10 Things: New York in Winter

Upper West Side of New York seen from snowy Central Park

Lessons from a recent trip to Manhattan:

1. Martinis taste better in a crowd.

2. False alarms come in twos.

3. Digging through the closet in California for the winter clothes, including the heavy wool pea coat I’d bought in a vintage shop on Haight Street but never had the chance to use, is more fun than actually wearing them in New York.

4. When it’s 20 and the wind chill is minus God-knows-what, the weather wimp in me wins.

5. Slush sucks.

6. There’s a lot of yellow snow in Central Park.

7. It’s easier to find a table in a coffee shop on the Lower East Side than on the Upper West Side. Discuss.

8. I still love the subway.

9. New York friends make me feel more alive.

10. The best protection against frostbite is a return ticket to San Francisco.

Central Park in New York in the snow

New York Walkabout

Softball game in Central Park

One day. One lens. One great city. That’s a combination to live by — especially when it gives me the opportunity to resurrect one of my photographic roots: street photography, which I’ve always taken to mean as nothing fancier than walking around with a camera and shooting whatever comes my way.

My wife and I need a regular New York fix — museums, meat, martinis and, for me, a Manhattan walkabout. I indulged in the latter (after too much of the former) on a Sunday afternoon. Starting at the southern tip of Manhattan, I strolled Battery Park amid a glut of other tourists, circumnavigated the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, walked up to Wall Street to Trinity Church and then caught an uptown train to Midtown for a B&H break, and finally onto Central Park.

I only took two lenses to New York –a 50 1.4 for nighttime and 17-35 2.8 for everything else. This is part of a discipline I’m trying to adhere to of carrying less and looking more. I had only the wide zoom for the walkabout and, I’ll think you agree, it served me well. (Full gallery here.)

I loved the freedom of almost no gear and the demands it placed on me to move and adjust. Instead of bringing the picture to me, as a big fat bag of lenses can do, I had to go the picture. I also had speed. For those of you who jump to the gallery, look at the wedding shot. It was a turn and shoot, over in a 25oth moment. One lens, ready to go, makes that possible.

These days, as I chase assignments, try to learn technical skills others learned long ago, and spend hours at the computer doing high-rezzes and cataloging, it’s easy to forget the joy simple photography brings — the frame being filled, the captured moment, the image preserved. These were the thrills that drew me to photography originally.

A photo walkabout on a sunny New York Sunday does wonders to refresh the eye, lighten the head and remind me, again and again, of the wonders of photography.

Click here the images (and a few choice New York quotes). I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did making them.