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Lunar Eclipse

DSCN1579Did you see it? Did you miss it? Was it rainy in your neck of the woods?

Just in case, here it is. Don’t say I never gave you the moon, dear readers.

This was my steadiest shot on my Nikon Coolpix. It even has a moon setting, how cool is that?

The next lunar eclipse is set for April 4, 2015.

Friday Photos: Rochester Starring as New York City in Spiderman 2

Rochester is now starring as the stunt double for New York City in Spiderman 2. And it’s making some Rochesterians as mad as the Incredible Hulk

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

The weekly Photo Challenge this week is: change:

It’s kind of spooky, because a big sign of change JUST popped up on my property. Today.

I knew the sign was coming up today from our realtor. I’ve known for over two months. It still is a shock.

But still, it seemed as if it came out of nowhere. No knock on the door. It just sprouted up like a mutant spring bulb.

To me, this is a big life changing event, selling one’s house. And to me, being Jewish, there are usually rituals associated with life changing events.

But trhere was no ceremony, no blessing for putting up a sign as in Judaism, when there is a blessing for putting up a mezzuzah on one’s  door.
I just opened up my heavy, ancient oak door this morning to let my kid get on the schoolbus, and there it was. This to me is clearly a sign of change.

If you have ever sold your home, what were your feelings the first time you saw the sign on your lawn?

Merry Christmas From Staten Island

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The news from Staten Island, it’s not all bad.

For the most part, everything seems – SEEMS – like it’s back to normal after Sandy, the worst storm in Staten Island’s 300-year history.

The stores are hopping with Christmas shoppers.

The streets are typically jammed with traffic.

The noisy holiday revelry in local restaurants with present opening, reindeer antler wearing patrons lay on an extra surreal layer to this island that everything is okay.

Last night, my husband and I ate at Euro-trendy Alor Cafe. As we dined on crepes and roasted Barramundi and sipped our Riesling and Merlot, we listened to a trio of flamenco guitarists:

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All this normalcy takes place above “the Boulevard.”

Hylan Boulevard.

Drive below the Boulevard, in the neighborhood where I grew up and my parents still live, things get strange.

Everywhere, there are subtle and not so subtle reminders of how Sandy reaffirmed for many Staten Islanders why  the Island’s South Shore has the dubious distinction for being named  “Zone A.”

First, you notice the inspection postings that dot a front window on nearly every residence:

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Then, there are the police cars that are out on nearly every corner. All day and all night:

CedarGrove12 035 CedarGrove12 036But go even closer to the water. Look into the field out my childhood window and you see further evidence of the storm:

Sandy12 125A tiny house. In the field. Where there is not supposed to be a house. Never was there a house there before. Until Sandy took it off its foundation.

And on the other side of the field, some more harsh evidence of Sandy:

House on Fox Beach, still decorated for Halloween.

House on Fox Beach, still decorated for Halloween.

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On the other side of my childhood neighborhood are the eclectic bungalow-lined streets of Cedar Grove. Though I didn’t know anyone who lived here, I am thankful for the peacefulness these streets offered me in my teen years. These are the streets where I felt safe riding my bicycle. Many of these streets now have RED inspection stickers which mean that most of these houses are no longer safe to inhabit.

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Even the neighborhoods makeshift 9/11 memorial had been destroyed by the storm surge:

the site of a local 9/11 memorial. There used to be a statue and a plaque here, all gone.

the site of a local 9/11 memorial. There used to be a statue and a plaque here, all gone.

As I walked these streets in the low December sun, I thought to myself: Am I a disaster tourist? Am I just a gawker?

No. No I’m not.

I couldn’t bring myself to take photos of the most badly damaged homes. The ones reduced to rubble. I felt by taking photos of these homes, I would be just be further violating the homeowner’s dignity. FOX news and CNN took photos of the worst, only to chase the next big news story and forget about this place just weeks later.

In this tucked-away corner of Staten Island, I’m not a tourist, though I no longer live here. I want to show the world these secret streets, to show them in their continued state of misery. Even though the media has moved on.

Don’t forget this strong and dignified neighborhood, however modest their homes.

Still there are signs of hope. This beautiful  Spanish-mission styled church still stands:

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Outside of a makeshift relief center where residents can get food, drinks and even Christmas gifts, there is this tree, with a sign of hope and resilience:

CedarGrove12 027 CedarGrove12 028Merry Christmas to the people of Cedar Grove, Staten Island. I won’t forget you. I won’t be satisfied until you are rebuilt once again.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Unfortunately, there is no snow on the ground – yet – in Western New York.

But there is still evidence of the changing seasons.

Each week, as part of a long-term science project my son must work on for the entire school year, he must take a photo once a week at the exact same time, exact same place.

This photo, taken in late October, still finds my icicle pansies in bloom in my perennial garden, but little else. Soon, hopefully, they will be covered in snow, the garden all but a memory in a mid-winter’s dream.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

First night in HIS big boy bed with all HIS animals. This photo just says “mine.”

The word mine. After mama and dada, it is probably one the first word a child learns.

Especially if he has other siblings.

This is a photo of my son way before he grew to the almost  14-year-old guitar-playin’, fedora wearin’ teen boy he is now.

Back then, a little over two years old, he was the boy who did not want to give up his crib. And would only do so unless it was absolutely guaranteed that he could sleep in his new big boy bed with ALL his friends.

So there he is, and there he was.

Mine is a very important word to a toddler. But if you ever parented a toddler, you already knew that.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

I was going to hunt through my troves of photos for this week’s photo challenge, until I came across this image at my daughter’s cross country meet today.

I know that putting one’s legs up a wall in Yoga class is very relaxing, but never thought that this pose could come of use to runners. The shot was taken on an incline and the grassy slope hides the bodies of these teens so wonderfully so all you see is those legs.

Cross-country and track meets: this is a part of my kids’ everyday life.

Photo Challenge: Geometry

This post is long overdue, but WordPress put up the perfect photo challenge to (kick me in the pants and get writing) I mean, get me motivated:

What is urban? This is what true urbanism should be. A blend of city and nature on a perfect summer day.

I went to a lot of places over the summer, but my favorite destination, for always, remains:

New York City.

Why?

It’s a place where I grew up, and you’d think I would be tired of it already. Seen it all. Been there. Done that.

That’ll never happen. Because there is always something New to discover in New York City. Even for us natives.

For example, in our annual summer visit to New York City, we toured the High Line.

Opened in recent years and built on refurbished elevated rail lines, the High Line lets the visitor walk the thin line between street level and the heights of skyscrapers. It is a strip of gardens, fountains and orchards that blooms right between steel, brick and glass and wooden water towers. It repurposes an older structure that would have otherwise been torn down and instead has been transformed into a public space and one of the best places to snap pictures in all of New York City.

It goes on for about 20 blocks above the West Side’s meat-packing district and there are plans to extend the High Line to more of the old abandoned El.

With fountains, flowers and musical and cultural events, all set in a shining beacon of sustainable public space, to me it’s the best 20 blocks you can walk right now in NYC.

I shot these photos on my dad’s Nikon:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

This goes to show you why you should not erase any digital photos, including the mistakes.

The photo challenge theme of the week is: Close.

I accidentally shot this photo of … my husband’s knee and hand on my iTouch. iTouches are so …. touchy.

We were at Citifield watching one of the first Mets games of the season. We were visiting the whole family. Even though they are not in this shot, our WHOLE family: both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all came out to see the game.

Even my dad and father-in-law, and my brother-in-law and his sons who are all Yankees fans, all came out to cheer the Mets. Why? We wanted to be together as a family, a rare occasion as we live far away from our NYC family roots.

So, this is an accidental close-up shot of my husband’s jeans on the surface.  But on a deeper level, this is a photo of  a day that showed my family’s togetherness.

And closeness.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

Okay, I’ve got to get my hands back in the soil of my garden, but I’ve got to respond to this week’s photo Challenge: Hands.

When I think of hands, I think generations. And nothing depicts generation-to-generation as young hands next to older ones.

Here is a photo of my mom holding my youngest when he was just nine days old:

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