A Tulip is the symbol of Forever Love.
A Cherry Blossom is the symbol of Female Beauty and Dominance.
A Magnolia Blossom is the symbol of Nobility, Perseverance and Dignity.
A Mother is the symbol of all of the above.
Wishing you a very happy Mother’s Day!
I arrived after 2:00pm and since the gardens close at 6:00pm I bypassed the many enticing floral gardens and hurried in the direction of the paths that would take me down to the river. On my way I stopped a few moments to photograph the magnificent Fountain of Life that sits at the entrance of the Mertz Library. I took photos as I walked through the forest of centuries old trees on mossy brown trails awed by the fact that this old growth forest actually exists in New York City!
When I arrived at the falls a calm washed over me. I tuned into the sounds of nature; the soft shushing of water cascading over the falls, birds singing high and sweet and the giggling rustle of leaves tickled by a breeze. The air was pungent with an earthy fragrance and I began to relax and slow down as I looked around for just the right spot to set up my tripod and camera. Patiently working around tourists and other photographers I found it a challenge to steady my tripod on the uneven ground and had to maneuver my camera under and over railings and rocky outcroppings to get the shot I wanted. Taking a break in between shots nibbling on my sandwich, I watched as the sun’s light moved over the late afternoon landscape, opening up light in some areas and casting shadows over others while mentally composing images.
The time flew and looking at my phone saw that it was six o’clock on the dot. Wanting to catch the 6:37 back to Grand Central, I quickly packed up my gear, sprinted back up the paths, out through the gates and up to the train station platform arriving with two minutes to spare!
Enjoy the slide show.
Saturday afternoon was warm with a brilliant sunny sky and a perfect day to spend at the beach. I jumped on the N train and 90 minutes later, I was in good old Coney Island. The train pulled in a little after 4:00 pm and I hurried from the station to meet with my friend Sharron who was waiting for me by Luna Park. Our photography goal this day was long exposures using neutral density filters and sunset shots.
I haven’t been to Coney Island since it was ravaged by hurricane Sandy and was very happy to see the boardwalk packed with smiling people strolling along eating hot dogs and ice cream as if nothing had changed. I took a huge gulp of the salt air and my heart gave a little leap as I tripped up the entrance ramp to the boardwalk. I couldn’t wait to start taking photos and get sand in my sneakers. I looked toward the ocean and saw there were large plastic balloons in the shapes of dogs, whales, witches and snorkelers flying through the air, people sitting on blankets watching the waves rolling in, lovers walking hand in hand and everyone happy to be out sunning themselves in this precursor to the summer season. I quickly took a few images from the boardwalk and then having met Sharron walked into Luna Park. We were both drawn to the color and crazy riotous sounds of shrieking children and adults as they flew, zoomed, swirled, titled, dropped, swooped or splashed on the many amazing heart stopping rides that are the essence of all amusement parks.
After an hour of noise we wended our way through the crowds and strolled down to the quiet calm of the ocean’s edge to set up our tripods, screw on the neutral density filters and try to capture the soft, cotton, misty effect created by focusing on the moving water using a very long exposure. This was my first time working with ND filters and at first was a little frustrated trying to find the correct exposure and get the effect that I wanted. I will say that out of the twenty or so images I did take, only 5 I felt made the grade. I enjoyed the experience though and will continue to practice until I feel I’ve mastered this fine art type of photography.
As the day wore on the wind picked up and it grew chilly and I turned my camera towards the setting sun. During the day the sky was perfectly blue and clear with nary a cloud, so the fiery red beach sunset that I had imagined was just not going to happen that evening but undaunted, I captured black and orange silhouettes and eye-popping starbursts instead.
Last Sunday, I took the subway to 25th Street and 5th Avenue in Brooklyn to walk through and photograph the infamous Green-Wood Cemetery. It was a perfect spring day to wander around in this peaceful and historic resting place. I am one of ”those” people who find cemeteries fascinating monuments of local history and Green-Wood has a pedigree of notable burials a mile long. The cemetery is a big beautiful woodland, with rolling hills, meandering paths and man-made lakes inhabited by geese, snowy egrets and other water fowl, and is now a designated National Historic Landmark.
I started my walk in the “public” lots looking for the older grave stones dating from the late 18th century to the 19th century. Worn down over the years to a soft bar-soap dullness, the headstone inscriptions barely visible or completely washed away. One can only assume that the descendants of these people have either died themselves or have moved away and started a new generation far from where their ancestors lie; the forgotten roots to the family tree. Some of these stones are slowly being covered up by weeds, dirt and grasses and will soon be gone from view. I spotted one grave marker that was so old the tree next to it was growing a wooden arm around it, a comforting friend for the years ahead. One slab stone that cracked horizontally and had grass growing between it looked like a giant’s foot print.
The inscriptions that could be read were short and simple some just a name or designation of who they were like mother, father and sadly baby. Quite a few of the tomb stones were cracked or broken lying among newer neighbors like the fire-hydrant shaped stone, obviously for the beloved family dog. A scattering of tiny purple flowers and bright yellow dandelions were growing among the graves adding a gentle warmth and color to an otherwise somber scene.
In the newer plots there were angels, cherubs, saints and gargoyles watching over and protecting all that slept beneath them. As I continued my walk and ventured further into this memorial park, I was momentarily taken aback when I first came upon a certain area below a hill. At first glance, it appeared to be a nice quiet suburban street with homes on sloping green lawns and stairs leading down to the paved street with a street lamp on the corner. Across from them on the lake shore, sat little pastel colored cottages. These homes and cottages were in fact, family crypts and mausoleums! I thought to myself, ”Wouldn’t this make an interesting and thrilling midnight walk on All Hallows Eve?”
Two pieces of architecture standing out among the mausoleums, statuary and stones are the main entrance gates, designed by Richard Upjohn. Brownstone Gothic spires flanked by two small buildings resembling a Swiss chalet and an Italian villa. And the newly renovated Chapel, designed by the same architectural firm that designed Grand Central Station, Warren & Wetmore.
Sunday’s visit only covered a fraction of this beautiful sepulcher landmark and I have plans to return in the fall and winter to complete my Green-Wood Cemetery gallery of images.
Note: In the morning as I exited the train station and walked up towards the cemetery, I stopped and took photos of an old relic of a building, the Weir Greenhouse, that happily has been purchased by Green-Wood and will soon become a visitors center. Although, it was enclosed by an impenetrable fence (darn it!) I managed to capture a few goods shots of the octagonal cupola.
Enjoy the slide show:
There is a magnificent magnolia tree in the front yard of a house that faces Ditmars Boulevard a few blocks from my apartment, and every year it explodes with beautiful, plump, delicate blooms and dwarfs the other magnolias around it. Each year, with camera in hand, I make a bee line for this lovely harbinger of spring that denotes the Vernal Equinox is in full swing. Although the tree sits behind a wrought iron fence, it umbrellas out and over the sidewalk and it enables me to get up close and personal with my camera. I’m able to stand right underneath a branch abundant with purple white blossoms and capture them with the sun’s rays illuminating the velvety soft petals.
Walking along the boulevard the bushes of forsythia draw me to them like a magnet, the tiny lemon yellow flowers quivering in the breeze; the bright color pleasing to behold after four months of cold bare grey. The garden daffodils, egg-yoke yellow and creamy white lift their ruffled heads and petal arms towards the morning sky. I meander across and down Ditmars, turning off every other street on my left or right, photographing anything just starting to break free from its protective pod or pushing up out of the ground. Each tree, shrub and garden I pass has a small colorful botanic sample of what is yet to come in the next few weeks as the sun moves closer, the days grow longer and the air is filled with the excitement of a new and fragrant season.
I’m at it again using the mirror feature in the photo-booth app with my iPad.
Each day I sit, an unobtrusive rider on the subway, patiently waiting for someone to sit across from me so I can turn them into a weird and bizarre alien. Some of my creations have double the amount of arms, legs, fingers and hands while others have only one leg, like a monopod. Most of them have no heads, and a few have no appendages at all. If they do have a head it is quite slim and their faces are narrow strips or compressed with no noses and maybe ears as features. I’ve captured them unknowingly as they were reading, sleeping, talking, or listening to music completely unaware of their metamorphosis. The other passengers sat oblivious to these strange and grotesque beings as the train barreled along to and from Manhattan.
I’ve collected quite a few of these images over the past few weeks and present them to you, my friends. I hope you enjoy them, and beware the next time you ride the subway and see me sitting there, you just might be my next unique alien creation! Bwa-ha-ha.
Dawn’s light glimmers on dew speckled leaves.
Butterflies flitter in the balmy breeze.
Crocus, the first to appear, wink slyly at the sun.
Their sisters, the Daisies, timidly join in the fun.
Mushrooms spiral out of the warm moist soil.
Trees aroused from their sleep awake with a smile.
A breath of wind inspires the Blue Bells to ring,
As Robins sing loudly the rites of spring.
Lilac and Lavender perfume the air.
Spring has arrived with diaphanous flair.
l’amore e il sole
I am the owner of a brandy new iPad Mini. I traded in two old lenses and a camera through the Amazon trade in program and, received enough money to buy the iPad. The first thing I did was to download any and all photography apps and magazines and have been immersed in iPad heaven for the past two weeks. Yesterday, I decided to try the camera on the iPad on a walk around the neighborhood.
I took a few test shots and was happy with the crisp clear amazingly well exposed images. Since the camera was doing most of the work the only thing I had to worry about was composition and making sure I held the iPad in a firm grip. It was an early spring day with blue skies and puffy clouds but basically unexciting being early in the season and no color other than in the sky. So, the question was: What to shoot?
There is an app that came with the iPad called Photo Booth which comes with nine preset effects and after a little experimentation I chose three of them to work with: mirror, kaleidoscope and swirl. I used these for the rest of the day especially the mirror image. That preset transformed the landscape from OK to Oh Boy! Everything I shot took on the look of a Rorschach test. It was fantastic. I loved what I was capturing and by just positioning the pad a little to the left, right, up or down you could control how wide or thin the mirror image should be. Bare branch trees became wooden cathedrals, and bridges split in two and hovered in mid-air. Any of those annoying things that get into your shot and you would normally remove in post processing, looked great because they were perfectly matched on either side. Tiny fractal faces appeared in the seams and crotches of the abstract designs that were created by this effect. This same effect when focused on the gnarly knots of tree trunks turned them into huge alien monsters!
As I walked along the street I switched to the swirl affect which moved like a mini hurricane across the screen. I would wait until a car, truck or bus would pass by and get caught in this swirling vortex as I tapped the screen. It worked just as well with passing tugs and barges on the East River as I waited for the unsuspecting ship to get sucked into and stretched through an imaginary black hole. The kaleidoscope was fantastic on wide angle landscape and close up shots, splitting the images into broken crystalline pieces of color and texture.
The best shots I took and my favorites are of a man trying to get his parachute to launch itself in the middle of Astoria Park. I have no idea where he thought he was going but the ‘chute provided a wonderful big colorful subject for the mirror effect. At times the man holding the ropes disappeared completely as I angled the pad to create a surreal image of the parachute that seemed to appear out of thin air against a fantastical back drop of the Hell Gate Bridge through the looking-glass.
Enjoy these preposterous trippy little images of a day in iAstoria.
Tiny elfin beings hoary and bold,
Hide beneath mushrooms secreting cauldrons of gold.
Mortals searching county and glen,
Hope to catch one at rainbows end.
Mischievous and fay dressed in buckles and breeches,
When caught will grant thee three magical wishes.
From the land where the leprechauns play,
And people speak in the Gaelic way….
Beannachtai na feile padraig!
(ban-okh-thee na fae lah pawdrig)
That’s how you say Happy St. Patrick’s Day in Old Ireland.
I’ve been rummaging though the photos I have taken with my iPhone and the Hipstamatic App this weekend. I pulled out a few interesting images I took over the past three weeks shot from the window of the N train as it pulls out of Queensboro Plaza making the wide sharp turn onto 31 Street. As soon as the train discharges the passengers, who run across the platform to transfer to the #7, and the doors close I jump up and position myself by the corner doors at the end of the car. Standing bracing my shoulder and side on the door frame I lift my cell phone up, finger poised to tap, tap, tap on the display screen while the train speeds along the elevated tracks, capturing urban image after urban image. It is a bit of a test to see how quickly I can visually compose a shot as the world above 31st Street rushes past my eyes. The images are very soft being shot through a thick shatter proof glass coated with layers of grit and grime adding a quirky texture and character to these borough scenes; some are blurry due to the constant shake and lurching motion of the train as it slows down at the station stops. I walk from one side of the subway car to the other to ensure I get a sampling of both the right and left views along the tracks and then head to the front of the car (first car) for a final shot as it pulls into Ditmars station, the last stop in Astoria Queens, where I disembark and head home.