As someone who’s always been in love with photography. I often find myself enamored with the styles and techniques I myself have yet to learn. With long exposures and night photography being a long time personal inspiration of mine. I felt extremely thankful when a friend and fellow photographer shared some easily applicable information with me. Being one who tends to crave the company of others as well as subjects to photograph. Time has taught me that time alone, solitude and the peace it often provides offer me more time to learn and grow. Something that almost immediately presents itself when working with long exposures Having only experimented with the concept on occasion over the last couple of weeks. I quickly realized the therapeutic rewards of these rare moments. As I stood there. The only time I really felt the least bit uneasy was when friendly neighbors stopped for a moment to say hello or if you’d believe it, to talk shop about gear. That hour or so where it was just me, my Canon 5D Mark III and my tripod was all the meditation one could ask for.
It’s not every day I find such gold within spitting distance from my home base, but when I do, it’s just as much of a thrill, if not more than having to put it in the time and mileage often required. And while I’m thrilled to share some of the bounty from today’s excursion. I’m going to remain tight-lipped and secretive about its location. Hopefully there’s someone out there that enjoys this type of thing as much as I do.
Some of my earliest memories involve my Dad taking me to the junk yards just beyond Shea stadium at Willets Point. Whether it was to scavenge for parts to keep his T-bird running or as a shark collecting on bets whose payment had over reached the official calendar dates. For me personally, the opportunity to seize the passenger’s seat and tag along on such an adventure was better than a trip to Disneyland, or at least the local arcade. That excitement I felt when the car would come to a rolling stop. Where I’d eject myself from the car, run past the half-berserk junk yard dog towards the wrecked cars, old tires and random parts that lay about like toys waiting to be opened on Christmas Day. I tell ya. From the age of five to about ten years old, there weren’t many playgrounds or theme parks worthy of such excitement on my part.
Decades later, and with many years behind me. I find myself, sometimes embarrassingly, drawn to the same things that inspired me as a child. Things that, till this day, raise my brow as well as the hair on my arm or the back of my neck.Those sensors and those knots in my stomach let me know that… as broken down as I may be. I’m still alive and full of a passion to get closer, investigate, document and report back. I hope that passion never leaves me.
In building a new portfolio I’ve been trying to show consistency in both my lighting and settings. The blueprint started with using a two light set up consisting of a beauty dish and a fill light fitted with a 72′ inch umbrella. As the sessions have progressed. I’ve tried to add a new element to each session. The project started using a seemless background for the majority of the session before quickly moving to a concrete column (L) that separates the kitchen from the living room. On to the foyer which features a giant black / chalkboard wall before finishing up with a few outdoor shots, typically on the roof. It’s a pattern that’s built from one shoot to the next. One that’s rendered improving results with each try. Today’s session with Kristina was more than I could ask for. Great looks, makeup, style and personality to match. On top of all the studio fun. She helped me overcome my fear of heights by simply showing her own.
If you’re not into garbage strewn streets and unkempt property. My usual route home from the train is dull city. S0 0ver time I’ve devised different ways to not only get home, but to explore areas that I’ve yet to really crack. One of those routes lies just across the railroad tracks, about a block or two from the main area called Little India. One one of this winters nicer days I found one that suits me well and doesn’t have me taking the long route to the short cut. As I turned on to “I forget the name” street. My ears were filled with the sounds of children loudly enjoying their recess. Luckily, the almost ear piercing sound had zero effect on my eyes, as I walked right in to a car that looked as if it predated the Castro regime. It’s happened a lot over the years. There was a classic hunk of classic green junk parked in the lot behind Hoboken’s Monroe Center for centuries. So boldly occupying its space. It seemed immovable by current technology. There’s yet another parked within site of the route I take home almost daily. (I need to spend some time getting to know it one day.)
For me personally, the draw is the history, stories and uniqueness that captivates my attention. These monuments to the past surely have some tales to tell. Getting closer to get a good look and to take a few pictures guarantees that years after it’s gone. It will still be remembered.
Prior to moving to the Journal Square area of Jersey City. I had little to no knowledge of the area with the glaring exception of beautiful views of the former American Can Company we would often view from Rt. 9 and or The Pulaski Bridge. As we passed the yet to be renovated towers. We’d often comment, better yet drool about the possibilities of someday moving in to an old run down factory or industrial complex. Little did we know at the time that those run down, abandoned beauties would be reborn as loft condos.
Upon starting our four year process of searching for a home. We saw a number of properties in and around Jersey City before deciding against moving to the area. Then, all of the sudden, thanks to the wisdom and hindsight of our trusted realtor. We gave the area one last shot. On the day we came to see the very first unit the market offered us. We were both convinced that this was the place we wanted to be. This was the kind of home we always imagined but never thought we would find. And while it took some months and the loss of two units we had our hearts set on. We sealed the deal on one we both loved and still feel very happy to be in.
While the neighborhood took time getting used to. Exploring the surrounding areas has been an amazing adventure. In areas I once tip toed around for fear of trespassing or being interrogated. I know walk boldly. The neighborhood has evolved and changed for the better.The area has become quite colorful and artful with new murals being created in some of the most unexpected places and access to anywhere else I’d like to go is literally at our fingertips.
Aside from all those pretty good reasons to be positive. My neighbors and the residents here are pretty damn nice. See friends, families and pets in riding the elevators or roaming the halls daily only reassures me moved to the right place.
As the weather warms I plan to extend my walks, exploring more corners of the area and stop being so weary about those helicopters that seem to appear any time I get to close to a bridge or railroad. Wish me luck.
Last week my wife and decided to forgo our excursion into the city to stay somewhat local and explore Jersey City. As we came upon the historic Harsimus Cemetery I realized that, while we had passed and spoken about it countless times. I had never taken her inside to visit the goats who call the cemetery their summer home. Knowing how much she would enjoy the experience. I convinced her to stop in for a visit without going much further in detail as to what was ahead.
Quicker than it took to ascend the hill. Kayuri’s curiosity turned to wonderment as she began building a quick kinship with the beautiful goats of Harsimus. Within minutes she was racing back down the hill to exchange her bills for quarters so that she could score some snacks to feed her new friends with. Gleefully squealing and squirming as J.W., Arturo and Alexander (Correct me if I’m wrong on that one.) eagerly feasted on every morsel she hand fed them. It was a rewarding experience she still speaks about a week later.
Having something as unique and special in our very own backyard is worthy of both celebration and support. The amount of work put in to maintaining this historic spot is paramount in supporting our community, as well as it’s history. For more information, a calendar of events and how to volunteer. Visit Jersey City Cemetary