Funny Picture

A Funny Monkey


An unsuspecting girl caught candidly doing a funny monkey-like pose.

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Photography Packet & Terms

Photography, like any other art, speaks to people in different ways. Interpreting that art is a different conversation and is too often discussed. These readings allowed for me to gain interest in a whole new conversation, the importance of photography. With their reasonings, two authors stood out for me. Berenice Abbott and Larry Sultan had very interesting ideologies as to why photography was appealing for them and it really stimulated my mind to understand why I wanted to pursue it as well.

Berenice Abbott was a photographer, primarily of the 1930s and 1940s. Her story sheds light on her passion for capturing the significance of her time. She acknowledges that it has become a large aspect of human life to try and capture our lives. While living through the depression and World War II, it is needless to say that the times she lived in were interesting. They served as an example of what caused her to get interested, the fact that her time was inspiring. According to Abbott, “there is no more creative medium than photography to recreate the living world of our time.” That belief strongly appealed to me, because when I take pictures and look back on those from years ago, it’s the feeling of nostalgia that pushes me. The feeling of being taken back and having a grasp on another time serves as my motivation and I really connected with Abbott on that aspect.

Larry Sultan had a far different drive, yet it interested me because of it’s refreshing take on the matter. Sultan described how he used to take pictures as a child. His father would question him when he would use thirty roles of film and only take one or two pictures. His father always asked him why he only liked such a few amount. Larry would explain that he liked most of the pictures, but he would only publish the ones that worried him. He described an event where a picture of his mother was interpreted differently by Larry and his father. The understanding of opposing messages from the same picture interested him and although it isn’t what really drives me, it definitely interested me.

Some terms for our class to keep in mind are:

Aperture- A space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, esp. the variable opening by which light enters a camera

Negative- The developed film that contains a reversed tone image of the original scene

Underexposure- A condition in which too little light reaches the film, producing a thin negative, a dark slide, or a muddy-looking print

Vignetting- A condition in which too little light reaches the film, producing a thin negative, a dark slide, or a muddy-looking print

Zoom Lens- A lens in which you adjust the focal length over a wide range. In effect, this gives you lenses of many focal lengths.



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Reflection on the Medium: What it Means to Photograph.

The two most interesting pieces to me were by Berenice Abbot and Larry Sultan. After reading the persuasive argument made by Abbot, I could not enjoy Ken Light’s piece as much.

Starting with Abbot’s piece on the ‘reality’ of photography. She says, “I believe there is no more creative medium than photography to recreate the living world of our time.” I’d have to agree with her. A photograph is a snapshot of a certain moment in history and no other picture captures the same moment and perspective. A photo can be influential or meaningless. Log onto ‘Instagram’ and see pictures of people’s dinner, people’s cats, and the ‘outfit of the day.’ None of these pictures influence me in any way. On the other hand, some Instagram accounts take real pictures. Pictures that exhibit reality and influence people.

Abbot then goes onto say how certain historical events call for a need of ‘real’ pictures to document the event. But she argues that simple documentary photography is the plague of photography and pictures need to impact a person. They need to be a ‘penetrating statement.’ I agree with that; without a statement, a picture is nothing more than a disconnected perspective of something we may (or may not) care about. Simply put, pictures aren’t good without the ‘magic.’

Now onto Larry Sultan’s piece on why he photographs his family. Sultan uses photography as a way to ‘find’ himself. But how can anyone find himself or herself through taking photos of other people? Well firstly, he very much enjoys taking pictures. He would work his father’s garden for hours if his dad would let him take a few pictures of him. That’s dedication. But, Sultan tends to make his parents and his other subjects seem more “despairing than [they] really feel.” Sultan wanted to capture an objective reality of his subjects. Something that bothered his father or, as Abbot would say, penetrated him. His father felt something because of Sultan’s work. I think that is the point of photography, something that Abbot feels as well. Photography should be real and impacts a person, for better or for worse.


5 terms of Photography:


BLUR: Unsharpness because of the movement of the camera or subject during exposure. Blur can be used for many creative effects. In computer imaging, the use of Blur controls to selectively soften parts of the image.

DEPTH OF FIELD: The zone, or range of distances within a scene that will record on film as sharp. Depth of field is influenced by the focal length of the lens in use, the f-number setting on the lens, and the distance from the camera to the subject. It can be shallow or deep, and can be totally controlled by the photographer. It is one of the most creative and profound effects available to photographers.

FOCUS: Causing light to form a point, or sharp image on the image sensor or film.

SHARPNESS: The perception that a picture, or parts of a picture are in focus. Also, the rendition of edges or tonal borders.

WASHED OUT: Jargon for seriously overexposed slides, or overexposed highlight areas within slides and prints. It’s as if the colors have been diluted to the extent that all pigments have been “washed out.”

Definitions from:

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Every corner– there is a Starbucks.

What do you see on every other corner in New York City? A bank? A Deli? No, no, no—none of those, the answer is Starbucks. Every morning, you turn to your local Starbucks for a morning drink; everyday after school, your friends may ask you, “Let’s go to Starbucks”; every once in a while, you crave for the newest flavor on the Starbucks menu. The fact is—if you haven’t had a Starbuck drink yet in your life, you are not a New Yorker. That is why, when my friend asked me last Friday if I want to grab a drink at the Starbucks nearby, I immediately related this instance with the street photography project. What can be more reputable for daily life in New York City than Starbucks?

Starting as a little café in Seattle, Washington, it has become one of the major coffee chain stores around the United States and the world. Literarily, there is a Starbucks every two or three blocks. No matter how much money you have in your bank account, it is just always a good idea to have a cup of Starbucks on your hand, particularly in Manhattan—you know, coffee looks like a “high-class” thing, not to say Starbucks coffee (Though it IS very expensive, but who cares! Everybody drinks it). It has become a sign of social status.

For me, Starbucks is an excellent place for chilling and doing work. It is comfortable and relaxing, which is the environment they intended for their costumers. Having been to several different Starbucks in a variety of places in New York, I have always wondered what people are actually looking at when they are relaxing. So, for my project, I want to show the different sights people see when sitting in a Starbucks through my photos, and also the reasons for people to go there. I try to use a number of angles when shooting, just so I can get the best possible view people see in their seats. I am thinking from the viewer’s perspectives. What are they thinking when they see the view? What do they want to feel when looking out the window? What kind of atmosphere are they looking for when they have a cup of espresso and a book on hands? There are the guiding questions for my journey, which actually help me in numerous ways, including the time when I am deciding my sites.

It was kind of difficult to decide which Starbuck I should go to for the pictures. I wanted to capture the distinctive culture around New York City, but there are way too many locations to choose from. As a result, I made a list of all the views I want to go, and then subtracted them to a number of twelve. To make it to all the places I wanted, I had to spend a whole day taking the subway up and down—even so some of the photos I had to wait until Monday for completion—I was glad that I waited until then.

On Monday, I have two more pictures to take, one from inside Baruch and one from nearby. I took the photo as soon as I arrived at school. It was a nice timing since everyone was lying on the sofas and being lazy. It was perfect for my theme, although I didn’t know that at the time (just a heads up, I didn’t know what exactly I was doing until I put all my pieces together). However, the next photo took me a while. Since it was the first day of the week, I had to run for many of my classes. Before I knew it, the sun was setting. That was a really bad sign because I wanted to keep all of the lightning in my photos spontaneous, which I could no longer do.

I was thinking to myself, “Oh well… At least I tried. I’ll just do this and then go home.”

But then, when I got there, there it is—a masterpiece right in front of me. The sun had just got down, and the light was dim, but I knew it at the first sight that it matches side by side with my message. That’s when I suddenly became clear what my theme is: Peace through your Starbucks window.

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Street Photography

The morning after Hurricane Sandy struck, I drove around Staten Island to survey the damage done.  I wound up taking several “street photos” of the chaos that was present in Staten Island.  In the following days, I heard of people I knew who had suffered from this natural disaster.  It was devastating to hear that my friends and family were affected by the storm.  By the time school resumed, I had spent a lot time looking for a theme to select for this project but I wasn’t having any luck.  Then, one day while sitting in my door room­­- it hit me.  I decided I would do my Street Photography project on Hurricane Sandy, but not just the destruction of it.  I would also incorporate how Staten Island has been working together as a community to get through these tough times.

My theme of Hurricane Sandy was extremely important to me because of how it affected the people in my life.  My grandfather, who lives in Rockaway, had his entire basement and first floor flooded, leaving him with nothing but a destroyed home.  In addition to this, he lost his boat, which has been very dear to him for many years.  Other than my grandfather, I had friends who had their homes flooded, and as a result they lost many of their possessions.  Fortunately, I did not know anyone personally who lost a life in the storm, but I heard the countless gruesome stories that left families devastated.  I almost feel as though this small project is a tribute to all of the people who have continued on with their lives despite the tragedy that struck.

With a project such as this, I was bound to run into a plethora of problems.  First of all, I had the difficulty of traveling back and forth between my dorm in the city and my home in Staten Island.  For a while, the MTA shut down many trains, in addition to the Staten Island Ferry.  Immediately following the hurricane, I was only able to travel to neighborhoods that were relatively close to me because there was a shortage of gas.  As a result, I did not get to see the scope of the damage that existed along the entire shore of the island.  All of the restrictions placed on my transportation limited the amount of immediate photos I could take of the storm.  If I had the chance to take more photos right after the storm, I think the class would have been better able to see the truly devastating effects of the storm.

Besides my initial efforts to photograph the chaos, I went around on two separate occasions taking dozens of photographs.  One instance was approximately two weeks ago with my father, and the second time was during the Thanksgiving break with my friend Mario.  The day I traveled with my father, I focused on the South Shore of Staten Island. However, the day I roamed Staten Island with my friend, I focused more on the Midland Beach area.  During both days, I encountered a number of diverse problems.

After going for breakfast one morning, my father agreed to drive around with me and help me take pictures of the destruction.  One of the biggest problems I encountered that day were the various reactions of people.  There I was, trying to take pictures for my slideshow, and people were giving me looks that seemed to wonder why I was driving around taking pictures of their ruined homes.  At the time it didn’t make sense to me, but looking back I feel as though I should’ve been more discreet with my photography.  Also, many of the homes were boarded up with big pieces of plywood around the property.  In order to obtain some of these photos, I had to climb on top of my dad’s Ford Explorer to get a good shot.  When Professor Bernstein told us to try to take the best picture possible, I took that advice literally.

My final round of photos was taken with one of my good friends, and it focused on the Midland Beach area.  This area was probably hit more severely than the rest of Staten Island.  On this day, we visited the sites of the Brown Cross and other volunteering organizations.  In addition, we drove around taking photos of all the destruction that took place.  This day I remember running into a few more problems.  Midland Beach before the hurricane was pretty hectic. After the hurricane, I realized there was an absurd amount of traffic that made it nearly impossible at times to park my car and get out to take a photo.  We also experienced the same awkward glances from natives of the area when we were photographing their homes.  Despite the rushed nature of the day, I still managed to capture countless graphic photos.  What I did not expect to get from all of this was the strength that some people found inside themselves, despite the mass chaos that surrounded them.  I found that the pictures, such as the one in the final slide of my presentation, truly expressed the morale of Staten Island after the hurricane.

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The Shadows of Time

Thinking back to all the times that I visited New York City as a child, one image always comes into my mind: landmark clocks. The city that never sleeps is famous for monitoring time like no other, simply because time is a priceless commodity. As the clock strikes 7 in the morning, the streets become flooded with busy people, rushing to their jobs, schools, or to sightsee. But even as the clock strikes the same hour at night and continues to tick, the city sees just as much commotion and movement.

New Yorkers are characteristic for being fast and impatient. When each second represents money either earned or lost, time is of high value and importance. It is not surprising to see clocks on the main streets and avenues of New York. Many of these buildings, built before the invention of electronic devices, had a clock incorporated into their structure. It was convenient for the passing pedestrians to look up and identify the hour.

Times have changed and the world developed, ushering New York along the path of leadership in many global functions. As the financial capital, New York City serves as the bookkeeper of international trade. The iconic 5th Avenue is home to not only a plethora of different clocks that run in the eastern standard time zone, but also a great number that represent all the worldwide time zones.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of time in New York City is the ways in which it is honored. Clocks here are not merely thin hands and dull numbers, but a symbol of strength, perpetuity, and even celebration. Oftentimes a clock is the focal point of an entire building, as magnificent as the other parts of it may be. Both historic structures and landmarks of the city, the Grand Central Terminal and Helmsley Building flaunt their beautiful Beaux architecture with clocks as their central pieces. Grand Central Terminal, built in the late 19th century, displays a golden clock upon which the winged Mercury, grasping a sword in his muscular hand, stands prevalent amongst Roman gods and cornucopias of wealth. Likewise, the clock in the center of the Helmsley Building is adorned by the figures of the mighty Jove and the delicate Juno, seated as the symbolic connection between men and women. In a bigger scheme, these clocks serve as a portal between the rich homogeneous culture of the classical Roman civilization and the heterogeneous identity of New York City.

This multitude of clocks that stand on busy streets watch over the whizzing crowds of people, taxis, and tour buses. The thousands of ticking hands mark moments in history as they are made and inspire us to search into our past. They have witnessed New York in its creation, its current booming splendor, and will continue to look upon the city’s developments in the years to come.

Understanding the significance of clocks in New York City culture, I knew that they would be the subjects of my street photography project. I was unaware, however, that the different streets and avenues of Manhattan would dramatically differ in the amount of clocks that they contained. I first walked east along 42nd street and was unpleasantly surprised when I did not encounter any clocks, let alone noteworthy ones. Shoulders slumped, I turned onto 5th avenue in search of my subject. Within a few minutes, I turned my attention to the street running to the right and saw a massive building in the distance. Curiosity led me towards it, and I soon discovered that it was Grand Central Station. The building was a stunning sight amongst the lean skyscrapers that filled the road before it, yet I couldn’t see a clock. I approached a police officer that was directing traffic and asked if he knew of any big clocks in the nearby area. He game me a smirk. “Big what?”

“Big clocks”, I spoke up.

“Ah, there’s one around the corner”, his finger pointed to where I should go. As I turned that corner, a smile crept from my left check to my right. I saw my first clock. It was almost like stalking prey, I must admit. I ended up taking about 30 pictures of it, slowly moving from one side of the street to the other and changing my camera from landscape to portrait position. I sometimes stooped down to one knee to see how the building looked like from my viewfinder. If I was going to photograph something so amazing, I had to make sure that the angle I chose did it justice. Surprisingly, most people didn’t mind when my camera was pointed at them or when I stood in the middle of the street and blocked their way.

The biggest learning experience of the day was realizing that New Yorkers are surprisingly nice people. There were several instances when I got lost, and all were happy to direct me back to 5th avenue. Especially pleasant was my conversation with a city worker at Rockefeller Center. When I reached the ice-rink, I felt a bit bombarded by the decorations, beaming tourists, and screaming fan girls across the street at the NBC building. The only place that looked relatively less crowded was behind the Christmas tree, as it was still being set up and not much of a sight to behold. I found an idle city worker there and asked him where I could find a big clock.

“Do you need the time?” he looked puzzled. I explained to him that I was photographing big clocks, and a wave of understanding came over his face. Taking some time to think and look around him, it was evident that he was genuinely interested in helping me. “Oh, there’s one!” he eagerly exclaimed when he saw a clock impressed into a nearby building.

Grateful, I continued on my quest for clocks. Within several hours, I had photographed more than I ever expected to see and turned towards Baruch. Walking down Park Avenue, with my camera dangling off my neck, I was approached by a stranger. A fairly young man with a thick southern accent, he asked me if I was also walking towards the Empire State Building. He assumed I was a tourist, what with my camera and large book bag.

I shook my head. “No, I’m sorry.” I continued to walk ahead while he attempted to understand the map on his iPhone.

A few seconds passed and the stranger caught up to me again. “So what are you in New York City for?” he had a kind smile on his face.

“I’m doing a photography project for school. Taking pictures of clocks.” I gave a toothy grin.

“Oh, that’s awesome. Are you going to do photography when you’re done?”

“I’m not planning on being a photographer, this is just a small project for one of my classes.”

His smile subsided. “But you are planning on going to college, right?”

So this stranger expressed concern about my education. In that refreshing moment, I finally believed that the world was not a dark and lonely place. It, in fact, contained many people that cared about the well being of others, even if they didn’t know them on a personal level. It was a heartwarming realization.

Aside from pleasantly interacting with strangers, I became more aware of the challenges that photographers face. Before I shot a photo, I had to consider the amount of natural light that hit my subject and how far I stood from it. Although my focus was on clocks, it was important for me to consider all the other factors that I wanted to include in my photograph.

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Holiday Marketing and Consumerism on 42nd Street

Retailers know how to get into your head. As consumers in this Capitalist economy, everywhere we go, we are bombarded with advertisements that crave our attention. Colors, sounds and textures are strategically placed so that they stimulate our senses. Art of this sort plays a crucial role in marketing because it has the power to subconsciously effect our decision making process—meaning, it might increase the amount of time a customer spends in a store, and time is money. Humans are naturally drawn to the center of displays, so the more expensive items are placed there. In addition, there is a deeper psychology to the colors red and green than just serving as a representation of the upcoming holidays. In fact, a Time Magazine article states that green “is an optimistic color associated with luck and wealth,” and red “stimulates and energizes.” The article also mentions that studies have shown that waitresses who wear red reported receiving 14% – 26% than waitresses wearing any other color. Music played in stores serves the role of providing a sense of happiness, comfort and nostalgia in customers. Most Christmas songs played on the radio have lyrics that somehow tie the holidays with spending—perhaps a subliminal message?

I am fascinated with the culture of American consumerism and marketing tactics that have the power to influence. My iPhone camera collected photos of all kinds of holiday décor and merchandise along 42nd street, from east to west, beginning in Grand Central and Ending in Times Square. The streets were saturated with crowds from every direction, carrying clusters of bags and boxes. Their eyes were tinted with the sparkling chaos of the window displays. As a street photographer, my objective is to investigate the visual psychology behind what lures consumers into shops on 42nd street, one of the most populated areas of New York City.

Inspired by Phillip Lorca-Dicorcia, I photographed with the intention of creating a dreamlike, surreal essence. However, the Leica (used by Lorca-Dicorcia) and the iPhone are quite different, so I focused on the aesthetics rather than the technical settings. Lorca-Dicorcia uses high contrast, paired with saturated colors and sometimes, reflections to create the impression of a transient, illusionistic moment. My intention in utilizing this style was to convey the message that these lights and decors seem to blur reality and time, and sometimes even seem to hypnotize consumers by bringing them to a place and time where they felt most comfortable and safe. In fact, many of the scenes in my series look like a ‘grandma’s house’ setting or a warm living room for that particular reason. I took close-ups because not too many people stop to observe the artistic facets of the décor. In wanted to photograph people, but that brought up quite a number of challenges.

First, I took several photos of people interacting with these objects, but most of them were out of focus, because the subjects often turned away when they noticed. It takes a great deal of courage and poise when photographing people, because a photographer can never accurately anticipate how they will react. The Dicorcia lawsuit brought up the case of the man who sued the artist because he was photographed and his image was displayed and shown in Lorca-Dicorcia’s exhibit Heads, so I wanted to be respectful of the privacy of those who happened to walk into my photographs. Similarly, the displays in retail stores and booths are often protected by copyright laws, so I was often stopped in the process. However, I simply moved on after being confronted and just went to another store. Taking a clear, focused photograph is rather difficult when you’re pretending to text.

Editing the photos allowed me to see them in a new light, and facilitated my intention to create a semi-surrealist series. Using iPhoto, I chose to make the hues deeper and create a higher contrast in most pieces. In addition, because half the images were taken after sunset, they came out rather dark so I raised the exposure. On a few pieces, I decided to alter the hue because color is probably the most crucial part of establishing a tone. For instance, I exaggerated “Lost Wallet” to be a deep blue with purple accents to communicate the sense of panic and desperation the woman must be feeling while rummaging through her bag. I added a sepia tint to “A Grand Central Evening” because I felt this monochromatic palette would convey the sense that this space is timeless. Here, I especially blackened the individuals to a mere silhouette since I’d rather bring more attention to the sociology of crowds and public spaces during a busy time of the year. The rest of the pieces are saturated to capture the presence of a strong energy.

My slideshow offers an inside perspective on how images can stimulate feelings. Each person who views it will establish their own personal tie to each scene, based on past experiences, religious views, etc. However, I hope that all my viewers will see merchandise in a new way the next time they walk into a store.

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Two Sides of the Park Avenue Bridge

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what theme I was going for when I was taking photographs of my neighborhood. I never explored it in the first place. But when I did for the project, I noticed a clear separation of the type of environment the people lived in before and after going through the bridge on Park Avenue and 124th Street. I knew that the Upper West Side is going through gentrification but I didn’t know that it has extended to some parts of the Upper East Side already. The contrast between the eerie silence and cleanness of the environment past the Park Avenue Bridge and the tense loudness and dirtiness before the Park Avenue Bridge (the side where I live) became my theme. I was much entertained when I walked around the neighborhood past the Park Avenue Bridge because it gave off such a different aura than the Harlem I lived in. I guessed it gave me some hopes that perhaps the rest of Upper East Side in Harlem would also become a better place to live in.

Why did I choose Harlem? It wasn’t just because I lived here, but because I’m new here. It has been about eleven months since I moved from Chinatown, Lower East Side, to live in Harlem, Upper East Side. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of living in this neighborhood before moving here because of all the rumors and chatters about how dangerous Harlem was. However, it was a better option living in Harlem in a government supported building than in Chinatown, paying expensive monthly rent. I was quite concerned about safety when my family moved here. For many months, I didn’t want to get involve with anyone so I avoided eye contact and walked fast whenever I leave or come home. Hence, I have only traveled one path and never explored my neighborhood. But now I must not avoid and face reality. If I’m going to live here, I might as well know what sort of place I’m really living in. And that became the basis of my street photography project.

I began shooting photos from my apartment on First Avenue and 122nd Street, retracing the path that I usually take to the 4, 5, and 6 train station on Lexington and 125th Street. But this time I would walk on 124th Street instead of 125th Street. One of the first photographs that I took was of a group of people hanging around a store and an old looking apartment building. It seemed like a gathering to me. That was not the first time I saw a group of people hanging out there but it always left an eerie feeling, making me wonder what they were doing there. In contrast to what many people thinks, Harlem is actually a quieter place than you think – nothing like Chinatown. There are people walking, waiting for buses, but rare to see a loud conversation go on for long (I haven’t seen it). So my challenge for this project was to avoid being too suspicious for holding a camera and taking pictures of people. Hence, I felt like I had to be cautious when taking photographs in my neighborhood so I stood on the opposite street to take it. I didn’t dare go up to them to snap a shot. It was then that I saw garbage lined up in front of the building the group of people was standing (but on a different corner – they were standing on 2nd Avenue while the trash was on 124th Street). It really made me realized how dirty the place really was. Looking about, I saw a bunch of wrappers, papers, and bags all over the streets. It was a fact that I knew but didn’t confront. And that struck me: the trash, dirtiness, and poorly maintained buildings were distinct marks of what it was like to live in Harlem.

That all changed when I walked past Park Avenue Bridge. The environment seemed to have suddenly shifted. Trash papers were seen less and fewer people were in groups. The buildings looked newer; not to mention the many trees planted on the streets. There was also a very spacious and beautiful park one avenue past Park Avenue on Madison Avenue. When comparing the two sides, it almost felt like there were two different worlds separated by that one bridge on Park Avenue. It was also here, right after I crossed the bridge to take photos that I ran into trouble. A person seemingly on guard or lookout pointed at me and said “Did you just take a picture of me?” when I was trying to take a picture of the street with people and the buildings, a shot in which he was in it. I was on guard before from the glares I got while just holding a camera and walking around 124th Street and Lexington Avenue. Despite that, I flustered and stupidly said “Yes.” He was the first one to confront me. He told me to delete the picture of him and I almost did until he turned around and walked back to his position. I thought I shouldn’t be obligated to delete it since I had no intention of taking a photo of him; he just happened to be in it. In any case, that was a little something that happened to me as I was taking photographs for this project.

Although I took many photographs, I hope the thirteen that I picked show the sharp contrast between the two sides of the Park Avenue Bridge. I will end the project with a photo of a building on 124th Street and 2nd Avenue that is newly build and probably not rented out yet to show that change is coming to Upper East Side of Harlem as well. Hence, this way I would be able to capture the aspects that define my neighborhood and the other side of it.

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Paint the Town Red

The reason for choosing my theme of red for my street photography project is because red is a color that represents boldness, or alert, which should be a color that grabs the attention of an observer. My camera has a functions setting to only capture one color in its field of vision and leave the rest of the picture in black and white. I thought, this setting on my camera would be perfect for this project. I could make all items red stand out more than it normally would.

The title of my Street Photography Project is “Paint the Town Red”. In my photographs, I captured the red essence in each scene by eliminating color in the background. The photos were taken in the span of a month, from day to night, in my daily routines traveling from home to school and from school back home. The slideshow is ordered in a chronological sense in a day’s activity. Day photos are placed at the beginning, while nighttime photos are placed at the end.

My point and shoot camera was always conveniently placed in my right-hand side coat pocket, ready to snap a photo. To take these pictures, I looked out for any large outstanding groups of objects in the shade of red or of a similar hue. Many times, the red is usually a garment on a stranger, and I must carefully snap a picture before or without them realizing for the picture to remain candid. Only candid photos, I believe, capture the true essence of the streets of New York City. No picture of a still taxicab or an empty train station can grasp the idea of the busy nights in the Big Apple.

With a digital camera, I was able to take many precautions before taking each photograph. One thing to look out for was that the lines in my photograph were straight and the perspective looked aesthetically pleasing. Another difficulty in taking these pictures was the timing. Since my subjects were strangers, I could not control where they stood, how they stood, and how they looked on camera. I would have to shift myself to get the right angle. Often times, I had to crouch down or move in a particular way to capture exactly what I wanted. Most of the time, after seeing something of value, and before actually capturing the instance, I would have formulated an anticipated picture in my head of what I envision my outcome to look like. Then I would take multiple pictures to match what I had in mind.

It was rather easy for me to take pictures, since red is such a common color. I was able to find red everywhere I go. Instead, the challenges to me in putting this project together was naming each photograph and deciding on the final twelve that get to be shared. I found it tough to decide on a final twelve when I have about a dozen snapshots for each day of the month I spent taking photographs. I wanted to display all of my artwork and share what I encountered each day. Although in the end, I chose what popped out the most to me from each set of photos. I am satisfied with what I was able to capture of the Big –Red- Apple.

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We Look, But Do We See?

During this project, I performed some activities that I never thought I would. I never thought I would be taking pictures of people without them having knowledge about what was going on. The idea for this concept was inspired by the in class presentation we had on the photographer Walker Evans. During the presentation, we learned about how he discreetly took pictures on NYC Subways, without letting people know what he was doing. I decided that for my project I would “go underground” just like Mr. Evans, both literally and figuratively. I wanted to capture the typical people we see everyday on subway rides. These are the people we have seen so often that we do not give them a second thought, such as the businessmen in suits listening to music, or the people heaving suitcases to get to their vacation destinations.

As Walker Evans wanted to show the true sadness of the Great Depression through his photography, I wanted to capture average New Yorkers going about their daily activities. My goal was not to expose anything sinister but rather to show many types of people that are always in our sights but often overlooked. The feeling of realism is very important to me, which is why all photos except for one are completely natural and not staged. Consequentially, there was not much professional technique in my photographs, as demonstrated by many other photographers we studied. My goal became to make each photograph as natural as possible.

What someone does during a subway ride can tell a lot about them. There are those who close their eyes and listen to music, wanting to relax and drown out the rest of the world (this is the category I belong to). Then there are those who like to read or study to make the most of their time, or the ones who simply stare into space, deep in their own thoughts. No matter what people are doing, there are certain activities that are going on in nearly every subway car.

This was the first time I would be photographing people without their consent or knowledge. I found it to be extremely awkward at first. I had to maneuver my phone so that no one would see that I was taking the picture, but expose it just enough so that there would still be a chance of me getting a decent shot. The week before Thanksgiving basically consisted of me riding the 6 train up and down for an hour, then walking across central park to get some fresh air, and trying the 1, 2, or 3. I even ventured onto the LIRR between Penn Station and Jamaica Station to get a broader perspective.  In the beginning of these adventures, many awkward situations arose as a result of my attempts to photograph people. At one point I was trying to take a photo of a man reading a Korean newspaper heading downtown on the 1 train. Standing in front of the doors, I pulled out my weapon of choice (the mighty iPhone) and started the camera. The lady standing to my right noticed this and stared relentlessly, as if daring me to take the shot. Petrified and not wanting to attract any more attention, I got off at the next stop and waited for the following train. The one lesson I took away from this venture was that in order to get what one wants, one needs to be relentless. If one person catches you, you stay calm and wait for the next train.  Hopping trains has its thrills, and I can now say I have been deep into all boroughs but Staten Island.

I took nearly forty photographs, and it was difficult deciding which ones to keep.  In the end, it was not the perfect photographs that stayed, but the perfect moments. In most of the photographs kept, my brown jacket is seen in the corner. The downside of using this technique when photographing is that one is not always in control of the quality of the end product. However, I tried to find the right balance of aesthetics and realism.

Throughout this project, I was in awkward situations, frustrated by blurry photographs, and angry about missed opportunities. However, I believe that I was able to capture the images of typical New Yorkers that are overlooked by the hustle and bustle of the busiest city in the world.

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Looking at Old and New

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This street photography was complex, yet simple at the same time. It was difficult for me to think of a theme because New York City has so much to offer. It was challenging to focus on one subject because there would always be another scene that was more appealing to the eye. In addition, themes seem to overlap each other, making it even more difficult to find photos that would clearly represent my theme. However, this old versus new architecture theme developed over time as I began to take more photos. As I walked down various streets in the city, I found myself captivated by the beauty of buildings at night or under certain light. My experience is similar to that of Larry Sultan’s (author of a passage from Photography Packet) in that I did not know what I wanted until I took multiple photos. I chose this theme because there are buildings everywhere in NYC. However, I rarely stopped to look at these structures because they all look the same from the ground level. However, if I stopped to assess my surroundings, I would realize that every building is unique in its own ways.

This part of the project gave me the opportunity to travel to various areas in NYC. Old buildings seem to be common among new neighborhoods, or rather they would stand out more. I was also generally pleased with the quality of the photos because they were taken with my phone. It was difficult to zoom in due to the settings of the camera, but the shutter speed was quick. Images were not blurred when they came out.  When choosing locations, I focused on old buildings that seem to be in the center of new ones. This allows for a more apparent comparison of the two buildings’ conditions. In various images, I focused on how older buildings tend to be taller than the newer apartment buildings. Isolated buildings were more interesting to observe because their features would be more apparent. In these photos, newer buildings are often set apart from older buildings, which were connected to each other.

Issues I came across when I was snapping photos of various buildings in the city were lighting and positioning. It was difficult to find the perfect spot where I can capture the entire background. In a couple of photos, I had to decide what I could leave out of the frame and what needed to be kept. Every time I shifted my position, the lighting would change slightly. This forced me to readjust the screen and reassess what should be in the photo.  For many of the photos in this set, I wanted to follow the Rule-of-Thirds. However, this was not easy to accomplish because these tall buildings would take up most of the frame. It was also challenging to experiment with different depth-of-fields because I was unable to adjust the camera’s setting.

Also, I depended on natural light when I took photos. As a result, many photos were dimmer than what I expected.  Noticing this trend, I was able to utilize the light to illuminate many of these buildings. For example, in the photo of City Hall, I was able to use the shadows of the new buildings on the side to highlight the outline of the old building, which is positioned in the middle. Many photos in this set utilize this method to accentuate the difference between the old and the new.

The final challenge I came upon was choosing the “right” photos and organizing them in a way that made sense. When I first uploaded all of my photos into the computer, I had a lot more than twelve photos. Some were duplicates of the same position, while others were different angles of the same building. It was difficult to narrow down to the final twelve. I had to find photos that did not just look “nice,” but also worked well with other photos. When juxtaposing two images, I wanted to create a flow. I wanted photos to transition well from one type to the next.

I enjoyed writing captions for these photos because they did not have to be mediocre captions. Rather, I was able to include my voice in them. These captions also highlighted what I wanted my audience to notice in the photo. Together with the contrast between light and shadow, the audience would know what I wanted to focus on in each image.

I like the experiences I earned from completing the Street Photography project. I learned that photography is not about capturing the pretty moments. Rather, it is about letting the subject come to me and exploring it through different angles and techniques.

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Winter in New York City

There are so many magnificent things to photograph when it comes to New York City, so how do I even begin to find one specific theme? I had plans to go out with some of my friends the other day and I brought along a camera, hoping that something of interest will arise. I would say I am quite lucky to have found some beautiful objects to take pictures of. In the end, I ordered my photographs in the presentation in a way that can be told as a story.

At home, there are a few cameras for me to choose from; there’s my mom’s Canon digital camera, my dad’s DSLR, my brother’s Canon DSLR, or my iPhone camera.  Why did I choose my brother’s camera in the end? I have only used the camera once a while back with not too much familiarity, so I decided to give myself a challenge. The lens, in comparison to that of my dad’s, is significantly lighter. The quality of photos, is also potentially better than what my mom’s camera can capture. Thus, I trekked to the city with the Canon DSLR and started to play around with the settings.

Before I started photographing away, I had looked at some photos online of professional photographers to get an idea of some techniques I am able to try to imitate. Some were also featured in Max Flatow’s photography presentation, which include the rule of third. I also made use of the depth of field. Something I noticed in certain photos was the way light was captured. One of the terms I defined in a previous assignment was bokeh, which is the way a lens can blur an image, particularly any light. There are many examples of bokeh in my presentation.

At first, I had a few themes in mind which turned out to be quite boring for me to capture. These themes, such as different foods offered in New York City or the different footwear worn by everyday New Yorkers, didn’t require much work when it came to taking pictures. It was also difficult to capture a picture of a stranger’s food or shoes without having to have an awkward confrontation. In the end, it was the challenges that I had to face that gave me an idea of what image to capture. Who would have known?

The first problem that I encountered was the time. In one of my photos, I pointed out the fact that the sun goes down quite early these days and I was caught at a bad time. It was starting to get dark and it was hard to capture a picture in a good light. I am not a fan of flash, so I decided to use other settings so that there would be enough light. I changed the shutter speed setting so that more or less light could be caught, depending on how I wanted to present the picture, which in turn, presented me a small opportunity.

Another one of the biggest challenges that came across while doing this project was presented even before I took my first shot. I was using a camera that I was very vaguely familiar with. Instead of keeping the setting on auto like I used to do most of the time, I decided to test myself and play around with all the functions and settings. My first shot was extremely horrific; the subject could hardly be made because of how blurry and shaky the photo was and the lighting was so dark that some things could not be differentiated. It took me over twenty shots to finally get a stable picture, but that didn’t mean I was satisfied with the way the image came out to be.

This challenge, not only introduced to me a potential theme for my slideshow, but also turned out to be something that could help me personalize my photos more. I mentioned earlier that I really enjoy bokeh and the way it looks. As the skies grew darker, the city lights came on, as well as the lights on the Christmas tree in Bryant Park. This gave me a chance to catch some bokeh in the background while changing up my depth of field for different subjects.

This Street Photography assignment really gave me a chance to play around with something unfamiliar to me and tested my capabilities. I have always been interested in photography but I have never had a reason or motivation to learn how to use a camera to its fullest potential or to pick it up as hobby.

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A Day in the Life of a (Hungry) New Yorker

When I went about deciding a topic for my street photography project, I didn’t know where to start. I knew there was so much to capture in New York City, but it became intimidating for me to choose any specific route. I wanted to capture the unique aspects of the city, my own views, and it’s vibrant culture.

I joined the three by visualizing the city in my point of view. I walked around New York with a small point-and-shoot camera (Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7) and tried to capture whatever seemed representative of my theme. Now, I enjoy taking pictures, but wouldn’t yet call myself a photographer, so I ask for some flexibility in quality and more attention towards the technique I tried to use.

During some pictures I used the rule of the third, while in others, being in the center helped emphasize the picture’s purpose. I tried to play with lighting, but found that natural light works best, especially with my theme, where I strive to capture it as if it were going on in real time. I also wanted to shed light on the fact that the project is capturing an average day. I tried to avoid setting up my pictures too much and planned for more impulsive and impromptu moments. A picture taken in the subway was special in its way of showing depth and making an average subway cart seem much longer than it actually was.

While I showed some of the city’s culinary staples, I avoided making it the main subject of my project. While New York may be known for some elaborate and artistic dishes, I wanted to keep the food in line with my theme: an average day. I decided instead to capture the bagel stand, the halal stand, Mike’s Pizza and a local bar. With some places showing people getting together to socialize. Do you see a trend? They all follow a pattern. Breakfast, lunch, dinner (debatable) and drinks.

This leads me to reveal another one of my techniques: chronology. A result of my own personality being reflected in my project, organization and order help me provide coherency. By having the pictures start off in the morning and end with the luminous New York City skyline, the work is easier to understand and the flow is more enjoyable.

I could have easily gone to the city’s most popular tourist destinations to include in my project but I chose to abide by something more personal to my own view of the city. Since New York is sch a diverse city, there are many ways of capturing it and I felt that my own view of the city was what I wanted to represent. They move from queens, to my commute into the city, to the night view from my apartment. I chose to end off with the New York City skyline because it is the iconic view of the city and I really enjoy the view from my apartment. I often go up to my roof to see the view, so by including it in my project, it helped provide my own view of the city.

While going about the photography project there were two key challenges I faced. The first was getting the right angle. When capturing a photo the angle makes all the difference because it essentially decides how the moment is seen. I would spend long amounts of time trying out different angles, still unsure whether or not I chose the correct one. However, after a few photos, I believe my ability to distinguish and select the angles from which to take pictures improved.

The second challenge I faced was something I should have expected with my theme. While trying to capture a day in New York City, my camera was often affected by crowds of people moving in a rush. When I would pause to take a picture of something, throngs of people would see no reason to stop and sometimes moved my picture out of focus. Although I should have seen the problem beforehand, I managed to adjust my techniques to avoid increasing the presence of blurred New Yorkers.

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Longboarding and the City

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My theme was “Longboarding and the City.” All the photos taken were during my everyday routine of living in the city. They range from the Deer Park train station to Madison Square Park. I actually consider the Deer Park train station part of “the city” because it’s how I get to Manhattan (I know it sounds absurd.) Some of the pictures were taken on foot and some of the pictures were taken whilst riding my own longboard. I ordered the pictures in my slideshow from the beginning of my daily journey to the end. I usually see longboarders on my route from penn to school, so I figured it would be a decent and different topic to photograph. I tried to create a small sense of my daily journey and how longboards are actually a huge part of my life (and the lives of others.)

Longboards are a perfect mode of transportation for the city for plenty of reasons. For one, they are fast. They may not look it, but they can easily get you up to forty miles per four if you find a decent sized hill. The long decks and the wide wheel bases help stabilize the rider at high speeds. It is scary, but can be seriously fun. As long as you don’t fall, then I guarantee great amusement (sometimes falling can even be fun if you’ll believe it.) Another reason that they are perfect for the city is the portability of a board. It would be mighty difficult for a person to carry a bike around everywhere. Carrying a board, on the other hand, is easy and manageable. Apparently Baruch even has a rule against having any kind of ‘cycles’ in the school. I found that out when I brought my unicycle to school. It is inconvenient but at least I am allowed to bring a longboard in the building. The third reason is that longboarding is fun. My high school friends and I would go on midnight skating runs and there was never a dull moment. Skating is extremely fun in general, so skating in the city is no exception. There are always different streets to ride and fun to be had.

The combination of these factors makes longboarding rather important to me, so it was fun to work on this project. Photographing different longboarders helped me see how many skaters there actually are in the city and how important longboarding actually is to Manhattan. It is a widely used mode of transportation and is very efficient. I’ve made it from Baruch to Penn station in five minutes flat, which isn’t bad. However with all of the perks of skating and the fun of the project in general, there were still plenty of difficulties with this project.

One of the greatest challenges was actually snapping the photo. I saw plenty of longboarders but by the time I whipped out my phone to take a picture, the skater was gone. It was very frustrating because I would have a great shot lined up one second, and the next second the skater disappeared behind a building or a car. This wasn’t a huge problem when it was warmer out because there was always another skater around the corner.

This leads me to my second problem with my topic. Being that it is cold out, there are less and less skaters everyday. There are still some, but much less than there was when I began the project. It became frustrating because if I missed a shot, the next opportunity for another wouldn’t be for a couple of days. To compensate for this, I kept my camera in a more accessible pocket so it was easier and quicker to snap photos. My success rate rose.

Another problem was blurriness of photos. Being that longboarding is an activity that is constantly full of motion, photographing it with a cell phone was rather difficult. The shutter speed of an iPhone is apparently rather slow, so taking high quality pictures of movements was very hard. I had a couple of great ideas but once I took the photo, the picture was extremely blurry and unusable. It was a nightmare. At least I incorporated a video into my presentation.

The only thing that I need to change is that a few of my pictures wouldn’t load into the PowerPoint. So I’ll have to add them in when I figure out how to format them correctly so that they will work. i’m not sure why they were screwed up, but they were.

Being that longboarding is full of movement, why not include a video? I originally planned on going to Central Park to skate a large hill but when I arrived, the hill was covered in leaves and I surely would have fallen and hurt myself. Wouldn’t have been the best plan. So instead, I ventured to Times Square and did a small first person video to give a taste of how longboarding looks to the rider. It is difficult to navigate the many people and cars, especially in Times Square, so I thought it may be interesting. I was going at a slow speed because of the high volume of people and cars that day. I still think the video is a tad interesting though. All in all, the project was fun and I wouldn’t mind continuing to take photos for fun. Why not right?

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Watchin’ your watch

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I chose to photograph the different watches New Yorkers wear. The reason I chose this topic is because I am big fan of tem so I thought this was going to be easy. But it wasn’t.


The first issue that I experienced was that it was very hard to go up to people on the street and ask them if you can take a picture of their watch. One man screamed at me, while one lady said “no” because she thought I was going to steal it. The borough that I experienced the most problems would have to be Manhattan. The people were always in a rush. They would ignore you or worse, they would stop, listen to my request and would just keep walking away. That is why I tried to remain in the “suburban” boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.


Even though I found a fpeople from the street, it was still a challenge. I had an issue with a Quartz (battery powered) watch a man was wearing. The watch had a seconds hand. Unlike Automatic timepieces, where the hand sweeps continuously, a battery watch sweeps for one second, then it stops, and then it goes again for the next second. Each time I tried photographing his watch, the seconds hand would cause the entire picture to be blurry because the camera would capture it in motion.


I thought that I could be like Walker Evans and take pictures of people’s watches on the subway or on the bus. Sadly, that didn’t work. On the L train one day, I saw a middle aged man sleeping next to me with a beautiful Bedat & Co (one of the top tier brands) watch. I took out my camera and started focusing on it. From the corner of my eye, I saw everyone on the cart looking at me. I tried to fake it by pretending to look at my gallery. Their eyes were still fixated on me. I realized what was wrong. As I was focusing and zooming in on his watch, my camera lens extended by an inch. I was embarrassed. So much so that when the man woke up, I didn’t even ask him if I could take a picture of his arm.


After the incident, I was pretty depressed. So, I went to get a burger from my local diner. As I was eating the burger, there was an elderly lady sitting in the table left of me. I saw she wearing a watch and asked her if I could take a photo of her hand. She looked at me and said, “This cruddy old thing? Yeah why not?” Relieved that she allowed me to take a photo, I snapped a few pictures of her timepiece and thanked her when I was gone. That episode with the lady gave me an epiphany: Why should I go out to the street and look for people when I can go to a coffee place and wait for people to come?


From that diner, I headed out to Dunkin Donuts where I really understood the theme of my photography. Are watches practical nowadays or is it a fashion piece? One girl in her twenties was wearing a watch with colorful designs resembling almost like a child’s watch. Also, that watch wasn’t even working. She said the only reason she wore it was that it matched her outfit. Another female was wearing a Bvlgari watch. I didn’t know if it was real or not, but I asked her, “What’s the time now?” Instead of looking at her watch, she took out her phone and told me the time. A man saw what I was doing and he showed me his “watch”. He took out his phone and put on his wrist and said, “Here you go. This is my timepiece.” I couldn’t resist. I took the picture. In my opinion, that photo was the worst in terms of quality, but it was the best in terms of impact. The role of watches has changed dramatically in the past twenty years. People back then didn’t have any IPhones so the only way to know the time at an exact moment was by looking at their watches. Now, for most of us, our phones became our watches.

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Street Photography Project

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My theme was “Preparing for Christmas along 5th Avenue” mostly from about 59th street to 50th street and over to Rockefeller Center. I started by taking the R train to 59th street and 5th Avenue and walked along 5th Avenue, taking pictures of Christmas related scenes and objects until I got to Rockefeller Center because I knew I wanted a picture of the plaza tree. My slideshow shows that some places are already decorated and ready, but some are not. The captions on each one hope to slightly carry on a story, where some photos are bunched together and the captions attempt to bind them to make more sense.

I chose the Christmas in progress theme because I knew that it was still too early for a full Christmas theme since not all the decorations are out yet, and because Christmas is my favorite holiday. I wanted to capture getting ready from the very beginning of the slideshow and wanted to end with it. That is why the candy canes and the unlit tree pictures are placed where they are.

After the first picture, I wanted to show the grander decorations on buildings and in storefronts such as Tiffany and Cartier – places that decorate every year. I consider these the grander decorations because all of those stores sell expensive jewelry and watches, making them very luxurious. But I also wanted to make the slideshow more personal, showing the actual streets from holiday shopping bags, to homeless people to even street signs. I also thought that this would be a refreshing break from just seeing buildings. I tried to be creative and show a variety of ways that 5th Avenue was preparing rather than just trees and lights, so the sequence of the shopping bag, homeless man and street sign illustrate that. After that, I wanted to focus on a little more traditional decorations with the reindeer and red ornaments on The Peninsula. But again, I wanted to contrast the grand and the ordinary, so this picture is juxtaposed right before the picture with the two simple lit, small trees.

Continuing that traditional theme, I definitely had to include Rockefeller Plaza. The angels shown are lit every year and brighten the plaza. But the tree completes my theme of Christmas in progress since you can still see the scaffolding up even though the star is placed on top. Throughout the presentation, I tried to show both the grand and ordinary elements of decorating for Christmas and I placed the pictures to show that – from the luxury of Tiffany, to a simple man asking for money in a Santa hat.

Some of the challenges I faced were trying to show Christmas in progress in a variety of ways. I didn’t just want to show storefronts, or just evergreens or just lights, I really wanted a mix of everything from simple to complex. Finding all those was pretty difficult, especially because it was cold out. But it forced me to be a little creative in what I was seeing. I wasn’t expecting to take a picture of a Uniqlo shopping bag, but I saw it on the street and knew I wanted it for the slideshow. Asking a lady to take a picture of her bag was a little awkward. But she liked the idea and let me take a photo. Getting a decent shot of the homeless man was also a challenge because I didn’t want to have that awkward encounter. So for that picture, I needed to wait for a while for a clear opportunity between people walking by so that I could shoot the picture without him noticing me. Shooting clear pictures was also somewhat of a challenge because 5th Avenue is crowded. Some of my shots were ruined because people walked in at the last moment. That got annoying because of the weather. But even though it was cold, I took a lot of shots and even choosing which twelve to put in was hard. It required a lot of thought but in the end, I like my theme and the flow of my photos.

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Natural & Man-made

Natural and Manmade Beauty, both awesome in the literal sense of the word; that is inspiring awe. However there does seem to be some tension between the two. Where one thrives, the other shrivels. New York City, Manhattan, in particular is a mecca of man-made feats. Huge skyscrapers and strong sturdy all-brick buildings are testaments to human achievement. However, we are reminded that theire is a natural force; one much stronger than our own. Experienced by Storm Sandy, we understand we cannot control nature and its power is often overwhelming.

            I took some creative license when attempting to capture my scenes I wanted to present. Although our assignment was “street photography:, I decided to be a little bit more creative. A street can be a road, highway, or path and each of these words has a totally different connotation. A path is a small human encroachment onto that which is nature. I picture a small dirt walkway that winds through forests or parks. Streets intrude further upon the natural beauty, and highways often blot out nature entirely. My home in Saint Louis and my residence on 97th and 3rd could not be more opposite. In Saint Louis, we live on 4 acres of grass and trees. Here, I live on the 15th floor sharing a one-room residence with a roommate. There is no outside place to call your own or somewhere you can be guaranteed silence.

            Because I’m in New York City, and there isn’t very much natural beauty to capture. I decided to shift my focus to human architecture and the building that have become evidence for man’s innovation and power. Many have stood for over 100 years. I chose to focus most of my attention and time to the NYCPL (New York City Public Library). I love the old meticulous design of the building; the ornate staircases and floors.

            My photos spanned a few different scenes. One of my favorites was taken from the plan near Saint Louis. I love the winding river and the plains. It is very stereotypically Midwest. I took one picture of a tree almost blurred out by sunshine. It reminded me of a sunny day in the country.

            The major challenges I encountered was trying to get photos at interesting angles and deciding on which scenes to shoot. I shot probably 75 images, finally choosing about a 15 or so.

            I am very proud of how the photos cam out as I wasn’t expecting my IPhone camera to take such detailed shots.

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Funny Photo

“Do you smell that…?”

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I think I found Waldo

I think I found Waldo

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Funny Photo

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Compliments of

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Funny Photo

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Funny Photo

Why did you throw me around like that? 。·°°·(>_<)·°°·。

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Funny Photo

Where are the times and track numbers…? And that guy keeps looking at me… It’s weird.

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Guard the Yogurt

Sergeant: “Men you will guard this yogurt to your death.”
Soldiers: “Sir, yes sir. Hurrah!”

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Funny Street Photo

A true New Yorker…

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Funny Street Photo

So am I waiting for this walk signal or…

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What is Photography?

Rodchenko’s letter to Kushner was a very interesting read. I especially liked his point on how the first time he saw the Eiffel Tower from afar, he didn’t like it at all. However, when he passed up to it closely while traveling on a bus, he was struck by the “lines of iron receding upward right and left”. This is a pretty strong argument for unconventional photography. Unlike the painter and the conventional photographer, the unconventional photographer has a duty to portray the world through various perspectives and lenses.
Rodchenko’s criticism of conventional photography is especially strong when he compares it to the standard reproduction that we see in “postcards ad nauseam”. He claims that photographing “non-posed” scenes is a much “higher form of photography”. The challenging nature of capturing such scenes, Rodchenko’s expresses quite lucidly on page 4 and 5. His argument for a new form of photography is quite convincing and very fascinating indeed.

Berenice Abbot’s commentary on America’s importance in the novel field of photography felt wholehearted. The reader can sense the pride she has for her country in helping advance photography, but her tone quickly changes to criticism as she complains of the commercialization of photography, comparing it to “photography [being] torn from its moorings, the whole essence of which is realism. The disdain with which she describes “cash” entering the field instills in the reader a sense of her anger. Abbot seems to be hinting that she wants a purification of photography; an art she claims has been poisoned by advertising.
Ken Light stresses the need for documentary photography; a way for an audience thousands of miles away to “experience” an event more closely than would seem possible. This is my favorite type of photography, as I am an avid fan of history, and I am very much in accord with the adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Finally, Larry Sultan’s short piece was especially moving. The simplicity with which he writes and photographs emulates the unconventional “perfect” form of photography that all four writers are debating.


Negative: The developed film that contains a reversed tone image of the original scene.

Definition: The clarity of detail in a photograph.

Diffuse Lighting: Lighting that is low or moderate in contrast, such as on an overcast day.

Graininess: The sand-like or granular appearance of a negative, print, or slide. Graininess becomes more pronounced with faster film and the degree of enlargement.

Vignetting: A fall-off in brightness at the edges of an image, slide, or print. Can be caused by poor lens design, using a lens hood not matched to the lens, or attaching too many filters to the front of the lens.

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A Change in Perspective

In the section titled “What It Means to Photograph,” there were two stories that “changed my perspective” on photography.  The first one that I found interesting was Alexander Rodchenko’s letter to Boris Kushner, which discusses the endless possibilities of perspective.  In his letter, Rodchenko feels the need to address why he is being attacked for photographing from various viewpoints.  According to him, “(Photography) should surely undertake to show the world from all vantage points, and to develop people’s capacity to see from all sides.” (Rodchenko 2)  I think that it is important that Alexander discovered the need to photograph things from many angles.  It goes to show that there are many ways to look at one particular situation, and often one perspective is not enough.  He makes this very clear with his example of the Eiffel Tower.  At the end of his story, Rodchenko makes a powerful statement to Kushner.  He says, “We don’t see what we look at.”  I found this remark to hold immense value.  We do not actually see the deeper significance behind something, until we view it from a different perspective.

The second story I found intriguing was “Pictures From Home” by Larry Sultan.  Sultan is trapped inside his home, but he also seems trapped within his mind.  “What am I looking for,” he asks himself as he rummages through his house. (Sultan 48)   He photographs his family, but only finds the true value in his pictures when he loses hope on taking pictures.  His father is troubled by the way he and his wife are portrayed in his son’s pictures.  He argues with his father that two people’s observations and interpretations of the same photograph can be completely different.  This is where Sultan’s message comes into play.  Each picture is open to various interpretations; that is the beauty of photography.  According to Sultan, his goal in photography is “to stop time.” (Sultan 50)  I agree that photography should aim to freeze time, which would allow each of us to interpret photographs differently.

Photography Terms:

  1. Exposure– the duration of time that light is permitted to act on a sensitive emulsion
  2. Aperture– a circular opening on a camera that controls the quantity of light entering or leaving it
  3. Contrast– the difference between the light and dark areas of a print, or a negative
  4. Front Lighting– the light shining on a photograph that comes from where the camera is located
  5. Panchromatic–  photo that is sensitive to all colors by adding certain dyes
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Funny Photo

People you see on the SI Ferry…

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These Two Bozos Finally Found Waldo.

Wait…Waldo is a girl?! This changes everything….

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Real Is the New Perfect

Each author in “Reflections on the Medium: What it Means to Photograph” emphasized the value of photography. Alexander Rodchenko, as an example, highly stressed the different perspectives that photography can capture. For hundreds of years, painters created work at the “belly button level or from eye level”. Rodchenko argued that in a world where everything is changing so rapidly, documenting an object from one perspective is not sufficient in portraying it vividly and realistically. He believed that photography, instead of being a substitute for paintings, should be more experimental. It is wrong to take photographs of people posing or a landscape from eye-level because it does not provide a new perspective for something already known. He described his experience with the Eiffel Tower to compare what photography is to what it should be. Seeing it from a distance, he was not amused. But standing below it and looking up, he saw a completely different scene.

Bernice Abbott, in her piece titled “Photography at the Crossroads”, shared a similar perspective to that of Rodchenko. In its early stages, photography did not seek to imitate other mediums of art. It captured the candid, everyday happenings. By the mid 19th century, “artificial props with phony settings began to be used”. Photographers leaped back to the time when perfect was the standard. Retouching, brushwork, props, and backdrops began to be used to create a more surreal imagine. It was all an attempt to correct the real and natural. Abbott believed that a photographer should have a motive for capturing a moment in time. The photograph’s message should be clear and powerful.

Both photographers took their work to be more than an art form: it was also a means of educating. They did not seek to perfect the subjects and landscapes that they photographed, but instead wanted to show them from different, more realistic perspectives. Looking at the misuse of photography from a sociological standpoint, they wondered how photos could change the way people viewed the world.


Photography Terms:

  1. Bracketing: Taking several photographs of the same scene at different exposure settings to ensure a well-exposed photograph.
  2. Grainy: description of an image that looks speckled because the particles of silver on the sensitized paper are clumping together.
  3. Aperture: the opening of a lens that controls the amount of light that enters the camera.
  4. Emulsion: Light-sensitive coating on film or paper (on which photograph will be produced).
  5. Reticulation: Cracking, scratching, or damaging the emulsion of a photograph during the developing process.

Funny Photo


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Perspective and Selectivity

The technology for photography has transcended in the 21st century with color photos and the extraordinary ease of taking them, capturing reality as photographers see it ever more vividly. The tradition of formal family photographs is long gone, or at least the majority of the time a camera is not used to take formal family photographs anymore. Instead, we are more concentrated in taking photographs of ourselves, our families, and our surroundings. Personally for me, that’s true. I do not take photography as seriously and take pictures of things that only interest me. The depths of those photographs, however, can be questioned. I think, if there are any definite aspects, what sets apart a great photograph from a typical one lies in its selectivity and unique perspective, taking the two terms as defined by Berenice Abbott and Alexander Rodchenko, respectively.

Although Ken Light and Larry Sultan’s writings speak well of photography, I find Abbott’s and Rodchenko’s to be more revealing of what photography is. In Rodchenko’s views, a photograph is supposed to capture daily life as we see it in a variety of perspectives, not just “from the belly button.”  Everything would be boring if we all look at the same object in the same way. And therefore, Rodchenko proposes, “We who are accustomed to seeing the usual, the accepted, must reveal the world of sight. We must revolutionize our visual reasoning” (Rodchenko). In a sense, that’s what fills our lives with colors. We may participate in the same activity but we can have different takes on it, and that’s what a picture is set out to show – the different perspectives. For example, a regular floor lamp photo might look plain taken from a person looking at it a few feet away, but it would or might look very unique from top or bottom view.

As for Abbott, she stresses the importance of selectivity and draws attention to photographers as an artist, differing from those who paints, sings, or plays an instrument. To Abbott, “A photograph is not a painting, a poem, a symphony, a dance. It is not just a pretty picture, not an exercise in contortionist techniques and sheer print quality. It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term–selectivity … it should be focused on the kind of subject matter which hits you hard with its impact and excites your imagination to the extent that you are forced to take it” (Abbott). In other words, a photograph is not a fashion statement; it should be something that the photographer is hooked by. A photograph is hollow if the photographer is not “forced” to capture it.

Both photographers show great passion in their occupation and is reflected clearly through their writing. Perspectives, together with selectivity, seem to be the highlight of a great photograph. It shows the creativity of the photographer and its ingenious freshness that it brings to the viewers. What these two emphasize might just be what separates a regular photograph to an amazing one.

Five Terms:

Auxiliary Lens: An add-on optical device that changes the focal length of the prime lens for zooming in and out of focus, and other special effects in photography. It usually comes in +1, +2, and +3 powers; the higher the number the greater the magnification.

Darkroom: Although not used much anymore, it was once the work space for developing and printing photographic film and making prints. Digital cameras, computers and printing replaced that.

Exposure: The amount of light that enters the lens and strikes the film or sensor. Exposures are broken down into aperture (the diameter of the opening of the lens) and shutter speed (the amount of time the light strikes the film). Thus, exposure is a combination of the intensity and duration of light.

Frame: The outer borders of a picture, or its ratio of the height to width (now). Before when rolls for cameras were still in used, it is the individual image on a roll of film.

Tripod: A three-legged device with a platform or head for attaching the camera. It is used to steady the camera when taking a photo. (Note: It is most useful for exposures longer than 1/30 second, or when a constant framing must be maintained throughout a series of shots)

Funny Photo:

Textbooks… make me sleepy… zzz…

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“What It Means To Photograph”

Response to Reading
Two stories that caught my attention the most is Larry Sultan’s and Berenice Abbot’s stories. In Sultan’s story Pictures From Home, a few lines that I could relate myself to are, “What do you do with all those pictures that you make? You must have thousands of them by now,” and “You shoot thirty rolls of film to get one or two pictures that you like. Doesn’t that worry you?” Sometimes I find myself wondering the same things when it comes to my friends who are interested in photography. There are always so many different shots of the same subjects. This narrative goes into the perspective of the photographer, which really helps the reader understand what is going through the minds of these artists.
Something that struck me while reading Berenice Abbott’s Photography at the Crossroads was a line about the equipment and materials of a photographer. She states “a good photographer cannot fulfill the potential… if he is handicapped with equipment and materials… for amateurs…” which is something I disagree with. A good and bad photographer cannot be distinguished based on his work. Of course, a photographer with more advanced and professional equipment can be deemed greater, but a photographer with amateur technology should not be degraded simply based on what he uses to capture his art.

5 Terms
Bokeh – The way a lens blurs an image; how evenly and pleasingly the out of focus are looks
Exposure – The amount of light allowed to reach the film or sensor, which is determined by the intensity of the light
Focal Length – The distance between the film and the optical center of the lens when the lens is focused on infinity, usually measured in millimeters
Sensitivity – The degree to which a photographic emulsion or a digital camera reacts to light
Filter – Transparent material that modifies the light passing through

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Response to Reading and 5 Terms

Out of the four stories, I found the ones by Berenice Abbott and Larry Sultan to be the most interesting. Abbott’s story opened my eyes to the documenting aspects of photography. I thought that her best line was “the picture has almost replaced the word as a means of communication.” This emphasizes the importance that photography has since an image is easier to process than words, making every aesthetic decision that much more important. I found her history of photography to be very interesting, and I agree with her point that it must progress or wither away. However I think that with all the creativity and decision-making that goes into photography, it will never die since something new will always come up. What stuck out to me the most was her description of what photography is. Saying it should be a statement, guided by selectivity was new to me. I never understood photography because I was never interested in it. But seeing all the creativity and thought that influences selection, I can see why it is so fascinating. Everyone will be different, even when photographing the same subject, which is why photography is so fascinating.

Sultan’s story stood out to me because it was a personal family narrative. Personally, I take the point of view of the dad when he says, “You shoot thirty roles of film to get one or two pictures that you like. Doesn’t that worry you?” To me, this makes perfect sense since I don’t have that passion for photography that Sultan has. However through his eyes, I can see and understand why he does it. Making his parents live forever really stuck with me, because he was using photography to capture time and memories, which my own family does. It was relatable and I enjoyed that. I think that through these stories, I was able to get a deeper glimpse into photography and understand/relate to it more because I am now more interested in the art form.

5 Terms

Aperture – The variable opening produced by the iris diaphragm through which light passes to the film plane.

Depth of Field – The range of acceptably sharp focus in front of and behind the distance the lens is focused on.

Shutter Speed – How fast the camera’s shutters open. Determines how long the film is exposed for.

Close-Up – The general term for pictures taken at relatively close distances, from 1/10 life-size

Filter – A transparent piece of tinted glass, plastic or gelatin used to alter the color or character of light or to reduce the amount of light.

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Views of Reading the World(Five Photography Technical Terms at the back)

After reading all four of the stories, I found a common theme among them: the point of view photos deliver. All of them are, if not arguing then discussing, how a photo should be and what “medium” it shows. Should you pose for a picture? What does “reality” mean in photography? How is my view different from yours? Should I take a color picture or a black and white one? Does a photo need to have meanings? Can you actually call a photo—a “picture”? The answers to these questions for each photographer determine his or her idea of a photograph.

This became especially clear to me when I read the last story, “Pictures from Home” by Larry Sultan. The author had an argument with his father, for his dad thought the author’s photo of his wife (the author’s mom) made them look older than they were. Well, what can you expect from a photo of a woman “standing in front of a sliding glass door holding a cooked turkey on a silver plate (49, Sultan)”? IT’s just a typical mom! Like the author said, it is his mom, but his dad’s wife; therefore they have different expectations for the photo. (Though honestly I don’t think this should have been a problem.) Likewise, in Ken Light’s story, his photographs received certain criticisms on the color of the pictures. However, Light’s rebuttal was that everyone has a certain lens for the world. Just because you think the picture should be in some way, does not mean everybody sees it that way. He said in the article that he once took a photo in colors for the newspaper because “at the time magazines expected color”; for Light, however, the photos should have been in black and white (45, Light).

The articles were eye opening. I initially thought that all photos are the same, except the famous ones. Now, my perspectives had changed. Even though every photograph is a part of the reality, it is the exact viewing of the photograph that is important, not the scene.

Saturation: “An attribute of perceived color, or the percentage of hue in a color. Saturated colors are called vivid, strong, or deep. Desaturated colors are called dull, weak, or washed out.”


Sharpness: ” Subjective quality of an image indicating clear or distinct reproduction of detail: associated with resolution and contrast.”

Balance: “Placement of colors, light and dark masses, or large and small objects in a picture to create harmony and equilibrium.”

Zoom lens: “A lens in which you adjust the focal length over a wide range. In effect, this gives you lenses of many focal lengths.”

Exposure: “The quantity of light allowed to act on a photographic material; a product of the intensity (controlled by the lens opening) and the duration (controlled by the shutter speed or enlarging time) of light striking the film or paper.”

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Photography Links

We begin our study of photography on Thursday, October 25th. Do check out the links listed below:

video: http://vimeo.com25857940

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Dear Arts in NYC students:

A couple of reminders about next week and a comment on the Collage Themes. First, the Collage Themes. Your ideas were lively. I encourage you to aim for originality and creativity. Although I did say that the collage did not have to be on a cultural encounter theme, do consider weaving in a theme since it might strengthen the work. There are two creative arts projects this semester, the collage and the street photography project –which can be on any subject. The collage is based on the notion that the sum is greater than its parts, that the mixture/tension/friction of parts creates a greater, more meaningful whole. The street photography project is a series of photos on a given theme. But the collage is a chance to turn things inside out!

For Tuesday, October 2nd, please bring in a dance performance review and be prepared to discuss the challenges faced by a dance critic.  Remember that we are scheduled to see Fall for Dance on Tuesday evening at 8 PM at City Center at 131 West  55th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues).

On Thursday, October 4th, we will have a class visit from Jody Sperling. I also asked that you upload your reviews of The Train Driver by October 4th.

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Artistic Endeavors

Not content to merely consume the arts in New York City, we set out to contribute something of our own. Through these projects, we discover that we are ALL artists!


In the Street Photography Project, each student will shoot 10 or 12 photos on a theme of their choice. Each photo will have a caption. Accompanying the images, will be a first-person essay describing how and why you shot the images –a narrative on your experience.

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