Photography play time!

Play time in New York City

Play time in New York City

Play in New York City

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Play time in New York City

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A few weeks ago I met Amber while on my way to a free outdoor concert outside the Lincoln Center when she stopped me to take a photos of my outfit. We got chatting via email when she kindly sent my the beautiful photos and decided that it would be really fun to go and shoot together to get a bit of practice. I suggested that we shoot based on a theme, just to give us a focus – and we choose “inner childhood”.

The photos were taken at the East River Park in Manhattan. We had a lot of fun and got some good shots – although once again I found myself mostly only liking the ones taken on my 50mm. It really is the best value for money lens.

Winter sunset in NYC

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I haven’t been posting much lately because my computer appears to be on it’s last legs and doing even the simplest of tasks generally requires four restarts. Today I finally managed to clean up and sort out some of my photo files and to transfer these pics on to my iPhone (courtesy of which I’m posting this). It is a bit cheesy to post New York sunset pictures but the sunsets and sunrises are pretty spectacular here and I can’t get enough. Lately I’ve been flooding my Instagram feed with dozens of photos taken on morning runs or on the way to work – it’s amazing how that sight can just keep you in a good mood all day.

Anyways, these were taken from Brooklyn heights a few weeks ago when my mom was still here. I spent most of the time cursing my stupid tripod and trying to stop my hands from freezing. Also I only had a 50mm and a wide angle so I wasn’t very well prepared for this session but I was fairly pleased how well the ones of the setting sun came out with the 50 sans tripod. Also, while the Brooklyn heights promenade is a great spot to watch the sunset from I wouldn’t call it the best for taking photos for two reasons: 1. Unless you own a heavy duty tripod, the promenade shakes every time a truck drives under it – not great for long exposure shots. 2. There are some annoying and ugly buildings/construction elements in the foreground that you need to work around/crop out later.

As much as I always complain about my tripod it is very light and I can carry it all day with only moderate back/arm ache. I really want a new and better tripod but I have a feeling I won’t get much use out of it living in NYC where I don’t have a car, or when I travel. If anyone has any recommendations for solid but lightweight tripods they will be most welcome.

All aboard…

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present” – Midnight in Paris

Two weekends ago, and again this past weekend, I took a ride on the nostalgia train in New York City. This is a train composed of museum train cars that were used on the subway lines between 1931 and the 1970s. It was so much fun seeing everyone dressed up for the occasion and to read some of the advertising signage inside the old cars, which had ceiling fans and not air-conditioning (obviously). The train runs during the winter holidays on Sundays, along the M line, making all the stops between the 2nd Ave and Queens Plaza stations.

There is only one weekend left this year (30 December) – for more information, visit the MTA website.

In the mi(d)st of it all

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Yesterday morning I checked the weather outside and saw a warning about heavy fog in Manhattan. I threw on some clothes and ran outside looking completely disheveled because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to shoot the city enveloped by fog. By the time I made it outside the fog was already more of a mist and the photos weren’t really what I had in mind. These are the only three I felt were worth the upload. Proof again that for the most part, good photos require the perfect combination of planning and luck.

Nice skyline NYC, not so sure about your sky though…

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I know this is really corny and I am going to sound like a sad version of a cheesy South African beer advertisement but I really miss the sky from home. I realise there are plenty of places in the US that have amazing sky but New York just hasn’t proven to be one of them so far. Perhaps I will change my mind over time but lately a lot of my friends have been posting photos on Instagram of the Johannesburg sky before or after the spring storms and I really miss this impressive ceiling over the city.

What New York does have is some pretty awesome rooftop views. Enjoy.

These photos were all taken without a tripod so half close your eyes when you look at them please

A little lighthouse under a big big bridge

Hudson River, New York Skyline, Manhattan, New JerseyLittle red lighthouse, NYC, Hudson RiverLittle red lighthouse, NYC, Hudson River, George Washington Bridge
On Saturday – which dawned sunny and beautiful, but quickly turned grey and windy – my friend and I headed to the top part of Manhattan to see the Little Red Lighthouse. There was a festival on on the day, mostly aimed at families with small kids; but our main interest was in going inside. Sadly, because of all the people they had decided to allocate time tickets and by the time we go there they were all already gone.

This is New York’s last remaining lighthouse (boy am I a sucker for things like this), built in 1880 and in 1921 moved to its present position. There is a very sweet little story about the lighthouse – when it was decommissioned in 1947 – and due to be demolished – thousands of kids who had grown to love the lighthouse after reading a children’s book about it, started a national campaign to save it.

And so it is here to this day, looking like a little lighthouse baby with the giant bridge towering above it.

I’ve developed a habit…

Streets of Helsinki at night, FinlandStreets of Helsinki at night, FinlandStreets of Helsinki at night, Finland
I’ve developed a habit lately; a habit of walking in the evenings and on weekends, completely devoid of any purpose or plan. Choosing a direction based on a strange pulling feeling on the one side if your body, or on the basis of which set of traffic lights are green.

I suppose I used to do something similar back in Jhb – except that it involved driving and not walking and it was so nowhere near as pleasurable. I love how walking allows your eyes, in fact all your sensory organs, to take in information at the speed that evolution intended.

There are times while I’m walking when I feel there is a strange magnetic-like force that is preventing me from turning around and heading home. There are times when just as I come home, keys in hand, I decided to keep going “for just one more block” which turns into four. Or fourteen. Or forty.

Tonight I am in Helsinki, Finland, and these are three street shots from two-hour stroll this evening. What a contrast to the streets of Manhattan that I have been walking the past 6 weeks. They are mostly empty by midnight here, sort of like Johannesburg,but without the threat of menace in the air.

Summer Sunday in the city

New York City Manhattan Street SceneNew York City Manhattan Seagull Governor's Island FerryGovernor's Island New York Unicycle festival 2012Governor's Island New York Unicycle festival 2012New York City Manhattan Street signGovernor's Island Graphic Design Exhibit Smithsonian
New York is a funny place – you can do really cool stuff totally for free, but a teeny- weeny sandwich and a bottle of water will set you back 7 USD.

A couple of days ago I saw the 2012 NYC Unicycle (yes – unicycle) festival being advertised and the thought that there are enough unicycle enthusiasts here to warrant a whole 3 day festival was just too much for me, and I decided I had to go have a look. The festival was happening on Governor’s Island – which is and short and free ferry hop from Manhattan (or Brooklyn). When I arrived it was too early for the festival but I saw a sign for a Graphic Design exhibition linked to the Smithsonian and decided to kill some time there (also free).

To my surprise the exhibit was the highlight of the whole trip. It was very well designed, with a great breakdown of content, looking at typography, publishing , infographics, social media etc. It has been a really long time since an exhibit managed to keep my attention for so long and made me want to read everything. One of the coolest pieces is by a designer named Christopher Doyle – who did his own personal identity guideline/brandbook – which both clever and very amusing.

The Unicycle Festival was only really starting when I was leaving but I still managed to see this guy playing basketball while on a unicycle. He even managed to pick up the ball off the ground without getting off the unicycle.

The other really amazing thing about the city is the sheer amount of public art – the whole city is a giant art gallery. I also get a kick out of looking out for the informal bursts of creativity which can be found on walls, sidewalks and steet poles.

One tip if you are on a tight budget while you are here – forget about drinking anything other than water. The average ice coffee will set you back around 3 USD and a fresh juice around 4 or 5 USD – that starts to add up at the end of the day.