Manhattanhenge 2010

Today May 30, 2010 is what many people in NYC have named "Manhattanhenge" as a way of saying, this is our version of the famous English Stonehenge. I must first clarify that the date is not set in stone, it changes from year to year, but it actually happens twice a year. Manhattanhenge is when the sun can be seen to set directly in the middle of New York City's East-West cross-streets. This event is similar to the solstice but a bit different... since NYC is not aligned due north but actually a few degrees off, the dates change from year to year. The final result is Manhattanhenge. There is more. Not only does the sun set twice a year in direct alignment with NYC's cross-streets, but twice a year the sunrise also aligns itself in a similar manner.

For a few years now I have been aware of Manhattanhenge but somehow always managed to miss it for some reason or another. This year I was ready. I was not going to miss seeing (and shooting) Manhattanhenge. Nothing was going to stop me. And nothing did. I arrived early and found the perfect spot to stand on Park Ave. and 33rd Street. First there was just one other photographer and myself. This was the best spot I could have been in. I had originally chosen a different cross-street to shoot, but the little voice in my head said "keep going, look a little more", and I did. As the minutes ticked away (I forgot my watch at home, so no real audible ticks) more and more photographers arrived for the big moment.

Manhattanhenge was upon us and for a few minutes the sounds of shutters being released filled the air creating photographic chamber music. My instincts took over then my mind then my instincts I was two photographers yet I was one. I was living in the moment and witnessing an amazing sight. It is actually possible that I did not breathe for the duration of the shoot. Once the sun had gone out of view I let out a big sigh. This work is truly exhausting but very rewarding once you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and show the world.


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Jackson Heights Theater

After moving to Jackson Heights it was not long till we discovered the local Jackson Heights movie theater. This is not one of those modern multiplex 14 screen set ups. This movie theater is special. For one thing it was very old. I do not recall the exact age, my girlfriend is the one that remembers all the small details after scouring the google for every tidbit of information available. I am sure it was one of those places we have all seen in old black and white movies where everyone in the audience is dressed up and wearing suits and hats. (The Jackson Heights Theater opened in 1924) One thing I did love about the Jackson Heights movie theater is the fact that it has stadium seating, which is great when a tall guy with a big head decides to sit in front of you blocking your view.

After going to see a movie (tickets were only $5.00 USD with spanish subtitles) I decided to go back one day and bring my camera to shoot some photos of the interior of the movie theater. That did not work out so well. The front door was locked and chained and a posted sign read "For Rent". We were hoping that this was just a temporary closure and that the theater would re-open again in the near future. (now tickets are $10.00)

Thanks to the wonderful internets I was pleased to read that the Jackson Heights movie theater was set to open up again as a fully functioning theater. I plan to go see Kites in the next few days.

Below is a photo of the marquee.




The Green Agenda for Jackson Heights

This past Saturday in Jackson Heights' Travers Park the Jackson Heights Beautification Group revealed and spoke about the "The Green Agenda for Jackson Heights". Refreshments were served and a wide range of community members of all ages took the mic and spoke about the group's vision and efforts. I arrived at Travers Park a little late, but I knew I was at the right place when I saw a large green "Jackson Heights Beautification Group" banner hanging off a fence with a large crowd already gathered. I found out about the Jackson Heights Beautification Group thanks to a tweet by @JacksonHtsLife

For more information go to www.jhbg.org or thegreenagenda.webs.com

The following are photographs I made during the event:


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I recently discovered a website that was a bit too interesting not to mention it here. The site is quirky.com. If you are a creative person or have a great idea, quirky could be the place for people like us. I just signed up to quirky so this will be brief, but the way quirky works is that you are able to create or influence a new product and possibly make money depending on how much influence you impacted on the product. Visit the site and see for yourself.

Good luck.


Long Black Car

Recently I was out of town for a wedding. I was there as a guest and not as the photographer. That did not stop me from bringing my camera gear with me. Until my kit expands, everything fit in my bag and was able to carry it on. As they say, a checked bag is a lost bag. I managed to take a lot of pictures and make a few as well.

The day after the wedding ceremony my girlfriend and I decided to take a walk and explore the area during the afternoon. I decided to bring along my camera with a fast 50 (50mm f/1.4). Every once in a while I find it a good exercise to pick just one lens and see what you can do with it. Preferably it is a prime lens and not a zoom lens. I zoom with my feet, walking closer or further away from my subject to get the desired composition.

Now is when I face a small dilemma. I come across a long black car, a Lincoln Continental to be exact with hydraulics, fully dropped to the ground. Normally I would take out my wide zoom lens and fit the entire car in my frame and release the shutter. My 50mm lens on a cropped sensor body yields an equivalent of a 75mm lens on a full frame body. Simply put, I had a narrow field of view and would need to walk back several steps to fit the entirety of the long black car. Small problem... I would need to stand in the middle of a busy avenue to get the shot. That is not an option, safety first.

This is where the little light bulb over my head turns on. I thought about my last blog post "Creating a Panoramic Image" and decided to employ the same techniques. The image below is the final result. If you look closely at the car, you will see my reflection in the shiny black paint.

I decided not to 'photoshop' out my own reflection to maintain the integrity of the image. Sometimes I hate reflections, sometime I love them.




Creating a Panoramic Image

I recently came across a free program used to create panoramic images. Hugin. I have not had a chance to shoot any landscapes to fully experiment with the creation of a panoramic image using the software. There are a ton of customization options to choose from. Thankfully I did not need to read a lengthy .pdf to use the program. Hugin has an assistant tab where you can easily create a panorama within a few minutes.

Below is my first attempt at a panorama made with three images from the 'office' section of a client's apartment.

In my future travels, I will make it a point to shoot at least one panoramic image in addition to my regular photography.


(Feel free to share and please leave a comment)


Chuck Norris Plays Tennis

I was recently visiting a sculpture park in Queens... more pics and a proper blog post to come soon... but in the meantime, the image below is of a green tennis ball I saw on the ground. The strangest thing about this tennis ball was the fact that there was only half of it left intact. I did not really want to know where the other half was. I did not move the tennis ball from its original position on the ground, it was already in perfect position, just waiting to be photographed. Many times in photography we must manipulate the scene to make a better picture, but as I looked to the ground I knew that the ball was where it was meant to be.

The mystery of the missing half can be explained in one of two ways. I would like to think it is the second way, but I could be wrong.

Choice one is that one of the many dogs roaming free in the park had a new tennis ball and was proudly showcasing it. After a few minutes an older and bigger dog saw the green tennis ball and decided he had to have it. Before anyone knew what was going on, the two dogs were involved in a massive tug-of-war over the green tennis ball. The massive dust storm caused by the two dogs was of such magnitude that flights to LaGuardia Airport had to be diverted. The struggle lasted several days and the proud dog never gave up his tennis ball to the bigger dog. The loser of the battle was never seen again and is now in parts unknown hiding in shame. The green tennis ball unfortunately did not survive the clash and was left behind as a reminder that dog on dog violence is a bad thing.

Choice two is that Chuck Norris decided to work on his tennis serve while visiting Wimbledon and the green tennis ball ended up one hopping it to Queens.

Green Tennis Ball in Half


A Moment in Time

My submission to 'A Moment in Time'. The purpose was to create a worldwide mosaic of images all taken at the same time.

This image was made looking out of my bedroom window. The distortion from using a wide lens curved the straight window frame creating an illusion of looking at an old tube television. If you look carefully the window screen lines can be seen, further enhancing the illusion of looking at an old television screen.

With the exception of minor cropping, this image is untouched from what came out of the camera.

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