At the threshold.

Winter has come to the Northeast, painting the landscape in neutral shades, and everything feels grey. Bare branches like lace against the sky. And a road winding to a warm house in a cold landscape. But there is a hushed beauty in moments such as this, and there's the knowledge all this will be bursting with lush, green vibrancy in a few months.

As the year winds down to a close, I look back on a year that was marked by highs and lows.

Expectation and disappointment.

New experiences and old fears.

The constant love of family and friends.

In other words, it was another year to be alive.

I look back on 2011 with no real regret, and I look forward to 2012 the same way I look forward to each new day: The chance to pursue something great.

Make your moments count.

(A note about the image: It was captured in northwest New Jersey with Camera+, edited in Snapseed and then run through Picture Show, to add the wear marks.)

Positive negatives

While digital is my primary form of image capture, I still like to shoot film every now and then. In a society saturated by immediate results, there's something satisfying about capturing an image and having to wait to see the results.
All of these images were shot on a Vivitar V2000 with either a 28mm or 50mm lens. In both cases, the film was pushed, resulting in the graininess. Pushing film can yield some interesting tones. In this case, most of these images had a slight reddish tint. Some of the images have some dust spots. I wasn't going for technical perfection. I knew what I wanted to achieve, and I feel I met that goal.
This first one was Kodak Gold 400, pushed to 1000. I made slight levels adjustments in Lightroom, but otherwise this is straight out of the camera. I love the bokeh on the Vivitar when it's wide open.

This one was from the same roll, but I converted it to B/W in Lightroom. Reflected in the windows of the new LAPD headquarters is the classic Los Angeles City Hall.

This was a film capture from shooting a set of images for my friend Perla (see that post here). Again, pretty much straight out of the camera.

Bare branches in wintry northwestern New Jersey. Kodak Gold 200 pushed to 1600.

Manhattan's Flatiron building, also Kodak 200 pushed to 1600.

Our breaths in winter

After several days of torrential rain in Los Angeles I flew to New Jersey, which promptly got smacked with a blizzard. While it was bad enough to shut down all three airports in the New York City metro area, the snow didn't pile up as much in the country where my family lives. But that first night, as the wind howled and the snow kept coming, I was alone in the dark for more than an hour, creating images. Capturing the mood of a snowy night meant setting a timer and using myself as a subject for this first image.

There is always a light in the darkness.

Walking up and down the road for nearly an hour and a half, I only saw one car pass by.

Often, the best images are right in front of you. I captured this bit of serenity in my parents' driveway.

A few days later, I set out for the afternoon to drive the backroads and capture some images.

I suspect watching for children at play hasn't been an issue for some time in the village of Wallpack Center, up near the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border. The few houses that are there appear to have been abandoned for a while. I spent about an hour there, and saw one car drive through "town".

When the light gets good at the end of the day, it starts moving fast. I chased the sunset down the mountain, stopping at a few vantage points to capture that golden, end-of-day light.

Like everywhere else I went on this particular afternoon, historic Millbrook Village was empty.

Last light at an old horse farm in Blairstown.

Two night scenes to cap things off, the first the old Blairstown Diner, and a gas station next door. It was actually a busy evening, with cars zipping back and forth, but I was able to capture two relatively still moments.

More portraits are on the way! In another day or so, I'll be posting some images I shot of my friend Perla during an afternoon in chilly Manhattan.

As American as...

Ten years. For 10 years I'd been hearing about this tiny cafe at the small airport near my parents' house that serves up great apple pie. On my recent trip to NJ for the holidays, it was finally time to try a slice.
Jeanne Anderson has been running the Runway Cafe at Blairstown Airport since the mid-1980s, and making fresh pies ever since. The cafe dates back to around the 1940s.
Chased with a cup of hot coffee on a bitterly cold afternoon, the pie was fantastic. Sweet, juicy filling. Crumbly topping. Flaky, buttery crust. The blackboard behind the counter advertises "crummy apple pie." Indeed. The best crummy pie I've had.
In between talking about the history of the cafe and the weekend travelers it used to attract in the mid-20th century, and pulling out some aged, black-and-white photos, Jeanne was kind enough to pose for a few portraits. I worked quickly, shooting with a 50mm lens pretty wide open and, with the exception of the first image, a handheld, off-camera flash for a little fill light.
A delightfully simple little cafe. Fantastic apple pie. And a cheerful, masterful pie maker. Not a bad way to cap off my trip.

And a requisite close-up, courtesy of my Blackberry.