I lived in Manhattan. It’s special enough for many people. I lived in midtown, that would be near enough to Times Square to see the glow of the lights at night. Occasionally, just occasionally, there would be a spectacular sunrise or sunset. It didn’t happen often. And rainbows are not seen to often either. I was glad to have a camera on hand.
Yes, it is possible to be asleep on your feet. Actually there was a time when I was an assistant surgeon (residency) and it would happen regularly. Up all night long, then leaning in able to see the operating field with only one eye open (and the other closed) as the surgeon worked. Before you knew it I would be bumping his headlight as I dozed. When I finished my training he said to my wife/significant other then, “Great guy, I just don’t know how he ever managed to learn any surgery.” (I just didn’t sleep when it wasn’t boring.)Well, I told you that J had been through multiple time zones from LA to NY to Jeddah. David and I had no mercy. So it was no surprise to have her sleeping during our self-portrait. Not just eyes blinking, no no no, it was a full blown drowse. She’s a good sport about it and we even went to dinner afterward. We just didn’t keep her up later.
Of all the places I least expected to be it would be on the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island on New Year’s Day in 2000. I had not been there before nor since. It was Lisa’s idea. Sometimes I just don’t know what she’s thinking. Correction… most times. She had contributed money so that my parents and her grandparents names were on the wall of immigrants. We searched out their names. I took pictures, of course. The wonder of it was why we were there on this day of all days? The bonus? What a spectacular sunset! You just don’t order up one of these everyday. Yeah! It was pretty memorable. (Note: This was film. No manipulation. Priceless.)
It was the millennium. I figured it was the millennium, century, decade, and year in 2000. This won’t happen for a very long time. We were out on Long Island. Lisa wanted to be in the city early. She was worried about the crowds and traffic. We listened to NPR on the way in and I recall it was Car Talk. Arriving home in the early afternoon I decided to bring the kids a couple blocks over to Times Square. They were celebrating each and every hour as New Year’s occurred in another time zone around the world. So there we were the three of us. Toward midnight it would become wall to wall mass humanity hysterically awaiting the magical ball to drop. Here we were at ground zero earlier in the day. Yup, Times Square on New Year’s eve!! … and at the millenium!
It constantly amazes me how well the camera processor/sensor can analyze a scene and get a decent exposure. Basically I’m lazy. I don’t want to be twirling a lot of dials and adjusting shutter, ISO, and aperture. So the camera does the work and I compose and try to crop in camera as the image is taken. You could never do this with film. And you never had a chance to make instant corrections. Immediate feedback has made things so much easier. I will also admit that I am not shooting raw.
I’m saddled with slow shutter speed, image stabilization, high ISO, and a cropped image. You can see the movement blur. All in all I consider this a satisfactory grab shot. The beauty of auto focus is that you really do just point and shoot. In truth this is what I have come to know as street photography. I’d rather not tangle with folks who don’t want their picture taken. So I just shoot from the hip. This opens up a whole discussion on whether it is proper to just shoot like this. It is in fact permissible in a public space. My kids would rather that I didn’t do this and risk harm to myself. I’m just discrete and haven’t run into any problems so far. Hey, he was a cute kid.
They turned on the fountain late today. It is a worthy addition to the landscape scene. If you look carefully up and to the left of the plume, there is a small white dot. It’s the evening star. Which one I do not know. The internet does not identify it reliably. No, it’s not an artifact or dust. And once again the camera sensor was able to expose for this and keep the scene exposed evenly. Film could never have done this for me. Oh, and if you get a passing bird into your shot, it’s an added bonus.
There aren’t too many landmarks here in Jeddah. The fountain has a listing. It’s about one of five. They are building the world’s tallest flagpole nearby. Currently this has caused major traffic slow downs because the traffic circle is inconveniently located. In an area without a really tall building around there is also a plan to erect the tallest building. I can hardly wait.
I have been taking multiple images and stitching them together. It’s never quite perfect and it’s time consuming. So I cheated here. I took a single wideangle shot and cropped it down. You lose lots of information and I won’t get to blow it up to mega size. Since I mainly planned to post the image to the internet, this has not presented a major problem. The camera had a setting for sunset but this scene option was dropped from the G11 to G12. Secret: just run up the saturation and voila. It’s what the camera’s processor does to ‘pop’ the sunset.
When I am able to drive around, I am rewarded with some nice sunsets. This is near the Corniche (beach). The pollution from the nearby desalinization plants gives a wonderful evening hue. I apologize for the light poles. I was just passing and pulled over to the side, rolled down the window, and shot as cars were passing me.
Here’s another fortuitous image. We were at the beach near to sunset. The family liked to stay past the time when everyone else was long gone. It’s too dim to get a sharply focused shot. Remember it’s film with a fixed ISO. That means a slow shutter speed and some image blurring especially the rolling waves. But it was getting the moon’s detail that caught my eye. It was that right moment when the shutter/aperture caught the moon and the scene in balance.
One more…. It’s great to get a window seat on an airplane. Even better, I was in row 2. It means I get off the plane first. In the Middle East everyone crowds, so you will easily find yourself ten back from the front, but that’s another story. What I have to say, is that it is just a shame to waste a perfectly good sunset just because the airplane glass is a little scratched. One more time, I had a great opportunity… and I took it.
That’s a dhow in the picture. It’s sunset and I imagine that it is headed out to fish overnight. Otherwise how would the fish market be so full in the morning. Once again it is an opportunity that presented itself. I don’t otherwise bring along a tripod and sit and wait. I don’t have the inclination, patience, or the time. But every once in a while I happen to be in the right place at the right moment.
It’s not every night that you get spectacular light. But since that’s when you shoot, it must seem that this is what it’s like to have the Manhattan skyline for your view. I actually have had a 360 degree view. I admit I’m not on a high floor. But you get a lot more detail. Until things got built up or fell, I had a view of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. I still have a tiny piece of river view. We see the New Jersey palisades and I can identify many named buildings. Looking east we see the view and glow of Times Square but without the noise. And west is the Hudson River and ‘Jersey. Down by the river it’s still gritty but getting more gentrified every day.
Charlie (Bell 47 helicopter) and I chanced upon this scene while flying east toward New York City. As usual he saw the balloon before I did. We gave chase and soon came up on it from above. It was looking for a place to land. At the time I didn’t understand the etiquette of ballooning. Landing is not planned. You start looking for a landing site. Then you try to land in an area that won’t damage your balloon. It’s quite an event to have this large object drift down to land on your front lawn. With the late afternoon sun we had a great vantage and great light.
After the ride the pilot filled his balloon in the glow of sunset. The flame filling the balloon is in the lower left. The moon is there on your right. It’s more memorable for me because I was in the chase car that pursued my wife and friends as they went on a once in a lifetime ride. I wasn’t chicken. I’ve been in a helicopter, so that was a hard experience to top.
I saw a picture someone took of the Blue Ridge Mountains and I remember a car ride in those mountains as a kid (without a camera). I take these shots whenever the opportunity allows. It’s the same trip to drop David off at Putney. We’re still hanging out with separation anxiety (mom). And wouldn’t you know it, there is my layered mountain scenic. It’s never the same shot I remember from childhood. That shot will be ever romantically embellished. But here’s a close second.
On this evening January 1, 2000, looking across the bay from the Liberty ferry, we had a sunset that I have never seen repeated. It all came together as the ferry headed back to Manhattan. Perfect timing, perfect vantage, I took so many pictures knowing how special the moment was even as the light constantly changed. I’ve seen my share of memorable sunsets. This is up there with the all time best. And I can tell you exactly where I was that evening.
I’m headed back into the archives again. More underwater and fish at ImagedEvent. It’s a marsh on Long Island at sunset. Aside from PhotoShop, it’s a tough shot for the Nikon Coolscan 5000 to digitize. I took this slide scan as is. It’s not how I saw it or how the slide depicts the sunset. It’s all a matter of taste and memory. This version from the slide scanner is a slight bit washed out. But the evening colors really have no rules. So it becomes a matter of taste and not necessarily a true reproduction of the moment. It still works for me. There’s a point where you accept what the equipment, film, scanner, Photoshop etc, gives you.
New Year’s Day, the new Millennium. January 1, 2000, Lisa decided to visit Ellis Island. It’s the only trip we have made there. She put up the names of my parents and her grand parents on a wall of immigrants. So there we were looking for the names and photographing them. All the spelling was correct. Afterward we headed back on the ferry to Manhattan. A spectacular sunset was in view looking back toward Bayonne, NJ. An old friend used to joke that the sunsets were so spectacular because of all the industrial pollution. Whatever the case, it was a deeply colorful sunset. At least I know exactly where I was and with whom.
Manhattan, New York. Looking to the east the tall buildings in midtown act as a classic backdrop for the evening sun. The large tower with the pyramidal top is Worldwide Plaza, site of the old Madison Square Garden. It is part of an entire city block that was excavated during construction. The hole in the ground was so deep, I recall the old children’s saying about ‘digging to China.’ Truly, it was a big hole in the ground. It was so big that all the rats left the site to plague the surrounding neighborhood during construction. Someone once wrote that when you look at the sunset, don’t forget to look back in the other direction. Or, maybe I just knew to do this.
Hudson River, Manhattan, New York. Living on the Westside for so many years, the skyline has changed. There used to be a view of the Empire State Building, World Trade Center, and even the Hudson River. New high-rise skyscrapers have gone up to obscure the view of the landmark buildings. The view of the new WTC tower is blocked by a large black glass building touted as MIMA, the middle of Manhattan. Looking to the west we still have some spectacular sunsets over the Hudson River. Someone once joked all the industrial pollution from the New Jersey side made this possible. Well, not every night, but often enough, there is a pretty intense evening glow. Once again this is a slide shot handheld.
Diamondhead, Oahu, Hawaii. There have been two national meetings I attended in Hawaii in the ’80′s. My story is this. You fly over the Pacific Ocean for hours and then you get to this little tiny dot in the middle of all that water. If the navigation system was off by a fraction of a degree, you’re just staring at a lot of water with no place to land. Or, to put it another way, if you fly at 35,000 feet and look down at an ocean liner which is a mere dot on the water. You might then understand that I did not have Hawaii on my short list of travel destinations. You could try saying, “ticked to Tahiti” three times fast also. Anyway, here we are at the Sheraton Waikiki. The view is toward Diamondhead and the sunset is spectacular. What more can one say.
Westhampton, Long Island. At the beach, as the sun set behind, this view east caught the moon rising. Somehow, the soft texture of the waves blurred by motion and a slow shutter speed works here. This is a slide image. The camera settings are unrecorded. I’m sure I did not have a tripod. Handheld about 1/30 sec or even as much as 1/8 sec, I am surprised at the quality of the shot. The rule is that one should not go slower than 1/30. And, the shutter should be faster if it’s a telephoto lens. To catch a really sharp frame a shutter of 1/125 second or faster is preferred. No matter, this handheld shot with the camera on auto, in the waning light, just came out and has been one of my favorites. By the way, shooting the moon, which is lit by the sun, is always tricky. The exposure for the moon is somewhere about 1/125 at f8. With digital, adjust depending on the detail, use a tripod, and zoom up to 400mm in order to get a properly exposed image of the moon. Of course none of this was in play for this slide. The moon is overexposed but the amber glow is great.
This view is from David’s apartment in Buenos Aires. He lived on the sixth floor with a view from the roof overlooking the city. He had a pool and hot tub. All of this was for so little money that I’m not permitted to reveal the truth of it. We were there to relax a bit before dinner. In Argentina no one eats before 9PM. Experimenting with the preset dial on the Canon G11, I dialed up the sunset setting. Alas, Julia discovered that the G12 no longer has this. Pow! A great sunset – saturated, glowing, and wonderful, it just showed up on the preview screen, magically like this. My Nikon D200 would compensate for the low light and color producing a low contrast washed out sky. I have subsequently realized that simply dialing up the saturation in photoshop will increase the effect to get a comparable photo on the Nikon. Still, it was a great trick on the Canon and one that I continue to use. Sunset, sunrise, what nice color you can have with little effort. I finally made use of the presets, which I have always ignored till now.