Guest Photographer: Helen Pine

As promised, a new feature of my blog, “Sincerely, Dr. Dan,” will be a monthly presentation of images from members of the Boynton Beach Camera Club, a club where I have been privileged to be a member for the past six years. I have already explained in a previous post that before becoming a member, I used to think that I was a good photographer. My patients used to enjoy seeing my images that I captured while traveling which I would post on the walls of my office. When I retired and had more time to devote to my hobby, I realized that I still had a long way to go to become a better photographer. By observing the high quality of many of the other members’ work along with their encouragement, my photographic skills have improved.


In appreciation of the high level of talent in our club, I will be interviewing one member at a time. I have requested that they choose their favorite images from their vast collections. They will explain why the five images that I have chosen demonstrate their special skills as a photographer.

My first featured Guest Photographer is Helen Pine, half of the “Chuck and Helen” team which has contributed so much to the success of the Boynton Beach Camera Club. Their pre-Pandemic soirées at their home were legendary and were often the inspiration for many new members to pursue a deeper interest in photography.


Helen’s interest in photography dates back to her childhood in the 1950s when she received her first gift of a Brownie camera. In the 1990s, she became more involved when she joined a camera club in New York City and was inspired by other members’ encouraging comments.


Helen is an expert in post-processing techniques using Photoshop, Topaz Studio and Nik software, to name just a few of the programs she uses on a regular basis with her images.


Since Helen and Chuck have traveled extensively, she has thousands of images to which she enjoys returning to discover another one which possesses her award-winning potential.


“The photograph is just the beginning,” Helen explains modestly. She can take an otherwise busy, crowded image and transform it into a masterpiece.

I would describe Helen’s style as “minimalist” since she is able to distill the unnecessary extraneous details from the original image in order to produce her unique version with that desired “Wow! factor.

“Great Egret Preening”

In Palm Beach County, we are blessed to have several outstanding locations where herons, egrets, spoonbills, wood storks and many other species congregate in man-made, but naturally appearing sites.

Trim Castle Arch, County Meath, Ireland


Helen’s expertise in blending the color of the sky with the silhouettes of the people passing through the arch is seen in this image. The detail of the stone arch is brought out nicely.

“Great Blue Heron With Catfish”


Many of our club members are skilled at capturing bird images at Green Cay or Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The combination of the bird and its catch is what makes this a special image.

“Red Tulips”, Keukenhoff Gardens, Holland


Helen captured this image by placing the camera on the ground at exactly the right angle to position the central flowers against the blue sky with the distant flowers serving as a frame on either side.

“Rainy Day on Daytona Beach”


My favorite image of Helen’s is called “Rainy Day on Daytona Beach.” This location is one of Helen and Chuck’s favorite places to capture images of people and birds with the background of the Atlantic Ocean. I especially love the position of the child’s back foot and leg as she walks across the sandy beach. Helen uses the blank “white space” on the right side of the image to her advantage as a minimalist technique, forcing the viewer to focus on the child.
Helen and Chuck have taught many photographers to concentrate on subtlety. As Chuck often says, “Less is more.” Enhancing the small details in an image without being obvious or heavy-handed is the skill seen in all of Helen’s work. Each of the above images demonstrates the “Wow! factor” that all of us photographers are seeking in our own images.

Thanks to Helen Pine for allowing me to feature her work.

Announcing! A New Feature on Sincerely, Dr. Dan

Starting this month, I am adding an new feature to Sincerely, Dr. Dan. 

Before I retired from my practice (Palm Beach Pediatrics) in 2015, I used to think that I was a good photographer.  I had posted my pictures on the walls of my offices and I would give away small framed copies of my favorites to my patients.  They used to call them the “Dr. Kraft pictures.”  (See https://sincerelydrdan.com/2021/02/25/r-i-p-costco-photo-center/)

I would always bring pictures with me while traveling to give away to people who allowed me to take their pictures. Here, in Bali.

After retiring, I finally had the time to join a local camera club here in Florida, the Boynton Beach Camera Club (BBCC), where I quickly saw that I was just “a pretty good“ snapshot photographer compared to the high-level members of the club.  Some of these were seniors who had been photographers for many, many years, dating back to the days of film and home darkrooms. These members taught me to have a much more critical eye and encouraged me to become a much better photographer. 

In appreciation of what I have learned from them, I am beginning a feature which will showcase the some of the best examples of what my fellow BBCC members have produced.

This will be a monthly feature and will include a commentary on the photographer and why they selected certain images as their favorites. 

I will also occasionally intersperse some of my favorite pictures so you can see what kind of photography I enjoy.  

Old Lady in Yunnan, China – 2018
My friend, Squeaky 2017
Walking home from school, Peru 2015

The Otter Family

While my wife and I were having breakfast out on our second-floor patio, we noticed a flurry of activity in the lake behind our house.  We often have a morning wildlife show by the resident herons, egrets, anhingas, limpkins and iguanas as well as the Muscovy ducks and the noisy Egyptian geese. Sometimes we have a visit by a group of pelicans who entertain us with their diving skills. Once in a while we see a lone roseate spoonbill.

A rare roseate spoonbill visiting our lake

This morning however was very different!   A few unusual-looking heads were bobbing up close to the shore and then four otters came ashore.

This wasn’t the first time that we had seen the Otter Family.  Sometimes on our morning walks, we had seen them playing in other parts of the lake.  Since they are known predators, they are often blamed for their attacks on some of the other wildlife in the lake.   

This morning when they were right behind our house, they began to roll around on the sandy bank.  The water level is lower than usual this time of year before the rainy season starts next month (June), so we now have a sandy beach.  They were all playing on the sand, two adults and two smaller ones, presumably children, oblivious to us observers.

I ran downstairs, grabbed my camera, and headed to our backyard.  I proceeded slowly, thinking that they were going to move immediately back into the lake.  They are usually skittish and don’t like us humans to get close to them.  But this time was strange; they stayed in place rolling in the wet sand and even looked up at me several times and made some grunting sounds.  I think I was more afraid of them than they were of me. 

One of the young otters

After I snapped away for a good five minutes while I enjoyed watching their playful behavior, they took off along the shore.   I was actually happy to see them leave in the opposite direction since I’ve read that they can be aggressive.  I’ve never heard of any attacks on humans, but on the website of the Florida Wildlife Commission (myfwc.com), they say that their prey ranges from fish, birds, reptiles all the way up to small mammals!  

Dog owners beware!  

R.I.P.: Costco Photo Center

When I recently learned that the Costco Photo Centers were being phased out, I wept along with many other photographers who had counted on them to create beautiful enlargements.  Let me explain why I was one of their favorite customers.

Until I retired six years ago, I was a pediatrician in Palm Beach County, Florida for almost 35 years.  In the 10 years before I stopped working, my wife and I had been traveling all over the world and I would display some of my favorite photos on the walls of my offices.  My patients were often surprised when I told them that the enlargements were done by Costco.

Many years ago, when my young patients and their parents began to admire my pictures, I decided to give them copies of my favorites in simple 5 x 7 cardboard mattes. I would order 500 at a time at Costco every few months.

Many patients would tell me that they posted their “Dr. Kraft pictures” on the kids’ bedroom walls.  I would make a geography lesson out of it for the school-age children.  Each picture came with the assignment to research where the picture was taken.  Some parents even shyly asked if they could have one from my selection basket. 

Gifts for kids in Bali

When we were traveling, I would carry an assortment of these simply-framed pictures to give away to children and adults in exchange for letting me take their pictures.  I have photos of children and adults holding my pictures from our trips to China, Bali, Japan and Peru.  It’s a great icebreaker!  When a hotel clerk or flight attendant has been especially kind, I also give them one of my enlargements.  It’s my favorite way of thanking them for their special service.  They often told me that they appreciated it more than any monetary gift.  

Until Costco decided to eliminate their in-store photo centers, their employees would ask where we were going next and when I was going to order another large batch of pictures.  That is not going to happen anymore since I’m retired, but I do have some new favorites which I will enlarge for my home through mail order.  When our traveling eventually resumes, I will continue to bring some pictures along with me to give out wherever we go.

Now whenever I go to Costco, I see my old patients who remind me of the photos that they still have from their visits to my office.   I am happy to see that this is part of my legacy as their pediatrician in my community.        

Sick and Well Waiting Rooms

An essay in the “World Through a Lens” series appeared in the New York Times Travel Section recently which reminded me of something that happened soon after I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida over 40 years ago.    It was written by a Seattle-based photographer, Richard Frishman, who traveled across the United States “to document the vestiges of racism in America” in a stunning piece called “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Ghosts of Segregation.”    

In 1980, I was new to “the South.”  Having spent my entire childhood in New Jersey and all my undergraduate and post-graduate years “up North” in Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland, I definitely had preconceived notions of what it would be like to live and work in Florida.

When I came to South Florida, I found it a curious combination of North and South.  Given that there were many retirees from the North, many people viewed the tri-county area of Dade (Miami), Broward (Ft. Lauderdale) and Palm Beach as “the sixth borough of New York City.”  I soon found out that my county, Palm Beach, had an unusual mixture of different demographic elements.  On the Atlantic side on the east lay the town of Palm Beach was a mostly elite class of very wealthy people.  The middle of the county was a mixture of working-class and professional people made up of geographically separated whites, Blacks and Hispanics.  The majority of the Hispanic population during those early years were middle-class Cubans who had migrated from the counties further south. 

But fifty miles inland, the primarily agricultural area called “The Glades” was located.  Except for the small number of mostly white and Hispanic landowners, the population was made up of poor Blacks of American and Caribbean origin. There was a striking difference compared to the rest of the people in the county.  During those years, I often saw diseases among the children from that area that I had not seen except in underdeveloped countries which I had visited.  Conditions in the Glades were so abysmal that they rivaled other poverty zones in the “Deep South” of the United States and third-world countries.

I present this background because I was very naïve to the conditions in which I would be working in my first job in Florida. After all, I was a young, idealistic doctor whose sole experience up to that point was working in an inner-city hospital in New York and in a government-sponsored clinic in Baltimore.  Like most new doctors, I thought “I had seen it all.” 

On my first site visit before I was hired, I was pleased to see a new concept in pediatric offices.  There were two waiting rooms:  One for “Sick” and the other for “Well” patients. 

Later that year, when I entered my new workplace on my first day, I wasn’t prepared for something that truly shocked me.  As the office manager led me through the two adjacent waiting rooms on our way back to the inner area of the office, I told her that I was so impressed that I would be part of such a forward-thinking office with a two waiting rooms.

“Oh,” she paused, waiting to deliver me the shocking news.  “You obviously come from up North.  Those were the white patients’ waiting room and the colored patients’ waiting room, as it was back in the 50s when I first started working here.” 

You could have blown me over with that explanation! 

My Favorite Life Hack

One of my favorites “life hacks” is to offer to take a picture of a whole group of tourists with their camera so that it includes the person taking a picture. Before the days of “selfies,” photographers like me always had a whole collection of travel photos of everyone in their group except for them!

My favorite “success story” was a few years ago near where we live in South Florida.  We were showing some out-of-town friends a popular site called Blowing Rocks Preserve in Martin County. I heard a father talking to his children in an Eastern European language while he was preparing to take a picture of his family. The teenagers, however, were speaking English.

My wife calls it being “nosy.”  She can tell when I am ignoring her rather than paying more attention to a conversation that I am overhearing.   I love to guess where people are from or what language they are speaking.  If it is a language I know, it’s fun to practice speaking their language.  It is also such a good icebreaker!

It turned out that the family was originally from Poland but had lived in Dublin, Ireland for the past 13 years.  We were getting ready to go to Dublin about two weeks later.

at Blowing Rocks, Jupiter Island, Florida

After taking pictures of them with their camera and with my phone, I told them that I would send them my pictures from my phone. I asked their teenage son, Damian, to put his contact info in my phone.

Within an hour, I heard from him, and he and his family offered to meet us in Dublin so that they could show us some of their favorite places that most tourists don’t see.

They met us at the cruise port and took us to the mother’s favorite estate and gardens, Powerscourt Gardens,

On the grounds of Powerscourt Gardens, Ireland

and then to lunch at the father’s favorite restaurant, Johnnie Fox’s Pub.

At Johnnie Fox’s Pub

It was a fantastic day for us. They even invited us to stay overnight in their home in Dublin and then drive us up to Belfast the next day, about two hours away!

These “personal experiences” happen now and then because I consciously work at finding them.  They are usually more memorable than many of the usual tourist attractions that we have visited.

We have kept in touch with this Polish/Irish family.   They have offered to meet us in Poland some day so that they can take us to see some of their favorite places in their homeland. We have told them that we will do the same when they come back to the US.

Just imagine…..an international friendship born from an offer to take a photograph!

Our friends, the Gluszkiewicz family