Monday, November 19, 2018

Reflections of Autumn Colors


Photographing reflections of autumn foliage in still water can create vivid abstractions that any Fauve artist would have envied.  A few days after I photographed this, New York City was hit with its first big snowstorm of the season and most of the leaves were stripped bare from the trees.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Another Flea Market Portrait


This was another individual who allowed me to photograph him at the Columbus Avenue Flea Market last year.  He was a willing subject and happy to have his photograph taken.  I very much enjoyed talking with him while taking the shot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Lucid: Chapter Eight

Dr. Hans Reicha, thought Connor when he finally met the man, could not have looked less the part of a psychiatrist if he had tried.  He stood well over six and a half feet tall and was in peak physical condition.  His rugged features were heavily tanned and set off by a thick mop of blonde hair.  A gaudy silk sports shirt, patterned with palm trees and cocoanuts, hung loosely on his athletic frame.  Only the incongruous wire rimmed glasses he wore provided the least hint of academia.
“You look like you’re ready to go surfing,” joked Connor after they had introduced themselves and shaken hands.  The doctor’s grip had been so vise-like it had left Connor’s own hand numb.
“Ha.  That’s a good one.”  Dr. Reicha’s voice was a booming baritone.  “As a matter of fact, I did my graduate work in Hawaii.  I think I spent more time in the water than I did in the classroom.  Oahu has some of the best surfing in the world, you know.”
Connor could easily picture the man riding the curl of a gargantuan wave headed toward Waikiki Beach.  “New York must be a letdown after that.”
“Oh, no.  The city has plenty to offer.  I love that it keeps going night and day.  And I can always take my board out to Long Island if I want to get wet.”
“You must be pretty busy though.  Professor Elicott told me you were the top man in your field.”  The professor had actually said no such thing, but Connor saw no harm in paying the psychiatrist a compliment.
“That’s very thoughtful of him.”  Reicha gave Connor so piercing glance that the latter wondered if he had not after all seen through the small lie.  “The man’s a gentleman,” the doctor continued.  “Always has a kind word for everyone.”
Connor felt himself growing increasingly exasperated with Reicha’s bluff heartiness and began to wonder if it were in fact only an act he put on for his patients’ benefit.  He decided to find out for himself.  “And what kind words did Professor Elicott have to say about me?” he asked in a deliberate attempt at provocation.
Reicha caught on at once.  “Ha.  I see your point.  You’re wondering exactly why you’re here.”
“That I already know,” answered Connor bluntly.  “The professor explained to me at my initial interview that you and I would eventually be going over my dream content.”
“Yes, of course.  Dreams when analyzed always provide a wealth of associations.  It’s necessary for both Professor Elicott and me to investigate those associations not only to understand what you’ve experienced but also to provide you with greater direction.”
“That makes sense enough,” allowed Connor.  He decided he would do best to be direct in stating the reservations he still harbored.  “I agreed to this analysis in principle when I joined the project.  If I seem hesitant, it’s only because I’ve never taken part in such a thing before.  I’ve always tried to stay away from psychologists and psychiatrists.  I guess that because I never wanted to have anyone rummaging about inside my head.”
Reicha grew pensive.  “People who are reluctant to engage in analysis are sometimes so disinclined because there are ideas and experiences hidden away in their unconscious that, for one reason or another, they would rather not face.”
“In other words,” said Connor, “they prefer to let sleeping dogs lie.”
“Exactly.”  Reicha gave a thin smile.  “Unfortunately, problems don’t often go away on their own if they’re ignored.  Beyond that, analysis when properly conducted offers the individual the opportunity to learn more about himself and to better adjust to the world in which he lives.”  It was a line the psychiatrist must have used often.  He had it down pat.
“I think I’m pretty well adjusted as it is.”  Connor’s answer rang false in his own ears.  Even as he said the words, he realized how fundamentally untrue they were. 
The psychiatrist, however, was unperturbed by Connor’s objection.  “I’m sure you are.  But that’s no reason we can’t take a closer look at your dreams, is it?”
At that moment there came a knock on the office door.  Reicha rose to open it.  A young woman dressed in a sweatsuit stood outside.  She was a petite brunette with bright green eyes.  Connor recognized her as another participant in the project.  He had passed her once or twice in the hall; though she was quite attractive, he had never attempted to speak to her.  From the way she now held her hand to her mouth and glanced about the room without being able to focus on anything, Connor guessed she was deeply upset about something. 
The woman made to enter but then retreated when she saw Connor sitting inside.  “I’m sorry,” she said belatedly.  “I should have made an appointment.”
Dr. Reicha was all smiles.  If he were at all disturbed by the intrusion, he was careful not to show it.  “That’s not necessary, Marguerite.  I’m always happy to speak with members of the project.  Unfortunately, I’m in the midst of a discussion at the moment with one of your fellow participants.”  He turned toward Connor.  “Marguerite, this is Connor.  Connor, Marguerite.”
“How do you do?” asked Connor politely.
Marguerite barely glanced at him.  “I can come by later,” she suggested to Dr. Reicha.
“If it’s important, I should be free in an hour.”
“I think it is.”  Marguerite gazed uncertainly at the psychiatrist. 
“An hour it is then,” he said and quickly checked his watch.
Marguerite nodded and backed out the door without giving Connor another look.
“I’m sorry about the interruption,” said Dr. Reicha after the woman had left.
“It’s no problem.  I don’t mind at all.  I guess when you’re a psychiatrist things like that happen all the time.”
“Yes, I’m always on call, just like the family doctor.”  Reicha sighed in mock self-pity.  “Now what were we talking about?”
“We were about to take a closer look at my dreams.”
“Yes, indeed we were.  Professor Elicott told me how anxious you’d been to explore this particular dream in which you had previously been unable to discover the contents and titles of books you’d seen lying about.”
“That’s right.  It bothered me a lot that I couldn’t find out what was inside all those books.  It was driving me to distraction.”
“Had you ever given any thought in your waking life to what all these volumes might contain?”  Reicha gave Connor a moment to consider before continuing.  “In other words, was there anything specific you had been hoping to find in all these books?”
“Answers,” replied Connor.  He had said it automatically without having permitted himself time to think.
Reicha followed up immediately.  “Answers to what?”
 “I couldn’t really tell you.”  Then, as if realizing how unsatisfactory an answer that were, Connor searched for words as he attempted to explain himself more fully.  To his surprise, he instead found himself bringing up a question he had long kept to himself.  “Have you ever had patients who thought they were living in the wrong time place and time?  I don’t mean people who are just unhappy with what they’ve got.  That would be pretty much everyone.  The people I’m talking about are the ones who don’t fit into the twenty-first century that’s all around us.”
“It’s really a pretty common phenomenon these days.  More so than you might think.  There are a huge number of individuals, especially those getting on in years, who aren’t able to cope with the technological and social changes constantly occurring all about them.  There’s nothing they feel they can hang on to, nothing that’s stable and permanent.  Globalization and interconnectivity are usually seen as positive developments, but they can also be deeply unsettling.  Religious truths no longer offer the solace they once did.  Social values have undergone vast changes as we’ve forced ourselves to rethink our positions on such issues as abortion, gay rights and women’s equality.  There are many, many people who want to return to a less complicated past.”
“I know there are those who try to get by without computers and smartphones, but that’s not what I’m talking about,” Connor interrupted.  “That’s nothing but escapism.  What I mean is that I sometimes feel that I’m in the wrong world, that I should be living in a specific time and place other than the one where I now find myself.”
“Fine.  But what time and what place?”
“That’s the problem.  I don’t know.  I’ve traveled a fair bit in Europe and Asia over the years and visited a good many places, but I’ve never felt any more sense of belonging there than I do here in New York City.”
Dr. Reicha spread his hands.  “There you have it then.  You’re not content here, but you have no idea where it is you would be happy.  Isn’t your longing to be somewhere else, somewhere you better fit in, also a form of escapism?”
“So what do I do then?” asked Connor.
“You already know the answer to that.  You have to learn to adjust to your present circumstances.  There’s really nowhere else you can go.  Happiness is a state of mind, not a geographical location outside yourself.  Once you can accept that, you’ll feel much better.”
“That’s easy enough to say,” complained Connor, “but platitudes are just so many words.”
Reicha didn’t show any sign of having been offended by Connor’s directness.  “How long have you been out of work?” he asked abruptly. 
“It’s been a few months.”  Connor had already made up his mind to talk as little as possible about employment status and personal life.  He was afraid if he got involved in either subject he would let something slip about the months he had spent in prison.
“It must be frustrating not to have a regular job to go to every day,” Dr. Reicha prompted him. 
“I’m not the only one.  Sometimes when I watch the news it seems half the country is out of work and struggling to get by.”
“What about a significant other?  Do you have anyone in your life right now?”
“No one, and there’s not likely to be as long as I’m walking around flat broke.  Poverty doesn’t work particularly well as an aphrodisiac.”
“Are you sure that’s all there is to it?” the psychiatrist inquired gently.  “Is there any other reason you’re alone?”
Connor was determined to make no mention of his divorce but instead to keep his comments as general as possible.  “Look, I’ve had my share of relationships over the years, but somehow they’ve never seemed to work out.  Things will go along well for a while, and then the woman and I will drift apart.   There are never any arguments or hard feelings, just two people discovering they didn’t have as much in common as they’d first thought.”  As Connor thought back to his last encounter with Jocelyn, he realized how apt his words really were.  Not only did the two of them no longer have any connection with one another but probably they had never had anything solid between them even during the time of their marriage.  If Connor had remained so long with his ex-wife, it had only been because he hadn’t wanted to endure the loneliness of being on his own.  And now, ironically, he was living a more solitary life than he could ever have imagined possible.
“So it’s not the woman’s fault?” Reicha asked.
Connor choked back the anger he felt at the thought of Jocelyn’s betrayal and concentrated on keeping his voice as flat and emotionless as possible.  He had made up his mind not to allow the psychiatrist access to what was actually passing through his mind.  “Not really.  Most of the women I’ve known have been pretty decent people.  More often than not, I was the one who wasn’t able to connect with them.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“I couldn’t tell you.  All my life I’ve been outsider.  Even when I’m with other people I’m not really entirely there with them, if you catch my drift.”
Reicha jabbed a finger in his direction.  “Don’t you think that your sense of alienation, this feeling you have that you should be living in a different time and place, might stem from an inability to establish meaningful relationships with others?”
“I can understand why you’d see it that way,” replied Connor slowly, “but I really believe there’s more to it than that.  You can think of me as an incurable romantic if you want, but I’m sure there is someone – even if she’s not now here in New York – who’s right for me.  It’s not so much that I’ve never been able to find her as that I’ve lost her.  I knew her once and then we were torn apart, how I don’t know, and she and I are still searching for one another and trying to reconnect.”
The psychiatrist appeared bemused. “Do you think that will ever happen?”
“I’m not sure.  All I know is that I have to keep looking and hoping.”

Monday, November 12, 2018

Lumix G9 at NYC Photo Expo


I recently posted my thoughts on the Z7, Nikon's new mirrorless camera, after having viewed it at the recent NYC Photo Expo.  In general, I found it too small and lightweight to be a comfortable fit in my hand.  The same applied to the Sony mirrorless cameras that were also on display at the Expo.  One camera that did attract me, perhaps because it so closely resembled a small DSLR, was the Panasonic Lumix G9 shown above.

Currently, I use the mirrorless Lumix GH4 as my camera of choice when walking through the city or traveling.  Although it's lighter than a DSLR, it has the feel of a larger camera and is extremely convenient to use.  I'd bought it after having used a GH2 for several years and have been very happy with it.  When it comes time to replace it, however, I will most likely purchase the G9.  I feel that the latter is a much better alternative for still photographers such as myself who have little interest in high quality video.  Even so, I was surprised to hear from the Panasonic rep that the G9 actually shoots better quality 4K video than my GH4.  In other respects, the G9 is also more advanced - it is much faster at 20 fps, has a 20.3 mpx sensor rather than 16mpx, and has greater ISO sensitivity.  The last is particularly important to me as I often shoot in low light.  The greater attention to weather proofing and the inclusion of dual memory card slots would certainly seem to indicate that the camera is intended for professional use.

Again, I'm not qualified to review the camera.  I'd advise anyone interested to check the review on Dpreview that lists in detail the camera's features and specs, the most prominent of which can be seen in the photo below.

Friday, November 9, 2018

At the Flea Market


I photographed this gentleman at the flea market on Columbus Avenue around Thanksgiving last year.  He had no problem when I asked his permission.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Lucid: Chapter Seven

Connor was once again sitting in Elicott’s office in the university’s science building.  Outside, it was another idyllic spring day.  The scent of fresh cut grass drifted through the open windows.  In the hallway, students rushed past while faculty members strolled at a more leisurely pace.
The office itself hadn’t changed at all since the last time Connor had visited.  The same stacks of papers still littered the professor’s desk; the same Braque print still hung on the wall.
“I knew if you were patient that you’d eventually succeed,” said the professor.  He spoke in the same self-satisfied tone, thought Connor, he might have used with a failing student who’d finally managed to turn himself around.  “It seemed to me all along that your problem was that you were trying too hard.”
“That might have been it,” Connor admitted.  “I wanted so badly to make this work.  I kept feeling more and more frustrated as time passed without my having had a single dream, or at least none I could remember when I woke up.”
Elicott frowned.  “I’m not entirely sure why you felt yourself under such compulsion, though I of course appreciate your enthusiasm.  You really need to lighten your attitude.  Important as the project is to all of us, there’s still a need to put things in context.”
“I know.  I was letting myself get too involved.  I can see now I shouldn’t have done that.  I should have been more willing to let things happen on their own.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Connor.  There are days when it’s difficult even for trained researchers such as myself to maintain the proper attitude of detachment.  We have to constantly check ourselves to make sure we’re not allowing our hopes and predispositions to influence our judgment.  Sometimes we so desperately want to see results that we deceive ourselves.  That can present a danger to the integrity of any experiment.”
“I think the problem was that I went so long without having any dreams at all.  It didn’t seem normal to me.”
“That’s only natural.  It’s like a person who tries to force himself to sleep when he isn’t tired.  The harder he tries, the more wakeful he finds himself.”
“But what’s amazing is that when I finally had a dream, I was able to direct myself within it without any problem at all.”  Connor was triumphant.  “That’s never happened to me before.  Even in the dream itself I felt excited at what I was able to accomplish.”
Elicott cleared his throat.  “You’ll be discussing the dream in detail with Dr. Reicha later this week.  He’s the real expert when it comes to dream analysis.  In the meantime, though, it would be helpful if you could summarize for me its content so that I could form a better idea how much progress you’ve actually made.”
“I was riding down Fifth Avenue on an MTA bus,” Connor began.  “My best friend – his name is Gallagher – was sitting beside me and telling me, just as he always does, how important it was for me to find a job.  He was drinking a bottle of Guinness the whole time he was talking and then waving it around in the air when he wanted to emphasize a point.  I knew it was illegal to drink alcohol anywhere in the transit system, and I was worried he might get busted.  But I didn’t want to antagonize him and start an argument, so instead I turned away and looked out the window to see where we were headed.  As he kept going on, I concentrated on the buildings we were passing and the people walking on the sidewalk.
“The bus went by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and then Saks department store.  I realized then that we were at 52nd Street and would reach the Public Library ten blocks further down.  That was when it occurred to me that if I got off the bus at 42nd Street I’d be able to go into the library and look at all the books that were kept there.  I was really thrilled that I’d had the idea.  Somehow I not only knew that I was dreaming but also realized that the whole point of the dream was to see those books and finally discover their titles and read what was inside them.”
“Did you in fact get off the bus?” Elicott asked.
“Oh, yes.  As soon as I’d had the thought, the bus was instantly at the corner of 42nd Street though I couldn’t recall having seen it move past the intervening blocks.
“I got up from my seat the moment we arrived and rushed to exit through the door in the rear.  I didn’t even take the time to say goodbye to Gallagher who was still droning on and on and seemed totally oblivious to the fact that I was leaving.
“From the outside, the library was exactly the same as we see it every day.  The pillared portico entrance was there at the top of the wide stone steps, and the two lions stood guard, one on each side.  When I got inside the building, though, it was much different from what I remembered from the visits I’d made in real life.  There was no lobby or main reading room, only a maze of tiny cubbyholes one beside the other.  All of them were dimly lit and dilapidated.  The plaster on the walls was cracked and the paint was peeling off in long strips.  What furniture there was looked as if it had been stolen from a thrift shop.  Most of the pieces were deeply scarred and cracked.  Wooden tables tilted at crazy angles and the straight backed chairs had broken seats.  Everywhere on the desks, the chairs and even the floor there were stacks of books piled haphazardly in total disarray.  Some of the piles reached almost to the ceiling and looked like they might topple over at any second.
“I looked around me without knowing where to begin.  Finally I moved to a tabletop covered with faded clothbound volumes and began to sort through them.
“Unlike my previous dreams, I could easily make out the books’ titles and was able to open them and begin reading their contents at whatever page I chose.  It was all so vivid.  I had to wipe the dust off some of them and could smell how musty they were as I flipped from one page to the next.”
“You said you could read the titles,” Elicott interrupted.  “What books were they?  Were any of them familiar to you?” 
“Yes.  I was actually startled to find that they were all well known works, most of them novels by major writers.  Their titles pretty much corresponded to those on the reading lists I’d been given for my college literature courses.  Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner were all there with Hammett and Kerouac right beside them.  In another pile I found not only a complete edition of Shakespeare in one oversized volume, but there was even a copy of the same textbook of Shakespearean sources I’d once been required to study.  Looking through it, I could see the margins were filled with notes written in my own hand.  Those annotations brought back to me memories of the long hours I’d once spent poring through those same sources in the university library.”
“So there weren’t any surprises then in the books themselves?”
“What surprised me was finding there so many I’d long ago forgotten about.  For example, there was a copy of Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown.  If Brown hadn’t been known as one of the country’s first professional writers, I doubt anyone except scholars would ever have looked at that novel after the close of the eighteenth century.  I’d had to read it for a course in American literature in my sophomore year and had thought then it was absolutely awful.”
Elicott coughed politely to indicate the conversation was getting off track.  “There are theorists who hold that we never really forget anything, that our minds selectively repress memories that are no longer of any use to us so that we’re not overwhelmed by the sheer volume of past experiences as we go about our daily routines.  The memory of that novel was probably lodged in your unconscious for decades.”
“I’m sure you’re right.  I certainly had no trouble recalling the entire plot once I saw the book again in my dream.  Not that there’s anything so remarkable about that.  I’ve no doubt that if I’d come across the title in some second hand bookstore in my waking life, I’d have remembered everything just as easily.”
“Was there any more to your dream?”
“It actually lasted quite a while.  Or at least it seemed to.  Once I understood what I was looking at, I sat down and began to read some of the material around me.  I felt I had all the time in the world.  In the volume of Shakespearean sources, I came across Thomas Kyd’s earlier version of Hamlet and then compared sections of it to Shakespeare’s play to see where the differences lay.  There was no ‘to be, or not to be’ monologue for one thing.  Then I picked up Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and reread the passages dealing with the Italian retreat after the Battle of Caporetto.  The book was just as I’d remembered it.  I even checked my own copy when I got back home to make sure my recollections were accurate.  The passages were word for word exactly the same.”
Elicott stretched and then sat erect in his chair.  His hands rested easily on his desk.  “So we can say with a fair amount of confidence then that your dream was a great success.  You certainly achieved what you set out to do.”
Connor grew thoughtful.  “A success, yes.  But at the same time it was something of a disappointment to me.  I don’t know what I’d been hoping to find, but it definitely wasn’t a reading list from my college days.  Maybe my expectations had been unrealistic, but I’d somehow been sure that if I were ever able to read the books I’d seen in my dreams I’d discover something completely unknown to me and maybe to everyone else as well.”
Elicott laughed out loud at the idea.  “This isn’t magic, Connor.  It’s impossible to encounter anything in your dreams that you haven’t experienced in your waking life.  Even if you meet someone in your dreams you think you’ve never seen before it invariably turns out to be a familiar figure whose identity has been masked by your unconscious.”
Connor thought it over.  “But why would my mind play such tricks on me in the first place?”
“In order to protect you,” Elicott pronounced with certainty.  “There may be individuals whose presence in your dreams would cause you great anxiety if you were to recognize them.  But if they appear as complete strangers then there’s no need for you to have an emotional reaction.  It’s a well known defense mechanism that Dr. Reicha can explain more fully when you meet with him.”
 “Life is so boring, though, if there are explanations for everything.  There’s no mystery left.”  But even as he gave vent to his disappointment Connor realized how foolish he was being. 
“Mysteries are the stuff of romance,” the professor responded brusquely.  “We explore them in scientific research only so that we can provide the cause and effect by which these processes operate.”
“That may be true enough, but I want to believe there are things that cannot be explained rationally.”
“That’s your prerogative of course.”  Elicott once again became the pedantic lecturer.  “Life can become meaningless for many people if they can’t believe there’s more to it than what they see in front of them.”
“Well, at least I’ve proven I can control my dreams,” said Connor.  “That’s something anyway.”
“And that’s a great achievement,” Elicott encouraged him.  “I hope now that you’ve come this far you intend to continue on with the project.”
“Definitely.  Even if the dream wasn’t all that I expected, it still opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me.  I can’t wait to find out what’s next.”
“That’s good to hear.  To be honest, I was afraid that once you’d had the one particular dream you were most interested in, you’d lose your enthusiasm.  That happens occasionally.  I’m glad to see it’s not the case with you.”
“No, not at all.  I’m really looking forward to the next assignment.  Can you tell me what it’s going to involve?”
“I’ll go over it with you the next time we talk.  I’d prefer you have more time to assimilate the experience you’ve already had before we move on.”
“Of course,” said Connor.  “Sorry if I was jumping the gun.”
“It’s all right.  In the meantime, you’ll be meeting with Dr. Reicha to discuss in more detail the dream you’ve described.”  Elicott hesitated.  “And you’ll have an opportunity to discuss with him anything else that’s on your mind.  He’ll be in touch with you soon by email to set up an appointment.”
“That’s fine.  Maybe I’ll learn something more about my dream while I’m talking with him.  I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“Please do.”
As he left the room, Connor happened to glance back over his shoulder.  He had caught Elicott in an unguarded moment and saw the professor regarding him with an expression of uncertainty that he found unnerving.  He turned away and made his way out the door as quickly as he could.

“Yo, Connor.  Long time no see.  How the fuck you been?”
He didn’t recognize the stranger at first.  Connor had been walking toward the Union Square subway station, too lost in his own thoughts to pay any attention the crowds milling about him on the sidewalk.  Now, waiting for the light to change at the corner of Broadway and 16th, he looked around in confusion as he tried to determine who it was who had called out to him.
“Yo, Connor.”  The voice was much closer this time, almost at his elbow.
It was the man’s bad complexion that helped Connor place him.  It was his former cellmate from Rikers, the frightened young guy who had come close to slashing Connor’s throat with a piece of broken glass one memorable night when a prisoner had escaped and a riot had broken out.  Connor found he still couldn’t recall the pimply faced kid’s name though.   Surely he must once have known it.  He regarded the youth uncertainly.
“What’s the matter with you, Connor?  It’s me, Jackson.  Don’t tell me you don’t remember the guy you shared a cell with.”  His face darkened with anger at the thought he’d already been forgotten.  It was an insult he wasn’t likely to overlook.  In the outside world, ex-cons have only each other.  No one else wants anything to do with them.
“Hey, I’m sorry, Jackson,” Connor apologized at once.  “I wasn’t trying to be rude.  You just caught me when I wasn’t looking.  I wasn’t expecting to run into anyone I knew from the old days.  I didn’t even realize you’d gotten out.”
“It’s ok.”  Jackson relaxed and held out his hand.  “I thought for a minute you didn’t want to be bothered knowing your old buddy.  I should’ve paid more attention and seen you got problems of your own.  You seemed like you was in another world the way you were walking down the street bumping into everyone.  You gotta be more careful and keep your eyes open 24/7 in this city.  Otherwise, you make yourself a target.  There are too many bad guys out there looking to score off the first fool they find.”
Connor glanced behind him.  “You’re right.  I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Jackson studied him more carefully.  “You always was a strange one.  I never could figure out what was going on inside your head.”
Connor shrugged ruefully.  “Don’t worry about it.  Sometimes I don’t know myself.”
“I got out two weeks ago,” Jackson informed him.  “I’m on my way down to John Street now so my parole officer can grill me about what I’ve been up to.” 
“I don’t want to make you late.”  Connor had been searching for an excuse to break off the conversation and get away.  He didn’t need to be around anyone so violent.
“We can share a cab if you’re headed in that direction,” Jackson offered. 
That was the last thing Connor wanted.  But before he could demur, his companion had jumped off the curb to hail a passing taxi.  “There’s one now,” he yelled.
As the cab pulled up before them, Connor all at once experienced an intense premonition of disaster.  He couldn’t have said where the sensation had come from or what had caused it, but he was as sure of it as he was of his own name.  “Don’t get in that car,” he instructed Jackson urgently.
“Are you kidding me?”  Jackson was incredulous.  “I’ve been waiting ten minutes for an empty one to come along.  I’m gonna be late if I don’t get going now.”
“Wait for another.  That one’s too dangerous.”  Connor couldn’t understand why he’d said that, but he knew somehow it was the truth.  “Something bad’s going to happen.”
Jackson regarded him scornfully.  “Oh, man.  You’re just as nuts now as you were a few months ago.  You one crazy fucker.  You know that?”
“Just listen to what I’m telling you,” Connor begged.
“The hell with that shit.  And with you too.”  Jackson jumped in the back of the cab without saying anything more.  Through the window, Connor could see him giving an address to the driver and no doubt urging him to step on the gas.  He gave Connor a last pitying look as the car raced its engine and moved rapidly off.
Connor wanted to turn and walk away, but he found himself frozen to the spot, his eyes fixed on the southbound cab.
The vehicle had only gone two blocks when it tried to jump a light at the corner of 14th Street directly in the path of a crosstown bus.  There was a screech of brakes followed by the sickening sound of twisting metal as the oncoming bus crashed headlong into the side of the cab.  The small car bounced in the air before landing upside down and then rolling over several times until it finally came to a stop.  Flames burst forth from the undercarriage and in a moment engulfed the entire vehicle.
Connor knew there was nothing he could do.  No one could have lived through the fire still burning in the middle of the Broadway pavement.  If he waited to give the police Jackson’s name, they’d only want to know where he knew him from; that would involve endless explanations.  There was no need anyway.  The parole officer would set things in motion when Jackson failed to show for his appointment.  It was only a matter of time before the authorities put two and two together.
Connor started away.  He knew already he’d never tell anyone what he’d seen or the strange foreboding that had come over him immediately before it happened.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Nikon Z7 at NYC Photo Expo


At the recent NYC Photo Expo at the Javits Center there was an entire table filled with Nikon's new Z7 camera.  A brief look was enough to know the camera is Nikon's attempt to catch up with the wildly successful Sony line of full frame mirrorless cameras.  I wasn't particularly impressed with the Z7; there's little chance I would ever use either the Z7 or any of Sony's cameras for my own work.  Both are simply too small and lightweight to be a comfortable fit in my hands.  Moreover, for professional work I strongly prefer the DSLR's optical viewfinder over mirrorless cameras' electronic viewfinders.  

I'm not really qualified to give a review of the Z7; those interested shoud go to Dpreview's review that fully lists the camera specs and provides a detailed analysis.  I'd note in passing that there are only three lenses currently available for the Z7.  Other Nikon lenses can be used via an adapter, but this has to negatively impact image quality.

I also saw the Nikon's new 500mm lens (see photo below) on the same table but was disappointed since it was not nearly as compact and lightweight as I'd been led to expect.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Disappearing New York City


To the west of New York City's Tenth Avenue are huge excavations and construction sites for the dozens of skyscrapers being built on the site of the old Hudson railyards.  On the other side of the avenue businesses that have existed for decades await the wrecking ball.  As the building boom continues much of the city's character is lost forever in the name of progress.