Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last day of 365

And here we are, the end of 2009. A year ago, I laid out my plan to take at least one photo a day through the year as a means to stimulate the creative process and get back to doing something I loved. At the end of that project, I'd call it a success. I found myself looking at things differently, trying to see if there was a photo there I wanted to hold onto. I took my time a little more, not rushing from point A to point B as much, even telling myself it was OK to be five minutes late if it meant taking a few shots on my way there. And I stayed true to my own few, loose rules: At least one shot, no matter the quality, taken between the hours of midnight and 11:59 p.m. Only once did I miss that window, technically. During a day of organizing the basement, I knew I wanted to document my efforts, and though I figured I'd take a shot of the workbench, I forgot to do it within the 24 hours. Although the physical image was taken the following day, the mental image was in my head within the window. There was also one day when the upload to the computer failed and the images were lost somewhere in between camera and hard drive. So although I took the required photo that day, the image that represents it was taken early the next morning as I left work. So in a way, it still fits, because the day, for me, had not yet ended.

Most of my images from the year were taken with the Canon Powershot point-and-shoot that I bought last December almost exclusively with this project in mind. Although I love the handy P&S for convenience in carrying with me everyday to work, as a result I don't take the time to craft shots the way many of us do with SLRs. So while I won't be making a conscious effort to shoot photos everyday in 2010, I hope that one of the lasting effects from this past year is that I use my SLR a bit more. I also hope to be regularly active with this blog, posting a few times a week, perhaps using weekly photo themes as inspiration. And I'd really like to scan in my film images, so perhaps that will be next year's resolution, at least photo-wise: Scan a group -- a roll, a place, a session, a theme -- per week. We'll see how that goes.

Happy 2010 to all. Time to party.

Day 365 of 365

It wouldn't be New Year's Eve in Boston without snow. It's happened to us the last several years we've come up here to party with my college roommate, our parents, and dozens of friends. Thankfully, this year's burst was compressed to about a three-hour window from the late morning to mid-afternoon, and hopefully we'll have nothing more the rest of the day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 364 of 365

As Casey looked through her newest restaurant cookbook, Cassie made herself comfortable.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 363 of 365

Oh, the excitement of Day 363! This was it, as far as unexpected happenings today. Well, I suppose there was the downed wires north of here that delayed Casey's train into the city this morning, so I drove her to Secaucus so that she could get to work on time (or close to it) rather than waiting for the delayed train. And then she got out earlier than expected, but still would've had to wait for the same train back home, departing Hoboken at 10 p.m., so I went back to Secaucus to pick her up. In between, it was a few more errands consisting of an exchange at Staples and some groceries at Whole Foods. Other than that, I stayed inside on this frigid, windy winter day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 362 of 365

Spent the day shopping -- picking up various accessories for Christmas gifts we received, spending gift cards, getting a new cell phone. Ah yes, new phone. I was due for an upgrade and my current phone has a black eye. Well, now it's my previous phone. So by this time, I figured I'd go for the smartphone upgrade. I work for a web company, so having that mobile access does help me with my job. There's no way I'd go to an iPhone, because AT&T's coverage in New York City is horrendous (and their 3G network is not as good as Verizon's; notice that Luke Wilson never mentions "3G" when he's tossing postcards over the map), so I decided to give the Droid a whirl. So far, so good -- after 21 hours.

And so that brings to five the total number of cameras I've used to take pictures this year. There's my Konica-Minolta DSLR, my Canon Powershot used for most pics, my wife's point-and-shoot, my old Samsung and now the new Droid.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 361 of 365

U.S. 220 near Bedford, Pa., as we made our way home from Johnstown to New Jersey through a Currier and Ives countryside -- red barns and white farmhouses set in a snow-dusted field among the undulating hillsides.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 360 of 365

After a leisurely, slow morning, we headed out with Casey's dad and stepmom to the step-grandparents' house and on an errand before a trip to Bedford Springs, a hotel and resort in the Pennsylvania countryside. It's a sprawling resort dating back to the 1800s, with the lobby adorned with various artifacts, photos and guest ledgers and records books from past centuries. After lunch, we walked through the lobbies and sitting rooms and ducked into the indoor pool, which was active on a cold, foggy, winter day. It's an interesting scene -- I can't say I've ever been swimming with a Christmas tree on display near the pool.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 359 of 365

This is Christmas in Johnstown, 2009: a light freezing rain pelts the windows and forming a crisp coating over the snow in the yard. Luckily, we're comfortable and warm inside, with no place to go all day.

Happy Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 358 of 365

We had a bright, sunny day for our drive across Pennsylvania and we arrived in Johnstown to find about eight inches of snow on the ground. A lot of the pine trees still held snow on their boughs, which I found to be unusual a day or so after the storm. Usually the branches have been cleared off by the wind after the first day.

Upon our arrival, we found ourselves in a festive house, the music piped throughout the first floor by speakers in several rooms, Carol and Jim busy in the kitchen preparing for the party that night. We jumped in to help before getting dressed and starting the festivities a little after five. Eight hours later, we turned in, drunk and exhausted.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 356 of 365

All of the Christmas decorations at Chelsea Market this year were made from recycled plastic (except for the lights, of course), including CDs cut and arranged into wreaths.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 355 of 365

I've always been a bigger fan of multi-colored lights than white ones, particularly for photographs, so I changed this one up by going black and white.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 354 of 365

We're getting down to the final days of the year. I took this shot on my way into work to begin my final week of 2009, a lovely, abbreviated three-day week (Sunday-Tuesday). It was my first day in the city after the snowstorm, and while I missed all the whited-out streets and the Times Square snowball fight, I still found some not-usually-seen shots like this.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 353 of 365

Winter came down heavily today. Only two days after I heard we might get some snow this weekend, the flakes started falling lightly around 1 p.m. By 8 o'clock, street lights were obscured behind the white curtain and the roads melded with the curbs, the lawns, the sidewalks.

Every hour or so, Casey or I would peek at the view from a window to monitor the progress. No point in shoveling to keep ahead of it, I thought, because all that work would be erased by morning. Besides, I'm happy to give the two neighbors with snow blowers a chance to go an extra few feet to clear our sidewalks, as they've done in winters past without a request.

Winter has arrived in earnest a few days before it arrives on the calendar. The days may soon start getting longer, but spring has never seemed so far away.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 352 of 365

Just to make sure I see as much of the city at Christmas as I can, I took the PATH to 9th St. instead of Christopher as usual and walked up Greenwich Ave. One of the first things that caught my eye at the corner of 6th Ave. and 9th St. was the shooting stars on the lamp posts along the avenue. The Jefferson Market tower made for a rather obvious framing option.

"High Line photographer," New York City, November 2009

Choosing my Best shot of 2009 is a daunting task. I've uploaded 1,658 photos so far this year and taken dozens more than that.

I settled on this one because it is one of my best, for one thing. But it was also taken up on the High Line, which opened this year and has given me a pleasant alternative route to work each afternoon. I was hoping to choose one that I hadn't used as a photo of the day, but the reality is that the best pictures throughout the year were part of that project, so it was unavoidable.

The other finalists, in reverse chronological order:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 351 of 365

Eight days until Christmas and trees are still lining the sidewalks around New York City. I love it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 350 of 365

After closing down Foley's at 4 a.m., I was left with 90 minutes to kill before the first train back to Clifton. Last year, about eight of us went to breakfast at the Tick-Tock Diner on 8th Ave. and 34th St. This year, everyone shuffled home, weary, so I passed a pleasant hour alone in a booth with a book to read, a notebook to jot thoughts and a plate of mozzarella sticks and a Coke all to myself.

Three guys in a booth I faced chatted up the ladies in a booth next to them. The girls -- I deduced they were Duke students who will be studying in Spain next semester -- were cordial enough to the chatty frattys who kept pestering them with questions.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 349 of 365

On my way into the city for the company Christmas party, I paused on the overpass while waiting for the train to get some tail lights on the road below, with a house decorated for the holidays in the background, of course.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 348 of 365

No adjustments made; that's the way it looked atop a West Village apartment building.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 347 of 365

I run by this house often and when I noticed the Christmas decorations up, I made a point to go back at night, with my camera. It was raining steadily tonight, so I didn't get out of my car, but you can see the Griswoldian influence on this one.

So much of the lights blink, including the blue ones dangling from the gutters, and "run," as if they're chasing one another. I wonder what the neighbors think. The lights aren't on all night, but I don't know what time they are turned off.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 346 of 365

I drove down to my parents' house for the annual cookie bake with my mom's college friends. They've been doing it for more than 30 years, I believe, since they were seniors. It rotates among the houses -- two in New Jersey, one in D.C., one in Connecticut, though the other NJ couple now lives in Boston. When all the kids -- there are five of us from the group -- were living at home in our younger days, we loved this weekend together. Lots of cookies and extra presents.

This is one of the few photos I've taken of myself this year. We first tried the face-recognition timer, but I didn't think to re-read the manual on that feature, so we didn't get it to work right. Alas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 345 of 365

This is my favorite window this month on my Greenwich St. walk to work from the Christopher St. PATH station. Just a great New York City Christmas scene.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 344 of 365

We always get a kick out of the two-line community events sign at Boro Hall in my hometown of Little Silver. The top line, if it has anything, is usually something topical, such as the current "Happy Holidays." The second line is used to inform residents what can be put out curbside for collection/recycling this week. Yet without punctuation, my family always gets a kick out of reading it literally:


That's how we see it, anyway.

Maybe I'll make this a Christmas card. Might have to go back in the evening, when the tree is lit. I bet there'd be enough light from the street to see the letters on the sign.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Day 343 of 365

I joined Casey on a few "errands" this afternoon. As we set out on a self-made, self-guided pizza tour of New York, we made one quick detour to Tavern on the Green so she could take some measurements of a statue for its listing in the catalog for the upcoming auction of its artifacts. It was only my second visit, I believe. I went there one year during Restaurant Week because a friend had always wanted to eat there and figured that the week of reduced entrees (and reduced options) was the only chance she'd get. There may have been one other brief look-see, but I don't recall for sure.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Day 342 of 365

In Princeton for a family dinner tonight, we got there early on purpose to walk around a little and enjoy the town at Christmastime. Palmer Square was brightly lit, with holiday music coming through speakers on the square. It all made for a nice distraction from the cold.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Day 341 of 365

I'm a sucker for big trees and big displays and colored lights at Christmas. Our municipal complex pretty much has it all for the holidays, so I enjoy driving by it at night. For this shoot, I walked over to it and strolled around the grounds to take it all in.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Day 340 of 365

The hope that has slumbered for 2,000 years,
the promise that silenced 1,000 fears.
A faith that can hobble an ocean of tears, the peace of Christmas Day.

-- Bob Beers, "The Peace Carol"

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Day 339 of 365

The first snowfall of the season started as large, fluffy flakes during a transition from an early afternoon of rain. It didn't make for the best photo, but as the ground chilled, the grass and yards soon were dusted with an inch or so of powder, and by evening the roads had a light coating as well.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Day 338 of 365

A collection of gift ideas? The contents of a very large purse? Temporary advertising. Not holiday-related at all.

"Home for the holidays," New Jersey, December 2007

In our first Christmas with cats, we had to trim some of the lower branches of the tree to give it a bit of a higher clearance. The felines would lie beneath the tree and swat at the lower boughs. So to discourage the swatting and allow for more supervision when they disappeared beneath the pine, Casey cut some of the lower branches off. Instead of discarding them, she turned them into a homemade wreath.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Day 337 of 365

Lights are popping up block-by-block as I walk through the City these days. Restaurants (like the Spotted Pig) will often have some holiday lights up at times other than the season, but these on this tree-in-a-bench were new the other night.

In recent years, the single-color strings have become more popular -- as have the energy-saving LED strands. But at a distance and/or on megapixels, those white LEDs can look blue. These, however, truly are blue.

"Flickering," Maine, July 2009

Burning the firewood on a summer rafting trip in Maine.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Day 336 of 365

I've often looked across the street into Adelaide as I've walked up Greenwich St. to work. I've never stopped to look as closely as these two did, but their silhouettes, the white Christmas lights around the windows and the red bows and holiday cheer inside made me pause to capture it all tonight.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Day 335 of 365

This is what I love about New York. From Thanksgiving until just before Christmas, as you walk the streets during your daily meanderings, you may turn a corner and find yourself strolling through a makeshift pine forest. I've been through some with trees on both sides of the sidewalk, the pine scent in stereo in effect. It always makes me smile, particularly the setups that have the small twig-trees nailed to the crossed two-by-fours a la Charlie Brown's tree so that people in their tiny studio apartments can enjoy a little bit of Christmas on an end table.