Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ramble Arch

The Obligatory Group Photo of our gang from Shutterbug Excursions at our photo meetup in Central Park last weekend.

As I led them through the Ramble, I found Ramble Arch, the narrowest arch in the Park and a great favorite of mine. I knew I had to get a photo of the group in the archway.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Puttin' On The Ritz...

The inscription for the elegantly-dressed gentleman pictured here reads

Our beloved father
An honest and righteous man
Reb Moshe Yitzhak
son of Yehezkiel
At the very bottom of the image is inscribed the family name, Black (here phonetically spelled as "Bleck.")

In this cemetery in Woburn, I saw several tombstones from the 1920's and '30s with these little portraits of the deceased. This is something I've never seen in the Baltimore area, except in recent years among Jews who immigrated from the former Soviet Union since the 1970s.

Po Nikbara...

Po nikbara Yehudit bat Reb Mordechai...

Here is buried Yehudit (Judith) the daughter of Reb Mordechai...

Among Ashkenazi Jews, until recently, the first inscription near the top of a tombstone has been פנ, letters with the sounds of "P" and "N." These are the initial letters for the phrase פה נקבר (PO nik-BAHR*), meaning "here is buried."

I became interested in Hebrew tombstones when researching the history of my Dad's family. He came from a small town, Hoof, outside Kassel in Germany. Several years ago, an resident of Hoof generously sent me about 80 photographs of tombstones taken in the Hoof-Breitenbach cemetery that served the Jewish communities of the two neighboring towns.

Those old-style tombstones, dating from the early 1800's until just before WWII, were generously inscribed in Hebrew (many also had German) in a style rarely used by postwar Jews in America. But this past weekend, I stumbled across several old Jewish cemeteries in Woburn, MA, each containing a wealth of the older-style tombstones.

Here's an excellent guide to decoding a Hebrew tombstone inscription.

* note: Hebrew verbs indicate the gender of the subject or object. While nikbar is masculine, nik-bah-RAH(נקברה), as in the case of this stone, is femine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Judkins Pond, Winchester MA

Judkins Pond - Winchester, MAWe were in the Boston area to visit our daughter Leah this past weekend. The weather was spectacular, and we were treated to an early (for us) display of fall colors.

I got up early Sunday morning to get some good light, and was rewarded with this scene in Winchester, the town next to where our motel was.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Grate Expectations

After a morning of purposeful picture-taking in Annapolis and Eastport, went off to do some of the day's errands. As I was walking back to my car in a parking lot, I stumbled across this scene.

All morning long, I was composing images in mind - beautiful images of beautiful places in the harbor on this beautiful morning. Yet, even though this one came outside of my picture-taking session, I think it's the best photo of the day.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Opa and Ben

Here's my favorite photo of my my late father and Ben. I took it in February 1992, when Ben was not quite six years old.

What prompted me to get this one out and scan it is that Ben finished his very last day of school this past Thursday (classes, at least - finals are this week.) I asked him to have someone take his photo on campus so that I could pair it with the one Sandy took of him on his first day of kindergarten. While I was looking for that picture, I found this one just a few pages later in Sandy's well-organized photo album.

Back in '92, I had considered myself no longer a photographer, but simply a family snapshooter. I used a succession of auto-focus rangefinders that I bought for Sandy, my "good cameras" having been long before sold off.

But every once in a while, the photographer in me would come out, and this was one of those times. I had visualized this photo earlier in the day, knowing that Grandma and Opa were coming to visit. I got out my dusty, little-used Nikon EM and had Dad and Ben pose for just a few seconds.

I'll take some of the credit for this photo but not by any means all of it - the lion's share is thanks to the loving bond between Dad and his grandson.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Morning Stroll

Our resident heron takes a stroll across the Pond.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pick'n At Seed

I brought some birdseed with me last Sunday morning to the pond and thew some on this fallen log at the edge of the water.

Of all the ducks and geese in the pond, this one was the only one with enough initiative to hop onto the log. I enjoyed watching him chow down.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mixed Flotilla

A Pekin duck (aka Long Island duck) trails just behind two geese this morning at Druid Ridge pond.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fishy Abstract

Marcy Rosenbach Terkeltaub, Murrary Rosenbach, and FriendLast month, we had a wonderful time visiting our cousins in Virginia Beach. We stayed with cousins Marcy and Paul Terkeltaub and also we all got together with cousins Lisa and Murray Rosenbach, who live nearby.

Marcy and Lisa are enthusiastic photographers (and pretty good, too!) so we decided to head out to the actual beach at Virginia Beach early Saturday morning for some picture-taking. Cousin Murray came along, and proved to be a first-rate picture spotter, gull-chaser and cheerful companion.

Since I've gone all-digital-all-the-time, one of the things I've found useful when I go out to purposely take photos is to just start taking them right away, even if I don't see a strikingly "keeper" image. I find that I need to warm-up my photo-eye, just like I would need to warm up before exercizing (if I were to ever exercize.)

One of the first things we came across along the boardwalk was this set of whimsical fish sculptures. I took a sister-and-brother photo of Marcy and Murray, and then, along with Marcy and Lisa, started to crawl around the fish, looking for interesting angles. This fishy abstract is one of the images I came up with.


If you haven't guessed already, I love repeating patterns.

But somehow, when I was visiting our cousins in Virginia Beach, I walked right past this bike rental place without seeing the dozen or so good repeating-pattern images.

Luckily, Cousin Murray had caught on quickly to my patternmania, and pointed this one out to me.

Thanks, Cuz!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Under the Bridge

At Druid Ridge, a convoy of ducks sails under the old bridge and into the small stream that feeds the pond.

Through a little Googling, I found that the white "AFLAC" ducks are called Pekin Duck or (in the USA) Long Island Duck. They developed in China centuries ago. When you have roast duck or duck eggs, it's most likely that you're eating one of these quackers.

After hanging around these guys, I've really grown to like them. I think I'll stick to chicken.

Monday, August 10, 2009

St. Michael the Archangel Ukranian Catholic Church

I've seen the golden onion domes of St. Michael from various places elsewhere in Baltimore, but it was only yesterday, as I drove down Eastern Avenue, that I got to see the church close up. In the bright late-afternoon sun, it just knocked me out.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Captain James Landing - Canton

Captain James Landing - Canton (Baltimore, MD)I've driven past this unusual restaurant, Captain James Landing, many times before. But today, I had my camera with me, so I parked the car and took some photos.

As I often do with interesting flat vertical areas like this, I framed an image and waited for someone to walk into it. Several people did within the next 15 minutes, but this young woman made for the most compelling photo.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Formation Splashdown

These Canada geese are part of a flock that arrived here years ago on a tourist visa while migrating South and decided to stay. For some reason, USCIS doesn't seem to be interested in doing anything about it.

They don't do much but waddle around, eat, poop, and kvetch loudly ... but every once in a while, a flight of them will take off, circle around to the main road, and come back for a water landing. When they do, you can get some good photos.

Laid-Back Mallard

This is one kool katchke!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Shlomo Sees Himself

One of Ben's two turtles, Shlomo, sees himself in the wall of his terrarium. It was an existential moment.

Actually, both of Ben's turtles are named Shlomo. I thought it was a good move, as you really can't tell one from the other anyway.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Far As The Eye Can See...

Baby you're a rich man, but only pictorially.

All these unsold cars are photographically interesting, but not good for the economy. I looked at a satellite image from Google Maps of this area, probably taken two years or more ago, and only a fraction of the available area was taken up by cars.

Scowling Goose

In contrast to the ducks, who always appear to be smiling, these geese at Druid Ridge pond seem to be perpetually annoyed. This one is giving me a real stink-eye.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Blue Heron on Far Bank

Heron on Far Bank - Pikesville, MDDruid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville is a nice place to visit on a sunny Sunday morning - well, not the dead people's part, but the large duck pond on the edge of the grounds.

The pond has a large permanent population of various kinds of ducks and geese. Like much of the mid-Atlantic, formerly migratory Canada geese have made a permanent home here.

If you get here early enough, you may luck out and spot a blue heron who also makes his home here.

This place is only about a half-mile from my mom's place, so I've been bringing my camera whenever I go to see her, in case I have a few minutes to stop and see my feathered friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rocky Mountain Mall

Although this scene may look as if it's taken from the background video for a karoke version of Rocky Mountain High, the actual location is what amounts to a large strip mall just west of Annapolis.

This ties in nicely with yesterday's backyard photography post. The point is that you don't have to travel to exotic locations to make compelling images.

This photo came about as I stopped by my bank to make a deposit early last Saturday morning before heading to City Dock to play around with my new Tamron 18-270mm superzoom lens. As I pulled into a parking space, I noticed how the low morning sun lit up the red-tipped grass planted in the divider between the bank's parking lot and that of Fudrucker's next door.

Shooting from slightly above the grass and at the long end of the zoom's range, the shallow depth of field makes it look as if the grass goes on forever.

In fact, here is what the scene looks like to the casual observer
Lovely, isn't it?

Well yeah, it is, if you look beyond the superficial.

Great photos are everywhere, and as Dorothy said, there's no place like home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Backlit Backyard Leaves

Last Thursday after work, I went out of my way to go shooting in a fancy-schmantzy neighborhood of Baltimore. When I came home and got out of my car, I happened to notice some beautiful backlighting on some on these hostas at the side of our house.

After all was said and done, this was the only good photo of the day. I wouldn't say at all that the special trip to that fancy neighborhood was a waste, but it's funny how I found the best image right in my backyard.

Unintentional Art

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Flag and Flag Kite

Our flag billows and a 4th of July kite flies at the shore of the Chesapeake Bay last Saturday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fremont Ave Gingkgo

Fremont Avenue GingkgoI carried my DSLR with its new "walkaround" lens, a Tamron 18-270mm zoom, with me to work today for the first time.

There are some gingkgo trees just before I get to the entrance of our building, but I tend to only notice them in the fall, when their leaves turn yellow and carpet the sidewalk. But today, I finally "saw" them and took a few photos.

The new lens seems to have nice bokeh, as I was able to smoothly blur some cars, grass, and brick walkway in the background.

I bought the lens in early June after a few weeks of gearhead anxiety. Once it arrived and I had a chance to shoot with it, I wasn't sure if I was going to keep it. But I decided to do just that over the past day or two. More on that later.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lawn Chair Flyer

I was enjoying the spectacle of dozens of hot-air balloons taking off in the morning when I spotted this fellow - he instantly became my hero!

This is one of the last photos I took with film before my conversion to the Digital Dark Side. This was back in my all-Commie-camera days, using a Praktica MTL5 with a 135 mm CJZ Sonnar, both made in the now-deservedly-defunct German Democratic Republic (aka East Germany, which was neither democratic nor a republic.)

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, July 2003

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lime Shadow

Proteus Bicycles is a well-stocked, well-equipped and friendly bike shop in College Park, Maryland. This is a very old building by College Park standards, built in the 1930's as a car repair garage. The stucco exterior now sports a flourescent lime paint job that screams to be photographed. I had passed the shop on other sunny days camera-less too many times to let it happen again.

Casing the joint, I did find several good images. My favorite one is this one, the most simple imaginable - just a little pipe vent, it's shadow, and that maginificent lime stucco

I call this a "Seinfeldian Image," that is, it's a photo about Nothing. Just light, texture, and shadow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swedish Donut Brigade

I noticed these brightly-colored trucks at a commercial bakery along MD Route 100 several years ago during my daily commute.

Acting as if I knew what I was doing, I brazenly went onto the parking lot as the sun was low on the horizon and tried to capture the bold blues and yellows.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Caboose Detail

The caboose on the Verde Canyon Scenic Railroad. Like the rest of the train, the caboose is dressed up in "Southwestern" colors.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Grand Canyon

South Rim at Sunset
Man on South Rim of Grand Canyon at SunsetWe took a sunset tour of the Grand Canyon - probably the best time to see it from the rim.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ye Olde Hippie Emporium

Ye Olde Hippie Emporium - Clarksdale AZSandy & I did a double-take as we drove by this shop in Clarksdale on the way to visiting some Sinagua Indian ruins. I had to stop the car and walk back to check out the shop.

It's full of really nice Native American arts and crafts as well as vintage and "new vintage" Summer-of-Love-type clothing. The back room has shelves full of New Age books, and the smell of burning incense brings you right back to 1969 (frankly, not my favorite time, but the cheeriness of the store and its owner Randy Justis make up for it.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Grand Canyon Desert View Watchtower InteriorThe Indian Watchtower sits on a promontory at the Eastern end of the South Rim. From this vantage point, you get about a 270-degree view.

The tower was designed by architect Mary Colter in 1930. An artist in the mold of Frederick Law Olmstead, she really knew what she was doing when it came to harmonizing a structure with its surroundings.

As impressive as the watchtower is on the outside, it's the interior, here, that was a delightful surprise to me.

Red Rock Country - Courthouse Butte

Courthouse Butte - Sedona AZ
OK, you had a two-week reprieve from my vacation photos, but now you're gonna get them right in the face... but I'll be gentle - only one or so a day.

What can I say about Sedona, AZ that hasn't already been said better by others? It's got to be about the most beautiful and mystical place I've ever seen.

I couldn't get over the large formations of red rock. The red is sandstone, colored by a very small percentage of iron oxide, aka "rust." Who knew rust could look so magnificent?

Just about all of the fantastic rock formations in Sedona have names, like Snoopy, Coffee Pot, and Cathedral Rock. This one is called Courthouse Butte.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deck Chair

Hey! Wanna see my vacation slides!

Was that a cringe I just felt?

Don't worry, you'll only have to see one or two a day, while Sandy and I are on vacation in Sedona.

Here's a scene on the deck of our cottage at Sedona Pines - a very nice resort!

Tu Pot

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trashcan Lid

Early-morning sunlight on Portland Street is the key to this image.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Faded Graffiti

It pays to look up, too.

This is right around the corner from where I work. I pass by here almost every day, but I never noticed this before.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Water Valve Cover

Still pays to look down. I'm on a manhole cover roll.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam at Baltimore Tea PartyI saw "Uncle Sam" while attending the Tax Day Tea Party in Baltimore today. Ultra-soggy weather notwithstanding, the turnout was decent.

I took this one with my beat-up, carry-everywhere-in-my-pocket 5MP Canon SD400. The moon must have been in the Seventh House and Jupiter must have been aligned with Mars, because this is one sharp image. The difference between it and almost every other exposure I made today is amazing.

Water Meter Cover

On a rainy April day, corner of Pratt and Freemont, it paid to look down.

This is what I call "Nature's Photoshopping." The colors and texture look as if I cranked the Saturation slider way up, but this is pretty much what it looked like in the real world. I just applied normal color correction and sharpening.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doorway Shadow

Doorway Shadow - Pinkney Street, AnapolisTaken during an early-morning stroll up Pinkney Street in Annapolis. Pinkney is an old, narrow lane full of colorfully-painted houses. You can always count on something worthwhile to photograph on Pinkney.