I sit here in my bed snug and warm with a huge mug of high octane coffee listening to the wind howl outside my window in anticipation of hurricane Sandy, and felt this was a good time to finally write about my first autumn trip of the season.
Last Sunday, my friends and I went to Hyde Park, NY on a visit to the Vanderbilt Mansion and then a return trip to the Poughkeepsie Walkway. The day was beautiful with warm sun, blue skies and scudding clouds. When we arrived at the mansion I left my friends to take the tour and set out on my own to walk around the mansion grounds and take photos of the gorgeous views embellished in a pallet of autumn color. The striking contrast of red, yellow, green and orange against a deep blue sky is manna to a photographer’s eye. I stood at the edge of the property, took a deep breath of crisp autumn air, and looked out over the Hudson River Valley at a landscape that had all the elements of a Bob Ross painting, with happy little trees and textured layers of hills and clouds.
An hour later I circled back around and walked toward to mansion to meet up with my friends and take a few shots of the mansion. I was surprised when I came upon what looked like a huge columned library or small college and discovered that this was the Vanderbilt Mansion once called “home” by it owner Frederick Vanderbilt. The white, cold, hard stone architecture stood out like the proverbial sore thumb from the natural serenity of its surroundings but it still had a severe beauty of its own against the dark blue sky that I captured in off angle compositions.
When my friends emerged from the tour we piled back in the car and headed toward the Poughkeepsie Walkway. If you had read my post last year, I left NYC with bright clear, sunny skies and when I exited the train at Poughkeepsie the skies were completely clouded over. So, I had high hopes, on this day, of getting some shots with sun light. Although, the wind picked up and some clouds did roll in, the majority of the walk was sunny and I recaptured scenes that had plenty of color, light and shadow.
The late afternoon sun started to yawn and stretch giving off a warm glow that intensified the colors on the trees, adding a gleam to the Mid Hudson Bridge, a shimmer to the water below and so ending our fall foliage sojourn in Dutchess County.
Through the images below enjoy a walk through the vivid colors of my favorite time of year, Autumn.
This past Sunday I went meandering around Long Island City looking to add to my urban grunge photo collection and happened upon the “southern” waterfront of the East River at the end of 5th Street and 46th Avenue. I was immediately attracted to the old rusting barges and rundown warehouses and made a bee line to the water’s edge to spend a few happy minutes photographing these old river relics.
When I had finished taking photos of the old boats I noticed brightly colored kayaks along the side of the dock. These belonged to LicBoathouse.org. I spoke with one of the representatives of this organization and I was told they provide kayaking tours of the East River. I was absolutely fascinated and was given a tour of the boathouse, which is in an old meat smoking factory now owned by a company called PLAXALL. The original old company logo of a bull’s head and a large letter F can still be seen on the corner-stone of the building. This building also houses a bicycle re-”cycling” center , another terrific ”green” gem in Long Island City.
Once inside the boathouse head quarters I spoke with the people who lead the kayaking groups and took a few photos of the kayaks, life jackets and other equipment and of course the now empty huge meat smoking chambers. Apparently kayaking the East River is very popular with adults as well as children who enjoy this type of riparian adventure. What makes these tours so special besides the great learning experience and fantastic views of New York City is that they are absolutely FREE! Can’t get any better than that!
Monday, I continued my urban grunge sojourn in Astoria visiting Socrates Sculpture Park an outdoor museum, and finally Hallet’s Cove both adjacent to each other on Vernon Boulevard. I was in my element with plenty of industrial detritus to photograph. The park did not have any current exhibits on view at this time but there are a few permanent pieces like Curtain, a project conceived by architects Jerome Haferd and K Brandt Knapp. This piece is a combination of architectural structural framing with plastic chain link partitions and enclosures. It reminded me of a white chain link weeping willow and I just loved walking around and through it taking off angle photos. Just as you enter the park there are three sculptures of young African American teenagers in life style poses. My favorite was the basketball player; I could have sworn he was real. I had the good fortune to meet artist, Chanq-Jin Lee preparing for the installation of her piece called Floating Echo a giant inflatable Buddha which will be on exhibit on September 9th. I took a few photos of her team loading a floating platform that will be transformed into a Lotus flower that the Buddha will sit upon in the calm waters of Hallet’s Cove.
The park as well as Hallet’s Cove are on the East River facing Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. As usual my attention was drawn to the shoreline and to all of the old debris from forgotten docks, piers, railroads and warehouses that line this part of Western Queens. A small new dock sits among the remains of the old docks where a little pea green boat was tied up and is used for people who want to take a row on the water (weekends only.) On the tiny beach at Hallet’s Cove I found myself walking the few feet of sandy “beach” taking shots of twisted rusted metal sticking out from large tumbled pieces of concrete that at one time were part of a pier. I left the beach and I walked along Vernon Boulevard to the promenade of a housing project to capture the park and the cove at a wide angle distance with the dilapidated piers reflecting in the water.
I hope this blog motivates you to kayak the East River or make a visit to Astoria Queens to wander through an outdoor museum or sit and relax in Hallet’s Cove on the shore of the East River. Enjoy the photos below.
This weekend was probably one of the most incredible weekends weather wise here in the Big Apple, and Saturday morning I was out the door at 5:30am to get to Coney Island and capture the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and bask in the warm summer like sun. It is an hour and forty-five minute trip one way and I wanted to take advantage of the softer morning light. Once on the beach I started by walking west toward Steeplechase Pier and continued walking all the way to the tip of Sea Gate and then back toward the pier.
My favorite time though, was spent photographing the crashing waves under the pier. The other was climbing on the rocks of the jetty that separates Coney Island from Sea Gate. This jetty was full of fisher folk casting their lines and luck out to the vast, cold and blue Atlantic Ocean as huge container vessels sailed forth loaded with cargo heading into or out of New York Harbor. Many pleasure craft drifted by filled to the brim with more people out for a day of fishing.
People young and old jogged along the shore or braved the cold waters for a first dip of the season. Yours truly went in only as far as my knees. I usually don’t dive into the water until July when it has had a chance to warm up some. I was very pleased at how clean the water and the beach was and the only throw-aways I saw were fruits like a hunk of watermelon and the top of a pineapple. There were two strange items though; the first item was an entire picnic lunch complete with glasses of wine just abandoned on the shore. I have no idea why it was left there, maybe an offering to King Neptune to ensure a warm sunny summer. It was mostly vegetables and fruits beautifully arranged in bowls and plates. Of course I had to take a photo of it. The second item was a man who dumped what looked like animal entrails on the sand for the seagulls, he explained. It was the most disgusting thing I ever saw, even the gulls were repulsed. One bird looked at the man as if to say “Do we look like lions?” On closer inspection it seemed to be the cut up remains of a Skate. The man must have been fishing and the poor Skate got caught on the hook. And, yes I did take a photo of it and no it is not on the website because I can’t image someone wanting to buy an 8 x 10 of animal entrails. It took a lot of will power to not throw up when photographing it. I have posted it on this blog though, because I know you are just dying to see it.
As the sun started to rise higher in the sky more and more people began to appeared on the beach and it started to resemble the old summer time Coney Island that one sees in most of the photos. I walked onto the pier and took some wide angle iconic shots of the Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone and the Parachute Jump all now historic landmarks thanks to the efforts of an organization called Save Coney Island . Once off the pier I crawled back under it to capture a few more shots of the waves and a humungus metal pipe embedded in a huge chunk of concrete and surprisingly an exposed but unused roll of film. Interesting stuff under that pier. The waves were just spectacular when they rolled up and smashed into the pylons which created ghostly figures when captured by the fast speed of the camera.
The sun was getting stronger and brighter and I stopped to take a few close up shots of the Wonder Wheel and the Steeple Chase before heading to the Stillwell Avenue station and the N train back to Queens. It was a truly terrific day at the beach and I just love Coney Island.
You can view many more images of Saturday’s adventures by clicking here.
The weather this weekend was just stellar, you could not have asked for better from mother nature. The days were warm with blue skies, birds tweeting, bees bumbling and butterflies buttering. Saturday morning I was up early, had a cup of coffee and a bowl of blueberries (yay, it’s berry season!) and out the door I went.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me of the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City so, that was my photo taking goal for the day. I took the #2 to Chambers Street and when I exited I stopped to take a few more photos of the ongoing construction of the new World Trade Center buildings still in progress to add to my WTC gallery. I then commenced to make my way to Battery Park City and the memorial. There was much activity in the park as the day was so beautiful and as I walked north through Robert Wagner Park I took shots of flowers, boats, people painting and water falls. These images I will present to you in a another blog post later this week along with images of the Hudson River Conservancy Park.
Not exactly sure where this memorial was situated, I walked past the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal on the river promenade and looked to my right and finally spotted a silvery overhang and behind it what looked like a pile of rocks. This I surmised, must be the place. I walked under the overhang and through a small tunnel that led to the front entrance of a little Irish stone cottage. I was completely enchanted having never seen the like of this before and ruminating on how it must have been to live in a home made from rocks. From the history I read on line this cottage was designed by the artist Brian Tolle and the house is composed of stones from 32 counties in Ireland. This work of art is to commemorate those who died or were forced to leave Ireland and strive for a better life in America, due to the great potato famine in 1845, an Gorta Mór.
The beauty and tranquility of the Irish country side is captured perfectly in the placement and design of this archaic structure. The natural color and texture of the rocks, the green grasses sprinkled with tiny purple and pink flowers surrounding the cottage and the ivy gracefully hanging from the roof or lintels of the door ways. What completed the picture was the deeply scarred stone marker with a celtic cross carved in the center, grown over with coarse green bushes, sitting at a jaunty angle like it had been there for a hundred of years. For a brief moment this site nestled in busy lower Manhattan made you feel that you were indeed in Ireland, a land someday I hope to visit. Enjoy the images below and I hope they will inspire you to make a visit to Battery Park City and this little bit of Ireland.
This past weekend was so beautiful and spring like with azure blue skies and bright sun that I just couldn’t get enough of being outside.
On Saturday morning I took the #7 train to the Vernon and Jackson Avenue stop and walked towards Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City to take photos of the spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and those big bold Gantries.
The views of Manhattan are the real draw to this park along with the well maintained promenade and piers. Here you can spend hours lounging on the large spacious wooden deck chairs and wide benches soaking up the sun and watching the boats and barges lazily sailing up and down the river. Take a nice long leisurely walk or ride your bike along the promenade. You can put a quarter in the large free-standing binoculars and take in a close up view of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island and the 59th Street Bridge. Or spend the day fishing off the fishing pier complete with a stainless steel table for filleting the catch of the day. There is a sense of peace and calm here in this urban oasis which at one time was a busy industrial dock facility with the huge Gantries lifting goods from rail cars to cargo vessels.
There was an Easter Egg hunt going on with hundreds of excited children running pell-mell across the soft green lawns, filling their baskets with as many eggs as they could find. Taking advantage of the crowds being busy with the egg hunt I had the piers to my self and took as many shots of the Gantries as I could, without anyone wandering in front of them, and artistic wide angle shots of the piers. The Empire State and Chrysler buildings looked just gorgeous in the changing morning light. And my favorite image is an iconic one of the United Nations flanked by these two New York City skyline veterans.
Around noon the sun was at it brightest and time for me to have lunch and head home. I stopped at Dorian’s Cafe on the corner of 50th Avenue and Vernon Blvd. and had an omelet and the biggest cup of delicious coffee I ever had. You could have done laps inside that cup it was so big.
I hope you all had a beautiful weekend and enjoy the images below.
My friends Claudia, Janice and I took the A train way uptown to 190th Street in Manhattan to visit a museum known as The Cloisters . This stately representation of a medieval monastery, sits atop a hill in Ft. Tryon Park with views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. Both Claudia and Janice have been there several times before but this was my first visit and was very exciting.
With most museums the lighting is low or in this case dark and the use of flashes or tripods is not allowed. So, it was a bit of a challenge to get images light and sharp enough without too much noise. Using an 18-270mm lens on my camera I set the shutter speed to 1/60th (the fastest I could get hand-held) and the aperture between f5.6 and f6.3 (this is not a fast lens.) The ISO was between 1000 and 1600 and changing the white balance depending on whether there was natural or electric light.
I tried to capture the essence of this lofty museum by focusing my camera on the ornately carved lintels over the door and passageways, the gorgeous pink veined columns surrounding the gardens, the mullioned windows and the many ancient religious artifacts and bits of architecture that date back from the 12th through the 15th centuries.
At one point I entered a room filled with statuary of saints, bishops, cardinals and other religious figures. I was especially intrigued by the emotion on the face of each statute carved in stone or wood. The detail in the hair, clothes and eyes; especially one bishop with extreme lines and creases under his eyes. I converted his image to black and white adding a lot of grain to heighten those details.
Along one wall by the gardens was a grotesquely carved head of a human or animal protruding from the wall and dripping water from its fanged mouth that both repulsed and amused me. This antediluvian yellow face was crusty, pockmarked and worn with age and I deepened the color during post processing to highlight these preposterous features even more.
The most beautiful and colorful objects in this cloister and the ones that afforded enough light for a sharp photo were the stained glass windows. I zoomed in on these wonderful works of art filling the frame with their rich color and texture. They must have been welcoming bright spots in a monastic building of grey stone back in the “Gothic” day.
The gardens surrounding the cloister were obviously not in bloom yet but a tree bereft of leaves against a background of blue sky and white clouds is a subject I never tire of photographing and then converting to stark black and white for a very dramatic effect.
I hope you enjoy the photos below and the rest of the gallery at www.photobycate.com.
Saturday, I took an invigorating walk over the Poughkeepsie Walkway, a wide long bridge built for pedestrians only, high above the Hudson River with views north and south. I took the Metro North train out of Grand Central and an hour and forty-five minutes later I was in Poughkeepsie.
I only encountered one frustrating thing on this excursion of mine and that was the lack of signage with directions from the train station to the entrance of the Walkway. The website said “only a four block walk.” Now, when I got out of the train I could see the bridge way up above me and people walking too and fro so I knew it was there but where was the entrance? I wandered around for over thirty minutes taking photos and asking the friendly locals where I could find the entrance and received numerous directions but none that got me to the entrance. When I was just about ready to turn back to the station and go home I finally saw a tiny little sign that had the Walkway logo on it and an arrow which pointed up a very long winding street, I think it was Verrazzano Street or Avenue. I followed that for about ten minutes mumbling to myself and of course taking a few photos along the way. Finally, at the end of this street I just blindly made a left onto I think North Washington Street and saw Lola’s Cafe which someone told me to look for and lo and behold there was the entrance! Hallelujah! I said, as I raced up the stairs and entered the walkway.
I realized very quickly that I was going to have a little bit of a challenge in taking photos because the side railings were very high or at least very high to my 5′ 2″ stature, and a quarter of the way was an additional fence barrier above that which obstructed the view somewhat. I knew that they must have an area that would be open for people to enjoy the full breathtaking views and I wasn’t disappointed. The middle of the bridge is the best viewing area and standing on my tip toes and at times poking my lens in between the rails I was able to take some fantastic photos of trees dressed in their autumn finery of yellow, green, red and gold, boats sailing by and trains choo-chooing along the narrow banks of the Hudson River. Later in the afternoon dark and light grey clouds rolled in leaving little slits in the sky where rays of sun would light up the tops of the hills. I would suggest to take a wide angle telephoto lens like an 18-270 so you can capture both the wide vistas of the Hudson including the Mid Hudson Bridge and then zoom in on the passing freight trains or boats or the lovely little houses nestled in among the trees. Actually, some of my favorite shots were taken as I was walking back over the bridge toward the train station and had an aerial view of the surrounding area which looked like a tiny toy town.
The bridge was full of happy talkative locals and visitors like myself out strolling with their children, dogs, neighbors or riding along on their bicycles. One of the best things about this Walkway are the “ambassadors” that they have walking along and answering questions regarding the history of the Walkway, the surrounding area or just to have a nice little chat with you. I was lucky enough to meet the past Chairman of The Walkway Over the Hudson Fred W. Schaeffer attorney, avid bike rider and one of the original planners who put forward this fantastic idea of a pedestrian walkway or bridge across the river. The Walkway is a good reason for getting out of the house, tying on the sneakers or getting on the bike and experiencing the freedom of the great outdoors without the stress of vehicular traffic. A place to socialize face to face outside of the internet at a leisurely pace with no particular place to go.
I hope you enjoy the images below and on my website and treat yourself to a nice long wonderful walk across the Poughkeepsie Walkway.
Stay In Focus,
Sigh! October is gone and with it the beautiful, vibrant colors that mark the Autumnal Equinox. As much as I love the entire fall season the month of October is my favorite of the whole year.
On the last day of October, All Hallows Eve my friends and I met in Grand Central Station and took the Metro North to the town of Cold Spring, NY. We went to capture the last of the foliage, look at the Halloween decorations,visit the historic Boscobel Mansion and have lunch at the Haunted Depot. This is our third visit to Cold Spring and we just love the laid-back atmosphere, the incredibly friendly residents, the little curio shops and to ride the trolley.
My friends Claudia, Janice and Margarita understand and respect my need as a photographer to take off alone with the camera. So, while they poke around in the shops and talk to the locals I go exploring for a few hours around the town before we meet up later at the trolley station.
The mid-morning sun enhanced the deep red, purple, yellow, orange and green on the trees and ivy clinging to the outside of homes, town buildings and picket fences. Everywhere I looked was an explosion of color and was truly breath-taking. Every home was decorated with all things scary to entice the hordes of trick-or-treaters that will haunt the town when the sun goes down. Every shop window was festooned with antique brick-a-brack and jewelry and made for some very unusual photos.
Around 12:30 we paid our 50 cents fare and rode the trolley through the town toward Garrison, NY for our mansion visit and tour. The tours are small and the tour guide Maria is very personable and her knowledge of the mansion and the family who owned it extensive. When the tour is over you feel as if you have been walked back in time to the early 19th century when the Dyckman Family inhabited this beautiful Federal Style home. My favorite part of the tour is the kitchen with its huge fire-place and metal and wood cooking utensils and a nice little snack of crisp spice cookies served with warm apple cider. Happily I was able to sneak a few shots inside the Mansion and some colorful shots of the grounds surrounding the mansion.
I highly recommend taking the hour and twenty minute ride up along the Hudson River to Cold Spring and Garrison, NY for a nice easy going “day-cation” any time of the year and please don’t forget the camera.
Enjoy the photos and as always please feel free to view the full gallery of at www.photobycate.com
My home town is New York City and I am on vacation for a few days and decided to take a tour of my favorite landmarks of this fair city.
My first stop was the observation deck on the roof of the Rockefeller Center building better known as the Top Of The Rock. Seventy floors above the sights and sounds of the greatest city in the world you have a 360 degree view of the awesome skyscrapers and bridges that make up the Manhattan skyline.
My second visit was to the Intrepid a huge World War II air craft carrier now retired and converted into the Air, Space and Sea museum. Its deck is lined with old-time WWII fighting planes and helicopters as well as the British Airways Concord. These machines are all polished and standing proud and at attention telling their stories to tourist from all over the world. A photographer’s dream; I went wild and spent the better part of a very hot summer day collecting memories to share.
My third stop was Liberty Island and the famed statue of Liberty. The ferry ride to and from Manhattan is just wonderful with views of three of NYC’s Islands: Manhattan, Ellis and Governors. The tourists including myself were just in awe of New York Harbor watching ferries, tug boats, commercial vessels, and sail boats sailing up and down the Hudson River. As we got closer and closer to the majestic Statue Of Liberty I’m sure more than one person was imaging what is was like over a hundred years ago when ships filled to capacity with people whose hearts and minds were awash with dreams of a new life in the land of opportunity.
I think the Empire State Building or a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, maybe The New York Aquarium or…..ah, decisions, decisions the life of a tourist is so hard isn’t it? Enjoy the photos and get the heck off your heinies and tour your own home town or come visit NYC. You’ll dig it trust me.
Stay in Focus,