Welcome to Columbia City.

With just over a week in Columbia City underway and still much unpacking to do. I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed by what I see as clutter and distraction. And while the second bedroom has been my place to get away from the TV. The room itself is a clutter filled combination of records, CD’s and photo equipment. Heading up to the spacious and welcoming roof deck has become the most calming and peaceful place I’ve found. So after a long week of collapsing boxes and trying to figure out where things should go. A trip upstairs with the camera was just what I needed. Fresh air and a fresh perspective can go a long way in clearing the mind and bringing on  positive thoughr. Here’s to finding your space.

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Roads Less Traveled

For years now, our weekends have included road trips that have taken us to many cities, states, farms and out of the way eating destinations. Some of my favorite have been out to the countryside where we get to enjoy things that us city folk don’t get to enjoy during the work week. And with all the roadside attractions and calls to “Stop the car. I’m getting out.” It’s a near miracle we ever get to our final destination. With all the recent verbal onslaghts of “People live here, you know.” and “You’re on private property.” I have learned to choose the ground I tread  on lithely. In this case, with a 50 mm lens. I was able to keep a safe distance. Though no one showed up or emerged from the collapsing structure. I definitely felt a presence and history as I walked among the ruins.

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Look to the Sky

Armed with a recently purchased tripod and a fresh out the box circular polarizer. I headed south on Rt. 9 to Fords Ave. for one of my favorite spots to photograph sunsets. After an over priced and underwhelming slice of pizza and a quick stop in at my friendly, way out of the neighborhood record store. (You know the one that prices every fucking item in the store higher than anyone else on the planet.) I made my way towards the power lines and set up my tripod in time to watch the sun slowly set over the industrial setting.

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To add to the industrial feel the scarecrow like towers offer were too larger than life objects that looked to be a skateboarders wet dream. The barrels, wide enough to drive a car through and hollow enough to deliver ear shattering echoes. While it’s taking me a bit of time to get used to working on a tripod. According to a friend and mentor. It’s a much needed step in my growth as a photographer. As for the filters. I owe a thank you to the sales woman at Adorama for her recommendations and taking the time to make fun of the old, crappy filter that was attached to the lens I brought in.

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Days 6 & 7; Hakone

When friends and family got wind I was heading to Japan for the holidays. The overwhelmingly predominant response was       “Take lots of pictures.” Understandingly so, considering most of the people I know see me as a photographer, or at least, someone who is constantly inspired by it. As I began to pack for the trip. I thought to myself, “Maybe just a few really good pictures would help me enjoy my trip a lot more.” The thought of reaching for my camera at every turn doesn’t resonate with me as much as it might have in the past. While documenting every family moment, meal and visit is perfectly fine. I thought about the moments and exchanges I might be missing while fumbling for my camera and the perfect setting.

So with my first week here I’ve had my share of opportunities to take hundreds, if not thousands of pictures I’d spend countless hours reviewing. I’ve decided to keep my shooting to a minimal. Something that is pretty easy when you constantly find yourself in good company.

And while I do find myself wandering off at times or wanting to jump from my chosen mode of transportation. I’ve kept it pretty low key. Arriving in Hakone, perhaps one of my favorite areas of Japan. I allowed myself some time to indulge myself by putting my camera to use. I honestly feel that going on without writing about what a very special place Hakone is, might be criminal. However, I feel that perhaps that’s best for another time and maybe, place. For now, a few pictures and a very Merry Christmas.

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Using the Tools at your Disposal

Last week as we travelled the winding roads and peeks that  the colorful canvas of New York’s upstate beautiful landscape. Stopping often to enjoy the orchards and farms that served as the areas fuel for our bellies as well as a chance to stop to stretch our legs and breathe the mountain air.                 Though Autumn’s colors were still in their infancy. The browns, oranges and greens were more than us city dwellers had seen in a long time. As my wife loaded up on fresh veggies, fruit, apple cider and those delicious donuts. I took my lens to the skies and shot what I could while battling the harsh mid day sun. As we settled in at home that night and looked through the images I shot.

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My better half seemed unimpressed with the skies lack of pop. “Plenty of blue, but where’s the contrast? Where’s the pop?” “Where’s the Drama?”While I agreed, I felt the need to defend myself, noting. “There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.” While my defense was just enough to keep me from having my came confiscated. It made me think aloud, “Why am I not using my filters?” Soon after, I dug feverishly through the containers of photo gear I rarely use and found a small assortment of filters that have gone unused for over a decade. Amongst them I found a polarizer I purchased at University Place while living in NYC in 1994. The next day, like magic, the clouds came out and danced with delight. Not having the time to drive upstate. I headed downstairs and took what you see below. Not bad, considering I hadn’t used a filter since I was a young sex machine in the 1990’s. Perhaps it’s time to start using them more often while attempting a return to my old (yet younger) self.

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