Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lido Sunflower

(Click to enlarge)

Another image from the archives, and another black and white as well. And surprise! It's another panorama. Unlike the previous pictures, though, this is a single-frame pano. Instead of stitching multiple pictures together, this method entails the use of a camera with a drop-in mask to block off the top and bottom vertical bands of the image right on the film plane, and with a corresponding mask in the viewfinder.

The Pentax ZX-5n had this feature, and was also the first autofocus camera I owned. I could shoot these pseudoramas and print them with a black border all around. This picture was made in August of 1999, along Lido Boulevard in Lido Beach.

Fulton Landing Panorama

(Click to enlarge)

Under the Brooklyn Bridge at the old ferry landing, on an overcast and damp day in April of 1986. Before the bridge opened in 1883 the only way to get from Fulton Street in Brooklyn to Fulton Street in New York was via the aptly named Fulton Ferry, which docked on this spot on the Brooklyn side.

Twenty-two years ago it was a somewhat shabby, out-of-the way locale with a killer view of lower Manhattan. Glancing at Google maps today it seems to have been cleaned and paved, and the benches removed. Still has the views, though, and judging from the
white stretch limo and the figure in flowing white, popular for wedding pictures.

A panorama made from only two frames and shot with the Pentax ME Super through a 50mm lens, about all I had in those days...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Petrified Panorama

(Click to enlarge)

Another shot from the Route 66 trip, this panorama is also made from seven separate images. It looks larger than the previous one simply because it was made from vertical images, whereas the one below was made from horizontal pictures. Vertical pictures stitch together with less distortion, although I did have to clone a bit down in the lower corners in order to keep from cropping the orange log at the bottom in half.

Sherry and I created a blog during this trip; if you're interested you can read all about The Murphys: Arguing Across America.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Painted Panorama

(Click to enlarge)

Ninety-three thousand, five hundred and thirty-three acres of Arizona. It's a big desert, and I wouldn't want to paint it. Fortunately, that's been taken care of for us in this U. S. National Park Service facility inside the Petrified Forest National Park, itself neatly bisected by Interstate 40.

This panorama is composed of seven separate pictures stitched together in Photoshop, with a little smoothing done to the sky. Since we weren't there at the optimal time of early morning or late afternoon, I boosted the contrast and saturation a bit.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Missy the Pug

July 1990

Missy was a young pug who lived next door to me in Rosedale. She was a young pug, since she was the replacement for a previous dog, also a pug, and named Mister Pug. Each in turn were the companions of Tootsie, a longtime neighborhood fixture on 147 Drive, one of those ubiquitous little old ladies that you find on every block in Queens. She lived with Missy in a house where time had stood still since the mid sixties or seventies, painfully neat and orderly, all the upholstered furniture covered with plastic, and religious icons scattered about.

As a dog, Missy had but one trick, which she dutifully performs above. I'm not sure if all pugs can do this with their ears, but she could, and it was very odd to see.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Queen B

Another shot from the Benny sessions in the summer of 1990. (My other favorite picture.) Here she presides over the room from the vantage of the dust lid on Sherry's turntable. She was still a bit leery of me at this point, but was getting more comfortable as time went by. I didn't use anything other than the room light for these; I'm not sure if I even owned a flash at the time. These were shot with a Pentax ME Super and, I think, a 50mm 1.7 lens on Ilford HP-5 film, 400 ISO.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Benny - June 1990

Benny, sweet Benny. This is from the second photo session I ever had with the little girl. She was a young and still lively ten or eleven years old back then, living with Sherry on Sixty-Ninth Street, 500 square feet in the sky. Who knew then that I was only a few years away from being around with her until the end?

Sherry wanted some nice pictures of her, and this was my favorite of the lot. There are three or four more from this and a later session in July of that year that I want to post here, just as soon as I fire up the scanner and see how well it gets along with my latest version of Photoshop®...

Benny is sitting on a bench in front of the piano, with the television news providing the light in the background. The
embroidery on the bench is by Sherry's Aunt Molly, namesake of our current black cat. This embroidery is now stretched and framed, and hangs on our living room wall. Benny's ashes sit on the bookcase in a hollow ceramic cat sculpture we got in Mexico. I forget who has the piano...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

West 4th Street - The Cage

In the summer of 2001 I did some freelance work for the Village Voice, about six assignments in all. I shot some restaurant reviews (people at tables, pictures of entrees, and once I had to figure out a way to shoot a mojito, which, as a drink, is nowhere near as interesting looking as a daiquiri or margarita, but I came home with something good. 'Good' meaning I got paid, and it was used. Though it would have looked better in color.)

I sat at the edge of the stage while Tom Harrell played trumpet at the Village Vanguard (but only for the first three numbers, no flash allowed), and I spent an afternoon within the confines of the Cage at West Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue, a well-known mecca for street basketball.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Benches in the Snow

Another scene from the Ottawa trip in December, these two benches overlook the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal, where it meets the Ottawa River. With the canal being frozen in the winter, they don't use this area too much, and there aren't many precautions to prevent the unwary or careless-footed from slipping on the ice and snow right down to their broken-neck death from a railing-less walkway into the canal just steps from this fluffy postcard.

I like this shot for the repetition within the vanishing perspective, and the straight lines mingling with the curves.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Indian Spring

Warm, wet, windy, with wispy mists blowing across the dune grass and scrub pines. Not balmy-warm, warm with a chill: a chill that could be a harbinger of the imminent spring, or the chill reminder of a winter only begun. A steady, damp breeze from the breakers just over the dunes to the south, coating the boardwalk with atomized droplets.

January thaw, Indian Spring. Ten more weeks of winter.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Has Thor Got Their Backs?

January 2008

Something I noticed on the beach at Coney last Tuesday, during the annual New Year's Day dip, was the seemingly endless supply of thin terrycloth towels emblazoned with the Thor Equities logo. I wasn't sure what to make of it at first, knowing how the zoning board ruled against their condo plan, which has thrown their redevelopment plans into something of a tizzy. Such a large spanner has been tossed into the works that the owners of Astroland were forced to negotiate an extra year's lease on the land they sold last year.

Last year, the last year for Coney Island, remember? Maybe we'll squeeze out one more.

June 2007

Thor Equities was fairly well reviled during the Mermaid Parade last year, with protesters marching along the route. But with their loss in the zoning battle, some concessions appear to have been made, and a few other prominent local opponents are falling under the developer's sway.

I read in some other blogs that the Polar Bear Club has taken a bit of heat for accepting the sponsorship, given their past opposition to the redevelopment plan.

Whatever the intrigue, I wonder if all the grandiose plans won't simply fade away, like so many of the dreams created for the future of this city? After all, next year Astroland will reopen, although they'll be leasing the land they once owned. The Child's building will continue its rehab, but little else will change. Planks on the boardwalk will continue to rot clean away before the city considers repairing anything. The Mermaids will dance along Surf Avenue in the summer sun. By the end of August there will be more 'last year' talk, but no one will have any definite ideas, plans, or financing.

November 2007

I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this in the coming years, and not much else.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Coney Island's Polar Bears

A few pictures from New Year's Day at Coney Island

I'll let these images speak for themselves. I'm already done speaking for myself on this topic, if you're interested in reading any of it, click on the 'Gathered Together' label below.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Last Year at the New Year

There are three new year's traditions that, until now, I have never undertaken. Times Square, naturally is the first. Never been there, never will. I have no desire to spend six hours penned up on the sidewalk. The New Year's Day Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, is an event I'd like to get down to, since what I've seen of it looks like fun. But today I was tackling the third, and the most convenient new year's adventure, one that entails only a drive on the Belt. The steady rain of the cold gray morning was ending as I turned onto Ocean Parkway. I was hoping the rain would continue, thinking it would keep the crowds away. In my mind's eye it would just be me and the guy from the Daily News, but that was a fantasy. This was New Year's day, this is Coney Island, and that means only one thing:

Polar bears, many dressed in costumes and other outlandish outfits, running full speed along the dirt-colored sand, kicking up the foam and surf and sand at the water's edge. They rush straight in, faster and further into the water than anyone would even in the summertime, they scream, screetch, bellow and just plain yell. Pasty white flesh turns bright pink, even the leathery Florida tans betray a lobster glow.

The festivities began with a single bagpiper, dressed in a white terrycloth bathrobe and vivid yellow earflap hat strolling through the sand. The crowd surrounded, opening before him and closing behind as he made his way to the waters edge. He stood there, playing as the photographers swarmed about, standing and crouching, all the while shooting, paying no attention to the fact that the entire Atlantic Ocean was at their turned backs. Attention was paid, though, for the piper's timing was excellent, and a swift and cold wave broke just about calf-high on the crowd just as he finished, and sending people surging with the water up onto the beach. A whistle was blown, and a cry went up. Through the sea of onlookers in standard winter wear came the half-naked, the near-naked, and unfortunately Speedo-challenged.

The Polar Bear Club of Coney Island has been swimming in the Atlantic in the winter since about 1903. While I don't believe there have been any fatalities since then, you have to wonder how these people can do this sort of thing without the odds catching up with them. If you or I were to drop off a west side pier in December or February we'd be dead of hypothermia in fifteen minutes. Yet....

Now while today was fairly mild (air temps were in the high 40's, the water, I'm told, was 43 degrees) there have been years when there was snow on the beach and the wind was kicking through with a serious edge. I was grateful that today was not like that, and my only concession to the elements was my selection of a red plaid scarf to accent my pleated vest and denim jacket. The gloves and umbrella I'd left in the car back on Surf Avenue; the rain had stopped just before I arrived.

Of course, a pair of waders would have been a smarter choice, since I was one of those soaked with the first wave. But in the spirit of the day, as well as having no real choice in the matter, I persevered. Perhaps seeing my wet shoes and pants soaked to the knees made the people more willing to pose for me, made them realize that I was one with them, perhaps even, one of them.

Or maybe not.

Bikini Girl for the New Year

Well, happy new year. And so welcome to 2008.

Since the new year has the unfortunate habit of beginning (in this northern hemisphere) during the grey cold of January, I decided to utilize the posing talents of my lovely friend Sherilee to warm things up for us today.

These were taken in the surf of the Atlantic off Long Beach, in August of 2002. Sheri had had a fitness show the week before, and was only easing into a normal diet by this time, plus the ProTan was finally wearing off, so she looked really good.

Interestingly, that same week I was also recovering from a somewhat traumatic experience; I'd had hernia surgery. Both sides. Three ruptures on each side.

I was taking baby steps.

Baby steps on the sand, however, require serious concentration. So between my own delicate condition, and the situation and subject at hand, I had much to contend with. Having two able-bodied assistants with nicely-enabled bodies was a plus on my side, although neither Marie nor my own Sherry wished to be pictured on this day, for reasons which they alone can attest to. But I'd put them up here. In a minute.

And I could, you know...

You can see more of Sheri at

Hudson Piers

Along the Hudson River, what remains of the piers in the north Village, south Chelsea. Or at least what remained during a summer in the late 1990's. More I cannot say without extensive digging through my negatives. Scanned from a 5x7 inch print, and a nice print, with a good tonal range. I remember making that print, and I remember taking that picture. I doubt I could find the location today; reconstruction along the waterfront has been extensive in the last decade and these pilings may have finally been cleared.

I had a nice day back then, walking along the river. (I don't even think anyone had specifically told me to have one, I just did; all on my own.) I made a lot of good pictures there too, and a lot of other good prints came from that day as well. And I think before this new year is over, I'll be revisiting a lot of those times, perhaps.

My resolution is to be a more regular and verbal (and I mean verbal in a written-sort of way) correspondent, reporter, diarist, observer, fly-on-the-wall type of wiseass.

In the meantime, welcome to 2008, and happy new year. And really, why are you wasting your time here, the only good cheesecake shots are the ones up above this.

And you shouldn't expect them all of the time now.