New York Telephone Conversation

One more image from the Sunday before Sandy hit New York.

The phones were like that when I found them.


Elephant, Toronto

At the end of a busy day of football and mayoral-judicial politics, city council voted to endorse moving Toronto's elephants from the Zoo to the Performing Animal Welfare Society's sanctuary in California.

I went to the Zoo two days ago – my first visit in years. I've always liked seeing the elephants, but their enclosure is shameful and their condition is worsening. I have no particular opinion about where specifically they should go, but Toka, Iringa, and Thika (pictured) deserve better, and I hope that this was my last time photographing them.



Another photo taken as New York prepared for Sandy. The street vendor carts were being brought in, leaving the doors open for random photographers who just happen to be passing by.

One side effect of using the D800 is that it generates very boring EXIF data. My 60mm 2.8G macro was the only lens I brought for NYC5, and the camera will choose a 1/125 shutter speed for it whenever possible. F/5.6 is its optimal aperture, so I stay there unless I have a good reason to do otherwise. That leaves iso sensitivity as the only other variable. For this photo the camera chose iso6400, which is really only remarkable for how unremarkable it is on the D800.



I was doing my New York Sunday Afternoon, shopping at B&H, when I was told that the Port Authority Bus Terminal had been closed an hour earlier. Fortunately, you can't always trust what camera store salespeople say, and this turned out to be bad information.

But it did give me the biggest scare that I've ever had when travelling.

Penny and I had been planning on leaving that night on an overnight Greyhound to Toronto, so I had left our luggage at the hotel and spent the day walking around while she was in a seminar. So I was on my own as I scrambled to the station to see what was happening, leaving the bags safely checked in case I needed to try to regain a room at our hotel, all the while dreading what I would find and the chaos of having our plans collapse. Since the station was still open – thanks, BH guy with the idiotic grin – I hustled back to the New Yorker, grabbed our bags, and practically ran back to join the Toronto-bound line.

There must have been over two hundred of people in front of me.

They loaded a couple of buses shortly after I got there, and then pulled more people out of the line as they sought people for specific destinations. That still only brought me half-way up the line, which was starting to double over on itself. The airports had been closed four hours before, so the bus was the last way to get out of the city before the storm would hit the next day.

Penny's seminar was all the way down in Greenwich Village, thirty blocks south of the Port Authority terminal. Public transit was shutting down, and I had no reception for my cell phone where I was waiting so far underground. Everyone else was looking to the front of the line for news and hope, but I spent an hour and a half looking back at the stairs she would have to come down. I didn't relax until I spotted her, but after that everything was going to be okay.

Greyhound did a stellar job trying to put on extra buses and drivers to meet the demand. At 8:30PM they had three buses load for runs to Syracuse, Buffalo, and Toronto. We were among the last to board our bus, and the line for our gate – serving only those three cities – probably held another four or five hundred people when we left. One bus seats only a little over fifty, and the terminal shut down its operations less than an hour and a half after we got out.


This photo was taken at the Chelsea Piers, on the Hudson river around 18th street. I haven't been able to find out how this area fared in the storm, but I can't imagine that it escaped unscathed.


Space Available

I didn't have much of a plan or pattern for photography in my fifth visit to New York City, and my editing and post-processing is proceeding the same way. I have many photos that I like, but few of them tie together, so they'll be posted here in no particular order.

This happens to be one of my last photos from the trip, as it was taken around 4pm on Sunday, October 28. This was when I still didn't think that catching my bus home that evening would be all that big of a deal. Fortunately, I found out otherwise early enough to make a difference.

After a flurry of panic and setting a couple of speed records for Manhattan sidewalks – in both the 'unencumbered' and 'with luggage' categories – I was in the line for the Greyhound to Toronto shortly after 5:30. Penny joined me around 7pm, and we boarded at 8:30. I didn't really relax until we were out of Manhattan, and it was a narrow escape at that. The Port Authority closed the bus station at 9:45pm, and it didn't reopen until noon on the following Friday.


Shiny Shiny

This title gets "Venus In Furs" stuck in my head without fail. I'm going to claim that it's because these photos were taken in New York City.


The Point

People in my critique group are starting to recognize my photos. Apparently one of my characteristics is using selective focus on inanimate objects, which is a little surprising, since very little of what I've shown them uses that approach.

Or perhaps they're just working with the process of elimination. The fact that a photo isn't of a landscape, waterfall, lone tree, or rocks – especially ones in the surf or in a river – does narrow down the list of suspects considerably.


Four Images

Four photographs from an early morning. They're not a logically related set, but I like the way they move from one to the next.



It's exceedingly rare that I see the city in darkness and to have it get brighter as time goes on.

I have broken the links to hundreds and hundreds of photos, which will take a long time to repair. The workaround is to replace "photo.matthewpiers" in the link URL with "matthewpiers.smugmug". Awkward, but only temporary.

This is happening because I have revamped matthewpiers dot com. More of what I write and photograph will be going there, so check it out as well.

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