Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Days, Everything Is A Picture

Photography is always a subjective way to see the world, it is an art—you think about your composition, you omit, you choose a special detail, a segment or angle—in short:  you create.

Ah, fine photographers.  They understand their equipment; they have patience and skill; they have the eye to spot the perfect shot.  My appreciation for them grows every time I venture forth with my camera.

Some days, though, everything is a picture, and even the lowliest among us can get lucky.  So it was the day we walked along the High Line, a new addition to New York City’s magnificent city parks.  As described on the park's website,
The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement.  It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district.  No trains have run on the High Line since 1980.
After a decades-long battle, the High Line escaped demolition and was transformed into a public park.  The head of the landscape design team described it this way:
From an aesthetic and design standpoint, it has always been our position to try to respect the innate character of the High Line itself.  Our design aims to reflect its singularity and linearity, its straight-forward pragmatism, its emergent properties with wild plant-life—meadows, thickets, vines, mosses, flowers, intermixed with ballast, steel tracks, railings, and concrete.
The result is an episodic and varied series of public spaces and landscape biotopes set along a simple and consistent line—a line that cuts across some of the most remarkable elevated vistas of Manhattan and the Hudson River.

The sun shone and the sky was blue the day we took our walk, but fortunately not cloudless.

A cloudless sky can make for boring photographs, but we were lucky, for clouds there were to give the sky some shape.

We saw people intent on their work;

children intent on their play;

views out over the rooftops;

shapes and patterns everywhere.

Some days, everything is a picture.  In the old days, I would have run out of film.


Spring Songs

Spotify Playlist:  Spring Songs

Joy Spring, by Clifford Brown, Clifford Brown Quintet

Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, by Wolf & Landesman, sung by June Christy

It Might As Well Be Spring, by Rodgers & Hammerstein
Clifford Brown Quartet version
Bill Evans, solo piano version
 Up Jumped Spring, by Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

You Must Believe in Spring, by Michel LeGrand, Bill Evans Trio (Gomez, Zigmund)

Springville, by Miles Davis, Gil Evans arrangement, Miles Davis on trumpet

Spring is Here, by Rodgers & Hart 
Bill Evans Trio (LaFaro, Motian) version
Ella Fitzgerald version 

Credits:  The quotation at the head of the post can be found here.  The quotations about the High Line can be found here and here.  The last photograph is of Sarah Sze's Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat).


klahanie said...

Greetings Susan,
Oh, I'm so appreciating this article, complete with marvellous pictorial displays. I like to see the picture within the picture and absorb my perceptions and try to relate to the inspiration behind the photographer's urge to take the photo in the first place.
You have delighted me with some superb photos that capture the ambience of the scene and indeed your thoughts that went into them.
Have a peaceful day and thank you for this.
With respect and happy 'snapping' your way and thank goodness for digital, Gary

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Susan:
We do so agree with you here about regarding photography as an art form, and have certainly enjoyed looking at these wonderful images of yours. The digital camera has, we believe, opened up this most interesting media to so many people with amazing results.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. love the views of High Line - wonderful it wasn't destroyed and is now being put to good use .. what a lovely walk. Photography is extraordinary and we are so lucky to see other parts of the world through others' eyes ..

Enjoyed this tour - looks a little chilly, but a brisk walk would cure that .. cheers Hilary

Friko said...

I was going to ask what the last photo was, thanks for telling me, it's an amazing compositon.

Aren't you glad there is digital photography? Cameras are lighter and much easier to operate. Beloved still has a huge bag full of equipment which is never unpacked these days. He took marvellous photos in the old days and developed them himself, but I prefer digital. So disposable, so instant, so, ahem, meaningless.

Have I just shot myself in the foot?

Whatever, if the subject is of no interest and the photographer has no eye, then photos can't be any good, never mind about the equipment.

I enjoyed yours. Keep on bringing me views I'd never otherwise see.

Britta said...

Dear Susan,
your photographs are wonderful - the last one has something almost surreal, it reminded me of Magritte. (To see myself quoted seemed also quite surreal - I read it, and only after a moment I recognized it. Thank you for that honour!)
And you are much too modest: those pictures are really, really good! Digital gives the possibility to try out different perspectives, play with 'smaller or bigger?', take in abundance - and then comes the difficult moment to decide: why is this better then that? (And even more difficult: what will I keep on my computer?) Though sometimes one knows the minute one shoots a photo: 'That's it!'
And 'That's it!' I say to your pictures of a town that is majestic and impressive. Thank you!

Rubye Jack said...

These are great photos Susan. You are a true photographer, and it is so nice being able to see NYC and now the High Line through your eyes. There is so much to see in NYC that it can be overwhelming to someone like me, but you capture moments well. I especially like the way the clouds are reflected in the building in the first photo.

Suze said...

Listening to the lovely June Christy as I respond to your post.

I think that a sky without clouds can be an exceptional shot if the sun is hitting something against the skyscape at the right angle. In my hometown, there is a shade of blue which hums at a similar frequency as the neon green shoots on an erupting limb at the end of March -- when it forms the backdrop for the rounded maternal shoulders of a mountain.

I took a picture of that range, with the blue exactly as I describe. I will try to track it down and email it to you, friend.

My apologies that I have not set about working on the Metcalf piece. I did a fair amount of practice on a prelude, just to get my fingers nimble, again. In truth, though, I haven't been able to dedicate as much time to music as I would wish. The lion's share of my finger trills are going to working on a manuscript, at the moment. It is my intention, however, to make time for it, at some point in the coming months.

Thank you for the journeys on which you take us, and the singular universes you open through lens and sound.

Jayne said...

And how you do create, Susan--we see a certain "patience and skill" and an "eye to spot" not only if every photo, but also, every word. The High Line is a magnificent piece of art. A living, breathing, welcoming, generous masterpiece. That came together as such is remarkable.

I love the spring music selection, too. Clifford Brown--joy, joy. And Ella, oh Ella, I could write a book. ;)

Herringbone said...

Hi- Really nice. The things you see and your interesting thoughts.
Great selection of tunes for this most improvisational season.
I was amazed with Davis's take on Porgie and Bess in the last post. The ditty in this one is equally crazy. He floats but with a sublime power. Coool!
I'm sure art will always be judged by the masters. I think digital has brought a medium to the masses. Art for the people. Pretty sweet, I think.
For me, the gem of this post was the High Line park. I was so impressed with the design fundamentals. The eye toward the integrity of the space. Realizing that the landscape was made up natural and man made elements. Brilliant in a way, preservation and re-creating an industrial wilderness."Biotope"...right on.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Oh Susan. I would love to have coffee and hear you talk some day because your blog is so intelligent and so full of heart.
Perfect post title for today: Some days, everything is a picture. It's so true. And your photos are stunning. What it takes to be a great photographer is not fancy equipment - it takes enthusiasm and a creative eye. And you have both.

Mark Kerstetter said...

You sure get lucky with that camera. Odd how some people get luckier than others. My wife's like that, consistently takes better pictures than me.

Thanks for the jazz!

Steve Schwartzman said...

So many pieces of land have been "shot out from under me" in the last decade that I'm always glad when something survives (even if, as here, it isn't land per se but an industrial structure with some land on top of it). The High Line hadn't yet opened at the time of my last visit, but it's one of the places I plan—I inadvertently typed plant—to see the next time I'm there. You beat me to it.

Susan Scheid said...

Gary: I’m so pleased you enjoyed the photographs. I like very much your thought of looking for the picture within the picture—it would be fun to have gone with a group and see what different takes everyone had photographically. It was definitely a very lucky picture-snapping day.

Jane and Lance: For a long time, I couldn’t take photos with a digital camera—I couldn’t see anything in sunlight in the LCD display. So it was with great relief that I learned of a DSLR camera, which is more like what I was used to. Now, of course, the problem is being ruthless enough to delete so I don’t fill up my hard drive in minutes.

Hilary: It was indeed a bit chilly that day—quite the wind blowing across in certain places. But you are right, walking along, even not so briskly, was all that was needed. And what a glorious day!

Friko: Oh, my, I used to develop photos myself also. In fact, I took not such great photos with regard to exposure, so spent hours in the darkroom burning in and whatever else it was called to bring them up to snuff. I actually quite enjoyed that, though I’ve no desire to go back to it. Isn’t that Sze construction marvelous? Of so many photogenic views that day, hers was the best.

Britta: Yes, Magritte makes a lot of sense to me. And as for the quotation of yours I lifted, well I could hardly resist that—the insight was absolutely right and perfectly stated. And aren’t you right about how hard it is to decide which is better than that—not to mention which to keep on the hard drive!

Rubye Jack: Why is it that reflections are so endlessly fascinating (at least I find that to be so). I had a very hard time picking the photographs for this post, and the reflections in the buildings were a good deal of that. I tend, in fact, not to like those cold glass buildings, but when they provide a mirror for their surroundings, it’s another matter altogether, isn’t it?

Suze: The photograph you sent to me is definitely proof in point of those moments when a cloudless sky is what’s required. What a beautiful place you live in! I like to think of you at the piano—I wonder what the prelude was you were working on? That said, I do know how much more the computer keys must command your attention right now, and I wish you all the best of luck.

Jayne: Ah, so pleased you enjoyed Joy Spring—I remember it from my days attempting jazz improvisation (Up Jumped Spring is another from that long ago era). And, yes, Ella is the best—although I must say I was very pleased to stumble across that June Christy. I didn’t know her, but what a voice!

Herringbone: I love the way you describe Miles Davis: “floats but with a sublime power” is exactly right. Your take on the High Line captures what they’ve done there exactly, too. “An industrial wilderness” is just the feel of it—thought with just a few more folks than you might find in a true wilderness. (You should see it in summertime—sometimes there’s actually a line to get in!)

Cathy: And I you! Though I think you would be the more amusing—I think I do my best on paper, probably a bit of a bore “live.” So glad you enjoyed the photographs!

Mark: Perhaps one day you’ll post some of your wife’s photos, eh? Meanwhile, wish I could write poetry a quarter as well as you do. And then there’s the art. And then there are your essays. And then . . . . Glad you enjoyed the jazz. That the music I grew up with, and it felt like time to revisit it. Bill Evans is my main man.

Steve Schwartzman: Know what you mean about land being “shot out from under.” I suspect when you do get to the High Line, you’ll spot beautiful little plants that escaped my notice altogether. May you soon plant your plan!

shoreacres said...

The three photos just after the children are remarkable. If an architect had set out to design such a cityscape, he would have failed utterly. The first two images particularly remind me of Montreal, or Montmartre. There's nothing particular, only a sense of huddled buildings that somehow communication spaciousness.

I read about the High Line when it still was a work in progress. It's wonderful to know that it's now a functional part of the city, and so much enjoyed.

I did note your comment that the truly good photographers have "the eye to spot the perfect shot". To a degree, that's true. But even the best experience the magic of the unexpected - that sudden realization that "something" which escaped our eye altogether has been captured by the camera.

There's nothing more wonderful than uploading photos and staring, slack-jawed, at an image that seems to have hitched a ride on our camera. "Where did that come from?", I think. And I'm never sure.

Manju Modiyani said...

Such a beauty in these pictures...Indeed I can see the world through this post of yours...Its like a visual treat!

The beautiful buildings.the lovely blue sky and the clouds...the lights..Its something I don't to see here...

Thanks for sharing! Loved it.. :)

Suze said...

Bach's simple, straightforward Prelude in C Major from, 'The Well-Tempered Clavichord.'

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