Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Interesting Men ....

For the past few days I've been hard at work preparing all the photos I shot during the year of 2013 for submission to the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress through a website designed with the US government's fingerprints all over it. Very difficult to navigate, convoluted would be a kind way of describing it. So I took the day off on Saturday to take a walk across Canal Street and up through SoHo and on to Union Square. I met a few interesting men along the way:

By far the most interesting, and also the most cordial was this guy's version of the Jewish Defense League. Ain't nobody gonna mess with him!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday On Madison Ave.

The weekend before Christmas and the streets were teeming with shoppers. Madison Avenue is a treat to walk and see all the high end folks out to pick up their last minute thousand dollar stocking stuffers. But there was a surprise too. I ran into Bruce Gilden, Magnum photographer, who has a show currently at Higher Pictures Gallery. He wasn't too happy that I got this shot of him, but it amused his wife.

Just a few more snaps of my walk on the Avenue.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Street Shot

It's been quite a few days since my last post. I've been taking a course at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City, and been totally consumed by preparing work for the next round of classes this weekend. More on that next week.

I needed a break from editing over 180 photographs down to 40 (I'm still not there, but making progress) for a class presentation. There's some images I'm just so in love with that I refuse to admit that they don't add anything important to the story. I need an independent eye to look over the series.

In January a series of my photographs taken on the Lower East Side will be part of a group show at the MetroWest JCC in West Orange, NJ. Here's the poster for that show:

On my one outing this past week I experimented with some settings on my camera. I've grown a bit lazy by using auto ISO, and settled for the average exposure of the camera meter. Wednesday was a bright sunny day and I wanted to take advantage of the strong contrast to get some images with the extreme highlights were brought within reasonable exposure range, so I underexposed all my images by a stop, and brought out the shadow detail in Lightroom and Silverexpress Pro 2. I wasn't really searching for meaningful images, but I liked one shot:

Once the class is finished I'll be back on the street again.

Monday, December 2, 2013

French Legion of Honor

One of my joys in photographing on the street in New York is occasionally having the opportunity to engage in conversation with my subjects. This afternoon I saw this interesting gentleman on the corner of Fifth Ave and 59th street. I missed the initial opportunity to photograph him as he walked by me as some stray pedestrians walked between us. He stopped to look into a store window, and I moved to a better position to be able to get a good shot when he looked up and walked towards me. He looked up at me and said 'That's a good cigar!' And the conversation flowed from there. The medallion in his lapel button hole is the French Legion of Honor which he won having been a veteran of WWII. Every evening after eating dinner he enjoys a cigar with a glass of scotch whiskey. Been doing it all his life. He's 90 years old. And his mind is sharp as a razor!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks For Our Blessings .....

The winter chill has finally set in ......

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Orchard Street Movie Set

Last week while scouting the Lower East Side, home of my latest long term photo project, for interesting material I happened upon a movie being filmed on Orchard Street. The scene was set in the middle to late 19th century - evidenced by the actors' costumes, horses, and pushcarts - and there were hundreds of characters waiting for the scene takes to begin. I couldn't resist the opportunity.

What struck me most was the incongruity of characters in costume who were texting or checking emails on their smart phones.

Friday, November 15, 2013


In my previous blogpost I included a few images I took while attending a bris on the Lower East Side. In attendance at the bris were quite a few rabbis from the local community, among whom were Rabbi David Feinstein - World renown talmud scholar:

Rabbis Ari, Gersten, and Shmuel Spiegel - the sons of Rabbi Jacob Spiegel who was so helpful to me in creating the original project on the Lower East Side: 

Rabbi Shmuel Spiegel has been assisting me in currently taking the project forward:

Rabbis Shmuel and Gersten Spiegel with Rabbi David Feinstein:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I had the great pleasure this past Sunday to be invited to Congregation Chasam Sofer, a historic synagogue on Manhattan's Lower East Side, to photograph a joyous celebration in the Jewish tradition, an orthodox ritual male circumcision - a bris. It is the rite of passage that Jewish male infants endure to signify Abraham's covenant with G-d. In this particular instance the celebration was doubly joyous because the initiates were twins. It was attended by over 200 men and their families, including Rabbi David Feinstein who is considered to be the most highly respected scholar of the book of Jewish law - the Talmud. More on that in the next post, but here's some images from the ceremony:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Inspired Eye

I'm proud to be recognized by the this Inspired Eye blog post. Rather than post images today, I encourage you to read that blog post and see the images posted there.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NYC Halloween Parade III

I'm going to try mightily to get back to my major effort on the Lower East Side this coming week. I've been distracted the past couple of weeks with trivial stuff like a tooth problem, and then came Halloween. I miss the intensity of documentary work.

I will be having a show of work that opens on Friday at Unique Photo in Fairfield, NJ. It's the collection of Bill Monroe images, extracted from I Hear A Voice Calling, that was on display at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Ownesboro, KY for the year long centennial celebration of Monroe's birthday.

Here's a couple more shots from the Halloween Parade (heavily processed in Nik Color Efex Pro and Analog Efex Pro):

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NYC Halloween Parade II

In spite of the lack of costumes that were political and/or topical statements, there were many that were just plain fun to photograph. That, coupled with the opportunity to try out the new Analog Efex Pro plugin which was recently released as a free upgrade to the Nik suite of plugins, offered me the opportunity to break out of my usual b/w comfort zone and play a bit. Maybe a little too much .....

NYC Halloween Parade I (More to come)

For the next few entries I'll be posting pictures I shot at the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village. Given the surreal nature of the whole experience I'm tempted to play a bit with a new software plugin recently released by Google to complement the Nik suite of plugin filters, Analog Efex Pro. I've only had a chance to glance at it, but it appears to offer some very interesting possibilities. I am very pleased to see Google make the investment of resources to enhance the Nik plugins.

I feel compelled to editorialize a bit about the event. I first attended the Halloween Parade, which is contained entirely by the bounds of Greenwich Village - starting on Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, and proceeding up Sixth Avenue to 14th Street - in the late 1980's when I was first learning my craft as a photographer. I was then, as I am now, deeply invested in studying the techniques of, and producing b/w images. At that time, the event promised such wonderful opportunities to shoot color that I loaded Kodachrome in my camera, used a flash, and had a ball. Besides being creative, the costumes were outrageous. The event was more than just a parade of weird characters and cross dressers. It was a chance for very bright and insightful people to make topical and political statements, often acerbic and sarcastic, definitely funny. Frequently poking the proverbial finger in the eye of the very people in authority who were responsible for the oversight of the event and the city in general. Parties abounded at all the bars and eateries in the entire neighborhood of the Village, especially the gay bars on Christopher Street and in the streets around Sheridan Square. The entire evening was mostly self-regulated and everyone had a blast.

By comparison, this year's event was much more sedate. The energy flowed and the costumes were very creative and fun to see, but there was a much greater police presence than I ever remembered. There were, as before, the usual crowd control barricades along Sixth Avenue. But the parade staging area, in the few blocks south of Houston Street, which in the earlier times was pretty much open to anyone who wanted to take photos, was saturated with police and barricaded to corral the marchers and press people into very restricted areas, which made taking photos much more difficult. Barricades and heavy police presence and barricades were also apparent throughout the west village. It's a sad commentary on the state of our social environment. I'm sure the police presence was well meant to allow for a safe and enjoyable experience for the spectators. But it was also a sad commentary on our troubled society that such a presence for what in the past has always been a trouble-free event was necessary.

I'm done.

This image was processed in Lightroom and Color Efex Pro (no Analog Efex Pro processing yet):

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fright Night is Coming!

And this guy is ready!

I'm hoping to get to the parade this year, rain or shine (well ...... dark, since it's at night). I've been given a challenge my a photographer friend to shoot only with available light, no flash. Luckily, I'm getting delivery of my new Fujinon 23mm f1.4 lens tomorrow. That, along with the 35mm f1.4, the 18mm f2, and the 14mm f2.8 (which, although it's my favorite lens for the camera, will probably get the least use, being so slow!) should cover my butt pretty well.

There's been some rumors flying around about what's in the works for new Fuji releases. Lots of people in the discussion forums have been yammering about the possibility of cameras with full frame sensors. I've been there, done that with the Nikon D700. At the time I started with that camera there was a distinct advantage in image quality between full frame and APS-C sensors. With the advent of the Fuji X-trans sensor the playing field was leveled (at least for me, there are quite a few trolls on the forums who have nothing better to do with their time but bad mouth Fuji about their inferior technology).

I embraced the X-Pro1 totally when it came out. For me the image quality leaves nothing to be desired, and the ergonomics of the camera and lenses is ideal for my hand size and the type of shooting I do. I'm a happy camper. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Shopping

It's coming on Thursday evening, and spooky stuff abounds at street stalls in Lower Manhattan. How about a spider hat ....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Private Moment .... Public Space

Walking on Houston Street ..... Where is that guy's hand?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Imma Tell You

Beautiful autumn days keep coming in New York, and after spending two days indoors looking at displays and presentations of photo gear and software, being out on the street today was a treat even though the cloudless sky made for harsh lighting conditions. Later this week, on Thursday, I hope to get out in the evening for the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village. I was all set to go last year, but our dear friend Sandy had other plans for all of us.

While on the train returning home, I did a preliminary review of the photos I shot. The person next to me asked to see some of them and since I can't resist a pretty smile I went through several with her. When we looked at this shot and I told her I really liked it, she said 'but it's crooked!' I was reminded of a Garry Winogrand quip in response to a comment like that. He said 'you're not looking at it the right way.'

Friday, October 25, 2013

Photo Expo New York

I've spent two days at the Photo Expo in New York. When I first began attending the show, back in the 1980's, it was clearly aimed at the working professional - studio, landscape, documentary, whatever. The exhibitors were there to not only introduce their products to the photographers, but also to meet and interact with them, to build a relationship with them. Apple had a presence at the show, as did Adobe. These were the years at the birth of digital technology - manipulate images with a computer program? Display images on a computer screen? Ninety-nine percent of the photographs seen at the shows were prints made by a chemical process on a coated piece of paper.

The content of the show and the attendees have changed radically. No more Adobe or Apple, This year there was just one tripod manufacturer - Manfrotto. Very few studio lighting and/or equipment vendors. The entire show was directed towards the consumer market, and the biggest presenters were Nikon and Canon. This seemed a little out of joint to me because over the past year or so, those two manufacturers in particular have been left in the dust of the oncoming move towards smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras. The Sony and Fuji had people four or five deep at their counters, while within the Canikon sphere it was the same old same old.

I went the first day specifically to look into replacing my Drobo hard drive array with an updated version. My present one, over five years old now, was starting to make strange noises and occasionally acted a little quirky. I also wanted to upgrade because the new Drobo 5D enclosure
is USB 3/Thunderbolt compatible, which would result in much faster transfer rates between the drives and my computer. Lucky me, there was a show special of $100 off the suggested retail price, so I bought it, and spent the rest of the day poking around and looking at toys.

On the spur of the minute I decided to go in again today. Big mistake! I talked with a rep at a printing paper supplier who told me about a show special for the Canon Pro-1 printer - $500 off the usual selling price. The printer has twelve pigments, five of which are dedicated to b/w printing. I'd been thinking about that printer for two years now, and today I couldn't resist anymore. I'm very excited at the prospect of getting back into printing my images. Making a finely tuned and detailed printed image has for me always been one of the most gratifying experiences. Kind of like basking in the warm glow of having become one with a beautiful piece of music as I performed it.

Apropos of nothing I've stated above (except that I may print it) here's a shot I took this past Saturday in Manhattan.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Photo Expo NYC Tomorrow!

I'm gonna leave my credit cards HOME!

Well .... probably not. I have to check out the new Drobo D (raid array) which I probably will spring for, the Fuji XE-2 which I have already sprung for but haven't had delivered yet (Fuji hasn't delivered yet, so nobody has one), and the Fuji 23mm f1.4 lens (same as the XE-2). But the real fun of the show is all the new stuff that's released for the show. Ya never know what gear may pop up.

Inna mean time, here's a shot I nailed on Saturday:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Father's Job

After two weeks of not being able to get out for extended shooting time (computer stuff totally consumed all my time) I was chomping at the bit. Apparently all that chomping was not good for me. I developed an infection which is going to keep me grounded for a few more days. So it's more old stuff that I shot this past Saturday. Oh well ....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ice Cream Is Always In Season

It's been a wonderful few weeks weatherwise in New York, but yesterday was the first day with a real chill in the air. I needed to get out and shoot just for the fun of it, with no agenda or project in mind. I have quite a few ongoing series of pictures that I've been developing for a number of years, and it was time to beef them up a bit.

Photographing children is always a tricky subject for me. I never do it without a parent present and knowing that I am doing it. I saw these two young ladies sitting on a wall and their parents standing in front of them taking photos with their iPhones, so I stood in the middle, between the two parents for this shot. The girls smiled gleefully for their parents, but not for me. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Last From New York Comic Con

One last post about the New York Comic Con. I haven't been able to get out much these past two weeks because my transition from the old computer to the new has not been smooth. No fault of Apple's. The new machine was just such a shock to my whole setup that things started to crap out. First it was my APC battery back up unit - the battery died, and it was better in the long run to replace the whole unit rather than just the old battery. After I installed that my FIOS tuner went to hell, and then my old HP printer flipped out. After I replaced the tuner I got a new Epson all-in-one printer.

About the printer: I'm no fan of Epson printers or tech support, nor am I an advocate of all-in-one machines - I have avoided them assiduously. But Apple gave me a coupon after buying the iMac to be used on a peripheral, so I got the printer. It worked fine ..... but ...... the paper didn't feed in evenly and the print came out askew on the page. So, pack it up and ship it back to Apple, wait for a new printer. I could go on, but what's the point?

One last image to process from the Comic Con. A little over the top for me, but then again the whole Comic Con experience was over the top, eh?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hats, Hats, Hats ....

I spent a few hours this afternoon on the Lower East Side - the neighborhood of my ongoing project Manhattan Diaspora. I didn't get a chance to do much shooting though, this was an afternoon of meetings and shmoozing to generate some interest in the work that I'm doing .... not my favorite thing to do, but absolutely essential if this project is to go anywhere. The response from the people I met with was quite enthusiastic. How that translates into concrete support remains to be seen.

Orchard Street is still a street of small shops - haberdasheries, hat shops, lingerie, shoe stores, fabric stores. But many of the spaces on the street have been converted to trendy restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Gentrification is not always a good thing.

Orchard Street hat shop

Monday, October 14, 2013

More From Comic Con 2013

Four more shots from the Comic Con at Javitz Center: