This weekend I went for a long needed photo walk. I used to go on regular photowalks all over Manhattan and Brooklyn while I introduced myself to street photography, film, manual cameras and development. I would andomly choose a neighborhood to explore, get up early, ride the Path Train from New Jersey, arrive at the World Trade Center, and walk to the location. Miles and Hours later I would catch the train home and develop my film to see what I got.
I didn't shoot any film but I did take my Fuji XT-1 and new Fujifilm XF 35mm (53mm) F/1.4 Lens out for a spin. I absolutely love this combination of camera and lens. It is reminiscent of shooting on my Olympus OM1 (my favorite analogue camera) and Zuiko 50mm 1.4. I was worried about performance issues I read about in regards to focusing with this lens but after a full 7 hours of photo walking and looking at the images I can say those worries were unfounded. The lenses is tac sharp, performs well in low light and is a must have for anyone on the Fuji system.
This photowalk began like most of my previous ones, at World Trade Center. From there I made my way up towards the financial center and wall street. There is always so much going on here its often difficult to shoot here. In the face of overload I always try to find juxtaposition and message. This boy and his selfie stick in front of these two older women on their phones are a perfect image of America today captured by screens. Nearby for as little as a dollar tourist can take home a small piece of the US in the form of a statue of liberty crown or a wall street bull.
I then made my way east and to south street seaport. I walked along and stopped to look at the helipads for a while (a favorite passtime of mine) and then continued along the walkway and under the Brooklyn Bridge. There was the usual assortment of people. Tourists, Runners, Homeless. All against a backdrop of Brooklyn, the bridge and the many reflecting puddles from the rain earlier in the day. I never tire of photographing the Brooklyn Bridge. It has a personality all its own and I always seem to see it from a new angle.
After my waterfront walk, i travelled back west and into China Town. I have not explored this part of Manhattan nearly enough and plan to do so much more extensively in the months to come. Being there is like stepping into another country, A far away place full of street vendors, advertisements in other languages, mandarin spoken freely and all sorts of nooks and crannies with secrets to be discovered.
Next on the agenda was a rest stop. After 3 hours of photo walking I made my way up broadway to Argo Tea on University Place near Union Square. After using the restroom and the wifi and having a bubble tea (Piña Colada Tea with Coconut Milk) with my wife I set out again. This time finding a street fair selling the usual items like leather goods, bracelets and ...... tights?
The mannequin legs and the woman shadowing their stance were great but the matching stripes were the cherry on top.
From the fair I made my way east down 23rd street and back towards the water. Here I made two of my favorite images of the night, both juxtapositions of the space and people. I love using objects in an environment and waiting for people to walk in and provide context and meaning. Its the perfect cocktail.
I love the juxtaposed image of Melissa McCarthy from her new movie Spy pointing a gun at this pedestrian. She raised her arm to fix her bag right as she crossed in front of my camera and I got this fantastic gesture. Continuing on my walk I found the graffiti in the second image. After hanging around for a few minutes I this young couple happened down the walk way and i was able to make the photo. I think its an interesting commentary on young love and the inclusion of the one way sign and the stop signal are tiny suggestive themes. You can interpret it as you like. That is the magic of street photography.
Finally, after dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant in Manhattan, Rhong Tiam I made my way home but not before making the photo below at the subway station. As I saw these girls come on to the platform, I couldn't help wonder where they were coming from or where they were heading. The composition is intriguing. The two women looking towards each other but not at each other and the ambiguity of the friend who's back is turned to us. The hats, the bow on the dress and the shoes in hand are the kinds of small details I look for when photographing the street.
Photography is therapeutic to me and I had missed street photography more than I imagined. My new smaller lighter kit will be coming with me on many more photowalks and photo hikes. More Landscape and Street Photography are definitely on the way.