Reflections From An Old Guy At York And Elm Streets

Does anyone really want to get older once you’re in your twenties? That seems to be the optimum age. You’ve got your health. Nothing’s sagging. Happiness comes cheaper.

Doctor today. Annual physical. Pass! I already made the appointment for next year.

I said something to my doc about getting older. I want to be young. He called me Peter Pan.

Does anyone really want to get older once you’re in your twenties? That seems the optimum age. You’ve got your health. Nothing’s sagging. Happiness comes cheaper.

On my way from his office to the station I drove through the Yale campus. At York and Elm I could feel the vibe. Even cocooned in my car the power of youth penetrates. It’s that strong.

There they were — young, smart, motivated… thin. They were moving quickly–with purpose. Damn them. I wish I could be them.

Back in my college days I was smart enough… just not smart enough to give the impression of smart enough. The curse of the youthful underachiever.

The Yalies seemed carefree. How do you pull that off? I’ve forgotten how to be carefree.

If that’s Peter Pan so be it.

The PhotoWalk Returns

It sounds like a dig against New Haven. It’s really a beautiful city with some interesting architectural flourishes. They are not built for photography.

I did the annual PhotoWalk yesterday. Last year Steve Brenner and I went to the Brooklyn Bridge. This year it was the New Haven Green and Yale campus. Bad choice on our part.

It sounds like a dig against New Haven. It’s really a beautiful city with some interesting architectural flourishes. They are not built for photography.

Too much of Yale is hidden behind stately and historic trees (here’s a panorama of a Yale quad). That’s not something wrong with Yale. It just doesn’t lend itself to photography.

One of the photo programs I use breaks out the different photo parameters in a shoot. I used five separate ISO settings and apertures from f/1.4 to f/20, I was searching. Four different lenses were on the camera. None was quite right.

The list of numbers that summarizes the technical elements is all over the place. It’s unfocused. That stands to reason.

The people on the PhotoWalk couldn’t have been nicer. Steve noticed early on nearly. with the exception of one person shooting a Sony, everyone was using Canon or Nikon.

We walked the Yale campus first, than on to the Green. A few of Yale’s buildings were enveloped in scaffolding. Disappointing. On the Green a band was playing to a nice crowd.

I will do another of these next year (hopefully), but only after thinking about what’s there to shoot.


yale university lion statue.jpg

yale universityman's bust statue.jpg

new haven lampost.jpg

The best part of the day was pizza outside in the back at Zinc. This was a white pie with goat cheese, pesto and grilled shrimp.

zinc pizza new haven.jpg

Classier Audience Than I Deserve

I look forward to some public appearances more than others. Tonight was a ‘look forward to’ event. I was asked to introduce an operatic performance on the New Haven Green.

Scratch the Green. Too chilly. The New Haven Symphony Orchestra doesn’t perform outside when the temperature drops below 65&#186. Can you blame them?

Unfortunately, that shrinks the house somewhat.

This was to be part of New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Though some ‘big’ commercial acts play, it is mostly smaller performances across many genres.

A crowd of thousands sees these opera performances on the Green. Tonight, we were moved inside to Yale’s University Theater – one of many performance spots on the Yale University campus. The theater sits a little over 600.

With my leg still sitting inside the Velcro fastened boot, I asked for special parking dispensation. The organizers of the event had no pull, but the Yale Police (yes, they have their own police department – guns and everything) was extremely helpful. A motorcycle officer blocked off a space right alongside the theater with a wooden sawhorse.

An opera crowd is quite eclectic. They are likely to know what they’re getting into. I sense there are few casual opera fans and many rabid ones.

By the time I arrived, a line had already formed, stretching down York Street toward Broadway. This part of New Haven, surrounded by the Yale campus is really beautiful. The buildings are very stately… very Yale.

As the crowd stood, a group of street performers from the Meter Theater began to put on a show. I was too busy taking pictures to really follow what was going on, but the crowd got into it.

Finally the doors opened and the crowd moved in. I headed backstage, standing with (but having no contact with) tonight’s performers. I knew who they were by the tiny stage mics which curled from their ears.

On stage the New Haven Symphony was tuning up. This is quite an accomplished orchestra and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching them get limber by playing exercises and running scales.

A live performance of classical music is so powerful, even someone who is not a fan will still enjoy. I can’t explain it, except to say it can be unexpectedly overpowering.

The curtain was scheduled for 8:00 PM, but as is often the case, it was held for 8:05. I walked to the front of the stage, crossed the apron and walked down a few stairs to the narrator’s microphone. There was a polite smattering of applause.

I welcomed them to Opera on the Green and then looked around at the surroundings. “Damn weatherman,” I said. Nice laugh.

I read a little from the prepared script I’d be given and then looked up for some remarks of my own. I don’t have my exact words, so let me paraphrase.

“I’m thrilled to be with you tonight, but I am a little embarrassed. I mean, it’s wonderful to see this great opera… but I accepted this thinking I was introducing Oprah.” Big laugh.

That little joke had been a bone of contention in the Fox house and at work where my friends and family were sure it would bomb. I told it anyway. I’m glad I did.

I did the rest of the intro for the performance. Most of it had been written by others, but I threw in a little mention of Milton Cross, who used to host the Texaco Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts, and who I knew this crowd would relate to. I also added some historical context to the actual operetta to be performed, “Orpheus in the Underworld,” which was originally panned by the critics back in 1858.

As I walked toward the back of the house, the actual narrator took his place and the orchestra began to play. Though the opera was written by Offenbach, a German by birth, it was written in French and first performed in Paris.

As the singers, all Yale students, performed, an English translation flashed on a huge screen behind the orchestra.

I’m not going to claim to be an opera fan. But, what I saw tonight was very entertaining, especially an amazing young soprano singing the part of Eurydice. I have searched everywhere, but cannot find her name nor the names of anyone in the cast!

With two more newscasts to go, I had to leave while the performance was underway. I was sorry to go… even if Oprah wasn’t there.

I Should Have Gone To Yale

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I really enjoy photography. As of tonight, “Clicky” has taken 24,123 shots. Obviously, I try and take pictures any time I can.

Tonight, I had my chance to shoot a basketball game. Yale was playing Columbia and I got a pass to sit on the baseline at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on the Yale Campus in New Haven.

It was Senior Night, which is nice. It was also the night of the Jones Brothers. Yale is coached by James Jones. Columbia is coached by his brother Joe.

I haven’t really shot a lot of sports. I’ve been to some Major League Baseball games, shooting from the stands, and stood on the sideline at the UCONN vs Army game a few years ago at Rentschler Field in Hartford. This was my first attempt at hoops. I am humbled.

Shooting basketball is much more difficult than I had imagined. it took about sixty seconds to come to that conclusion!

First, an observation I made after shooting the UCONN football game. Still photographers can get great shots, but they seldom get ‘the big play’ the way TV cameras do. Still photography doesn’t cover the field the same way. You often have to aim and wait for the play to get to you.

Basketball poses even more problems. It moves very quickly and is played in a relatively dimly lit gym. My lenses, fine lenses for an amateur like me, are just too ‘slow&#185’.

There were a few professional shooters at the game as well. I needed four to eight times as much light for the same shot!

I wanted to keep my shutter speed as fast as possible, so I compensated in other ways, which is why all the shots are very, very grainy. It might look like a nice artistic touch, but it wouldn’t be there if I had any choice.

In this game, Yale was blown out. Columbia was red hot. I haven’t seen the stats, but it seemed they just couldn’t miss a shot!

There was a a lot going on off the court. As with most colleges, Yale has a cheer squad They also have an unusual pep band, the Yale Precision Marching Band.

I didn’t see them march, though after the game they did play while crawling on their knees!

The YPMB also featured one guy wearing a “Harvard Sucks” t-shirt. At Yale, that sentiment is not an idle boast.

I felt very comfortable in these surroundings. It’s a shame I was so awful as a student growing up, because I would have fit well at Yale. And, my guess it’s, it’s much more prestigious to be thrown out of Yale than it was to be thrown out of Emerson College!

None of the shots from tonight will be printed. On the other hand, there is a little artistic merit there. I put a few of them in my gallery, if you’d like to take a look.

&#185 – When a photographer talks about a slow lens, it’s a lens that needs more light. The name comes from what you must do to compensate – slow down the shutter. The slower the shutter, the less sharp the action will be. It’s a vicious cycle.