Storms

 

Storms-New York City

One thing I have noticed about my photography, or photography in general is that it sometimes grabs you in different ways at different times. Even as the taker of the photograph that happens to me. Case in point is this photograph shown above. I took it a few weeks ago on a rather warm Saturday evening. I decided I was a little restless and decided to head out for a long walk and a few drinks and dinner at the end of it. When I left our apartment, it was bright and sunny out. The Kwanzan Cherry trees were just starting to bloom and as they are my favorite of the flowering cherries, I found a cluster of them and took some photos along the way.

Not long after however, I noticed that the sky was looking a little ominous. Not quite ready to pour down, but you could tell it was coming at some point. Which is ironic since instead of high-tailing it to the nearest drinking and eating establishment, I instead went down to Long Island City here in Queens, out to a particular pier that has some stunning Manhattan views. I wanted to go because it is slightly north of the usual perspective I take this view from. Photography is all about subtle changes after all. I walked down a long empty street to the end.

The clouds were really closing in, covering up what was a bright and sunny day just moments before. Weather makes for some of the best photos so I pressed on. I was interrupted momentarily by a happy group of people looking to get their photo taken. There is something about having a camera and camera bag with you…people instinctively ask you to take their group photo and invariably comment, well with that camera you must be a pro. If only they knew lol! Of course it is flattering and after snapping a few of the happy revelers, I set to work.

This particular pier has a west facing view of the Manhattan skyline, but also unobstructed views north and south. At first I focused north, then south. You could still sense the weather about to happen, but the west view did not look too inviting on the photography side at first. But then it happened. As I looked west again the sky opened up. No rain, just big sky. Really big sky with all sorts of color hues and patterns. Post storm sunsets are amazing, but this was a different kind of amazing. It had a blueish hue to it, with hints of color coming in from beyond the clouds. Because the scene was over the water, there was some reflections happening too. It proved the point of always carrying the camera with me. I have missed these moments before, and camera phones don’t always capture the depth of the scene.

In any case, I was happy with the result later on when I returned home and saw the photos on my laptop. Right away this photo leaped to the top of the heap. I did post it on social media and people liked it. But I quickly moved on like you do. Except that today I made it my screen saver on my work computer, which also led me to posting it on Twitter and the FB page for this blog. This entire post was prompted by a conversation with my friend Trudy on Twitter. Trudy writes an awesome lifestyle blog called Rendezvous En New York. Want to know all the cool stuff happening in New York? Let Trudy be your guide. Trudy unknowingly proved my point that things grab you in different ways at different times, and it gave me the idea to use said photo, and write this little post about it.

Ah, but what about the music you ask? Well I started thinking of songs about storms, and weather. Ok…Stormy Weather was the obvious front runner, but when have I ever been musically obvious! I thought instead of an instrumental track by Bruce Cockburn. I’ve written about Bruce here before. Suffice it to say if you are unfamiliar with his work, he has been a stunning songwriter for almost 50 years now. He is also an inventive and creative guitarist. His work has gone through phases, as anyone who has been around that long would, but I’d argue that the last 20 or so years have been his finest. His album The Charity Of Night was released in 1997. On it was this instrumental track-Mistress Of Storms. Thinking about this photo, and the movement of the sky, and my own interactions with the weather that day the song seemed a perfect match. The song has that ebb and flow with the only instruments being Bruce’s guitar and the vibraphone as counterpoint.

With a few exceptions, I have always relied on lyrics to pan out the ideas I present on the photography side here, but this is one of those times when I feel the music by itself says so much. I hope you enjoy both. As a side note, I’ll just mention that I will be in Paris and London for the next two weeks so it will be a little quiet here, but I’m sure I will have lots of inspiration to keep these posts coming!

Mistress Of Storms-Written By Bruce Cockburn

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Monochrome Mondays

 

Climbing. That is what this weeks edition of Monochrome Mondays is about. That need to keep moving and going higher. For some that can mean career wise and climbing up that ladder of success. For others it might mean development of a talent such as playing an instrument or singing. For me personally right now it means getting back to what I do best, which is taking photographs regularly and writing. The other things don’t get ignored mind you, but this is where my heart is. In August I took on a challenge from my blogger friend Pratyusha to go 10 days without foods like bread, pasta, and sugars. I’ve never done any kind of diet or detox before in my life, but at the end of it, I felt better inside and out. Losing 10lbs was an added bonus, but it was the mental clarity that came out of it that was the most satisfying I think. I realized that I was going through the motions a bit too much in my life and what I needed to do was to get excitement back. So in the month of September I really worked on that.

First, as those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram know, my wife and I spent a few much needed days in Lake George to recharge the batteries as it were. Second, the diet has more or less continued since. I’ve had pasta one time in about 6 weeks actually! Third, with the nicer weather I have been getting out there with my camera more. This has probably been the most crucial thing I could do for myself. When I take lots of photos, I get ideas for writing, when I write it leads to more writing. Today’s photo is a result of this. Fourth, as a result of tweaking the design of this blog, I made a short little video that people have been responding to, and that makes complete sense for what I do (I added it to the bottom here). Fifth, in what is maybe the biggest step for this (mostly) introvert, I organized a Photo Walk in my neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens. I’ll be doing another one really soon, but this past Saturday I did the first one and I was really happy with how it turned out. Being a planner I spent a day weeks earlier mapping out a route that would take in the best views with the shortest routes between them. You can see some of these photos in the next few days across my social media. 

But today is Monochrome Mondays and this photo was taken last week coming home from work on Roosevelt Island in one of those fits of photographer joy…when you see things you walk by every day in a completely new light. This is actually a seating area designed in a steps format overlooking the East River. As I was walking home (and since it is now darker out earlier) I turned and saw these lights between each step level. I thought hmmm…that might be interesting. And with everything I just said, it might have been the most timely photo I have taken in quite some time!

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Monochrome Mondays

 

Long Island City Gantry

I am pretty sure I have mentioned here before that a favorite subject matter of mine is industrial photography. I love old machinery-pistons, valves, wheels, belts, gears-you name it. Anything that represents what technology once was.  On the rare occasion when you see all of that actually working still somewhere it is a beautiful thing. You can follow along with the movements-how it starts with one bit of machinery, and then follows along like a conveyor belt, each bit chugging away to make a wheel spin which pulls a lever, which lifts a platform, which rotates, and on and on. It is hard to find that sort of machinery in action these days, and sadly the photo choice today is also one of them. But what a scene it once must have been. What you are seeing here is a gantry, which was used to hoist railway freight cars from off a barge onto train tracks. Apparently they were a somewhat frequent sight in the industrial era of New York City, a reminder that rail and sea freight drove commercial transportation. I can just imagine all the metal on metal sounds echoing on the river, the sights and smells of all the machinery working together. I am glad that structures like this still survive, years past their last work. This particular structure is in Long Island City, Queens, in a park appropriately named-Gantry State Park

***Which speaking of Long Island City. For any of you reading this from the NY area, or for anyone with friends in the area, this coming Saturday, September 30th, I will be leading a Photo Walk through this great neighborhood, which combines some great old buildings among the new, industrial scenes, and some of the best panoramic views of Manhattan anywhere. Leave me a message if you are interested!

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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