Just a Theory

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Posts about Photography

Harlem Hawk

Three months into the Covid-19 Pandemic, I had barely left the apartment. But summer humidity splashed int our little apartment — and it became clear that outdoor spread is almost nonexistent — I started taking daily walks. I quickly expanded my range, delighted to find that one can walk from the south end of Central Park at 59th Street to the northern­most tip of Manhattan almost entirely in parks. It’s really quite stunning, and there’s so much to take in: architecture, views, rivers, flowers and trees, wildlife — the works. Those of you who follow my IG know.

On my jaunt through St. Nicholas Park yesterday, a branch shook vigorously ahead, alerting me to an unusual presence. As I approached, this keen stare greeted me, a mere 5-8m.

I don’t know what I expected to see, but it wasn’t this! I’ve heard that red-tailed hawks1 live in the trees or buildings of the nearby City College of New York, but I never saw one I could recognize, and certainly not this close. Turns out, red-tailed hawks are quite common residents of New York City, committed to pest control and delighting residents and visitors alike. Myself included.

This one, however, paid little attention to me. Rather, it seemed quite curious about this black squirrel running up a tree between us, about a meter away.

The squirrel kept running a loop up and down the tree. It would disappear from sight (mine, not the hawk’s), then reappear further down the trunk and scamper up again. The hawk seemed curious, amused, then, perhaps, bored.

Eventually I put my phone away and continued my walk, but kept thinking about this vignette. What story could one tell? Was the squirrel trying to protect its home by distracting the hawk? Was the hawk already well-sated, and now committed to satisfying its intellectual curiosity with a little naturalistic observation? Maybe the hawk and the squirrel were friends and neighbors, happy to enjoy a bit of camaraderie on a beautiful fall day in The City.

When I circled back an hour or so later, the hawk had moved across the path, and now was poking around in the ground cover. It saw me watching. Some ethno­graphy, perhaps?

Naw, it kept picking something up and shaking its head; a dragonfly or cricket I think, but couldn’t get close enough to tell. Could be it was hungry after all.

Either way, it made my day. Man I love this city.

  1. At least I think this is a red-tailed hawk. Though I see many bird watchers on my city schlepps, I myself am not one. Please do give me a holler if you happen to know just how mistaken I am. ↩︎

Harlem Park Steps

Musée du quai Branly

Musée du quai Branly

I’ve just posted a new set of photos from our trip to France. This time I’ve put up photos of le Musée du quai Branly, a fabulous example of modern architecure together with ecologically-inspired landscaping that opened next to the Eiffel Tower in 2006. Anna and I walked around outside as we made our way back to our hotel one afternoon; maybe next time we’ll go inside!

Last week, I posted some photos from Rouen featuring Saint Ouen and le Eglise Jean d’Arc. It was a foggy day, but that added to the mood.

I’m down to just 10 sets from France that need processing and posting. At least I’ve already done a once-over and removed most of the crappy shots. Now it’s just reviewing, tweaking, and posting. With luck, I’ll have them all posted by Christmas!

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Blue Eiffel

Blue Eiffel Tower

I finally got around to posting my photos of the Blue Eiffel Tower on Flickr. The Tower is lit in blue in celebration of the French Presidency of the EU, and will remain blue for another six months or so, from what I understand. Naturally, it got my attention when we last visited Paris, so I spent about an hour and a half shoot it from the Champ de Mars and directly underneath it. It was really quite beautiful, and I especially enjoyed getting some of the details of the decorative Steel of the tower in blue.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results of this shoot. I shot all of the photos with my 50mm F/1.8 “Nifty Fifty,” just because I wanted the speed and sharpness that my 28-105mm zoom just can’t deliver. Shooting at F/1.8, I was able to get about 1/60 shutter speed most of the time, which allowed me to shoot the whole thing hand-held. But this was at the expense of some detail, I’m sure, not to mention sharpness. Next time, I’d like to have a tripod and a wide-angle prime lens. Alas, I’m not likely to acquire them during this visit. But maybe next time the Eiffel Tower will be red!

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