The hamster wheel

I’ve been thinking about the loop in Central Park lately…how it’s just a big hamster wheel for us humans, our contraptions and our mostly canine companions.

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She was riding clockwise against the flow and you get the idea pretty quickly that the park loop is designed to go counterclockwise. The entrances all send you – cars when those demons are allowed – and bikes, skaters, surfers, rollers, sliders, runners counterclockwise. It just works that way. A few go the other direction.

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Central Park exists for those of us who live here and for those of us who are tourists. It’s not for the nearby suburban because they have theirs and who would drive to a city just to sit under a tree? When you walk or ride you hear all the accented voices from faraway places: The British Isles, Europe, Russia, the Baltics, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific, the Caribbean. And sometimes Kentucky or Arkansas.

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I stayed and watched too long these two playing a food game and some fetch. I took a longer time to walk around and lingered a lot. You see, we’re moving out – not too far away. Just 25 minutes by train and the time will be here soon enough that I won’t just bumble into the park for a walk. I’ll have to go out of my way and it won’t happen much because there will be trees and park a little bit fresher air where we’re going.

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JFC, people take their dogs on carriage rides!

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And, hey, get this – fencing with foils amid the frisbees.

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This man takes his old Sheltie in a stroller. He left him out for a few shaky steps, then back to the cart. They both seemed OK with the arrangement.

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I will miss the crowds I curse when I want a quick spin around the loop but everyone’s chaos and not interested, not at all even aware. I’ll miss these scenes too:

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The history of dogs in bike baskets

Taken this afternoon in Central Park.

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Inspired perhaps by this famous Audrey Hepburn in 1959 or French cyclists of days long gone, an irresistible thought, “I shall put Fluffy in the basket and take him for a spin around the park today.”

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What is the oldest photo of a basket mounted dog? Who got the idea first? And whoever he or she was, is not humanity all the better for it?

Lounging in Lincoln Center…

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Earlier this morning, a woman totes her dog in front of harsh backlighting.

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The production process

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“Which one do you like better?”

“It’s not going to work until you get rid of the glare. You can’t really see the dog’s head.”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“Here, I’ll show you.”

“OK, but in the meantime, which one do you like better?”

“Until I get that stupid glare to go away neither of them work.”

She began cursing because she doesn’t like using a touchpad. She showed me which tool to use (it’s the burn tool which looks like a hand that’s ready to grasp something). I messed with it but it didn’t look right, so I went to clone. I don’t like doing clone or actually anything that takes more than a click, but I did it because she wasn’t going to cooperate otherwise and sometimes you just have to make concessions, you know, let it go.

So I cloned and then burned and then it looked OK, and then I did the part that I liked which I’d only recently learned for the post “His Master’s Voice.” This lets you make the photo black and white but highlight a color or two. Here are the directions because more than anything, this blog is about teaching. Yep, it’s all about sharing my vast slice of knowledge.

Here are the steps in case you’re interested, copied from an Adobe photoshop elements community:

1. Get out the Smart Brush, the one with the gears on it.

2. Choose a black and white conversion style from the options bar and turn on the Inverse checkbox.

3. Brush over the object you want to keep in color. The rest of your photo will turn black and white.

The tempest lifted and tt all worked out in the end. She picked the version you see above, I learned to use another accursed photoshop feature (which is rapidly slipping from memory), and something else because we must always list in threes.

French Bulldog traveling northbound near Chelsea Piers, a love story

A moment taken to explore a possibility, a flirtation perhaps? She was all business and offered nothing more than a business card and a free sample. He thought she was ruthlessly opportunistic, preying on transporters of basketed dogs. “You are a dreamer,” she said. “People have to make a living.”

With more than a dozen miles of bikeway to the George Washington Bridge, he’d have plenty of time to wonder where in their 20 second conversation he went wrong. She expanded operations into seven cities and married well, each time for love, not money.

Cyclotography and the Sony RX100

Taking photos from a bicycle presents challenges. You’re shooting a moving target while in motion yourself. In New York City, it’s perfectly legal for motorists to door, injure, cripple, or kill bicyclists, you have to pay attention. On top of that, I adhere to a kind of cycling code that treats bikes differently than cars and pedestrians – see this article from last Sunday’s NY Times.

As someone afflicted with the need to take photos while riding, I’m constantly trying out different cameras as the budget permits. Everyone’s been raving about the new Sony RX100 for its fast focus, shutter speed and sensor size. So I got my hands on one and took it out for a spin today on the outrageously popular Summer Streets car-free Park Avenue ride.

This fellow came out blurry, but not because of his blazing speed.

 

Passing over the shoulder shot of dog and basket…

 

When you’re riding with one hand on a camera, you get a lot of accidental shots like this:

 

Much of the time, I’m looking for oncoming shots, so I fiddled with left-handed camera work. The RX100 senses that it’s upside down and automatically flips the shot for you in camera – a nice feature. But getting a comfortable hand position can be tricky. Shoot with camera upside down and thumb on shutter? Or right side up with left index finger on shutter…an awkward and somewhat tiring hand position. What is this guy doing?

 

In charge and on top of it:

 

Three shots of the same dog/basket/rider. The first, I’m stationary and so is the target. The photo is cropped and retains lots of nice detail. The second, we’re on the move again and a little blur enters the picture. Probably my fault – I’m shooting left-handed and no doubt my hand is unsteady. Finally, the third: puppy is staring me down. Would have been a great shot but for the blur. I don’t blame the camera but my unsteadiness with left-handed shooting.

 

 

 

 

I switched to the Sports/Action mode and this got this shot. The first is the crop/zoom. The second is the original.

 

Two out of three. Rare male rider rear basket combo, a young cyclist doing the cone slalom on a bike I’d want, and a crushing disappointment on the side by side riders with dogs in front baskets.

 

Another dog in a rear basket and a series of scenes from yesterday, Summer Streets.

 

I passed this young rider furiously pedaling with his mom cheering him on the hill leading up to Grand Central Terminal. I said that he was doing an incredible job on a tough hill. “And this is his first time out (riding on streets),” she said.

 

So, is the RX100 the camera for cyclophotography? Probably yes. Most of the bad shots were because I didn’t get set for the shot – always a challenge anyway – or I didn’t use the right camera setting. If it has a con, there isn’t great tactile feedback from the shutter. You can’t hear it over road noise unless the camera’s near your face, so sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you’ve taken a shot or not. Pros: lens is sharp, bright and clear, the menus are simple enough for me to use, fast focus and shutter, and the thing is pocketable.

 

Final images from the ride…

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