Monday, September 29, 2008

Black and White in Color

I often turn color pictures into black and white to create mood. Classic street photography has this dreamlike sense and takes on another world feeling when it lacks color.

However, sometimes a color photograph can be absent of color as well. Usually it is a dark day, or a winter day with long shadows. The gray streets with white highlights and dark figures can look like a natural black and white picture. Sometimes just a trace of color can be noticed.

It was a rainy morning when this silhouetted figure passed by below my perch on the front porch of a church watching the umbrellas pass.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Ghost Crossing
Originally uploaded by jfraissi
With the darkness of evening coming earlier in the day now, there is much less light during the prime street time when I typically take my photos. Less light, generally means a slower shutter speed which makes it a little harder to rattle off a quick shot at the right moment.

But, I also appreciate some of the impressionistic photos that can come when the movement is blurred by the longer time needed for the shutter to close. The movement of people over time leads to a blur or a ghost image.

I found a similar situation in the dim light of Grand Central terminal with a series I did on my website.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The "Old" Yankee Stadium

Bye bye, Yankee Stadium. I first went to the big Ballpark when I was 10 years old and then became a regular. Through Bat and Old Timers Days, and many many regular games, I was there (and I guess Billy Crystal was there).

My father once saw Babe Ruth hit a home run there to right field. I saw Mickey Mantle hit a grand slam home run into the same right field stands. Yeah, my father saw that one also. Once I took a tour and got a chance to take a shot from the Yankee's dugout (left).

Old Timers Day 2001
Originally uploaded by jfraissi
I took the picture to the right at the Old Timer's Game in 2001, right as Yogi Berra was being introduced. You can see his name on the scoreboard if you look close enough, although I'm not sure which dot on the field he is.

My most memorable time at the "old stadium" was during a Sunday doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians in June 1970. There was a potpourri of events (or is it there were a potpourri?).

Most notable, spread across the two games, Bobby Murcer hit four home runs in consecutive at bats (right field, again). Also, Murcer chased down a ball deep in centerfield, when the monuments were still on the playing field, and went between the monuments to find the ball rather than around them. (I saw a replay of this on the recent Old Timer's Day telecast and it really didn't make much sense, but it a pretty cool thing to see).

A bit later, there was a bench clearing brawl between pitcher Stan Bahnsen and Indians star Vada Pinson. Baseball brawls are very exciting.

Still later, a cherry bomb was thrown from the upper deck and exploded near Indian catcher Ray Fosse. From, "There was an odd incident in 1970: A cherry bomb thrown from the stands blew up by his foot, badly burning the arch of (Fosse's) foot and causing a shock. Always tough and determined, he stayed in the game, limping, was hit by a pitch, but played the next day."

And, finally Steve Hamilton, who had an softball-height hesitation loft pitch came in as a relief pitcher. And, he threw this rarely used pitch, which was called the "Folly Floater", to Tony Horton. Horton popped it foul, and dared Hamilton to throw another one. Hamilton accommodated him and Horton then popped out to catcher Thurman Munson. Embarassed, Horton then crawled back to the dugout.

I doubted my memory about the crawling part of the event, so I googled Tony Horton. Not only did I find the event mentioned in Wikipedia, I found a video clip below on YouTube of the actual event (I am in the stands somewhere behind the dugout). So, I guess it was true. Who needs memories when you've got YouTube.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Norman Rockwell

During a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum, there was a gallery discussion in which the artists' techniques were presented. His characterizations were created by specifically posing his models with the positioning and expressions that he wanted to portray. During the modeling sessions, he would take hundreds of photos of the characters and then paint from the photos.

His pictures are so realistic, and detailed that they are a bit like photographs, except far more perfect than you could hope to capture in a candid picture. Here are some examples, I can't put any here directly due to copyright issues.

His studio (roof of the building pictured) was relocated intact from downtown Stockbridge to the grounds of the museum outside of the Massachusetts town. The inside was left just as it was when he last used it. And, in the basement of the museum were 100s of covers from the Saturday Evening Post that he did over the year. The original art was on display, and I was surprised by how large the paintings were (perhaps 4-5 feet high). This was so there would be room for all the details that he wanted to include.

Seeing all of the personality in the works, it made me want to take it as inspiration for some of my street photography and I will be trying to focus on special moments if I can. Looking through pictures I've taken previously, these are the ones that I think are most like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Old Gentlemen in Central Park
Old Gentlemen in Central Park

The Deal
The Deal

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Abandoned Mansion

This is a historical landmark, but I will not go into the specifics of what it is. I think it's more interesting to think of it more in the generic. A woman author from the early 1900s designs and builds a summer home where she can write. She keeps the home up for 10 years or so, and then moves on due to family circumstances (husband cheating on her). The home is sold, but proves too expensive to keep up over the years and is ultimately abandoned.

After years of neglect, the interior is partially restored and is opened to visitors. The grounds and gardens are returned to their original glory. Looking at the mansion today, makes one think of what it once was. Part of the building is restored, most of it, like the picture of the window here, is barren and reflects it's genre. The contrast of elegance and neglect is intriguing.

If you must know more, here is more detail.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I discovered an alley I never noticed before. It might actually be a street. I decided to cut through and found a number of sites that homeless people had setup. There was a lot of character and a few people wandering around. It struck me as strange that on either end of the alley, life went on as usual. But, passing through this cut through was more like going through a 3rd world country.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Burying Pipe

Burying Pipe
Originally uploaded by jfraissi
The town of Harrison, New Jersey (located just across the river from Newark) is being completely redesigned. Harrison is an old factory town. Most of the old industrial buildings have now been abandoned. Broken windows, graffiti, weeds.

Harrison's claim to fame now is that it is a "park and ride" location for commuters who take the PATH train into Manhattan. It is a relatively painless 20 minute ride. And, the grounds of the factories have been used as parking lots for the travelers.

About four months ago, many of the parkers were displaced and had to move to lots 5-6 blocks further from the train. And, virtually all of the surrounding blocks were completely razed. There are now blocks and blocks of empty space. Starting to emerge is a new condo complex along the river and they will be building a new soccer stadium that will home of the Red Bulls professional team that now plays at Giants Stadium.

The first photo shows one large land mass that will be occupied by a complex that includes 30,000 square feet of retail stores. And, the giant pipe that the worker is standing on bring some sort of liquid to site (water?). This picture shows the pipe being buried, to be hidden for generations. I like the orange areas in the picture and the dirt falling behind the guy.

The second picture shows what used to be here. Ultimately the mile of land surrounding the train station will be built up with a new glistening town. I suspect then the commuters will have lots of company and will need to find a better place to use as a base.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Corner scene

There are three different sets of people in this photo. I was initially attracted to the man with his arm on the pillar. I took about 6 pictures of him as he put his arm up and down. Finally he got into a position that worked.

I didn't notice the girls approaching from the right when I took the shot. Their matching outfits work well in black and white. And, I didn't notice the guy with the pizzas who slipped in on the left. He doesn't look like a delivery guy, he looks more like a guy who has a big appetite.

The whole thing seems kind of European to me, although I'm not sure about pizza being delivered like this in Europe... and there is a US mailbox in there.

Who ordered the pizza?