Late Autumn In Central Park

Did you ever have one of those magical days when everything just falls into place? Where the trains are running with no problem, the weather is perfect, and every photo you take is a winner? Well, maybe not all and maybe not all winners but, a good portion you can be proud of. Anyway, that was the kind of day I had on Sunday.

My photographic objective that day was to get images of monkeys as 2016 is the Year of the Monkey and I need a photo for my Chinese New Year card. My sister-in-law, Tracy is from Chengdu China and my nephew, William is half American and half Chinese so I always send them a card each year. Now, the only place nearby that I know that has monkeys, Japanese macaques or snow monkeys to be exact, is good ole Central Park.

I knew it was going to be a good day for photography when I exited the N train at 5th Avenue and 60th Street and looked over the stone wall into the park and was greeted by a gorgeous late autumn scene over looking the reflecting pool and stone arched bridge. The park was still in full color, with deep gold, green, red and orange. For once it wasn’t super crowded, as I think many New Yorkers were out of the city visiting family for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

I captured terrific reflections of wavy, shimmering, swirling colors in the water and two sweet little mallard’s mirror reflections as they basked in the warm sun. Pulling myself away from the beauty of the pond and heading toward the zoo, I spied in the distance, ice skaters gliding and twirling on the cold pure white ice of Wollman Rink, now open for the season. If people weren’t skating they were climbing like so many ants, on the giant  scoured smooth boulders left behind by an ancient glacier that are scattered around the entire park.

After purchasing my ticket at the zoo entrance I wandered into the low light of the tropical zone and was face to beak with a brightly colored Macaw and his two buddies goofing around on the vines and mugging for the camera. It was took dark for my lens so I did not tour the whole area but, made my way out in the sunshine to where the monkeys roam. Again, the magic of the day was still in full force as for once, when I was there, all the monkeys were out and running about and I was able to capture their bright red faces and golden fur glowing in the sunlight. I had good luck with the lightning fast seals, being there during feeding time. One seal though was very happy to just lay with her head on the edge of the pool “getting her bronze on”, while a more wily fellow seemed to be negotiating for the best piece of fresh fish.

The highlight of my day was meeting the two gorgeous, though elusive snow leopards.  The entrance and viewing space behind Plexiglas were also in low light and, the excitement to photograph this beautiful animal, got the better of me. At first I saw nothing and then I heard someone say “there he is!” I could see nothing but, then I saw him (or her, not sure, I didn’t ask.) At first I had trouble focusing and fumbled with the exposure and shutter speed (Nat Geo wont’ be knocking on my door anytime soon) so my first few shots were soft, blurred and grainy but, I just love them and so I included them in the slide show below. Chalk it up to artistic license. When I finally calmed myself down one of the leopards climbed a rock and was now in the sun, I had better luck but, was only able to get two good shots as it seemed everyone surged forward just as I brought my camera to my eye and before I knew it I was completely enveloped in a mass of pushing shoving humans.

I was also lucky to get two shots of the new Grisly bears taking a Sunday afternoon nap and was very happy that there was Plexiglas separating me and them, when I got a good look at their long sharp claws, tucked sweetly under their huge shaggy heads. I ended my day in the children’s zoo and was smitten by two squat little pigs who were in a grumpy mood but, after some coaxing one of them finally favored me with a toothy smile.

Enjoy!

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Hot Town, Summer in the City……

…..back of my neck getting dirty and gritty — (The Lovin Spoonful, 1966) 

Sunday was one of those hazy, hot and humid New York City summer days. Saturday the rain kept me in all day so, when the sunshine woke me on Sunday morning, I grabbed the camera and walked out the door into the heat to capture the dirty and the gritty, that John Sebastian sang about all those summers ago.  My destination was Greenwich Village exiting the N train at Prince Street. For the next few hours I wandered around, in no particular order, up and down Mott, Elizabeth, Jersey, Mulberry, and Grand Streets, just to name a few.

The sun was high, the shadows dark and rivulets of sweat and sunscreen poured down my face as I capture whatever grabbed my attention whether it be on a wall, door, window or street. I mingled with the brunch crowds and the tourists getting their penny’s worth of local and historical color in this infamous part of town. I stumbled upon an amazing urban garden on Elizabeth Street. It was just a small plot of land filled with old statuary, that looked like it had been gracing the lawns and driveways of old mansions, the fronts of museums, hotels and the like. They were strewn about with flowers and plants growing naturally around them. Blankets were spread out under the shade of  few trees where the local residents relaxed, read and played with their dogs. So New York, so Greenwich Village.

The heat was finally getting to me and I slapped down six bucks for a medium cup of cold lemon ice from a street vendor in Little Italy! I know, I know but I was parched and spitting sand; not a good time to be choosy. No sooner did the ice hit the cup then it started to melt dripping down my hand and wrist. I ran across the street and ate my treat standing under the shade of a huge grey gun hanging from the front of John Jovino’s. The local gun distributor.

After the ice had cooled me down a bit it was time to head home to a cold shower and air conditioning.

 

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Christmas in New York

Christmas in New York

Walk along New York City’s Fifth Avenue with me.

Bundle up, on this Wintery Cold Christmas Eve.

Streets are decorated in Diamonds, Silver and Gold.

Pyramids of brown Chestnuts and Pretzels  warmed under a bulb?

Skaters swirl and pirouette; they really let loose.

Beneath a towering Rockefeller Center Blue Spruce.

Huge Trains and Colossal Christmas Ornaments,

Giant Wooden Soldiers; sentinels on the pavement.

The Urban delights of this City’s Season,

May you enjoy them and with good reason.

It’s Christmas, It’s Christmas, and so have a Ball!

A Very Merry Christmas, to You All!

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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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A Black and White Christmas

The sun was shining on Christmas Eve day and after the two previous days of rain I was itching to go out for a walk with my camera.  I usually keep my distance from the holiday crowds in Manhattan but on this morning, I was struck by a wave of holiday spirit and decided to go strolling along 5th Avenue down toward Rockefeller Center, the heart of New York City’s holiday hullabaloo.

I exited the subway at 5th Avenue and 59th Street coming up on Central Park West  where the horse and carriage trade was in full swing. The horses were decorated in holiday plums of red, green, purple and blue and the coachmen were dressed in thick quilted one piece suits, to keep them from freezing solid being in the open cold air all day. A few of them sported tops hats to complete the high class ensemble. Some carriages had passengers snuggled together behind the driver, under warm fleece blankets as they were chauffeured in and around Central Park, pointing at familiar landmarks and taking pictures of everything they saw.

As expected 5th Avenue was jammed-packed with people of all ages and descriptions enjoying the holiday decorations and excitements that only a big city like New York can provide. It took some clever maneuvering to keep from being buffeted aside as I stopped to take my share of photos. I wormed my way through the crowds to the windows of  some of the most famous and expensive jewelry stores; Van Cleef and Arpels, Wempe, and Harry Winston, to name just a few, where a king’s ransom in jewels sat on display and I left quite a few nose-prints and a bit of drool on some of their windows. Of all the merchant displays along this glittering avenue my pick of the bunch was a colossal slithering scintillating serpent that enveloped the sides of  Bulgari on the corner of 5th & 57th Street, and followed each passerby with penetrating sparkling red eyes.

With a sigh I pulled myself away from the baubles of the rich and famous and made a left turn toward 6th Avenue to take a few photos of the massive Christmas ornaments on display across from Radio City Music Hall and then onto Rockefeller Center.  The street vendors were out in droves busy selling hot chestnuts, pretzels and hot dogs to hungry tourists who munched on these traditional treats as they gazed at the street decorations.

When I arrived at Rockefeller Center, the stately giant Christmas Tree, took center stage twinkling in the sun while the wind blew the gold and silver flags, that lined the perimeter of the ice rink, making them billow wildly in the air. Once again, I squeezed myself into an open space to get a good view above the rink and watched skaters, new and experienced glide, slide and swirl around and around as free and light as winter birds in flight.

Leaving, I took a parting shot of Rockefeller Center and walked back to 60th and 5th avenue taking a few street shots along the way before heading back to Queens and Christmas Eve festivities. I had wished for snow on Christmas Eve but the city did not receive a single flurry so I converted all but one of my images to black and white to achieve the wintry effect I was looking for.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and that Santa filled your stockings to the brim with gifts of joy, sweetness and happiness that will last until next Christmas, when we get to do it all over again!

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Happy Independence Day America!

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays, being a fiercely independent woman, and I’ve put together a little Fourth of July slide show for my friends all over the world. These photos are from a mix of images that I’ve taken over the past few years from some of the historic places in New York City such as: South Street Sea Port, the Brooklyn Bridge, Liberty Island, Governor’s Island, and Battery Park.

My Fourth of July wish to You

May your life be prosperous and FREE.

May you have space to spread your wings and fly.

May you have the courage to stand by your convictions.

And may you REMEMBER that FREEDOM IS FOR ALL PEOPLE, EVERYWHERE.

From My  Independent Heart to Yours,

Cate

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Walking Through a Sepulcher Wood

Last Sunday, I took the subway to 25th Street and 5th Avenue in Brooklyn to walk through and photograph the infamous Green-Wood Cemetery. It was a perfect spring day to wander around in this peaceful and historic resting place. I am one of  “those” people who find cemeteries fascinating monuments of local history and Green-Wood has a pedigree of notable burials a mile long. The cemetery is a big beautiful woodland, with rolling hills, meandering paths and man-made lakes inhabited by geese, snowy egrets and other water fowl, and is now a designated National Historic Landmark.

I started my walk in the “public” lots looking for the older grave stones dating from the late 18th century to the 19th century. Worn down over the years to a soft bar-soap dullness, the headstone inscriptions barely visible or completely washed away. One can only assume that the descendants of these people have either died themselves or have moved away and started a new generation far from where their ancestors lie; the forgotten roots to the family tree. Some of these stones are slowly being covered up by weeds, dirt and grasses and will soon be gone from view. I spotted one grave marker that was so old the tree next to it was growing a wooden arm around it, a comforting friend for the years ahead. One slab stone that cracked horizontally and had grass growing between it looked like a giant’s foot print.

The inscriptions that could be read were short and simple some just a name or designation of who they were like mother, father and sadly baby. Quite a few of the tomb stones were cracked or broken lying among newer neighbors like the  fire-hydrant shaped stone, obviously for the beloved family dog.  A scattering of  tiny purple flowers and bright yellow dandelions were growing among the graves adding a gentle warmth and color to an otherwise somber scene.

In the newer plots there were angels, cherubs, saints and gargoyles watching over and protecting all that slept beneath them. As I continued my walk and ventured further into this memorial park, I was momentarily taken aback when I first came upon a certain area below a hill. At first  glance, it appeared to be a nice quiet suburban street with homes on sloping green lawns and stairs leading down to the paved street with a street lamp on the corner. Across from them on the lake shore, sat little pastel colored cottages. These homes and cottages were in fact, family crypts and mausoleums! I thought to myself,  “Wouldn’t this make an interesting and thrilling midnight walk on All Hallows Eve?”

Two pieces of architecture standing out among the mausoleums, statuary and stones are the main entrance gates, designed by Richard Upjohn. Brownstone Gothic spires flanked by two small buildings resembling a Swiss chalet and an Italian villa. And the newly renovated Chapel, designed by the same architectural firm that designed Grand Central Station, Warren & Wetmore.

Sunday’s visit only covered a fraction of this beautiful sepulcher landmark and I have plans to return in the fall and winter to complete my Green-Wood Cemetery gallery of images.

Note: In the morning as I exited the train station and walked up towards the cemetery, I stopped and took photos of an old relic of a building, the Weir Greenhouse,  that happily has been purchased by Green-Wood and will soon become a visitors center. Although, it was enclosed by an impenetrable fence (darn it!) I managed to capture a few goods shots of the octagonal cupola.

Enjoy the slide show:

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