Wednesday, April 6, 2011

and the Beat goes on....

While on Clearwater Beach, Fl recently, I ran into 3 Street Musicians playing on the beach. Busking, as what street performing is known as, has been around since the days of antiquity. Busking includes street musicians, street theatre, card tricks, and just about anything else that people find entertaining.

Friday was a sunny, but quite cold and windy day to be out on the beach playing. Ernie was all bundled up against the frigid wind, while playing his guitar. He was quite engaging, and a friend and I spent a good amount of time chatting with him. The interesting thing that caught my eye, Ernie used a seashell as a pick for playing the guitar. He explained that using a shell really killed his strings, he has to replace his strings quite often because eventually the shell will cut through them.

Saturday had turned out to be the opposite of Friday. The sun was bright, and it was warm and sunny with only a very light breeze, making it an extremely delightful day. A little further down the beach we ran into this older gentleman. He was quite stern looking, and his collection jar was quite empty when I ran into him playing his accordion on Saturday afternoon. I stopped and chatted with him for a bit while waiting for my friend to catch up with me. The longer we were there chatting the more people stopped by to listen to him playing. He was quite good, and after a bit he warmed up and started smiling.

J spent his afternoon and evening playing the saxophone on Pier 60 on the beach. While less chatty than the other musicians, he was an awesome player.
As you talked to him, he replied by changing the tune he was playing. He had a little girl laughing hysterically as he played her favorite songs.
Pier 60 on weekend evenings has a carnival atmosphere, and everybody was in a great mood. The day had been warm, cloud free and very little wind. As the sun was setting, and people were starting to head home for the night, I was still on the beach photographing the sunset. As I was shooting this photo, I could hear the soft melodies of a sax wafting on the breeze. What a lovely tribute to an incredibly beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Let's Play...Ball!

Saturday was a classic spring day, warm, sunny, with a delightful breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. In other words, a perfect day for a game of baseball.

I was down in Florida for a photography workshop held by a friend of mine, Robert La Follette (, and with another friend who had done the same workshop with me last year, Nick DePasquale (, Robert had mentioned that he had a surprise for us on Saturday, and would not give any hints, irregardless on how much I asked. Going to a baseball game was a definite surprise, since as a rule, I really do not like baseball. I went with an open mind though, happy to just enjoy the afternoon with two friends far away from the snow at home.

Brighthouse Field, Clearwater, Fl. is the winter home for the Philadelphia Phillies. The crowd was just starting to gather when we arrived.

This was my first baseball game, and I was not sure what to expect. The carnival atmosphere was quite a surprise. I was used to seeing the more formal games on TV, everybody in their seats, no milling around. This was a far cry from that! There were people all over, walking around, talking, chatting, and eating, after all, what good is going to a baseball game and not getting a hot dog? Or a Lemonade?

Our tickets were for Berm seating, so we were beyond the outfield in the grass. But in reality, we, like others just milled around. We watched the game from several vantage points, one being behind the foul post. That is until I heard "Look OUT!" I instinctively ducked, not knowing why, I just did it. As I was ducking, a baseball hit not more than 1 foot from where I was standing.

After the third foul ball to head in our direction, we decided discretion was the better part of valor and moved on. As we started to head towards the stadium, I looked up and realized the field was packed. A quick estimation- between 10,000 and 13,000 filled the stadium seats and the lawn.

Inside the stadium, this scene caught my eye:
The perfect symmetry between the way the grass was mowed, the circles, the lines, the diamond of the ball field, the vivid green grass accented with the players in red against the beautiful blue sky made for a lovely scene.

Chatting with an older gentleman about cameras and lenses, he very graciously offered me his seat while he came in to get something to eat and get out of the sun for a while. His seat: Front row, approximately 50' from the Batter, right over the Visting team's dugout. From there I took what I call my Sports Illustrated Cover shot:

The Tampa Bay Rays had two home runs back to back, and a third home run in the next inning.

After partaking in the game, we decided to head over and check out how the kids were doing. The Phillies' A and AA teams were also playing, and we enjoyed watching them.

Poor kids! I do not think they were used to seeing people with big cameras taking their photos.

All in all, it was a delightful experience, one that I will actually look forward to doing again if I make it down for Spring training again next year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Life's a Zoo!

This is a perfect time of the year to visit your local zoo for a nice quiet afternoon stroll. This past week, I took a trip to my local zoo, Beardsley, in Bridgeport, Ct. With the exception of the warm climate exhibits, all the other exhibits and animals were out enjoying the sunny, but brisk day. It was a tad nippy at 22°F to be out waking in the zoo, but the sun was bright and warm.

The animals were enjoying the sunshine such as this Red Wolf basking on a rock

and even playing in the water was this River Otter.

Turning the corner, Mr Tiger was full of energy in the snow, playing with an empty trash can, and pacing his perimeter.

Strolling around the grounds were many peacocks, peahens, and guinea fowl.

There was a white Peacock who was displaying his beautiful plumage. He reminded me of a beautiful girl with lovely tresses.

After spending time outside watching the animals playing, I headed indoors to check out the tropical exhibits. There were beautiful birds, bright, but deadly Poison Dart frogs, and my absolute favorite animal of the zoo: A tiny Pygmy Marmoset. What a cutie! These guys are about the size of a small chipmunk. They are the smallest of the monkey species. They live in small family units of 5-7, the parents mate for life, and their babies stay with them until they are old enough to leave the nest. I could have stayed and watched them for hours.

In all, I spent about 5 hours wandering around the zoo by myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful day, and learned about a variety of new critters that I had never seen before.