Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grand Central

I am fortunate to be giving another photo tour of NYC through the Center for Photographic Art.  This time we will be midtown Manhattan, including Grand Central Station.  The architecture of Grand Central Station is truly remarkable and inspiring.  Soaring ceilings depicting the celestial sky; ornamental archways and stunning light fixtures are everywhere! Statues and garlands decorate doorways and hallways.  Just walking through Grand Central evokes a bygone age of luxury and great craftsmanship.  It was a time when people stopped and noticed the beauty all around them. An age of lavishing ornamentation on the great and small architectural details.  Of working with gorgeous building materials: marble, brass, oak.  A great debt goes to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who spearheaded the Preservation Campaign to save Grand Central Station in all its glory for future generations.

Mars Atop Grand Central Station: NYC

One Stunning Interior View: GCS

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sheer Delight

I had the delightful experience of attending the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC on Saturday.  The day was made better by joining two of my friends at the show so that we could discuss and drool over the magnificent furnishings, decorative pieces, jewelry and art being exhibited by dealers from all over the world.  I have always looked to the past for my future in the arts and seeing some stunning examples of art and craft inspired me.  The show runs through next week-end.  If you can visit the Winter Antiques Show I don't think you will be disappointed:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Going Up?

In the past, architectural ornamentation was commonplace.  Each and every building used architectural details crafted from metal, stone, wood and glass to beautify spaces, both exteriors and interiors.  The greater the detailing, the more larvish (perhaps expensive) the structure.  Yet, even the post WW I apartment buildings in NYC used architectural detail (moldings, grill-work, tile), which created interest.  Humble Lower East Side shops used elaborate signage and the department stores, regardless of merchandise pricepoint, outdid each other to attract/visually delight/inspire shoppers with marvelously crafted design both inside and outside the stores.
I saw some module designs for NYC apartments online today: not an architectural detail in sight.  They looked nice, utilitarian.  They surely lacked the detailing that characterized the past building/ housing industry.  However, some builders are still adding detail.  It costs more and takes more time, but in the end I think the details matter.  They create a unique beauty and interest to the spaces and places we live and visit.

NYC Department Store Elevator

Art genre: Sepia architectural detail/art photograph with color

Photography tip: Carefully add highlights to metal.  Be sure that the highlights from the initial shot are not blown out by not using a flash when shooting metal.
Location: NYC, NY

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wonderful Class

Last night I had the good fortune to teach a wonderful group of professional and hobbyist photographers at Berger Bros. Center for Photographic Art in Huntington LI.  The physical space is marvelous for classes/workshops/studio work and Berger Bros. promotes all manner of education for photographers in addition to selling all camera equipment for any level of photographic needs. 
My audience was a very receptive group of photography enthusiasts and I learned a lot from them.  I find that in passing along information, I always gain valuable insights.  Some subjects we touched on were: digital vs film; focal length compensation; noise; white balance; post production manipulation including cropping.  I was glad to share photographs of my upcoming architectural art exhibit: "Park Slope/Prospect Park."  I welcomed the excellent and relevant feedback from the audience.

Park Slope: Brooklyn, NY  

 Black And White Architectural Photograph with Color.

Park Slope: Brooklyn, NY

Black and White Architectural Photograph.

Prospect Park: Brooklyn, NY
Sepia Architectural Photograph.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Miami, Brooklyn

The diversity of architecture you can see on a trip through Brooklyn, NY is truly amazing.  Any style from 17th Century Dutch Farmhouse to Uber Modern to Art Deco to Federalist all exist in harmony.  However on a recent trip to Brooklyn, I was surprised and delighted to see this "Miami-like" apartment building among the red/brown/yellow brick apartment houses that line Ocean Avenue, a main thoroughfare.  The sea-sun colored ceramic tiles seem very refreshing amid their more somber brickwork neighbors.  Although the facade needs repair, this charming entrance-way would give me a visual treat every time I saw it if I lived here.  I have traveled trough Brooklyn many times, yet there is always something new to see.    

Art genre: B&W architectural detail/art photograph with color

Photography tip: In post production mask the B&W image and slowly bring in color until the image suits you.

Location: Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Art is self-expression.  Art communicates the artist's point of view.  What is so marvelous about art is that the artist can change and grow.  Or stay the same.  Art allows for and embraces change.  One aspect of digital photography that is so valuable is the ease with which an artist/photographer can change images.  Or keep them as is.  It all depends on perspective.
The first photograph is unaltered.  It communicates several architectural details that I love: ironwork, stairs, light-filled window.  There are strong diagonals and other features that may create interest in the piece.  One in particular is the way the foreground is in focus, while the background is somewhat blurred.  The shot is as is: Vienna 2009.
The second shot has been converted to black and white; sharpened; brightened; denoised; values heightened, among other alterations.
Interestingly enough, I kind of like both images.  Each for different reasons.  These photographs are sign posts for me.  I learn from my experiments so that I can incorporate new skills into my commissioned or exhibition photography.  The possibilities are limitless!

Vienna I: 2009

Vienna II: 2009

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A New Direction

When I was 4, I began to draw and paint.  I viewed these artistic endeavors as my passions, but not a path to a "make-a-living" profession.  In college I majored in photography and architectural drawing, hoping for a career of sorts in architectural imaging.  However, after working days as a draftsman for a number of years with side jobs in photography, I found that painting at night was a difficult row to hoe.  So I left drafting to pursue painting, drawing and kept my free-lance architectural and art photography as a profession.  This juxtaposing of the arts suited me.  The arts were equal, but separate: photography or painting.  In the last decade I have devoted myself almost exclusively to architectural / art photography.  But my fingers were always itching for a pencil, a brush, the "hands on" feeling of touching the paper.  Digital technology, while great in some aspects, precludes working with my hands unless it is to add more paper to my printer or manipulate my stylist on my tablet.

My next exhibit will be about incorporating my drawing with my photography.  Influenced by the early art photographers, such as Man Ray, I have combined pencil, charcoal, pastel and gold leaf into my photographs of Park Slope / Prospect Park which I have printed on fine art paper.  It is a marvelous experience to touch the paper with drawing media.  I have gone very slowly this time, but it feels like a good beginning!

Grand Army Arch: Brooklyn, NY.  
  Photography with charcoal, chalk, pencil and gold leaf accents.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Influences: Man Ray

I have always been inspired by artists who Push the Envelop.  The art may not always be a genre that appeals to me personally, but I admire the chances/ risks taken.  Man Ray was decidedly a Risk Taker.  Ray lived and created art at a time when a great many artists were manipulating traditional art to put their own new take on it: the early 20th century.  Architects, photographers, composers, writers and painters were stylizing their art to modernize and revolutionize the accepted approaches.  Man Ray incorporated new elements into his photography.  He changed the way people thought of the medium to originate his own unique art photographs.  I take inspiration from Man Ray in that I try to create photographs that are individually mine and that offer the viewer an original way of seeing.

Man Ray: Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924

Man Ray: Untitled, 1932
Man Ray: Rayograph, 1934

Man Ray: Homme, 1912

Friday, January 4, 2013

Beauty Two Ways

Today's technology is marvelous!  I DO miss the acrid smells of my darkroom, which I occasionally visit, although I don't use film any more.  Technology does have drawbacks, for example SHARPENING!  However, I love the ease with which I can look at an image so many different ways with the click of a Photoshop filter or a plugin.  When I saw this magnificent architectural detail, I was driving on the Upper West side of Manhattan.  I quickly pulled into a parking spot (serendipitous!) and took some photos of the entire building: zeroing in on several wonderful details.  I kept thinking about the image throughout the day.  Later, when I downloaded the photos into my computer, I played around with several images of the building until I got the composition I wanted.  Selecting my favorites, I still couldn't decide whether the final photographs should be B&W or sepia.  With technology, I don't have to make a choice.  I have one master Photoshop image with both options.  A beautiful architectural detail two ways.  The possibilities are limitless, only bound by my imagination!

Black & White Architectural Detail

Sepia Architectural Detail

Art genre: B&W and/ or Sepia architectural detail/art photograph with color

Photography tip: In post production, try B&W and Sepia to see which one you like.  Architectural details lend themselves very well to both monochromatic themes.

Location: Upper West side, NYC

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Wishing all a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful & Creative 2013!  Entering the New Year today is like going through another doorway.  To some it may be a portal into the unknown; to others, a familiar journey.  It may seem tired or exciting; pessimistic or joyful; colorful or monochromatic.  Whatever your encounter, I hope 2013 will be your door to opportunity and success! 
This doorway is a little neglected.  The magnificent brass carved door faces, the sculpted stone, the materials are used expertly by artisans from another time.  A preserved slice of architectural beauty.  As we enter 2013 and look towards the future, I hope the past and its glories are remembered. 

Doorway: NYC

Art genre: black and white architectural detail/art photograph with color

Photography tip: In post production, bring up color in a B&W, by masking and very gradually "painting in" the color .

Location: NYC