Saturday, February 21, 2009

Secrets of Grand Central Terminal

One of the things I love about architecture is the stories of our past that can be learned from the details of construction, use and demolition. The evolution of New York, like much of the country, can be followed by learning the stories of it's architecture and transportation systems. By digging beyond the present, understanding the past...I think I get a better sense of who we are today...and maybe even where we are going tomorrow.

The story of the Vanderbilt fortune and legacy is beyond the scope of my blog...but I highly recommend checking it out. Here is an excellent start:

While I always seem to have a unique view of New York, I got to some amazing behind the scenes places today, thanks to Dan Brucker, Spokesman for the Metro North Railroad and Lt. Kevin Franklin of the BART SWAT team. Here are a few blog images:
This is the very top of the windows on either end of the concourse. The glass floor in the walkways is two inches thick and has a rough surface. The ironwork is amazing and the windows on each side open, to ventilate the station prior to air conditioning.

The windows open via an intricate gear and chain system.

When your train is late, and nobody else knows why....and if you can find them, maybe you can ask...the controllers.
Here in the Operations Center, every switch is monitored, every train is watched. Actually, except for a few desktops with flatscreens, it doesn't look that high tech. Looks just like the control room in the '70's movie "The Taking of Pelham 123".
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's secret presidential rail car, used to transport the president and his Packard car up to street level. This way nobody saw him in a wheel chair, which he viewed as a serious image concern.
The Zodiak mural is actually backwards. The artist made a mirror image by mistake. Still... breathtaking.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why pro camera gear is so darn heavy and expensive!

Ok...this post is not for the faint of heart. If you are a photographer...look away. Run. Go to another web page because you do not want to see this.

Folks wonder why our gear is so heavy...why is it so expensive. What is the big deal, what is the difference anyway? My pack for Friday's architectural shoot weighed 27 lbs and was about $8k in gear, not counting the cost of the software on the Macbook I was shooting tethered to.

The below is one of the very rare pictures on my blog, that I did not take. Photo credit goes to ToykoBling.
This is one of my favorite lenses...the Nikon 14-24mm F2.8. Super sharp, amazing in low light and so wide that the state of Montana called and is jealous. It is also almost $2000. One of the reasons is that to get all that amazing takes a lot of hand ground, very special, glass. They don't normally look like this. This one was attached to a Nikon D3 and cut in half. I shoot it with the Nikon D700, but the look is the same.

The camera is magnesium, for light weight and high strength. The lens body is all metal. And all that expensive glass means it focuses very quickly, in low light and can be superbly sharp. Your Uncle's D60 or Canon Rebel doesn't have what it takes. Of course, the best tools only make the job a little easier. A camera might capture the image, but to see a great photo in your mind first takes skill, practice and a certain level of art. You want to hire a pro for special events...Uncle Bob might take great snapshots...but they are not the same as the images a pro will capture for your once in a lifetime event.

Read more about it and see more scary pictures here:

20 Dates for 20 Bucks

One of my favorite places was just featured on News 12's story "20 Dates for 20 Bucks".

The Spoon Coffeehouse, in Lindenhurst, is one of those places that should be in Manhattan, cost 3x as much and have a velvet rope in front. Instead, it is down to earth, bright and friendly.

While the food is great, the place homey and comfortable...the real draw for me is the great coffee and live music. Not live music like Mulcahey's, with the amps set to 11, but think acoustic guitar, haunting vocals and music you can have a conversation over. Don't think date place just for the 20 something set either. If you are married, it is the perfect spot to keep that flame burning bright in your hearts and remind yourselves that you need to get out more often.

In addition to the music, coffee and simply have to try the Frozen Hot Chocolate. I grew up at Serendipity's and I think Spoon's Frozen Hot Chocolate is far better.

There is a rotating gallery of local artists who have their work displayed and complement the sophisticated feel of the place. I am the resident artist and always have 20 or so pieces up, so it is also a great way to see my work. In my pieces you will see a lot of everyday images, presented in a whole new way that tells a story. And, really, that is what wedding photography is all about. Telling a personal story, showing how your event is different, even though many of the motions and locations might be the same.