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!

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4 thoughts on “What I See When I’m not Looking

  1. These images jump out and beg to be noticed for what they are and have been through. The steel clad doorways and secret mews obscured from view are intriguing optics, not to mention the welcoming vivid, blue couch which saw better days and perhaps would’ve provided a comfortable repose after imbibing a bottle of Anacena. Nice to see the Jackson Hole Diner where we once celebrated a birthday!!! How interesting you didn’t see what you were looking at, but we did…………….. that IS the gift!!


  2. great photos – again- I like taking photos of flowers but urban landscapes provide so much in colour and texture and just make me think of all the different stories behind the pictures. Love theses photos.


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