Congratulations, Perseverance Team!

After years of planning, the United States has another rover on the surface of the Red Planet. Well done, NASA and the Perseverance team! Thank you for all the hard work that you and countless number of support people have done to make this possible. Truly a milestone in the exploration of our solar system. With luck, the copter will work better than planned. I was so pleased to see the countdown today and look at the control room. A multiracial, multiethnic, multi gender group of individuals came together and achieved something greater than any of them could have done by themselves. People of all ages. Amazing. I remember how few women were graduating from engineering/science school when I was an undergrad. Look at them now. America at its best – where opportunity is open to everyone, where excellence is achieved through hard work and study. The words of John F. Kennedy still ring true – we do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Well done!

Reflected Indifference

We are trapped in the trappings of ease and seeming contentment, failing to see the world and what it has to offer. A construct we build for ourselves and even a pandemic isn’t enough to break the habits that have taken its toll on modern society. We can be indifferent to the world around us. And what does that do? It divides us from each other. And in our isolation, we seek only those who think and behave like us. We fail to learn. We fail to grow. We fail our world. We fail ourselves. Within us is the desire to belong, not just to one group, but to all. We often seek dominance and yet wonder why humility and kindness brought a revolution to the world. If we are to be what we can be, we need to look up from the small screens that occupy our attention and partake in the universal journey that we all share. Life on a planet called earth. On a system of planets that revolve around a yellow sun. A myriad of stars, different colors, different sizes. In the arm of a spiraling collection of stars, itself part of a cluster of galaxies. Where forces, known and unknown, bring new possibilities. A destiny shared amongst the denizens of a universe, itself but one in a myriad of universes.

And so, why look down when you can look up. And see the world.

Saturday Prime

I’ve been reading (and looking) at a lot of books and pictures lately. I was inspired to go out with nothing but prime lenses and just take pictures of what’s around me. Sooner or later this pandemic will be under control and life will be back to some sort of normalcy. I am struck by how photographers like Diane Arbus and Don McCullin, who took very different types of pictures in very different types of environments captured the humanity of the world they were in. There is dignity in all of us, no matter what our plight and circumstances may be. So last Saturday afternoon, I just went out and took pictures of the world around me. I think that every once in a while, we just need to see the world and remember what it is that makes it whole. Not the grand things. Just every day things.

A Beautiful Soul

This is about a book about a beautiful lady. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful woman. Decades ago, when I was still in college, I happened to turn the channel and watched a young lady with so much poise, so much charm glide so elegantly across the small screen. The lady was Audrey Hepburn. The movie was Roman Holiday. They say that your love for something starts with something small. I think that in that day, in my small room with that small tv set, my love for movies was born. I feel lucky that the movie that first piqued my interest is a classic that today remains, for me, one of my favorite movies of all time. Who couldn’t love that luminous actress with those soulful eyes? Who could not love Audrey Hepburn? And heck, Gregory Peck wasn’t bad either. And Eddie Albert, in a fantastic supporting role. And who can forget Rome, after watching the princess and the newspaperman speed through its streets in that Vespa scooter. It’s strange to remember that what made them happy was doing ordinary things together. Just enjoying what life has to offer.

And one of the joys that life has to offer, at least to me, is reading books. The pandemic has given me a chance to go through my library and get rid of books, Kondo style, that have never given me pleasure. Perhaps if I actually read them, but no. I thought I would trim the fat, so to speak, but I bought “Always Audrey” and I was hooked. Yes, I sold a lot of my unread books, but I ended up buying a lot more books. Mostly books on photographers and their photographs. Some books on how to become a better photographer. Though in truth, I really cherish looking through the pictures in the books I purchased. Discovering new places, new people, new things. Learning about life through the eyes of others.

All these wonders unfolded because like the movie she starred in, Audrey Hepburn got me hooked. “Always Audrey” is a fantastic book. It’s a book about a beautiful woman. It’s a book about six photographers who were extremely gifted in what they did. And how the same person can be so different when seen through a different person’s eyes. Truly a magnificent book to own.

Sometimes, I wish that fashion photography would just be simply showing something beautiful as beautifully as you can. There are many photographers who have done that and though they’ve all done the same thing, they did it differently. There is artistry in simplicity.

I watched the Audrey Hepburn documentary on Amazon Prime. And it struck me how beautiful those eyes were. And how those eyes were windows to something even more beautiful. A beautiful soul.

A few years after graduating from college, I saw Audrey Hepburn being interviewed after returning from Somalia, on a mission for UNICEF. I didn’t pay much attention to it. She had gotten older and now she had time for her causes. I realize now how callous that view was. She was older and she had time to do anything she wanted. And what she wanted to do was go around the world, to give voice to those that didn’t have a voice. To bring attention to the famine, to the hunger, to the suffering of the people of Somalia. A great human tragedy. And the world was largely ignoring it. And there was Miss Hepburn. Showing the world that we can be better. We don’t have to watch the suffering. That we can all try to make this world better.

And the words she said ring so true to me. “I don’t believe in collective guilt. I believe in collective responsibility.”

Truly, those eyes were windows to a beautiful soul.

Seen at Huntley Meadows

Nothing spectacular. Just a few images of things that one can expect to see this time of the year (January) at Huntley Meadows, a local wildlife refuge in suburban Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a great place for a walk and for sightseeing.

Gull
Pattern breakers
Mergansers
Water flowing
Feathers caught in twigs

Same Subject, Different Day

Almost the same time in the morning as the other day, but boy, a little bit of light make a BIG bit of difference.

Drying out
Curiosity
Savoring a snack
Ice cap?
It can be a struggle.
In the end, the fish was cooked.
I hope you enjoyed the show!

Water World

It seems that way, at Huntley Meadows. At least in wintertime. The warblers are harder to find, the wading birds are much more plentiful. And once in a while, an unexpected guest. The clapper trail has left everyone buzzing about. And today was a good day to get a picture of this skittish bird.

And some of the other birds floating about.

The one constant presence at Huntley Meadows – Canadian geese.

And a warbler. Or something like it.

In the thicket of things.

Same Place, Different Year

I finally had the chance to visit Huntley Meadows after a few weeks of not having the time to do so. It is a familiar place, but every day brings a different experience. Today, it was a river otter swimming in the first pond. And then, a surprise.

It was early in the morning, on an overcast January day. Haven’t seen this one before.

Better Late than Never

Between the rain and the clouds near the horizon, I almost missed taking a picture of Jupiter and Saturn at conjunction. Well, I did miss it, but here are the two planets, eighth days after the conjunction. You can barely make out Saturn’s rings. The Sony 200-600mm zoom is a great lens, even wide open.