The right light
The spring seasons these past several years have seemed to be getting colder and colder and starting later and later with each new year. This year it has really taken the cake. I found myself wearing various winter items well past the point when in prior years they would have been stored in a spare closet till fall. And the rain - the never ending rain, I feel like we're in Seattle (though my lawn never looked better).
Now I started this year’s annual spring vacation later than normal due to situations at work. And even worse when one of our main stockrooms flooded (all that spring rain I’m guessing) we had to hastily move huge quantities of merchandise to other stockrooms while we waited for the stockroom to dry. I then spent the next 2 weeks doing ridiculous amounts of overtime getting everything put back along with all the new incoming merchandise once the stockroom dried out. This copious amount of overtime while great for my paychecks was terrible for the house which fell into an abominable mess inside and out.
Seeing I was starting my vacation near the end of the 2nd week of May rather than the beginning, I knew I was up against the clock already as the many flowers I hoped to capture across the cities various gardens would already be starting to fade, wither and die. With that in mind I hoped to hit the ground running as soon as my vacation started, but the deplorable shape of my house inside plus the much needed spring cleaning outside - the yard front and back were in just as bad a shape as the inside of the house, made staying home and dealing with all that a priority. I did trek out to Snug Harbor for a few hours one day, but the rest of the time I took care of a thousand household chores while I watched the calendar tick off precious days from my vacation.
When I finally got things at home under control, I packed my gear for my first photo excursion only to have the weatherman say it was going to rain all day. Same thing happened the next day, and the next, and the long range forecast was depressingly similar.
So now 7 days into my vacation and not one good weather day free from household chores to be had, I decided to go people shooting instead, hoping to get some nice shots of New Yorkers dealing with all the dreary rain. ( I firmly believe there’s no such thing as bad lighting, only lighting that’s bad for what your shooting, somewhere in that same lighting something is sure to look fabulous in it, you just have to go find it). And I’ve gotten lots of nice shots of people in the rain in the past. So I protected myself and my gear so I could spend a day shooting in nonstop rain and hopped on the ferry for the isle of Manhattan.
Once there I did capture an especially nice shot in Chinatown of some men playing Chinese chess, but otherwise I found the pickings there, as well as in Washington Square Park, where I traveled to next, to be slim and decided to head to Central Park hoping to improve my luck. There I did get quite a few shots of heron’s and egrets hunting for food here and there, but interesting shots of people were far and few between, as the rain obviously kept most of the cities inhabitants away in droves.
After arriving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and striking out, I guessed the odds of running into enough people to give me a chance to catch one of them doing something shot worthy was a thousand to one at best here on the east side, at least until I would reach the Conservatory gardens some 20 blocks north of here, anyway. Not an appealing scenario in all this rain while lugging my camera bag full of gear - one of my smaller bags yes, but I still brought along my panoramic gear and tripod. "Why did I bring them?!" I kept asking myself the more time past and the lack of opportunity to use them in this rain made the bag feel heavier by the minute.
Going on past experience I felt going up the Westside of the park would hold better opportunities to grab some shots of people doing something interesting, so I hung a left and headed there forthwith.
If one decides to take such a route after leaving the Museum of Art they would soon find themselves at the Great Lawn which of course I did, and I found it was lush and green from the nonstop rain, and lack of getting trampled under foot by our local populous, who had little opportunity to do so either because of all the ceaseless showers or it being corded off by the city to let the new grass take hold first, I knew not which.
Eventually I cleared the trees protecting me from the falling rain and at some point I looked south, though I knew not why because I was practically in the park by myself save for a few people walking or jogging on the path with me, the Great lawn itself was devoid of people save for some umbrella toting ones so far away that they looked smaller than ants.
As I aimlessly looked up skyward I almost froze at the sight in front of me. Slowing to a crawl as the light rain trickled down my face I gazed at the southern city skyline draped in clouds both thick and thin. And not the grey featureless clouds that ended up spoiling most of the scenic shots I took this spring. These clouds were grey and white and dark and light, both wispy and dense.
The sight of that amazing cloud bank floating above the lush Great lawn, and it’s rich accompanying treeline backed by the cities skyscrapers was a sight to behold, and in the blink of an eye the tripod and pano gear that had made my bag so heavy just moments before now felt as light as a feather, mostly because they were now off my back as I joyfully set them up for a most unexpected panoramic shot. Like I said before, somewhere in any lighting is a shot that will look perfect in it, you just have to go out and find it.
ManhattanNYCrainspringCentral Parkpanoramascenicsld 9