Category Archives: Travel

Playing with Shadows

Memorial Day
Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, I decided to get out on the road and visit a village which I have been anticipating visiting for quite some time – Northport. It was no surprise to come across a parade or similar celebration today. What was surprising to me was that I parked in close proximity of the route of where the parade was expected to pass through – talk about serendipity.  Without any time to waste, I set about taking photos of the moving parade of veterans, soldiers, scouts and others. It was during these shots I started to experiment with something that was ever present because of the sunny day and which I thought would make an equally interesting subject. I started playing with shadows.

It was while playing with shadows I noticed the silhouette of the American flag being hoisted by one of the uniformed soldiers. It was at that point the image in this post really coalesced for me . However, I wanted very much to anchor those shadows and tie them to something physical, or rather what created them. It was that thought which lead me to include the legs of the uniformed soldiers in the shot, thus completing the experience.  Of course, I took many other shots besides this one as I am never satisfied with a singular shot. But it was this photograph which I would say capped the event for me.  In a way, it symbolizes the current soldiers who are standing in the shadows of those who came before them.

In retrospect, I think the shadows communicate more in a photo than do the actual subjects. And, this is reflected in this photo where I was playing with shadows during the Memorial Day activities of Northport, NY. It is the one shot which stands out most for me because it is suggestive that the current soldiers are standing in the shadows of the ones who came before them.

Chinese New Year: Little Sheep

Little Sheep
Little Sheep

Unlike the Western Zodiac which depicts different celestial groups as representation of periods within a year, the Chinese Zodiac, instead, represents a different animal every year.   There are twelve animals which make up the Chinese Zodiac. And, this year, in February,  the Chinese community of Chinatown, NY came together to celebrate the year of the sheep. True to my nomadic personality, I was present to participate. I worked to capture the thrill and excitement of the crowds  and the performers. However, there was one shot I took which I thought was less about the excitement and more about enjoying the simpler things of the moment — little sheep.

During a brief pause of the parade, one of the celebratory helium balloons escaped into the air and floated upwards into the stratosphere. One of the young girls who was parading the streets, dressed as a little sheep, glanced upwards. At that very moment, I snapped the shot forever capturing that small slice of time which may seem trivial to most given that it was just a balloon; But it meant a lot to this little girl since it captured her attention completely.

For me, what the image represents is not the festival but the little things that we tend to ignore or forget because we get wrapped up in the bigger things. Everyone else was entertaining themselves by shooting confetti, or taking snap shots of the dragon dancers further down the line. But, this little girl was mesmerized by the flight of the balloon and for the three minutes the balloon was in view,  her attention was completely devoted to it.

I think that as adults we get too wrapped up in the bigger things, the explosions, the colour, the light, etc. We fail sometimes to take pleasure in the smaller things. However, thanks to that little sheep, I was reminded of the little, yet simple pleasures that I miss and how much more entertaining they can be.

Syracuse, NY – Snowy Thanksgiving Morning

Little Wagon
Little Wagon

Whereas most around the US enjoyed a beautiful autumn morning to welcome Thanksgiving, Syracuse, true to form had snow more akin to Christmas. Yes, that’s right! Syracuse had a snowy Thanksgiving morning. And, although it only amounted to three to four inches. It was indeed a welcomed and beautiful sight.

Without hesitation, I grabbed my camera and took a quick trip around the block. I could not contain myself as I had not seen that much snow in a while having spent so much time in Long Island. Well, Syracuse did not fail to surprise with the bit of beauty hidden in the snow. There were snow covered wagons, snow covered trees, snow covered paths and snow covered windmills.

All had been crystallized and frozen in their own little way.

The branches of the trees had become covered with snow as if a layer of soap suds had been laid out atop them. No matter how many times I see this phenomenon of snow accumulation on tree branches it never grows old.

The pathways which guide walkers safely between homes in the neighbourhood had a layer too. However, with the paths, they looked more like snow bridges. The sides of the paths formed intricate patterns which criss-cross hinting to the fencing which lay beneath. The paths appear to stretch to infinity in their blanket of white and create this impression of a bridge to nowhere.

The ornaments which sit out on lawns were also lined with their own cake-layer of snow. I captured two here – the little wagon and the windmill. Their caked-on layers of snow each helped them stand out and enhance their appearance but limited their functionality as the moving parts became gummed up with snow and ice.

But,  that is what the Thanksgiving experience is like in Syracuse. It is wet, it is cold, it is a blanket of white. It is a snowy Thanksgiving morning.

Greenport, NY – Moments in Time

Greenport Bicycle
Greenport Bicycle

Here is a little tip; If you ever get the opportunity to take a trip out to the East end of long island and  to visit the village of Greenport, NY, don’t hesitate; Take It!  The experience itself is  well worth it as it has a very relaxing atmosphere.  But what also makes it intriguing, is that Greenport attempts to preserve the little qualities that a lot of the surrounding areas have lost due to over development and heavy commercialization.  And, through the next few paragraphs and through the illustrations I will attempt to explain how it is I ended up with the title of this post – Greenport, NY – Moments in Time.

Due to its narrowly paved streets and closely connected buildings it is not recommended to drive through the main shopping area of Greenport. Now, I don’t say that to put of any would be visitors. But, the offerings of this quaint little town are best explored on foot or bicycle. It is more of a pedestrian town and to truly enjoy it, you have to be prepared to slow down. Once you can accomplish that, you will quickly realize there is lots to experience.

From its antique carousel which dates back to the 1920s, its one room town jail, its 1950s displays in some of its shops, to its modern day marina  which sits out on the bay from Greenport,  the town offers little hints into the influences of its past and present. Through my visits, I was only able to capture a small portion of the Greenport life through my lens.  Some of the best attractions were not easily captured through a visual medium because they stimulate other senses – the smell of the different cuisines and the salty air, the sound of the breaking of the waves on the shore line, the cool breezes from the bay…

The true highlight for me which is not captured in any of the pictures was the camera obscura which looks out onto the bay. Unfortunately, the nature of the room made it difficult, if not impossible to capture the experience in the photographic room of the device. But, it was like watching high definition TV being created by sunlight.

Unfortunately, with the shift of Summer into Fall, a lot of these  outdoor attractions and activities will disappear for a while. The carousel will be stopped, the marina will slow down and the streets will be less frequented. But that will be only be temporary as the town goes into hibernation. However, in the Spring its doors will again swing open to allow other visitors to the village of Greenport, NY. And through their experiences, they too will understand why I recommend visiting the village of Greenport, NY.

A Tale of Two Horses

A Tale of Two Horses
A Tale of Two Horses

The Sunday following my birthday I took a road trip into Upstate New York’s wine country, the Finger Lakes Region. The sun was out; There was a cool breeze; Everything was blooming. The experience was even much more entertaining as my friends in this adventure, Lynne and Joe, decided to go off road and take the more scenic routes. This placed us square into a lot of America’s farmland.  It was here that I saw the two horses which became the title of this post – A Tale of Two Horses.

The landscape was littered with barns, fields of corn, fields of cows, and stables. It was on passing one of many roadside stables that we paused to observe a solid black stallion. He was very active and was causing a commotion among the other horses. He became even more frantic when I ventured close to the enclosure. Consequently, as much as I wanted to capture him and his unique beauty, I couldn’t.

Instead, I saw two mares which were huddled to one side of the pen. I found them to be more cooperative than the stallion but it was clear they were agitated by his movements. I liked the fact that they were huddled together and I think that presented a unique composition that I probably would not have gotten at any other time. But shooting theses horses meant I had to work fast as I had another male to compete with. I took several shots but none captured the beauty or the spirit of the moment as the one I captured here. Yes, it was a frantic scene but for a few small seconds, things were calm and I was able to capture the two horses in a moment which I thought flattered them both. In my mind, I  captured them in what I believe is a very charismatic and yet a simple, elegant portrait

Sometimes, you don’t get what you set out for. Instead, life surprises you and you get something better, more intriguing, more distinct than you had experienced before. That is pretty much what happened in this trip to the finger lakes. Although I started out trying to capture a story about a single horse, a stallion. I ended up with a lovely, classical shot depicting a Tale of Two horses.

Weeping Clown

Weeping Clown
Weeping Clown

On the same day I visited New York City and caught sight of the Naked Cowgirl, I also took notice of another odd character in the Times Square area. It was part Easter Bunny,  part clown and part man. So confusing was this character that I had no definitive way to describe him or it. In fact, it wasn’t until I caught him with the most depressed expression I had ever seen on a street performer that I chose to dub him the weeping clown.

At first glance, I thought he was one of the usual street performers dressed up as an Easter Bunny. After all, he head two protrusions jotting out of his head like bunny ears, a completely white costume, and although it is not apparent in my photo, a fuzzy, white, fluffy tail. To top of the illusion of a 5′ 6″ rabbit, he walked around with a 12 inch carrot in his hand. So, this was a bunny rabbit, right?  Well it got a little more confusing.

The costume was accentuated with a bright orange brief case which read – Clown ToTo. It wasn’t clear what the contents of the brief case was but it was kind of odd to have an Easter Bunny walking around with a briefcase. Further, under closer scrutiny, I realized that the protrusions on his head were merely balloons being masqueraded as ears.  Also, another unique characteristic of his costume was his shoes. They were the type only seen on cartoon characters due to their enormous size.  Oh and less I forget, there was also facial paint which was used to decorate the face.  Ok, so we now have several elements which suggest this was indeed a clown.

The last observation of this character was the expression.  The face of someone who has had a classical bad day and who’s expression only adds to the comical view of this character. An image that you can’t help but laugh at.

All together, there is no singular term which correctly describes this character. I myself may be wrong in  the description I have settled on. Is he a clown, an Easter Bunny, a man? Whichever one of these correctly describe him, I have chosen to refer to him as the weeping clown.

Chicago Girl

Chicago Girl
Chicago Girl

Taking advantage of the nearly Spring like conditions present on Sunday I ventured into Midtown, Manhattan.  My goal was to visit the ICP – International Centre of Photography. But, I also decided to enjoy the day and explore the general area. It was through my exploration I came across the Chicago Girl.  Allow me now to digress and explain how I encountered her.

After taking time to visually digest the numerous photographs and journals of Robert Cappa on display at the ICP, I took the time to walk about and enjoy the ever hectic pace of the city, NY City.  I  chose to wonder about feeling confident in the fact that wherever I ended up, my smart phone would help me get out of it again –  provided it had sufficient power.  Five minutes later, after a pleasant stroll following the crowds of people walking about and making their way through the city, I landed in Times Square.  Or rather, Times Square landed on me. It never ceases to amaze me how much activity occurs at that one spot in Manhattan.  It is overwhelming, and it is not just the numerous tourists and vendors who trade in the area but also various performers – in costumes, with musical instruments, with flyers – all trying to garner some attention to what they are providing.  It is a Mecca of distraction, but in so doing it is also vastly entertaining.

It is among these street performers I met the Chicago Girl. I refer to her as the Chicago girl as she was handing out flyers for that well known Broadway play that goes by the same name – Chicago. And, like the actors who play on Broadway, she was handing out flyers while moving in a well crafted, choreographed manner.  That, I think, is what caught my attention – that she would put that much effort into distributing flyers. And, at that point, I couldn’t help but take photos of her in her street performance.

Because of the hustle and bustle of so many persons walking by, it was hard, no difficult, to capture her.  To make things even more frustrating, the one lens I could have used to have a more isolating effect – my 55-200 mm lens  – was left at home to save weight.  So, for a moment, I was fighting an uphill battle. That is, until, the crowd parted just enough for me to capture her and her alone on the street doing her usual performance. I caught the photograph in this post in an experience which can only be communicated as Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Decisive Moment”.

Without a doubt I really enjoyed my Sunday tour of the city. I enjoyed the visit to the museum, the crowds, the activity. I enjoyed the street performers and yes even the visitors made the experience welcoming. But, overall, I have to admit, the Chicago Girl made the experience all the worthwhile.

Montauk Point Coastline

Montauk Point Coastline
Montauk Point Coastline

Oops, I did it again. I revisited the Montauk Point area to have a look at it given the changing conditions and because things were warming up – yaaay Spring. I had also planned on exploring more of the area like the coastline which I hadn’t had an opportunity to do on my previous trip. What I encountered however was a lot more than I bargained for.

I had thought that my visit would have been much like the previous one with the lighthouse being inaccessible. But as it so happens, on this visit, the lighthouse had resumed its services opening up to visitors. This time around, I had to pay a little to get into the parking lot and yes, I had to pay to get into the lighthouse as well but it was worth every “penny” – paid by credit card. Nevertheless, I got into the lighthouse which I later understood is currently unmanned – It operates automatically. Further, the rest of the lighthouse has been converted into a museum illustrating the history of the lighthouse and the Montauk Point. The discussions given by the guides were both educational and refreshing but the real treat of the visit was getting the opportunity to ascend the spiral staircase into the light enclosure. It was there I shot the photograph depicted above showing the jagged coastline of the Point.

The Montauk Point Coastline has been etched by the Atlantic Ocean over years of slow and continuous erosion. This has created some rather steep bluffs which look out into the waters. During stormy conditions, the beach area which is visible in the photograph is not accessible so it was very fortunate that I got an opportunity to make this capture. However, the natural formation of this beach front is beautiful and is the reason why I selected it as one of the photographs to post of my visit.

In retrospect, it would have been nice if I had the opportunity for me to set up my tripod to take this photograph and properly compose the shot. Given the narrow staircase, limited room to work within and limitations as to where visitors are allowed to access, it was not at all possible to properly plan out the shot as I would have wanted to. But, that was one of the limitations of  my revisit to the Montauk Point Coastline. Regardless, I enjoyed every bit of it.

Lighthouse in the Reeds- Montauk Point Lighthouse

Lighthouse in the Reeds - Montauk Point Lighthouse
Lighthouse in the Reeds – Montauk Point Lighthouse

Like the opening chorus of the song from STAIND, it’s been a while since I have last posted on my blog and given some insight as to what I am currently up to.  It has been a little over a month now since I have relocated to Long Island NY and I am still getting settled in. However, at this point, I am starting to explore the place a little; And, one of the first places I have visited since being on the island is the Montauk Point Lighthouse which I have illustrated in this photo posted on the left – Lighthouse in the Reeds – Montauk Point Lighthouse.

Montauk Point is one of the more easterly facing points on the island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and boy what a view. I personally haven’t seen the Atlantic in years now, and seeing it again was exhilarating in itself. But visiting the Point is not complete without seeing the lighthouse. Unfortunately, when I visited, access to the lighthouse was closed. So, I was unable to gather more information on the lighthouse firsthand. On the other hand, I did get to walk around the lighthouse and observe it from different vantage points – from the shoreline beneath the bluff on which the lighthouse sits, to a nearby lookout point north of the lighthouse.Among the various pictures I took that day, this is the one which stands out the most to me –  the lighthouse in the reeds.

Most of the land on and surrounding the bluffs is sand. There is very little shrubbery to hold the land back from erosion except for these reeds which grow wildly around the point. To me the lighthouse almost mimics the structure of the reeds with its slender build; So, I couldn’t help it but juxtapose the two together, illustrating the light house growing within the reeds.

The lighthouse appears to be a frequently visited spot all year round. I can only imagine what it must be like during the summer when it is a little warmer. I would certainly look forward to visiting it it again then. Till then, I will enjoy and reminisce the memories of my winter visit.