Grasp The Moment Photography

Latest

Makes Phone Calls Too

I love my Iphone.

I find the world is divided these days into two groups. Those who have smartphones and can’t live without them and those who don’t understand why we have them in the first place. I’m obviously in the first category.

I used to love my Driod, but it locked up all the time, would never receive calls properly and sucked battery life. So when I noticed I had a free upgrade at the exact time Verizon was coming out with the IPhone… well the rest is history.

Now I can do all the funky stuff that smartphone users can do. (No, I’m not blogging from my phone.) I can Google absolutely anything at the drop of a hat, like why barns are red. I watch myself cross the street on a map in real time. I can instantly locate coffee shops when we wake up in a motel room in strange cities – this alone makes it the most invaluable tool since the wheel.

But this isn’t a geek-blog, so let me get to the point. The damn thing has a camera too. A 5 megapixel camera actually, which when coupled with Retina display makes images pop. The display is so good that I’ve loaded some of the images off the site to my phone to show clients. The camera is fast and crystal clear. It’s great for those times I don’t have my DSLRs handy.

But the really cool thing is the Hipstamatic app, which arms the built in camera with a dozen different vintage films, lenses, and flashes. It’s the definition of cool. I play with it a lot, especially when I’m at my “real job” and my cameras are at home. It’s also great when I don’t have the time or the luxury of using my DSLR, like standing in line at Ferrara’s Bakery or when I find a random Dylan quote scrawled on the wall of bathroom.

And the damn thing makes phone calls too!

Advertisements

Getting Ready To Boogie

Camp Creek is 4 weeks away.

I couldn’t be more excited when I read Eric’s post. I have a tendency to think of things in milestones, IE – Joe’s Graduation, Fourth of July, Vacation, James’ Birthday, Pool Party, Camp Creek. I tend to just think of whats next on the list. So when Eric posted the countdown like that, I was pumped.

If you don’t know who Max Creek is by now, you don’t read my blog enough. My favorite band on the planet, they’ve been bringing the most awe inspiring sounds and soulful jams for the past 40 years. I don’t think there’s a bad day that can’t be solved by the music of Max Creek.

But Max Creek is more that music, and that’s the reason I’m so psyched Camp is only 4 weeks away. Max Creek is family. Being outside the usual range of the band, I miss a lot of shows. It usually involves a few hours in a car, and a hotel room, and after awhile it adds up. Its more than worth it when we can though, because finally getting to a Creek show is like going home. All the friends are there – Jonathan (happy birthday man!) and Sarah, Ryan & Sheri, Steve & Debbi, Ken, Doreen, Buzz, Paul, Lee, Christine and so many more dancing spirits. There’s Ed – the man who collects the recordings of Phunky Zen, Fred, and all those before them and works tirelessly to bring the music to the masses and Ziola, the self portrait Queen, who’s always ready to tell me another “behind the scenes” Max Creek story. In the center of it all is Ian, who I call “The Mayor Of Max Creek” who seems to know every person in attendance, and wants pictures with them all… especially the pretty girls. Then there’s the band … who I am proud and honored to call friends. I’ve come to see Mark, Scott, John, Vasso and DeGugs as regular guys especially when the tequila bottle is going around. (That Mark is a dangerous guy!) And of course there’s Eric … love him or hate him, there wouldn’t be show if he wasn’t busting his ass to get all the ducks in a row (pun intended) The crowd is always filled with so many friendly faces…

So there really wasn’t a question about money or time when Max Creek hit the big 4-0. We were going and Kim and I were able to make two shows… including a rare hometown gig. But the big night was up in Providence, a town deep in Max Creek lore. The show was epic, as expected, exploding to a close with Vasso dusting of “Sympathy For The Devil” and the boys playing like a band possessed. The whole family danced in celebration because we realized that even though the nuts on stage had been the ones doing the hard work, we were all passing a milestone. It was our party, we were all celebrating.

So four weeks until Camp. For weeks until I’m home again.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with these guys many times, and the images can be enjoyed here … on my site

Complexity

I find that things get more and more complex as my life goes on.

Wait a second, I’m not referring to decisions about life, love, money or time, I’m actually just talking about Legos. As I’ve stated in the past I was a huge Lego fan in my youth. I had a giant cardboard box of Legos and I’d spend hours of the day digging through it and building whatever my mind could come up with. I was limited to only what was in my imagination.

But of course, even this had to change.

Today Legos are sold in kits. They come with a 7000 page instruction manual and twice as many parts, and you don’t build whatever is in your mind’s eye, you build what you see on the outside of the box. When you’re done, you dare not touch them because they’re delicate and fragile, so they wind up sitting on the shelf, untouched and unplayed with. It they are played with, be careful, because if that one tiny piece rolls under the couch – and you know it will – you’ll never get it back to wahtever it was supposed to be in the first place.

And, of course, my kids love them.They also love buying their own stuff, which worked great when their Uncle Mark gave them git certificates to the Lego store. So off we went, and the boys picked out what they saw and what they liked and what they wanted to build. They used their own money to buy them.

It took three adults to help put them together when we got home, and even though the boys were happy, I guess I was just missing that big old cardboard box and the smell of an imagination at work.

And This Is How We Learn

My mother says that all the time.

I tried to learn how to play guitar once. I was young and I went to classes at my grammar school and then my parents sent me for a few lessons with a family friend. I had a nice new shiny acoustic guitar and I was quite excited until the first lesson comprised of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.

What as this? I wasn’t here to learn this. Didn’t these teachers understand that I was here to be the next Jimi Hendrix? Surely Jimi never had to learn “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. That was then and this is now, and I’ve learned the hard way that even Jimi Hendrix had to start somewhere.

So when I picked up all this new gear lately I realized I was going to have a lot to learn. There’s so much that goes into photography, lighting, framing, colors, textures, it takes a lifetime to master it all… which means maybe by the time I figure it all out, I’ll be dead.

In the meantime, I’ve got to start somewhere. So since I had my backdrop system set up from the other day, I decided to play with my SB-900 flashes on slave/master mode. Mom supplied the really cool glasses and all I could find in the deli was jello mix.

I wasn’t shooting for more than anything than to learn, trial and error, a kind of “OH! So that’s how this works!” I shot on lots of different settings. I changed flash positions and settings, changed lenses, experimented for a few hours, practiced. And yes… the whole time “Mary Had A Little Lamb” was playing in my head… though I will admit it was the Stevie Ray Vaughn version.

All the shots are here

Back In Time

I hate the term “staycation”, it grates on my last nerve. Kinda like the sound of cutting through a Styrofoam plate. So Kim and I didn’t spend a week on a “staycation”, we had a “We’re too broke to go anywhere-cation”.

Looking at though, “staycation” doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

We had hoped maybe to head north, into Massachusetts to a little town called Sturbridge. I’ve been there a few times in my life, and the main attraction there is the restored village, Old Sturbridge Village. It’s set in the 1840s, the people who work there carry out their day as if this was their village, and they go about their daily lives. It’s a wild place to visit, and Kim and I will get there someday.

Here in New York, we have Old Bethpage Village. We visited there last month, and was sad to see it had deteriorated from what we remember from our youth. It was still a great day, with lots to see, but many of the buildings were closed, and the workers didn’t seem as enthusiastic.

If nothing else, it was nice to go to a place to pretend – even for a little bit – that we lived in a simpler time, when you the stress you feel today over bills and where the next dollar was coming from didn’t exist.

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…

SpiTune – Some Pretty Serious Goofballs

SpiTune is the only band I know that deserves it’s own word for the way you feel the day after – “SpiTuned”.

Kim and I have often felt SpiTuned the next day – which usually involves a drive home since the band hails from the New Hope PA area. Feeling SpiTuned is a mix of all things: maybe a tad bit too much beer, your ears ringing from some amazing sounds and your sides hurting from all the laughing.

SpiTune almost has a need to create their own vocabulary because they’re the only ones doing what they do. Combine the solid bass lines of Mike Krimm and Dave Haviland’s gifted drumming and you’ll walk away with a hell of a rhythm section. Through this Bill Fowler weaves his explosive guitar licks and blistering solos. There alone you’d have a hell of a band, but what seems to tie these guys together is the acoustic guitar of Fred Moore.

Fred also handles the vocals and the lyrics. Fred writes songs about the common man, in common situations – of sorts. Fred’s writing ability and humor mix to create some pretty memorable lyrics. Not for the young, but perfect for the young at heart, Fred sings to get out his frustrations out about stupid people, those who annoying him, and all the stuff his mother told him he shouldn’t say in public.

Come down to a gig – if the songs don’t have you laughing, the between song banter and the crowd interaction will. Then the laughter seems to stop suddenly as Bill wails on his strings and follows the path Mike and Dave skillfully blaze.

SpiTune’s album – “About Time” (Buy it here) – and their live shows are on constant rotation in my home. This weekend they launched their new facebook page and released a whole bunch of new dates:

Saturday July 30th – Forumstock 6, Stillwater, NY
Friday August 12th – Jam At The Grove, Ottsville, PA
Saturday Sept 3rd – John and Peter’s, New Hope, PA
Sunday Sept 4th – Private Party
Saturday October 1st – Wang Dang Doodle

I was lucky enough to be hired by these guys for a private shoot. I love the results, their personality bursts out of every image. Dave came up with the “handcuffed to our instruments” idea and I’ll love him forever for it. It worked great.

The whole shoot, and video shoot afterwards can be seen on my site here… but here are my favorites…

Something Is Forming

I’m no stranger to nature. As a boy scout, I went camping with my troop almost every month for years. In my teens, I was chosen to head to Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico, in the heart of San Cristo mountains. You couldn’t ask for a more rugged and natural setting.

But I live in New York City, where we seem to compartmentalize our nature. Little squares set aside in the middle of this metropolis reserved for nature. The term “vest pocket park” is the name given to the tiny oasis of green that pop up around Manhattan.

Nature in California seemed different though. As we drove down the Pacific Coast highway, the beauty and majesty of mother nature was surrounding us, getting thicker and thicker as we drove deep into Big Sur. I could never do it justice if I tried to describe it in words, so let me try it this way. My first knowledge of the Pacific Coast Highway was on one of those lists of “Places To See Before You Die”. After being there, I think it should be a requirement of life, maybe on a list of “Places To See So You Can Know What Life Is Really All About”. Now I can’t wait to see the all the other places on the list.

As usual though, Max Creek added their touch to situation. Kim and I left Monterey early and was one of the first visitors to Point Lobos State Park. We hiked along the rocks that jetted out into the Pacific. Waves crashed around us. Sea Lions barked below and birds of all kinds played in the air above. In the distance, we could see dolphins jumping in the water. It was a surreal scene for city slickers like us. We couldn’t imagine a place like this actually existed, much less that were standing there. As we took in the heaviness of the entire scene, from seemingly nowhere, Creek broke out with Mark’s keys leading into Scott signing “Something is forming on the edge of the universe…” and Kim and I just stood there, smiling, nodding our heads with a collective “yeah”.

The only thing that broke the mood was me realizing that no, the band hadn’t followed us, set up, and surprised is with a morning serenade… it was the ringtone to my phone.

But the nature was real…

More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…

The Rock

Even in the broad daylight, Alcatraz is spooky.

Sitting in the middle of San Francisco Bay, sticking out of the water like a giant turtle back, the island seems to grow meaner and meaner as you approach. Of course, now you get there on a ferry service run by the National Park Service – I can’t even imagine what it was like heading there in shackles with armed guards surrounding you.

Built to housed Civil War prisoners in 1861, then converted to be a federal prison in 1933, it housed some of the meanest and baddest men in the country. Today it’s one of the main attractions in San Francisco and a definite stop when Kim and I were there. It was originally named La Isla de los Alcatraces by the Spanish who first discovered the island, meaning Island Of Pelicans. Even though we didn’t see any Pelicans, it seems that seagulls greatly outnumber humans.

There’s no threat of being locked up there today, but that didn’t stop the creepy tingling I had in the back of neck the whole time I was there. The cells were small and cold. The bars were heaby and thick. The “Hole”… well it’s pretty much everything you expect The Hole to be. Even though the door remained opened, I only spent a few minutes inside, I can’t even fathom spending any more time than that in there.

Leaving the island, we knew we had a great day – capped off by July 4th fireworks and dinner at a five star resturant … but that wasn’t the only reason I felt relieved to be going. Maybe since it was July 4th, I was appreciating my freedom a little more – or maybe it was just that the message Alcatraz was meant to give in the first place was working.

Crime doesn’t pay.

More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…

City By The Bay

The loveliness of Paris
Seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome
Is of another day
I’ve been terribly alone
And forgotten in Manhattan
I’m going home to my city by the bay.

A year ago, after a morning of scrambling over cancelled flights, Kim and I touched down in San Francisco, and part of me is still there.

Nothing can describe the breath taking view of the Golden Gate Bridge, or the beauty of standing on the cliffs in the Marin Highlands watching birds in the high above the crashing waves.

I could spend many a day wandering the streets of the Haight, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. Even now, I’m craving a bowl of clam chowder in bread bowl from Boudin on Peir 39, but would just be the appetizer for some crab in garlic sauce at the Crabhouse. Of course a ride on the cable cars, a drive down Filbert Street, and getting lost in the Presidio, and the long walk uphill to Alamo Square.

Next… maybe we’ll head to Alcartaz….

More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…

I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me.
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars!
The morning fog may chill the air
I don’t care!
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco,
Your golden sun will shine for me!