Category Archives: New Jersey

One of my best pictures

Times Square, Brooklyn, Harlem, Dia Beacon, Rain

Well I should probably throw these pictures up as I’m off for a quick bit of travel.

The photography continues. Mostly exploring bad weather, reflections, human form, and intentional out of focus.

Everyone hates Times Square. Tourists suck. Blah blah blah. I hate having this interaction with people who think there are actually cool parts of new york left. Like Times Square sucks but the village or upper east or west sides are actually cool?

Just embrace it. Hug it. Love it.

The coolest thing about new york is the people.

Times Square still has the ability to provide some great images.

Back in times square
Back in times square

There’s an infinite amount of pictures you can take here.

Been messing with reflections
Been messing with reflections

Like how does this suck?

I mean come on pt 1
I mean come on pt 1

Maybe you suck.

Been messing with out of focus
Been messing with out of focus

Maybe Times Square is actually the best thing in nyc.

Dream/nightmare like af
Dream/nightmare like af

Maybe not. Here’s a picture that I like.

This might be more what I like pt 1
This might be more what I like pt 1

But here’s one that you like better.

This might be more what you like pt 1
This might be more what you like pt 1

I mean it’s a great picture. But there’s a lot of great pictures here.

I mean come on pt 2
I mean come on pt 2

That blur a e s t h e t i c.

This might be more what I like pt 2
This might be more what I like pt 2

Why is it blurry? Here have one without the blur.

This might be more what you like pt 2
This might be more what you like pt 2

Completely out of place transitional photograph.

Private property, no photographers welcome
Private property, no photographers welcome

You hate Times Square but how do you feel about the Brooklyn Bridge? Is it also too touristy?

Probs my favorite picture I took of BK bridge
Probs my favorite picture I took of BK bridge

Because it both is and isn’t. And it doesn’t really matter. Enjoy it if you like it. Enjoy it if you hate it.

On a side note peep the ridiculous in camera effect going on here. The layering of this from messing around with focus is impressive. The detail of the fence on the left completely disappears as you move to the right. Not the best shot but the effect is cool.

In camera ability
In camera ability

And oh snap, what is this? The bridge series is actually happening?

Underneath bridges, the series pt 3
Underneath bridges, the series pt 3

Carousel.

I both like and dislike this picture
I both like and dislike this picture

But for real, am I really shooting bridges?

Underneath bridges, the series pt 4
Underneath bridges, the series pt 4

If you wanna be a good street photograph just wait for someone to walk in front of the camera and take a picture. As much as I hate this, it is effective.

I'm a street photographer now
I’m a street photographer now

Shout out to jim.

Jim morrison reference bc i still love you
Jim morrison reference bc i still love you

Ok, I think this is the final of a five part series.

Underneath bridges, the series pt 5
Underneath bridges, the series pt 5

Be careful people.

This was quite a bad crash
This was quite a bad crash

Who’s really watching what.

Dave and co
Dave and co

I don’t like this picture but it’s here.

meh
meh

Harlem was frustrating to photograph. I expected to end up with a lot of cool shots but it was hard to find them. I walked around for a couple hours here, taking a break in between for a craft beer. I know New York is a mall. But I was hoping Harlem would be spared.

It’s a great place to go if you need to go to banana republic or the gap. It’s frustrating how the only thing that seems to be marketed are fried chicken places and black hair places. We all need those places in our life but it was frustrating because there’s a lot more here than these generalizations. There is all sorts of different creative ability in Harlem. But when you walk around there you would never be able to tell. The stereotypes being propagated are offensive.

Like anywhere else around here or in the world, the place is full of amazing people. The shitty facades and mallification of the world are only surface level (although they’re not). When you get a chance to explore the people, the place is often rich and full of all of the things the exterior is lacking.

I know this next picture might not seem like it’s the best, but it is. The reflection off of a window shows the Apollo Theater. That is the most iconic thing in Harlem. If you think of Harlem you most likely have this image pop up at the top of images in your brain. Look how close the banana republic is. They may as well just call it the Apollo Theater, brought to you by banana republic. Also in this image you will notice a group of four white tourists. Most important to this image is the view through the glass of the window. It shows an empty storefront that is currently for sale. What business or type of place will this be? It won’t be the gap or nike. Those are next door. Probably not even another fried chicken place. It’s going to be something shitty (I suppose you or I could try to make something cool happen).

I understand my perspective here and your questioning of what the fuck I know about a place from just strolling through it. But that’s kind of the point. I’m not black. I haven’t lived in Harlem for thirty years. That point of view is in the following link. The End of Black Harlem. The fact that you can stroll through this area and immediately see how fucked Harlem is is sad. Harlem is one of the great jewels of this country and we killed it and made it a shitty mall.

All of that is conveyed in the picture below.

Harlem
Harlem

Welppppppppppppp, time for some art.

If you are the type of person that gets tilted by like a white canvas hanging on the wall (“I can do that”), then Dia:Beacon is not the place for you.

But for those who like this sort of thing it’s one of the best places. It’s a little distance north of the city, but it’s one of my favorite museums. There’s a lot of cool lighting exhibits.

Dia beacon is lit
Dia beacon is lit

And the building itself is fantastically beautiful. You don’t notice it at first. It really lets the art shine, but overtime it kind of demands to be noticed. It’s so understated but so brilliant.

All rise
All rise

When you’re taking a picture of a yellow wall and then a person who has all sorts of complementing colors walks into your frame.

Colors
Colors

Lots of cool lighting here.

Lights
Lights

And some more.

Column, lights, colors
Column, lights, colors

Hang man lights.

Dicks out
Dicks out

But seriously if you have an issue with like chairs being art you’re not going to like this place.

I also like this in black and white
I also like this in black and white

I’ve been crushing everything in the blacks lately.

Yea
Yea

Running out of words to type.

Dia creepin
Dia creepin

Look at the patterns that these windows create.

Lighting in here is top notch
Lighting in here is top notch

Put a person in the frame for added interest.

Put people in your frame
Put people in your frame

This next image (which isn’t really visible much, but it’s there below) is a play on one of Anne Truitt’s pieces. She is known for making very minimal sculptures. Like a square hollow seven-foot beam that seems like it’s one single color. Like stuff that is so minimal and basic that a lot of people would walk by it and say it’s stupid or they could make it.

I recall seeing one of her works when I was at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC, not realizing at that time who she was. If you look at her work for a long while you will see all sorts of complexities going on. It might be difficult to slow down, and you don’t even have to, but doing so might reveal a bit more to Truitt’s work than at first seems apparent.

I decided to riff on her take on minimalism by taking a picture of one of her works. I crushed the focus to blur the edges and remove the detail from the work. So the outcome of the photograph is a white sculpture with a white wall in the background. Once you add in the lack of focus the sculpture disappears. True minimalism. I tried what I could in photoshop to actually make the sculpture more visible, but it’s pretty much gone forever. You’ll just have to trust me that there is an image below. And in the middle third or so there is a sculpture. It’s just that the photograph is so minimal that you can’t tell if it exists. Or if I’m being serious or not.

I was hoping Truitt was still alive. I would have loved to ask her what she thought of the image. I think she would probably say it wasn’t in the true spirit of her work. She wanted to remove unnecessary details, but not all of the details. I imagine an older lady telling me it’s shit and to fuck off and that makes happy.

Out of focus picture of Anne Truitt's White: One
Out of focus picture of Anne Truitt’s White: One

There’s a lot of really cool stuff here.

I love this museum
I love this museum

And more of the building. The black top and bottom of this frame were not added. They were done in camera.

Dark top and bottom are a natural frame
Dark top and bottom are a natural frame

Lots of lights. People like lights.

Dan Flavin hype confirmed
Dan Flavin hype confirmed

Except when it’s Times Square.

Light stuff
Light stuff

One view of two rooms.

The center is a wall that creates two rooms
The center is a wall that creates two rooms

This just looks so sexual to me.

This light in a corner creates so much texture
This light in a corner creates so much texture

Kill all focus.

Out of focus so damn nice
Out of focus so damn nice

I think people won’t like this image as much as I like it.

Perfect
Perfect

Did I say the lighting here is good? Because it’s better than that even.

Lighting is some of the best I've seen
Lighting is some of the best I’ve seen

Here’s some stuff.

Stuff like this
Stuff like this

I hope the crack in the floor is intentional to this building’s design. Bc it’s intentional in this picture. Blow out some highlights, sure, let’s get it.

In case I haven't said it, the lighting is good here
In case I haven’t said it, the lighting is good here

Crouching spider by Louise Bourgeois. These are some sp00ky a e s t h e t i c s.

Probs time for a quick pic of myself
Probs time for a quick pic of myself

I think the following picture has potential as a serious or to be the next stupid photography trend. If taking pictures of yourself bossfighting things replaces the jumping in the air pictures then I’m all for it. But we must kill bossfighting pictures immediately after that. Bossfighting pictures are OVER.

But really I have to bossfight this mfer (pls don't make this a trend)
But really I have to bossfight this mfer (pls don’t make this a trend)

If you’ve ever been outside at the gardens here then you’ll know the noises that are dubbed in are fire.

I love the sounds outside
I love the sounds outside

I think this is one of the better pictures I’ve taken. I debated for a long while whether this should be black and white or not. I really like reflection pictures.

One of my best pictures
One of my best pictures

And that’s it for Dia:Beacon. If you didn’t like that the here’s some more out of focus blurry pictures for your enjoyment. These were taken over the course of a couple days of bad weather driving on the New Jersey turnpike. This next one is just stunning.

Man come on
Man come on

I hate this next picture.

This is bad but I can't not include it for some reason
This is bad but I can’t not include it for some reason

Creepy boi A E S T H E T I C S

Dystopian nj
Dystopian nj

I like taking pictures while driving shooting through dirty windows because some photographers would say that it’s not P H O T O G R A P H Y.

Decently framed for a driving picture
Decently framed for a driving picture

I think I understand rothko a bit more. Get rid of everything and leave something that evokes emotion. The following picture needs many renditions before it would ever be something as polished as a rothko, but it’s ok to just kind of have some colors. Or better yet just some emotions on your canvas or your photo.

Emotional feels
Emotional feels

Slowly getting better at messing with weather and focus. It seems like when I combine multiple elements of interest is when I take some of my better shots.

So excellent
So excellent

A post isn’t a post without some pics you probably should have thrown away but you leave here because for some reason they made the cut.

Mehhh
Mehhh

And one more time.

Rawr
Rawr

Just barely was able to get this typed up and posted in time.

Should be swinging out for some quick travels and if all goes well hopefully I’ll have a grip of photos to post here.

I’m not sure exactly how the travel will go. I’m not sure what kinds of pictures I’ll take. Where I will or won’t be. How I will use words to talk about it.

I anticipate a different sort of a writeup than the usual travel writeups I’ve posted here. We will see.

One of my favorite sculptures ever

New York City, Hoboken, and Philadelphia

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.

Pictures of food are back
Pictures of food are back

Strolling around the city.

Not a museum, on the street
Not a museum, on the street

And some more strolling.

Love strolling new york
Love strolling new york

Get the stuff.

Stuff for sale, pic 3
Stuff for sale, pic 3

Mary Corse’s A Survey in Light at the Whitney.

My picture is better than the exhibit
My picture is better than the exhibit

I don’t love the Whitney. But I find myself here. I do love Feeling Whitney by Post Malone though.

Doesn't look like this irl
Doesn’t look like this irl

“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.

Sigh.

Selfie stick life
Selfie stick life

Oysters at grand central.

Looking up at grand central
Looking up at grand central

Taking the pics.

Yup
Yup

Let’s take some pictures for posterity.

For posterity
For posterity

Ok back to irl. Just me and the camera.

Washington square park
Washington square park

Grinding pics.

Arch you glad I didn't __________
Arch you glad I didn’t __________

All of the parks.

Upside down at Madison Sq Park
Upside down at Madison Sq Park

All of the art.

Diana Al-Hadid's Citadel from Delirious Matter at Madison Sq Park
Diana Al-Hadid’s Citadel from Delirious Matter at Madison Sq Park

Stuff outside world trade.

Update your tinder profs
Update your tinder profs

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.

Artist's workbench
Artist’s workbench

One of my favorite pictures from this set comes from there.

Who knew Hoboken had interesting shots
Who knew Hoboken had interesting shots

This is bleh.

Sun reflecting on the hudson
Sun reflecting on the hudson

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.

Tried to turn my camera away from the skyline
Tried to turn my camera away from the skyline

There’s a couple pictures I don’t want to include here but I can’t seem to delete them.

Definition of meh
Definition of meh

I took this walking and just clicking pretty aimlessly at this sign. Didn’t expect it to be all that decent.

Didn't think this would turn out
Didn’t think this would turn out

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.

Rodin, the morning after
Rodin, the morning after

How dope is this stuff?

One of my favorite sculptures ever
One of my favorite sculptures ever

I used to love the thinking man the most. But these days I love the loving man.

Used to be my favorite
Used to be my favorite

Messing around with lighting.

I finally understand sculpture
I finally understand sculpture

And some more messing around.

Rodin with that sauce
Rodin with that sauce

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.

Don't know why I feel I have to include this
Don’t know why I feel I have to include this

Bricks.

Room with a view
Room with a view

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.

Underneath bridges, the series pt 1
Underneath bridges, the series pt 1

Turning around and taking another picture of it.

Didn't expect this to come out well
Didn’t expect this to come out well

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.

Ok picture from a frustrating piece on the left
Ok picture from a frustrating piece on the left

There was a suitcase that had books on the corner that anyone could take.

Free books on the corner in phili
Free books on the corner in phili

Ok back to ny.

Food's back, uni at sushi yasuda
Food’s back, uni at sushi yasuda

Roosevelt island tramming it up. Dope time. Super hot fire.

Roosevelt island tram
Roosevelt island tram

Oh snap. The series is underway! Jk. It’s probably going to stay a two part series. But maybe not.

Underneath bridges, the series pt 2
Underneath bridges, the series pt 2

Sliding around the city sometimes surprises you.

I love some of the subway art
I love some of the subway art

Been kind of getting more interested in the human form so messed around with a couple self portraits and nudes one night.

Oh here we go
Oh here we go

Messing around with some lighting.

Messing around with lighting and self portraits
Messing around with lighting and self portraits

Lol. These pictures are just whatever but I don’t often post pictures of myself.

Hair getting long af
Hair getting long af

I like this image a decent amount.

Messing around with some self nudes
Messing around with some self nudes

Alrighty, back to commuting around.

Grove st path
Grove st path

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.

Edo peoples, 16th to 17th century Nigerian brass
Edo peoples, 16th to 17th century Nigerian brass

Some fire pieces here.

Between Earth and Heaven by El Anatsui. Fire
Between Earth and Heaven by El Anatsui. Fire

There is so much going on and not going on in this picture.

Thomas Hart Benton's America Today
Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today

Palette.

Paul Klee's May Picture
Paul Klee’s May Picture

On that O’Keeffe and Stieglitz.

Gray Line with Lavender and Yellow by Georgia O'Keeffe
Gray Line with Lavender and Yellow by Georgia O’Keeffe

Giacometti.

Three Men Walking II by Alberto Giacometti
Three Men Walking II by Alberto Giacometti

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.

Annette by Alberto Giacometti
Annette by Alberto Giacometti

Shadows make this a pretty solid picture.

Bohemia Lies by the Sea by Anselm Kiefer
Bohemia Lies by the Sea by Anselm Kiefer

The met is wild for this one.

Lilith by Kiki Smith
Lilith by Kiki Smith

Colors.

Hanging with Spectrum V by Ellsworth Kelly
Hanging with Spectrum V by Ellsworth Kelly

There’s some good newer stuff all over the museum.

PixCell-Deer#24 by Kohei Nawa
PixCell-Deer#24 by Kohei Nawa

Overcontrasted metal and shadows.

I forget the name of this piece
I forget the name of this piece

Unbelievably well done.

Louis Comfort Tiffany Autumn Landscape and Column
Louis Comfort Tiffany Autumn Landscape and Column

I don’t often post multiple pictures of the same thing, but look at this thing.

Autumn Landscape by Louis Comfort Tiffany
Autumn Landscape by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Love letters.

My body will always belong to you
My body will always belong to you

And freshness.

African American Portraits exhibit
African American Portraits exhibit

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.

Took these pictures while driving
Took these pictures while driving

Got some decent shots.

Drive by shooting
Drive by shooting

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.

Not bad for the ride home
Not bad for the ride home

Meh but alright.

Power lines
Power lines

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.

Complete downpour (hi oculus)
Complete downpour (hi oculus)

Yeesh this grain though.

Nyc faded
Nyc faded

Better than not going out.

World trade disappearing
World trade disappearing

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.

These pictures are so hastily taken
These pictures are so hastily taken

What a bad shot for such a cool subject.

This should have been a lot better
This should have been a lot better

Not too much here.

Meh, a series
Meh, a series

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.

Umbrellas outside the club
Umbrellas outside the club

And finally a decent one.

I likey the terrible weather lately
I likey the terrible weather lately

So that’s about it. Been grinding pictures. It’s all I really want to do with my free time.

I like this a lot

JC, NYC, Coney Island

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.

Childhood memories
Childhood memories

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.

An instrument graveyard perhaps
An instrument graveyard perhaps

And of course every good cemetery needs a cemetery cat.

Cemetery cat
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.

Just a weird thing
Just a weird thing

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.

Pretty cool
Pretty cool

I love the pack of wild dogs running along the sidewalk.

Pack on the hunt
Pack on the hunt

Some nonsense.

Blah blah blah
Blah blah blah

Razor wire.

Different than I remember
Different than I remember

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.

Trash tree
Trash tree

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.

You no go here
You no go here

Stuck behind the gates.

Bars
Bars

It’s a rather beautiful sight.

Would be nice to stroll about here
Would be nice to stroll about here

You can of course get some good shots of the skyline over here.

City
City

Back inside offers some symmetric shots that shoot themselves.

Station
Station

And anotha one.

Umm ok
Umm ok

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.

Forgotten words
Forgotten words

There is some pretty nice housing over looking the High Line.

Yup
Yup

Oculus? Why not. It’s one of my worst pics of it but I love this building.

So basic
So basic

Brookfield Place, also known as World Financial Center, is a pretty terrible shopping center.

Meh
Meh

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.

Meh part 2
Meh part 2

The cemetery at St. Paul’s.

Proper
Proper

Down underneath the FDR Drive.

Colors are nice
Colors are nice

With views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Bk
Bk

I don’t think this picture translated well, but guess what, I’m including it anyways.

Had potential
Had potential

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.

I like this a lot
I like this a lot

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.

Times Square
Times Square

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.

Blip
Blip

And one more, why not. I come back to this spot a couple days later and end up taking some better pictures.

Meh part 3
Meh part 3

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.

Basic part 2
Basic part 2

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.

This is good
This is good

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.

Elephant mask
Elephant mask

Also cool are these little guys. They were thrown on the ground by a professional artist.

La la laaa
La la laaa

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.

When the museum is nicer than the art
When the museum is nicer than the art

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.

King of Pentacles
King of Pentacles

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.

Props to whoever did this
Props to whoever did this

And some more of Times Square.

Back and better
Back and better

Black and white looks good too.

I kind of like this
I kind of like this

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.

Design week (I think)
Design week (I think)

I kind of like the mix of yellows in this picture.

Yellow
Yellow

And a storefront that I kind of like.

Let it consume you
Let it consume you

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.

This was a throwaway
This was a throwaway

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.

Reasonable
Reasonable

They were cleaning up the boardwalk of some tables.

Nineteen tables
Nineteen tables

The old Parachute Jump. Aka the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.

Parachute jump
Parachute jump

A different view of it.

Sky was a beautiful color
Sky was a beautiful color

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.

Amazing
Amazing

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.

Yea pretty good too
Yea pretty good too

More Coney Island.

La la laaa part 2
La la laaa part 2

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.

Kind of thought it was Asburyesque
Kind of thought it was Asburyesque

I kind of like the background colors here.

Closed for the season
Closed for the season

Someone was braving the rain and wind to spend time reading.

There there
There there

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.

Cheers.

Portal

Hiking the Columbia Trail

My buddies told me they wanted to get some more hiking in to get ready for the Appalachian Trail. They wanted to do a 15-mile trail with packs on to see how the body would respond. I told them I was in. I later found out the trail was the Columbia Trail, which runs through a portion of New Jersey I never really imagined I would ever be back in. Oh what a stroll down memory lane this would be.

The Columbia Trail is a trail that runs through Northwest New Jersey from Chester to High Bridge. It’s an old rail trail that has been converted to a trail for the public to use for biking, running, walking. It’s well paved and since it’s on an old rail line is extremely flat and straight. The difficulty of the trail is very easy. We wanted to walk the whole thing so we dropped a car off at our destination of High Bridge and then drove out to Chester to get the hike started.

Back at it again
Back at it again

The trail offers some of the standard New Jersey forest scenery. Nothing epic, but there are some nice things to look at. The trail goes through many towns. After getting our first few miles in we stopped at the Old Stone Union Church to have a look. The church, from 1774, was the site of pastorate Henry Muhlenberg. He’s credited as being the father of Lutheranism in America, a religion that has 4,000,000 followers in the States. It’s kind of cool that you can drive past or walk past areas of such influence and significance without really knowing it.

There are a lot of gravestones at this location. I love old cemeteries. There’s something beautiful about them. Maybe it’s the closeness to death. The peaceful time that you have there to contemplate what it’s all about. The immediate reminder of where you are headed usually puts me in a good perspective to go forward from there and do great things. We all are headed there someday soon. We may as well be great and have fun with it until then.

I love cemeteries
I love cemeteries

Soon after we grabbed a bench and took a break. We were five miles in. It was time for beef jerky and trail mix and some water. My body was holding up fine. A little shoulder tightening but nothing major. I should probably throw some yoga back into the rotation. The first five miles brought a lot of cheerful people. People out on the trails seem to be some of the nicest people. They’re usually in good spirits and very friendly. I’m not sure what it is, but they seem to see the world in a different way than the general population.

Continuing on in the hike we saw another cemetery. This one of a different nature. Something about the death of an automobile is kind of beautiful. You can still make out the lines or the body. You can make out the beauty. The potential. Think about what if things happened differently. But the car has been covered in rust and wear. Usually there are weeds eating at it. The earth is trying to reclaim what we took from it.

I love all of the cemeteries
I love all of the cemeteries

Heading further down the trail we stopped over a bridge to look at the sights below. It seems the bridges on the trail come every mile or two and provide a good quick moment to stretch the legs and have a closer look at the world that has slowly been moving by.

Blah blah blah
Blah blah blah

One bridge provided very clear water so we could see the fish swimming about.

Clear water
Clear water

Further and further we went. We walked through this shrub and tree farm. I loved the ways these trees, bushes, and grasses looked in real life so I was hoping the picture would come out great, but the lines aren’t as straight as I wanted them to be. The pine trees at the top also looked a lot more purple in real life, but this was probably just the result of dehydration of hiking all these miles with 40 pounds on my back in this heat.

Wish this was better
Wish this was better

The road continued onwards. There was a pretty cool old building on the trail. There was a sign that said what it was and it’s importance but I didn’t read it. I wasn’t really in the mood to read signs that day I guess. I just wanted to hike and explore a bit.

These natural tones
These natural tones

Eventually we crossed 10 miles and with it we needed another place to break. The balls of my feet were starting to hurt for some time. We eventually took a break in Califon. One of my buddies decided we should eat at this place that had wraps, sweets, salads, coffees and cold sodas called BEX. It’s a place I have been before about two years earlier. They have weird hours, usually 8-3 but it varies and they are closed on random days. I passed on the brownies and iced coffees and instead opted for a chicken wrap and a soda. It was a good spot to wash my face off with some cold water.

Not bad for a bite
Not bad for a bite

After a nice lengthy break we got back on the trail. There was a little bit of wild life on the trail.

Mr rabbit
Mr rabbit

And there was some more further down the road.

A million deer
A million deer

This stretch of the trail has a lot of cool gnome homes and weird little decorations along the trail. I enjoyed all of the little things that people built or put out on the trail. Apparently in 2014 the Hunterdon County rangers had received enough complaints about all of the magical gnomes that they went out and collected almost everything up to throw out into the garbage. I understand that some of the stuff may have been unsightly but the magical fun feeling of this part of the trail was one of my favorite parts of the trail. I guess since the 2014 event there has been some sort of understanding amongst the people and the enforcement because there were once again things on the trail and everything I saw was pretty tasteful. If you’re visiting the Columbia Trail for it’s epic nature, you’re probably doing a lot of things wrong with your life. If you have a problem with Mr. T-rex and you want to ruin the lives of little children you probably are a horrible person.

Mr. T
Mr. T

Carrying on we got to yet another bridge. It’s a bit high up, but not outrageously high. I normally would hate the fence over this bridge as it’s so absurdly overprotective. We all know if you go over the edge of a bridge you probably will be hurt. You don’t need a fence to hold you back. In this case the lighting and the fence provided a nice shot. It almost looks like you are going into some unknown dark portal of the trail.

Portal
Portal

I remember seeing some flowers earlier in the trail and I was thinking how I wanted to photograph them as they were gorgeous. I only saw about three of them before I had the chance. I didn’t see them again for about ten miles until towards the end of the trail where we ran into another patch of them. I really should have used the macro lens here to get a nice shot but I was too lazy to switch lenses and didn’t want to keep the guys waiting while I messed around with the photography. So I like this wildflower but the picture really should be a lot better.

Wild flower
Wild flower

So overall we ended up hiking 16 miles. Including the two breaks we hiked for 7 hours. That put us around 26 minutes per mile or 2.3 mph with about 40 pounds packs on our back on a very easy trail without much elevation or difficult terrain. I burned over 4,000 calories and apparently lost 7 liters of water. It was definitely a good little workout.

Endomondo stats for the win
Endomondo stats for the win

The body held up reasonably well. A bit of soreness or pain and the beginning of some blisters but overall nothing to complain about. Sixteen miles has to be the longest I have ever moved in one day on foot. I can’t recall any other day in my life in which I walked for 7 hours.

Overall I’m happy to have gotten through these sixteen miles without too much pain. It was a good hike to get the body ready for the New Jersey portion of the Appalachian Trail later on in September.

Iconic Delaware Water Gap

Backpacking at Delaware Water Gap

Since my last backpacking trip I decided to pick up some gear of my own. One reason is because a couple of the guys from my last trip want to hike the portion of the Appalachian Trail all the way across New Jersey in September over the period of about eleven days. Another reason is because backpacking opens up some options with travel. Being able to have four or five days of food, clothing and shelter in a bag that you can carry anywhere allows you to see a lot for a little. Another reason would be that hiking and backpacking allow you to get into some beautiful parts of the world that simply aren’t accessible via any other way than to physically walk to them.

In order to try to attempt this trip in September I need to put some miles on my new gear and on my body so that I’ll be ready for such an extensive trip. So when my buddy reached out to me for an overnight kayaking trip I decided I would spend the day before it by myself testing out my gear.

The location for the kayaking trip would be the Delaware Water Gap. It’s an area I’ve wanted to check out for some time as it has some of the nicest views in our area.

I was looking to get about eight miles of hiking with my pack and to find an overnight place to camp out. It was taking a little time to figure it out online so I figured I would just ask at the visitors center. My first stop was the Pennsylvania Welcome Center. I asked where I could hike eight miles and where I could stay overnight. The lady I talked to said she had no idea where I would be able to do that. She suggested I go 5 minutes to Kittatinny Point Visitor Center or 35 minutes to Dingmans Falls Visitor Center. I went over to Kittatinny.

The rangers there were much more useful. They showed me where I could hike, where I could camp, and where I could park my car for the overnight trip. The hike would be from the Kittatinny Point Visitor Center to the Red Dot (Tammany) Trail. After climbing the Red Dot I would move on to descend the Blue-blaze Trail. From there I would ascend up a leg of the Appalachian Trail up to Sunfish Pond. Finally I would set up camp about a mile back down the Appalachian Trail on the Douglas Trail at an area that is designated for overnight campers.

The Red Dot is a nice hike. It’s rated “difficult” on the park’s website, but that rating is relative. It’s 1.2 miles and the elevation rise is 1250 feet along some pretty rocky terrain. It’s a bit strenuous but plenty of different people with all sorts of different levels of experience seemed to be hiking it. The terrain can be rather rocky at times. Hiking up this with my full backpack was certainly a good workout.

Red dot gets a bit steep
Red dot gets a bit steep

The trail provides you with some iconic views of the Delaware Water Gap. I missed taking pictures of one of them because I had initially planned on descending back down the Red Dot and figured I would shoot it on my way back down. As always with pictures you should get the shot when you have a chance. The following shot is Mount Minsi of Pennsylvania along with the Delaware River as shot from the top of Mount Tammany of New Jersey. As a quick side note I never realized how big of a river this was. The 388-mile Delaware River forms borders between PA and NY, the entire border between NJ and PA, and most of the border between DE and NJ. Wilmington, Philadelphia, Camden, Trenton and Easton all touch the river at some point.

Iconic Delaware Water Gap
Iconic Delaware Water Gap

After enjoying the sights of the Red Dot Trail, it was time to descend back down the Blue-blaze Trail. The 1.7-mile descent has much more gradual than the Red Dot’s incline. The hike passed without any issues. The hike then switched onto the Appalachian Trail for another 1000 foot incline over 3.4 miles out to Sunfish Pond. The pond was alright. There is a sign out front of it declaring it as one of the seven natural wonders of New Jersey. I never knew NJ had a list of natural wonders but apparently they are the Delaware Water Gap, Great Falls of the Passaic River, High Point State Park, New Jersey Shoreline, Palisades, Pine Barrens, and Sunfish Pond. That’s not the best looking list, but certainly Sunfish Pond doesn’t belong on any top seven list. I dunno. Here’s a picture of it. It’s nice, but it’s a rather mild looking for a wonder.

Sunfish Pond
Sunfish Pond

After checking out the pond I hiked about a mile down the AT to the Douglas Trail where I would be setting up camp for the night. It was my first time setting this tent up. It setup without much of an issue. I cooked up some Thai curry vegetables and rice. It was pretty tasty for one of those dehydrated food packs. I added a couple bars, some pepperoni, and trail mix and tossed the rest of my food in a bear box that was a reasonable distance away.

My first overnight by myself
My first overnight by myself

Parking, trail access, and overnight parking is all free here. So technically I guess you can have this view for $0 per night. Especially since I have gear enough for two people and if I’m driving anyways then it would cost nothing to bring someone along. So if anyone is interested in jamming something like this, even if I don’t know you, feel free to hit me up.

Backyard for the night
Backyard for the night

A ranger came to visit me to explain where the water was and to use the bear boxes. She said there haven’t really been bears in the area much. I told her it was my first time overnighting by myself and I was a bit unsure whether I would be able to survive the night but she told me I would be fine. I ventured off to grab some water from the stream that she recommended. It was nice to crack out my water filter for the first time. The water seemed a bit sketchy but it was running and it is what she recommended so I used it. It ended up being alright but it’s a bit weird grabbing water from a stream in the middle of the woods and filtering it yourself. It’s a far cry from the luxury of the civilized world where unlimited drinkable water can be flicked on at any time or purchased at any store for a few cents.

I spent the rest of the night slowly getting ready for bed, as I was a bit tired from the long hike. The night was pretty uneventful. I woke up a couple times here or there. But for the most part the sound of crickets and nature had me in a deep sleep. I think I may have heard an animal breathing in the middle of the night but I’m not sure I did.

Eventually morning came. I woke up at 530 because I had to break everything down and then hike 3.8 miles back down to my car to meet up with the group that I would be going kayaking and canoeing with. As I was packing up another camper came over and told me that there were bears last night. He said he saw one about 20 yards from my tent. He says he thinks one followed him from the outhouse to his tent in the middle of the night. I’m not certain I believe the story but maybe there was a bear or two. He was a nice kid regardless and we had a good talk.

I hit the trail a couple minutes later than I wanted to but still early enough that I would be able to meet up on time if I hustled. The hike was downhill and the footing became easier and easier with each step. I was definitely the first person on that stretch of the AT that morning as I kept running into singular strands of spider webs that lay across the track. I got about halfway through the hike and the spider silk was becoming a bit annoying. I finally saw a girl walking up the trail. We said good morning. I added “I knocked down all of the spider webs for you.” She seemed a bit puzzled at what I had said until she realized what I meant. She thanked me and then said “oh, and I knocked down all of the spider webs for you too.” I thought that was a cute moment. People who are into all this nature stuff generally have seemed to be ultra chill so far.

Soon after I saw a deer poke its head out of the brush and onto the trail. It was maybe a hundred yards down. It paused. I paused as well. The way the lighting was and the serenity of that deer poking its head out onto the trail was for some reason a beautiful moment. I went to open my camera bag to grab my zoom lens but as soon as the velcro peeled the deer hopped back in the direction that it came from. I guess deer out here have very sensitive hearing.

The trail continued with a few more people here and there as the day grew older and the trail got closer to the parking lot. Eventually I made it to my car. I swung out to meet up with the group I’d be hanging with. There was one kid I used to work with and five other characters who all seemed like a fun time. I could not believe the amount of gear these guys had for a single overnight trip. Several coolers with all sorts of cold drinks and food that needed refrigeration, several ways to cook food including a spare grills, I think three six-man tents, luxury foldable lawn chairs. Basically everything that goes against keeping weight and space to a minimum ha. Eventually we got all of the gear on the shuttle. The shuttle ride over to the launch ramp was full of nonsense as I got to know the guys.

Eventually we loaded the canoes and kayaks with our gear and hopped in to get the trip started. Here’s a cliche kayak shot going down some body of water. I hate kayak shots like this. You see them on people’s instagrams and whatnot all the time. I also kind of hate how most people shoot and display a lot of travel/backpacking stuff in general. It just always seems so cliche and braggy and overly happy and shallow and simplistic. It often has some stupid quote from some famous traveler, author, or anonymous in some disgusting font. And the pictures are always overcontrasted and oversaturated. I dunno. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Gross
Gross

Travel/backpacking/life is never like this. It’s full of a lot of challenging moments. It’s full of a lot of difficulties and annoyances. It’s a lot of work and there are a lot of trials. Sometimes you wonder why you’re doing it or wondering whether you’ll be able to get through it. I think a lot of the times you will end up alright. But pictures likes this are infuriating. Don’t make stuff like this. Don’t double tap stuff this. I mean you’re not a bad person if you like this picture. Actually you are. You are a terrible person. There’s no need to involve Krakauer, Thoreau (or Theroux), or Muir in this. I’d much rather prefer reading a paragraph you wrote or talking about your trip over a beer. The following is the same picture done much more in a style I agree with that I think most people will tragically like a lot less. It’s still photoshopped. It’s still a lie. It’s still just another cheesy kayak picture.

Do it for the gram
Do it for the gram

Remember that Emerson quote I posted before? It was just a cheesy adventure quote I grabbed from online, and wasn’t supposed to have a meaning to this write-up. But I have to go back to it for just a quick moment. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” My hatred of quotes like this is the lack of context, the overall worthlessness of practical application, and the immediate head nodding that happens when people hear it. Would you agree or disagree with this quote? I suppose I could divert into a long rambling here but I’ll leave this to only a couple pros and cons and a reference to the trip. I like that the quote says to be innovative. Try things that haven’t been done before. But I also hate that the quote says to not follow any roads or paths. Many of the great treasures of the world are accessible via large roads because they’re amazing. A lot of the world that doesn’t have paths is because it’s just not that spectacular or interesting.

I had two campsites on this trip. One was along the Appalachian Trail, pretty much one of the most famous hiking trails in the world. The other was our kayaking campsite that we had to row to because it had no path. It was on a tiny island that had no areas to explore. We literally had to use machetes to cut our own path and leave our own trail. The camping site on the Appalachian Trail was clearly a lot nicer. Gorgeous views, trails to explore, there was even running water and a primitive bathroom. The camping site along the Delaware River had only a small view of the river, no trails to explore, no water to drink or place to shit. I’m not saying either one was better or worse than the other. They were both great and the contrast was appreciated. But following Emerson’s quote too rigorously would lead you to missing out on many beautiful things that life has to offer. It’s ok to follow paths and it’s also ok to leave your own trail. Do both. But as always with this stuff there’s no proof Emerson ever said the quote in the first place. So good luck even trying to identify things like context, etc. that are critical to try to get anything useful out of it. Sigh.

Kayaking a little over eleven miles was great. We ran into a couple raindrops but ultimately avoided too many mishaps. None of the kayaks or canoes tipped over although we did have one man go overboard at one point. We tried to get this one campsite on the Pennsylvania side that the group had got the first year but it was occupied this year. So we drifted along to a nearby island to setup shop. Setting up camp went without much difficulty.

I guess I needed some filler in this story, and that was the purpose of that rambling, as I have no pictures from kayaking to breakfast the next morning. There was a lack of things to do on the secluded island. There was a lot of drug use and people got pretty chill. It’s not exactly my style but I’m not trying to fuck up rotation either. I at first didn’t mind sitting glued to my seat for several hours as I was a bit beat from the eight miles of hiking the day before, the four miles of hiking earlier this morning, and the eleven miles of kayaking in the day. But eventually it got a bit tiresome being a prisoner on an island and being incapable of moving on to something more exciting.

Eventually morning came, and with it some more delicious food. The day before brought chicken tacos and steaks. This morning it was time for pork roll, egg, and cheeses. Well we forgot the cheese, but the rest of it was there. It kind of blows my mind that these guys are eating this good on this trip. It makes sense with all the gear that they brought but I’m more used to a world of dehydrated eggs or just having some beef jerky and trail mix to start the day off. One luxury I do bring backpacking is coffee. It’s nice to have a cup and provides something to do when you’re done setting up camping or relaxing in the morning before you head out for a long day of hiking. Also I can’t believe this is such a bad picture of pork roll but so it goes sometimes when you’re sloppy behind the lens.

Different kind of camping
Different kind of camping

After we fueled up and broke down camp and loaded up the kayaks and canoes we hopped back in for another five-mile paddle back to the parking lot. The weather today was nicer. The clouds, which provided sun protection the day before, yielded to provide some gorgeous views. Here’s another shot with a kayak in it, since you know I am so fond of them. I really like how clear the water is at some points. Being able to look down at fish, grasses, and textures of the river floor is rather beautiful. We kept an eye to sky to try to see some bald eagles like we did the day before but we had to settle for watching some hawks hunt.

I hate shots like this
I hate shots like this

Kayaks and canoes are pretty cool because you can just paddle here or there and tie off and go exploring. It’s neat being on the Delaware River as you can bounce back and forth from NJ to PA quicker than a car would even be able to.

Getting around
Getting around

The guys wanted to do a jump off of a cliff that they have done in previous years. Apparently the first time they attempted the 35ish-foot jump they kind of looked down at the water and guessed it was deep enough. The casualty of risking serious injury is impressive. Depths in this area seem to vary between deep and shallow significantly and to dive without verifying the depth seems insane. You also need a good clean jump to be able to clear the base of the cliff here. We had three of the seven successfully complete the jump. Props to those guys for getting it done. I was happy to use the excuse that I was better suited to try to take some awesome pictures than performing the jump myself.

These boys are crazy
These boys are crazy

After the jump we hopped back in the canoes and caught a nice drift that swung us underneath the Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge and back to the Kittatinny Visitor Center where our adventure would end. We unpacked our gear, said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.

Here are the endomondo stats from the two days of kayaking. For whatever reason my phone wasn’t cooperating on all of the hikes so I won’t be posting the partial data from that. Unfortunately that’s the data I’m more interested in as I’d like to know how I’m doing so that I can get ready for this longer trip in September.

Kayaking 16 miles
Kayaking 16 miles

I don’t really know if there are many takeaways from this trip. I was happy with how carrying, setting up, and breaking down my gear went as it was my first time with a lot of that equipment. I used a lot of what I learned when I was out at Round Valley and everything went smoothly. I removed a couple pieces from my pack when I got back that I don’t think I’ll use in the future to save a little space and weight, but overall I was pretty happy with all of my gear and how everything worked out. You don’t really need all that much to survive and there are plenty of luxury items that I’m happy carrying in my pack to make life on the trail a bit more enjoyable.

I was a bit surprised by how chill I was with hiking and setting up camp and sleeping by myself. Pretty much at no point was I physically or mentally uncomfortable with the overnight backpacking trip by myself. It kind of just felt like life as usual.

I liked the group I hung with on the second day. It’s not a group I would seek out to hang out with but they taught me some important things. They’re all doing the best that they can and to hear some of their stories or to see some of their hidden skills was cool. Some of them definitely are living a great life compared to where they came from. You could see there are layers and layers of complexity in these people that just are completely invisible upon first glance. In many ways their progress as an individual has exceeded mine. I had a great time with you guys.

I guess finally coming home to my little place on the border of Asbury Park and Ocean Grove felt like home more than it ever has. I’m not sure why as I was really comfortable sleeping in the woods. But for some reason driving home and slowly being caressed by that ocean breeze and getting back into the beautiful mess that is summer at the shore were comforting.

Moon

Backpacking at Round Valley

Went on my first backpacking trip from Thursday to Friday at Round Valley Recreation Area in Lebanon, NJ. I didn’t have the gear that I needed so I borrowed enough from my buddy Dave to make it through the trip. We went with two of his buddies from his work.

I initially didn’t plan to cook, only having dry food on me. This included such delicacies as prosciutto, Genoa salami, and Parmigiano Reggiano cubes because they seemed to make sense when I was shopping at Wegmans the night before. But on the way up we stopped at a Walmart and I picked up a 24-oz Stainless steel cooking pot, which can be used to boil water in combination with a lightweight alcohol stove. The pot included two 10-oz plastic cups which were great for cups of coffee. I also picked up my first freeze-dried meal of sweet and sour pork and rice. I added a LED headlamp flashlight that allowed provided hands free light for the nighttime.

The rendezvous point was the Spinning Wheel Diner which is a few miles away from Round Valley. It’s a classic New Jersey diner that allowed for a final meal of eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, orange juice, and coffee before leaving the luxuries of the civilized world behind.

Here’s a shot of us at the start of the Cushetunk Trail, which is the red trail at Round Valley.

Backpacking squad
Backpacking squad

The hike was about 7.5 miles to get to the campground. It has a decent amount of up and down and comfortable terrain. On the hike in I spent a lot of time looking around and soaking up the view.

Hike had some nice scenery
Hike had some nice scenery

Don’t forget to look in every direction.

Views from the bottom
Views from the bottom

And don’t forget to take a couple selfies on the trail.

Trail selfie
Trail selfie

Here are the Endomondo stats of the trek. I started it a couple minutes late. The return trip was almost the same except a slight bit longer.

Endomondo stats
Endomondo stats

The campsite looked like it hadn’t been used in some time. We swept the leaves away from the campsite with homemade brooms. We build seats and benches as needed to provide for seating. At least us guys that didn’t have the fancy lightweight chairs that the experts had.

After a bit of preparation of the campsite we ventured down to the lake to get some water. This was accomplished via the SweetWater Microfilter water filtration system. Basically you stick the filter in pretty much any water and pump it into your container. Then you add a couple drops of the SweetWater purifier solution, which is pretty much 3.5% sodium hypochlorite and wait about ten minutes and you have drinkable water. It’s amazing. It’s especially amazing when you are in a place with no drinkable water and you just ran out of water.

Filtering water
Filtering water

There are a lot of cool things to explore and discover down by the lake. I though these shells were pretty cool.

Little details around the lake
Little details around the lake

And here’s a picture of a piece of broken glass I thought photographed decently.

Piece of glass
Piece of glass

Here’s another shot of the lake. The water level seemed a little low but I am not too familiar with Round Valley. The last time I was here I was out on a boat with my pops fishing on the lake many years ago. While I remember those times I don’t remember what the water level was at that time.

Round Valley
Round Valley

We went back to the campsite and hung out and cooked up a meal. Surprisingly that freeze-dried stuff is pretty decent. The rice has the taste and consistency of a reasonable risotto. I’ve definitely had risotto at several places which wasn’t as good as this stuff.

After some time we strolled down to the lake to catch a pretty glorious sunset.

Caught a nice sunset
Caught a nice sunset

It definitely was a pretty nice sunset.

It was pretty lit

Day turned to night. With it came the Ghost Radar app to try to hunt down some ghosts. I think we had a bit of success.

Moon
Moon

We were all a bit tired from the hike earlier in the day so we proceeded for a somewhat early night of sleep. Some people say the two-man tents are too tight for two people, but they are acceptable. I think it’s definitely good to get a two-man tent even for yourself because a two-man tent provides allows you to keep your gear covered from the rain. It also allows a newbie like me to tag a long and doesn’t add much more weight to your pack.

The night of sleep was mostly uneventful. I woke up at one point and heard a deer. I also heard something else that I am not sure what animal it was. There was a point in the night when I kind of realized I love the conveniences and modern luxuries that we have back home, but by the end of the trip I would be grateful for the challenge and the simplicity of the trip.

In the morning we woke up and brewed up some coffee and had some breakfast. We packed up and made the hike back to the entrance. We said goodbye to one camper who was stayed a second night. Another 7.5 miles. There was some rain on the return leg. It wasn’t so bad though because it was sparse enough and the trees often provided a comfortable amount of cover. The walk back was certainly more of a head-down hike, just trying to push my body back to the car. But there was great scenery to be had as well.

Return hike
Return hike

Overall my first backpacking experience was great. I kind of want to get back out there again. Burning off 3600 calories just on the two hikes and working the legs and shoulders was great. When you get into some space and are hiking alone in the woods and only have the sound of the woods and your footsteps you can drift off into some deep thought. It was also a good experience to learn what you have to do to survive and to reflect on how absurdly fortunate we are to live the lives of luxury that we live.

Shout out to my backpacking buddies for showing me the ropes and keeping me alive. I learned a lot and had a great time.

Macro lens hype

Fall in Ringwood, NJ: Cell Phone vs DSLR

I definitely have to finish up the final write up and video from the last road trip, but I decided to mess around with the camera on Saturday. It was a much needed venture out into the world and allowed me to get back behind the lens. As life happens I find pouring my soul into little things like exploring and photography helps me to find peace. I wasn’t going to write anything on here but ended up with 3,700 words somehow.

I spent time with my buddy Jesse shooting two different locations in north east New Jersey. We both had the day off and both wanted to do some exploring and take some photos. My goal for the trip was to focus on using my macro lens and I think it was a successful venture. There are some decent shots that came out, although I have included some additional shots that are not the best. They’re here so that I can track my progress taking pictures and see how my style and photography evolves over time. I guess you can call them progress pics.

The first location that we stopped at was Ringwood State Park up in Ringwood, New Jersey. We didn’t really have a plan as far as what we were looking for. We just figured we could probably catch some of the changing fall leaves.

The first picture of the day ended up being of a tree right along the parking lot near the entrance. This was shot with my regular stock lens. This image is the result of about a dozen images that were shot at different focus and then focused stacked in Adobe Photoshop. The purpose behind this technique is so that you can maintain a clear focus throughout the entire length of your subject. The area close to you is in focus and so it the area far away from you.

Fall is here
Fall is here

These lantern posts are right along the parking lot as well. Something about the wear, the symmetry, and the placement of them among the row of trees is rather beautiful. I’m just kind of in here rounding out the shot, and also just reminding myself that I need to work out my legs more lol. This is the last picture that I shot with my regular lens.

Ringwood State Park
Ringwood State Park

While I was shooting this with my DSLR, Jesse was off shooting with his cell phone. Shooting on your cell phone provides a lot of advantages over a DSLR, although a DSLR certainly has its advantages as well. The cell phone is always on you. You can easily make powerful edits as soon as you take your picture. You can share it with the world immediately after. The DSLR has the advantage of being able to use a variety of lenses that the cell phone probably won’t be able to utilize for mainstream photography for some time. Macro lenses, zoom lenses, etc. Both devices are capable of taking high quality and impressive pictures. And shooting on either still allows you the opportunity to use powerful software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. While I see the cell phone photography scene continuing to grow, it will be some time before the device will able to capture certain images that are currently only possible with DSLR lenses.

The following is an image that Jesse took. He was shooting with an LG G4. I have said that stock cell phone lenses are not as good as DSLR lenses, but they’re not all that bad either. Look at the ability to focus in this picture. This is an amazing capability to hold in your pocket. Cell phone lens technology is advancing rapidly and I’m excited to see it to continue.

Cell phone focus is impressive
Cell phone focus is impressive

The next photograph was also shot by Jesse. It’s an example of pulling out a lot of depth from an image by messing around with some photography software. The vignetting, saturation, contrast, etc. are all dialed up pretty high to bring out the fall colors and give it a movie scene type of feel. It works well here although I can see people arguing it may be over the top. The next time I go out shooting I think I’ll be focusing on messing around with my images in post production and trying to see what sort of crazy stuff I can make happen. It’s important to reiterate that all of these effects were done using some pretty basic software on a phone. With a cell phone you can take the picture, edit the picture, and share the picture all within a short period of time and achieve some impressive results.

Secret garden hype
Secret garden hype

Everything going forward for me was shot through my macro lens. It’s a lens I picked up a while ago but haven’t spent much time with. By making it the only lens I would shoot with I was able to get some experience and learn about the lens. Often macro lenses are used for very detailed close up shots. So if you are photographing jewelry for a store, or if you want to get those very zoomed in pictures of bugs, or if you want to capture the texture of some material in detail you would want to use a macro lens. They are also versatile for far away shots as you will see. If you could only shoot with one single lens it’s kind of hard to argue against a macro lens. The biggest problem is that there is no zoom. You only adjust the focus depending on what you are shooting. If something doesn’t fit in your image then you have to physical walk away from it and shoot from further away to fit it into your frame. If something is too far away and you want it to be closer you have to physically move closer to it. The no zoom is a pain but the versatility and creative control you have over focus, depth of field, magnification, and bokeh is sweet.

The following image I took is of a leaf. The whole leaf is heart shaped and it’s kind of beautiful in that it used to be alive and full but it’s dying and disappearing. There are physical holes in the leaf. Its structural ribbed support still holds its general shape. But the changing seasons will turn it to dust before it is reborn again in the spring. I like the red color from the changing leaves you see in the background. The depth of field is pretty small and it’s honestly not properly focused. I’ll make excuses and say that it was too windy, but that’s not a good excuse. I could have held the leaf down and setup my tripod like a good photographer would.

Messing around with the macro lens
Messing around with the macro lens

So across parking lots we went. But not before Jesse grabbed a panorama. I’m not sure how most panoramas come out on the cell phone but I’m sure it varies depending on the phone and software. With the right combination you should be able to make it work pretty well. I do all of my panoramas in Adobe Photoshop. Out in the field I’ll shoot a picture, rotate the camera and shoot another picture, then rotate and shoot a third or a fourth picture. I then combine these in Photoshop which has a ton of settings to make the transition pretty much indiscernible. The phone for some reason had some issues stitching this along the line where the parking lot meets the grass. It’s a little strange because I would have thought the software would easily be able to handle a pattern like that and have issues with some of the other complex or delicate patterns such as the leaves, etc. Still this is a good example of how you can dial in the focus on a cell phone. It’s pretty impressive that cell phone cameras are capable of this sort of a focus. All of this is just going to rapidly get better. It’s quite amazing.

Parking lot pimpin
Parking lot pimpin

This next shot is of my buddy Jesse. As a side note, it’s interesting how something as simple as an American flag patterned beanie can get you so much attention from random people, including multiple rounds of shots from some pro-American guy at the bar.

That American beanie
That American beanie

If you’re wondering what Jesse is up to he’s taking this shot right here. This picture is kind of a classic north Jersey stream scene. If you’ve ever done any hiking in north Jersey then these sorts of scenes are probably familiar to you. This type of scene shows off New Jersey’s diversity. New Jersey is a lot of different things, and occasionally it is beautiful and peaceful. Minus that ghost leg it’s a glorious shot. It’s very cool that something that fits in your pocket and you can use for a million other applications is capable of producing this.

Classic north NJ stream
Classic north NJ stream

And just to make this whole photo-ception thing complete, here’s a picture that Jesse took of me taking a picture of him while he was taking a picture of the stream.

Photo-ception complete
Photo-ception complete

Further into the forest we ventured. This next picture I took shows how the macro lens is able to specifically focus on certain areas while giving you some nice blur in the background. This picture kind of has a Lord of the Rings forest vibe to it, but in actuality it’s just the floor of a forest in New Jersey. I didn’t want to have the mushroom centered in this way but I love the leaf in the lower right corner and had to include it in the picture. The focal point being on the front of the mushroom I think is most appeasing here, although it could be dialed a little further back towards the center. I like the root of the tree on the right and the general forest color theme going on in the picture.

Shroom
Shroom

The next picture is another stream shot I took. This photograph would have been better with a different lens, or at least shifting the focus just a little closer so that it would be on that rock in the center. Definitely shooting with a macro lens you need to take your time, preferably set up a tripod and dial in on the focus. I guess this may be good advice for any lens you are using if you can afford the time and effort to do so.

Leaves starting to change
Leaves starting to change

The following is an image I composed of about 7 different photographs. Each of the photographs was taken starting at one side of the log and moving along to the other side of the log. Adobe Photoshop does a great job at automatically stitching together panorama images so the process is pretty fast and painless. The end result is reasonable, although when you zoom you can see some blurriness where two of the images are blended together. This happened because the delicate focus of the macro lens must have been off for one image. I love the vivid greens from the trees being reflected into the stream here. The log and the legs provide decent subjects.

Suspended
Suspended

The same log from Jesse’s perspective is seen in the following photo. There’s some pretty good reflection in the water. I really am finding it interesting that the software struggles to stitch together some almost obvious lines. It doesn’t seem to have any problems stitching together the more complicated leaf patterns but something as obvious as this whitish log lying across a dark stream is distorted. I would imagine there are some aftermarket apps and what not that can stitch things better on the phone, and these sorts of issues with shooting on a cell phone will disappear soon. It’s also not a limitation to shooting on the phone. You can easily shoot this panorama in the same way I would on the DSLR and load the images into Photoshop and get better results. The cell phone photography software is in addition to the computer photography software, whereas the DSLR camera software generally is much weaker, but also specific enough to capture your shot.

Come on software
Come on software

Venturing further we cut down some road that was closed off to cars. The following image I took is of a support column for some abandoned open air rectangular building like where you might have a picnic or some gathering. There (unfortunately) wasn’t too much graffiti but someone decided to take some crayons to the wall. These crayon hearts were alright. It looks like the blue heart has the word “light” in the middle. Not sure if it’s some sort of play on the term “light hearted” or some sort of puzzle, but probably not. I like the worn face of the column and the blurred out forest behind it. I like those few in focus vines that are starting to eat the building. I always thought that was an amazing thing, how the earth will always reclaim its land. If you build a structure in the middle of the woods and leave it alone, even for a couple years, the earth will start to pull at it, destroy it, and suck it back into itself. The same will happen to all of the great cities that should people not be around to take care of them. Even New York City will eventually be absorbed back into the earth. You can only really borrow from the earth. The earth will be sure to take it back. The earth does not use the seasons or the year as a unit of time.

Crayon hearts
Crayon hearts

Jesse scored this pretty sweet shot of the ceiling of the place. He’s been messing around with similar shots from other buildings and I dig the perspective. It’s a good example of something I wouldn’t think to shoot that he was able to successfully capture. It’s pretty neat that the whole time we are pretty much shooting the exact same area but end up with a very different set of pictures. To kind of bring it together you can see the crayon hearts I took in the bottom left of this picture. Two different photographers, two different perspectives.

Love this perspective
Love this perspective

This Pabst Blue Ribbon can was on the floor of the building. I’m pretty happy with the focus on this picture that I snapped. I love the browned leaves on the floor and especially love the BB gun holes in the can. There weren’t many but there were a few. I also really like the crease in the can. For as many things as I like about the picture, I don’t love the picture as a whole. I don’t hate it, and it probably wouldn’t be included as it isn’t anything too special, but I guess that might be the point. Some people think PBR, BB guns, and time in the woods aren’t special, but for other people there is nothing more important. But without trying to get too deep here I’m really just including this example as a shot I’m happyish with from a focus and blur perspective.

PBR can with BB gun holes
PBR can with BB gun holes

Jesse took two more shots before we had left for the second location. This first one again shows of that impressive image quality and focus that is available on modern cell phone cameras.

Cell phone focus hype
Cell phone focus hype

This next picture that Jesse grabbed turned out a lot better than I thought it was going to be. His battery was low and he probably only had one last shot left on the phone before it died. He chose to take this picture. I joked with him that he wasted his last shot on something that wouldn’t be worthwhile. But this picture is actually pretty great. I would like to see a little more color on the leaves but we’d have to go back next week for that. The slanted trees on the left bother my eye a bit. I really want them to grow straight up out of the ground but that embankment that they are growing out of doesn’t care what I think.

Actually pretty nice
Actually pretty nice

So that wrapped up our shooting at Ringwood State Park. We drove down the road about three minutes and we were at our next stop, which was the New Jersey Botanical Garden, or Skylands as it’s also called. I really thought I would love the gardens more than the park but I actually liked the park better. Maybe the park was a little quieter, a little grittier, a little more truthful. I don’t know. There was nothing wrong with the gardens, and depending on what you are into they could be worth a stop.

There are some pretty cool flowers like these harlequin glorybowers. The focus is a little off on these. I was fighting the wind again (and again a bad excuse). I don’t love the sunlight reflection here either. It looks too much like artificial lighting. Honestly I probably should have dialed this glare back a bunch in Photoshop. Regardless I thought these little starfish flowers (or fruits technically) were cool looking. This is one of those pictures that is more included here as a progress picture.

Harlequin glorybower
Harlequin glorybower

This next picture I am pretty happy with. The wind was causing a ruckus with these guys and I figured this movement would translate well to the photograph. The blur from the macro lens gives a nice green and brown background color. The blurred out plants in the back provide a great background. The plants up front are even blurred out. I hit my focus exactly where I wanted to even with the wind. This is a picture that I thought would come out well before I even took. I felt that way as I was taking it. And I still feel that way after I am done with it. That’s a good feeling to have when you are taking pictures but it doesn’t come up too often.

Pretty happy with this
Pretty happy with this

The next picture I took was of a faun in one of the garden areas. I love these creatures. I always thought they were awesome little things. Nothing too wild going on with this picture but I have a personal preference for the subject and I can post whatever I want on my own website, damnit.

I love fauns and whatnot
I love fauns and whatnot

This next picture that Jesse took cracks me up. There were a lot of people at the gardens so you had to shoot around them. He was playing the waiting game waiting for the lawns to clear of people so that he could get his shot. The people never cleared so he had to settle for just cropping them out of the image. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on here but I’ll have to ask him. These trees are getting ready to explode into fall colors. There is some color out but a lot of green still around. This should be a gorgeous view in a couple more days.

No people in this image
No people in this image

Here’s another picture that Jesse took. The sun rays are pretty sweet how they wrap around the front of the statue. There were some pretty cool statues around the grounds.

The statues were nice
The statues were nice

And another shot of the lawn through a tree stump from Jesse. I’m pretty sure there were people everywhere where you see the tree.

No people here either
No people here either

I like these next two images that we took of these statues. They were one of our favorite things about the gardens. The first picture is one that I took. I really wanted to shoot this with a zoomable lens so that I could get more in my picture as I had to walk a decent distance away and had my photograph limited by trees that surrounded the statues. But since I was forcing myself to shoot with the macro lens I opted not to. The picture is alright. It would be a lot better if the leaves were less green. There is some weird oversaturation of blue around the left most statue and that small bunch of pine needles at the top center. This is pretty easily fixed in Photoshop, but it’s weird in that I’m not sure where it’s coming from. The rest of the picture seems decent from a saturation perspective.

Statues and leaves
Statues and leaves

This second image that Jesse took is much better framed. I probably would have tried to get something similar to this but instead of standing between statues 2 and 3 I would have stood between statues 1 and 2. Jesse was annoyed by the people walking the lawn but in all honesty you should be able to pretty easily remove the people in Photoshop or using some sort of cell phone photography software. I know I’ve done it on a cell phone two or three years ago so by now that feature probably works well and should be available in many more cell phone photography apps.

Nailed it
Nailed it

This next picture is a good contrast between fire and sky. This is what fall feels like.

Fireball fall
Fireball fall

And the final picture is of an acorn. I spent three hours looking at acorns and this is the one that I liked the most. I was wondering where to shoot this and couldn’t find a good spot on the way back to the car. No worries though because macro lenses give you a lot of flexibility for shooting because they can obtain a very aggressive blur. This was shot on the roof of my car while I was being rushed by people asking if I was leaving my parking spot. I like this picture. I’m hitting the focus where I want to. I like the half white and half green/slightly purplish background. I like those couple half circles that the macro lens is making happen. It’s a fitting end to what was a fairly successful day of shooting. I learned a bunch and had a great time. Can’t wait to get back out and shoot some more again soon.

Macro lens hype
Macro lens hype

There were a couple takeaways from this shoot for me. One being the compare and contrast between cell phone cameras and DSLRs. Both really have a lot of advantages. With the capability of cell phone cameras there’s really no excuse not to try out photography. I saw actually two different mid-50’s men taking pictures of this one vivid orange tree today with their cell phones outside of my work. One guy was stopped on my way out to grab lunch. The other guy was pulled over on my way back from lunch.

Another takeaway is just that different people see things, explore things, and capture things in different ways. Jesse and I ended up with a different set of pictures, even though we were shooting the same areas at the same time.

I guess a final takeaway is to just get out there and explore. Adventure. Go see and do. Watch. Experience. Capture the moment. Enjoy it. Or don’t, idgaf. But you don’t have to travel the world to have great experiences. There’s a ton of places within driving distance that are life changing that you will never visit. Try to. Find those places. Find yourself. If you are reading this I am humbled and I love you. If you are not then I still love you as well.

Best,
Joe