Archive for the 'Community' Category


Vacation Bible School

Last week at my church, Saint Luke’s Parish in Darien, CT, we had a Vacation Bible School, with kids from our church as well as children from several surrounding communities. Some of the kids came from nearby homeless shelters. What an amazing week – 250 kids, doing crafts, singing, learning a little bit about faith, getting to know one another and just having fun.

I had the privilege of photographing each of the 14 “tribes” – the Asher tribe is shown above.  And I also shot, from a rooftop, the whole VBS community, as shown below.


kids in the memorial day parade

Just posting a few grab shots from the Memorial Day Parade in my hometown of Darien, CT.  I couldn’t help wondering what the kids of some other countries  are doing today – Somalia or Yemen, Libya or Malawi. I hope someday the children of each of those countries will have a fun day such as our kids had today. It won’t be the same of course, nor should it be. But I pray for a better life – peace, stability, hope and joy – for all the world’s children. Some Day.


pilgrimage to the holy land

The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

I’ve just returned from a two-week trip to The Holy Land with a group from my church. This was an exhilerating, inspiring, exhausting and life-changing experience. Rather than try to put it all into perspective, I wanted to just share a few images from the trip.

The Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem, is a sacred place to  Muslims, Christians and Jews.  It is built over the site remembered as the place where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac. This is also remembered as the place where the Prophet Mohammed took his final steps on earth. We visited on a rainy, dreary day, but the bright colors of the building still shone through vividly.

Young Boy prays at the Western Wall

Just steps from The Dome of the Rock is the Western Wall, formerly called The Wailing Wall. The wall is part of the Second Temple, which was destoyed in 70 AD, and Jews (and others) come to pray here.  There are separate areas for men and women to pray. Many people will put prayer notes on pieces of paper in the crevices of the wall. I did as well.

1st Century Rolling Stone Tomb

In Nazareth, we stayed at The Sisters of Nazareth Convent.  Some years ago, excavations were made below the convent, and a 1st century home and tomb were discovered. This tomb is exactly the same design as the one that Jesus was buried in, in Jerusalem. (That tomb has not been discovered.)  The body is prepared for burial in the main chamber, then placed in one of the niches visible beyond, and the niche is sealed up.

Icon from a Greek Orthodox Monastery, Zababdeh

In Zababdeh, in the occupied West Bank, we visited a monastery that sits over Jacob’s Well, where Jesus met the Samarian woman. We walked down to the well, in the basement of the church, pulled up a bucket of water and drank from it. This was just one of many very tangible experiences of connections to stories that are so familiar to us all.

Camel in the Judean Desert

Not much more to say on this one!

Judean desert, overlooking to Old Roman Road from Jericho to Jerusalem

We spent some time in quiet reflection on a bluff overlooking the Judean desert.  This is the Wadi Qelt (Wadi meaning a dried-up river bed) and it was the main route between Jericho and Jerusalem, traveled many times by Jesus  and his disciples.

Mosaic at Sepphoris

We visited Sepphoris/Shefaamr, which was a center of Roman administration during the First Century AD.  There were beautiful mosaics, such as the one shown here, that displayed amazing color, despite being 2000 years old.

Bas Relief in the Garden of Gethsemane

We visited a church at the Garden of Gethsemane.   This bas-relief on the wall of the garden caught my attention because of the expressive faces. In the garden, there were olive trees with root structures going back to the time of Christ.

Mount of Beatitudes

In the northern part of Israel, in Galilee, we had a beautiful Spring day walking on the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  This is where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. We read the sermon and shared the Eucharist, one of the very moving experiences for our group.

Rainbow over the Desert

This shot was taken from the Mount of Olives, looking over the Judean Desert. This is likely the area Jesus went for his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert.

On our trip, we learned about events from Biblical times, but also experienced what is happening in Israel and the West Bank today. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is terribly complicated and well-entrenched.  Somehow, I want to hold onto the hope that peace is possible in this very special land. And this rainbow was sign of hope for me.

See part two of our pilgrimage to The Holy Land here.


baptism and joyful family gathering!

Recently I had the honor of  shooting a baptism of two babies and a  gathering of their extended family of 14 people.  We started at the church and took a few images after the service (no pictures allowed during the service – a good thing).  In the image above, if you look carefully at the bottom center of the frame, you will see a small edge of the glass baptismal font – a subtle discovery.  We just had a few minutes to grab these images, as the church was being set up for the next service.  The altar guild was patient with me, for which I am grateful!

After the church service, we went to the home of the grandparents.  A few days before the baptism, I’d scouted the home and had chosen a sun porch to take some of the family pictures. There was a lot of natural warm light in the room and I filled in with one strobe light in an umbrella. I’ve learned to keep things simple.

The babies were adorable. When this picture was taken, one was a bit happier than the other. Both were real troopers!

This was a fun day for me all around.  Everyone in the family was terrific – and photogenic to boot.  The family was pleased with my work, which of course makes it all worthwhile. I don’t do a lot of “event” photography, but after this experience, I’m ready to do more.  Do you have a special family event planned?

After the inside shots, of several combinations of the 14 people, we took some pictures of the whole group outside.


Shooting a Dance Revue

Recently I had the opportunity of shooting a dress rehearsal for “An Evening of Dance 2010,” a wonderful dance revue put on by The Darien Art Center. The program featured dancers from middle school age up to adults.

As anyone who has tried to shoot in a theatre knows, the conditions are tough for photography.

It’s dark, so it’s tough to get a clear, well-focused shot. The lighting colors are challenging. And things move fast.

So here are my tips for shooting dance in a theatre:

1)  If you can, see a performance or rehearsal before you shoot – then, you have some chance to anticipate the action.

2) Shoot at as high an ISO as your camera will allow. On my Nikon D700, I shot most of these images at ISO 4000 or 5000. You’ll have some “noise,” which you can alleviate in Photoshop or similar programs – to some degree.

3)  Shoot at a pretty fast shutter speed. In these pictures I mostly used 1/500th of a second

4)  Take lots of pictures, to assure enough keepers.

5)  Shoot “loose” – that is, with a lot of space around the dancers. You can crop in the photos in editing.

6) Keep checking how the images look on the back of the camera. Makes adjustments as necessary as you go along.

7) try different angles – get down low, shoot from the side if you can, etc. Take risks – shoot ideas that you don’t think will “work” – many of them will surprise you.

It was terrific fun for me to shoot this evening of wonderful entertainment.  As always, your questions and comments are welcome.


Church posters

I shoot a lot of pictures for my church, Saint Luke’s Parish (Episcopal) in Darien, CT. Recently I was asked to shoot some images of various activities and ministries of the church, with the pictures to go on large poster-sized prints in a stairwell leading down to the parish hall.  The prints were installed today. In the picture above, these three young ladies are members of the youth choir and are practicing the hand bells – and having a good time hamming it up for the camera as well.

Ther image above is from a summer Vacation Bible School our church runs – for our children as well as kids from some neighboring towns. It’s an amazing enterprise. I had to figure out how to get all the kids – well over 100 – inside the frame.  With a bit of trepdation, I got up on a roof to get this shot. The print is blown up to a size of 40 by 56 inches, and each person is clearly recognizable.

The last image, below, is from Vacation Bible School as well.  I like the intensity and concentration in this girl’s face – as well as the streak of green paint in her hair, which doesn’t seem to bother her at all. But how did Mom feel when she got home?