Posts tagged “New York

Rainy Days

In a world of six billion people, it’s easy to believe that the only way to initiate profound transformation is to take extreme action. Each of us, however, carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others. As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain. Your thoughts and actions are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to spread and expand as they move outward. The impact you have on the world is greater than you could ever imagine, and the choices you make can have far-reaching consequences. You can use the ripple effect to make a positive difference and spread waves of kindness that will wash over the world.

This was shot in New York on a cold and rainy day in Central Park – you can tell it was late in the season by the subtle colors of the leaves of the trees. There is a calm to this image – one can almost hear the rain drops dancing across the water!

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Hearts Locked

A tradition that was born in Europe has migrated to the US! Amorous couples seal their devotion by attaching a padlock to a bridge and throw the key into the waters below! I am not certain what the Municipal Crews think of this practice, but for now, makes for a cool shot!

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The Dark Knight Awaits

We recently went to see The Dark Knight Rises and it struck us that we think we discovered where he is hiding out! It is in the farthest alcove of St. Johns in New York! The church was vacant except for a few visitors that weekday so was perfect for some amazing uncluttered compositions!

This is an HDR shot, but we did not use a conventional tripod to execute the brackets, but rather a flexible little contraption from Joby called a Gorilla Pod!  These things are ultra portable for travel and better yet, inconspicuous so as not to draw attention from “The No-Tripod Enforcers”

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New York by way of the Brooklyn Bridge….

This image of the Brooklyn Bridge was taken during March of last year- surprisingly at a time when most of the people on the bridge were completely out of site- as you can see- sometimes patience makes the shot!

Holy Batman! …the Warrrior Spirit

“We impose meaning on the chaos of our lives. We create form, morality,
order. It’s a choice we have to make every second of every minute of
every day.” …Batman

Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, when we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion. We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence.  The warrior spirit, when allowed free rein, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values.

Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior’s willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence.

This was shot inside Cathedral of Saint John, The Divine, in NYC, also nicknamed, “Saint John, The Unfinished”. NYC argues that this is the largest Cathedral and Anglican Church in the world and the fourth largest Christian Church. There also is some controversy surrounding the Church as it was designed and built by Freemasons (conspiracy theories surround everything). For example, on the western facade of the building, stonemasons have sculpted numerous scenes that seem oddly out-of-place for a Cathedral, the most striking one is the chilling depiction of the destruction of New York city and its landmarks. Hmmm…

This statue of the Archangel Michael in the Chapel of St. Boniface, taken from this angle has a bit of a Gothic feel to it, somewhat Batmanish arguably. Surprisingly, NYC churches have not issues with photographers carrying tripods, but after our encounters with the “No-Tripod_Police” in Italy, we only packed a small support made by Joby , called a Gorilla Pod. This three armed tripod is a flexible little contraption that allows you to secure your DSLR on top virtually anything – really handy for the travelling shooter. Shooting in RAW (or NEFF with Nikon) format, we were able to make some adjustments for the harsh lighting conditions and uneven White Balance inside this dark/bright alcove in post processing. Shooting RAW allows much greater flexibility compared to JPG, and though one may complain that the files are just too big, memory is cheap…going back and reshooting, not so cheap!

Rushing through Life

Rushing through life from one event to another, is not the answer to being productive and content. In fact, it would seem that the more we rush, the more mistakes we make, and our lives become more and more fragmented, even unmanageable.You would think with the amazing time-saving devices such as computers, on-line shopping, pick up areas for take out orders, we would have all this time on our hands. But as one minute frees up, we stuff two more minutes of activities in it.

For many, we are in a perpetual feeling of rushing through life – as if every event were just something we had to check off on our life ‘to do’ list. We didn’t remember it; we didn’t love it; but we checked it off and got it done. What a crazy way to go through life. Commit to ending the rush to get through life. Stop and sit a spell. Notice things around you. Get reconnected. Do fewer things, but do each a little better. Catch your breath. Life is not a race or an event to check off on your ‘to do’ list. Life is to be lived and you can’t do that running at breakneck speed.  As author Sherwin Nuland says in his book The Art of Aging, “ We use our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s to learn how to live successfully and well in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.” So, manage life now to not only have healthier years in the future, but to also be truly present today. Once this day is gone, we don’t get it back.

This is a shot of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in New York taken from The DUMBO side looking towards Manhattan. We were “On-the-Deck” to take this shot and waited patiently for all of the bike and foot traffic to pass. Although to some, this might have seemed an eternity, it was rather fun and relaxing lying in the middle of this bridge as the world of commuters and tourists rushed by us. On a side note, we heard many colorful invectives from both tourists and locals alike (…like “You are a Ignorant Donkey” or something of equal meaning). Oh well. As photographers we often put ourselves in strange places, contort our bodies like pretzels, just to get the shot we were envisioning. Here, the effect of motion makes the image – you may notice that at the end of the dividing stripe, everything is clear and in focus, the rest just being a blur of movement. You may want to try this by securing your camera to a tripod, using a slow shutter speed and zooming out while the shutter is open!

The Illusion of Time

“Time keeps on ticking, into the Future”

Is time real, or is change just a kind of optical illusion resting on a deeper unchanging reality? The true nature of time engages all of our endeavors. We have all experienced time seeming to fly and then drag based on our feelings and circumstances, just as a Child waiting for a Birthday…it never comes and then passes swiftly. This is the paradox of Linear Time – are we caught in its current and flow helplessly into the future?

How disjointedly time seems to flow, passing in a blur sometimes with single images standing out more clearly than others. And then, at other times, every second was significant and etched itself in my mind. This long exposure of the hustle and bustle of New York‘s Grand Central Station illustrates visually some aspects of the illusion of time. Taken with a Nikon D90, stabilized by hand on an upper balcony, a 6 second shutter speed captured the movement of the commuters and tourists in time…some static, while others mere ghosts.

In the domains of spirituality, humans have also asked if there is more, or less, to time than ticking clocks or the march from birth to death. It is often the “now” which takes precedence in spiritual endeavor. Buddhists, with their emphasis on meditation, have long seen the unspooling of time as an artifact of the mind. In Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, Shunryu Suzuki tells us:

“You may say, ‘I must do something this afternoon’ but actually there is no ‘this afternoon’ … At one o’clock you will eat your lunch. To eat your lunch is, itself, one o’clock.”

Christian writers such as Meister Eckhart have taken a similar stance:

“There exists only the present instant … There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now … “

Science however has its own take on time’s illusion.

For decades physics inverted the problem, holding the now to be something less than real. In relativity theory the past, present and future already exist in the four-dimensional continuum of space-time. You think next Tuesday hasn’t occurred yet. But in relativity, every event in your life defines a single 4-D object called your world-line and it’s all there already. Freaky, huh?

More radical ideas reject the notion of time altogether, taking each moment as separate and eternal. Perhaps the now is all that exists, the past and future merely illusions. Or, perhaps, it is the now that’s an illusion and below the appearance of change is a timeless substrate that is perfect in its eternal repose.

One thing is, however, certain. Looking across the broad field of human endeavor — science, art and religion — time and the question of its illusion remains essential, and essentially unresolved.

The Road Ahead

Remember when Alice was lost on Wonderland? She serendipitously stumbled upon The Cheshire Cat and admitted innocently, “I am lost and not sure which way to go.” With a grin, The Cheshire Cat responded with a question of his own: “Where do you want to go?” To which Alice responded, “I am not quite sure.”

Grinning from ear to ear, th insightful cat dropped some clever wisdom and said: “If you’re not sure where you’re going, then any road will take you there.” We each have a quest… it’s about taking our own road, finding our own adventure, and enjoying our journey. Remember, unless you are willing to walk into the unknown, th chances of making a profound difference in your life is pretty slim….so dive in! Perhaps this very instant is your time!

This image is of the icon Flatiron Building in NYC. The Yellow Cab zooming to destinations unknown seemed appropriate to this post. The motion blur was created by using a slow shutter speed with the camera mounted sturdily on a portable tripod balanced on a trash can. To avoid giggling the camera, a remote shutter release was used. The image was post processed from a RAW file using Photomatix to enhance the dynamic range of the available light.

Ghosts in the Machine, New York

As you might have guessed, this is Grand Central Station in the wonderfully exciting Metropolis of New York! We wanted to capture the hustle and bustle of people zipping in and out and also the grandeur of this spectacular building. We also asked our Model, Mark, to stand perfectly still by the ticket Kiosk as everyone moved around him – you can spot him in a dark hoodie with arms crossed. The natives, needless to say, showered him with their colorful invectives!

We have seen this picture as adds for Photography Software, win prizes in contests and very frequently in Popular photography magazines – and somehow it “seemed” to be after the fact when we took and posted to our Blog. We are not claiming anything as this is quite an obvious shot and has likely been superbly executed thousands of time by brilliant Photographers from around the world.  Just goes to show that true creativity comes from the non-obvious and an eye to spot and capture it. We are still working on this and will take years, under no illusions!

This was taken from the far end of Grand Central without a Tripod. The Nikon D90 was two hand stabilized and the shutter was released by an assistant who triggered it with an infrared remote. We didn’t want to haul a tripod in for fear of drawing too much attention and also occupying a lot of space, this is a popular spot. Also, we have heard stories of people deliberately “tripping” over tripod mounted gear and hurting their back, neck, head, butt etc and then suing. Why risk it? Keep that in mind when you lug that massive Manfrotto with you in crowds!

Thanks for the kind visit and please ask any questions – we always answer as best as we can!

Kathleen and Erik

On the Deck

You may recognize New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge. We took the stroll across the bridge from Dumbo. Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass which is a neighborhood in the NYC borough of Brooklyn. It encompasses two sections: one located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, which connect Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, and another that continues east from the Manhattan Bridge to the Vinegar Hill area. Jerry Seinfeld once referred to Dumbo on a late-night talk show appearance, joking that it stands for “Down Under Manhattan Bridge,” but that New Yorkers arbitrarily added the “O” at the end because they did not want to have a neighborhood called “Dumb.” What is unique about this shot (aside from the perspective of the photographer, who was flat on his belly) is the apparent lack of people. This is a very busy bridge and is almost always packed with joggers, bikers, tourists and folks just out for a stroll. No sooner than the shot was taken, crowds arrived and the photographer was greeted by a “Get out of the way you moron” by a local on a bike. Gotta love NYC!

NYC After Dark

This is a bit of Fish Eye action from Manhattan. This City never stops – the energy persists 24hrs. We chose a distortion technique called “Fish Eye” as well as long exposures (to get light trails) to convey what a visitor may perceive in New York City at 3am. Jaw dropping!

In photography, a fish eye lens is a wide-angle lens that takes in a broad, panoramic and somewhat hemispherical image. Originally developed for use in meteorology to study cloud formation and called “whole-sky lenses”, fish eye lenses quickly became popular in general photography for their unique, distorted appearance. They are often used by photographers shooting broad landscapes to suggest the curve of the Earth.

The focal lengths of fish eye lenses are between 8 mm and 10 mm for circular images, and 15–16 mm for full-frame images. For digital cameras using smaller electronic imagers such as 1/4″ and 1/3″ format CCD or CMOS sensors, the focal length of “miniature” fish eye lenses can be as short as 1 to 2mm.

All the ultra-wide angle lenses suffer from some amount of barrel distortion. While this can easily be corrected for moderately wide angles of view, ultra-wide angle lenses with rectilinear angles of view greater than 90 degrees are difficult to design.

This is one of the most awesome places to visit, day or night! Come get a bite of The Big Apple!

Tongues and Flames

Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head

This was taken on a walk to the Flatiron Building. I was just getting dark and the facade lit up like fire!

The Gershwin Hotel at 7 East 27th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City was built in 1903-05, and designed by William H. Birkmire in Beaux Arts style. The building, which has 12 stories and a penthouse, was originally intended to be an apartment building, but its function was changed before the building was completed. It was at first called the Brotzell Hotel, and later was part of the Latham Hotel. The Gershwin, named after composer George Gershwin, features contemporary artworks in its public areas, including Finnish artist Stefan Lindfors’ “Tongues and Flames” on the hotel’s facade. It is located within the Madison Square North Historic District

Tongues and Flames

St. John the Unfinished

OK, back to our favorite city, NYC! This is a Must See Cathedral equaling those in Italy!

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, officially the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in the City and Diocese of New York, is the Cathedral of the  Episcopal Diocese of New York. The cathedral disputes with  Liverpool Anglican cathedral for the title of largest Cathedral and Anglican church and fourth largest Christian church in the world. The inside covers 121,000 sq ft (11,200 m2), spanning a length of 183.2 meters (601 ft) and height 70.7 meters (232 ft). The inside height of the nave is 37.8 meters (124 feet).

The cathedral is nicknamed St. John the Unfinished.

The cathedral, designed in 1888 and begun in 1892, has, in its history, undergone radical stylistic changes and the interruption of the two World Wars. Originally designed as  Byzantine-Romanesque, the plan was changed after 1909 to a  Gothic design.  After a large fire on December 18, 2001, it was closed for repairs and reopened in November 2008. It remains  unfinished, with construction and restoration a continuing process.

“If you believe that, I have a Bridge to sell you”

This was the original shot I was trying to execute before “Pete” jumped in the way with his sign! (See previous post)

References to “Selling the Brooklyn Bridge” abound in American culture, sometimes as examples of rural gullibility but more often in connection with an idea that strains credulity. At the time the bridge was built, the  aerodynamics of bridge building had not been worked out. Bridges were not tested in  wind tunnels until the 1950s—well after the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Galloping Gertie) in 1940. (This was shown to us in University as a lesson of miscalculation, I just liked the way it was oscillatiing – perhaps this drove me to the Electrical Engineering side instead of Civil?)

It is therefore fortunate that the open truss structure supporting the deck is by its nature less subject to aerodynamic problems. Roebling designed a bridge and truss system that was six times as strong as he thought it needed to be. Because of this, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many of the bridges built around the same time have vanished into history and been replaced.

This is also in spite of the substitution of inferior quality wire in the cabling supplied by the contractor  J. Lloyd Haigh – by the time it was discovered, it was too late to replace the cabling that had already been constructed. Roebling determined that the poorer wire would leave the bridge four rather than six times as strong as necessary, so it was eventually allowed to stand, with the addition of 250 cables. Diagonal cables were installed from the towers to the deck, intended to stiffen the bridge. They turned out to be unnecessary, but were kept for their distinctive beauty.

That’s Amore!

Love Locked

This shot was taken during our walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan after the BEST Pizza ever at Grimaldi’s.  Ok, here’s the story!

A pop cultural phenomenon that has turned an Italian bridge into a locksmith’s paradise has jumped across the Atlantic and is threatening to cover the Brooklyn Bridge in lovers’ padlocks.

The tradition of securing a symbol of amore to a bridge — and tossing the keys into the river below — dates back to a 1992 book by sugary Italian novelist Federico Moccia, but the tradition didn’t take off until the movie version of “Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo” came out in 2004.

That’s when Roman authorities suddenly had to deal with thousands of lovers clipping all manner of Master, Kryptonite and Medco locks to the Ponte Milvio — and throwing the keys into the muddy Tiber. Well, guess what, Brooklynites: the tradition is here!

Brooklyn to Manhattan

This shot shows the architectural constructs of this historic bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan during a walk from Grimaldis Pizza! Best Pie EVER! (

The Brooklyn Bridge was initially designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling, who had previously designed and constructed shorter suspension bridges, such as Roeblings’s Delaware Aqueduct in Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio.

While conducting surveys for the bridge project, Roebling sustained a crush injury to his foot when a ferry pinned it against a piling. After amputation of his crushed toes he developed a tetanus infection which left him incapacitated and soon resulted in his death, not long after he had placed his 32 year-old son Washington Roebling in charge of the project.

Washington Roebling also suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of decompression sickness shortly after the beginning of construction on January 3, 1870. This condition, first called ” caisson disease” by the project physician Dr. Andrew Smith, afflicted many of the workers working within the caissons.] After Roebling’s debilitating condition left him unable to physically supervise the construction firsthand, his wife  stepped in and provided the critical written link between her husband and the engineers on-site.] Under her husband’s guidance, Emily had studied higher  math, the calculations of  Cateney Curves, the strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and the intricacies of cable construction. She spent the next 11 years assisting Washington Roebling helping to supervise the bridge’s construction.

Urban Reflections

This was taken after a visit to NYC’s most amazing Camera store, B&H while strolling back to Times Square.

Another bit of History: The general atmosphere of Time’s Square changed with the onset of the  Great Depression in the 1930s. Times Square acquired a reputation as a dangerous neighborhood in the following decades. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the seediness of the area, especially due its go-go bars, sex shops, and adult theaters, became an infamous symbol  of  the city’s decline.

In the 1980s, a commercial building boom began in the western parts of the Midtown as part of a long-term  development plan developed under Mayor Ed Koch. In the mid-1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994–2002) led an effort to “clean up” the area, increasing  security, closing  porno theaters, pressuring drug dealers to relocate, and opening more tourist-friendly attractions and  upscale establishments. Advocates of the remodeling claim that the neighborhood is safer and cleaner. Detractors have countered that the changes have homogenized or “Disneyfied” the character of Times Square and have unfairly targeted lower-income New Yorkers from nearby neighborhoods such as  Hell’s Kitchen.

Money Never Sleeps

After superb lunch at Grimaldi’s Coal Fired Pizza in Brooklyn (easily one of the best pies ever) and a stroll across The Brooklyn Bridge, we ended up on Wall Street where we encountered the usual craziness. This time a random singer and a passionate Preacher, and Police in riot gear. 

This is dedicated to the 1987 movie, Wall Street which starred Micheal Douglas, Tamara Tunie and our current bad boy, Charlie Sheen.

As you may recall, a young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing. I am still partial to this version compared to the 2010 version which just, in my opinion, had a very contrived ending.

Gateway to Millions

This is a shot of NYC’s Grand Central Station – surprisingly the No-Tripod Police were nowhere in sight.

There are two peculiarities to this ceiling: the sky is backwards, and the stars are slightly displaced. One explanation is that the constellations are backwards because the ceiling is based on a medieval manuscript that visualized the sky as it would look to God from outside the  celestial sphere. According to this explanation, since the celestial sphere is an abstraction (stars are not all at equal distances from Earth), this view does not correspond to the actual view from anywhere in the universe. The stars are displaced because the manuscript showed a (reflected) view of the sky in the  Middle Ages, and since then the stars shifted due to precession of the equinoxes. Most people, however, simply think that the image was reversed by accident.

When the embarrassed  Vanderbilt Family learned the ceiling was painted backwards, they maintained that the ceiling reflected  God’s view of the sky.

There is a small dark circle in the midst of the stars right above the image of  Pisces. In a 1957 attempt to counteract feelings of insecurity spawned by the  Soviet launch of Sputnik, Grand Central’s Main Concourse played host to an American Redstone missile. With no other way to erect the missile, the hole was cut so the rocket could be lifted into place. Historical Preservation dictated that this hole remain (as opposed to being repaired) as a testament to the many uses of the Terminal over the years.