Beside Jimi Hendrix’s quote (which is the title of this piece), I always thought Bob Marley sang it best when he stated “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
That’s why we do crazy things like drive 1 1/2 hours through a torrential rain storm just to spend a few hours soaking up tunes and witnessing the creation of magic. That’s exactly what we did on Saturday, after working a morning overtime shift, Kim and I hopped in the car and headed west to lovely Blairstown NJ to catch the second night of the East Coast debut of The Contribution.
Yes, I was excited about going to Blairstown because it’s the location of the “town” scenes in the original Friday the 13th … and yes, I got my photo taken by the arches that Robbi Morgan walks through, but I was even more excited to see The Contribution. Tim Carbone, Phil Ferlino, Matt Butler, Keith Mobsey and Jeff Miller together on stage in an amazing ensemble of master musicians.
But sadly… I left my gear at home. Never being to the theater, I wasn’t sure of their policy, and in hindsight I was glad I did. Not just because of the awkward layout of the place (remember this is a real theater, but also because the one photog that was there was bordering on embarrassing. After seeing her lie down on stage, I was ready for her to stand up on the bar to get shots. She must have been with the band, or they didn’t mind, but it’s that kind of total unprofessional attitude that gives us concert photographers a bad name. I will note though that there were at least two other guys with SLRs who managed to stay out of the way and hidden.
Anyway… as the band played, my mind drifted back a few months and only a few miles away to The Sherman. Ahh, the Sherman theater. As readers of my blog will know, the Thanksgiving Railroad Earth shows are pretty much the most important part of my musical year. This year the boys raged in style, taking over the whole town and providing before and after entertainment in the local bars. It was like a good appetizer and desert, but as always, it’s the main course that counts. Once again, Railroad Earth brought their best game, and burned the place down. Knowing the Sherman was very camera friendly, and also knowing I wasn’t going to lie on stage or stand on the bar, I came back with some quality stuff.
I also managed to get autographs from the whole band on photos I had taken of them, to add to my collection.
So we drove back from an incredible night with The Contribution, with an awesome autographed CD, under thankfully clear skies. You know what I think is the one good thing about music? Just when you think you’ve heard it all… it’s time for another show.
Here’s some of the shots of Railroad Earth November 2012, the rest can be seen here
Saturday night at The Place in Brooklyn with The Freight rockin’ the joint isn’t a bad way to spend an evening.
The Freight is a tight four piece comprised of veterans of the Brooklyn music scene. The band sounded great … and not just because Kim was running the soundboard. Joey Reirdon sets the beat with his expert chops.I’ve been a fan, and a friend of Joe for a long time, watching him in awe back in the day when he played with Flying Blind and The South Side Boogie Band. To this day, Joe on the list of my top ten drummers. Holding down the bottom end is Bill Harvey, pushing his four strings along to create that fat layer that guitarist Michael Barron can work off of. Mike coaxes the perfect tones from his rig and it’s the vocals of Kevin Lay that seals the deal. Kevin’s deep bass voice coats each song, making them charge through the air …well like a freight train.
Keep your eyes peeled for their next stop…
See more shots from the night here
See more shots from the night here
There in the swirling midst of music, in front of the Mark Mercer’s keyboards, Ryan found Sheri and Sheri found Ryan. They’re still there… at every show, dancing together. It’s a Max Creek love story at it’s finest.
I met Sheri and Ryan through Creek and it’s one of the best friendships I’ve formed in my life. They’re both so caring and friendly that it’s impossible not to like them. Since they opened their room at Rochester, and they opened their site at Camp Creek it was a joy for us to be part of their wedding.
Sheri looked beautiful in her wedding dress, and she kept her spunk with her funky purple shoes. Ryan’s eyes lit up when he saw her, the way they always do. True to their personality they were married in a gazebo in the park, followed but a small reception with close friends and family, and of course music.
“Each night I pray we’ll never part
Because the love within my heart
Grows stronger from day to day.
Best I try, hard I try
To reassure and satisfy.
You know I’d be lost if you went away.”
To see more images from their day, visit here
To see more images from their day, visit here
Actually, I don’t really. Every year Kim is amazed how I can sit by and not even notice the 3000+ lbs of Halloween candy that the kids bring home… maybe that’s why we had so much around the house.
Seriously though, today was another Sunday afternoon that really wasn’t about the subject matter. Friend, and photographer extraordinaire Jeff Stubblefield has been being a lot of work and producing amazing results with his home-made light box. So I figured I’d steal the idea, make my own and see what came out of it. I set everything up using a big cardboard box, some sheets of banner paper and my SB-900s.
So I spent some time lost in lighting and aperture settings, another training day. Some pretty sweet still life huh?
A few more shots can be seen here… on my Grasp The Moment Photography Facebook page
My first visit to the Brooklyn Bowl was to see a killer band that brings it hard, none other than Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds. Truth be told I was looking for a night off, so I left the camera at home and Kim & I just enjoyed a night of great music with great friends. Sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.
Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds is a powerhouse. Drummer Bram Kincheloe and Aidan Carroll on bass lay down a solid groove foundation which Sasha Brown masterfully weaves his guitar work through. Jackson Kincheloe steps out blowing his harmonica and sets the room on fire. he blows those magic notes which dance through your ears but it’s the solid wall of horns that gets your ass up and moving. JJ Byars, Phil Rodriguez, Ryan Snow and Johnny Butler are a horn section to be reckoned with. Either together in tight delicious blend, or stepping out for a solo spot, these four guys blow their hearts into every note. Dancing through this already tight soundscape is Arleigh Kincheloe, who’s got the vocal inflections and style of an all time great blues mistress. She mastered the fine art of delivery her lyrics with the needed punch, but also knowing when to side step and let the raging freight train around her roar down the track. Together they’re a complete package of funk that guarantees a good time.
I did shoot the band the last time I caught them when I was working the Rock n Roll Resort in April. So crank up some funky tunes here and enjoy some shots… and don’t forget to pre-order their new CD!
How many of us know where we will be in 50 years? I doubt any of us, least of all me. Maybe Mary and Frank didn’t know the details, but something tells me that when they exchanged vows a half a century ago, they knew they’d still be together. So we were thrilled when they asked us to be a part of their magical night, a Fiftieth Wedding Celebration filled with family and friends. Their original wedding was a simple one so Frank pulled out all the stops for his bride, and the night was elegant in every way, thanks in part to our great friend Gary the DJ who kept the crowd on their feet.
Here’s to another 50, you two lovebirds…
Below is an interview I took part in with Colin Butterworth of the “Just Takin’ Pictures” group on Facebook…” Usually I’m the one doing the interviews, but this month the tables were turned and it was my turn in the hot seat…
A conversation with Brian Walter
By Colin Butterworth in Just Takin’ Pictures
We have a treat this month. Instead of Brian interviewing one of us, I have interviewed Brian. I couldn’t pass up the chance to return to New York to do the interview.
I had the great pleasure to meet Brian in 2010 when my wife and I visited New York. Brian was so gracious to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel in Manhattan. Not only that, he gave us some amazing insights into New York. I think this shows what a great person Brian is and I am thrilled to call him a friend.
Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the man, the legend, Brian Walter.
1. Standard question, what is in your camera bag? What equipment and programs do you use? Also, if you could add one thing to your camera bag, what would it be?
I’m very happy to say the bag is getting pretty full. I’ve got two bodies, the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D7000. My glass collection is growing, with a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5, a Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR DX, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-S and the newest, a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM. I’ve got two SB900s and wireless transmitters, no name, I’m still saving up for Pocket Wizards. Ive got an awesome set of macro filters which I got for $20.00 off EBAY. Oh, and safety pins, a flashlight, tie wraps and tons of other little nic-naks.
Being a nerd, I custom built my PC to suit my photography. Its powered by a 2.9ghz quad core and 4 gig of RAM. I have a dedicated 2.0 Tb drive for my photography work, which is backed up on a 2.0 TB external. I’ve also got a 120BG hard drive that is a dedicated scratch disc for Photoshop and my RAW file cache. I’d be a mess without Adobe LightRoom, it’s the center of my photo-editing world. That’s augmented with Adobe Photoshop, but every since the release of LightRoom 3.x, I find myself using PS less and less.
If I could add one thing????? OMG, how could I choose??? Well, I guess what I find myself dreaming mostly about these days is the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S ED.
2. Most people have different stories behind why they take photos, what is your story? What lead you to photography?
I guess you can say it runs in the family. My grandfather was a photographer, and my mother was too. I grew up with her always taking photos of us.
The biggest factor in myself turning to photography was when I discovred that through it. I finally had something to share. I could never play an instrument, or sing, which really was fine with me since never liked the spotlight much anyway, but I discovered that by staying in the shadows, camera in hand, I could capture what was going on Afterwards, when the music had faded and the equipment was packed up, it was my images that brought people back to that moment. Recently when I was working with a bride getting ready I heard her squeal with delight and say to her bridemaids “He’s photographing my shoes!!!” and she was so happy I was paying attention to the little things.
3. You brought this group together when you created “Just Takin’ Pictures”. What motivated you to create the group?
I am a knowledge junkie. I love picking people’s brains and learning all I can. I feel that everyone has something to contribute, from the beginner to the most seasoned pro. I also learn a lot from looking at other people’s work. Whether it’s the use of light, or the way subjects are posed in a frame, I study other people’s work, and find ways to apply it to my own. I feel it’s the best way to grow. Even if I don’t comment, I look at every image that gets posted not only in the group, but on everyone’s pages. I’ve spent twenty minutes sometimes pouring over every detail. In your case for example, I doubt I’m ever going to be in the locations you’ve been, and see the sights you see, but I am always studying your expertise in composition and it flashes through my head when I look through my own lens.
4. Each month you have presented these wonderful interviews, of our fellow group members, with insightful and thoughtful questions. Is this your natural talent shining through as a journalist, or have you had some training?
Oh no way, I’m no Edward Morrow, I just like to talk. (Before I go on, I want to point out that this idea was borrowed from a photo forum I was on. I loved the idea, but felt it was never used to it’s full potential.) As I said I’m a knowledge junkie and I’ve discovered over the years – mostly in talking to musicians – that artists usually don’t know how to put an answer into words. However if you approach it from a round about way, you’ll get a lot more insight into it. Instead of finding out why someone did one thing, find out what makes them tick and you’ll get a much clearer picture. There is so much talent in our group, and everyone deserves to be in the spotlight, it’s just my pleasure to help with that.
5. What is your favourite and least favourite thing to photography? Also, if you could photography anything in the world, what would you take a photo of?
My favorite thing to photography? Life. I did the flowers and trees and gravestones thing for a very long time and I’ve grown bored with it. These days I love seeing the joy and excitement of life reflected in some one’s eye. The passion a musician gives his art, the smile of a happy couple, the laughter of a child. Of course, it goes without saying that above all else, seeing my kids and my family happy and laughing as I take the shot is the best thing in the world. My least favorite thing? I don’t know if I could point a specific thing, but more like specific situations. It’s that client who won’t co-operate. It’s when my kids are in that mood and won’t smile, or at least feign interest. And worst of all, it’s when the god damn stage lights aren’t where I need them to be, there’s too much smoke and the freaking mic stands are in the way!
If I could give up all responsibilities? Photograph whatever I wanted??? Well, See you guys later, I’m going on tour. Don’t even care with who, I’m just hitting the big stage, sneaking in the shadows at the Hollywood Bowl or the Royal Albert Hall waiting for “that moment”
6. You have a wonderful family who obviously mean a lot to you. How has/does your family affect your photography?
Wonderful doesn’t cut it, I’ve got the best family in the world and I can see it reflected in every photo I take. The love and inspiration they give me what keeps me going. My two sons, and Kim’s son as well, are my source of joy and relaxation when I’m not working. They keep me young at heart and remind that the simplest things in life can make you the happiest.
On top of that I’ve got the love of a fantastic woman who is just what I need in life. She laughs at my crazy, creative ideas, and then immediately starts working with me trying to them into reality. She’s also my business partner, and she handles the stuff I can’t even begin to deal with. Between sessions she’s handling prices, advertising, and booking the next session. Once we get to the session she handles everything from setting up the next shot (which is mandatory for large weddings) to fusing with dresses, fixing ties, and giving out corsages. I’m serious when I say I have no idea how I could try to do anything without her. Without her, Grasp The Moment Photography would still be an idea in my head.
7. I personally think you live in the greatest city I have ever visited! I found there were endless photo opportunities there during my brief visit. Do you ever find yourself struggling for subject matter of lacking inspiration to take photos in New York?
Yes, NYC, being the capital of the planet, is always full of things to see and do. I don’t live in the middle of the hustle and bustle, though. My neighborhood is a quiet one, with lots of trees and no skyscrapers. With that being said, being a photographer in NYC sometimes presents more problems than it solves. For starters, the competition is fierce. There are over 8 million people in the five boros, and almost as many digital cameras. Everything is big in NYC and weddings are no exception. Seeing that I’m still just starting out, I’m nowhere near ready to break into the market in my own hometown. Space is also an issue, living in a second floor apartment mean there’s hardly any room for us, forget considering a home studio.
8. Inspiration can come in many guises, artists, works of art, people, family etc. and not only one thing can inspire us to take photos. From where or what do you draw your inspiration from?
I find the best inspiration comes from being confident in yourself, your abilities and being lost in te moment. Worrying about details, and anything else except for what you’re doing, turns photography an arduous chore. That’s why I think learning about your gear, and how it works, is such a vital part of the process. I find most photographers want to hurry up and get over with the basics, but when your equipment can become an extension of yourself, and you can command it and make it do what you want, when you want, you will find yourself in a zone where the images just begin to flow.
9. You have been active in taking concert photos in recent times and you are also branching out to weddings and other photography sessions. You are also a certified professional. Where would you like your photography to take you in the future? Do you think it could be a viable career?
I don’t know about a full time career, at least for now. I’ve got too many financial responsibilities and obligations to jump in feet first and quit my day job. I wouldn’t mind picking up some more weddings – we already have some book for the summer of 2012 – and some more session work. But I’ll always be true to my love of concert photography, and I’m sure you’ll still see me on the side of a stage, camera in hand.
10. We have unfortunately come to my final question. As we touched on in my interview I had the privilege to travel around the world on my honeymoon which was a trip of a lifetime. If you had the chance to travel around the world what locations would you like to visit and capture through your lens?
Well it’s no secret that I left my heart in San Francisco. I was there last summer and fell in love with the town a million times over. I could very easily see myself living on the west coast, driving through the amazing beaches, mountains and deserts of California, taking it all in, and seeing what other moments I could grasp.
Now Brian, please select three of your images you’d like to share with us…
Only three photos to share???
Ok … first is this one
This one from my latest wedding. It was done after
the ceremony as we were doing family shots. The sun was setting, and I was worrying about loosing the natural light for all the family shots I did. As Kim ran around getting “who is in this photo” and “who is in the next one.” I kept one eye on that sun. Thankfully it worked and I got everything I needed to get in. As we were wrapping up, I looked at the sun again and suddenly saw it differently. I quickly grabbed the bride and groom and positioned them with the golden rays of the sun behind them. I don’t even think I told them to kiss, they were just that much in love. Why this photo represents to me, is an accomplishment on my part, because it was more than a “happy accident” I knew what I wanted it to look like and I what I needed to do to get that result.
Next I had to go back to my love of music…
One of those moments when the lights hit just right, the mic stand wasn’t in the way, everything lined up. Everyone else on stage seemed to move just out of the shot, and I took it. It just so happened to be Johnny Grubb’s last east coast show, which makes the shot even that much more special.
My crazy guys. There are no fake smiles in this shot, no forced expression, just pure goofiness, which is where my boys are the happiest. Being crazy, loving life, and enjoying our time together. Its photos like this that just keep me looking for the next shot.
Wow it’s been a busy month. August barreled through my life like a runaway freight train. An amazing Camp Creek kicked things off (… and don’t worry, I’ll go into more detail soon…) followed by a great family vacation. That got clipped a bit by Hurricane Irene which pounded NYC with lots of rain but left us safe. The area around us suffered harder blows and there’s thousands still dealing with it. My heart goes out to all of them. I pulled a 40 hour shift at work, and was thankful afterwards that Kim and my family were safe at home. Though it seemed that once the clouds parted it was time to get ready for the next big thing on the Grasp The Moment calender – the wedding of dear friends Ryan and Sheri.
However, in the midst of all that, I was lucky enough to catch up with Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros.
Now if you don’t know the smooth sounds of Pops & the boys by now, then you’ve got a serious problem. Throw some swing, jazz, and groove into a pot and mix it with a serious helping of Brooklyn attitude and you’re getting close. “Pops” Mike Rizzo keeps the beat, playing the skins the same way he’s done all his life, with a style and flare that makes kids a fraction of his age jealous. Laying down the groove is the incredible Simon Walsh, playing the bass with an unbelievable combination of flair and musical prowess. Rob Rizzo adds the vocals and the groovy swing of his six string churning out solos and fills that keeps the corwd calling out for more.
These guys are the tops. I’ve seen a lot of music in my day, and Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros can move the crowd, get asses shaking and feet shuffling better than most of the bands headlining big clubs. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to work with these guys. We met up at Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, a bar that’s been there and serving thirsty New Yorkers since 1829. We stole a corner of the bar and Pops & the boys settled down just being them. No instruments, no playing around, no showing off, just them being them.
Oh … and they’re playing back at Neir’s Tavern on September 24th … ya better be there if you know what’s good for you.
With a mighty “Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa” the silence is broken. Finally… after what seems like a year of waiting (ok, it’s only be 8 months) Railroad Earth has announced the 2011 Thanksgiving shows.
My regular blog readers know how important these shows are in my life. (Here) It’s pretty much the high point of my year. Driving away from the Sherman on Sunday morning, Kim will begin the countdown until the next year.
Well this year Railroad Earth is doing it in style. With hotel room deals, pre and post show parties, they’re turning the quiet hamlet of Stroudsburg PA into Railroad Earth central. It’s being called The Horn O’Plenty Getaway. It’s going to be an awesome time, Kim and I can’t wait. Railroad Earth is an amazing band, the music will be amazing, our best friends will be there … and as always Bob will guide us from above, and dance next to us in the shadows of the Sherman. Join us this year…
Here are a few from last year’s shows… even more can be found one my site… here
Lots more Railroad Earth images from the past few years are on my site here
What a terrific way to start my “First Year Package” program but with an adorable little peanut of a girl names Samantha. Just three months old she’s got the biggest most beautiful eyes and cutest little smile.
Taking her picture was an absolute joy, and I’m glad they turned out so well. The best part is now I get to watch her grow as I visit every three months for another session.
See more images of her first shoot … here
Why not look into booking your own session? All the information can be found on my site… Here
Outside it’s so hot, the sidewalks are melting into a puddle of goo. I’m sitting protected from the disgusting inside my apartment, breathing in recycled air-conditioned air, listening to the hum of the machine in the window that’s keeping things bearable.
This is what summer in NYC is like. We have miles of shore line where we can play in the spray of the ocean waves and substitute a breeze coming off the water for the AC for awhile, but getting to them are the hard part. The roads are choked with traffic, and are twice as hot. Once there, good luck finding a small sliver of real estate in the mass of humanity there.
So yesterday as the thermometer began to explode, we tried to seek relief in whatever form we could – namely a handful of water balloons and a few buckets of water. It didn’t last too long, but it was a delightful escape for a little while.
Stay cool everyone.
PS … Don’t forget to vote for me in the 2011 PDN One Life Photo Competition!!
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.
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.
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…
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…
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…
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!
is exactly what we need sometimes.
Kim and I have been jonesin’ for some live music lately. We’ve been laying low since Max Creek’s explosive 40th anniversary bash in Rhode Island (which I owe you a blog about, don’t I?) Between the heat, the kids and their busy schedules, and the empty wallets, it been hard to get out.
So there really wasn’t a question when we found out that the necleus of of the Funky Godmothers were hitting the beach with Guy Nevirs on guitar. We jumped in the truck, picked up some friends and headed to Far Rockaway, a place that would almost make you forget you were still in Queens.
You couldn’t ask for a better spot for a summertime gig. Out on the back deck, above the water, an incredible breeze in the air, although I could have done without the bar next door playing the same Johnny Cash greatest hits cd over and over – nothing against the Man in Black. The place was oddly enough a Thai restaurant (that served Itailan Ice, my buddy Jeff pointed out) but the beer was cold so it ok in my book.
The band set up in the corner and began grooving away on some classic tunes. They never got crazy all night, kind laid back, old tunes. A few more nights out and I know they’ll bring out the hard stuff. It was perfect though, for a nice relaxing night with some friends, some beers and a great setting.
It was my first night out with my new gear too… all the stuff I shot was with the D7000 on an unimaginable ISO and the most wicked lens giving me an unreal f2.8 aperture. Came away with some decent shots, enjoy…
This isn’t the first time I’ve attended the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Parade by any means. I make it a point to attend annually, not just to hone my photography skills, but to show my support and help celebrate this slice of NYC.
But this year, something was different.
Every year, the parade is a complex mix of pageantry and color, pride and happiness, with a dose of somber remembrance and social consciousnesses thrown. This year had all those things, but there was something else in the air. A wonderful look of celebration burned brightly in the eyes of every participant, as well as spectator. Just the day before the parade, the NY State Senate passed, and Governor Cuomo signed the Same Sex marriage act, joining only 5 other states that allow marriage to be based on love and not gender. It was another step forward along the path of granting all Americans equal civil rights.
I tried to capture some of this joyous attitude, as well as the pageantry and colors and all else that goes into the pride parade. My brother took the year off, enjoying to watch and not march, but a close childhood friend did pass us by, and it was great to see him so happy and celebrating the day.
Kim and I watched for a while – not only was there a lot to see, but I had new gear to play with. We finally headed home as the parade passed our spot, on it’s way towards Greenwich Village. When the crowds reach the Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights movement began over 40 years ago, the parade ends.
But maybe this is the year that won’t happen. Maybe this year even though the parade will end physically, it’s spirit will carry on, state to state, until we, as a nation, allow two people – regardless of gender – to dedicate their lives to each other. Maybe this is the year the rights we are supposed to be granted under the constitution will apply to every citizen.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr Suess
Yesterday was Christmas all over again.
Except I was my own personal Santa and no one came down my chimney. I did, however, walk away with some pretty sweet ass presents.
To help my growing business, I made a serious gear investment, and walked away with the new Nikon D7000, a new Nikon SB900 flash and an amazing Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens.
What do all these numbers and jargon mean to non-photographers? Umm.. I got some really awesome shit!
Yesterday there was a lot of personal stuff going on with the kiddies, so even though I physically picked up my new gear yesterday, I wasn’t able to play – I mean learn how to use it. And learn is an accurate description because the D7000 has more controls than the space shuttle, and I feel I need a PHD to master them all. The lens… that’s gonna take a heck of a lot to get used to…
So this morning, I woke bright eyed and busy tailed, my mind racing of all the places I could go and start my training. I sat there, sipping my coffee, creating a mental itinerary of all the places and things I could see, and didn’t really even hear what Kim said to me.
“What?” I asked, “You want to go to a flea market?” I said with doubt and disbelief until I remembered that yes, we were planing on heading to see our good friend Noel at her new shop “Catfight Boutique”. So, I took the new toys along and as the girls chatted, I snapped away. Nothing special, but a learning process, part of the ultimate goal of me becoming better and better.
Oh … and if you’re ever in Queens, definitely stop by Catfight Boutique, Noel’s actually got some really cool stuff.
And then there’s some loss just to balance things out. – Lou Reed
That line ends Lou Reed’s masterpiece album “Magic and Loss“. If you haven’t heard it, you may find it a bitter pill to swallow at first, except for that time when you need it. When your heart is heavy and breaking with grief, it just works.
This has been a week of loss. A personal loss hit my children, something they will deal with for a long time. A great woman, their grandmother, who was generous and kind and filled their lives with love and happiness departed too soon. Their world, and ours, is a little sadder without her here.
I was also stunned to learn of the passing of fellow blogger and photographer Charlane G. Her blog Ramblins… was a favorite of mine. Her southern charm and sassiness reminded me of my Grandmother – maybe that’s why I was drawn to her. I admired her photography style as well, and I’ll admit, I often tried to imitate it. Visit her amazing flickr stream to see for yourself.
So if Lou was right, and it’s a balance of things, then we’ve expressed the loss, so where’s the magic? For that, I’ll give you some images of smiles and laughter from a day at the park. And no.. the dogs aren’t ours.. they belong to some great people who were nice enough to let three happy children invade their dog park for a while.
I’m gonna work like I don’t need the money … I’m gonna laugh like I’m not afraid to cry … I’m gonna dance like nobody’s watching … I’m gonna love while I still got the time
Sometimes it’s just stuff. Sometimes there’s no hidden meaning, no deeper message that lies beneath the surface of what you see at first glance. Sometimes a rubber duckie is really just a rubber duckie. There are days when that’s just the mood I’m in. Light. Easy. Simple. And maybe just a tad bit goofy at the end. Enjoy.
I used to have a huge box of legos. Hundreds of them in an old cardboard box. I can’t remember a damn thing I built with them, but I’ll never forget the sound of digging through that box looking for one specific piece. I’d find it, fit it into whatever was taking shape before me, then dig again, that sound filling the air.
Soon my creation was done, and even though it was a now a house, or a car or whatever else I could think of, it was always made up of brick upon brick. The big cardboard box was emptied and I had found a way to fit the bricks together to form a shape.
That was years ago.
Kim and I drove the Rochester NY, a town that seems to be in need of a spit shine, to see the greatest band striking a note these days… Max Creek. The long drive wither went by quickly, or I didn’t even notice because I was so excited to get there. For years I had heard of Creek in “Rock-Chester” and now I was finally going to witness it myself. Better still … I had my camera and when the tough security guard gave me a hard time, I reached out the Creek’s manager and I got my response via a VIP pass around my wrist.
I shot from the pit both nights. A wild, trippy feeling being between the crowd and your favorite band. I worked my ass off. I strived for the best I could possibly do. I let the music take over and the whole experience became like those legos I used to play with. Brick by brick I took it all apart – it was the only way I could tackle it. Maybe all those hours I spent digging in that old cardboard box payed off. I say everything in moments … Mark’s intense concentration made him weave up and down… Scottie and Vasso exchanging looks and giggles…. John Rider hunching over when the notes got lower…. Degugs finding his way around his kit with his eyes closed…. Scottie’s broken string during the first song of the second night and the ghost he seemed to chasing in his pedals all weekend…. The smile on Casey Bloom’s face when he came up to play … the explosion into The Other One and sweet opening chords of Leaves.
Just like those legos I took those moments, and tried to make them into something. Not a house, or a car, but memories. Moments captured forever. Enjoy.
WC Fields once said he’d never work with children or animals. I had his words in mind as I entered the Glendale branch of Bobbi & The Strays.
Bobbi & The Strays is a 100% non-profit no-kill animal rescue organization, located in Queens. They rescue stray dogs and cats from the streets, and from situations of abuse and neglect. Before today, the only contact I had with them before today was my kids looking through the windows at the cute dogs & cats. But a volunteer from Bobbi & The Strayscontacted me, needing photos done for publicity purposes.
The day was challenging at best… it’s damn impossible to ask – even politely – a cat to smile, or to turn it’s head, or to do anything in fact. After a few hours, I for what I came for, and I worked on my photos as for the rest of the day as Kim peered over my shoulder with a constant song of “AWWWWWWWW… I want a kitten!!”
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.