BLOG

LONDON CALLING, AND OXFORD TOO

First trip to the United Kingdom… fish and chips, the Rosetta Stone, the Thames at Night, Hell’s Pale Ale, mastering the Tube, Carnaby Street, Indian food, double-decker bus to Waterloo, the Crown Jewels, Victoria and Albert, back to the 13th Century, Great Western Railway… have to go back for more.

A well executed tour of the Tower of London. Fortunately, not like the executions that once took place there.
Night stroll along the banks of the Thames.
Tennis, anyone? This train is bound for Wimbledon.
The passing parade on Oxford Street, thought to be the busiest shopping street in Europe. That is, if England is part of Europe.
I scaled the heights of academia at Oxford University. Climbed the narrow (very) spiral staircase to the top of the spire of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, where I was rewarded with this jaw-dropping view.
Gasp! It’s one of the most famous paintings on the planet, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery (his chair next to it is not bad either).
Crown jewels… bad focus. The moving walkway was going too fast… it was dark… the guards were watching. Against the rules!
I found truth on the streets of London, at Piccadilly Circus.
This is the bike park at the Oxford train station. Everybody knows that bicycles are popular in Europe, but this may be over the top.
Girl on the train. Or about to get on the train After she finishes giving me the death stare.
Didn’t get to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, but did see the training of the guards.
Two gentlemen, having a chat, just off Carnaby Street. I’m thinking of buying a suit like that.
The classic London cab, the picture of understatement.
Not Napoleon’s Waterloo… it’s the double-decker bus bound for Waterloo Station.
Piccadilly dude. I can do that. No I can’t.

January 2019

IN THE LAND OF O’s… TORONTO AND ONTARIO

Hopping around lower Ontario… Niagara Falls (Ontario side of course)… Niagara-on-the-Lake (Ontario of course)… Ontario wine country (the beautiful Niagara Valley)… and of course Toronto (fastest growing city in North America and I’m not just saying that).

Night colors of the Hornblower. You will get wet!
There are acronyms for everything. This one is LOLO — Lovers on Lake Ontario. LOL
This Niagara River Valley estate is noted for their ice wines. And no, we did not drive a Prius to Trius.
Casa Loma, the most spectacular residence in Toronto, is not for sale. But you can rent it for your wedding.
Beauty on Bloor Street… just a chance encounter. She was not a reluctant subject. Wish I had that much hair.
The passing parade at the Kensington Market.
Have you ever seen a more stunning water treatment plant? This one is in The Beaches neighborhood of Toronto.
Trolleys resting for the night at the yards on Queen Street East, Toronto.
Row houses in the charming Cabbagetown neighborhood of Toronto.
If you are a flower fanatic, Niagara-on-the-Lake is the place to be.
This is Yonge Street. And it’s Toronto, not Tokyo. Said to be the longest continuous street it North America, the extension of it stretches almost 1200 miles to the Minnesota border.
The observation level of the CN Tower in downtown Toronto. For 32 years until 2007, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world.
Looking down from the CN Tower. Based on the number of active construction cranes, Toronto is the most intensely developing city in North America.
It’s the CN Tower again… popping up everywhere in the urban landscape of Toronto.
It gets very cold in Ontario. People wear all kinds of jackets. Even potato jackets.

September 2018

WHEN PHOTOGRAPHING AN INTIMATE FAMILY GATHERING — KISS!

As in Keep It Simple Stupid. I recently had the opportunity and privilege of spending a holiday afternoon with the Goodman family, making casual portraits of individuals and groups, a total of 13 children, parents and grandparents. The challenge for me was to get the desired result without disturbing the flow of the day for them.

Not being a technical or lighting genius, I decided to use this nice, unobtrusive, unassuming little device I have. That would be my Fujifilm (it’s digital) X-10 rangefinder camera. In addition to having an all-black body, it doesn’t even have the name “Fuji” or any labeling on the front. Sweet. And it’s very easy to use. To get these shots, I have to do at least a certain amount of shtick to make people open up and I didn’t want the camera to get in the way, so I just used a few settings that I like and fired away.

A pleasant afternoon was had by all, and apparently I produced the desired result without making too much of a nuisance of myself, because they invited me to stay for dinner. And who am I to refuse that?

February 2018

I LOVE LEE FRIEDLANDER’S PHOTOGRAPHS… BUT WOW!

One could make the case that Lee Friedlander is one of the the five greatest street photographers of all time, if there is even any sense in making such a list. And he sure does publish a lot of photography books. Monographs. Beautiful hardcover coffee-table books on various subjects, all featuring his distinctive black-and-white vision of the world.

Shelf in the photography section of the Strand Bookstore, NYC

But there are so many! I counted, on his author page on Amazon.com, no less than 17 titles issued since 2010. His work is dynamic, thought provoking and just plain fun to look at. One certainly has to admire his productivity and his obsession with photography. But whatever happened to less is more? Or, as they do in show business, exit the stage with the crowd on its feet clapping?

A museum director in New York that I recently encountered responded to this question with… well, he’s an artist. Artists don’t have to observe conventional rules or ideas of what is appropriate. All well and good, but is there really an audience for so many Lee Friedlander hardcover coffee-table monographs? These are expensively-produced tomes by top art book publishers like MOMA, Steidl and Yale University Press.

He was interviewed a few years ago by his grandson Giancarlo Roma, part of an artists’ talk series at the New York Public Library. This interview was noteworthy for its length and also for how little he said about his work. Maybe he just couldn’t describe it. It struck me that this is truly a case of the work speaking for itself. But I wonder how much of a market there is for all of these books. His work is not really commercial and it doesn’t appear to me that it would catch on with a wide audience. Do these books make money, or are publishers willing to take a loss in exchange for giving voice to the overflowing vision of this unique artist? Just curious.

January 2018

MOVING THE NEEDLE ON WORDPRESS

Well, I finally figured out enough WordPress to get my simple site up and running. Did about an hour and a half consulting with the wonderful Joanne Henig, co-founder and curator of the Long Island Photo Gallery. She is a brilliant web designer, in addition to her other talents as a photographer and gallerist.

She helped me get through what can be a vexing experience — learning how to do stuff on the WordPress Dashboard. But beware: one wrong keystroke and your whole layout can go kaput! Fortunately, I learned how to use the preview command before the update command to test things before I went live.

This is a very basic site, really baby stuff when you consider all WordPress can do, but I am up and running for very little money… and that’s good!

And now, here’s a photo that I have licensed:

Found this on a lobby wall in Bushwick, Brooklyn and shot with my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Nice to always have a camera at the ready!

December 2017