Spring

Born in the USA

American flag, steam, and locomotive

American flag, steam, and locomotive

On a recent photography trip to Oregon I was working my way down the coast from sight to sight and town to town. As is often the case on these trips I was heading from one pre-planned location to another when serendipity struck. While we were stopped on the side of the road photographing some arcane roadside attraction, an old American built steam locomotive came chugging down the adjacent railroad tracks.

I quickly shifted my attention from what I was looking at to this beautiful old piece of machinery from a bygone era. After squeezing off a few quick shots the train chugged down the tracks, we noticed that the train was pulling into the small town that we had just passed through. We quickly backtracked and found the train sitting at a siding in the middle of Rockaway Beach, Oregon.

As the train sat at the siding steam continued to pour out of her tanks as the crew oiled the machinery and prepared for the return journey down the coast. It gave us the opportunity to move around the locomotive looking for unique ways to capture her strength and beauty.

During that exploration I was struck by this composition. The plaque denotes the fact that the train was built in Schenectady, New York in September 1925. The steam rising is obviously a byproduct of the machine, but it also adds a certain dramatic flair to the image. And the American flag represents the country and the era that created such a powerful yet now obsolete relic of America’s past.

If you are reading this in the United States, I hope that you take a few minutes this holiday weekend to reflect on your liberty, our great nation, and those that came before us that sacrificed much in order for us to be able to enjoy our Fourth of July celebration.

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Eyes on Miami

These Eyes

A beautiful mural of a boy’s eyes in the Wynwood Walls section of Miami

The Wynwood Walls district of Miami is an amazing place to wander around for a day as a photographer. The artwork is imaginative, colorful, and unique. The more I shoot the more I like vibrant colors and unique patterns. Wynwood Walls has those in abundance. Here are a few murals done in the same genre, and I must assume by the same artist, of faces of celebrities and even some of people I don’t recognize. It doesn’t diminish the quality of the art. These and many of the other murals there are simply beautiful.

Salvador Dali

A mural in the Wynwood Walls district of Miami depicting Salvador Dali

John and Yoko

John Lennon and Yoko Ono as depicted on a mural in the Wynwood Walls district of Miami

Graffiti, Miami Style

Graffiti Miami Style

A painted wall near the Wynwood Walls section of Miami and a palm tree

I’ve shot in South Beach a little bit, but I wanted to venture out and find some unique Miami scenes to shoot. Fortunately for me I have two teenage daughters who are knowledgable about all things hip and cool. One of them told me about the Wynwood Walls section of Miami. They love to take shots of themselves to post to Instagram and Snapchat in cool, urban locations. Wynwood Walls definitely qualifies as cool and urban.

This shot is actually from the edge of the district, but I really like it a lot. The graffiti is very consistent with other stuff in the area and the palm tree screams south Florida. There’s more to come from Wynwood Walls in the next few posts. Enjoy.

South Beach Lifeguard Stands at Sunrise

10th Street Lifeguard Stand at Sunrise

One of a string of unique and colorful lifeguard stands on South Beach in Miami, Florida

For spring break this year, we decided to go as far south as we could reasonably drive in search of warmer weather. It doesn’t get that cold in Atlanta, but, still, after a few months of temperatures hovering around freezing and occasionally dropping well below freezing, sunshine and the beach always sound pretty good. After a good bit of research we settled on a place in North Miami Beach. I wanted to stay away from some of the craziness of South Beach but still be close enough to enjoy it a bit.

So, I took a couple of visits to South Beach at sunrise to see if I could capture the lifeguard stands there in warm, early morning light. My first attempt was a bust because of overcast conditions and a triathlon taking place that day. The second attempt was much more successful. I would have preferred to have a few more clouds in the sky, but I’m still pretty pleased with the results. All of Miami Beach is beautiful, but the lifeguard stands from 22nd Street and southward in general are pretty cool. They are in an Art Deco style consistent with the architecture found in the rest of South Beach. It’s definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in the vicinity. Enjoy.

8th Street Lifeguard Station at Sunrise

One of a string of unique and colorful lifeguard stands on South Beach in Miami, Florida

Chihuly at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Chihuly at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

One of the works at Chihuly’s exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Pamela and I went with friends on Wednesday night to view the Chihuly exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It’s truly beautiful, especially near sunset and at dusk. The glasswork is amazing and when combined with the beauty of the garden, it really is worth the price of admission. Enjoy.

New York City Skyline

Sunset over New York City

A brilliant sunset sky over the skyline of New York City and the Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan Skyline at Dusk

The lower Manhattan skyline as viewed from Brooklyn Bridge Park at dusk

New York City Skyline

The skyline of lower Manhattan as viewed from Brooklyn Bridge Park

I’ve had some shots on my photo bucket list for quite a while. Those include images from Patagonia, Iceland, and New Zealand among many others. It’s pretty easy for me to justify a lack of images from those locations in my portfolio. I haven’t traveled to those locations… yet.

But, the skyline of New York? That’s hard to explain. It’s not that difficult to get there. The shot itself isn’t technically difficult. I just didn’t have it. So, when Taylor and I began to plan a trip to Boston and New York, I immediately began to think about locations in New York that I would like to photograph. The view from the Empire State building or from the top of Rockefeller Center was one obvious location I wanted. The other that came quickly to mind was a view of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn or New Jersey.

As I began to flesh out the details of our trip it became apparent that the time of day that I could shoot most readily would be sunset. That meant that I would want to put the setting sun behind the city. So, I would be shooting from Brooklyn. As I researched online the spot that came up over and over again was Brooklyn Bridge Park. Since I haven’t spent a lot of time in New York City I had not visited that location before. Frankly, I didn’t know if the area would be safe, well-lit, or even easily accessible. When I talked to my brother-in-law who lives in the city he assured me that the area was perfectly safe and that I would not be alone there.

So, I hopped on the subway and made my way to Brooklyn. After a short walk to the park I was surrounded by other photographers, sightseeing tourists, and plenty of locals who were out enjoying a beautiful late spring evening. Now all I had to get was great lighting conditions for my shots. As it turned out I had perfect conditions and I was extremely grateful for them. To be in the right place at the right time doesn’t always work out for your friendly neighborhood photographer. But, God smiled on me that night.

I shot from several different locations, but I ended up at a seating area that has been created to view the perfect New York City sunset. The seating area is located just south of the Manhattan Bridge. As you can see, there is just enough of an angle so that the Brooklyn Bridge can serve as the foreground for the skyline of lower Manhattan. I sat in that location for a very happy hour and a half just watching and capturing the changing light conditions.

The shot I had in mind when I set out that night is the glowing sunset over the city. It’s a toss-up though whether my favorite is the dusk shot or the later shot with only a bit of glow still lingering in the sky. I love them all. I hope that you enjoy them all as well. And, as always, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy.

The Guggenheim

The Guggenheim

The beautiful and utterly unique architecture of the Guggenheim Museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side

I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have family who lives on the Upper East side of Manhattan. Not only did Taylor and I have nice accommodations we also got to spend time her uncle and aunt who treated us with great hospitality. And after visiting in the city for a few days I came to appreciate the relative peace and calm of the area as opposed to the constant noise, hustle, and bustle in some other areas of the city.

One of the sights that I had pretty high on my list to visit was the Guggenheim Museum. I was primarily interested in seeing the architecture that Mr. Wright had dreamed up and constructed. Of course, a bonus would be to visit the collections of the museum. As it turned out, the day we had available to visit was a day the museum was closed. That didn’t deter us from taking a rather walk to Central Park via the Guggenheim though.

When we arrived, I wasn’t the only person with a camera in tow looking to capture a unique view of the place. There was a photographer from Brazil who was capturing street scenes with the museum as a background. That wasn’t my goal, though. I wanted to make the sensuous curves and elegant white concrete the primary element in my composition. It wasn’t very difficult to get my shot. By focusing above the street level I was able to isolate the upper part of the museum in both vertical and horizontal compositions.

I had the chance to visit one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s other masterpieces later in the fall. Now that I look back on my images of the Guggenheim I can see that the two structures have much in common. The most striking commonality is how futuristic both structures look even now. Wright simply had a way to create design elements that are timeless, elegant, and beautiful. Oddly, the Guggenheim is unlike any other architecture I saw in New York. Yet, I can’t imagine the city without her. Enjoy.

The View from the Rock

The View from the Rock - horizontal

The Empire State building and lower Manhattan at sunset as viewed from Rockefeller Center

One of the shots that I hoped I would be able to get was the Manhattan skyline from the top of Rockefeller Center. Unfortunately, on the day we had tickets to go up some rain was forecast for New York City. After discussing it for a while, we decided to go anyway hoping that the weather would hold off until after sunset.

So, we queued up with all the other tourists and waited our turn to ride the elevator up to the observation deck of Rockefeller Center. I could tell from the gathering clouds that our chances were pretty slim for staying dry. Still, the experience was fun and we looked forward to our turn.

Our time finally arrived and we made our way through the queue and into the elevator. When we arrived at the top of Rockefeller Center we took a few minutes to wander around a bit, taking in the view and looking for the best vantage point for the upcoming sunset.

My only mistake was taking the rules posted on the Rockefeller Center website a bit too seriously. There were strict prohibitions of any type of tripod or monopod being allowed. Of course, I immediately saw at least two tripods in use and no one really seemed to care. A bit later on I regretted not having even a small travel tripod. I was able to photograph until the sun actually set, but after that there simply wasn’t enough light for me to hand hold my camera and take a shot without vibration.

The good news was that the incoming storm also created some pretty sweet shooting conditions. I did have to stand through a brief rain shower covering my camera with my rain jacket. But, it turned out to be worth it. There was a brief ten minute or so window where the setting sun dropped below the clouds creating the showers and cast some beautiful golden light on the Manhattan skyline.

The shot posted here was taken in just those conditions. Some of the city lights were coming on at dusk. Some sunlight was creating a wonderful glow on the Brooklyn Bridge and some of the buildings of lower Manhattan. The Freedom Tower stood virtually glowing in the late afternoon light. All in all, it was a pretty amazing experience even though we did get a bit wet. Enjoy.

Beacon Hill Red Door

Beacon Hill Red Door

A beautiful red door in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood

I’m a bit of an architectural photography geek. I don’t know if it’s symmetry or unique design or repetition that draws me in the most, but my eye is often caught by elements of architecture. Whether it is a famous architect like Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry or simply a beautiful building or element designed by someone I’ve never heard of, I tend to take a disproportionate number of images of architecture.

On our trip to Boston, I wanted to visit Beacon Hill. I’ve been in Boston numerous times, but somehow I had never been to the Beacon Hill neighborhood. So, my long-suffering daughter agreed to trudge up and down the hilly neighborhood for a couple of hours as we were on our way to explore other sights in Boston.

It’s not hard to realize why Beacon Hill is such an attractive community to live in. It’s as close-in to downtown Boston as you can be. The townhouses are historic and beautiful. The neighborhood is eminently walkable. Although the homes are very expensive, it would be the fulfillment of many people’s dreams to live there.

I had to be content with capturing some of the character and charm of the place with my camera. So, I focused on street scenes and architecture hoping to be able to convey some of the beauty that I was beholding. This shot is simple but it’s representative of Beacon Hill. This door was freshly painted demonstrating the owner’s commitment to keeping their home beautiful. The color scheme is simple but the red door contrasts beautifully with the black trim. I also love the intricate glass and metal work of the surround. I suspect that the entryway is only a precursor of the well-appointed, tastefully decorated interior of the home. I can only hope that I get an invitation to visit someday soon! In the meantime, I’ll just have to use my imagination and enjoy this lovely image. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

A memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment on the edge of Boston Common commemorating the first black regiment to serve in the Civil War

As a son of the South I have a particular attachment to all matters pertaining to the American Civil War or, as it was referred to when I was a child, the Late Unpleasantness. There were some other more derogatory terms used to describe the war, but that is to be expected when your side is describing its own losing effort.

All that said, I’m an American first and a Southerner second. Truth be told I’m a child of God first and everything falls somewhere well behind. But, this is a photography blog and I’m getting to my point, so let’s move on now…

In addition to being a bit of a Civil War buff, my favorite type of literature is history. I love to hear the full details of historical accounts. Those details – even if imagined but informed – help me establish context. And context is very, very important to me.

So, when I first saw this memorial in Boston many years ago, I took it for the northern equivalent of a southern staple, the Civil War veteran being honored for his service. Only after watching the movie Glory and visiting the monument for a second time did I realize that this memorial is actually very special. For the people represented in this memorial are not your typical Civil War veterans. In fact, if this memorial were a painting it’s significance would be instantly obvious. But, since the memorial is cast in bronze, it’s not so easy to notice that the soldiers on foot are black and the officer on horseback is white.

In the movie, Edward Zwick does a masterful job telling the story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-black regiment in the Civil War. Given that a central theme of the war was slavery and that Shaw was an abolitionist, the story of him training and leading a black regiment into battle is powerful. The actors portraying the black regiment (Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman among many other excellent African-American actors) only add to the visceral emotional reaction that the viewer gains knowing that these freed black men fight not only for their lives and their country but also for their race.

I still remember being emotionally wrung out after watching the movie and its powerful climax. I feel confident that you will have the same reaction if you’ve never had the privilege to watch the film. Hopefully this simple image will be the impetus for you to do so. Enjoy.