Heading to Pittsfield tonight and returning tomorrow. Planning on taking plenty of photos while I'm there, so stay tuned to see what I can come up with. In the meantime, have some Thursday whimsy. And why not check out some of my personal favorites
in the meantime, or flickr through interesting photos of Albany
Do not check this out when you're drunk.
As I mentioned before
, there are new sculptures installed in downtown Albany for the 2009-2010 season of Sculptures in the Streets. I managed to get shots of pretty much all of them, and while I was initially not terribly impressed, some of this year's exhibits are nice. I especially like Corral
though it was a challenge to photograph... I spent about a half hour walking around it, looking at angles, changing focal length, checking backgrounds. Fun stuff, and I'm pretty happy with what I ended up with. The Missing Trees
installations I was initially not too excited about (though I figured I could get some good shadows out of them) but seeing them superimposed on greenery is nice, and taking photos helps solidify the illusion as it then becomes a flat 2D image. I'll have to play with those some more. Zerques
is very cool but was fenced off; the streets weren't that busy when I was shooting so I was able to duck in and get closer but I'd like to examine that one a bit more.
I really like this effort by the Albany BID to beautify downtown; I think when people rag on the city they don't even realize things like this are here (or they don't appreciate them, but if someone can't find Albany Wind Orchid
appealing that's their failing). It definitely makes my trip to and from work nicer.
Well, I uploaded the rest of the Wellington Hotel photos. A lot of the top floor graffiti in this upload, and a few other odds and ends. More signs of the former inhabitant, scrawls on the walls, playing cards, painted spots, you name it. I'm not sure exactly what his story was, but he obviously had some kind of mental illness. The things he left behind make the place really spooky, and I tried to capture that feeling. Not sure exactly how well I did.
Without better lenses it was tough to shoot in there. Even with all of the empty windows, there's not a lot of light, especially in the hallways. The 300D quickly becomes very grainy at high ISO settings so it's hard to come up with a good compromise. I did lose a few shots because they were too blurry (camera shake due to long exposure times), and it had some problems focusing in low light. It's a great camera though and did what it could, so as I improve the gear behind it (i.e., me) things should get better.
Coming next are some more of the Albany sculpture in the streets exhibits and some other odds and ends that the Wellington distracted me from.
Check out sebastien.b
's photos too.
Five more Wellington Hotel photos for today. A couple of my favorites in this group, including the above. I just love the color and contrast. Also below, the door with the warning sticker, the second I saw it I knew what shot I had to take. Enjoy.
See also sebastien.b's
Five more Wellington photos for today. Enjoy.
More photos from sebastien.b
There was another protest today, along the lines of the tax day tea party
, this time on the capitol steps. And much smaller, maybe 200-300 people, if that.
I'm going to break mode here for a second and talk about photojournalism. Obviously I'm not a photojournalist, but in a sense anyone who shoots any kind of current event is a photojournalist in their own right -- at least to the same level that bloggers are columnists. There have been debates, for longer than I've been alive, over whether photojournalists should let their own views and biases show through the lens. Personally, I think that's the only honest
way to do it. The fact is, we all have biases. If we go out of our way to strip our vision of this bias, we're sterilizing our photos and rendering them flat, without the benefit our own emotion, our personal take on the issue at hand. Is it fair to the subject? Probably not. But I believe it's the only way we can be fair to the audience.
With that said, I don't really understand these people. They seem to be protesting a whole host of things, with no coherent, consolidated message. They're simultaneously anti-tax, pro-Ron Paul, Second Amendment defenders, anti-Obama, anti-immigration, nationalistic, anti-socialist, anti-communist, Randian, anarchistic, isolationist, pro-war, anti-war, and pro-legalization of marijuana, among many, many other confusing messages. This is a group who says they're a grassroots organization, but truthfully spurred and organized by Glenn Beck, Ron Paul, and other notable conservative personalities. In short, I just don't get it, and messages like "global warming is a fraud" or paeans to Ayn Rand (whose political philosophy is entirely morally and intellectually bankrupt) simply don't help their cause.
So yes, I hold these gatherings in a bit of contempt. That said, I don't intentionally set out to shoot the worst of the worst. These are people exercising their civic right to gather and I respect that. I would never want them to stop doing this. But what it comes down to is I'm trying to capture what I believe these people are trying to express. And honestly, truthfully, I believe these are overwhelmingly middle class conservative white men who are expressing fear at a changing world -- a black man in the White House, a growing nonwhite American population, a youth that is increasingly liberal, a failing conservative "trickle down" and lassiez-faire economic system, a society that is continuing to accept foreigners who speak in accents or not in English at all. They are afraid of losing the privilege they've lived with all their lives, and afraid of what they'll have to do in a world where they're not automatically at an advantage, or worse: a world where they're treated as they've treated others.
These people are not happy. The gatherings are not celebrations, they are not joyful potluck get-togethers of people who share a common cause. They are not like, to use recent examples, the counterprotest of Westboro Baptist Church in Albany
or Capital Pride
. Those events were full of smiling, joyous people who were united under the same banner. These "liberty" protests are nothing like that, they are quiet, sallow, and frankly simultaneously scary and boring. There are few smiles. There are few hugs or handshakes. I believe these people are frightened, irrational, and dangerous. I am not afraid of them per se, but worried about them. I don't think they as a group can do any real harm, but lone wolves may be able to cause terrifying damage, like the murderer of George Tiller.
The end result of this is that I probably will not cover another one of these events. They are simply not fun and not interesting. At first I enjoyed the shock and humor of some of the messages, but now that I realize how seriously these people take themselves, it's not as entertaining anymore. There is a very limited range of human emotion displayed, and simply little of note to photograph. I do look forward to shooting other local events, though; there are some great groups and organizations in the area who do amazing work.
Sure it's not the best photo, but how close have you ever gotten
to a white squirrel? They have teeth, you know.
So, I'm making pancakes this morning, like normal, yeah? And I hear some squirrels running around in the bushes and on the fence outside the window, like normal, yeah? And then I see something out of the corner of my eye, and I'm all wait what? I look again and yeah, I see this... beast
. Ferocious. Vicious. It's a white squirrel. At first I thought it was an albino but no, check out the evil, beady little eyes. Thankfully there was a window and a screen between us or it probably would have attacked my face and eaten my nose. Raw. I managed to escape with my life, barely, but I was brave enough to take one photo.
The pancakes were awesome.
The reason we have pride parades
The rest of the pride photos are up, a few more of the parade itself plus some of the festival. It really couldn't have gone better; the weather was absolutely perfect (I thought I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in San Diego for a second, minus the fake plastic people and rotting fish on the beach), and the support was almost overwhelming. The crowd was huge and entirely mixed, and even Jerry Jennings stoop up on the stage and said a few words in support. I really don't want him to be my mayor, but that was cool of him even if he was lying like your 12 year old cousin who stole $25 for weed out of your wallet.
I had the kit 18-55mm lens and was shooting at 55mm almost exclusively. It's way too difficult in this kind of situation to get a foot away from random people to shoot them at a shorter focal length; as it was, I was nervous about taking photos of people and I did get a few (rare) dirty looks or shy-aways. S, his pride photos here
, had his 70-200mm and got many much tighter portraits. For the most part those work a lot better, but in some cases my shorter length definitely helped and I think there were some shots I got that he wouldn't have been able to. I'm hitting a Ron "I have all the answers, really" Paul rally tomorrow and will try the 70-300mm to get some more candid shots there, as long as the weather holds up.
I really had a great time and was so happy to see the turnout and all of the sponsors. Albany is an amazingly diverse city and I really think near the forefront of acceptance of LGBT issues, among other things. What other city of under 100,000 people has multiple gay bars within just a few blocks? I love this place.