Thursday, November 11, 2010

Barns & Nobel Shadows

I headed crosstown the other day on a mission to Barnes & Nobel. The day was brilliant, and the sun was just about overhead - not normally a great time for photos.

But when I saw the pattern of shadows on the stairs, I thought it might make a good background for some people in an HCB-like setting. I took several as people came and went - this is my favorite of the bunch.

Taken with a Canon S90 digicam and converted to B&W via Channel Mixer in Photoshop.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pirate Patina

A gold-painted "pirate?" crosses the street in front of Faneuil Hall in Boston after a long, hot day's work.

These street performers paint themselves (and their costumes) and stand completely still - living statues. In NYC, you'll see a lot of Statues of Liberty, for example. In Boston, they tend to be colonial-era and 19th century.

Myself, I find them a bit creepy, but to each his own.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Community Boating

Community Boating is a non-profit organization that makes sailboats, kayaks, and windsurfers available to the public at low cost. Their boathouse in on the Charles River just upstream from the Boston end of Longfellow Bridge.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Otakon 2010

It's that time of year again in Baltimore, when waves of young people arrive at the Convention Center in amazing costumes for Otakon

I brought my Big Gun camera with me today so that I could try for some interesting shots during lunch. Here's my best one - a lucky grab shot that seems as if it were perfectly composed!

This one is almost straight out of the camera with just a tiny bit of fill light in Picassa. It looks pretty good in B&W as well, but I'll wait til I get home and use Channel Mixer in Photoshop to do it right.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Abu The Flutemaker

Here's my new friend Abu, playing a saxophone-like contraption that he makes out of plastic pipe and fittings. Now here's what I find amazing - it sounds pretty good - at least when he plays it.

Abu is a street entertainer, licensed by the city of Baltimore. Besides his music, he has a bright and happy personality. While we were with him, he gave me and another admirer each a straw, then proceeded to teach us how to "play" it, including showing us several ways to get various sounds out of it.

Abu entertains at the nearby Medical Center Plaza each Tuesday; I'll try to catch him for some more photos in the coming weeks.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Amberg: Schiffgaße

Amberg Schiffgasse On Jan 28, 1950, I was born in Amberg, a small, 1000-year old town in Bavaria. It was in the American-occupied zone of Germany, and Displaced Persons, my family included, were housed in the old German Army barracks outside the town wall.

On Jan 28, 1978, I visited Amberg while on a business trip to Germany for GE. Somehow, there was a mixup, and the band and welcoming committee were not on the train platform to greet me.

I did get a few photos, though. This one is looking North on Schiffgaße along the Vils River, with Basilika St. Martin in the background.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Concrete Swoop

A portion of the West facade of the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building, home of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington, DC.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fous du Volant

No special reason to give this one a French title except to hook Dave into taking a peek.

Sorry, Dave, that was a cheap trick! ;-)

It was a slow nightat the racing booth of the annual Earliegh Heights VFC Carnival, and the Carny is waiting for a mark.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My First Camera

Sounds like something from Playskool! But it was actually my Dad's Kodak Retina I, a little Stuttgart-made 35mm folder with a decent Schneider lens.

Along with a 1948 GE light meter, a gift from my friend Roger Wesalo, I was in business. With a camera as basic as this one, I had to learn all the basics. I even had to get good at estimating distances (in meters) because there was no rangefinder - just scale focusing. So that lead me quickly to understand depth-of-field.

My college friend Ed Hollingshead took this in NYC in Central Park sometime in the fall of 1967, our freshman year at Stevens Tech in Hoboken. I used to poke fun of Ed because of his left-handed, East German Exacta SLR. Little did I realize then that years later, I'd be a collector of Commie Cameras!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Zipper!

ZipperMidsummer in upper Anne Arundel County means the Earleigh Heights VFC Carnival. I haven't strolled through while it was operating for six years, so I decided to take my camera one night this week.

Shooting these rides seems really hard, at least for me. I did manage to get three or four decent photos, and I'll post the others over the next few days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Perdu en Sixième

Another archeological find, this one from a 1978 two-day visit to Paris, sandwiched in between business meetings elsewhere in Europe.

This is somewhere in the 6th Arrondissement on the Left Bank.

Dave Beckerman has recently posted a number of his great photos from Paris in the early '90s. That's what made me think about looking for this one.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Treyf* Alert!

I drove to Crofton the other day to deliver photos I took for a bat-mitzvah a few weeks ago. On the way back, I spotted this little ornament hanging near the entrance to Fat Boy's Crab Shack. The colors and shape helped me overcome my genetic disinclination to come within 20 meters of anyplace crabs are served.

* treyf = Yiddish for food that is not in accordance with Jewish dietary law, derived from the Hebrew terefah (טְרֵפָה‎)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Me and My Koni

Actually, I'm just posing with a Koni-Omega Rapid M camera that we had on the shelf at Stansbury Photo. I'd say this is in 1970.

I don't remember ever using the Koni, but it was a favorite of wedding and event photographers in the 60's and early 70's. It used 120 or 220 roll film, for 10 or 20 2-1/4" x 2-3/4" negatives per roll. It was very robust, built like a tank, and in a pinch, you could swing it to use as a formidable weapon. Besides all that, it had excellent, interchangeable lenses available. To top it off, each lens has its own leaf shutter, like the Hasselblad 500, which means flash synch up to 1/500 sec. For event photography, it was much cheaper than the Hasselblad and far easier to use.

I found this historic photo today while going through hundreds of old family photos, in an effort to organize them.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

30 Rock Twilight

Raymond Hood's design still looks fresh even after almost 80 years.

I've found the trick for this kind of photograph is to start taking pictures just after sunset and keep going for a while, before the sky turns black. The contrast between the sky and the illuminated buildings is lower and easier to handle. Besides, the deep blue usually looks more dramatic than black.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Deck Chairs - July 4th Morning on the Magothy

Unfinished words
flying like birds
high in the sky
above my deck chair

Friday, July 2, 2010

Whenever I visit NYC, I can't be within 10 blocks of Grand Central without walking inside and then heading out the front entrance to admire the facade.

In this case, I was heading back uptown from visiting old friends in the East 30's. Shot at 11pm just after it stopped raining.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Helios Sailboat AnnapolisThe stern of Helios, a sailboat docked in Eastport, makes for lovely reflections early on a sunny morning.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Father & Son on the High Line

The High Line is Manhattan's newest park, built on a section of the former elevated freight railroad along the lower west side of Manhattan.

When I was there in mid-April, I saw lots of families out for a Sunday stroll. The design of the park is very innovative, including what looked to me like oversize chaise lounges on flanged wheels set on areas of renovated track.

There are great views of New Jersey, just across the Hudson River, as well as the many buildings that border the High Line.

As of now, the High Line runs through the old Meatpacking District, from Gansevoort Street to about 23rd Street. Eventually, it will continue through Chelsea and terminate at West Side Yard in the lower 30's.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Central Park Lamppost

You can find these lampposts throughout Central Park. Not only are they attractive, they can help you figure out approximately where you are. Look for a small metal tag near the base with four numbers, for example "7624". The first two numbers signify the street (in this case 76th) that is directly outside the park to the east or west of your position. The second two numbers seem to be arbitrary, but are unique to each lamppost along that east-west axis.

If you ever find yourself in an emergency in the park, you can call the police and give them the 4-digit number of the nearest lamppost; they'll know within a few dozen feet where you are.

The blossoms just beyond the lamppost in this photo are cherry trees in full bloom in mid-April. I used Channel Mixer in Photoshop CS3 with the red filter preset to convert the image to black-and-white and bring out the blossoms.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Checking The Ride

A mechanic carefully checks a ride on the morning of opening day.

I took this one at Moreys Piers Amusement Park in Wildwood, NJ early this past April.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Me I'm Just A Lucky Guy...

Our daughter Leah, son Ben, and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law Megan (aka "Number 3") with our niece Olivia.

Beatles fans will recognize the title as a line from the middle eight of Things We Said Today.

Taken with bounce flash in Mom's dining room against an off-white wall.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Harry's Corner

Early morning in April, on the boardwalk at Wildwood, NJ.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Goodrich River Delta

On a trip to Cape May back in April, I did a double-take as I passed through Elmer, NJ. Doubling back a few hundred yards later, I stopped in front of Fred Harz & Son, a full-service tire dealer.

Mr. Harz and progeny must have known a crazy photographer would be passing through that Saturday, as they had a neat stack of imposing, giant tires, treads nicely whitewashed, in front of their place. The old black tires, whitewashed stripes, and strong midday sun cried out for some photo-fun. I got several good views of parts of the stack, all with my pocket-sized Canon S90, and I'll put up some of the others over the next few blog posts.

Meanwhile, here's my favorite. The zigzagging channels reminded me of a river delta, hence the title of this post.

For those who are wondering, here's the "civilian" view of what I was shooting at.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Potbelly Chair Shadow

Walking eastward on Pratt Street after work today... the sun was just right to cast fabulous shadows from these wrought-iron chairs outside the Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Solomons Sunset

Nope, I'm not missing an apostrophe in the title - this is sunset over the Patuxent River as seen from Solomons, MD.

Solomons is at the very southern tip of Calvert County in Southern Maryland, at the mouth of the Patuxent River. Just a short distance East is the Chesapeake Bay.

In the background of this photo is the locally infamous Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge. Built in 1977, by 1988 it developed dangerous cracks in its elegant structure. While being repaired, many commuters between St. Mary's and Calvert counties had to take a shuttle boat provided by the State for the duration. This lead to jokes and even t-shirts around the theme of "the Boat People" of the two counties.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Art Deco Heaven

In the foreground is the 1936 statue of Atlas by Lee Lawrie and Rene Chambellan. The Art Deco statue greets visitors to 630 Rockefeller Center (the International Building) as well as passers-by. Through the spherical astrolabe on Atlas' shoulders, you can see 30 Rockefeller Center.

"30 Rock", since 1988, is called the GE Building. Before that, it was the RCA Building. The renaming took place after GE bought RCA (and thus, NBC) 27 years ago.

Prior to 1988, "the GE Building" was the beautiful 1931 Art Deco skyscraper at 570 Lexington Avenue. Oddly enough, the building was designed for RCA, and the original plans refer to it as "RCA Building." As it was being finished, GE and RCA were involved in some anti-trust actions, and in the settlement, GE got the building.

I was privileged to work in the "old" GE Building at 570 Lexington for 8 years. There was a company dining room on the 50th floor where anyone, from Jack Welch to the newest mail boy, could eat for a few bucks. The view to the West from the mens' room on the 50th was spectacular, until the Leona "Queen of Mean" Helmsley built her execrable Helmsley Palace Hotel.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The New Times Square

Several blocks in the Times Square area have been converted to pedestrian-only zones. The City even put out all these chairs (like the ones in Bryant Park over the last several years) as well as cafe tables.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Photo Archeaology - Anatomy of an Image

Rue Foyatier, this oft-photographed stairs, climbs up the Butte Montmartre in Paris, ending near Sacre Couer basillica, the highest point in the city. On a stopover following a business trip in December 1977, I had walked here from a Metro stop a few blocks to the south, and found myself at the bottom of the staircase. I liked the disappering-into-infinity pattern of the steps, railings, and trees, but by itself, the scene looked to static.

So I did what I now realize is a frequent trick of mine - I anchored myself and waited for someone to walk into the scene. The strip of exposures above is the sequence of photos as I took them (click on the image to see a larger view).

Back home on East 83rd Street, I developed the film and checked the contact sheet with my trusty 8x Agfa Loupe, the 20th-century equivalent of the "magnify" button on the back of our digital cameras.

The first three images didn't do anything for me at all. The fourth was a "maybe"... the woman caught ducking behind the fence seemed to lend a tiny bit of mystery. But the fifth photo gave me an aha! feeling.

The position of the woman within this frame, as well as her relative size, works well compositionally. Also, her slightly bent-over and schleppy look at this moment suggeted a tired struggle up the long staircase that matched the somber, lonely look of that soggy, gloomy December day.

Here's the "new" version of that fifth photo, newly scanned from the negative after more than 32 years, slightly cropped, straightened, and lightly adjusted for blacks in Photoshop.

I think it's a great marriage of new and old technology: Epson V500 scanner combined with 1970's Tri-X film and D-76 developer, a 1940 Leica iiiC body, and a 1952 50mm f/2 Collapsible Summicron lens.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photo Archaeology

Man By TracksHere's a scan of a 37-year-old negative. If I remember correctly, I tried to print this one back in the day, but never got a good image out of it. The negative actually is fine, with a lot of detail. If I had to guess, I didn't have paper that was high enough contrast to do it justice.

I took this picture one Sunday at Penn Station in Baltimore, back in the days when you could wander around the platforms without causing anyone any anxiety. It was just a few days after I bought a Leica IIIc and a Canon Serenar 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Tonight, I scanned this negative, along with some others, on my Epson V500 scanner. I've only used the scanner for documents up until now, but its raw specs implied it would do a good job on negatives and slides. I cranked up the resolution to its maximum, 4800 dpi, and it yielded a 28-megapixel file. I noticed in Photoshop that it was 26" x 17" at 240 dpi. Just a little manipulation in Photoshop to adjust the blacks was all it needed to make a compelling image. I didn't even apply any sharpening, as the scanned image just didn't need any.

On-screen and on the web, I think the image looks great. I'll have an 18x12 print made from this file to see how that looks, but for the time being, I'm very happy with the film-scanning ability of the V500.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Come and Get It

After fifty-plus years of singing in the shower, I've graduated to karaoke. Last September, while visiting my talented cousin Brian in Atlanta, he recorded my lead vocal over a karaoke backing track for two songs. Brian is an independent sound track designer, composer, and producer, and has an full recording studio in his house. OK, I suffered for my music... now it's your turn!

Morning on the Magothy

We sold our house earlier this week and moved into a nicely-furnished basement apartment that we're renting from a very nice couple who live upstairs. That's where we'll be for the next six months or so as we wait for our townhouse to be built in a nearby "55-Plus" community (or as my brother-in-law Peter refers to it, "the Nursing Home."

Sandy found the rental, and I first saw it one evening late last month, so I had no idea that just across the street and down an incline was the Magothy River. I was out the door on my way to the car just after sunrise this morning, and having my ever-ready Canon S90 in my pocket, walked down to the water and snapped a few photos.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Also Sprach der Media...

Palestinian Rioters AFP/Getty March 24 2010MediaSpeak.

Notice the caption, "Palestinian demonstrators light a Molotov..."

Now, where I come from, folks who light Molotov cocktails are called "rioters," not "demonstrators."

Also Sprach der Media.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thinking It Over

Redhead GorillaOn of my more cerebral older cousins at Atlanta Zoo.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Gorilla in HammockLast October, I took Mom down to Atlanta to visit my Cousins Brian and Lisa and their new baby Max. They live close to the Atlanta zoo, always worth a visit.

While at the zoo, I snapped this photo of one of my other young cousins, chillin' in a hammock.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Future Midshipmen

Two brothers greet me through the window of one of my favorite houses in Annapolis.

I was talking to their dad, complimenting him on the great, photo-worthy paint job he'd done on his house and on the bench in front of it, when they appeared in the Window. I always point out this house to the customers I take on photo safaris in Annapolis.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mattress Dominoes

This one is from a visit to our cousins in Virginia Beach last July. I was going to it with a title of Mattresses in the Wind. That's what I thought the filename I saved it as was.

Fortunately, I thought about it for two seconds and realized that it didn't make sense. It turns out the the filename column in Windows Explorer was just the right size to hide the remaining two letters of the filename... "ow"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Translucent Green Leaf

A really big leaf, photographed contre-jour.

I always wanted to say that!

Contre-jour, not big leaf.

Friday, March 5, 2010

View From Eastport

If you've been following this blog, you know I'm fascinated by reflections in water. I've found that early morning (or late afternoon/early evening) is the time to catch the most dramatic reflections.

I think it's because the low angle of the sun acts like a spotlight on the horizontal surfaces of the buildings and boats, which then have plenty of light on them to reflect back onto the water. Whatever the reason, get up early or hang out late if you want to catch the good light.

I took this photo at 7:30 AM one morning from Eastport, across Spa Creek from Annapolis. Full disclosure forces me to admit that this exposure was a mistake, as I didn't notice that my camera was still set for an exposure compensation of minus 1-1/3 stops. I saw the error of my ways right away on the LCD, set my camera back to "neutral", and took several more "normal" exposures.

Back home last in my digital darkroom, I decided to open the "bad" file in Photoshop Elements and see what I could do with it. All it took was to lighten up the high values with the Levels dialog to brighten up the buildings and reflections. This left the dark values in the sky and the water pretty much as they were and resulted, I think, in an image that has more dramatic impact than the original scene.

To us old-timers, there's nothing too surprising about this - we all know about how underexposing transparency film can sometimes increase saturation and contrast to produce a more dramatic version of what we see with our eyes. There's no free ride, though. In the old days, this technique could result in noticibly increased grain in the dark areas, like the sky in this photo. In the digital world, the equivalent of grain is noise. When I magnify this photo on my computer screen, I can see the noise in the dark areas.

On the other hand, the photo prints really nicely as a 10-inch wide print. The noise isn't noticible at this size, but I wonder how it would look enlarged to 20 or 30 inches?

One thing I can say for sure is that this image as a 10-inch print passed a critical test.

My wife likes it!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Reflection of the Chrysler Building, an Art Deco masterpiece, in the rectilinear glass curtain wall of the Grand Hyatt Hotel across Lexington Avenue.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Late Night Light Rail

Channeling Dave Beckerman, I snapped this Friday night on the way home from Karaoke (yes, I suffered for my music, now it's your turn!)

Again, it was a nice test for my new Canon S90. At ISO 800, f/2.8 at 1/15 sec, its a very clean and sharp image.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

First Day Out with Canon S90

Thursday morning, I put my new Canon S90 into the little Tyvek® envelope in which it came and slipped the package into my pants pocket. That was the whole point of getting this thing, so I could take it everywhere and never be without a camera.

So here's Dev, who along with his wife owns and operates the Loft Deli a few blocks from where I work. Dev always has a smile and a good word for me whenever I stop by to buy a sandwich or some trail mix.

Aesthetics aside, from a technical standpoint, the image is remarkably good for a compact digicam. The EXIF data says 1/30 second at f/3.3 and 10.7mm (which is almost exactly equivalent to 50mm on a 35mm camera.) More importantly the ISO is 800.

If you click on the screen capture at right, you'll see a pixel-peeping section of the image, displayed at 100% in Photoshop.

What impresses me is how little noise there is at this ISO value. With a typical pocket-sized digicam at ISO 200, and certainly by ISO 400, I would expect to see quite a lot of noise in areas such as Dev's face and the even-toned wall to his right.

Another nice thing is that this is the .jpg almost exactly as it popped out of the camera. I had only made very tiny tweaks to exposure and color balance at this point, and no sharpening.

So far, so good!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Boy's New Toy

Oh boy! My new Toy!

I've been wanting to get a new pocketable, carry-everywhere camera for a while, and my 60th birthday, plus some cash burning a hole in my pocket, made for a convenient excuse.

What was I looking for? Oh, not too much. Image stabilization (lacking in my 4-year-old Canon A620,) 28mm equivalent on the wide end, excellent image quality for making up to 13"x19" prints... RAW capability would be nice. Oh, and all of this in a size small enough to disappear in a pants pocket.

Not too much to ask, is it? Actually, digital photo technology has progressed so rapidly that there are plenty of cameras today from many different manufacturers that could fit the bill. I've always been very happy with Canon compacts, so I wanted to stick with that brand. Even so, there was lots to choose from (except for the RAW part.)

I decided to go with the Canon S90, mainly because of its good looks. Just kidding, but it is a nice-looking little package.

I've just barely unpacked it, so I don't have much to show you at this point, but I wanted to give you some idea of its size in the photos here.

The top photo shows the S90 compared to my monthly transit pass, which is the same size as a credit card. In the lower photo, the S90 looks positively svelte next to my trusty old A620.

Here's a very positive review of the Canon S90. You probably should also read this other, not quite as glowing review as well. I included it for the sake of full disclosure and also because I've found Imaging Resources to be a reliable information source.

More to come on the Canon S90 soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I was delighted to see that I had a visitor for Bangalore the other day - and one who actually stayed for several minutes and looked at a few pages. So many of my hits have a visit length of "0:00" (not sure what that really means!)

I hoped you liked what you saw and visit again!