96th Street subway, uptown side, Oct 2009 - 15
Note: this photo was published in a Mar 20, 2010 Norwegian blog titled "Entertainment guide 20.03 – 21.03.10." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2010 blog titled "Embodied rationality." And it was published in a Sep 30, 2010 blog titled "Bezuiniging kinderopvang zorgt voor Japanse toestanden." It was also published in an Aug 9, 2011 blog titled "Are NYC parents crazy?", as well as an Oct 5, 2011 blog titled "Why Quitters Prosper," as well as an Oct 21, 2011 blog titled "Helping Career Parents Keep Their Sanity." And it was published in a Dec 22, 2011 blog titled "Work-life balance, and leaning in."
Moving into 2012, the photo was published in an undated (early Jan 2012) blog titled "4 helpful tips when your kids ask about an absent parent." It was also published in a Jan 23, 2012 blog titled "Norwegians’ workload evenly distributed." And it was published in a Feb 20, 2012 blog titled "Como afecta la reforma laboral en la conciliación de la vida familiar." It was also published in a Mar 9, 2012 blog titled "Raising Confident Sons Who Have Respect for Others." And it was published in a Jun 5, 2012 blog titled "Why you can’t afford to be an insecure mom." It was also published in an undated (mid-Jun 2012) "And Then She Saved" blog titled "Stay Home With The Kids or Return To Work To Pay Off Debts?" And it was published in a Jul 11, 2012 blog titled "FORELDRE BØR KUNNE HA ALT." It was also published in a Jul 31, 2012 blog titled "Norway immigration affects labour market efficiency." And it was published in a Nov 14,2012 blog titled "Ciao Mamma parto per un anno… ma non ti preoccupare!", as well as a Dec 7, 2012 blog titled "Eine Reise durch die Welt berufstätiger Mütter."
Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Feb 13, 2013 blog titled "Cheap and easy beauty tips for busy mums." And it was published in a Mar 6, 2013 blog titled "‘Fear of foreigners groundless’, researcher says," as well as a Mar 7, 2013 blog titled "8 Ways to Say No at Work – Without Feeling Guilty." It was also published in a Mar 22, 2013 Norwegian blog titled "EFTA challenges Norwegian policies on benefits for foreigners."
The streets were wet when I got up this morning, and the weather forecast called for rain throughout the day. As it turned out, the forecasters were wrong; but not wanting to expose my digital camera to a potential downpour, I decided to spend my half-hour of free time, during my lunch-break, down in the local subway station, where I knew I could stay dry. It was also my second opportunity to try out the combination of a new 70-300mm VR full-frame zoom lens with the high-ISO capability of my Nikon D700 full-frame camera. So I set the ISO meter to 6400 (yeah, yeah, I know that the newly-announced Nikon D3X can go all the way up to ISO 110,000 -- but 6,400 is still a pretty awesome to me), found a quiet bench on the downtown side of the 96th Street IRT line (as opposed to last week's adventure on the uptown side), and sat patiently to see what would happen across the tracks, on the uptown side...
For the first 15 minutes, I didn't see anything at all worth photographing. But then, little by little, interesting people began shuffle past, or sit for a few moments on the wooden bench across the tracks. Or maybe they were there all along, and maybe it just took me a while to get "in the zone" and begin to appreciate why they were interesting and photogenic. I got a consistent sense of solitude, isolation, wistfulness and even loneliness in today's collection of subjects; maybe the gloomy weather up above made them all pensive, or maybe they were just tired at the end of a long work-week. Or maybe they just had a lot on their minds, what with the economy and the swine flu and all of life's other frustrations and disappointments. Whatever the reason, there were only one or two cases where I saw people laughing, smiling, or chatting cheerfully with one another.
I also took a couple of shots of people inside a subway car -- sometimes through the window of the uptown train on the other side of the track, and occasionally of the downtown train when it stopped right in front of me (temporarily blocking my view of the activity across the track). In one case, the subway door opened right in front of me, and a young woman stared vacantly in my general direction while various other passengers wandered into, and out of, various subway cars. I pointed my camera in her general direction while I sat on the wooden bench, opened up the zoom as far as I could -- i.e., 70mm -- aimed it in her direction, and pushed the shutter button. With a wide-angle lens, this kind of "hip shot" often works reasonably well, even if I have to do a lot of cropping; but it was sheer luck that I got the woman framed almost perfectly with the 70mm setting on the long-telephoto I was using today.
As with the last subway group that I shot at ISO 6400, there's a little bit of noise/graininess in these images -- but I decided to leave them that way. I did adjust the "hot spots" (areas over-exposed from the fluorescent lighting in the subway station) and "cold spots" (shadows and dark areas), and punched up the color a little bit. But aside from that, this is yet another view of the typical daytime scene on a typical NYC subway line...
Over the years, I've seen various photos of the NYC subway "scene," usually in black-and-white format. But during a recent class on street photography at the NYC International Center of Photography (ICP), I saw lots and lots of terrific subway shots taken by my fellow classmates ... so I was inspired to start taking a few myself.
So far, I'm taking photos in color; I don't feel any need to make the scene look darker and grimier than it already is. To avoid disruption, and to avoid drawing attention to myself, I'm not using flash shots; but because of the relatively low level of lighting, I'm generally using an ISO setting of 800 or 1600 -- except for my most recent photos with my new D700, which are all shot at ISO 6400.
I may eventually use a small "pocket" digital camera, but the initial photos have been taken with my somewhat large, bulky Nikon D300 DSLR; and today's were taken with an even bulkier Nikon D700. If I'm photographing people on the other side of the tracks in a subway station, there's no problem holding up the camera, composing the shot, and taking it in full view of everyone -- indeed, hardly anyone pays attention to what's going on across the tracks, and most people are lost in their own little world, reading a book or listening to music. But if I'm taking photos inside a subway car, I normally set the camera lens to a wide angle (18mm) setting, point it in the general direction of the subject(s), and shoot without framing or composing.
So far it seems to be working ... we'll see how it goes...
Note: This is one of 12 photos that I've culled from several thousand that I took in 2009, for possible presentation at a Jan 2010 class I'm taking at the International Center of Photography (ICP), called "On Seeing What's Right In Front of You." The photos already exist in various other Flickr sets -- often just one or two out of a group of hundreds of related images -- and I've just pulled them together for this occasion.
In the spirit of the ICP class title, all of these photos were taken "right in front" of where I live -- i.e., within a hundred feet of my apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
The photos are organized as 6 separate pairs -- each pair illustrating a specific situation, close to home, where I had a particular motivation or strategy for taking photos. This particular photo illustrates the principle that if you've avoided taking photos "right in front of you" because you don't like the "style" of the ones taken by other people, then choose your own style. Case in point: every subway photo I've seen for the past 40 years has been black-and-white. I don't like black-and-white, so I didn't take subway photos. Then it occurred to me I could take color photos. Duh. Now I've got hundreds of interesting subway photos.