Embellising on Nature’s Accomplishments

And what better accomplishment could nature have done but create the Rose.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts of the magnificent flowers in the gardens of Astoria Queens, especially the roses along Ditmars Boulevard. Now, in this very warm and humid mid spring the roses have been outdoing themselves in size, color and variety. Everyday they bow their beautiful fragrant heads to me as I walked along to touch, smell and admire their natural graces.

Some colors are vibrant and some muted and  I’ve taken a liberty, with what Mother Nature has done, and added  a darker urban twist to the rose with the help of post processing software and my artistic imagination.  I brought out the delicate detail of the curl, fold and ruffle of the petal; the line of the vein in the leaf and the gentleness of the sprouting bud with fine grain. I added a shimmer or a shine to soften or blurred to a bright opacity and pulled out just enough color to draw the eye inward.

I hope you enjoy my little embellishments.

Beautiful Coney Island

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 Many Parks Along the Hudson River

It was very difficult to come up with a title for this post because taking a walk along the Hudson River from Battery Park you pass through multiple parks . It wouldn’t be fair to pick just one for the title. As I had stated in my last post Irish Hunger Memorial  I started my walk from Chambers Street walking west toward Battery Park City then north up and through the Hudson River Park taking photos of buildings, boats and other things along the way.

One of my favorite places to take photos in Battery Park City is North Cove Marina with its many sail boats and large pleasure craft moored there surrounded by the World Financial Center buildings and facing the Winter Gardens. It is very easy to forget that  you are in a big city like Manhattan, as you stand on the dock with cool breezes from the water listening to the sounds of creaking boat masts and the piercing cry of a  swooping gull overhead.

My second favorite place along the river is Pier 25 in Hudson River Park.  I had a terrific time with the tug boat Lilac and a wonderful old red barge called the Lehigh Valley # 79 which is the Waterfront Museum and also houses the Pirate School! How’s that me matey’s?

Recently, I looked at an old ariel photo of lower Manhattan’s waterfront from the 1930’s and was struck by the hundreds of piers sticking out from and outlining the entire tip of the island. All of them have either a container vessel, tug or an ocean liner docked in them.  What was once the home of a thriving shipping industry is now the home to green spacious parks and a playground for people of all ages. Gone are the old wooden piers wreaking of creosote and oil, now they have been replaced by new sturdy concrete piers that are extensions of the park’s open spaces. These modern piers are made for people to take in the views, sit, read, play ball, do yoga, walk, take a nap, fish or do absolutely nothing except enjoy the moment.  I could walk along the Hudson River from the tip of Battery Park all the way up to Chelsea Piers and never tire of the scenery,  the many outdoor activities, museums, restaurants and all the fun this area provides to anyone who enjoys the great outdoors in a great City like New York.

I have many more photos of Battery Park City and the Hudson River on my website at www.photobycate.com. Enjoy.

Irish Hunger Memorial

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 1845an 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.

Butterflies, Roses, Mushrooms and Two Feral Cats

I took quite an eclectic group of photos this weekend and all of them not more than a few blocks from my apartment. I’ve been asked over and over again how do I find my subject matter and I reply, right out my front door.  I walk a lot and I am always on the look out for something unusual in the usual; things people see everyday but just pass by without stopping for a second to look at them. As Sherlock Holmes remarked to the long-suffering Watson; “You see but you do not observe.”  And being a photographer I do both.

This weekend I noticed clusters of brown and gold mushrooms or fungus growing in the moist warm spring soil around a tree right outside my apartment.  Patches of deep green clover studded with white stringy flowers, spotted with tiny rain drops lined the sidewalks up and down Ditmars Boulevard and adjacent streets.  This urban beauty is hardly ever noticed by the hundreds of people who walk these streets everyday but I find them fascinating subjects to photograph. A block and a half from my apartment is a postage-stamp sized park (say that three times fast after eating peanut butter) with a few tables set up for chess and surrounded by wild flowers. I’ve never seen anyone in there. I ventured in and was delighted to see brightly colored butterflies flitting around from flower to flower or sitting on the ground drying their moist wings in the warm sun when it came out from behind a cloud.

There isn’t a garden in this neighborhood that doesn’t have at least one type of rose growing in it no matter how big or small.  After I left the butterflies I was going to take the train up to the Bronx Botanical Gardens to take photos of the roses when, I remembered the beautiful roses that I have been seeing all week in the gardens in my neighborhood.  Now, do not think that I take a liberty and tresspass on anyone’s property. I keep myself on the sidewalk and take my photos over, under, through and around the fences and if I can’t get close enough I zoom in tight. Sometimes, the home owners will come out to chat and allow me access to their gardens. A nice way to meet neighbors and make new friends.  And speaking of friends, walking along the path in the grassy court-yard behind my apartment I met two feral cats that I named Delilah and Sam. They graciously allowed me to take their photos and I have included their wild alley cat portraits in the photos below.

P.S. You’ll notice an image of a black rose. That is an image of a red rose converted to black and white with the green color kept in the leaves. Not natural, but pretty cool looking.