Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Holiday

It's that time again when we join with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Holiday. Of course, Thea is inspired by the fact that her children are on holiday (we could call it vacation) from school. However, holiday has a different meaning here, and that is where my inspiration comes from. With the nip of Fall in the air, my wife and I are two weeks away from a trip to Walt Disney World where the Halloween festivities have already started. This will be my wife's first time attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. Here are some pictures from a previous visit by my daughter and myself.

The Snap

The Set

The Song

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Anniversary

It's that time again - when we join Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Anniversary. (She is so predictable, having just celebrated her 10th Anniversary - Happy Anniversary Thea!) Why don't you stop by her blog and play along?

The Snap

The anniversary that I am presenting here was our 30th (2004). We celebrated by taking a cruise in the Caribbean aboard the Disney Magic. We were traveling with our daughter and a friend of hers who arranged for this platter to be in our stateroom when we arrived onboard. (Thanks Lee Ann!)

The Set

So many wonderful memories (and photos) from that trip - so here are just a few. (Yes, that really is me under the parachute!)

The Song

And the song? Well, it's the song that my wife and I danced to for our first dance as man and wife at our wedding - which by now I am sure you have done the math and figured out was in 1974.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Show

Once again - after a one week hiatus - we are participating in Thea's A Snap, A Set and A Song. (Why not stop by and play along?) This week's theme is Show. Since I know what her inspiration was for this theme, I went in a different direction than I would had I just seen the theme and not know why it was picked. In Australia what we would call a Fair, they call a Show, and Thea has just attended one. Ironically, so have I ... the Richmond County Fair right here on Staten Island in New York City.

The Snap

(For more pictures, have a look here and here.) 

The Set

The Song

Okay, here I will revert to the direction I would have taken if I didn't know what Thea had in mind. This is a clip of the overture/opening number and finale/bows/exit music of a Community Theater production of Oliver! (That handsome clarinet player is my son, and, of course, it features my favorite musical director - me!)

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Must Never Forget 9/11

I have repeated my story every year for the last 11 years. Partially because I want you to know what it was like for us New Yorkers, but mostly because I never want to forget how I felt on that day.

This is the second anniversary of the terror attack on my home town since Osama Bin Laden was killed. But we still have to keep remembering the day as if it were yesterday. We can't get comfortable or complacent again!

Last year was the tenth anniversary of that attack and the world focused on it once again. Today is the 11th anniversary - and we need to be as focused today as we were last year ... and we were 11 years ago!

I hope you read my story and take a moment to recall your thoughts on that day. You may not have personally known someone who was killed on that day as most New Yorkers do, but try to understand that over 2000 real flesh and blood people - who were not combatants but regular people - went to work and never returned to their homes and family. This day is not about steel and concrete, but flesh and blood.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Old Equipment and the End of Summer

Back in the 1970's I was taking photos with a Contax RTS. I had my prime 50mm Carl Zeiss T* lens (which we called a "normal" lens back then) and a medium zoom lens (multi-focal length lenses were not common back in those days). My style of photography has always been more about telephoto than wide angle, and I wanted a lens that would truly bring my subjects in close. I fulfilled that need with a Spiratone 500mm f/8 mirror lens. (Shown here on a Nikon)

Spiratone was (basically) a mail order photography company which developed unique products for the photographer. Their line of lenses were produced to be able to fit any camera then on the market by way of a screw-on flange that you could buy separately which contained the proper mounting for that camera. I naturally bought mine with the flange for the Contax RTS. Spiratone went out of business in 1990.

A mirror lens - with that unique solid post through the center  - gets its telephoto abilities in a short barrel by bouncing the light off of a series of internal mirrors (like a telescope) to get the necessary travel distance. It has some distinctive characteristics that quickly mark a photo taken with one if the photographer is not careful. The most obvious is in what we today call bokeh. It does not produce a very pleasing out of focus area, and the spot highlights come out as round donut like marks. (You can see the effects here) I usually used it to take pictures at sporting events where it worked like a charm - as long as there was plenty of sunlight so I could use a high shutter speed.

Today I am using a Nikon DSLR and the 500mm lens was sitting gathering dust. It dawned on me that Nikon had been using the F-mount since the days that I originally bought the lens. Since Spiratone is no longer in business, I couldn't call them to order a new flange for my current camera so I started looking on Ebay for the flange. As expected, none were listed, but soon I found a lens for sale which had the very flange I was looking for. I bought the lens (it was very cheap) and when it arrived, removed the flange (I wasn't interested in the lens itself) and replaced the Contax RTS flange on my old lens. Lo and behold it worked! I could now take pictures (in Manual mode only) on my digital camera. (The lens does not have any of the automatic features of today's lenses, and the camera doesn't even recognize that a lens is attached, which is why I can only use it in Manual mode.)

Yesterday was the first time I actually had a chance to go out and try it in a real life situation. I headed back to the duck pond where I always check out new equipment. Here is one of the first photos taken with this lens in at least 25 years ...

While it is not a great lens - inexpensive mirror lenses never are - I think the result is quite acceptable. What do you think?

Since I was at the duck pond, I spent some time documenting the end of summer and the lush green look it currently has. In about 2 weeks, Autumn will arrive here in NYC and the Fall colors will start to be seen. The wildlife here also seemed to be quietly taking in the last of the warm days before the cold of the northeast starts to make its presence felt. (The following pictures were taken with a Nikon D3200 and my other lenses, not the 500mm.)

If you look closely, you can see the leaves just starting to turn already.

And now we will take our leave of you until the next time when we will come back to the pond to show the arrival of the Fall foliage.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Richmond County Fair - 2012

Labor Day - the first Monday of September - is the unofficial end of summer here in the US, and time for the annual Richmond County Fair here on Staten Island. When people think of New York City, a traditional county fair is not something that immediately comes to mind, but Staten Island, although very much part of New York City, has one every Labor Day Weekend. Our county fair takes place each year at the historic Richmondtown restoration. Here are some shots from this year's fair. 

This is one of the sets built for the TV show Boardwalk Empire which was
filmed here at Historic Richmondtown.

The owner and operator of Ultimate Air Dogs is former major league pitcher Milt Wilcox.

Another Boardwalk Empire set

And another

Still another

What's a fair without a magician?