Monday, May 3, 2010


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Monday, April 19, 2010


There's a construction site near where I work that has been fenced off for more than a year. I really don't know what they are building.  (I could probably figure it out if I cared... but I don't... there is so much construction going on). 

Last month, they put up a billboard with figures of people walking with city names above the characters.  I thought this was fascinating, and would be fun to try to take pictures of real people walking next to the icon people. 

So, I waited and took some shots.  Most were misses, some were slightly amusing.  It's a tiny bit of timing and mostly luck.  I finally go this picture, which I thought was as good as it could get.  Perfectly centered and her foot position paralleled the figures. 

I posted the picture up on my Flickr account and someone said "Great Ampelmann moment".   I didn't quite know what that meant.  It seemed likely to me that Ampelmann was a famous photographer and the picture might have been in his/her style.  So, I looked him/her up on Wikipedia.  I learned that Ampelmann is not a photographer, but the name of the character figures which are shown in pedestrian crossing lights.  So, each of these figures wwas representing the crossing walk figures that are depicted in each of those cities. 

With this bit of information, I went back to the wall and look at it from different angles and took more shots.  Here are some other photos of the wall and the people. 

Ample shots of Ampelmann(s).  But, I still think there are more shots to be taken. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yellow Standout

I was listening to a photography podcast today.  They were answering questions about various camera techniques.  Someone asked how to isolate a single person in a crowd.

Their first obvious answer was to make use depth of field to make that person in focus and the others out of focus (you can control this with the aperture, bigger is better).  Or, use a longer lens and narrow your field of view.  Or, try a different perspective.  Or, if you have control over the scene, put a red shirt on the guy

Well, I had no control over the crowd here, waiting to cross Broadway.  But yellow works well also, ay? (Especially when a matching cab passes by). 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Organized Chaos

This photo is simply a view from the steps of the new TKTS booth in Times Square looking south with a longish lens.  As chaotic as this photo looks (I was thinking of inserting a game of Where's Waldo in here), there is a certain order to the way things are laid out.

Certainly on the street level, it is not nearly as crowded as this looks.  But, it was evening rush hour and a bit busy.  I do notice that it is primarily cabs heading through Times Square at this hour.  In another shot, there were a few trucks, and buses.  But, here I informally counted 17 cabs in this shot.  The yellow path of cabs kind of adds a nice separation between the groups of people. 

I spent a good amount of time watching the zipper sign move by and would try and freeze certain words that might be symbolic or important.  I got a few shots with the words "information", "heist", "trusted", "general" featured.  But, in this case, we have "News" centering (which seems rather appropriate).

There is one person who I would consider a focal point within the shot, the guy in the blue sweater in the front is probably best posed. His name is Waldo perhaps.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Recycler - Some people work hard for a living, I think this guy is one of them.  He passed by without attracting much attention.  It took me a second to realize what an accomplishment it is to collect this many cans.  I'm not sure how many cans he assembled, but it's probably at least 1000... 2000?  5000? 

So, to gather 2000 cans, you've got to have some expertise.  You gotta know where the cans are.  I'm sure they are in garbage cans on the street.  That would mean reaching in and pull out what you find.  From the trash.  Maybe a bit smelly.  Unsanitary for sure.  I'm sure there are other, less obvious places, that only an expert can collector would know.  On the floor where I work, there is a recycling bin for cans.  I wonder what happens to those cans after they are emptied out?  I'll bet this guy knows and is there to get them. 

Also, there are probably certain times of day that are best to locate the cans.  I would guess right after lunch time is perfect.  At a plaza or park, on a nice day.  Like today.  It was probably the perfect day for can collection today.  Beautiful and great for drinking fluids out of cans. 

I think it was maybe an extra easy day to get cans today, but its still hard work. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Free Colonial Concert - Passing by the George Washington statue on Wall Street... it was the day after his birthday, not sure how old he would be now. 

These three colonial clad musicians were playing away, fife and drum songs.  People continued walking by oblivious to the effort these gentlemen put into this guest appearance.  I didn't have my regular camera, but I did have my iPhone, which was perfect for this shot.  It has an extreme wide angle camera on it.  It let me get the street, musicians and all of the statues in the one shot.  All it does make the players look rather tiny, as if they weren't even real.  But they were real.

This picture was the best, because of the complementary red shirts of the garbage men.  I also like the businessman on the cell phone. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

iPhone Photography - I had been hearing more about the art of taking pictures with an Apple iPhone.  As a matter of fact, this was one of the reasons that I decided to get an iPhone.  It's extremely convenient to flip it out, rather than lug around a large camera with a bag. 

At first, I had problems locating the shutter button, which is just a spot on the glass.  But, after a few weeks, I started to get the hang of it.  Some of the shots have turned out quite remarkable.  Here are some:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top 10 of 2009 - As an annual exercise, I go through the pictures I've taken over the course of the year and pick out the 10 that I think are the best. This is highly subjective, of course, but I do take into account reaction to pictures that have been posted. So, there is some external influence. This year was a little tricky as there were really two genres that don't necessarily mix completely.

The first category is what I have typically evaluated - a stylized, nicely composed, striking picture.

The second category is " slice of life" street photography shots, frequently done, in black and white. These may not be beautiful but they capture a moment in time.

Since most of the shots for the year came from the streets of Manhattan (actually all of them), they really do cross over. But, I ended up sticking to my traditional method of selection, I might put the "street photography" scenes in a future post.

I think this may be my best batch in the yearly round up, as compared to 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005. That's probably because I've been inspired by my relatively new camera.

Here they are presented in sequence as taken over the course of the year. (Click to picture to see it larger). Some of the pictures have been previously discussed in my blog. Clicking (more...) will take you back those entries.

1. Fleeting Figure - The light on this winter day seemed particularly dramatic to me. This AM commute shot was taken on Vesey Street (you can see the name embossed in the sidewalk). I've been told this has a very cinematic feel to it, kind of a "film noir" sense. My daughter, the film student, has a version of this on the wall of her college apartment.

2. Sitting Alone - This was taken in Chase Manhattan Plaza on a cold day. There weren't many people out. I was initially attracted by the light which was highlighting the trees above. This shot seems to me to be rather in the style of the painter, Edward Hopper. Of the batch, this was the only one of the ten pictures that I did a bit of cosmetic Photoshop work on. I removed a second railing on the rear fence that went through the girl's head. (Also, some bird crap specs that were on the awning across the street).

3. Sliver of Light - In this case, again attracted by the light, I parked myself up on a plaza that overlooked this corner. I was intrigued by how the crosswalk was lit up in this narrow path. I spent a lunch time taking about 25 shots of people crossing, and this was my favorite. (More...)

4. Coffee Truck Umbrellas - This was near City Hall and the end shot seems a bit surrealistic to me. The way the umbrellas lined up and the stark coloring, I think, adds drama. (More...)

5. Phone Booth Trio - In this case, I was attracted to the phone booths positioned in front of the blue wall. I waited across the street as people passed. Again, maybe 25 pictures. The three people in alignment is just coincidence. (More...)

6. Revolving Women - This was a "high tech"-looking location to me. The chrome in the revolving door and the bright colors of the painting were interesting. I setup so the painting behind was positioned on the side of the doorway. I took about 30 pictures (this one was my favorite) and then security shooed me away. (More...)

7. Minas Mood - This had no setup, I looked, had my camera ready and immediately shot. I knew the pose was going to be an emotional photo immediately. I've been told by someone in Brazil that Minas is a Brazilian state. (More...)

8. And, It's Only Lunch Time - I was hurrying past these guys on the street, but they caught my eye. I had an internal debate as to whether I wanted to take the time to drag my camera out and take the shot. The composition was so perfect though, that I convinced myself to do it. This picture also classifies in the "Street Photography" category, due to the expression on the guy's face. And, that's why it is titled as it is. (More...)

9. Melrose Place Buddies - I was taking a lot of evening shots in the rain with a high ISO (helps in the dark). I'm not sure what was up with these three but they were enjoying their time in the rain. The bus sign for the tv show Melrose Place kind of adds a nice sub-context to it. Their legs are in perfect alignment.

10. Waiting for a Cab - Another rain shot, which are amongst my favorites. The shine and lights always add dazzle to the pictures. This shot isn't one of my favorites, but is one of my most popular on Flickr, so I'm including it. (More...)

As I said, much more of the background of each picture are contained in the (More...) links. I've got my eye on a new lens and some new types of shots for 2010.