Flowers after the Storm… NYC

New York finally got a break from its heat wave.

Less tropical thunderstorm, more downpour of epic proportions. Basically, it poured buckets and buckets; an orchestra of sounds punctuated by the lightning’s crackles, booms, and roars.

It was kinda cool. I would have photographed it if I had my camera on me… I was 20 minutes from home and kindly let into the lobby of a condo tower to wait until the weather calmed down. I learned alot about the (extravagant) price of Williamsburg’s current real estate market in that conversation; a bust no more, it seems.

The flowers on my window sill are a picture of calm after the storm.

Alive ~ Williamsburg, Brookyln

Williamsburg, personified:

Don’t ask what the world needs.Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~ Howard Thurman

I took my devoted Sony Cybershot for a spin today. It’s a great little camera: so light, and easy to use. At 72 pixels each (unintentional), the images still comes across with vibrant colour. Thanks Williamsburg~

Enjoy!

~ Promoting loving-kindness.

~ A relaxed neighbourhood vibe.

~ Interpretative street art.

~ Blooming nature stands up against steel and rust.

~The sound of music draws crowds and fills the streets with song.

~Marketing messages, tailored to a community of artists. Do they even drink Becks with Brooklyn Brewery around the corner?

~ Homemade grub: a taco truck.

~ Banana leaf wallpaper, reminiscent of the tropics.

~ The art of giving and receiving.

~ Walks under the shade of fragrant trees make the warmer days a little more blissful.

Seasonal Details – Brooklyn, NY

If we only walk on sunny days, we’ll never reach our destination ~ Paulo Coehlo

Spring.

When greens and reds fill in winter’s blueprint. When it’s bright and sunny one day; overcast, humid, and sticky – the next. It’s when Williamsburg takes on a sense of the tropics. For me, this is reminiscent of holiday time in Fiji, just without the stretches of beach, the rainforest, and waterfalls. It’s a nice way of being. I like it.

I never really used to notice nor commit to memory the organic changes brought about by the seasons (so defined in the Northern Hemisphere); that changed once I started carrying around my camera. It’s as if by documenting the details I feel the season more.

Here are some of today’s scenes embedded in my photographic memory. I hope you enjoy!

*******************************************************************************************************

The return of the ivy covered wall. I love nature’s elegant way of elevating the beauty of brick-and-mortar.

Manhattan Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Streets are lined with window boxes and blooms.

The vibrant hues of their flowers make me think: pop art.

Where the ground was once bare or covered in leaves, spring brings with it fields of green. These may be weeds but their prettiness makes the walk home a lot lovelier.

A patterned fence: random yellow art makes me smile. It’s so much more pleasant to pause, appreciate, and photograph on these warm days.

Bikes are a big part of the Brooklyn lifestyle; recently, they seem to have trebled in number.

These jellyfish splotches are emblematic of spring for me; I have photographed them all around the ‘hood in the past few months.

Another seasonal symbol – the red rose; these flowers are thriving all over at this time of the year….

…as are hydrangeas. These ones are so squat, round, and blue hued.

Hot days mean sitting outdoors…

…  which means more reason to dine out.

There is one constant throughout the seasons however, and that is the neighbourhood’s rotating street art.

Cheeky and colourful, it’s Always Sunny in Williamsburg, no matter the time of year.

National Gardens Day: The Getty Villa, Malibu, CA

Traveling with a camera may soon mean doing away with the preplanned itinerary due to a sheer disregard for time; in my case, this is usually attributed to photographing a multitude of details, and not wearing a watch. On a recent trip to the Getty Villa in Malibu I didn’t step foot in the museum as I was too enamored with its gardens. Up until closing, I was experimenting with depth of field on some purple blooms.

A few weeks ago I learned of National Public Gardens Day. On May 11, the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) encourages people to visit their local public garden; to learn about their impact on the greater community.

Sponsored by the APGA and Rain Bird, National Public Gardens Day helps raise awareness of the botanic gardens, arboreta, conservatories and public gardens across the country.*

I came across the information when I was entering a photo competition held by the association. (NB: US residents, you may be interested in entering the competition here. Entries close on May 15.)  Scanning the webpage, I noticed a news bite explaining that The Getty Villa would be participating is some dedicated celebrations on the day.

I immediately thought back to my recent visit to the museum where I spent the whole time in its Mediterranean inspired gardens. Set in the mountains and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Villa’s grounds marry the best of both worlds. Its landscaping is immaculate – the gardens so generous in size as well as in the variety of flora on show.

If you can’t make it to a public garden on May 11, enjoy these photos as a (close) second option. I have written about the Getty Villa – it was one of my first blog posts and you can read it here.

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Imagine inhaling the sweet salty smell of the ocean.

This is the air that greeted me prior to driving up to the steep driveway to the Getty Villa, located just off of the Pacific Coast Highway. In the image below, you’ll notice Santa Monica and Venice Beach in the far off distance.

The Villa is visually interesting to photograph; here, Italian Renaissance architecture stands alongside Modernism. I took 5 shots of the space below – all, at different angles. I thought I’d experiment with black and white to better show of its lines (below).

The gardens are to the left; the ocean is in the far off distance.

Mid afternoon shadows cast a linear pathway in the direction of the Pacific.

The design of the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, a classical outdoor theater, was based on ancient prototypes. Even around 2/3pm, the sun was too warm to sit under sans shade.

The Villa’s Roman-inspired gardens showcase symmetry in nature.

The Italian Renaissance Garden: The Medici, the ruling dynasty of Florence, used gardens to demonstrate their own power and magnificence. “During the first half of the sixteenth century, magnificence came to be perceived as a princely virtue, and all over the Italian peninsula architects, sculptors, painters, poets, historians and humanist scholars were commissioned to concoct a magnificent image for their powerful patrons.” wikipedia

Around the corner rests the Herb Garden; it is edged by palms, coloured with blossoms, and displays beds of herbs. In antiquity, these gardens provided the kitchen with medicinal and fragrant ingredients for cooking.

Vines, climbing a pergola, not yet weighed down by bunches of grape goodness.

For a considerable amount of time, this ladybug demanded my camera’s attention.

This was just before the lady bug threw in the towel and flew away, despite a potential career in modelling.

My favourite: experimenting with depth of field. Here, on a corsican helleborus; otherwise known as ‘that purple flower’.

A plum tree on white; when I visited, it was not yet decorated with the red fruit. I do love its  twisted trunk – it looks like a wet towel being wrung.

A branch of the pomegranate tree sported a tiny pop of red. I wonder how much it has grown.

Fragrant lavender is always a welcome sight; here, it adds a provincial touch.

Palms are so ubiquitous in Los Angeles; they are what the eucalyptus tree is to Sydney.

Fields of orange provide a prettied up ground cover.

These are called Stachys Byzantina Leaves – or lamb’s ear, in layman’s English. Their fuzz really is as soft as wool.

Interlude: the museum shop is always a to-do on my list.

I find that many love a good museum shop; it’s where the crowds hang out.

Before leaving, I experimented with some depth of field on this sweet purple-veined flower…

Last call: a quick elevator ascent to the car park. Happy Gardens Day!

*http://www.nationalpublicgardensday.org

April Showers Bring May Flowers ~ Williamsburg, Brooklyn

I’m quite fond of some good ol’ clichés; I use them and I’ve come across many in recent articles. Yet they are considered a no-no in writing.

Cliché, defined: a phrase or idea that has been used so often that it is no longer interesting or effective. (Source: Oxford American Dictionary)

There’s a reason why a cliché is a cliché; like a quote, sometimes it describes something so succinctly, that – depending on the nature of the writing – it might be just the right wording you’re looking for.

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times by A.A.Gill: My London, and Welcome to It, that was dotted with clichés; from phrases such as the river runs like dark silk through the heart of the city, to non-specific words like charming, wonderful, and beautiful.

Reading his prose, I thought it brilliant; I wasn’t bothered by his choice of words one bit as I was swept away by the tongue-in-cheek writing style.

While I do strive to do justice to my travel writing by utilizing concrete descriptions, I believe there to be a time and a place for clichés. But that’s just my two cents.

While silence may be golden, I’d love to know your thoughts: when do you think it right, or wrong, to use a cliché?

In the meantime, kick your feet up and scroll through images of a lush and blooming Williamsburg, peppered with some oft-used phrases. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stop and smell the roses.

Green thumb.

Out on a limb.

Perfect storm.

Pretty as a picture.

Under the same roof.

Two to tango.

The Bedford

Old meets new.

Diner

Spring to life.

Art imitates life… or vice versa.

Everything old is new again.

Understated elegance.

Woodley and Bunny Salon

No pain, no gain.

Lighten up.

Fada Restaurant

Everything but the kitchen sink.

Store bought.

Peas in a pod.

Man’s best friend.

Labour of love.

Green Dome Garden

Nip it in the bud.

Russian Orthodox Church

Knock it out of the park.

McCarren Park

Photographing til my heart’s content.

The last laugh.

In Search of Cherry Blossoms… Central Park, Manhattan

Rewind. Back to Monday.

No choice but to push aside any notion of those so-called Monday morning blues. A chilly start gave way to a spectacular spring-like day in New York. I don’t know why I felt so unprepared; March 20th is around the corner after all.

Armed with the knowledge that Central Park’s cherry blossoms were in bloom a few weeks too early, I’d planned to walk to the Jacqueline Kennedy Reservoir from 68th Street on Central Park West, up to around 94th Street East, where I know many of the trees line its water’s edge.

An unexpected change of plans.

I had two hours to spare, yet I never made it to the Reservoir. Was I a slow walker? Did I take lose my way within the Park’s criss-cross of pathways? No, and kind of.

Entering the Park, I was immediately sidetracked. My purpose and direction had given way to inevitable distraction and intrigue. From stopping and starting to admire practically every flower in bloom – daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses; to dodging cyclists, strollers, and groups of runners; to stumbling upon a meeting of the minds with some hard-shelled creatures (who won my heart) – I was simply caught up in a seasonal change of pace.

What a far cry from the snowscapes I’d documented in the same area a couple of months ago.

Caught up in springtime musings, I only managed a walk around part of the Lake, and across to Bethesda Terrace – both spots a stone’s throw away from my where I’d started. Yet I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Such is the appeal of Central Park; so alluring is the unfurling of its changing landscape as the months go on.

That’s all wonderful, but what of those blooming pink cherry blossoms – you might be asking? Whilst I am planning on returning again soon, I saw so much more that I had anticipated during this time-out.

You’ll see what I mean.

Enjoy the stroll!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Flowers line the park’s entryways along Central Park West. The gentle hum of Spring takes over; there’s a buzz in the air. Bunches of gold daffodils make for a jovial welcoming party, as if smiling under the sun’s rays…

… heads bowed in respect of their admirers.

A solitary bouquet of snow-white white crocuses peeking out from the ground; so delicate, new, and pretty.

Early afternoon shadows: lines; asymmetry; a haphazard mosaic design.

Strands of gold form a curtain in anticipation of the big reveal – a theatrical scene. Glimpses of activity on the Lake. Can you see the rowboat?

Getting closer. Rowboat, framed.

Busy is the background scene. Ice skaters have now given way to rollerbladers; cyclists navigate a busy roadway; runners acclimatise to the sudden hike in temps, all the warmer for the lack of shade. In the midst of it all, daydreamers relax on a park benches and soak in the sun.

An inspired artist, sketching…

… and strolling iphotographers, isnapping.

Beautiful yellow blossoms add extra colour along the way….

…as do patches of snowdrops ….

… all the way to the water’s edge.

Only to find, on the other side, a congregation. A meeting of the minds. Under the bare brush and on a couple of rocks – jutting out from under the lake’s surface – a couple of birds and some reptiles have gathered to form a silent ‘council’.

Moving closer, beckoned over, perhaps? What a fine looking pair – a couple of velvety Mallards…

… and a set of statuesque turtles, perched stoically on solitary rocks. Their necks outstretched, not moving an inch. Do they dare blink?

Edging closer; the largest two wear the hardest hats. Yep, they’re obviously presiding over this mind-meeting.

Turtles – just delightful.

Alas, even meetings of the mind come to an end – unfortunately so. Time to move along.

A quick cross over the Oak Bridge, to the other side. From this part of the Lake shore, a view of the El Dorado Apartments flanked by a rowboat and a contemplative soul.

Meandering along a winding pathway and over the Bow Bridge; rowboats float under its archway – they make for a regular sight.

Rowers paddling this way, and that; gliding from this side of the water, to the other.

A garden of crocuses in all shades of purple beckon towards The Boathouse.

The Loeb Boathouse, up close

El Dorado Apartments, aglow; surrounded by an aura of gold.

A little up the hill; a splash of pink against a cloud patterned stretch of blue. Could it be?

It certainly could. A beautiful cherry blossom tree. A search, partly achieved.

Looking through these blooming pink branches; wondering, is this what it feels to stumble upon a pot of gold?

Room with a view.

A panoramic scene overlooking Bethesda Terrace and its still-dry fountain. The Loeb Boathouse is to the right; the main part of the Lake, and El Dorado Apartments – to the left. People, in between.

Turn 180 degrees; look right down the length of The Mall, punctuated by the buildings of 59th street at its end. Spot the tripod.

A monochromatic view, elongated.

Is the time up already? Westward-bound. Pedicabs, already under the eye of their owner-turned-mechanic.

A road leading to the outskirts that is Manhattan.

Departing. The scent of candy-roasted nuts lingering in the air.

Back in Manhattan. Back on Central Park West. Thanks Spring.