 2 – Upgrade – Santa didn’t bring me all the nice shiny gear I wanted for Christmas, which means I’ve got to go out and buy it myself. Well… maybe if I do a good enough job with resolution #1…

Resolution # 3 – Keep Up With My Blog Dawg was right, my blog is horribly erratic, but unfortunately it mirrors my current life. That shouldn’t be the case & I promise to do better. By the way, thanks so much for the recognition, I’m shooting for making the list next year too. I’ve joined PhotoBlog community to draw traffic to my blog, but how interesting will it be if there’s never anything new? In short, I’ll write more.

Resolution # 4 – Keep Up With My Comrade’s Blogs I know so many amazingly talented photographers who go out of their way to share their great art with the world and I should be paying attention more. I promise to keep up with the going on’s of my granny, Sue Henry, Jen Rinaldi, Heather McCullah, Julie Lawson, Scott Bulger, Lincoln Palmer, Jake Easley and more. I should also be keeping up with the wealth of advice and knowledge give by Damien Franco on Your Photo Tips and great blogs like Lightroom Killer Tips, Pro Photo Show and Epic Edits. All of these site mentioned, and any I may have forgetten not only entertain, but inspire me, and help me better myself and my art. I’ll be more active in 2009, reading and commenting.

Resolution # 5 – Keep Shooting All of the above will seem pretty silly and pointless if I have no new material. I need to get out more, see more, shoot more. I’m gonna promise to work harder on the A to Z Challenge at YourPhotoForum. I’ve drawn the first work of 2009 and it’s staring at me from my desk. I’ve got no idea where I’m going in 2009, but I promise to bring my camera with me… and thus, all of you.

So now I need your help. Basically, I need you to break my balls every day. Hey – it’s leap year, you even get an extra day to do so. If you see me slacking, yell at me, slap me in the back of the head, call me at 4 in the morning and scream obscenities at me. It’s ok, I probably deserve it.

2009 will be a year of moments, and I promise to grasp as many as I can.

Me


I’m Bursting…

I still scratch my head when people say my photos are good. Ok, yes, I’ll admit even I think some of them are, but I think it’s tough for me to accept the fact that something that brings me such peace and joy is also something that could touch others.

This doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling I get when I get positive remarks on my work by other photographers. I’m the past few months I’ve begun to follow work of photographers that I basically idolize. I get advice and pointers from brilliant minds like Chiller, Lincoln Palmer, Sue Henry and of course the amazingly talented Jon Mikal who have become a real a “photographic family” to me at YourPhotoForum.com.

Each month at YPF there is a Photo Of The Month Contest. The really unique aspect of this contest is there is nothing submitted for it. Instead any member of YPF can nominate another member’s work for the contest.

The first time I was nominated I was blow away. I didn’t win… hell, I didn’t even vote for that photo! The winner that month was well deserved but then the next month, I was nominated again and this time I won! I still don’t think I’ve gotten over the shock of that!

Well last month I was nominated again and I was ecstatic. Then… another photo was nominated. Then… another!!! When voting began last week I had 3 entries in the contest and I’m proud to say I won. (LOL.. had good odds, right?)

The photos….

“The Flowers She Left Behind”
The Flowers She Left Behind

“Carnival Dinosaur”
Carnival Dinosaur

and the winner…

“Bank Of America, Dallas, Texas”
Bank Of America, Dallas, Tx

So if you’re a photographer, and you’re looking for a great forum with some real supportive and encouraging people – not to mention the most amazing collection of talent I’ve ever seen, stop over at YourPhotoForum.com. Hope to see you there!


Go For A Walk… Find A Bike Tour

What cracks me up the most about this, is the fact that I actually subscribe to “Time Out NY”, which for the non-NY readers, is a weekly magazine that tells everything that’s happening in Gotham this week, I got my issue last Tuesday, like clockwork, and I still didn’t know today was the New York City Century Bike Tour.

I was up early, Dallas caught an early flight home and I was feel too melancholy to be able to go back to sleep. Sitting around on such a beautiful day was driving me nuts so I grabbed my gear and headed outside with no destination in mind. I really didn’t think I’d take a lot of photos in reality, probably just wander around bit, too lost in thought to be inspired. I walked along Cooper Ave as a bicycle passed me. Then another. Then five or six more. I took a closer look and saw that they all had numbers on their shirts, with a little “NYC Century Bike Tour” on it, and I realized maybe I’d have something to take pictures of after all.

I walked along Cooper and up Cypress against the sporadic flow of the riders. I started taking shots, but then I stopped myself. I realized this was a great time not only to take photos but to learn to take photos. I started paying attention to the sun & shade. I looked at the long curving street, and decided my best vantage points. I experimented with various camera settings, I predicted what a certain shutter speed or aperture would look like, and sometimes, I was actually correct. I stood, I sat down, finally I lay down along the curb to shoot up as they raced past me.

Through it all, I was struck by the happiness of the riders. I got a lot of “thank yous”, tons of smiles, some thumbs ups, some peace sign, and one person even picked their nose for me. I moved further and further along the route, eventually entering the bike path in Highland Park. I took photo after photo of these amazing athletes as they sped past.

I shot a lot on “Sports” mode on my camera, which is a mode I use a lot actually, however, it’s never really in the presence of sports. This is my trust fall-back when I shoot live music, in fact the only other time I used this mode for it’s intended purpose was when my brother Mike ran a marathon in Vermont.

Some of the shots came out ok. I have a ton more that I haven’t even processed. I’d love to get in touch with some of these folks, I mean how often does one get to see themselves doing something they really enjoy doing?

New York City, huh? Where else can you go for a walk thinking you’d find nothing interesting to see and return with over 600 shots?

Slideshow of the shots I have done can be found Here

NYC Century Bike Tour 2008-047

NYC Century Bike Tour 2008-035

NYC Century Bike Tour 2008-019

Here’s me… getting into it…

Me @ The 2008 NYC Century Bike Tour

NYC Century Bike Tour 2008-031