Manhattan Vignettes

Here is a series of shots I took last year when in NYC. I walked to Times Square late at night in the pouring rain. While that may not sound fun, it’s an excellent time to do street photography. The combination of lights, reflections, and umbrellas create scenes that are fun to watch, in a people-watching kind of way.

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Manhattan Vignettes 1
Crossing the street in a downpour
Manhattan Vignettes 2
Kissing in the rain
Manhattan Vignettes 3
Not enough umbrellas
Manhattan Vignettes 4
Odd man out
Manhattan Vignettes 5
A lot going on in this scene
Manhattan Vignettes 6
I wish you called a cab
Manhattan Vignettes 7
Where is our Uber?
Manhattan Vignettes 8
No words

Because of the rain and the late hour, there were far fewer people out than usual. If you’ve ever been to Times Square then you know that’s rare. It meant I was able to capture little vignettes without too many distractions. Each of these photos tells a different story from that evening. It is up to you the viewer to imagine what that story is.

street photography gallery

As the name of the series suggests, I’ve employed a vignette technique to each of these images to draw attention to the people. The setting, while electric, is only that, a setting. Each story is as different as the people that inhabit them.

Ruby Falls

The last stop of our road trip was Chatanooga Tennessee. We passed it on the way up and made a note to stop here at Ruby Falls on the way back.

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Ruby Falls
An underground waterfall in Chattanooga, TN

This 145-foot waterfall is inside a mountain and over 1000 feet below the surface. The caverns are limestone eroded by the water over millions of years. There is some info on the geology at Wikipedia.

the gallery

To get here, you take an elevator down into the mountain and walk half a mile through narrow caverns. If you’re not used to tight spaces, it can be a little claustrophobic, the thought of millions of tonnes of earth and rock above your head is unsettling. But our guide was kind enough to point out that in the event of a cave-in they had insurance and, we would all be covered.

Kansas City Union Station

As we drove home from South Dakota, we stopped in Kansas City for the night. We intended to sleep and continue the next morning, but instead, we fell for the city and stayed an extra day.

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Kansas City Union Station
The restored train station in the heart of Kansas City

To orient ourselves, we took one of those red bus tours. It left from here at Union Station, so when it returned, we came back inside to have a look around. In its heyday, this was a busy rail station. It fell into neglect and then restored to its former grand architecture. Amtrak now stops here, so it’s once again a working rail station, more than just a remnant of the past.

more interiors from the gallery

It was my first time in Kansas City, and I was pleasantly surprised to explore and learn a little. We went to dinner at Jack Stack BBQ, one of many BBQ options in the city. The line up to get a table was long, so we sat at the bar, ordered BBQ and watched the Kansas City Royals get their clocks cleaned by the Boston. Aside from that last part, it was an excellent day, and now we know to come back when we have more time.

Mount Rushmore at Night

We drove across South Dakota to Rapid City, and by itself, the drive was pretty amazing, full of sights. The next day was Independence Day, and so we set out sightseeing the two main attractions. In the morning we visited Mount Rushmore which is about twenty miles from town, and in the afternoon we drove to the Sitting Bull monument which is another seventeen miles west.

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Mount Rushmore at Night
Mount Rushmore on the evening of Independence Day

At both locations, there were large crowds, but that was no surprise on the biggest holiday of summer. After a full day, we returned to our hotel in Rapid City for dinner. During dinner, we decided that rather than watch fireworks in town, we would drive back to see the monument at night. Spotlights illuminate Rushmore in the evening creating a massive spectacle.

full gallery

So on our second trip to Rushmore that day, I took this image from behind the amphitheater about thirty minutes after a presentation. As it was late at night, the crowds had dissipated, and only a few visitors remained. That is how I managed to be standing at the base of the mountain to take this picture without anyone in the frame. All in all, it was an excellent way to end the day.

Skeleton Dinosaur

Driving east on I90 through South Dakota there are some strange sights. This sculpture is one we encountered as we approached the Badlands. Here is a Google Maps link

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Skeleton Dinosaur
Seen along Interstate 90 in South Dakota

The open space seems endless along the highway. Mile after mile, it stretches across the country. The gently rolling landscape is broken sporadically by rest stops, gas stations and quirky recreations of western towns where billboards advertise coffee for five-cents.

Images from Europe

We came upon this sculpture near a stop known as 1880 Town. It’s not far from Badlands National Park which, among other things, is known for large fossilized bones from 33 million years ago. Perhaps back then, the dinosaurs were as familiar as the Buffalo along the plains of South Dakota. I think everything looked much different, and I wonder what it will look like in another thirty-million years.

Stand Rock

One of the first stops on our summer road trip was in Wisconson. While there we took a boat up the river at Wisconsin Dells in an area known for rock formations like this. I can imagine seeing these in Arizona or Utah, but here in Wisconsin, it was a big surprise.

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Stand Rock
Stand Rock in Wisconsin Dells

This formation is known as Stand Rock, and during the summer, trained dogs will leap from one surface to the other. If you look closely, there is a net in the space between the rocks. When we arrived, it had just rained, so the demonstration was canceled for safety reasons.

Nevertheless, there is a famous image of this rock taken by HH Bennett over a hundred years ago. That image is in the lower part of the frame, and it depicts his son jumping from one rock to the other (without a net). Among other things, Bennett was a pioneer in photography because he invented the shutter which freezes motion.

my portfolio

Back then there was a lot of logging here. If you look closely at the old image, Stand Rock is mostly exposed. Today it’s covered in a thick canopy of trees as logging has long since ceased. Anyway, I thought it was cool that not only is there an old photo of this rock, but it is related to photographic history as well.

First Stop Nashville

A few days ago, Crystal and I left Florida for a summer road trip. Other than visiting friends up north, we had no real plans. So the idea was to get to Wisconson for a couple of days and then begin wandering for a week or so.

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First Stop Nashville
A view of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park – taken with my iPhone!

The first day we left early from Palmetto and made it to Nashville after about fourteen hours. I don’t drive a lot, so that was a stretch, or should I say I desperately needed to stretch after we arrived.

After a bite for dinner, we wandered across from the hotel to Centennial Park to see the full-size replica of the Parthenon. I had my DSLR, but in the end, I liked the shot I got with my iPhone best of all. I held the phone at ground level and angled the camera up. I did the same with the big camera, but this ended up being my favorite picture. It just goes to show, it’s not the equipment, but the composition. I also edited this in Snapseed on my iPhone.

more images from my iPhone

Just after it got dark, we saw fireflies in the park. We were amazed because we don’t get them where we live in Florida. And to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I saw one. They added a faerie-like quality to the warm summer evening which, together with the surreal spectacle of the Parthenon, made for an excellent first day on the road.