Wednesday, August 31, 2011

White on White

White on White

With warm tone. That's the way it came out of the camera. Sunny sky filtered through frosted skylight onto an indoor lighting fixture at the Fort Lee historic site, visitor's center. No artificial light was on at the time. A radical shift from the high contrast saturated colors I posted the last couple of days.

Gear: Today I grabbed my 28-105 lens. I used this one all the time with my film camera, a Canon Elan II that I bought when my kids were born about 13 years ago and I wanted to get back into taking pictures with a "real" camera (my only other SLR had been the Canon AT-1 that I got in high school ca. 1979, and it didn't work any more). The lens has a solid reputation as one of the better consumer-level zoom lenses, and a USM focusing motor that is virtually silent.  I also loved the Elan, it had a good solid design that I wish I had in the digital Rebel. The Elan was a step up from the original Rebel line for film, but not very expensive, roughly analogous to the D60 today, but that's close to $1000.00 with tax, I paid about half that for the Rebel XTi  when the price dropped with the release of the XSi a few years ago).

Anyway, 28-105 is a nice walking around lens for a film camera, but a little awkward for a digital camera where it translates to a 45-170 (ish) lens. Not only that, I found the colors of the lens on digital to be a little unusual, a bit soft, not quite sure exactly how to describe it. Maybe I just got used to the sharp saturated colors of the kit lens that I bought for the Rebel. Either way, I put it away and have seldom used it with my digital camera, but today I decided to play with it a bit and see if I can learn to love the colors and the softer quality overall of this lens. You can see a little of that softness in the image above, where it's a good thing, I think.

And 45-170 isn't that bad for a range, 45 seems like wide when you've been shooting a lot with an 80mm equivalent (the 50mm 1.8 prime).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


PPAS Banner

Morning Stars & Stripes

Went in to work today, a week early, to start setting up my room. Of course I had to take some pictures first, and wanted to continue the theme I started yesterday, this time in color from around my school.

I was inspired by (some might say ripped off) Robert Caplin's Urban Sunshine, which Gerry recommended and I really like that style, at least in small doses. Anyway, he didn't invent the idea, but he puts it to good use - it's another set of lighting conditions that presents some nice opportunities to photograph interesting things.

I'm not crazy about the greenery in that first picture, but the only way I could get a decent angle on the banner was to step back and include the tree.

Monday, August 29, 2011

NYC Welding Scar

Welding Scar

I forgot to note the full text of the scar on this plate. But I have been looking at a lot of high contrast portraits and street photography lately and when I saw this on the way home today it jumped out at me.

This is really on a relatively micro scale, a small detail in the (scaffolded) steps connecting Bennett and Ft. Washington avenues. Just playing with the light. Or better "Chasing the Light," which I read earlier this summer for inspiration.


(Electric, of course!)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Like Every Other Market - Closed

Like Every Other Market - Closed

Not that there's anything wrong with that, they are by the river where there was some flooding nearby, and the storm could have been worse. But still, the irony didn't escape me.

The guy in the orange jacket was a bonus, I didn't see him coming till I had already decided to take the picture of the security guard. Lucky me, the guard covered his face and the other guy makes it interesting anyway.

"Hurricane" Irene

Looking over the Hudson River to the Palisades

Just a quickie,  here. There's still a fine, misty precipitation blowing in all directions, making it difficult to shoot anything at this point. Not even the building awnings provide any protection from the lens getting sprayed.

Tried to capture the swaying tree limbs, but the wind really isn't that strong, and even at this shutter speed the subjects are a little soft...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Graffiti Tree

Graffiti Tree

Outside the Cloisters Museum in Fort Tryon Park, where I walk almost every day. I've shot this tree on several occasions from different angles, and can never seem to get it right. This is close. It's in shade all day long, so separating it from the background for contrast isn't easy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

International Center of Photography

International Center of Photography

This was the last weekend of the Elliott Erwitt show, along with Ruth Gruber and the Hiroshima: Ground Zero images. Friday night is voluntary contributions for admission, and with the hurricane coming (Saturday and Sunday the entire city will be shut down, essentially) and this being therefore the final night, it was pretty crowded.

The Erwitt section was fabulous, all very large prints, easy to view. The other two shows were smaller prints and it was not fun to try to go with the crowd and get close enough to actually appreciate them.

It was somehow refreshing to see how far from perfect these images are by conventional standards. There was a portrait of Jack Kerouac, for instance, where the focus was just in front of his face, on the arm and chest, leaving the face a little soft. In smaller prints it is probably undetectable, but at 16 x 24 or larger even, it's quite noticeable. Still a great portrait. A lot of noticeable dodging and burning as well.  So I don't feel so bad about working the image above to bring out the shadows and bring down the highlights :-)

The guy had a real visual sense of humor, I'll say that. And unorthodox compositions. Check him out. I would say more about Gruber, but I really couldn't see her work so well or give it the time it deserved. Hiroshima also. That exhibit consisted of photos arranged in concentric circles representing the different distances from Ground Zero and documenting the degrees and kinds of destruction done.

Paramus Mini-Golf

For my kids again, just some fun shots at the mini-golf course...

Entrance to the golf course on Paramus Rd.

Fiberglass Blues Brothers figures looking on the mini-golf hut.

Does she need an introduction?

Bruce & friends (it's New Jersey, whaddya expect?)

These things must have a name, a hard surface for writing scores on scorecards.

That's the GWB in the background, too shallow DOF.

Come on, come on, hole in one...grrrr.

Add it up.

Update: After all that work, I decided I don't really like these in B&W. Too dark & heavy.  Don't be surprised if they're replaced by color sometime tonight...

Update 2: Done!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cabrini Wines

Cabrini Wines

I walk by here every day and this is the first time that I happened to be looking at it with this particular ideal light and a camera in my hand.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011



I should probably save this kind of thing for the winter when I don't want to go outside now that I think about it - oh well, too late.

Oh, and I'm definitely getting Adobe Lightroom soon, academic pricing is pretty good...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

George Washington Bridge Tower

George Wahhington Bridge Tower

Too much?

Subject-wise, just about every tourist and bicyclist who stops at the Little Red Lighthouse takes a picture of the bridge from this angle. I had to do something a little different...

And for Cheryl, the vertical shot - there's a major problem with this one, can you see what it is?

Vertical Tower

Note: I didn't like the cluttered look so I posted the link instead of the pic.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fire Escape

Fire Escape

I keep going out to shoot color and coming back with B&W. This is in my neighborhood again, an ordinary fire escape on the side of a building not facing the street.

Sometimes I think these are ugly things that ruin a street scene and other times I think they add to it. Depends on my mood, I guess. This is more of a test shot, I'll look for better examples to shoot now.

What the heck, I'll thrown this one in as a bonus today. Not sure about the washed out sky...

Fire Escape 2

Same fire escape as first image.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Biker to Biker

Biker to Biker

A hazy muggy day in the city, and a serendipitous motorcycle rally. I was a little too late to capture the density of the bikers, (haha, I was on my bike as well, bicycle, that is) and had to settle for the stragglers passing by the policemen on the west side highway. There's a little camera attached to the policeman's helmet.

I didn't realize until much later that I was shooting accidentally at 800 ISO, but that actually gives it a grittiness that works for this image, I think.

Lego & Mall Post

For my kids. And a B&W "architectural" shot thrown in for everyone else.

Brick Wall. A small section.

Greatest store in the world?

Lego building event.

We are L E G O

Helpful Lego staff.

Mini-figure parade

Lunch and play time.

Mall-bucks. I don't know the guy waving.

Lego Architecture.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

190th Street Subway Station

190th Street Subway Station

Feeling a little lazy today! I shot this around noon, should have waited for some people to come out, but I'm still trying to overcome that discomfort about shooting strangers. Next weekend I'm going on a group photo walk downtown, maybe that will give me some cover to break through that barrier. Tomorrow I'm taking my kids to a Lego event, so I could take some people shots there.

I may go out again this evening, but even if I do, I may not have the time to process and post it tonight, so here's today's shot. It's one of those things I believe you just have to have in your collection if you live in New York, a shot of a subway entrance!

On a side note, I am a teacher by profession, so I have the summer off. Most summers I spend a lot of this "free" time brushing up on my content area and preparing curriculum, lessons, labs, etc. for the coming year. This year I felt a little burned out and just needed to not think about school for a while, so that lead me to this photography project. Once September hits and I'm back into the school year, I expect my photo production to plummet. Or maybe not, we'll see. Since I work in Midtown, there will be a lot of opportunities.

This summer I have largely limited myself to my neighborhood in Washington Heights. It's a good exercise in looking carefully for interesting photos in a world that is in some ways too familiar. Everything seems mundane, so you have to try to look at things differently.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Goose Neck Fountain

Goose Neck

Pretty amazing little fountain, just look at it for a minute...

Too bad it isn't running, I don't think anyone lives at the property (for sale) at the moment. It's in a little yard next to the Pumpkin House on 186th Street.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's The Point?

This is one half of a failed attempt at a little editorial humor. The graffiti was scribbled onto the granite ledge of a walkway overlooking the highway and I wanted to juxtapose the question with the rush of traffic going by - it didn't work. 

Retaken w/ Wide Angle Lens*
But I was also thinking about the question itself, it's one of those annoying voices inside my head that frequently holds me back when I want to take a shot at something and that little demon says, "what's the point, that'll never work, you're wasting your time, who do you think you are....etc."

But sometimes I take the picture anyway, and then the affirmation that I get from posting the pictures and hearing feedback from a supportive community silences those other voices just a little bit more. And THAT'S the point.

This pic is from a couple of days ago, The only thing I accomplished today was taking a few chances. They didn't work out as planned, but I went for it, and will keep trying.

Thanks Cheryl, Gerry, and Bill, and numerous students & friends who've commented privately or on facebook!

*Added Aug.19, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Intrepid and City Skyline

Intrepid and City Skyline

Another one from today that came out OK in B&W.

Intrepid Stem & Anchor

Intrepid Stem & Anchor

Biked to the Intrepid with the kids today, I knew I would focus on some detail rather than try to shoot the larger structure, with only a little time. This was the most obvious target. I'm kinda pleased with the results.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

21 Chittenden

21 Chittenden

Sun was out again today, so I went out at the late in the day and found this building on Chittenden Avenue, which overlooks the Hudson and Palisades, and gets that warm late afternoon glow. Somehow I didn't position myself properly to get a symmetrical composition, but the building is oddly asymmetrical from base to top and I didn't notice it until I viewed the images on the computer - my eyes aren't getting any younger. And I actually kinda like the off-center composition, which leaves in some of those urban elements.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hard Grass

Hard Grass

These are actually tennis courts, not obvious from the picture, but that's what made me think of the title. Works anyway, I think - a lot of urban kids spend most of their time playing on asphalt or concrete playgrounds instead of grass. The fact that this one is painted green seems to be making the point...

Note: I looked at the picture the day after and thought the colors were oversaturated, so I dialed it down a bit...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dinosaur Model

Dinosaur Models

It rained ALL day in the city so no new photos.

This is from a 2005 exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Can't remember the details, just a lot of what appears to be aluminum models of dinosaur skeletons.

Taken with my old Canon A80 point & shoot.

Stables at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

Stables at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

This was a "drive by shooting" of sorts. On my bike with a group of people, had to fire off the shot quickly and catch up, so it's not as sharp as I would like, but I still like the composition and the colors...

It's cloudy today, so no follow-up moon shots.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Moon over GWB Bus Terminal

Moon over GWB Bus terminal

Well this is a lot harder than it looks! Lens flare, washed out moon. Probably connected. There was an earlier time when the moon was lower on the horizon before the rest of the sky got too dark and the moon was not so bright, but at that time I couldn't find anything to juxtapose - it's quite challenging to find the right place at the right time! Moon sets over the Hudson River, GWB, or Palisades tomorrow AM, will try again if I can get up early.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's Wrong with This Picture?

Free Stuff
Free Sweets

I started this blog, at the prompting of Cheryl Crumm, as a way of disciplining myself to take and submit at least one photo per day this summer to improve my photography skills. I know I have a long way to go, and today I didn't have much time to concentrate on shooting - the opportunities were there, I just rushed it. So I could either look back some old stuff and post something from the archives, or do the best I could with what I have and learn from it.

Obviously I chose the latter, so tell me how this opportunity could have turned out better if I had taken the time to do it right. I have some ideas, but I want to hear it from you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011



A common sight outside the upstate home. The final image from the extended weekend visit. I forgot my tripod and there were a lot of cloudy, rainy days in a heavily forested area, so not much light to work with. Took a lot of shots I may return to another day when I can re-shoot with tripod.

Self Reflection

Self Reflection, Disturbed Waters

Disturbed waters. A reflection in a pool of water at the bottom of an old cement mixer. Trees, sky, self distorted by the water's movement.

File Under "Files"

File under "Files"

At my father-in-law's house upstate, a lot of old junk has accumulated. Found this old box of files and wanted to shoot it.


Weed Flower

I don't know what this plant is - I think it's just some weed that happens to produce pretty flowers, at least close up. Looks a little bit like thistle, but definitely not.

Saturday, August 6, 2011



Forgot I had this old shot from 2009 Mother's Day outside the restaurant Uva. My son playing on the scaffolding, garish blue color.

Going out of town for a few days, may not have internet access to post pics until I get back. We'll see.

Thursday, August 4, 2011



Didn't have much to choose from today. Early morning raindrops still on a few plants in the park. This is green seed pods and green leaves. I knew it would be converted to B&W and thought the different tones of the leaves and pods would contrast nicely. Would have liked even more depth of field, but this is hand held...