Flashback Friday: Grand Central Station, NYC (March 2005)

Good Friday at Grand Central Station

Good Friday at Grand Central Station

One of the advantages of documenting my own life in a blog format is that I can choose a point in time and revisit it, for whatever reason. I decided to go back 10 years in my photo archives for this post, to have a look at the pictures I was taking and cringe critique myself. I’ll be the first to say they are technically rather terrible, although I did edit the one above for my Tumblr header, so at least it was somewhat salvageable.

10 years ago I was living in the USA, a two hour drive from New York, and I was there often to photograph and explore the city. At the time I only had a low-end point-and-shoot camera (Canon A80), but if I were using the cameras I have today back then, I probably would’ve taken the same pictures. Probably similar compositions, even from the same vantage point. This is why I tell people who are learning photography that buying a DSLR right away isn’t absolutely necessary. In fact, shooting with a compact digital camera is the best practice situation before graduating to a DSLR, because you form your own compositional style without worrying about the operation of the camera or its heft. Then, once you know what kind of pictures you want to take, you can start adding more control to the pictures by upgrading equipment.

Photography technology is changing all the time, but pictures have always been about content and how the brain interprets the image through the viewfinder. When I was at Grand Central Station on Good Friday in 2005, I remember how chaotic it was with people rushing to catch a train somewhere for the Easter weekend. I don’t think it was rush hour yet, and it was already quite busy. These were the camera settings:

ƒ/3.2 / 11.4mm / 0.5 sec / ISO 50

I shot without the flash, which slowed down the shutter enough to make for some nice motion blur. I especially like the photo below, because one person stood still long enough to get more or less in focus, while everyone around her is moving. You’d think this would be a simple scenario at a train station, but finding a person motionless without people directly around to block the line of sight in the busiest train station in New York City on one of the busiest days of the year is not as easy as it sounds.

I’ve had 10 years since this photo to improve my equipment and figure out my style and come up with an editing process. I’ve improved my equipment (although very slowly), and learning how to edit has been very painstaking (I’ve pulled out a lot of hair), but I think the one thing that has changed the least over time has been my composition style. I’ll probably need another decade to decide whether this lack of change is a glass half-empty (stale!) or a glass half-full (consistent!), but the picture-taking will roll on regularly, regardless.

Original post: Good Friday. Manhattan. Jewtopia.

waiting

waiting

March 25, 2005
Album: New York City [March 25, 2005]

Portuguese Food Chronicles: March 2015 Edition

tremoços (lupin beans)

Between Portugal Restaurant Week Round Two at the beginning of the month, Father’s Day dinner at Mother-in-Law Restaurante, couchsurfers, and discovering new eateries, it’s been a real mix of food pictures this month. Here’s a selection to wet your whistle.

local bakery treats

There’s always a bag or two of mini-tostas (toasts) in our cupboards. They keep their flavour and texture longer and go with everything — soups, hummus, cheeses and meats. You’ll see tremoços in the top picture, which is the healthier alternative to peanuts or chips as a snack food.

soft cheese with pimiento, served with mini-tostas

Last week I was introduced to a new eatery in Porto centre called Pasteis de Chaves, which serves up a specialty of flaky pastry with either savoury or sweet fillings, originally from the northern city of Chaves, in the district of Vila Real. Traditionally it is made with veal, but modern times call for variations, including vegetarian and dessert versions. I haven’t stopped in Chaves so I can’t compare, but when I do I’ll make sure I try out the native pastel.

Pasteis de Chaves, Porto

Pasteis de Chaves, Porto

Pasteis de Chaves, Porto

Pasteis de Chaves, Porto

Pasteis de Chaves, Porto

Pasteis de Chaves, Porto

caldo verde at Mother-in-Law Restaurante

caldo verde at Mother-in-Law Restaurante

arroz de pato (duck rice)

arroz de pato (duck rice) at Mother-in-Law Restaurante, for Father’s Day

This week I was at Mercado do Matosinhos, and made a stop at a cake shop I’ve been eyeing ever since the first day I visited the market. Cake designer Marta Queiroz happened to be there and I photographed some of her sugarcraft handiwork, which includes brigadeiros (bonbons) as well as custom-made cakes. I’m always at the market at breakfast time, camping out amongst the vegetables because I’ve become very partial to Comida da Rua‘s perfect tosta mistas and meia de leites. They’ve become such a staple of my morning visit to the market that I pass by Marta Queiroz’s cake shop with interest but without an appetite for the sweet stuff. This is probably a good thing, but next time I’ll save a bit of room to try their brigadeiros, because they are seriously tempting.

cake designer Marta Queiroz at Mercado de Matosinhos

cake designer Marta Queiroz at Mercado de Matosinhos

cake designer Marta Queiroz at Mercado de Matosinhos

brigadeiros (bonbons) by cake designer Marta Queiroz at Mercado de Matosinhos

cake designer Marta Queiroz at Mercado de Matosinhos

brigadeiros (bonbons) by cake designer Marta Queiroz at Mercado de Matosinhos

You’ll also find more food pictures in my Instagram account.

March 2015
Album: Portugal [Spring 2015]

Foz Do Douro, Where Porto Meets The Sea

Foz do Douro (Porto, Portugal) (1)

I ended up in Foz do Douro this afternoon, and took a bus to continue on my way to Porto centre. This was my view while I was waiting. Is there a more picturesque bus stop than this?

(I’ve written stacks of words to accompany this post, rewrote, erased, rewrote, and finally erased them all. Pictures trump words today. Click to enlarge any of them.)

Enjoy the view!

Foz do Douro (Porto, Portugal) (2)

Foz do Douro (Porto, Portugal) (3)

Foz do Douro (Porto, Portugal) (4)

March 25, 2015
Album: Portugal [Spring 2015]

Yellow Fever

Portugal in spring (9)

File this one under: Unintended Consequences.

Having a dog means taking a lot of walks, and we are lucky that we have a large parcel of land behind our home that is effectively a gigantic backyard for Ice to frolic. This Dog Paradise is the result of the global economic crisis hitting Portugal hard, causing construction and development projects to grind to a halt — including the one next to us. But the economy is picking up again, and I’ve noticed other developments nearby get resurrected, which means it’s probably just a matter of time before the Dog Paradise becomes a casualty of progress like the Joni Mitchell song. But until then, we’ll enjoy all the overgrowth, the unfelled trees, the mini-wilderness around the pond, the underground mole cities and tunnels (Ice’s favourite part), and these untamed bursts of yellow everywhere.

Portugal in spring (2)

Portugal in spring (3)

Portugal in spring (4)

Portugal in spring (1)

Portugal in spring (5)

Portugal in spring (6)

Portugal in spring (7)

Portugal in spring (8)

Portugal in spring (10)

Portugal in spring (11)

March 24, 2015
Album: Ice the Dog
Album: Portugal [Spring 2015]

Ovar Railway Station Azulejos

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (1)

We were in the city of Ovar last month to watch the Carnaval de Ovar parade, a short train ride from Porto to the Aveiro region (75kms). We decided to leave the car at home because the crowds at Carnaval make it difficult to park. When we arrived, at first glance the Ovar Railway Station was nondescript — typical white-washed train station building, partially tiled. But upon closer inspection there were more panels of azulejos (Portuguese painted ceramic tilework) than average, and they cover both the front and back.

Ever since I moved to Portugal I’ve been on the lookout for azulejos, especially the ones that depict stories and scenes. Azulejos can be found all over the country but my photos are mainly of the north, elaborate scenes in São Bento Railway Station, Aveiro (Old) Railway Stationstops along the Douro Line, on churches like Capela das Almas in Porto and Lamego Cathedral. Even in less likely places like archways.

In Ovar, the local history and cultural traditions of the area are preserved in the azulejos, from clothing to architecture to life by the sea. Interestingly, on the train side the panels of tile are framed by a fish motif, and the panels on the city side have crabs, shells, and waves. The city side features more landscapes, the train side a mix of people, religion, and locomotives. The tiles are in dire need of some restorative work, especially on the city side, but the panels on the train side are mostly intact.

As a person working in a creative field, I very much appreciate the artistic details that can be found everywhere in Portugal, from the mosaic patterns in the cobblestone pavement, to the concrete formed to look like natural wood, to tiny details painted on tiles. These details are easy to miss, but as a photographer it is my life’s work to give these details a longer life, through pictures.

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (2)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (3)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (4)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (5)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (6)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (7)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (8)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (9)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (10)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (11)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (12)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (13)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (14)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (15)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (16)

Ovar Railway Station, Portugal (17)

February 17, 2015
Album: Carnaval de Ovar 2015