A Couple Of Afternoon Timelapses

You see physics in action as you look at the clouds interacting with the rest of the atmosphere at this much faster pace. Everything that happens is dictated by the laws of physics. Nothing is random.

So many things look different when seen at an alternate time scale. Nature is pretty damn cool.

0880I’ve taken a few time lapse videos today. The camera is mounted with a suction cup to the outside of my office window.

It’s a GoPro, one of the biggest breakthroughs in video technology, ever. It’s a cheap, tiny, waterproof, indestructible, high definition video camera that also shoots stills.

Every two seconds it snaps another frame. One hour of real time equals one minute of video. In editing it can be sped up even more.

The GoPro’s secret is its super wide lens–the opposite of a telephoto. Being wide reduces shake and makes aiming shots much less critical. It’s great for things very close or very large–like the sky.

The whole stills-to-video process is a pain. Nothing difficult. Just lots of steps.

You see physics in action as you look at the clouds interacting with the rest of the atmosphere at this much faster pace. Everything that happens is dictated by the laws of physics. Nothing is random.

So many things look different when seen at an alternate time scale. Nature is pretty damn cool.

Changes Over Time

Every year I get older. Fifth graders stay the same. That seems unfair.

IMG_0534 copy.jpgI went to Prospect, CT this evening for their annual DARE graduation. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been doing this, but I seriously expected a parent of one of these kids to tell me I was at his/her graduation too! Some things have changed. Some have remained the same.

Bob Chatfield is still the mayor. He was there when I first came. He’s the longest serving elected official in Connecticut.

The ceremony still takes place at Community School. Parts of it were built in the mid 30s. Not much change there.

D.A.R.E. 2010 008.JPGI don’t know why but the girls seldom look me in the eye as I hand them their awards. They stare at the floor. Some of the boys look up–not all.

I used to shake hands with all the grads. Tonight it was fist bumps. I’m not sure if that’s flu related, but I’ll just choose to blame Howie Mandel.

When I began the school was all white. It is now a mini United Nations. Yes, the majority are still white, but there are now lots of other shades. Families moving up have moved in to Prospect.

D.A.R.E. 2010 009.JPGOriginally parents came with their video recorders. A few years ago the video was gone and there were lots of digital cameras. Now it’s digicams and cellphones.

The slide projector has been replaced with a PowerPoint slideshow.

As an ‘honored guest’ I’m asked to say a few words. Tonight I asked how many of the kids wished they were adults, able to control their own lives. Lots of hands.

I then asked the parents if they wanted to be kids? More hands.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood there’s a disconnect! The parents understand too well.

Every year I get older. Fifth graders stay the same. That seems unfair.

A Dose Of Humility

Tonight was the night for “Off the Wall,” the photographic charity event for the Arts Council. I’d seen the setup Thursday when there was a photographers preview.

Immediately, I felt outclassed by photographers with greater skills than mine. Maybe it’s just a case of familiarity breeding contempt, but my pictures looked like snapshots versus the real artwork hung at the 70 Audubon Street Gallery.

OK, not everything the others did was Ansel Adams worthy either. There were strange photos and inappropriate photos. There were photos that would keep you from falling asleep at night.

One artist submitted three photos of naked people, lying on their backs. The shots were taken with a wide angle lens, giving the bodies an otherwordly shape. Visualize – naked people on their backs. It wasn’t pretty&#175.

A few of the photographers shot dolls, but in a very surrealistic way. Really creepy!

Considering most of the photos were taken on color digital cameras, there was a large number of black and white or sepia photos. It seemed overdone. I’m saying that even though one of mine was B&W!

The “Off the Wall” concept has 165 tickets distributed and 165 photos from 55 shooters on the wall. The tickets are drawn at random. When yours is called, you take a photo off the wall.

Please Lord, not 165th. Actually, with three photos on exhibit, I was praying not to be 163, 164 and 165!

Over 120 sweaty bodies squeezed into the gallery. On this warm August evening, whatever air conditioning power the room possessed had long since given up its fight. It was stuffy and still.

Up front, the emcee began to call numbers. As the ticket holders called out whichever photo they wanted, I started ticking off the corresponding boxes on a gridded piece of paper.

Through the first dozen or so, no one called any of my choices to take off the wall… and I’d selected a dozen. More importantly, no one took any of the photos I’d shot!

Number 45, my ticket number, was called in the second dozen. The rules give you 20 seconds to choose. I was ready.

Stef had asked about a beautiful zebra photo, taken (as we later found out) in Kenya. It was still available and so we snatched photo 48B taken by Charles Kingsley.

Nice shot Charles. Congratulations. It will be on the wall of a dorm room with a full semester’s worth of clothes on the floor (or so I assume).

More and more tickets were called, but my photos continued to sit on the wall. Each photographer started with three photos hanging. Some already had all three picked.

On a short wall, where it once sat with the works of four other photographers, my contribution was starting to get lonely. The wall was getting bare the way a man goes bald – gradually.

Eighty four photos were gone before any of mine got chosen. It went to someone named Bitsie who said it was her first choice. My second shot went to the very next ticket holder as pick 86.

My moody, black and white, Atlantic City Boardwalk photo – the one my friends Dennis and Rick thought would go right away, was still on the wall as Helaine and I walked out. We told each other we wanted to watch the Phillies game on ESPN, but we really didn’t want to see that photo sit, uncalled.

As we walked to the car, I began to tell Helaine what I’d do differently to go sooner next year, but she’d have none of it. “Don’t change you style,” was what she said. Whether I follow her advice or not, she’s obviously right.

Am I disappointed I went so late in the process? You bet. but, this is my first time in any kind of exhibition. I was glad to just be there.

OK – I would have been happier going in the first dozen. Who am I kidding?

&#175 – My friend Josh sent an email to say: BTW: the distorted photos of naked people were created with a large pinhole camera and printed with platinum process — very unusual. I agree way too much easy digital, and predictable imagery, which might be why I appreciated the pinhole nudes more than you.

A Spot In The Sun

It looks like a speck of dust on the surface of the sun. But this spectacular picture shows the space shuttle Atlantis alongside the International Space Station (ISS) silhouetted as they orbit the earth. Here’s the full size original picture (warning – it’s huge).

As a photographer, my question is, how did they mask out the Sun’s incredible brilliance to still catch detail of the shuttle and ISS? Digital cameras (possibly film cameras too) just don’t have that kind of dynamic range (difference between brightest brights and darkest darks).

Blogger’s addendum: Here’s more technical info on how the picture was taken: Image of the solar transit of the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Atlantis (50 minutes after undocking from the ISS, before return to Earth), taken from the area of Mamers (Normandie, France) on september 17th 2006 at 13h 38min 50s UT. Takahashi TOA-150 refractor (diameter 150mm, final focal 2300mm), Baader helioscope and Canon 5D. Exposure of 1/8000s at 50 ISO, extracted from a series of 14 images (3 images/s) started 2s before the predicted time.

The photographer’s website is here.

Click here for the full photo.

read more | digg story

Finishing My Photos

We’ve been back from our cruise for nearly three weeks and I’m finally finished working on the pictures. It was easier in the old school point-and-shoot film days when you brought your film in and walked out with prints.

Today’s tools are more versatile and the prints are simply better in the digital era – at least for me.

We ordered a ‘book’ of 60 – 4×6″ pictures from the 1,700 I shot on the cruise.

I know there are bound books you can buy, but we’ve chosen to have these pictures ‘loosely’ bound with a spiral binding. We did it last year with our California vacation and were very pleased with the result.

My panoramas went to epingo.com, a company I found through a web search. They offer to print custom sizes, and my panos are anything but standard. I’m waiting to see how they turn out, because the photos (even enlarged) have lots of detail. Since they’re composed of many more pixels than can be displayed on my computer screen, seeing them there probably doesn’t begin to do them justice.

It’s my understanding epingo.com uses a very high quality ink jet printer. That’s different from the process used on most photo prints and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one up close and personal.

A few nights ago, I was thumbing through “The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers,” by Scott Kelby and came upon his idea for creating a poster. His demo was individual photos of a baby’s face. I thought it might work for a few of my Mexican shots. My finished product is displayed on the left above.

I am really pleased with how it came out. Response from my friends (who as friends will compliment or say nothing at all) has been extremely positive.

This is more technique than artistry. It’s really not too difficult to do (though I did it three times until I got the spacing the way I wanted it). It was done with Photoshop, but it’s tough to believe Photoshop Elements, Paintshop Pro, GIMP&#185 or any other program that ships with digital cameras, don’t have the few tools needed to achieve this same result.

Like the panos, I am very interested in seeing this printed. There’s a lot of detail available, even for the 16×24″ size I specified. My finished product was created at 300 dpi (dots per inch), which I hope is enough to maintain the quality I think is there. It went to clubphoto.com, who are also doing the 60 bound 4×6’s.

I’ll post my impressions when the prints arrive.

&#185 – GIMP is a very good photo finishing program. What makes it even better is, it’s 100% free. The prevailing wisdom is, it’s comparable to Photoshop, though not quite as good or robust. The user interface is obtuse and clunky and will feel unfamiliar to most Windows users. Did I mention it’s free?

Yankees Versus Angels – At Yankee Stadium

Last weekend, I took in a Phillies game. It was the first major league baseball game I’d seen in at least fifteen years. Yesterday I took in my second.

I got the call early in the week from my friend Steve. A friend of his, a Yankee season ticket hold, had an extra ticket. Would I like to go?

Later it came out, Steve knew I wasn’t a Yankee fan, but thought of this as a photo safari for me. Good thinking! Our seats were down low in right field, beyond the dugout.

I met Steve at 8:50 and we drove to our rendezvous point where Norm, the ticket holder, picked us up.

The drive to the Bronx was a breeze. We made one stop on the Hutch (see my previous entry) and then headed past Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo to a stop on the #4 train.

This was a great idea. I haven’t been to Yankee Stadium in nearly 50 years, but I’ve heard traffic is horrendous. Taking the train for the last few minutes eliminates the crush of traffic going into and out of the stadium. Anyway, I love the subway and can’t remember the last time I was on this classic elevated line.

Looking down the tracks from the Fordham Road station, all I could think of was a roller coaster. The tracks went downhill, not steadily, but with few little bumps along the way. Finally, they took a dip and disappeared.

Getting off the train put us right next to the stadium. We were too close to have any perspective of its physical size. There are majestic views of Yankee Stadium from the Major Deegan Expressway, but none from our vantage point.

Norm’s daughter joined us here and the four of us walked around the outer edge of the park and into the Stadium Club. The Stadium Club is a very nice restaurant. In a venue where a beer can cost $8.50, the Stadium Club’s prices keep pace! We sat down for brunch.

Norm had celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, like me. Part of what he wanted had to do with Yankees and he had made arrangements to get us down to the edge of the dugout before the game started.

Unfortunately, being that wasn’t quite enough. The players never showed and we retreated up the foul line to our seats.

Let’s talk a little about Yankee Stadium. I have been there before. It was some time in the late 50s or early 60s. My dad had somehow gotten tickets to a football Giants game.

It was a day as cold as I can remember. We sat under an overhang, in the end zone with an unobstructed view. The smell of cigar smoke was thick enough to cut with a knife.

I don’t remember anything about the football game. Nothing.

Sitting in our seats a few minutes before game time gave me a chance to look around. The stadium itself (as opposed to the field of play) was smaller than I expected. Though the paint and fixtures seemed to be in good repair, the stadium looked old and tired.

The field itself was spectacular. We had come early enough to watch the ritual as the lines were carefully painted up the base paths, along with the batter’s and coaches boxes. The infield dirt was gently raked and then lightly sprayed, turning it a beautiful brown.

I’m sorry I’m not a Yankee fan, because this was an amazing win for them. Trailing all game, and looking sad doing it, they rallied in the bottom of the ninth and won as Hideki Matsui lined a double into left field.

A few sections up, a group of Japanese fans celebrated in a way I haven’t seen since I saw my grandparents celebrate at my Bar Mitzvah!

All I could think about was the pitcher, Francisco Rodriguez – aka “K-Rod.” He’s on my fantasy league team. He had just given up two runs, four walks and picked up the loss! Ouch.

I must admit, the vast majority of the game was seen by me through the lens of my camera. I brought the Canon, both lenses and nearly 2 gb of memory. Nothing was wasted.

In fact, it wasn’t until after the game and a chance to thumb through my photos that I realized how awkward and stressful a pitcher’s motion is. This is the kind of thing you just don’t get to appreciate unless the motion is stopped.

Having seen the Phillies last week, I was ready to try some new and improved techniques. My timing on fly balls and swinging bats is better. I also decided to sacrifice ‘noise’ (the digital cameras equivalent of graininess in an old fashioned photo) in order to shoot with a very fast shutter and open aperture.

For most of the game I was capturing images at 1/3200 second. That was enough to freeze every bit of action I saw. Opening the lens a little less increased my depth of field, making it easier to get sharper pictures.

When men were on first, I turned the autofocus off, focused on 2nd base and hoped for a play there. A few times that move paid off. Mostly it didn’t.

My favorite shot came as Juan Rivera of the Angels chased down a home run to right. I caught him as he jumped, hoping to find he ball. He didn’t get it but I did… well, at least I got the shot.

As the game ended, we poured out of the stadium and headed back to the “el.” This strategy of Norm’s worked again. In ten minutes we were in the car and faced no traffic all the way home to Connecticut.

Isn’t this strange? After all these years I get to see baseball games on consecutive weekends. And, there’s the possibility of more. My friend Bob is coming up from Charlotte, North Carolina in a few weeks. We’re not totally set in our plans, but he’d like to see the Red Sox play the Angels at Fenway.

I’m ready.

Stormy Weather

I was busy yesterday afternoon with some stormy weather that moved into Connecticut. I got an email from someone on the other side of the state who was unhappy I had broken into a soap opera.

That sort of thing comes with the territory. I have heard other weather people describing the same type of call or email. There is no question in my mind that I did the right thing. The writer will probably never agree.

At least the bad weather brought one thing – this unreal picture taken in Northfield, CT by Lou Belloisy. Lou’s an old friend and former chopper pilot for the station. I’ve seen his photography before, so this shot is no surprise.

I am jealous.

This is the kind of photo I’d like to take. Hopefully, I will. I understand the mechanics and technique, but there’s more involved. There will be more pictures like this one over time because more people with digital cameras will be willing to experiment, taking hundreds of photos and getting instant feedback.

Along with our thunderstorms, I’ve been watching two tropical systems closely because it looks like they might affect us – not as tropical storms or hurricanes, but as gusty rainstorms.

My forecast for Bonnie, the first, looks on target. Tomorrow should be very, very rainy. I’m not so sure about Charley, storm two.

Here’s the problem for me as a weather forecaster – I am very dependent upon the computer guidance. Every once in a while I’ll hear a forecaster poo poo the models, but that’s baloney. The reason we can have 5-6-7, even 8-day forecasts is because of computer modeling. No human could discern the weather patterns that far in advance without mathematical help.

Unfortunately, the medium range models, and to a lesser extent the short term ones, don’t see these tropical systems! They are compact, and usually occur in areas where data is sparse. As of this morning I can’t find Charley on the models we depend on for the first few days of the forecast, much less the extended forecast.

I know Charley will be there, so everything in the models he could interact with is probably wrong!

I try to look at special tropical models and integrate the data myself – but that’s not a great solution. There’s just too much physics taking place. I’m sure I’m missing things left and right. So, the extended forecast, when there’s tropical weather around, tends to be less accurate – which is a shame.

There’s no ‘level of difficulty’ excuse. If this forecast busts, people will be (correctly) upset. That’s what I get for claiming to be able to predict the future.

New Camera

Over the past few years I have become a little nuts over digital cameras.

Early on I had an Olympus point and shoot with 640×480 resolution, extremely slow shutter and very wide lens. I always stood closer than people expected, or asked someone taking a photo of me and my family to move in because the camera captured such as a broad area. I became so predictable that the wide angle lens advisory I’d give to strangers became a family joke.

Next was a Casio QV2000-UX. Compared to the Olympus’ 307,200 pixels this one had over 2 million. The pictures were better, the lens longer and narrower. Casio, unfortunately, really isn’t a camera company and the cameras reflected that. It was somewhat difficult to operate and ungainly.

Next up was the Fuji Finepix S602Z. This was my favorite camera of all time. I had graduated to 3 megapixels (though Fuji through some sort of mumbo jumbo math claimed 6 megapixels) and a camera designed like a camera. The S602Z resembles a film SLR camera – except the eyepiece viewfinder is actually a tiny video screen. That is a real disadvantage because you can’t see when it’s dark (even when the camera could be pushed to shoot a picture) and focusing in low light is nearly non-existent.

I took about 9,000 photos from March 2003 to August 2004. Imagine if I had paid for photo processing!

Steffie and Helaine had a love, hate relationship with it. If I became too much of a pain in the butt (like while on vacation or traveling to New York City) it was my motivation. On the other hand, if they took it to a Rick Springfield, or other, concert it was the perfect way to take photos and bring back something that was often spectacular. Steffie’s concert photos with the S602Z have been published twice.

This summer I began to feel I was ready to take the next step and began reading the photo magazines and computer bulletin boards. My two choices were a Nikon D100 or Canon Digital Rebel. For a variety of reasons, though price was most important, I chose the Canon.

The more sophisticated the camera, the more difficult the purchase. I’m not just talking about cost, though the price varies among mail order and brick and mortar dealers. The camera body is stock. Everything else is custom configured.

The Digital Rebel is 6 megapixels with a very sensitive and precise sensor for capturing the images. Nearly every parameter that controls the shot can be customized. It can be used as a point and shoot camera, but that would be sacrilege.

I decided to buy the body without the Canon lens and instead ordered two Sigma lenses. Though mine were not, lenses can be more expensive than the camera itself! One, 28-125mm, zooms from a wide angle to medium range telephoto. The other, 70-300mm, zooms from mid range to very long.

The zoom can be so long, magnifying the image so much, that it can’t be used under less than bright light! It’s not that it won’t take the picture. When the light’s dim you have to hold the shutter open longer. Unless the shutter time is very fast you will move the lens and blur the shot.

I’ve had the camera a few days and am very impressed. This shot of the moon (something every photographer with a new long lens seems to do) came out just the way I wanted. I haven’t had a chance to be artistic, but have looked at some technical aspects of the shots. Are they sharp enough with the correct color? What’s the depth of field? How slow a shutter can I get away with?

On the other hand, it is heavier and bulkier that what I’m used to. Reading the postings I see some users consider a single lens their ‘walk around’ and leave the rest home unless they know they’ll be using them.

The more I read, the more I realize I don’t know and will have to learn.

A versatile camera doesn’t take better pictures on its own. Yes, there will be an improvement if only because the glass and sensor are better. My job is to work on optimizing my skills and understanding how the camera should be set under any situation.

Tonight I’ll be doing the weather at the Orange Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival and I’ll bring the camera with me. After the news there’ll be a chance to take a few (dozen) shots. It should be like letting a sports car out on a stretch of open road. I’m looking forward to it.

Steffie and Helaine Return – With Photos

Steffie and Helaine arrived back from Toms River, NJ early Sunday afternoon. They say Rick Springfield was fantastic – but they always do!

Steffie has once again shown a great, creative eye with a series of photos taken at the concert. It is easy to credit good shots to a good camera. A good camera helps, but it’s the artistic eye of the photographer that makes it all come together.

I hope she’ll continue to shoot away. The only way to learn is to take thousands of shots – something digital cameras make almost too easy.

Steffie’s earlier photos from Rick’s Springfield’s Foxwoods and Westbury shows are also online.

Phenomenal Aurora – I Missed It!

Earlier this evening, the heavens glowed in shades of red as the Aurora Borealis moved far enough south to be seen in Connecticut.

I received dozens of emails from happy people, thrilled to witness this rare event. Some folks say once in a lifetime, but that’s overdoing it.

Because auroras happen in the dark, it is very difficult to capture them on film. Digital cameras, not as sensitive as their film cousins, make it even more unlikely. I’m not sure how, but one viewer, Mike Jensen of Oakdale, CT was able to get it in his viewfinder, and the result is amazing. The shot is looking over Gardners Lake, Salem CT at about 7:30 PM 10/30/03.

I have only seen the Northern Lights once myself. I was living in Cleveland at the time, and my friend Joel was visiting from Pittsburgh. We sat outside and stared. I remember understanding what it was, but being petrified anyway. The colors undulated, as if it were a curtain of some gas headed our way.

I wish I could have seen it tonight. I’m glad I gave others a reasonable heads up.

Next Step in Participatory Journalism?

The California wild fires have been the lead story for most US news organizations over the past few days. The losses in lives and dollars are high.

For television it’s a compelling story because it’s got great video.

That’s awful, but it’s true. The pictures of flames towering into the sky, soot covered firefighters and distraught homeowners play into what television shows best… emotion.

Last night, for the second night in a row, Peter Jennings anchored World News Tonight from the scene of one of the fires. I can only imagine the ‘rolling stock’ TV stations and networks have brought to the fire lines.

That having been established, this disaster might mark the emergence of the next wave in journalism – the ordinary citizen as chronicler. A Southern California Wild Fires site has gone up with some amazing (and some pedestrian) photos of the action.

It is now easy for nearly anyone to get a reasonably high quality photo onto the Internet. Not only do we have digital cameras, but some of the cameras are built into the very cell phones that will transmit the pictures to their destination. And, it is reasonably easy to establish a website to serve the photos. Moblog sites, for showing mobile digital pictures, are also readily available.

Most of the photos on Southern California Wild Fires are nothing special. But, like the infinite number of monkeys typing on the infinite number of typewriters for the infinite amount of time – at some point they will produce Shakespeare. The number of excellent photos is more a reflection of the immense number of shots taken as opposed to the skill of the shooters.

I suspect over the next few years we will see more, not less of this. It will change how news is gathered and dispensed. I am worried that, like Gresham’s Law in economics, cheap photography will begin to drive expensive professional photography out of existence.

Am I John Mayer’s stalker?

Click here for more photos from the concert

As of Wednesday morning, I still hadn’t heard from John Mayer’s road manager, Scotty Crowe, as promised. Just a little worried (it is my nature), I sent another email to the management folks and got a reassuring email in return.

By early afternoon there was an upbeat voicemail at work. We were good to go (literally and figuratively). The only surprise was the time. “Meet and greet” is normally a post show event. Not with this show. John would be entertaining at 7:00 PM.

Anticipating Hartford traffic (which we never saw), Steffie and I arrived at The Meadows a bit before 6:00 PM. A line had already begun to form the entrance. People with tickets for the vast expanse of lawn wanted to stake their claim and find a good seat.

Good lawn seating is miles away from the stage. Bad seating is in another time zone.

We hit the “will call” window, looking for our “Meet and Greet” passes. Nada. But, that’s not at all unusual. As it turned out, the clerk was looking in the wrong place, and a turn to the left produced two round adhesive passes and a small Xeroxed set of instructions to the marshaling point.

The gates to The Meadows actually open at 6:30 PM. But the real excitement starts a few minutes earlier as a PA announcement lists what you can and cannot do… can and cannot bring.

Digital cameras were on the forbidden list. I decided to take it anyway and hope for the best. After all, meeting John and having the passes might be enough of a mitigating factor. As it turned out, the ‘frisker’ took a look at he camera, pondered for two seconds, and pronounced it within reason. My guess is, with the lens retracted, he thought it was a non-professional film camera.

My first rock concert was probably 1966 or 1967. I went with my Cousin Michael and Larry Lubetsky to the Village Theater, aka The Fillmore East. We did that often on Friday and Saturday nights. It was pure fun and music (with the Joshua Light Show and the smell of marijuana pungent enough to knock you on your butt).

Things have changed

If there is something that isn’t for sale, or marked with signage, I didn’t see it. I’m surprised a wheelchair company doesn’t sponsor the handicapped ramp.

In the parking lot were four perky post-teens (male and female) wearing red t-shirts. They would be passing out Trojan condoms throughout the evening.

Dodge sponsored this, Comcast that, and Channel 30 something else. Dunkin’ Donuts was passing out Fruit Coolatas, but most everything else was for sale and over priced beyond belief (again, please excuse my naivet´┐Ż. I’m 53 and I’m not in the concert demo anymore).

Considering there is a law in Connecticut preventing a reseller from marking up a concert ticket by too much, you’d think the venue itself would follow that same policy when it came to bottled water or beer or pretzels. They could let you in for free and still make a profit.

A few minutes before 7:00 we met Scotty Crowe. It’s interesting how the Internet can catapult unlikely people into the limelight, and Scotty is one of them. Once I knew I’d be meeting him, I “Googled” him. Not only does he write John Mayer’s Road Journal, he also has some dedicated fans, including a Scotty Crowe bulletin board. Damn!

We went into the hallway that would serve as “Meet and Greet” central, and waited. I tried to make small talk with Scotty, but as is always the case when I do something like that, I came off as a total dork. At least I gave him a good PhotoShop tip (Ctl-L is perfect for enhancing video levels on digital photos).

John came out a few minutes later. I don’t notice these things, but Steffie said he was wearing the same outfit we saw him wear at Oakdale. He’s tall and thin and young and I’m jealous..

After saying hello and posing with the people in front of us, John came over. He was very nice (though after meeting him at KC-101, Oakdale and now here, I can’t help but wonder if he thinks I’m a stalker… or if I actually am a stalker).

As soon as he started to speak to Stefanie, he said, “You’re Stef, right?” I believe that was the magic moment as far as she was concerned. To be remembered by someone in his position, who meets so many people, was very gratifying.

I told John I thought he was smart, and a nice guy. But, I had seen others who had that… and lost it. I told him it was very important he remember to continue to be the kind of person he is now. I seriously think he will. But, as with Scotty a few minutes earlier, I felt like a dork after I said it. I hope he’ll think I was somewhat appropriate.

We had come very early and we found out we would be staying very late. Not only was John Mayer performing, so were the Counting Crows and an opening act before them. There was only so much we could take, so Steffie and I sat outside, people watching, while Stew (or possibly Stu… I wasn’t inside) performed.

We headed inside and found our seats before the Crows hit the stage.

If you have never been to The Meadows (and now that I’ve talked about all the commercialism, you should know, it’s the “ctnow.com Meadows Music Centre). It is a huge, high roofed pavilion with theater seating and a removable rear wall. There is no air conditioning. There are no ceiling fans. It was hot and sticky and uncomfortable.

I had never seen the Counting Crows and I was favorably impressed. Lead singer Adam Duritz, his hair fashioned with somewhat wild dreadlocks, is very talented and (and I always like this in a performance) a commanding presence on stage.

Toward the end of the set, he told a story of going to school in Watertown, CT and flunking a music course. Judging by the description, it is probably The Taft School. A website FAQ confirms it.

The Crows got off after 10:00 PM. The venue had not cooled down. Every once in a while, a brief whisper of air would move by, and you’d think, maybe it’s going to cool down. But the ‘waft’ was short lived; a tease at best.

Not quite 11:00, John Mayer took the stage. As appreciative as the audience was for the Counting Crows, they stepped it up a notch and a half for John. There’s no doubt that a packed house is good for the home team, and he is the home town here.

He is an artist who sounds just like his Cd’s (I wanted to write records, but that would make me very old, wouldn’t it?). That means his artistry is real and not produced into being. Most of the house stood for most of the performance.

He did the hits, and some cuts from the new CD (out in a few weeks) and then a phenomenal guitar solo. As good as he is as a troubadour, John Mayer is a masterful guitarist; as good as I’ve heard

There’s obviously some BB King in his riffs, and probably others I don’t recognize, but mostly it is his ability to make the guitar become its own voice that makes his playing so good. It is my contention that if he weren’t singing, he’d have an amazing career as a guitarist.

At 11:45 PM he said goodnight, only to come back on stage alone to do the first of two encore numbers.

We were out by midnight. As soon as I turned on the car radio, I realized I wasn’t hearing quite as well as I did when I went in! Within ten minutes we had navigated Hartford and gotten onto I-91 southbound.

Though Steffie tried (and she has pre-season field hockey practice tomorrow morning) she had only a few minutes of sleep before we were home.

Great night. I’d do it again.

Click here for more photos from the concert