Grasp The Moment Photography

The World We Are Given

Decade

Ten years ago, on a hot Tuesday night, my little boy came screaming into the world. He was a little peanut, 5lbs, 1 oz. He was so small his cries for the first few weeks were soft, like a kitten.

I don’t have to describe how your entire world changes when you become a father. All that was important isn’t and you find yourself worrying about feedings, diapers and sleep schedules. James didn’t like to sleep when he was born, and there were nights I’d hold him for hours, walking around, signing a lullaby version of “Franklin’s Tower” until he fell asleep.

He’s 10 years old today. My little boy isn’t so little anymore

Happy Birthday James. Daddy loves you so very, very much.

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Drops

…and the oppressive heat wave that is strangling the city continues for another day.

The only good thing about weather like this are the afternoon end of the world thunder storms we get. The sky gets this greyish black color, the wind starts to blow hard, and the temperature drops briefly.

And then boom. Fat drops fall from sky. Thunder booms through the air and the entire world lights up with a crash of lighting. The drops fall faster and faster until everything is covered in a solid curtain of rain. Some people run for cover, others dance in storm. In minutes though, it’s gone. The storm clouds move on, and the heat returns. The puddles that were formed only a little while ago on the concrete dry up and disappear. The trees and plants do all they can to hold the precious water they just harvested. Tiny drops sit on their leaves and petals. To a flower, it’s a matter of survival, this tiny drop of water provides what it needs to make food, to grow, and to make it until there’s another summer downpour.


Summer In The City

Outside it’s so hot, the sidewalks are melting into a puddle of goo. I’m sitting protected from the disgusting inside my apartment, breathing in recycled air-conditioned air, listening to the hum of the machine in the window that’s keeping things bearable.

This is what summer in NYC is like. We have miles of shore line where we can play in the spray of the ocean waves and substitute a breeze coming off the water for the AC for awhile, but getting to them are the hard part. The roads are choked with traffic, and are twice as hot. Once there, good luck finding a small sliver of real estate in the mass of humanity there.

So yesterday as the thermometer began to explode, we tried to seek relief in whatever form we could – namely a handful of water balloons and a few buckets of water. It didn’t last too long, but it was a delightful escape for a little while.

Stay cool everyone.

PS … Don’t forget to vote for me in the 2011 PDN One Life Photo Competition!!


Makes Phone Calls Too

I love my Iphone.

I find the world is divided these days into two groups. Those who have smartphones and can’t live without them and those who don’t understand why we have them in the first place. I’m obviously in the first category.

I used to love my Driod, but it locked up all the time, would never receive calls properly and sucked battery life. So when I noticed I had a free upgrade at the exact time Verizon was coming out with the IPhone… well the rest is history.

Now I can do all the funky stuff that smartphone users can do. (No, I’m not blogging from my phone.) I can Google absolutely anything at the drop of a hat, like why barns are red. I watch myself cross the street on a map in real time. I can instantly locate coffee shops when we wake up in a motel room in strange cities – this alone makes it the most invaluable tool since the wheel.

But this isn’t a geek-blog, so let me get to the point. The damn thing has a camera too. A 5 megapixel camera actually, which when coupled with Retina display makes images pop. The display is so good that I’ve loaded some of the images off the site to my phone to show clients. The camera is fast and crystal clear. It’s great for those times I don’t have my DSLRs handy.

But the really cool thing is the Hipstamatic app, which arms the built in camera with a dozen different vintage films, lenses, and flashes. It’s the definition of cool. I play with it a lot, especially when I’m at my “real job” and my cameras are at home. It’s also great when I don’t have the time or the luxury of using my DSLR, like standing in line at Ferrara’s Bakery or when I find a random Dylan quote scrawled on the wall of bathroom.

And the damn thing makes phone calls too!


Back In Time

I hate the term “staycation”, it grates on my last nerve. Kinda like the sound of cutting through a Styrofoam plate. So Kim and I didn’t spend a week on a “staycation”, we had a “We’re too broke to go anywhere-cation”.

Looking at though, “staycation” doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

We had hoped maybe to head north, into Massachusetts to a little town called Sturbridge. I’ve been there a few times in my life, and the main attraction there is the restored village, Old Sturbridge Village. It’s set in the 1840s, the people who work there carry out their day as if this was their village, and they go about their daily lives. It’s a wild place to visit, and Kim and I will get there someday.

Here in New York, we have Old Bethpage Village. We visited there last month, and was sad to see it had deteriorated from what we remember from our youth. It was still a great day, with lots to see, but many of the buildings were closed, and the workers didn’t seem as enthusiastic.

If nothing else, it was nice to go to a place to pretend – even for a little bit – that we lived in a simpler time, when you the stress you feel today over bills and where the next dollar was coming from didn’t exist.


Something Is Forming

I’m no stranger to nature. As a boy scout, I went camping with my troop almost every month for years. In my teens, I was chosen to head to Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico, in the heart of San Cristo mountains. You couldn’t ask for a more rugged and natural setting.

But I live in New York City, where we seem to compartmentalize our nature. Little squares set aside in the middle of this metropolis reserved for nature. The term “vest pocket park” is the name given to the tiny oasis of green that pop up around Manhattan.

Nature in California seemed different though. As we drove down the Pacific Coast highway, the beauty and majesty of mother nature was surrounding us, getting thicker and thicker as we drove deep into Big Sur. I could never do it justice if I tried to describe it in words, so let me try it this way. My first knowledge of the Pacific Coast Highway was on one of those lists of “Places To See Before You Die”. After being there, I think it should be a requirement of life, maybe on a list of “Places To See So You Can Know What Life Is Really All About”. Now I can’t wait to see the all the other places on the list.

As usual though, Max Creek added their touch to situation. Kim and I left Monterey early and was one of the first visitors to Point Lobos State Park. We hiked along the rocks that jetted out into the Pacific. Waves crashed around us. Sea Lions barked below and birds of all kinds played in the air above. In the distance, we could see dolphins jumping in the water. It was a surreal scene for city slickers like us. We couldn’t imagine a place like this actually existed, much less that were standing there. As we took in the heaviness of the entire scene, from seemingly nowhere, Creek broke out with Mark’s keys leading into Scott signing “Something is forming on the edge of the universe…” and Kim and I just stood there, smiling, nodding our heads with a collective “yeah”.

The only thing that broke the mood was me realizing that no, the band hadn’t followed us, set up, and surprised is with a morning serenade… it was the ringtone to my phone.

But the nature was real…

More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…


The Rock

Even in the broad daylight, Alcatraz is spooky.

Sitting in the middle of San Francisco Bay, sticking out of the water like a giant turtle back, the island seems to grow meaner and meaner as you approach. Of course, now you get there on a ferry service run by the National Park Service – I can’t even imagine what it was like heading there in shackles with armed guards surrounding you.

Built to housed Civil War prisoners in 1861, then converted to be a federal prison in 1933, it housed some of the meanest and baddest men in the country. Today it’s one of the main attractions in San Francisco and a definite stop when Kim and I were there. It was originally named La Isla de los Alcatraces by the Spanish who first discovered the island, meaning Island Of Pelicans. Even though we didn’t see any Pelicans, it seems that seagulls greatly outnumber humans.

There’s no threat of being locked up there today, but that didn’t stop the creepy tingling I had in the back of neck the whole time I was there. The cells were small and cold. The bars were heaby and thick. The “Hole”… well it’s pretty much everything you expect The Hole to be. Even though the door remained opened, I only spent a few minutes inside, I can’t even fathom spending any more time than that in there.

Leaving the island, we knew we had a great day – capped off by July 4th fireworks and dinner at a five star resturant … but that wasn’t the only reason I felt relieved to be going. Maybe since it was July 4th, I was appreciating my freedom a little more – or maybe it was just that the message Alcatraz was meant to give in the first place was working.

Crime doesn’t pay.

More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…


City By The Bay

The loveliness of Paris
Seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome
Is of another day
I’ve been terribly alone
And forgotten in Manhattan
I’m going home to my city by the bay.

A year ago, after a morning of scrambling over cancelled flights, Kim and I touched down in San Francisco, and part of me is still there.

Nothing can describe the breath taking view of the Golden Gate Bridge, or the beauty of standing on the cliffs in the Marin Highlands watching birds in the high above the crashing waves.

I could spend many a day wandering the streets of the Haight, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. Even now, I’m craving a bowl of clam chowder in bread bowl from Boudin on Peir 39, but would just be the appetizer for some crab in garlic sauce at the Crabhouse. Of course a ride on the cable cars, a drive down Filbert Street, and getting lost in the Presidio, and the long walk uphill to Alamo Square.

Next… maybe we’ll head to Alcartaz….

More photos of my 2010 California vacation can be seen on my site here…

I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me.
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars!
The morning fog may chill the air
I don’t care!
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco,
Your golden sun will shine for me!


A Celebration Down 5th Ave

This isn’t the first time I’ve attended the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Parade by any means. I make it a point to attend annually, not just to hone my photography skills, but to show my support and help celebrate this slice of NYC.

But this year, something was different.

Every year, the parade is a complex mix of pageantry and color, pride and happiness, with a dose of somber remembrance and social consciousnesses thrown. This year had all those things, but there was something else in the air. A wonderful look of celebration burned brightly in the eyes of every participant, as well as spectator. Just the day before the parade, the NY State Senate passed, and Governor Cuomo signed the Same Sex marriage act, joining only 5 other states that allow marriage to be based on love and not gender. It was another step forward along the path of granting all Americans equal civil rights.

I tried to capture some of this joyous attitude, as well as the pageantry and colors and all else that goes into the pride parade. My brother took the year off, enjoying to watch and not march, but a close childhood friend did pass us by, and it was great to see him so happy and celebrating the day.

Kim and I watched for a while – not only was there a lot to see, but I had new gear to play with. We finally headed home as the parade passed our spot, on it’s way towards Greenwich Village. When the crowds reach the Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights movement began over 40 years ago, the parade ends.

But maybe this is the year that won’t happen. Maybe this year even though the parade will end physically, it’s spirit will carry on, state to state, until we, as a nation, allow two people – regardless of gender – to dedicate their lives to each other. Maybe this is the year the rights we are supposed to be granted under the constitution will apply to every citizen.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr Suess

Click here to see all my images from the New York City LGBT Pride Parade

Click here to see all my images from the New York City LGBT Pride Parade


Light

Wikipedia defines light as the portion of electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, responsible for the sense of sight. It defines sight as the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye and color is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others

Confusing, cold, scientific definitions which give the answers needed, but fall short in describing the feelings of lights, colors, and most of all sight. It in now way captures the essence of fireworks exploding in the sky. or the way the world seems to change when you drive past a police cruiser, lights ablaze on a dark stretch of highway – or even more so – when one pulls you over. It can’t begin to paint the picture of candles providing the sole illumination in a lover’s bedroom, the neon of the Times Square or the blinking lights of a Christmas tree, and the light up Santa half buried in the snow.

I remember being a young boy, on vacation, in a strange hotel room, waking up in the middle of the night. My parents and sister were all sleeping, but I lay in bed gazing out a gap between the curtains. There was a road outside, and every so often a car would come along, I would watch as the headlights began as two white points the distance, growing larger and larger, then once it passed the hotel, turned to two red dots which grew smaller and smaller into the distance.

Lights inside the darkness, color surrounded by blackness, and the beautiful gift of sight to bring it all to us, how does anyone even begin to describe that?