There is a certain charm and specialty about the farmers market. It speaks not just about the produce but also the shoppers. It is not just about buying something, it is why you are buying too. It is about supporting your local farmers and buying local produce. You can call it is trendy but to many it is getting produce almost from an extension of your garden. There is more to buying vegetables here; you come to engage in a conversation, and if you come too often you may form a relationship. And within this relationship you try to conduct the transaction. There is an air of connectedness, a sudden deceleration into a make-belief pastoral times… and for some shoppers, the basket has to exemplify the whole experience.
In New York, a surprise is often awaiting just around the corner. Walking up Broadway in Greenwich village from Houston St on my way to Union Square, I notice a speck of dark clouds over the Grace church. It can’t be rain clouds, I thought, and soon the noise of fire trucks made things clear. I rushed to the place of action where fire broke out in a restaurant in the first floor when a boiler exhaust in the 5th floor exploded. According to a cook who witnessed the fire explained it to me. “I heard a boom and flames gushed into the kitchen.” NYPD was in action quickly. Over 2 hours of battle with smoke and fire ensued. The Chief giving directions. Water hoses, hydrants, axes, etc were all in use. More than 10 trucks were present in the scene. Neighbors were obviously anxious, while passers by were capturing the action in their iPhone. No one was hurt or even close to any form of injury as far as I could tell. Overall a New York moment for me. Some drama, some action. Glad I was able to make some pictures.
The Turkish restaurant Alibaba terrace in my block is a place I go often for dinner. The good food is only matched by the friendly chat that I end up having with the regulars there. The head chef behind those lovely kebabs is Osman. He comes from north east of Turkey. He loves Turkish music and gave me a good list that he kept showing me in youtube when I made this picture. Some of his recommendations: Ozlem Oznil, Asik Daimi, Kainatin Aynasiqim, Baqar Sahin, Tulun, Sabahat Akkiraz, Asik Mahsuni Serif, Gokan Birben, and Rize.
Every Saturday night, the Meat Packing District becomes a “sex and the city” spectacle. Ladies looking for someone, guys zooming in… pass and move on!
In my journey of life, I have now moved to my next stop – New York City. Time will only tell how long I will be here. New York is one of the best places with photo opportunities, if not the best, so I am very delighted indeed. It is a strange dichotomy, however. Opportunities and scarcity can both be advantages when it comes to art and creativity depending on how one uses it. Some say actual creativity comes from constraints forcing one to reach out beyond the norms of regular thinking. I continue my quest to document my life around me … what interests me and then express in my the way I see it. In short, discover through the camera who I am and share it along. I would rather have all these opportunities to try out different subject, different elements, style, talk to different people, meet different photographers, explore other people’s work in books and museums, and so on and so forth.
I have been exploring the idea does the camera has to see what the eye saw. Lately, I have spoken to quite a few accomplished photographers on this topic. I have also tried to read up few articles and essays that tangentially touch upon this subject. And the overwhelming verdict has been – it is not necessarily true. Even in the arena of news reporting which has to bring reality to the viewer, the photographer has made a conscious decision to exclude certiain things and included others. As the cliche goes – art says not only about what it includes but also what it excludes. In the area of nature photography, however, the latitude by definition is quite broad.
So, last Saturday I was out with this mindset. It was a good hour drive to the a Azalea garden and Brighton dam in Maryland. I was driving there with an intention of breaking out of what I usually do. And these photos reflect what I tried. Albeit marginally.
I saw flowers and apart from taking the iconic shots, I moved out. It was strong light of the afternoon. I had the option of waiting till the light became a bit warmer. But I shot directly into the sunlight instead, playing with the colors. I shot placing my eye from the branch looking out long the small branches. I saw the sky like a bug through the flower trying to peak into the clouds. Later, as the wind started blowing, I wanted to flutter with the leaves. I moved like a flying leaf and wondered how the flowers and greens looked as it circled in the air, and the result was nice colors like an impressionist painting.
There are wonders that can be done with the camera. And not necessarily all that lit was seeing and captured was what I could see, however, it was the world I was in and in some ways I could see a bit in my imagination. To the extent I tried to create an artificial mist in the dam picture by exposing parts of the lens longer than the rest. Previsualization as they say. Worked a bit. More to explore.
This trip was my “firsts” in many ways. First trip to Sierras in the west, first photographic workshop spanning 3-4 days, and first time venturing into the domain of landscape photography in a dedicated way – might I dare say in a contemplative way. It was a thrilling experience with Gary Hart and Doug Otto. Gary, who led the workshop knows Yosemite extremely well. And his photography skills in Yosemite could only be matched with his friendly and patient demeanor which made my first experience with him truly a memorable one. Not to forget all the lovely people I could spend the days with.
My trip began with exactly “not doing” things that all books and wise people recommend. While I had my basic camera gear, once I reached there I realized that I had some other basic stuff missing like – how to protect myself and my gear from rain. Also, I did not do any research on the park or the place. My knowledge of the place was literally limited to the few pictures of Ansel Adams I have admired. But that did not take away from my thrill – automatically it lit up the curiosity of a child in me that many photographers (like Eddie Soloway) would say needs to be generated to cultivate the art of seeing in photography.
So with this curiosity I quickly learned within the first few hours that one of the prized pictures from Yosemite in winter is that of the Horse Tail. Gary has his own prize which seems unreal until I learned the history how photographers in Yosemite have spent countless hours to capture that light since Galen Rowell popularized it 1970s. I was also pleasantly surprised that it happens only in the period we were there. What can strange luck ask for – being in the right place at the right time!
We ended up not having the full red fire on the Horse Tail. But there was some glow and I was quite pleased with that. The weather was spectacular for photography, which was learning for me as well – blue sky days are not really my friend. Clearing storms, streaming magic light through the clouds, controlling exposure and reading light, playing with composition, contemplating over what I saw to make a composition, and getting comfortable with the digital workflow (although I had a bunch of really cool B&W medium format, which I might scan and post later) were just a few of the take-aways.
More than anything else, the biggest take-away was this. I have been struggling to figure out what should I photograph more – how do I take the path to get and develop a voice of my own – how do I see the world and map into a two-dimensional picture – how do I pre-visualize. And I could not figure out a pathway towards getting anywhere. I feel that I have got some direction on that. All these apply to streets as wells as in nature photography. And that is the biggest joy which lives with me as I look forward to my next workshop. Who knows when I can make that happen! But I can’t wait too long.