We were lucky enough to spend some time with our friends Effi and Larry’s up at their cottage in Muskoka this weekend. It was a quick affair with us driving up after work on Friday, then returning home this morning. The real purpose of the trip was to take in the Fall colours and to check out the Bala Cranberry Festival.
On Saturday morning we drove up to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh shortly after they’d opened. The day was gloriously sunny and warm, with a clear blue skies and the trees in full colour. We started with a wagon tour which drove around a few cranberry marshes. The tour was quite informative and the guide quick with the wit. For example, did you know that cranberries were originally called craneberries? But when the First Nations people texted the name to the early settlers, auto-correct changed it to cranberries. 😉
While we missed an opportunity to wade in a flooded bog, Matthew and I did go for a helicopter ride (Larry & Effi went for their own trip as well). It was my first time in a chopper and the trip, although short at only 10 minutes, was fantastic. I was surprised by a couple of things. For one, it doesn’t quite feel like flying in a fixed wing aircraft, even in a smaller Cessna. While you feel the wind buffeting the aircraft as you would in a smaller plane, there’s less of a sense of flying. Secondly, I fully expected the climb and descent to feel like riding in an elevator, but it didn’t.
As you can see by the main picture however, the view was spectacular.
Following our aerial trip, we hopped a shuttle (school) bus to the nearby town of Bala to check out other activities, the highlight of which was eating a cranberry-cream cheese spring roll. Words cannot do it justice. We milled about for a couple of hours before heading back. All in all, it was a wonderful outing.
This morning, before heading back home, I took the opportunity to shoot the trees and fog floating across Ada Lake. This is one of the many shots I came away. At some point I’ll get to looking through the others; trouble is, I still haven’t finished working on my photos from New York. I need to spend some time at home!
Stopped the Pathfinder on the way home today to capture this lovely photo along the Perth Road (Highway 10) across from Vanderbilts Island on Devil Lake. Love that Thomsonesque tree on the right.
And like a flash of lightning, it’s over. But let’s head back to Saturday.
Already realizing that there were quite a few items on my list that I wouldn’t get to check off, I knuckled down and set off to Midtown East, hoping to photograph the Ed Koch Queensboro bridge which was on last year’s list. I took the number 6 train to 53rd street, thinking it best to be a bit further away to take the shot. I managed to find a spot that ventured over the FDR so I could get a view of the East River and came away with the photo up above. I’ll admit it’s not the prettiest shot, but the bridge made my list because it was featured in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, one of my favourite films which, incidentally, was shot in black and white. Looking back at Google Maps I’ve since discovered that I was actually in the wrong spot and that there’s another location that’s closer to the bridge. I’ll have to check it out next time, in the evening, I think.
On the way uptown, I had noticed that I was close to both the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Station. Although neither location were on my list, I thought it wise to check them both out. I started with a 15-block walk south, down Lexington Avenue, passing grand hotels and some quite beautiful architecture including the General Electric Building, bottom right. This 50-floor skyscraper, originally known as the RCA Victor Building, features classic Art Deco design. Eventually, I made my way around the Chrysler Building, another Art Deco-style edifice that is probably my favourite. I spent a fair amount of time switching out lenses and taking photographs from different vantage points, including one of a Fire Department rig’s lights reflecting on one of the building’s ornate steel gates. The photo didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped, but it’s still interesting enough.
My last stop was Grand Central Station which was impressive, to say the least. I’d visualized the classic black and white shot, with sunbeams streaming down and blurred commuters rushing by, but then realized this would only be captured at a certain time of day, with a tripod; neither of which I had. Still, I came away with a photo that I’m quite pleased with and captured the ceiling which I never really knew about.
From here I jumped back on the number 6 train down to the Bleecker Street station and spent some time wandering the streets of Lower Manhattan, stopping for a slice of pizza which I ate with other tourists and some locals at standing tables on the sidewalk. It’s a great way to people watch. Eventually, I made my way to the International Center of Photography and paid fourteen bucks to enter the gallery. Sadly, I wasn’t as taken with the exhibits as I’d hoped; to be honest, there were more video installations that still photography. I get it, they’re related, but I’m about capturing a moment in time, so I was a bit disappointed.
As for the boys, we met up at the fountain in Washington Square Park and walked to the Riviera Sports Bar which is no different than any other sports bar. However, after cheering for a goal in the Canada v Russia game, a woman asked if we were Canadian. Acknowledging that we were, she sat down and chatted with us until we left. We never did introduce ourselves by name, but she’s a native Winnipeger who’s been living in Greenwich Village for the past 25 years and makes a point to talk with fellow Canadians when they frequent the bar her partner owns. We joked about the massive influx of Americans and Canadian expats should Trump win the election and she offered Brian suggestions on where to eat which he’s added to next year’s list.
We ended up at Jack’s Wife Freda for dinner and the consensus was unanimous that this was the best restaurant of the trip. The food was fresh and delicious while the atmosphere was vibrant. Satiated, we walked back to West 10th Street to catch Sam Newsome Quartet at Smalls, a firetrap of a jazz club which is oh, so cool. The music itself was more experimental than I’m used to but was enjoyable nonetheless. I stuck around for the second set but left with Derek before the next band around 1:30 am.
Sunday morning I made my way to Murray’s Bagels for some breakfast: a New York-style bagel with cream cheese. It’s pretty good but can’t possibly match a Montreal-style bagel; I’m just saying. With a few hours left on the clock, I ventured around Greenwich Village, taking more shots and enjoying the sunshine. Closer to noon, Brian, Jeremy, Derek and I hoped in a cab and made our way back to New Jersey for the flight home.
This trip this year offered a few more insights: cash is king and older New York women favour the oddest of eyeglasses. But the one photography-related perception I came away with was that it’ll take some time before I consistently get the shots I expect in this city. For starters, I’ve got to get those standard touristy photos out of my system. I also found I had to do the same with architecture shots on day one; yes, they were crappy and I’ve since deleted them, but it was part of the path in easing into the good photographs I’d eventually come away with.
On our last day I came across a small gallery on Hudson Street. It was closed, with bars across the window, but I could see a series of beautiful black-and-white photos taken throughout New York City. A fresh blanket of snow was evident in every shot and it occurred to me that I’d never be able to get shots like these unless I lived there. It’s something you need to plan for, with specific gear easily at hand. I’ll never live there but I do hope to keep going back, year after year.
Each time, I expect, I’ll be better prepared. For example, this year I rented a 50mm f1.2 lens to capture some more street photography. I wanted a high quality lens (it’s outstanding) and to be constrained by the limits of it being a prime (it’s a fixed lens which doesn’t zoom). I loved the experience, even though I didn’t get nearly as much street photography as I wanted. While I did use it for general and some street photography, my inhibitions kept me from doing more. Hopefully, I grow past this.
As for next year, I’ve already started thinking of gear requirements. A tripod will allow me to do more in the evenings and I’m still curious to see what I can do with a tilt-shift lens. In the meantime, I’ve got another 100 or so images to work on and that should do me for a while.
Today’s Photo Tetraptych: The Queensboro Bridge | The Chrysler Building | Bustling at Grand Central Station | The General Electric Building
Thank goodness for the photos, otherwise I’m not too sure I’d remember the correct order of events.
Speaking of which, it’s quite likely I’ll need to post this entry’s photos later on. So let’s get started.
Friday began with breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien before setting off to the MoMA, New York’s Museum of Modern. A few of us took advantage of Brian’s membership to gain access at a reduced cost. While I only explored two of the six floors, I saw a lovely collection featuring works I wasn’t particularly fond of but with some gems I quite liked. There was also a 1960s exhibit which was quite impressive and a three-dimensional installation featuring layers of sand which can’t quite be explained; at least not in my current state of alertness.
From the MoMA I walked up to 7th Avenue, then turned up to make my way to Central Park, walking through its southeast corner until I arrived at Strawberry Fields, a 2-and-a-half acre area which pays tribute to John Lennon. It took quite some time to capture a photo of the Imagine mosaic because tourist kept walking on it for photos or selfies.
From this point I walked back down Central Park West to Columbus Circle—shunning the Trump Tower—where I hopped on the train back to the Village. I decided to lay down for a bit but received a text message from Greg who had arrived in town. We met downstairs, then headed out to pick up a few groceries, stopping for an excellent cup of coffee somewhere in the East Village.
It wasn’t long before we hooked up with the rest of the group at one of my favourite spots, the Broome Street Bar in Soho. A few pints and some measure of time later, we were off to yet another watering hole, just a block away, called Toad Hall. A couple (or was it a few?) more pints of craft brew were consumed and much laughter ensued before we rambled next door to Lucky Strike for dinner.
We finished off the evening with, of course, some jazz at the Village Vanguard, catching the Bill Charlap Trio which was quite enjoyable. One piece in particular moved me in a way I’d never experience at a live performance. All in all, a good day.
Today’s Photo Tetraptych: The Petrossian | Chopper at the MoMA | Skyscrapers in Midtown | Imagine at Strawberry Fields