Snowy benches

March 7th, 2011

While enjoying the winter months in Minnesota and Alaska, I developed an odd fixation on the many benches that were embedded in the snowy landscapes of the parks through which I walked. I have been shooting a lot of black and white lately, and there is just something about the dark textured wood of a park bench set against the smooth white blanket of snow that kept catching my eye. I would definitely put these photos in the category of “images I probably would have hated three years ago,” but, I like them now, so I’m just rolling with it.

Anchorage, AK (Feb 10, 2011)
Anchorage, AK (Feb 10, 2011)
Anchorage, AK (Feb 10, 2011)
Anchorage, AK (Feb 14, 2011)
Anchorage, AK (Feb 23, 2011)

Photos taken in Anchorage, AK and Plymouth, MN on February 10-23, 2011.

Back in “the” city

March 1st, 2011

Well, somehow I’ve made my way once again back to New York City. After France, I spent a mildly painful (but extremely productive and satisfying) two months shut up in my room in MN preparing my portfolio and applying to graduate schools (namely SVA Interaction Design, Parsons Design & Technology, NYU Tisch ITP, and RISD Digital + Media). I took a short trip out East to visit said schools, and then ran away to Alaska for almost a month to relax / visit Catie’s family / remember how to be a somewhat normal social human being again. Somewhere along the way, Catie and I decided that we would come back to the city early this Spring so that while I (we) waited to hear back about whether I got into school somewhere, I could coach tennis again, start working on iOS projects with other people (and perhaps do a few photography jobs again as well), and hopefully make a little bit of money. (Nothing I do will even remotely register against my forthcoming graduate-school-shaped abyss of debt, but I figure I should at least try to scramble above zero before I take the plunge.) We have a temporary two month sublet set up for March and April, after which (if my hopes and dreams aren’t completely dashed four for four) we will find a more permanent living arrangement.

It’s odd being back in this place all of a sudden, especially on a potentially long-term basis… But, I love it here. I feel comfortable. The rhythms of NYC have obviously lain dormant and persistent inside of me during my absence, as they sprung back into action instantly upon my return. I know when to cross the street, no matter what the traffic signals. I pride myself in expertly weaving through shifting crowds on the sidewalk. I bask in the periodic breaks from the action above while sitting on the subway, listening to audiobooks and people-watching to my heart’s content. It all just makes sense to me.

Of course, I still can’t help thinking about all the other places I’ve been lately, and everything I’m missing by being back here… That’s a stupid way to think, I know – especially when NYC has so much. I’m going to try to just make the most of this place while I’m here this time, and trust that Catie and I will invariably find ourselves out and about in the world once again, someday soon, and that we will make the most of those new places when we find them.

In line with that optimistic proactive note, I spent yesterday afternoon camera-walking around Central Park with my old college friend and talented graphic designer Alex Berger. He recently upgraded from my old D70 (that I sold him circa 2006) to a D7000 (an upgrade of 100x, if you’re counting!), so we took it out for a spin, and I brought along my D3 as well.

New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)

Photo taken in New York, NY on February 27, 2011.

Although not a great deal of it has made its way onto this blog (yet), I continue to shoot a lot of manual-exposure high contrast black and white straight-out-of-the-camera JPG images… My whole photographic style seems to be evolving. Not only am I exposing images differently, but I find myself forming compositions that I probably would have despised two years ago. Maybe my eye is maturing as I get older (my 26th birthday was just a couple weeks ago), or maybe I just keep getting bored with myself. Either way, I find the shift interesting.

New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)
New York, NY (Feb 27, 2011)

Photos taken in New York, NY on February 27, 2011.

My last day in Lyon

November 24th, 2010

The day I had to leave Lyon snuck up on me much faster than I expected. I don’t feel like I was there for three months. It’s hard continually introducing myself to a new place to live. I feel like right when I start getting the hang of it, it’s time to move on again. It is great to see so many parts of the world and experience such different cultures. (I’m not sure I could name five similarities between Bangladesh and France…) But, I still don’t really have the hang of such a nomadic lifestyle, I think. It takes me a long time to warm up when I wake up in the morning, and similarly it takes me a while to warm up in a new city.

Catie and Emma gave me free reign on what we should do my last afternoon in the city. It was a beautiful day after a couple blanketed with rain, so I steered us toward the Parc de la Tete d’Or. (Just like a Minnesotan to spend his last day in a great city at the park.) Emma hadn’t been there yet anyway, so it was a good fit. The park felt different from the other times we had visited. The trees were almost all bare, and there was hardly anyone walking about, so the place felt very open. It was quiet, and a nice way to say farewell.

Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)

Photo taken in Lyon, France on November 16, 2010.

I will miss France. I wish I felt like I had become a bit “French” myself, but I don’t think I had enough time (or perhaps I have just too much “goof” coursing through my veins). Maybe Catie and I will make it back again someday, and I can try again (and maybe learn a decent bit of the language too, although Catie definitely has us covered in that department). In the meantime, I’ll be in MN for the next month and a half working on art projects and applying to graduate school, and generally enjoying the holidays at home for a change. (And unfortunately, I will probably be making a concerted effort to neglect this blog while I focus on those other things…)

I have no idea what is coming next… Domesticity? A hemispheric shift? Anything is possible…

Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 16, 2010)

Photos taken in Lyon, France on November 16, 2010.

It’s a little rainy out but so what

November 24th, 2010

After we got back to Lyon from Marseille, I only had two and a half days (even less than Emma!) left in France before flying back to Minnesota to try to sort out and make some accelerated progress on my future life (hopefully publishing a few apps to the iOS app store, and figuring out and completing graduate school applications). It rained all of Tuesday morning, but after trying to wait it out a while eating lunch and playing a game or two, we remembered that we were Alaskans and Minnesotans (Minnelasktans?) – not some silly city folk that are scared by a little rain!

Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)

Photo taken in Lyon, France on November 15, 2010.

So, we set off. We didn’t have much of a destination in mind, and it definitely did continue raining for almost the entire time we were out, but that didn’t stop us in the slightest from having a wonderful time wandering about the city (as we so often do in cities) and taking some photos as well. (It has to be raining fairly hard before I really start worrying about a well built professional Nikon camera. And no, unfortunately I am not getting paid to say that.)

Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 15, 2010)

Photos taken in Lyon, France on November 15, 2010.

SCOTCH and SODA Sweat, and other things

November 24th, 2010

Catie, Emma, and I all wanted to make the most of our time in Marseille, so we spent the majority of not only the days but also the evenings walking around the city. I’ve talked before about my affection for night photography, and the winding streets of Marseille offered plenty of good new content. I could ramble on for a little while now about some of the things we saw, or the pleasant taste of the nighttime sea air coming off the Mediterranean, but frankly I need to cut straight to the point of this post; while we were walking along some random street in a city in France, we glanced at a small clothing store display window and saw a BRONXVILLE sweatshirt for sale.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)

Photo taken in Marseille, France on November 12, 2010.

Before we go any further, be sure to take a good close look at that picture. Everything about the display of that sweatshirt in a shop in the middle of Marseille is so incredibly bizarre, that I don’t even know where to begin. For anyone totally clueless, Bronxville is a very wealthy self-proclaimed ‘village’ with approximately 6500 residents about 15 miles north of Manhattan in New York State. (According to Wikipedia, it is actually one of the places in the country with the most affluent households and the highest average incomes.) Sarah Lawrence College (from which both Catie and I graduated) happens to be located in Bronxville. Actually, to be more precise, SLC sits mostly in the much less prestigious city of Yonkers, but the college is very careful about associating itself (including its postal code) instead with Bronxville as much as possible since it has such a nice (and did I mention wealthy?) high-class reputation.

OK, so the obvious general question is – how did a Bronxville sweatshirt end up in Marseille? Who knows. And why did someone put it there? Well, it does also say “NEW YORK” underneath, and it seems like no matter where you go in the world, there will always be people who want to associate themselves with New York. That’s fine! I’m not judging! New York is a great place. I love it there!

The next weirdest part of the display is the listed price of the sweatshirt. Over the course of my last three months living and squandering money in France, I have become intimately familiar with the exchange rate between the Euro and the American dollar. It has remained fairly consistently at a rate of at least $1.33 for every €1.00. (In other words, for whatever price you see in France, add on an extra third of that to get the true cost for us American suckers. After you do that, feel free to cry a little before paying the probably egregious sum.) That means that this Bronxville sweatshirt – which in my opinion is rather old and ratty-looking, not to mention just plain boring – is being sold in a French shop for almost $45. I don’t think even the swindlers who work at the Sarah Lawrence College bookstore would try to charge that much for such a sweatshirt. Who is buying this for $45? I honestly can’t imagine.

Finally, we get to what I think is easily the strangest part of this enigma. Why is it labeled as a “SCOTCH and SODA” sweatshirt? Is it because this is the type of article of clothing that you would only want to wear while lounging about, drinking scotch and soda? (For that matter, do people lounge about, drinking scotch and soda? I haven’t the foggiest.)

EDIT: I did some research, and I found out that Scotch & Soda is actually the name of an “Amsterdam Couture” fashion design house, specializing in very expensive clothes. I can’t actually find the Bronxville sweat anywhere on their website or store, but let us assume that it is indeed designed and distributed by this company. I have to say, I think this makes it even weirder! What is expensive and fashionable about a shabby blue Bronxville sweatshirt!? Who in Amsterdam decided this was a chic idea?! Have they been to Bronxville before? Were they trying to make a BRONX sweatshirt instead, and just got confused? (Not that I would consider a Bronx sweatshirt particularly “chic” by any regard, but it would at least be more imaginable than Bronxville!)

I am sure this mystery will never be solved. Maybe if I had stayed in France long enough, I would have started seeing fashionable young ladies wearing black tights, tall boots, and sweatshirts featuring the names of other somewhat obscure locales in Westchester County. Who’s to say, really…

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-13, 2010.