America

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.

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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.

A Day Game at Fenway

Matt Joyce of the LA Angels plays left field in front of the famous Green Monster

Matt Joyce of the LA Angels plays left field in front of the famous Green Monster

I have a love/hate relationship with baseball. When I was growing up, the Braves made their first appearance in the playoffs in the newly created division championship series. Baseball was still played in the daytime back then. Even playoff games were played in daylight for the most part. Atlanta was electric with its relatively new team having a chance to go to the World Series. Unfortunately, we ran into the buzzsaw that was the 1969 Mets – the Miracle Mets.

Since then, I’ve lived through some absolutely awful Braves teams. And, I’ve had the good fortune to experience thirteen straight playoff appearances and one World Series championship in 1995. Through it all, I’ve maintained a love for the game. And love the Braves as I do, there’s still something magical about day baseball in some even older ballparks – Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in particular.

So, when I realized that Taylor and I would be in Boston for a day game in May of this year, I immediately found some tickets. Fortunately, Taylor understands my obsession and wanted to go as well. What I couldn’t have anticipated was the absolutely perfect day that we would have to experience a day game at Fenway. The food was great, the weather was perfect, the home team won, and I got to take my camera into the park to record the spectacle.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from that day. I hope they bring you a fraction of the enjoyment that I had in capturing them.

A sign on the brickwork of venerable Fenway Park

A sign on the brickwork of venerable Fenway Park

The Red Sox host the Angels on a perfect late spring day at Fenway Park

The Red Sox host the Angels on a perfect late spring day at Fenway Park

Mike Napoli takes a huge swing at historic Fenway Park

Mike Napoli takes a huge swing at historic Fenway Park

The first baseman for the Boston Red Sox stretches for a thrown in a routine out against the Los Angeles Angels

The first baseman for the Boston Red Sox stretches for a thrown in a routine out against the Los Angeles Angels

A statue of Ted Williams and a young boy with cancer outside Boston's Fenway Park

A statue of Ted Williams and a young boy with cancer outside Boston’s Fenway Park

The Red Sox second baseman makes the turn at first base to begin a double play

The Red Sox second baseman makes the turn at first base to begin a double play

Boys look in from center field at Fenway Park dreaming about playing baseball on that perfect surface

Boys look in from center field at Fenway Park dreaming about playing baseball on that perfect surface

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams

A statue of Samuel Adams adjacent to Boston’s Faneuil Hall

Just after school was over earlier this year, my daughter and I took a trip to Boston and New York. For each of our children I’ve taken a father/daughter or father/son trip with them after they turned sixteen. Taylor, hereinafter referred to as T-Hol, wanted to go the urban route. Her favorite place in the world is New York City. But, since she has been there a few times, she wanted to include another East Coast city in the trip. After much discussion and research we settled on Boston.

We stayed in the Back Bay and rode the T to various parts of the city. Of course, being a history freak, I wanted to walk the Freedom Trail again. T-Hol hadn’t been on it before. So, we took the better part of a day to explore Boston on foot via the Freedom Trail. It’s truly amazing to walk through America’s past and to be on the same streets that were trod by Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Samuel Adams, and a whole host of other American patriots.

I was struck by this statue of Samuel Adams. I’m sure it’s been photographed hundreds of thousands of times, but framing the strong image of Adams against Faneuil Hall made for a very compelling image to my eye. I normally don’t like strong shadow, but for this image, the shadows seem to intensify the strength of Adams that seems to exude from his likeness. I hope you enjoy the image. And don’t miss the opportunity to connect with America’s past by walking the Freedom Trail the next time you are in Boston.

9/11 Memorial at Milton High School

9/11 Memorial at Milton High School

3000 flags are placed on the front lawn of Milton High School each year as a memorial to the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001

This is an image from a post I made five years ago, but it’s certainly appropriate today. May we never forget the tragic events of September 11, 2001. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Happy Birthday America

Flag and Fall Colors in Zion National Park

The American flag flies amidst gorgeous fall color in Zion National Park

Despite all of our focus on important current issues and regardless of our political affiliation, we all need to step back sometimes and reflect on the blessing it is to be an American. I have traveled a bit internationally and not once – never – have I visited another country and wanted to live there. I am always grateful to touch down back in the United States. That’s not to say that there aren’t things to appreciate in other parts of the world. There are. But this American is extremely grateful to live here.

So, take a few minutes today to reflect on all the blessings you have as Americans. There’s a reason that we have a very small handful of people renounce their citizenship each year (usually over paying less tax) and millions risk their lives or beg to be able to live here. I think that says it all about where we live.

Happy Birthday America. May our liberties linger, our citizens prosper, and we remain one nation under God.