This post has pictures from New York City, Hoboken, and Philadelphia.
I don’t have too much to say. Most of the time my posts are related to some more interesting area of the world or concept.
This is really just a collection of local pictures.
Messing around with some ideas.
There have been a lot of things happening in my life, but this blog and this post were never intended to be a documentation of that.
So let’s get into it.
I last left off with Vegas.
Vegas decided to follow me home.
I matched with someone out there who decided to book a flight to come out and see me.
Life was great for a few days. Photography, food, art, connection.
We no longer talk. As is tradition.
Strolling around the city.
And some more strolling.
Get the stuff.
Mary Corse’s A Survey in Light at the Whitney.
I don’t love the Whitney. But I find myself here. I do love Feeling Whitney by Post Malone though.
“Have you ever heard the song New York by Saint Vincent?”
“Here we go now with this.”
Actually this song is so good I’ll post it here.
Oysters at grand central.
Taking the pics.
Let’s take some pictures for posterity.
Ok back to irl. Just me and the camera.
All of the parks.
All of the art.
Stuff outside world trade.
Thought it would be a good idea to stroll over to Hoboken to take pictures. I like going to areas that I hate and seeing if there is anything interesting there.
One of my favorite pictures from this set comes from there.
This is bleh.
I wasn’t in the mood to take pictures of the skyline again. I was literally turning my back to it on purpose to look away from it for more interesting things.
And then life laughed at me and gave me a better picture of the skyline than I would have ended up taking if I was purposefully trying.
There’s a couple pictures I don’t want to include here but I can’t seem to delete them.
I took this walking and just clicking pretty aimlessly at this sign. Didn’t expect it to be all that decent.
Someone needed a ride down to Philadelphia. I’ve been meaning to get down there to hang and take pictures so I used it as an excuse to swing down.
Popped into the Rodin museum and for the first time in my life I understood sculpture.
How dope is this stuff?
I used to love the thinking man the most. But these days I love the loving man.
Messing around with lighting.
And some more messing around.
This is another bad picture that I wasn’t able to exclude for some reason. It’s possible I just need a dash of blue to brighten up the blacks, whites, and greys that have taken over these posts.
Is this the best picture of the Ben Franklin bridge ever taken?
Probably not but I’m rather fond of it.
It reminds me of a huge alien ship.
I almost want to do a series of underneath bridges from this exact perspective. This work has already been done though, so I won’t feel bad when I don’t that.
Turning around and taking another picture of it.
Voyage of Ulysses statue was super frustrating to photograph. It’s on the left in this image and I’m happy enough with how this came out. There’s so many ideas you could apply to this thing and almost none of them worked for me.
There was a suitcase that had books on the corner that anyone could take.
Ok back to ny.
Roosevelt island tramming it up. Dope time. Super hot fire.
Oh snap. The series is underway! Jk. It’s probably going to stay a two part series. But maybe not.
Sliding around the city sometimes surprises you.
Been kind of getting more interested in the human form so messed around with a couple self portraits and nudes one night.
Messing around with some lighting.
Lol. These pictures are just whatever but I don’t often post pictures of myself.
I like this image a decent amount.
Alrighty, back to commuting around.
Back to some art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s expensive at $25 but you finally get your money’s worth at a museum. There is a tremendous amount of stuff to see here.
Some fire pieces here.
There is so much going on and not going on in this picture.
On that O’Keeffe and Stieglitz.
How the guy who was capable of making that was also capable of making this… This is a portrait of his wife. I looked at this piece for a while. While I was viewing it two older women came up. The first comment was how dark the piece was. Then they read the placard and noted out loud how it was his wife, and made the assumption that is must have been an unhappy marriage. I think it’s stupid to assume that. Things can be dark. You can have a good relationship.
Shadows make this a pretty solid picture.
The met is wild for this one.
There’s some good newer stuff all over the museum.
Overcontrasted metal and shadows.
Unbelievably well done.
I don’t often post multiple pictures of the same thing, but look at this thing.
Have been trying to get out into the rain and bad weather to take pictures. Had a chance to do this while I was driving home one day.
Got some decent shots.
This borders on cheesy. Raindrops on windshields is kind of a bad photographic cliche. But this is better than most shots that I never took while driving.
Meh but alright.
Was getting dumped on with rain but ended up with some decent concepts. I might need a bigger sensor to take these kind of pictures. And I probably have to find a way to set the tripod up. I was mostly worried about damaging the camera, but in the future I’ll know how to operate a bit better.
Yeesh this grain though.
Better than not going out.
This is kind of what I had in mind when I went out. When you getting soaked and you’re operating a camera and umbrella (which ended up breaking after using it for two decades) you don’t take time to get a perfect shot. Even in these conditions I need to slow down and spend some extra time framing and getting the shot.
What a bad shot for such a cool subject.
Not too much here.
And getting worse. I think I can’t throw this away because of going through the rain to get it. But I should have tossed most of these pics.
And finally a decent one.
So that’s about it. Been grinding pictures. It’s all I really want to do with my free time.
There’s a part of the country I’ve been meaning to see for some time. Decided to swing out this Memorial Day weekend to check it out.
I’ve done two large road trips of the states and one of the areas that I have never made it out to was the Grand Canyon and all of those surrounding national parks.
Had the idea on Wednesday. Booked the flight and the car and swung out the following day.
Finished up work out in Times Square. From there it’s a commute home to Jersey City to pick up my gear and a quick 15-minute uber out to Newark.
I was initially going to pack my Osprey Atmos 50-liter pack for the trip. While going through my gear I grabbed an REI 22-liter pack that I was going to bring for day hikes and whatnot. Holding the pack in my hand made me start to question whether it would be possible to fit my entire trip in that small pack.
I’m going to need my camera gear, laptop, a variety of clothes. I end up fitting it all in. Tripod, two camera lenses, battery packs, chargers, down jacket that can keep me warm (it got into the 30s-40s at one point on the trip), rain jacket, toiletries (I don’t bring my shaver or cologne), and a clean pair of clothes for every day I’ll be out there. I also bring my small camera bag that has my body, two lenses, a couple spare batteries. I love traveling with this camera. It’s effortless.
The flight out is pretty much as expected.
I go to grab my rental car. I ordered the cheapest one I could get online. Usually the cheap models are good on gas and very practical with space and a small size for getting around and parking. They’re usually my preferable choice. I bought something called a “manager’s special” or something like that. It ends up being a Camaro SS. Which I’m pretty certain was the V8 (because the display showed this). If that’s the case it has 455 hp and 455 ft-lb torque. It certainly felt like that on the drive. The thing rips pretty hard. You need to be careful driving something like this in rear wheel. I was worried of even going sideways a bit in a straight line. It was not what I expected, but it was fun to be able to drive this around, ripping 0-60s occasionally, and flying past cars when I was passing them.
The plan for the night is the swing a little closer to Zion. I end up staying in St. George, Utah. Dinner consists of a couple cookies and a bag of chips. I end up eating terribly on this trip, usually alternating between gas station food, fast food, and occasional burgers.
When I get to the hotel it’s after midnight. The guy at the desk is really upbeat. I’m not sure if I’m just used to the coldness of New York, but it’s refreshing to communicate with people who are all super friendly. He tells me to check out the narrows at Zion. I tend to follow recommendations, as they usually point me in the right directions. I thank him and retreat to the room for some sleep.
The drive to Zion National Park is a quick one. I get into the park, picking up an annual pass for $80. It gets you access to many of the parks in the States, and you can share it with one other person. So, if you’re looking to roadtrip the states within the next year, let me know and you can sign your name on the other spot and see the parks for free. Most of the parks on this trip have a car entry of $20-$30.
The park is pretty full. I’ve heard online and also from the rangers that this weekend is a nightmare weekend. The traffic is supposed to be a disaster. The congestion and people are supposed to be unbearable. But really traffic was fine for me in the parks at all times. I’m not sure if it’s coming from the NJ/NY area or how packed Times Square can be, but it feels really empty out here. Touting numbers like 30,000-60,000 people in a 200 square mile park doesn’t seem like much when Times Square is getting 350,000 people in an area that you wouldn’t even use miles to measure.
Zion is a nice park. In my opinion it’s one of the ones that is famous because of its location to a larger city. It’s a beautiful place, but it’s popularity is due to the number of people around it. It’s the third most visited park in the States, with 4.5 million visitors.
There are some great views.
I hike out to the narrows. It’s the narrowest section of the canyon. You walk along a river and there’s no way to avoid the trail other than to get your feet and shoes wet. The rocks make barefoot crossing probably very unwise. There’s a lot of people in the area and I’m a bit lazy to get a good shot of it.
Nature and the photography of it has been something of interest for me when I was starting out taking pictures. These days I’m a lot less interested in taking pictures of this stuff. I’d kind of rather just experience it. Going into the trip I was a little worried I wouldn’t be inspired to take many good pictures, but I think I ended up with some.
I don’t really enjoy a lot of the travel and nature pictures that a lot of people love. I kind of really despise that whole wanderlust instagram culture of pictures. I guess in some ways some of the shots I took on this trip are intentionally disrespectful to some of those photographers. I did some point and shooting out of a moving car. I didn’t focus stack any images. I didn’t use a tripod in some scenarios where I should have. I thought I wouldn’t go through the small effort of merging panoramas in photoshop (but I did a few of those).
In addition to my displeasure and changing tastes with the camera, there are often just a ton of really amazing pictures on Google. Go search Zion narrows and look at some great pictures. I’m not going to waste time taking a picture that someone else has pretty much technically mastered. There sure is a lot of room for creativity and exploration even in a format as classic as landscapes, but if I can’t find that creativity then I’m don’t want to waste the time getting the picture.
With that said there are some pretty generic old school style landscape pictures in here. And if you see an area where a picture is missing or don’t understand why I didn’t take the same iconic picture that everyone else has taken of an area, it’s probably do to some combination of the previous thoughts. Just go google it (or don’t since you already know what it looks like).
I actually kind of dig this next picture. Although everyone on the bus had a camera, no one on the bus was taking pictures. I kind of really liked the half open window. The left side provides a cool textured purplish filter, and the right gives you the open air natural shot. The real beauty of this picture (besides the little bit of speaker off to the bottom right) is the two tiny rock climbers that are perfectly framed by the window. If you don’t see them you can click the picture and check them out. They are along the left side of the V.
Pointing and clicking. This is a reasonable shot. Sure, it could be more perfect by getting a secondary subject in there and getting somethings more in focus. But also, we have access to really high shutter speeds, so we should consider using them. There’s not much of a difference in this picture if it’s being viewed on a phone, and in the end it’s kind of not all that interesting. It’s a picture I would have liked a bit more many years ago but now it’s rather boring. I think it’s a much worse picture than the one with the two climbers.
And pointing and clicking some more.
Zion is a nice park. There’s a lot you can of course explore and see. I feel like I had a nice quick view of it and decide to swing out to Antelope Canyon.
Antelope Canyon is one of those super popular wanderlusty spots. You’ve seen the images before. Even still it looks amazing and it’s worth checking out since I’m out this way.
I get to the upper canyon at 3:50 PM and miss the final shuttle which is supposed to leave at 4 PM. Tickets were $60 per adult and half that price for children! I think that’s completely unreasonable. I think to take pictures you have pay even more. Prices online say $80 to take pictures that I don’t even want to take. To be honest I would have paid the price. I was here, I don’t think I’ll ever be back here. I went up to the ticket booth and tried to buy tickets but was told it was sold out.
There’s no way to visit the canyons without a tour.
So I was beat.
I guess I’m going to spare everyone the embarrassing irony of a white man complaining about how the Navajo are unfairly hoarding resources and making absurd profits off of them, but $80 for entrance is pricy. I just paid $80 for entrance to all of the national parks in the country for an entire year for that price. The national parks are well maintained and doing so costs a lot of money. I want them to be around for people to enjoy, and I am fine paying that money because of the enormous costs that they are.
To all the Navajo, get your money. I have nothing but love for you all. Thank you for allowing me into your land to enjoy the beautiful treasures that you have respected so deeply for so long. You are really the og’s of a lot of important things. President Woodrow Wilson gets credit for national parks (thank you) but for people like the Navajo it is core to the soul to be respectful of the land and the energy that surrounds it.
This isn’t really my country. This is yours. I’m a visitor here. Ahehee!
Since Antelope Canyon was closed for the day I decided to swing out to Horseshoe Bend. Originally the plan was to try to catch the sunset here, but it’s too early.
I park and start the pretty quick stroll out to the lookout. There’s a little dust storm going on but it dies down quickly. No amount of wind will really hold me back from checking this out.
There’s a lot of people standing very close to the edge. Kind of impatiently cramming their way into a picture spot. I watch this and give myself a little time to get accustomed to the height. I’m waiting my time to get a picture. I’m not looking to slip over the side. The fall from this height would be 800 feet and sure death.
For me it’s refreshing that this spot has not been Americanized (yet). There’s no railing here. Construction is underway off to the side to put up railings and make the place safe (and also importantly accessible), but it’s refreshing that there are cliffs in the States that aren’t guarded. Where common sense and logic are the only things keeping you one either side of the drop off.
I get pretty close to the edge, but far enough away that it’s safe. Again, I’m not looking for an incredible picture here. I don’t have to inch to an unsafe spot. I don’t have to get the best shot ever from here. There are already many on Google. And unless I’m doing something different I don’t feel like putting in the work or taking the risk.
A simpler picture will certainly do. Horseshoe Bend is gorgeous. It’s as beautiful as all of the instagram pictures would have you think it is. It’s one of the nicest views in the country in my opinion. The number of tourists that have visited this area has exploded over recent years. What may have been a local secret is out drawing people from around the globe.
The sun is beating down. No Antelope Canyon. A quick sight of Horseshoe Bend. It’s nowhere near sunset. I look at the map and my itinerary of things I want to see on this trip and think I might be able to make it to the Grand Canyon for sunset. Seems like a win to me.
I hop back in the car and zip off. This is what I came to see. And it’s sunset as well. The Grand Canyon.
First I point and click at some cool scenery on the way. I generally have been turning up some of the colors in my pictures. Lately I’ve been messing around a bit with muting the colors. I kind of dig overexposing as a technique. It helps to rip out a lot of color and add whitespace in a pretty beautiful way. I guess some people will say it’s just a bad or improper picture, but I disagree. I acknowledge how basic and wannabe it might seem as well. In a world of minimalism and bad photographers, there are few Michael Kenna’s.
I make it to the south entrance with plenty of light still up. Pictures should be pretty good with this lighting. This next one is one of the first views I get of the canyon. The lighting really makes it a beautiful place.
It’s nice because it fades out a lot of the iconic Grand Canyon colors. I’m not looking to capture images that are already available. Just looking to mess around with whatever might be interesting to me.
It’s fun shooting into the sun. I love layered rock formations, and what they look like at various stages of lighting.
And here’s another one shot with a kind of disappointing cheap 55-200mm Sony stock zoom lens that I picked up used for $100. I figure the autofocus alone would have made it worth it at the price. But I guess it’s better to save the money for better glass.
Here’s another shot from a different location.
The canyon is beautiful. It’s worth going to, although there are some more beautiful views on this trip.
I swing down to Flagstaff for the night off of a recommendation and grab a brew at both The Annex Cocktail Lounge and Hops on Birch. It’s nice to be at a bar on Friday during peak hours and pay $3-$6 for whatever craft beer you wanted. Everything is so much cheaper (or more fairly priced) than back in nyc.
I retreat to the hotel and grab some sleep. I have a long drive tomorrow that I did not think I would be making any time soon. Train crossings can occasionally cause a delay.
Not being able to make it to Antelope Canyon really opened up the schedule. I had planned on spending all day at the Grand Canyon today, but after seeing a couple incredible vantage points during really beautiful lighting, I think I’m happy enough to move on.
The goal is to get out to Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. It would truly be an unexpected and amazing experience if I can get out there on this trip. More on that later.
First up is Oljato-Monument Valley. It’s on the border of Arizona and Utah, and like with many things in this area, in and around the Navajo Nation.
Some more overexposing.
And some more point and clicking with some more typical colors.
And a classic wanderlust shot of the road of this area that you might have seen done a lot better someplace else.
Monument Valley is beautiful to drive through. But in this heat I’m not interested in poking around for any more hikes. I really want to get out to Mesa Verde.
And I do.
Mesa Verde National Park. I’m back in Colorado. One of my favorite places. Although this is south west Colorado. Seven hours from Denver or Phoenix. Six and a half from Salt Lake City. Eight forty from Vegas. Five from Albuquerque.
Unless you’re making an effort to get out here, or a random day opens up in your itinerary, I’m not sure you’re going to find it so easy to make it out here and back.
So why is Mesa Verde so special? You will see in a second. I remember I think a half dozen years ago seeing my first image of this park. When I saw it, I could not believe that this was in the States.
It seemed too old. Too foreign. Too beautiful. Too historic. Surely Google or where ever I saw the image was wrong. This couldn’t be in the US. This couldn’t be in Colorado. In some ways seeing that picture set me on a journey to see this place. To verify that is was in fact here.
The distance had always posed a logistical problem. Mesa Verde was something I wanted to see, but not directly go to. So the chance to make it out here in the middle of nowhere was a really awesome surprise.
The drive up the park is great. Like many of the parks out here it winds upwards and provides some gorgeous vistas. It’s important to look at green after you’ve been looking at red for so long.
And a better picture in black and white.
The burned trees create an ominous feeling as you get closer to one of the coolest things.
The history here is old. 7500 BC sort of old. Lots of different people have been in and out of the area since then. Some of the most notorious people in this area created some absolutely gorgeous cliff dwellings at the end of the 12th century.
Social and environmental instability and a series of droughts caused the area to be abandoned, with inhabitants moving to other local areas.
The story is a great one. The sight is something just as incredible. The place does exist. A place that to me looks and feels so foreign that it’s hard to accept it as American.
Sure, we do a terrible job at honoring Native Americans. The entire history of coming over and taking these lands was one of the true great tragedies of the world (there are many). But cave dwellings? Of this complexity and this beauty?
This is one of the coolest things that I never knew existed here. And I’m really happy I was able to make it out to see it.
I take some time to reflect on what I’ve experienced and swing out to Moab so that I’ll be ready to see Arches National Park in the morning.
There’s not a single room available in town for the night.
Looks like it might be a night in the car.
I head out to the Moab Brewery to grab a burger and a beer. The bartender asks if she can get anything else for me. I ask her if she knows of anywhere I can crash because there are no rooms available. She says she’ll check.
A girl to my right overhears. She’s done up a bit more than everyone else around here. Everyone else at the bar is in standard Western local/visiting national park casual clothing. She looks a little too good for this bar. Her makeup is done more than anyone else, and not in a bad way, it’s just that no one else is wearing as much.
We start talking. I work out in Times Square and live in Jersey City. She’s originally from Long Island. She’s down here from Salt Lake City, taking a break from work. She’s thinking about a transfer to Rutgers. She’s also roadtripping around for a week. This might be my only chance of not sleeping in the car.
Conversation goes well. She’s a brain surgeon. I think the brain is a frontier that we have not stepped very far into. I doubt we will ever be able to truly understand it. I ask her if she thinks we can ever fully understand it. She says probably within thirty or forty years. I appreciate the optimism.
We talk about science and art. I think science is a prerequisite of certain artistic exploration. I think art is a lot more important these days. Sure, it’s great to have the things that science can give to us. But if we didn’t have the beauty and inspiration of pictures or other art forms, I’m not sure if there would be much of a point.
Apparently there are no pain receptors in the brain. There are in the skull and the lining of the brain. But once you move passed that you are able to do as you wish and the patient will not feel pain.
When you’re operating on the brain trying to remove cancer, there’s a tradeoff to be made. You have to remove a large enough portion of the cancer, but there’s really not much of a distinction between the cancer and the brain. There’s no clear point of delineation. It overlaps and becomes a single object. If you remove too much the patient may not be able to function. If you don’t remove enough the cancer will still be there.
The way you operate is to first put the patient out, rip the skull open, and get to the brain. Then once this is done you wake the patient back up. Then begins a process of removing a bit of the cancer/brain, and asking the patient a series of questions. For example, you show them a picture of an umbrella and ask them what it is. You show them a simple math equation and ask them to solve it, etc. If they answer correctly and there is still more cancer left, then you slice off another piece and show the patient another card. You continue hopefully until the cancer is gone, but more often until the patient starts to fizzle out. They might struggle to tell you that the image in front of them is an apple. That’s when you stop. You can always remove the cancer. But can you leave behind a functional person? She says that’s an example of art in the science world. I’d probably agree.
Dinner wraps up. We say goodbyes. I ask if I can crash on her floor. She tells me she’s sleeping in her car tonight as well.
With that probably goes one of the better chances I have of not sleeping in the car. I retreat to the Camaro, drive over to a packed parking lot of a Super 8, pull the back seat down, and layout half in the trunk and half on the folded down row of backseats. I hope morning comes soon and I don’t get woken up by security or police.
Sleeping in a car is something I wondered if I would be doing on this trip. It was nice to go through a little character building experience, but to be honest I’m getting a little too old and bougie to continue enjoying such things. It’s great to be humbled, but it’s also great to sleep in a bed, and have a shower to start off your day.
The really good thing about this situation is that I wake up at about 5:15 AM. I swing out to a gas station to grab some food and drinks, use the bathroom, and brush my teeth. I wiped down my body the night before with one of those bath wipes that I picked up from REI. They are really amazing. One wipe is probably equivalent to 60-80% of a shower. To be able to have that in your pack is pure joy.
I hop back in the car and make the short trip into Arches. The sun is just coming up. The unfortune of not finding a room has allowed for some beautiful lighting, and an experience I would not have had if I would have woken up around 10 AM. There’s not even really any people in the park. It has worked out well.
Arches has some gorgeous red rock. It gives you those iconic Western scenes that you might expect.
I take the hike out to Delicate Arch. It’s a nice little uphill hike. At the top there are some beautiful narrow paths along a cliff. Two steps to the left and all is over. The top near the arch has a beautiful view. It slopes downwards into a drop off. You have to be careful here.
I find a place on a rock and sit down in a crossed leg kind of basic yoga posture. Behind me is a sloping dropoff. In front of me and to my left is the arch, and to the right is a sloping dropoff. It looks like this.
I go through a sort of a flow. Sitting up straight. Lowering my shoulders. Relaxing my legs. Clearing out my mind. Palms up and open to whatever comes. I fade away from the people taking pictures.
It ends up being a great experience. I occasionally open my eyes and peak out to this beautiful view. There’s a bit of a strong wind that picks up. It almost feels like it can push me in either direction, down one of the slopes. At one point two tears well up and drip down my cheeks. I’m not so sure why. When you close your eyes and meditate the outcome is not so important. You don’t have to analyze and determine why. Just relax and let go. The takeaway for me is to just accept the good things in life.
After some time, I unwrap my legs. I come back to the beautiful world around me. Look around and soak up the view. And head back down the trail.
I get to the car and swing out to Devils Garden. There’s a longer seven-mile trail here, but I opt for one that’s an out and back that’s about two miles. It takes me out to Landscape Arch.
It’s a nice trail. Arches is a really cool park.
Since it’s so early I have enough time to make it out to Bryce Canyon National Park. As I’m leaving Arches there is a line of cars starting to form. I don’t mind driving during the blazing hot heat of the mid-day. Getting into parks earlier and later has provided some great lighting and has often meant low traffic.
The drives out here are sometimes as beautiful as the parks. There’s a rest area that comes up that I pull into to take a little nap. The Eagle Canyon rest area is just a pull off. The view from it is an example as to how beautiful and abundant the nature and scenery is out here. There might be ten people in the rest stop looking at this view.
I get to Bryce. It’s freezing here for some reason, so I grab my trusty down jacket and throw it on.
I make my way up and around the park. There are some good views of these orangish rock formations that extend upwards from the earth.
I end up taking some pictures for some couples at one of the overlooks. One couple is from San Fran but is looking to move out. One day they saw an unusual amount of NJ license plates in town. They made a decision that if the saw one more by the end of the day that they would move here. At the end of the night there was an NJ plate on a car blocking them from making a turn that they were trying to make. They played a game with fate, and hopefully they will follow through.
I rarely set up the tripod to take pictures of myself or have people take pictures of me. The couple asks if I want my picture taken and I say yes. It’s the only one I have from the trip. It’s not really framed all that well. Angling it down would have given a much better picture, but ho well. Hair is still growing and I have the beginnings of a travel beard going, yay.
After hanging in Bryce, I swing out to Las Vegas. The nature and the parks are going to be behind me. It was a fast sprint out to some amazing views. I really enjoyed the scenery and the hikes. Forgetting about the busy city life and connecting with myself and the world. But I’m ready for some busy city life.
I get to Vegas pretty early. It’s about 9 PM. There’s plenty of time to go do something fun. After the night in the car and the grind of the travel, I decide to just take it easy and grab some sleep in the hotel.
Mon 05/28 Las Vegas
I’m not completely certain I’ll be staying in Vegas for the night. I’ve been here before, and while it was fun, I don’t necessarily have to do it again. I’m not interested in the casinos, the shows, the strip clubs, the shops.
I want to look at art but I’m not sure I’ll be able to find too much out this way. I find out about a place called The Arts Center. It’s sitting in the middle of a cool area called the arts district that I would recommend poking around if you’re interested in something other than the expected Vegas experience.
It’s Memorial Day so I’m not sure if it’s going to be open but it is. About half of the artists are here. Bringing in pieces, setting things up. I talk to most of them and they are all very welcoming.
Photography of art can be a touchy subject. I don’t want to take any pictures of anyone’s work who isn’t there to allow me to. I personally think photography should always be allowed. Me taking pictures of your stuff and spreading the word just allows you a little bit more reach. Who really knows who’s going to come through here and potentially see your work from some art place out in New York City.
I take some pictures with permission. Mostly textures and colors.
This is a piece called Red Poppy Meadow by Raleigh French. He’s here hustling about the building.
And I get the okay to take a picture of a beautiful sink. It’s not an intentional art piece, but I think the mostly subconscious decisions that went into creating the colors and patterns that you see are beautiful. Good luck making something this beautiful with the conscious mind.
It was great looking at some of the pieces that I could get access to. It was awesome to be able to talk to the artists and pick up recommendations for what to do next. I figure this is the place to find out the right next direction. Although I’m not a local, I’m able to connect a bit from working in Times Square. There’s an understanding that I have with people from Vegas who understand the similar bizarro world that I live in. I leave behind a group of people putting in the work needed to build up a cool space and head out to check out more of the area. (also, what up Rob!)
Outside I start to hit my stride with pictures. I’m back looking at art and cityscapes. The inspiration to shoot is back in a way that was lacking in the parks. The parks were meant to be explored and enjoyed, not really photographed by me. But give me some art or give me a city and let me poke around.
Cadillac looking pretty dope.
And although this next picture might not look like anything special, the key is in the holes that run along the bottom third of the picture. It’s not great, but it’s not as bad as you think it is.
I love some of the muted tones and colors that are out here. I think this picture is awesome. I love the mix of textures and materials and patterns and colors.
I swing over to Makers & Finders Coffee off of recommendation. It’s a great place to pick up a cup. They’ll make the coffee however you want. I end up getting a cup of drip. It’s nice not drinking pretentious coffee.
A girl to my left sees my camera and asks what I’ve been taking pictures of. People out this way seem to just talk to you. In nyc people generally leave you alone. Out this way people see you and get to chatting.
She’s originally from Philadelphia. She writes a lot on paper. She’s reevaluating and figuring things out. She used to take a lot of pictures, but she doesn’t any more. She, along with many other people, have recommended container park.
We finish our cups of coffee after a while. I ask if she wants to hang but she says she has errands to run. It’s strange. You can have really good conversation with people here and they don’t want anything to do with you. Just a chat and keep it moving. Who chooses to run errands on Memorial Day? Not me.
We part ways and I swing into some of the antique shops. Antique shops are actually pretty cool. You can find some really awesome quality things at very reasonable prices. For example, you can pick up some sick cups or glasses for the same price as you would pay for some lame stuff from a store. It’s fun strolling around. It reminds me of my childhood hunting around the shops with my pops looking for those hidden gems.
I also swing into Las Vegas Oddities. It’s a store that has all kinds of strange and cool things. It provides for some decent pictures.
Some of the stuff in here is rather wild.
Afterwards I swing out to container park.
Don’t swing out to container park.
I heard is was a bunch of shipping containers that have been converted into food trucks and little art shops and things like that. Sounds like a really cool place. But when you get there it’s been super commercialized and it’s targeted towards kids. It feels like Disney or something like that.
I swing out to check out Fremont street off of recommendation. I’m not sure if I missed it but I didn’t see anything particularly interesting out this way.
I swing over to Atomic Liquors. I was out here the last time I was in Vegas. I’m hoping to catch the Warriors vs Rockets game 7, but the only thing on is the Vegas Golden Knights Stanley cup game 1. It’s being played live down the street and there’s a bit of a buzz around the city for the game. Cheapest tickets to get in were $700. They end up winning the game. The bartenders pour out a couple complimentary shots throughout the game for the entire bar for anyone watching the game. The shots pair well with a glass of KBS.
After the games I book a hotel. I just want something to drop my stuff off. Somewhere in the downtown. I’m not feeling the strip this trip. I thought I might swing over to it and mess around with pictures. But I’ve rather enjoyed the time I’ve spent keeping it lowkey in Vegas.
My hotel ends up being a casino with a brewery. I wasn’t planning on betting but if I found myself at a roulette table I’d put a $100 on black. I’ve done this two or three times before. I’ve never won. I usually watch the wheel and wait until red shows up, and then I’ll bet the next spin. This time I don’t wait. There’s no reason to. If you’re going to throw your money away you may as well get it over with. The wheel spins. The ball is rolled. It ends up on black. That just paid for my entire day here in Vegas (the hotel was only $50). It’s the first time I’ve hit. We’ll see what happens the next time.
I go step outside to grab a picture of some lights in the Vegas night. It’s kind of obligatory to get a picture, and the lack of lighting out this way forces me to take a picture that I rather prefer to some of the other lit up Vegas shots you are accustomed to seeing.
I grab a burger and a beer and retreat to the hotel to pack up for the return home. The 22 liter and the small camera bag pack with ease.
I hop in the car one last time.
Back to the rental car drop off.
Back on the plane.
The flight is mostly uneventful. I spend the majority of it going through and editing all of these pictures.
It’s a mostly full flight minus the seat next to me. It was nice to have a little extra room.
The one thing that was cool to see on the flight was the Grand Canyon.
From the ground I think it is just ok. You can get a feeling for its size and stature.
But from this high up you really see how amazing it is. It’s enormous. And beautiful. And this is the way to see it.
So that’s about it. It was great to swing into this pocket of the country that I have been close to, but haven’t exactly gotten to.
The nature was phenomenal all over.
Vegas provided another couple beautiful gems off of the strip.
It’s nice to have a break from the concrete jungle.
But it’s also nice to be back.
Jersey City feels like my home now for sure.
And New York City still is just as captivating as when I left it.
I’ve been spending most of my free time messing around with the camera. Strolling around fairly locally, seeing what I could find.
Not much commentary, which has been a growing trend as the pictures have been taking precedence to the words.
These next few pictures are within walking distance to my place.
When I was younger I remember thinking about street poles and all the staples that were stuck in them. So many long forgotten messages about what to see or buy.
The Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery is nearby. It was abandoned in 2008, but a volunteer organization has been slowly repairing it back to a well kept condition.
Any cemetery with a weather beaten Lowrey is fine by me.
And of course every good cemetery needs a cemetery cat.
It’s somewhat hard to figure out what some of these graves might be. I’m not sure if this teddy bear signifies a child was buried here, but someone cared enough at some point to leave this here.
Apparently in the summer there are goats here that are used to control the weeds. I cannot confirm that is case as it’s only the spring.
There’s some pretty dope graffiti out on 13th street.
I love the pack of wild dogs running along the sidewalk.
And here’s a picture of plastic in a tree that I think looks kind of nice. I don’t exactly love the picture but I think it’s cool how closely the material and the branches intertwine together, forming this almost angelic figure.
Walked out to Liberty State Park one day. There’s an abandoned rail station here. You can get to some parts of it, but other parts you can’t access.
Stuck behind the gates.
It’s a rather beautiful sight.
You can of course get some good shots of the skyline over here.
Back inside offers some symmetric shots that shoot themselves.
And anotha one.
I’ve also been strolling around New York a bunch taking pictures all over.
This next picture is the building next to Boston Consulting Group’s New York offices.
There is some pretty nice housing over looking the High Line.
Oculus? Why not. It’s one of my worst pics of it but I love this building.
Brookfield Place, also known as World Financial Center, is a pretty terrible shopping center.
St. Paul’s Chapel and One World Trade. Not the best picture but I’m including it anyway. At one point (back in 1766 when it was completed) St. Paul’s was the tallest building in New York City. Now it’s the building behind it.
The cemetery at St. Paul’s.
Down underneath the FDR Drive.
With views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
I don’t think this picture translated well, but guess what, I’m including it anyways.
I’ve been working out in Times Square for some time now and finally got around to taking some pictures of it. Initially I wanted to shoot it in a way that I thought might be original. To look for things that others might not see. To take unconventional shots of it.
That mostly didn’t happen. What happened was the interesting subject was the people there. The mix of tourists and locals.
I experimented with kind of more traditional “street photography.” With being a creeper and taking pictures of people without them knowing. It’s actually quite difficult to get the focus down at these distances. People walk through the frame in a fraction of a second. So you need to get the composure, focus, and subjects all together very quickly or the shot won’t come out that good.
I’ve never really taken pictures of people much. I kind of always thought there was a lot more interesting subjects. But from this venturing out I think it’s something I might do a bit more of, or incorporate into my shots a bit more.
I think the annoying thing about a lot of people photography is the subjects that are chosen. Often photographers will look for a subject that looks “different” from them. This often leads to shots that photographers think are interesting that are really just offensive. Just because someone looks different than you, it doesn’t make it interesting, or even mean they’re that different. You’re just kind of conveying your ignorance.
It’s like a street picture of a “homeless” person. It’s more offensive than it is interesting. Homeless people look all kinds of different ways. And the fact that you went for the poorer looking person that you probably didn’t spend any time talking to or trying to understand the situation is annoying.
Idk. Photographing people is also intrusive.
It’s not very comfortable for either side of the camera.
And there’s questions of its ethics if you use it for your career or to increase your publicity.
Maybe I’m overthinking it all. Maybe not.
I didn’t expect myself to really get into it, and I’m curious how long this interest will last for.
So, that was a lot of words. Time for a picture. I like this picture. I remember capturing the classic local New Yorker in this picture. I had no recollection of the touristy mother and daughter in the background. The Times Square backdrop provides an interesting blend of colors. To me this is an iconic picture of the area. I’m old man dread deep in existential thought, while the absurdity whirls on around me.
This next picture is more of what I had intended to capture. I wanted to take lots of pictures like this of Times Square, but I only really every captured this one. You probably can’t tell where this picture was taken. It’s of temporary fencing that the police sometimes setup. The chain adds a gorgeous stroke of detail.
There’s a lot of pictures taken of Times Square. All the time. Even in terrible rain and snow storms. But I think very few people look for something like this.
More people. I think this lady was just blinking as she walked past the camera. She’s probably not as in thought as the picture might suggest. I kind of dig the backgrounds on these images. They’re like Vice City/Las Vegas trippy druggy mixtures of what my commute often reminds me of.
And one more, why not. I come back to this spot a couple days later and end up taking some better pictures.
I’ve been wanting to go to the Guggenheim for some time. For a long while I’ve thought it was a terrible design for a building. I’ve always thought the angled floors would make most art be perceived in ways that the artist hadn’t intended. And not in a good way. In a, rectangular painting hanging on a wall that has a sloped ceiling and floor and just looks terrible, sort of a way.
I end up walking up the museum’s spiraling staircase (idk what to call it). The walk up doesn’t work well. You often have to turn completely in the opposite direction to view a photo or piece of art that is on the opposite side of one of the short walls that breaks up the sections of spiral.
The decision to include the girl in this picture comes from the recent street/person photography I’ve been messing around with. I think she adds some depths to the picture.
One of my favorite things in the museum is this hanging metallic piece. There’s a lot of hanging pieces here, but the simplicity of this one and the view looking straight up is pretty awesome.
There’s a collection of younger artists’ work here, some as young as four years old. I like to spend time looking at this stuff in the same lens as the rest of the professional work. I’m not sure you could tell this elephant mask was done by an amateur, but I think it’s cool.
Also cool are these little guys. They were thrown on the ground by a professional artist.
As I head up the museum and get more into the natural light it feels like a crescendo of light. The sense of anticipation for what is to come becomes exciting. Finally, the design of this building (and the ludicrous $25 ticket) might all be worth it. Art has to be free and available to everyone. And while the Guggenheim does have it’s Pay What you Wish for two hours a week, the other 99% (this is the actual number) of the week’s hours are either paid or the museum is closed.
When I get to the top nothing magical happens. I snap a picture near the top. The building is beautiful, but I’m not certain it should outshine the pieces of art it houses this much. To be honest I think it speaks more to the lack of quality of the work within the museum.
I end up walking down and swinging out. The walk down is nice as it’s all downhill and easy enough on the feet.
Apparently I didn’t do this museum as it was intended to be done. You’re supposed to take the elevator to the top and then walk down from there. I kind of disagree that that makes sense as you’re eliminating that opportunity for the beautiful play on the natural lighting.
Idk, the beautiful architecture of the museum disappointed as much as I thought it might from a practical purpose. But certainly Frank Lloyd Wright knows more about how to build buildings than I do. It’s ambitious, and pretty beautiful inside, but it’s just a pinch frustrating. I would hate to be a curator here, although it’s challenges are what could make for some interesting displays.
Back outside the museum, where the King of Pentacles decides to show up again. I don’t think it’s the card for me, but there it is.
I love the colors in both the wall and on the lock and chain. These two colors (although I suppose there’s a lot more than two colors here) are ones that you will not often find out in the real world. These colors are beautiful and go very well together. And here they are at the end of a subway. A makeshift setup in which I don’t think the colors were even intentionally chosen.
And some more of Times Square.
Black and white looks good too.
And then back again on another day. I’m starting to shoot this place too much. This is on the walk up Broadway, maybe around 39th if I’m to guess.
I kind of like the mix of yellows in this picture.
And a storefront that I kind of like.
Also was able to make it out to Coney Island. It was a rainy day but it made for some pretty good pictures. I also want to swing back here when the weather is nice and it’s the summer. I thought it would be a lot similar to Asbury, but it’s kind of more similar to Seaside Park.
I didn’t stroll around too much off the boardwalk, but a block or two inward seems a bit sketch. I don’t know if it was just the dreary day but there was trash everywhere. Weeds that were taller than me. Buildings crumbling. Cop cars nonstop patrolling. Housing prices seem fairly pricy from what I can tell, but that might just be because land is so limited out this way. I guess it’s just a microcosm of everything else. Everything is shiny in season when the sun is out and life is good. But there’s a lot more going on.
The white color of the sky is a lot more interesting than if this was the boring clear sky blue.
They were cleaning up the boardwalk of some tables.
The old Parachute Jump. Aka the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.
A different view of it.
This is probably one of my favorite pictures of the group. It’s almost nauseatingly minimal and perhaps a bit Wes Andersonesque. The wind helped straighten the flag out just right. The red color is a gorgeous contrast for the muted greys, blues, and sands. I’m going to pretend the focus being on the beach is intentional. Having the flag be in the background of the image while at the same time being the obvious focal point is a kind of brilliant concept, but honestly I missed the focus. I don’t really know how I did outside of being lazy and putting too much faith in the camera, which normally is smart with its focus. I kind of prefer the picture better this way. The slight imperfections that we must learn to live with. I also love the desolation. The yearning. The desire for more. The simple beauty. How well a centered subject works here, when you’re taught to always put things on the thirds. No. I’m not doing that. I’m putting it right in the middle. The red catches your eye perfectly at where the edge of the world is. Look here. Look at me. Look at the vast emptiness. Except you don’t have to do that. Just look at me instead. Everything will be alright. We don’t have to contemplate the vastness right now.
I also like this next picture as well. It would be much worse with a blue sky and probably any more people. I love the whiteness of this. I love the dark contrast of the colors of everyone’s clothes. The almost annoying alteration of the lamp posts. I also maybe like the slight annoyance of me not lining this shot up. I feel like I’ve been so lazy with some of the little things with the camera. The lines the boardwalk makes should be a little more centered. But for now it’s an imperfection that I will learn to love. This picture reminds me of a similar looking one that I shot in Bali where the top and bottom thirds are whitespace, and the contrasting darker colors fill the middle third. It’s interesting how different the conditions where under which that was shot, but I’m curious if I can find more of these and put together a series of them.
More Coney Island.
This is why I thought Coney Island and Asbury were a bit similar. But really maybe it’s only in some of the older marketing.
I kind of like the background colors here.
Someone was braving the rain and wind to spend time reading.
And that’s about it. I’ve been jamming a lot of pictures lately and I don’t really think that will slow down too much.
Been busy messing around building software at my new gig for Viacom. It’s been fun so far. Working out of the middle of Times Square has been pretty trippy, but hopefully soon I’ll find some time to do some touristy things.
Prior to that I was messing around with my camera and have I some pictures burning a hole in my hard drive.
These pictures cover a variety of topics and it kind of bothers me that there is no real correlation. But I just want to get them up here.
Spent some time making pierogies for the first time with my sisters and my grams.
Fallen leaves and winter slush.
Swung through MoMA PS1. MoMA PS1 is a decent museum. For those who don’t know, it’s a different museum than the MoMA out on 53rd. One of the big differences is MoMA PS1 is a collection of solely contemporary art.
Here’s a shot of the basement.
James Turrell’s Meeting is an awesome space. It’s a room that has wooden seats set against the wall. You sit down and slightly recline to give yourself a view of the ceiling. The ceiling is an open rectangle which reveals the open sky. The walls and ceiling are lit up in changing colors. The changing colors make the sky look a different color. Sometimes the sky looks bright blue or dark purple or green. The room beautifully incorporates the sounds of the city and the sky to give you a gorgeous sound that couldn’t be created in any other way.
Cathy Wilkes has some great pieces. My favorite was this one.
I also swung through the New Museum but it was in between exhibits. There was one floor open and it was kind of a waste of time. I’ll check it out again at some point.
Swinging home through the World Trade reveals some beautiful architecture.
There’s definitely a series of shots out there related to pictures like the next one. I just don’t think I’m interested in taking them. This next picture is maybe one of the best I’ve taken. There’s a lot of things you can push with a picture like this, but perhaps I’ll present it here to you and allow you to use your mind and think about what it does or doesn’t mean.
I really love The Oculus. It might be my favorite piece of architecture.
It’s just beautiful.
Swung through the Whitney. There were some nice things on display. It was cool to see some older protest/struggle type pieces and how relevant they are to the current time.
William Copley’s painting was a protest to the Vietnam War in 1967. It might be 50 years later but not thinking is still a good option. It’s free and usually beneficial. I think this would make for a reasonable flag if we were to give the old design a reboot. Copley’s red, white, and blue variations might even be more beautiful.
And what is life if it doesn’t contain some time spent in Asbury Park?
It’s pretty much full swing gentrification.
The last time I was down here I was drinking cocktails priced equally with those in Manhattan, talking about gentrification and what options there were for doing it in a way that allowed everyone to enjoy massive infusion of wealth.
The answers to most complicated problems involve community and sacrifice. And at this time most individuals are not willing to embrace people with differences or give away portions of their current wealth away to create a fair solution.
Some stuff, like the murals (affluent approved graffiti), the boardwalk, and the ocean views remain free.
New Year’s is a time to both reflect on the past and look forward to the future.
Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about photography.
Initially it started with a desire to pick up some new gear.
After looking around I decided I wanted a mirrorless camera. The size and weight savings is important to me compared to the older DSLR technologies. The picture quality is just as good in most situations.
Surprisingly the leader in the mirrorless space is not Cannon or Nikon. It’s Sony. Cannon and Nikon fell asleep (they were arrogant and clueless) and Sony took over the market. I have no doubt that Cannon and Nikon will eventually make good mirrorless cameras, and people will stick around to support them because of the brand names and the amount of lenses available, but at the moment I am not buying any mirrorless bodies from them.
I initially thought I would want a full frame sensor. Bigger sensors generally lead to better pictures. But I decided to go with an APS-C sensor as in my opinion the difference between full frame and APS-C is negligible and the cost is significant.
If I want a bigger sensor I think the right move would be to go up to the medium format, but that’s not something I’m interested in at the moment from a creative perspective.
In the end you can talk about gear and specs forever, but it’s a lot more important to make a decision and get out to shooting.
I went back and forth and eventually picked up a Sony a6300 simply because I think it is going to allow me to take better pictures than any other camera (for myself personally). The lower cost of APS-C lenses and the money saved on the body allow me to pick up a couple lenses like the Sigma 30mm 1.4. I also have the Sony 16-50 kit lens and picked up the 55-210.
Almost everyone hates cheap kit lenses, but they are pretty versatile and useful. I shot many of the pictures on this site with my Pentax kit lens. That lens and the K-30 camera (which people also make fun of) taught me the basics of photography and allowed me to learn and grab some good shots.
Blah blah blah.
I debated selling my old gear but I might keep it around. The body won’t sell for much. And I don’t mind having my old zoom lens and macro lens. Both can be used on my current camera with a cheap adapter that I picked up.
I’ll post some pictures from the new gear later on.
But first, I decided to go through all of the older pictures that I took with my old gear.
I wanted to see what I was doing wrong. What I was doing right. What I overlooked. What I could have done better or worse.
I decided to grab some of these older pictures and edit them and present them here.
In my last post I said I took 10,000 pictures. But I was wrong. That number was somewhere over 20,000. Still not a lot, but closer to the amount that it felt like I took.
These pictures have not been included on this site yet. The intention is not to go through and make small changes or edits. But rather to look through all of the old pictures I had with a new mind and see if there was any interesting stuff that I did not previously post.
There were some pretty cool shots that I saw. Most of the more recent stuff is not included because I naturally feel those shots are shot and edited in a satisfactory way.
The first shot is one of the first that I ever took. It needs more room to breathe but I like the mood that the image portrays.
The next is shot from a plane as I was flying into Alaska. It was shot through a window that was overly blue saturated. I dialed that back a bit. I’m not happy with the colors here (it reminds me of the terrible coloring you see on a lot of instagram pictures), but it’s about as good as I can do.
This next picture is one that I messed around with a while ago but was unable to make it work. It’s not as focused as I wanted it to be, but framing it this way allows it to be successful. I’m often torn with whether to make real life scenes that appear in black and white, to make them actually black and white. Usually it leads to a better image, but I think there is a beauty in keeping the natural colors. This image is a color image, although it portrays itself as a black and white.
Here is an interesting shot of some mountains and a glacier.
This next shot has amazing lighting. It was shot out in Colorado.
This next shot isn’t all that great. It’s of some steps shot out in Rome. It’s just ok.
These next two images are actually really cool looking. I was messing around with ISOs shooting a couple longer exposures one night out amongst the vineyards in Italy. The sun set late so you have this effect of a sunset and a starry night sky. The dandelions in the first picture give the grass a yellow color.
Surprised I missed these, but maybe I thought they were too similar to other pictures I posted.
This next picture is one from Casa Batllo out in Barcelona. I could see myself shooting something like this again current day.
This next shot is a mistake. But I really like it a lot. It looks pretty cool visually. But the cool part is that it’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It is common to see the typical pictures of the Eiffel Tower. But if someone showed me this picture I would like it. It’s not a common view of the Eiffel Tower. And I think maybe it’s more interesting than most pictures of it.
Here’s a picture of the Alps out in Switzerland. These things really just shoot themselves.
Redwoods out in Redwood National and State Parks.
A couple pictures from out in Chicago.
Should have posted at least one of these but never did for some reason.
And one from Milwaukee.
I took this out in Cambodia at Angkor Wat waiting for a lady to take a picture. She was taking forever to take her picture. I snapped an image of her out of frustration. To be honest it looked a lot better with her in the picture than with her out of it.
A shot out in Halong Bay in Vietnam of a cruise ship at night. I like to sometimes mess around with moving the camera during longer exposures although sometimes it’s looks cheesy or terrible.
Pancake Rocks out in New Zealand. It’s maybe my best picture of them although at first look through these pictures I didn’t think I really captured it.
And that’s about it. Those are a bunch of pictures from the past that I had initially overlooked. I think some of them came out rather well.
I noticed some patterns with some of the pictures that I had taken. I overexpose in bright light. I take a lot of pictures of oysters.
Overall it’s been a fun ride with my first DSLR. I’m excited for my time with the mirrorless to start. I’ve been messing around taking some pictures. The small size and weight means it’s been on me pretty much every day since I bought it.
Here’s some duck breast I cooked up. Was my first time cooking it and it was amazing. Also duck fat fried potatoes are a delicious side.
Here’s a box of white sage.
This next pic is a shot I shot messing around with connecting the camera to my phone. You can control the camera via your phone with an app. So for this picture I placed the camera down and activated the shutter with my phone. From there the photo is sent via Wi-Fi to my phone. I then edited my image on my phone with Adobe Lightroom. It’s not the best picture (it was probably 4 in the morning when I took this), but that is a very powerful workflow for someone if they have a need to quickly take, edit, and post their pictures to the internet.
And this final picture is a reason why I’m keeping my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens.
So that’s it. Hopefully everyone is spending a bit of time reflecting on their pasts and looking forward to the future.
I hope every has had a great year and has an even better one coming up.
For the previous nine months I had been building software for the Action Button product for a company called Speakable.
I have always felt that that was one of the best opportunities for me in the entire world, based on my mix of talents and dreams.
I got paid to go in every day and try to come up with a business model to save the world.
I built a bunch of cool software and worked with some great people.
I poured my soul into the opportunity.
We had access at our company to pretty much anyone in the world.
And when I say that, I mean that.
Literally any single person on the planet that you need to directly contact, or any person at any company.
If we needed to pitch to anyone, we could do it.
If we needed a partnership, we could have it.
It was the type of opportunity that you have nothing to do but take extremely seriously.
And pour your life into.
In the end I didn’t end up saving the world.
I guess I didn’t come close.
But for a while it was a privilege to try to put 7 billion people onto my back and try to give them everything that needed.
I was exposed to a tremendous amount of issues. And while it was overwhelming to be in a position to try to help them all, it was a dream to be able to work on them.
Startups come and go.
I have no doubt that Speakable will be successful. There’s too much opportunity not to. And at the core of it is a beautiful soul.
Moving on from a dream opportunity and back into reality.
There is probably a lot of questions to be answered.
A lot to be figured out.
What do I want to do with my life?
The typical things that I think we should always be contemplating and answering.
Who am I?
Questions are good.
Answers are good.
And when you are at a point where you need some of either, hopefully you have a place to turn to.
For me I had the opportunity to hang in Washington DC.
And look at art for a week.
I was feeling getting away from the beautiful city that is New York, and although DC is a city, it is much smaller. And shorter. And different. And full of some great art.
And so I went.
Nov 10, 2017
How to get the DC?
I have to talk about this because of aggravation that arose when trying to book a train ticket on Amtrak.
I think if you book this trip well ahead of time you can get it for $98 round trip. As it gets closer to departure and for better times you probably will pay $186. I was looking to grab a ticket the night before not knowing they adjusted prices (like the airlines do) and was quoted almost $400.
This is for a form of transportation that takes 2:45 to 3:30, not including the trek out to Penn Station, and the arriving early as to not miss the train. So probably 3:45 to 4:30 of travel. And then an uber or a taxi when you get to DC, probably putting your door to door travel at 4:15 to 5:00. And you have to lug your luggage all over the place.
Other options were to book a plane ticket for $250 the night before. Yes, to fly in an airplane was cheaper than a train. And at 1:20 much faster. It would involve swinging out to one of the airports in the area, but a trek out to Newark is pretty close. You still have to wait in security, catch some form of transportation to the airport and then again from the DC airport to the hotel. This would again put your door to door at closer to 4:00.
Then there’s always good old driving. Can be as quick as 3:20, but probably closer to 4:20 with the traffic. At 440 miles roundtrip and an estimate of $0.50/mile for the cost of a vehicle would put you at $220. I love driving and I think I was in the mood for a drive and so that’s what I went with.
I think bus may be a decent option but I’m not hipster enough to look into the bus schedule.
It’s tilting that in an area of maximum public transportation that the best option in the States is almost always to drive.
When you finally get to DC, go to Old Ebbitt Grill. I’d say it’s the restaurant you think about when you think about DC.
Oysters are half off for happy hour. Alright, that’s the only food picture on this entire post.
When that’s over head back to the rooftop of your hotel that will have a fire pit that you can enjoy without any of the crowds because it’s cold out.
Enjoy a unicorn bar from Buttercream Bakeshop.
Nov 11, 2017
Wake up and get to why you are here. Mostly contemporary art with splashes of modern.
Phillips Collection is definitely going to be a stop.
There’s a basement here featuring art from much younger children. No one is looking at it. But there’s some cool stuff like this piece called Peaceful Serenity by Winfield Vanison. Not sure if this is the first time you been written about Winfield, but keep up the good work.
Swinging up features a nice piece by Whitfield Lovell called Kin XLV (Das Lied von der Erde) that was done in 2011. The incorporation of a string of pearls as tears to add subtle dimensionality of an otherwise two-dimensional piece is awesome.
There is a Renoir exhibit here. There’s a quote on one of the walls saying:
“Even if the enormous expenses I’m incurring prevent me from finishing my picture, it’s still a step forward; one must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir in a letter to Paul Berard 1880.
I don’t really like quotes because of the way they are represented in forms like Instagram, but I think that one is relatable.
Here’s the colors Renoir uses in his palette, or at least they were before I changed them in Lightroom.
I’m not exactly in a mood to look at Renoir, and I think this collection of color in these little bottles might be the nicest thing in the exhibit.
I’m not having a go at Renoir.
His stuff can even be pleasant to look at, but a lot of times for me lately I want to see things that are made more recently. There is always a place for the classics, but what are the innovations of today?
The other thing I like here is this tiny drawing called On the Shore of the Seine made in 1879. This quickly executed oil study was probably a gift from Renoir to Alphonsine Fournaise to thank her for modeling for him. There’s kind of something romantic about thanking someone for doing something as intimate as modeling for you with a piece of your creative self.
The next stop is the Hirshhorn Museum. It can be arrived at with a stroll through the National Mall. I’m not here to do all of the USA stuff, but if it’s on the way, may as well give it a look.
There’s a cool hippie gathering out here that at times features some great music.
And there’s a dragon. I think it leads to a pretty cool shot.
I was thinking that would be my favorite image of the Washington Monument.
But I think this image looking up from one of the corners is more pleasing. I’m a bit upset that I didn’t center this better when I was there shooting it, but the simple shapes, simple colors, and beautiful textures make it pretty awesome.
The Hirshhorn has some good stuff. It’s a cool circular building which might give curators issues with exhibits or limit the creativity of exhibits they are willing to display.
Here’s a picture of the horizon. I like minimal photographs like this.
Oh PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORK.
Here’s some stuff.
And this dude is excellently done.
Afterwards you may want to check out City Tap House Penn Quarter. They have some decent beers including the Abraxas by Perennial Artisan Ales. It’s one of those beer styles with chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks that has been over done. I mean, this stuff isn’t exactly beer any more, but it is delicious.
Nov 12, 2017
Another day, another bunch of art.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a great third floor (and probably other great floors as well but I wouldn’t know).
The Megatron/Matrix by Nam June Paik from 1995 features 215 monitors of various imagery. At times images are created outside of the monitors.
It’s a cool display.
This trip features a lot of cool screen format pieces.
Shout out to Coney Island.
There is a lot of over the top beautiful architecture in this city.
This piece if actually titled Cupcake Katy.
I’m digging lighting these days.
I love this piece because it reminds me of color palettes that you would see in a makeup store.
This piece is called Black & White by Byron Kim and Glenn Ligon from 1993. Black & White is a collaboration between Kim and Ligon, both of whom were struck by the limited pink-white range of “flesh-colored” paint available in the art store. In response, Kim, who is Korean American, painted sixteen panels of the pinkish flesh tones and Ligon, who is African American, painted sixteen panels using various black pigments.
A quick swing into the National Museum of Natural History to look at rocks. There are some good ones but it’s not as good as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Back out to the Mall to take a picture in front of what I heard tourists say was “the White House, you know, the one with the big dome on the top.”
Dinner at Founding Farmers is a good option.
Back to City Tap House for some 2017 Bell’s Black Note Stout.
Nov 13, 2017
Another day, another day of art.
First to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. There’s a couple floors of nice pieces here. And the building is beautiful.
But I think for me the most emotional piece is an installation of The Clothesline Project by Monica Mayer. It’s about sexual harassment and violence. The project initially began in 1978 when Monica was 24 years old. When she was 8 years old a 30-year-old man grabbed her vagina as she was walking through her town. Her mother was only a few steps ahead of her. “I was shocked but I am even more shocked this is a common experience.”
The statistics on sexual harassment and violence are, I can only define as, disgusting. For both men and women. If you want to have a downer of a day go spend a little while looking into it.
I’ve been surrounded my whole life by some amazing women. My grandmas. My mom. My sisters. My past loves. They’ve had an enormous influence on how I see the world and how I operate within it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything to harm them. And I don’t want a world where they feel unsafe and bad things can happen to them.
It’s nice to see the momentum behind a lot of this work. 40 years after Monica started her work the world is slowly changing.
People are coming forward, standing up with extreme courage, and helping to show other’s that they are supported.
There are many things that we will always have to be striving for as a society, and to eliminate all forms or harassment and violence should be a priority.
I read through some of these cards that were hanging (the hot pink color comes from the 70s, and is not a cliche nod to women). Most are devastating. Some show optimism. There are many.
After reading through them all I turn to Monica. She’s there. I want to hug her and say thank you. But I feel tears in my eyes. I extend my hand for a handshake. Mouth thank you, and tap my heart with my hand. And walk out.
I wanted to tell her that her work is really important. That she’s helped to push the world forward. But she already knows.
I throw my jacket on, wipe the tears away, and head out for the next museum.
We have a responsibility with how we live our lives.
The National Gallery of Art East Building is up next. It’s a gorgeous building. Probably the nicest I was in on the trip.
Segue. Sigh. Yea, a giant fifteen-foot cock courtesy of Katharina Fritsch.
Sometimes I feel everything is driven by sex. Especially art. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But often there is a lot more, much more important things.
This soot drawing by Lee Bontecou is rather beautiful. While maybe most known for her sculptures, it’s nice to see how some of that experience and those ideas translate to a different medium. You can see in the painting that it wants to be three dimensional. And the soot provides just the slightest capability for that.
Colors and textures.
There’s this one doorway which almost looks like it could be off limits that has these high quality beads hanging. Strongly recommend you just spread the beads and feel them with the outsides of your hands. And listen to them clink and clack together. They make a beautiful sound, that repeats over and over as the energy fades and they reassume their stillness.
Through the beads are a couple more pieces by our buddies Kim and Ligon, that we saw work from previously. Kim’s Synecdoche is an ever changing piece of work that includes skin tones and a list of the people that he matched them to. I think there is over 500 now in this piece. There are a lot. From time to time I’m pretty sure he comes in and changes the exhibit, adding, removing panels.
One of the coolest things in the museum is a video called Street by James Nares. It’s a collection of slow motion clips of every day life in New York City. The ability to slow down the city and afford the viewer enough time to start breaking down what would normally be incredibly fast paced scenes almost feels like a magic power. Walking in New York you don’t have time to look at the beautiful fast paced world that surrounds you. At this slow motion speed, you see the magic. You see expressions on people. For a moment you are able to see a person as more than a body, and just slightly glimpse their deep complexity and importance.
It’s a 61 minute that was created with only 2:40 of actual footage. It’s really a hybrid of video and photography.
I often wish some of the video that was available in museums were available online. Maybe it would diminish the presentation. But some of this stuff is just so gorgeous. It needs to be accessible to the world.
This is maybe the best I can do for you. It’s a lecture by Nares about the piece. You can fast forward through the lecture to see some great examples of the piece.
Ok, that’s enough art for the day. Time to swing out to ChurchKey, a good beer place out in the Logan Circle area. Here’s a beer called Fernet About It that unfortunately doesn’t taste like Fernet Branca.
There’s a Whole Foods Market nearby that has a good selection of bottled beer. They have some pretty good stuff here and I pick up a Deschutes Abyss.
Dinner for the night comes from Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant. They have some awesome injera.
Nov 14, 2017
Alrighty, one final day of art.
First up the Renwick Gallery. It’s a small museum. But there are some really cool quality pieces in here.
Some of these have been pretty heavily edited by me, but that’s the fun of it.
Some awesome woodwork here.
This is one of my favorite pieces. It’s just gorgeously done.
And this ended up being my 9,999th picture I took with my camera. Picture 10,000 is a similar one but of a different less pleasing angle. Seems like 10,000 pictures is a fair amount for how much I want to and do end up shooting. There’s probably been a decent shot or two in here somewhere along the way.
This ceiling installation is in a large empty room that has a couple comfortable seats that you can relax on.
Next up is the Art Museum of the Americas. It’s the smallest of museums I went to. There are a couple nice photographs but it’s really small.
Afterwards it’s time for some Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.
Nov 15, 2017
The drive home is mostly uneventful.
That will be enough art for the moment. It was fun to swing down to DC and check out the museums. It’s great because most of the museums are free and you can choose to donate whatever you want.
This is a contrast to the stuff up in New York where stuff typically can cost between $40-$60 per museum.