Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Second Sign of the Apocalypse

April 28, 2009

"Come see, they're sharing the fleece."

So went the instant message from two floors above. While it was highly unlikely that all four of the beasts would be parked in one of the many cat beds around the house, I knew just from the fact that she'd sent the message that Sherry meant it was Legs and one of the triplets. It certainly wasn't Betsy, since she outright hates Legs, and she'd been skulking around my office a few moments earlier. Besides, I don't think I've ever seen her in one of the beds.

I grabbed the camera and a flash and headed upstairs to find what I'm calling the second sign of the apocalypse: Legs and Molly in bed together. Granted at opposite ends, and with their faces as far apart as possible, but together. And in the particular bed, in the hallway, that was, for the most part, Legs' personal domain, and which Molly had, in recent days, been sprawled in when he wasn't around. This means Molly had to have let Legs join her, since he's the type to cede easily from reclaiming anything.

This was my favorite of the dozen pictures I took. I'm not that crazy about the color cast and the light, though. The ceiling here, in the upstairs hall by the stairs, is about fifteen feet, and the walls a light mustard. I toned it down as much as I could without losing the white of the cat to the bed. I love the expression on his face and the opposing head tilts. I think it's the tilts that really make the picture.

Oh, and the first sign of the apocalypse would be Legs and Betsy in bed together. I think my lens would crack.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Z is for Zipper

Valley Stream - 1987

Have I ever published this picture on this site? I know I've posted it on earlier versions of these websites, but a quick look (and with almost 500 pictures on this site alone, I should be forgiven for losing track of a few) doesn't seem to yield this particular image.

So it comes that I finish the alphabet with one of the best time exposures I ever did, of a traveling carnival ride called The Zipper, an amazing vomit comet whose actions and processes I won't begin to describe, other than to mention that the clockwise spin giving us the beautiful Spirograph® pattern above is perhaps its gentlest motion.

Shot with the Pentax ME Super with a short zoom lens, on Kodachrome 64. Probably at about f8 or 11, with a shutter speed of at least ten seconds.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Y is for Yellow Flower

Vermont - August 2007

I don't do many flower pictures, mainly because every time I start getting close to dahlias or black-eyed susans or mums I start feeling nostalgic for the days I spent working with Polaroids. It's hard thinking that I'll never be able to create them again.

But a close second to that is working with the Lensbaby, the flexible 50mm lens that allows me to move the focal point and distort the backgrounds to a degree never possible with a conventional lens.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

X is for X Beams

Scott Covered Bridge - March 2009

A lattice truss of X beams hold up the King Post truss of the Scott Covered Bridge in Townshend Vermont, the longest wooden bridge in Vermont at 277 feet over the West River. This bridge is only open to pedestrians and bicycles these days, the 139-year-old timbers can't support cars anymore, despite an additional concrete pier added in 1981 and an earlier laminated bow, visible in both pictures above.

Friday, April 24, 2009

W is for Whales

Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia - August 2008

Sherry will always say I don't put enough pictures up, and she's never happy with the ones I choose. Now, when I first posted the whale pictures, I thought I chose well, and selected three that represented what we experienced. I don't want to overwhelm the visitor to this site with too many pictures or too many paragraphs. I want to get my point across concisely and succinctly, be it visually or verbally.

But I need something for W, and I thought that publishing new whale pictures would bring peace to the house. So here are three new ones. This is really something we need to do again.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

V is for Volvo

October 2004

Even without the distinctive grille, and the trademark sash and badge, the overall squareness of everything but the tires should tell you that this is, or was, a Volvo, a special Volvo: one that has performed the ultimate sacrifice.

This was my 1998 Volvo S70, the last of the square ones, with 116,000 miles on it. This was taken in the junkyard a day or so after it was kissed by a minivan doing about 50 mph.

I kept the grille. It had been left in the front seat, along with an interesting assortment of other junk. You see, when they clean up the street after accidents, all the garbage gets dumped into the vehicles involved, regardless of whether they belong to that particular car. When I realized that, I was able to figure out why there was a huge headlamp here in the driver's seat, for example. It was from the other car, and the broken glass must have been swept up from the street, since none of my windows were broken. Although, if you enlarge the picture on the right, you'll see the windshield is cracked, probably from the force of the airbag going off from just below.

Volvo makes an excellent car. I highly recommend them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

U is for Umbrellas

August 2007

Umbrellas to protect you from the sun at Coney Island, taken from the fishing pier near the parachute jump, with a 400mm lens. A hundred meters of beachfront crammed with what looks like half of New York City in one single colorful lump.

When you don't want to use the long lens for isolating your subject, using it to compress the image can lead to some interesting compositions. The picture above was taken on a weekday, with a fairly sparse crowd... you can see in this shot taken with a wider focal length and from further out on the pier. But getting in alignment with the people on the beach, and being slightly elevated, adding the compression of a super telephoto lens, makes it look like there's thousands of people crowding the beach.

But cameras don't lie. Your eyes lie to you. Your brain lies. Cameras just show you what's there. And one of the things there is a guy buried in the sand.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

T is for Toilet

Batman 1987

Today's post is for every cat (or dog) who misunderstands or just happily ignores the primary function of the porcelain throne. Mine almost always have. I think I'm five for the last seven cats that I've been had by who've sat there staring at me while I did the Times puzzle, waiting for me to get off the water dish.

Batman was an odd cat too, in that even though he had a litter box, and seemed to know how to use it, he never, ever did. But he never peed or crapped in the house, either, the cat preferred to do his business outdoors, no matter the time of year, even. He was very strange that way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

S is for Stonehenge

October 1986

My sister Janet and I ventured to London in October of 1986 with six days on our hands and no fixed itinerary other than suggestions from friends, images from James Bond and Monty Python, and lyrics from Beatles songs.

We managed most of the good spots, the touristy stuff, and the required historical things you do to justify the whole affair to your intellectual side. Stonehenge is a little of both, I think, and fit neatly on a day-long bus trip to Bath (touristy) and Salisbury Cathedral (historical guilt).

It was the perfect day: overcast, windy, with a slight mist. There weren't a lot of people around, and we were kept on the perimeter of the stones, about a hundred feet or so away, on a circular path. So while there were always two or three people directly across from me, walking past the stones, it was a simple matter to wait for them to pass behind a stone, out of sight, to take my picture.

These were shot on Kodachrome 64 with a Pentax ME Super. The lens was my Toyo 70-200, probably at somewhere between 70 and 100mm. The transparency was scanned sometime in 2000 on a Crosfield 645-type drum scanner, not a terrific resolution but pretty high tech for the time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

R is for Rockefeller Center

No matter what, when you think of Rockefeller Center, whether you think of it in the middle of July with your sweat-stained feet are embedded in the melted tar of the city streets, or in the late springtime in the eastern Rockies, fly-fishing in a stream swollen with snowmelt, you're going to think Rockefeller Center at Christmastime, because face it: How else can you imagine it? What other season is so distinct in midtown Manhattan?

This is an old scan of an even older picture. The image is from December of 1986, and was shot on Agfa slide film, 1000 ISO. This was a fairly grainy slide film that I used on my first trip to London. The scan was done in late 2000 on a Crosfield drum scanner, the same machines I made color separations with back in the 1980's.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Q is for Quaker

August 2008

The Quaker Meeting House is in Bethpage, New York, nestled between two cemeteries and right across the road from the Bethpage State Park, home of the famous Bethpage Black golf course, and site of the 2002 and 2009 U. S. Open golf tournament.

There's been a Quaker meeting house here since 1698; the building shown here dates back to 1890. Meetings are held the second and fourth Sundays of each month at 11:00 AM, if you're interested. This is an infrared image.

Friday, April 17, 2009

P is for Paradise

June 2005

At one time, and apparently it was quite some time before this picture was taken, Paradise was a nightclub in the Bronx, where Courtlandt Avenue dead-ended at East 163rd Street. The building with the tattered awning on the left was the club, I think.

This is an interesting area to look at from above. There's a railroad siding running in a large curve behind all the buildings on either side of this alley, so they all have curved walls in the rear. The siding arcs north for two blocks, then heads southeast for another block before petering out at East 163rd Street and Brook Avenue.

View Larger Map

Of course, as we see here in the current Google Street View, they've paved Paradise, and put up a parking lot. But not to worry, for the Bronx holds more than one Paradise:

Loew's Paradise Theater on the Grand Concourse at 187th Street looks a little decrepit in this image from around 2003-04, but I understand the place has been rehabbed and currently operates as a performing arts center.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

O is for Organ Pipes

March, 2009

Well, okay it's just ice on the face of a cliff, one of the numerous granite bluffs along Route 30 near West Townshend in Vermont. The ice was melting fast on this warm March afternoon, and pieces were dropping off with mushy regularity under the brilliant sunlight. This time of year you want to pay close attention to the 'Falling Rock' signs, especially the ones decorated with pretty red flags.

What I like about this picture is the reedy thinness of the melting icicles, and the way they lead into the lines of the trees. Everywhere you look in the picture, your eye is drawn up to the very top.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

N is for Nelson

October 19, 2006

Nelson's Monument, atop Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland. Not to be confused with Nelson's Column, in Trafalgar Square, London, or with Nelson's Pillar, in Dublin, Ireland, nor The Nelson Monument on Portsdown Hill on the south coast of England. There's also a Nelson's Tower in Forres, Scotland, but that's not this one. And this certainly isn't the Nelson Tower on Seventh Avenue in the Garment District.

But they all have one thing in common, and that is that they commemorate the memory and achievements of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. Well, at least the first five do. The office building in Manhattan makes no references to British naval heroes anywhere on the edifice or in the rental agreements.

But the Brits really liked the guy, and he did defeat the French and Spanish navies at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, with his fleet destroying twenty-two of the enemy's 33 ships, without losing a single one of their own. And he was killed there, too.

Long before Elvis, death was a great career move.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

M is for Mailbox

Mailbox! Mailbox! Mailbox! I don't know where this is, or when it was taken, but I remember being struck by how quaint the juxtaposition seemed: the carvings on the doorway celebrating the newest form of 20th century mechanized communication, some kind of personal wireless telegraph (all the kids had them, they ran around sending each other useless messages, like .-. --- ..-. .-.. and -. --- -! .-.. --- .-..!), and a mailbox, the waystation for written communication well before the electronic age. I also liked the little concrete slab it sits on, almost as if they weren't allowed to bolt it to the sidewalk but still needed to secure it somehow.

Taken somewhere in Manhattan is all I can remember, I'm wondering if it could have been the Telephone Building down near Canal Street? I think what caught my eye about this scene is all the rectangles: The carved panels, all of the window panes and the doors, the mailbox and the panels within it, dozens of vertical rectangles.

Monday, April 13, 2009

L is for Lighthouse

May 2008

Not a view of the Fire Island Lighthouse that I've ever published before, I don't think, but I'm rather fond of this angle. I may have done something in this fashion as a Polaroid, I'll have to check. But I really like the composition, thanks to the almost perfect symmetry of the building.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

K is for Kilowatts

August 2008

18,000 kilowatts that is, give or take a few hundred, enough electricity to power over 4,000 homes in Nova Scotia, is generated twice a day for about six hours at a time by the tidal waters of the Bay of Fundy at the Annapolis Royal Generating Station.

Here we see the waters being released from the holding pond after having gone through the turbines. The water is churned with such force that thick foam forms along the shore, and if there's enough of a breeze, it'll be flying across the roadway and depositing itself on your windshield.

I wonder about those statistics, sometimes. Specifically I wonder what those 4,000 homeowners do for electricity during the other six hours, twice a day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

J is for Jacob Javits

May 1990

The center, not the Senator, this black and white is of the green-glassed sprawl along the west side across from the railyards. I always liked using the way the panels of the I. M. Pei facade reflected the sky and skyline around it. Here the scene is the south-facing 34th street side with the setting sun glaring out from behind a cloud. Somehow those trees have weathered almost twenty years of diesel fumes from the fleets of motor coaches idling curbside.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I is for Inside Pitch

April 2006

There's not a lot of vengeance pitching in high-school baseball, so when something like what you see above happens it's because the kid got a little wild and the ball just got away from him. Not uncommon early in the season, and fun to catch. At least with the camera. The guy with all the padding and the funny round glove behind the plate isn't always so amused.

Today's assignment: Compare and contrast the contorted expression on the batter's face with the blasé expressions of the spectators. Is their smugness because of the chain-link fence separating them from the danger on the field?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

H is for Head

And for headstones and for heads on a stone. St. Mary Star of the Sea, a cemetery alongside the railroad tracks in Lawrence, NY. Somewhere there a statue lost its head, which has taken temporary refuge in the carved flowers of a granite marker on this foggy day.

A lot of lesser-quality statuary seems to have been sold back in the late nineteenth- through early twentieth centuries, from the look of those graveyards today, with their one-armed cherubs and faceless, wing-clipped angels.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

G is for Geese

April 4, 2009

Geese in graveyards. A goose walking over your grave. That feeling when a dark chill runs down your spine in an otherwise warm place. I learned as a child that when that happens, or when some other eerie event had occurred, it meant that 'a goose had walked over my grave'. A great visual to impress on the adolescent mind: that my grave exists somewhere, and every time I get a chill there's some filthy waterfowl squawking and dropping green turds all over it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

F is for Flatiron

November 1989

Thanksgiving 1989, the second year I went to the parade, was overcast but not too cold. There was snow on the ground from a day or two before, making the streets and sidewalks dark and slick. I was shooting the balloons from Herald Square that year; I was using two cameras-one with color film, and one with black and white. Since I was able to look up Broadway, from behind all the television trucks, I could see the line-up long before they got near 34th street, where they'd emerge from the shadows of the midtown canyon and turn right towards Seventh Avenue and their eventual deflation. I wanted to shoot them just before the turn.

There were only a couple of balloons that year I was interested in, and they were spaced almost a half an hour apart, so I spent a bit of time wandering the mostly deserted blocks below Herald Square. It was nice having so much of Manhattan to myself, so I came all the way down here to 23rd street and worked my way through most of a roll on each camera.

This is probably my favorite of all my images of the Flatiron Building. It's got a timeless feel to it, and if the cab weren't there it would be difficult to place the decade.

Monday, April 6, 2009

E is for Elevation

June 11, 2008

One thousand, one hundred and twenty-two feet above the Rogers Centre in Toronto, waiting for the Blue Jays game to start. This would eventually grow to a crowd of 35,000 people, but at at quarter to twelve most folks were just milling about and lolling in their seats.

The Jays would lose that game, to the Mariners, 2-1, after a close ninth inning. I wasn't planning on watching it from the open-air observation deck of the CN Tower, anyway. It's pretty windy up there, and you don't have any real view of the field as you can see, either. I shot this leaning over the railing with my lens right up against the wire mesh of the observation deck. The mesh is visible as a shadow running through the left third of the image, and to a lesser extent the right side, too. It was smaller than a standard chain-link, which is easier to shoot through. There wasn't any way for me to work around it with the lens I was carrying, a 24-105, which I was shooting at the long end. There's a glass floor on the lower deck where you can see the playing field, but there's part of the tower leg visible, and the floor is usually covered with kids and spilled soda. Still, with this I like the lines and curves of the streets and building.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

D is for Duck

We see here one of the occupational hazards of being a sports photographer, namely, becoming part of the action.

I was on the baseline, under the net, waiting for the team I was shooting to complete a drive to the basket. They got there, made their shot, missed, and all I saw through the viewfinder was a whole bunch of teenage girls charging at me. While this could be disturbing on many levels, I realized they were just after the ball, which I sensed, rather than saw. I heard the ball bounce, and in a single movement managed to snap the shutter as I rolled backward into the wall.

The ball was out of bounds, the whistle blew, and a referee asked if I was okay. At this point I was sitting with my back against the wall, reviewing my shots. I nodded an assent, then showed him this picture, mentioning that "...this is why I can't get any decent insurance."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

C is for Child's

January, 2009

The former Child's Restaurant on the boardwalk in Coney Island is an official New York City landmark with gorgeous terra-cotta ornamentation. Last summer the interior was being used as a skating rink; I don't know if that will be the case this summer, but then, who knows what the situation at Coney will be this summer. Astroland won't be reopening, though the Wonder Wheel in Deno's Amusement Park and the Cyclone will operate as usual.

This was taken this past January; I can only assume the shirtless man in shorts jogging by is an off-duty Polar Bear, since they swim in the ocean every week in the wintertime, not just on New Year's Day.

Friday, April 3, 2009

B is for Betsy...

October, 2005 a box, with brown paper. Our enigmatic little gray girl goes through phases that make her impossible to figure out sometimes. For some reason she took a liking to this box back in October of 2005, a box that Canon used to ship my camera back after a minor repair. Every time I went downstairs she'd follow me, then spend about ten minutes settling herself, or rather, letting herself settle, since the box was about one size smaller than she.

For about two weeks after it appeared I'd hear the crinkling and fussing as she climbed in whenever she was down in my office, then just as quickly one day she decided she'd rather keep an eye on me from her more usual, and closer perspective: sitting in my lap.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A is for Abandonment

December 28, 2008

Not unlike the way I abandoned this blog for a month, here is the first of twenty-six pictures for the following month.

Nissoquogue River State Park in Kings Park, Long Island, is made up of some of the acreage of the Kings Park hospital that I'm an all-too frequent visitor to. These were some of the staff housing, located on the eastern section of the property. According to Google Maps, these houses are located on Sea View Court, although views of the sea (or the Sound) are nonexistent.

If you click on that link, these two buildings are the ones below and to the right of the marker. Though decrepit and boarded-up, being a part of the state park means the trees and bushes are trimmed back, unlike the other sections of the hospital that are destined for (eventual) commercial and residential development, where nature has overtaken.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A to Z - No Fooling

I've let the blog go fallow for all of the last month, I know, through a combination of lethargy and busyness, if you can believe such a combination exists. I just haven't been shooting that much stuff for myself, and haven't felt overly inspired by what I find in my archives. And I've been shooting school stuff five to six days a week as well.

But I've decided to take some inspiration from another website, a photography message board actually, that I've been part of for several years now.

One of the occasional threads there is called 'Photographs: A to Z'. Currently in its fourth incarnation, members post images that relate to the alphabet in order. I thought this might be an interesting challenge for me to do here at the blog, one letter, one picture, every day this month.

So, starting tomorrow, be sure to check in every day to see what I come up with. It may be fun, or it may be boring. Who knows? We'll see.