Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Finally, A Beautiful Summer Day

Temps in the low 80's, low humidity, cloudless sky all make for a perfect day to walk around NYC. Except that the light was kind of harsh. I often go on these walks to get some images and come home feeling like I got nothing. But even in a slump it's important to get out and exercise the brain and finger muscles. But then I get home, load the images into Lightroom, let them rest for a few hours et voilĂ :

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hot and Cold

A new shot from this hot summer, and a few from the past winter just as a reminder. Don't complain too loudly!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Just To Cool Off

It's been so hot I thought I'd process some winter shots to cool down a bit. It worked!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Brutal New York Heat

Summer is raging. Searing temps in the 90's with thick humidity make the New York streets really mean. There's only so much work I can find to do at home in the air conditioning and then I have to get out and move around. The only relief on the street is to drink, drink, drink.

This shot is from this past Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue. Found it while looking for something to work on. Cooler days, temperature-wise anyway.

Bottled water everywhere. Now where we gonna go, girls?

Taking a nip in the shade. Not sure of exactly what though. That's not a water bottle, and that is a shot glass.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Satmars of Williamsburg (part 2)

On my previous visit to the neighborhood I was told of a Chabad House, home for Jews of the Lubavitch sect, in the neighborhood. I was interested to see it because having the two sects in the same neighborhood is like mixing oil and water. Their dress, mannerisms, and social philosophy are entirely different: the Satmars go to great lengths to remain insular and separate - except in matters of commerce.

Whereas the Lubavitch make an effort to go out into the general population of whatever area they are in to seek out and contact other Jews, especially non-observant, to gently draw them in to their fold. They have been subjected to quite a bit of 'bad press' and animosity from other sects of Hasidim and many other groups of Jews. Judaism is no different in this respect from any other religious belief system - except that the members of the various sects are not intent on killing and destroying each other. More on this, the various sects of Hasidim, and the divisions in the family of Jews to come.

Besides religious observance, one common factor across the board of all highly observant Jewish communities is large families. The streets of any Hasidic neighborhood are always filled with men and women with their families of many children in tow.

For the most part the Satmars are reclusive and camera shy. But as I walked along the main drag of Lee Avenue carrying my camera, this gentleman, who was talking to someone on his mobile phone saw me coming, quickly groomed his beard and called me over. He told his conversant to hold on a minute because someone wanted to take his picture.

On Bedford Avenue I saw this child playing with his toy cash register and play coins scattered all over the sidewalk. He looked up at me and said 'Take my picture,' and after I did so, he said 'Let me see, let me see!'

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Satmars of Williamsburg

In Brooklyn there are several neighborhoods that are home to various Hassidic sects. The Chabad Lubavitch can be found in Crown Heights, a mixture of sects in Borough Park, and the Satmars are concentrated in the Williamsburg section. They vary from group to group in their separation and insularity, but the most closed off are the Satmars. I've spent a lot of time walking the streets in all the neighborhoods and I'm comfortable mixing with them, so often i can strike up conversations with them or at least not appear too intrusive or threatening.

Going back through my images of a walk I did there last year I found several that I hadn't processed or posted.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Shabbat and Havdalah

Friday evening through Saturday evening is the ritual day of rest. Preceding it is a candle lighting ceremony to welcome the 'bride' and Saturday after sundown the Havdalah ritual is performed to bid the day adieu until the next week. You can read about all the symbols here that will explain them more authoritatively than I ever could.

I was welcomed into a Chabad community near my home to take these photos before and after this past Shabbat.

Lighting the Shabbat candles:

Saying the ritual blessing to welcome in the day of rest:

Saying the Kiddush (blessing over wine) at the Havdalah ritual. The silver container next to the prayer book holds spices, such as cloves, that are sniffed during the ritual:

Dousing the candle flame with the Kiddush wine:

Dipping fingers into the spilled wine: