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Archive for the tag “East River”

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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The Year Book

The Year Book 

One minute to Midnight on the Eve of a New Year

My mind flips over a dozen pages still Sharp and Clear.

As I view Life’s Images of all that has taken place

I reflect on the Wins with Triumph and Grace

With a Wince I see Failures and I quickly turn

Determined to remember Lessons Learned

Closing the book I make no Promises, I make no Deals

I gather up all my Self-Confidence, dig in my heels

In my hands I hold a New Book with pages Clean and White

And Bravely walk Straight into the Dawning Light

 Wishing You All A Happy, Healthy and Most Wonderful New Year

Love Ya,


A Riparian Ramble to Grant’s Tomb

The one thing about NYC that I find fascinating is the many parks that it has.  Most of them along the river fronts; shore lines that, for over a hundred years have been dominated by manufacturing and rail commerce. A shoreline not for the enjoyment of the people but, for the forward pull of progress. Today, that has changed and the shorelines of two of NYC’s biggest rivers; the Hudson (a.k.a. North River) and the East River have been transformed into public parks.  These parks have promenades for biking and walking, grassy banks strewn with big bulky colorful rocks perfect for having an impromptu pick nick or just sitting and watching the waters flow.  The images that accompany this post were taken on the Hudson River and within the peaceful scenic Riverside Park, which stretches from 72nd Street all the way up to 125th street toward my final destination of Grant’s Tomb.

Emerging from the subway station on the 73rd Street and Broadway side, I was greeted with a spectacular view of the gorgeous Beaux Arts facade of the grand old Ansonia Hotel, a much loved and recognized Upper West Side land mark.

Entering the Park at 72nd and Riverside Drive I was greeted by the sculpture of a pensive Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman whose life and works I highly admire. I then made a bee line to the waterfront to begin my photographic ramble of the day. As with all of the waterfront parks, there were bikers and runners by the score, out for a healthy few hours in sun, as well as people like me strolling and taking in the sites, sounds and smells of a beautiful warm summer day.

I spent a good deal of time taking photos of the 79th Street Boat Basin facing Guttenberg, NJ. The basin was filled with all of the great nautical bits and the flotsam and jetsam that I love to photograph accented with a few brown mallards sunning themselves on a waterlogged piece of dock. Continuing northward I came to the end of the  concrete and asphalt promenade and was now on a grassy tree lined riverbank similar to the banks of the East River in Astoria Park; one could scramble down the rocks to get close enough to dangle a foot or two in the water.  I followed a narrow foot path in the grass stopping every few feet to photograph some cotton like weed, wild flowers or ivy crawling over the rocks or the rock’s colorful geologic striations.

The highway at some point separates the park from the water front and so at 122nd street I had to back track to 104th street and walk through a tunnel to get into the “heart” of Riverside Park. Here is where you lose all sense that you are in NYC. A small forest of trees with peeling brown bark and lemon yellow limbs surrounds you as do the sounds of birds and the undulating sh-sh-sh-shushing of the cicadas.  I walked entranced up the wide lanes and down stone stair cases, and up again onto stone overlooks, letting the peace and calm envelop me.  The only other sounds were that of children happily shrieking, as is their won’t, as they played on the swings or swung from the dangling rings of a playground obstacle course. There are baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts and miles of paths to traverse. A recreational haven for everyone.

The park is also known for the many historic and poignant monuments that are part of the this northern area of Manhattan also known as Morning Side Heights and, the most popular of all is Grant’s Tomb; located at 122nd Street.  When I stepped out of the cool shade of the park my eyes were dazzled by the bright white tower of Riverside Church and most amazing is that it was not enshrouded in scaffolding, as is almost every famous and or religious building and monument in Manhattan! This will be a go back trip with a faster lens to capture the interior of this church.

I grabbed a few shots and then tore myself away and walked over to the Mrs. and the General’s place of rest.  It too, was clean bright white and sits at the end of a bower of trees where one walks through and then up the stone stairs leading into the entrance of the mausoleum. Before entering I was completely side tracked and smitten by some unusual sculpture. Free formed multicolored mosaic stone benches that slithered around the perimeter of Grant’s Tomb, like a huge multicolored anaconda; a very whimsical contrast to the solemnity of the place. The sculpture is called the Rolling Bench and was designed by artist Pedro Silva and the architect Phillip Danzig.

Before catching the M5 bus back downtown to 72nd street I spent a few minutes taking more exterior shots of Riverside Church and surrounding buildings, unfortunately some of these were under renovation (there’s a surprise!) and miles of protective netting. Exiting the bus at 72nd and Riverside I chose to walk up 73rd for a few parting shots of the Ansonia.

Enjoy this view of the Upper West Side.


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No, this post is not about Disney’s adorable animated big eared baby elephant. It is though, about the neighborhood in my second favorite borough Brooklyn, known as DUMBO which, is another of those “kitschy” NYC neighborhood acronyms for, Down Under Manhattan Bridge Organization. You might have heard of the others: SoHo = South of Houston (street); NoHo = North of Houston (street); TriBeca = Triangle Below Canal (street) and NoLita = North of Little Italy. All fun NYC places of interest and history, by the way. So, with all that said last Sunday I took the ferry from Long Island City, Queens sailing south along the East River on the Brooklyn side passing Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg and stopping at my final Destination Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Last summer I blogged about my first visit to Brooklyn Bridge Park, taking the subway and walking all along the river promenade but,  I never made it past The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory ( who could?) and forgot about the beautiful Jane’s Carousel that sits between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Therefore, the purpose of this trip was to capture that whirling equestrian ride and wander around the shoreline of DUMBO. Note: a slight photographic digression in the first 9 images which are from Long Island City as I walked to the ferry landing in Hunter’s Point Park. I can never get enough of that neighborhood. :)

When I disembarked at the ferry landing in Brooklyn, there were the usual crowds of tourists and locals milling about enjoying the sun and chilly spring weather amidst the backdrop of  New York City’s notable attractions. There was a wedding party arranging themselves on the pier for the photographers and, as I marched down the gang-plank towards land, I couldn’t help taking a few quick shots of the bride and her merry maids trying to control her voluminous veil as the wind blew in strong and annoying gusts.

Like many of the old industrial neighborhoods along the East and North Rivers (a.k.a. Hudson River) that, in their heyday, were giants of the manufacturing and shipping industries, have now become a mix of living museum and mixed demographic lifestyles. As I detoured away from the shoreline, the streets of a hundred or more years ago were still lined with the old and once decaying brick and graffiti strewn warehouses and buildings; now receiving re-gentrifying face lifts. Nobby sturdy cobblestone spread out before me embedded with the abandoned lines of rail track directing the ghosts of rail cars to and from the spirits of awaiting boats and barges.

In striking contrast to these post industrial surroundings, the cheery colorful Jane’s Carousel is juxtaposed to a tiny urban beach head of tumbled rocks and boulders with a back drop of an abandoned building dotted with dark sightless windows. As one walks along the beach, the contrast is intensified by the delightful shrieks and laughter of children and adults riding a herd of painted wild horses with flying manes and flared nostrils, taking them on a dizzying circumvolution adventure.

In processing these images I used an HDR filter to not only enhance the gritty details of an inner-city scene but, to bring out the particular aura of  an old neighborhood pushed out from behind the curtains of the past into the future for another chance at a life. Enjoy the ramble both in words and images.

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A Holiday Poem For You

A Mid-Winter’s Sunset

A mid-winter’s sunset in Astoria Park,
Appears as a star upon the Hellgate’s arc.
Painting long Shadows on Cold dense snow,
Where Frigid foot prints follow the East River’s flow.
Orange alpen-glow ignites a brief Summer illusion,
Before Purple Night descends upon a fiery horizon.

Wishing You The Best & Brightest Christmas of Them All.

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An Open Air Museum and Urban Art

Where to go was the question that was on my mind when I awoke on Saturday morning and after a cup of hot strong coffee I decided on Socrates Sculputre Park, an urban open air museum at then end of Broadway bordered by Vernon Boulevard and the East River waterfront. I took the Q69 bus to 21st Street and Broadway and walked toward the park taking shots as I strolled through this urban neighborhood. It was my second visit to Socrates and the last time I was there it was in between exhibits but I was in luck this weekend as  EAF13 – the 2013 Emerging Artist Fellowship exhibition was on, showcasing 15 new distinctive pieces of visual art.

Now, this was my kind of art; skillfully crafted from everyday stuff which is the “stuff” I love to photograph. The best part about this museum is the exhibits are not just for viewing but for touching, climbing, crawling and probing; a sprawling surreal art playground.

As I approached the entrance my eyes were drawn up to a painting of a dazzling African sunset poised on top of the gates created by artist Wangechi Mutu entitled “Broadway Billboard”. Upon entering the park I turned toward the right to a piece by Aida Šehović: “Obstacle Course.”  This was very popular with the adults as much as the children. I watched as a women walked over to the exhibit, looking pensively at the rubber tires at the head of the course, then dropped her bag and showed off her dexterity by hopping through the old car tires with the agility of a 9 year old. Then satisfied that she still had it, picked up her bag and waltzed over to the Saturday morning Tai-Chi class near the exhibit.

The most intriguing was Justin Randolph Thompson’s “Brutus Jones,” a hulking creation of an old rusted wreck and an enormous jutting head glaring out at the visitors. I loved “Tree Wood” by Toshihiro Oki, an open wooden structure in the middle of a small grove of trees. I maneuvered my body within the frame work so I could look up through the beams and boughs and capture the sunlight peering through the leaves. I was delighted when I noticed a huge chandelier dangling from one of the roof beams giving one a feeling of being in an upscale tree house.

I walked around each piece looking through my lens for that special angle that would best showcase the size, shape, texture and color while marveling at how the artists turned  a combination of wood, wire, stone, plastic, metal, paint, enamel, water bottles and canvas into urban sculptures.  I listed all of the artists, whose work I loving photographed, at the end of this post.

As you wander through the park you begin to see that it is an urban photographer’s paradise. The main office or staff house is actually old cargo containers stacked one on top of the other and painted a dark forest green with a greenhouse topping it off. There were big wooden spools used as tables with tree stumps for seats.  A wide open metal work shed for the artists to work in littered with the remnants of creation. But, my favorite spot of all was behind the shed where anything and everything that is used by the park staff and the artists is stored. Most of it was old and worn, some items covered in cobwebs, dust and rust. There were ladders, shovels, saw-horses, poles, containers of all shapes and sizes, winches and pulleys, ropes and rags, grease and glue and a hundred other tools. There was a huge white iron ball that I had to assume was an old buoy pulled from the East River and will someday be a part of an artists imagination and crafted into a new exhibit. Two pussy cats made this their urban abode; one napped on top of a container while another pair of golden feline eyes watched me from behind a leafy cover as I took my fill of photos.

When I exited the park I turned left and walked just a few feet over to Hallet’s Cove. A teeny-tiny strip of shore line and a great place to find grunge. It happened to be low tide and I walked about in the mire and the very pungent smell of the murky waters lapping at my feet. Sun blackened seaweed covered the rocky beach. Sticking up from the sand was a rotted wooden stump resembling an ancient worn totem pole. There were a few pieces of urban debris that washed up on a shore; a bottle without a message but with a seaweed beard and a lost smart phone cover. I climbed around on some boulders that are hidden during high tide, and looked for riparian treasures to photograph. I stumbled upon two large stone blocks, one with a seaweed hair pierce nestle in the sand and the other perched on top of a big boulder. Each had a large single letter carved on them like those children’s wooden ABC blocks. I have seen these blocks inside the park and I don’t know if they were carved by an artist or left over from when the park was an abandoned riverside landfill.

This was definitely a fun, unique and interesting day of urban shooting in my borough of Queens, and I hope you enjoy the images below.

The Artists:

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Another Urban Utopia

Last September I wrote a blog post entitled “Seeing Art in a Desolate Landscape” which, was about an area along the East River, in Long Island City, Queens that had been raised to make way for whatever project the city had planned for this prime water front piece of land.  I had assumed it was going to be either or both commercial and residential buildings. But, last Wednesday I read in The New York Times of the opening of the brand new Hunter’s Point South Park, on the shores of the East River and a kissing cousin to Gantry Plaza State Park. I then made my plans to visit that weekend.

I woke up Saturday to an almost autumn morning with warm sunshine and cool temperatures. I grabbed the camera and hurried over to this new jewel among the New York City urban parks. I took the #7 train to the Vernon/Jackson Boulevard stop, not the Hunter’s Point stop as one would think. Once on Vernon Boulevard I crossed the street and walked up 51st Avenue toward the East River and Gantry Plaza State Park. I crossed the new Center Boulevard and stood on the spot where the two parks are now joined, with Hunter’s Point South Park on my left.

Remembering the site as I had previously photographed it one year ago, with piles of rubble and other construction debris, this completed section of the park took my breath away. It sparkled and gleamed in the morning sun, like a young beauty at her debut. When entering the park you are welcomed with a sea of seasonal flowers and wet land plants in patches or small gardens and some decorated with old rusted rail tracks; a reminder of when the LIRR picked up cargo from these shores, which was off loaded from ships via the old Gantry’s back in LIC’s industrial hey-day.

Continuing my walk south I came across an enviable doggie run, the likes I’ve never seen before, with sloping hills and an embedded water trough flowing right through the middle of it, so the dogs can take a sip of cool water in between chasing their canine friends and non-stop barking. There was one little pug whose owner had put his ball up in a tree and this energetic furry fellow jumped straight up and down for about 15 minutes trying to retrieve his precious toy.

There is a colorful children’s playground with swings, slides and tunnels to crawl through, bike and running lanes snake throughout the park, a large shimmering green oval Astroturf lawn, and best of all a small sandy “urban” beach! Next to the beach is the cool shaded pavilion, constructed from pleated photovoltaic panels that fanned out in a graceful arc adjacent to the NY Waterway ferry landing.

To me, the best part of the park is the broad clean river promenade with the most fantastic views of the much photographed iconic Manhattan skyline. Along the promenade are cozy little nooks with seats for two or a whole row of angular wooden benches with high wide comfortable backs for lounging in the sun and watching the river’s traffic float by. Below the protective fencing, surrounding the water front portion of the park, the river laps against a strong rocky shore interspersed with sweet wild grasses.

I walked all over the park’s 5.5 acres until I was back at my starting point and then spent some time walking the fishing pier at Gantry Plaza State Park and taking photos of the stalwart black gantries. I climbed down to the water’s edge beneath one of the gantries, carefully balancing myself on the pink granite stepping-stones as I photographed the landscape from a lower perspective.

Walking up 51st Avenue, on my way back to Astoria, I looked up between the apartment buildings and spied 5 tiny planes writing across the clear blue sky and a few blocks further there was a gorgeous grouping of old but still regal row houses, the last hold outs from the turn of the 20th century among the steel and glass giants of the 21st.

Enjoy the photos and if you are in Long Island City you must visit this lovely urban utopia.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park

A few weeks ago I went to Brooklyn Bridge Park to take photos of the East River water front from the Brooklyn side perspective.  When I had exited the #4 train at Borough Hall I had a bit of a walk toward the pier, but since I was in the beautiful neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights the walk was enjoyable. I made a mental note to come back in the fall to photograph this charming neighborhood and its incredible Brownstone homes, old mansions, restaurants and cafes.

I started my walk along Joralemon Street but then made a detour to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade which over looks piers 2 & 3 with wide open vistas of the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island to the left. The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges to the right and South Street Seaport and lower Manhattan straight ahead of you, with Brooklyn Bridge Park down below.  The park is still under construction especially piers 2 & 3 so I had the best of both worlds urban photography wise, with the typical tourist views of the Manhattan skyline combined with my favorite grungy industrial stuff.

I wanted to make sure that the composition included the new construction as the forefront to the bridges, seaports and the East River. I also wanted to zoom in on the construction bits too since when one is on the street level a site is usually blocked by covered fencing with maybe one or two peep holes. But, from up above I could photograph the red dump trucks, yellow digging trucks, orange cherry pickers, green dumpsters, and a myriad of other construction accoutrements I have no names for but made for great images. Peeking out of the water’s edge were the remnants of the old piers mutely watching as a new 21st century world was going up around them.

As I looked left toward the completed sections of piers 5 & 6 in the distance I could see blue umbrellas, and tables, soccer fields and hordes of bicyclists gearing up for a ride through the park.  I took the last of the photos from above and hurried down making my way back to Joralemon street and finally into the park itself.

When I got there it was just teeming with people barbecuing, picnicking, walking, running, fishing, tanning, reading, painting, playing, and like me just taking in the views and marveling at this wonder of urban “parchitecture.”  The park has grassy knolls and tree-lined trails, which were little oasis of cool comfort on a hot summer’s day.  I followed the crowd as we wended our way through temporary alleyways around the construction toward Pier 1 and the Brooklyn Bridge.

By this time I was hot and looking for a place to have a bite to eat and something to drink, when I spied a creamy sanctuary sitting under the bridge; The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Hurrah!!! I made a mad dash through the doors and entered into a world of frozen sweet treats and many happy faces. I had a double scoop strawberry cone and sat outside in the shade licking the drips from my fingers as I watched the tourist disembark from the New York Water Taxis.

There was a restaurant right next to the ferry landing with a very enticing deeply rusted old fence which I had to take a few photos of.  After that I decided to make my way back and walked through the land side of the park through the many shady paths and wide open lawns surrounded by plants and wooden benches.  I followed a trail that led across a foot bridge that crossed over the highway and took you to Squibb Park and back into the streets of Brooklyn Heights to catch the train back home.

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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.

A Mid Winter Snow Fall

Ah snow, I love it. As a city dweller I don’t have to shovel it, plow it or drive in it but, I do get to play in it. On winter wings, Blizzard Nemo swooped down on the east coast Friday night and when I woke up Saturday morning, it had left an 8″ thick layer of pure white snow on streets of a Astoria. My first impulse was to run outside and take photos but the sky was still grey and I stayed in my jammies until late afternoon when the sky turned deep blue and the sun was just thinking about slipping down toward the horizon. The temperature was in the twenties so I donned multi-layers of warm clothing, grabbed the camera and off I went to Astoria Park.

When I got to the park, it was bubbling over with kids of all ages shrieking with excitement as I watched them slip-sliding down the “slopes” on all manner of  brightly colored snow sleds and tubes. There were even a  few intrepid people on cross-country skis.  The wind lifted loose snow from the ground and smokey clouds of it drifted through the air and peppered tree bark and branches. Park benches and water fountains were buried beneath avalanches of plowed snow and icicles hung from the frozen arches of the Hellgate Bridge. I trudged through the park down to the river’s edge where the strong winds were biting and making it difficult to keep a firm steady grip on my camera. The water a dark, frigid, swirling body made me shiver just to look at it as I photographed along the rocky snow covered banks.

After an hour or so the setting sun cast a golden hue on the white snow and turned frosted icicles to a clear glass reflecting the sun’s glow.  I captured sun rays shooting out from the silhouettes of the Triboro and Hellgate Bridges and the long end-of-day shadows on untouched snow, blanketing Astoria Pool. At day’s end, I again turned my camera on the Hellgate Bridge which, by then, was enveloped in a dusky purple-blue light with the last of the suns yellow rays running through the horizon. Just beautiful.

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