Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grand Central Station

I am going to sneak a non-vacation picture post in here.....

This weekend I had the opportunity to take a class at the International Center of Photography, here in NYC. It's a photography museum and school here in NYC that has been a great help to me figuring out how to use my camera. The class was all about getting the right exposure "in the moment". Which is quite difficult when you are shooting in manual mode. In my point-and-shoot, on automatic, my camera guessed at what the right settings would be - and was right....sometimes. But it's nice to be able to set the 4 components of exposure by yourself. It allows for much better photographs in the end. 

What are the 4 components of exposure? Well, I am glad that you asked! They are:
1. ISO (Sensitivity of the Sensor)
2. Aperture (how bright the light is striking the sensor)
3. Shutter Speed (how long the light strikes the sensor)
4. Depth of Field (the result of aperture, distance from your focal point, lens focal length and sensor size)

Yep - takes lots of practice. 

The teacher we had was a professional photographer named Lester Lefkowitz. Amazing photographer and great teacher. He managed to get permission for our class to photograph inside Grand Central Station. Which, by itself is not prohibited - but it is with Tripods! We got tripod passes! Very cool. So I got to try out my tripod in Grand Central Station. Grand Central Station is very majestic, and very old (by U.S. standards!) It's a favorite tourist destination. Believe it or not, at one point they were going to tear it down. Thankfully, they decided to restore it instead. Here are the results of my morning of photographing:

Early Morning

Chandelier and Skylight

Ghosts in the Passage Way (not really ghosts, just used a shutter opening of 4 seconds. Because I could.

More Ghosts

Carvings on the ceiling

The ceiling is painted this amazing turquoise blue and has constellations painted on it, in gold. Its very striking

Then I wandered down to the lower concourse, and found this grill that was carved out of marble

There is also a famous restaurant called the Oyster Bar on the concourse. I won't go near the stuff - but its easy to find the restaurant, if that's your thing....

I found this bank of phones. I have not seen such shiny clean public phones in NYC for ages. No one was using them, they practically begged me to take their picture....

I said good-bye to the lonely phones...and went back out to the main hall

It was getting busy - so I tried some more long shutter-speed shots. Why not?

The last thing I photographed before we headed back to class was some carved marble I found in the Vanderbilt Hall. The light was very cooperative.

So that was my field trip to Grand Central. Thank You for humoring me. I am processing the next batch of pictures from our trip. 
The Tomb of the Christian is up next....

Umm Nidal 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Holiday in Algeria - Sidi Fredj

**FYI: Blogspot seems to degrade the quality of the pictures when they display them in the blog. If you want to see the actual quality of the picture, click on it, and it will open the high quality image in another window**

Well..........its been awhile! You will have to excuse me, I full intended on posting while I was in Algeria - but alas, no internet access until a few days before we left. So I have ALOT of catching up to do! I took a lot of photos in Algeria. It was great - and my dear husband was so kind as to take control of the toddler when we went out, so that I could have an opportunity to snap some pictures, and try out the new skills that I learned in my photo class.

So the next few entries will consist of the places that we visited while in Algeria. We had a few really great excursions; Sidi Fredj, Tipaza, The Monument to the Martyrs, The Casbah....oh yes....THE CASBAH!

Today I am going to post some pictures of Sidi Fredj. Sidi Fredj is a small costal port town that is famous for summer holidays. They have some pretty impressive hotels there - but more impressive to me was the history behind Sidi Fredj and the truly unique things that we found there. My husband told me that Sidi Fredj was actually the place that the French landed in 1830, when they colonized Algeria.

When you first enter the port area you see the following:

Lots of boats - no people! Well, at least in February! I suspect that the scene looks a lot different in the summer. There is an amazing old cobble-stone walkway on the left, that leads to the rest of the port. Let's follow Nidal, and see where it goes...

We pass some boats on our right:

Nidal decides its time to commandeer a boat, and go for a ride:

Yes, for real, he got in - and we had a really, really hard time getting him out. Watch now as he commands his underlings to do his bidding, on his boat:

Ok, 10 tantrum filled minutes later.... we are on our way to see the rest of the port. This sign apparently tells you that you are on the right path to see the sea. And you will see the sea! But not just yet...

I stopped off to snap a picture of the water rushing up to the steps, this is one of my favorite pictures from Sidi Fredj:

To the left of the sea walk, as you progress to the sea, there are these amazingly old and ridiculously old white buildings. I think that they must be from the Ottoman Period. But I can't find anything (in English, anyway) to back that up. But I think based on the architecture, they have to be at least Ottoman, maybe older - If anyone knows - please comment!!! I will let the pictures speak for themselves...
The first cluster of buildings are built over a canal that leads from a space in the seawall to the port. 

An antiques store:

And through the archway, you find this scene. It is literally a space in the seawall, where the ocean is crashing through. Its dramatic, and it leaves you wondering - now, what exactly is between me and that crashing ocean???? We will find out later...

This is the scene from the other end of the canal, love the footbridge above the canal:

Here is the canal going out into the harbor. And this poor, forlorn looking boat, just tethered to the pier...

After you pass this cute courtyard.....

You arrive at a very, very old house. It is at least Ottoman, if not older. It clearly has had some restoration work done on it. And some odd-patching. But really - the inside that has been left alone, is stunning!! I don't know if my pictures can do it justice - but I will try!
This is the ground floor entrance, and you can already see the columns in the inner courtyard... If anyone knows what this place is - please comment!!

The next photo is me standing in the courtyard and looking up at the balcony. The tiles and woodwork were gorgeous! Would LOVE to live in a place like this!!!

Then we ventured up to the second floor...

And a view down into the courtyard from the second floor:

Now...off to the sea....
As you reach the end of the harbor walk, you come up to these storage lockers, in the sea wall. Which I thought were pretty neat looking. 

Here's a closeup of number 26:

I noticed that there were some people strolling along the top of the sea wall....

So I thought I would go up and take a look. And see what the ocean looked like from up there.

HELLO!!!!! It is the moment that you climb to the top of the sea wall, you realize - you are actually below sea level! And the Mediterranean Ocean is crashing down upon you - and the only thing holding it back - is this sea wall. OUTTA HERE!!!

Yes, we decided to say goodbye, as the ocean was looking a bit rough for our tastes.....

But we did pass this lovely stone barrier, on the way out:

We had a great time vising Sidi Fredj - and I would really like to go back in the summer time, and see it at it's busiest!

Next up - Tipaza!

Umm Nidal