Strange Things Done In The Midnight Sun

Coronal Aurora

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret  tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest  they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.” – R. W. Service

And so goes the opening stanza of one of Robert Service’s most memorable poems, “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee”, about 1896-99 Gold Rush days in the Yukon Territory.  This image, of a Coronal Aurora (a type of aurora display that manifests as a “converging crown” overhead) was captured on a cold clear evening near Beaver Creek, YT.

Standing, camera and tripod by my side on that cool clear night, with the “stars o’er head dancing heel and toe” I was reminded of Robert Service’s prose, and time I had spent touring through this very countryside a year earlier with five other bicycle tourists on a self-contained tour of the “Alaska Golden Circle”. What a wonderful, memorable and life changing trip it was! And although we did not experience anything quite as dramatic as events described as having occurred on “the marge of Lake Lebarge” we certainly were witness to many natural wonders and wonderful shared experiences!

For more of Robert Service’s poetry please visit:

Waiting and Watching

Waiting and Watching

Photography is a funny sort of art form.  By its very nature photography captures a single moment in time. Photographic exposures, or in today’s vernacular “digital captures” are routinely made in fractions of a second, even so called “long exposures” typically last but a handful of seconds!

In 1952 the founder of modern photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson, published a book of 126 images he considered to be “instant drawing(s)” which captured the “quintessence of the phenomenon [being photographed] in a single image”. The English title of Mr. Cartier-Bresson’s work, chosen by publisher Dick Schuster of Simon and Schuster, was The Decisive Moment! And thus was born one of the more fascinating concepts in the history of photography.

Capturing “that” moment when visual and environmental elements simultaneously and instantly coalesce to uniquely express the essence of a place, situation or event is thought by many photographers to be the unique purpose of photography as a visual art!

Yet, waiting and watching, sometimes for a very long period of time, is what oftentimes is required to capture that “decisive moment”. And sometimes … we just get lucky!

This image, of a black spruce tree covered small island reflected in the perfectly still waters of Lake Mentasta located near Alaska’s eastern border with Canada’s Yukon Territory, was one such “got lucky” moment.  While traveling down the Glenn Highway-Tok Cutoff in a rented motor coach we decided to pull off into a gravel covered siding for a break and a bite to eat.  It had been a grey, overcast and stormy day with terrible “flat light” for the entire ride from Beaver Creek, YT but I nonetheless decided to grab my camera and tripod to see if anything of interest might present itself!

I made my way through the dense paper birch and black spruce covered slope to the lakeshore, just then winds that had been gently rustling the golden foliage of the paper birch subsided and the surface of the lake began to quiet.  Quickly I set up the tripod, composed the shot, and checked my exposure then… I watched and waited, as the surface of the lake stilled before my eyes! As the last ripples glided out of my field of view, I squeezed off my first exposure.

The heavily overcast sky provided gloriously even illumination from one end of the lake to the other and the heavily laden, low hanging, clouds reflected magnificently in the now perfectly still waters.  Only the decaying limbs and a few floating leaves betrayed the fact that these were reflections, and not clouds that had miraculously settled neatly upon the surface of the Earth.

Then, as quickly as the calm had come, the tips of several black spruce on the distant shore began to sway. And as I stood silently on the opposite bank, the once perfectly mirrored surface was soon disrupted and disturbed as I literally watched the wind course across the watery expanse.

As I packed up my equipment and returned to the motor coach I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite nature photographers, Ansel Adams who once said “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

The Long and Difficult Road

Life is Good!  We have all heard this expression and seen, or perhaps even worn, tee shirts, ball caps or other articles of clothing bearing this slogan.  And for the most part I would agree… “Life is good!”

Yet, life also oftentimes presents us with assorted hurdles to be overcome and/or disappointments to be endured.  When these inevitable setbacks manifest themselves, and life turns into a long and difficult road to follow it is easy to become downtrodden, cynical and disenchanted.  To simply give up and spiral down into the cesspool of self-pity, loathing or worse yet victimhood.

Whenever I begin down that slippery path, and in all honesty it happens more frequently than I care to admit, I am reminded of the following words by Auschwitz survivor Victor E. Frankl:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms – To choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance, to choose one’s way.”

Attitude counts!

A Place by the Sea

A few images from a recent shoot at a beautiful three level home situated directly on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in the quaint Village of York Beach, ME.

This comfortable rental property features three separate rental units, each lovingly, and quite cleverly renovated around a “Nautical Theme”.  Grand views of the Atlantic, and Southern Maine’s famed “Nubble Lighthouse are featured.

Pause Gallery Exhibition

SCiraulo Photography will be one of several featured local artists displaying work at Pause Gallery located at 501 Broadway, Suite 106 in historic downtown Troy. NY. throughout the month of June.  The show, which opens from 6pm – 9pm on Friday, May 31, 2018 (during Troy Night Out) will feature several of SCiraulo Photography’s images, along with paintings and monoprints by other local artists.

The Acorn…

I miss the man who for so many years I desperately tried not to be like… because I was young and foolish… but who, in spite of myself I became like just the same… because he raised me well.  Thank you Dad!

Thankfully, the acorn truly does not fall far from the tree.

Obstacles and Openings – Caring for Our Veterans

Stockholm Castle entryRecently, as I do on most Monday’s, I had an opportunity to visit with “Hank”, a member of the “Greatest Generation” as chronicled in Tom Brokaw’s New York Times bestselling book “The Greatest Generation”.  As I and this 89 year old true American Hero made our way to his daughter & son-in-Law’s home located outside Albany NY we left behind the congested streets of New York’s Capital City and traveled through suburban neighborhoods to the rural countryside.  As is often the case Hank and I would pass the time discussing a variety of topics ranging from current events, to Hank’s most recent visit with his great grandchildren, or the latest news from my own son & daughters and their families.

On this particular trip, when I asked how his visit to the Stratton VA had gone, Hank asked me to repeat my question and stated that the batteries in his hearing aid had run out several hours earlier in the day.  After briefly discussing plans to have a set of spare batteries on hand “just in case” for next time Hank went on to confess that he had lost his hearing “…in ’45 due to a Bazooka blast”.  In the year or so since Hank and I had been making our weekly visit to the Stratton VA Hospital we had never once discussed his service during World War II.  Somewhat taken aback by Hank’s reference to the war, but nevertheless curious about his service I asked if he had served in the Pacific or European theater.  Hank responded “I was at Cologne, in Germany and was too close to a Bazooka when it went off… Knocked me out cold… when I came to I could hardly hear anything at all!” After a short pause, and as we turned into the driveway of his daughters home he said “I don’t like to think about it and the things we had to do there much.”  Turning the  key in the ignition, and loosening my seat belt, I shifted to my right and looked at my friend now lost in his memories of that time, staring blankly out the window of the van. In what upon reflection seems like little more than a cliche remark I said “Hank, you all did what had to be done, and I want you to know that I appreciate all you did!”  “I know Sam, I know… and thank you.” came the response.

After helping Hank into the house, and exchanging our usual farewell, I returned to the van for the short drive back to Albany.  As I made my way, in silence, back to the VA hospital where countless other Veterans seek healing and relief from all manner of physical and emotional trauma, I could not help but wonder what sort of horrors remain after more than seven decades. And, more importantly how can those of us who did not serve best assist these men and women to find openings with which to pass through the physical and emotional obstacles they face each and every day?



_DSC5014“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – R. W. Emerson

May His “handwriting” be abundant and obvious in your life on this most holy of days!

Call Me Maybe

Sweden-20110906-075Something a little different, and hopefully some fun on a late Friday evening!  Looking through my inventory of images I recently came across this one captured in Stockholm, Sweden’s Gamla Stan (Old Town) district.  Not sure why exactly, perhaps it’s the woman looking out the window with a phone to her ear, but this image reminded me of Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop hit “Call Me Maybe. In the summer of 2012 this single scorched the pop charts and set off an almost instantaneous, and seemingly unending, lip-sync craze that included the likes of Katy Perry, Colin Powell (seriously… Colin Powell), assorted sports teams, President Obama, and Jimmy Fallon to name just a few.  But the best of all of these hands down has to be the parody “Share it Maybe” by none other than Sesame Streets very own Cookie Monster!

Have a listen… bet you can’t help tapping your foot to this one, and you’re guarantee to have a smile on your face when it’s all over. Enjoy!

“Fat, Drunk & Stupid… No Way to Go Through Life”

IMG_20160311_164042003 (Web)Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I’m a bit of a cycling nut.  As evidence of my “cycling addiction” I offer the following; In conjunction with the American Diabetes Association’s Tour De Cure, I’ve ridden a half dozen or so “Centuries” in as many years (that’s 100 or more miles in a single day); rode the Adirondack Mountain Club’s “Ididaride”… twice! (a 75  mile ride in the heart of New York State’s Adirondack Park); solo rode the Whiteface mountain Veterans Memorial Highway “just because” (that’s a climb of approximately 3700 ft over a distance of 8.5 miles which is comparable to Alpe d’Huez of Tour de France fame.); rode from the Western NY Veteran’s Medical Center located in Buffalo NY to the Samuel Stratton VA Hospital in Albany and in the process visited four other veterans hospitals in between located at Batavia, Bath, Cananadaigua, and Syracuse NY. (At least this was for a good cause… namely to raise funds for the Honor Flight Network!).  Finally, and if I’m lucky, I’ll typically ride between 1,800 and 2,000 miles on my carbon fiber “go fast” road bike… my beloved 2012 Trek Madone!

Now, please don’t misunderstand my intent in relating the above.  My goal is not to “sing my own praises” or to tout my proficiency as a cyclist (Truth be told and generally speaking, for your typical avid cyclists, my exploits, such as they are, are decidedly unremarkable!  However, that being said for me… a 59 plus year old guy desperately trying to maintain a respectable level of fitness I think I’m doing OK!  So, earlier today I dusted off my bike, donned my early spring cycling kit (that’s “cycle-ese” for spandex leggins, windstopper shell jacket, booties, and full fingered gloves!) and headed out for my first outdoor ride of 2016!

Full of enthusiasm I set out in the cool air and abundant sunshine to ride one of my “standard” mid-distance routes through rural Rensselaer County.  One of the things I really enjoy about living in New York State’s Capital District is that within literally ten minutes ride I can be rolling over lightly traveled, quiet country roads surrounded by fertile farmland and meandering streams.  All this, set against the stunning backdrop of the Rensselaer escarpment… Life is Good!

About 12 or so miles into my planned 17 mile route, and with my legs and “backside” beginning to feel the “BERN” ( just kidding!)… I mean “Burn”, I turn onto Menemsha Lane heading for home!  Now this end of Menemsha is quite exposed as it is situated more or less along the top of a ridge lying between an extended meander in the Poestenkill Creek.  Beginning the gentle climb up to the height of Menemsha Lane a sustained head wind starts to blow!  As I struggle on uphill and into what seems like an ever strengthening gale, the scene from that 1978 classic movie, National Lampoon’s “Animal House” wherein Dean Vernon Wormer “dresses down” the Delta house boys over their mid-term grades comes to mind.   Channeling Dean Wormer’s admonishment to “Mr. Dorfman” (Flounder), I hear “…riding uphill into a headwind while 15 pounds overweight is no way to start a cycling season son!”

Guess I had better start skipping desert!