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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Once upon a time, I used to call my friends from payphones like this. Now I'm afraid I'll get swine flu if I touch it...

This great picture has been added thanks to Ed Yourdon.
He also has plenty of other cool payphone pictures here.
The streets were wet when I got up a few days ago, and the weather forecast called for rain throughout the day. Consequently, I decided to spend my half-hour of daily "photography time," during my lunch-break, down in the subway station, where I knew I could stay dry. Since I had a mid-afternoon appointment on 72nd Street, I decided that instead of photographing at my own local subway stop, I would take the train down town and hunker down in a quiet corner to see what came my way. I found a quiet bench on the down town side of the 72nd Street IRT line, and sat patiently to see what would happen across the tracks, on the uptown side... Later in the afternoon, when it was time to head back home, I spent half an hour sitting on the uptown side of the tracks, waiting to see how people were behaving across the way...

As is often the case, I got a consistent sense of solitude, isolation, wistfulness and even loneliness on the part of the subway riders I was observing; maybe the gloomy weather up above made them all pensive, or maybe that's the way they always are, when alone in the subway. Whatever the reason, there were only one or two cases where I saw people laughing, smiling, or chatting cheerfully with one another.

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...

Note: this woman certainly doesn't look pregnant; nevertheless, this photo was published as an illustration in an undated (Nov 2009) Squidoo blog titled "SWINE FLU AND PREGNANT WOMEN" It was also published as an illustration in an undated (Nov 2009) blog titled "Women and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome."

Note: this photo was published as #380 on Flickr's "Explore" page on Nov 1, 2009.

Moving into 2010, it was published as an illustration in an undated (Jan 2010) Squidoo blog titled "Difficulty in ovulation." I don't know why anyone would look at this photo and have any thoughts whatsoever about ovulation ... but who am I to say? It was also published in an undated (Jan 2010) The Pregnancy Health blog with the same title as the citation that I used on this Flickr page.

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 Nikon 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 D700 DSLR. 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...

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