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Monday, March 28, 2005


Site Meter Funnies...

Ever since Prairie Girl gave me the idea of adding Site Meter to my blog, I've enjoyed checking up on things to see who's tuning in.

You can't really tell exactly who visited, but you can get a very rough geographic idea of where the visitor is from. Often, Site Meter is able to show you the "refering URL," that is, the page that linked to your own site.

Funny things sometimes come up when I look at these refering links. For example, today at 8:57:52 pm EET (Eastern European Time,) someone connected to ITAI via www.ripe.net, jumping to my blog from this link: http://www.google.de/search?hl=de&q=image%20moto&meta=, which is a Google Germany search for the words image moto.

Sure enough, when I go to this page, I see a link to my recent "Moto-Photo" blog post... and... what's that next to the link?... another link that says, Diese Seite übersetzen. Hey, doesn't übersetzen mean "to translate" in German? Let's see what this leads to.

And then, something that never occurred to me: there's my post, complete with photos, in German!

Here is a paragraph, as Google translated it:
Den anderen Morgen, nahm ich B(2)(a), das mich hat, f?e Weile zu sitzen in einem Link-drehenweg gerade her?on Fishpaws lokale Paket-Waren und Nacjbarschaftsladen. Den southboundverkehr wartend zum freien Raum, beachtete ich eine Reihe der gr?oosenecklampen, die an der Seite des Geb?es angebracht wurden. Auf diesem sonnigen Morgen warfen sie die langen, w?llen Erscheinen. Geistesanmerkung.
Well, my German isn't that good, but since I wrote it, I can almost understand it. Looks like some letters are getting dropped or transposed for some reason. Isn't that an "h" that ought to be the fourth letter in Nacjbarschaftsladen in place of the "j"? And what are those question marks where letters should be?

I took my original paragraph and dropped it into FreeTranslation.com to see how that would do. Out came
Den anderen Morgen habe ich B(2)(a), genommen, der mich hat, der für eine Weile in einer linken Seite-Drehung-Gasse nur gegenüber vom einem örtlichen Paketgüter von Fishpaw und Bequemlichkeit sitzt, speichert. Warten auf den in Richtung Süden Verkehr, zu reinigen, habe ich, dass eine Reihe von grünen gooseneck Lampen bemerkt, die auf der Seite vom Gebäude aufgestellt worden sind. An diesem sonnigen Morgen werfen sie lange, anmutige Schauen. Geistige Notiz.
Well, that makes a little more sense, and it's interesting that the word choices in German are slightly different. I have no idea which is better, of course - I speak German about as well as Tarzan spoke English.

Just for fun, I took the Google translation into German and plopped it into FreeTranslation.com to see how that would machine-translate back into English. I helped the process out a little by fixing a word here and there in the German where there were missing letters. Here's what I got:

Did the other morning, take has me I B(2)(a), that to sit for a while in a left trick way just here? on Fishpaws local package-were and neighborhood store. The southboundverkehr waiting to the free room, noted I a row of green gooseneck lamps, that were mounted at the side of the building. On this sunny morning, they threw the long, attractive shadows appearance. Spirit comment.

Spirit comment: learn some German you must (Yoda sounds it like!)

By the way, here is how Prairie Girl, who I'm sure speaks perfectly good German, sounds in the Google translation:
Ich habe sie nicht oben auf ihrem Angebot genommen, aber ich denke, das ich werde. Eine gute Erfahrung aber ich denken, das im Allgemeinen, was Sie antrafen, eine normalere Reaktion ist.
which FreeTranlsation.com graciously translated back into English for me as
I did not take it above on its offer, but I think, become that I. A good experience however I think, that in general, what you found, a more normal reaction is.
All I can say is, P.G., you have a lot of patience to wait so long to get to the verb!


Up In the Air, Junior Birdman!

I grew up watching Vanguard rockets blow up on the pad and Mercury astronauts orbit around the earth. I could tell you the history of the U.S. Air Force from 1917 on. I still can - just sit with me watching some documentary about WWII air power on the The History Channel - you'll get real tired real quick of my constant "...that's wrong!...that's a Thunderbolt, not a Mustang!...that shot's from three years later!..."

Anyway, my point is that I've loved airplanes since I was a kid, and I still do.

When I was 15, my friend Tom and I helped organize an Air Explorer Squadron - it was a program for older Boy Scouts. Somebody knew somebody who knew a former B-50 pilot named Ira Ross, who became our adult leader (I don't remember what they called the equivalent of "scoutmaster" in Air Explorers.) Us guys had envisioned flying model airplanes and building model rockets, but Ira had bigger plans. After a few car washes and candy sales, we had enough money in our treasury to pay for some flying time.

One great Saturday summer morning in 1965, we met Ira at Finksburg Airport, a little grass-strip airfield not far to the north of where us guys lived in Randallstown. Ira had rented an Aeronca Champ, a classic canvas-and-wood two-seater, built in the 1940's. One by one, we climbed into the back seat as Ira took us for a 15-minute ride over northern Baltimore County. At one point in each short trip, Ira had us take the control stick to get a feel for flying the plane. Shouting over the roar of the engine, he guided each of us through a few S-turns. We were flying - flying before we had even driven a car.

Shortly afterwards, Ira bought a 1939 Piper J-3 Cub, a beautiful white plane with a red sunburst pattern on the wing. It needed a lot of work, but eventually, Ira got it done and had the plane FAA certified. We learned how to read an air chart and do dead-reckoning navigation. Ira took us up for longer flights in the J-3 - at this point, all we had to do was pay for gas.

Tom and I went off to college, and for some reason, this great little organization fell apart.

I lost track of Ira and his little J-3 cub, and to my family's relief, I never did get a pilot's license. But I never lost my love of planes and flying.

I'm fortunate enough to live within 10 from a beautiful little airfield, 80-year-old Lee Airport in Edgewater, Maryland. Two years ago, armed with my first digital camera, a Canon A40 point-and-shoot digital camera, I happily pointed and shot like a kid at some beautiful classic two-seaters.

Here's the tail of a Citabria, a plane that looked very familiar, but whose name I couldn't place. After I got home, I looked up Citabria on the web and found that it was an modernized version of my first aeronautical date, the Aeronca Champ! These planes have a strengthened frame and wing spar so that they're capable of aerobatic manouvers. In fact, the elegant, Italian-sounding Citabria is actually "airbatic"spelled backwards!

Citabria Tail Sunburst Posted by Hello

I found the plane below with a flag-and-bunting-bedecked floral arrangement under each wing. This was early May 2003, and I found out later that the plane was used by a young woman who had just returned from Air National Guard duty, flying an F-15, in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The man who maintains the plane had polished it up and left the flowers as a welcome-home for the returning pilot.

Patriotic Plane Posted by Hello

This beautiful plane, by the way, is a Taylorcraft, and they're still made today. You can buy a brand-new 2005 model for a lot less than a used Hummer H1.

The Taylorcraft is such a strikingly handsome plane that I found myself taking dozens of pictures of it from all sorts of angles. My favorite is one I'll post in the near future, but here's my second-favorite view:

Fancy Pants Posted by Hello

The teardrop shape at bottom is an example of wheel pants, a common means in the old days of providing some streamlining for non-retractable landing gear. It was meant to be functional, but doesn't it look nice!

Well, spring is here and the old birds will soon be flying again - time for me to re-visit Lee Airport and see how things are going.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Near Misses, Also-Rans, and The One That Got Away

My West Coast photo-pal Warren sometimes shows photos and asks, "does this work, and if not, why not." And, although most of Warren's images "work" quite well, it can be a worthwhile excersize to look at a "not quite", and ask, "why not?"

So even though I must be violating some cardinal rule of psycho-photo-insecurity, here are some of my photos that I thought would work, but just didn't.

This first photo is actually the most recent. I took it on that overnight trip to Bethany Beach last month. Sandy and I headed a few miles South to Ocean City, Maryland, where I spotted these rows of colorful trestle tables at a closed-for-the-season crab shack.

It sure looked as if there would be something there! All that repeating pattern and nice colors in the sun... It looked pretty good on the camera's little LCD, too. But back home, even cropped, contrast-adjusted, and sharpened, it just falls flat.

Colorful, but so what? Posted by Hello

Maybe it's the big triangle of nothing-gray at lower right - I just can't seem to crop it out and still maintain a coherent image. Maybe the background is too cluttered. Anyway, it just doesn't do anything for me. Another angle might have worked.

The next photo is from our epic road trip to Manhattan last August. While the kids were shopping in Chinatown, I took photos of the storefronts all along Canal Street. This one is just at the point where the old hardware-store district blends into Chinatown.

Nice repeating pattern, but too cluttered Posted by Hello

I thought the row of floor-stand fans, receding from right to left, would anchor the image. It sure seemed like a good idea at the time. But the background here is definitely too cluttered. The girl in pink at left with a "Ventilaire" for a head doesn't help much either.

Yet another photo for the August road trip - this one taken on MacDougal Street in The Village. I saw the bright red pedicab and the driver's bright yellow t-shirt and snapped away. But the result, I think, is too static-looking, and it just doesn't give any sense of the funky Greenwich Village surroundings.

Colorful, but static Posted by Hello

This final photo really is The One That Got Away. It's from a May 2003 day trip to NYC. After hours of sightseeing fun, I was just a block away from where I was to meet our ride back home when I saw this bridal couple crossing Seventh Avenue. I was on the other side 46th Street, and risked my life dodging three lanes of crosstown traffic to grab the shot.

The One that Got Away Posted by Hello

This time, everything was right - the composition, the lighting, the improbable juxtaposition of the elegant couple against a mundane MTA bus - everything, that is, except for the blur I induced by my paparazzi-like pursuit of the blissfully oblivious couple.

Like every other One That Got Away, what a heartbreaker!

Sunday, March 20, 2005



I've been commuting to my current job since mid-October, and I keep noticing potentially photo-worthy scenes along the way. Sometimes, a slight variation in the route will reveal new possibilities. I don't usually bring a camera along every day, so I rely on making mental notes when I see things of interest.
Note to self: in your case, making a mental note may not be the best way to ever get around to doing what the mental note is for
There are two basic routes I can take on my 20-mile daily trek, let's call them A, the usual, and B, the alternative. A is pretty much fixed to follow a few highways, but B has a couple of variations and sub-mutations along this or that local street.

The other morning, I took B(2)(a), which has me sitting for a while in a left-turn-lane just across from Fishpaw's a local package-goods and convenience store. Waiting for the southbound traffic to clear, I noticed a row of green gooseneck lamps mounted on the side of the building. On this sunny morning, they cast long, graceful shows. Mental note.

Much closer to work, along the periphery of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, I had the choice to either zig or zag among the local street network on that end of the commute. I chose to zag, which took me placed me at just the right position and angle to see some cool reflections in one of buidings in the swatch of business parks around the airport. Mental note.

Amazingly, for me, I remembered my mental notes on each of the next two mornings before leaving home, but they were both very overcast days - the scenes I had scoped out needed sunshine to work.

But Friday morning dawned clear and bright, so the camera bag was on the passenger seat as I left for work.

Wouldn't you know - there was a giant beer truck parked right in front of the row of lamps I wanted to photograph. I had figured that a telephoto shot straight-on from the traffic island would work best. So change of plans - I took a few photos of some individual lamps further along the building, including this one.

Fishpaws in the Morning Posted by Hello

Then I walked across the southbound lane and up to the building to take some more shots. At that point, a car with a license plate that read "FISHPAWS" pulled up and a very nice but worried-looking young woman got out and asked if she could be of any help to me (translation: what the hell are you doing taking pictures of my store?. I explained and showed her a few photos on the LCD of my Digital Rebel, which immediately brightened her disposition and seemed to ease her mind.

Onward to the morning's second target, Airport Square. The building sits at an elevation that's maybe 40 feet below the adjacent road. I had already taken a number of shots from the shoulder of the road when I noticed a young fellow driving by below, with that familiar worried look.

Airport Square Reflection Posted by Hello

A few minutes later, there was a reception party of two, the young man and a woman, both from building security, to greet me as I walked back to my car. I went through my Friendly Fotographer routine, showed them a few of the photos I'd taken, and gave them my card. They seemed happy enough and said something about being relieved that I wasn't from the tax assessor's office (although I don't see how that would be within the purview of "security.")

People are just nervous about photographing any sort of infrastructure or property these days. I understand it, but it's really too bad. At least so far, I haven't run into anything as dramatic and frightening as what happened to Bill Emory, a talented professional photographer from Charlottesville, who had a run-in with a security officer near the White House last year (be sure to listen to the audio of the encounter on that last linked page.)

On a more fun note, as I walked from my car to my building Friday morning, I once again checked out the reflections in the cars. Aha! A shiny black Mercedes!.... so here is the latest in my Auto-Art series:

Eine kleine Tagesreflexion Posted by Hello

Friday, March 18, 2005


The Handsome Outhouse Mystery

This past weekend, I put a Site Meter at the bottom of my blog - an idea I got from Prairie Girl. The idea is that you can get a feel for how many people are visiting how many of your pages for how long. For the always-insecure photographer/blogger in me, it really goes a long way to satisfying my curiosity about who would visit here and how do they find me.

Although the free version of Site Meter has limited statistics, it does tell you in detail things like the domain (e.g., pacbell.net,) the time of the visit, the visitor's time zone, the duration of the visit, and the referring URL.

This last item is especially interesting, although it's also created a mystery for me. Several visits from different domains seem to have been referred by a google search result link that points to the smaller of the two photos this blog post.

Is there suddenly a nationwide, or worldwide interest in good outhouse design?

If you're one of the visitors who came here through this link, could you please end my sleepless nights and solve the Handsome Outhouse mystery for me?

Typical Site Meter Detail Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 17, 2005



I try not to watch too much TV, but I must admit, I am a serious Law & Order addict. All four of us in my family are.

Over the past two weeks, I've been nose-to-the-grindstone at work, along with many of my collegues, trying to complete a phase of a project. So when I found myself home at a little before ten last night, I just felt the need to unwind. Sandy had gone to bed, but Ben was up and we noticed it was time for L&O (isn't it always time for L&O on some channel, twenty-four/seven?)


Always trying to be aware of my responsibilities as a father, and having had almost a decade head-start watching and learning from L&O, I try to make sure that Ben appreciates the finer points of the life at the Two-Seven.

For example, last year, I taught Ben the characteristics that make for a good perp. Before the show started, I asked Ben to review them with me:
Means, motive, and opportunity
What a kid!

Anyway, last night's ten o'clock performance was a new episode of the original L&O series. We really miss Lenny Briscoe - he was like a member of our family, a favorite uncle - but Dennis Farina seems to be doing a good job in his place.

Ben and I listened carefully and took good notes, not wanting to miss catching any new jargon. It was a particularly productive hour, as we snagged several new phrases:

Then for a chaser, we watched an episode of SVU. It was much too late for me to stay up, but it was worth it.

For you fellow L&O fans, check out this article on at excellent gothamist blog. They also did a wonderful tribute to Jerry Orbach upon his death, with lots of links to follow.

Here's a bit of trivia: The famous "Two-Seven", the 27th Precinct where Detectives Green and Fontana toil, is a figment of some screenwriter's imagination. Here is a map of Manhattan police precincts, and as you can see, there is a 26th and a 28th, but no 27th! A piece of trivia within trivia - the 1970's TV series McCloud also took place in TV-land's 27th Precinct.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Photoblogs Magazine

Check this out! (click on the logo)


Beautiful photography and layout.

Meanwhile, I don't have much to say or even much time to say it, but I do still have plenty of images from my Antique Store foray two weeks ago. Here's another one:

Blue Handrail, Red Shutter Posted by Hello

A hat-tip to Prairie Girl for reminding me of the when-you-see-red-shoot-it dictum, which reminded me about this photo.

The red shutters are for sale.

The blue porch rail is not.


Shoot It Now, Do It Now...

Something I've been trying to learn about photography, especially now in the digital era, is to not pass up a chance to take a photo. Even if it's something you pass by everyday, maybe right in your own neighborhood, you never know if you'll be able to go back to that scene and take that shot.

American Snow Fence Posted by Hello

The photo above is a good example. I stopped by that antique store that proved so photogenic a week or two ago and took some more photos. This is a closeup of the fence-flag in American Flyer. But a few days later, it would have been too late - this piece of folk-art was gone.

The photo below, which I took at the Jewish-American Reunion Festival in Baltimore last September, has a more poignant story. While I was at the festival shooting pictures and enjoying the ambiance, I ran into this enthusiastic and engaging man and his sweet wife. Like my family, he was a Shoah survivor, originally from Poland. And like many Survivors, he appeared to have a real zest for life.

I asked him and his wife if I could take some photos to send them. He immediately and joyfully took his wife's hand and led her in a few dance steps. I took his name and address and bid them farewell.

Max Winder (olav ha-shalom) with Erna, September 2004 Posted by Hello

But, hammerkopf that I sometimes am, I managed to misplace that slip of paper, forgot the name, and I let the whole incident slip from my mind - until last Friday evening.

Opening the Baltimore Jewish Times, I saw a photo of that same smiling face along with an article under the title, "He Was Unique." It told the story of Max Winder, Holocaust survivor and longtime Pikesville resident who had died that week at age 88.

Max would have loved that photo of him dancing with Erna. Now it's too late - that's what procrastination can do.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Surf, Flight, and Photoshop

Last weekend at Bethany Beach, I spent about an hour freezing my pupik, trying to get a dramatic photo of gulls swooping low across the surf. As I looked over the images Sunday evening, this was as close as I got, but Gertie Gull in the background spoiled the shot of a beautiful flaps-down landing. So I just let it go and moved on to other types of pictures.

Gertie Spoils the Photo Posted by Hello

But taking a second look last night, I decided to see if I could make Gertie disappear. About a half-hour with Photoshop did a decent job, at least good enough for the 640-pixel-wide image here, I think.

Flared Landing Posted by Hello

I'm not very skilled or sophisticated at this yet - all I know how to do at this point is blot around the area with the Clone Stamp Tool, and I know there are better ways to do it. While this brute-force technique is often good enough for a web image, I'm not sure how it would hold up in this case if I wanted to make, say, an 11x14 print - the cloned-out area might look to obvious. I'm going to have to do some reading, or even better, pick the brains of some of my more Photoshop-savvy friends.

Meanwhile, here are some more of my Bethany Beach shots. I'm remembering to look up, look out, and look down, as these three examples show.

Look Up - Ice Cream Parlor Lamps Posted by Hello

Look Out - Bethany Boardwalk Posted by Hello

Look Down - East Jordan Iron Posted by Hello

Friday, March 04, 2005


More Auto-Art

I had a little photo job scheduled for late yesterday afternoon, so I grabbed my camera bag as I went off to work. Seeing that it was a sunny morning, I was on the lookout for some more interesting parking lot reflections at the other end of my commute.

Window on Window Posted by Hello

This dark Toyota had a nice set of reflections of windows in its own window. I wasn't crazy about the background, but I couldn't keep it out of the picture and still get the grid reflections the way I wanted them.

My solution was to fade the background via a Photoshop layer sandwich. I selected the background on the top layer and deleted it, then reduced the opacity of the layer directly below until it looked good to me. A little bit of contrast added to the top layer completed the look I was after. Hope you like it.

This red Buick Century got a snazzy yellow pinstripe, courtesy of the yellow-painted curb it was reflecting.

Red Century Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Her Majesty's A Pretty Nice Girl...

HRH Queen Elizebeth, the best-known reader of Imagine There's An Image, was so impressed with this ITAI post that she awarded an honorary knighthood to Bill Gates.

Read all about it here.

Round, Round, Get Around, I Get Around...

The author of a new and wonderful photo blog, Prairie Girl, generously credits me with the providing the inspiration to start her own blog.

Prairie Girl lives in the beautiful town of Obernkirchen in Germany and says her impetus for sharing her photos is "because, well ... here really IS different than there!" So I'm guessing that she is either a North American now living in Germany or a German who lived here for a while.

Whatever the case, Prairie Girl's premise is delightfully true, and both her writing and her photos are very enjoyable. Although she refers to herself in her very first post last month as a "photo-taking-rookie," she's a natural with a great eye for color and composition.

I was tremendously inspired by The Mother of All Photo Blogs, Dave Beckerman's online photo journal, which influenced me to eventually start my own. It's very gratifying to now have someone claim my blog as her inspiration.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005



Over the past many decades, I've maintained the practice of washing my car every year to 18 months, whether it needs it or not.

But I may have to modify that behavior to something more frequent, now that I've begun to really pay attention to reflections of all kinds.

Cars, vans, and SUVs, assuming they're clean enough and it's sunny enough, will reflect their surroundings. And sometimes, those reflections, colored by the car's finish and shaped by the curvature of glass or metal, can be quite interesting.

SUV Wide-Angle Posted by Hello

Here, I was walking along a residential street in West Annapolis, when I noticed the "Support Our Troops" ribbon, seemingly floating above a wide-angle view of some of the nearby homes.

Blue Honda Fisheye Posted by Hello

This view of the building where I work was another one of those saw-it-yesterday-brought-the-camera-and-shot-it-today things that I've been doing a lot of lately. I loved the greens and brick-y browns on the blue trunk lid when I first saw it; luckily, both driver and sun cooperated the next morning to reproduce the scene for me.

One could do a whole book or exhibit exclusively on car reflections, and I just might try that someday.

Meanwhile, kids, definitely do try this at home. As usual with many kinds of reflections, you'll find the best time to capture them will be in the early morning, say before 9:00 or 9:30 AM and in the late afternoon or early evening, depending on the season.

Point me to some of your own auto-reflection-art, and I'll link to them in a future blog post!

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