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New Years Day (two photos)…

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 It has been cold outside. Really cold. In the teens and single digits Fahrenheit. Snowy, too. Anyhow, after doing a bunch of errands today I bundled up and grabbed a camera and tripod and went for a brief but contemplative walk (which ended with beers at a bar). Anyhow, these are a couple pics of the neighborhood in which I live. In the top photo I am standing on the north east corner of Allen and Elmwood looking west down Allen. And the bottom photo is Days Park. Click either for a slightly larger view. 

Urban Simplicity.

The View from My Handlebars on a Clear but Frigid Evening…

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The corner of Allen and Elmwood on a very cold night. I was on my way home from the community center after a steam and swim. The air on my face was cold–really cold–and my fingers were freezing (I really need to get better gloves). I was feeling slightly stressed because of the self-inflicted nonsense that is often happening in my head. And I looked up and saw that full moon directly above. How could I not snap its picture. Anyhow, I thought I’d share.

Urban Simplicity.

The View from My Handlebars (on the first really cold evening of the year)

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Urban Simplicity.

The View from My Handlebars…

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I had to be at work a little early this morning. It was cold–the first really cold morning of the year–probably about 30F, and not a breeze in the air. It felt good; crisp. And then as I rounded the corner and faced east this was the view in front of me as the sun rose. Beautiful. I stopped in the middle of the street to snap a photo. I was, and still am, so grateful to be on a bike in the open air. It was a great way to start the day.

A Few Things That I Saw While Riding My Bike This Evening…

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Urban Simplicity.

Something I saw while riding a bike today…

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H.H. Richardson Complex, or more commonly known as the old section of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, right? It’s actually not as creepy looking in real life…more impressive than creepy (ok, at night it still is pretty creepy). After years of vacancy and neglect it’s finally being refurbished again (possibly as a hotel). The newly renovated grounds are lovely. Anyhow, as I rode past it tonight the lighting was just right so I had to take a few photos. Click either for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Playing with Light

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One of the many things I like about digital photography is that unlike film photography you can shoot as many photos you want and choose only a few that you really like. This was the case this evening. I shot about 25 photos of Hoyt Lake and Marcy Casino at Delaware Park and these two are my favorites. What I like about these two are the color contrasts. This was achieved by not only long exposure but also the light around me. The blue in the sky was the result of the time that I was there– l’heure bleue, which is one of my favorite times of the dayand the red foreground is from a series of lampposts, which are just out of view but shone on the water directly in front of me.

 Urban Simplicity.

Just One…

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Just one photo. That is all. I rode to the waterfront this evening. It was cool, windy, and sort of blustery. Almost autumnal. I really enjoyed it. I ordered a beer and snapped a few photos while I watched the evening clouds roll in. This photo is my favorite. Buffalo Harbor. Click it for a larger view. And thank you, by the way, for your continued support in visiting and commenting. Peace.

Urban Simplicity.

Angels in the midst, and three things I saw while riding my bike this evening…

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To be closer to God, be closer to people. 
~Kahlil Gibran

This evening’s weather was almost autumnal…cool, windy, and large rolling clouds. And for whatever reason, I found myself somewhat stressed today (yes, even on my day off that crazy mind of mine never stops reeling). Stress, for me, often morphs into depression or at least a case of melancholia, which is how I felt earlier. So as a remedy I thought I’d ride down to the waterfront and take a few photos, both of which–photography and physical exercise–are often good remedies for this. Once there, I purchased a beer and set up my tripod at water’s edge; the day’s light was just beginning to fade. It was not crowded as it often is, likely because of the weather. And I’m not sure what it is about a guy with a camera, and specifically a guy with a camera on a tripod, that makes people talk to him, but it happens all the time to me. Anyhow my point is during the hour or hour-and-a-half that I spent down there sipping beer and taking photos numerous people came up and talked with me, a few at length. And it felt good, that’s the only way to explain it. Maybe it was the awesomeness of the weather conditions in front of us, maybe not, but I felt a deep connection to each soul to which I interacted…complete strangers discussing commonplace things. Anyhow, it was this connection I believe that really changed my mood…shifted it. We are all in fact–I also believe–angels in the midst of this thing we call life. And now is the time that we happen to be on this planet. We should make the best of the time we have…


Urban Simplicity.

Fishing for night swimmers…and a few photos of the international border in my backyard

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If you’ve been to this blog before you know that I am typing from Buffalo, NY. And sometimes I forget that there is an international border and another country in my backyard (the awesome country of Canada). A mere eight minute bike ride from my house brings me to Broderick Park, which leads to Bird Island Pier (a slim walkway–a break wall–that separates the very beginnings of the Erie Canal with the Niagara River at the mouth of Lake Erie (click here to see how the pier’s thin line juts out into the lake, and here to see a photo of it). I hadn’t been down there in a while, and when I arrived I questioned why it had been so long. Anyhow, I had it in my head to take a few photos of the Peace Bridge at dusk so I pedaled down. And as I pedaled and coasted down the pier (which was largely deserted because it being evening) I was struck by it’s beauty. But then, to my dismay, as I approached the undercarriage of the bridge I could see that there was a chain-link fence blocking further passage because of repairs (the entire length of the pier is at least a mile into the water). You can see the distance in the photos…the top photo I was at the far end of the pier (the restricted section), whereas the below photos I was just beneath the bridge. Anyhow, as I was standing there slightly saddened because I couldn’t (or at least thought I couldn’t) travel any further down the pier I saw someone approaching on a bicycle, and I could see they had fishing gear attached to their bike. It was a Burmese man about my age (Buffalo has a rather substantial Burmese population). We chatted a bit; he saw my camera gear and I  noticed his fishing gear. I told him how I wanted to go to the end of the pier to take photos. No problem, he said, that’s where I fish for night swimmers; some fish only come out at night, he added. He then showed me (and helped me) to hold my bike at a horizontal angle to fit between the railings of the pier, and “walk it” along the stones (which was a rather steep embankment) for about 50 feet, and then repeat the procedure to re-enter the pier. We walked along the canal side, which I’m sure was a steep drop off in the water, and at one point as we were walking he turns to me and says, don’t drop your bike, you won’t get it back. After we reestablished ourselves on the “forbidden side” of the pier he pedaled off while I set up my tripod; I never saw him again.  It was so tranquil. On my way back I saw two cranes and many dozen geese (who nearly refused to get out of my path). I have to say I was a bit worried about lifting my somewhat heavy cargo bike through the railing by myself but I managed (I had the Cargo-T, not the Yuba). I shot a couple dozen photos as I watched the sun set on the river while I wondered why I didn’t come here more often. Click any photo for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Chasing light…a few things I saw while riding my bike this evening

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I can’t remember which book it was by Ernest Hemingway–either The Sun also Rises or A Moveable Feast–where he was sitting in a cafe enjoying the evening, then looked at a companion for a few minutes, and when he looked up again he said everything had changed (I’m totally paraphrasing, of course), that the light had changed and that he had “missed it.” That magical moment when the light changes from day to night but there is still light in the sky just after the sun sets. The Blue Hour, that’s what it is called, and rightly so. There is about a 20 minute window in which to capture this natural light, and depending on the time of the year it of course changes. There are times–like tonight, for example–when I find myself pedaling like a madman trying to get to my destination for this light. I had stopped for a couple beers on this lovely evening and had a camera with me. And as I sat there at the bar sipping my beer the light shifted and rested on the buildings across the street. It looked beautiful, I thought to myself..and if I wanted to capture it I had to do so now. So that’s what I did. I drank the remaining beer in my glass in one quick chug and headed off. And it’s interesting–being on a bike and taking photos–because the entire thing just seems so fluid to me…sort of an extension of myself. Organic in the true sense of the word. I had a rather stressful day facing the stove today but doing this relaxes me; it’s almost meditative. Anyhow, if you are from Western New York you’ll likely recognize these locations, but if not they are from top to bottom…Albright Knox Art Gallery, Hoyt Lake at Delaware Park, Karpeles Manuscript Museum, and the Richardson Towers. All of these were shot within a half-hour time frame; click for a larger view. To see others similar to this click here or here.

Urban Simplicity.

A majestic building à l’heure bleue, and another really useful thing for a bicycle…

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I’ve posted about a few of these things prior, but tonight the conditions were simply optimum. I had come home from a meeting with our meditation group and then sat on the front porch with a glass of red wine. The sun was just setting and there was not a cloud or breeze in the sky…beautiful. Glancing to my left I could see our majestic City Hall in the distance; it was already illuminated. Tonight, I thought to myself, would be a great night to take some pictures of it. I wanted to catch it at that magical time just after the sun sets (the blue hour, which I posted about here). Anyhow, knowing that I only had about a 20 minute time-frame (it’s all about the light), I threw a couple cameras and a cheap tripod on my bike. The first photo that I took is actually the bottom photo (not sure why I listed the first last); it’s a side view of the building as I approached it. Here it was still light enough that I could hand-hold the camera. This is actually my favorite of the four photos here. It’s a shot of the City Hall which was built in 1932, and our new courthouse which was completed in 2011…sort of an “old-and-new” shot with the timeless moon hovering over all. Then as I pedaled around the front to face the building (where I encountered another photographer doing the same as I) it had gotten a bit darker and I knew that I’d need a tripod. I had brought my “cheap” tripod because folded up it is small and easy to carry. It is small enough that it fits on my bike to act as a stabilizing platform. It’s pictured doing just that in the above photo (and in previous posts here and here). So how, you may be wondering, did I get a shot of the camera on the bike if the tripod was already in use? Well, interestingly, the above shot was taken hand-held (as still as I could possibly hold it) with a pocket camera. Not bad, huh? But if you look closely you can see the graininess in the above photo that doesn’t appear in the first one below. And lastly, the middle photo below shows some of the detail of the top of the building with its observation deck. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity

Two Views from My Handlebars (jour et nuit)

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These photos are actually in reverse order…the below image was shot last evening on my way home and the above one on my way to work this morning. It just seemed more natural to have the day image above the evening one. Anyhow, beautiful, beautiful weather these last few days…perfect. And there is no other way I’d want to transport myself than on a bike or just using my own two feet. Just lovely.

Urban Simplicity.

l’heure bleue…

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These are two photos of Allen Street, very close to whee I live. I had gone for the short walk in the cold, wet, wind and had a camera with me and snapped a couple photos. What is interesting, I think, are the colors. I’ve often said on this blog–and many of my photos reflect this–that my two favorite times of the day are dusk and dawn (but I’m rarely out of the house to shoot photos at dawn). I’ve always found this time magical, but as a photographer it is even more so. The light is just right; not too dark, the colors spring forth, and (usually) it is still light enough to hold a camera by hand. And interestingly, I just recently found out that there is an actual name for this…the blue hour, or l’heure bleue. It is an accurate description given the soft blue hue these times offer. Anyhow, I just thought I’d share this.

Urban Simplicity.