Top 200 Photos: #145

To New York City at Christmas time for today’s Top 200 Photos.

photo #145 is:
Rockefeller Skating Rink and Christmas Tree

In 2006 I went, for the first time ever, to go see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. It was crazy to see so many people there given how cold it was. My takeaway was that the tree always looks bigger in photos and on TV than it does in person. I had a great time during that trip seeing NYC all decorated for Christmas.

Top 200 Photos: #167

Back once again to NYC for today’s Top 200 Photo.

photo #167 is:
Dave's first ride on the New York Subway

Since I have family (in-laws) in NYC, I’ve tried, on occasion, to take my brothers to experience parts of NYC that we never got to see in the brief time my family rolled through before. On this trip, Dave got to ride a NYC subway for the first time.

Top 200 Photos: #183

Back to NYC in this installment of the Top 200 Photos.

photo #183 is:

In March 2002 I went to NYC for the second time in my life.  It was exciting for so many reasons.  I was meeting my girlfriend’s parents for the first time and I was going to one of the biggest cities in the world.  I’d been to NYC once before as part of a college trip up the east coast, but we only got to spend one day there.

This photo was from my first time going into a Chinatown anywhere.  Now, Danielle and I make a point of visiting the local Chinatown everywhere we go – London, Washington DC, and Hawaii, for example.  I was fascinated by the bilingual signs, the crowded sidewalks overflowing with people and goods, and the blatant selling of bootleg goods.  Let’s just say that New Yorkers are unaffected when Kazaa or Grokster are shuttered.  Whenever we go into The City for an extended period of time, Chinatown often emerges as the answer to, “What’ll we do for lunch (or dinner)?”

Do they really need to know this?

nyc- times square

I’m not often annoyed enough with mainstream news organizations to make a big deal out of it. Plenty of stuff they do annoys me, but I rarely get so charged up that I blog about it. Recently they stoked my fire when discussing the attempted terrorism on Times Square. Take, for example the following excerpt from a newspaper article:  “The vehicle identification number was defaced, but detectives found it stamped on the engine block and axle to get a lead on the current owner.” (Alison Gendar – New York Daily News)

Even if the police were dumb enough to brag about where they found the VIN, you should have been smart enough not to print it. This guy thought he was pretty slick, rubbing out the VIN from the obvious places. You just went and told future guys about the other areas the VIN can be found. They just barely caught this guy! He was on a plane to Dubai and the doors were closed – the plane was going to take off in the next 10-15 minutes. If they hadn’t had the VIN to confirm he was the buyer of the car, he might have escaped custody!

And then there’s the following. (Start watching at 2 minutes 12 seconds) (I know it’s risky to embed video because it could disappear at any time)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Explosive and the City
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

For the day when this video clip is unavailable, it’s a montage of TV news programs where they mention how the guy screwed up his bomb and what he’d have to do next time to get it right. Thanks a lot! Don’t make them actually search the net for what they have to do, just tell them right there. “Oh,” Johnny Terrorist says, taking notes, “leave the propane tanks OPEN. Got it.” Seriously, why are you doing this? Most of your headquarters are in NYC. You’re increasing your chances of death. Can we have a little more common sense entering the newsrooms?

For the day when this video clip is unavailable, it’s a montage of TV news programs where they mention how the guy screwed up his bomb and what he’d have to do next time to get it right. Thanks a lot! Don’t make them actually search the net for what they have to do, just tell them right there. “Oh,” Johnny Terrorist says, taking notes, “leave the propane tanks OPEN. Got it.” Seriously, why are you doing this? Most of your headquarters are in NYC. You’re increasing your chances of death. Can we have a little more common sense entering the newsrooms?

A Daily Photo: The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge. It was completed in 1883 and it links Brooklyn to Manhattan. It’s also possible to take the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn, but it’s far less picturesque. I’ve been to the Brooklyn Bridge a few times to take pictures with the first time being when I bought my Fujifilm Finepix S7000. This was the first time I took photos from Brooklyn Bridge Park; every other time had been from on the bridge itself.

NYC Tet Trip Day 2

God is...

Part of my NYC Tet Travelogue.  See part one here.

this entry was originally written on 13 Feb 2010

Lomography Store in Greenwich Village, NY

I went to the Lomography store yesterday and it was a very interesting experience.  The store matches the aesthetic of the Lomography movement.  It has a very casual feel to it.  It definitely belongs in Greenwich Village.  The wall is a huge collage of Lomo prints; most appeared to be of or taken in New York City.  There was a lot of repetition and it had the feel or working well as a larger work of art.  It’s worth visiting the store just to see the wall.  But the layout was also great – all the cameras are sitting on a table in the middle and you can touch them and handle them and get a feel for the camera.  I have a feeling they would have probably let me load some film in and take some shots for them to keep.  (And I might have if I hadn’t been there with others)  The table has an outline of each camera beneath it with the price of the camera listed.  The staff (well, the one woman there at that time) was very knowledgeable and helpful.  Definitely a good hire.  There were also tons of books and magazines wholly consisting of Lomographic images.

Lomography Table
The center table at the Lomography store

Being there and seeing all the cameras solidified the feeling that I wanted to own one.  Seeing the images up close, and getting to actually touch the cameras, just gave me a better feel for what Lomography was all about.  Sadly, and I felt guilty thinking this (and I still feel guilty writing it), I decided to buy my Lomos at B&H rather than at the Lomography store.  Although I wanted to support the store and its great vibe, most of the cameras were, on average, $15-$20 more expensive than at B&H.  I wish I had that kind of money to throw away, but when talking about analog photography – that’s film and film development money there!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to buy it because B&H closes early for the Sabbath.  I thought they’d close closer to sunset, but they closed at 1300!  I should have checked first, but it worked out in the end.  Anyway!

Jumping ahead to last night (I’ll be back to yesterday afternoon in a second), I started researching what camera I wanted to get at B&H on Sunday.  And I searched around the net to find out more about Lomography – I found a few VERY anti-Lomography sites and I almost got discouraged.  But then I realized that these sites were not attacking Lomo cameras for any of reasons that I wanted to own one.  They were merely attacking the philosophy and movement – the way people attack Apple fanatics.  So I rallied and I will definitely get one on Sunday.


Back to yesterday, after lunch we went to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).  It was not only my first time, but Danielle’s first time.  She had never been because it was $20 while other museums in NYC, such as the MET, were free.  I wanted to go because I’d heard there was a pretty good photography exhibit at the MOMA.  When I started looking on the website, it turned out they were having a Tim Burton exhibit.  He is one of our favorite directors, so Danielle and I really wanted to go.  They said people had to buy timed tickets to the Tim Burton exhibit because it was so packed.  While going to buy the tickets, I looked at the membership price and realized it made a ton of sense to become a member!  It only cost $60 since I’m from out of town (over 120 miles away) and I could get up to five people in at $5 each instead of $20 each.  Since Dina, Daniel and Brian were coming as well, it was a great deal!  But what really made it a good deal for me was that there are lots more exhibits coming up that I really want to see, such as Henri Bresson-Cartier, and this way I don’t have to pay so much over a year to keep coming back.  Also, I could enter the Tim Burton exhibit whenever I wanted.

Tim Burton Exhibit at MoMA

The Tim Burton exhibit was awesome (the NY Times had panned it – said it was over-rated) – it had hundreds of sketches both relating to his movies and what amount to doodles.  There were also lots of props from his many movies.  We loved the Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride stop motion figures.  (Danielle loves the former and I love the latter)  Like lots of famous, quirky directors (like Quentin Tarentino) you may think that Burton is over-rated.  But I really like his strange style and that you can always tell a Tim Burton movie.  Really, the only negative is that it seemed as though everyone was at the MOMA just to go to this exhibit.  It was so packed – they need to invent a new word for how packed it was in there.  And that detracted a bit from the experience.

Actually, upon further reflection, this was mostly only a negative with the main Tim Burton section.  It was split across three different areas.  And my favorite (in terms of creativity) was in a lower section where they showcased a series of oversized polaroids by Tim Burton.  For about half of them he had arranged props from The Nightmare Before Christmas in a creative manner.  With some photos he had arranged the characters from the movie in portraits as if they were human models. With others he created more abstract shots such as one consisting of all the Jack Skellington heads.  Other photos contained humans in Burton-esque gothic poses and costumes.  (including a great madonna)

Danielle and Water Lillies
Danielle and one of Monet's Water Lillies

I enjoyed the other exhibits at the MOMA.  It is MUCH larger on the inside than it appears from the outside.  One of the highlights for me was the fact that I was able to identify a Picasso without knowing ahead of time that it was a Picasso.  In the five to seven years I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for art.  It’s not that my parents didn’t take us to museums as kids.  I remember going to some when we went on vacation to Philly.  And I remember going to some at other times in my childhood.  But, for whatever reason, I just never appreciated it at the time.  I was too young.  I mean, I thought Sargent Pepper was a horrible album at the time.  Some kids can appreciate classical music and art at a young age.  I wasn’t one of those.  Then again, there are other adults who don’t or can’t appreciate art and see it as too highfalutin.  The photography and paintings were great.  They also had a Monet water lilies exhibit that was very powerful.  With impressionism it may not be easy to tell exactly what the subject is, but the size of the paintings along was overwhelming.  Another painting that we all enjoyed was Matisse’s The Dance.  Danielle and I enjoyed the room with the Warhols.

Dina and Danielle in a Freaky Exhibit at MoMA
Danielle and Dina interact in one of the scary exhibits

The only thing I didn’t like was the top floor with some *really* modern art – like found art.  For example, one of the guy’s pieces was a room where each wall had a lid from a yogurt cup.  That’s it.  It wasn’t modified or arranged in a creative way.  It was just one yogurt lid per wall.  How is that art?  I don’t get it.

Danielle and Dina at MoMA Stairs
It's not creative, but it's still fun

If I had to find one fault with the MOMA it would be that the regular exhibits are perhaps a little bit too eclectic.  I would like some more surreal, cubist or impressionistic art, but I guess what they rely on are really awesome rotating exhibits.  The Tim Burton exhibit, again, was fantastic.  The regular stuff was good, but not quite as vast.  There were only a few Warhols – not more than one room, for example.  I can’t wait to visit it again to see the next exhibit.

Dina and Frida (And Brian)
Dina challenges Frida for woman with most facial hair

Halloween in The Village

The Whole Gang
All of us in our costumes, ready to head out to The Village

Last year after Dina and Brian went to The Village for Halloween, I did some research on this tradition and decided we would go whenever things worked out.  Well, this year was that year so we decided to spend Halloween night in Greenwich Village in NYC’s Manhattan.  But, first, we rewind once again to last year.  Danielle’s mother made an awesome Chun-Li costume for Dina that rivals anything you can find in a US costume store.  Brian was Ryu and both got lots of accolades for their costumes.  Fast forward to this summer.  We decided to also have Danielle’s mom make our costumes this year.

Dina and Brian as Chun-Li and Ryu
Dina and Brian as Chun-Li and Ryu (photo taken by someone else)

This was the first time we dressed up for Halloween since we did so for a Halloween party at Cornell.  And I’m pretty sure that was the first time since attending a Halloween party when I was as 10th grader in High School.  Danielle and I wondered what we should be for Halloween.  Eventually, we decided to be characters from Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland to head off the glut of Alice in Wonderland costumes sure to be around next year due to Tim Burton’s live action version being released next year.  She was Alice and I was the Mad Hatter.  We saw a few characters from Alice in Wonderland and, once again, I think our home made costumes rivalled anything we saw.  We were definitely more faithful to the source material, with many Alices choosing a sexy interpretation of the costume.

Alice and the Mad Hatter
How is a raven like a writing desk?

Dina and Brian also chose the home made route this year and chose Poison Ivy and Batman, respectively.  Interestingly, I also fit in with them because in Batman the Animated Series there is a Mad Hatter Batman enemy.  Unfortunately, things were starting to get a little late by the time Dina and Brian were in costume and it was starting to drizzle, so I forgot to take a photo with them posing an enemy.  Dina’s costume was fully home made.  Brian’s costume was mostly home made with a store-bought cowl.  Unfortunately, it restricted his head movement (leaving him facing forward the whole time) and made it nearly impossible to breath through his nose.  So, unfortunately, he spent most of the night with the cowl off.  He had one awesome customization to the cowl in that he put his sunglasses on underneath to mimic the fact that you can’t see Batman’s eyes in most of the live action interpretations of the character.  For his bat symbol on his chest Dina used an adhesive felt material that stayed on his costume the whole night.

A Punch Connects
Batman and Poison Ivy duke it out

Unfortunately, it was cold in Brighton Beach so we thought it would be cold in Manhattan so Dina didn’t get to show off her costume for most of the night as she was stuck wearing her jacket.  Luckily for Danielle, she had a bag in which she was holding our umbrellas (she doesn’t share Dina’s or my aversion to holding things) and was able to deposit her jacket in there.  Also, unfortunately, it was raining so I had to keep my hat in a bag most of the time so it wouldn’t get ruined.  (It was made of heavy weight paper)  Of course, with such a high “unfortunately” density in these paragraphs, don’t think we had a bad time.  I actually, as I will elaborate, had a great time.  But these little niggles made it a less than ideal Halloween.

The Mad Hatter Joins In
The Mad Hatter is too far gone to appreciate the ladies around him

Danielle’s younger cousin, Diane, also joined us in a store-bought maid outfit.  We headed for the city in a cold, light drizzle, unsure of whether the night would be ruined by the weather.  Danielle had the great idea of taking photos on the train and we got some great shots of Batman taking the train into Gotham and Alice trying to find her way back in an industrialized Wonderland.  Also luckily, the train was empty for most of the ride up.  So we were able to get lots of shots.  Here are some of the best.

Alice Lost in a Metropolitan Wonderland
Alice Tries to Find Her Way Through this Wonderland

A Deadly Kiss
Poison Ivy Attempts to Ambush Batman

Impatient Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter wants to get to the party

When we arrived in The City, the rain had stopped and it was much warmer.  I was glad I had rebuffed attempts to equip me with another jacket – I was warm enough with the one I had on.  From the Canal Street exit we made our way towards the parade – spotting more and more people in costume as we got closer.  And now I pause to talk about gear.

What's in Your Wallet?
What's in your wallet?

I took all my equipment in my Lowepro Nova All-Weather bag. They don’t sell my bag anymore, but the 170 seems very close to what I have.  This bag cost me 20 minutes on my trip up to NYC since I forgot it at home (Sorry Danielle!).  But it turned out to be perfect that I went back to get it.  While my Canon backpack is water resistant, the Lowepro bag is actually waterproof when I pull out the lining and wrap it around the bag.  And since it was raining for a good amount of the time we were outside, it was great to know my camera was protected.  Of course, the rain made me wish I was shooting with a 1Ds Mark III and L lens since those are basically waterproof in rain.  (I wouldn’t dunk it into a river)  I only took my Canon 400D (instead of also bringing along my 350D) because I didn’t want to have so much equipment I’d be a nuisance to others.  This also turned out to be fortunate, because I wouldn’t have been able to fit all that equipment into that bag and so it would have been getting wet and, potentially damaged.  Of course, since it would be dark, I threw on my Canon 580 EX speedlite.  I’ve been doing a lot of strobe work, so I knew my flash batteries were probably close to giving up the ghost so I threw a set of batteries in my bag as well.

Skeleton Jack, The Pumpkin King
Jack Skellington!

Since everyone was moving around and it was really chaotic, I set my camera to “P” mode.  This basically turned it into the same flash mode as a point and shoot – everything other than the people in the photo were completely dark.  I wasn’t willing to risk all my pictures being crap by using Aperture priority mode.  Especially for photos I took of people without asking them to stop, I think the results would have been disastrous.  So nearly all of my photos once I got to the city are at 1/60s and whatever aperture the camera thought was correct.  If I go again, I’ll experiment with second curtain sync and Aperture priority mode, I just haven’t had good experience with that and I wanted to get good photos because who knows when I’ll be in The Village for Halloween again.

This is a really good time to thank everyone who was with me for being patient with my photography.

Why So Serious?
Why so serious?

I brought my GPS along to geotag my images and it turned out to be a bit helpful in getting us oriented in the right direction to find the parade.  While NYC is very easy to navigate since it’s all a big [mostly] numbered grid, you don’t always know right away if you’re headed in the right direction.  You might need to walk a block over to realize you’re going east when you should be going west.  Of course, at night the sun isn’t useful for navigation.  So I got us going in the right direction and then Dina got us to the parade.  But at first we accidentally ended up in the parade.  (It hadn’t started yet)  We asked some helpful NYPD cops where to go, but unfortunately they led us a bit astray.  (Or maybe we got a bit lost because sixth avenue has some diagonal streets that connect to it)  We did meet up with some awesome photo opportunities along the way, but by the time the parade was starting and we tried to get a spot along the route, we couldn’t see a thing.  This was unfortunate, as Danielle had originally wanted to get to The City early to get a good spot, but given that it was raining, I’m not sure if we would have wanted to sit watching the entire parade.  And, the fact that we left in the middle ensured we were able to get a table at a sushi restaurant.  Later on, people kept coming in and finding the restaurant (and most others) completely crowded.

Two of the HUGE Puppets in the parade
Part of the Parade

And now to go back in time a little bit and talk about my experience walking around.  The costumes that most people don in The Village are amazing.  It’s like going to Comicon or Otakon except people are dressed up like any character for anywhere in pop culture.  I saw a couple pairs of people who were John and Kate plus Eight.  I saw at least two Waldos from Where’s Waldo.  Of course, there were tons of super heroes.  And there were people protesting health care reform and Mayer Bloomberg’s bid for a third term.  In fact, you were just as likely to see politically-theme costumes as any other.

A Political Costume
Anti-Bloomberg Political Costume

Going back to the Otakon thread, I’m so very happy I went to photograph Otakon this year.  It really helped me to get over my shyness with respect to costumed people.  Thanks to that, I was able to ask tons of people for their photo.  And, in the case of other characters from Alice in Wonderland, ask them to be in a photo with us.  And NO ONE said ‘no.’!  In fact, everyone else from Alice in Wonderland was happy to be in our photo and asked us to be part of theirs too!  They seemed to be delighted that someone would want to include them in a photograph.  And, as I realized in Otakon, asking someone’s permission photograph them when they’re in costume is the sincerest form of flattery.  You’re telling them their costume is awesome enough to photograph.  So, many thanks to those at Otakon that helped me get over my fear.  Thanks to my wife for pushing me to get over my reluctance to go up to others to be in a photograph with them.

Late for an Important Date
Late Late Late!

Introducing Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
And we heard the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter

Returning to the end of the night, after dinner it was pouring and so we reluctantly made our way back to the train station.  It was only about 2030 and there was so much more to the parade and so many more costumes to see!  But I do understand that I was the only one having fun taking photos and that I didn’t have to hold anything, so I was the least inconvenienced.  On the way back to Brooklyn, we saw some great costumes on the train including this Steam-Punk couple.

Steam Punk on the Train
Steam Punk on the Train

And we had a chance to get a few more “Batman on the Train” photos.

And the Truly Deadly Kiss
Batman was done in by a kiss when he removed his cowl

To see more of my Halloween photos or to comment on them on flickr, visit my Halloween 2009 set.