Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

May the year of 2011 be a happy and successful one for everyone!

Now to address the "Fuck MTA" elephant that is firmly entrenched on this utility room door in the Lexington Avenue-53rd Street subway station. MTA is not very popular among New Yorkers these days and with the service cuts that occurred in early 2010, the fare hikes that just went into effects yesterday, and the plague of constant weekend/night service disruptions, the utterance of "Fuck MTA" into casual, if not in polite society, is becoming more commonplace. In can be found in such conversations as:

1. "Better take a coat, its going to be cold today...Fuck MTA"

2. "Man, I just can't seem to pass this 10mm kidney stone...Fuck MTA"

3. "I just completed my dissertation on Charm Quarks and I believe it will change everything...Fuck MTA"

4. "I managed to fly under the radar of the SEC yet again. Whoo Hoo!...Fuck MTA"

5. "I don't care what that scale says, I've weigh the same as I did when I was in high school...Fuck MTA"

6. "This tire fire is never going to be extinguished...Fuck MTA"

7. "If prepared properly, rodent can be just as succulent as fillet mignon...Fuck MTA"

Well, you get the idea...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hellfire Airport Tunnel

So many airports are sporting a variation on this tunnel-with-a-futuristic-lighting-and-whoosh-sound-audio-track motif. Chicago-O'hare, Indianapolis International, Atlanta International, and in this case Detroit Metro Airport, all seem to want to keep up with the Jones'. Perhaps something uniquely world class would be in order; nah, this is America ;)

Oh well, I don't care at this point...I'm sick of airlines, airports, and weather reports...Just get me home!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Noodle gets Extra Slippery in the Winter

The Slippery Noodle Inn is the oldest continually operating pub in Indianapolis which was opened in the early 1850's. It has quite a colorful history, legend has it that it was once a brothel and there is still a bullet lodged in the wall that was meant for John Dilliger's head.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Crumbling Vacated Merrill Street

I visited Indianapolis and the family for the holiday season and was supposed to go back to NYC on Sunday. That was until a major blizzard pummelled the east coast; as a result I am still here and that extended time can mean only one thing: Indianapolis Photos! This collection focuses on the area of Pennsylvania and the now vacated Merrill street, near the Lilly complex.
Used to be a tunnel, but most of that has been ripped out other than the rail overpass. Used to be a prominent hangout for homeless people and Lilly employees that smoked until all this was done. The dozens of homless people moved to another similar underpass about five blocks away. Taken on the near south side of Indianapolis in an area known as Pogue's Run.
Looking at the Chase Tower from Pennsylvania Street.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The R Train that Never Comes

...Because it doesn't run late nights. The newly formed, or more accurately, joined, Jay Street-Metro Tech station now joins the A,C, and F trains to the R train in downtown Brooklyn. This is another step closer to uniting the subway system from an old visage of three competing transit companies. A similar connection has being made in Long Island City connecting the E,M,G trains at Court Square to the 7 train at the elevated 45 Road- Court Square station two blocks away. Now if only something similar would be done (or atleast a metrocard transfer) with the Broadway-G and the nearby elevated Lorimer-J,M station in Williamsburg (ahem MTA), I and many other Brooklyn commuters would be quite happy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fire Escape Frenzy

Today I bring you yet again, more fire escape porn... Taken near Washington Square Park and NYU in Greenwich Village, Manhattan; exact location is geotagged in Flickr, which may be accessed by clicking on the image.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Acid Flashback

There's just something about a VW bus that brings about fantasies of special special brownies, magical sugar cubes, Iron Butterfly tracks, and the consequences of spilling the bong water on the upholstery. Spotted from my stoop as I was Ieaving my apartment...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lo-Fi Simulation

Before I begin this post, I must confess...I don't own one piece of lo-fi camera equipment. My modest arsenal contains no holga, lomo, reflex, or toy cameras of any kind. That doesn't mean I can't simulate them with a harmonious mix of digital camera settings and Photoshop fudging. My style tends to favor higher contrast shot, but these contradict this nature of mine.

Looking at the Midtown Manhattan skyline from across the East River in Hunters Point, Queens.

Endless amounts of conduit populate the Court Street station in Downtown, Brooklyn.

Taken near the corner of Metropolitan and Union in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Taken near the corner of Ludow and Rivington on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Taken at the terminus of Mulberry in Chinatown, Manhattan.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Its...? Its...? Um... Something...

This shot was taken two years ago when I enjoyed a 'tour' Citizen's Gas and Coke facility on the East side of Indianapolis. This place was a major inspirational factor for #4 in my recent Nighthawk Photography post. Take my word for it, parts of this facility are downright foul with unspeakable substances bubbling up from the ground, don't believe me? See for yourself here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Walking Past History: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

As one walks around the city they may not even realize some buildings in which history changing events have occurred as they pass by. What is now NYU's Brown Building of Science was once the Asch Building. This is the building where, on March 25, 1911 a disaster what is now known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire occurred. In the fire 146 garment workers, mostly women, lost their lives. Mass chaos ensued where blocked exits hampered efforts to escape and nearly half the victims fell to their death, either by an intentional choice to jump or faulty fire escapes that buckled under the weight from people attempting to escape. The ladders used by the fire department at the time was only able to reach the 6th floor and the lack of alarms in the building created a situation where workers were not even made aware of the fire until it was too late.

Many of the circumstances surrounding this tragedy are unheard of today. One example of this is the fact that exits were blocked to prevent employees from leaving their shifts early. The distrust of employees, customers, or general public lead to many disturbing parallels of blocked exits in other notable fire disasters of the day; such as the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in Boston where windows and exits were barred to prevent patrons from leaving without paying their tabs, or the Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago where complicated locks secured exits to prevent people from sneaking in.

It was considered one of New York City's deadliest fires until the World Trade Center attacks that occured on September 11th, 2001. The fire led to a major fallout of scandals, changes in working conditions, changes in city codes, and political agendas that still touch out lives on a daily basis to this day.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chrysler Reflection

I'm on a bit of a red light phase at this point, so if it seems like I am or in the near future, beating it into the ground, I apologize...Well not really ;) This is one of those shots where I used an improvised tripod, in this case, an overflowing trash can. Looking down Lexington from 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Traffic Mix

I just love traffic lines made possible by long exposures! A 25 second exposure to be exact. Taken near the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush across from the Atlantic Terminal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Dirty Dozen Value Addition II

An alternate view of the 20th Avenue Station featured previously in The Dirty Dozen. This station opened in 1915 and is located along the old BMT Sea Beach Line in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Has its Eye Set on Bed Stuy

Excited to shoot some of my first winter shots of the season, I shot down the stoop past one of my shivering neighbors into the action. This is as far as I got, which is for the record, is only one block from my apartment. I don't mind the cold, but the frigid wind stopped me in my tracks and called a quits when my glasses fogged up to the point where I could no longer see. I'm considering procuring a ski mask in the future to shoot in these conditions and be sure to avoid the cops ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Court Street Sign Sightings

Court Street is a minor thoroughfare that begins near Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn and ends in Red Hook. I noticed a few shots where a sign that says 'Court Street', an idea surfaced and boom...This post was born.

The architecture of this shot is representative of much of what the flavor is in the downtown neighborhood of Cobble Hill. Taken at the corner of Court and Pacific.

Walking the Red Hook line as I approach Court Street below the Gowanus Expressway. At this moment, I am not too far for the terminus of Court Street.

The downtown Court Street station would like to extend you wishes of a Merry Friggin' Christmas. I offer my apologies, but this station like to rant about the crass commercialization of the Christmas season....Blah Blah Blah; I offered it a forum, but asked it to keep the rhetoric brief and fortunately it did.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Night Shift - A Guide for the Nighthawk Photographer

Hey what do you know, another post with a title stolen from a moviee. What can I say, I recently watched the movie Night Shift; remember that one? Its the one where city morgue workers Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler become pimps.

I like to do my shooting, not just at night, but late night. Perhaps I shouldn't and common sense dictates in many aspects why I shouldn't be taking my moderately priced camera equipment out into the far reaching facets of the urban abyss at 3AM. Well, I'll be the first to admit that common sense has alluded me since I was a wee little, pint size Heidelberger. There are practical reasons why I prefer to do so as well. Night time aesthetics, reduced pedestrian and automobile traffic, and overall tranquility to facilitate focus all play a role. Contrary to what my photographic exploits may say, I do have a set of rules in which aid me to be able to survive to shoot another night. Here are 10 disciplines of the nighthawk urban photographer...

(Shot at the corner of Union and Broadway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
1. Be conscious of law enforcement and how you may look to them while going about your business. Late night photography is not a crime unless you are trespassing or specifically invading someone's privacy. But cops tend to be extremely curious by trade and someone setting up a tripod to photograph a fire hydrant or something could be considered behavior that is out of the ordinarily. On top of this, some of them may have had a rough night and are pissed off because someone littered on their car and may not want to listen to your story.

(Taken in the Meat Packing District of Manhattan)
2. Have a plan to defend yourself if required. I'm not suggesting you go around packing, but with a little creativity, anything can be practically made into a weapon. If you notice in the shot above, that is a shadow of my tripod, which happens to be my weapon of choice. I have a backpack mounted camera bag with a Velcro loop that holds my tripod (or sometimes a monopod). I have a strategy for quickly releasing tripod and delivering an incapacitating blow. This may sound somewhat over elaborate and even hyperbolic, but I have had to warn someone off before and a would be attacker tends to be much more timid than you think when you demonstrate that you won't make for an easy 'mark'.

(Taken under the Gowanus Expressway in Red Hook, Brooklyn)
3. This may be the most important tip of all; watch for inattentive drivers! As easy as it is to become complacent watching out for them, it is just as easy for an exhausted or inebriated driver to become complacent watching out for you.

(Taken at the base of the Gowanus Canal, near the Gowanus/New York Bay)
4. Resist the temptation to jump fences or to trespass in other ways. I love to explore my built environment, but very rarely burgle to do so. Fences are not cheap, which means people wouldn't erect them for the sake or just having them around; they're there for a reason. Not only can it get you into legal trouble (which I've been close to achieving myself), but if you aren't familiar with your surroundings, you can end up in really foul places (take my word for that one as well), get seriously injured, or worse. I leave the clandestine missions to the Urbex scene now a days, whom are much more qualified than yours truly.

(Taken at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, at the Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)
5. Pack light...It can be very tempting to bring along every lens, filter, and flash unit in your repertoire so you won't suffer the humiliating 'damn, this shot would have been much better if I would have had my f/1.8 50mm prime lens with me' feeling. Under regular circumstances, you can size up your shot, shuffle through your camera bag and orchestrate photographic perfection, but its best not to linger in one place too long with late night shoots. It weighs you down, makes people and law enforcement suspicious, and remember what I said about appearing as an easy 'mark'.

(Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn)
6. I titled this shot 'Fiber optics on Fulton' on Flickr, which leads me to quite possibly the most obvious tip, a well functioning communications infrastructure. I have a cheap, Blackberry knockoff cell phone, but its still equipped with some valuable tools aside from the ability to make calls. It has GPS and navigational functionality which aids in locating and geotagging shots for later, a memo pad for taking down observations of a photo shoot, and when if I'm desperate, a 1.3 mega pixel camera. New cameras are now being equipped with GPS, but I am not yet that modern.

(Taken on Spring Street near The Bowery and SoHo, Manhattan)
7. Know the Party Zones. If you don't, not only do you run the risk of being caught among annoying tourists, but, drunk, annoying tourists. Inebriated party-people have a tendency to interrupt you frequently as you shoot; usually with requests to have their picture taken while they pose in some undignified fashion or ask stupid questions like 'do you work for the NY Times?' or even 'You a photographer?'.

(Taken in a Chinatown alleyway near Canal Street, Manhattan)
8. Alleyways are actually friendly. Believe it or not, they are. They are usually quiet, empty, and contrary to popular belief, adequately lit. Unlike a sidewalk where many things may be occurring at the same time, making it difficult to size up a situation, an alleyway tends to be calm and suspicious activity can be much more readily spotted. If they are not properly lit (rendering photography pointless) or appear to have suspicious characters lurking, avoid it...That simple.

(Taken at the corner of Delancey and Bowery on the Lower East Side, Manhattan)
9. Fear not the grain and light noise. Signs, light poles, hydrants, etc all make decent makeshift tripods when caught without one. You may have to up the iso and shutter settings of your camera to accomplish this, and you may come out with a shot that is grainier than you prefer, but remember, grainy and gritty shots also have an aesthetic appeal all their own. I certainly hope the lighting sold at the shop pictured above is better than what I had to work with here.

(From the streets of East Harlem)
10. Know when to quit. At one point, your creative strength will wane for the night and if you don't recognize this, you will be burdened with a bunch of spoiled shots, which will become apparent when you begin to process or develop them. When you recognize this feeling, that's when its time to take it on down to the closest 24 hour diner and finish a job well done with something greasy, sweet, or caffeinated (your choice).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Downtown Brooklyn, Holiday Season 2010

The holiday season for our year of 2010 is upon us and that can mean only one thing, decor! While everyone in the city will undoubtedly be marveling at the gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center, I would like to bring forth the festive nature of Downtown Brooklyn during the holiday season.

The newly reopened Fulton Mall, which has been under construction for an extended duration is not festively decorated for the holiday season.

The same decorated Fulton Mall at night. Cold temps, checkout lines, credit card bills, pushy crowds, non-stop Christmas carols, packed subway trains, and sore feet all make the shopping experience a blur.

Not much decor in this shot, except in the distance, but all the lights give it a nice festive feel. If that doesn't do it for you, you 'You Go Girl' tag will! Looking down Atlantic Avenue.

The Christmas Tree Fire Special stands alert on Fulton Street to combat acts of retribution carried by the undoubtedly pissed off coniferous flora that received 'the chop' this holiday season.

The use of simple illumination as a form of holiday decor on one of the buildings used by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Lafayette and St. Felix.

The Williamsburg Bank Building, also known as One Hanson Place, or as I know it, the art deco phallus, uses simple red illumination. This shot is actually a double exposure; this was accomplished by a vertical, then a horizontal exposure, position on the tripod. While I'm steeping this shot in enormous innuendo, I will say furthermore, exposure of the shot was done, as with exposing all things phallic in public, with great care...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

....Rawhide!!!! The cattle drivin' express J train won't stop for me; oh well, the Blues Brothers are motoring the M train and they'll stop for me! Taken from the Lorimer Street Station along the BMT Jamaica Line in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Taken in the same general vicinity of previous post, hole in the wall diners and vintage (or made to look vintage) neon signs always garner my attention.

Architecture Matching Vespa

Coincidence or according to plan? You decide... It was in the lower 30's with wind gusts in excess of 40mph; to go riding around Lower Manhattan in these conditions, one must be extremely dedicated to their mode of transportation. This observation was made as I sprinted to the subway. This shot was taken near West Broadway and Duane in Tribeca, Manhattan.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mysterious Fire Escape

Fire escapes from a dark, eerie alleyways!!! Who can resist? Not I, to be sure. You are looking a a fire escape on the backside of one of the buildings belonging to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Located near the corner of St. Felix and Lafayette in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold Day in Brooklyn

Its cold and I have a cold; this shot illustrates how I physically feel. When its cold in New York (especially in Lower Manhattan), the buildings tunnel the wind, amplifying its brutality. This phenomenon is not too much unlike what happens in Chicago. This shot was taken from looking toward Manhattan from Jay Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

This shot is best if viewed large and you may click the image to do so...

The Dirty Dozen Value Addition I

When putting The Dirty Dozen post together, I had to choose only one photo which I believed would best represent the station as a whole. Some of these decisions we difficult to make for one reason or another. Take this shot for example: While this photo does a far superior job at demonstrating the dilapidated nature of the station, it feels like it could have been taken anywhere. Even though it didn't make the original post, I still really like the shot, so here we are, outtakes and deleted scenes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Angels, Graffiti, and Lower GI Apocalypse

The downtown Brooklyn neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights is undergoing rapid change as we speak. There are high rise condos sprouting up on several blocks, infrastructure is being updated on a wide scale, construction equipment is everywhere, and the sociological implications of these events are in full swing. Scenes like the one pictured are diminishing and it seems as if the neighborhood is loosing a piece of its identity as a classic New York City neighborhood. As for Angels, Graffiti, and Lower GI Apocalypse, I experience 2 out of 3 on a regular basis, care to guess which ones? lol

Friday, December 3, 2010

Colorful Language

Prophanity, err, profanity, if used properly can be quite a tool to aid in articulation. Execution, as applies universally to many other endeavors, is the key to its application. If executed improperly, you just come off sounding like a dolt. This shot was taken on my street in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.