The Epiphany

Yesterday was the 12th day of Christmas and it was (as we Latinos like to call it) El Dia De Los Reyes or Three Kings Day, also known as The Epiphany. Now I am not a religious person but I am interested in the rituals and celebrations of people. This day celebrates, as the name implies, the arrival of the Three Wise Men to visit the baby Jesus. In Puerto Rico, where my parents were born and lived before emigrating to the US in the late 1950’s, children would fill a box with grass and leave it under their beds the night before Three Kings Day. The grass was for the camels that the Three Kings would be riding. In appreciation for the grass, a present would be left for the child. My parents continued this tradition with my brothers and I in the U.S. and I am keeping it alive with my 2 children, who also happen to be Jewish on my wife’s side. They get to celebrate Hanukah, Christmas and The Epiphany.

There is a parade each year in Spanish Harlem to celebrate Three Kings Day and I went up to photograph it. I brought along my Mamiya M6 which I have been using a lot lately and I also brought along a Nikon digital camera. While I shot several rolls of film I did not shoot a lot with the digital camera. The images kept being overexposed and in the excitement of the parade I could not stay still long enough to figure out what was wrong. It was very frustrating. Speaking of frustrating, I hate it when I spend time with a person introducing myself and making general small talk to make them feel at ease so that I can get them to pose, and then as soon as I have everything ready a gaggle of other photographers (including professional news photographers) swarm in and start taking the picture I worked to setup. In one case even stepping in front of me to take the picture! Bunch of vultures!

Okay, that’s off my chest. Well, at home after the parade I sit down and try to figure out what was wrong with the Nikon and just as I am about to give up, my finger turns the sub-command dial on the Nikon D70s (yeah I know it’s old) and the shutter speed changes. You guessed it – Epiphany. It seems that even though you set the camera to aperture priority (my usual setting) you can still change the shutter speed via the sub command dial; even accidentally! Even though I wasted a lot of time and images at the parade using this camera I wasn’t upset in the end because I learned something and I am pretty sure it won’t happen again or at least I will know how to correct it. Once this feeling washes over me I look up and see the scene I have pictured above. A sign or just man’s capacity for seeing connections and patterns?

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