Evening at Grand Central Station
There are lots of iconic sites and architecture throughout New York City. But, very few have as much appeal like Grand Central Station. After accompanying a friend of mine through a fast paced tour of Manhattan on Father’s Day, we ended our journey with a brief stop at the old station to visit the Apple store. To say the least, it was certainly an eventful evening at Grand Central Station.
If not for the fact that this is a train station and shopping center, stepping into grand central station feels like stepping into a palace or government building. With its alabaster, stone walls and archways and high, painted ceiling, it is more a symbol of opulence than mass transit. Looking up from the lobby of its main entrance, anyone would feel dwarfed by the ceiling which is decorated with the painting of various star constellations of the night sky.
At the center of the concourse is an information booth which provides travelers with details of arrivals, departures and track locations. And, from that vantage point, a visitor is greeted with a portico which surrounds the concourse on level one. The portico is lit with huge, brass chandeliers which are dotted throughout both the the portico and shopping center.
Besides being a main transit point., the station houses various gift shops, electronics stores, and one of the largest restaurant areas that I have come across in a transit area. Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to enjoy the food there but, the atmosphere is very cosmopolitan in taste, sights and sounds.
Although, it is not one of the most commonly visited tourist sites in Manhattan, it is one of the most iconic. With its opulent interior and varied shops and stores it is sure to keep any visitor occupied. And, its cosmopolitan restaurant is one which will top anyone’s evening at Grand Central Station.
Feeling some anxiety to experiment with light, I decided to take it upon myself to see what else can be produced with shadows. I was reminiscing on the work I had done on Memorial Day and wanted to see if I could create something equally intriguing by enveloping my subject with light. I decided to conduct a series of light experiments on some pink carnations which I found in the office at work.
The premise of the light experiment was simple. I simply worked on eliminating the background completely, leaving the focus on the subject matter. This is exactly what I did by utilizing my external flash to overpower the existing ambient light. What resulted is a simple, but beautiful landscape of pink and brown hues which slowly fade to black. The effect is effective to the point that it creates a perceived three dimensional depth to the image.
In all it was a good experiment, but I think that it only touches on what I wanted to accomplish with the image. Something still felt absent and I believe only more experimentation is going to reveal what is truly possible with the lighting set-up I am putting together.
Nevertheless, it came close to what I was trying to create since I was shooting for some mystery with the display of the pink carnations. But, it helped me see what is possible through strategic lighting of a scene and aptly fast shutter speed.
Playing with Shadows
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
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.
Ducks in a Row
It has been quite some time since I have had an opportunity to visit the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY. And, at the first opportunity to do so, I leapt at the chance. I had always enjoyed the zoo visits I made when I lived in Syracuse, as it allowed me the opportunity to explore a bit of the exotic. Further, it allowed me to bring a slightly different flavour of content to my images. So, at the suggestion to visit the zoo with some friends, I quite literally got my ducks in a row, jumped into my car and hit the highway.
Without fail, the trip to zoo filled me with excitement and wonder and I couldn’t keep my camera from my eye. It was a joy to be among the various aquariums, and underwater life, among the birds of the aviary, the primates, and other species of animals. I am certainly no Tarzan, but I am pretty sure as I made my way through the twists and turns of the zoo, the animals were all whispering to themselves — boys, and so as to not sound politically incorrect, girls, he is back, strike a pose! At least, that is the thought which consumed my mind when I shot the photograph in this post — Ducks in a Row. Though it may appear so, the composition was not posed. I literally walked upon two ducks roosting in and on a log, one atop the other. Thankfully, they were not bothered by the sound of my shutter release going off nor my indulgence in trying to to organize the elements in the frame both vertically or horizontally. Thus, I was able to accomplish the photograph shown here. Although, I took numerous other photographs while meandering through the zoo, that stands out as one of the more outstanding images i shot that day simply because of its idiomatic undertones.
In all it was a good day at the zoo, and I can’t recommend the Rosamond Gifford Zoo enough as it never fails to delight. But, as most start to get their New Year’s resolutions together and to focus on what needs to be accomplished, I am probably the only one who can argue figuratively as well as literally, I got all my Ducks in a Row.
Syracuse, NY – Snowy Thanksgiving Morning
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
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
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.
Memorial Day was established as a day of reflection for those who died in the U.S. Civil War. However, it has expanded to recognize the soldiers who have lost their lives in other confrontations that the U.S. has engaged in. Of course, for every soldier lost there is a grieving family. And, I could thing of nothing else which quickly and symbolically communicates their loss than the Bleeding Hearts flower.
As depicted in this post, the Bleeding Hearts is a flower which has an uncanny shape like a heart. And, as it matures, the pointed end of the flower peels back to expose a white, pointy, bud-like shaped part of the flower which resembles a tear drop. Thus, we have the bleeding heart.
Normally, these flowers can range from red to pink in colour and may have variations in between. Contradicting its otherwise upbeat mood, I selectively chose to remove the colour to communicate otherwise. Instead, I chose to emphasize the sadness of Memorial Day in recognition of the fallen.
So, in a less festive and more spiritual recognition of Memorial Day, I have made two variations of the Bleeding Hearts available free for download as desktop wallpapers – Bleeding Hearts Black & White and Bleeding Hearts Colour. If you wish to receive a signed and dated print feel free to contact me for details. I only plan to produce 25 prints of either variant – colour or black and white.
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.
One of the most interesting franchises I have ever heard of is that of the Naked Cowboy. The term Naked Cowboy is trademarked by Robert Burck. However, he licenses the name to persons who wish to make use of the brand. A search on the internet for a Naked Cowboy in Times Square will only reveal one, Mr. Burk, as he has defended his trademark fervently. But, a similar search for a Naked Cowgirl on the other hand results in numerous results. This post is about the other half of the Naked Cowboy franchise, the Naked Cowgirl.
By no means is the Naked Cowgirl depicted in my photo the original. The title of original Naked Cowgirl goes to Cindy Fox, who is a professional fitness trainer. But ever since the advent of the Naked Cowgirl, there have been several licensed and unlicensed Naked Cowgirls. The one depicted in this post is one of the licensed ones, Alex.
I took this photograph on a previous visit to Times Square and caught her while she was entertaining on the corner of 43rd St and 7th Avenue. For those who are unfamiliar with this area of Manhattan, it is more commonly referred to as Midtown. It is one of the busiest sections in New York City frequented by tourists, street performers and native New Yorkers alike.
Along with her counterpart, the Naked Cowboy, she often welcomes visitors and takes group shots with those wishing to get a memento of their encounter with her. In my experience, the nature of the shots can range from a basic friendly encounter to being a bit provocative. Of course, for every group shot taken there is also the expectation of a tip but It is all in good fun and worth the time. Further, unlike other entertainers and guides who work the Times Square area there is never the feel of being hustled into taking a group photograph – taking a photography of any one of the naked representatives is free.
Although there has only ever been one Naked Cowboy, the Naked Cowgirl, the counterpart to the Naked Cowboy franchise, has had numerous representatives. And, it is hard to visit New York City and not bounce into either one of the naked representatives. Given that Naked Cowgirl is just as much a staple of the New York City experience, I would recommend paying her a visit on your next trip and taking a group shot if you are up for it. But, if you do, remember, do tip generously.
Through My Window
It is amazing the small things we miss because we are so wrapped up in the business of the regular day-to-day – the falling rain, the blossoming flowers, the small shaft of sunlight as the clouds part. I am just as much a culprit of that as well. I often times get so wrapped up in programming at work that I forget to observe the things outside. Well, I broke away from the monotony and observed, through my window, tulips blossoming in the sunlight behind a pane of wet glass.
The act of using the texture made by the streaking water droplets on the glass was very deliberate as I wanted to bring attention both to the water and the flowers in the background. I could think of no other way to present it that would illustrate those elements together and on par. In fact, the water provided something more akin to a texture to the overall image.The lighting played its part in making the image what it is, lightly kissing the flowers helping them emerge from the surrounding dark green vegetation.
Could I have made the image sharper? Sure I could. But, the purpose of the image was not about conveying a surgical copy but to convey a mood. A mood that is often felt when observing the rain fall. It is more of a feeling of being purified as particles are washed away and everything seems to burst with renewed vigour. That is what I felt when I saw the scene and what I wanted to convey when I shot this image through my window.