Note: this photo was published in a Sep 5, 2011 issue of Everyblock NYC zipcodes blog titled "10023."
Note: I chose this photo, among the ten that I uploaded to Flickr on the evening of Sep 5, 2011, as my "photo of the day." This was one of the rare situations where I knew that I was going to get a good picture as soon as I saw this woman on the other side of the street. The combination of black and purple colors, the lines and angles she formed as she stretched her leg out to step over the puddle, and the contrast of the gray rainy weather with her blond, tanned figure was just about perfect. I took several photos of her as she hesitated, began making a tentative step, and then stretched all the way across the puddle...
Some storms get a lot of attention, and some get no attention at all. This one passed through New York City two days before the arrival of Hurricane Irene -- and for a while, it seemed even more intense than Irene, at least in terms of the torrential downpour that it dumped on everyone in Manhattan. But a couple hours later, it had moved out of the city, and everyone forgot about it...
I had intended to spend an hour or two photographing in Bryant Park that morning, but the first early drops of rain convinced me that it would probably be a bad idea. So I took a cab up to Broadway and 72nd Street, since I had an appointment in the area later on in the afternoon; and I stood under a protected roof-overhang of the 72nd Street IRT subway station as the rain intensified, wondering if I could find a quiet corner someplace to escape it all ...
But as I watched people dashing around in the rain, it occurred to me that it might be more fun to pull my camera out of my backpack, and capture the expressions of those who were prepared (as indicated by their boots and umbrellas) and those who were not prepared (mostly indicated by their sopping-wet appearance).
After about 45 minutes of photographing, I noticed a woman staring at me quizzically from a few feet away, by the entrance to the subway station. She asked if I was waiting for someone. Puzzled and slightly confused, I asked her to repeat the question.
"Are you waiting for someone?"
"Nope," I replied.
"Then what are you doing?"
"I'm taking photos," I replied, thinking that it should have been obvious.
"Of people. Rain. Umbrellas. Anything that looks interesting."
"Sure. Why not?"
She proceeded to tell me that, in her opinion, such behavior was illegal. I politely disagreed, and she then proceeded to write down my name and address, and a detailed description (narrated into the voice-recorder of her iPhone) of the camera I was using, the focal length of my zoom telephoto lens, and her strong opinion that I knew exactly when I was going to arrive, and exactly how long I was going to continue taking my photos.
I reassured her that I had not taken her photograph, and had no interest in doing so (God forbid!) ... at which point she turned and walked away to a different outdoor corner of the subway station, where she waited for her own friends to arrive.
Meanwhile, I continued taking photos -- of people, umbrellas, rain, and anything that looked interesting. I eventually ran out of time, put my camera back into my backpack, retrieved an umbrella of my own, and wandered down the street to my next appointment. I had taken a thousand photos, and I had no idea if any of them would be worth saving...
And now, four days later, the storm is gone and forgotten, and the strange woman is gone and forgotten. Hurricane Irene has replaced all of those memories, and it probably won't be long before it, too, is forgotten. But I do have some photos that may help illustrate what a typical summer rainstorm is like in New York City...