In this city

13 04 2023

Ah, I said I was going to try to post more . . . and months have past since I’ve done so.

It’s not that I don’t have things to say, but that I am out of the habit of saying.

So I’ll show, instead. My photography skills are still rudimentary and while I have opened GIMP I haven’t actually done anything with it, so all of the photos, below, are as I took them.

A college friend was in town recently and we walked all over lower Manhattan, the LES and the East Village. I thought I had covered that area pretty well on previous walks, but then we came upon this skater park, tucked under the Manhattan Bridge.

This was the first thing I saw, and I knew I had to go back and shoot it and the rest of the park. And so I did.

Neither this nor what follows are very good—not only am I working on my “eye”, I’m still getting used to everything the camera can do—but this was such a great place to train myself, and hey, gotta start somewhere.

I like black and white, but the color is so much a part of the graffiti that I think it works better; that said, I think once I get better I’ll figure out how to make this work in B&W.


I think I know what I did wrong with the B&W, but, like I said, at this point I’m treating this all as practice.

And what a place to practice. Honestly, I find this one of the most beautiful places I’ve come across in New York City. I can’t wait to come back when the light is slanting through and there are more skaters; I can’t wait until I’m confident enough to shoot the skaters.

Okay, a few more, this time toggling back and forth between B&W and sepia. When I first got my camera and saw that sepia was an option I thought Bah! and dismissed it as fake-old, a simulacra. But then I thought, What the hell, let’s see what it does.

No clear winner, here; I’m not crazy about the exposure for either pic.

The first is too light; the second, too dark.

Not sure the sepia adds anything here, either.

But it does work for this:

And for this one:

Although, again, the exposure is off, as the top is too light and the bottom perhaps a smidge too dark.

I do prefer higher contrast, which tends to be more apparent in darker photos, and sharper to softer images. Again, with practice both my eye and my camera skills should improve.

And what a gift that I live in this city: I can shoot and fail and know, following Beckett, that I can go back and shoot again, fail again, fail better.


All I want is a photograph

18 01 2023

So, my return has been a little slower than planned—good intentions and all that… *hand wave*

Also, it’s been so long that WordPress has completely changed the back-end interface and, y’know, I get sulky around these kinds of changes. Until I get used to them.

Anyway, I bought a new (used) camera recently and, whoo, talk about needing to learn something—many things!—new, yeah. I made the leap to digital (mirrorless, actually), and not only is there all of the stuff about SLR photography I forgot, there’s everything that this camera can do. I got an adapter for my favorite SLR lens (23-85mm), so there’s at least one thing I’m comfortable with, but everything else? Ha.

I did initially poke around its features, going back and forth between the manual and the camera and managed to take a few test shots in my apartment, but I knew that the only way to get used to the camera was, well, to use the camera.

So I took it to Prospect Park and shot around. I played with different film types (an option on my camera, a Fujifilm XT-4) ISOs and apertures, leaving the shutter speed on auto (I think…). It’ll be awhile before the old knowledge comes back, but the nice thing about digital is that I can take a bunch of pics without having to worry about wasting film—that makes it a lot easier to just get out there and experiment.

Anyway, here are some of the results:

Pavilion near the southeast entrance to the park.

Bridge near boathouse.

Tunnel to boathouse.

There are more, but you get the idea: not great, not terrible.

I haven’t done any post-production on them (I currently have GIMP loaded on my computer, although my niece recommends Adobe Lightroom)—that’s another set of skills I’ll have to develop, along with adding a watermark.

Still, this first venture out was good. I managed to get some shots, experiment a bit, and not be too self-conscious behind the camera. A ways to go, but I am at least on my way.

Every move you make

25 05 2013

I know I don’t speak for everyone, but for me, the freedoms enjoyed by artists and journalists are worth possible breaches of privacy.
Kathy Ryan

So said the journalist (or artist), not the person whose privacy is breached.

Given my rants against Google Glass and Facebook and the general hoovering-up of every last bit of ourselves in the name of Big Data, it is no surprise that I consider someone taking a photograph of me in my home an offense against all that is Good and Holy.

I draw lines between private and public, lines which, in practice, can be difficult to maintain. I want to reveal what I want to reveal and nothing more, but, of course, in the writing of this (now-less-than-) pseudonymous blog I say things about myself of which I am completely unaware.

I know that, but I choose—I choose—to do it anyway.

But sitting in my apartment on a cool spring day, drinking coffee and doing crosswords, no, I do not choose to have you record me, take something from me.

When I enter a public space I am aware of myself as being “in public”. I’m not much concerned I’ll be recorded—I am unremarkable in appearance—but I recognize, however gruffly, that if someone snaps a pic of me there’s little I can do about it. And even if you do grab me with your camera, I’ll almost certainly remain anonymous, in the background or a (drab) bit of the local scenery.

And, in any case, if I am in public so too are you: there is a symmetry of risk in our interactions.

(This is among the reasons I am leery of CCTV and apparatuses like Google Glass: the asymmetry of risk, which makes the person watched vulnerable to the person watching. And no, telling me I can even the score by recording back is not a sufficient answer, not least because such a response would force me deeper into a regime to which existence I object.)

In my apartment, however, I am not “in public”, windows be damned. That you can see me and I can see you is, of course, where the blur comes in, but part of living in a city means you maintain a set of manners in which the blur serves to protect privacy. I might see you playing your guitar and you might see me dancing, but we each let it go, unmentioned.

That we leave our curtains open as we strum or dance or eat or play with the dog or tickle the baby doesn’t mean we’re putting ourselves on display; it just means we want some light.

Yes, some people do put themselves on display, and within (generous) limits, that’s fine; that one person is an exhibitionist, however, does not mean the person next to her is.

This is, for me, theoretical. I live in an un-hip section of Brooklyn where few people would be so foolish as to think they could point a camera in someone’s window without consequence. I certainly wouldn’t advocate violence against that fool, but if the camera were, ah, rendered inoperable, well, them’s the risks you take.

All things weird and wonderful, 12

20 12 2011

This is a real thing in the world:

Photograph by Andrew Coffing/Nat Geographic Photo of the Day