Dec 28, 2008

7 Train

As I walked down the steps in Grand Central to take the 7 Train over to Times Square I noticed the large air ducts suspended from the ceiling over the platform. The units large scale retro design amidst the bustle of oblivious New Yorkers below them made me want to capture the scene.

Dec 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

They say the best made plans often fail. They were right. Last night we were supposed to fly from NY to Chicago. At noon, we got a call from American Airlines telling us that our flight was cancelled. When we got the call we acted quickly: I skipped out of work and we caught a bus to Hartford, CON where we'd catch another flight in the morning.

Half way to Hartford we got another call from the airline and were told that the next day's flight was also cancelled. They did, however, offer to fly us to Chicago (via Dallas!) on Christmas day. Thanks, but no thanks. We were lucky enough to get the last Metro North Train home from New Haven and stumbled back into our flat at 1:30 this morning. I can't believe we went to Connecticut and back for no reason last night.

Photo: taken handheld with Canon G9 @ 1/8 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200.

So, needless to say, we'll be spending our Christmas together here in Manhattan. Not the way we had planned this Christmas, but we're happy to at least be together. We'll miss our family and the antics that go along with them but we'll just have to make up for it next year!

Merry Christmas,

Dec 22, 2008

Yesterday morning 7:00am

View from the kitchen at headquarters yesterday morning. It's been chilly since Friday. It was 9 degrees this morning. At 6:45 this morning, while I ordered a large coffee (light & sweet) at the bodega, I picked chunks of ice out of my beard; which was scarey at first because my initial reaction was "great I have food in my beard again".

Dec 14, 2008

Boat Graveyard

I spent today photographing a boat graveyard on Staten Island. I navigated slowly and carefully through a maze of rotting wooden docks and decks, avoiding rusty spikes, hulls and cables while I made my way to solid resting points. Just a couple of weeks ago while crawling through the Red Hook Grain Terminal, I thought I had finally been to the most dangerous site of all. Wrong; today was worse. Each step had to be carefully tested before applying the whole weight of my body. The creaks, groans and debris falling into the water below me was absolutely unnerving. (all part of the fun)

It was quite a journey to get to Arthur Kill on Staten Island. I left my house taking the 1 Train at 6:45am. I got to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal an hour later and caught the 8:30 ferry across the NY Harbor arriving on Staten Island at 8:45. I had to wait for the SIR Train to come at 9:30 and I took it all the way south to Huguenot. From here I rode my bike across the island (10 minute ride) and I ended up at the site at 10:15.

After walking up and down Arthur Kill road, I could not find a way in. With all the traffic and locals out and about, I wasn't about to climb over the fence around the scrap yard that hid the boats. There was a house adjacent to the scrap yard which had back yard access to the boats but the owner had posted signs warning me not to trespass. I decided to give it a shot and just knock on the door. An old man with a funny look on his face told me he was so delighted that I actually asked for his permission that it would be his pleasure to allow me access! Sweet.

Dec 13, 2008

Broken Glass

Today was chuck full o' art. I kicked it off by attending a symposium regarding universal concerns of museums today. My wife spoke to the need for artist access to work in museum collections and the hoops an artist must jump through just to apply to copy work in a museum (ridiculous). I listened to about fifteen speeches given by grad students from City College of NY, & NYU ranging from community involvement in museum exhibitions to complexities of interaction between children and museum staff to the possibility of the MLK Jr Center being sold to very government which spied on him. Many interesting points were discussed and an open panel lent itself to questions from the audience.

After the symposium, I made my way over to the Broken Glass exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem. This exhibition is up until March 8th and I highly recommend visiting.

I was fortunate enough to speak at length with Ray Mortenson about his work: I wish I were there in the South Bronx in 1982. (Although I was only four years old at the time) Ray took about 8000 photographs of the desolate, abandoned buildings in this area over the course of two years. The buildings had been vacated by their owners during a big middle class suburban manifestation, after which a rash of insurance fires took place, totaling at one point 30 fires per day. Ray would take the 5 Train to the south Bronx and with his 35mm camera and normal (50mm) lens to photograph the remains, shooting anywhere from two to ten rolls of film a day. He initially took only exterior captures of the buildings from street corners and from a pretty much, straight on angle.

Later, when he felt more comfortable entering the buildings, he began spending much more time inside of them and brought his 4X5 camera and tripod shooting five to ten minute exposures. I asked Ray what he was doing for work at the time and he told me that he was an electrician and construction worker. He spent as much time as he could in the South Bronx and any other spare time he had was spent developing his prints. He also added that he had actually printed the five large (4' X 5') prints in this show back in 1984. They still look amazing.

These days Ray is shooting a lot of nature photography and has begun taking architectural photos in Manhattan; shooting film of course. His work is on display at the Janet Borden Gallery. When asked if he is shooting digital at all these days, he laughed and said he's never been interested in digital and doesn't even own a computer. Ha!

I bought a catalog of his work in the exhibition, got his autograph and made my way to the 2 Train feeling quite inspired (again). I love this city.


Getting off of the 1 Train last night at 207th st. An 8 second exposure taken with my G9. This is my neighborhood, Inwood. I love living here.

Dec 8, 2008

Taking it to the streets

I snapped this picture at around 8am on Saturday morning after I walked out of the Smith/9th St Station on the F line in Brooklyn. I've recently felt very inspired by the more modern street photographers. The work of Brassai and Bresson always impressed me, although I find today's street photography more interesting. Talking with Jamel Shabazz, last Wednesday night at a street art seminar, really peaked my interest in the street and street life as subject matter.

I spent a couple of hours in the Bronx Museum yesterday admiring the work shown in their exhibit: Street Art Street Life; from the 1950s to Now. I highly recommend you check it out!

Dec 7, 2008

Red Hook Grain Terminal

Saturday I spent a few hours in the Red Hook Grain Terminal in Brooklyn. It was chilly, but worth braving the cold for a chance to walk around in this amazing structure. The terminal hasn't held any grain in over 40 years and was still in remarkable shape, save for the small canal-side huts which have had the bottoms drop out from them. (I made my entrance into the terminal through this missing floor area while the early morning tide was out)

To describe the terminal, lets work our way up from the bottom. The ground floor is compiled of several pillars and in the ceiling are the bottoms of the numerous silos where unloading of the silage took place. The funnel shape of these "silo bottoms" reminded me of chameleon eyes - the center of them, like a pupil, pitch black with infinite depth. Peering up through the bottom of these silos, you're able to make out day light at the loading holes 10 stories above. Carefully walking up 10 stories on a rusty metal staircase will bring you to the next floor. On this floor there are holes, roughly 3' wide EVERYWHERE. To fall into these would mean certain death. A few grain carts are scattered here and there on a track system. It's clear that the grain was carted over to the silo of choice and then dumped. Taking another rusty metal stair case brings you to the main loading area. Here, there are two or three additional silos with pivoting troughs made for distributing grain into the grain carts on the floor below.

A frigid wind from the waterfront rattled corrugated tin and clanged swinging doors and piping. I only spent a few hours at this site. I had a great time being there and experiencing the atmosphere and left when I felt I'd sampled enough. I'm sure I'll go back again.

Here is a 3 minute video I put together from yesterday's venture:

Dec 4, 2008


Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer.
Last night, Aperture and The New School presented a panel discussion featuring Barbara Moore, Martha Rosler, and Jamel Shabazz, each featured in the Street Art, Street Life exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Jamel Shabazz's work truly inspired me to break from my structured capturing mode and move to a more personal and more human style of photography. I can't wait to get home from work today and head out to the streets!
I'll be hitting the exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts this weekend. The exhibition examines the street as subject matter, venue, and source of inspiration for contemporary artists and photographers from the late 1950s to the present.
It was great to shake Jamel's hand and talk to him about my own work!

Dec 1, 2008

Tilt shifting Baltimore

Photo taken: Saturday, November 04, 2006, 2:56:28 AM

More digging through some old Baltimore files yielded this image. Taken while on my only venture into the Westport Power Plant which no longer exists. What a great place that was. I thought I'd use it to play around with some tilt shift manipulation.


Photo taken: Friday, October 13, 2006, 3:58:46 PM

Digging through some old files tonight I came across this image that I took on the way home from work one night in Baltimore with a crumby old point & shoot. This used to be an old building that stood at the southwest corner of Charles and Franklin Streets. What was once a funky old building, one of many that add to the greatness of Baltimore, is now just a green patch of lawn.

After reading about Ray Mortenson's work this morning (see post from earlier today) this picture has greater meaning to me now, than it did when I originally took it. Funny how that happens.

Ray Mortenson

Ray Mortenson
Mr.Seinberg sent me this great article from the Arts section of the NY Times:

Ray Mortenson is having an exhibition at The Museum of the City of New York which opens Saturday December 13th at 2:00pm. I'll be there!

More on this later...