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perfect strangers.

20 Mar 2014

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Saturday afternoon, a few hours after the train debacle/delight, I found myself back in Manhattan with some really lovely 6:30pm light beckoning.  My pal Nick and I had wandered into Sara Roosevelt Park, the multi-block strip of playgrounds, soccer fields, benches, and basketball/handball courts that separates the Lower East Side from Chinatown and Nolita.  I had the Hasselblad with me, and had just taken this shot:

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… when, over by the benches, a couple yelled out to us.  “If I gave you my email address, would you take a photo of us with that camera?” asked the lady half of the pair.  This was a new one.  I’m usually the one awkwardly approaching people to ask if I can take their photo.  So of course I obliged.  Two shots, in rapid succession.  I can’t remember if I even bothered to meter.  Nick took a couple of shots as well.  It was all a little peculiar.  The couple — Avalon and Winston — were on their way to a puppet show.  (Sure, why not?)  I dug into my wallet and found a random business card.  Avalon wrote her email address on the back of it.  “You’ll send a scan, yeah?”  “Of course,” I replied.

So yesterday, after I got the scans back from the lab, I wrote to Avalon and attached 2 jpegs of their portraits.  She sent back a very sweet reply.

A New York moment, if ever there was one.

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sunny, stalled.

19 Mar 2014

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It was around 2 in the afternoon on Saturday.  I was coming back from an epic, $14, all-you-can-eat fried chicken buffet lunch with some friends up in Harlem, and what I really wanted was a nap.  I was due to meet up with Mike D. and his family for some drinks later in the afternoon, and I figured I could maybe squeeze in an hour-long nap before I headed out again.

The D train I was on had other plans.  As we crossed over the Manhattan Bridge, slowly inching towards the tunnel into Brooklyn, the train stopped.  A muddled announcement from the conductor said something about a signal problem, and that we’d be moving shortly.  This message was repeated some 6 or 8 times.  Over the course of 45 minutes.  Yeah, 45 minutes.

I had the Hasselblad with me, and noticed how beautiful the mid-afternoon light was, filling up the train and bouncing around all the metallic bits, dappling the walls and people alike.  So I took out the camera, crouched down in the middle of the train — as is with these sorts of moments in NYC, people looked up, momentarily curious, and then went right back to their iPhone-generated distractions — and took this shot.   I took a wild guess with the exposure, and figured that if all else failed, I could correct it in post.

About 10 minutes later, we were finally moving again.  And no, I never did get that nap.

This shot here was the only one I took.  I corrected the angle slightly, but that’s it — no color or exposure correction.  It’s not often that I enjoy a subway delay, but I’m glad this one provided me with an opportunity to produce something as lovely as this.

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lazy sunday walkabout. (with film!)

12 Mar 2014

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It was a sunny but brisk Sunday, just the wee-est bits of spring poking around.  Olivia, Nick, and I wandered around the East Village, down along the edge of  NYU and Soho, and finally to the Lower East Side, with our cameras in tow.  Though I have shot with film since entering the digital world, it was for a client, and not for my own edification.  So, feeling like I needed to reconnect with analog, I brought my long-neglected Leica M6 with me.  Nick offered up a roll of expired Kodak Ektar 100 — by far my favorite film stock — and voila!, some gorgeous, wonderfully saturated shots.

Here was our afternoon, from start to finish.  Only one of these photos — the ‘Open House’ storefront shot — was edited in Lightroom for contrast, to counteract the late afternoon haze.  Otherwise, all of these photos are as-is.  A good reminder of why film is the best.

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We ran into the fellows working at Carbone, getting out their fancy chairs in preparation for the dinner crowd.

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An afternoon filled with sunspots and shade.

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Gotta get back into my Backdrop Project now that it’s getting nice out again!

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Triple shootout!

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Above: Peter at the Stack, where I ended my afternoon.

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st. david’s day.

4 Mar 2014

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Saturday, March 1st, was St. David’s Day, the feast day of St. David, the patron saint of Wales.  My pal Illtyd has joked every year that he’s the one-man Welsh parade down 5th Avenue — everyone else gets a national parade, c’mon!.  This year we decided to capture him, the Welsh flag, and a handful of leeks properly in the act, so we staged a mini-shoot down in Cooper Square, further south in Manhattan than where parades usually take place.

Illt was up for just about anything.  And the random Japanese tourists standing near where we were shooting, who asked for directions  — they seemed pretty game, too, when I asked if they’d mind helping us out with our shoot.  A magnificent afternoon, if I do say so myself, even if it was just the lone Welshman, yours truly, and the obliging tourists, under grey=ish skies.  Look for us next year in new locales, the be’leeked Welshman and his photographer, rearing for a parade.  Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!

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a most english breakfast.

23 Feb 2014

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On the hunt for a proper full English breakfast — that is, with eggs, sausages, proper back bacon, roasted tomato, black pudding, beans, and fried bread  (yes, ALL OF THAT, and yes, UK Heinz beans, absolutely!) — we decided on the most English of cafes, the wonderful (and tiny) Tea & Sympathy in the West Village.  They get their sausages (bangers, if you will) from the venerable Myers of Keswick, just around a couple of corners, so you know they know what they’re doing.   Me, I couldn’t handle the full breakfast after a beast of a dinner the night before, so I settled for the relatively “smaller” option of just bangers, bacon, beans and toast.

It was quite packed when we arrived, though by the time we left, just before noon, it had cleared out a bit.  A handful of folks were still making the most of a gloriously sunny morning, lazing with their milky teas and reading the paper while they slowly made their way through their monster of a breakfast.  A most excellent way to start the day.

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the baby shower.

18 Feb 2014

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… At which I somehow failed to take a single daytime photo of Sara, the mother-to-be (the father-to-be, Michael, is pictured in the middle photograph), but did managed to capture her enjoying an excellent virgin cocktail at the after-shower party at the wonderful Weather Up in Brooklyn.

I photographed Michael and Sara’s wedding at City Hall a few years ago — I’ve known Michael for ages, waaaaaaay back when we were grad students at Cornell — so I’m excited to be able to photograph the next phase of their life together as a family.

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[untitled.]

12 Feb 2014

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Mom, at home.  Photographed with the Pentax 6×7 when I was in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving last year.

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rugby saturday.

9 Feb 2014

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We were at the pub at 9:30 this morning to watch the Ireland – Wales match.  (9:30!  In the morning!)  Not a good day to be a Wales supporter, but it was still a blast to hang out amongst the slightly bleary-eyed, trying to start their day with proper full breakfasts and pints of varying elixirs.

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sick day.

29 Jan 2014

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When you’re sick at home, as I am today, you need to do something while you wait for various foodstuffs — tea, soup, toast — to heat up.  I kept the M9 at the ready for just those moments before the microwave beeped, the toaster knob popped back up, and the kettle blew.  Some guys were working on the roof, accessed from the ladder outside my bedroom door, giving me an additional source of light (and everything else an extra layer of dust).

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recently.

19 Jan 2014

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I’ve been in possession of the Leica M9 for just over a week now, and I’ll post some thoughts about analog vs. digital in the coming week.  But for now, I’m just still learning the basics of shooting in digital.  With more difficulty, I’m coming to terms with being ok with doing some futzing around in Lightroom in order to get some of the digital-ness out of the images.  But I’m coming around, slowly but surely, to a place of fewer qualms.  (Basically: film-like presets are your friend!  Embrace them!)

Here is some of what I’ve shot this week.  Oh, and lest you get the wrong impression: I love this camera.

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