Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Glorious Gardens at the Hotel Bel-Air

I have been meaning to post some photos of the gardens at the Hotel Bel-Air where I stayed with the intrepid Nancy B (aka the B) on my recent "mini-cay" in southern California. The gardens definitely offered an opportunity to re-acquaint myself with an older (and more cantankerous) camera -- the Olympus Utz.  For the record, it still has a mind of its own when focusing and it still performs just "so so" in low light.  On the positive side, it's a lot smaller and easier to carry around than my usual travel companion (the Olumpus 520 DSLR).

I've waxed rhapsodic about the Bel-Air in a review, Oasis in a Big City, on TripAdvisor.  It is a great hotel that came out of a two-year renovation ready to host the Hollywood elite -- and folks like me -- for another decade or so.  As for the flowers -- it's clear that a lot of hard work goes into the gardens and grounds and that work pays off in a big way.

They grow them big and showy in southern California.....

On a smaller scale -- but freshly watered....

If the above are too showy, feast your eyes on the white roses.....

And, if you climb up behind the 2nd to last tier of rooms, a little vegetable garden to reward your troubles.....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Along the Hudson

Sunday, I headed West to Riverside Park to check out the restored section of Hudson river walk (between 96th street and the Boat Basin) and see what was up with the 69th street Transfer Bridge.  Since discovering Central Park's Conservatory Garden, I hadn't spent any time in Riverside Park in well over a year.  I was reminded that the walk along the river is one of the best in NY -- particularly the section below the boat basin which has been restored to feel like a boardwalk meandering among sea grasses.

Much to my surprise and delight, the 2012 Model to Monument (M2M) show had opened on Thursday.  Brought to us by the Art Students League of NY, M2M has art students working under Gregg Wyatt (sculptor in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine) to learn how to create site-specific public art on a monumental scale. Of the seven sculptures (map), my favorites are Cope (Damien Armondo Vera) and Proceeding Being (HakSul Lee).

The only angle you can't get on this sculpture seems to be from above.  Otherwise, you can study it from below and from all sides --- including inside!

Proceeding Being
Sculptures with movement are the best and -- on a windy day -- Proceeding Being had movement aplenty.  And, given how it was sited, you could easily walk around it to get a view from all sides (not that you can tell from these photos -- both shot from the same direction using Instagram and then my regular iPhone camera).

69th Street Transfer Bridge
69th Street Transfer Bridge, NYC
69th Street Transfer Bridge

As for the 69th Street Transfer Bridge -- land marked in 2003, this bridge was once a transfer bridge for freight coming off the New York Central Railroad and heading to Weehawken, NJ.  I had been a bit worried about it having spotted a crane towering over the bridge a week or so ago.  Big sigh of relief -- my treasured hulk of New York City's gritty industrial past is still standing.  The crane is there as a part of a restoration project.  Today's iPhone photo.....

And photos from a November 2008 walk -- the very early days of finding peace behind a lens.

69th Street Transfer Bridge, NYC
69th Street Transfer Bridge Close Up 2 (2008)

69th Street Transfer Bridge, NYC
69th Street Transfer Bridge Close Up (2008)

69th Street Transfer Bridge, NYC
69th Street Transfer Bridge Close Up 3 (2008)

Pier D
Sadly, that is not the case for another remnant of days long gone.  Pier D, a sculptural hulk rising softly out of the river is gone!  There was no landmark status to protect that pier from a quick take down in January 2011.  As reported in the NYTimes, Pier D was dismantled over the course of MLK weekend lest it collapse and create a navigation hazard.   Now that was a piece of art that I will miss very much.

That same long ago November walk yields some images of what once was.

Pier D, Hudson River (2008)
Pier D - Hudson River (2008)

Pier D, Hudson River, Close Up, 2008, NYC
Pier D - Hudson River (Close Up)
Pier D, Hudson River, NYC
Pier D Close Up 2 (2008)

Pier D, Hudson River, 2008, NYC
Pier D - Close Up 3 (2008)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Olympus Lytro Pairings

What do you get when you pair up living pictures from the new Lytro light field camera and photos from an Olympus DSLR 520?

This post!


Yellow Flower




Gingko Leaves

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Expedition Lytro

My new Lytro Camera arrived in the mail this past week and I took it out for a test drive today in Central Park's Conservatory Garden.  Mercifully, it was an overcast day because the screen is pretty hard to see when the sun is shining.  I wrote about this little camera in Inflight Entertainment -- how I liked the idea of not having to mess around with focus when out and about and creating photos that others can play with -- zooming in on the details that you want to see.  Go ahead, try it on this one!

It's a cute little camera this red hot Lytro of mine.  It fits snugly in the palm of my hand.  Even better, once I read the instructions, it was pretty simple to operate -- truth be told there aren't a lot of settings to choose from (two in fact).  Operationally, the biggest challenge for me will be figuring out when to use the creative mode and learning about the zoom.  That's on a cloudy day.  On a sunny day, the biggest challenge will be seeing the screen -- although you don't need to focus (because of the technology), you do need to be pretty careful about framing things.

It also takes a bit of a different eye -- at least for someone like me who tends to like to get up close and personal with my subjects.  With the Lytro, I had to think not only about what was in the foreground but also about the background because "living pictures" (as Lytro has dubbed them) are all about the fun of focusing in on different things in the picture.  I like that idea of layering although I don't think I've yet fully mastered it.

There are already reviews out that call for fundamentally changing the essence of the Lytro -- more controls, bigger screen, lower price point, better output to JPEG -- those are some of the things that Tim Moynihan called for in "How Lytro Can Realize It's Full Potential" in PC World.  Other than the higher quality screen and lower price point, I'm not sure I agree.  I really liked the simplicity of the Lycro and the way it fit in the palm of my hand.  I like that I can toss it in my purse (while in a bag in my purse because the lens cover is not quite as magnetic as it should be).

Mostly, I like the digital output and don't really get the complaint about it not producing a good JPEG.  Isn't this camera all about producing images that we interact with?  I might be a little biased here -- I rarely print photos, relying instead on this blog, Facebook and old-fashioned email attachments for sharing.  It seems counter-intuitive to want JPEGs and for sure that will increase the size and heft of the camera. A big negative in my view -- if I want a picture that I can print, I'll take it with a camera that was meant to produce that kind of picture!

I rarely buy the first generation of anything (my first iPhone was a 4 -- mainly for Siri) but this camera captured my interest the minute I learned about it.  After a day playing with it in the park, it still does.

One other negative --Pinterest does not recognize Lytro images as pinnable (at least from a blog) so I'll just have to make do with a shot from the Olympus......