Sunday, July 26, 2009
I had a few photos of New York that I liked that were orphaned in that they didn't really fit in any of my planned blog topics. So here they are! We start off with Times Square, at night, in black and white.
This church is right across the street from the World Trade Center, and escaped remarkably unscathed. It was used as a command center/ triage center during the Sept 11th attacks, and now exists both as an historic landmark and as a memorial to that day that now lies almost a decade in our past.
No visit to central park would be complete without a visit to Strawberry Fields and it's John Lennon tribute.
The Dakota rises above Central Park.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
As always when I shoot, I had to try my hand a few High Dynamic Range Images.
Interestingly enough, while I was prepping this blog post, I noticed that the above two HDR's of Times Square were right next to each other, so even though I hadn't planned to make in a panorama, I could give it a try...
I like it, my first HDR panorama! Unfortunately the two sides didn't stitch together quite perfectly.. but it is an idea that I may have to follow up on in future photographs.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I had a few more things on my "must see" list, and they included the two great art Museums of New York City, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). However, the first stop on my hike uptown was St. Patrick's Cathedral.
I've always loved Gothic cathedrals, so I was very eager to see one of the more famous American examples. Being that it was Sunday morning, mass was already in full swing when I arrived. I took a few discreet photos, listened to a reading, and then slipped away from the tourist area they had set up at the rear of the church.
I have never been a fan of Modern Art. I often find it more interesting than beautiful, and I personally look for beauty in art. However, the MoMA is home to Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, which may well be one of the most famous paintings in the world. This alone was enough to convince me to make the trip.
Sadly, when I arrived I found that Starry Night was on loan to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam! I still went in, and was glad that I did. While I may never really like modern art, I certainly gained an appreciation for the skill of the artists represented there. One exhibit that I did enjoy was devoted to Russian artists around the Revolution, and how they got caught up in the heady rush of early communism and how they adopted their "bourgeois" art to a more "people" oriented outlet for their creativity. One oil painter began designing furniture, and some worked on propaganda for the new regime.
From there I hiked up to the Met, and was glad that I did. If there is any collection that could rival the Louvre it lives here, off of Central Park. The first area I went to was the extensive Egyptian collection, which is perhaps the finest in the world and certainly the best in North America. Like many people, I've always found the culture of ancient Egypt absolutely fascinating, and the vast numbers of artifacts, statues and inscriptions on display kept entranced.
You can't have an art museum without art, and so from the Egyptian area I made my way to the opposite wing of the Met for a look at their European collection. They have an amazing selection of Impressionists, including some Van Gogh's to take away the sting of the missing Starry Night.
I really enjoyed each of these paintings by Monet, especially the winter chill that you can feel looking at the one on the left.
I also really liked these painting for their sheer size and romanticism.
The Met also had a large collection of Asian art, including a bunch of Japanese wood block prints and a few huge examples from China. I've obviously seen a lot of Japanese art in my time, but the styles of the artifacts and statues from China were all pretty new to me.
I filtered out of the Met shortly before closing time, after having walked from the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd street to the Met on 83rd street. Phew. However, my day was over, but the night was just beginning, so I made my way to Times Square to meet up with my hosts for a night on the town!
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
On the opposite side of Manhattan is the USS Intrepid Air and Space Museum. By this point in the day, my feet were in no small amount of pain, but I figured for a chance to see an authentic WW II era aircraft carrier, I could limp a bit.
I have a penchant for visiting museum ships, and have seen battleships, submarines, cruisers and more, but there are very few preserved aircraft carriers, making a stop at the Intrepid a must while I was in the neighborhood. She was commissioned as an Essex class fleet carrier in World War II, and saw action throughout the Pacific Theater. She also saw service in the Korean War, and in Vietnam. While she launched plenty of sorties against Hanoi, the Intrepid was by that time lagging behind in size and creature comforts compared to her larger newer sisters like the Forrestal Class super-carriers that had been built in the late 50's, and were designed to launch jets, and not piston engined fighters and bombers.
No matter how well as ship has fought, there comes a time when there is nothing to be gained by keeping her around, and the Intrepid's fate was the scrapyard, until a local millionaire decided to make a museum out of her, and park her on the Hudson River.
Not only do visitors get a chance to explore a ship that is steeped in modern history, but they also get to see a great many fantastic examples of Aviation history. I go to see just how small and cramped a Concorde really is (though the high speed flight would make it a lot more tolerable), and glimpse the A-12, the CIA built predecessor to the famous SR-71 Blackbird. As well, there were jets and helicopters from all over the world displayed around the flight deck.
Through no fault of my own, I had actually ended up in New York during Fleet Week, when navy ships park in berths along the Hudson to allow the sailors a weekend of liberty in New York, and to allow New Yorkers and tourists a glimpse of a real working ship of war. Sadly I was far too footsore, and it was far too late in the day, for me to tour the rest of the ships.
All in all I had had a long day, visiting Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero AND the Intrepid all in one day, I felt the miles, so I was plenty glad to grab a bus from the Port Authority and head home, to a giant meatball sub and a soft bed, ready to head out the next day for some more epic walking around The City.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Yesterday we celebrated both the birthday of the US of A and my 28th year. It was the first time I'd been in the States for July 4th for three years, so I was pretty excited about the chance to really celebrate, and see some fireworks.
After a great BBQ Jen and I went to my friend Todd's house, so we could watch the Westminster fireworks display. We had a fantastic view of the professional display, and I had a field day with my camera and tripod, finally getting some good fireworks shots.
After the professional show ended, we had our own show, with some fireworks I brought back from Wyoming in January. We weren't the only ones, the Denver area was awash in smoke and exploding rockets. It's been an uncommonly wet spring and summer, and I wonder if people decided to take advantage of the low fire danger.