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Week 4 – 2019 Prime Lens Experiment

I’m mildly fascinated by scenes like this.  I’m not sure if the drivers know that the property owner — despite all the signs — does not care about blocking the garages. Or if the car owners just don’t care and are just daring someone to call a tow truck.  Roughly one month into my 50mm experiment, and the cold weather is cutting into my willingness to walk around with a camera, but I’m pushing through.

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Week 3 – 2019 Prime Lens Experiment: 50mm from my office window. It pays to look up from the computer screen every once in a while. It’s usually not the most exciting view as high-floor NYC vistas go, but when the sky is right everything else is secondary. It also helps when the building across the street is see-through. 
It’s not new either. It’s the Time-Life Building, and been there 50+ years. But the top several floors have been empty for a few years now and they recently stripped them down to the girders and are rebuilding from there.

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For the second week of my Prime Lens Experiment I went to the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, nestled between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. The Gowanus Canal used to be a synonym for pollution and stench. The canal itself still is not a lovely sight, but the cleanup has at least removed any stench and the neighborhood is thriving and changing. I was inspired to shoot there, in part, because the television show The Americans — set in metro Washington D.C. but filmed in NYC — shot numerous scenes there. 

One of the improvements to the neighborhood is a narrow park along the canal running just a few blocks. That’s where I found this grouping of red chairs and a few tables that caught my eye.

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I need to credit my friend Jimmy Denham for this one.He recently posted an image of a forest with a blur effect applied to the top half of the image. I wanted to try it on an urban skyline. So I took this image, changes the crop, and applied the exact same effect. I think it creates a very different feel from Jimmy’s forest shot. There, the application of the blur to organic subjects evokes, for me, a somewhat magical blending of reality and imagination. When applied to the lower Manhattan skyline, shot here from Brooklyn Bridge Park at night, with a set of abandoned pylons in the foreground, it seems more like something created by real world technology, which it is. 

Though I like the effect as applied here, I don’t think this effect will work with many urban subjects. I will experiment with it on a case-by-case basis going forward.


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One of the most famous concepts in street photography is “the decisive moment,” a term originated by Henri Cartier-Bresson. It is what separates the small percentage of great street photos from the rest.  The idea is to capture someone in an action, pose or gesture that creates tension, humor, suggests a story, or simply creates beauty.  

When I shoot in the street my first instinct is to look for pairs of people. They are more likely to be engaged with each other, and therefore create that sort of moment. It can happen in larger groups, or with solitary people to be sure, but pairs of people seem to pat off at a higher percentage.  When I saw these 2 young women approach I tracked them as they were rather actively engaged with each other as they walked across the street, and just as I decided to shoot, one of them dropped her purse, and turned back to pick it up.    


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  • kausainJanuary 22, 2019 - 12:57 am

    Hay Grabwoski , Nice click .Capturing moment is always lovely.Man doing various thins which they can’t even think….. :D…:DReplyCancel

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