Friday, July 31, 2009

Seeing All The Angles

While spending time the other day in Empire - Fulton Ferry Park, located under the Manhattan Bridge overpass - DUMBO - in Brooklyn, I looked for ways to show the famous bridges - the Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, in different ways since those spans have been photographed millions of times. And taking advantage of the surroundings was my key to success. There are several sculptures on the grounds and incorporating them in the photos gave the 'mature' subjects - the bridges - a different look. Here's a tower of the Manhattan seen through the curves of an art piece - making it appear bigger than it really is and rendering the bridge a smaller element in the composition.

I had to twist and turn to find an angle as I faced a stand of mirrored hands that reflected the Manhattan Bridge behind me while the south tower of the Brooklyn Bridge loomed in front of me.
I'll return to the park on a sunny - blue sky - puffy white cloud day - and really get some nice shots with more color in them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Day In DUMBO

Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass -DUMBO is not that far of a walk from where I live. So with a handy umbrella in my backpack, I wandered in and around that popular section of Brooklyn.

Even when taking a picture of a sign, I wanted to dress it up and the light tubes surrounding the DUMBO window sticker and the reflected glass of the door helped quite a bit.

Some parts of the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) received nearly three inches of rain in a two hour period. And many of us who were out in the elements wished we had clunky rubber boots like this guy. It was soaking summer thunder and lighting downpour at times. A tornado-like funnel cloud did some damage to trees and power lines in New Jersey.

But the great thing about bad weather is it helps produce some nice photo opportunities. This is one of the towers of the Manhattan Bridge reflected in a puddle of rain water. A big drop of droplet landed on the upper left portion of the frame to help this shot stand out from the millions of photos taken of this bridge.

While in one of the parks facing lower Manhattan, these guys were recording scenes for a movie they were making when the skies opened up. BTW, during a thunder and lighting storm - it's not a good idea to stand under a tree. Lighting seeks the highest exposed point. A guy was killed last weekend in Brooklyn after lighting struck him and the tree he was standing under during a storm.

While standing under an awning while waiting for a cloud burst to subside, I wanted to make an attempt at catching the rain drops on the edge of my shelter with the tower of the Manhattan Bridge making an interesting backdrop.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Self Portrait

I went upstairs and out onto the deck to soak up a few minutes of sun - we're still waiting for our first 90 degree day since April - and the strong shadows created by the 12-noon sun led me to create a self-portrait of one of my familiar poses.
Hi Linda!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend Favorites

It was my honor to narrate the story of these aviation pioneers - The Tuskegee Airmen - who are honored each year at Yankee Stadium. The Tuskegee Airmen are the nation's first African American pilots, bombardiers, navigators and support personnel. The group - hundreds in numbers - was formed because Blacks weren't allowed to be a part of the mainstream US military during World War II. Every year, because of advancing age, there are fewer and fewer surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Yankees make sure their contributions to America's freedom are not forgotten. Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia (3rd from right) takes part in the pre-game ceremony.

Derek Jeter take flight to avoid a sliding base-runner during the Yankees' win over Oakland. It was a case of self preservation after Jeter realized the throw from catcher Jorge Posada was sailing out of his reach and into center-field. Many fans view Jeter as a kind of Superman. In this shot, he looks like he's ready to leap a tall building in a single bound!

I was about to get off the subway at Yankee Stadium when - after reaching for my backpack which was on the ground - I noticed this guy's kicks matched the floor of the subway. So I took one shot - got what I wanted - and got off the train,

And to cap off my group of recent favorites is the bird sitting on the "U" of the Yankee Stadium sign in left-field. Even from as far away from the sign as I sit, one couldn't help but notice the bright white bird sitting on the letter (well ... actually, many thousands found a way to miss this - but that's their loss.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

90% Luck - 10% Skill

Trying to get really good shots of lighting can be a hit or miss proposition. And I landed on both sides following Friday's game at Yankee Stadium. There was no rain, but plenty of thunder accompanied by lighting flashes over the ballpark.

So I stood on the nearby subway platform stairs and tried to guess when the lighting would appear and then press the shutter button on my camera.

The first picture is my favorite because of the amount of light in the sky.

The second picture though does have a small lighting bolt in the center of the shot. These are two of about six pictures that came out decently - the other 50 or 60 shots I took were deleted on the train ride home because I completely missed the lighting flashes and just had black sky over the stadium. Click on the pictures for full-screen versions of both photos.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Yankees' Latest Hero

Here's the Yankees' Hidecki Matsui arriving to a home-plate celebration after hitting a game-winning solo homer in the ninth inning to beat the Orioles, 2-1 at Yankee Stadium.

This kind of scene has been repeated often this season for the Yankees who - thanks to a Boston loss - are tied for first place in the AL East. I like the trio of Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Melky Cabrerra - on the left - waiting to catch Matsui's helmet after he tossed it away. A player get hit on the head by his happy teammates and they all know now not to wear their batting helmet when they come around to home plate. Others who kept their helmet on suffered bruised or broken noses in the celebration.

And the celebratory whipped-cream pie in the face was a sure bet for Matsui since he was the hero. Pitcher A.J. Burnett is the chief pie maker and he always finds a why to sneak-up on his target. Burnett did need a fake pie-thrower a few weeks ago when Jorge Posada was the hero and was waiting for the pie. The diversion worked ... and Burnett delivered his pie to Posada.

My Past and My Present

The Los Angeles Times' article about me and my L.A. history and my N.Y. present is online now and on the newstands Monday, July 20th. Check it out.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Perfect Day For ...

The day was picture-perfect. Temps in the low 80's and almost no humidity and it was Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium and all the recollections of steamy days with rain and wind ( last Friday was like that) were buried. And the Yankees won the game - completing a three game series sweep of the Tigers.

In order to give this picture a little more pop, I took off my polarized sunglasses and took this shot thru one of the lenses. The polarized lens cuts down on the haze and brings out the colors.

While thousands enjoyed baseball in the Bronx, others wanted to participate in their favorite sport and golf was the choice of this man who caught a few zzzzzzzz's while riding the number 4 subway train home after a day on the links.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Style And Substance

Plate umpire Tim Tschida (Shee- da) is one of the few umps who gives his strike calls a little extra early in the ball-strike count. Here, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez is taking strike two, but Tschida is up with a strong right hand and a high knee lift to let the big crowd at the stadium know he's into the game. Of course, Tschida's mannerisms are mild compared to Leslie Nielsen's in the movie, Naked Gun.

The substance is - once again - rain. We've had more than our share of rain this season and this shower delayed the game for almost one hour. But after it cleared up - the Yankees went onto a 5-3 win over Detroit.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Night Shots

Roaming the streets of lower Manhattan - on my way to the Brooklyn Bridge - led me to this colorful scene. But it still needed something. And when the security guard started walking to the other side of the courtyard - creating the subtle motion blur - I knew I had my shot. His movement helps give some scale and life to the large interior.

I took this shot of the Brooklyn Bridge from the South Street Seaport and the key was using the camera's 10 - second timer to get a steady shot at night. There's no way I could do this by hand -holding the camera - especially since I rated the ISO at 100. The star-like quality of the lights is created by using an f8 setting in aperture priority. I prefer to take "night" shots of bridges and buildings at dusk when there's still some color in the sky, but I didn't get here until 9:30 p.m., so you make to most of the situation by finding a flat surface, aiming the camera and setting the timer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My New York City Counterpart

The man on the megaphone is Kenny as he does the running commentary of the West 4th Street Courts All-Star game near lower Manhattan in New York. I'm just glad I don't have to use such a device to do the public address announcements at Yankee Stadium - I'd have to speak very loudly to be heard in the upper deck.
The action here at the West 4th courts always draws a crowd of spectators because many of the top local and NBA players often stop by to take part in the high-stakes pick-up games that are staged every week during the summer.
And if you're hungry, a burger and fries are just across the street at the golden arches.
You can barely see Kenny's megaphone just at the left elbow of the player in red wearing #3 on the right side of the picture. Not the best place to do play by play, but he made the most of his location and was on top of the action at both ends of the court.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Window Seat

For a change, I wasn't sitting in a window seat on my return trip from Los Angeles to New York. But not because I didn't want one. As was the case when I left New York on Jet Blue, my window seat headphone jack was broken making the multi-channel Direct-TV useless, so I moved to an aisle seat and took these shots upon landing at 6:15 a.m. at JFK airport.
In the top picture, I liked the position of the guy's hand as he watched his east coast world come into view. The hat and the light on the side of his face lift the photo from the ordinary.

In the second picture, I cropped out nearly everything except the clean lines of the window, part of the seat and the man looking out of the window. Thanks to the light landing on his left side, I'm able to show texture in his shirt which adds some feeling of depth. We're sitting at the gate - in the very last row - so there was no rush to stand up and get off the plane - a perfect time to take shots.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Found Artwork

While the summer weather in New York has been pretty mild - lots of rain, but not much in the way of high temps - I was able to find the heat out west in Los Angeles. The gauge on my rental car tells the story: 102 degrees while passing through Woodland Hills the other day. There's not much humidity, so the heat is bearable.
While in L.A., I came across this giant painting of New York's famous Flatiron Building. It's 47 inches by 47 inches - but it weighs less than 20 pounds and costs $200. I want it - the previous tenant in my apartment in Brooklyn has a similar big photograph of the same building on the wall - but the store, Urban Home, doesn't ship items and the store is only in California. So I'm gonna check into the cost of shipping it myself. Nice painting eh?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back To Normal in L.A.

I'm back in Los Angeles for a few days to see family and friends (and the Yankees and Angels Saturday.) It was the day after the big Micheal Jackson memorial service at the downtown Staples Center which was the epicenter for the worldwide coverage of the event. Almost everybody has gone home - save for a few TV trucks and a stray reporter and techs. As I take this shot, Staples Center is behind me. I'm shooting towards the smaller intimate concert venue, the Nokia Center.

Meanwhile, not far away from Staples Center, this giant billboard is back in place to welcome return the Dodgers' Manny Ramirez. Right now, Manny is playing with his team on the road after serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's performance enhancement drug policy. At first, the Dodgers said they'd no longer promote the "Mannywood" section of Dodger Stadium. (Mannywood is a word play on the famous Hollywood sign.) But since it seems most L.A. fans are happy to have Manny back with the team, the Dodgers say the promotion will be back in place in some of the cheaper - hard to sell - seats at Dodger Stadium.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

MJ Artwork

The artist, D.E. Cayard, says he sold the canvas he's looking at, for $3500 to a visitor from Japan. He's sitting outside the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, a few days before the Michael Jackson memorial service in Los Angeles. Cayard said he was on TV three different times Saturday talking about his tribute to Jackson. And since he didn't size me up as much competition in terms of copying his style, he urged me to take as many photos as I wanted. Some artists are very sensitive about people snapping pictures of their works - fearing cheap knockoffs or blown-up versions of their creations ending up on a wall at a fraction of buying the real thing.
These other artistic tributes to Jackson were done in a more impromptu - but no less impressive -way on the condolence wall outside of the Apollo. It's amazing to me how someone can capture the essence of a person with some simple lines on a blank sheet. I think the worldwide TV viewing audience for the Jackson memorial will be in the billions.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Favorite Shots From The Weekend

The Michael Jackson story is still a popular subject no matter the language.

This guy said Micheal inspired his ... look.

The Subway train entertainment Sunday was worthy of a couple of bucks from me. I'm still waiting for the magician and the break-dancers to pick my car again - they were great.

The famous Empire State Building is dressed up in the proper colored lights for the July 4th weekend.

Umpire Marty Foster points to the right-field line to tell players and fans exactly where a foul ball landed during the Yankees-Blue Jays game. Umps rarely make a show of their calls like this, but Foster felt compelled to sell his decision with an strong gesture.

Lighting Up The Sky

The last time I attended New York's annual Macy's massive fireworks show, it was the middle of 1997 - just months before I moved to Florida.

Back then, the nation's biggest Fourth of July blast was on the east side of town. This year's show was on the west side.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the 20o9 fireworks show.

Next year, I hope to be on a boat in the middle of the river so I can see the entire show without a building or two blocking my view.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Can't Get Enough of MJ

It's a busy July 4th weekend in and around New York's historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. I wanted to see how people were choosing to honor the memory of Michael Jackson and getting a T-shirt, hat, poster, button and even an umbrella with his face (faces?) on it was the way to go. These are just a few of the varied scenes on 125th street.

I lucked out here with the sun flare and the bright light bouncing off her white shirt to help bring the blue color of the T-shirt to life. This was a total blind shot as I pressed the shutter as I walked by without looking to see what I had until later.

Hundreds of people poured out their feelings on the remembrance wall outside the Apollo.
This reminded me of similar expressions of condolence in New York after Princess Diana died in August of 1997.

Some of the street vendors say they're heading to Los Angeles for Tuesday's huge memorial service for Jackson. They said L.A. is where the really big money will be made.
President Obama's election haul was very good, but they say they've never experienced the retail bonanza that has come in the aftermath of Jackson's passing.