Attending the annual Fall Meet at Keeneland in Lexington KY. It is part of the Breeder’s Cup and a very fun day. I was unable to bring in a monopod and the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 200-500 is just a wee bit heavy when using by hand. Nikon D810.
Florence, “Firenze” in Italian (I only point that out because I had no idea), is a beautiful, busy, and crowded city. Taking good pictures of the buildings would require a tilt-shift lens, but I was fascinated by the people taking selfies. I am not going to criticize them, I don’t think they were self-obsessed or narcissistic. In fact, most were taking pictures of themselves with others. And all to commemorate that they had been to this special city. People have been commemorating such pilgrimages since antiquity. Here are a few snaps of people snapping themselves.
This gentleman sits in his little shop writing and illuminating texts. Many of which are in Hebrew, from the Bible and other texts. (I saw one quote from Pirkei Avot.) This day, he was working on a text and image for a Bar Mitzvah.
The artist’s name is Even Caredio and his site can be found here: http://www.adarveadar.com This is the piece we purchased. Like many, we used this quote from Song of Songs in our wedding.
Taking pictures of a concert aren’t easy. It requires fast glass and access. Recently I have met some wonderful people who just happen to be incredible musicians. SM invited me to a gig for the Beattles cover band he is a part of, SixtyFour. It was a small venue, a local wings bar, and a fun crowd of the older generation who danced to the tunes of their youth. The lighting was good, but not great. Once thing I have found is that the multicolor lights and various textures and elements often on a stage can be distracting. Solution: convert to black and white. For example, this is a nice image in color. Steve is crisp and clear, the Corona neon looks nice, and overall not a bad image.
But in B&W it has mood and character that the color just doesn’t have.
In the end, it is personal choice, but I like the black and white so here is a selection from the evening.
December 14th was the Worldwide Candle Lighting commemorating children who have died. Since there was not one within close proximity of our location in central PA my wife decided to organize an event on campus. It also happened to coincide with the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy; a student of mine shared a few words and read the names of all those whose lives were taken. Since I am in a few of the shots you can tell that I did not take most of these images. My good friend and the father of our son’s best friend took them. Thank you JC3.
Below is a portion of what I shared that evening. In the two short weeks that have elapsed since that night all too many have also left us. We remember each and every one.
When the tragedy of loss of life comes we feel powerless, overcome and overwhelmed. But we still have choices that we can make. And we have all made one, important choice tonight. We have gathered together in love to remember those who have left us too soon. It makes us sad, yes, but let us also find joy in remembering the joy that they brought into our lives. To do any less would be to allow death the final victory. Instead we allow their light to shine in our lives always, not just tonight, but forever. Zichronu livracha. May their memories be for a blessing.
Lam 3:19 The thought of my affliction [is bitter]!
20 My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
We give thanks for having shared in these lives, we pray that we may be good stewards of their memories, and we ask for blessing and peace, comfort and mercy.
May light perpetual shine upon them.
Every now and then a group that I really care about goes on tour. It is rare, but it happens. Even more rarely I am able to go and see them. Such was the case last Tuesday. I had a chance to take my kit along as well, so I have quite a few shots to share. This was my first time really shooting a concert so I tried a few things. The intimate venue made that easy.
The gallery is below, but to provide some context, below are some notes about the group and my history of following their music.
The 77’s, a group I have followed since the 80s, will be in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and I will be joining them! There is an interview/piece about the (related?) 1989 album 7&7is available here and Tour Dates here. To promote their tour they are releasing a free collection. “77s: The Late Greats ~ 2014 Summer Tour Mix.” You can download it here: http://noisetrade.com/77s/the-late-greats-2014-summer-tour
Their music has remained powerful over the years, both the older albums and their more recent works. I am no good at describing music so I will just tell you that it features great guitar work by Mike Roe, powerful rhythms, and passionate lyrics. The album is free, so just download, ok?
Ever since I first heard it back in 1990, I have considered their song “Don’t This Way” (YouTube, the album version is cleaner) one of the most compelling I have ever heard. Once you listen or read the lyrics below, you will understand why it has been running through my head ever since New Year’s Eve 2012. Mike’s guitar work on this piece is haunting, adding to the grief of the truth to which the words allude.
All those years together
As a blackbird with no song to sing
Throwing it to the air
But it falls from broken wings
Don’t leave this way, so many words unsaid
Don’t lie this way, stretched straight from
Feet to head
The sky is pouring down
On the back of all those years
That bird helpless on the ground
Shot down by all those tears
Don’t leave this way, so many words unsaid
Don’t lie this way, stretched straight from
Feet to head
Don’t look this way, closed eyes, unmoving lips
Don’t feel this way, cold hands and fingertips
I had the great good fortune to travel to Moscow for a few days. I wasn’t really sure about safety and I wanted to travel relatively light so I took my “travel kit,” a Nikon D3100 and Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3. This is a small a light combo with decent range and aperture.
The city center turned out to be far safer than my wife expected, but she had last been there in 1992. The early 90s were not a great time. It was an interesting time to be there, however, since Russia has recently “acquired” Crimea and I was actually in the room with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that he believed the US and the EU were trying to bring about another “color revolution.”
A year ago my friend Pat, a real photographer, posted this piece on his blog reflecting on taking pictures at our son’s funeral. Coincidentally at Christmas time I had read an article by a woman who had done just such a thing and how much it had meant to the grieving family. So I asked Pat if he would be willing to do this for us. We have still not seen the final images, but we are so very grateful for this incredible gift. With his permission I am sharing some of the post here, but please go to his blog to read the whole thing.
As a professional photographer I decided that the only thing I could offer was to make large prints for them to display at the viewing. I was wrong. What happened next is truly remarkable.I made the offer and hoped he would allow me to do this for them. A small thing for me, but something I thought would help. He replied and said he was thinking about doing just that, and it would be a huge help to them. You see he is a avid photographer and is always talking shop with me as I do jobs for the school. He is also a bigger Apple geek than I am so you can see where this is heading. We became friends very quickly. After he sent me the images to blow up, I received a text message from him that I didn’t think twice about. It simply read “Call me.” I thought he had some instructions for me on sizes or something like that.He was in grief like I never heard before. The next thing he said to me stopped me in my tracks. “Pat, I have a favor to ask of you.” “Sure”, I said. “Anything I can do to help.” “I talked it over with my wife, and we would like you to photograph the viewing and funeral for us.” I swear my heart stopped. I doubt what I said next was coherent or barely even audible. I think I said yes and mumbled something else.I have photographed some very sad stories in my life, and I have shot through more than my share of tears. This, however, was different. I have never been asked to be on the inside of such a deeply personal story. He gave me every out possible to back out of doing this for him. He didn’t want me to feel obligated or uncomfortable. I sent him a message telling him I needed to give it some serious thought, that as I have gotten older I have become more and more emotional, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I needed to sleep on it. However, I didn’t. The next hour or so my mind was on fire. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of it. How could I do this? How could I not do this? I have grandchildren the age of his son. I didn’t know what to do. I spoke with a few personal friends I could share this with and straightened out my thoughts.When I had spoken with him, he guided me to a blog about a woman who had shot a funeral for a friend and said I should look at it. I did. What I learned was she had the exact same thoughts as I did, except hers was from the perspective of actually having done it. It calmed me a great deal and made me realize what was important here. Here is a man and a family that trusted my skills as a photographer, my friendship and sensitivity to enter their lives at the most intimate and deeply personal time. I said yes. I am honored and humbled that they asked me. Over those next two days, I shot images I probably shouldn’t have, and I didn’t shoot things I probably should have. I think that is one of the reasons why they asked me to do this. I tried to be as hidden and respectful as possible. This is time I needed to be invisible.
The anniversary of any battle is a sad event, but it may often be tinged with hope. I remember visiting Normandy Beach on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. Our high school band was actually chosen to play throughout England and France as part of the celebrations. We saw and met a number of D-Day survivors, most of whom have now passed. So many died on those beaches: Omaha, Sword, Juno… Yet they brought about the end of the war. Thousands more would die and months would pass, but it was a decisive moment. The commemorations were thus in many ways celebrations.
WW2 veterans are often referred to as “The Greatest Generation” and the phrase “Band of Brothers” has been applied to them as well. It is hard to see these as epithets exclusive to this one generation. I have been fortunate enough to take my daughter and classes of students around the Gettysburg Battlefield under the direction of two retired US Army colonels. The insight they provide, not just in tactics and strategy, but in terms of leadership and history is invaluable. The courage required to step forward, often into certain death, is something I can barely fathom. Yet these boys and men did so.
This past week the 150th anniversary of this pivotal battle was commemorated and celebrated. It is distant enough that the reenactments take on a pageantry of their own. I was at first amused and then grateful for the seriousness with which the reenactors took their jobs. They understood, perhaps better than any of the bystanders, that they were there as living monuments to the lives offered up in order to ensure (still debated) liberties. There is not doubt that there were moments of sadness, but yes, hope as well. And gratitude, a whole lot of gratitude.