Category Archives: photographs

Just a black and white photo. Not a lot to write about it.

PHOTOBLOG MOVED

Hi Folks.  I moved this black and white photography blog  to: 

www.BeckermanPhoto.com/blog

Please feel free to visit if you’d like to see what I’ve been up to since this blog came to a halt. Why did I move? Well, I just wanted more freedom with a self-hosted photo blog.

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The Truth

weber-coney0007

Matt tests whether his Leica is waterproof.

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Darkness at Noon

Another shot I forgot about that I just added to the store. Title is from the book by Arthur Koestler. Still going through scanned negatives… I’m almost done. Maybe another 100 to look at. There’s about 212 in the store right now. That might not sound like a lot, given the thousands of shots I’ve taken, but it is. I want to stop it at 250 images. After that it’s almost like a small stock agency specializing in NYC.

cleopatras-needle0001

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Willis Avenue

And I really wonder what this building once was. (From the Bronx side of the Willis Avenue Bridge). It has a fancy portico, and looks like it was an government office building once-upon-a-time. It is clear that there should be “no ball playing” but doesn’t say anything about tagging.

Willis-Avenue

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A Piece of Faux

Leather in the water by the curb after the big rain. Of course it never did look like that to the naked eye.  It’s just the result of a very very fast shutter speed.  I don’t know about you but I don’t see at 1/4000th of a second.

leather-in-water1712

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Brain of Photographer

photographers-brain1707

Photographer’s brain on a hot day with nothing better to do than photograph shadows and strange crushed cans that may have held wine at one time in the gutter and follow the instructions that were once on it: Twist to Open.

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Leaf on Asphalt

This is the weather I hate.  99% humidity.  I barely go out, but stay inside bailing out the tray beneath my air-conditioner which still doesn’t drip out the window properly but rather wants to come into the house.  But thank God the thing works, even if I do feel sometimes like I’m adrift in a leaking rowboat.

Anyway. Rain.  And I left the house to take pictures of stuff in the gutter.  This is the easiest sort of thing to do when you haven’t shot for a while.  No meaning. Just design and texture.

leaf-on-asphalt1723

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Aperture At Forty

aperture-forty

When they were on 23rd street.

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Night Messenger

bike-messenger-1676

They do often go the wrong way, and I know two people who were hit and sent to the hospital.  Nevertheless, still a good night subject for yours truly.  This was shot by panning with the bike as it went by.  On the other hand, I once read that the most dangerous job in NYC was bike messenger.  I always thought they’d make a good subject for a documentary.  The only film I know about them was with Kevin Bacon (Quicksilver) which not only features Kevin Bacon (not your typical bike messenger) but takes place in San Francisco and was an awful movie.

I almost became a bike messenger at one point in my life when I couldn’t think of anything else to do and was out of money (I was about 22) but was talked out of it by an uncle who got me a job as a can carrier in a film processing lab.  (There’s a Jerry Lewis film about that).  It was a very simple job, but like Jerry Lewis I didn’t fare well at it.  I would be given a stack of big pancake like silver cans to bring from one place to another through dark underground tunnels.  I spoiled some film one day when I tripped and one of the cans opened.  That didn’t get me fired because it was a union job and my uncle knew the head of the local.

After a week or so, my eyes got used to the dark tunnels and I was able to make my way around with the teetering stacks of film cans, but then I opened a door to a processing room that had a flashing red light which I didn’t see since the cans were stacked so high, and that got me sent to the union leaders office which was a gigantic office.  You opened the door and had to travel a few miles to get to the guys desk.  And sitting behind the desk was the biggest guy (outside of a circus) I had ever seen in a suit that was bursting at the seams chatting on the phone.  He just looked up at me finally still talking into the phone and beckoned with big beefy hands to me:  Hey kid, you had betta watch your step.  If not for your uncle you’d be outa here.

Yes sir.

And then he went back to his phone conversation.

What I remember most about the job was the dispatcher who was a a fat ugly woman who cursed like a sailor and tried to pinch me every time I walked by her desk, which was often and I was always with the cans.  A million years later in another life I remember her name (Rita) and her eyes which had turned into mole eyes after decades in the dark.  The jobs some people had there.  The big job was to check that the colors were right in film reproductions.  There was a room with several projectors that were playing movies and t.v. shows upside down, hour after hour.

During the week I was there, they had a big order to make copies of the show Bonanza for the Japanese market, and for nearly a week there were eight guys in a big room (they all smoked), each watching upside down episodes of Bonanza with Japanese subtitles (also upside down) and the sound off looking for color errors in the prints.  Can you imagine that?  Like some sort of torture.

I can’t imagine I was there for more than a few weeks, but can’t remember whether I was eventually fired or left.  Probably the latter.  Yes, I left because I remember Rita making fun of me for quitting.  From there I got my job as a busboy at the City Squire Hotel.  That’s another story that has nothing to do with bike messengers, though it still involved carrying large amounts of flat circular objects from one spot to another.

What I remember from that job was that the short order cook was usually drunk, and although he never knew who the plates were going to, he would randomly spit in the food.  But that’s a story for another day.

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Sewer in Headlight

sewer-in-headlight

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Night Flowers 2009

night-flowers1534

STATS: 1/15th of a second; 30mm at f1.4 Canon 40D, ASA 1600

And so, with the freakin’ store in relatively good shape (I made a drastic change and changed themes), I jumped out into the street finally, and did some night portraits. One after the other like someone who had been starved for images. I’m probably going to take a trip up to Yonkers raceway tomorrow night with my sister. The summer days bore me. I want the night.

No, the site isn’t completely finished, but I think it just needs one more day of coding to put all the tags into a dropdown from the top menu and to make sure the SEO crap is working. What I had been trying to do all along was come up with a thumbnail theme where I wouldn’t have to re-enter all the posts and photos that were already posted in the database. There are four variations of this theme, (you can see the link on the bottom of the pages) and this is the free one. I’ll probably spring for the variation that costs about $50 because it has a few other features I want to use. It was odd, because I had tried this theme about a year ago, and I wasn’t proficient enough with css to really make it work for me. Now I can. (I assume that about 90% of the readers have don’t know what I’m talking about with this CSS and plugins and all that — and as I write this I figure it should have it’s own post. But you know me, I never do that. Start with a portrait of a guy selling flowers at night, and veer off into the technical or whatever other junk is flowing through the neurons.

As far as this shot goes… it was just one-two-three. I did ask him to stand in a spot where I could see there were headlights pointing at him, hoping for a bit of side lighting (which I got) and click, and thank you… and on to some drunken teens who came running at me…pleasing to have their picture taken.

During the day, they’d give me dirty looks if I took their picture. On a Friday night – all they want is to be the center of attention for a millisecond. I think someone could write something about that sometime. The difference between the night and day person. Maybe it’s just booze that makes the difference.

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Mother Goose Rhymes

mother-goose

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Child Air Patrol (date unknown)

child-air-patrol

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Mom with Kids 1995

But I am starting to get the urge to start photographing again… I’m almost through wading through the obvious film shots… But this happens to me. Some project – in this case working on the web site and adding old photos — and I get consumed by it. That sort of attention to one thing is both a plus and a minus. You can probably figure out why. On the one hand – you do get things done. On the other, the rest of the world passes you by for a while and you sort of feel like you’re working under water.

I remember, once when I was trying to solve some programming problem – I actually walked home from work (about five miles) without realizing where I was going or where I was – until I solved the problem. At that point I looked up and found myself at 79th street. That sort of complete concentration is not usual for me – but every once in a while it can consume me to the point of being oblivious to the little things that have to get done.

I think I’m going to force myself to do the Circle Line tomorrow if it doesn’t rain.

mother-and-kids

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Swinging in Blizzard

Carl Shurz Park (of course to this day I don’t know if it’s Schurz or Shurz unless I look it up). Only teenagers in photographers were out that day and only teens would realize how great it would be to go for a swing in the middle of a blizzard. Remember those days, when you were invincible?

swings-blizzard

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