Saturday, May 31, 2008
There's something so intriguing about brownstones. They are just so typically New York. Often when I drive the streets of Manhattan I wonder about the lives of these buildings...not the lives of those in the brownstones, but the life lived by the brownstone. Some are beautifully maintained and look like they have had a wonderful life and sadly others have crumbling facades and lots of damage. As I drove past this building I just loved the juxtaposition of tree and the building. It made me think of that classic "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", but this was in Harlem.
Friday, May 30, 2008
When I am in the car (most of the time it seems) I often listen to NPR (National Public Radio). Lately they have devoted a number of shows to street photography, photographers who are documenting city life, much in the tradition of Weegee www.wnyc.org/streetshots/. NPR is even promoting an online festival of contemporary street photography. Listening to these shows made me start to think about that style of photography. Years ago they used to call it shooting from the hip... when you would release the shutter without looking through the viewfinder. Today as I stood in Starbucks waiting for my latte I just liked the light and mood so I decided to "shoot from the hip". I like the way each person is lost in their own world. I like the isolation of this picture, it's lonely but warm. It would have been so different if I had actually looked through the camera's viewfinder and aimed the camera. I think the mood would have been destroyed. Street shots is making me think about how I work. As Martha would say "It's a good thing".
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Today I attended a commencement ceremony and got to thinking about my own graduation from Muhlenberg College, exactly thirty one years ago today. What a coincidence! Like today, the skies were sunny and blue, pomp and circumstance was played and life was full of promise. As I watched the graduates, I was particularly touched by the message on this young woman's mortarboard. I thought back on all the things my Mom did to help me through those four years. I recall one weekend she came to visit and spent the better part of it typing a term paper for me. I guess it is a little late to put "Thanks Mom" on my mortarboard. I wish I had been that thoughtful and creative in 1977!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
As I was loading the car up this morning to head out to work (this requires several trips) I passed Slugger several times. He was all curled up on the couch, down for the count and completely oblivious to my frenetic pace. On the final trip I stopped to capture this photo of his four paws intertwined as he slept peacefully on one of the living room couch's down cushions. It used to be white and now...well it matches Slugger's tabby coat. I guess that is the price you pay for unconditional purrs and love. After all this house is maintained for him and believe me he knows it!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
There is something about late afternoon light that makes everything more photogenic. I love to shoot in the late afternoon, the contrast seems to lend more definition to the subject matter. Everything looks crisper and more interesting, at least for me. As for this geranium, I just loved the way it separated from the dark green background. I also like the way the leaves on the right side lend interest and a kind of texture to the predominately green background. It's a simple photo, but when I looked at it for a few minutes I just liked the composition and the light. Once again... for me, it is all about the light.
Monday, May 26, 2008
As I watched this Memorial Day moment I was struck by how the wind blew the flags with such force that most of the soldiers faces were covered. I thought this was kind of a metaphor for all those unknown men and women serving their country... unknown to so many of us. So on Memorial Day I say thank you to those who given their lives and to all those who have served and those who continue to serve.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
As I left home to head to work this morning I saw this big bumble bee busy working the buds of my azalea bush. Of course I thought of that hackneyed expression, "Busy as a bee". Then I got to thinking about Memorial Day weekend and how everyone was celebrating. Well, not everyone....I guess there are all kinds of busy in the world. Busy working, busy celebrating, just plain busy. Are we ever anything but busy these days? I think busy is the status quo now.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
So often I find myself thinking I need a "blue sky holiday" and it probably stems from the the lyrics in Daniel Powter's song Bad Day. (okay I confess I have listened to that song way too much) Today wasn't a bad day, in fact it was a beautiful day on Long Island. I got a lot of work done in my garden, still have lots to do, but the tomatoes and herbs are finally in. As I gazed up at the sky and the puffy clouds I felt very small and my worries all kind of fell away. Today was a day filled with new beginnings and possibilities. Today if I closed my eyes was a blue sky holiday, right here on Long Island.
Friday, May 23, 2008
This rhododendron is in my front flower bed and I walk past it every day. It was here when I bought my house eight years ago and was certainly here for years prior to that. Today as I passed I noticed the gorgeous big flowers but what really caught my interest were the buds. I love the symmetry of them the alternating green and violet triangular shapes and the way they lend a real sense of depth to the photo. I guess I like the geometry of the image. Funny, I never liked geometry in school!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
He looks fierce and intimidating, but he is just a pussycat, really. Pistachio spent the better part of the day trying to stay dry. In the late afternoon he was happy to just stretch out on the patio and let out a big yawn. This picture reminds me that looks can be so deceiving.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
When I pass through the door to the garden from my enclosed porch I feel a world away from all the responsibilities and worries that I feel inside. The garden is a place of peace (I almost never take a phone out with me) and reflection for me, as well as one of creation. Here I can try new floral combinations--plant a blue garden or an iris garden, whatever I want. In the garden, Pistachio follows me around watching me work and playing with the ivy vine I have pulled out. It is in the garden that Mr. Cardinal comes to visit and if I am very quiet I sometimes am graced with the red-bellied woodpecker who visits my suet feeder. The garden is my get-away and most days I hate to come back through the door to the real world.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
So often when I search for a rainy day photo I can't seem to see past all the gray. What I like about this photo is how the repetition of the black and white in the crosswalk and the twin umbrellas comes to life because light is reflected from the wet pavement. Even the red stop light and the man's blue jeans are reflected in the crosswalk. I like the anonymity of the pedestrians. The softness of light on a rainy day makes me see in a different way. Rainy days make me look harder for color to punctuate my pictures and at the same time remind me of the days I shot black and white film almost exclusively. At the end of the day, it's still all about the light.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Slugger has taught me a lot and I really ought to pay more attention. I have a tendency to rush in where angels fear to tread, to say what is on my mind and to be very open. I don't hide things well and I sure don't hide behind things as a rule. This morning Slugger was peeking out from behind these boxes. He looked cautious and you know today was the kind of day where I should have just stayed in bed.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Before you look and say "Another flower photo" (which is what my Mom says every time I post something from the garden) I have to tell you this is an iris named Stairway to Heaven that I put in two years ago. It didn't bloom last year. I was disappointed. As I planted yesterday, I thought about the many things I have planted that don't flower or never come back. This morning I awakened stiff and wondered just how much I could do today. I came down for coffee and walked out into my enclosed porch and saw this iris in full bloom. I took it as a sign to keep on going. So I put on the gardening crocs and headed out with renewed ambition.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I decided to try to whip my garden into shape today. It resulted in a trip to the nursery where I went crazy buying dahlias, snapdragons, columbine, jacob's ladder, eight flats of impatiens, tomatoes, herbs and yes, a new pair of gardening gloves. At the beginning of every growing season I buy a new pair of gardening gloves... this year the lime green pair to coordinate with the lime green crocs that function as my gardening clogs! Of course by the time I got home from the nursery I didn't have a lot of time to plant! Mom stopped by and surveyed the plants. She made her annual proclamation, "You bought too much!" And then she proceeded to tell me where I should place the new arrivals in the garden. It's a work in progress. But at the end of the day it feels like a day well spent. I have lots of work ahead of me and I'll be out in the garden again tomorrow. Wish I had enough hands to fill all those gloves on display in the garden center! The work would get done a lot faster.
Friday, May 16, 2008
It was another dark, rainy day in Manhattan. As I raced around midtown I glanced up to see this young woman trying to shelter her friend from the rain. She did it without thinking and with the only thing she had close at hand, a plastic bag. Just last night I had dinner with my very dear friend. It is almost impossible for me to believe that we have been friends for forty one years. We grew up together and I have watched her son grow up. She lives in New Orleans now, but we see each other several times a year and we pick up where we left off. Last night, as always we talked about the things going on in our lives. Inevitably, there are always problems that need to be solved. My worries seemed so much smaller today. Good friends are always there, looking out for one another in the rain and in life.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
For years I have been fascinated by the way the light passes through the elevated subway line creating a patchwork of light and shadow on the streets beneath it. I was stopped at a light and loved the way this play of light and shadow created an impressionistic feeling. The traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular) were a kind of abstracted blur and I thought this scene almost took on a watercolor or mural quality. This was another grab shot through the windshield of my car!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The light was gorgeous today and yet I had trouble coming up with an image for the blog. I thought about skipping a day, but knew I would hate myself in the morning. So as the light began to fade and my "photo block" persisted I decided that contrast, particularly color contrast was another fundamental in my photographs. I liked the sharp contrast between the magenta of the flowers and the green background. Light and color key elements in image making. I recalled my early days as a photographer and shooting in black and white only. I miss the simplicity, the clarity of vision and the challenge of bringing a situation to life in black and white. Sometimes I really do believe it is harder to take a good photo in black and white.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I love the warm light cast by this lamp, the way the light is reflected by the cream walls and the way the rich orange shades created by the light passing through the lampshade make the goldfish on the lamp look even warmer and make the fish come to life. In the wee hours of the night when I look at this lamp I remember the day my Mom and I went shopping for it in a big New York department store. I had moved into my very first apartment. The department store went out of business years ago. Although the store is gone, the lamp has been lighting my way for more than twenty five years. It's a keeper.
Monday, May 12, 2008
It was a wet and gloomy day on Long Island today and it got even more gloomy when I discovered a plumbing leak in my house. At the end of the day as I sat with Slugger on the ottoman I glanced out the side window in my living room and saw the gorgeous Spirea bush was blooming. The small, delicate and intricate white blossoms looked like a tic tac toe board through the window. A simple thing like this was enough to make me smile. Some days you have to cling onto small things to get you through rough patches.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
No, I didn't take this photo, but because it is Mother's Day I thought it was a good photo to post. My Mom was a single parent long before it was fashionable. She was widowed at 48. At the time my brother was a college freshman and I was eleven. To support her children, my Mom started teaching elementary school. But her most valuable lessons were taught at home to me about life and death, right and wrong, loyalty and determination and rising above adversity. As a child I was in awe of her. Mom is ninety now. I am still in awe of her. She continues to do things that amaze me. Her thirst for knowledge cannot be satiated and her curiosity and interest in the world around her is keen. But most importantly, school is still in session---she is still teaching me things every day. I am a very willing student.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Why Slugger prefers the running water from the faucet to the filtered water he gets in his bowl I will never understand. Why he always has to have his drink the minute I sit down is another mystery. I sure do love to watch him drink from the faucet though.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
As luck would have it things had taken longer than I thought today and I was facing rush hour traffic as I limped down Lexington Avenue. I wasn't happy. From the driver's seat I had plenty of time to window shop....my car wasn't moving and I was pretty frustrated. But comic relief arrived in the nick of time when I spotted these two pedestrians passing the very fashionable mannequins in Bloomie's windows. They were in their own worlds, completely oblivious to the window displays, much less fashion. In a way their isolation made them appear to be mannequin-like. I love the contrasts in this photo and the odd sort of balance it creates. It says a lot about life and the very separate, yet similar lives we all lead.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Today was a beautiful day on Long Island with sunny skies and balmy weather. Unfotunately my day was spent in the office without any windows doing things that were not particularly visual. It might as well have been a gray and cloudy day! When I got home I was desperate to find some kind of image for this blog... the light was fading fast. Then I saw the graceful tulips that were way past their prime. I had meant to toss them at least two days ago. Their faded red and yellow tones still managed to provide enough zip to separate form the gray monochromatic background. When I shot this I really wasn't sure it worked. Looking at it now, I like it a lot and you know, it is a pretty accurate reflection of my day. The office was all gray with an occasional bright spot.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
When I arrived home from work today there was a box of sunshine waiting on my door step. Every month my aunt and uncle send me an enormous box of oranges via a fruit company in Florida. My grandmother used to squeeze fresh juice for my mom and my uncle when they were kids. My Mom continued the discipline and squeezed juice for my brother and me each morning. And so it is that no matter what, every morning I squeeze fresh juice for myself (but at least I have an electric juicer!). I call it my morning elixir. For me it is like liquid gold. Without my morning dose of fresh squeezed juice I'm convinced I would be taking a lot more sick days!
Monday, May 5, 2008
Sometimes in the late afternoon Slugger stares out the back door. Because of the configuration of the porch often all I see is his shadow... the two pointy ears and the curve of his tail. This is just enough information to know what he is doing. He watches the birds at the feeder and the two outside cats Pistachio and Hazel, cavorting in the yard. Funny thing is if I opened the door he wouldn't race outside. He is comfortable in his indoor world. He knows the routine, his needs are met and he is happy. Slugger isn't frustrated by the parameters of his home, nor does he view the outdoors as filled with opportunity. His reticence to go outside makes me think the prospect frightens him. His behavior is like that of many people I know. It reminds me to avoid becoming complacent and to keep my eyes open for opportunities that might be right in front of me.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
When my parents bought their home in 1953 the first thing my Mom planted in her garden was a bleeding heart that her mother, my grandmother gave her. So in 2000 when I bought my home Mom brought me a bleeding heart to plant in my garden. Because it blooms early and heralds the arrival of Spring and things starting anew it brings me much joy. Of course the deep pink color of a bleeding heart catches the eye, especially early in the growing season when most things are still green. Its fragile blooms are breathtaking. It's a perennial so it doesn't bloom for long which is why I make a point of going out and spending a little time with it every evening. Besides it reminds me of my roots and I think of the roots I have put down in my garden.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
As a child I used to watch my mother labor in the garden. Her garden was her masterpiece and the labor undoubtedly a labor of love. When I bought my own home and started working in the garden she was my greatest resource. She helped me to decide what should go where and encouraged me to experiment with new varieties. Perhaps her best advice was to plant perennials. She educated me in the many varieties of hostas and told me her favorite is the elephant ear. It is one of my favorites too. I love the geometry of the plant, the way it unfolds and opens. Its gentle curves and ribbed leaves are a work of art and it is a perennial! It faithfully returns every year. Some of my most valuable lessons in life have come from my mother as we work in the garden.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Sometimes your best shot is a grab shot. When I got back into my car after stopping at the Starbucks (okay here I go with the Starbucks thing again) on Madison and 36th I looked up and saw this poster on the side of the Morgan Library peering down through the trees. I just loved the juxtaposition of the two elements and the way she seems to be peeking through the frame created by the branches. Anyway, as the light turned green I grabbed this shot from my car window.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
In Florida I photographed a life preserver (an earlier post), but in New York I need a Lifesaver! On countless occasions the only thing that has saved my life in New York is a latte. Today was one of those days with my heart and mind still on vacation in Sarasota I thought about going to work. I went to my favorite Starbucks instead. Jerri the barrista greeted me warmly and was quite chipper. Restored by my latte I guess I will get back to work and the Pandora's Box of my life. Some days I wonder what I ever did before Starbucks.