Monochrome Mondays

Well we are almost halfway through August now and I have to tell you that this is the point where I really get tired of summer. The long days are nice of course, but by this point here in New York City, the stagnant heat starts to build. My energy becomes ever more sapped heading down to steamy subway stations or even going for a simple walk becomes a challenge of willpower. The city becomes grimy and dirty and you tend to count the minutes until you can get to air conditioning and  a shower.  When I was a kid filled with energy it probably did not affect me this way, but these days when it hits this point I feel unmotivated to do much of anything until the temperature drops and the humidity goes away. Perhaps it is inevitable then that the photos I tend to take this time of year tend to be more urban than my usual shots. Shots that ooze a little bit of that heat and grime. I actually took this last year in our neighborhood while my wife was driving us home one evening. I took pretty much the same view in color, but recently I looked at this one again and realized it gave the same sense of urban grime and heat. It may not be pretty in person, but the monochrome really captures the moment. Now, how about some cooler weather!

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Monochrome Mondays

Summer is progressing here. Long lazy days where you don’t want to move around too much. Just find a shady spot somewhere and watch the world go by. Here in the big city there are lots of places, and lots of things to look at of course. Since we moved to Queens I have one favorite spot called the Anable Basin, or as some call it, the Eleventh Street Basin in Long Island City. It is an artificial inlet built in the 1860’s for industrial use. When much of that industry dried up, the area went through a period of decline before being re-purposed in the 1990’s as Gantry Plaza State Park. The park as a whole offers a lot of activities and people watching, as well as an amazing view across the river to Manhattan. But tucked away on the side of the park, runs the basin. As I have said here before, I love old buildings, and things like a ship wharf or an old brick building have a natural appeal for me. I love sitting there under the trees reading or people watching and imagining what the same view must have looked like 100 years ago. Which is just something your mind seems to do on a long lazy day in the shade.

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Monochrome Mondays

The deeper I have gotten into photography, the more I find myself interested in the texture and contours of random objects. It might be the windows on an old building, or the pattern to a wrought iron fence. It might be the vintage lights in an old restaurant, or the lettering of a street sign. Texture was something I never really appreciated as an artistic concept I suppose.  Years ago when the computer games Myst and its sequel Riven were released, I picked up a companion book about the games called From Myst To Riven : The Creations And Inspirations. Anyone who has ever played  those games knows how groundbreaking the art was, particularly in Riven. While a great deal of it was done in a more cinematic fashion, creating worlds via the computer, the book explained that some of the styles, colors, and shapes were built around a photo expedition some of the team had made to New Mexico. While there they took close up photos of building textures-stone and brick patterns from houses, as well as plants and even Native American textiles. It opened my eyes to realizing that by moving in closer visually, shapes and color patterns can be quite intricate and fascinating in their own right. Not everything has to be seen on a large scale.

Awhile back here I used a photo of the rotunda in the old customs house here in NY (which now houses the National Museum Of The American Indian). It was a bit of trickery in that it was actually shot in color, but looked like monochrome because of the subject. I wanted to do something similar again, and while looking through some old photos remembered these shots I took last year of some white birch trees. Once again I photographed these in color, but because the bark of a birch is a variety of patterns of black and white it gave the effect of being photographed in monochrome and I really liked the end result of shapes and textures.

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