Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trying To Shoot "Manhattanhenge"

7:45 PM. Just got off the 6 train at 33rd at Park Avenue. I've come to try to take pictures the 2nd of the 2 days of the 1st "Manhattanhenge" of 2012 - those unusual days when the light of the sun at sunset is perfectly aligned with Manhattan's east-west grid. This looks promising, right?
BTW, click on any picture for a better look.

One block north to the wider 34th street and...hmmm, yes, something tells me that this may be a good spot.

Wow. Now there's someone who's gonna get a good shot if it kills him. Maybe literally, even.

 Hey! I'm framin' here! I'm framin' here!

Yes, this will do. This will do nicely. 

Early bird continues to line up the perfect shot

At first the rest of us just run in to set up our own shots while we have the walk sign - 

but gradually, more and more stay out there with the first guy when the light changes

The crowd grows with every moment 

Say "Gnomon!" 

As sunset approaches - 

a line of photographers begins to form on the painted median strip. 

 Sun's getting very close to appearing now - 
and now there's a solid line all the way down the block. 

 And ah! the sun appears! 

 There it is, shining, peeping into view for the quickest moment before...oh nooooo!
slipping behind a low-lying bank of clouds that's been waiting there all along to spoil the moment itself. Awwww!

Still, something of a festival mood has been established, and although the evening's main attraction isn't going to happen, we're not being very quick about relinquishing the street.  

Finally the police show up to shoo people back onto the sidewalks - nothing rough, just one pair of officers who work their way slowly down 34th street telling people to get out of the street before they get hit by a car. Almost wonder why the city doesn't bow to the inevitable & just block off a stretch of 34th street for a half-hour or so. At least they DID hold off the shooing away until the sunset was done. 

And even without Manhattanhenge really happening this time, it was still a very nice sunset - and watching the people gather to watch (and shoot) the spectacle was a pretty great spectacle in and of itself!

Guess I'll have to go back in July! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Too Wonderful For Words.

No commentary from me except, ENJOY! (oh, yes, and thanks, Joe!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sebago Canoe Club - Open House 2012

  Click on the picture to go see a very nice set of photos taken by one of our official Sebago Open House Photographers, Chris Bickford (I took a few, of course, but mostly I was helping out with kayak trips). A threat of thunderstorms kept our on-water activities closer to home than sometimes happens, but the rain held off until well after our guests had all gone home and by all accounts, I think the day was considered to be a great success.

Thanks for the pics, Chris!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

Hope everyone had a good, safe & happy weekend.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Foodie Friday Follow-up: Fabulous Fette!

I can't remember exactly when it was that Baydog and I had an email discussion about Brooklyn restaurants, but when TQ called me Thursday morning to find out where I wanted to be taken for dinner, although I naturally first thought of my local favorites, somehow nothing was really grabbing me. I asked for some time, I went back to my spreadsheets and somewhere during the subtotalling, my long-term memory finally finished rummaging through vague recollections of places I'd wanted to eat and hadn't yet, held up a printout of this old email discussion, said "Ahem. FETTE SAU." TQ's got a car, so I raced over to his place as soon as I could get out of work and off we went to the Wilds of Williamsburgh in search of what is supposed to be some of Brooklyn's best barbeque (if you ignore the cranky people on Yelp, which I always do, what is it about Yelp that makes people so darned cranky anyways?).

354 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn. Look it up on Google and you'll wonder if you got it wrong - what you see in the first street view is an auto repair place. But it's there, shoehorned in to a little sliver of a property next door.
It had been pouring rain on and off all evening. I'd read a couple of reviews, I knew that a lot of their seating was outside, and I was actually ready to drop the idea and beat a retreat back to good old Cortelyou Road if necessary - neither of us are big fans of mob scenes, but I figured that it was worth a try, because maybe the rain would make people stay home. I'd also hurried to get to TQ's early because ALL of the reviews said "Get there early".

I think we got there around 6:30 and we were mostly just in time. Mostly. There were still seats here and there --
And this was pretty much the extent of the line - there were maybe 4 or 5 people between us and 3 customers you can see at the head of the line. Any thoughts about Cortelyou Road flew from my head and were replaced with ideas about coming back for seconds or at least STEVE'S KEY LIME PIE! Oh boy, my favorite!

Meet the meat. Yum.
Now why I say we were mostly on time, mostly, was because you see that big empty tray in the front there? Up until a second before I took this picture, that was where last few Berkshire St. Louis-style barbeque spare ribs had been. TQ had been eyeing them hungrily and then - d'oh - the guy RIGHT in front of us in the line bought them.

TQ was very bummed out. Me? All I had eyes for was that great big hunka meat in the middle tray. Brisket. I'd seen the counter guy slicing some up and it just looked insanely good.

The counterman serves up your meat on a cookie sheet. We got half a pound of pulled pork, half a pound of brisket, and TQ added 2 sausages (consolation for the vanished ribs). 

We tempered the sheer carnivorosity of the meal with some nice healthy veggies: German potato salad and baked beans. Now that's a birthday feast! 

And we did it justice!

The rolls, which just come with your dinner, were the only things we didn't touch. I like that kind of roll, but why bother? We didn't make much progress on the beans; we had a little bit of potato salad and a little bit of pulled pork shoulder left - I should've put the pork in the beans and brought it home because they were both delicious but I didn't think of it. The pulled pork was good but probably the thing we left on the tray because we both do a pretty mean pernil & this was rather in the same family. The sausages were very good, nicely spicy. As promised, nothing needed sauce - they don't cook the meat with sauce, but there are a couple of kinds of sauces alongside the industrial rolls of paper towels - I don't think I even looked at 'em though. Same as the rolls - why bother?

The brisket was as insanely good as I had thought it would be when we first laid eyes on it. Juicy, tender, a perfect strip on fat on each slice, just enough that if you wanted to be health-conscious you would probably cut it off, but if you wanted to be health-conscious, what the heck are you doing at a restaurant called "Fat Pig"? Tastes like eating the smoke of the sweetest-smelling campfire ever made.  TQ wants to go back for the ribs someday (the group sitting next to us actually had a couple more than they could eat and we were whispering back and forth about asking how much they wanted for those ribs - in the end we didn't quite have the nerve to ask so we left without even a taste). Me too, but I'll be after more brisket. Before last night, the best commercially-produced barbeque* I ever remember tasting was at the Salt Lick, out in the Texas hill country near Austin. That was years ago that my sister took us there, and that had ended up stuck in my mind as this mythically delicious ultimate bbq anywhere, and last year when I was agitating for a family trip to Texas to visit my sister & an aunt and uncle who I haven't really seen since my folks moved to NC, a trip to see if the Salt Lick was as good as I remembered it to be was high on my to-do list. Now I need to go back there to see if Fette Sau's brisket actually does stack up to the Salt Lick...I really think it might.

Halfway through our repast I said something about maybe getting my key lime pie to go. TQ said "You'd better go get in line then". I turned around and that was pretty much when I lost all interest in dessert, period. He was sitting facing into the restaurant and had been watching the tables fill up and the line get longer. By the time we left, it was out the door. My Steve's Key Lime Pie fix can wait until the next time I'm in Red Hook - and that's probably Monday (when I want to go tour the ships!). I think we'll be back, though.

Next time we'll shoot for 6:00 or before.
*I have to say "commercially produced" because "Canoe-Buildin' Uncle" has a small flock of sheep at the farm that's now been in the family for 2 generations, and when he has one of his lambs butchered and barbecues it for a family gathering, we are talking about a whole 'nother level of delicious. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Foodie Friday: The 2 Worst Things About My Birthday Dinner

1. Deciding.
2. Not having any room left for dessert.

Best part? Having a really good excuse to try out one of Baydog's Brooklyn recommendations. Thank you Baydog, it was EXCELLENT. More after work!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blue Drinks 5 23 2012

Blue Drinks 5 23 2012, a set on Flickr.

There were some threatening-looking clouds a-looming as I neared the Hudson last night, but they didn't do anything and we ended up having a lovely night for the first Blue Drinks of 2012 last night. Good food, good company, and for the patientest, there was a great fireworks display a bit after 10. Sorry, my camera battery had died by then - but here's the fireworks barge coming up the river around sunset!

Thanks to the HRWA and NYCWTA for hosting another lovely evening on the barge!

Note a few days later - just took out the thumbnail slides because I think this is the post that's pushing my sidebar out of place. Just click on the link above to go to the gallery. What a fun night that was!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Events Events Events!

Woohoo! Blue Drinks tonight! I'm especially looking forward to this because it's Fleet Week AND OpSail is here - I brought the camera & both lenses because lord only knows what's gonna float by.

And then if you're looking for some good salty fun this weekend, there's a couple of options I know about -

The first one I have to mention is of course near and dear and I shall be there all day. Yes, it's the annual Sebago Canoe Club Open House this Saturday - free boat rides all day, rain or shine! And burgers and hot dogs too! For full details and links to travel instructions, visit

And then of course there are TALL SHIPS and NAVY SHIPS in town & open to the public all weekend. PortSide NewYork has taken a break from their search for a new home for the Mary A. Whalen to play harbor host to the Brooklyn visitors. Here's a great flyer that Bowsprite created showing all the Red Hook guests;
And then they have also put together an incredibly comprehensive OpSail webpage - click here for everything you need to know about visiting the ships in Red Hook, plus links to info about what's going on in the other boroughs, too. Nice work, this is the sort of thing PortSide NewYork does SO well. No news since the "We haven't found anything but we're not giving up the ship yet" (literally!) but my fingers remain crossed that something will come through in time.

BTW, they are looking for volunteers to help out with all the visitors this weekend - if you'd like to help out, check out the details in the gray sidebar on the right-hand side of that OpSail page. I'm hesitating to volunteer because I'm already volunteering as a trip leader all day for the Sebago Open House, but if I wasn't doing that I'd sign up for sure.

Note slightly later - oh, COOL. I missed the big tall ship/navy ship parade this morning because I am covering for 2 co-workers who are on vacation this week, so there's no way I could've gotten the morning off - but for ALL of us who missed it for whatever reason, we have the all day (and all of the night) to watch it on the Earth Cam 24-hour archive! Starts with the 9-10 AM hour - John J. Harvey comes into view in full display just around 9:04 and then you can use the slider to fast-forward. Military ships parade starts in the 11-12 AM file, led off by the Coast Guard barque Eagle just before 11:24. Click here, and have fun! Thanks, Harry, this is great!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A More Serious Post, Possibly By Way Of Apology For Speaking Out


AUUUUGHHH! I'msorryi'msorryi'msorry! one last leetle pun, ees waffer theeen!!!!

Anyways - it was a busy but sort of chopped-up day at work and I have to apologize for not being able to resist throwing up (and I use that term specifically) that awfully silly post there in the midst of things. Sometimes I just have to.

There were plenty of terns divebombing the bunker in the bay. I did actually get a couple of decent tern shots - like this one was kind of cool (click for a better view) -

but for the most part trying to take pictures of them was mostly an idle exercise that I wasn't expecting to work too well. Small, fast-moving, erratically-swerving targets being shot with a much zoomier zoom than I've ever tried using before, from the deck of a moving sailboat? Couldn't quite resist sharing the splash (you can actually see a wingtip in there if you go to Flickr and look at a larger size) but 90% of the tern pictures were the junk I'd expected them to be. Fun to try, but my idea for the bird photography involves putting the camera in a drybag and paddling somewhere where I can quietly sit on a log and wait for the birds to decide I'm not that scary. I'd mostly taken camera and the new lens on Saturday with the thought that it would be good for other boats. That actually went well & I thought I would give you a few of those in full size here. All were in from the "First Sail" post so if you already looked through that, this is a repeat - but if not, here were a few telephoto highlights. Click on any for detail. Enjoy!

The first boat that send me scrambling down below to switch out lenses was this beautiful catamaran - I nearly missed it because I was fumbling with switching out the lenses and the various covers and making sure the short lens was stashed away safely. By the time I finished Vicky was calling "Hurry, hurry, you're going to miss it, it's going away", but I made it back on deck just in time. Isn't that pretty?

Next I went after the Parachute Jump. This is SUCH a Coney Island icon, and you can see it for miles, but I don't think I would have ever thought about taking A Picture Of The Parachute Jump from here - on the Optio, it's such an insignificant little part of the skyline you hardly notice it. So this was fun.
I liked the sparkle, it was a very very sparkly day - weekend, in fact, until the clouds came rolling in just in time to produce that beautiful sunset I posted last night. And I like the silhouetted buoy. You all know how I am about
buoys, right? Here's another shot with the Parachute Jump - this time with a little more activity - a few sailboats, probably out of either the Miramar Yacht Club in Sheepshead Bay or the yacht club out on the Rockaway Peninsula, plus an ocean liner, bound for the Atlantic - another thing I wouldn't bother even trying to shoot with the Optio unless I was several miles further west along Coney Island.
And then I looked back towards the Marine Park Bridge and discovered that I was going to get to try for some shots that Tugster Will might actually enjoy - the tug Crystal Cutler was approaching pushing the barge Patricia E. Poling. Sweet!

 Distance shot:

Closeup of the Crystal Cutler. I like the livery - I always think it looks nice when a tug-and-barge unit has a coordinated paint job, and this is actually close to the color scheme I would choose for my kayak and assorted gear if I were to pick a color scheme based purely on aesthetics - I would be all in teals with a white hull. Of course then I'd be invisible, which is why my boat and my lifejacket (and now my drysuit) are all bright yellow. Tugs don't have to worry about being invisible, though.

One more shot as the tug headed past the "castle" (actually a sewage thing, I'm afraid - people are always disappointed when we paddle out to Breezy to go surfing, they want it to be something romantic like an old fort or the footing of a vanished lighthouse, blown away in the great hurricane of 1938 or something and maybe with a good ghost story - "And to this day boaters passing by in the dark of night still hear the moans of the poor lost soul" -  but it's not, it's a sewage thing) out towards the Lower Harbor.  Norwegian Gem headed for the Atlantic in the distance - same ship as earlier, but in this shot the ship was less backlit and you can actually see the painted gems. Vicky was happy, they enjoy the occasional cruise & she'd especially loved this one.  In keeping with the "sparkly" theme of the day, too - here they are, the Crystal and the Gem! 

Vicky was very very happy being on her own boat, but she enjoyed watching "her BIG boat" heading out. 

Those were pretty much my favorites from the day's telephoto take, and I'm still very happy with the new toy - and I hope that my sharing those makes amends for the afternoon's pun-ishment! 

When is a tern not a tern?

Tern splashdown! by bkfrogma
Tern splashdown!, a photo by bkfrogma on Flickr.

When it's a-dove.

New telephoto's doing wonders for my bird photography, huh?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Paerdegat Sunset

End of a very nice weekend. Lots of time on and by the bay. Good stuff.

First Sail of 2012

Tern splashdown!Terns 2Solo sailor off Sheepshead BayTug Crystal Cutler & Norwegian GemTug Crystal Cutler 2Tug Crystal Cutler 1
AIEEEE!!!! TERNZILLA!!!!Terns 1Sailboats, cruise ship and parachute jumpVerranzano & Sheepshead Bay sailorsParachute JumpCat 2
Cat 1Vicky sailingSailing towards the lower harborPast the bridgeUnder the bridge 3Under the bridge 2
Under the bridge 1Vicky and the Marine Park BridgeApproaching the Marine Park BridgeObligatory sails-and-sun shotCaptain MikeMe and John

First Sail of 2012 , a set on Flickr.