Man and his dog
Computer Battery

Image by Ed Yourdon
Note: this photo was published in an Oct 6, 2011 blog titled Missing Persons, with the same caption and detailed notes I had written on this Flickr page.

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This man was sitting on a park bench on the median strip between the uptown and downtown lanes of Broadway, on Broadway and 90th St., enjoying a quiet moment with his poodle.

For a street-photography class that I’m taking in March 2009, I’m trying three things that are a significant change from my usual approach: first, I’m processing all images in black/white ("if a picture isn’t good in B/W, it probably isn’t good in color, either" says one of my instructors). Second, I’m trying to zoom in on the faces and head of the people that I’m photographing, rather than trying to emphasize their posture, their body language, or their interactions with other people. And third, I’m trying to find some interesting things other than people to photograph — with emphasis on "interesting." We’ll see how it goes this week…

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This is the continuation of a photo-project that I began in the summer of 2008: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan — between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

As I indicated when I started this project in 2008, I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they’re still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what’s right in front of me.

I’ve also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting — literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I’ve learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture … after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it’s pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

Thus far, I’ve generally avoided photographing bums, drunks, crazies, and homeless people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don’t want to be photographed, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’m still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We’ll see how it goes …

The only other thing I’ve noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, far more people who are not so interesting. They’re probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I’ve photographed … but there was just nothing memorable about them.

A member of the invisible generation
Computer Battery

Image by Ed Yourdon
This elderly woman had been standing near a trash receptable that was nearly as tall as she was, as I approached from behind her, on the southwest corner of 86th and Broadway. This whole section of Broadway was in dark shadow, because there was a construction "overpass" to protect pedestrians from random debris associated with renovation work taking place on the building above. I wasn’t sure if a picture taken in the shadows would turn out, so I decided to take this picture from the northern side of 86th Street — where I had the advantage of more sunlight…

The contrast between the previous picture and this one is striking enough; but I also realized in this picture that I was looking at members of two entirely different generations. I had not even seen the young blonde woman in the background, as I walked past her and focused on the older woman. And I’d be willing to bet that she didn’t see me, nor did she see the older woman, as she chatted and flirted with the two young men on the right side of the picture…

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This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan — between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they’re still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what’s right in front of me.

I’ve also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting — literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I’ve learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture … after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it’s pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

For the most part, I’ve deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don’t want to be photographed, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’m still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We’ll see how it goes …

The only other thing I’ve noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They’re probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I’ve photographed … but there was just nothing memorable about them.

From the back…
Computer Battery

Image by Ed Yourdon
I noticed the gymnastics-like pose this woman was making while I was still half a block away, approaching the southeastern corner of Broadway & 86th Street. I think that’s her husband standing next to her, but he didn’t seem to be paying any attention to her.

Anyway, I thought that while it was an interesting pose, in terms of the lines and angles, it was also rather boring: you can’t tell whether the woman is old or young, beautiful or ugly, etc.

Normally, there wouldn’t be anything I could do about such a situation, because the woman would walk away or change her pose, by the time I got up to her. But this woman was standing stock-still apparently chattering away on her cell phone …. so I thought: maybe if I just walk 10-20 feet past her, turn around, and snap another picture, I’ll get a different perspective. And that is exactly what I did, in the next picture…

This picture was published in a Sep 4, 2008 blog article entitled "Walking the walk: gait infers sexual history."

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This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan — between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they’re still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what’s right in front of me.

I’ve also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting — literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I’ve learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture … after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it’s pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

For the most part, I’ve deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don’t want to be photographed, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’m still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We’ll see how it goes …

The only other thing I’ve noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They’re probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I’ve photographed … but there was just nothing memorable about them.


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