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Into the Belly of the Beast

The beast was the USS San Antonio on display at Pier 92 giving free educational tours to the public during NYC’s Fleet Week.

These are not your typical Memorial Day red, white and blue, flag waving, marching band and balloons images; these images were taken from a unique perspective wandering inside the body of a mammoth naval warship.

I took the N to 49th Street and walked up towards the Hudson River, taking a few shots along the way.  When I arrived at the corner of 49th and 12th I was detoured up to 54th and then crossing over to the pier side came up against a dense crowd of adults and children all waiting to take the tour. I thought I would find an open space along the pier to take a few photos before going aboard but, everything was blocked off and I had no other choice but to get back on “the line” and follow the crowd. I did manage to catch a quick shot of a goose standing watch like a life guard as children ran and played in the sun.

Back on “the line” I showed my photo ID at the entrance and walked through a zigzag of aluminum barriers and out into a side show of military muscle power; i.e., gigantic tanks and trucks, a scary but, impressive looking piece of artillery known as a Howitzer. It was scary to me but, the kids just love it and crawled all over it like ants on a piece of candy. In fact the whole of the tour was “hands on” for the kids.  And the proud young military personnel couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming happily posing for photos, answering questions and giving demonstrations on safety and rescue operations.

At the end of the this educational walk we passed through a security check point similar to an airport before entering into the ship. I knew right away that photography was going to be a challenge not only because of the many visitors, who seemed to be everywhere at once but, because most of the tour was inside the ship which was very dark. At one point though we were herded out onto the flight deck to marvel at an MV-22 Osprey, posing like a movie star for the hundreds of photos being taken of it. After that it was back on “the line” which now snaked around to the other side of the ship, and back down inside the iron bowels of the boat.

This part of the tour took us through some very narrow walkways and “the line” slowed down to a crawl. It was hot, dark and very, very close and claustrophobia was beginning to kick in. To keep myself from going insane I cranked up the ISO and started taking photos of the space enveloping me. As I twisted around I started to see in the abstract and began composing images of the many wires, cables, pipes, nuts, bolts, fire equipment, ventilation shafts, exit doors, etc. You name it, I took a photo of it. We passed through the sleeping quarters (talk about claustrophobic) and the hospital. We came out into the day light, for a short period of time, on our way to the dark but blessedly wide open well deck where, on display were amphibious assault vehicles and all of their oceanic accouterments.

Finished with the tour and outside in the bright sunshine, I filled my lungs with fresh air and then walked down towards 46th Street to pay my Memorial Day respects to the venerable Intrepid sitting in state at pier 86 on the Hudson River. I finished my photographic day taking a few architectural shots as I walked up 42nd Street toward the subway and home.

To all of our proud and daring Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots past and present, we Thank You on this day and all days,  for putting your lives on the line so we can live our lives in freedom.  HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

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The Glitter, The Glitz, and The Grub

The first of the NYC street fairs commenced this weekend with the 9th Avenue Food Festival in Hell’s Kitchen, from 42nd to 57th streets.

Exiting the subway at 42nd Street and Broadway a.k.a, Times Square, is an all out assault on the senses. The eyes are blinded by vivid flashing digital advertisements wrapped around soaring sky scrapers in all directions. The brain is jarred as it confronts enormous lumbering buses, crammed with gaping pointing tourist, swinging into view from out of nowhere. The ears are bombarded with loud honking horns, whining sirens, bellowing hawkers, and pounding driving music. The body is squeezed through clumps of agog pedestrians drifting up and down Broadway mesmerized by these sights and sounds, or rushing to make the curtain of a must see musical in one of the many infamous theaters lining the streets just off of this “broad way.” Through this highly charged atmosphere I walked across town towards the fair taking photos of all that I saw.

Ninth Avenue had its own brand of sensory overload this day, with the cloying aroma of frying oil and great billows of smoke and steam rising from the many tented food stands and stoves that lined either side of the street. It was alive with good cheer and people strolling along tempted by Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Greek and Italian dishes with many more delectable sweet goodies, all on offer for just a few dollars, washed down with beer, wine, soda or tart lemonade. If the food did not lure you then there were T-shirts, sandals, woven baskets, wooden toys, trinkets, geegaws, sparkling jewels, summer straw hats, and African drums, to spend your fun money on. Stilt walkers, tall and lean strutted up the avenue while black and red winged angels mingled with the masses.

There was music, singing and dancing too! A piano man rocked and rolled to a crowd of smiling lips and swiveling hips. On the other end of the street a platform was raised where upon young multi-ethnic dancers snapped, hopped and twisted to the beat. Then came blue and green diaphanous ballerinas leaping through the air. Captivating Thai dancers with sharp golden talons and coins in their hair waited their turn to perform for the expectant crowd. In stark contrast, just a block away, aboriginal sounds emanated from a one man band with a didgeridoo.

I took my leave of the eclectic cuisine and frenzied fan fare, turning onto 57th street and walking back east passing 8th and 7th Avenues, Broadway, and 6th Avenue up to 5th Avenue, where I would catch the subway home. But, before heading back to Queens, I stopped for a few shots of the throngs in front of the Apple store then to photograph a young street performer, in front of the Plaza Hotel, doing hand springs and flips to a cheering crowd. Lastly, my eye was caught by an art display consisting of giant colored spools of rope in Central Park, captured against a skyscraper background.

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She

She

She has a Large and Generous Heart
She is a Proud and Beautiful Matriarch
She is a Teacher, a Doctor and a Best Friend
She Protects, Promotes; Working without end
She is a Mediator, a Monitor and a Mentor,
Who is She, this Woman like no other?
Why surely………She is a Mother!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Wonder Women

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Ohhh, In the Merry Merry Month of Maaaaay……

Ah spring, it makes you want to burst into song especially when there are sunny skies and a sublime seventy degrees. Now that I’m feeling myself once again (still have an annoying cough but, who cares its spring!) I made a bee line for the good ole Bronx Botanical Gardens to revel in the freshly blooming flowers and plants.

I had spent so much time at the gardens during the winter months that it fairly took my breath away when I entered through the garden gates flanked by massive pink and white cherry trees and beheld everything in bloom. I felt like Dorothy walking into the land of Oz. The grass and all of the trees were as green as emeralds, drifts of tiny white, purple and blue flowers  floated over a landscape that was once cold and barren just a few months back.

I walked the Perennial, and Seasonal Gardens as they were packed with bright red, deep purple, sunburst orange, light yellow, and pure white tulips. The sun was high in the sky sending down beams of light illuminating the inside of the each tulip like a votive candle. Some of the tulips had a dot of butter yellow at the very bottom of their cups. As I made my way through the flowers I surprised a white Narcissus kissing a magenta tulip causing its neighbors  to blush and glow. My favorite tulip was a bright yellow with a thin dark red piping on the edge of its delicate petals. The Rock Garden was my last stop for the day with its cascading water fall surrounded by hardy scrub bushes, trees and long leafy water plants. Beautiful blue and yellow early crocus, netted iris and dozens of other seasonal plants added their color and style to this rocky landscape.

Enjoy this dee-lightful time of year!

 

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Astoria’s in Bloom….Finally!

Three weeks ago I was hit with what I thought was a spring cold, it went away and I went on with life as usual and then the dastardly cold or should I say flu came back with a vengeance and laid me low for a week. I’ve managed to bounce back somewhat and all that remains of this vicious virus is a stuffed nose and a hideous rattling cough that makes me dizzy.

But, if you actually thought I was going to stay in on a warm sunny spring day, like we had yesterday, you were wrong. Despite my despicable circumstances, I sallied forth with tissues, cough drops and camera in hand to explore the wonders of Spring unfolding outside my door.

This is what I beheld before me as I walked along the streets, avenues and boulevards of Astoria; A bounty of budding branches, cheerful Cherry Blossoms, colorful Coleus, dazzling Daffodils, a daring Dandelion, forthcoming Forsythia, halcyon Hyacinths, marvelous Magnolias, romantic Ranunculus and a tempting Tulip. All in vibrant hues of pink, yellow, white and green against skies of blue. I sneezed and coughed and snapped for four hours, enjoying every minute absorbing the suns rays like a flowering thing. Oh, the joys of early spring.

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Looking Out From the Jersey Side

Mother Nature had still not allowed her flowers and trees to bloom just yet, as there was still a bit of a nip in the air so, I set my mind and lens on some urban photography, with a bit of the grunge thrown in. On Saturday afternoon I took the N train to 34th Street, transferred to the PATH travelling deep under the Hudson River getting off at the Newport station in Jersey City where, I made my way to the Hudson River Walkway.

I’ve walked the Hudson River many times from the NYC side with a view of Jersey City and thought it was time I looked to other way, so to speak. This is a nice long walk which passes through Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, West New York, Guttenberg, North Bergen, Edgewater, and Fort Lee. I did not complete the whole walk but, what I did walk took me through Newport heading north to Weehawken and Hoboken then I double backed heading south passing through Newport again before heading back to the PATH and home.

The first thing you see when you step foot on the walkway from this section of the promenade, is the skyline of lower Manhattan with the Freedom Tower nestled in the middle of its sister skyscrapers, enjoying its new place in NYC history. I then turned left heading north where I spotted a huge red crane in the distance and some decrepit remains of old docks as well as the brown clock tower of the Lackawanna Rail Road Station; something I’ve only photographed while sailing on passing ferries.

The Manhattan skyline views from here are of the Chelsea waterfront upwards to 34th street and the Empire State Building and on the Jersey side the huge concrete ventilation shafts.They were wonderful to photograph sitting squarely on the edge of the river surrounded by bits of broken docks, old timbers and working barges.

I will say that my favorite subject to shoot that day was not the sky line of either Manhattan or Jersey City but, the hundreds of water eroded pylons, buried up to their necks in river water stretching in regimental rows before me; a rib cage of the old piers. The wind and water chiseled away at these pieces of wood creating masterpieces of abstract sculptures in green, brown and grey. The best was yet to come though, when I entered Hoboken and spied an abandoned building covered in sheets of decaying corrugated metal. Rust! Oh, rapture! I created my own abstract art, capturing the deep red and orange in the folds and bends of the metal layers.

For twenty minutes or so I was lost in a world of color and texture before moving on to the newly renovated Hoboken Terminal and the historic Lackawanna Rail Road Station. Once inside the terminal your eyes are pulled upward and dazzled by a gorgeous Tiffany stained glass ceiling (just mind-blowing), enhanced by huge chandeliers with moon like orbs dangling down towards the floor and beautiful metal work in the stairs and railing encircling the waiting room. The outside of the building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style and is covered in a striking blue-green aged patina that contrasted perfectly with the sky and the deep brown of its clock tower.

The walkway is not straight; it curves along the river, cuts around small marinas, winds around commercial and residential buildings and provides a waterfront tranquility to the towns that sit within its reach. I enjoyed my eclectic walk on the Jersey Side and hope you do too.

 

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Happiness is…….

The snow is gone

and now life goes on.

With a jaunt in one’s step

and smile on one’s lip.

The skies have all turned blue.

Each day has a brighter hue.

It must be that time again,

as one looks forward to when,

the Vernal Equinox has arrived.

Yes! It feels So Good to be alive.

Happy Easter!

A Sunday Sojourn Amidst a World of Plants

Last week I was sequestered in my apartment in the grip of a spring cold/flu or bug, or plague, or whatever you want to call it and by Sunday, though still feeling a little woozy, I needed to get the heck outside before cabin-fever set in.

Spring has sprung but, the weather has not caught up with it yet; it is still cold. The snow is all gone, nothing is yet in bloom not even the hardy crocus, so what to do? Head over to the Bronx Botanical Gardens where the orchids are in full bloom inside a nice warm sunny conservatory. I had not planned on shooting the Orchid Show this year nor going to the gardens yet, as I had wanted to wait for April when the Magnolia, Cherry Blossoms and Azaleas are in bloom and  spend a glorious day outdoors in the “warm” spring weather. With all that said, I did have a terrific time and took a boat load of images.

This year I took the long route through all of the gardens under the glass roof of The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to capture a mix of tropical, rain-forest and dessert blooms for this shoot as well as the stunning and diverse orchids. As always the conservatory was packed with people but, the crowd was courteous and pleasant as I busied myself with the camera and composition while weaving through the displays. I must say that my most favorite orchid this year is the Oncidium Spider or Spider Orchid, it really looks like a big ole spider hanging from the vines. My second favorite is the Strongylodon Macrobotrys or the Evergreen Jade Vine. The candy blue color of this orchid boggles the mind, it doesn’t look real and I nick named it The Elf Shoes as that is what it reminded me of. It hangs in a full long cluster like grapes and a few of the jewel like petals had fallen into the reflecting pool beneath, floating in yin yang shapes against an ink black background.

It felt so good to be surrounded by so much vivid color, even the desert plants had colorful blooms; one small cactus wore a bright orange fuzzy hat atop its spiky head. The rain forest boasted deep green, yellow and orange plants and one quite alien looking plant with long pink and cream fingers. I walked around surrounded by huge wide flat palms and waving ferns as tall as me.  I spotted a beautiful flower that looked like a bouquet of fuchsia tissue paper and a fiery orange berry like plant growing in a horizontal direction.

The last leg of my sojourn was through the main room where the Hanging Orchid Chandeliers were on display swaying in a gentle and thankfully cool breeze to the peppy sounds of 1930’s jazz. When first you walk through the doors you are overwhelmed by an explosion of orchids! The orchids are hanging, creeping, crawling and twisting up and over every square inch of the room. These blooms filled the air with a luscious blend of tropical aromas and imparted the feeling that they were having a riot of a good time. Maybe it was the music but, they looked like they were smiling, laughing, singing or talking.

Sit your self down with a glass of wine, a cup of rich coffee or comforting cuppa and enjoy the colors and warmth these images impart.

Happy Vernal Equinox!

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In the Blink of an Eye

Beneath the surface way below the Ice

Through my lens I looked not once but twice

At a Crystal Cool world of Greens and Blues

And between the Leaves I’m sure I viewed

A wee Mischieveious face peeking out

I jerked my head back and gave a shout

“What is this all about!”

I looked down again, just to make sure

Stared through the Leaves and Water so pure

 “Could that be a Leprechaun I just saw?”

“Naw, it can’t be, I said to myself

It was probably just an Elf.”

Slàinte,

Cate

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Sepia Haze & Fire in the Sky

Last week I was inspired by a post from fellow blogger Leanne Cole, to pick up my tripod and head to the beach to take long exposure images of the sea. I did just that this past Saturday at Coney Island.

Although early March, there was still a thick layer of fresh snow blanketing the sidewalk, boardwalk and beach and a wonderful flat span of ice in the snow that made for a fun make shift skating rink.  It was cold but, nowhere near freezing temperatures that we have been having these past few months, one of the most bitter winters I’ve experience in a long time.

Despite the wintertime temperatures many people were out enjoying the sun and walking, running and playing on the beach as if it were a warm summer day. I came upon an elderly Russian man who walked into the middle of a huge flock of seagulls and dropped a large black plastic bag of bread to feed his feather friends. As he started to toss the bread in the air the birds went insane screaming, shrieking and swirling around this man, who in turn started shrieking at me when he saw my lens pointed in his direction. Since he was screaming in Russian I had no way of knowing what he was saying and it did not stop me from taking a few shots. I kept my distance though, in case I was pegged in the head by a loaf of Italian bread.

After that fun little incident I walked toward the newly restored Steeple Chase Fishing Pier. I set up the tripod and began to photograph the waves as they ran up the shore and slowly slid back to sea, including any reflections that were not washed away. Under the pier facing the sea through a tunnel of barnacle and ice encrusted pillars I zoomed in to create a square vortex.  I slowed the shutter speed down and waited for a wave to curl and smack against those same pillars, and pressed the shutter creating a smokey green rising mist.

I walked over to a jetty and captured the water as it swirled and turned milky blue around the giant rocks but, after a few more shots, I was bored. Other than the pier and rocks there wasn’t anything interesting to shoot. I had to get creative. Inside my little pack of filters was a sepia filter that I hadn’t use in quite sometime. I put it on the lens and saw the beach in a different light, indeed. I took a few shots of the rocks and noticed a soft glowing blur, obviously the filter needed cleaning but, then again I liked the effect and left it as it was.

I loved the golden yellow it imparted on the muscles that clung to the rocks and coppery sheen to the water when I shot into the sun. Everything developed an aged look even the ice as I captured the last of it frosting the rocks. Two of the ice formations I named Shark Bite and Walrus, as you’ll see why when viewing the images below.

Late afternoon was turning into early evening as the sun started its slow decent into night. I hiked back up toward the entrance of the pier through deep snow and sand to wander above the Atlantic Ocean and shoot the beautiful expansive views, of this urban peninsula, as the sun’s fading light gradually changed the color of the landscape before me.

Walking back toward the train station, the sky grew deeper, more vivid until a line of bright yellow appeared, like a spark igniting the clouds which then burst into flaming color.

Enjoy the warmth of sky fire.

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