The morning started with my first outdoor scrimmage of the season. I played at wing midfield for a good 60 minutes but had to leave early so that I could shower and make it to church in time to see Jeanine and Maya speaking briefly about their Coming of Age adventure to India and lighting the Social Action candle. Afterwards I was able to take a few portraits of Maya with Jeanine and Nicolai.
Maya’s Message to the congregation:
My mom and I are happy to light this candle today for all the 243 girls who attend the school where we spent 3 weeks in Western rural, India. They are: Sonu, Runda, Devida, Jesshiree; girls from the Worli and Katkari tribes, who have a wonderful opportunity to go to school in a “racist free” environment because of the Unitarian church and Holdeen Program. Like so many service experiences, we received more love, attention, education, and friendship than we could possibly reciprocate with our teaching. To slow down and admire the beauty of a chameleon, to take time every night to talk to each other about all we had experienced and to laugh at ourselves with humility….. This is what it means to have a shared coming of age experience together. Allowing ourselves these life changing moments to be completely vulnerable so that we could learn about courage and learn a new way to relate to each other. May more mothers and daughters know how to have this together, to step out of their roles as wise and young and step into a shared experience of the unknown, both completely vulnerable and both equally curious so that they may know each other and life in a completely new way.
For Easter dinner we were joined by my nephew John William Quinn and two classmates from Babson, Radhika and Roy.
I spent the bulk of the day preparing for Jeanine’s 50th birthday party(s). We will celebrate with her local friends on April 6th, with just the family on April 12th (her actual birthday) and with extended family in June combined with Nico’s high school graduation party. Among other things, I am preparing a slide show which will run throughout the events. I have selected 700 photos from the 3500 I have of her which will advance every 5 seconds resulting in a one hour sequence. Included here are two of my favorite images of my sweetheart.
A quick stop at Great Meadows on the way home from work netted a nice Great Blue Heron photo. The sun was low on the horizon and I waited for about 15 minutes before this fellow lined up for the shot I wanted. Although not as dramatically lit, I am pleased with the in-flight shot below as well. Click on either one to zoom in for more detail.
Several weeks ago during one of my brother’s layovers in Boston (he is a commercial pilot for Delta Airlines) I wanted to photograph him in uniform. We were outside the terminal, it was cold, and I was wearing thin fleece gloves. As I was about to take the photo, I lost my grip on the camera and it fell four feet onto the concrete with the lens extended. Despite significant cosmetic damage it continued to function, producing perfect images. Today, however, it finally succumbed to its injuries and is no longer operational. Knowing my passion for photography you would be correct in assuming that this is not some cheap point and shoot model but a rather expensive high end compact. It has a huge one inch sensor and very high quality lens. The combination, given adequate light, is capable of producing images that rival my DSLRs in quality and I carry it with me at all times. Although I have special insurance for just this sort of scenario, I will probably not file a claim. There will come a day when my seriously expensive DSLR and lens is stolen or falls off a tripod and I don’t want to have depleted my good will with the insurance company. Several years ago, I filed a big claim when my camera and lens took an ever so brief dip in the North Atlantic rendering them both dead as a door nails.
My next travel adventure will be taken in these boots. Each year I receive a dividend from REI ($100 this time) which coincides with their 20% off one item sale. Back in December I replaced my Merrell boots, which reached their end of life in Patagonia, with a pair from Soloman. Unfortunately these have proven to be uncomfortable on hikes of more than a few hours. I need a boot that will allow me to trek all day without any fatigue or discomfort. Hopefully these Lowa will do the trick. Kyle you are welcome to my Soloman’s if they fit.
If followers of this blog have grown tired of grey photography, rest assured that I have grown equally tired of grey weather. I am looking forward to the “actual” arrival of spring so that I may tire you with images of budding trees, blooming flowers, and singing birds. Stay tuned as I turn my focus from shades of grey to wisps of color.
Warmer temperatures have led to rapid snow melt leaving all our local rivers swollen. The Sudbury River can more than triple in width in certain sections during the spring run off. I must remember to capture an image of the river when it is at normal water levels for a frame of reference.
Taking advantage of the sunshine and and warmer weather, Jeanine and I went for an extended walk this afternoon. We started at the head of the Minuteman Trail which proved to be too muddy for Jeanine’s choice of footwear. We turned around shortly after reaching the barn pictured here which is very close to the capture site of Paul Revere. The rate of snow melt dripping from the roof line was equal to what you might expect during a rain shower. Unfortunately, my attempt to capture the feeling was less than successful. We continued our walk on the Rail Trail in nearby Lexington for a much needed, by me, bit of exercise. A bruised calf muscle has prevented me from playing soccer over the weekend. Later in the evening Jeanine and I had a second date. We went to see the movie Admission which was neither as funny or romantic as we were expecting but still an enjoyable film and particularly apropos in light of the timing of Nicolai’s college admission process. So far he has been accepted at Carleton College, the University of Miami, Boston University, the University of San Diego, the University of North Carolina, and Miami of Ohio. He is waiting to hear from Emory University before he makes a final decision.
What is the best food you have ever eaten? Up until now this would have been a difficult question for me to answer definitively. This evening we hosted a small dinner party which featured an Indian dish prepared by Jeanine which has set the bar for deliciousness. Discovered during her travels in India, she recreated a Parsi dish called Chicken Berry Pulave which was simply out of this world. Pictured here is the garnish tray for the main course which featured fried onion bits, dried cranberries, lime wedges, fried cashews, onions, and cilantro. Slicing and chopping of the latter two ingredients was my sole contribution to the meal.
I am rarely satisfied when I see an opportunity to improve on a design. This evening I turned my attention to a solution for portable flash photography with a light modifier. I own the latest hot-shoe (attaches to the top of your camera) mounted, battery operated flash which can be triggered by wireless remote (RF signal). Hot shoe flashes produce very hard shadows because of the small relative size of the light source. A common solution is to fire the flash into (or through) a stand mounted umbrella which increases the effective size of the light source by a factor of 50-100 and allows you to position it where needed. Several companies manufacture a swivel mount that connects your flash and umbrella to a standard lighting stand. The problem with every solution on the market is that the flash is supported in the same orientation as it is when used on camera which places the flashbulb significantly away from its optimal position in-line with the umbrella shaft. This offset produces a sub optimal and inefficient diffusion pattern and the body of the flash blocks a portion of the light when used with a reflective umbrella. This evening I prototyped a simple solution which places the flash in line with the umbrella shaft and reduces the blocked light by more than 50%. If I could source this design in plastic, I could make a pretty good business of selling these to fellow strobists.
The Shawsheen River Conservation Area is less than a mile from my work and normally I walk there during my lunch hour during the summer. Today I decided to drive over instead and came back with a few half decent images. I was particularly attracted to the beautifully sculpted snow mounds.
I stopped into Great Meadows again this evening and found this muskrat making a dinner out of the marsh vegetation. Wildlife activity picks up with the arrival of spring which in theory is now. In reality it is still feeling a lot like winter around here with cold temperatures and frequent snow.
With the sun setting later each day, I am now afforded an opportunity to visit the Great Meadows National Wildlife Reserve before dusk during my homeward commute. I did not stay long because it was rather cold and I was not dressed for the temperature. I did manage a few photos before heading back to my car of which this was my favorite.
I placed my new picture frame (40″ TV to anyone else) on the back corner of my desk at work on top of the matching riser I constructed this weekend. I am now greeted with a new image from my collection of favorites every time I enter the office. I have enjoyed the wall mounted frame we have in our breakfast nook (currently featuring photos by Jeanine and Maya from their India Coming of Age adventure) so much that I decided to carry the idea over to work. The challenge now is selecting photos to display. It is certainly not a question of having enough but the process of selecting my favorites has proven to be a challenge.
In my office I have two 10″ digital picture frames which sequence through a selection of my favorite photographs. Last week I decided to purchase a 40″ TV which I plan to replace them with. Rather than have the facility folks mount it to the wall (not appropriate given this is a personal purchase and not something needed for my work) I will be placing it on the top of the back side of my wrap around desk where it will look best if raised by about 5 inches. This weekend I made quick work of a custom sized riser which will sit under the stand and match the set nicely. It took roughly 30 minutes to complete over a period of 24 hours (5 minutes to cut the MDF, 5 minutes to glue the joints, 5 minutes to round over the corners, 2 minutes per coat of black enamel repeated 8 times). I will install it on Monday and load a set of recent photos.
Maya was asked to chose a restaurant for our family dinner this evening. Having spent 3 of her 4 weeks of adventure on a diet of roti (wheat-based flat bread) and dal (dried lentils, peas or beans which have been stripped of their outer hulls, split and prepared in a stew) we thought she might enjoy choosing from a familiar menu. Her choice was Papa Razzi. Unfortunately, the Shamrock Ball is this evening and the restaurant was overrun with elegantly dressed fathers and daughters. We ventured outside of Concord to the River’s End restaurant in Maynard where Maya ordered cheese fries. Both Jeanine and Maya struggled to stay awake through the meal but having done so are well on their way back to operating on local time.