Sam and Stella’s first visit to Coney Island

Earlier this year we took the twins to Coney Island for the first time. They were not amused.

Scarlett on some Coney Island Rides

Scarlett on a Coney Island Roller Coaster
Scarlett on a Coney Island Roller Coaster

It’s pretty crazy how much Scarlett has grown since she first started going to Coney Island. Before, there were only a few rides she liked or could go on. Now she’s going on roller coasters! I wonder if she’ll want to go on adult coasters with me when she’s old enough. I guess we’ll see what thinks about being twisted and turned about.

Scarlett on her chariot
Scarlett on her chariot

The Final Coney Island Visit for the Summer

Coney Island is quite photogenic at night, but even I surprised myself (who had gone a few years ago specifically to take photos there are night) with just how photogenic when I got on the carousel with Scarlett (and her cousins). Here are some photos from that night:

My absolute favorite photo of the night:

Coney Island at Night 046

And we saw some fireworks!

Coney Island Fireworks 2015 005


Mid-May Photojojo

It’s once again time for my latest Photojojo post. For those of you who haven’t been following my blog for a long time, Photojojo is a digital time capsule service. Every two weeks they send me an email that has my most interesting photos posted to flickr from one year ago.

Scarlett goes to Coney Island.

July 2011 Desktop Background

Here are your new desktop backgrounds for July 2011!


Just click on the one that matches your monitor type and then either right-click and set as desktop or save it to your computer and save it as your desktop manually.


July 2011 - 1024x768 - desktop for square monitors
July 2011 - 1024x768 - desktop for square monitors


July 2011 - 1680x1050  - desktop background for Widescreen Monitor
July 2011 - 1680x1050 - desktop background for Widescreen Monitor

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).

Franka Solida III

Franka Solida III

Last time I mentioned my Franka Solida III, I had just had my first roll in my Yashica developed. I mentioned being a bit worried about the fact that I couldn’t tell what was in focus by looking through the viewfinder. Turns out that my fear was founded as I originally thought the units on the lens were ft when they were in fact meters. The results show:

My first Franka Solida III Photo

For my first photo shoot with the camera, I took it to Coney Island at night. I think the results came out amazing considering that I was hand-holding the camera (no tripod) and have not been able to achieve the same effects with my dSLR.

Deno's Wonderwheel

Squaring 3/4 of the Circle

Carnival Game

Overall, it’s a very nice piece of kit. Unfortunately, its 1 second exposure is a bit broken, so I lost a couple exposures on that (a lot on a 12 exposure roll) and some other shots were at the wrong focus setting. I’m a little iffy about using it in situations where I can’t just focus to infinity, but I’ll probably give it another shot next time I order another roll of film.

Day Three Hundred Fifteen:  Meet the Franka Solida III

The New Coney Island and The Cyclone

The New Luna Park
Luna Park, the new section of Coney Island

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I went to NYC over Father’s Day weekend to see the Mermaid Parade. Well, as if that wasn’t crazy enough, I went BACK to Coney Island that night to photograph the new Luna Park. I have been documenting the changes to Coney Island and so I wanted to document the aftermath. I took both of the digital cameras I had used that afternoon and proceeded to take some low light photos. I would have preferred to have gone a little earlier in the evening to take the photos, but we thought it might have been a little crowded. By the time we went, it wasn’t too crowded, but there were still plenty of people still in their mermaid costumes hanging around.

The Mermaid Parade isn't over for her!
Some participants from the Mermaid Parade enjoy their time in Luna Park

Most, though not all, of the rides were targeted towards young kids. Dino’s has more of the rides that can be ridden by adults as well as the arcade area. There were still some rides being built, but it looks to be mostly complete. I was surprised by how bright it was in the park. I was able to really lower my ISO a lot more than I thought I would be able to. That really excites me for the prospect of doing some low light photography with the Holga at Coney Island.

Explaining the Ride
Kids on the kiddie version of the spinning chair ride

When we were finishing up, Danielle suggested I ride The Cyclone. I’d been talking about riding it ever since I first saw it over seven years ago. To my recollection, I had never ridden a wooden rollercoaster and I knew this was one of the most famous. I wavered a bit over the price – $8 – but eventually decided to go for it.

Astroland Cyclone
There it stood, ready to be conquered.

The fact that it is wooden, combined with its track design, made it one of the most thrilling roller coasters I have ever ridden. (top honors goes to a coaster in Busch Gardens Williamsburg) The drops were great, the speed was perfect and it was done without any loops. The only complaint I had (and probably the reason I’ll never ride it again) is that the rickety nature of the wooden roller coaster left me with a headache. All the bouncing of the train along the tracks transferred up my spine to my neck and then head. The resulting headache was definitely not worth the trip. It may be possible that the headache was worsened by the fact that my neck muscles were probably spasmed from having had all those cameras around my neck all day long. But I’m definitely glad I got it out of the way. One less thing for my lifelong TODO list.

My First Time on the Cyclone
Never again will I wonder what it is like to ride The Cyclone

Mermaids on Parade

In reading the New York Daily Photo Blog, I happened to come across a post about the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to try and attend next time it happened. Being the awesome wife that she is, she kept her eye out for the date and let me know it would coincide with Father’s Day weekend this year. So we decided to get a two-for-one deal and go to NYC to see the parade.

We found out where it would start and that it would begin at 1400. So we decided to head out around 1300 and have some lunch on the way there. We ended up getting there at 1330 which was a little later than I wanted, so we didn’t make it all the way to the beginning of the parade. We ended up near the end right before the parade worked its way onto the boardwalk. This ended up being a fortuitous location. At first Danielle asked if we wanted to stay on the boardwalk. But none of the vehicular groups went up onto the boardwalk (of course they couldn’t) so we would have missed out on some of the most impressive floats. We also lucked out that we were kept from crossing the street to join Danielle’s mom because all the floats passed right in front of me — across the (wide) street from her. We had one final bit of luck in that we were amongst the last batch of people able to cross the street into that area. The police were keeping people off of the street for safety reasons.

The parade turned out to be spectacularly long — we were there for 3 hours and we left about a half an hour before it was over. The weather was perfect, if a little hot. I had three cameras with me — the Rebel XTi (400D) , Rebel XT (350D), and Holga 120CN. The Rebel XTi had my Canon EF 28-105mm. USM (discontinued) lens serving as the perfect zoom for 85% of the shots. The Rebel XT had my Sigma 10-20mm lens for those times when we were bum-rushed with dozens of parade people at once and it was impossible to capture them with the longer lens as well as being useful when the mermaids got extra close to me. It turned out to be the perfect lens combination and I didn’t regret the choice at all. Over those three hours I shot nearly 1200 photos combined between the digital cameras. I nearly used up all the memory cards I had — 11 GB total over the whole trip — most of it at the parade. I wasn’t the only one photographing the parade. I was surrounded by other photographers, mostly wielding Canons along with a couple of Nikons and obscure brands. In fact, it was rare to see anyone around me without a camera.

And now… enough naked words. Time for the photo essay.

The Mermaid Parade Begins
The Mermaid Parade started off as a Mardi Gras parade and eventually moved to coincide with the summer solstice. This makes for better parade weather in NYC.
The Regal Procession
Every year some famous people are crowned King and Queen of the Mermaid Parade. They are usually famous New Yorkers. This year it was Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson of The Velvet Underground.
Mermaid on the Moon
The floats range from extremely elaborate to simple and many groups are actually on foot. On average, most of the floats were small like this one and were pushed or carried. If you follow the link to my Mermaid Parade set (at the end of the post) you can see some of the more elaborate vehicles.
Rock On!
There were tons of performers on stilts. This guy was the most masterful as he ran around in the stilts.
Hungry like a Wolf
A big feature of any NYC parade, but especially the Mermaid Parade, is cross-dressing. The interesting thing is that a study of festivals throughout history shows that cross-dressing has always been a popular way to subvert the rules of life, even if it's just for a day.
Mermaid Survivors of the BP Oil Spill
The largest unifying theme of the parade this year was the BP Oil spill.
Stop Violence Against Mermaids
Lots of participants marched with signs against BP's handling of the gulf coast oil spill.
Join the Navy!
Sailors were also a major theme of the parade.
Giant Blue Creature
This is an example of some of the hand-carried floats.
Although women have had the right to go topless in NYC since 2002, many of the participants stopped at pasties rather than be fully topless.
Oil Addict
Yet Another BP Oil Spill themed participant.
The Most Disturbing Darth Vader Ever!
There were also a few mergings of pop culture during the parade. But none were as strange as this group's merging of Hello Kitty with Star Wars.
Strategic Shark
Perhaps because so many people focused on the oil spill, completely original and off the wall costumes like this one weren't as common.
Free Hugs!
New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude. I've found that most of the time New Yorkers are actually very nice. They simply tend to be impatient and sometimes remind me of online forums. This woman went all along the parade route hugging anyone that allowed her to.
A few of the participants focused on glamour designs, but it wasn't too commons this year.
Andy Warhol:  Campbells Soup Top
A large contingent of Andy Warhol themed participants reinterpreted a lot of his artwork in pretty neat ways such as this Campbell's Soup Top
Searching for the Enemy
Of course, just as common as sailors in a sea-themed parade were pirates.
Death Up Close
Another great example of the huge creativity on display at the parade.

For more (and there are a lot more) photos from the Mermaid Parade, see my flickr Mermaid Parade 2010 set.

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.