these little town blues are melting away

Well, here I am with photos from the last day of my New York trip - only five weeks late, or something like that. Ah well - it's been a busy month! These photos are from Greenwich Village, where my mom and I spent most of our last day in the city. She'd hurt her legs from over-walking on Wednesday, so on Thursday, she needed to take it easy. We took the subway to the Village and wandered around, and then a college friend of mine met us for lunch and spent the afternoon with us. Definitely a much more laidback day than our other days in New York, but fun nonetheless.

Washington Square Arch

The Washington Square Arch in Washington Square Park is, quite obviously, modeled after the Arc de Triomph in Paris. Mom and I have been to Paris together three times, so it was fun to find this homage. 1/80, f/10, ISO 100.

Judson Memorial Church

This is Judson Memorial Church, located on the south side of Washington Square Park at Thompson Street. I love this photo because I like the bright colour of the bricks and the even blue of the sky. The cloud and sky looks almost like a painted backdrop, but it was real -- it was just gorgeous that day. 1/60, f/10, ISO 100.

Judson Memorial Church

Here's Judson Memorial Church from a slightly different angle and with slightly different settings. I can't decide which one I like better. 1/50, f/13, ISO 100.

Father Demo Church

Here's another Greenwich Village church -- Our Lady of Pompeii Church. It's located at Bleecker and Carmine, on one of the corners of Father Demo Square. I like the clouds and sky in this one, too, and the colours of the buildings. 1/250, f/10, ISO 200.

Next time: Highlights from the 2008 U.S. Gymnastics Olympic Trials.


i want to wake up in a city that never sleeps

Day Four in New York started early with a tour at the United Nations. I wasn't thrilled with the tour - there were so many people there, and so many groups roaming around simultaneously. The guidebook also promised us a Chagall mural, which we did not get to see. Our guide could only show a select number of things, since there were other groups wandering. I guess they did what they could with the volume of people there, though.

United Nations

The headquarters of the United Nations. The assemblies are in a different, connected building, but this is where all of the offices are. In front of the grounds, flags of the member nations (in alphabetical order) line the east side of the street for five or six blocks. In case you're not up on your flags of the world, from left to right, the flags in this photo are: Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, and Israel. I loved looking at charts of the flags of the world when I was a kid, so this is one of my favourite photos from the day. 1/80, f/13, ISO 100.


After the UN, Mom and I had lunch at Prêt à Manger for the second time that week. I ate at Prêt so many times when I was in London last year, and so I was beyond excited to find it in New York. I had no idea that they had stores in the States at all. Sadly, they are only in New York on this side of the Atlantic. After lunch, we took the subway to SoHo. Mom sat on a shady bench and read for a little bit while I took some photos. 1/200, f/8, ISO 200.

SoHo again

Besides the fab shopping, SoHo is a great neighbourhood because of the interesting mixture of brick and iron in the architecture and the narrow cobblestone streets. It has a bit of European flair to it. Oh, and we also bought my Mom an iPod at the flagship Apple store, which was really exciting for me. I also looked longingly at the MacBook Pro, but that's way out of the budget right now. 1/125, f/8, ISO 200.

Brooklyn Bridge

Mom isn't a shopper at all, so there was still time after our walk around SoHo before we needed to head back to the hotel to change for dinner and a show. We finally decided to go to Brooklyn for ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. It's just on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to get there on the subway without backtracking and having to change multiple times. I didn't feel like doing that, so we decided to just walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a classic New York experience, right? One problem: I am terrified of bridges. Especially when I can't cross them quickly! I stared at my feet and walked as fast as I could, but I made it all the way across and I even managed to pause a couple of times for some photos. I think this photo is worth it. 1/60, f/13, ISO 100.

Brooklyn from the Bridge

This shot was taken on the bridge, looking northeast to Brooklyn. This shot also made the trip across the bridge worth it. Oh, and the ice cream didn't disappoint, either. 1/50, f/13, ISO 100.

Next: last day in New York, with shots from Greenwich Village.


top of the list, king of the hill

Day Three in New York was a beautiful Tuesday. Mom and I had a fantastic, somewhat leisurely day, compared to the running around that we did on most of the other days. We began our morning with a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and spent a few hours there. In a few hours, we still didn't even see half of the exhibits, but we did hit the kinds of art that we like the most and a few new things as well. Since the Met is located right on the edge of Central Park, we then spent the afternoon in the park. I took some photos and we had a fairly good Nutella crepe while we sat by the fountain and read for a while. Then we walked up to Lincoln Center, but they're doing construction on the fountain, so it wasn't very photogenic. Juilliard is right there, too, and I kind of wanted to get a Julliard pen to add to my collection of collegiate pens, but the bookstore wasn't obvious and the construction was loud and we were tired, so we headed back to the Times Square area. There, we met up with one of my mom's high school friends. Susan took us to McCormick & Schmick's for dinner, which may be a chain seafood restaurant, but it's classy and it's the best chain seafood I've ever had! I had the most delightful mahi mahi with pineapple and cashews, and Susan and I bonded over how fabulous Kristi Yamaguchi was on Dancing with the Stars. Good day overall. Now for the photos:

The Met

Façade of The Met facing 5th Avenue. It's so big that even with a 28mm and standing across the street, I had difficult getting the whole main part of the building in a single shot! 1/200, f/6.3, ISO 100.

New York

This shot of some of the New York skyline (with Central Park in the foreground) was taken from the rooftop garden of The Met. There were some really interesting metal sculptures on display up there (like a giant yellow "balloon" dog - but made of metal, not balloon) and it was a nice place to sit and re-caffeinate before tackling more of the museum. In order to get this shot, I had to crouch down and tilt my camera way upwards, but I really wanted to get that little bit of blue sky and all of the pretty clouds in the shot! 1/320, f/11, ISO 100.

Inside the Met

This is the main hall at the entrance of The Met, taken from the balcony on the second floor. I just love the arches, and how the big open space of the upper third of the room contrasts with the bustling floor. 1/80, f/4, ISO 1600.


The main fountain in Central Park. What a great day for being outside, and I'm normally not an outside-person. At all. This shot makes me want to watch Enchanted. 1/30, f/13, ISO 100.

Literary Walk

My favourite shot from Tuesday. I didn't think I'd be able to get a shot like this in New York during the summer! There's hardly any people in it! This is the Literary Walk in Central Park. It's so quiet and peaceful, and the shade is just beautiful. I had to take about five shots before I got the exposure right, but I love how it turned out, and it's now my desktop wallpaper. 1/50, f/11, ISO 400.

All of these were taken with the Tamron 28-300, and it was after I had a chance to take it back to the hotel and dust it off! Also - I want to note that after my last post, someone from Adorama contacted me (and was quite persistent when I was worried that it was spam!) and wanted to look into what happened with my order. I was then offered a discount off my next order and free shipping. Since I want to get a new bag that's better for travel before my next trip, I will probably use that, so it's nice that they are so focused on customer service. Like I said in my last post, things are always going to happen, and I understand that (occasionally!!), but it's what you do after something happens that makes a difference with me.

Anyway, on the subject of bags - I currently use a Lowepro Slingshot, and I like it as a small bag to use on a day-to-day basis, but when I travel, especially by air, it's a huge pain because I have to use the Slingshot as a carry-on, and then I also have to lug around my laptop bag. I'd really like a camera bag that also has a laptop compartment. I'm considering the Lowepro Fastpack and one of the Kata backpacks. The Kata is less expensive and it comes in pink (always a selling point for me, I have to admit), but I'm concerned about the capacity. On my next trip, for example, I will have my Canon 200/2.8L, my Tamron 28-300, my Canon 50/1.8, and I may also rent a Canon 70-200/2.8L. I found a good review of the Kata backpack, but it wasn't from someone who travels with telephoto zooms. So it might be the Lowepro - which I can get in red. Not as great as pink, but marginally more professional.

Next time I post (which might not be for a while - I'm moving this weekend/next week!): Day Four of the New York trip - United Nations, SoHo, and the Brooklyn Bridge.


i'll make a brand new start of it

Monday, June 16 was Day Two of my New York trip. Mom and I began the day by taking the subway to Chelsea and walking over to Adorama Camera. I'd ordered a used lens from them over a week earlier and paid for express shipping to be sure it would arrive before I left for my trip early on the 13th. When it didn't come on the absolute last day I expected it to, I called customer service and found out that the order had never been shipped. They promised to fix it, but by then it was too late - I was getting ready to leave. So they were supposed to ship it to my friend's in Philly. They promised it would be there by Friday afternoon. It wasn't. I tried to call customer service again, but they close early on Fridays. Saturday was my friend's wedding. I finally found out from an email that the lens had not shipped until Friday afternoon and would be in Philly on Monday. Problem: I left for New York Sunday afternoon. So when I couldn't get an answer at customer service on Monday morning, we just showed up at the store and I told them my story and asked them to take care of me. The solution they offered was that I could buy the same lens, since they had another, and then return it before I left to return to Philly at the end of the week. They wouldn't charge me anything for restocking, obviously. I said okay. I worked in retail for a long time and I know that mix-ups happen. I appreciate good customer service when problems arise, and they were extremely nice and professional. I'd order from them again.

So. The exciting news about my photos from Day Two were taken with my new lens: the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR. It's much cheaper and much lighter than something with a comparable range from Canon. Of course it's not quite the quality, but I've been extremely happy with it so far. It's a great buy for amateurs and especially for anyone who wants to be able to tote around just ONE lens without always switching or without having to lug around a bunch of extra weight. Perfect for sightseers, which is what I was. I have a huge purse (okay, it's a diaper bag) that I carry when I travel, and I was able to just put the camera with lens attached in the bag. No need to bring anything else, although I did have my Canon 50mm/1.8 in case I needed something for dim lighting.

The bad news about my photos from Day Two: since I just showed up and bought a used lens without warning from them, it had not yet been professionally cleaned. There was dust all over the thing, and since I'm a total amateur and didn't check it out carefully enough, I didn't realize it until I was back in the hotel that night. I had to do a lot of photoshopping on any photos that had sky in them. But I still ended up with some winners from the day. Here are my favourites:

The Sphere

For those that don't know the story of this sculpture, it was originally a sphere on a pedestal, located in the plaza at the World Trade Center. It was dedicated to world peace. This is what they pulled from the rubble after September 11. Even more so than walking past Ground Zero, seeing this was an emotional moment for me. It's now in Battery Park, at the southern tip of the island, where thousands of tourists catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island every day. 1/100, f/7.1, ISO 100.

Registration Room at Ellis Island

This is the Registration Room in the main building at Ellis Island. Immigrants to the United States had to wait here for several hours upon their arrival, until they were checked in. From here, they went to a medical inspection. I'm honestly not sure if my relatives came through Ellis Island. Some of my maternal grandfather's family is pre-Revolutionary War and my grandmother's family immigrated very early to the southern states. I have no idea about my dad's side of the family, though, so it's possible. They also came from Western Europe. Anyway...I really like this shot with the flag in the middle, and all of the different people wandering the room. 1/100, f/4, ISO 400.

Trinity Church

Trinity Church is located in lower Manhattan, squished between buildings as a remnant of what New York was before the skyscraper. It's a beautiful building. I guess there was concern after September 11 that its proximity to the World Trade Center would cause the church to experience damage, but as the buildings near it began to crumble, Trinity Church stood. 1/100, f/5, ISO 100.

Queensboro Bridge & Manhattan

We took the subway to Roosevelt Island because my guidebook said that it was a quiet island with great views of Manhattan. It's a narrow Island in the East River, between Manhattan and Queens, and it's now home to about 9000 people. For a long time, it was the site of prisons and mental institutions, but now, different types of housing have been built on it. It seems like a lot of different kinds of people live on the island, and yes, it is very quiet - only the occasional car, a subway stop, and a bus that travels up and down the length of the island. I'm kind of fascinated by it. Anyway, it was starting to rain when we got there, so we didn't stay long, but this is a shot of the Queensboro Bridge with some of the Manhattan skyline behind it.

Next: day three of my trip to New York includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park.


if i can make it there, i can make it anywhere

I love cities. I grew up about 45 minutes away from Chicago, and even as a young girl, I adored going downtown. My favourite places that I have visited are all cities. I love the hustle and bustle, the abundance of things to do, the culture, the options, everything. So ever since I was young, I have wanted to visit New York. I finally went last month and had a wonderful time. From Philadelphia, I took a bus to New York, and met my mom in Times Square - she'd flown in from Chicago earlier. We walked to our hotel, I cleaned up and changed clothes, and we hit the town immediately for dinner at Patsy's (not that great...I guess Frank Sinatra wasn't a food critic) and then we walked around Midtown. Here are some of my best shots, taken with my Canon 50mm/1.8 lens.

Radio City Music Hall

I was excited to see Radio City Music Hall because it's a legendary place for music, and I happen to love music. I guess I was a little caught up in trying to get this shot, because I really didn't notice the barricades and people in formal gowns until we were trying to cross the street, but we were waved in another direction. Right. The Tony Awards. We weren't exactly dressed for those. So instead of fighting the crowds heading toward the front of the building, we went around and walked through Rockefeller Center. 1/30, f/5, ISO 100.

St. Patrick's

From Rockefeller Center, we walked to St. Patrick's Cathedral. I wasn't expecting it to be so beautiful - it reminded me of many of the Gothic cathedrals I've seen in Europe. We didn't go in, since there was a Sunday evening service. 1/80, f/6.3, ISO 400.

St. Thomas

St. Thomas Church, located at 5th and 53rd, was covered mostly by scaffolding, so we couldn't see much of the façade. I was able to snap this shot of the back of the church, though. 1/80, f/8, ISO 200.

Grand Central Station

My grandma used to say, "This _____ is just like Grand Central Station," to refer to something that was busy or crowded. She never visited New York, though, so my mom really wanted to go inside the building and see it. I like big train stations, so I enjoyed seeing it, too, although I think that Union Station in Chicago is prettier. Since it was a Sunday evening, it wasn't too busy, but the other times that we went through Grand Central on the subway, it was a madhouse. I was so glad to have my f/1.8 lens for this shot, although I still think I should have exposed it a bit more. 1/80, f/1.8, ISO 800.

Hershey's Store

I have to say that I really wasn't a fan of Times Square. We stayed there because of the central location and the proximity to subway lines, but I don't think I'd ever stay near it again. However, I do think that the Hershey's Store wins for the coolest obnoxious-lights-display. 1/60, f/7.1, ISO 400.

Next: day two of the trip - Statue of Liberty and more.


happily ever after

During the two years that I spent at the University of Miami, Jenny was my best friend. During our first year, she lived on the floor above mine, and we met at an InterVarsity ice cream social during one of the first couple of weeks of school. We each thought the other was a little crazy, so we bonded quickly. She was also a music student, and with her perfect pitch and incredible talent, she helped me get through three semesters of honors sight singing and ear training. I helped her stay sane. During our second year, she decided to stay in the same room with the same roommate, so I moved upstairs to her floor and roomed with one of her friends. It was a classic college dorm experience - everything I wanted my first year to be - there were a bunch of us who became close over the year, and we were always running back and forth between rooms. When I decided to transfer schools and return to Chicago, saying goodbye to Jenny was the hardest part of leaving Miami. And the following year, when my fiancé broke up with me just a few days before my spring break, when I was scheduled to return to Miami for a visit, it was Jenny who talked me through the tough times.

We haven't kept in touch that well. I'm pretty terrible at staying close to people after I move, actually, which is too bad, since I've moved so many times in the past 7 years. But Jenny had the wonderful idea to fall in love with a boy from Wisconsin who went to undergrad in Chicago, so I get to see them about once a year or so. Even though the cumulative time that I've spent with Sam is better counted in hours, not even in days or weeks, it's easy to see how perfect they are for each other. He's a musician, too, and their wedding day was a celebration set to a soundtrack of their own compositions. I'm so glad that I was able to make the trip to Philadelphia so that I could attend. I just wish that I'd received the lens that I ordered on time, so I could have used it at the wedding! Still, though, I did get some nice shots, once I did some cropping. These are my favourites - all taken on a Canon 20D with a Canon 50mm/1.8 lens.

Into the Light

I took some photos during the ceremony, but I was several rows back, sitting behind tall people, and I only had a 50mm lens, so none of the ceremony photos were that wonderful. Unfortunately, I was a point-and-shooter for so long and so used to shooting long days of skating with constant light conditions that I often forget to change my settings when I change environments. Here, you can see what happens when you use settings appropriate for an indoor, naturally-lit church outside on a bright day. Oups. With Photoshop, I was able to tweak the colours a bit, adding some shadows and then removing the red that resulted in Sam's face. Much to my surprise, I like how it turned out. 1/80, f/2.5, ISO 400.


This "petal" of butter was at every place setting at the reception. I thought it was genius. 1/100, f/2.5, ISO 400.

First Dance

Dancing to "Time Has Told Me" by Nick Drake, Jenny and Sam looked like they couldn't have been happier. This is my favourite shot from the entire wedding. I'd like to thank Jenny for seating me at a table next to the dance floor! 1/100, f/2.5, ISO 400.

First Dance x2

I pulled this close-up from a full-length shot that had chairs in the way of their legs. I didn't want to detract from the expression on Jenny's face or the ring on her hand resting on his arm. 1/100, f/2.5, ISO 400.

I'd love to be a wedding photographer. I was so excited to get these photos edited and cropped and posted, even just on Facebook, so I could share them with Jenny & Sam and their friends. Jenny & Sam hired a fabulous photographer, and I can't wait to have some free time so I can look at his portfolio. Unfortunately, I don't have the scope of equipment needed to do what he does, but maybe I could scout around for some lower-budget weddings. ;-) Let me know if you know anyone who wants a good deal on a wedding or engagement photographer...especially if they're in the Chicago area!

Next: The wedding was my first stop on my trip East. The next few posts will feature my visit to New York City, and then I'll post some photos from the U.S. Gymnastics Olympic Trials.