Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Photographing New York Shadows


In a recent post called “Reflections on the Windows of Greece” I mentioned that, when I’m traveling, for some reason I’m drawn to photographing windows in Greece, doors in Paris and chairs in Nicaragua. (Don’t know why—it’s not a conscious decision.  I think the doors and windows attract me because I’m always wondering what lies behind them.)

(What I love to photograph best in every country is people, especially children, but that can often get you in trouble.) 

Lately, while walking around Manhattan with a camera in my hand, I’ve become fascinated with the shadows cast by the fire escapes.  (I’ve mentioned before that my good friend Mari Seder, who is an award-winning professional photographer, once told me that sometimes the shadow is the most important part of the photograph.) 

Whenever I drive into Manhattan, when I turn off the FDR Drive onto 96th Street, I notice the building above, uninhabited except for the bodega on the ground floor. If the sun’s out and the shadows are there, I take a picture through the windshield (while I’m stopped, waiting for the light to change of course!)  I love the crazy zigzag patterns of the shadows.

The other day, while walking on Third Avenue in the Seventies, I came upon a block that was a virtual symphony of fire-escape shadows.  Do you like the panoramic photo above or the closer photo below best?

I also tend to photograph architectural details.  In Manhattan, it’s important to look up (except when crossing a street, of course!  Those taxis can be lethal!)  You’ll find all sorts of unexpected treasures, like these.

 Once I started looking for shadows that make pleasing patterns, I found them everywhere.  Here’s  a photo I took while waiting for a check-up in my doctor’s examining room!

And here’s a table and chairs outside near the pool.

When I left Manhattan last Friday, I rode on a LimoLiner bus which traversed Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem.   It was lined with antique buildings with fire escapes. We were moving too fast for good positioning, but I snapped this photo through the window before Manhattan faded into the distance.

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