Monday, September 13, 2010

NYC: Two Seasons, One Lubitel 166

A year ago, Madrid.
Wandering through the streets of Madrid, on my own, exploring, I find a shop called Lomography.  A camera store, but carrying different tools than the megapixel based cameras I have learned and are familiar with.  Film.  Quirky.  A twin lens reflex camera catches my eye on the shelf.  Boxy, black plastic, but sexy, it calls to me to take a step back from the speed and instant gratification and try something slower, more deliberate, more 1952 Russian.  I make myself embrace the delayed gratification and wait to buy it until I get home.  When it arrives, complete with black and white film, the first images I make are of the woman who is my best friend and lover, sitting on my bed in her ball cap, browsing the photography book that also came with the camera, excited about my new "toy".  They are the last images I will take of her.  Two weeks later, without warning, the relationship is over, before I have even have a chance to have the film developed.  But that is another story with photographs I do not share.

December last year, New York City
I have a good friend, Carly, who was living in Stamford, CT with her boyfriend at the time, so around the holidays I find myself in New York City with them, seeing some of the holiday lights and sights as the city drops into evening.  I have my new camera and I am still learning to use it well.  We stop into one of the largest camera stores in the city and I buy a light meter that compliments my new camera, meaning that it was probably also produced in about 1952, but it was cheap and helps me get a better sense of where to go in my new quest to at least create a reasonably exposed image.  I load the camera with color slide film, also a first for me, and we set off toward Rockefeller Center.  It is cold, and I pass a courtyard that on warmer days is home to a waterfall fountain. 
Now it is more static.
Rockefeller Center is one of the busiest areas of a busy city, and today is no exception.  We arrive in time for the last of the daylight to slip away.

I get quite a bit of attention with my camera, even from the cops keeping an eye on the crowded plaza.  People ask me "is that a point and shoot?', which of course it is, but not in the sense they are are asking.  The lights and crowds, the skaters and the dozen or so Salvation Army bell-ringers, all make for a festive atmosphere which I attempt to hold my camera steady enough to capture on film after I remember to wind to the next exposure and set the shutter to be able to take the image.
We step into a wine bar to get out of the cold for a few minutes.  By the time we come out, it is full on night.  We want to head for home, but I cannot resist making one final image.

August 2010
I am back in New York for my friend Candace's birthday.  A heat wave has stifled the city for a couple of weeks, but today the weather is beautiful.  I have not had a very good trip.  At the restaurant the night before, I passed out, hit a bunch of furniture on my way to falling on the floor, and woke up on the floor of the restaurant dazed, battered, and bleeding.  This was followed up by a visit from the NYC paramedics, then by throwing up my dinner about a half hour later.  Candace was very kind to me, especially after I made such a commotion, but I had to miss most of her party in favor of spending most of the night at the Beth Israel emergency room where it was determined that I had not had a heart attack or stroke and that I did not have a concussion.  It was also determined that they could glue my eyebrow back together in lieu of stitches.  It will not be determined, however, that I have fracured my right scapula until I get back to Virginia two days from now and I go in for x-rays.  But for today I am out with my Russian camera again, looking like a boxer after losing last night's match, trying to enjoy the city in summer like the children in the water fountains behind the Museum of Natural History.

With my injuries, I find the thought of a nice quiet park bench to be more appealing.

As the afternoon moves on toward evening, I find myself along the Hudson River.  There is a great walking path and the whole place feels relaxed and uncrowded especially compared to Rockefeller Center around the holidays. 

The only place that is somewhat crowded is the beer garden/restaurant I find at 79th St.  Although I have to sit outside on a wall, I cannot complain too much.  After all, the weather is spectacular and I am well medicated on ibuprofin, which is keeping my bumps, bruises, and breaks from being too uncomfortable.

Walking back at sunset, I find a playground, now quiet without the laughter and noise of children at play.  I stop to play in my own way, using the quiet and the golden light to capture the stillness of the ending of another day, alone in a city of millions.