Photosbycate Weblog

A Photo Essay Blog

Archive for the tag “street”

What I See When I’m not Looking

This past Sunday, although a beautiful warm spring day, I was feeling a little out of sorts. I decided that a few hours spent with my camera while wandering through the neighborhood, would brighten my mood.

Walking along Astoria Boulevard I kept looking for something different and visually appealing which was proving to be a fruitless effort. The scenery looked just the same as it always did. Standing on a corner waiting for the light to change it occurred to me to stop looking and start seeing; let the subject matter find me.

In so doing, my eyes re-focused and the world became a series of patterns, colors, shadows, curves and angles. This method has always helped me to create my urban images, my art. At times these images may not be “pretty” and I’m sure, some make most people scratch their heads and say “Who the hell takes a photo of a dirty discarded coffee cup?!” But, you must admit this type of photography, capturing this mundane and much avoided subject matter, does grab ones attention. Hopefully, it changes the perception or paradigm on what “taking a photograph” is all about. It ain’t just flowers, rolling landscapes or a pretty face.

Having put myself in a more positive frame of mind my spirits rose and for the next three hours I was in the zone taking pleasure in the grit and grunge of Astoria’s urban landscape.  Suddenly, there was a lot of subject matter to choose from. Everything seemed to catch my eye especially the bright colors brought out by the contrasting blue sky and the challenging bright afternoon sunlight.

On this walk I found myself mostly drawn to walls, brick walls that have become street canvases displaying sidewalk philosophy and graffiti tattoos. Right across the street from the Q69 bus stop and off of Ditmars Boulevard, is a dead end street. On one side of this street are a few homes and small apartment buildings. The other side is a cadre of brick walls, the back end of small stores that face 31st street. I prowled up and down inspecting each section until I saw what I wanted and pressed the shutter.  Galvanized doors, black wrought iron window bars, a criss-crossing of those ubiquitous licorice lines of communication, peeling paint; all of these things came together to create an image of urban life. I used manhole covers, discarded boxes, aged telephone poles and sewer drains to ad punch and depth to the compositions.

All in all, this day turned out to be a very satisfying and interesting exercise in creativity. Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rainy Spring Sunday

Today,  was a wonderful quiet lazy rainy day spent doing just what I wanted with no demands on my time.  I curled up on the couch with the windows open, music playing on the CD player and reading a favorite book on my kindle.  I took intermittent naps between chapters and occasionally put the story aside and turned down the music to listen to the birds chirping, the rain pattering on the new green leaves and taking long drafts of the sweet moist air that blew in through the windows.

At one point it really started to pour and I sat up and looked out the window watching the water rushing down the street along the curb like a tiny wild river. The view outside, framed by my window was peaceful and natural and very, very green. It was time for a few photos.

My favorite place to take photos from my apartment is in the kitchen. The kitchen window is a little wider than the living room windows and the sill a little deeper which allows me to rest my elbows as I kneel on the floor in front of the open window. The first thing I see from this window is my trusty little red fire hydrant that has been my model on several occasions when nature has made it impossible to go outside to shoot. Today it was glistening with moisture sitting on the curb watching all manner of vehicles pass it as they  hurried to homes warm and dry.

I zoomed up into the trees as the heavy rains streamed down and poured off the leaves. As the lighting changed so did the colors of the leaves changing from a deep blue-green to a bright yellow-green. I slowed the shutter speed to show the rain drops in long stretched white streaks.  I pointed my camera down to the grass under my windows to capture the clear crystal drops of rain sitting on the clover between the blades of grass.

I enjoyed this April shower and the beautiful photos is helped me to create and I hope you enjoy them too!

On & Off the Brooklyn Bridge

Happy Memorial Day,

I have had a terrific weekend and did a lot of shooting around the city as well as enjoying a family BBQ and birthday party pool side at my sisters home in Long Island.

Saturday, for the first time I walked across the infamous and beautiful Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. The typical New “Yawka” that I am I spend my life surrounded by some of the most historic monuments, bridges and other places of interest in the world and just now am finding the time to visit them. But, as they say better late than never.

My photography intention for the day was to head down town to Battery Park City to take shots of tourists and sailors enjoying the holiday weekend in NYC, but changed my mind when the #5 stopped at the Brooklyn Bridge stop and made the decision to finally walk across this historic landmark. I realized very quickly that I would have no problem looking for people to photograph because there were a million of them all around me and all heading across the bridge. Although at times packed shoulder to shoulder the crowd moved slowly but happily as they surveyed the surrounding views of South Street Seaport, the Manhattan Bridge as well as the skyline of Manhattan. It was a challenge not to bump into some one when you stopped to compose a shot or to keep from getting run over by a bicycle zipping between Manhattan and Brooklyn. This bridge really is an engineering marvel and I was mesmerized by the abstract criss cross of the suspension cables emanating from the two huge limestone and granite towers. When I zoomed in for a tight shot I felt as if I was enclosed in a spider’s web of steel cables. I was stopped every once in a while and asked if I would take a photo of someone or couple with the bridge in the background and as always I obliged. It is a nice way to meet people from other states and countries.

As I walked along the bridge’s promenade I noticed locks, lots of locks and many of them alone or in great bunches clinging to the walkway fencing or jutting from a metal ring embedded in a granite pillar beneath one of the bridge towers. Well, these are “love locks” apparently and are put there by couples who have pledged their eternal love to each other. They brought a smile to my face and are a great addition to my Locks gallery.

After a few hours I made my way back toward Manhattan photographing people selling souvenirs and offering bicycles for rent by the hour. As I exited the walkway and walked over to the subway I stopped for a few minutes to photograph a man doing head stands and other acrobatic movements on the street. It was a great way to end a great day of shooting in the great city of New York.

Later this week I will post the photos that I took today walking along the Hudson River and Chelsea Piers.

Enjoy the photos below and you can and see the full gallery here: Brooklyn Bridge gallery.

Stay in focus,

Cate

 

Weeds, Wild Flowers and Bikes

Saturday May 7th was a beautiful sunny spring day here in New York City and I bounded out the front door with one thing in mind; to take pictures of weeds! Yes, my friends weeds. The amazing plant life that seems to use concrete and debris as its fertilizer and drives gardeners insane trying to keep them from taking over their lawns and back yards. Being an apartment dweller living in Queens, NY and not having to till the soil as it were I find these plants fascinating. Notice how they manage to grow right through a crack in a brick wall or straight up through the concrete sidewalk? Talk about survival of the fittest these little guys seem to just sprout and thrive where ever they land. There are many types of weeds and I can only name a few thanks to the researches on the internet and they are: crab grass, plantain plants, ragweed, ground ivy, clover leaf and curly dock. All of them have their own distinct colors and leaf shape.

Since it is spring the most common and colorful are the bright yellow dandelion. I must say that it is quite pretty when there is a profusion of these bright yellow flowers carpeting a neglected stretch of green grass in the morning sun. As a kid I used to pick a bouquet of the yellow blooms to give to my mother and pick the white seed heads, make a wish and then blow on the fluffy flower dispersing the seeds to the winds and hope my wish would come true.

I walked down Ditmars Boulevard (from 77th to 31st Streets) photographing weeds in various forms and tightly packed spots. At Ditmars and 31st I took the N train into Manhattan’s Chelsea district to continue my search for more weeds. I found a beautiful red, gold and green weed sprouting from the seam between a red brick wall and the pavement like a flower in a lapel. Next to a rusted 2″ screw and an empty mini vodka bottle a tiny little green leaf poked its head up from the dirty soil of an abandoned flower box attached to a wrought iron fence. The best place to find the weeds is anywhere that shows signs of neglect or abandonment; there the weeds grow and live.

I did get side tracked a bit and took some shots of bikes; like weeds bicycles are everywhere.You can find them leaning against a fence, chained to the base of street lights, mail boxes, garbage cans & poles, or lined up next to a restaurant that delivers food & drink to neighborhood residences. I would say almost on every single corner on every block within all the boroughs there is a bicycle standing waiting for its owner to return. I have a Bicycle gallery on my website devoted to these wonderful forms of urban transportation and have added a few terrific shots from this Saturday’s walk including one with a little Parrot patiently sitting on the handle bars while its owner locked up the bike.

After the weeds and bikes I wandered up 22nd street toward 10th avenue and The High Line a narrow horizontal elevated park. The last time I was there it was winter and I wanted to get a spring perspective with a few shots of the seasonal wild flowers growing all over the old train tracks that makeup the base of the gardens there. As usual the park was full of people enjoying the warm weather strolling along the elevated walkway or sitting in the oversized wooden lounge chairs facing the Hudson River and Chelsea Piers. I had my 50mm 1.4 with me which I love to use for flower shots because of the wonderful bokeh effect produced by the very shallow depth of field. These photos you will find in the High Line gallery on my website. FYI, I did find a few weeds in between the flowers and I was thrilled. 

It was a free and productive day for me and I arrived home tired, hungry and eager to start processing the days photos. I hope you all had a great weekend and will continue to have a great week ahead. Enjoy the images below and pick a dandelion bouquet today. Oh, the weeds are in this gallery.

Stay in Focus,

Cate

Urban Abstracts

I have two photo exhibits coming up this year at the International Center on 23rd Street in New York City. One is a group exhibit with my camera club the Manhattan Miniature Camera Club in June with the opening  reception on Saturday June 4th. I am planning on showing HDR scenic images for that show that I have taken within the past year in and around the Tristate area.

Then in November a duo exhibit with my friend, fellow photographer and club member June Steffensen-Hagen who recently had a very successful exhibit last November at IC entitled “Guatemala on My Mind” a compilation of candid portraits of the people of Guatemala. June and I have decided to showcase all urban images for this year’s exhibit in both color and black and white since both of us enjoy shooting gritty street images.

This week I started reviewing my urban images and was amazed at how many of them are in the abstract either in composition or in post processing and it gave me the theme that I will use for my half of the November exhibit. All of the images I will show in this exhibit were shot in Astoria in the past two years and I have put together a gallery on my website entitled Abstract Astoria.

Note: as of 1/16/11 I published a book entitled Abstract Astoria. Click on the link in my Blog Roll to the right of this post.

As you know I am a native of Astoria Queens and love wandering around the town with my camera. These images were taken as I strolled along Ditmars Boulevard lined with  towering telephone poles with criss crossing cables and wires that are displays for old sneakers and shoes. Walking up and down side streets to examine life under the trestle of the Hellgate Bridge and in alleyways full of weeds and odd things. Turning onto Steinway street and heading  toward Astoria’s industrial section and the grungy charm of warehouses, construction, factories and the facades of old fading homes from the 19th and 20th centuries. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is much beauty in the abstract; textures, lines, colors, forms, light and angles all draw the mind inward to look beyond what the eye is seeing.

Below are a few excerpts from the gallery which I hope you enjoy and please mark your calendars for these two exciting photo exhibits coming up in a few months (I don’t have the confirmed date yet for the November exhibit but I will post it as soon as I do) have a great week and stay in focus.

Warm Regards,

Cate

The Cage Court and Street Ball

I’ve always admired sports photographers and the outstanding photography that they produce and wished that I could take action shots like they do but not knowing a thing about sports nor having the proper equipment required I never tried. Until yesterday  when I exited the subway at West 4th street  and 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village, planning a day of street photography I walked right into a crowd of spectators surrounding The Cage Court watching a very intense women’s basketball game; the Kenny Graham’s West 4th Street 2010 Pro Classic.

I was wondering how I was going to take photos through the crowd and fence when, as if reading my mind, a man sitting inside the fence told me to come in through the gate and take my photos.  I walked around the crowd and in through a small group of fans, friends, and family of the players and found a spot along the side of the fence behind one of the hoops. In fact this is the only place that you can stand or sit inside the cage. Most of the spectator choose to watch from outside on the street.

Now, as I said before I know nothing of sports and especially basketball but I figured the best thing to do was to keep my eye on the ball because wherever it went the players were sure to follow. I had my Canon 50MM 1.4 so I had to get pretty close to the players without getting in the way and fortunately no one was in front me and my line of site was clear.  I had the shutter speed at 1000 and set my aperture as wide as it would go. I also put it on burst mode to capture as many frame as fast as the camera would go. I took about 150 shots and picked 22 that I felt really captured the excitement and intensity of the game and the players. I was thrilled to finally get a chance to shoot a sporting event and a women’s event at that.  I posted a few “fast” ones below but you can view the full gallery by clicking on PhotoByCate

Stay in Focus,

Cate

NYC Street Fairs and Parades

You can tell that spring is here and summer is on its way because the annual NYC street fairs and parades have started. Yesterday I shot one of many 6th Avenue street fairs to come and also a spontaneous dance parade along Broadway, both of these events took place in the Chelsea/Flatiron section of Manhattan.

I had a terrific day with my new Canon 50D and the Nifty Fifty (Canon 50mm 1.4) lens. My goal was people/street photography, no depth of field and to shoot whatever came into my view. I captured the essence and visual overload that you get at a NYC street fair with thousands of people and “things” to buy and wonderful greasy fried foods to eat. Jewelry, clothing, electronics, hats and T-shirts were on display from stalls for blocks along 6th avenue.  The parade was a hoot with colorful costumes and people and two transvestites that hammed and glammed it up strutting their beautiful yet masculine legs in stiletto heels and showing off their buns of steel all along broadway. In between the street fair and the parade I had a lovely brunch with friends and took a few portrait and still life shots in the restaurant. All in all in was a great day to be out with a camera.  Enjoy the photos and stay in focus. www.photobycate.com

Lower Manhattan & South Street Seaport

Hello All,

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I had a blast; beach on Sunday (yes, the sun paid NYC a visit and stayed all weekend) and a delicious BBQ on Saturday. I’m over my “phunk” and spent all day Friday shooting the historic neighborhood of lower Manhattan (Wall Street)  and South Street Seaport all decked out for the 4th of July.  Despite all of the trendy tourist traps that have now become part of this landscape there is still the feel and sense of  the old New York of 200 years ago.  I think my photos have done it justice. Enjoy.

Stay in focus,

Cate – www.photobycate.com

“See with your eyes but shoot with your heart.”

The title of this post  is the inscription that David duChemin wrote to me in my copy of his latest book Within The Frame. I was fortunate enough to have met this gracious man at  a seminar he was giving at B&H Photo in New York City this past Sunday.  He is a wonderful, down to earth, real person and I and the audience enjoyed his insights, stories and anecdotes that make up the photos in this book. The photos will absolutely knock your eyes out.

 He talks about having vision and passion for your work and craft and encourages all photographers to shoot what they want and not what they think would please other people. This really hit home for me because starting photography in mid life with very little knowledge about this art I have a teeny-weenie tendency to get very insecure about my work.  This book is a stepping stone for me and has inspired  me to continue on the photographic journey that I have chosen and to have no fear of what others may think.  A great read. Thanks David.

Stay In Focus,

Cate

Traffic in The CityTaxi!!Cross StreetWarp Drive

Why I Shoot What I Shoot

Most people do not see the graceful forms in an old abandoned building or the interesting patterns that emerge from a pile of discarded pallets or a cracked, chipped wall.  Nor would they consider photos of these subjects as fine art.  But, I do. When I am walking the streets of Astoria, LIC Queens or anywhere for that matter, I see my world in patterns, textures, colors and designs. That is why I have chosen urban and industrial landscape imagery as the major focus of my photography. 

 I love the creative autonomy and spontaneity that this type of photography gives me. There are magical moments that happen when wandering the street and out of the corner of my eye I spot something, I’m not sure what to make of it but I see and feel that there is an image there. It could be the color, it’s placement in the scene or it’s ugliness, something. I let my imagination guide my eye and then press the shutter release. I am invigorated by the creative energy that I’m suffused in when spending the day with my camera in hand.

 I am not trying to make a photo-journalistic statement with my work I want only to present my work as I visualize it and hope that viewer’s eyes will open and appreciate this exciting, beautiful and sometimes whimsical look at the urban industrial landscape. 

As an example, everyday I ride the N or W train from Ditmars Boulevard to Manhattan and back and I have become obsessed with the roof top landscape that I see from the windows as the train runs above 31st Street.  It is a sea of satellite dishes, old and now defunct TV antennas, graffiti, junk and closed up chimneys from by gone days when the main heating system was the fireplace and all with the Manhattan skyline and the 59th Street bridge for a back drop.  Beautiful. In my head I am composing photos and trying to figure out how to get on to these roof tops (without getting arrested.)  Well, on Saturday morning on my way into the city for a swim I realized that two stations 36th and 39th Avenues have unobstructed views on the front and back of the platforms and where  I could at least start my roof top photographic odyssey.   Despite the gray skies and drizzle I had a blast finally photographing what I had been staring at for ages. I finished the day walking across the 59th Street bridge and almost made it to Manhattan when it started to pour and turned around and made my way back home.  Never did make it to the gym for a swim.  I’ve posted a few roof top and bridge  shots below. The rest of the gallery can be viewed on my website www.photobycate.com.

 Enjoy your week!!!

Laundry DayUntitledPoised for Take Off to The PastThrough the FenceManhattan...Straight Ahead

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 273 other followers

%d bloggers like this: