Thursday, November 27, 2008

Below the Waist

I've noticed that a good number of the pictures that I favor tend to cutoff people around the waist and focus on their lower extremities. There seems to me to be a certain action and harmony, especially when combined with the geometric elements found in the streets.... the vertical lines of the crosswalks, the circles of the manhole covers.

I looked through my collection and pulled out the ones that fall into the "Below the Waist" category.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Posing with the Bull

At the end of Broadway, at the entrance to Bowling Green Park, there is a bronze statue of a Bull. It symbolizes Wall Street. There was quite a story to how it got there, but mostly now it is a tourist attraction. The shot to the right is a rare look at the bull absent of people. It was cold and wet that day absent of the usual crowds.

There are two standard places that people pose with the bull. One is on the front, and the bold ones climb up to sit on his head. The other location is at the rear of the bull. You see, the bull is anatomically correct. So, posing at the rear brings the private parts of the bull into play, photographically that is.

It seems to me that those who pose in the rear are the most fun loving of the tourists. And, I like to watch them as they enjoy their visit. They smile and smirk and joke.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Virtual Restaurant Murals

Frizztext, a contact/friend of mine from the Flickr photo sharing site has a unique idea. He selects favorite shots that he finds on the site, and places them into a photo he has created of a restaurant's mural. He liked the photo I took of the Queen Mary 2 and this is the result.

I find the result fascinating. Here is a slideshow of his other restaurant murals:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Click Away"

Lunch time on an unusually warm day. It is cloudy and dark, rain is in the air. Pictures taken in this kind of light are evenly lit and lights pop. A favorite time to wander and shoot.

I headed down Broadway in the Financial District, near Wall Street. I came to focus on a man in a red jacket. Red always is flashy in pictures, and I noticed he had a cigar grasped behind his back. I moved under a portico overhang of the building and watched from behind. The position of the cigar was interesting. I tried a couple of different settings and shot rather consistently. Sometimes one shot out of 30 may be something special. I knew, slowing down the shutter speed, would show cigarman still but the people passing on the street in front of him would blur, so I tried that. I kept shooting oblivious to my surroundings.

I came to feel the presence of two rather large gentlemen standing rather closely to me. One, with a walkie talkie, spoke "May I ask you, sir, what you are photographing?" I jerked up to see who was talking to me. I know it's legal to shoot pictures on public ground, and kind of organized my thoughts to put up a fight. Although, this I might have been just off the sidewalk, potentially on private property.

Also coming to mind, was an incident from a few months ago. I saw an interesting light fixture on a building, and reflexively took several pictures. I was halted by a security guard who said I wasn't allowed to take pictures of that particular building, which happened to be the Federal Reserve building. I really didn't think much about its security as it was in quite a public location frequented by tourists. You can take pictures outside of the NY Stock Exchange (certainly a secure location). But, that time the guard made me delete all the pictures of the light fixture, plus a shot of a stop sign that happened to use a tiny portion of the facade as a solid background. I concluded that was a power play by the guard, as I later went on the internet and found hundreds of pictures of the building, so I'm not sure how much more secure it was without my pictures.

With that in mind, I was concerned about the possibility of being asked to delete the cigar pictures. At that point, the guy said must have sensed my trepidation, "You're not in trouble, what are you taking pictures of. This is a sensitive property." I understood the guy's job, and hunched over and pointed. "You see that guy's cigar? That's what I'm taking pictures of." The guy turned and looked then grinned. He said "Take as many pictures as you want. Click away".

I took another 15 or so, waved to the guard who went back to his post (which was inside the lobby) and headed off downtown. I didn't bother to turn around and inspect the building to see what it was. I didn't really care. After all, it was all about the cigar.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rittenhouse Square

I was visiting Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia... my first visit... on a Saturday evening at dusk. A fall day, warm weather. The park was full of activity, beautiful with the orange leaves on the ground. A wedding party, at least the male portion of a wedding party, was assembled towards the center of the park, listening to guitar music. I worked my way through taking pictures and found a bench at the end of a path and sat there to observe the crowd.

No sooner than I was in position, a homeless-appearing man came into sight. He croaked, "Like to take pictures?" I nodded. "Like to take pictures of people?". I again nodded. He approached and plopped himself down next to me. One of his eyes was white, and he appeared blind in that eye. His teeth were loose and facing multiple directions. He extended his hand and I warily shook it. He was not threatening and talkative.

He started talking about the deterioration of Philadelphia and that white people didn't like to talk to him, "not you" of course he noted. He said he went to a free Bruce Springsteen concert and there was only himself and one other black person in attendance. I found this curious as I later found out the concert was for the benefit of Barack Obama. I mentioned that Bruce Springsteen had a song called "Philadelphia". "Ben" (his name) corrected me and said that was Elton John. I noted that Elton John had a Philadelphia song but it was called "Philadelphia Freedom". He agreed, and said that he had been shocked to learn that Elton John was gay. We then spoke about Michael Jackson and his woes. He rocked back and forth with enthusiasm as he spoke about each subject.

I wanted to take a picture to capture the character of this man. He readily agreed to pose, this was his purpose all along. It was dark so I needed to be steady. I took a first shot, and looked in the viewer, but didn't think it looked like him. The personality was missing. I asked for another, he posed again. Again, it didn't look right. I took a final shot, again it wasn't what I was looking for but decided to move on. He seemed pleased with the few dollars I left him. That was what he was after, afterall.

When I got a chance to transfer the picture to the computer, where I could look at it. I noticed that the flaws in his features that gave him personality (primarily his teeth and the blind eye) were missing in the shot. His pose each time was with eyes shut and mouth closed. Despite the inherent wildness of his personality, Ben was self-conscious enough of his appearance, that he wanted to look his best.

I thought about it, and realized this was the best evidence of his self. The picture had captured his character, even if it wasn't evident.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Artistic or Blurry?

Orange Scarf
Originally uploaded by jfraissi
I saw the woman in the orange scarf as she was about to cross the street. I thought the scarf would be an interesting element and rushed to get into some sort of position to get a shot off. It was evening rush hour and a low light situation, so the shutter speed needed to be a bit slow. I didn't have time to settle down and rushed the shot. This picture was the result.

When I saw it on the computer, I was a bit disappointed the shot wasn't a bit more stable, but then I started to appreciate the impressionism the colors and composition. It is a bit like a painting. But, as I stared at it still longer, I then thought it just looked blurry. Perhaps if I had pre-planned the out of focus artistic take of the shot, I might feel a bit better about it.

But, now... as I'm looking at it again, in a smaller size. It captures a certain dreamy mood. And, I kind of like it again. I might even love it, or maybe not.