An Idiosyncratic View

Here are 25 images from 8 days in New York City, where I lived on and off through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 2000’s. My view of the city is never the same two days running, but it’s likely it will be in line with this:

“There is no surrender of beauty, only an effort to find beauty by going past the typical and arriving at the common. I do not love the travel pages. I look past them and go to the substratum of the visible environment. What I love about Bali is what I love about Sao Paulo, Nairobi, Seoul and Reykjavik: the material evidence of human life, which goes on in spite of the world’s enmity. In this search, the intense attachment to the beautiful remains. The sun pours itself all over the world and the world’s things. Things are being built, or repaired, or broken. Things sit in the street, free of use. Things are on the verge of speech. Ladders rise, angels invisibly ascend and descend.”

“Assemblages inhabit their own complexity and color. What I visit less often is what has been labeled beautiful ahead of time, what has been verified by the tourist board. I want to see the things the people who live there see, or at least what they would see after all the performance of tourism is stripped away.Β  I love these places that are not mine for the underground channel of perception by which they are connected, the common semantics of used space, the shock of familiarity, the impossibility of exact repetition.”

Teju Cole, from the book “Blind Spot.”

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1) A Long Island Railroad crossing in a town just outside New York City

2) Graffiti sticker at historic Fort Totten: Queens

3) A photographer in the garden at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria: Queens

4) One World Trade seen through a scrim of Sycamore branches: lower Manhattan

5) Waiting to cross the street at Fifth Avenue and 80th Street: uptown Manhattan

6) Overgrown ammunition magazine at Fort Totten: Queens

7) One seat left at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: uptown Manhattan

8) I wore silly shoes, I dropped my scarf

9) The residential buildings, Toren Tower and Avalon Fort Greene: Brooklyn

10) The W train (elevated subway) in Astoria: Queens

11) Two crab escapees at the fish counter at a Chinese grocery store in Flushing: Queens

12) Looking up Broadway near Wall Street at rush hour: lower Manhattan

13) There’s always construction: lower Manhattan

14) There’s always construction: Queens

15) Ductwork and fire escape, vicinity of Church Street: lower Manhattan

16) Texting in a cafe in Chelsea: Manhattan

17) “All is Not Lost Too” when texting while walking in Astoria: Queens

18) A high rise seen through ornamental grasses in Battery Park: lower Manhattan

19) One World Trade Center seen through trees in Zucotti Park: lower Manhattan

20) Pedestrians at rush hour in Zucotti Park: lower Manhattan

21) The Oculus at the World Trade Center: lower Manhattan

22) Train tracks outside the city: New Hyde Park, Long Island

23) A woman rests her gaze at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: uptown Manhattan

24) A migrating Monarch butterfly on Verbena: Battery Park, lower Manhattan

25) The Throgs Neck Bridge seen through Black locust tree seed pods at Fort Totten Park: Queens

 

 

 

 

 


59 comments

  1. The last photo is delightful; it suits my current affection for blue and brown in all their incarnations. But my favorite is #4: One World Trade seen through a scrim of Sycamore branches. I see the building as a lantern hanging from the largest branch. Perhaps an invisible Diogenes (searching for an honest city?) hung it there while he went in search of a slice!

  2. The fun is in making up the stories behind so many of these! And then you manage to have your creative view shine in a place like New York. So many favorites:
    4 – not your tourbook shot of One World Trade
    23 – wonder where her thoughts are wandering
    24 – certainly not what I’d think of in connections with NYC
    25 – didn’t even notice the out of focus bridge at first
    Lovely and touched with your unique creative touch!

    • Re #24, the butterfly, I’ve seen them float down Fifth Avenue, above the traffic, headed south in the fall. There’s lots of nature in the city, it’s just in a very noisy (visual & auditory) environment. There used to be a wild turkey living in the same park as the monarch – she was there for years, all by herself, putting up with crowds on their way to the Staten island ferry. It was always so heartening to see her.

  3. A beautiful and diverse set of images, Lynn. I picked #10 (The W train (elevated subway) in Astoria: Queens) as my favorite and #18 ( high rise seen through ornamental grasses in Battery Park: lower Manhattan) close behind.

    • #10 was shot with an in-camera filter that heightens contrast. I didn’t process it after that. I was pleased with it, too! That filter was sued for others here as well; it seems to go well with the city views. #18 is a continuing theme that I look for – I like shooting things through scrims of plant material, or screens, fences, etc. Thank you Ken!

  4. You see, Lynn. You really see. All interesting and creative. W Train, One Seat, Ductwork, Man on the blue corner, Ornamental grasses, silly shoes and dropped scarf! … what a series. (please forgive my memory on your titles). Terrific work.

    • Thanks so much, Jane, I get inspired when I go back. I really like big cities, but I love wild places, too. You can probably relate? No sweat about exact titles, I get your meaning and appreciate knowing which ones catch your eye. The W train & ductwork were done with an in-camera filter. For the dropped scarf I lightened the background to make it more disorienting, that was fun.

  5. What a great series, but it all boils down to the same in all cities, well western ones anyway – construction, living & decay.
    AND people glued to their mobile phones.

    (BTW I was surprised to read recently that my own country of Australia is the biggest mobile phone user – per capita – in the world).

    • Construction is rampant! You’re right, but there are so many pockets of interesting life in any city. People being involved in their phones is a big one though, it changes things in a big way, I think. ‘it refreshing to see that woman at the museum just gazing into space?

  6. The image of the bench caught me eye for many reasons, though I did not ‘catch’ the ‘one seat left’ ==== first, I thought it might be a church pew, then I noted how many were looking at their phones – but the part that kept my attention was the strange play of perspective.. wider at the top of the image and getting smaller toward the bottom… the negative space was interesting as well.

    so they were all at the museum, yet most in the image were not looking up or around – but down… the guy with the little backpack looked quite attentive, however. his antennae were definitely at work!

    the monarch is a lovely poster child for hope for our planet!

    • That bench photo was fun – we were on a balcony, obviously, and it was irresistible. It becomes an abstract shape, doesn’t it? And don’t worry – people in the actual galleries were looking at the art – these people were in the waiting area, maybe while their friends stood in line for tickets.
      I saw monarchs several times – in Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens – how nice that was!

  7. Oho my friend, you have an eye!!! There are so many images here that I would have really liked to have taken, to be able to say are mine! I want to get more into this kind of thing, and this is an inspiration. There are too many favourites here to list, but the second down addresses all sorts of spiritual tangles. And I VERY much like the quote, especially the mention of the performance of tourism being stripped away, while the mention of Nairobi is special to me. Keep on keeping on, my friend! πŸ™‚

    • That is very gratifying, to hear this has inspired you. Re #2, I’ve seen that image in other places, and I’m sure there’s significance but I don’t know what it is. Thank you for your comments – look for that book! You might like it.

    • Thank you Harrie, and I appreciate knowing which image catches your eye the most. That’s a theme I return to, seeing something through something else. Sometimes the photographs work, sometimes they really don’t. πŸ˜‰

  8. A very apt title. I particularly like the way you have captured the silent world of the individual in an antithetical environment, or through inviting the viewer to quietly contemplate the beauty of nature.

    • What an interesting comment, Louis, thank you. It IS a difficult environment to live in, and people have their ways of coping. My way was (eventually) to leave and move west! πŸ˜‰

  9. What a wonderful quotation! I’ll be saving it. Like the framing of the people on the bench; gives it a minimalist feeling. Lovely color combinations in your cute-shoes image. In the Chinese-market photo, the fact that the man’s left hand is at the same level as the empty gloves gives the gloves even more animation. In the photo after that one, I like that there is something interesting to look at all the way down the “tube.” Like the colors in that one, too. Think I’d have made a vertical of “All is Not Lost Too.” (But maybe you were making a statement I didn’t get?) Nice portrait of the woman in Number 23.

    • I’m glad you like the quotation – take a look at the book sometime, too. I did play with the colors in the shoe photo. I love the gloves in the market photo, I think they caught my eye first, but then when i got home I saw the escaping crabs, so funny. The next photo is basically an alley near Wall Street – it’s amazing how you can have these grand public spaces, and walk one or two blocks and find dark, hidden places. I took a series there so I’d be sure to have one with something good at the end. I’m not a street photographer, but I try to learn. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the suggestion about the texting guy – I struggled with it, wasn’t quite happy with it – when I took it, everything felt spacious, he was small, Maybe you’re right, try a vertical composition. The quote comes from the graffiti near his feet. Another thing i didn’t see until i got home. The portrait was something I still hesitate to do, feeling it’s intrusive, but I’m happy with the result. Thanks for your thoughts Linda!

    • Thank you, Dave. The energy of the city is something I really love, but five years ago I moved, because living inside it was too much. I’ve always loved nature more than anything so it’s good to be surrounded by it now.

  10. I love that: “My view of the city is never the same two days running.” And I feel the same way. Lots of incredible pictures here, but if I had to choose one it would be the linear feel of that overhead shot of the two-sided wooden bench with the majority of its occupants glued to their phones. 😁

    • Thank you, Lynn….it was great going to the Met, but I confess I let the classic Met syndrome happen – I saw too much and became utterly exhausted, to the point where I couldn’t remember my name. Lucky we have the photos to help us remember. Spending much less time with much fewer artworks would have been smarter, but with so little time to go around, I chose to inundate myself. Oh well! One could have worse problems, obviously.

  11. Thank you so much for taking me on the tour of NYC. The photographs are wonderful as we’ve come to expect. Your seeing is quite something Lynn. I love the picture of the people sitting on the bench. I took me a split second to work out what it was. Wonderful! πŸ™‚

  12. These are fab! I particularly like the bench too – the way it forms the letter I, and all the individuals around that letter lends a poignant touch.. (I’m afraid I’m not very good at explaining these things, but I feel them when I see them!) Thanks for the vicarious travels!

    • It’s not my bailiwick but I pay attention to what people say about capturing the moment, etc., and tried to do better this time. I made myself take more on the street than i have before. Lightened my load too, so I could do it without too much trouble, but my feet DID ache at the end of the day(s). .

  13. Wow Lyn, such a fabulous collection. I love the forest of dreads hanging down the back of that guy, it blends in so well with your tree, shrub, butterfly city nature shots which all go to highlight the fact that this city is so much more than whatever you’re going to find on Trip Advisor. So lovely walking some of these scenes with you and hope you get back again soon!

  14. There is no doubt in my mind that you see the detail wherever you go – this is a treasure trove of the things that others would miss. A favourite? impossible really but the figure in No 13 is perfectly placed at the far end of the ‘tunnel’. You covered a huge amount of time, and I enjoyed that extended quote. I had to read it three times to get the feel of what he was saying, so rick in language and thinking.

    • I’m glad you liked the quote…the author is a photography critic for the NY Times, and a photographer himself. The time covered in these was just a week or so, but having lived in the city off and on for so many years does give me a different perspective than I could have if I hadn’t lived there. Thanks for commenting!

  15. This is an excellent assortment. Many of the photographs don’t specifically say “New York” to me, but a few do. The last one, in particular, takes me back to my childhood. From Long Island my family originally used to take the Whitestone Bridge to visit my grandmother in the Bronx. That was usually on a weekend, and we’d often get tangled in heavy traffic near and on the bridge. Then, finally, the Throgs Neck Bridge got built and it became our usual way to cross over. The price in those days was 25Β’, I see the cash price now is $8.50!

    • Interesting! That photo doesn’t show the bridge too well, but you know it well enough to recognize it, I’m sure. Bridge tolls are high – that one’s lower than some. And then there’s the traffic on the LIE – OMG! Thanks for commenting Steve, I appreciate it.


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