Nice Best Of New York photos

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Affection
best of new york
Image by Ed Yourdon
I didn’t see the details of how this couple approached each other, or recognized each other — but I got the clear impression that they had planned to meet here somewhere, and that they were greatly relieved that they had actually found each other.

The hugging went on for quite some time; if this wasn’t affection, I don’t know what is …

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I am taking a wonderful two-weekend class at the International Center for Photography (ICP) in March 2014, with the title "The Creative Process: Meeting Your Muse."

After two days of very intense discussions during the first weekend of the class (Mar 15-16), we were all given individual assignments to work on during the week leading up to our second weekend gathering (Mar 22-23). Mine was to focus on the concepts of “permanence” and “transience,” and to look for (photographic) ways of expressing those concepts. And during some subsequent back-and-forth email conversations with the instructor, I was urged not to spend too much time thinking about these concepts, but rather to capture (photographically) what I felt about them.

Well… How to avoid thinking about such things? I guess one can look at anything that one comes across and observe, “this feels permanent” or “that feels transient.” But at least in my case, it’s very hard to turn my brain off; and I found it impossible not to think about what these concepts meant. After all, if you remember the old adage that “nothing lasts forever,” it reminds you that nothing is really permanent; it’s just that some things are more permanent than others — and, of course, some things are more transient than others. I have a few things that date back to my early childhood, and a bunch of knick-knacks that date back to my children’s early childhood; conversely, I can look at various gadgets in my office (especially the technological ones) and acknowledge that they probably won’t be here a year from now …

What does this have to do with photography? And specifically, how can you “capture” the concept of permanence (or transience) in a photograph? By sheer coincidence, I happened to be reading a blog posting by a street photographer named Eric Kim, titled “14 Lessons Alec Soth Has Taught Me About Street Photography” while I was working on this assignment, and I was intrigued by what Magnum photographer Soth said at one point:

“Photographs aren’t good at telling stories. Stories require a beginning, middle, and end. They require the progression of time. Photographs stop time. They are frozen. Mute. As viewers of the picture, we have no idea what those people on the waterfront are talking about.”

and the additional comment that

"Photographs can’t tell stories, but they are brilliant at suggesting stories…"

and Soth’s final comment on the limitations of a single photograph, with the observation that:

"You can’t provide context in 1/500th of a second."

So … I can take a photograph of an arbitrary object, and when I look at it by myself, I can conjure up an arbitrarily detailed mental “story” about when I first saw it, how long it’s been part of my life, and why I think it’s relatively “permanent.” But if I show it to you, that same photograph might well fall flat on its face — because you won’t have the context that I have. You won’t understand (and ultimately agree with, or disagree with) my sense of the permanence/transience of that object unless I can provide the context, which will require a series of photographs in order to provide the beginning, middle, and end of whatever story I want to tell you.

And all of this seems somewhat pointless if the photograph, and the associated story, is related to any kind of familiar “tangible” object — because even if that object has survived since the day I was born, and even if it will still survive after I’m gone, it’s not really permanent. It probably wasn’t here a billion years ago, and it won’t be here a billion years from now.

Indeed, the only thing that I could imagine as being arguably “permanent” in any meaningful way is human emotion. If we all evolved from tadpoles, perhaps our ancestral tadpoles had different emotions than we do; but as long as we have been humans, we have all had emotions of love and hate, joy and sadness, and the full spectrum of what we typically call “feelings.” My parents and grandparents had them, my children and grandchildren have them, and every generation from the ancient cavemen to tomorrow’s “Star Wars" super-heroes, will also have them.

So that is what I’ve tried to capture in the photographs you’ll see in this Flickr set. All of this had to be done in the space of a week, and I had only three “chunks” of time that I could devote to actual picture-making (alas, I cannot escape the mundane requirements of paying the rent and putting food on the table). Thus, I could only manage to observe and capture a few of the emotions that I saw all around me each day; I took some 900+ images in three different NYC locations, winnowed them down to 9 keepers, and that’s what I’ve uploaded here …

Fire on 74th Street in Bay Ridge Brooklyn
best of new york
Image by emilydickinsonridesabmx
I was walking back home on my way from doing some errands, and noticed a massive plume of smoke from the direction of my block. I walked over, and saw that my there was a massive fire in my neighbor”s row house at 627 74th Street in Bay Ridge, Brookly 11209.

I walked up just as the New York Fire Department was also arriving, This was a really terrible fire. The house was engulfed, and the firemen were reaking the windows and hooking up houses at several fire hydrants. They were using a cherry picker to break the second story windows and get on the roof. I saw them carry out my neighbor, and an ambulance took him away. Thankfully, he seemed OK – conscious, speaking and no burns that I could see.

A massive crowd gathered to watch. I noticed the elderly woman who lies in the house show up midway through this, noticeably upset by what she saw. I also found out that the cats living in the house were missing.

The NYFD showed up fast, and put the fire out quickly which stopped it from spreading to the other connected row houses. I happened to have my point and shoot in my back pocket, so I documented the fire as local news. This all went down on Thursday September 22, 2022 in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, around 1:30 pm.

My thoughts are defintely with my neighbors, and their family, I hope they are physically well and can recover from the fire and the loss of their home.

Marble sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysos and the Seasons
best of new york
Image by peterjr1961
Marble sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysos and the Seasons

Period:
Late Imperial, Gallienic
Date:
ca. A.D. 260–270
Culture:
Roman

This highly ornate and extremely well-preserved Roman marble sarcophagus came to the Metropolitan Museum from the collection of the dukes of Beaufort and was formerly displayed in their country seat, Badminton House in Gloucestershire, England. An inscription on the unfinished back of the sarcophagus records that it was installed there in 1733. In contrast to the rough and unsightly back, the sides and front of the sarcophagus are decorated with forty human and animal figures carved in high relief. The central figure is that of the god Dionysos seated on a panther, but he is somewhat overshadowed by four larger standing figures who represent the four Seasons (from left to right, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall). The figures are unusual in that the Seasons are usually portrayed as women, but here they are shown as sturdy youths. Around these five central figures are placed other Bacchic figures and cultic objects, all carved at a smaller scale. On the rounded ends of the sarcophagus are two other groups of large figures, similarly intermingled with lesser ones. On the left end, Mother Earth is portrayed reclining on the ground; she is accompanied by a satyr and a youth carrying fruit. On the right end, a bearded male figure, probably to be identified with the personification of a river-god, reclines in front of two winged youths, perhaps representing two additional Seasons.

The sarcophagus is an exquisite example of Roman funerary art, displaying all the virtuosity of the workshop where it was carved. The marble comes from a quarry in the eastern Mediterranean and was probably shipped to Rome, where it was worked. Only a very wealthy and powerful person would have been able to commission and purchase such a sarcophagus, and it was probably made for a member of one of the old aristocratic families in Rome itself. The subjects – the triumph of Dionysos and the Seasons – are unlikely, however, to have had any special significance for the deceased, particularly as it is clear that the design was copied from a sculptor’s pattern book. Another sarcophagus, now in the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Kassel, Germany, has the same composition of Dionysos flanked by the four Seasons, although the treatment and carving of the figures is quite different. On the Badminton sarcophagus the figures are carved in high relief and so endow the crowded scene with multiple areas of light and shade, allowing the eye to wander effortlessly from one figure to another. One must also imagine that certain details were highlighted with color and even gilding, making the whole composition a visual tour de force.

Very few Roman sarcophagi of this quality have survived. Although the Badminton sarcophagus lacks its lid, the fact that it was found in the early eighteenth century and soon thereafter installed in Badminton Hall means that it has been preserved almost intact and only a few of the minor extremities are now missing.

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