Monday, December 30, 2013

Neighborhood Trees

The skies (and temperature, sort of) were rather inviting today. Living in a neighborhood overflowing with 100 foot plus trees, tree stands, and a range of wildlife is a gift if you want to take some great pictures. If you would like a high resolution copy of any of these photos, you can email me at -

This first set features different trees photographed using the "fish eye" lens:

This next set was taken in a tree stand. One color, one black and white, one fish eye:

This next set features a couple of different tree stands using the ethereal sky as a backdrop:

Finally, a nice shot of an American flag juxtaposed against thick cloud cover, another featuring phone lines criss-crossing against the sky, and a red-tailed hawk, perched high in the trees but, thanks to a 50x zoom lens, close enough where you think you could touch it. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Revisiting LOST

When the TV show LOST ended in May 2010, it left many of its rabid fans (including me) more than a little disappointed. After all, we had spent six seasons and nearly 120 episodes following a plot that began as survivors-on-a-deserted-island-with-a-twist and watched it morph into an immersive experience that required research into everything from electromagnetism to Charles Dickens, with enough blind alleys, red herrings, and false starts to fill a book. That the show’s ending merely inserted a layer of “purgatory” between the after-life and the here-and-now that was not “the Island” was cold comfort when speculation almost from the show’s beginning nailed the ending. 

In the balance, the entire series felt like a cruel tease, the Dharma Initiative, the Others, Ben Linus and Charles Widmore, Jacob and the “Man in Black,” not to mention the time travel, “flash sideways” and on and on were just so much fanboy masturbation that ultimately ended in the place predicted a few episodes into the first season. Unlike Jack at the end of Season 3, I had no desire “to go back” after LOST ended. If anything, I wanted to purge my brain of the show, its silly contrivances, and storytelling that had me invested in black light maps, non-aggression treaties and the philosophy of Hume, Locke and Bentham.  

Over Thanksgiving, I had the chance to revisit the show, which now airs on “G4 Network.” I watched the end of Season 5 and a few of the early episodes of Season 6 and did not hate them, so I decided to record the last 4 or 5 episodes of the series and see if my reaction to the ending would change. I’m happy to say it did. Freed from being invested in the week-to-week analysis and discussion of what the show “meant” and with a few years distance from its ending, the tail end of the series was totally and completely satisfying largely because the mythology “trees” that made the show so maddening in real time gave way to the “forest” of  universal themes of trust, loyalty, heroism, love and fate that made me reach for a tissue every time a survivor became “aware” in the alternate timeline and more than once as they battled the Man in Black on the Island.

And it was only because I could look at many of the show’s ridiculous plot devices as just that – devices – to tell a bigger story of redemption that I truly appreciated what Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were going for in their storytelling. You see, all of the sturm und drang that was kicked up, all the various characters that came and went and cliff hangers that kept us scratching our heads, were in service of a much more modest goal. Ultimately, it didn’t much matter what the Island was, what the numbers signified, who the original Henry Gale was, why Jacob was able to leave the Island at will, or any of a host of other unresolved mysteries, because that was all window dressing for a simpler truth – that a group of flawed and broken people needed to learn how to trust and care for one another, to reconcile their pasts, and most importantly, let go of the guilt, shame, and regret that haunted them before moving on with their eternal souls.

When viewed in this way, the emotional investment in the characters inner conflict - Jack’s daddy issues and need to fix people, Hurley’s insecurity and fear of being a jinx, Sawyer’s regret at adopting the same con as the man who killed his parents and the guilt he felt over killing an innocent victim, what Kate “did,” or Sayid’s brutal past, is paid in full. At the end of the day, each of these characters has to come to terms with their past decisions but choose not to be defined by them. In this way, all the assorted missions, schemes and fights they engage in season after season are more properly viewed as teachable moments for them to experience personal growth and enlightenment, not necessarily to outwit Ben, detonate nuclear bombs, or radio a freighter of unknown provenance.

By the time we get to the show’s denouement, this theme is fully developed. Sawyer goes from being a loner and malcontent to Johnny-on-the-spot, a roguish Han Solo who guides the Losties off the Island. Kate morphs from an untrusting fugitive to a mother figure who reunites Claire with Aaron and acknowledges her love for Jack. Sayid is no longer an emotionally conflicted former Iraqi Republican Guardsman, instead, he sacrifices himself so his friends can live. Hurley overcomes his insecurity and takes on the biggest job of all – safeguarding the Island. And Jack, well, Jack finally lets go. He gets to be the hero by killing the Man in Black, but, like another shepherd who did not make it to the promised land with his flock, is left with a final image of his comrades departing the Island as his own light is extinguished (until they meet again, of course). And it is *that* journey that each castaway goes through, not the vaunted “mythology” of the Island, that makes the show so arresting and its conclusion so fulfilling.  


There's also a great interview with Damon Lindelof discussing the show and its ending, here:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Trees

Christmas came in brisk and cloudy here in New Jersey. Thankfully, I need not go far (literally, like less than 50 steps outside my home) to take some beautiful photos. 

This first set was taken around noon, with thick, but not total, cloud cover. The first and fourth photos were taken using the "fish eye" effect on my camera. I'm becoming much more proficient with this particular tool and am very pleased with the way these two photos in particular, came out.

The second set of photos was taken mid-day, around 3 pm or so, as the sun was starting its slow descent. Again, the first and third photos were taken using the "fish eye" effect. 

Just when I thought I was done for the day, Mother Nature called an audible. The texturing of the clouds and the pink color of the sky were stunning. The second photo is another "fish eye" and, in my humble opinion, is another winner. 

If you like what you see, email me at and I'll be happy to send along a copy of any of the photos you see here. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

D&R Canal

I took major advantage of the near 70 degree temperature in New Jersey today and got some great photos along the Delaware and Raritan Canal ( Winter is a challenging time for outdoor photography, but the heavy cloud cover, use of water as a mirror for the towering trees that surround the towpath I walked and liberal use of black and white photography added up to a great session. If you are interested in high resolution copies of any of the photos you see here, you can email me at -

Saturday, December 21, 2013


I take a lot of pictures and try to post the best ones. Here are some of the "best of the rest"

First, a couple of photos from a body of water off Carnegie Lake. One of these photos is notable because it is the *only* picture I have taken with my new camera (1,800+ photos and counting) that has people in it (make of that what you will). The full study can be found here:

Next, three more from my first trip down to Trenton. The first photo is from Trent House, a Revolutionary-Era home right near the Trenton Makes bridge. The second photo is of seagulls taking flight over the Delaware river. The final one is of a church on Broad Street. The full study can be found here:

Next, we head over to Washington Crossing Park, where you'll see a Colonial-era home (note the reflections in the windows) and a monument park featuring a statue of General Washington and the flags of the original thirteen states. The full study can be found here:

Next, a return visit to Princeton at sunrise. Just one, the full study is arresting:

Another of my favorite day trips was to Cadwalader Park. Here is a close-up of the Civil War soldier atop a statue in the park. I really like how the trees frame this one. The full study is here:

Next, we're off to The College of New Jersey, for a variety of outtakes of similar shots that can be found here:

With the first snow of the season, I captured these two photos of a neighbor's Christmas-decorated tree in color and black and white. Each is interesting in its own way: 

After four (!) snow "events" in 10 days, the weather turned warmer this weekend and I was able to get a couple of nice photos: 

If you want a high resolution copy of any of the photos you see here (or on my blog) email me at: