THE SEASON BEGINS

It begins with all that’s involved.  Onto the island (Long Beach) and I am slowed by the reactivated traffic lights. In all innocence I pull into the Acme to pick up some milk.  The checkout line is half the width of the wide store.  But folks are in a good mood and there is a guide moving us quickly to the next available register.

Eventually at the house, fully de-winterized by Sigrid and Bob and freshly cleaned.  I greet my beloved marshes and bay.

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Saturday brings some ticket punching …. bagels from the Bagel Shack, hello-ing on the deck in front of the club house, check out the logo shirts from the Ship’s Store and even buy one, and what-did-you-forget from Murphy’s Market.

Saturday night is to be the annual club opening ceremony and there is anxiety about the thunderstorm forecast.  The wind is whipping around and the clouds are thickening.  The flag and burgees for the opening ceremony are secured, ready to go.

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The flag officers make a command decision: order the tent, a budget-breaker but prudent.

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The members and guests arrive to greet each other and catch up and renew friendships and revel in the camaraderie.  The weather holds and the ceremonies go forth in sunlight while the rest of us are tent-protected just in case.  Trustees and officers lined up, Fleet Captain Tom Masterson welcomes us to

The ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTH Season !!!

Fleet Chaplain Bob Stevens gives the invocation; the bugler plays the call to colors….

 

and that goes well.

and then he plays the poignant, moving Navy Hymn,

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep,
Its own appointed limits keep.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

 

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Commodore Van Saun makes welcome and interesting comments and the lineup of past Commodores is introduced — twenty-five present tonight representing all those years of dedication and service to the club.

They stand according to year of service, the oldest in service here being Commodore John Walton who presided in 1976, forty-two years ago.

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The Chaplain prays a blessing for the fleet and the season … apparently a good prayer as it kept the storm at bay.

 

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The next day, a warm feeling about the evening.  Good, because the day deteriorated to more of a traditional, chilly, overcast Memorial Day.  By afternoon the fog had descended and the island seemed to have drifted away and the gas logs were lit.

A great inaugural weekend.  Now, when does summer begin?

SPRING IN THE SUN ROOM

I enjoy my sun room all year long (except when I slip away to the shore for the summer).  I particularly enjoy it with my first coffee and wake-up music in the morning but also frequently for lunch and sometimes even breakfast.  I enjoy being closer to the world that surrounds my town house, the bird songs and the occasional passage of some of the deer that live nearby (three in the couple of days that I composed this post).  A paramount feature, however, is my house plants which I enjoy all year long (yes, they go to the beach, too).  With longer days the plants are responding and I’m seeing more color.

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Left to right I’m enjoying a hanging basket of Torenia, shelves of a Begonia and a couple of Philodendron, a spring present of  Jasmine from my daughter, a Geranium and another Begonia.  Then there’s the light stand with such goodies as a yellow Lantana, more Begonias and Geraniums, even a Sinningia and an Episcia and a couple of African Violets.  Above them another Geranium, an aggressive Spider Plant, and a blooming Abutilon (Flowering Maple).  To the right an Elephant Ears and a final Geranium.

Pearl is no long around to enjoy the morning with me but the plants are a pleasure.  Tours welcome.

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The lighted shelves and trays.

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There’s also a miniature rose.  I’ve always enjoyed them and always watched them never bloom again.  This one gave me another shot so I’m encouraged.  So far it’s taken three treatments for aphids and one for black spider.  It’s worth waiting a little longer.

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I have only two African Violets under lights; in the old days I had three 8′ x 4′ shelves under a dozen fluorescents, nurturing gloxinias, fragrant stock, marigolds, columnea, violets and begonias.  A business partner once said that when he passed he’d like to be laid out in my basement.  It was a delight to care for and to enjoy, particularly in a cold, dark winter but I eventually lost the war to thrips and mealy bugs.  One or two are manageable, but it’s tough love, baby.  One thrip and you’re outta here.

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Let’s go outside to close.  This scene is on the wall of the garden of my long time friends, the McCallums.  Tom had planted this Clematis a while back and it was doing well.  Jeanne asked me if I could photograph it as Tom has been on our nursing floor and hasn’t been able to enjoy the season.  The showery day had left raindrops on the leaves and that added to the appeal.  Good Job, Tom.

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Click here for a full sized view.

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WHAT I LEARNED FROM REGGIE WICKHAM

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Reggie Wickham was a distinguished photographer with an international reputation.   He was also a member of the South Jersey Camera Club and a contributor to our lives but we lost him in 2016.  Last year and again this year the club sponsored a show of black and white images to honor his work and his memory.  I submitted two images but only one got in.  I dunno why but that’s the way it is in judged shows.

The opening reception was held at the Hanson-Warner building gallery in Medford last Friday night.  Barbara and I went to see the show and to schmooze with friends and colleagues.   After visiting we slipped out before winners were announced and joined other friends for dinner nearby.  While there my phone rang;  Barbara scolded me for taking a call at dinner but the caller, my friend and colleague, Beth Jackson *, was letting me know I shouldn’t have left before winners were announced.  I had earned a second place award.  That’s unusual for me so I was somewhat speechless but certainly pleased.  Shortly, Beth appeared in the restaurant with a copy of the program which had my image on its cover.  Nice.  Here is the image that received the award:

Its title is Blow Down.  In Lancaster County’s Strasburg train yard they were readying this old engine for its daily work of hauling visitors through the farmland. They keep a banked fire burning all night so as to minimize the thermal stress of running cold to hot. Periodically they have to do a so-called blow-down which purges particles that accumulate as the water turns to steam.  It’s a dramatic sight and sound and I sensed it begin just as the engineer started to cross in front of the locomotive.  A once in a lifetime moment…Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment: “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.

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*   May 18th:  This post originally said that the caller was the show chair, Pat Worley.  It wasn’t; it was Beth who also as noted above then brought me a copy of the program.  I apologize.  I claim old age, a Manhattan down, a lot of cheering (Beth-led) over the phone, Barbara on me about taking the call, and our other friends arriving for dinner.  Too much confusion and too much excitement, but thank you, Beth.

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Meanwhile, what did I learn from Reggie…..a principle of good composition.  Here’s that back story.

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I was proud to know Reggie through the camera club and I enjoyed my interactions with him…except the first one.  That was the lesson moment.

Sometime around 2006 or 2007 I had joined the club and was submitting work in their monthly competitions.  One night I was pleased to win a second place with this image:

Wow!  Back lit, specular reflections, and lots of contrast; what could be better?  I thought it was pretty spiffy until Reggie came up to me and said “If I had been the judge I would have thrown out your image.”  What!?!  I was flabbergasted.  How could he say that about such a decisive moment image?  His answer:

“Your horizon     was      not      horizontal.”

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Lesson learned.  For ever ‘n ever.  Thank you, Reggie.

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For more on Reggie Wickham see this article.

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A SAMPLING OF MY 2017 WORK

As others do , I annually assemble a selection from my past year’s photography.  I go through all of my files for the year, and pick out those images that I particularly liked or that I thought were noteworthy.

Last year I started something new…a selection from the selection.  That was an effort to single out an even smaller set that I felt best characterized my work and its breadth.  That was a challenge but satisfying so here’s the story for 2017.

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Our lives generally restart with each new day.  I had already chosen this one for the set and thought it would be good to begin the post with a new day.  I am always drawn to back-lit scenes and specular reflections.  That’s what I saw here but I was also taken with the father and son doing some investigating at dawn.  The specular reflection also takes the eye diagonally across the image to the others walking the beach who anchor the scene in the corner .

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This is also a morning scene.  In this case it’s early enough that the morning dew hasn’t yet evaporated.  I’m fond of these beach roses and it was nice to come upon a bud just opening.

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I was fortunate to grab this shot while I was waiting around for a sunset scene to complete a summer day post.  Instead, the drama of the cloud shapes and their side-lighting drew my interest.  Then it was “Cue gull” and it flew in almost perfectly positioned. I’d have preferred it just a little more down to its right.  Notice also the cloud shadow coming in from lower left to upper right.  And (I’m sorry but I can’t resist it) the big cloud puff is in danger from the alligator cloud moving in on it.

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This is my fantasy arboretum.  It consists of a pebbled glass plate on which the artist painted tree trunks and birds and then glued on bits of crackled glass along with some larger tumbled pieces.  It attracted me because of its novelty and whimsy and because it’s pretty.  I actually photographed two of them together, one slightly to the right and in front of the other, and then blended them in Photoshop.

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This gathering is a favorite for several reasons.  First is the lighting coming in from our left which adds contrast to the scene, and it’s a warm morning light; second is the diagonal array of the terns and the shoreline which takes the eye well into the image to the anchoring trees at upper right; third, I like that the line of the waves parallels the beach and the birds; fourth, I always find these tern gatherings amusing.

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This scene is not on the beach!  It’s unusual for me but it’s a special for the year.  I had gone to Philadelphia to photograph a December festival of lights at Franklin Park which is located at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge from New Jersey.  I enjoyed all of that but this scene from the park grabbed my attention.  In the upper foreground is the sculpture of lightning honoring Benjamin Franklin.  In the lower foreground are the headlights of cars streaming past on 6th Street in front of the steps to the sculpture.  Behind the sculpture we see the traffic and towers of the bridge.  It’s the kind of scene that requires study and is well out of my landscape comfort zone.  Good!  My friend and colleague, Richard Lewis, described the scene as asymmetric symmetry, and I like that as well as the scene.

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Although I admit a predilection for foggy scenes this image earned its way into the selections for total effect. The four regressively dimming poles provide the eye’s path into the image.  That the poles’ direction is reversed in their reflections creates tension.  Although hard to see in this image there are two Ospreys perched on the third pole; grounded due to poor visibility.

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This image appeals to me.  It’s a statement about the darkness that says “End of season.  Go home.”  I like the sole foreground feature, the boat, and I see the horizon beyond the last marker as the end of the world.

(Never mind that the mainland is only a few miles over there.)

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We’re approaching the end of the day so a sunset or twilight is appropriate.  This is one of my all time favorites .  The colors and clouds are, of course, wonderful.  The shutter speed was slow because of the low light such that we see creamier water.  But the crowning touch was to have the Willets stroll in and settle there  for the 1.6″ of exposure.  Without them, nice but just another twilight on the beach.

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Finally, and at the end of the day, we had a special full moon in early December.  I set up the tripod and the long lens with extender and, yes, I got some nice shots of the moon which pretty much looked like every other moon shot in my files.  Then I wondered about the possibilities of this kind of shot.  It “grabs” me somehow.  I know that’s not definitive but … it’s mysterious and I’m drawn into the image.  I also like that next year’s buds were already formed and ready in December.  Consider it an early spring image.

~≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡~

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So, there you are; a special sampling of where I was in 2017, what I saw, what appealed to me, and what I captured.

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Thanks for reading and looking.  The rest of the year’s keepers are in this gallery.

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