Top 200 Photos: Photo #197

And I continue to through my Top 200 most viewed photos on flickr.

Photo #197 is:
Wonder Wheel, Wonderful Sunset


Brighton Beach in Brooklyn is one of my homes-away-from-home. I’ve been going there to visit the family that became my in-laws for about 10 years. It was so exciting to find out that they lived so close to the famous Coney Island. I’m certain there will be more photos of Coney Island as this project goes on. It’s one of the easiest places for me to shoot because it’s only a 10 to 15 minute walk if I’m in a hurry vs a 45+ minute ride to Manhattan. Although I’ve never ridden the Wonder Wheel, I’ve always had a fascination with it because every time the fair came to Florida, I’d ride the Ferris Wheel. I am not sure if I’m forgetting some memory, but I don’t think I’ve ever done the cliche riding of the wheel with a date, but maybe I can somewhat buck that by riding the Wonder Wheel with the wife. Along with the Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel is one of the oldest and most iconic structures at Coney Island.

Whenever I’m in NY for during the warm months, I’ll go for a walk after dinner on the Brighton Beach/Coney Island boardwalk. I’m nearly always joined by Danielle’s parents and sometimes she or her siblings come along too. It’s a wonderful way to digest my food without feeling lethargic. Whenever I go on one of these walks I always take one of my cameras. You never know just what kinds of great stuff you’ll see happening on the boardwalk. I love me some colorful sunsets, so this photo was just begging to be captured. Just looking at it makes me pine both for warmer days and for Brighton Beach where I have somewhere to walk after dinner where I won’t get eating by mosquitoes (like I do in my neighborhood).

NYC Tet Trip Day 4

Day Two Hundred Fifty-Two:  Tet Portrait

This is part of my NYC Tet Travelogue.

See part one here, part two here, and part three here.

Unlike the previous entries, this one was written a week after the events, but it covers events from 14 Feb 2010.

Brighton Beach Boardwalk Snowed Over
The Boardwalk covered in snow

For this trip, I had only three goals ahead of time.  (Actually, three is pretty ambitious considering the amount of time we had plus the tet celebrations)  I wanted to hit up the Lomography shop, go to MOMA, and take some photos at Brighton Beach.  With the first two crossed off my list, I was ready to hit up Brighton Beach that Monday morning.  I wanted to do some seagull photography and some street photography style shots of the hundreds of people that take their morning walk on the boardwalk.  Danielle’s parents often walk the boardwalk in the morning so I opted to join them.  When I got there, it turned out that the beach and boardwalk were still covered in snow and ice from the  previous week’s snow storm.  Danielle and her mother gave up and went back home.  I decided to stay and get some gull photography.  The boardwalk was too icy to walk without risking a fall, but it was no big deal to walk on the snowy beach.

So I set about walking around the beach photographing seagulls.  I also happened to see an enterprising woman taking advantage of this rare occasion to go cross country skiing across the beach.

Cross Country Skiing on Brighton Beach

I decided to go to Coney Island to take photos of the rids covered in snow.  On the way over there, I continued taking photos of seagulls.

Seagull with Lipstick

It was very odd to be walking on what I knew was a beach, surrounded by seagulls and yet have the earth beneath me covered in snow.  Beaches are synonymous with Florida for me and I refused to call the ocean-front sand in Oregon a real beach since the water was too cold to enter.  So as I walked through the beach, I wondered if this was what it felt like to live in Alaska.  After all, those who leave near the coast in Alaska are used to beaches having snow through the winter.

Chaotic Skies

My quest to photograph Coney Island turned out to be very fortuitous because it led to me seeing someone using a large format camera.  As I was nearing Coney Island, I saw a guy with a tripod and a huge box on top that had to either be a pinhole camera or a large format camera.  Either way I figured it would be pretty neat to talk to him.  I quickened my pace and caught up with him as he was setting up for a shot of the ocean.  I asked if I could take a photo of him and he agreed upon the condition that he could take a portrait of me.  I was excited to be photographed by such a camera so I quickly agreed.  Also, he would be spending quite a bit of money for that film and to develop it (compared to a 35mm camera or a digital camera) so I felt honored.  The photographer is named Jon Feinstein and he’s the co-founder and curatorial director of the Humble Arts Foundation.

Coney Island Beach in Large Format

Coney Island actually ended up being a bit of a disappointment because it was so fenced up that I couldn’t get a good shot.

Snow-Covered Ride

Our Lunar New Year celebration was best expressed by what we did at the end of the day.  We went to one of Danielle’s aunts’ house and played traditional new year games: Vietnamese poker and Bau Cua, a game similar to the roulette wheel (without the wheel).   All the kids from the next generation were also there running around and it was a general jubilant chaos.

Bua Cua Mat
Put your money on which animals yout think will come up on the dice

Thus ended my trip and also my first real attempt at a travelogue.

Lance and the Hat

Photos from Brighton Beach’s Boardwalk

Lovers on the Boardwalk
Lovers on the Boardwalk

A few weeks ago I took yet another stroll on Brighton Beach’s Boardwalk.  This famous boardwalk goes from Brighton Beach past Coney Island all the way to Seagate.  This time around I took some iconic photos from the area.  In other words, these are exactly the types of photos you would see included in any survey of boardwalk photos. Here’s the GPS track of where I went in a static PNG and then as a Google Map so you can zoom in and scroll around.

GPS Track of my Beach Photo Excursion

First of all, are these photos which are my favorite photos to take on the boardwalk – older men playing chess.

A Huge Audience for this Match of Wits
A group of men watching two compete at chess
Before Video Games, There was Chess
Another group playing chess

The most interesting thing about photographing these games of chess is getting home and looking through the photos.  It is upon reflection one realized that to these men chess is truly a spectator sport.  There are usually at least a couple of people who are simply watching the game evolve.  They may be chattnig as the game progresses or may be enraptured by the skills of the players.  Where else do you see so many people gathering around a game of chess?  I’m left wondering what the analog will be for our generation.  Sure, video games have mostly replaced chess, but you just can’t do the same – at least with the current generation of video games.  A handheld like a gameboy is hard for a bunch of guys to crowd around.  A regular video game console can’t be played outside so you can’t get passerbys to glom on.

No spectators here, just two men doing mental battle
A game played without spectators

Of course, sometimes, the games are played without anyone else watching.  Here I captured what appears to be men of quite a different age playing together.  This gives me hope that the tradition of playing chess on the boardwalk is being transmitted across the generations.  I would really like to see a tradition like this take place in all the major cities.  One thing other cities, such as Baltimore, would need is an area with benches and, ideally, tables.

Attentive Dog
Dog on the boardwalk

Another great subject for the boardwalk photographer is the pet dog.  Many, many people love to walk their dogs on the boardwalk so if you like to photograph dogs, it’s a great place to be.

Friends on a Boardwalk Bench
A group of older friends on the boardwalk
Another Group of Friends on the Boardwalk
Another group of friends on the boardwalk

I think my second favourite type of shot on the boardwalk involves photographing the older couples and groups of friends that sit together on the benches.  These people generally live on or very near the boardwalk and basically choose the boardwalk as the place where they socialize with their friends rather than sit on their porches or balconies.  They usually segregate themselves by sex if there are four of them.  To me, this is such a great activity with so many benefits.  They can just sit there and wait for friends to walk by on the boardwalk.  My wife and I have often run into people we know on the boardwalk.  So it encourages more socializing.  These people also get a nice breeze and the ocean air.  I just love photographing this cross section of Brooklyn life.

Another interesting aspect of New York City in general and the Boardwalk specifically is that some part of it is always being renovated.  NYC has a LOT of citizens and visitors and they put a lot of wear and tear on the resources.  So you can often find sections of the boardwalk blocked off and being worked on.  If you like to document construction and renovation, the Boardwalk is a good subject.

Boardwalk Rehab
Renovation on the Boardwalk

The east-west orientation of the Boardwalk can lead to some awesome sunrise and sunset photos.

Marine Weather Vane
This weather vane was too tempting to not photograph

Of course, how can you go to Coney Island and not photograph the iconic wooden roller coaster the Cyclone?

Cyclone from Behind
This time photographed from the back on the suggestion of my wife
The Giant Bubble
Of course, people will use any kind of gimmick to get people's attention. In this case, blowing gigantic bubbles.