Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Posts Tagged ‘city scenes

Hey Indy!

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Many people hardly look out the window when they fly, but I make it a point to request a window seat and watch the landscape below as we cruise along.

I want to know where I am an I enjoy seeing places where I once lived and/or know.

I was en route from Cleveland to Phoenix aboard a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 when the captain said we were over Muncie, Indiana.

At the time, there was a cloud cover so I couldn’t see anything. ¬†But I kept looking and soon the clouds parted and I was able to pick out Indianapolis, a city where I lived in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

That is the White River meandering just west of downtown.

Written by csanders429

June 9, 2017 at 3:31 pm

New York at Night

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I made my first and only visit to the observatory of the World Trade Center in early November 1981. I was visiting a friend who lived in the Big Apple although we had met back in Springfield, Illinois, when we both worked for the state.

We visited the WTC twice on the same day. The first visit occurred during daylight hours. I might have said something about what a nice view it would be at night.

Whatever the case, we returned that evening and I made this image. I don’t remember having a tripod. Perhaps we went back to Mark’s apartment to get one. I can’t imagine that I was traveling with a tripod.

This image was made on slide film and over the years it has badly faded. I scanned it anyway and through some Photoshop work was able to regain some of the image.

It would not only be the last time I visited the WTC it would also be the last time that I saw Mark. In fact, I can’t remember his last name or how to get in contact with him. Our last visit, though, was a memorable one.

Beauty Along the Flint River

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The Flint River water crisis was still nearly three years into the future when I made these images of the Flint River in downtown Flint, Michigan.

For years the Flint River has been one of the most polluted in the state as a result of decades of dumping industrial waste into it.

Then the waterway made national news in 2014 when Flint began drawing its drinking water from the river. News stories told of high levels of lead in the blood of children and residents were given bottled water to drink.

The top photograph shows Riverfront Center, which is now part of the University of Michigan-Flint complex along on the Flint River.

The 16-story building has academic space, student housing and banquet/conference facilities. Owned by the Upton Reinvestment Corporation, it was donated to UM in 2015.

Prior to that UM had been using the building, which houses the business school. Upton had purchased the building in 2009. It had been built in 1981 as a Hyatt Regency Hotel and soon became a landmark building in downtown Flint.

The bottom photograph shows the Garland Street-Beach Street bridge over the river in downtown. The building in the distance is the Northbank Center on the UM campus.

Do You Like Your Cities Wide, Medium or Close Up?

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Photojournalism textbooks often talk about wide angle, medium and telephoto shots. Each has its own pros and cons, but ultimately the reason for doing one or the other depends on what you are trying to show.

Shown here are three different views of essentially the same thing. I’m standing on A Mountain overlooking Tucson, Arizona.

My focal point is the city’s downtown. In sequence, the images are progressively becoming wider in scope.

By zooming out, the perspective changes as the frame becomes narrower on the focal point. It becomes a tradeoff between detail and a wider sense of place.

The Cloud Line

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I don’t consider myself a clouds photographer, but I do find clouds to be interesting. Aside from them being illuminated by the colors of the rising or setting sun, I also have an interest in the edges of clouds, particularly when that edge is straight and shows that a front is moving in or out.

I find the back edge of a cloud pattern to be a sign of optimism. It means that clearer skies and sunlight are in store even if there won’t be much of the latter because sunset is near.

This view was made from my hotel room in Seattle during a May 2014 overnight stay. It had been cloudy all day and although I was done being out and about for the day, It still felt good to see the edge of the clouds and some late day sunlight.

Some Play the Piano, Some the Violin. All Wanted to be Paid.

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It’s Memorial Day weekend in Seattle in 2014. I’m staying over during a train trip that would see me cross the United States on Amtrak and across Canada on VIA Rail Canada.

I had most of the day to enjoy Seattle and set out for Pike Place Market. With so many people in town for the weekend, it was no surprise that the street musicians were out trying to hustle a buck.

That these musicians are in it for the money is without a doubt. Jonny the piano player has a sign asking photographers to give him a tip and a large blue jar perched atop his piano.

The violinists have a large plastic jug with an enlarged reproduction of a dollar bill affixed to it. There is nothing subtle about what these guys want.

Jonny has more in mind other than entertaining passersby and making a few dollars. He also wants to educate you about the dangers of genetic engineering.

As for the violinists, they just want to play and get paid. They have no political agendas to promote.

The violinists are young, perhaps college students trying to make some extra money. Jonny, though, looks like an aging hippie trying to change the world.

I’ve often wondered what the stories are behind street musicians. Why are they performing on the street rather than on a stage for customers who bought a ticket to get in.

Their stories probably vary. Some might be sad, some might be tragic, some might be pragmatic. All of them must have interesting stories to tell about playing on the street.

Whatever the case, street musicians and entertainers are part of the fabric of city streets in America and represent a purer form of capitalism than that practiced by the giant corporations that own the buildings surrounding those musicians.

Some Free Jazz in the Crescent City

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We were walking around in the French Quarter of New Orleans when we came Musical Legends Park, a plaza dedicated to the history of the music of Crescent City.

There were statues of Antoine “Fats” Domino, Al “Jumbo” Hirt and Pete Fountain. Most people probably go to New Orleans to eat and drink and, maybe, listen to live music. It is a city, after all, that has a long association with jazz.

The plaza is set up for free concerts given by local musicians. But if you look carefully, you’ll see a large tips jar placed in front of the performers.

We’ve been to New Orleans three times in the past decade and each time we say we’re going to go to a club and listen to live music. But for various reasons we’ve never gotten around to doing that.

The only music we’ve heard in a city known for music has been whatever we’ve heard on the street.

Alas, on this day, the performers shown here were wrapping up their last song. Shorty after I made this image, they packed up and went home. And so did we without having heard much in the way of live music in New Orleans.