Early Urban Spring

Before I write of my adventures yesterday I would like to announce that I am now a contributing photographer to the new local Queens publication BORO Magazine. This magazine is all about the art and cultural lifestyles of Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside and includes dozens of restaurant, business and event listings from this small but fun section of the borough of Queens.  Every two weeks I will be submitting five images from my wanderings in Astoria and Long Island City with captions and a little blurb on why I took them. Click on the link above to view the magazine and click on the Arts tab to view my work. 

Yesterday, was a chilly overcast day and I had all the intentions of  devoting my energies to doing domestic chores.  As I was dropping off my laundry I was struck with how vivid the colors of the newly sprouted buds and blooms looked in the diffused grey light.  When I got back home I packed my back pack with a plastic bag, a dry cloth, an extra battery and an umbrella in case of rain, put the camera around my neck and away I went. I figured that since I had to go grocery shopping anyway I would take the camera with me and get a few shots along the way as I walked up Ditmars Boulevard.

Three hours and many photos later I arrived home with some pretty interesting spring urban photography and no groceries.  I only came home because it had started to pour.

I walked up 76th street toward 21st Avenue because on my way back from the laundry I spotted a gorgeous Magnolia tree just starting to bloom which had deep dark purple blooms on it and also a bush decorated with plastic Easter Eggs in someones front yard. From there I walked up 21st Avenue weaving back and forth between various streets taking photos of any plant life with color. These first spring blooms including the Magnolias are at their most colorful in this early part of the season but are fleeting and fragile which is why I wanted to get out and capture that exquisite color as soon as possible.

There was a profusion of  delicate white and pink Cherry Blossoms along every street, dark pink Azaleas, purple and white  Magnolias, blindingly bright yellow Daffodils and Forsythia,  Blue Bonnets and Hyacinths,  scarlet and pure white petal flowers and all shades of green buds hanging from the branches of the trees. All of the flowers and bushes were in someones front or back yard and I enjoyed using the wrought iron fencing or brink walls of the houses as back drops for the images giving them that urban twist that I am known for in my photography.

I also included some street shots to add to the Abstract Astoria gallery including images of the ever-present and ever-growing collection of sneakers hanging from telephone lines.  One shot in particular is my favorite of the sneaker shots because there are four pairs of sneakers hanging from five wires and they look like musical notes on a  staff.  A real running chord.  I had to shoot straight up into the bright grey sky to capture them. I converted the image to black and white and toned down (pardon the pun) the sky and the effect looks almost like  a line drawing.

I am excited with the dawning of a new season and one that is as colorful as spring and look forward to taking my camera out with me as I walk around my neighborhood or hop a train outside of Queens to capture the varied beauty of the many botanical gardens in New York City.

Happy Vernal Equinox to you all and enjoy the photos below.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Bart’s Church

In keeping with the ecclesiastical bent that I have been on since my visit to The Cloisters back in February, Saturday I decided to photograph two wonderful land mark religious buildings in Manhattan. The first stop was the beautiful and serene St. Bart’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue and the second was St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue.

My plans that morning were to take photos of St. Patrick’s Cathedral only but on my way from the train station I had to pass St. Bart’s. So, I stopped and took a few wonderful minutes to capture some of the beautiful sculptures that adorn the entrance ways, lintels and windows of this magnificent example of Byzantine architecture. The faces and stone clothing of the sculptures were iced with years of grey city soot, and I noticed a few noses had cracked off from constant exposure to the changing seasons. These did not detract but added to the emotive beauty of the pieces by deepening their textures. I did not photograph the glories inside of St. Bart’s this day, wanting to get to St. Patrick’s as early as possible to beat the hordes of tourists, but will return in the near future.

As I walked up 51st Street I noticed all of the scaffolding surrounding the cathedral which is undergoing extensive renovations. That was not a deterrent. I was still able to get a wonderful shot of the cathedral’s facade and stunning bronze doors. I ran across the street facing the cathedral an aimed my camera above the wooden scaffolding focusing on the intricate spires stretching, like two arms reaching up to touch the sun. The striking neo-Gothic architecture stands out like a jewel in a crown of tall straight and elongated glass skyscrapers.

I was very happy to find out that not only can you take photos of the inside of the cathedral but you can use flash too (the Lady Chapel is the only area you cannot take photos.) Once you enter and your eyes become accustomed to the low light and bright votive candles you are taken aback by the length and the height of this parish church. My eyes immediately were drawn upwards and widened as I beheld the huge columns that seem to sprout a vast spider webbing of graceful curving arches all along the vaulted ceiling. The stained glass windows were magnificent and made by artisans from France, England and the USA.

The many altars that line either side of the cathedral are little oases of peace where people knelt and prayed to “their” saint and lit candles for loved ones. Each rectangular brass votive holder, placed in front of each alter had two tiny brass angels, only four inches high on the upper two corners, that I just fell in love with. Their tiny hands clasped together in prayer and their bare little feet poised daintily on a rock were just adorable.

I hope you enjoyed this little photographic tour through my eyes of these two wonderful houses of worship.

Stay in Focus,


In Pursuit of a Sale

In addition to my website I also have a small but growing inventory of images on a stock photography site called Photographers Direct. What I like best about this site is that the image buyers (photo editors) are looking for the unique, unusual or just plain hard to find images that are not readily available on other stock sites. As with most stock sites the photographer uploads their images and waits for a perspective buyer to search, view and hopefully license one of the images. But, unlike other stock sites Photographers Direct has an area where a buyer can post a unique request describing the type of image they are looking for and the price they are offering to license it for. The photographer can submit an image from their inventory that matches the requirements or they can go out and shoot the image and submit it as new which will go into the photographers portfolio and if approved will be put into the buyers light box for review.

So, with all that said above I have submitted to three requests. Two I had images already in my inventory and they are pending the buyers review and the third I had to go out and shoot. It was a request for an empty table in a restaurant with a perspective of you the photographer sitting across from an imaginary friend (showing an empty seat.) No people, nothing on the table except maybe a napkin or some condiments. The client stated that they will be inserting a dog in the empty seat. I was in Greenwich Village and walked into a cafe that just opened its doors for early Sunday brunch and found quite a few empty  tables. I chose one nearest the large windows to take advantage of the light and took about 25 images out of which I submitted three. I’ve included one below.

I found out yesterday that they were not quite what the client wanted so they were not approved (sigh). I was only mildly upset at first because the offering price to license the photo was high, but there are plenty more requests out there and I will keep on throwing my line out until I catch my fish. I have to admit it was fun and exciting going out to shoot for a perspective “paying” client and I am perusing the buyer requests on PD with a lot more verve than I used to. Keep your fingers crossed for the other two I submitted a few weeks ago.

I spent a few hours before taking the shots in the cafe shooting abstract angles of the outside of the First Presbyterian Church on 5th Avenue & 12th street and the soaring clock tower of the Jefferson Market Public Library on  6th Avenue & 10th Street.

Now, I don’t know about you but when I take photos of a Gothic building such as the First Presbyterian Church I just have to convert it to black and white. There is a strange little thrill that runs through me when I change a dark blue sky to black with white ghostly clouds and the red brick into haunting shades of dark grey. Processed this way, the subject leaps out of the picture seemingly more alive and towering. I did a few with the clock tower giving it a more foreboding look but most of these I kept in color due to the brilliance of the mosaic patterns encircling the tower.

I also photographed a pure white stuffed peacock with a gorgeous plume of downy white feathers on displayed in the window of a small shop on West 10th Street.

On my way home I wandered over to the corner of 7th Avenue South & Greenwich Avenue a.k.a. Mulry Square to take a few shots of the thousands of colorful and eclectic tiles hanging like Christmas ornaments to a rusting chain link fence surrounding a parking lot. These are Tiles for America and created by artists from all over the world as a commemoration to the people and events of September 11, 2001.

Enjoy the photos and Stay in Focus,