The Shore of the East River

Saturday, I bounded out of the apartment at 7:00am camera in hand and off for a morning of photography in Astoria Park to fill my expanding portfolio and for an upcoming submission to BORO magazine.

When I enter Astoria Park it is usually from the corner of Ditmars and Shore Boulevards walking south along the shore line of the East River and stop when I get to the heart of the park near the running track. This time I walked down to the end of  Shore Boulevard to Astoria Park South, where the park technically ends. I always thought that was the furthest you could go but I noticed an opening in the fencing that marks off the park from the Shore Tower apartment complex. There was no sign that said “keep off or private property” so I ventured in and found myself on a wide expanse of a concrete promenade with unobstructed views of the East River north and south, Randall’s/Wards Island and Manhattan to the west.

What intrigued me the most being an urban industrial photographer were the old and decaying wooden pylons left over from a time when there must have been a boardwalk or pier running along the shore line. The pylons were worn, splintered and tired looking from years of seasonal mayhem and salt water and just fired my imagination, wondering what they were doing there.  I’m assuming it had to have been an industrial pier, because there was also the shell of an old warehouse and factory that I could only view from this vantage point; the entrance to the old warehouse was closed off to the public much to my dismay. This area is known as Ravenswood which is a residential and commercial area and has been since the mid 1800’s.

I spent a few hours in the wind and sun taking shot after shot of the abandoned warehouse’s ivy and weed covered facade, cracked windows and two lovely old brick and mosaic tipped factory smoke stacks. I wonder if they were from the old Terra Cotta company? The aged wooden pylons provided an interesting foreground to these photos, a reminder of an old era of commerce and industry in this once productive neighborhood. On the very edge of this portion of the shoreline were  school buses parked there for reasons I do not know but added  a needed touch of bright yellow to the image composition.

The East River that morning was very busy with maritime traffic. Walking north along the shore line I would stop and takes shots of the busy burly tug boats pushing container barges up towards the Long Island Sound or down to Lower Manhattan passing under the Hellgate and Triboro bridges.  Fortunately, the tide was low so I was able to get striking images of the rocky sandy shore line with large protruding boulders that are usually hidden under the rushing turbulent waters of this tidal strait. A fun and productive day along the shore of the East River.

Enjoy the images below.

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!

Two O’Clock Shadows

It is true that I see abstract art in the everyday things on the streets of New York City. I can’t help but see the world as a framed photo.

The other day as I was walking back home along Ditmars Boulevard the sun was shinning brightly and sliding down towards two o’clock. I noticed the perfect silhouettes of the black wrought iron fences in front of the homes that line this long winding thoroughfare ahead of me.  It looked like the sidewalk had been tattooed in wonderful black and white designs.  Once my attention was drawn down to the sidewalk I looked to the side at more dark shadows on the asphalt of the street from the trees, bushes, street lights and signs.

I captured a few of these dark shadows with my camera and present them to you  as a  sample of nature’s street art.

Enjoy and stay in focus,


Gantry Plaza State Park Revisited

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.

Nitty Gritty and Nothing Pretty

I was on a mission last Sunday to photograph grunge; the real nitty-gritty of  an urban landscape. The day dawned grey and overcast with occasional dark clouds which added to the stark mood of the images I was after. The night before I had a notion in my head to capture this type of true-to-life subject matter in all of its abstract state, then convert the images to a high detailed black and white allowing only tiny bits of color to peep out in certain areas of the image.

I took the N to Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City Queens and started my sojourn there ending the day in Queensbridge Park on Vernon Blvd. along the shore of the East River.

Long Island City is going through a wonderful and much needed transformation with construction going on all over. The landscape is a contrast of the young robust framework of new buildings going up and the effete skeletons of abandoned houses with all the fabulous photographic detritus that surrounds both sites.

The first images are from the walkway arching above the streets of the “new” Queensboro Plaza. This is still a work in progress but the make-over so far has transformed the streets leading to the access of the 59th Street Bridge into a tiny oasis for bikers and walkers. From the vantage point of the walkway I was able to capture the N & Q trains slithering up from and going down into the bowels of New York City like gigantic silver centipedes with the 59th Street Bridge looming large in the background.

The #7 train tracks are also undergoing a needed renovation and expansion and I wandered over to Court House Square for a brief time capturing reflections of construction signs in a muddy puddle of water beneath the elevated train. From there I walked over to Vernon Blvd. stopping along the way and photographing a set of rusty steps leading down to an unwonted cellar, some old tires against a backdrop of creeping vines, a broken window with the shards of glass frozen in wire, painfully sharp razor wire, and lots of goodies like that.

Once on Vernon Blvd. I gravitated toward the newly painted and proud Queensboro Bridge a.k.a. the 59th Street Bridge. This being a Sunday and an industrial area the neighborhood was desolate with only an occasional biker zooming by enabling me to stand in the middle of the street to get the shots I wanted without becoming road kill.  This is the first time that I have photographed this bridge from the Queens side. The 59th Street Bridge connects Long Island City Queens to Midtown Manhattan spanning over the East River and Roosevelt Island and is the daily commute for many Queens residents.

As I was walking and mentally composing shots of the bridge I was distracted by a brick wall completely covered in dried up vines with a solitary screaming orange Home Depot shopping cart standing next to it. The perfect abstract shot. Smothered under the vines was an old rusted “no parking loading zone” sign that could not be passed up.

My next stop was Queensbridge Park which until that day I had never heard of and happily wandered in to see what awaited my creative imagination. The first thing I saw was what must have been a park concession stand now boarded up with weeds growing through it. I fell in love with it immediately and walked all around it forming a shot that would accentuate the years of neglect.  The landscape of the park was of grass and ball fields surrounded on one side by the river and the bridge, and on the other side,  apartment buildings and industrial stacks that looked especially tall and menacing against the dark clouds rolling in.

My final stop was as I was walking back toward Queensboro Plaza and 21st Street to catch the bus home when I spotted a totally trashed car enclosed by worn tires and tons of garbage. Now, you know I could not let that pass without a few photos as well as shots of the N & Q trains whooshing passed over head.

All in all this was a very fun day for me and I have spent the entire week going through the hundreds of photos that I took to present you, my faithful viewers with an exciting selection of the eclectic urban grit, grime and grunge of Long Island City. Enjoy and Stay in Focus.