Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thinking of Italy

My wife spent the better part of two hours on the phone last night changing our travel itinerary to more manageable departures and arrivals on our way home from Milan this summer. She has a tremendous amount of patience. Italy means great food and spectacular landscapes. These photographs are from 2001 when we took a custom adult trip that the friends we traveled with still talk about. Margaret also organized the whole thing and I just went along with wherever she wanted to go, or at least that's how I remember it. The top shot is Margaret enjoying a plate of mussels and "shrimps" as they call them in Europe. This is Lago Maggiore at La Bruma Sur Lago. It was so good we went back the next night. Our friend Jane sits below a window looking out at the Tuscan countryside at Villa Pitiana, a former convent turned hotel. Below, Margaret enjoys a Caprese Salad in Rome next to the Spanish Steps.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Daniel Nava Way Back When

Yesterday, when the Boston Red Sox played their first home game since the Boston Marathon massacre, Daniel Nava hit a dramatic three-run homer to give the Sox a win on a very emotional day. More than eleven years before that, he was a 5'7", 140 pound center fielder for my baseball team at Saint Francis High School. No one could have seen this coming, but it couldn't happen to a nicer young man.

Paris 1978

My first trip to Europe was in 1978 with another couple. We went for a month and haven't traveled together since. One month in a rented car with no hotels booked or a specific itinerary makes for disagreements and bickering after a while. It was my first extended photographic endeavor and, for the most part, a dismal failure artistically. I took 40 rolls of 36 exposure Kodak slide film, 50 ASA. It probably cost me around $500 to get them developed, a princely sum for me in those days. I then proceeded to bore numerous friends with slide shows! I was (still am) the world's worst editor. Nothing was thrown out. Every photograph made its way into the slide carousel. Oh, the horror! At least we fed our friends before subjecting them to "the show." I would estimate that of the 1400 frames I exposed that month, I am not embarrassed by about 15 or so. The rest are the result of having no clue about photography, being too excited about being in Europe, and just shooting without rhyme or reason. When Photoshop came out, I was able to revisit some of the shots. I got enamored with filters and applied the Sponge filter often, like in the top and bottom photographs. I believe I was using the Nikon FM or FM2 but my memory is hazy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One More From HSBG

2010 was a great year for HSBG. I didn't go the last two years, daunted by the ever-increasing crowds, parking hassles, long trudges in and out of the park et al. I'm hoping to go back this fall, however. At top, Robert Plant and Buddy Miller look on from the side of the stage. Unannounced musicians who sit in are always one of the great things about the three days of HSBG. Peter Buck from REM, who was backing Robyn Hitchcock as part of The Venus Three, tunes up before the set. Next is Cindy Cashdollar, a top Nashville session player, joining Dave Alvin's band. Next: two pianos, Patti Smith's and Randy Newman's

Hardly Strictly Part Three

2010, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. I sat at the same stage for a few hours this time instead of traipsing around from place to place. The top two shots are the guitarists in Fountains of Wayne. Next, one of Patti Smith's guitar players, and bottom, the great Richard Thompson.

Even More From Hardly Strictly

Same year, 2007. I may have gotten away from taking people pictures here simply because I got used to seeing people wearing and bringing stuff I would never think of. Take do-rags, for instance. I look at the top two guys and think, "Do you wear that around the house or to go to Safeway, or is it just an affectation for the concert?" Am I being too judgmental? Probably. But seriously, would you bring your pet fox to a place with over 100,000 people milling about? The next guy with the Panama hat and flowing scarf; is it a bad thing? Of course not. It's just not me. Ditto for the next guy who looks pretty dapper in a sports coat and, of course, a scarf. Second from bottom we see a man who sketches during the concert, this one of Richard Thompson. Good choice! Finally, we see a young man doing the Sunday Crossword, edited by Will Shortz, my favorite crossword editor. At last, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

In the past few years, I have neglected perhaps the most interesting aspect of attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass show in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the free brainchild of the late Warren Hellman: the people who go to these shows year after year. These were all taken in 2007 and account for the majority of people pictures I have taken there. There is still nothing more captivating than the human face as a subject for photography, at least in my opinion. In most cases, I am drawn to people who might wear something I would  never say about, "Why didn't I think of sporting that?" The pink hat on the lady at the bottom works for me, but otherwise I'm not a scarf or choker or hunters hat or open shirt to reveal chest hair type of guy. And person number three, wow! Gotta love the Bay Area.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

See, Be Seen, Be Seen Eating

Last night, our friends the Marrions and the Loretzes went to see the new biopic "42", about Jackie Robinson. Afterwards, we joined them for dinner at Amber, an Indian restaurant in Santana Row, an upscale  shopping and living center in San Jose. Basically, it's faux Europe with all manner of hipsters and Urban professionals congregating in about a four square block area. There's even a very hip hotel for people with deep pockets, and luxury condominiums for people with even deeper pockets. Girls/women walking (or teetering) around on high heels and short skirts, young bucks smoking cigars in a cigar bar, kids playing chess on a giant chessboard. My wife asked me this morning to go an entire day without saying anything negative or cynical. So, I'll just write it. The Indian food (thanks Sue) was delicious, however. All photos taken with the Sony RX 100.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Paris in the Summer When It Sizzles

In the summer of 2003, we convinced our friends Linda and Steve to make the big jump and travel with us to France. We had gone to Spring Training in Arizona, spent a week in Hawaii with them, and various other short trips. But Europe? This took some convincing. Despite their initial trepidations, we had a wonderful time and they both wondered what they had been hesitant about. I suppose it's just the unknowns about travel that put people off. Anyhow, we ran into the worst heat wave in France in over 100 years and many older people died as a result. We were bowed but not broken, however, and pushed on to the French Riviera after a few days in Paris. These pictures were also inspired by the fact that my English classes are currently reading "Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand, which takes place in Paris, and the waiter jauntily posed outside the cafe of the same name. I used the Nikon Coolpix 5700 for the entire trip. By 2003, although I still owned two film cameras, I had completely switched to digital. In 2003, film was still vastly superior to digital, but I was in the thrall of the new technology. 

Portraits in Vietnam

We stopped in a brick-making factory along the lower Mekong to watch the production process. The people working there were more interesting. Despite the back-breaking labor and intense heat and humidity, the workers were beautiful and gracious to the boatload of visitors intruding on their day. On a river cruise, a boatload means about 30 people at a time. Nikon D90

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Paris Point and Shoot

These photographs were taken on New Years Day in 2007 with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1. At he time, this was considered a quality point-and-shoot, small enough to fit in a pocket with very good image quality for that time. Cameras have gotten much more sophisticated (and expensive) as manufacturers try to fight the camera phone with greatly superior image quality in a tiny package. It's a wonderful time to be a gear-head, especially if you've got a spare $2,800 lying around for the full-frame, fixed lens Sony RX-1. The middle photograph rates extremely high on the nerd scale, but we were having too much fun to care. Our guide, Dave, rode one-footed to make room for his dog. Except for a couple of crashes and battery issues, we had a wonderful time on the Segways.

Framing Devices, Cuba 2012

Framing devices are great for bringing the subject of the photograph into focus, as it were. The top photograph uses the bell tower oval of the old church to show the streets of Trinidad below. Next, in Vinales at our hotel, the window of the restaurant and the stained glass frame our driver and guide as they relax by the pool. Below them is my friend Nigel at dinner in Vinales, not framed as formally, but there you go. Finally, a man in Trinidad behind bars in a window. I like the slogan on his wall, "The battle of ideas continues."