String Theory

String Theory

Front row, Center.

Itzhak Perlman.

A man and his violin. And a magical bow to induce vibration and invite the heavenly sound filling this blessed space. 

At times, he finesses notes willfully, like summoning a genie from a bottle. At other times he seems to be simply setting notes free, feather light in their ephemeral float.

Suddenly a single bow string breaks under the delicate strain of music making. When he finishes the piece he’s playing, Perlman casually peels each half of this dangling horsetail hair from his bow, and lets the two strands fall to the stage.

At intermission the elegant woman to our left engages Ivana & I,

Aspens, Colorado

Aspens, Colorado

A few years ago I became interested in playing with panorama photography, or “panos”.  I had seen my photography mentor, David Skernick, migrating his passion over to this format, and I’d also seen some of the beautiful panos created by Brian Valente.  

I’ve become experienced with using the panorama gear itself and reasonably competent processing the images in Photoshop.  But I’m still bewildered and very much the novice when it comes to being intentional about the image I’m trying to create from the scene available before my eyes.

One of the many joys of being on a Photo24 trip is ...

Peace

Peace

I’ve experienced something like this before: whalesharks as “gentle,” great white sharks as “graceful.” 

An adult whaleshark is a 20-ton fish.  The power in one flip of its tail, the amount of water displaced by one plankton-seeking gulp…it’s just astounding.  I got to swim amongst hundreds of them one morning off Isla Mujeres in Mexico.  And the word I came away with that felt most apt in describing what they are like?  Gentle.

I’ve also gotten to go cage diving with great white sharks off Guadalupe Island in Mexico.  Though at the very end of the trip I had one mildly harrowing experience of just how powerful a great white shark can be, my overall impression from hours of watching them swim so efficiently, quietly, effortlessly through the water?  Graceful.

I’m on the Nai’a in Tonga, ...

Foolishness? No, It’s Not

Foolishness? No, It’s Not
Foolishness? No, It’s Not
from A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree.  To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book.  So I suppose, from their point of view, it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness!  She’s got her head in the clouds again.
But it’s not. 

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

This place will leave an impression.

I’m here in Yellowstone for my second time on a photography trip with David Skernick and a fantastic group of Photo24 photographers.

As we pass the through the entrance to the park, David blasts inside our vehicle a particular cut from “Magnificat” by Bach.  It evokes sublime grandeur in a way that few words, and few photographs, ever could.  The combination of this music, all the anticipation of getting here, the emotions in one’s personal life, and…. YELLOWSTONE!!!....conspires to reduce David to tears, and we are right there with him.

Yellowstone is David’s favorite place on Earth.  It doesn’t matter that he’s never traveled abroad.  Yellowstone is still his favorite place on Earth, and he knows it.

Luck

Luck

It’s taken hundreds of dives to learn this lesson, but I think it may finally be sinking in: If you just stay calmly in one place, the reef will incorporate you into it and life will happen all around you.  It’s true that on some dives there is a place to go, or a plan to follow, or a buddy or group to stick close to.  But sometimes there is simply nowhere else to go be but where you are.

I was diving in Raja Ampat (Indonesia) in December 2012 when this awareness finally took.  One of the divemasters was my buddy on the final day of the adventure.  We were diving a site with moderate current.  Current, and all that gets swept up in it, tends to attract larger animals and huge schools of fish.  It also tends to sweep me away.  So I’ll sometimes choose to leave my camera behind on such dives.  One less thing to deal with.

Early in the dive we found ourselves near a massive school of hundreds of jacks. 

Pesopus

Pesopus

I get to go diving with The Magnificent 7.  A rule of thumb about nicknames is that you can’t give yourself one—it has to be bestowed upon you.  Well, no one told us we were The Magnificent 7.  It’s just something we told ourselves, and now we try to live up to it on every trip.

We are not always seven.  Sometimes we are fewer, sometimes one or two more.  And on occasion we have an experience with a sea creature that leaves such an indelible impression that it’s as if the magnificent critter has become part of our little diving community.

Interspecies

Interspecies

In a sense, it all started with Scrabby J in 2009.

We were on a night dive in Cay Sal Bank in the Bahamas.  Four of us happened upon an octopus that seemed as curious about us as we were about it.  We settled calmly on the sandy bottom of the reef we were exploring, and let the octopus approach us.

At one point, my friend gently placed her hand a few inches forward in the sand, an interspecies offering of sorts.  The octopus soon made a quick, tentative touch on her hand with just the tip of one of its arms, and immediately pulled back away.  Apparently assured of safety by this first contact, it then returned to my friend and explored her hand and forearm with greater interest.