Luminous Nights

It has been a while since I ventured out in the night with my camera and trusty tripod and Saturday night was too perfect to pass up as it was cool, clear and quiet. I left my apartment at 5:30 just as the sun had set and walked along Ditmars Boulevard to Astoria Park where the East River was a mirror of light and color. As soon as I hit Shore Boulevard I set up my camera taking a few test shots and adjusting my shutter speed, aperture and ISO until I had the correct exposure, making little adjustments as I walked along the river.

The Triboro Bridge was lit up like Christmas while the Hellgate was shrouded in night. I kept my exposure long to capture the illumination cast by the lights on the bridge and along the shore lines of East Manhattan and the South Bronx. The long exposures twinkled the lights and turned the evening shadows to a fiery red.

The wakes of passing boats created a rippling watercolor painting with the river reflections and speeding cars left lightening streaks on the road as they zoomed through the scenic image I was creating. I took advantage of the many flood lights encircling the running track which acted like spot lights on the bare limbs of the surrounding trees, imparting on the them an eerie incandescence.

Enjoy a walk through this urban night.

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Those Damned Doldrums

I’m stuck in the photographic doldrums! Maybe it is the summer heat and that everything is either green or dry brown. Or maybe, just maybe, the fact that I don’t have any money to travel. A change of scenery would be a HUGE help.

But, I do know that the pull to be creative with the camera, no matter where I am is too strong for me to fight and last Saturday with a slightly ho-hum attitude I picked up said camera and went into Long Island City for an urban jaunt.  I revisited Anabel Basin where, in 2012 on a cold grey day, I shot an award-winning photo of an old barge moored alongside an aging warehouse with a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, which was exhibited and eventually sold, in 2013 at Gallery Brooklyn, in Red Hook. I included the photo in the slide show below. You’ll recognize it when you see it.

My mind was wandering as I rode the #7 and I got off at the wrong stop, 45th Road Court house Square instead of the closer stop at Vernon/Jackson Avenues. No biggie though, as it enabled me to walk around and look for local urban industrial subject matter in this ever changing neighborhood.

Aside from PS1, (now a branch of MoMA,) little of the old ambiance of this Queens neighborhood remains. Just a few bits and pieces sticking up amidst soaring new shiny towers of glass and steel. Old cobblestone on a few streets, a handful of Brownstones and Townhouses holding their own, some undergoing a face lift. A faded red fire alarm box, with a fringe of weeds minding its own business as the world changes around it and a staircase to nowhere. I wandered down a few dusty desolate blocks where construction was on hold for the weekend and three motionless cherry pickers loomed over me like something out of Jurassic Park.

I’m not complaining about the new/old LIC, it is still a great neighborhood to live in or visit and has two beautiful “new” waterfront parks; Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunter’s Point Park. As I said I’m not complaining I’m just being pissy.

When I got to 5th Street I took a few images of  the colorful walls of the  LIC Boat House, then breezed through the LIC Flea Market before walking to the end of the street where the basin lies and the air was a lot cooler. There was no barge  moored there this time but, the old warehouse still stood, with its cracks and dull red brick made picturesque by the sun and a blue sail boat. Walking along the promenade out toward the East River you can see the tip of Roosevelt Island and looking right, a perfect wide angle view of the Queensboro Bridge or as we locals call it The 59th Street Bridge complete with white puffy clouds drifting above it.

Digression: For some unknown reason ex-Mayor Bloomberg decided to rename the bridge after ex-mayor Ed Koch, ha-ha what a guy. It will always be the 59th Street Bridge to anyone who lives in New York City!

Back on the basin ~ There really wasn’t much going on as it was extremely hot and I decided to call it a day and make my way home but not before paying a visit to the colossal old Pepsi-Cola sign, a real throwback to the old historic manufacturing days of Long Island City.

Waiting for the N on the platform at Queensboro Plaza, having just transferred from the #7, I took a parting shot of a colossal new sign taking its place in Queen’s future history…. Jet Blue.

 

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The Melting

It is  hard to believe, with temperatures back in the single digits that just two measly days ago, I was walking in the sun, with my hood down, my gloves off and my feet too warm in my boots.  Sunday was 45 degrees, a major heat wave here in the Big Apple, and I walked the streets of Astoria and the shores of the East River capturing this beautiful day mirrored in pools of water created by the melting snows. I squished through ankle-deep slush, clambered over pyramids of plowed urban snow, slipped on slick sidewalks, peeked into a thawing grotto of garbage and was baptized by a sprinkle of melt water from a sloping roof top.

When I arrived at Shore Boulevard and the East River I expected an icy cold gust to knocked me down but, there was not a breeze nor a breath of wind. As I walked along the shore line with the sun lightly toasting my face one would have thought it was a spring day in April, if not for the all the white stuff on the ground.

The river was calm and smooth like a mirror in between mats of frosty ice floes gliding along with the currents and providing me with incredible reflections. The rocks along the shore were capped with thick snow and being buffeted by pieces of ice that had broken away from a larger moving piece. At one point an enormous ice flow slid by and I could hear the crunch and crack of ice as it scrapped along the edges of the rocky shore taking any free-flowing flotsam & jetsam with it.

There were mallards bobbing between the ice and the seagulls were swirling around and around, they too enjoying  this taste of the coming Vernal Equinox. I stayed on the river promenade taking image after image of the elegant Triboro and Hell Gates bridges, the scene augmented by the sky and a tug boat or two.

Ah, to wander in the unwonted warmth of a later winter’s day.

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The Year Book

The Year Book 

One minute to Midnight on the Eve of a New Year

My mind flips over a dozen pages still Sharp and Clear.

As I view Life’s Images of all that has taken place

I reflect on the Wins with Triumph and Grace

With a Wince I see Failures and I quickly turn

Determined to remember Lessons Learned

Closing the book I make no Promises, I make no Deals

I gather up all my Self-Confidence, dig in my heels

In my hands I hold a New Book with pages Clean and White

And Bravely walk Straight into the Dawning Light

 Wishing You All A Happy, Healthy and Most Wonderful New Year

Love Ya,

Cate

A Riparian Ramble to Grant’s Tomb

The one thing about NYC that I find fascinating is the many parks that it has.  Most of them along the river fronts; shore lines that, for over a hundred years have been dominated by manufacturing and rail commerce. A shoreline not for the enjoyment of the people but, for the forward pull of progress. Today, that has changed and the shorelines of two of NYC’s biggest rivers; the Hudson (a.k.a. North River) and the East River have been transformed into public parks.  These parks have promenades for biking and walking, grassy banks strewn with big bulky colorful rocks perfect for having an impromptu pick nick or just sitting and watching the waters flow.  The images that accompany this post were taken on the Hudson River and within the peaceful scenic Riverside Park, which stretches from 72nd Street all the way up to 125th street toward my final destination of Grant’s Tomb.

Emerging from the subway station on the 73rd Street and Broadway side, I was greeted with a spectacular view of the gorgeous Beaux Arts facade of the grand old Ansonia Hotel, a much loved and recognized Upper West Side land mark.

Entering the Park at 72nd and Riverside Drive I was greeted by the sculpture of a pensive Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman whose life and works I highly admire. I then made a bee line to the waterfront to begin my photographic ramble of the day. As with all of the waterfront parks, there were bikers and runners by the score, out for a healthy few hours in sun, as well as people like me strolling and taking in the sites, sounds and smells of a beautiful warm summer day.

I spent a good deal of time taking photos of the 79th Street Boat Basin facing Guttenberg, NJ. The basin was filled with all of the great nautical bits and the flotsam and jetsam that I love to photograph accented with a few brown mallards sunning themselves on a waterlogged piece of dock. Continuing northward I came to the end of the  concrete and asphalt promenade and was now on a grassy tree lined riverbank similar to the banks of the East River in Astoria Park; one could scramble down the rocks to get close enough to dangle a foot or two in the water.  I followed a narrow foot path in the grass stopping every few feet to photograph some cotton like weed, wild flowers or ivy crawling over the rocks or the rock’s colorful geologic striations.

The highway at some point separates the park from the water front and so at 122nd street I had to back track to 104th street and walk through a tunnel to get into the “heart” of Riverside Park. Here is where you lose all sense that you are in NYC. A small forest of trees with peeling brown bark and lemon yellow limbs surrounds you as do the sounds of birds and the undulating sh-sh-sh-shushing of the cicadas.  I walked entranced up the wide lanes and down stone stair cases, and up again onto stone overlooks, letting the peace and calm envelop me.  The only other sounds were that of children happily shrieking, as is their won’t, as they played on the swings or swung from the dangling rings of a playground obstacle course. There are baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts and miles of paths to traverse. A recreational haven for everyone.

The park is also known for the many historic and poignant monuments that are part of the this northern area of Manhattan also known as Morning Side Heights and, the most popular of all is Grant’s Tomb; located at 122nd Street.  When I stepped out of the cool shade of the park my eyes were dazzled by the bright white tower of Riverside Church and most amazing is that it was not enshrouded in scaffolding, as is almost every famous and or religious building and monument in Manhattan! This will be a go back trip with a faster lens to capture the interior of this church.

I grabbed a few shots and then tore myself away and walked over to the Mrs. and the General’s place of rest.  It too, was clean bright white and sits at the end of a bower of trees where one walks through and then up the stone stairs leading into the entrance of the mausoleum. Before entering I was completely side tracked and smitten by some unusual sculpture. Free formed multicolored mosaic stone benches that slithered around the perimeter of Grant’s Tomb, like a huge multicolored anaconda; a very whimsical contrast to the solemnity of the place. The sculpture is called the Rolling Bench and was designed by artist Pedro Silva and the architect Phillip Danzig.

Before catching the M5 bus back downtown to 72nd street I spent a few minutes taking more exterior shots of Riverside Church and surrounding buildings, unfortunately some of these were under renovation (there’s a surprise!) and miles of protective netting. Exiting the bus at 72nd and Riverside I chose to walk up 73rd for a few parting shots of the Ansonia.

Enjoy this view of the Upper West Side.

 

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DUMBO

No, this post is not about Disney’s adorable animated big eared baby elephant. It is though, about the neighborhood in my second favorite borough Brooklyn, known as DUMBO which, is another of those “kitschy” NYC neighborhood acronyms for, Down Under Manhattan Bridge Organization. You might have heard of the others: SoHo = South of Houston (street); NoHo = North of Houston (street); TriBeca = Triangle Below Canal (street) and NoLita = North of Little Italy. All fun NYC places of interest and history, by the way. So, with all that said last Sunday I took the ferry from Long Island City, Queens sailing south along the East River on the Brooklyn side passing Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg and stopping at my final Destination Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Last summer I blogged about my first visit to Brooklyn Bridge Park, taking the subway and walking all along the river promenade but,  I never made it past The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory ( who could?) and forgot about the beautiful Jane’s Carousel that sits between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Therefore, the purpose of this trip was to capture that whirling equestrian ride and wander around the shoreline of DUMBO. Note: a slight photographic digression in the first 9 images which are from Long Island City as I walked to the ferry landing in Hunter’s Point Park. I can never get enough of that neighborhood. 🙂

When I disembarked at the ferry landing in Brooklyn, there were the usual crowds of tourists and locals milling about enjoying the sun and chilly spring weather amidst the backdrop of  New York City’s notable attractions. There was a wedding party arranging themselves on the pier for the photographers and, as I marched down the gang-plank towards land, I couldn’t help taking a few quick shots of the bride and her merry maids trying to control her voluminous veil as the wind blew in strong and annoying gusts.

Like many of the old industrial neighborhoods along the East and North Rivers (a.k.a. Hudson River) that, in their heyday, were giants of the manufacturing and shipping industries, have now become a mix of living museum and mixed demographic lifestyles. As I detoured away from the shoreline, the streets of a hundred or more years ago were still lined with the old and once decaying brick and graffiti strewn warehouses and buildings; now receiving re-gentrifying face lifts. Nobby sturdy cobblestone spread out before me embedded with the abandoned lines of rail track directing the ghosts of rail cars to and from the spirits of awaiting boats and barges.

In striking contrast to these post industrial surroundings, the cheery colorful Jane’s Carousel is juxtaposed to a tiny urban beach head of tumbled rocks and boulders with a back drop of an abandoned building dotted with dark sightless windows. As one walks along the beach, the contrast is intensified by the delightful shrieks and laughter of children and adults riding a herd of painted wild horses with flying manes and flared nostrils, taking them on a dizzying circumvolution adventure.

In processing these images I used an HDR filter to not only enhance the gritty details of an inner-city scene but, to bring out the particular aura of  an old neighborhood pushed out from behind the curtains of the past into the future for another chance at a life. Enjoy the ramble both in words and images.

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A Holiday Poem For You

A Mid-Winter’s Sunset

A mid-winter’s sunset in Astoria Park,
Appears as a star upon the Hellgate’s arc.
Painting long Shadows on Cold dense snow,
Where Frigid foot prints follow the East River’s flow.
Orange alpen-glow ignites a brief Summer illusion,
Before Purple Night descends upon a fiery horizon.

Wishing You The Best & Brightest Christmas of Them All.

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