Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I knew about the building for years, ever since my old dentist retired and I started seeing Dr. Jerry up in Yonkers. I knew about the building in the sense that I would see it, but I had no idea what it was. Every time I drove up Executive Boulevard I'd see it; this massive, abandoned, out of place monstrosity in a field of unmowed, overgrown vegetation right next to a modern corporate office plaza. I figured it had probably been some kind of factory maybe, but never bothered to investigate — until a few weeks ago.

It was an overcast day, and I only had two rolls of 3200 with me (pulled to 800iso); one for the SWC and one for the Rolleiflex. I parked in the complex and nobody seemed to notice the man with the soft briefcase walking his way around to the back of the building. I came across this flat expanse. The building had the footprint of a C, the large concrete expanse in front of the main entrance, over which was chiseled, "Boyce Institute."

As I pondered what the Boyce Institute might have been, I sensed I wasn't alone. I turned to my right to see a man and woman coming my way. The man looked as though they were going on a nice summer's outing. "Nice place for a picnic, eh?" I said. As they walked up to me I complimented the woman on the Pentax K1000 slung around her person, and she couldn't help but say something about the SWC, and we got to the business of small talk.

Jody is a senior at Tisch (I seem to be meeting all these Tisch film students lately, it's like they're somehow rubbing it in that I never had the fortitude to finish) majoring in filmmaking (experimental mostly). She's well practiced in "urban spelunking" (as some people call it. I'm not sure I like the phrase), and the Boyce Institute was high on her list of places to investigate. She told me it had been a botany school, and mentioned that on the other side there was a whole complex of greenhouses. I remarked that I was shocked at how accessible the building was. You can see in the background the unboarded ground level window openings.

When I asked Jody to pose, she thought I was asking her for some kind of professional appointment where I'd be taking model-type shots of her (which she does, which you can see among all her other endeavors on her site). But of course we know that's not what I was after, and I took this single shot of her with the SWC.

Even though I had the viewfinder with me, I didn't use it for this shot. I'm still trying to figure out If I can claim the massive amount of headroom as an artistic choice, or is it simply someone who's still not used to taking portraits blind with a super wide-angled fixed lens camera. Though I do like the idea of using the SWC for portraits, and have had the chance to take some more that hopefully will be developed sometime before December 2012, The Big Crunch, or a fourth term for Herr Bloomberg.

All that said, I really do like this shot.

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