Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Shots From California

The surface of the downtown Los Angeles Disney Concert Hall reflects light in different ways depending on the time of day. After a brief, but intense rain shower, dark block-like moisture stains - remnants from the rain - remain until they dry.

Here's a wider loook at the stainless steel exterior of the Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The Frank Gehry designed building opened in 2003 at a cost of $274 million dollars.

Salt and pepper shakers stand at attention - waiting to spring into action to help people enjoy their food even more.

I don't think this plate would be allowed in many places. But in California it's OK.

I should do a book of the photos I've taken while waiting for a light to change. I actually have found that as soon as I grab for my camera, the light seems to go in my favor much quicker. Try it when you're in a hurry.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

My first shot is the "beauty" view of this fountain across from the downtown Los Angeles Music Center complex. Great colors - reminds me of frozen pop bars. But when you look at the photo below, you'll see I had to crop out a less-than-attractive parts of the image.

The fountain is located above the ugly "beast -like" parking garage and leaving that part of the image in the frame detracts from the scene created in one's mind when you look at any water display. Whatever that picture is in your head, I'm sure parking structures are not included.

This has nothing to do with the fountain matter but it could fit the "beauty' theme. These ladies were headed to a party in downtown Los Angeles with a 1920's motif. I guess even women had facial hair in those days. They were happy to pose for a portrait.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Night In Bryant Park

On my way to Bryant Park to do some Christmas shopping, I stopped to photograph the front of the Main Library that borders the park on its eastern side. The iconic building - opened in 1911 - is a vast repository of learning and one of New York City's most visited landmarks. I wanted something a little different and totally lucked into this shot with the pedi-cab driver and his rig being in the shot. I had put the camera on its 10 second timer and just before the shutter tripped, this guy wheeled into the frame. It's better to be lucky than good! The street light on the left helps add balance to the picture.

The Christmas tree and ice-skating rink at Bryant Park - along with the many pop-up shops that open for the hoiliday season - are big attractions. That's the Main Library in the background.

The Bank of America tower overlooks Bryant Park to the northwest. I like the way the shape of the building reflects light in different ways depending on where one is standing and the time of day.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm Not Quite THIS Bad Off

Two Lessons here: Number one - of course - is always have your camera handy to grab these once-in-a-lifetime shots when they present themselves and Number two: Playing guitar is tiring ... for some. This guy was wiped out after - I'm guessing - a long day of busking (performing in public spaces for money) in and around New York City. I was drawn to this scene by the blue guitar and the not-so-apparent devotion of its owner to it. The thing is tied by some string to his body while he naps. And - what else is new? - the two guys on the right pretty much are ignoring everything except their tiny phone screens as life goes on around them in the subway.

These are MY fingers. I started playing guitar again about three months ago and the ragged condition of my fingertips is the result of hours of practice. If I play too long I can feel some discomfort in them. But for the most part it's a pain free by-product of a new desire to express myself in a musical way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brooklyn's Own

The Brooklyn Borough Hall Christmas tree was unveiled the other night in un-winter-like 61 degree conditions (actual winter-like snow is headed our way later this week.) Thanks to an evening rain, I took advantage of the nice reflective quality of the ground leading to the tree and its historic backdrop. Borough Hall was once the City Hall of Brooklyn when the borough was - in fact - a seperate city on its own many, many years ago.

A closer look reveals the details on the facade of Borough Hall - ribbons and wreaths adorning its face I'll go back to see what it looks like when there's snow on the ground in a few days.

In search of a different angle, I climbed the steps of Borough Hall to shoot from behind the massive Roman columns. The building in the distance is the federal bankruptcy court that we all try to avoid.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

If Three's A Crowd ... Four Must Be A Parade

Here is the best of the four ... yes, four boats that participated in the Third Annual New York City Lighted Boat Parade. The newspaper article I saw talking about this event suggested that up to 20 vessels would be in the water. Perhaps not everybody got the memo or text or tweet. The boats made their way around the East River between the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge (seen above). As usual, click on the picture for a large slide show of the images.

These boats - in terms of shooting decent pictures - are moving pretty fast. So I'm going for the abstract look. The blue lights help to define its basic shape.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Southern California Sights From The Car

You spend a lot of time in your car in southern California because places are so spread out. It takes plenty of minutes off the clock just to get to where you're going. So out comes the camera to pass the time during traffic jams and this first shot is of an evening at sunset from the Hollywood Freeway.

Cars are a necessary part of the culture out here. Some owners are serious about making a statement while making their way to a destination. This classic Pontiac was zipping along the 405 freeway and I was lucky to get a clear shot on an otherwise crowded roadway on a Saturday afternoon. This car is clean!

Driving on the Harbor Freeway heading east to take the I-5 off ramp (which is on the left), I noticed Cal Trans installed very bright lane markers to help drivers know where the I-5 lane is located.

While waiting for a street light to change, the light in the sky changed and the filtered sun provided the backdrop to the many hundreds of power poles in and around the Los Angeles area.

Friday, November 18, 2011

From and In the Air

On the ground in Burbank after flying from New York. Palm trees on the left, the sun and blue skies ... yep, California.

Maybe I like the color blue a little too much. Now, my food choices must feature something blue? Who's heard of "naturally blue potatoes?"

The airline graveyard in Tucson, Arizona where retired passenger planes go to sit and wait for a call to get back into action. Or at least provide some parts for other jets.

I'm not sure where this is. Either Utah or Arizona. Anyway, this part of the west looks different from the other Grand Canyon-like types of typography one can see from the air due to its circular appearance.

This looks like the land in and around the Grand Canyon. The angle of sun helps to give this photo - taken from my seat (21A) - some texture. I think this is somewhere over Utah.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Best of the Week in Florida

I like variety when it comes to making pictures and it was a good week for that in Florida. This is one of my favorites from the past seven days. I took it in a restaurant while waiting for my food to arrive. This window scene looks like a painting, but it's the view of the side of a house next to where I was dining.

Rolling Stone Magazine's selection of Kaki King as one of their living "Guitar Gods" is right on the mark. She put on a great show in Clearwater, Florida on Wednesday. I'm in the front row of the balcony but thanks to the zoom lens on my little point and shoot camera, I was able to get in close. Check out the length of the nail on her right thumb. I'm pretty sure is a glue-on.

We arrived in the New York area early but thanks to lots of ground congestion, we circled near JFK airport for almost 45 minutes. This is the Atlantic Ocean coast line. The sea looks pretty churned up.

Just before I went downstairs from my 8th floor Tampa, Florida hotel room, I took a time-exposure of I-275. I wanted to get the streaks of lights from the cars while getting some of the golden light on Tampa Bay itself at the top of the frame.

If you continued on I-275 and wanted to head over to St Petersburg, Florida, the freeway leads onto the Howard Franklin Expressway that slices through Tampa Bay.

There was a wedding at the hotel and these ladies were leaving the reception. I caught one of them waving good-bye to the folks downstairs.

While shopping at Target to get some razor blades, I visited a pond in back of the near-by Whole Foods to check on the wildlife. I lucked out a caught this Heron zeroing in on dinner.

From that same pond-side parking lot, this Heron is preening its plumage as it gets ready for our photo shoot.

The week began with the AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base. The Air Force Thunderbirds precision flying team put on a great show.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"One Hot Guitarist"

Rolling Stone Magazine calls Kaki King a "Guitar God" (the only female on their list to earn such a title.) King - a former New York City subway performer with a unique, percussive, finger-style - played in Clearwater, Florida at the Capitol Theater.

Towards the end of her performance, the fire alarm went off in the Capitol Theater and we had to evacuate to the street - all of us including the star of the show, Kaki King, waited out the surprise delay. One usher said King must be "one hot guitarist" in order for the fire department to show up.

Since photos of guitar players are plentiful, you look for something to make the pictures stand apart from the pack. Any kind of gesture is welcome and Kaki King provided plenty of those moments because she liked speaking to the audience between sets in her aminated fashion.

Kaki King play seven different guitars. Here's a look as three of them - each with a different tuning and sound. The one on the left has 12 strings. The one in the middle has slated frets.

Adding some variety to her show, Kaki King's sound tech, Dan Brantigan, played trumpet while she acompanied on one of her many guitars.

Monday, November 7, 2011

In The Sky

My latest trip to Tampa, Florida coincided with the annual Airfest at MacDill Air Force Base. My timing couldn't have been better. This show - in past years - had been held in March and when I was here at the time, I was disappointed to learn the show had been moved to November. The show draws big crowds and the highlight - for me - featured the United States Air Force Thunderbirds precision flying team. I put this photo through my special post-production soup (not Photoshop - I don't use it) and came up with something I like very much. Click on the pic to see a larger version - that goes for all the pictures.

A lot of Top-Gun dreams of flying fighter jets are born at airshows like the annual Airfest at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. The start of the show was delayed 35 minutes because the F-16's had to wait until a flock of turkey buzzards cleared the area.

It's awesome to see these F-16 fighter jets fly in formation. These jets - the Fighting Falcon/Viper - can attain a top speed of 1500 miles per hour. Over 4,000 of these jets have been made and 25 countries have stocked their respective air forces with this model.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

On The Way To JFK

As I was - rushing to catch my plane (for the first time in my lengthy flying life, I was the last passenger to board. Thanks to the electric cart lady for "speeding") I stopped for 20 seconds or so to take this shot of the JFK airport control tower and the tarmac activity. Because different types of lights show up differently in photographs. The blue, green and amber/yellow hues lend a painterly air to the scene. Click the pic for a larger version.

On my way - in the airport tram - to the Delta terminal at JFK airport, I was able to see all the way back into New York City and the ongoing construction of the new World Trade Center successor - The Freedom Tower (R). The setting sun provides the colorful background to the Manhattan skyline. Click the pic to see a larger version of this image.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We Could Be In For A Long Winter

The latter days of October have brought record snowfall to the New York Tri-State area. This calamity comes on the heels of having to deal with an earthquake and a hurricane this year which followed a brutal winter.

I'm really looking forward to an upcoming Florida trip - it'll help me to prepare for the next weather surprise!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Celebration Before The Storm

A lot of us in New York were happy to get out of the house tonight to see the fireworks show in honor of the 125th anniversary of the famed Statue of Liberty. Saturday our first - and about eight weeks early - snowfall is due. In the city, about one inch of the slushy stuff - but in the outer reaches of the tri-state area up to 10 inches of snow is expected.

The Empire State building displays my favorite shade of blue. This time tomorrow night, there no way I'll be able to even see the landmark because of the expected snowfall which is heading this way and is just hours away.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Would You Write?

The Pop-Up Art installation craze is sweeping the nation ... or, at least in New York. This chalk board was put up for a few hours on a downtown Brooklyn street corner. And, as you can see, people responded with mostly legit answers to the statement: BEFORE I DIE .... (Click on the picture itself to enlarge it and read what passersby wrote.)

Here's a woman who is looking for a publisher. The entry next to her is a sentiment many of us have: To Die Happy. Time will tell about that :-)