Friday, October 31, 2008

Cape May Gingerbread

At the opposite, southern end of the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook, Cape May is a sparkling resort town full of victorian gingerbread houses like this one. In fact, this particular house is a bed & breakfast called "The Gingerbread."

Because Cape May sticks out at the very southern end of New Jersey like an appendix, you can photograph both sunrises and sunsets over the Atlantic.

Well, technically, the sunset is over Delaware Bay, but I won't tell if you won't.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sandy Hook, NJ

I've always said that New Jersey is an underrated state, and I keep discovering things that reinforce that belief.

Here is a shot taken at North Beach in Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook, NJ. A beautiful beach, it has a vista that includes the Verazzano Narrows Bridge, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island. The buildings in the background of this photo are in Brighton Beach, just to the west of Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Only Sleeping

Please don't wake me, no
don't shake me
Leave me where I am
I'm only sleeping

That's exactly what came to mind as I saw this fellow sleeping, only a few feet from the Imagine mosaic, a memorial to John Lennon in Central Park.

Beatles fans will recognize those lines as the end of the first verse of I'm Only Sleeping, which is track 3 on the Revolver album.

It's a strange and wonderful Lennon composition, featuring beautifully oxymornic lyrics ("Close my eyse, float upstream...") and a transfixing backwards-guitar solo. If you're musically inclined, you'll find these notes by Alan W. Pollack interesting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So Many Rosenbachs, So Little Time

Our cousins from Strasbourg visited New York City the week before last, which gave us all the opportunity to meet each other for the very first time. Sandy and I drove to NYC and spent a marvelous day with our wonderful cousins, Patrick and Muriel Rosenbach, and their daughter. That was three-fifths of the family, as sons Dan and Benjamin (yes, another Ben Rosenbach!) weren't able to join them on this trip.

Muriel made a picnic lunch which we ate in Central Park on the grass at Strawberry Fields, after which we went to Bethesda Terrace, walked through the Ramble, and saw Belvedere Castle and Shakespeare Garden.

With any luck, we'll be able to see them again in the not-to-distant future by traveling to Strasbourg.

My cousins Patrick and Muriel Rosenbach and daughter

Daughter and mother

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Photos Are In the Toilet!

Last month, we already established that most of my photos suck. And now, it seems, some of my photos are in the toilet!

Actually, I walked into our powder room last Sunday monring as light was squeezing through almost-closed blinds. The light made an interesting pattern on the toilet; I especially liked the multiple ways the alternating bands of shadow and light curved.

So natch, I grabbed my Canon XSi and started snapping some pictures, as my wife once more looked on bemusedly. She's long gotten used to me taking photos of seemingly mundane and unbeautiful things.

No potty-mouthed remarks about this one, please.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Camera History, Part VI

In 1979, I mentioned to my friend Mike Tzougrakis that I wanted to get a small camera for Sandy, then my fiancée. After all, it just wouldn't do for her to keep using a Kodak 110 camera.

Mike said, "I have just what you need," and showed me a little Miranda rangefinder, which I ended up buying from him. I gave it to Sandy, and a short while after we were married, after I had sold all my other camera equipment, it became the only camera in our family for a while. By then I had gotten rid of the Minolta SLRs, finally, all my Leica equipment.

The Miranda Sensoret was acutally a nice little camera and served us well. Pretty spiffy, too - unlike the photo above, ours was a "professional black" model. For Sandy, it was great, since it had a programmed shutter, so other than focusing, there was nothing else to do. And focusing was easy with a good, clear coincident-image rangerfinder.

The little 38mm f/2.8 was sharp enough, and overall, the camera was a good performer. For it's time, it was more or less in the same league as the Konica C35 and Minolta Hi-Matic F - all good cameras. Interestingly, the Sensoret was the only rangefinder ever made by Miranda, a Japanese camera company that otherwise was born and died (1953-1978) making only SLRs

Most important to me, this is the camera that took most of the pictures of our first year with our first child, Leah, born in 1982.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Camera History, Part V

This post will probably be the shortest one in this series, because for me, the cameras were forgettable.

After my OM-1 outfit was stolen, I got a very nice settlement from the insurance company, enough to replace everything fully. So I set out to buy pretty much the same thing: two camera bodies, a 24mm wide angle, a zoom in the 75-100mm range, and maybe a power winder.

At that time, the Minolta XD-11 had just come out, creating quite a stir in the amateur photography world. It was a compact camera, about the size of the OM-1, but with exposure automation - both shutter priority and aperture priority, selectable. Of course, you could also turn off automation and use it as a match-needle (match-diode, actually, the age of electronic Wunderplastik cameras had just begun.)

So I went that route, buying an XD-11, along with an XG-7 as a second body. The XG-7 was similar, but with only aperture-priority automation plus manual operation. I also got a 24mm Rokkor lens and a zoom.

But I just didn't care for these cameras - I don't know exactly why. I think they just didn't feel as good as the OM-1's did to me. I know that technically speaking, there was nothing wrong with either camera or the lenses. Just didn't like them. I probably should have stuck with OM-1's, or maybe even an OM-1 plus an OM-2 body (the OM-2 had the option of aperture-priority automation, but in essentially the same mechanical body as the OM-1.)

After a little more than a year, I sold all the Minolta equipment for $600, a considerable loss, and I have no photos that have survived from these cameras. Most of the pictures I took during that year were with my Leicas and the Minolta CL.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tech Tuesday: Why Digital Camera Images Aren't Sharp Out of the Camera

When I was scanning the web for ideas on this weeks' Tech Tuesday post, I ran across this already-made-up excellent explanation of why digital camera images are not sharp right out of the camera. You can see it here at Ken Rockwell's excellent web site. The technical reason is something called Bayer interpolation, which Ken explains very well, or at least in more than enough detail for me.

It tend to check in with Ken's 'What's New' section at least every few days - he usually has something interesting to say or to explain, and I like his humorous writing style.

I got away without writing my own Tech Tuesday post today, but I guess I can't get away without posting one of my own photos. How about this one, from our photo meetup this past Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery?
Sargent Inspects Guard - Arlington National Cemetery

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Arlington National Cemetery Meetup


Our hyperactive Meetup group visited Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, our sixth photo meetup since we got started August 2nd.

I can tell you from my experience over the past two months that if you find yourself in a photo slump, try a nearby photo group - it's worked wonders for me, as I've been photographing nearly nonstop since early August. The energy from being around other enthusiastic photographers carries over between meetups.

I hadn't been to Arlington National Cemetery since 1964, when I was 14 years old. I was moved by the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, but not so much by the ceremony itself, as by the many WWII veterans attending. While most people were watching the precise ritual by members of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, I was fixed on these true American heroes. As young men, they endured countless hardships for our sake, then came back home and quietly and modestly rebuilt their lives as well as the American prosperity of the postwar period. Now at the end of their lives, we are fortunate whenever we find ourselves in their presence. 

...Known Only to God
"...Known Only to God"
SSGT Frank DiFransisco at Arlington National Cemetery
SSGT Frank DiFransisco, watches the changing of the guard.
Pearl Harbor Survivor at Arlington National Cemetery Marine Corps War Memorial - Arlinton VA
Marine Corps War Memorial
Pearl Harbor Survivor

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baltimore Inner Harbor Meetup

Baltimore Inner Harbor from Federal Hill

This past Wednesday evening, our group assembled once again for a photo shoot at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. We've become quite an active group, as this is our fifth event since we first started in early August. It was a good turnout as well, with 10 photographers along for the fun.

Catch some of the great photos by our members at our group pool on

Also, click on the image above to check out my latest attempt at panoramas, this one stiched together from five photos to produce a 33MP final result, using Canon's PhotoStich software. PhotoStitch comes free with every Canon camera these days, even the least expensive. It's dead simple to use and works great.

This time, I used a tripod to pan for the five exposures, and it worked perfectly. To get this view, we clibed up Federal Hill, an historic site adjacent to the south side of the harbor. My only regret is that these photos were taken a little too long after sunset, and the sky was going black. I'll have to go back to Federal Hill another time to get some "dark-blue-sky" photos of this same scene.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Her smile undampened by the Friday afternoon rain, Sandy and I take shelter in the lakeside pavilion at West Drive boat landing in Central Park (taken 9/12/2008).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Camera History, Part IV

Just shoot me. Kill me now...

... because I once had a Leica M3, a beautiful, clean one at that, and then sold it two years later.

I bought the M3 DS (double-stroke) in 1978 or 1979, I can't remember exactly when - I guess it's just too painful - at my favorite little camera shop, Olden Camera, just off Herald Square. I think it was something like $350 or $380, and that included a screw-mount-to-M-mount adaptor for my 50mm collapsible Summicron. I don't think I could touch that same camera today for under a thousand dollars. Maybe I shoulda invested in Leicas instead of the stock market.

Leica M3 Self-Portrait, 1979The funny thing is, as beautiful and precise and fondle-able that camera was, I just don't remember taking a whole lot of pictures with it. I don't think I have a single photo that I can put my hands on right now that I could definitely say was taken with the M3. Don't ask.

But it gets worse. I also bought a Minolta CL in 1979. The Leica CL and Minolta CL were compact M-mount rangerfinders made by Minolta and jointly designed by Leitz and Minolta. Sort of like a Buick and an Oldsmobile. Anyway, the CL was a truly amazing design - it was even smaller than my Leica IIIc, and yet totally modern and innovative, sporting a throught-the-lens spotmeter - I think that was a first for an interchangeable-lens rangefinder.

The CL came with a very sharp 40mm f/2 Rokkor (the Leitz version were called Summicron), and it was capable of mounting other Leica lenses, either M-mount or using an adaptor, old screw-mount lenses.

Flowers on Steps, NYC (Minolta CL)I did use the CL more than the M3, but still not an awful lot compared to my earlier cameras and the Leica IIIc that I still had. At least, compared to the M3, I have one or two yellow slide boxes that are marked "CL" to show for it.

My Leica era came to an end by 1981, by which time I had sold all three cameras.

I know, I know.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008