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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.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#553)…and how to go Christmas shopping on a bike in the cold rain.

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On the bike…Christmas presents.

How to go Christmas shopping on a bike in the cold rain…bring heavy plastic trash bags with you to wrap purchases in. Bring a plastic tote to carry items in. Even if you think the tote will not leak it likely will (it did)…hence the plastic bags. Accept that you will get wet. Really wet, if it is raining hard (it was). Be prepared to be cold once wet. Acceptance, I find, is key here. But also, be prepared to see some beautiful rainy/foggy city scenes along the way, such as the photo below.

Urban Simplicity.

The view from my handlebars on a really frigid and snowy night on my short commute home and a few things I saw along the way…

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Urban Simplicity.

Four Trees; One Photo

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I came upon this while riding my bike the other night. It was frigid cold out; my fingers ached, but I thought this was beautiful. So a took a photo and thought I’d share. Click it for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while walking home from work on a really cold night…

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Urban Simplicity

Greenwich Village at Night with a Few Words…

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I was in NYC this past weekend, and no matter what city I find myself I am always drawn to it’s funkier neighborhoods. I love their color, flavor, visuals, and eccentricities. If I’m in Toronto, for example, I usually gravitate to Queen Street West or the Kensington market. The half-dozen times I’ve been to Paris I’ve stayed on the Left Bank. When I spent a very brief time in New Orleans in the late 1980’s I had an apartment in the heart of the French Quarter. And the neighborhood in which I currently reside–Allentown–has these same qualities but on a much smaller scale. So it should come to no surprise that when I visit NYC I usually end up in the Village, I always have. Technically not all of these photos are from Greenwich village, a couple are from Union Square, which of course is the next street over. The above photo is one of my favorites. It’s a group of Hare Krishna followers who are in Union Square every time I go there, they have been for as long as I can remember. I often listen to them sing and watch them dance for a minute or two. And this time I took their photo. After I did I dropped a couple dollars in their collection bowl. And as I turned to leave a young woman thanked me and offered a candle for me to place on a small altar with a hundred others (to the left of the photo). There was a small cushion to kneel if you’d like, and say a prayer. I did. It was lovely really. To kneel briefly in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this incredible city and say a silent prayer. When I closed my eyes it was as if I shut everything out and I went in, if even for just a few seconds. As I stood and turned to leave again, she thanked me again and asked if I were hungry. I declined, but it was truly lovely. Anyhow, while there this weekend I took a few photos and thought I’d share. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Hot Colors, Cold Night…my neighborhood in the pouring rain

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So I haven’t posted much in the last few days–or a week–for a few reasons. The first is that my life has seemed to get increasingly busier (am I the only one that feels this way?). And the second reason is that I’ve had a mild lens malfunction on my camera as of late. From my very first post on this blog (ok, second post), I’ve made the commitment to have at least one photo with each post. And as I’ve gradually made the transition from 35mm (of years ago) to my little point-and-shoot cameras, and now to my entree level dslr, I’ve become somewhat spoiled. Spoiled when I can’t get my camera(s) to capture what actually I see in front of me. Thus was the issue with my malfunctioning lens. Anyhow, I recently purchased (it just arrived today, actually) a refurbished lens and was hellbent on testing it even though it was raining. So tonight, being slightly fortified with a couple glasses of wine–and armed with my camera, three lenses, a tripod, and an umbrella–I went out in the pouring rain and took a few photos. Here are four of them. Click any for a slightly larger view.

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 (on the first really chilly evening of the season)

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I had stopped out for a few drinks with a friend after work this evening. And afterwards was hesitant to run some intended errands, not only because of the beer consumption but mostly because of being ill prepared in dress for the chilly weather. Anyhow, I am really glad I did (as I usually am once I get on the bike). It felt so good to be in the brisk air in the evening. And I really needed to clear my head (about a few things not just from the beer). Anyhow, these are both images of Hoyt lake in Delaware park. It was so peaceful sitting there in the evening snapping these pics. Click either for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Allentown on a Thursday evening…

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Though it’s not officially autumn yet it certainly feels like it today. It felt good. It was also the first day since last spring that I wore a light jacket. Many of you know–either by being a local or from reading this blog previously–that the Allentown that I mention in the the title of this post does not refer to the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania but rather to the neighborhood by the same name in the city in which I live, Buffalo, NY. Allentown, is small without doubt, something like 10 city blocks, but it’s culture is international. It is a village within a city, really. And it is both commercial and residential. The main thoroughfares–Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue, which intersect–are mostly (but not entirely) commercial, while most of the streets leading off of or intertwine to are mostly residential. It is a nice mix and I feel blessed to call this my home. I went out to purchase a bottle of wine this evening (which I am currently enjoying), and I brought along a camera and tripod (big surprise). And in the two city blocks walk to the liquor store (which is pictured here), I passed the following sights. A young woman playing a piano (when I asked her why she was playing her piano outside she stated simply that she liked to make beautiful music…and it was), multiple bars and restaurants (some of which are known for hosting international musicians, and some that…umm, well, let’s just say have reputations of their own, click here and here). I also passed a poetry reading and a mural dedicated to the late Spain Rodriguez (among other street art). As I took photos a few people came up to talk to me (this happens often), and one of the people was a guy about my age or maybe a little older who seemed a bit tipsy. He was an artist, he said, and had work hanging in galleries in Buffalo, New York City, and Rome. But still, he added, he liked to call this neighborhood home. I don’t know if he was telling the truth or stretching it. But what I do know is that all of this is within a 3 minute walk from my front door. And this is what I thought about on my brief walk home while the first chilly air of the season brushed across my face.

Urban Simplicity.

Starry, Starry Night…

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Image found here.

I was at meeting at our church tonight and was feeling overwhelmingly exhausted for some reason; I didn’t stay for the entire meeting. I hopped on my bike and rode slowly; it was a cold and cloudless night. The cold–at first–felt jarring. But then as I pedaled and coasted I warmed up and it felt good (as it often does) to be on a bike pedaling through the city at night. I was on a side-street so there was no traffic, and at one point (when there was a slight decline in the road) I coasted and took my hands off the handlebars, leaned back, and looked up. The sky was incredible. I coasted like this–hands free while looking up–for half a block or so. I felt small. I still do. Sometimes things overwhelm me. Life is good. And it’s good on so many levels (for me, anyway) to be on a bike. I’m just sayin’…

Urban Simplicity.

On a Moon’s Eve

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Tonight was/is a full moon. The Snow Moon. And it was such a nice evening–crisp but not too cold, clear, not a breeze in the air–that I grabbed a camera and went for a walk around the neighborhood. And these are a few of the things I saw…

Urban Simplicity.

Six Photos of NYC

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I was in NYC over the weekend and snapped a few photos along the way. I was busy for most of the weekend but took photos as I walked to-and-fro. What’s interesting (I think) is that in my continued efforts to travel light (or at least travel lighter) I brought only one camera with me and it was this small pocket sized point-and-shoot. So yes, it was difficult to hold my hand steady for some of the dusk or evening shots on such cold nights. But still it is possible to capture the feel of a place while looking through an inexpensive lens…

Urban Simplicity.

Things I Saw While Riding My Bike Today…

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One of my favorite things to do is ride around the city at night or during dusk and take photos; if I was an early bird–which I am not–I’m sure I would enjoy the dawn as well. Sometimes I really do question whether I am this guy reincarnated (but I’m getting off topic as I often do). Anyhow, tonight I did just that…rode around and took a few photos. I was inspired to do this because tonight is a full moon (wolf moon) but I couldn’t seem to get a good shot of it. Despite some of the warm colors in a few of these photos it was still cold tonight (20f/-7c), so besides my shivering hands and a shaking tripod I was unable to get a good shot at the moon. But I did get a bunch others, and here’s a few. The photo above I took earlier in the evening (around 6pm) with my trusty little point-and-shoot camera. It’s a view of Buffalo’s West Side looking west over Lake Erie at dusk. The images below I used another point-and-shoot camera–albeit a slightly better one–plus a DSLR. The first image below is our majestic City Hall. The next photo is of Prospect Park. And lastly, is a zoomed in view of Lady Liberty 23 stories up and on top of the Liberty Building. Click any image for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Playing with Light…Two Views from My Handlebars

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So first of all I have to say it was cold today…really cold. The high temp was 18F/-8C. Tonight it is supposed to dip into the single digits (F). Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the brisk riding conditions. Mind you, I wouldn’t want it like this all the time (though in the dog days of summer I’ll be pining for a day like this), but tonight it felt good…fresh. There wasn’t much snow and what is there was newly fallen so traction was pretty good. Anyhow, if you’ve been to this blog before you’ve likely seen one of the above images, or at least a variation of them…it’s the corner of Allen and Elmwood here in Buffalo. I pass this intersection multiple times a day. And the two photos are separated by 90 minutes. They were both taken while I straddled my bike in pretty much the same location, but the top one was shot at 5pm while the bottom one was taken at 6:30pm. Same camera; same settings; different times. Sort of interesting, I thought. Interesting enough to share. Click it for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Four Photos of NYC at Night

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Playing with Light (in the cold)

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A few weeks ago I finally purchased my first dslr camera. It’s used but still in great shape and takes really good photos (the evidence is in front of you). When I was younger I was really into 35mm cameras (specifically this one). I would take road trips specifically to take photos. Then, as I got a bit older and accumulated responsibilities and started to take things a bit too seriously, photography was one of my hobbies (art forms) that gradually got pushed aside. Though in recent years–with the advent of the digital camera, but more importantly when I decided to start taking care of myself again–I’ve rekindled my love of viewing the world through a camera lens. But until recently I’ve only used point-and-shoot cameras, which I still use and love. Then recently I purchased the used dslr–which is the digital equivalent of a 35mm, I believe–and a whole world has opened up to me. Anyhow, and to cut to the chase, I went out for a cold walk with my camera and tripod to take some night shots and play with the light/shutter settings…the result are these photos. It’s interesting, I think, how warm the colors are but how cold it is outside (25F/3.8C)…sort of like looking through night vision goggles. Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few of them.

Urban Simplicity.

la nuit

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Urban Simplicity.

Four More Photos and a Few Words About Them

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The sky tonight is/was incredible…or more specifically, the full moon in a crystal clear sky was incredible. And as I gazed at it I couldn’t help think of all the people in the northern hemisphere that could see this very same orb in the sky just as I did. Anyhow, the picture above shows the moon hanging low over the neighborhood in which I live.

The photo immediately below is of a mini bronze Buddha statue I purchased at Namaste Bookshop on my most recent trip to NYC.

The next photo below (in the middle) is a cropped image I took of a napkin at a chain coffee shop yesterday (you know which one, no need to give it free advertisement). The napkin said “Real Food; Simply Delicious.” Their food looked neither real (what I would call made-from-scratch), nor did it look delicious. Sorry to be a snob but I dislike the marketing machine that convinces many of us what good food should be. Anyhow, it made me think (as if I need something else to make me think), and I’ll pose the question to you–the reader of this blog–and it’s what I was thinking about at the time…What is real?

The bottom photo is one I took this evening just as dusk was changing to night. The sky seemed to glow and there were crows in all the barren treetops as I rode my bike silently into the wind…it was incredible. I was on my Yuba Mundo and had a camera and mini tripod in a bag in the back so I pulled into an empty parking lot to snap a few photos. I was there for a few minutes crouched next to the bike and behind the camera when I heard someone say, “Can I help you sir?” Well first of all I don’t like it when people call me sir, it makes me feel too responsible, and secondly, I was so engrossed at what I was seeing that I didn’t even hear him coming…sort of startled me. It turns out he was the security guard to the building whose parking lot I was in…he was concerned that I was taking pictures of the building (even though I was facing in the opposite direction). I told him I was just taking pictures of the birds in the trees (all the trees surrounding the parking lot were filled with them…it was quite impressive). He looked up to see them and as he did he dropped his key ring, making a loud clang on the pavement….many of the birds scattered, flying in all directions, circling low overhead and then returning to the trees. “It’s sort of like being in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, isn’t it,” I said to him. “Wellll,” he replied in an almost hushed whisper, “I hope it don’t get to that…but it sure is beautiful…sometimes I just forget to look up.” And with that, he bid me a good night, still looking at the sky as he walked away.

For as much as I talk about being able to take good photos with an inexpensive camera I am also fully aware of their limitations…capturing the birds in motion was one of them. But if you look closely you can see some of them represented as streaky blurs in the sky. In person, though, I have to agree with the security guard…it sure was beautiful. I just hope I keep remembering to look up. Click any photo for a lager view.

Urban Simplicity.