ELVIS CHRISTMAS HOUSE

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MAHWAH, NJ 12/23/07 ELVIS CHRISTMAS HOUSE
The Elvis Christmas House on Victoria Lane in Mahwah, is a well known Christmas season attraction. Perhaps the most visited Christmas lights display in North Jersey each year.

During Christmas week, droves of visitors drive by the house known affectionately as The Elvis Christmas House, which features a young Elvis dancing on the roof. The elaborate display is courtesy of home owner Tony Destro, Elvis performer extraordinaire.

Lines of cars move slowly past acres of lights, life-sized figures, and Christmas ornaments, to the gentle sounds of Christmas music. There's even a lake encircled by lights, with a Statue of Liberty replica on an island in the center.

This is an impressive a Christmas display by any measure. Breathtaking. It's worth the trip.

Christmas Cheer(leading) from the Franklin's


A little Holiday Season humor, give it a few seconds to load. Great web animation, and a cinch to create. I thank my neice Sarah and OfficeMax for making this available for free. Very cool...

Our Lady of Guadalupe


December 12th is the annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe -the Virgin Mother and patroness of Mexico. Each year, the Holy Trinity church in Passaic hosts a nearly week-long celebration, which includes a religious procession of thousands of native Mexicanos and Latinos marching through the streets of Passaic with all things Guadalupe. Here's a look at the procession last Sunday.

Trump at the Dump



Real estate mogul Donald Trump says he'll transform EnCap golf course boondoggle into a world class golf course, that he says will be open to the public.

Other than the smell from the landfill gases, the deafening air traffic, and drone of the New Jersey Turnpike, the setting will be incredible and has potential to be an incredible track.

Former educator guilty on 8 counts


A former Englewood assistant schools superintendent was convicted on Tuesday of using his position to sexually abuse two students. He could face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced. The courtroom scene was very dramatic as the jury foreman read the verdicts.


Jurors convicted a former Englewood assistant schools superintendent Tuesday of using his position to sexually abuse two students.

Although the Superior Court jury acquitted Roy Hermalyn of nearly two dozen sex charges, they found him guilty of inappropriately touching one student, endangering another and committing official misconduct in both instances.

The convictions are enough to put Hermalyn behind bars for up to 20 years when he is sentenced March 14. He is also subject to registration as a sex offender under Megan's Law. Story by Record reporter Kibret Markos.

The Mignone Turkey Trot!



My neighbors Vinny and Suzanne Mignone host a small neighborhood 5K run every year on Thanksgiving morning, and as part of the deal people bring food to be donated to military families out of the Teaneck Armory.

Last year I ran, this year I shot a video.

Coniglio is target of U.S. raids

Federal investigators are sorting through new boxes of evidence collected
Tuesday morning from state Sen. Joseph Coniglio's Paramus home and his
legislative office.

The federal raids are the latest development in an ongoing corruption
probe. The focus of probe is the Democratic senator's ties to more than $1
million in state grant money received by Hackensack University Medical Center
over a two-year period during which Coniglio also worked for the hospital as a
paid consultant.

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IHA Wins TOC



The Blue Eagles of Immaculate Heart Academy won the sixth annual girls volleyball Tournament of Champions with a 26-24, 25-22 victory over Hunterdon Central. Story.

This looks like it will be my final photo assignment for some time. Fittingly, I bumped into my old friend and former colleague Amanda Brown, of The Star-Ledger. Early in my career Amanda helped show me the ropes back at the old Herald & News -back when photographs had no color, and we worked endless hours chasing news. The H&N under the late great Walt Herring was a crazy fun place to be, an excellent training ground for a young journalist. I long for the simplicity of those days...

Giants & Cowboys



EAST RUTHERFORD,NJ 11/11/07 NFL FOOTBALL / NY GIANTS VS DALLAS COWBOYS: Dallas RB #21 Julius Jones is wrangled from behind by Giants DE #92 Michael Strahan. Dallas defeated the Giants 31-20. Giants were stomped, story here.

While shooting this game last weekend, I couldn't help but think that this may be the last game I shoot for the foreseeable future. I have always loved shooting football, and I always relished covering NFL games on chilly Autumn afternoons at the Meadowlands. Football has always been my most favorite assignment, I miss it already... Recently, I have taken on a new role at The Record as the Digital Video Producer/Editor. After nearly 20 years of making pictures, from the days of developing black & white film in the shadows of a darkroom; to the era of color negative film; through the difficult transition into the digital age -I have now moved onto video reporting. Moving images, wow what difference! I will be overseeing all video production and multimedia visuals for The Record's internet division -the Digital News Group. For those who have been following my work at The Record over the past two years may have noticed that this is an area I have been increasingly interested in. I am excited about this new phase in my career, I am excited and energized. I will continue to post my videos and "mincings" here -so stay-tuned.

CROSSES


Portraits of Clergy Sex Abuse
By Carmine Galasso

Powerful stories and photos of survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, by my friend Carmine Galasso. Chilling and haunting imagery. He has a new book out, Crosses -please pick up a copy.
Multimedia by Nina Berman.

ANTONIA'S FUTURE


VIDEO: Out-of-court settlement gives paralyzed girl money for 24-hour care.

On October 24, 1999, the Verni's were returning from a day trip to Pennsylvannia, where the Cliffside Park family spent the day pumpkin picking, when their car was struck by a drunk driver who was served excessive alcohol at a Giants football game. The accident left two-year old Antonia paralyzed from the neck down -confined to a wheelchair and a breathing machine for the rest of her life.

Last month, the Verni's settled with Aramark Corp. for an undisclosed amount, after a long seven-year court battle that received national attention. Antonia's mother is hopeful that the money will pay for her little girl's full-time nurse, education costs, and improve her quality of life. Story by Kibret Markos/The Record.

Next time you're think about drinking and driving, maybe you should take a look at this...

ROGUE HAULERS GET HOOKED



VIDEO: Corzine signs predatory towing law that protects motorists from tow-truck operators who tow cars from private lots, charging excessive fees for their retrieval. Story by Stephanie Akin / The Record

ALLAN FAMILY TIES


VIDEO: Field hockey coach Eileen Allan & daughter Danielle
lead Pompton Lakes into the county finals.

Foo-Fighting



"Living with our heads underground
Into the night we shine
Lighting the way we glide by
Catch me if I get too high
If I come down
I'll be coming home next year."
-Foo Fighters, "Next Year
On Saturday night, my bud Jim Anness and I were leaving NBC after shooting a wedding at The Rainbow Room (it was spectacular -congrats Vanessa & John...here's to a lifetime of happiness) when we saw Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters hanging in the lobby with some family and friends before going on SNL.

I of course thought maybe he was the janitor, not a big fan. Had no idea. But my man Jimmy spotted him right away and was like a school girl on prom night. So we hung back waiting for the right moment to ask him for pic. He couldn't have been nicer... not to mention how impressed he was at my vast skill in pulling off the one arm extended Hail-Mary.
The exchange went something like this:
Dude, wow you can do that?
Sure Dave...I'm a professional.
Now look at the camera and give me some attitude.
Read this about Grohl on Wikipedia:
"In May 2006, Grohl sent a note of support to the two trapped miners in the Beaconsfield mine collapse in Tasmania, Australia. In the initial days following the collapse, one of the men requested an iPod with Foo Fighters songs to be sent down to them through a small hole.

Grohl's note read, in part, "Though I'm halfway around the world right now, my heart is with you both, and I want you to know that when you come home, there's two tickets to any Foos show, anywhere, and two cold beers waiting for yous. Deal?" In October 2006, one of the miners took up his offer, joining Grohl for a drink after the Foo Fighters acoustic concert at the Sydney Opera House.

Grohl wrote an instrumental piece for the meeting, which Grohl pledged he would include on the band's next album. The song appears on the Foo Fighters' latest release Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, titled "The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners"."

Diggers



Mea Culpa. n. (may-uh kul-puh)
An acknowledgment of a personal e
rror or fault.

Greg Mattura, a fine local sports writer I work with at The Record, who covers the high school volleyball beat -among other things. This week he wrote a feature piece about the Libero, whose top statistic is the "Dig." The libero is a player specialized in defensive skills: the libero must wear a contrasting jersey color from his or her teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height.

In other words, they do the hard grunt work for their teams.

So Greg set up a photo assignment for me to photograph four top Bergen County libero's at the construction site at Paramus High School. With permission from the school and the girls coaches, he was going to bring four shovels for the girls to "dig" volleyballs amongst the construction equipment. The photo was to accompany his story.

He thought it was a great idea. I thought it was over-the-top.

Although the idea was creative, I thought it corny. I called him... Greg, I love you man, but this is stupid... He calmly let me vent, then informed me that I was overly negative, and that I should just show up and produce a wonderful photo -as usual.

For those who don't know Greg -he is a mensch, and one of my all-time favorite colleagues to work with. He is a superb reporter; diligent, caring, extremely hard working, dedicated, and is a real good guy. He and I have collaborated countless times, usually while covering golf which his main beat, and a passion of mine. One of the nice things about covering golf with Greg is that we get to razz and needle each other on the course in between shots. Once we put our heads together to make a quirky portrait photo of a golfer who scored a hole in one -taken from "inside the cup." It won some award, I don't remember which.




I've covered a lot of local sports in my 20 years. I've seen how the intensity and pressure of youth sports has been increasingly ratcheted-up over the years. It's particularly evident in girls sports, where the level of play has improved by a great measure -in my estimation. I just think we in the local media sometimes try too hard to make these high school athletes into stars and local celebrities, I think it at times it borders on sensational and gratuitous.
What exactly are we saying to readers here with this photo?
What is the meaning?


As it turned out, the kids were great. IHA's Stephanie Cruz, Paramus' Vanessa Sullivan, RiverDell's Kiara Besonia, and Bogota's Ashley Ramirez. Greg's idea turned out better than I expected, much better, and I concede that I was overly negative. It was creative and a good attempt, on Greg's part and the part of the coaches here, to make something mundane into something good. I respect that and appreciate his effort. And the girls were great sports.

Perhaps I was being overly negative.
I liked the shot, I may put it in my portfolio.... Thanks Greg!

Out-takes...



FREE BOOKS

VIDEO: Volunteers give away free reading material to promote literacy in Paterson, despite opposition from the city. Column by Mike Kelly/ The Record

the EMPIRE




View of the mighty Empire State from the much vaunted Rainbow Room, where I am shooting an upcoming wedding. Looking at this sweeping view of Midtown towards lower Manhattan, the outer boroughs, and Jersey -I can't help but think of 9/11 and what is so sadly missing from this photo....

This photo reminds of my friend Marty Lederhandler of the A.P., and his incredible photo taken on 9/11. Thanks Marty, hope you are well...

HEAD'S UP



EMERSON,NJ 09/24/07 HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SOCCER / EMERSON HS VS RIDGEFIELD HS: Ridgefield goalie Josh Morales grabs the ball to make a save, although it appears he is grabbing his head during game against Emerson.
I've shot a bunch of local high school sports lately. Nabbed this quirky pic during game between Ridgefield and Emerson. I like how the ball appears to have eyes, and the backlight gives it a studio look. Sports photos are often about the serendipity that occurs during action, often so quickly you never actually see the image come together until the editing phase -such as this one. This photo just happened, nothing planned.
EXPOSURE:
Lens (mm): 420mm (300mm lens with 1.2x extender)
ISO: 200
Aperture: 4.0
Shutter: 1/1000th

Farewell Picture This



This week was my final Picture This photo column in The Record.
Creation is a multimedia piece that takes a look back at four years and nearly 200 column's.
It was a great run.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, especially those who allowed me into your lives to tell our reader's your story. I met so many great people along the way. Cheers.

9/11: 6TH ANNIVERSARY


1992 "Sailing Past the WTC"

For me personally, the anniversary of September 11th is a time of extreme sadness and dread. September is a beautiful month -the weather in Northern New Jersey is often at its finest, as the humid hot summer days give way to endless clear skies, crisp mornings, and the NFL.

But for many of us who lived through that horrible day six years ago, the season of change has turned into a season sadness. A heaviness-of-heart permeates my soul, and six years later it has not become any easier. Last year -the 5th anniversary, was a particularly difficult day; covering three memorial events in two days was emotional and painful. For me, 9/11 related assignments have become increasingly more difficult to cover. On this subject, I have lost my ability to separate my job -often involving photographing the families of lost loved ones at remembrance services with tears in my eyes, from my personal feelings about that day.

This year I decided to take the day off -a personal day of reflection and rest. I believe, and I hope, it will soon become an official day of reflection. Perhaps a new "Memorial Day," where all businesses and institutions remain closed.

This is a photo of a sailboat on the Hudson sailing past the Twin Towers, taken from Jersey City or Hoboken in the early 1990's. It was shot on chrome film, just past sunset. It's one of my favorite images of the towers, with beautiful light and color, made at a time in my life when I spent all my free time doing what I love -making photographs. Here is a link to a portfolio of photos of the WTC -many of which I discovered in my personal archive sometime after 9/11.

The two vertical towers were not the most artful of architectural structures, they were plain in design, and the surrounding plaza was one of the coldest, soulless places imaginable. But they had presence. They were a favorite subject of mine -especially from the Jersey side, and I miss seeing those tall beams, often acting as a beacon or point of orientation from afar.

It sickens me when I think about all of those innocent lives lost so senselessly, and the national heartache September 11th has become. To me, they remain a proud symbol.

Goldman's Garden



This is an excerpt from this week's Picture This column.

As you drive down Crosby, one of the avenues that run the length of Paterson's Hillcrest section, you see rows of carefully maintained houses with tidy yards and meticulously manicured lawns. The mostly residential middle-class enclave is a bucolic oasis on the edge of a densely urban landscape. It is suburbia, full of order and sameness.

But James Goldman's house on the northwest corner of Elberon and Crosby stands in stark contrast to the neatness that surrounds it. Goldman's is a remarkably dense patch, jammed with flowers, herbs, plants and fruit and nut trees, hundreds of varieties -- many exotic and edible -- planted haphazardly about the 50- by 100-foot plot.

"It looks odd because there is no lawn," he admits. "People are into lawns."Goldman looks down his block at the green squares in front of his neighbors' homes, and he sees misplaced energy -- literally. He recites staggering statistics about the ills of lawn production in the U.S. in terms of energy waste, noise and air pollution. Read on.
I have to admit it, Goldman got me thinking about the need for a lush lawn. It really has become the suburban man's symbol of pride, hasn't it? A macho status symbol, at the detriment of the environment and our diminishing water supply.

But I have to confess...I love my lawn! I love taking care of it, manicuring it, making sure it's an emerald oasis. I take pride in it. I'm guilty as charged.

This week, as I put down some Scott's Turf builder in my battle against crabgrass and clover, I couldn't help but feel a little guilty about my contribution.

I set my Speedy Green spreader to lighter setting...

NJ AQUARIUM, Camden, NJ



If you've never been, the New Jersey Aquarium down in Camden -just outside Philadelphia, is fantastic fun. Great place for kids. Even better place for taking pictures of sea life.
I had a speaking engagement down in Philly this week, so I packed up the family and spent the better part of Sunday at the aquarium and was pleasantly surprised. Get there early. Lot's to see; indoor/outdoor exhibits, IMAX theatre, even the food court had good eats! Family friendly.

the CHALK POET


This is an excerpt from this week's Picture This column.

Molly Fitzpatrick is a poetry enthusiast.

When she's got a lot on her mind, or a jumble of words clogging her brain, she often feels the need to write them down. Not on paper, or in a journal, but with chalk while on her hands and knees on the driveway.

It began with Walt Whitman. Read on.


INDEPENDENCE DAY


RIDGEWOOD,NJ 07/4/07 JULY 4TH CELEBRATION:
The July 4th fireworks show went on as scheduled, despite the hard and steady rain that fogged my lens and made for a miserable night for pictures. The annual show at Veterans Field in downtown Ridgewood, traditionally one of the most popular fireworks shows in North Jersey, had less turnout than usual -understandably. The show also began about 20 minutes early due to the rain.

As is often the case, some of the best photographs are made under the most arduous of circumstances. I've shot July 4th fireworks many many times -I usually volunteer to work July 4th, and the weather is usually terrific and the pictures not so much. But this photo is my best yet I think, and it certainly was the most difficult to execute.

The thing that makes shooting fireworks difficult is not the shutter setting, but finding a subject for the foreground that gives your exploding display some context.

Technically, you need a tripod and shoot with a slow shutter speed. Determining proper exposure is the key.
Exposure for this photo:
ISO =400
F-STOP =5.0
SHUTTER SPEED =1 SEC
under an umbrella, using a low-set tripod

Happy B-Day America!

PICTURE THIS / Beads-n-Me

Marcy Pryor's special-needs class at Franklin Avenue Middle School in Franklin Lakes has turned beaded necklace-making into a cottage industry. In the process, a unique learning opportunity has flourished.

Pryor teaches sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in a self-contained classroom, with the assistance of aides Joyce Moskal and Maureen Bergin. The class has 10 students with a wide array of learning disabilities. Some function quite well; others are barely able to clutch a pencil. In the project, called "Beads & Me," students created necklaces of plastic beads, often containing word phrases, that clip on to ID badges. The project began earlier this year as a creative way to replace traditional pen-and-paper lessons.


Read story: http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2OTUmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTcxNDY0MjkmeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk5



This is a photo of me with the Bead's-n-Me Kids. Note: I am proudly wearing my Beaded Necklace given to me by them.

It reads, "Take a Moment...To Picture This." THANKS!

Sadness at Orchard Commons




ALLENDALE,NJ 06/03/07 TREE CLEARING AT ORCHARD COMMONS PROJECT: A drawing of a sad face shedding a tear was placed near the Orchard Commons project where hundreds of trees were cleared on Friday to make way for for a housing project. Many area residents are upset about the tree clearing. Allendale had been intrested in purchasing the tract for a passive parkland.