Photosbycate Weblog

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Archive for the category “Photography”

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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The Melting

It is  hard to believe, with temperatures back in the single digits that just two measly days ago, I was walking in the sun, with my hood down, my gloves off and my feet too warm in my boots.  Sunday was 45 degrees, a major heat wave here in the Big Apple, and I walked the streets of Astoria and the shores of the East River capturing this beautiful day mirrored in pools of water created by the melting snows. I squished through ankle-deep slush, clambered over pyramids of plowed urban snow, slipped on slick sidewalks, peeked into a thawing grotto of garbage and was baptized by a sprinkle of melt water from a sloping roof top.

When I arrived at Shore Boulevard and the East River I expected an icy cold gust to knocked me down but, there was not a breeze nor a breath of wind. As I walked along the shore line with the sun lightly toasting my face one would have thought it was a spring day in April, if not for the all the white stuff on the ground.

The river was calm and smooth like a mirror in between mats of frosty ice floes gliding along with the currents and providing me with incredible reflections. The rocks along the shore were capped with thick snow and being buffeted by pieces of ice that had broken away from a larger moving piece. At one point an enormous ice flow slid by and I could hear the crunch and crack of ice as it scrapped along the edges of the rocky shore taking any free-flowing flotsam & jetsam with it.

There were mallards bobbing between the ice and the seagulls were swirling around and around, they too enjoying  this taste of the coming Vernal Equinox. I stayed on the river promenade taking image after image of the elegant Triboro and Hell Gates bridges, the scene augmented by the sky and a tug boat or two.

Ah, to wander in the unwonted warmth of a later winter’s day.

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Sshin-Nyen Haoww! (Happy New Year)

In this year of the Wooden Goat

I wish You All Much Success and Health

Be Surrounded by Good Friends and Wealth

May this be a Year of Happiness too

Enjoying Peace and Harmony all the Year through

ài

Cate

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A January Riparian Jaunt

Not being sure what I wanted to shoot this past Saturday, I sat on the N train pondering as it headed towards Manhattan and it wasn’t until I was at 59th Street & Lexington Avenue that I made my decision to head South – to the Seaport.  I got off the N and transferred to the # 4 which took me to Fulton Street where I exited and walked down towards the East River. Walking along lower Manhattan’s narrow streets, icy cold winds were blowing off the river and I was having second thoughts about spending the day by the waterside.

Although around 14 degrees, there was no ice hanging from the rigging and masts of the port’s three most famous ships: The Wave Tree, The Peking and the light house ship Ambrose, which I was hoping for. There was a bit of snow here and there and the only ice was from the drainage pipes leading down from the FDR Drive above me. The bright side? It was a beautiful January day with only a few hardy tourists and I basically had the Seaport to my self.

The seaport has been a NYC historic go to destination for me since I was a young girl. My older sister Bridgett and her then boyfriend, now husband of 45 years Jack, would take my brother and I to the seaport on warm summer afternoons. The first time we went was back in the mid 1960’s and I still get excited when I see the masts swaying in the wind and listen to the aged ship’s bones creaking with the movement of the water.  The paint is peeling and the rust is growing redder and thicker around their bows and the sterns but, these maritime relics of the past can still excite the children of today just the same as they did in the past and I never tire of taking their “portraits.”

I walked along the river under the FDR; a great place to view and photograph the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and get some terrific grunge and rust too. Little stars of light danced on the water and seagulls flew into the scene at just the right moment and the sun kept me from freezing solid. I was having a good day and before I left the seaport I wandered up to Pier 6 to watch the helicopters filled with excited tourists, and capture them as they took off and landed from the heliport.

Enjoy!

 

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In the Wake of Juno

So we didn’t have the catastrophic blizzard that was predicted but, we still had a pretty cool snow storm AND a snow day!!! Nothing like having a day off from work and spending it outside with my camera. Looking out my window, the ground was all covered in smooth white snow and the chunk-shush sounds of people digging their cars out of the drifts and, the whir and whirl of the snow blowers were the only sounds to be heard on this cold winter morning. I notice too, that my little red fire-hydrant had a big red friend.

I gulped down my coffee and gobbled my toast then proceeded to apply layers of clothing from head to toe. When done, I waddled outside with my camera and spent the next three hours bounding around in the snow taking photos of my neighborhood transformed by winter’s frosty breath, into an Urban Winter Wonderland.

Since there was so much white I went out of my way to find bright contrasting colors whether that be cars, berries or pipes. Anything that had color and was sticking out of a snow bank or mound was captured. I looked for repeating patterns and abstract angles and even a took a double reflection selfie.

Thank you Winter Storm Juno, I had a wonderful day.

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The Gallant Gantries

This past Sunday I had no real plans, no photographic theme in mind, I just needed to get out of the apartment and take some photos. After two buses and two trains, I found myself rambling along Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City heading towards Gantry Plaza State Park. This truly is my favorite type of day; me, myself and I walking camera in hand and shooting whatever “we” please.

The most dominant and interesting building on the Boulevard is the historic 1894 Gothic Church of St. Mary, whose red brick tower and white-tipped spire ascended toward the sky. Turning on 49th Avenue toward the waterfront and the famous old gantries that the park received its appellation from, I kept my eyes open for the unusual and unique subjects that make up my urban portfolio. My favorites from this walk being a craggy splintered hole through blue painted strand board, a tiny empty bottle of Bacardi Rum tucked into a broken rusted pipe, and a brick wall dotted with small white drainage spouts. So urban picturesque! 

By the time I arrived at the park the sun had taken a nap behind the cloud cover turning the sky a striking blue grey that imparted more drama to the wide angle shots. In a few hours though, the sun awoke and pushed aside some of the clouds and exposed a nice wide expanse of blue sky streaked with white.

It was cold and windy and the little bit of snow that had fallen last Friday was now crusty with ice and very slippery. I was hoping for icicles hanging from the giant thick iron nuts and bolts that are the skeletons of the gantries but, no such luck. Still, I was able to create images sandwiching my subjects between great open sky and fine lacy snow.

It being a cold January day, there was nary a soul about the water’s edge and that was just fine with me. I loved the austerity of this cold winter’s day, as it accentuated all the sharp angles and smooth curves of the piers jutting out from the parks shore, enhancing the bold industrial past of the Gantries and the lofty apartment buildings behind them. The seagulls were out sunning themselves on the pylons or surfing through the air as I walked out on the piers to admire the Manhattan skyline and turn my own face towards the warming solar rays.

Below my feet were tiny dark purple winter berries and spiked brown plants buried in the snow as well as the paw print of a big ole puddy-dawg! Thick tufts of dried blonde grasses swaying in the wind lined the inside of red rusted rail tracks; another reminder of the bygone days when the Long Island Rail Road ran cars right down to the water’s edge to receive cargo off loaded from ships via the Gallant Gantries.

 

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Ice, so very nice.

Last November when I was photographing in the Mitsubishi Wetlands at the Bronx Botanical Gardens, I made a mental note to go back on a cold winter’s day when the wetlands would be covered in ice. This past Saturday the temperature was in the low thirties, not a cold as I would have liked for what I wanted to photograph but, good enough.

The pond was beautiful! It had an opaque frosty rime that had just started to melt with the morning sun, exposing patches of clear, cold blue water beneath it. Golden brown leaves, blown into the pond on warmer days were now imprisoned in the ice along with the dried wetland grasses. The tiny water fall that separates the upper and lower ponds pushed the water out causing thin layers of ice to fracture like a broken mirror. Below the ice and water were bright emerald green aquatic plants kept from freezing by an aeration system that pushed up bubbles of oxygen that bobbed and popped around the ice and leaves creating terrific abstract patterns. In another part of the pond thick dark cracks appeared in the ice and looked like frozen bolts of lighting.

I knew it was too warm for the falls at the Bronx River to freeze over but, I had to go there just to listen to the water rushing over the rocks and drink in the peace and serenity that surrounds me whenever I am near water. The river behind the falls was smooth as glass and reflecting the surrounding trees and I reveled in the fact, as I photographed, that I was the only one standing out there on the edge of the rocks over looking the falls.

On my way back walking through the Thain Forest trail, I spotted a large puddle, which had frozen solid, in the middle of a grove of trees and although both my fingers and toes were blue from being out in the cold all day, I stayed for a little while longer to capture this icy moment in time.

Tis, the freezin season!

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Getting My Goat

We had a gorgeous first day of the new year; clear blue skies and around thirty degrees, just right for January. I was on a quest to get images of goats and/or sheep for this year’s Chinese New Year card, that I will send to my sister-in-law Tracy who is from Chengdu China, now living in New Jersey with my brother Patrick and adorable handsome nephew William Yu. So, where else would I find these country creatures? Right smack dab in the middle of Manhattan’s Central Park. – the Children’s Zoo in particular.

I entered the park at 60th and Fifth Avenue and was quickly absorbed into the hundreds of tourists milling about and like me, taking photos of the most popular sites in the park, like the pond which had a thin layer of shimmering ice floating atop of it. Along the shore of the pond were beautiful opalescent green headed ducks (males) and their golden brown mates (females), preening and paddling around and I captured a cute demure couple, The Mallards – Mark & Millie, who posed willingly for me. OK, I just happen to get a lucky shot of them when they stopped cleaning their feathers for a nano second.

I strolled around the pond capturing reflections, a few street musicians, and especially the horse-drawn carriages that are a huge part of Central Park history and culture and are not being abused and that for some insane reason our Mayor is trying to make extinct! before making my way to the zoo.

Once in the Children’s Zoo I made a bee line for the corral that houses the sheep and goats and other barn yard animals. Despite the cold the children were out in force squealing with delight when an animal would poke its head out of the fencing to lick their hands in hopes of getting a treat. The goats were not shy and therefore easy to photograph but, the sheep were enveloped in a thick woolly coat making it hard to tell which end was front or back. I could barely make out their eyes so dense and curly was the wool and just covered in hay.  I thought of removing all of the annoying pieces of straw sticking up every which way in post processing but, then I thought “what the hey” (Get it, hay – hey? A little New Year humor here, lighten up will ya!) Anyway, I thought it better to show the sheep as they were. There was a very lonely looking cow that I talked to for a few minutes and photographed her beautiful natural shape while she stood warming herself in the sun and then patted her silky smooth nose as I said goodbye. Besides the goats, cow and sheep there was what looked like a giant Jack Rabbit. This was an Argentine Patagonian Cavy sitting very royally allowing the visitors a brief audience with him or her. Not something you see everyday in Manhattan, well maybe royalty but, not Cavies, then again I’m sure I’ve sat next to a few on the subway.

Enjoy these New Year images.

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