is exactly what we need sometimes.
Kim and I have been jonesin’ for some live music lately. We’ve been laying low since Max Creek’s explosive 40th anniversary bash in Rhode Island (which I owe you a blog about, don’t I?) Between the heat, the kids and their busy schedules, and the empty wallets, it been hard to get out.
So there really wasn’t a question when we found out that the necleus of of the Funky Godmothers were hitting the beach with Guy Nevirs on guitar. We jumped in the truck, picked up some friends and headed to Far Rockaway, a place that would almost make you forget you were still in Queens.
You couldn’t ask for a better spot for a summertime gig. Out on the back deck, above the water, an incredible breeze in the air, although I could have done without the bar next door playing the same Johnny Cash greatest hits cd over and over – nothing against the Man in Black. The place was oddly enough a Thai restaurant (that served Itailan Ice, my buddy Jeff pointed out) but the beer was cold so it ok in my book.
The band set up in the corner and began grooving away on some classic tunes. They never got crazy all night, kind laid back, old tunes. A few more nights out and I know they’ll bring out the hard stuff. It was perfect though, for a nice relaxing night with some friends, some beers and a great setting.
It was my first night out with my new gear too… all the stuff I shot was with the D7000 on an unimaginable ISO and the most wicked lens giving me an unreal f2.8 aperture. Came away with some decent shots, enjoy…
Yesterday was Christmas all over again.
Except I was my own personal Santa and no one came down my chimney. I did, however, walk away with some pretty sweet ass presents.
To help my growing business, I made a serious gear investment, and walked away with the new Nikon D7000, a new Nikon SB900 flash and an amazing Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens.
What do all these numbers and jargon mean to non-photographers? Umm.. I got some really awesome shit!
Yesterday there was a lot of personal stuff going on with the kiddies, so even though I physically picked up my new gear yesterday, I wasn’t able to play – I mean learn how to use it. And learn is an accurate description because the D7000 has more controls than the space shuttle, and I feel I need a PHD to master them all. The lens… that’s gonna take a heck of a lot to get used to…
So this morning, I woke bright eyed and busy tailed, my mind racing of all the places I could go and start my training. I sat there, sipping my coffee, creating a mental itinerary of all the places and things I could see, and didn’t really even hear what Kim said to me.
“What?” I asked, “You want to go to a flea market?” I said with doubt and disbelief until I remembered that yes, we were planing on heading to see our good friend Noel at her new shop “Catfight Boutique”. So, I took the new toys along and as the girls chatted, I snapped away. Nothing special, but a learning process, part of the ultimate goal of me becoming better and better.
Oh … and if you’re ever in Queens, definitely stop by Catfight Boutique, Noel’s actually got some really cool stuff.
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?
I love New York City.
To those who don’t live here, it just can’t be described. It’s a giant web of lights, colors, sounds, smells (yes some nasty ones, especially in the summer on the 7 train), people, places and things. It’s a living, breathing, growing entity which can never be duplicated or matched. I’ve been other places, and most are “lets go to this district and see something” but all of the big apple is something to see. You can find as many interesting things on the south shore of Staten Island than in the middle of 42nd street. All you need to do is look.
I always find it a shame how many New Yorkers don’t look. They hustle along to and fro and never stop to admire the city around them. The faces they past, the colors in the sky, the smells in the air. (I’ve found some incredible pizza joints following my nose.)
But it’s my responsibility to be the one who does look, isn’t it? It’s my eye – and my lens – that’s supposed to be catching those sights, and even though I can’t bring the scent of the freshly cooked slice to you, but I can make it look so damn good you’re dying for a bite.
I’m not the only one, thankfully, and I’m in no way one of the best. Take James Maher for example. The miles he strolls around this city, camera in hand, would probably put him to the moon and back. He captures street life at its best, and most honest. He blooged the other day about setting a tripod on a street corner and what walked by and now I find it a thought that won’t get out of my head. Wouldn’t that be something? Just set up and see who stops. In this city, the cross section of life you’d capture would be amazing. Might be something I have to try. Stop by his blog, if you’re from the city you’ll see things that feel like home, and if you’re not… well, this is New York City… enjoy.
Here are some of my favorite NYC shots. I don’t many of the faces and people that make up the city, I guess I’ve been concentrating on other sights for now. Maybe I should grab that tripod. Anyway … enjoy.
WC Fields once said he’d never work with children or animals. I had his words in mind as I entered the Glendale branch of Bobbi & The Strays.
Bobbi & The Strays is a 100% non-profit no-kill animal rescue organization, located in Queens. They rescue stray dogs and cats from the streets, and from situations of abuse and neglect. Before today, the only contact I had with them before today was my kids looking through the windows at the cute dogs & cats. But a volunteer from Bobbi & The Strayscontacted me, needing photos done for publicity purposes.
The day was challenging at best… it’s damn impossible to ask – even politely – a cat to smile, or to turn it’s head, or to do anything in fact. After a few hours, I for what I came for, and I worked on my photos as for the rest of the day as Kim peered over my shoulder with a constant song of “AWWWWWWWW… I want a kitten!!”
“A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.”
Which is why I guess Eugene didn’t bat an eye when I showed up at his place with my camera. “Come on, I need photos.” I told him, and we drove to the park. He picked a spot he liked, a spot he usually went to on days where there wasn’t much to do. He sat on the bench and put up me with snapping shots of him. We chatted about this and that, enjoying the slight chill in the autumn air.
I had some photos in mind when I thought of shooting Eugene, but right away I could tell he was comfortable and didn’t my prodding so I decided to get my ideas of of the way. We did a few things, and then I said what was on my mind. With out hesitation, Eugene took the hearing aid of his ear, and held it in his hands. As he did, he shrugged off my concerns and said “It’s a part of me… and there would be no way to capture me without showing it.”
We moved on, walking along the park. He sat at a bench under a large tree and looked up. “I’m an architect.” he said. “I love just sitting and looking at the structure of things. Why don’t people look at things anymore? When was the last time people just stopped and looked at clouds?”
We wandered along, along the baseball fields. Eugene looked over the fields, told stories of his old high school football days, and gazed through the fences.
As we headed towards the playgrounds, we chatted about this and that, the quite unimportant chatter of friends. I met Eugene only a few years ago, but since then he’s become a rock in my life. The buddy that’s always there, always ready to help. He’s shown up to clean out my parent’s basement – hardhat in hand, to my kid’s birthdays and to many a movie night. He’s as quick with a joke, as he is with a solid piece of advice.
Eugene was the one who suggested the swings. He swung back and forth and I looked at him thinking that he found a way to remember back to the days when being in a playground was the epicenter of joyful day. The sun set behind us, and the chill in the air got stronger, so we packed up and headed back to his car.
To me, nothing is as awesome as earning money from my photography. If you look back to the very first post of this blog, perhaps you’ll see why. In a way, it’s the ultimate validation of my work. Not only is someone saying “Hey, you’re not bad” but they’re saying, “Wow, you’re so not so bad, I’m gonna pay you to take my picture.”
So I had money from the past three or four gigs, and some free time, so Kim and I headed to B&H.
If you’ve never been to B&H, let me explain that for a photographer walking into B&H is just like a sugar craved kid walking into a candy store. There’s stuff everywhere. On top of that, there’s more stuff. Lenses, filters, flashes, tripods, lights … it’s a never ending cornucopia of gadgets and goodies. The only way to make it out alive… and with the rent money safely still in the bank account is to go in with a plan. So Kim and browsed a little, walking under the bins of filled orders that whized by overhead, but checked off the list I had prepared… especially the lens I wanted.
Photographer, singer, and salesperson, Manny, even commented I was making a good choice when i bought the Nikon 35mm F1.8. I had been reading all over the web about it – especially on Ken Rockwell’s site and I couldn’t wait to get it home and see what it could do.
Needless to say it didn’t disappoint. It’s amazing in lower light conditions, and the DOF is fantastic. But that’s photography jargon… I took some shots walking around…especially after Kim finished setting up her curio cabinet… which then of course was interrupted by me having to make dinner. A shame, but the apple pork chops were delicious…
Just another Sunday in New York City. Unseasonably hot, yet Kim and I ventured into Manhattan for a stroll, and of course a stop at our favorite bar on planet earth.
We wandered through a street fair in SoHo, taking in the sights, sounds and all that is Manhattan.
I got to play with my new toy, the MB-D80 Battery Grip which is why I realized all my shots are portrait. I spent the afternoon playing with the new shutter button.
Nothing special, but that’s what makes Sundays like this so special. Being in the place you love with the person you love doing what you love…. and a cold a beer.
I just got off the phone with a new dad.
Less than 24 hrs ago, Alison came screaming into this world and changed my best friend’s life forever. We spoke for over an hour, about stuff, and all I could think of was the words of John Lennon repeating over and over… Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans…
I know I’ve been absent for awhile, and I know I promised I wouldn’t let that happen, but it did. I knew/know someone who is photographer. In our conversations all would hear was the pressure of this and that, and how the need of the business cut off all other forms of life. I vowed I’d never let that happen. In my life I found it harder and harder to balance and juggle a job, a relationship, my kids, and the pressure to blog and, yes, to even pick up the camera.
So you know what I did? I took a break. I left the camera sitting on the shelf above the computer and when no one was looking, we’d talk. I’d tell it how my day was, about what I had for lunch, about what I did, and it would tell me about it’s day and all it saw …. which was limited because it never left the shelf. Then I’d start to apologize and it would shush me, and tell me it was all gonna be ok, because it would wait patiently for me until I was ready. So no matter what anyone said to me, I knew my camera wasn’t disappointed in me, so it didn’t really matter.
This weekend was gig. Same place as usual, but with a fresh “new” band. The Funky Godmothers, a band that regularly made feet move was back for a historic night. I brought my camera this time, and my new gift, the SB900 which is without a doubt the single most amazing piece of technology I’ve held in my hand. I think there’s a feature to run to fridge and get me a ham and cheese on a roll with lettuce, tomato, mayo and a little salt & pepper, I just haven’t found it yet.
You know those things people say to you and really don’t mean? “If there’s anything I can do for you…” or You sing wonderfully in the shower” or the often used “I’m not mad at you.” Well, I entered the bar thinking my camera might had been lying to me. It told me it was just waiting for me, and I wanted to believe it, but I fully expected to look through it and find nothing. Sure I had a few practice runs, the kids coloring eggs, playing around, and an afternoon walking around playing with the new flash.
I raised the camera up to my eye, focused in, and fell back into a world of music and color. The band was hot, smoking away with some serious rhythms. They had took the time and effort to actually jazz up the joint with lights. They tossed beads into the exuberant crowd and Kim even battered her eyelashes at the drummer and came away with a pair of bunny ears.
It was a phenomenal night of music. One of those beautiful occasions where the music seems to drip from ceilings and the whole bar is lost in the groove.
And I got some good photos. Nothing earth shattering, but hey, maybe I was a little rusty. Next time though …
And I hope next time won’t be as long as the last time was…
I find it most ironic.
After a year, almost exactly, of living off Uncle Sam and getting my weekly unemployment check, I’m back at work. As if that wasn’t good enough, I’m back doing what I did in the past, and I didn’t have to settle for a minimum wage monkey job. I work for a company that’s been around so long, I don’t really worry about it going under. They’ve given me a laptop, a cubicle, a blackberry, and a paycheck every week. Best of all, they like me, and so far they keep wanting me to come back the next day.
I work in the three data centers the company owns, two existing ones, and one that we’re bringing online soon. Its that new facility that I’ve been going to every morning. Its a beautiful facility, and very secure, and that’s where the irony comes in. Every door where I swipe my ID card past the reader and then lay my finger on the scanner to verify my identity before gaining access has a list of rules on it. Rule number one is always the same. “No photography in the data center.”
We’ve been breaking that rule, however, but it’s not what you think. Since the guys in suits aren’t gonna come by to see whats going on, I took my mom’s old point and shoot to work and I’ve been documenting our progress. I uploaded the photos on Friday into the company library and actually got an “ata boy” for them. Again, ironic.
My D90 has been in its home above my PC unused on a daily basis since I started. I get up in the morning, suckle on the sweet teet of the coffee maker, check my daily round of blogs and sites, and get ready for work.
And all this time, that tree outside my window watches me. It’s beautiful. A brilliant burst of color, and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that my parents bought this house because of the autumnal grandeur of that tree. Yet, all I’ve done was glance at it as I walked through the kitchen to the coffee pot and back. I mean I had to go to work, I’m a data center technician, and we don’t have time for trees, I mean we don’t even have time for photos at work.
Then it dawned on me that I wasn’t at work yet.
But then again, does what you make who you are or does who you are make what you do?
I grabbed my camera, and ran downstairs, passing my dad reading the NY Times who didn’t even blink that I was in my PJs and heading in the back yard. I was only out there for a few minutes until the cold got to me, but in that time I remembered something that I had forgotten.
Yeah, I’ve got a job, but I’m also a photographer.