Guest Photographer: Steve Roth

The second in my series of “Guest Photographers” is Steve Roth, a fellow member of the Boynton Beach Camera Club.  I have had the privilege of being a member in BBCC since 2015 when I retired from practicing pediatrics.  Since I have learned so much from the club about improving my photographic skills, I decided to feature the amazing accomplishments of other members.

In his previous professional life, Steve was an architect in the Miami area.   He grew up in New York but came down to Miami in the mid-1960s.  He moved to Palm Beach County in 2007 and in addition to photography, remains active playing golf. 

When Steve sent me 15 of his favorite images to choose my favorites, I found it to be a difficult task.   His style displays precision editing with attention to the finest detail in his use of natural light. 

Beautiful Dahlia

“Beautiful Dahlia” shows off the details of the petals of a slightly off-white flower.   It is often difficult to maintain perfect focus in a close-up of a flower, but Steve pulls it off very well.

Mother and Child

“Mother and Child” was taken in Bali.  The macaques freely roaming throughout the island are excellent subjects.  I love this portrait of the mother with her baby clinging to her because both are staring straight at the photographer. 

Thai Floating Market

Steve’s capture of the vendor in the “Thai Floating Market” shows his ability to physically position himself to achieve the utmost photographic impact. 

Vietnamese Flower Girl

His image of the “Vietnamese Flower Girl” catches the warmth of a typical street scene with the brightly colored flowers offsetting the pure whiteness of her dress.

Mother and New Arrival

In “Mother and New Arrival,” Steve has caught the newly hatched heron chick under the careful eye of his mother. 

Cambodian Student

My favorite picture from Steve’s portfolio is his portrait of a Cambodian girl in her schoolroom.  This image, taken with available light through an open window, tells a beautiful story of a student’s attention to her teacher.

Steve wins many of the monthly competitions in our camera club.  He consistently deserves the highest scores and is constantly showing us his full range of photographic subjects. 

I want to thank Steve Roth for allowing me to interview him for my blog.  My next guest photographer will be Herb Zaifert. 

Florida Spring (Has Sprung)

I hear from friends and relatives up North that the first signs of Spring are now appearing.   I can remember how as a boy growing up in New Jersey how much I loved this time of year.  Now that I have lived in South Florida for more than forty years, I almost consider myself a Floridian.  I wonder how I survived back then.  

My migration from New Jersey to Florida was in 1980

When April finally arrived and the cold, wintry days were in the past, I felt as if my body could finally thaw out.  The earliest indicators of the new season were the buds of crocuses, hyacinths, daffodils and tulips that broke through the frozen dirt.  In order to know exactly where to watch at the end of March, I used to plant some new bulbs every Fall.  Sometimes this new growth would get covered over by a light dusting of snow from an early April snowstorm.  Still, these hardy buds would continue to push through towards the sun and by mid-April, I could see daily progress, with a reassurance that winter was finally gone.

Crocuses, some of the earliest to poke through the ground
Crocuses come in many colors
My first business, selling my carrots and tomatoes in the neighborhood

I can also remember asking my parents to come outdoors to see the daily progress. Every year, we would discuss our plans for what we would plant in the back corner of our backyard. The yearly trip to the garden supply store was a ritual where I could choose the seed packets for the flowers and vegetables along with the small tomato plants that I would eventually transplant into the outdoor garden.  Some of my earliest memories as a child are from when I grew so many carrots and tomatoes that I was able to fill up my red wagon with my harvest to sell to the neighbors.

In Florida, we have a different definition of the word “cold”

Now that I live in Florida, we have a completely different frame of reference.  We may not have the typical “four seasons” of the North, but we can certainly tell the subtle differences from one month to the next. In this part of South Florida, it is rare that it ever gets really cold. When it goes below 60° F, you hear all of us former Northerners complaining.  There’s a saying that “cold is when you can’t send your kids out barefoot to get the newspaper from the driveway.”  

When I think it’s cold, my wife tells me to enjoy it.  She reminds me that within a few months, the heat and the humidity will be back with a vengeance for our June-to-December rainy season.  That’s when we have to adjust our morning walk to close to sunrise because it gets uncomfortably hot by 9 a.m.   

Recently, we had what we would call a “cold snap” at the end of March when the temperatures “plummeted” to the high 40s.  You would have thought it was the Arctic the way we were dressed for our morning walk. Yes, full winter coat with many layers underneath, gloves and a cashmere hat covering our tender ears.  Our neighbor with whom we walk and who comes from Maine had a good laugh seeing us all bundled up.

Where we live, our earliest signs of Spring include some of the flowering trees such as the yellow and purple tabebuias and the jacarandas.

The beautiful jacaranda tree

The mango trees which were in full bloom in February now have some early small fruits.  The frangipane tree’s bare branches now have some buds and even some early yellow flowers.

The frangipani tree, also known as plumeria
The beautiful frangipani

On my back patio, my orchid collection is almost in full bloom.  The colder days of January and February stimulated their growth and now we are seeing the results of our careful feeding and watering.  Now I have an abundance of beautiful white, yellow, pink and purple blooms. 

Love those orchids!

The bird population on our backyard lake is now in full swing.  The Egyptian geese are honking like crazy performing their typical mating rituals.  We even saw a bright red cardinal, a rare occurrence in our backyard. 

A rarely seen cardinal

Some of the iguanas are now displaying their bright green mating colors. 

Iguana in my backyard

I’m very thankful to live in Florida.  It’s a perfect place for someone like me who never tolerated the cold weather.  Because we love to walk and kayak year-round, I am glad that I made the decision to move here over 40 years ago.

Although we don’t have any interesting mountains where we can go hiking, we do appreciate the seasonal changes of the flowers and trees as well as the daily wildlife show coming from living on a large lake.  For sure, we’re never bored!  

“Would You Do This For Me?”, part 3

This is the final installment of my posts entitled “Would you do get this for me?” but this one is a slight variation from the first and second parts.  In this case, we weren’t being asked to bring something back from where we were traveling;  it was a request from someone back home to do something very special.

Through my Spanish Conversation group, I had met a very nice Spanish woman who had just come to the US to work.  She needed help with her English for her job, so I set her up for a language exchange with my wife who wanted to learn Spanish. During her stay, her English improved greatly.  Meanwhile, she helped us decide where we wanted to spend a month in Spain later that year. 

We had originally thought that we would like to stay for a month in Girona, in the heart of Catalonia, where I believed that my wife would be able to learn Spanish and I could pick up some Catalán.  Lucia cautioned against this, instead recommending that we choose Madrid since we had never spent more than 3-4 days at a time in Spain’s capital city. 

This turned out to be a good decision because when after spending two days in Girona, we had seen almost everything we wanted to see.  Our month in Madrid was full of exciting surprises, including the discovery of many excellent Chinese restaurants. 

At the end of our stay in Madrid, we still had 12 days before we had to be in Malaga from where we were returning to the US.  We wanted to spend at least three nights in Seville and Malaga, so we had time to take a leisurely route through the west-central part of Spain known as the Extremadura which borders on central Portugal.  We stayed in the city of Cáceres, a walled city dating back to the 12th century Moorish times. 

Our trip took us from Madrid to Cáceres to Sevilla to Málaga

When we wrote our friend Lucia that we were in Caceres, she asked us if we would do her a favor.  Her mother’s family came from the city of Brozas, 25 miles from Caceres which was on the road to the town of Alcantara which is famous for a Roman bridge across the Tagus River. 

Placing flowers at the gravesite

Lucia’s request was that we leave some flowers at the tombstone of her mother in the public cemetery of Brozas.  She had explained earlier to us that when she was about 10 years old, she had been brought to Brozas to spend time with her grandparents.  While returning to their home city in the northern Spain, her parents and her younger sister were killed in a car accident.

As we entered the city of Brozas at noontime, the area around the main church was unusually quiet.  We were able to find a small store where we purchased some flowers.  Our GPS wouldn’t show us the  correct route to the town cemetery but a person we met along the way offered to lead us to it just outside the city.   Only one person was working there when we arrived and when he saw me taking pictures, he approached me.  

“Why would you be taking pictures in a cemetery?”  he asked. 

When I began to explain that I wanted to record our search for Lucia’s family plot, his eyes lit up. 

“I knew the family well and I was a youngster when this happened,” he said, recalling the accident from some forty years before.

“I didn’t know that Lucia was in the United States right now,” he told me, as he brought us to the mausoleum plot of Lucia’s family.

“Last time I spoke to her, she was living in Madrid,” he said.

I immediately called Lucia on the phone.  She was deeply moved by our visit to her family’s burial site.  She was amazed that the caretaker of the cemetery was someone she knew since childhood.  You could tell that she appreciated this personal favor.   

For my wife and me, the real joy of traveling has always been the opportunity to have these authentic experiences.  We have been on many trips or excursions where we have visited places on someone’s “must-see” list, but after a while, they are not especially meaningful.  But we will forever remember the cemetery in a little town in Spain and the Indian city of Jodhpur because of the personal connection we had with these places.