Monday, January 31, 2011

Firetruck Snow

On University, in front of Weinstein:

I don't think there were any jumpers on that day. I'm not sure when the last time an NYU student made the leap. As for all that other film I was talking about developing, I'm getting to that soon enough. But I might have to get a milkshake first. I don't know how much longer Häagen-Dazs is going to have Peppermint Bark ice cream available. I feel like I've written this here already. Either that, or it's been on my mind a lot lately (yes, these are the issues of the day that occupy my thoughts). I know I've discussed it with friends. Or maybe thought about discussing it with friends. I've gotten to a point where I can't remember whether I've actually said or written something, just thought about saying it or writing it, just thought about it at all, or maybe just dreamed it.

Is that a sign I'm losing grip on reality, or maybe I'm just easing into reality finally after all these years?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snow on Fence

I like my simple, non-interpretive titles:

With all the snow we've been having lately there are people saying that we've had too much snow. In that vein, you may have noticed a bit of a snowy theme going on over here. If you have enough of the snow on the blog, well...I have some bad new for you. I shot about six rolls of film in Central Park the day after the last fall. The developing will commence tomorrow.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Icicle Fangs

On Washington Square North:

Yes, I'd have liked to have gotten closer, but with the 80mm on the YashMat, that's the best I could do. Maybe when "Snowmageddon IV" comes around I'll get some nice icicle fang shots.

Maybe Mayor Bloomberg will get around to plowing my street before Snowmageddon IV comes around. No, seriously.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Going to the Mattresses

Pillow top mattresses!

I think that's a pillow top. I've been sleeping on the same mattress for 15 years, though it seems like just yesterday that I got the darned thing. I should give these guys a call. I wonder if they sell the bedbug infested mattresses for cheaper. Who needs all that blood anyways...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snowy Branches

On Washington Square North:

I seriously hope the term, "Thundersnow" has run its course because I'm already sick of this stupid word. I'm certain there has been lightning during a snowstorm before last night. Hell, there was lightning during "Snowmageddon 2010" just a few weeks ago, yet nobody came out with "Thundersnow." It sounds like it should be one of those ridiculous movies on SyFy.

The next time it rains with lightning and thunder I'm going to take to the internet in a panic saying that, "THUNDERRAIN" has arrived.

Hide your children, it's THUNDERRAIN!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


About the Man:
If you look at the list of blogs I promote at the right of my page, you may notice one that's always near the top. That means it's updated frequently. I'm referring to the Singer-Saints blog, and Richard is its caretaker. Every day he offers selections from musicians ranging from folk to jazz (instrumental and vocal) to classical and some that are less easily classified. Oh, there are names you will recognize as you scan his blog, and I bet there are some you've never hard of before. Maybe some people would say the selection is "eclectic" or "esoteric." I'm one to think that eclectic and esoteric is purely relative.

Richard also takes the music he loves to Union Square, selling themed mix CDs of his own creation. If you happen to be walking through the park and hear Fats Waller, Raymond Scott, The Coasters, Billie Holiday, João Gilberto, or even Gary Lewis and the Playboys, chances are it's coming from a CD player sitting on top of Richard's table, where he'll be more than glad to impart his knowledge for the asking, and maybe you'll leave a bit wiser and just hopefully with a CD or two that might broaden your horizons, or perhaps just take you on a stroll down memory lane.

About the Picture(s):
After I developed the pictures of Richard, I sent them to my friend who I wrote about earlier (the one who suggested I take the photos of the birch trunks), and asked her opinion as to which one she liked better (she being someone whose opinion on art I trust, much more than my own). She liked the top one better. She felt there was more tension in the shot, and liked that there was a woman walking directly behind him. I thought that while that picture has less headroom than the other, I felt the woman walking right behind him just didn't work for me, and that the other one (despite the increased headroom) would be the one I'd go with. When I sent the pictures to Richard, he felt they were equal in quality and either would suffice. Then I realized, who says I can't put up both pictures?

You tell me. Which one do you think makes the "better" portrait?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ready to Roll

The handlebar bags make all the difference:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Triple Birch

First the photo, then the story:

A friend of mine suggested I take this picture. She liked the contrast of the three birch trunks against the rest of the scene. Though she wasn't sure if it would pass muster in black and white. In real life, they had a yellow tinge to them that was somewhat out of place amongst the white snow and the regular-colored trees (What color is a tree? I don't know. Tree colored?).

I sent her the picture earlier today and she wrote back saying it was "beautiful." I told her I wasn't sure I agreed, since to me it just looks busy, but she likes it so I'm not going to put up much of an argument. Never argue with somebody when they say your work is beautiful. Though she also admitted she is a sucker for trees, tree branches, and snow on trees and tree branches (this I already knew). She's fond of painting trees. I mean, she paints pictures of trees, that is to say, she makes paintings of trees. She doesn't actually paint trees. There's probably an ordinance against that sort of thing. I'm sure you'd get some kind of ticket if you just started whitewashing trees. I'm sure you could keep saying it's "art" all the while as the NYPD fills out your summons.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Snow Fire

It could happen. See?

Boy, the first half of this Jets game....yikes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Can be found in Jersey City:

You know, when you really consider it, Rigoletto is really a brutal, brutal opera. I mean, the music is beautiful, and it has one of the most recognized arias in all of opera (and one of the most sexist politically incorrect ones at that, yet people forgive misogyny if there's a good tune behind it), but wow...that poor bastard. Whoever thought this would go over? That last statement shows you what kind of judgement I have when it comes to gaging the public's taste when it comes to art.

I mention Rigoletto since I'm listening to the live broadcast right now. It's amazing how every number is a hit. There isn't a single moment that isn't palatable to anybody without even the slightest inclination towards music that doesn't involve trashcans being banged together. As you can see, I'm not in the business of heavy duty musical analysis. I'd rather just lie back (lay back?) and listen...

Ah, la maledizione!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Along the Road

You'll never know what you may find:

Sometimes you might just find some snow and fields waiting through the winter before they're tilled again.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Brighter or Darker?

You be the judge:


Vexing, isn't it...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Photos Taken in a Country Churchyard

I saw a field in the distance and made a left turn off the main road to Lebanon, Pennsylvania. I followed it as it went up a slight incline and saw a little graveyard next to a nondescript, otherwise forgettable building with a little sign in front read "Shirksville Mennonite Church." I drove up another rise into the completely empty driveway and parked the car. I walked into the churchyard and experimented with various shots of capturing the graves and the vista beyond:

I think this might be one of the more successful shots.

Then I have two shots where I experimented with the location of the horizon, and you'll see that both have issues:

You'll notice that white strip at the top of the frame. I have no idea what that is. It looks like the emulsion just tore right off. Maybe it did. Maybe it was a bum roll, but I can't complain, since it's the first time I'm seeing this happen after all the Ilford rolls I've shot.

This next shot was taken from the same place with some more sky, and a little error...:

You'll see in the upper right part of the frame a darker, oval shape. That isn't some kind of UFO or spirits manifesting themselves on film, that's what the photo pros call an "air bell." It's where a bubble formed in the developer and prevented said developer from doing it's developing duties. Now I always make sure to do the tap and slam while processing my negatives. But sometimes these things still happen. I think if I really wanted to go further with either of these photos, I'm sure Photoshop could fix those right up.

I took this one in front of all the older graves:

If I'd have gotten High fully in frame, this would have been a pretty successful shot. I wonder how the SWC would have handled this situation. Maybe I'll make the two and a half hour trip out there the next time it snows to find out.


Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

McSorley's Blizzard

Taken sometime in the 10pm hour as the winds picked up and the lightning lit up the snowy skies:

Maybe the above description isn't really manifested in the photo, but you'll have to take me at my word (or words, as they appear to be).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wiseass Cows

Here's the picture, then I'll give you the deal:

Here's the deal.

Remember the barn complex from the other day, I was driving over to take a picture of that when I looked at the rise across the street and saw cows milling about. I pulled over and got the YashMat, and saw that the cows had taken an interest in me, and had come to the edge of the fence. How cool! I was going to get some nice closeup shots of some cows! Nobody's ever done that before!

So I get out of the car (mom's minivan, actually. don't knock it, it's the car of the future with automatic remote control opening and closing doors and satellite radio and has pretty good pickup too) and start to make my way across the street. When I got to the beginning of the rise, they all scattered! Stupid jerk cows! It's not like I was coming at them like Anton Chigurh. I managed to get a shot of one of them that was brave enough to stick around, then walked down the street a ways to take the barn complex shot.

I walked back to the car, stowed the camera, and put it into drive. I looked to my left to see that all the cows had come back! There they were, back at the edge of the fence. Taunting me. Well, I threw it into park and leaned out the window for a few farewell shots before I got on my way.

I like that one cow all the way on the right. It makes me think about Gary Larson.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bridge and Stream

Actually, I think it's referred to as a river:

This is the opposite view of what I posted yesterday. The icy water was much more impressive in person, but I didn't feel like trudging through the scrub to the river's edge while leaving the car running on the side of a shoulderless road.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Barn Complex

In Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania:

I think this scene would have been served by the SWC. But, I didn't bring the SWC on my day trip to Pennsylvania, and soon I'll be posting other pictures from this brief bucolic sojourn so I have a feeling I'll be writing the same thing once I actually see them developed. Who knows, maybe I'll be wrong (I hope).

Friday, January 14, 2011


The big flakes were coming down. I had to get a move on if I wanted to get some snowy shots before the precipitation was supposed to peter out by mid-afternoon. I brought out the YashMat loaded with my standby film, Ilford Delta Pro 100. That meant I'd have my aperture open, shooting at slow speeds, and getting some "mood" shots (I have no idea what "mood" shots are).

Near the northwest corner of the park, just north of the subway entrance, I could tell from the crowd language that something was going on that involved the police. A man and a woman were holding each other — she was crying. They clearly both were homeless or borderline homeless, junkies or borderline junkies (I'm not sure there's such a thing as a "borderline junkie." They were both clearly distressed, and talking to the park police.

I took out my YashMat and started walking towards the scene. The male of the couple looked at me and yelled, "IF YOU TAKE A FUCKIN' PICTURE I'LL BREAK YOUR FUCKIN' HEAD OPEN!." I ignored him and he shouted the same message at me again. Now I didn't seriously think he was going to break my fuckin' head open right there in front of everyone, let alone the park police, but sometimes it's wise not to inflame an already flammable situation.

As I backed off a chinaman was saying to me, "Take picture! You allowed! Take picture!" Instead of exploiting the homeless/junkie couple's misery for some compliments on Flickr by total strangers and something to post here, I decided to shoot the scene around the scene.

The woman below was quite enjoying the spectacle, saying, "I'm experiencing a New York moment!"

Nobody in the crowd seemed to know what was going on, and I was just about ready to leave when a person of interest entered the fray. He looked like any other bum with a 40oz of god knows what in a black plastic bag who started talking to the park cops. He didn't come across as violent, but the park cops were very interested in continuing their conversation with him. Mind you, I wasn't able to hear any of what they were saying, until the bum started to walk away from the cops. They didn't like that, and began commanding that he stop walking away. But I heard very clearly when one of the cops said, "Stop, or I'll mace you." I was looking through the YashMat without using the magnifier, wondering where my focus was, and backing up at the same time since this whole potential macing was heading right in my direction, as you can see:

Or maybe you can't see it so clearly. I didn't leave the house thinking I'd be catching a police action on camera. I was just interested in maybe taking some shots of the Flatiron in the snow, you know, ripping off Stieglitz. So with my slow film and my slow shutter speed and my wide open aperture with a low depth of field, sometimes the best you can do is what I got above. Of course if I had known in advance I'd be documenting police work, I'd have been rolling with some 3200, maybe pulling to 1600 or even 800, but I'd have that faster shutter speed and greater depth of field...but life doesn't work that way. I've said it before on this blog and I'll say it again. You're always going to miss shots, but there's always going to be another shot coming.

The mace came out like silly string, but smoother. I guess people learned that it's easier to operate when everybody isn't coughing and wheezing from pepper spray. Now what follows is the predictable progression of what happens after you get maced by the cops because of non-compliance.

They get on either side of you:

Then they introduce you to their friend, the ground:

Hello ground:

Sometime it's hart to get them to lie flat on the ground once they're down there:

Now in the prone position, handcuffs are applied:

And so forth:

Perhaps you'll notice the digital shooter in the background.

Finally, with things wrapping up, I decided to get a shot from the opposite angle. I could take my time to compose and focus as the digital shooter (who I was now right next to), kept shooting away:

That was my last shot of the roll, and I had no other cameras with me loaded for action. Shots of the man being dragged to his feet and led away would have to wait for another day. No, that makes no sense. I don't regret going out with my slow film, even if I didn't capture this incident quite as I would have wanted.

It's okay. There are more bums, more junkies, and more cops to run into out there. But there are also couples in love, parents playing with children, and smiling faces too.

I'm really trying to resist this....I can't. I'm sorry. Yes, I admit it, I'm a hack:

There are eight million stories in The Naked City, this has been one of them.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brave Cow

Definitely braver than those cows in the barn, or those other cows that ran away up the hill, but I'll get to them another day. For now:

I like the tag in the ear look. Super cute.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Tale of Two Streets

These pictures were taken the day after the blizzard. The first shot is Broadway, taken from the corner of 8th Street, looking north:

This next one is 8th Street, taken from Broadway, looking west:

Can you see the difference?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


David also comes to Union Square to showcase and vend his art, which can be found here if you can't make it by Union Square at the drop of a hat.

Do people really take off when hats drop? Who's dropping all these hats? I thought hats had been out of vogue since JFK didn't wear one at his inauguration. He should have been more careful. William Henry Harrison didn't wear a hat at his inauguration and died in 30 days. JFK...well...okay, this isn't entirely analogous.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Stephanie is somewhat new on the Union Square art seller scene, but no less worthy. She's travelled the world, and sells photos of what she's documented. Until recently she was a lawyer, fighting pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the little guy. But like many who find themselves selling their own work in a park, she dropped out of the "real" world to follow her passion.

But I think for most of the artists who are out selling their work directly to the public, their world is the "real" one and it's the nine to fivers who live in some other, weirder place.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


The first time I met Johnathan he said I was a "Spanish Woody Allen." I think this assertion insults Spanish people and Woody Allen alike. Johnathan sells his work in Union Square. Rather than me failing to describe his work with words, you can check out his site.

I took another shot of him, which I feel compelled to include since it shows his unobscured face, though the first shot is probably "better" (whatever that means):

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Billy (or maybe Bobby Love)

It sounded like "Billy" when he told me his name. The next day someone told me he calls himself "Bobby Love."

"I have a German camera from the 30's, I could get eighty-thousand dollars for it on Ebay, but I'm not doing it."

"I used to work for the New York Times. I've taken pictures all over the world. I could sell my stuff out here if I wanted. [unintelligible] has seen my photos."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Search & Destroy

Any snow on that St. Mark's sidewalk:

I saw a bum get maced by the park cops in Union Square Park today. I had the YashMat with me, so there may be a little photo essay in the future if the pictures came out reasonably well. If not, well, I guess that's why someone would make the case for digital, as I saw a digital shooter there documenting the scene. At one point we were side by side and exchanged smiles. My smile was a bit more fixed, especially when I realized I had run out of film.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cooper Square

In a blizzard!

They're predicting snow for tomorrow. I can only hope we get a repeat.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Second Avenue

In the blizzard:

I took this shot totally blind, with the hood of the Yashmat closed, and DON'T WALK flashing at me.

I've been wondering what name this blizzard will have. I prefer "Bloomberg's Folly," but I'm not sure if that will catch on. I think some would say it's not alliterative enough. There's always "Bloomberg's Blunder," which I guess is a little better. No. Wait. I have it...


You know, like the Merkle Boner, but it's not Merkle, it's Bloomberg!

I bet the Post would run with this.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I forgot if in film school they said you should or shouldn't point the camera at the sun:

Remember I was talking yesterday about new developments? Well, as I'm typing these words, there's a whole roll of hot blizzard action drying in the bathroom, with another one soon to be developed. And I shot most of a roll today that had been sitting in the Rolleiflex for over a month. Most of them were people pictures, so they'll be populating the blog soon. I've been so busy and occupied lately, I really haven't been out shooting much (if it hasn't been too obvious). It's so easy to get into the habit of not having a camera on you when you leave the house. I have to start doing the opposite of that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Self, I Said...

...this picture needs more headroom:

New developments to come shortly...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

North and South

Together at last on a single fame!

You might be asking yourself, "Self," (I had a teacher in high school that always made that joke. He also liked to say, "You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be lead." I still like that one). So, you might be asking yourself, "Self, wasn't there a blizzard in NYC recently? Didn't this yahoo take any pictures of it?"

Well, selves of yours, yes. I did take pictures of the blizzard. I went out last Sunday night in the howling wind and the lightning with the Yashmat (what, you think I'm gonna take a Rolleiflex or a Hasselblad out in those conditions?) and snapped off a few rolls.

So why aren't they showing up here yet?

Because I'm lazy! That's why! But if you've been a follower of this here blog you probably knew that already.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Woolworth Dominating

Over an empty lot:

It was once the tallest building in the world, you know.

I have another artifact here. It's something I acquired New Year's Day, 18 years ago, in the same company I had spend the previous night with. We decided to look at the city from the highest point possible that you could back then. I think it was the last time I was ever up there.

I don't remember if I took the sign before or after we went up. I just ripped it off the wall, since there was nothing about stealing signs on the sign. The things it said you couldn't do struck me as funny:

No person shall spit, urinate, or defecate other than in a urinal or toilet intended for that purpose.

That's no fun. Here's another one:

No person shall make any objectionable or disturbing noises.

I'd say "objectionable" and "disturbing" are subjective, and I don't know who exactly is making those judgements.

The sign didn't really gain any gravitas until after it all went down (yes, quite literally). Then I realized I had more than just a souvenir I swiped off a wall, maybe my last act of public vandalism (not that I was ever much of a vandal to begin with). Though I suppose when they finish construction, they might have use for it again. Until then, I'll just hang onto it: