I grabbed this image while my wife and I were driving east across town to the Manhattan Bridge. The location is the corner of Lafayette and Walker Streets in Chinatown. My wife was driving and I was making nearly-random exposures from the passenger seat. I don’t frequently shoot this way but have had some luck in the past and thought I’d give it a try.
I was pleased with this one, not least because it presents a pedestrian on Walker St., but also because the Vietnamese store behind her features the anomalous “records” on its awning among its many delights and sundry items. And I’m always happy to see a store that sells records.
It was over 90° when I made this exposure on the east side of Carroll Gardens. The street you see (click the image for a larger version) is a single-block one way, situated between Smith and Court Streets, whose terminal streets are one ways in opposite directions. That is, the only entry to this short street is a right turn from the direction of Smith St., and the sole exit is a right turn in the direction of Smith St.
There are other such streets in the area, but they usually stretch among longer blocks and look very much like their neighboring streets: same kinds of brownstones, mostly, same types of trees, cars parallel parked for the full lengths of the blocks. The street above, however, differs from its surroundings in two essential ways. First, its narrowness prohibits on-street parking and the buildings lack garages, so there is little, if any, car traffic. The street is thus a near-perfect place to play. Except that: second, there are no trees and therefore no shade. This latter distinction was felt acutely on the day I walked by.
Practically speaking, none of these details occurred to me when I took the picture. What did I have my eye on? My eye was on the game at the middle of the block which I had photographed from the opposite end of the street not long before. It was only while editing this photo that I noticed the boy with the placard and unseasonable Sherlock Holmes hat. And so he emerged as the image’s walker.
As to why I separate black and white photos from color photos, it has more to do with intention than spectra. However pleasant it is to see only black and white images together, if only for the sake of consistency, I’m not trying to get the same meanings or implications from one format as I am from the other. Black and white is more photographic, perhaps less concerned with how things look than how they are. Color is more difficult in that we know immediately when it’s wrong, and can thus be easily distracted from what other subjects and objects the image might be putting to work. So a photo that works in color works in part because of its fidelity to how its subject appears without being photographed. A photo that works in black and white works in spite or because of its obvious distinction from a more varied palette. Not news, necessarily, but this seems as good a place as any to think out loud. Enjoy the photos.
A key component of my wife’s birthday celebration was a visit to Wave Hill in the Bronx. We were there during peak bloom time for several of the flowering plants and trees and if I failed to capture the full range of what the park might offer it’s because I was captivated by whatever was in front of me. I can’t recommend strongly enough that you head up to this marvelous park. Admission is free on Tuesdays.
It’s my wife’s birthday this week and per our custom, she expressed a relevant wish to see the sun rise at Coney Island. Past efforts have been thwarted by weather, sickness, indifference, travel, and other interventions, seemingly divine and otherwise, but this year we made it and it was delightful. Not only did it fulfill a birthday wish extending back for a decade or more, but I hadn’t been there since I was a boy.
My father is a NYC native (Kingsbridge, Bronx — like any diligent New Yorker of his generation, he’ll be happy to tell you what made it both a harder and a better place to be from) and we made roughly annual visits to our family here and in New Jersey until I was 18 or so.
The trip to Coney Island was in 1977, maybe, or 1978. My uncle, my father, my brother and I went together to visit the Aquarium. There is a single photo from that trip, of my brother and me on a breaker, smiling from the relative high ground of the rocks. I wore a shirt with a 3 on it, a non-sequitur. That is, the number was not that of a favorite athlete or anything. Just a 3. It became, however, the title of the photograph, which my family refers to as The Three Picture, and in due time a personally-identifying numeral between my wife and me. Over the years she has bought me all manner of printed material featuring single 3s, some of which hang above my desk at this very moment. As it happens, unfortunately, I cannot right now find the photograph of origin. When I do, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, if you have a chance, please wish Kimberley a happy birthday.
This gallery is a sort of companion to the previous one, consisting of color photos from the same recent stretch of activity. There are no particular themes to look for but it might be worth noting that I seem to be more open to abstraction when I’m making photos in color than I am when doing so in black and white.