Monochrome Mondays

The Fog

Fog. Foggy Morning. In From The Fog…

I  have wanted to capture a photo in dense fog for quite some time. Call it bad luck on my part or maybe an unwillingness to jump out of bed early in the morning when it is most likely to be at its peak, but after 16 years or so of taking photography more seriously, it really has not happened with the desired results yet. But the other morning it did. I had a little more time walking to work on Friday morning. When that happens I like to deviate from the shorter walk to the subway. Walking along the river only adds about 5 minutes or so, but I tend to leave it for the walk home. In any case, as soon as I reached the pathway I noticed sheets of fog rising from the East River and at times making Manhattan on the other side disappear.

As I was walking south towards the subway, I pulled out the camera even though there was a slight drizzle. I tried a color photo at first, but it did not seem to really capture the mood. I switched to monochrome.  Once the 59th Street Bridge came into view I hoped the fog would continue drifting in the same way because I sensed a really good photo forming in my mind. You can imagine that the bridge dominates the view from that pathway, and it takes a few minutes to get to the vantage point I took the photo above from. I took another photo, hoping the movement of the fog would stay in place and not dissipate so the structure of the bridge and nearby buildings were visible.

Then it happened. Out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the Roosevelt Island Tramway come into view. Instinctively the idea formed in a flash because there was a large concentration of fog near the bridge tower, where the tram would be passing in a scant few moments. I looked ahead briefly and saw there was a point where the pathway jutted out on the river. I knew this would give me a better panorama of the river and bridge. I just had to get there. It almost didn’t happen because in my excitement, I very nearly took a spill on a patch of ice I had not seen. Undaunted, I gripped the camera tightly and ran with my eye on the Tramway’s movement, hoping it would not move too far ahead. It all happened so fast, but in a few moments I deemed my position to be good enough. My settings were satisfactory since I had adjusted them earlier. I planted my feet firmly and pressed the shutter, knowing I had to be quick…and then a bird swooped down as if on cue balancing the middle portion of the photo out.

It was one of those moments when I was really excited by what had happened. The buzz of having an idea formulate so quickly and to have it come out the way I wanted is a great feeling for a photographer. Let me know what you think!

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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Monochrome Mondays

Hello and welcome back for the first time in about a month to Monochrome Mondays. It is also the first new post of 2018 so without further adieu, here we go!

Big Allis, Queens

As I write, New York City and much of the east coast of the U.S. has been in deep Arctic freeze. Brutally cold temperatures and wind chills. Winter still has a long way to go of course, but I sincerely hope we do not get any deep freezes that last as long as this one has! Partly because it has kept me from wanting to head off walking around taking new photos. Yesterday though I did a bit of writing in a coffee shop and took my camera along. On Saturday we were doing some errands when my wife pointed out the smoke belching out of the nearby power plant known as ‘Big Allis’ not far from our apartment. I did not have my camera, but I took a shot with my phone of the smoke set against the blue chilled sky. Yesterday I saw the same sight (the smoke stacks dominate our neighborhood and can be seen from practically any angle ) but instinctively switched the camera over to monochrome to see what that might look like. Now, I am not thrilled  in environmental terms that those smoke stacks are doing that of course, but there is no denying that it made for an interesting monochrome photo.

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

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2017 In Photos-Part 1

Well here we are again. Another one of those end of the year summaries. Last week I presented you with some of my favorite music related posts I wrote this year. This time I present some of my favorite photos I took this year. We did not go on any vacations this year so most of these were taken in and around New York City and a few other locations. Despite the lack of destinations, I feel really good about my photography these days and this year in particular. Necessity caused me to get a new camera and together with a new zoom lens I was able to use those new tools and hone my skills. In some ways I think part of my inability to write as many music driven posts here this year has been a result of my growth as a photographer. Next year I hope to balance that equation out but until then, here are the first batch of my favorites. There will be a Part 2 tomorrow. Some of these have been in previous posts, some may be new to those of you who follow me here. Word of advice…open them up full screen and view them large, the way they are meant to be seen. And if you are so willing, please share this if you can to anyone who likes a good photograph of (I hope) interesting subjects. Let me know your favorites in the comments below!

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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Monochrome Mondays

I seem to have a thing for lights recently. Something about the contrast of light and darkness utilizing monochrome is really striking. The lights are not technically ‘white’ but the appearance they give makes them look that way. Combined with the black of night and I could probably ramble on for a 1000 more words about all the ways this is significant and representative of society or even my own life. I could…but I won’t this time! I am keeping this post short today because there is a lot going on right now-work, holiday rush, and other things are cutting into my creative time right now. However that is not going to stop me from sharing this photo out to you which I took recently. I had walked past this building a few times, but never at night and the pattern these lights cast was too alluring for me to resist!

And I want to also mention to keep your eye out in the next few days for my own ‘Best Of’ Photo selections for 2017. Honestly, I have so many, that I’m going to do it in two posts, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can catch up on some of my favorite music themed posts of 2017 right here.

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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Monochrome Mondays

Smile For The Camera!

I have been reading an autobiography of Paul Auster, a favorite writer of both my wife and I. Actually in clever Auster fashion he has written two ‘autobiographies’. The first-Winter Journal which I have not read is described as a second person look at his physical self. Report From The Interior is the one I am currently reading and it is a recollection of the inner workings of his development from an early age. For fans of his work it is a revealing look at some of his earliest fascinations in life, interspersed with true stories about growing up. All I can say in describing it is that it is unlike any autobiography I have ever read. One of the reasons I like it is because at the end of the written part of the book is an ‘Album’ which tells the same exact story of his life through the eyes of cartoons,  vintage photographs, magazine advertisements, newspaper stories, and even motion picture stills. I found myself skipping back and forth to see the visual side of what he was writing about. Surely one reason for this device in the book is because at one stage he laments that as a result of moving a lot he lost a lot of mementos and photo documentation of his youth. Surprising because he mentions that in the postwar U.S. every family was gripped by ‘shutterbug’ fever.

It made me think about the times we are in now, when everyone is seemingly a photographer. From masters of the selfie to Instagram accounts with thousands of followers, everyone it seems is representing their life in a ‘visual’ way. The difference from what Auster described is that though cameras may have been readily available, the means of sharing them to people was not. I am old enough to remember the dreaded ‘slide shows’ your neighbor might invite you over for to see of their trip to the Grand Canyon. Other than that, photography was either commercial-family portraits, newspapers, magazines, etc or artistic. The lines did not really intersect with one another but they sure have now. This blog would not exist if they did not intersect after all. The question I wonder about is-does having so much visual representation  harm the more thought driven way we used to think? Instead of describing how awesome the pizza was at a restaurant to a friend, we show them a photo we snapped of it on our phone. Instead of describing a cool exhibit we saw at a museum, going over the high points we tend to rely on the visual.

By no means am I above this, but sometimes I like to take a step back. To ‘think’ about photography rather than doing it. When I saw these figures standing on a hill on Roosevelt Island with the Manhattan skyline behind the figure to the right above, I thought it would be interesting to take a photo of people engaged in the act of photography. Photographer and subject matter together. I could describe to you in detail what was behind that figure on the right. What buildings would be in view, what color the sky was, that sort of thing. And sometimes I think that is actually more interesting.

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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Monochrome Mondays

Late Nights. Empty Streets. Quiet interrupted only by an occasional passing car, the buzz of a lamp post, or the distant bark of a dog. A week or two ago I mentioned heading out late one night recently and taking some photos of my neighborhood around midnight. Which is not something I would normally do, but I was a little bored and thought it would be a nice experiment. I have come home late at night before, but usually do so in a cab. I don’t live in a particularly dangerous neighborhood, but because it isn’t 100% residential and has dark corners and fences around buildings that are not necessarily secure, I don’t take unnecessary risks. Something that should make my wife as well as my best friend Tasha happy to hear!

But anyway, I spent a few moments taking photos, enjoying the shadows and the stillness. One  building I stopped in front of I even found I had some company. At first I did not see it there, and I was more interested in taking a photo of the graffiti tagged metal shutter, which I had never really noticed before. I also noticed the name on the door to the right for the first time. So as I was taking the photos, I noticed some movement. I won’t tell you what I thought it probably was, but I was glad to see that it turned out to be a cat. It paid me little attention actually, but when it moved into position on the right hand side as you can see above, I thought I might have a photo that would look good. So added to the late nights and quiet I mention above, I’ll mention that meandering cats make for good things to make late night photo walks interesting!

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

Monochrome Mondays

Breaking up the routine. It isn’t always an easy thing to do admittedly. To break away from feeling like Worker Drone #Q7649. You have a nice weekend sleeping in, eat a decadent brunch, have a few drinks at the pub. Maybe get a good walk or a workout in. Spend some time with friends. Catch up on a book or read the newspaper. Then…Monday comes around and its up early, slog to work on a crowded train or bus, or fight colossal traffic jams before you are welcomed by the sight of 73 emails that are only marginally relevant to you, yet you have to dig through them all regardless. Then you turn around at quitting time and do the same slog in the other direction, having chowed down your lunch at your desk in order to answer those 73 emails when all you are really dreaming about is putting your feet up at home and unwinding.

All of those things have happened to me of course, but more than any point in the roughly 15 years since I started getting serious about photography, I carry a camera with me practically everywhere now. Barring that I have my phone which takes decent photos too.  Because in all honesty, you just never know what you will see, never know what will capture your attention. On one such slog home from work last week after emerging from the deep subway tunnel on Roosevelt Island, I started wearily making my way home. Since my commute changed a few months back there are only one or two slight variations to the route I take. More often than not though, I start by walking past this row of pathway lighting. Chalk this one down to being dark out when I get off the subway now, for when I started walking alongside of these lights, I noticed they were making a really cool looking circular pattern on the ground. Immediately I grabbed the camera, and switched to monochrome mode for I knew that shooting them in color really would not work. The fact that a few of the lights were actually out did not matter to the overall scene. It actually seemed to accentuate the circular pattern on the ground.

It is funny that the routine can be broken up by the taking of a simple photograph, but I appreciate it for that reason. Even with subway delays and work emails and whatever comprises the ‘routine’, the moment I take my camera out and take photos energizes me. Maybe in the end the photos are not so good. That happens to me quite often of course. But the moment that I see something, the moment I think about something differently, makes it all worthwhile.

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle