Daves Journal, September 2010

Meals on Wheels . . . they deliver food to old people who can't get out of the house, and yesterday, I got a delivery . . . it was from my 99+ year old neighbor. MOW had delivered him too much food so he bagged it and brought it over for me in case I was hungery. I thanked him, closed the door, looked into the bag of potatos and carrots and thought . . . "This is the beginning of the end for me . . . . oh look! . . . there are even some beets in there too !".

HTML5 Video Handling

If you have a modern web browser that handles HTML5, you will see a short, embedded video there on the right, and you won't need any "plug-ins" to jam up your internet experience. If you don't use an HTML5-browser, you will probably just see a still photo or a black patch. (Mouse over the image . . . a control should appear to start the video.)

Note: I just got an e-mail that Internet Explorer 7 (and earlier) cannot handle HTML5 videos. Switch to Opera, GoogleChrome or Firefox.

Further note: I have been messing with this for a few days now and, as much as I don't want to say this . . . . HTML5 is not ready for prime time. Making videos with subtitles is outrageously impossible..


Drove to Boston this morning to the MFA to look at the works of the "Impressionists" (again). It's one thing to see pictures in a book and a whole other experience to see them "live" . They were definitely wild and crazy painters . . . and we still have those same arguments today talking about digital photos and computer processing.

A Few Samples of Impressionism . . .

(plus a hot statue that was in there with them . . . )

Botanic Gardens . . . . made my first visit ever today to the botanic garden at Tower Hill, and it was great (if you like plants !) . . . . not a place that you blitz from here to there in your running shoes . . .

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jpg A Stradovarius Violin . . . . I did get to see one at the MFA the other day, and forgot about it until just now.

Close up, it looks so delicate . . . can't imagine someone banging out fiddle tunes on this thing at the county square dance.

(yes . . . that's me in the reflection) → → →


Jim and Audree

He's a GE buddy I've known for 25 years (he's still there !), and she has created the perfect garden and their home is surrounded by it. She is pretty bold and adventurous with her plant selections and jeez, the place is beautiful.

From what he says about GE, I am so glad I'm out of there !

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The de-evolution of Photography

There is a generation (maybe 2) of photographers out there (this came up on a photo forum) who cannot take a picture without their camera's light meter telling them that it's "okay now to take your picture". These people are not stupid . . . they are professionals and intelligent and creative, but we are now into our 3rd decade of automatic cameras and these folks never heard of cameras that don't have light meters built into them, and don't quite realize that you can actually figure out how to manually set your exposure.

But . . . let's just say that you are on vacation and for some reason:
1. you camera meter dies on you
2. you cannot get batteries for it
3. somehow your camera will work, except that the meter won't
4. you must take your own photographs (local postcards are not acceptable)
5. you cannot buy one of those drugstore throw-away cameras
6. you left your Moleskine' and best sketching pencils at home and cannot sketch the various scenes that you must record
7. or . . . you do have your Moleskine' and pencils with you but you broke your knuckles either opening one of the local beer bottles or in a bar room brawl and you cannot sketch until you have your fingers surgically re-aligned when you get home
8. no one will let you borrow their camera
9. all the local camera shops are closed or out of business due to intense internet competition, so you can't buy a new camera
Okay . . . now what do you do, huh ? . . . gif

Answer . . . use this chart:

from the New Yorker . . .

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jpg Yet Another Camera

This time it's a factory refurbished Nikon D60 ($320 . . . who could turn it down ? ). Shown here with a Nikon 24mm/f2.8 lens I had left over from the olden days . . . they work beautifully together. Also have the legendary 105mm/f2.5 and the "pancake" 45mm/f2.8 ready to play with this body.

Sold an old (1950) Leica 111f and a Cosina-Voigtlander Bessa-T (with lens) to smooth out the flow of cash.

Roger's Trains

Roger C. is an uncle in D's family, and he and D were godparents to someone else in D's family who got married today, and Roger is a retired mechanical engineer (Pratt & Whitney) who has the most incredible train set I have ever seen in his basement.

But let me sidestep first to say that his wife, Johann, does (I think it's called?) needlepoint that is just incredible . . . I thought they were classic paintings . . . and she gave one to D for some reason I didn't understand, but it is too beautiful. (It is a gift for D's being the Maid of Honor at Lisa's wedding.)

Back to trains . . . I shot photos of R's train set and threw together a web page where I will post them, as I clean them up. The web page is RogersTrains.

A Wedding, A Slip of the Lip, and Some Photos

D's godchild (who is no longer a child) got married today and we attended, and they had a pro photographer at the church. The photographer is setting up her formal shots at the altar after the wedding. This is a very meticulous process as you have to see every minor detail before you punch the shutter button. But the bride's brother is there with his camera and is prowling about popping his shots in and around the pro as she is working. Having shot a few weddings, I know how incredibly aggravating and even insulting this is, so I lean over and whisper quietly in D's ear . . . "If I were that photographer, I'd smash Kevin's head in with my camera".

At that, every head in the church spins about to look at me, D shrinks under the seat, Kevin and Kevin's mom flash daggers from there eyes . . . I smile, I nod . . . no one smiles back . . . no one nods back .

Well . . . there you have it . . . I am on the sh#t lists of about 15 people . . . so be it.

After the party, I popped some of my own (the pro had gone home), with the help of my able assistant Karen . . . Family Shots from Today

and . . . a practice shot the night before . . .

Trains . . . Such a Sad Episode

jpg A lot of people have wondered why I don't have a fabulous trains set like Roger C has in his basement. Well . . . it's not an easy story to tell, but since it's on the table, I need to tell the tale.

As a child, I had a train set (Lionel, of course) that my parents had given me at Christmas, because my school grades were (as always) stellar, and they truly felt that I deserved a special gift that reflected the charm, the wit, the glowing persona that was me . . . thus, "Santa" gave me the train set.

If I had that model train set when I grew up, we can only imagine the wonderous creation it would have evolved to in my basement today.

Where, you may well ask, is that most beloved train set now ? . . . . A painful question to be sure . . .

sorry . . . . sorry . . . .
I just can't go on with this story right now . . .

Jules Aarons, Physicist & Photographer

Mike, Chris and I went to an exhibition tonight of photographs by Jules Aarons (1921 - 2008), who was a physicist from the Bronx, taught at Boston University and, as a hobbyist, became a pretty famous photographer. The exhibit tonight covered his 1947 - 1976 photos of Boston's Italian District (the "North End"), and it was hard not to believe that the photos were from Brooklyn neighborhoods that I grew up in.

He used a Rolleiflex TLR that produced large 2.5" X 2.5" negatives that could produce very large prints. There were probably 30 of his photographs there tonight, and it was most enjoyable.

And . . . our cars did not get towed, as threatened by the signs.


jpg Took a short trip to Concord, MA to visit their "museum", which is really their Historical Society's collection of 1600 - 1900 stuff about Concord (what was I expecting ? ). They don't allow photos inside, for some silly reason. Then trecked a mile to the very historic bridge of the Battle of Lexington and the "Shot Heard 'Round the World". The bridge has been rebuilt a bunch of times over the years and every time, they change the design, so the best I can say is "this is where the bridge used to be" gif.
Two minutes after I shot this, the bridge was covered with people from a bus tour !

jpg Sister Wendy ? . . . Sister Wendy ?

I have been reading books on art (mostly paintings) to help my photography and make myself a better-educated critic of what I am looking at. Been through probably 10 books now by every Tom, Dick and Mary who has something to say on the topic. I've learned a lot and some of what I learned is that art critics are mostly full of themselves and snobbish about it. There are some exceptions, though.

I see "Sister Wendy's Book of the Impressionists" on the library shelf, and thought "you're kidding me, right?", and skipped right over it. Next visit to the library, I had the moxie to open it and read a few of her commentaries on some paintings, and I was floored. To the point that I started wondering "Why did this smart person ever become a nun ? " (no offense meant to anyone reading this). . . Took it home, read it twice (it's short, to the point, devoid of bullsh#t). Her interpretations of the classic impressionists paintings are so instructive and almost exhilirating, and sometimes they are really passionate (are they sure this lady is a nun? ).

She has some other books out there, and I'll probably check out the Alibris used book website for them.

Being Sane in Insane Places

Don't ask me why, but as I was just reading a magazine about organic gardening while waiting for the microwave buzzer to go off, I thought of this.

Back in the late 1960's and early 1970's I was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This allowed me to carry an AAAS membership card that I could drop on the table and win whatever bullsh#t science argument I was involved in at the moment. (The power was enthralling, at the very least.)

Over the decades, the one article that I have remembered from the monthly magazine was one called "On Being Sane in Insane Places". The short version is that some PhD candidates got themselves admitted as patients to several "insane asylums". No one at the asylums knew what was happening here. The college people (all as sane as anyone else in graduate school) took notes.

What they found was that, in every instance, everything they did was interpreted by the asylum doctors and para-doctors as being behaviors of insane people.

For example, one group had to wait on line an hour to get into the cafeteria for lunch, and they were "hushed" when they talked to each other. Of course, they got agitated and fidgety and complained, and they were either pulled out of line and reprimanded or returned to their rooms or in one case, sedated. Their records were written up to say they exhibited various delusional and psychopathic behaviours. Keep in mind, these were "normal"people waiting on line one hour to get a lunch tray. The asylum doctors were looking for "insane" behaviour among the patients, and of course they found it.

Further stories and details in the article went on and on, and I learned from this study that you find what you are looking for. If you look for ___________ , you will find it in whatever you observe (whether it is there or not ! ).

Sunday, Sep.19.2010

Deb and I trekked over to the Fruitlands Museum for our first time. It was nice, but the brunch was painfully expensive, so we'll skip that (if there ever is a) next time. It's a scenic place with history back to 1700's and the Shaker people, but what brought me there was their collection of paintings by "the Hudson River School" painters from back in the early 1800's,in upstate New York. They were one of the first painters to actually paint outside ! , and they had a major influence on all painters after that (I know stuff like this now that I am a public library rat).

I have learned that today we take pictures for granted because we have spent our lives taking photographs with cameras, and the camera does a fabulous job recording what is in front of it, including all the subtle activities of light. Back in the olden olden days, the artists had to very seriously study every scene that they looked at to perceive how the light played off and reflected through the various things out there in front of them. By comparison to those painters, we photographers are barbarians.

At the very last building that we visited, the nice lady says "we don't allow photographs", and I said "what?" and she went over to a small table and cleared away her books and dredged up a piece of paper that was tiled "Notes for Visitors" and right there at rule #10 it said, "no photographs, please" and I swore a blood oath to delete all my pictures and just then D noticed the lady was reading the same book she was and they bonded and chatted and everyone forgot about my illegal photos (some of which may be seen below, and I consider them repayment for being ripped off $40 for French toast, bacon, a danish and coffee) . . . .
that sounds fair and credible, huh?

fruitlands fruitlands
fruitlands fruitlands


Happy Birthday Sarah ! !


(shown here with my buddy Jake )

The Big "E"

D had the day off so we drove out to the Big-E . . . picked up her folks on the road . . . not a bad day . . . reminded me a lot of Coney Island a long long time ago . . .

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Shopping for jewels . . .


The MA state police drive corvettes and operate RC bomb-disarming robots . . .

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Each NE state has an exhibit hall . . . actually very nice . . .


"I am smiling."


Never Shoot a Friend's Wedding

That's one of the elemental laws of intelligent photography, and only an idiot would violate that law. So, on Oct 10, I am shooting Joe and Tami's wedding. Outdoors . . . on a windy beach on Cape Cod . . . . late afternoon.

Joe: "Dave, all we are looking for are casual shots."

Dave: "Joe, we'll be on a windy, sand-blown beach with the harsh late day sun in everyone's eyes . . . believe me kid, the photos will be casual".


Years ago, I dug a drainage trench around the house, filled with stones, and at a juncture of two corners I made a stupid mistake and I new that someday, the Great Trench Reckoning would come for me to repair that mistake, and today was indeed it's day of reckoning.

Which explains why my hands, back, knees, shoulders and elbows hurt.
But . . . the Great Trench Reckoning has come and gone, and I did well by all accounts, and will (as a side benefit) sleep like a baby tonight.

Here is a great, great music video by Chick Corea and Hiromi Uehara . . . well worth 6:10 of your time.

Medium Format Film Cameras

jpg I will bleed all over you now about the "dumbing down" of photography over the decades, and how we have all gradually come to accept garbage as our new standard of excellence.

This comes up because Chris asked me if I could photograph 150 people in a group shot that would be sharp enough for a huge poster so that everyone's face would be sharply focused. Chris knew that the best shot at this is with a medium format film camera, and that I have a Mamiya C330 in the cabinet.

The Mamiya makes stunning images (on 6cmX6cm negatives), is as big as a loaf of bread and weighs a little more than a bowling ball, so only a devoted few will haul one around town while the rest of us have opted for pocket sized digital cam's for our e-mails and weblogs (I am the most damnable of that lot, for sure, because I should behave better but I don't).

A hundred years ago, we made pictures on large negative film, and the best of those images will still blow you out of the water, and they are still several hundred times more detailed than your computer monitor. Then someone (actually, it was Leica) decided that the world needed smaller cameras and that they could produce lenses in 35mm format that would allow people to shoot small negatives and get very good quality images. That, in itself, changed the world of photography and that changed the world, as photographers could now get their cameras into places and situations (wars !) that the world needed to see.

But, truth be told, those 35mm images could not compare to the previous images made on larger negatives . . . but we, the world, made a trade-off (more pictures of lesser quality). And we went on for decades and into the digital revolution, when images took another downward hit in resolution, as we all now see the world on monitors at 96ppi (which is pathethic compared to the film we were shooting with 50 years ago)

Well, next week, Mike and I will shoot a huge photo on a huge negative, go back in time maybe 75 years and (with some luck, as I haven't shot with the Mamiya in years), we will stun the world (or at least Chris's alumni friends) with an image that only 100 year old film technology can deliver.

A Political Joke

I have made a very serious effort on my journal pages here to reduce the amount of political, religical and social ravings and rantings, but at the moment, I have fallen prey to what I just read.

I don't know the accurate history of C. O'Donnell who is running for Senator (?) somewhere down the coast here. But I have read a number of quotes from her previous remarks on TV, radio and to the press to decide for myself that (if the mass of these remarks is true) this person is yet another media moron / darling whose entertainment value would be funny except that some people actually think she has enough brain capacity to help run this country. (see footnotes 1)

Okay . . . that intro aside, here is the quote / quip that made me laugh and enter this post in my journal . . .

Christine O'Donnell: "If evolution is real why are there still monkeys?"
Commentator: "Well Christine, education is real and there are still morons."

(1) We need smarter people running our country, we do not need stupider or cuter people attempting to do that.

from the New Yorker . . .

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Doyle Street as a Miniature


Report: 95% of all e-mail is spam

jpgSpam accounted for 95 percent of all e-mail sent worldwide during the third quarter, according to a report released today.

Panda Security's third-quarter report also found that 50 percent of all spam came from 10 countries, with India, Brazil, and Russia as the top three sources. The U.S. came in No. 8, while the U.K. dropped off the list. Much of the spam that invades in-boxes comes from botnets that hijack computers whose owners don't realize their PCs have been infected, the report noted.


Index of My Journal Pages

if i wanted people to take me seriously
i'd keep my mouth shut.

page written by Dave Leo