Why I Take Photos (Part I)

You spend too much time with your nose pressed up against a camera, your eye squinting through a viewfinder, watching life pass you by. You’re an observer, an escapist, not a participant. You miss so much. As a photographer, while you are arresting movement and reducing what’s happening from three dimensions into two you’re just seeing or experiencing a shortcut, an abridged version, the Cliff Notes of life.

I’ve heard it all. How can I explain? I feel incomplete without a camera, an emperor with no clothes. I can still see images in my mind’s eye that demanded to be photographed and weren’t, images on a crashed hard drive that weren’t backed up that now exist only in my mind or some netherworld perhaps where missing photos await a resurrection. It would be harder for me to figure out how not to take a photograph than to consider the merits of whether it should be taken at all. How do I decide what I need to record? I don’t. Things demand to be photographed. It’s a subpoena, and I am required to respond. I’m not choosing to do any of this. I have to do it because, well, because I have to.

The Photographer as Thief

My father, an Episcopal minister, was quick to look at technology and reject it if it “didn’t bring people together.” The camera, then, is the tool that separates the shooter from the shootee. It doesn’t bring the two together at all. It creates a distinction, a difference. Indians have believed that the camera takes away your soul. Moroccans do, too. They’re quick to turn their heads when a camera is pointed in their direction. Taking someone’s photograph is an invasion of space, an aggressive gesture, one that provides the shooter with something taken illicitly, and whether it’s a soul or spirit or in plain terms just an image, he often takes it surreptitiously and sometimes with an ulterior unspoken motive. And even when permission is granted, the reward exists primarily for the photographer. The shootee gives something (himself) to the shooter. The shooter is part thief.

But there are exceptions to the exchange. In smiling, in asking for permission to photograph someone, a connection is being made, an exchange that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place now does. I asked two women in a restaurant in NYC who had unique hairstyles if I could take their photograph because, as I said, “You two have the most fabulous hair.” So yes, I “stole” the photo, but I couldn’t have done it without their kind and generous cooperation. And there wouldn’t have been a connection at all if I hadn’t asked.

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Here’s why I do what I do. The reasons are countless, but the first one that comes to mind is just to tell the truth, to show something about the subject that only a photograph can reveal.

There’s no shortage of cat descriptions, about their independence, their indifference, but this image reveals it without words. It tells the truth. It’s not set up or staged. This is what cats do. When you see this you see a truth of cats.

There’s no shortage of cat descriptions, about their independence, their indifference, but this image reveals it without words. It tells the truth. It’s not set up or staged. This is what cats do. When you see this you see a truth of cats.

Here is a photograph of a father and his daughter. Doesn’t this say more than could be expressed in text? Does the look of contentment on the little girl’s face need to be interpreted? And in the half-hidden father’s face, eyes narrowed, cheeks filled, how can we mistake the love and affection he feels for his daughter? It’s truth and it speaks for the love between all fathers and their daughters or sons.

Here is a photograph of a father and his daughter. Doesn’t this say more than could be expressed in text? Does the look of contentment on the little girl’s face need to be interpreted? And in the half-hidden father’s face, eyes narrowed, cheeks filled, how can we mistake the love and affection he feels for his daughter? It’s truth and it speaks for the love between all fathers and their daughters or sons.

The little girl below is curious about what the boy is doing.She doesn’t know him. She’s never seen him before. The unwritten rules of “personal space” don’t appear in her playbook. The fear of rejection, the reluctance to invade his space, neither of these is something she understands. It’s a delightful innocence and naivete that is part of early childhood that is being revealed here. So telling and revealing truths are part of the same equation.

And next is a double revelation.

Comfort and Tears .  The girl on her back was just defeated in a judo match. Whether she was hurt or just disappointed is unknown, but that she’s experiencing grief is clear. The girl who beat her is expressing comfort in a physical gesture that recognizes, sympathizes, and cares for the girl she’s just beaten.

Comfort and Tears.

The girl on her back was just defeated in a judo match. Whether she was hurt or just disappointed is unknown, but that she’s experiencing grief is clear. The girl who beat her is expressing comfort in a physical gesture that recognizes, sympathizes, and cares for the girl she’s just beaten.

Love and Death

Countless images show the love between couples. This lady (and her six month old daughter) are watching her husband play rugby. What we’re willing to do to show our love for someone can be revealed in new and different ways, and sitting on a plastic tarp under a pounding rain just to watch someone you care about play rugby is one such thing, more revealing and truthful than a box of chocolates or a dozen roses.

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I love to take photographs that reflect the gamut of human experience, but until Patrick O’Day was killed in the Gulf War I had never pointed my camera at a person who has just lost someone, or whose sense of grief is so intense. It’s times like that that I put the camera down and change hats, except this one occasion, when Patrick O’ Day was honored and his widow presented with his flag. And the family hired me to record the event.

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The other side of that coin. Jennifer and Andrew knew that giving birth in Nepal was an unnecessary risk, so Jennifer flew back to California while Andrew, sitting on a sofa in Kathmandu, watched it all on Skype. Weeks later he was able to fly to SF and meet his son for the first time. Jennifer is handing Andrew his first born child while Jadyne is totally caught up in the moment.

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SFO

And the third side of that coin is humor. In a now defunct parade called “How Berkeley Can You Be?” a tree marched up the street to chat with two tie-dyed ladies. This makes me smile, too.

And the third side of that coin is humor. In a now defunct parade called “How Berkeley Can You Be?” a tree marched up the street to chat with two tie-dyed ladies. This makes me smile, too.

Since everything in the world has been photographed innumerable times by skilled and competent artists why bother? To make a photograph the artist/ photographer needs to see and record everyday things in ways that aren’t everyday, that shed a new truth, a new light when the viewer sees it. And maybe finds a way to do it that has never been done before. We’ve all seen dogwood trees. But lying on the ground beneath the tree and photographing a part of the tree under a foggy sky possibly reveals something new about dogwood.

Seeing as Art

What’s also revealed here in this still life in the translucence of the leaves is the essence of what leaves are all about.

What’s also revealed here in this still life in the translucence of the leaves is the essence of what leaves are all about.

Or looking at it with close-up equipment which reveals textures, lines and forms.

Or looking at it with close-up equipment which reveals textures, lines and forms.

More of the same. In a photograph we are drawn to an interpretation of what is. In this case, the patterns of the fronds, the peculiar curving end to the major frond, the staggered growth of the offshoots on the main frond reveal a truth in nature,

More of the same. In a photograph we are drawn to an interpretation of what is. In this case, the patterns of the fronds, the peculiar curving end to the major frond, the staggered growth of the offshoots on the main frond reveal a truth in nature,

Sometimes conditions give photographers opportunities to see in ways that are closed off to others. Riding in the bow of a tugboat and shooting with a fisheye lens allowed me to see and photograph a container ship my own way.

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Asphalt Autumn. We’ve all seen, admired, and photographed the colors of autumn, but the photographer looks elsewhere, tries to interpret the beauty of nature in a whole new way, like on a wet road having been crushed by passing cars.

Asphalt Autumn. We’ve all seen, admired, and photographed the colors of autumn, but the photographer looks elsewhere, tries to interpret the beauty of nature in a whole new way, like on a wet road having been crushed by passing cars.

So far it’s truth, revelation, fresh or new interpretation, and I’m now adding preservation. Photographers take thousands of images of their wives, husbands, parents, and children. And embedded in those photographs are truths of who these people were at one specific time, where they lived, experiences they’ve shared.

Recording for Posterity

My forty-five year old son at age three months.

My forty-five year old son at age three months.

My sister-in-law Teeny, killed in an avalanche almost thirty-two years ago., preserved both in our memories and in photographs.

My sister-in-law Teeny, killed in an avalanche almost thirty-two years ago., preserved both in our memories and in photographs.

6210 Ridge Avenue, the house I lived in until I was seventeen. Now torn down and replaced with an apartment building, my childhood home exists as far as I know in this one 35mm transparency.

6210 Ridge Avenue, the house I lived in until I was seventeen. Now torn down and replaced with an apartment building, my childhood home exists as far as I know in this one 35mm transparency.

The Natural World and Photography.

Some psychologists believe that people bring plants and animals inside their homes to reconnect with the world they (their ancestors) once lived in. Perhaps that explains the fascination photographers have with nature, with landscapes, flowers, sunrises and sunsets. We’re all going home. But once again we have to make our image unique, better or different from the many that have preceded it and the many that will follow. But how do we do that? For Ansel Adams the clarity of his 8 x 10 view camera, his patience, his understanding of all the processes that make up film photography, his understanding and search for perfect light, made him one of the best landscape photographers.

It’s not my strength. I have favorites, but they pale. I walked to the beach as Hurricane Iwa came ashore in Oahu in 1982.

I remember the power of the wind, the darkening skies.

I remember the power of the wind, the darkening skies.

Annapurna, along the Jamsom Trek in the Himalayas in Nepal. (Path in the lower right) A grab shot. We were in the Himalayas when I turned, saw Annapurna, and was struck by all the elements that make this a photograph.

Annapurna, along the Jamsom Trek in the Himalayas in Nepal. (Path in the lower right) A grab shot. We were in the Himalayas when I turned, saw Annapurna, and was struck by all the elements that make this a photograph.

Closer to home. I live about five minutes from a vacant lot that overlooks the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and points beyond. On a late February day in 2016 I watched as a thunderstorm just south of San Francisco was illuminated by the colors of a dramatic winter sunset.

Closer to home. I live about five minutes from a vacant lot that overlooks the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and points beyond. On a late February day in 2016 I watched as a thunderstorm just south of San Francisco was illuminated by the colors of a dramatic winter sunset.

I’m more at home with the smallness of nature—a backlit spider on a rainy day, the colors of strawberry leaves, a passion flower in full bloom., and a hummingbird feeding.

I’m more at home with the smallness of nature—a backlit spider on a rainy day, the colors of strawberry leaves, a passion flower in full bloom., and a hummingbird feeding.

At the end of Part I. Why do I take photos? I look for the truth in all things and I enjoy watching life revealing itself through images. I’m a collector of photos. In preserving the images that make up my collection I am preserving not only what I’m photographing but also pieces of myself. And last, I am grateful for the incredible beauty of nature as it’s revealed to me in shapes, colors, and life, and I photograph such things to make them a part of my collection and to be a part of theirs. That’s not exactly right. I photograph them because they demand to be photographed. I have no choice.

The Trailer for Part II. Sometimes the photographer uses what he photographs to create something altogether different. Softness and blur are in my toolkit. There are infinite possibilities, only a few of which have I explored.

Motorcyclist, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Motorcyclist, Glenwood Springs, Colorado



eBay

A few weeks ago I put up my Panisonic Lumix LX 100 II for sale on eBay. Instead of filling the twelve photo spaces with pictures of the camera I chose images that I had taken with the camera just to show prospective buyers what it could do.

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I wrote this to Derek:

“Hi Derek, thank you for your purchase of my Panasonic camera. I will send it out today and will update you with the tracking number. I'm also using this space to give you a little hint about using the camera. As a professional photographer I loved the dial on top of the camera that allowed me to override auto settings when unusual lighting situations required a different setting than the camera indicated. Just be apprised that it's something to check before you do a quick grab shot. I would have preferred a little locking button so the dial couldn't change exposure without me performing a two-step operation. It's not a problem, just something that on occasion requires your attention. I have left you positive feedback and would welcome the same upon receipt and your satisfaction. Thank you, David”

Yesterday I received this note from him:

merriyou70:

I just let you know, the camera you sold to me, has bugs, it does not work well.

I sent him the following and enclosed the December 12th sales invoice from B & H cameras in New York, showing that the camera is still under warranty:

“Derek, I used the camera up until the day you purchased it. It worked fine, and all the photos on the listing were taken with that camera. I'm attaching a sales order from B & H for the camera which was purchased on the 12th of December, 2018. It should still be under factory warranty. If you can tell the nearest service center what the "bugs" are they should be able to take care of them for you.”

And here was his reply:

David, thank you for quick responses, unfortunately it is too late for me to do anything, I'm at stage 4 Cancer, I was going to photograph my last experiences of Cancer. I think time ran out, I'm not not going to ask you do anything about the camera. I'm just going left along. Only thing I asked you is that just do details of product next time. I'm asking this person who love photography. Two photos I added took with my old Lumix, I had good experience with it. The camera you sold, the menu button are very jumpy, and camera is behaving punky, not sure if it is firmware problem or what. But I can't take pictures with it. It is my mistake, I should just bought the brand new camera. Anyway good luck and thank you.
God bless,
Derek

David

The Solano Stroll

On a sunny September Sunday the city of Berkeley closes Solano Avenue, a one mile stretch between the Alameda (on top) and San Pablo Avenue (down below) so that thousands of people can march up and down the street sampling slices of pizza from Zachary’s, sandwiches and fries from food trucks, and quench their thirst with lemonade from the many food and beverage stands that punctuate the road between the two arteries. Every year we go. Every year we say “we’ll never go again”, as it’s always the same.

Weaving in and among the strollers and skateboarders turns the stroll into a slither.

Weaving in and among the strollers and skateboarders turns the stroll into a slither.

And of course, the opening act is a parade. Hundreds of booths featuring camera clubs, churches, hang-gliding classes, Kung Fu exhibitions, Scottish folk dancing, high school jazz bands, political candidates, and this year, two opposing Jewish groups, one supporting Palestinians’ rights, the other, opposed.

And of course, the opening act is a parade. Hundreds of booths featuring camera clubs, churches, hang-gliding classes, Kung Fu exhibitions, Scottish folk dancing, high school jazz bands, political candidates, and this year, two opposing Jewish groups, one supporting Palestinians’ rights, the other, opposed.

And amid the booths, the food, always the food.

And amid the booths, the food, always the food.

For me the fun is the people. Here’s a kid on a pogo stick.

For me the fun is the people. Here’s a kid on a pogo stick.

And a Taiko drummer

And a Taiko drummer

It’s Berkeley, remember?

It’s Berkeley, remember?

It’s an All-American stroll with All-American dogs…

It’s an All-American stroll with All-American dogs…

…and family portraits of two happy sons

…and family portraits of two happy sons

Music is the order of business, whether Scottish Folk,

Music is the order of business, whether Scottish Folk,

Big Band,

Big Band,

or Mexican, with real Dancing in the Street

or Mexican, with real Dancing in the Street

Or Rock n’ Roll, and anyone can join in.

Or Rock n’ Roll, and anyone can join in.

Ye Olde School Trail

We chose to move to Kensington because we found a house that had lovely grounds, redwood trees, a place for a vegetable garden, and neighbors whose homes were hidden by large trees, giving us the sense of privacy that we had enjoyed in Santa Rosa. Tilden Park, with its many forested trails, views of the city and even the mountains, was an unknown. We discovered that we were only fifteen minutes away from Tilden’s Selby Trail, one of our favorites. And Selby wasn’t alone. Another hidden gem was the Olde School Trail which begins where Lake Street ends, runs along the ridge that separates Kensington from Tilden, and ends at the playground behind Hilltop School.

The Beginning

The Beginning

Every Wednesday morning I include the trail as part of my mostly urban stroll. The trail takes about twenty minutes to navigate.  The residents have been stockpiling mulch and wheelbarrows so that those who frequent the trail can take a wheelbarrow and dump the mulch in the spots where the winter rains might otherwise make the path muddy and treacherous. 

An open invitation for hikers to help the neighbors whose properties back up to the trail maintain it..

An open invitation for hikers to help the neighbors whose properties back up to the trail maintain it..

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Naked ladies alongside Olde School Trail. The hills of Tilden are off to the right.

I was up early yesterday before the fog had a chance to clear, and except for a couple of dogwalkers, I had the trail to myself.

I was up early yesterday before the fog had a chance to clear, and except for a couple of dogwalkers, I had the trail to myself.

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Even with the wood chips and mulch, the Olde School Trail was no match for last year’s soggy winter. Rivulets during the first heavy rains carved a path through the mulch.

Later in the winter…after the rains have fallen. This gentleman walks the trail with his son, taking him to Hilltop School, while pushing his twin daughters and carrying his dog at a time when the trail isn’t as pleasant a walk as it is the rest of the year.

Later in the winter…after the rains have fallen. This gentleman walks the trail with his son, taking him to Hilltop School, while pushing his twin daughters and carrying his dog at a time when the trail isn’t as pleasant a walk as it is the rest of the year.

Not all hikers on Ye Olde School Trail are human

Not all hikers on Ye Olde School Trail are human

On a prettier day

On a prettier day

The Paradise fire preceded the rains by a couple of months. We couldn’t see San Francisco for a week. Everyone wore masks. For several days the air quality was deemed the worst in the world, even worse than Beijing and Delhi. I still walked on Wednesday, mask over my face, camera in hand. Three sunrise images during the fires.

Looking north through Tilden.

Looking north through Tilden.

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The Naked Ladies aren’t the only floral companions on the Olde School Trail.

The Naked Ladies aren’t the only floral companions on the Olde School Trail.

And since the Olde School Trail has uninterrupted views to the east it was a perfect spot to set up a tripod and await the arrival of one of last year’s two “supermoons.”

And since the Olde School Trail has uninterrupted views to the east it was a perfect spot to set up a tripod and await the arrival of one of last year’s two “supermoons.”

Plus Ca Change

Perhaps one of the more revealing emails that I have received over the past few years included this image of a man and a little girl.

I met Gail Anderson fifty-one years ago. She sent me this email recently, saying that for her it represented a relationship that we had in 1968. She was eight; I was twenty-one..

I met Gail Anderson fifty-one years ago. She sent me this email recently, saying that for her it represented a relationship that we had in 1968. She was eight; I was twenty-one..

Many years ago Jadyne and I took our kids to Hawaii.  We were sitting around a hotel open-air fireplace one cool evening when we overhead a conversation between a father and his daughter.  They had been snorkeling when he lost sight of her.  “Dad,” she said, “You needn’t worry about me.  I was fine, I’m thirty-five!”  He replied, “You don’t understand.  I’m your father!”  Some things simply don’t change.

When Jennifer was 21 she went to Bangkok and traveled around Asia for about fifteen months, living in virtually every country for a month or so.  We were worried about her so Jadyne and I, after realizing that she wouldn’t be home by Christmas, wanted to confirm for ourselves that she was okay, so we agreed to meet her in April in Hanoi.  When I saw how comfortable she was in dealing with the Vietnamese in the markets and hotels our respective roles reversed.  She was now in charge, as she knew more about bargaining, traveling, and simply getting along in Asia than I did.  I realized subconsciously that this signified not only a growth in her but also a real change in our relationship, and that I could put away my worries and fears about her being able to manage in these circumstances. I could rely on her experience to provide advice.  But, as I began to recognize that she had grown into a capable and independent young woman, and second, that in Vietnam our roles had switched, I was (and am), still her father. C’est la meme chose.

My relationship with my two brothers—Jack in Cincinnati and Bill, who lives just five minutes away, has changed over the years.  I was the youngest of three, and even though Bill was a stepbrother, the age difference when we were growing up was the biggest factor in our relationship. That was especially true with Jack, my “real” brother.  Now that we are all grown up the age difference is irrelevant, and what has determined or affected how we relate to each other has more to do with our understandings of who we are today. And by “who we are” I’m referring to our interests..  I have become closer to my stepbrother while maintaining a closeness with my “real” brother.

Jadyne spent two days with her high school friends in Sonoma, which she does once or twice a year.  These are girls (women) who were close in high school. They still enjoy each other’s company for a night once a year or so.  They can talk, but they have less in common today than when they were little Catholic schoolgirls with common interests and experiences. Relationships are living things, susceptible to change in so many ways, especially when people see each other frequently.

Marriages break up.  The couple has grown (or not), and in either case the relationship changes.  Some remain in those relationships “for the kids” even when the love is gone and the relationship has stagnated or failed to meet the changing needs of one or the other. In more successful marriages the couple embraces, accepts, or adjusts to the inevitable changes, and the changes enhance the relationship.

And that brings me back to the photo. Eight year old Gail will be sixty this year. Twenty-one year old David will be seventy-three. Because we haven’t seen each other for almost a quarter of a century our relationship hasn’t evolved the way others might.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Fifty years ago she needed someone like me.  And fifty years ago I needed someone like her.  I was the youngest of three brothers.  I never had a sister.  She was that little sister.  We still write to each other occasionally, mostly about our kids, our grandchildren, and the everyday comings and goings in our lives. We’re friends, maintaining a friendship and relationship that began fifty-one years ago, and even though we’re both grandparents, the foundation of our relationship is still frozen in the image of the little girl holding onto her doll and the man who soothes and comforts her.

Plus Ca Change Plus La Meme Chose

Totally Useless Photo Information

Unlike most amateur cameras, professional cameras have the ability to shoot photos as jpegs (useful for the internet, Facebook, etc.) or RAW (images that contain all the information that the sensor in the camera can pick up).  RAW images make the best enlargements, although they take up so much space on a card in the camera or on a desktop that they can be unwieldy.

I always shoot RAW just in case I’m fortunate enough to capture an image that is so good that I would either want to sell it, print it, or, simply make it look as good as I can make it.

All images can be adjusted by software, but in the case of RAW images, the photographer’s ability to make the most out of an image is only limited by the software.  As improvements take place in software, RAW images that were processed by inferior or older software enjoy a second life.

And so it is with Adobe’s Lightroom, perhaps the most useful and comprehensive software editing program.  Recently, Adobe introduced a new tool called “enhancement” that can only be applied to RAW images taken with a few cameras, one of which is my Nikon D 850.  Here is an image processed in Lightroom. adding the enhancement feature, which Adobe claims improves the RAW image as much as 30%.

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Of course, how good it looks also depends on your computer, phone, or iPad screen.  I currently have 69,173 images stored on my computer, all of which can be enhanced by Lightroom better than they could have been last year, the year before, or 2003 when I first bought a digital camera.

Some photographers pour over old images, knowing that they can be improved. I confess that I occasionally do that, too. But for me, I’m primarily interested in the next image. It’s the shooting itself, the hunting, what photographers call “captures” that I live for. I have a formatted card in my camera. I’m ready.

Antar

Yesterday it rained.  It was also the first of the month.  People have money and they don’t want to get wet, so it was predictably slow at the Berkeley Food Pantry where I’ve been volunteering for the past eight years, providing food once a month to those who are willing to wait an hour or so for some meat, dairy, a few cans of soup or peaches, fresh bread and produce..  We’re open between 2 and 4 MWF, and during one of the quieter moments close to 4:00 yesterday I sat outside where the clients wait for their name to be called.  On busy days it’s a real wait.  Yesterday, by 3:00 there was no one.  Or one.  Antar.  Antar had gotten his food and was chomping on a bagel when I began chatting with him.  We discovered that we had both attended Burlingame HS, although I was a senior when he was a freshman.  Somehow the conversation turned to the guitar, and we both expressed our love for playing. 

He said, “I have about 600 videos on YouTube”, and gave me his nom de guitar, “Antarblue.” I looked him up, and found this version of “Misty.” Rock, jazz, it’s all there. He’s good.

He said, “I have about 600 videos on YouTube”, and gave me his nom de guitar, “Antarblue.” I looked him up, and found this version of “Misty.” Rock, jazz, it’s all there. He’s good.

W know next to nothing about our clients. We check to make sure that they live in Berkeley or Albany, but there are no additional requirements. We don’t ask for proof of income (or lack thereof), marital status, or any personal information. We do make exceptions for the homeless. They get food, period.

Sarah Robinson records the clients’ names on a sign-in sheet. One day she wrote down, “Jeff Borowiak.” Here’s Jeff when he was a bit younger.

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“Jeff Borowiak (born September 25, 1949) is a former professional tennis player from the United States, who won five singles and three doubles titles during his professional career, reaching a career-high ATP singles ranking of World No. 20 in August 1977.” Wikipedia

Sarah asked, “What happened?” Jeff replied, ‘Sometimes things don’t always work out.” Jeff needed food.

Here’s Charlie Musselwhite, the Grammy-nominated blues harmonica player:

Charlie hasn’t been in, but his steel guitar player lives in Peoples Park in Berkeley, has played with dozens of famous musicians, and used to come in monthly for food for himself and for his friends.  You don’t have to be famous to get food, just hungry.

Charlie hasn’t been in, but his steel guitar player lives in Peoples Park in Berkeley, has played with dozens of famous musicians, and used to come in monthly for food for himself and for his friends.

You don’t have to be famous to get food, just hungry.

When a Boy Becomes a Man

This morning I updated my Tesla Model 3 with the software that crossed over my wifi system last night and found this, buried among a handful of bug fixes that make the ventilation system run more smoothly.

I tried it out today, running through the seven different fart sounds that the engineers at Tesla created, then shared with those of us who have plopped down the many thousands of dollars we plopped for the privilege of being green or being cool, or whatever motivated us to do what we do to own a Tesla.

I confess.  I can’t remember laughing out loud.  Ever.  I like to believe that I have a sense of humor, that I love the New Yorker’s cartoons and short articles called “Shouts and Murmurs”, that I find that irony often amuses me.  I laugh inside, but I just don’t guffaw, snort, or make noises.  I love to listen to music, too, but it doesn’t move me to dance.  Perhaps that’s because I’m a really shitty dancer, but I can be moved inwardly, I can dance without actually flailing my arms and legs.  I can still do the Twist and the Stroll

With the update, though, you see a cartoon whoopee cushion on the giant screen in the center of the dashboard, and because it’s a touch screen you can move the cushion to whichever seat in the car you choose.  Once placed you can choose from the seven different fart sounds:

  • Not a Fart: A two-part toot.

      1. rts Ripper: As the name implies, an extremely short sound. Good for turn signals.

        • A slam on Tesla stock short sellers, who Musk regularly trolls.

      2. Falcon Heavy: Aptly named and powerful.

        • Named after the SpaceX rocket that launched Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster into orbit.

      3. Ludicrous Fart: A long, victorious display of windy harmony.

        • Named after Tesla's high-performance acceleration setting, Ludicrous Mode.

      4. Neurastink: A generic fart sound effect.

        • One of the more indistinguishable companies that Musk fronts, NeuraLink .

      5. Boring: Rumbly.

        • Another play on The Boring Company .

      6. I'm so random: Literally picks one of the above fart sounds at random.

The sound is generated from speakers placed near the seat where the Whoopee cushion is placed on the screen and activated either by the turn signal or by a rotary knob on the steering wheel.  So, just as someone enters the car, the driver has the world at his fingers.

Confession. As I drove down I-80 to pick up the Christmas Honey-Baked Ham I hit the litle knurled knob on the steering wheel, with sound set to “I’m so random.” Over and over again. I disproved my theory. I can, absolutely can, laugh out loud.

In an hour I’m driving to two different elementary schools to pick up three of my grandchildren, ages 9, 8, and 6.  I wish I could record their faces when they sit down.

So, to answer my question, “When Does a Boy Become a Man?” In my case, never.

Happiness

After seeing this video I started to think about what happiness is to me.  I began by looking at what others had to say, and several comments and graphic designs with messages superimposed resonated.  The rodent in the video sought happiness through external means, none of which leads to real happiness.  The wages of sin, it is said, is death.  And so it is for the rodent in this video, falsely believing  that the pursuit of happiness comes from without.

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Some of the screen shots that I found dealt with happiness in a different way, one isn’t as deep or so relevant .  “Happiness is having what you want and wanting what you have,” and a variation of that, “Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time; it’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it.”

The more spiritual nature of happiness has nothing to do with things. It is a choice that comes from within, that, as Buddha is reported to have said, “that it doesn’t depend on what you have or who you are, but what you think.”

Apart from what spiritual leaders think, I am happy when I’m doing something for someone. Whether it’s washing dishes in the men’s shelter on Center Street before breakfast or a comment from a friend thanking me for something. This happiness works both ways. Sometimes it’s something I’ve said or done; sometimes it’s what was said or done for me. It’s all one. I have friends whose presence in my life simply makes me happy.

Though happiness is a choice, a decision, the path to happiness means overcoming obstacles, some of which are insurmountable.  I spend part of three days dealing with the homeless.  It’s easy to choose happiness when you have a roof over your head, when you’re well fed, in good health, have companionship and love.  When your pillow is a rolled-up sweatshirt in a concrete doorway it’s a different story.  You don’t have the opportunity to make the choice to be happy because your growling stomach is loud. and your dirty threadbare jacket can’t keep out the cold.  For some happiness is as unlikely a prospect in their lives as a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. 

One of those avoidable obstacles is the smartphone. “Whether it’s someone you’ve never met or it’s friends and family, spending time with people face to face is linked with happiness.” Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology. Some estimates of smartphone use suggest that the average person touches his phone over two thousand times a day. That means that two thousand times a day he isn’t seeking social interaction, trying to understand other people and other perspectives.

Maybe the focus shouldn’t be on being happy, but on the acceptance that so much of what we feel, who we are, and what we do, are decisions that come from within.  In George Bush’s funeral his son said that, “hate corrupts the vessel that contains it.”  Perhaps choosing to love, to do good, to be useful to others, activities which enrich and strengthen that vessel, ultimately make it possible to overcome those obstacles, to achieve real happiness.

 

Christmas

As a boy Christmas was pure magic.  The official beginning of Christmas took place when we cut down the tree, plugged in the lights, (replacing the six or seven bulbs that gave up the ghost during the year), retrieved the boxes of ornaments, placing them in no prescribed order.  We still have a little round ornament onto which I glued sparkles with the name “David”, I think from as far back as Cub Scouts.  We have ornaments that Teeny made, that the kids created, that we’ve bought during our travels, funny ornaments that mean little (an alligator) or some that simply reflect who we are, such as a camera and a guitar for me.

But that is now.  We’re repeating today what we all did sixty years ago, although with our kids grown and gone, it’s really not the same.  Sixty years ago we went to All Saints Episcopal Church for the evening service on Christmas Eve.  Johnny Schmidt had already opened his presents, which I always thought was a terrible mistake.  What did he have to look forward to tomorrow?  My mother once said that the worst Christmas she ever had was the one where she opened a closet door and discovered all her gifts, leaving her nothing to look forward to Christmas morning.

I mostly remember singing the traditional carols on Christmas Eve, everyone joining in, standing next to my mother, who only sang on key about as often as a stopped clock tells the real time.   When the service ended we piled in the Gray Ghost, our 1953 Ford Sedan, headed home, and I climbed into bed, waiting for the arrival of Santa.  Of course we left a cookie or two on our fireplace mantle.  Its disappearance the next morning was the first sign that Santa had made it safely to 6210 Ridge Avenue.  Had he remembered to bring me my Mattel Burp Gun?  Did he bring enough roll caps so that I could shoot up the Post Office the next day?  Did I get the Stallion .45 caliber pistol with the interchangeable black and white handles?  Seeing the extraordinary array of wrapped presents below the tree gave no hint as to who got what or what was contained inside.  I knew what was in at least two presents.  I had bought $.99 45 rpm records for both my brothers, records that I wanted for myself, rationalizing that they might like them, too. 

Since we had all gone to church the night before we didn’t have to accompany Dad as he led the sparsely attended Christmas morning service, returning home to a late  brunch of eggs, bacon, toast, and of course my mother’s delicious sour cream coffee cake. I wolfed down breakfast, anxiously waiting for everyone else to finish, so we could attend the main event—the opening, appreciating, and lamenting the wrong toys, contained within the gaily wrapped packages.

In the evening we drove to my Aunt Helen’s house where all my mother’s family gathered, had dinner, then once again repeated the entire ceremonious unwrapping of gifts, oohing and aahing, insincerely thanking our aunts, uncles and cousins, listening while my Uncle Andrew told tasteless and cruel Polish jokes, which none of us understood anyhow.  And that was Christmas.  Then.

We always had a Christmas tree, usually purchased at a lot. We’ve saved ornaments, too, and they mean more each year. This is one I made with my name on it. I put glue on it, then sparkles to make the letters. It’s probably sixty-five years old.


David

David

Part II was a repeat of Part I, except we’ve never been churchgoers, so the carols were out.  (I miss that part).  The kids all went to bed early.  We left ketchup and oranges for Santa.  (I insisted that he loved ketchup).

We still had brunch, and Jadyne learned how to duplicate my mother’s sour cream coffee cake.  And we still had presents.  Here are two color slides taken on Christmas morning that echo in Jason the feelings that we all had (or have).  I’ve always meant to print these together and call them, “Different Presents.”

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But Christmas for the five Buchholzes were not without other memories as well.

Teeny made this in 1985

Teeny made this in 1985

So now, 2018, we don’t even celebrate Christmas on Christmas.  With families scattered from El Cerrito to Sacramento, we find a time where everyone can be together.  This year it’s December 22nd, and we’ll host six adults, six grandchildren, and all will be as it was when we were growing up and when our children were growing up.  For our adult children and their spouses, though, they will celebrate Christmas on Christmas, with their own families of four, in their own houses, at their own times, and in their own ways.

Jadyne and I will be at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, walking along the beach, or perhaps at Point Lobos, near Carmel, celebrating Christmas privately, giving thanks for the celebration three days earlier, for our families, our health, for the love we have for each other.  And we will remember, that although we don’t attend church or raise our voices to heaven, that the message that Jesus brought two thousand years earlier still resonates, and for that we will give thanks.

Zhongbing

Zhongbing. He’s at the Ancient Szechuan Restarant in El Cerrito with his wife and the female half of his twins.

YaZheng, Ziyan, and Zhongbing

YaZheng, Ziyan, and Zhongbing

Zhongbing is my current “CP” or Conversational Partner. A couple of years ago Jadyne saw on the Kensington kiosk a request for volunteers to pair up with graduate students from UC Berkeley who, being from foreign countries, wanted to improve their conversational English. If you think of the language in three parts—reading, writing, and speaking—many ESL learners can manage two of them. The third, speaking, is often taught by ESL teachers who don’t speak it well themselves. In China, that means that Chinese teachers, many of whom have poor conversational skills, are the ones guiding their students. Naturally, their focus is on reading and writing.

Zhonging can read and write reasonably well, but when it comes to speaking, oh me oh my. When we first met a year or so ago I couldn’t understand a word he said. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. The previous year my CP was Hao Yun, who was pursuing his second Ph.D. He already had one in Optical Engineering and felt that he needed one in Chemistry, too.

Both Hao Yun and Zhong are in their thirties, married and have children. Hao Yun spoke good English and our conversations centered on fairly sophisticated subjects—the relationship between the US and the two Koreas, elections in the US, social issues, such as abortion and homosexuality. We would walk around Berkeley looking at personalized license plates, many of which were puns, and he would try to figure them out. We might spend an hour in Andronico’s, looking at breakfast cereals and talking about what Americans eat.

Alas, Zhongbing is another story. When I first met him I couldn’t decipher a single sentence he spoke. We have English-Mandarin dictionaries on our phones, and we frequently summoned them to complete a thought. It wasn’t that Zhongbing didn’t know the word. He did. There are so many sounds in English that aren’t replicated in Mandarin, and Zhong would show me the word in the dictionary, a word we both knew, and then I would make him say it over and over again, trying to get the sound of the word right. The “V” sound in English comes out as a “W” when Zhongbing says it. When he says “very” I hear “weary.” After a year we’re making progress.

“Zhong”, I said this morning, “How many hours a week do you speak to someone else in English?” “None,” he answered. He studies, lives, and spends his time with Mandarin speakers. There are 168 hours in the week. I spend an hour with him. Not much, but it helps. He’s improved considerably in the last year.

YaZheng, however, came over for three weeks, her first visit to an English speaking country. She spoke exactly 0 words of English. And his daughter? Another story.

Here he is. Or here she is. When Jadyne first saw her she thought that she was a he.

You be the Judge.

You be the Judge.

Zhong wanted Jadyne and me to meet his family, so he hosted us all at the Ancient Szechuan Restaurant for a midday banquet highlighted by this incredible fish dish.

The tail emerges from a sea of peppers and vegetables in the front of the pan.

The tail emerges from a sea of peppers and vegetables in the front of the pan.

Jadyne has a conversational partner, too. Here we all are in front of the restaurant post-banquet.

Danesh, Celia, YaZheng Ziyan. Zhong, Jadyne, and me

Danesh, Celia, YaZheng Ziyan. Zhong, Jadyne, and me

Danesh loves to drive. He never drove in China and was scared to death to drive here. When he took his driving test he turned left into oncoming traffic at which point he was told to “Stop immediately and get out of the car.” A few weeks later he passed. Zhong, Danesh, and Celia all took their tests in Corte Madera, eschewing the El Cerrito DMV because word spread through “We Chat”, an Asian version of Facebook, that the test was easier in Corte Madera, despite the fact that it was several miles away, across a toll bridge. Danesh doesn’t speak English at all, but he loves to eat. Celia, however, lived in Australia for a year, and she’s almost fluent. She and Jadyne carry on conversations once a week for an hour, too.

Zhong and YaZheng met in college. He is a professor; she is a building designer. Zhong’s major is “Building, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.” They study and design ventilation, heating, and climate controlled systems for high rises. Zhong writes papers on subjects so obscure that I have no way of knowing what he’s talking about. I can, however, match subject and verbs, help him with parallelism, and other English grammatical tricks.

Jadyne’s brother and sister-in-law are visiting from Colorado. We’re taking them to the Ancient Szechuan Restaurant in El Cerrito. Zhongbing tonight will be our honored guest.




ZZZzzz

"Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
That slid into my soul." 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

Sonoma County Fair

Sonoma County Fair

If you're as fortunate as Jadyne you fall asleep within five or ten minutes after you turn out the light.  We could be in mid-conversation.  I ask her a question.  "Did you hear me?"  I ask.  She responds, "ZZZZZ"

I'm not nearly as lucky.  I'm currently in a period in my life at 72 when I actually can sleep.  Not enough, but I can sleep.  By 8:00 pm I'm flat on my back with a book or my iPad in my hands; by 8:30 I make one last visit to the bathroom.  By 9:00 it's dark and so am I.  "Do you really go to bed that early?" my friends ask, incredulously.  "Yes, I do," I respond, annoyed.  "I often wake up between 3 and 4," I say, "and by 4 I'm heating hot water to warm my cup, then grinding the beans for the six cups of Peets Major Dickason blend that greet us in the morning." The SF Chronicle arrives at 4, and more than once I've heard the thud of the paper on the driveway as I stumble up the flagstone to retrieve the collection of yesterday's bad news that accompanies my first cup of morning joe.  This morning I went face-to-face with a neighborhood skunk who was emerging from the Patton's driveway.  We stared at each other, not making a move, before he slunk into the gutter that runs down the north side of Rugby Avenue.  A couple of weeks ago Jadyne was sprayed as she went to get the paper.  Several days before the smell dissipated.

But not all has gone well.  I've had periods when I've slept less than five or six hours, fatigue be damned.  I lie awake for hours, my eyes closed, the room dark and quiet, the only sound the occasional train in the distance, "It's like a crypt!" exclaimed one of our friends who spent her first night here.  No disturbances, that is none from outside.  But here am I on the inside.

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He's counting sheep.  That doesn't work.  Nor does counting anything.  Or playing a song in my mind on the guitar.  Or, when I used to play golf, replaying a round, shot by shot.

What does?  Well, Ambien does.  Now that the patent on the original drug has run out there's a generic equivalent called "Zolpidem."  When I was an Ambien devoteé my doctor would prescribe thirty pills at a time in 10 mg sizes.  Here's the deal with Ambien.  After two or three nights taking Ambien you think you've reset your sleep clock, paid your debt to the sleep bank.  You're rested and refreshed.  The fourth night you don't fall asleep nearly as fast.  You tell yourself, "If I had taken an Ambien I would be asleep by now."  You lie awake for another thirty minutes or so, then take another Ambien.  Presto.  You come back to bed and fall asleep.  But now you know that unless you take an Ambien, you will never get to sleep.  That's not true, of course, but you've bought into that thinking.  Now what do you do?

Dr. Dean Edell, a now retired doctor with a radio show, tells the story of a night he spent camping with his wife.  Unable to seep, Dr. Dean took an Ambien and immediately dropped off.  In the morning his wife asked, "Where's my thyroid pill?"  Never overestimate the power of placebos.  I cut a 5 mg Ambien into quarters, effectively turning them into placebos, and off I go.

Some people can sleep anywhere.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Great Barrier Reef, Australia 2003

Great Barrier Reef, Australia 2003

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

San Francisco's BART trains are the only bed for many.

We get it where we can.  People ride BART from one end of the line to the other and back again.  It's warm.  No one bothers you.

We get it where we can.  People ride BART from one end of the line to the other and back again.  It's warm.  No one bothers you.

I'm reading "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker who makes a persuasive case for eight hours of sleep every night.  He describes an incredibly powerful drug that's in front of each and every one of us.

                                                AMAZING BREAKTHROUGH

"Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer.  It enhances your memory and makes you more creative.  It makes you look more attractive.  It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.  It protects you from cancer and dementia.  It wards off colds and the flu.  It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes.  You'll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.  Are you interested?"  Yes, please hand it over.  I'll pay anything.  Is it legal?

It is a myth that we need less sleep as we age.  Eight to nine hours for every adult, every night.  I've been in bed for eight hours straight (not counting tugs of the bladder), but asleep?  Nein.  This is a wonderful new project for me.  Sleep.  Eight hours.  Who knew?

Millions of adults have sleep issues, the most common of which is insomnia.  There is no shortage of information available on insomnia, sleep apnea, and the myriad of other issues that beset those of us who have trouble sleeping. 

To overcome my tinnitus I was introduced to "cognitive behavioral therapy", a collection of mental and psychological exercises that are designed to help the patient deal with and overcome the triggers that made coping difficult.  I haven't enrolled in any classes that deal with insomnia, but the most promising and long-lasting treatment is, you guessed it, "cognitive behavioral therapy," mental processes that help us overcome the stressors and other issues that have led us down the path of unwanted awakeness.  

At the moment I'm doing well.  No heavy dinners, a cool bedroom, darkness, no iPad in bed, no late night cocktails, and a consistent routine, unusual as it may seem to others, that begins to shut my body down after sixteen hours and wakes it up, early though it may be, eight hours later.  Hello, 4 am, skunks, the morning Chronicle, and three cups of Peets.

 

Angels in America

Three hours and forty minutes after the lights went dim at Berkeley Rep, Jadyne and I stood to applaud the actors who had just mesmerized us with just the first half of a two part play written by Tony Kushner in the early eighties and revived and brought back to stage by Tony Taccone.

For those of that certain age who remember the AIDS epidemic, the mysterious fatal disease that was responsible for the deaths of over 7,000 people in 1985 alone, Angels in America is a somber reminder of the hopeless situation that thousands of gay Americans as well as hospitalized patients who received tainted blood transfusions faced as their friends and lovers died slow and agonizing deaths from a disease that the medical community had never seen and had no idea how to treat.  Tony Kushner, the 36 year old playwright, spent time in the mid-eighties along Sonoma County's Russian River, creating this "gay fantasia", which features gay men struck by AIDS, a heterosexual man who discovers his inner gayness, and such diverse and unexpected players as attorney Roy Cohn (who died of AIDS), and Ethel Rosenberg.  Three hours and forty minutes later, we were ready for Part II.

By June of 1987 AIDS activists began the NAMES project, a quilt to remember the names of the many thousands who died of AIDS.  To date more than 48,000 panels commemorating the many lives lost to AIDS have been created.  Two panels were on display in the lobby of the Berkeley Rep theater.

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Although AIDS hasn't disappeared from the American medical landscape drugs have been discovered to prevent the spread of HIV and to prolong the lives of those who have been infected with AIDS.  Berkeley Rep brought the play back to the stage because  the political climate that was uninterested in helping those in need (think Reagan), is so similar to the political climate that we're facing today.

Footnote.  When our son John was about ten years old he became ill, and as concerned parents we took him to the hospital.  The doctor who examined him was puzzled and called in another doctor.  The two doctors poured over John's test results.  John was there watching.  At first clearly flummoxed, the doctors conferred and came up with this conclusion:  John had been vaccinated against the Mumps, but somehow had contracted it.  Meanwhile John broke into tears.  Before the results were in I asked him, "Why are you crying?"  John's reply:  "I thought I had AIDS."

Sedona/Antelope Canyon

May Day, 2018.  Jadyne and I climbed on one of Southwest Airlines' 737s for the ninety minute flight to Phoenix where we met friend Jerry Stack for brunch before heading out in our rented Buick Regal for the two hour drive to our Air B & B in Sedona.  One of our first stops was at Bell Rock, famous for its being the center of what was purported to be a "global shift", scheduled to take place on December 21, 2012.

Bell Rock, still intact (although it wasn't predicted to be).

Bell Rock, still intact (although it wasn't predicted to be).

From the Sedona Historical Society,  "While we don’t know what may or may not happen in the next few weeks, it is fun to take a look back 25 years to the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 (days of not so yore) to see what the hoopla was all about.  If you are not conversant with New Age/New Wave, it is the moment outlined in ancient Mayan calendars to note “the precise calibration points in a harmonic scale that marks the moment when the process of global civilization climaxes.”  For those of us old enough to remember the Fifth Dimension of the 1960s, it is the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” Sedona is one of the 12 “power points” or sacred sites worldwide.  The other points were not too shabby: Stonehenge, Mt. Olympus, the Great Pyramid, Machu Picchu, and Mt. Fuji, plus a few others not quite so notable.  The Mayan calendar marked the date, and the planets cooperated by aligning, also known as a Grand Triune.  Local believers took the event very seriously. Organizers of the “world harmony days” anticipated thousands of celebrants to rejoice in the shift from separation and fear to unity and love. Celebrations were expected from international to local levels.  In Sedona, there were hot lines of information and free newsletters to keep everyone up to date. The ultimate ritual was 7 minutes of humming at noon Greenwich time (5 a.m. Sedona time) by those actively calling in the era of peace and harmony (not easy to do -- try humming for 7 minutes).  Obviously, rumors ran rampant. A space ship would be landing on Bell Rock…Bell Rock would crack in two and the space ship would fly from Inner Earth to Outer Space.  The morning humming was to levitate Bell Rock since Bell Rock was to be the spaceship.  Devotees were dancing naked around Bell Rock (a rumor only). There even would be a human sacrifice off Apache Leap (west of Bell Rock).  Traffic along Hwy. 179 was a nightmare. Remember this was before I79 was reconfigured. Cars were parked from the Circle K northward to the “roller coaster”— do you long timers remember the beloved roller coaster on 179?  Flashlights lit the north face of Bell Rock like giant fireflies. Lights from airplanes illuminated the sky over the big red butte. There were some suggestible Bible students who said they saw the stars turn green and a group of stars around the moon change into the shape of a cross -- a sign out of Revelation.  The Forest Service counted 1,800 folks on Bell Rock, and motels logged in over 4,000 reservations in town.  That would overwhelm the available rooms even today. Three Phoenix television stations were shooting the activity at Bell Rock.  The event was great for the local economy. Crystals were for sale on every street corner. Coffee Pot Restaurant (just about the only available eating place in town) was packed from before opening to after closing. What a time!A local pundit called it a “Moronic Convergence.” Alas, had he no romance in his soul!"

Bell Rock, minutes before two unsuspecting jacket-less hikers were pelted by hail.

Bell Rock, minutes before two unsuspecting jacket-less hikers were pelted by hail.

We spent three days hiking in and around Sedona, attending the tacky souvenir shops and the art galleries, where a sculpted bear was priced at $500,000. 

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From Sedona to Flagstaff, past miles and miles of barren land belonging to the Navajos.  Highway 17 was dotted with mean little houses adorned with pickup trucks and RVs.  Along the road in numerous tents and fallen down sheds Navajos were selling, well, I don't know what they were selling, as we didn't stop.

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And then to Page, where we spent one night before our morning tour of Antelope Canyon, one of two reasons why people flock to Page, the other being its proximity to Lake Powell and its 186 miles of shoreline.

Lake Powell Marina

Lake Powell Marina

And then Upper Antelope Canyon, a heritage site on Navajo property.  To see Antelope Canyon one must register with one of five companies who lead people through the maze.  Called "Tse Bighanilini" or "the place where water runs through rocks", Antelope Canyon has seen over 100,000 visitors in the last month...and I think that they all visited there last Saturday.

"Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding.  Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways.  Over time the passageways eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic "flowing" shapes in the rock.  Flooding still occurs.  A flood occurred on October 30, 2006 that lasted 36 hours, and caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close the Lower Antelope Canyon for five months."  Wikipedia

Here is one of the hundreds of images I was able to make amidst the crowds at Upper Antelope Canyon last Saturday.  The canyon and the experience were at odds with each other,  The former was a dream; the latter, a nightmare.  Besides the number of people flooding the canyon, there are additional photographic challenges that beset amateurs unaccustomed to atypical conditions, the most important of which is the wide exposure range, often 10 EV or more, that make it impossible to render any given image properly.  Only HDR images, taken by bracketing as many as three to five exposures, allow the photographer to sandwich images to capture the darkest darks and the lightest lights.  And doing this among the hundreds of sightseers tripping over the tripod legs, required a full plate of patience.

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Check here if you're still reading this. If I were you, I wouldn't read any more.  Don't waste your time.  You have better things to do.

To further complicate matters I'm providing a link below to additional images that I've placed on my web site, including a dozen or so images from Upper Antelope Canyon.

http://www.davidkbuchholz.com/sedonaantelope-canyon-2018/