Concrete and Reliquaries

January 16, 2018

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I have been reading this book because I am fascinated by medieval art, and I see a lot of reliquaries.  The book is sort of rambling, and it jumps around thematically, but it has focused my attention on these objects lately, so I took another trip to The Cloisters to see a few.  I drove in, and decided to park and walk around Washington Heights with my camera a bit before going to the museum.

First off, again, the Port Authority Bus Terminal with that fantastic reinforced concrete roof by Pier Luigi Nervi.  I was struck by this view from my car, and walked back to capture it.  It conveys, for me, the creepily attractive monumental and oppressive nature of some modernist architecture.  The tower in the background, one of four known to traffic alert listeners simply as “The Towers,” gives the view a Futurist look.

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Once in the museum, I went to see the three little ladies, reliquaries purportedly containing the skulls of martyred women, three of the 11,000 killed with Saint Ursula.

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Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but it made me think of this final scene from Mystery of the Organism.vlcsnap-694373

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Lower Manhattan Jaunt

January 8, 2018

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On my Lower Manhattan jaunt I took two pinhole cameras:  a coffee can model; and a rectangular box type.  My photo journey began uptown, of course, at the 178th Street Port Authority Bus Terminal.  The building’s roof was designed by Nervi was designed in the early 1960s, and I just love the trapezoidal-shaped columns resting on a massive steel rocker.  This was shot with a rectangular box pinhole.

As usual  with my interior pinhole shots, I had trouble getting the exposure right.  Actually, getting the exposure right is always a problem, but it’s harder indoors.  Considering the overcast skies, this one came out pretty well, but I have been finding that my low-light outdoor shots are often over exposed because I have been relying on an iPad light meter app.  According to the reciprocity law rigmarole, long exposures calculated “by hand” are too low and need to be increased.  I don’t know what the “rule” is for light meters that include very large f-stops, or maybe there isn’t one.   I should probably rely on rule of thumb and experience and dump the meter!

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This coffee can shot of the plaza outside of the $4 billion luxury shopping mall otherwise known at The Oculus or Transit Hub by Calatrava shows the exposure problems.  It is also a roughed up image, showing the effects of my clumsy field handling of the cameras in my darkroom bag.  Haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.

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This interior shot of the structure was also taken with a coffee can pinhole, and it turned out pretty well.  The building is more impressive in this image that it is in fact, but I could go on about this for a long time…

I found relief from the contemplation of the Port Authority’s pharaonic waste at The Rubin Museum on 17th Street which contains fantastic collections of Tibetan art.6961121A-0102-4239-8DC0-1C428BC2955B

After my visit, on my way to the subway to get back to Nervi’s place, I captured this little scene, so typical of Manhattan, with my coffee can pinhole.

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Upper Manhattan Jaunt

January 7, 2018

I revisited one of my favorite buildings in Manhattan; the multi-storey sub-basement of an old apartment building in Washington Heights, amidst the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Complex.

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It really does seem like a dungeon to me.

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It’s barely visible from this perspective amidst the hospital behemoths that recall to my mind the fantasies of Saint Elia.

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Manhattan Schist, so it’s called, is prominent up here, and from such soil, great structures grow.

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Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, we had barely two seasons:  I love the winter!love winter II

After all this gawking at icy splendor, I retreated to The Cloisters.

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Son of Clovis?

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Saint Lawrence Being Roasted:  The story goes that after grilling for a while, he declared, “I’m well-done, turn me over!”  Thus, he is the patron saint of cooks.

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Dark Day

December 4, 2017

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Yeah, pretty dark days these days are.  I can hardly bear to read the news.  I decided to try to get some pinhole shots out while there was still some winter light.  The one above was taken at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy.  I managed to sit pretty still for two minutes, but lugging my cardboard cameras around in a sack loosens their joints, and this one seems to have a bad light leak.

I found myself in Manhattan in the morning, so I went to the Metropolitan for some interior shots.  This one sort of worked, with a ten-minute exposure in the arms gallery, one of the few with large windows to the outdoors.  While I was waiting, I had a nice chat with the guard, who happened to be interested in alternative photography.

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Back at The Creek, a four-minute exposure.selfie in maze

And one of the more successful shots, done with a very small, very primitive repurposed hand lotion tin as pinhole camera.Roots 3b

And for those of you who insist on verisimilitude of a higher order…

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Pinhole and Not

November 1, 2017

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It was a dull, cloudy day out, so even with some lights turned on, this interior shot was exposed for about 9,000 seconds; that’s two and one-half hours.  🙂  The aperture is 0.2mm and the focal length is 0.9″ for an f-stop of about 114.  My collection of first editions of illustrated copies of Voltaire’s Candide and E. A. Poe’s The Adventure of Arthur Gordon Pym are hardly legible.  😦

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This is the image I should have taken with my pinhole camera yesterday at The Cloisters!  But it was made with my iPad.


Medieval NYC

October 31, 2017

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Alongside the entrance ramp to the George Washington Bridge in northern Manhattan, stuck between two enormous buildings that are part of NY Presbyterian Hospital, there is an old walk-up apartment building.  It’s the one with the dark horizontal band that is the bottom platform, supported on braces, of the rear fire escape.  Below that, it’s stone sub-basements all the way down.  I think there are four levels!  To me, it has always looked like a bit of medieval Italy transplanted to NYC.  The image was captured with a my small-format pinhole, a very wide-angle.

Further up the road is the turnoff into Fort Tryon park, where the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters Museum is found.  The entrance goes under this monumental stone bridge that carries pedestrians in the park across the road.

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This shot of the back entrance to the Cloisters didn’t work so well:  the contrast is too great.  I find that pinhole shots, at least for me, using paper and not film, work better on cloudy days.

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Pinhole @ “Ground Zero”

October 13, 2017

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Yesterday, I ventured into Manhattan to meet a friend for lunch down near where I used to work, and afterwords, we strolled over to the WTC Memorial, directly across from my old office.  (Also from Century 21,  where I bought a pair of Italian shoes. 🙂 )  I had been planning to take some pinhole shots, and the weather was good.

I had my 5″x7″ photo paper camera loaded and ready, and I set up my tripod for what was to be a one-minute exposure.  Oops, no tripods allowed, I was informed by two policemen.  I can see how they would need to have that rule to prevent the area from being clogged with photographers at their stations.  Nevertheless, when they saw the nature of my equipment – clearly, I was not a professional doing commercial work – they looked the other way for sixty seconds, and I got this shot.

Over near the Santiago Calatrava PATH terminal, I took another shot, this time with my 0.2mm, 0.9″ pinhole using 3″x 3″ paper.  I crouched down and held the camera in my lap for a thirty second exposure.  Not tripods there, either!  I like the spooky, Expressionist feel to this image.

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